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Title: Cyrus the Great - Makers of History
Author: Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879
Language: English
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 Makers of History

 Cyrus the Great







 Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
 eight hundred and fifty, by


 in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
 of New York.

 Copyright, 1878, by JACOB ABBOTT.



One special object which the author of this series has had in view,
in the plan and method which he has followed in the preparation of
the successive volumes, has been to adapt them to the purposes of
text-books in schools. The study of a _general compend_ of history,
such as is frequently used as a text-book, is highly useful, if
it comes in at the right stage of education, when the mind is
sufficiently matured, and has acquired sufficient preliminary
knowledge to understand and appreciate so condensed a generalization
as a summary of the whole history of a nation contained in an ordinary
volume must necessarily be. Without this degree of maturity of mind,
and this preparation, the study of such a work will be, as it too
frequently is, a mere mechanical committing to memory of names, and
dates, and phrases, which awaken no interest, communicate no ideas,
and impart no useful knowledge to the mind.

A class of ordinary pupils, who have not yet become much acquainted
with history, would, accordingly, be more benefited by having their
attention concentrated, at first, on detached and separate topics,
such as those which form the subjects, respectively, of these volumes.
By studying thus fully the history of individual monarchs, or the
narratives of single events, they can go more fully into detail; they
conceive of the transactions described as realities; their reflecting
and reasoning powers are occupied on what they read; they take notice
of the motives of conduct, of the gradual development of character,
the good or ill desert of actions, and of the connection of causes and
consequences, both in respect to the influence of wisdom and virtue on
the one hand, and, on the other, of folly and crime. In a word, their
_minds_ and _hearts_ are occupied instead of merely their memories.
They reason, they sympathize, they pity, they approve, and they
condemn. They enjoy the real and true pleasure which constitutes the
charm of historical study for minds that are mature; and they acquire
a taste for truth instead of fiction, which will tend to direct their
reading into proper channels in all future years.

The use of these works, therefore, as text-books in classes, has been
kept continually in mind in the preparation of them. The running index
on the tops of the pages is intended to serve instead of questions.
These captions can be used in their present form as _topics_, in
respect to which, when announced in the class, the pupils are to
repeat substantially what is said on the page; or, on the other hand,
questions in form, if that mode is preferred, can be readily framed
from them by the teacher. In all the volumes, a very regular system of
division is observed, which will greatly facilitate the assignment of


 Chapter                                                    Page

    I. HERODOTUS AND XENOPHON                                13

   II. THE BIRTH OF CYRUS                                    37

  III. THE VISIT TO MEDIA                                    68

   IV. CROESUS                                              101

    V. ACCESSION OF CYRUS TO THE THRONE                     124

   VI. THE ORACLES                                          144

  VII. THE CONQUEST OF LYDIA                                164

 VIII. THE CONQUEST OF BABYLON                              187

   IX. THE RESTORATION OF THE JEWS                          207

    X. THE STORY OF PANTHEA                                 226

   XI. CONVERSATIONS                                        253

  XII. THE DEATH OF CYRUS                                   270



 MAP OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE                       _Frontispiece._

 THE EXPOSURE OF THE INFANT                                  48

 CYRUS'S HUNTING                                             90

 THE SECRET CORRESPONDENCE                                  132

 THE SIEGE OF SARDIS                                        179

 RAISING JEREMIAH FROM THE DUNGEON                          219

 THE WAR-CHARIOT OF ABRADATES                               242




B.C. 550-401

The Persian monarchy.--Singular principle of human nature.--Grandeur
of the Persian monarchy.--Its origin.--The republics of
Greece.--Written characters Greek and Persian.--Preservation
of the Greek language.--Herodotus and Xenophon.--Birth of
Herodotus.--Education of the Greeks.--How public affairs were
discussed.--Literary entertainments.--Herodotus's early love of
knowledge.--Intercourse of nations.--Military expeditions.--Plan
of Herodotus's tour.--Herodotus visits Egypt.--Libya and the
Straits of Gibraltar.--Route of Herodotus in Asia.--His return
to Greece.--Doubts as to the extent of Herodotus's tour.--His
history "adorned."--Herodotus's credibility questioned.--Sources of
bias.--Samos.--Patmos.--The Olympiads.--Herodotus at Olympia.--History
received with applause.--Herodotus at Athens.--His literary
fame.--Birth of Xenophon.--Cyrus the Younger.--Ambition of Cyrus.--He
attempts to assassinate his brother.--Rebellion of Cyrus.--The Greek
auxiliaries.--Artaxerxes assembles his army.--The battle.--Cyrus
slain.--Murder of the Greek generals.--Critical situation
of the Greeks.--Xenophon's proposal.--Retreat of the Ten
Thousand.--Xenophon's retirement.--Xenophon's writings.--Credibility
of Herodotus and Xenophon.--Importance of the story.--Object of this

Cyrus was the founder of the ancient Persian empire--a monarchy,
perhaps, the most wealthy and magnificent which the world has ever
seen. Of that strange and incomprehensible principle of human nature,
under the influence of which vast masses of men, notwithstanding the
universal instinct of aversion to control, combine, under certain
circumstances, by millions and millions, to maintain, for many
successive centuries, the representatives of some one great family
in a condition of exalted, and absolute, and utterly irresponsible
ascendency over themselves, while they toil for them, watch over them,
submit to endless and most humiliating privations in their behalf, and
commit, if commanded to do so, the most inexcusable and atrocious
crimes to sustain the demigods they have thus made in their lofty
estate, we have, in the case of this Persian monarchy, one of the most
extraordinary exhibitions.

The Persian monarchy appears, in fact, even as we look back upon it
from this remote distance both of space and of time, as a very vast
wave of human power and grandeur. It swelled up among the populations
of Asia, between the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, about five
hundred years before Christ, and rolled on in undiminished magnitude
and glory for many centuries. It bore upon its crest the royal line
of Astyages and his successors. Cyrus was, however, the first of the
princes whom it held up conspicuously to the admiration of the world
and he rode so gracefully and gallantly on the lofty crest that
mankind have given him the credit of raising and sustaining the
magnificent billow on which he was borne. How far we are to consider
him as founding the monarchy, or the monarchy as raising and
illustrating him, will appear more fully in the course of this

Cotemporaneous with this Persian monarchy in the East, there
flourished in the West the small but very efficient and vigorous
republics of Greece. The Greeks had a written character for their
language which could be easily and rapidly executed, while the
ordinary language of the Persians was scarcely written at all. There
was, it is true, in this latter nation, a certain learned character,
which was used by the priests for their mystic records, and also for
certain sacred books which constituted the only national archives. It
was, however, only slowly and with difficulty that this character
could be penned, and, when penned, it was unintelligible to the great
mass of the population. For this reason, among others, the Greeks
wrote narratives of the great events which occurred in their day,
which narratives they so embellished and adorned by the picturesque
lights and shades in which their genius enabled them to present the
scenes and characters described as to make them universally admired,
while the surrounding nations produced nothing but formal governmental
records, not worth to the community at large the toil and labor
necessary to decipher them and make them intelligible. Thus the Greek
writers became the historians, not only of their own republics, but
also of all the nations around them; and with such admirable genius
and power did they fulfill this function, that, while the records of
all other nations cotemporary with them have been almost entirely
neglected and forgotten, the language of the Greeks has been preserved
among mankind, with infinite labor and toil, by successive generations
of scholars, in every civilized nation, for two thousand years, solely
in order that men may continue to read these tales.

Two Greek historians have given us a narrative of the events connected
with the life of Cyrus--Herodotus and Xenophon. These writers disagree
very materially in the statements which they make, and modern readers
are divided in opinion on the question which to believe. In order to
present this question fairly to the minds of our readers, we must
commence this volume with some account of these two authorities, whose
guidance, conflicting as it is, furnishes all the light which we have
to follow.

Herodotus was a philosopher and scholar. Xenophon was a great general.
The one spent his life in solitary study, or in visiting various
countries in the pursuit of knowledge; the other distinguished himself
in the command of armies, and in distant military expeditions, which
he conducted with great energy and skill. They were both, by birth,
men of wealth and high station, so that they occupied, from the
beginning, conspicuous positions in society; and as they were both
energetic and enterprising in character, they were led, each, to a
very romantic and adventurous career, the one in his travels, the
other in his campaigns, so that their personal history and their
exploits attracted great attention even while they lived.

Herodotus was born in the year 484 before Christ, which was about
fifty years after the death of the Cyrus whose history forms the
subject of this volume. He was born in the Grecian state of Caria,
in Asia Minor, and in the city of Halicarnassus. Caria, as may be
seen from the map at the commencement of this volume, was in the
southwestern part of Asia Minor, near the shores of the Ægean Sea.
Herodotus became a student at a very early age. It was the custom
in Greece, at that time, to give to young men of his rank a good
intellectual education. In other nations, the training of the young
men, in wealthy and powerful families, was confined almost exclusively
to the use of arms, to horsemanship, to athletic feats, and other such
accomplishments as would give them a manly and graceful personal
bearing, and enable them to excel in the various friendly contests of
the public games, as well as prepare them to maintain their ground
against their enemies in personal combats on the field of battle. The
Greeks, without neglecting these things, taught their young men
also to read and to write, explained to them the structure and the
philosophy of language, and trained them to the study of the poets,
the orators, and the historians which their country had produced. Thus
a general taste for intellectual pursuits and pleasures was diffused
throughout the community. Public affairs were discussed, before large
audiences assembled for the purpose, by orators who felt a great pride
and pleasure in the exercise of the power which they had acquired of
persuading, convincing, or exciting the mighty masses that listened to
them; and at the great public celebrations which were customary in
those days, in addition to the wrestlings, the races, the games, and
the military spectacles, there were certain literary entertainments
provided, which constituted an essential part of the public pleasures.
Tragedies were acted, poems recited, odes and lyrics sung, and
narratives of martial enterprises and exploits, and geographical and
historical descriptions of neighboring nations, were read to vast
throngs of listeners, who, having been accustomed from infancy to
witness such performances, and to hear them applauded, had learned to
appreciate and enjoy them. Of course, these literary exhibitions would
make impressions, more or less strong, on different minds, as the
mental temperaments and characters of individuals varied. They seem to
have exerted a very powerful influence on the mind of Herodotus in his
early years. He was inspired, when very young, with a great zeal and
ardor for the attainment of knowledge; and as he advanced toward
maturity, he began to be ambitious of making new discoveries, with a
view of communicating to his countrymen, in these great public
assemblies, what he should thus acquire. Accordingly, as soon as he
arrived at a suitable age, he resolved to set out upon a tour into
foreign countries, and to bring back a report of what he should see
and hear.

The intercourse of nations was, in those days, mainly carried on over
the waters of the Mediterranean Sea; and in times of peace, almost the
only mode of communication was by the ships and the caravans of the
merchants who traded from country to country, both by sea and on the
land. In fact, the knowledge which one country possessed of the
geography and the manners and customs of another, was almost wholly
confined to the reports which these merchants circulated. When
military expeditions invaded a territory, the commanders, or the
writers who accompanied them, often wrote descriptions of the scenes
which they witnessed in their campaigns, and described briefly the
countries through which they passed. These cases were, however,
comparatively rare; and yet, when they occurred, they furnished
accounts better authenticated, and more to be relied upon, and
expressed, moreover, in a more systematic and regular form, than the
reports of the merchants, though the information which was derived
from both these sources combined was very insufficient, and tended
to excite more curiosity than it gratified. Herodotus, therefore,
conceived that, in thoroughly exploring the countries on the shores
of the Mediterranean and in the interior of Asia, examining
their geographical position, inquiring into their history, their
institutions, their manners, customs, and laws, and writing the
results for the entertainment and instruction of his countrymen, he
had an ample field before him for the exercise of all his powers.

He went first to Egypt. Egypt had been until that time, closely shut
up from the rest of mankind by the jealousy and watchfulness of the
government. But now, on account of some recent political changes,
which will be hereafter more particularly alluded to, the way was
opened for travelers from other countries to come in. Herodotus was
the first to avail himself of this opportunity. He spent some time in
the country, and made himself minutely acquainted with its history,
its antiquities, its political and social condition at the time of his
visit, and with all the other points in respect to which he supposed
that his countrymen would wish to be informed. He took copious notes
of all that he saw. From Egypt he went westward into Libya, and thence
he traveled slowly along the whole southern shore of the Mediterranean
Sea as far as to the Straits of Gibraltar, noting, with great care,
every thing which presented itself to his own personal observation,
and availing himself of every possible source of information in
respect to all other points of importance for the object which he had
in view.

The Straits of Gibraltar were the ends of the earth toward the
westward in those ancient days, and our traveler accordingly, after
reaching them, returned again to the eastward. He visited Tyre, and
the cities of Phoenicia, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean
Sea, and thence went still farther eastward to Assyria and Babylon.
It was here that he obtained the materials for what he has written in
respect to the Medes and Persians, and to the history of Cyrus. After
spending some time in these countries, he went on by land still
further to the eastward, into the heart of Asia. The country of
Scythia was considered as at "the end of the earth" in this direction.
Herodotus penetrated for some distance into the almost trackless wilds
of this remote land, until he found that he had gone as far from the
great center of light and power on the shores of the Ægean Sea as he
could expect the curiosity of his countrymen to follow him. He passed
thence round toward the north, and came down through the countries
north of the Danube into Greece, by way of the Epirus and Macedon. To
make such a journey as this was, in fact, in those days, almost to
explore the whole known world.

It ought, however, here to be stated, that many modern scholars, who
have examined, with great care, the accounts which Herodotus has
given of what he saw and heard in his wanderings, doubt very seriously
whether his journeys were really as extended as he pretends. As his
object was to read what he was intending to write at great public
assemblies in Greece, he was, of course, under every possible
inducement to make his narrative as interesting as possible, and not
to detract at all from whatever there might be extraordinary either in
the extent of his wanderings or in the wonderfulness of the objects
and scenes which he saw, or in the romantic nature of the adventures
which he met with in his protracted tour. Cicero, in lauding him as a
writer, says that he was the first who evinced the power to _adorn_ a
historical narrative. Between adorning and _embellishing_, the line is
not to be very distinctly marked; and Herodotus has often been accused
of having drawn more from his fancy than from any other source, in
respect to a large portion of what he relates and describes. Some do
not believe that he ever even entered half the countries which he
professes to have thoroughly explored, while others find, in the
minuteness of his specifications, something like conclusive proof that
he related only what he actually saw. In a word, the question of his
credibility has been discussed by successive generations of scholars
ever since his day, and strong parties have been formed who have gone
to extremes in the opinions they have taken; so that, while some
confer upon him the title of the father of _history_, others say
it would be more in accordance with his merits to call him the
father of _lies_. In controversies like this, and, in fact, in all
controversies, it is more agreeable to the mass of mankind to take
sides strongly with one party or the other, and either to believe or
disbelieve one or the other fully and cordially. There is a class of
minds, however, more calm and better balanced than the rest, who can
deny themselves this pleasure, and who see that often, in the most
bitter and decided controversies, the truth lies between. By this
class of minds it has been generally supposed that the narratives of
Herodotus are substantially true, though in many cases highly colored
and embellished, or, as Cicero called it, adorned, as, in fact, they
inevitably must have been under the circumstances in which they were

We can not follow minutely the circumstances of the subsequent life
of Herodotus. He became involved in some political disturbances and
difficulties in his native state after his return, in consequence of
which he retired, partly a fugitive and partly an exile, to the island
of Samos, which is at a little distance from Caria, and not far from
the shore. Here he lived for some time in seclusion, occupied in
writing out his history. He divided it into nine books, to which,
respectively, the names of the nine Muses were afterward given, to
designate them. The island of Samos, where this great literary work
was performed, is very near to Patmos, where, a few hundred years
later, the Evangelist John, in a similar retirement, and in the use
of the same language and character, wrote the Book of Revelation.

When a few of the first books of his history were completed, Herodotus
went with the manuscript to Olympia, at the great celebration of the
81st Olympiad. The Olympiads were periods recurring at intervals of
about four years. By means of them the Greeks reckoned their time.
The Olympiads were celebrated as they occurred, with games, shows,
spectacles, and parades, which were conducted on so magnificent a
scale that vast crowds were accustomed to assemble from every part of
Greece to witness and join in them. They were held at Olympia, a city
on the western side of Greece. Nothing now remains to mark the spot
but some acres of confused and unintelligible ruins.

The personal fame of Herodotus and of his travels had preceded him,
and when he arrived at Olympia he found the curiosity and eagerness
of the people to listen to his narratives extreme. He read copious
extracts from his accounts, so far as he had written them, to the vast
assemblies which convened to hear him, and they were received with
unbounded applause; and inasmuch as these assemblies comprised nearly
all the statesmen, the generals, the philosophers, and the scholars of
Greece, applause expressed by them became at once universal renown.
Herodotus was greatly gratified at the interest which his countrymen
took in his narratives, and he determined thenceforth to devote his
time assiduously to the continuation and completion of his work.

It was twelve years, however, before his plan was finally
accomplished. He then repaired to Athens, at the time of a grand
festive celebration which was held in that city, and there he appeared
in public again, and read extended portions of the additional books
that he had written. The admiration and applause which his work now
elicited was even greater than before. In deciding upon the passages
to be read, Herodotus selected such as would be most likely to excite
the interest of his Grecian hearers, and many of them were glowing
accounts of Grecian exploits in former wars which had been waged in
the countries which he had visited. To expect that, under such
circumstances, Herodotus should have made his history wholly
impartial, would be to suppose the historian not human.

The Athenians were greatly pleased with the narratives which Herodotus
thus read to them of their own and of their ancestors' exploits. They
considered him a national benefactor for having made such a record of
their deeds, and, in addition to the unbounded applause which they
bestowed upon him, they made him a public grant of a large sum of
money. During the remainder of his life Herodotus continued to enjoy
the high degree of literary renown which his writings had acquired for
him--a renown which has since been extended and increased, rather than
diminished, by the lapse of time.

As for Xenophon, the other great historian of Cyrus, it has already
been said that he was a military commander, and his life was
accordingly spent in a very different manner from that of his great
competitor for historic fame. He was born at Athens, about thirty
years after the birth of Herodotus, so that he was but a child while
Herodotus was in the midst of his career. When he was about twenty-two
years of age, he joined a celebrated military expedition which was
formed in Greece, for the purpose of proceeding to Asia Minor to enter
into the service of the governor of that country. The name of this
governor was Cyrus; and to distinguish him from Cyrus the Great, whose
history is to form the subject of this volume, and who lived about one
hundred and fifty years before him, he is commonly called Cyrus the

This expedition was headed by a Grecian general named Clearchus. The
soldiers and the subordinate officers of the expedition did not know
for what special service it was designed, as Cyrus had a treasonable
and guilty object in view, and he kept it accordingly concealed, even
from the agents who were to aid him in the execution of it. His plan
was to make war upon and dethrone his brother Artaxerxes, then king of
Persia, and consequently his sovereign. Cyrus was a very young man,
but he was a man of a very energetic and accomplished character, and
of unbounded ambition. When his father died, it was arranged that
Artaxerxes, the older son, should succeed him. Cyrus was extremely
unwilling to submit to this supremacy of his brother. His mother was
an artful and unprincipled woman, and Cyrus, being the youngest of
her children, was her favorite. She encouraged him in his ambitious
designs; and so desperate was Cyrus himself in his determination to
accomplish them, that it is said he attempted to assassinate his
brother on the day of his coronation. His attempt was discovered, and
it failed. His brother, however, instead of punishing him for the
treason, had the generosity to pardon him, and sent him to his
government in Asia Minor. Cyrus immediately turned all his thoughts to
the plan of raising an army and making war upon his brother, in order
to gain forcible possession of his throne. That he might have a
plausible pretext for making the necessary military preparations, he
pretended to have a quarrel with one of his neighbors, and wrote,
hypocritically, many letters to the king, affecting solicitude for
his safety, and asking aid. The king was thus deceived, and made no
preparations to resist the force which Cyrus was assembling, not
having the remotest suspicion that its destiny was Babylon.

The auxiliary army which came from Greece to enter into Cyrus's
service under these circumstances, consisted of about thirteen
thousand men. He had, it was said, a hundred thousand men besides; but
so celebrated were the Greeks in those days for their courage, their
discipline, their powers of endurance, and their indomitable tenacity
and energy, that Cyrus very properly considered this corps as the
flower of his army. Xenophon was one of the younger Grecian generals.
The army crossed the Hellespont, and entered Asia Minor, and, passing
across the country, reached at last the famous pass of Cilicia, in
the southwestern part of the country--a narrow defile between the
mountains and the sea, which opens the only passage in that quarter
toward the Persian regions beyond. Here the suspicions which the
Greeks had been for some time inclined to feel, that they were going
to make war upon the Persian monarch himself, were confirmed, and they
refused to proceed. Their unwillingness, however, did not arise from
any compunctions of conscience about the guilt of treason, or the
wickedness of helping an ungrateful and unprincipled wretch, whose
forfeited life had once been given to him by his brother, in making
war upon and destroying his benefactor. Soldiers have never, in any
age of the world, any thing to do with compunctions of conscience in
respect to the work which their commanders give them to perform.
The Greeks were perfectly willing to serve in this or in any other
undertaking; but, since it was rebellion and treason that was asked of
them, they considered it as specially hazardous, and so they concluded
that they were entitled to extra pay. Cyrus made no objection to this
demand; an arrangement was made accordingly, and the army went on.

Artaxerxes assembled suddenly the whole force of his empire on the
plains of Babylon--an immense army, consisting, it is said, of over a
million of men. Such vast forces occupy, necessarily, a wide extent of
country, even when drawn up in battle array. So great, in fact, was
the extent occupied in this case, that the Greeks, who conquered all
that part of the king's forces which was directly opposed to them,
supposed, when night came, at the close of the day of battle, that
Cyrus had been every where victorious; and they were only undeceived
when, the next day, messengers came from the Persian camp to inform
them that Cyrus's whole force, excepting themselves, was defeated and
dispersed, and that Cyrus himself was slain, and to summon them to
surrender at once and unconditionally to the conquerors.

The Greeks refused to surrender. They formed themselves immediately
into a compact and solid body, fortified themselves as well as they
could in their position, and prepared for a desperate defense. There
were about ten thousand of them left, and the Persians seem to have
considered them too formidable to be attacked. The Persians entered
into negotiations with them, offering them certain terms on which they
would be allowed to return peaceably into Greece. These negotiations
were protracted from day to day for two or three weeks, the Persians
treacherously using toward them a friendly tone, and evincing a
disposition to treat them in a liberal and generous manner. This threw
the Greeks off their guard, and finally the Persians contrived to get
Clearchus and the leading Greek generals into their power at a feast,
and then they seized and murdered them, or, as they would perhaps term
it, _executed_ them as rebels and traitors. When this was reported in
the Grecian camp, the whole army was thrown at first into the utmost
consternation. They found themselves two thousand miles from home, in
the heart of a hostile country, with an enemy nearly a hundred times
their own number close upon them, while they themselves were without
provisions, without horses, without money; and there were deep rivers,
and rugged mountains, and every other possible physical obstacle to be
surmounted, before they could reach their own frontiers. If they
surrendered to their enemies, a hopeless and most miserable slavery
was their inevitable doom.

Under these circumstances, Xenophon, according to his own story,
called together the surviving officers in the camp, urged them not to
despair, and recommended that immediate measures should be taken for
commencing a march toward Greece. He proposed that they should elect
commanders to take the places of those who had been killed, and that,
under their new organization, they should immediately set out on
their return. These plans were adopted. He himself was chosen as
the commanding general, and under his guidance the whole force was
conducted safely through the countless difficulties and dangers which
beset their way, though they had to defend themselves, at every step
of their progress, from an enemy so vastly more numerous than they,
and which was hanging on their flanks and on their rear, and making
the most incessant efforts to surround and capture them. This retreat
occupied two hundred and fifteen days. It has always been considered
as one of the greatest military achievements that has ever been
performed. It is called in history the Retreat of the Ten Thousand.
Xenophon acquired by it a double immortality. He led the army, and
thus attained to a military renown which will never fade; and he
afterward wrote a narrative of the exploit, which has given him an
equally extended and permanent literary fame.

Some time after this, Xenophon returned again to Asia as a military
commander, and distinguished himself in other campaigns. He acquired a
large fortune, too, in these wars, and at length retired to a villa,
which he built and adorned magnificently, in the neighborhood of
Olympia, where Herodotus had acquired so extended a fame by reading
his histories. It was probably, in some degree, through the influence
of the success which had attended the labors of Herodotus in this
field, that Xenophon was induced to enter it. He devoted the later
years of his life to writing various historical memoirs, the two most
important of which that have come down to modern times are, first,
the narrative of his own expedition, under Cyrus the Younger, and,
secondly, a sort of romance or tale founded on the history of Cyrus
the Great. This last is called the Cyropædia; and it is from this
work, and from the history written by Herodotus, that nearly all our
knowledge of the great Persian monarch is derived.

The question how far the stories which Herodotus and Xenophon have
told us in relating the history of the great Persian king are true, is
of less importance than one would at first imagine; for the case is
one of those numerous instances in which the narrative itself, which
genius has written, has had far greater influence on mankind than the
events themselves exerted which the narrative professes to record. It
is now far more important for us to know what the story is which
has for eighteen hundred years been read and listened to by every
generation of men, than what the actual events were in which the tale
thus told had its origin. This consideration applies very extensively
to history, and especially to ancient history. The events themselves
have long since ceased to be of any great interest or importance to
readers of the present day; but the _accounts_, whether they are
fictitious or real, partial or impartial, honestly true or embellished
and colored, since they have been so widely circulated in every age
and in every nation, and have impressed themselves so universally and
so permanently in the mind and memory of the whole human race, and
have penetrated into and colored the literature of every civilized
people, it becomes now necessary that every well-informed man should
understand. In a word, the real Cyrus is now a far less important
personage to mankind than the Cyrus of Herodotus and Xenophon, and it
is, accordingly, their story which the author proposes to relate in
this volume. The reader will understand, therefore, that the end and
aim of the work is not to guarantee an exact and certain account of
Cyrus as he actually lived and acted, but only to give a true and
faithful summary of the story which for the last two thousand years
has been in circulation respecting him among mankind.



B.C. 599-588

The three Asiatic empires.--Marriage of Cambyses.--Story of
Mandane.--Dream of Astyages.--Astyages' second dream.--Its
interpretation.--Birth of Cyrus.--Astyages determines to destroy
him.--Harpagus.--The king's command to him.--Distress of Harpagus.--His
consultation with his wife.--The herdsman.--He conveys the child to
his hut.--The herdsman's wife.--Conversation in the hut.--Entreaties
of the herdsman's wife to save the child's life.--Spaco substitutes
her dead child for Cyrus.--The artifice successful.--The body
buried.--Remorse of Astyages.--Boyhood of Cyrus.--Cyrus a king
among the boys.--A quarrel.--Cyrus summoned into the presence
of Astyages.--Cyrus's defense.--Astonishment of Astyages.--The
discovery.--Mingled feelings of Astyages.--Inhuman monsters.--Astyages
determines to punish Harpagus.--Interview between Artyages and
Harpagus.--Explanation of Harpagus.--Dissimulation of Astyages.--He
proposes an entertainment.--Astyages invites Harpagus to a grand
entertainment.--Horrible revenge.--Action of Harpagus.--Astyages
becomes uneasy.--The magi again consulted.--Advice of the
magi.--Astyages adopts it.--Cyrus sets out for Persia.--His parents'
joy.--Life at Cambyses's court.--Instruction of the young men.--Cyrus
a judge.--His decision in that capacity.--Cyrus punished.--Manly
exercises.--Hunting excursions.--Personal appearance of
Cyrus.--Disposition and character of Cyrus.--A universal favorite.

There are records coming down to us from the very earliest times of
three several kingdoms situated in the heart of Asia-Assyria, Media,
and Persia, the two latter of which, at the period when they first
emerge indistinctly into view, were more or less connected with and
dependent upon the former. Astyages was the King of Media; Cambyses
was the name of the ruling prince or magistrate of Persia. Cambyses
married Mandane, the daughter of Astyages, and Cyrus was their son. In
recounting the circumstances of his birth, Herodotus relates, with all
seriousness, the following very extraordinary story:

While Mandane was a maiden, living at her father's palace and home in
Media, Astyages awoke one morning terrified by a dream. He had dreamed
of a great inundation, which overwhelmed and destroyed his capital,
and submerged a large part of his kingdom. The great rivers of that
country were liable to very destructive floods, and there would have
been nothing extraordinary or alarming in the king's imagination being
haunted, during his sleep, by the image of such a calamity, were
it not that, in this case, the deluge of water which produced such
disastrous results seemed to be, in some mysterious way, connected
with his daughter, so that the dream appeared to portend some great
calamity which was to originate in her. He thought it perhaps
indicated that after her marriage she should have a son who would
rebel against him and seize the supreme power, thus overwhelming his
kingdom as the inundation had done which he had seen in his dream.

To guard against this imagined danger, Astyages determined that his
daughter should not be married in Media, but that she should be
provided with a husband in some foreign land, so as to be taken away
from Media altogether. He finally selected Cambyses, the king of
Persia, for her husband. Persia was at that time a comparatively small
and circumscribed dominion, and Cambyses, though he seems to have been
the supreme ruler of it, was very far beneath Astyages in rank and
power. The distance between the two countries was considerable, and
the institutions and customs of the people of Persia were simple and
rude, little likely to awaken or encourage in the minds of their
princes any treasonable or ambitious designs. Astyages thought,
therefore, that in sending Mandane there to be the wife of the king,
he had taken effectual precautions to guard against the danger
portended by his dream.

Mandane was accordingly married, and conducted by her husband to her
new home. About a year afterward her father had another dream. He
dreamed that a vine proceeded from his daughter, and, growing rapidly
and luxuriantly while he was regarding it, extended itself over the
whole land. Now the vine being a symbol of beneficence and plenty,
Astyages might have considered this vision as an omen of good; still,
as it was good which was to be derived in some way from his daughter,
it naturally awakened his fears anew that he was doomed to find a
rival and competitor for the possession of his kingdom in Mandane's
son and heir. He called together his soothsayers, related his dream to
them, and asked for their interpretation. They decided that it meant
that Mandane would have a son who would one day become a king.

Astyages was now seriously alarmed, and he sent for Mandane to come
home, ostensibly because he wished her to pay a visit to her father
and to her native land, but really for the purpose of having her in
his power, that he might destroy her child so soon as one should be

Mandane came to Media, and was established by her father in a
residence near his palace, and such officers and domestics were put
in charge of her household as Astyages could rely upon to do whatever
he should command. Things being thus arranged, a few months passed
away, and then Mandane's child was born.

Immediately on hearing of the event, Astyages sent for a certain
officer of his court, an unscrupulous and hardened man, who possessed,
as he supposed, enough of depraved and reckless resolution for the
commission of any crime, and addressed him as follows:

"I have sent for you, Harpagus, to commit to your charge a business of
very great importance. I confide fully in your principles of obedience
and fidelity, and depend upon your doing, yourself, with your own
hands, the work that I require. If you fail to do it, or if you
attempt to evade it by putting it off upon others, you will suffer
severely. I wish you to take Mandane's child to your own house and
put him to death. You may accomplish the object in any mode you
please, and you may arrange the circumstances of the burial of the
body, or the disposal of it in any other way, as you think best; the
essential thing is, that you see to it, yourself, that the child is

Harpagus replied that whatever the king might command it was his duty
to do, and that, as his master had never hitherto had occasion to
censure his conduct, he should not find him wanting now. Harpagus then
went to receive the infant. The attendants of Mandane had been ordered
to deliver it to him. Not at all suspecting the object for which the
child was thus taken away, but naturally supposing, on the other hand,
that it was for the purpose of some visit, they arrayed their
unconscious charge in the most highly-wrought and costly of the robes
which Mandane, his mother, had for many months been interested in
preparing for him, and then gave him up to the custody of Harpagus,
expecting, doubtless, that he would be very speedily returned to their

Although Harpagus had expressed a ready willingness to obey the cruel
behest of the king at the time of receiving it, he manifested, as soon
as he received the child, an extreme degree of anxiety and distress.
He immediately sent for a herdsman named Mitridates to come to him. In
the mean time, he took the child home to his house, and in a very
excited and agitated manner related to his wife what had passed. He
laid the child down in the apartment, leaving it neglected and alone,
while he conversed with his wife in a harried and anxious manner in
respect to the dreadful situation in which he found himself placed.
She asked him what he intended to do. He replied that he certainly
should not, himself, destroy the child. "It is the son of Mandane,"
said he. "She is the king's daughter. If the king should die, Mandane
would succeed him, and then what terrible danger would impend over me
if she should know me to have been the slayer of her son!" Harpagus
said, moreover, that he did not dare absolutely to disobey the orders
of the king so far as to save the child's life, and that he had sent
for a herdsman, whose pastures extended to wild and desolate forests
and mountains--the gloomy haunts of wild beasts and birds of
prey--intending to give the child to him, with orders to carry it into
those solitudes and abandon it there. His name was Mitridates.

While they were speaking this herdsman came in. He found Harpagus and
his wife talking thus together, with countenances expressive of
anxiety and distress, while the child, uneasy under the confinement
and inconveniences of its splendid dress, and terrified at the
strangeness of the scene and the circumstances around it, and perhaps,
moreover, experiencing some dawning and embryo emotions of resentment
at being laid down in neglect, cried aloud and incessantly. Harpagus
gave the astonished herdsman his charge. He, afraid, as Harpagus had
been in the presence of Astyages, to evince any hesitation in respect
to obeying the orders of his superior, whatever they might be, took up
the child and bore it away.

He carried it to his hut. It so happened that his wife, whose name was
Spaco, had at that very time a new-born child, but it was dead. Her
dead son had, in fact, been born during the absence of Mitridates. He
had been extremely unwilling to leave his home at such a time, but the
summons of Harpagus must, he knew, be obeyed. His wife, too, not
knowing what could have occasioned so sudden and urgent a call, had to
bear, all the day, a burden of anxiety and solicitude in respect to
her husband, in addition to her disappointment and grief at the loss
of her child. Her anxiety and grief were changed for a little time
into astonishment and curiosity at seeing the beautiful babe, so
magnificently dressed, which her husband brought to her, and at
hearing his extraordinary story.

He said that when he first entered the house of Harpagus and saw the
child lying there, and heard the directions which Harpagus gave him to
carry it into the mountains and leave it to die, he supposed that the
babe belonged to some of the domestics of the household, and that
Harpagus wished to have it destroyed in order to be relieved of a
burden. The richness, however, of the infant's dress, and the deep
anxiety and sorrow which was indicated by the countenances and by the
conversation of Harpagus and his wife, and which seemed altogether too
earnest to be excited by the concern which they would probably feel
for any servant's offspring, appeared at the time, he said,
inconsistent with that supposition, and perplexed and bewildered him.
He said, moreover, that in the end, Harpagus had sent a man with him a
part of the way when he left the house, and that this man had given
him a full explanation of the case. The child was the son of Mandane,
the daughter of the king, and he was to be destroyed by the orders of
Astyages himself, for fear that at some future period he might attempt
to usurp the throne.

They who know any thing of the feelings of a mother under the
circumstances in which Spaco was placed, can imagine with what
emotions she received the little sufferer, now nearly exhausted by
abstinence, fatigue, and fear, from her husband's hands, and the
heartfelt pleasure with which she drew him to her bosom, to comfort
and relieve him. In an hour she was, as it were, herself his mother,
and she began to plead hard with her husband for his life.

Mitridates said that the child could not possibly be saved. Harpagus
had been most earnest and positive in his orders, and he was coming
himself to see that they had been executed. He would demand,
undoubtedly, to see the body of the child, to assure himself that it
was actually dead. Spaco, instead of being convinced by her husband's
reasoning, only became more and more earnest in her desires that the
child might be saved. She rose from her couch and clasped her
husband's knees, and begged him with the most earnest entreaties and
with many tears to grant her request. Her husband was, however,
inexorable. He said that if he were to yield, and attempt to save
the child from its doom, Harpagus would most certainly know that
his orders had been disobeyed, and then their own lives would be
forfeited, and the child itself sacrificed after all, in the end.

The thought then occurred to Spaco that her own dead child might be
substituted for the living one, and be exposed in the mountains in
its stead. She proposed this plan, and, after much anxious doubt and
hesitation, the herdsman consented to adopt it. They took off the
splendid robes which adorned the living child, and put them on the
corpse, each equally unconscious of the change. The little limbs of
the son of Mandane were then more simply clothed in the coarse and
scanty covering which belonged to the new character which he was now
to assume, and then the babe was restored to its place in Spaco's
bosom. Mitridates placed his own dead child, completely disguised as
it was by the royal robes it wore, in the little basket or cradle in
which the other had been brought, and, accompanied by an attendant,
whom he was to leave in the forest to keep watch over the body, he
went away to seek some wild and desolate solitude in which to leave
it exposed.


Three days passed away, during which the attendant whom the herdsman
had left in the forest watched near the body to prevent its being
devoured by wild beasts or birds of prey, and at the end of that time
he brought it home. The herdsman then went to Harpagus to inform him
that the child was dead, and, in proof that it was really so, he said
that if Harpagus would come to his hut he could see the body. Harpagus
sent some messenger in whom he could confide to make the observation.
The herdsman exhibited the dead child to him, and he was satisfied. He
reported the result of his mission to Harpagus, and Harpagus then
ordered the body to be buried. The child of Mandane, whom we may call
Cyrus, since that was the name which he subsequently received, was
brought up in the herdsman's hut, and passed every where for Spaco's

Harpagus, after receiving the report of his messenger, then informed
Astyages that his orders had been executed, and that the child was
dead. A trusty messenger, he said, whom he had sent for the purpose,
had seen the body. Although the king had been so earnest to have the
deed performed, he found that, after all, the knowledge that his
orders had been obeyed gave him very little satisfaction. The fears,
prompted by his selfishness and ambition, which had led him to commit
the crime, gave place, when it had been perpetrated, to remorse for
his unnatural cruelty. Mandane mourned incessantly the death of her
innocent babe, and loaded her father with reproaches for having
destroyed it, which he found it very hard to bear. In the end, he
repented bitterly of what he had done.

The secret of the child's preservation remained concealed for about
ten years. It was then discovered in the following manner:

Cyrus, like Alexander, Cæsar, William the Conqueror, Napoleon, and
other commanding minds, who obtained a great ascendancy over masses of
men in their maturer years, evinced his dawning superiority at a very
early period of his boyhood. He took the lead of his playmates in
their sports, and made them submit to his regulations and decisions.
Not only did the peasants' boys in the little hamlet where his reputed
father lived thus yield the precedence to him, but sometimes, when the
sons of men of rank and station came out from the city to join them
in their plays, even then Cyrus was the acknowledged head. One day the
son of an officer of King Astyages's court--his father's name was
Artembaris--came out, with other boys from the city, to join these
village boys in their sports. They were playing _king_. Cyrus was the
king. Herodotus says that the other boys _chose_ him as such. It was,
however, probably such a sort of choice as that by which kings and
emperors are made among men, a yielding more or less voluntary on the
part of the subjects to the resolute and determined energy with which
the aspirant places himself upon the throne.

During the progress of the play, a quarrel arose between Cyrus and the
son of Artembaris. The latter would not obey, and Cyrus beat him. He
went home and complained bitterly to his father. The father went to
Astyages to protest against such an indignity offered to his son by a
peasant boy, and demanded that the little tyrant should be punished.
Probably far the larger portion of intelligent readers of history
consider the whole story as a romance; but if we look upon it as in
any respect true, we must conclude that the Median monarchy must have
been, at that time, in a very rude and simple condition indeed, to
allow of the submission of such a question as this to the personal
adjudication of the reigning king.

However this may be, Herodotus states that Artembaris went to the
palace of Astyages, taking his son with him, to offer proofs of the
violence of which the herdsman's son had been guilty, by showing the
contusions and bruises that had been produced by the blows. "Is this
the treatment," he asked, indignantly, of the king, when he had
completed his statement, "that my boy is to receive from the son of
one of your slaves?"

Astyages seemed to be convinced that Artembaris had just cause to
complain, and he sent for Mitridates and his son to come to him in the
city. When they arrived, Cyrus advanced into the presence of the king
with that courageous and manly bearing which romance writers are so
fond of ascribing to boys of noble birth, whatever may have been the
circumstances of their early training. Astyages was much struck with
his appearance and air. He, however, sternly laid to his charge the
accusation which Artembaris had brought against him. Pointing to
Artembaris's son, all bruised and swollen as he was, he asked, "Is
that the way that you, a mere herdsman's boy, dare to treat the son
of one of my nobles?"

The little prince looked up into his stern judge's face with an
undaunted expression of countenance, which, considering the
circumstances of the case, and the smallness of the scale on which
this embryo heroism was represented, was partly ludicrous and partly

"My lord," said he, "what I have done I am able to justify. I did
punish this boy, and I had a right to do so. I was king, and he was my
subject, and he would not obey me. If you think that for this I
deserve punishment myself, here I am; I am ready to suffer it."

If Astyages had been struck with the appearance and manner of Cyrus
at the commencement of the interview, his admiration was awakened far
more strongly now, at hearing such words, uttered, too, in so exalted
a tone, from such a child. He remained a long time silent. At last he
told Artembaris and his son that they might retire. He would take the
affair, he said, into his own hands, and dispose of it in a just and
proper manner. Astyages then took the herdsman aside, and asked him,
in an earnest tone, whose boy that was, and where he had obtained him.

Mitridates was terrified. He replied, however, that the boy was his
own son, and that his mother was still living at home, in the hut
where they all resided. There seems to have been something, however,
in his appearance and manner, while making these assertions, which led
Astyages not to believe what he said. He was convinced that there was
some unexplained mystery in respect to the origin of the boy, which
the herdsman was willfully withholding. He assumed a displeased and
threatening air, and ordered in his guards to take Mitridates into
custody. The terrified herdsman then said that he would explain all,
and he accordingly related honestly the whole story.

Astyages was greatly rejoiced to find that the child was alive. One
would suppose it to be almost inconsistent with this feeling that he
should be angry with Harpagus for not having destroyed it. It would
seem, in fact, that Harpagus was not amenable to serious censure, in
any view of the subject, for he had taken what he had a right to
consider very effectual measures for carrying the orders of the king
into faithful execution. But Astyages seems to have been one of those
inhuman monsters which the possession and long-continued exercise of
despotic power have so often made, who take a calm, quiet, and
deliberate satisfaction in torturing to death any wretched victim whom
they can have any pretext for destroying, especially if they can
invent some new means of torment to give a fresh piquancy to their
pleasure. These monsters do not act from passion. Men are sometimes
inclined to palliate great cruelties and crimes which are perpetrated
under the influence of sudden anger, or from the terrible impulse of
those impetuous and uncontrollable emotions of the human soul which,
when once excited, seem to make men insane; but the crimes of a tyrant
are not of this kind. They are the calm, deliberate, and sometimes
carefully economized gratifications of a nature essentially malign.

When, therefore, Astyages learned that Harpagus had failed of
literally obeying his command to destroy, with his own hand, the
infant which had been given him, although he was pleased with the
consequences which had resulted from it, he immediately perceived
that there was another pleasure besides that he was to derive from
the transaction, namely, that of gratifying his own imperious and
ungovernable will by taking vengeance on him who had failed, even in
so slight a degree, of fulfilling its dictates. In a word, he was glad
that the child was saved, but he did not consider that that was any
reason why he should not have the pleasure of punishing the man who
saved him.

Thus, far from being transported by any sudden and violent feeling of
resentment to an inconsiderate act of revenge, Astyages began, calmly
and coolly, and with a deliberate malignity more worthy of a demon
than of a man, to consider how he could best accomplish the purpose
he had in view. When, at length, his plan was formed, he sent for
Harpagus to come to him. Harpagus came. The king began the
conversation by asking Harpagus what method he had employed for
destroying the child of Mandane, which he, the king, had delivered to
him some years before. Harpagus replied by stating the exact truth. He
said that, as soon as he had received the infant, he began immediately
to consider by what means he could effect its destruction without
involving himself in the guilt of murder; that, finally, he had
determined upon employing the herdsman Mitridates to expose it in the
forest till it should perish of hunger and cold; and, in order to be
sure that the king's behest was fully obeyed, he charged the
herdsman, he said, to keep strict watch near the child till it was
dead, and then to bring home the body. He had then sent a confidential
messenger from his own household to see the body and provide for its
interment. He solemnly assured the king, in conclusion, that this was
the real truth, and that the child was actually destroyed in the
manner he had described.

The king then, with an appearance of great satisfaction and pleasure,
informed Harpagus that the child had not been destroyed after all, and
he related to him the circumstances of its having been exchanged for
the dead child of Spaco, and brought up in the herdsman's hut. He
informed him, too, of the singular manner in which the fact that the
infant had been preserved, and was still alive, had been discovered.
He told Harpagus, moreover, that he was greatly rejoiced at this
discovery. "After he was dead, as I supposed," said he, "I bitterly
repented of having given orders to destroy him. I could not bear my
daughter's grief, or the reproaches which she incessantly uttered
against me. But the child is alive, and all is well; and I am going to
give a grand entertainment as a festival of rejoicing on the

Astyages then requested Harpagus to send his son, who was about
thirteen years of age, to the palace, to be a companion to Cyrus, and,
inviting him very specially to come to the entertainment, he dismissed
him with many marks of attention and honor. Harpagus went home,
trembling at the thought of the imminent danger which he had incurred,
and of the narrow escape by which he had been saved from it. He called
his son, directed him to prepare himself to go to the king, and
dismissed him with many charges in respect to his behavior, both
toward the king and toward Cyrus. He related to his wife the
conversation which had taken place between himself and Astyages, and
she rejoiced with him in the apparently happy issue of an affair
which might well have been expected to have been their ruin.

The sequel of the story is too horrible to be told, and yet too
essential to a right understanding of the influences and effects
produced on human nature by the possession and exercise of despotic
and irresponsible power to be omitted. Harpagus came to the festival.
It was a grand entertainment. Harpagus was placed in a conspicuous
position at the table. A great variety of dishes were brought in and
set before the different guests, and were eaten without question.
Toward the close of the feast, Astyages asked Harpagus what he thought
of his fare. Harpagus, half terrified with some mysterious
presentiment of danger, expressed himself well pleased with it.
Astyages then told him there was plenty more of the same kind, and
ordered the attendants to bring the basket in. They came accordingly,
and uncovered a basket before the wretched guest, which contained, as
he saw when he looked into it, the head, and hands, and feet of his
son. Astyages asked him to help himself to whatever part he liked!

The most astonishing part of the story is yet to be told. It relates
to the action of Harpagus in such an emergency. He looked as composed
and placid as if nothing unusual had occurred. The king asked him if
he knew what he had been eating. He said that he did; and that
whatever was agreeable to the will of the king was always pleasing to

It is hard to say whether despotic power exerts its worst and most
direful influences on those who wield it, or on those who have it to
bear; on its masters, or on its slaves.

After the first feelings of pleasure which Astyages experienced in
being relieved from the sense of guilt which oppressed his mind so
long as he supposed that his orders for the murder of his infant
grandchild had been obeyed, his former uneasiness lest the child
should in future years become his rival and competitor for the
possession of the Median throne, which had been the motive originally
instigating him to the commission of the crime, returned in some
measure again, and he began to consider whether it was not incumbent
on him to take some measures to guard against such a result. The end
of his deliberations was, that he concluded to send for the magi, or
soothsayers, as he had done in the case of his dream, and obtain their
judgment on the affair in the new aspect which it had now assumed.

When the magi had heard the king's narrative of the circumstances
under which the discovery of the child's preservation had been made,
through complaints which had been preferred against him on account of
the manner in which he had exercised the prerogatives of a king among
his playmates, they decided at once that Astyages had no cause for any
further apprehensions in respect to the dreams which had disturbed him
previous to his grandchild's birth. "He has been a king," they said,
"and the danger is over. It is true that he has been a monarch only in
play, but that is enough to satisfy and fulfill the presages of the
vision. Occurrences very slight and trifling in themselves are often
found to accomplish what seemed of very serious magnitude and moment,
as portended. Your grandchild has been a king, and he will never reign
again. You have, therefore, no further cause to fear, and may send him
to his parents in Persia with perfect safety."

The king determined to adopt this advice. He ordered the soothsayers,
however, not to remit their assiduity and vigilance, and if any signs
or omens should appear to indicate approaching danger, he charged them
to give him immediate warning. This they faithfully promised to do.
They felt, they said, a personal interest in doing it; for Cyrus being
a Persian prince, his accession to the Median throne would involve the
subjection of the Medes to the Persian dominion, a result which they
wished in every account to avoid. So, promising to watch vigilantly
for every indication of danger, they left the presence of the king.
The king then sent for Cyrus.

It seems that Cyrus, though astonished at the great and mysterious
changes which had taken place in his condition, was still ignorant of
his true history. Astyages now told him that he was to go into Persia.
"You will rejoin there," said he, "your true parents, who, you will
find, are of very different rank in life from the herdsman whom you
have lived with thus far. You will make the journey under the charge
and escort of persons that I have appointed for the purpose. They will
explain to you, on the way, the mystery in which your parentage and
birth seems to you at present enveloped. You will find that I was
induced many years ago, by the influence of an untoward dream, to
treat you injuriously. But all has ended well, and you can now go in
peace to your proper home."

As soon as the preparations for the journey could be made, Cyrus set
out, under the care of the party appointed to conduct him, and went to
Persia. His parents were at first dumb with astonishment, and were
then overwhelmed with gladness and joy at seeing their much-loved and
long-lost babe reappear, as if from the dead, in the form of this tall
and handsome boy, with health, intelligence, and happiness beaming in
his countenance. They overwhelmed him with caresses, and the heart of
Mandane, especially, was filled with pride and pleasure.

As soon as Cyrus became somewhat settled in his new home, his parents
began to make arrangements for giving him as complete an education as
the means and opportunities of those days afforded.

Xenophon, in his narrative of the early life of Cyrus, gives a minute,
and, in some respects, quite an extraordinary account of the mode of
life led in Cambyses's court. The sons of all the nobles and officers
of the court were educated together, within the precincts of the royal
palaces, or, rather, they spent their time together there, occupied in
various pursuits and avocations, which were intended to train them for
the duties of future life, though there was very little of what would
be considered, in modern times, as education. They were not generally
taught to read, nor could they, in fact, since there were no books,
have used that art if they had acquired it. The only intellectual
instruction which they seem to have received was what was called
learning justice. The boys had certain teachers, who explained to
them, more or less formally, the general principles of right and
wrong, the injunctions and prohibitions of the laws, and the
obligations resulting from them, and the rules by which controversies
between man and man, arising in the various relations of life, should
be settled. The boys were also trained to apply these principles and
rules to the cases which occurred among themselves, each acting as
judge in turn, to discuss and decide the questions that arose from
time to time, either from real transactions as they occurred, or from
hypothetical cases invented to put their powers to the test. To
stimulate the exercise of their powers, they were rewarded when they
decided right, and punished when they decided wrong. Cyrus himself was
punished on one occasion for a wrong decision, under the following

A bigger boy took away the coat of a smaller boy than himself, because
it was larger than his own, and gave him his own smaller coat instead.
The smaller boy complained of the wrong, and the case was referred to
Cyrus for his adjudication. After hearing the case, Cyrus decided that
each boy should keep the coat that fitted him. The teacher condemned
this as a very unjust decision. "When you are called upon," said he,
"to consider a question of what fits best, then you should determine
as you have done in this case; but when you are appointed to decide
whose each coat is, and to adjudge it to the proper owner, then you
are to consider what constitutes right possession, and whether he who
takes a thing by force from one who is weaker than himself, should
have it, or whether he who made it or purchased it should be protected
in his property. You have decided against law, and in favor of
violence and wrong." Cyrus's sentence was thus condemned, and he was
punished for not reasoning more soundly.

The boys at this Persian court were trained to many manly exercises.
They were taught to wrestle and to run. They were instructed in the
use of such arms as were employed in those times, and rendered
dexterous in the use of them by daily exercises. They were taught to
put their skill in practice, too, in hunting excursions, which they
took, by turns, with the king, in the neighboring forest and
mountains. On these occasions, they were armed with a bow, and a
quiver of arrows, a shield, a small sword or dagger which was worn at
the side in a sort of scabbard, and two javelins. One of these was
intended to be thrown, the other to be retained in the hand, for use
in close combat, in case the wild beast, in his desperation, should
advance to a personal re-encounter. These hunting expeditions were
considered extremely important as a part of the system of youthful
training. They were often long and fatiguing. The young men became
inured, by means of them, to toil, and privation, and exposure. They
had to make long marches, to encounter great dangers, to engage in
desperate conflicts, and to submit sometimes to the inconveniences of
hunger and thirst, as well as exposure to the extremes of heat and
cold, and to the violence of storms. All this was considered as
precisely the right sort of discipline to make them good soldiers in
their future martial campaigns.

Cyrus was not, himself, at this time, old enough to take a very active
part in these severer services, as they belonged to a somewhat
advanced stage of Persian education, and he was yet not quite twelve
years old. He was a very beautiful boy, tall and graceful in form and
his countenance was striking and expressive. He was very frank and
open in his disposition and character, speaking honestly, and without
fear, the sentiments of his heart, in any presence and on all
occasions. He was extremely kind hearted, and amiable, too, in his
disposition, averse to saying or doing any thing which could give pain
to those around him. In fact, the openness and cordiality of his
address and manners, and the unaffected ingenuousness and sincerity
which characterized his disposition, made him a universal favorite.
His frankness, his childish simplicity, his vivacity, his personal
grace and beauty, and his generous and self-sacrificing spirit,
rendered him the object of general admiration throughout the court,
and filled Mandane's heart with maternal gladness and pride.



B.C. 587-584

Astyages sends for Cyrus.--Cyrus goes to Media.--Cyrus's
reception.--His astonishment.--Sympathy with childhood.--Pleasures
of old age.--Character of Cyrus.--First interview with his
grandfather.--Dress of the king.--Cyrus's considerate reply.--Habits
of Cyrus.--Horsemanship among the Persians.--Cyrus learns
to ride.--His delights.--Amusements with the boys.--The
cup-bearer.--The entertainment.--Cyrus's conversation.--Cyrus
and the Sacian cup-bearer.--Cyrus slights him.--Accomplishments of
the cup-bearer.--Cyrus mimics him.--Cyrus declines to taste the
wine.--Duties of a cup-bearer.--Cyrus's reason for not tasting the
wine.--His description of a feast.--Cyrus's dislike of the
cup-bearer.--His reason for it.--Amusement of the guests.--Cyrus
becomes a greater favorite than ever.--Mandane proposes to return
to Persia.--Cyrus consents to remain.--Fears of Mandane.--Departure
of Mandane.--Rapid progress of Cyrus.--Hunting in the park.--Game
becomes scarce.--Development of Cyrus's powers, both of body and
mind.--Hunting wild beasts.--Cyrus's conversation with his
attendants.--Pursuit of a stag.--Cyrus's danger.--Cyrus's
recklessness.--He is reproved by his companions.--Cyrus kills a
wild boar.--He is again reproved.--Cyrus carries his game
home.--Distributes it among his companions.--Another hunting
party.--A plundering party.--Cyrus departs for Media.--Parting
presents.--The presents returned.--Cyrus sends them
back again.--Character of Xenophon's narrative.--Its
trustworthiness.--Character of Cyrus as given by
Xenophon.--Herodotus more trustworthy than Xenophon.

When Cyrus was about twelve years old, if the narrative which Xenophon
gives of his history is true, he was invited by his grandfather
Astyages to make a visit to Media. As he was about ten years of age,
according to Herodotus, when he was restored to his parents, he could
have been residing only two years in Persia when he received this
invitation. During this period, Astyages had received, through Mandane
and others, very glowing descriptions of the intelligence and vivacity
of the young prince, and he naturally felt a desire to see him once
more. In fact, Cyrus's personal attractiveness and beauty, joined to a
certain frank and noble generosity of spirit which he seems to have
manifested in his earliest years, made him a universal favorite at
home, and the reports of these qualities, and of the various sayings
and doings on Cyrus's part, by which his disposition and character
were revealed, awakened strongly in the mind of Astyages that kind of
interest which a grandfather is always very prone to feel in a
handsome and precocious grandchild.

As Cyrus had been sent to Persia as soon as his true rank had been
discovered, he had had no opportunities of seeing the splendor of
royal life in Media, and the manners and habits of the Persians were
very plain and simple. Cyrus was accordingly very much impressed with
the magnificence of the scenes to which he was introduced when he
arrived in Media, and with the gayeties and luxuries, the pomp and
display, and the spectacles and parades in which the Median court
abounded. Astyages himself took great pleasure in witnessing and
increasing his little grandson's admiration for these wonders. It is
one of the most extraordinary and beautiful of the provisions which
God has made for securing the continuance of human happiness to the
very end of life, that we can renew, through sympathy with children,
the pleasures which, for ourselves alone, had long since, through
repetition and satiety, lost their charm. The rides, the walks, the
flowers gathered by the road-side, the rambles among pebbles on the
beach, the songs, the games, and even the little picture-book of
childish tales which have utterly and entirely lost their power to
affect the mind even of middle life, directly and alone, regain their
magic influence, and call up vividly all the old emotions, even to the
heart of decrepit age, when it seeks these enjoyments in companionship
and sympathy with children or grandchildren beloved. By giving to us
this capacity for renewing our own sensitiveness to the impressions of
pleasure through sympathy with childhood, God has provided a true and
effectual remedy for the satiety and insensibility of age. Let any one
who is in the decline of years, whose time passes but heavily away,
and who supposes that nothing can awaken interest in his mind or give
him pleasure, make the experiment of taking children to a ride or to a
concert, or to see a menagerie or a museum, and he will find that
there is a way by which he can again enjoy very highly the pleasures
which he had supposed were for him forever exhausted and gone.

This was the result, at all events, in the case of Astyages and Cyrus.
The monarch took a new pleasure in the luxuries and splendors which
had long since lost their charm for him, in observing their influence
and effect upon the mind of his little grandson. Cyrus, as we have
already said, was very frank and open in his disposition, and spoke
with the utmost freedom of every thing that he saw. He was, of course,
a privileged person, and could always say what the feeling of the
moment and his own childish conceptions prompted, without danger. He
had, however, according to the account which Xenophon gives, a great
deal of good sense, as well as of sprightliness and brilliancy;
so that, while his remarks, through their originality and point,
attracted every one's attention, there was a native politeness and
sense of propriety which restrained him from saying any thing to give
pain. Even when he disapproved of and condemned what he saw in the
arrangements of his grandfather's court or household, he did it in
such a manner--so ingenuous, good-natured, and unassuming, that it
amused all and offended none.

In fact, on the very first interview which Astyages had with Cyrus, an
instance of the boy's readiness and tact occurred, which impressed his
grandfather very much in his favor. The Persians, as has been already
remarked, were accustomed to dress very plainly, while, on the other
hand, at the Median court the superior officers, and especially the
king, were always very splendidly adorned. Accordingly, when Cyrus
was introduced into his grandfather's presence, he was quite dazzled
with the display. The king wore a purple robe, very richly adorned,
with a belt and collars, which were embroidered highly, and set with
precious stones. He had bracelets, too, upon his wrists, of the most
costly character. He wore flowing locks of artificial hair, and his
face was painted, after the Median manner. Cyrus gazed upon this gay
spectacle for a few moments in silence, and then exclaimed, "Why,
mother! what a handsome man my grandfather is!"

Such an exclamation, of course, made great amusement both for the king
himself and for the others who were present; and at length Mandane,
somewhat indiscreetly, it must be confessed, asked Cyrus which of the
two he thought the handsomest, his father or his grandfather. Cyrus
escaped from the danger of deciding such a formidable question by
saying that his father was the handsomest man in Persia, but his
grandfather was the handsomest of all the Medes he had ever seen.
Astyages was even more pleased by this proof of his grandson's
adroitness and good sense than he had been with the compliment
which the boy had paid to him; and thenceforward Cyrus became an
established favorite, and did and said, in his grandfather's presence,
almost whatever he pleased.

When the first childish feelings of excitement and curiosity had
subsided, Cyrus seemed to attach very little value to the fine clothes
and gay trappings with which his grandfather was disposed to adorn
him, and to all the other external marks of parade and display, which
were generally so much prized among the Medes. He was much more
inclined to continue in his former habits of plain dress and frugal
means than to imitate Median ostentation and luxury. There was one
pleasure, however, to be found in Media, which in Persia he had never
enjoyed, that he prized very highly. That was the pleasure of learning
to ride on horseback. The Persians, it seems, either because their
country was a rough and mountainous region, or for some other cause,
were very little accustomed to ride. They had very few horses, and
there were no bodies of cavalry in their armies. The young men,
therefore, were not trained to the art of horsemanship. Even in their
hunting excursions they went always on foot, and were accustomed to
make long marches through the forests and among the mountains in this
manner, loaded heavily, too, all the time, with the burden of arms and
provisions which they were obliged to carry. It was, therefore, a new
pleasure to Cyrus to mount a horse. Horsemanship was a great art among
the Medes. Their horses were beautiful and fleet, and splendidly
caparisoned. Astyages provided for Cyrus the best animals which could
be procured, and the boy was very proud and happy in exercising
himself in the new accomplishment which he thus had the opportunity to
acquire. To ride is always a great source of pleasure to boys; but in
that period of the world, when physical strength was so much more
important and more highly valued than at present, horsemanship was a
vastly greater source of gratification than it is now. Cyrus felt that
he had, at a single leap, quadrupled his power, and thus risen at once
to a far higher rank in the scale of being than he had occupied
before; for, as soon as he had once learned to be at home in the
saddle, and to subject the spirit and the power of his horse to his
own will, the courage, the strength, and the speed of the animal
became, in fact, almost personal acquisitions of his own. He felt,
accordingly, when he was galloping over the plains, or pursuing deer
in the park, or running over the racecourse with his companions, as
if it was some newly-acquired strength and speed of his own that he
was exercising, and which, by some magic power, was attended by no
toilsome exertion, and followed by no fatigue.

The various officers and servants in Astyages's household, as well as
Astyages himself, soon began to feel a strong interest in the young
prince. Each took a pleasure in explaining to him what pertained to
their several departments, and in teaching him whatever he desired to
learn. The attendant highest in rank in such a household was the
cup-bearer. He had the charge of the tables and the wine, and all the
general arrangements of the palace seem to have been under his
direction. The cup-bearer in Astyages's court was a Sacian. He was,
however, less a friend to Cyrus than the rest. There was nothing
within the range of his official duties that he could teach the boy;
and Cyrus did not like his wine. Besides, when Astyages was engaged,
it was the cup-bearer's duty to guard him from interruption, and at
such times he often had occasion to restrain the young prince from the
liberty of entering his grandfather's apartments as often as he

At one of the entertainments which Astyages gave in his palace, Cyrus
and Mandane were invited; and Astyages, in order to gratify the young
prince as highly as possible, set before him a great variety of
dishes--meats, and sauces, and delicacies of every kind--all served in
costly vessels, and with great parade and ceremony. He supposed that
Cyrus would have been enraptured with the luxury and splendor of the
entertainment. He did not, however, seem much pleased. Astyages asked
him the reason, and whether the feast which he saw before him was not
a much finer one than he had been accustomed to see in Persia. Cyrus
said, in reply, that it seemed to him to be very troublesome to have
to eat a little of so many separate things. In Persia they managed, he
thought, a great deal better. "And how do you manage in Persia?" asked
Astyages. "Why, in Persia," replied Cyrus, "we have plain bread and
meat, and eat it when we are hungry; so we get health and strength,
and have very little trouble." Astyages laughed at this simplicity,
and told Cyrus that he might, if he preferred it, live on plain bread
and meat while he remained in Media, and then he would return to
Persia in as good health as he came.

Cyrus was satisfied; he, however, asked his grandfather if he would
give him all those things which had been set before him, to dispose of
as he thought proper; and on his grandfather's assenting, he began to
call the various attendants up to the table, and to distribute the
costly dishes to them, in return, as he said, for their various
kindnesses to him. "This," said he to one, "is for you, because you
take pains to teach me to ride; this," to another, "for you, because
you gave me a javelin; this to you, because you serve my grandfather
well and faithfully; and this to you, because you honor my mother."
Thus he went on until he had distributed all that he had received,
though he omitted, as it seemed designedly, to give any thing to the
Sacian cup-bearer. This Sacian being an officer of high rank, of tall
and handsome figure, and beautifully dressed, was the most conspicuous
attendant at the feast, and could not, therefore, have been
accidentally passed by. Astyages accordingly asked Cyrus why he had
not given any thing to the Sacian--the servant whom, as he said, he
liked better than all the others.

"And what is the reason," asked Cyrus, in reply, "that this Sacian is
such a favorite with you?"

"Have you not observed," replied Astyages, "how gracefully and
elegantly he pours out the wine for me, and then hands me the cup?"

The Sacian was, in fact, uncommonly accomplished in respect to the
personal grace and dexterity for which cup-bearers in those days were
most highly valued, and which constitute, in fact, so essential a part
of the qualifications of a master of ceremonies at a royal court in
every age. Cyrus, however, instead of yielding to this argument, said,
in reply, that he could come into the room and pour out the wine as
well as the Sacian could do it, and he asked his grandfather to allow
him to try. Astyages consented. Cyrus then took the goblet of wine,
and went out. In a moment he came in again, stepping grandly, as he
entered, in mimicry of the Sacian, and with a countenance of assumed
gravity and self-importance, which imitated so well the air and manner
of the cup-bearer as greatly to amuse the whole company assembled.
Cyrus advanced thus toward the king and presented him with the cup,
imitating, with the grace and dexterity natural to childhood, all the
ceremonies which he had seen the cup-bearer himself perform, except
that of tasting the wine. The king and Mandane laughed heartily.
Cyrus then, throwing off his assumed character, jumped up into his
grandfather's lap and kissed him, and turning to the cup-bearer, he
said, "Now, Sacian, you are ruined. I shall get my grandfather to
appoint me in your place. I can hand the wine as well as you, and
without tasting it myself at all."

"But why did you not taste it?" asked Astyages; "you should have
performed that part of the duty as well as the rest."

It was, in fact, a very essential part of the duty of a cup-bearer to
taste the wine that he offered before presenting it to the king. He
did this, however, not by putting the cup to his lips, but by pouring
out a little of it into the palm of his hand. This custom was adopted
by these ancient despots to guard against the danger of being
poisoned; for such a danger would of course be very much diminished by
requiring the officer who had the custody of the wine, and without
whose knowledge no foreign substance could well be introduced into it,
always to drink a portion of it himself immediately before tendering
it to the king.

To Astyages's question why he had not tasted the wine, Cyrus replied
that he was afraid it was poisoned. "What led you to imagine that it
was poisoned?" asked his grandfather. "Because," said Cyrus, "it was
poisoned the other day, when you made a feast for your friends, on
your birth-day. I knew by the effects. It made you all crazy. The
things that you do not allow us boys to do, you did yourselves, for
you were very rude and noisy; you all bawled together, so that nobody
could hear or understand what any other person said. Presently you
went to singing in a very ridiculous manner, and when a singer ended
his song, you applauded him, and declared that he had sung admirably,
though nobody had paid attention. You went to telling stories, too,
each one of his own accord, without succeeding in making any body
listen to him. Finally, you got up and began to dance, but it was out
of all rule and measure; you could not even stand erect and steadily.
Then, you all seemed to forget who and what you were. The guests paid
no regard to you as their king, but treated you in a very familiar and
disrespectful manner, and you treated them in the same way; so I
thought that the wine that produced these effects must have been

Of course, Cyrus did not seriously mean that he thought the wine had
been actually poisoned. He was old enough to understand its nature
and effects. He undoubtedly intended his reply as a playful satire
upon the intemperate excesses of his grandfather's court.

"But have not you ever seen such things before?" asked Astyages. "Does
not your father ever drink wine until it makes him merry?"

"No," replied Cyrus, "indeed he does not. He drinks only when he is
thirsty, and then only enough for his thirst, and so he is not
harmed." He then added, in a contemptuous tone, "He has no Sacian
cup-bearer, you may depend, about _him_."

"What is the reason, my son," here asked Mandane, "why you dislike
this Sacian so much?"

"Why, every time that I want to come and see my grandfather," replied
Cyrus, "this teazing man always stops me, and will not let me come in.
I wish, grandfather, you would let me have the rule over him just for
three days."

"Why, what would you do to him?" asked Astyages.

"I would treat him as he treats me now," replied Cyrus. "I would stand
at the door, as he does when I want to come in, and when he was coming
for his dinner, I would stop him and say, 'You can not come in now;
he is busy with some men.'"

In saying this, Cyrus imitated, in a very ludicrous manner, the
gravity and dignity of the Sacian's air and manner.

"Then," he continued, "when he came to supper, I would say, 'He is
bathing now; you must come some other time;' or else, 'He is going to
sleep, and you will disturb him.' So I would torment him all the time,
as he now torments me, in keeping me out when I want to come and see

Such conversation as this, half playful, half earnest, of course
amused Astyages and Mandane very much, as well as all the other
listeners. There is a certain charm in the simplicity and confiding
frankness of childhood, when it is honest and sincere, which in
Cyrus's case was heightened by his personal grace and beauty. He
became, in fact, more and more a favorite the longer he remained. At
length, the indulgence and the attentions which he received began to
produce, in some degree, their usual injurious effects. Cyrus became
too talkative, and sometimes he appeared a little vain. Still, there
was so much true kindness of heart, such consideration for the
feelings of others, and so respectful a regard for his grandfather,
his mother, and his uncle,[A] that his faults were overlooked, and he
was the life and soul of the company in all the social gatherings
which took place in the palaces of the king.

[Footnote A: The uncle here referred to was Mandane's brother. His
name was Oyaxares. He was at this time a royal prince, the heir
apparent to the throne. He figures very conspicuously in the
subsequent portions of Xenophon's history as Astyages's successor on
the throne. Herodotus does not mention him at all, but makes Cyrus
himself the direct successor of Astyages.]

At length the time arrived for Mandane to return to Persia. Astyages
proposed that she should leave Cyrus in Media, to be educated there
under his grandfather's charge. Mandane replied that she was willing
to gratify her father in every thing, but she thought it would be very
hard to leave Cyrus behind, unless he was willing, of his own accord,
to stay. Astyages then proposed the subject to Cyrus himself. "If you
will stay," said he, "the Sacian shall no longer have power to keep
you from coming in to see me; you shall come whenever you choose.
Then, besides, you shall have the use of all my horses, and of as many
more as you please, and when you go home at last you shall take as
many as you wish with you. Then you may have all the animals in the
park to hunt. You can pursue them on horseback, and shoot them with
bows and arrows, or kill them with javelins, as men do with wild
beasts in the woods. I will provide boys of your own age to play with
you, and to ride and hunt with you, and will have all sorts of arms
made of suitable size for you to use; and if there is any thing else
that you should want at any time, you will only have to ask me for it,
and I will immediately provide it."

The pleasure of riding and of hunting in the park was very captivating
to Cyrus's mind, and he consented to stay. He represented to his
mother that it would be of great advantage to him, on his final return
to Persia, to be a skillful and powerful horseman, as that would at
once give him the superiority over all the Persian youths, for they
were very little accustomed to ride. His mother had some fears lest,
by too long a residence in the Median court, her son should acquire
the luxurious habits, and proud and haughty manners, which would be
constantly before him in his grandfather's example; but Cyrus said
that his grandfather, being imperious himself, required all around
him to be submissive, and that Mandane need not fear but that he
would return at last as dutiful and docile as ever. It was decided,
therefore, that Cyrus should stay, while his mother, bidding her child
and her father farewell, went back to Persia.

After his mother was gone, Cyrus endeared himself very strongly to all
persons at his grandfather's court by the nobleness and generosity of
character which he evinced, more and more, as his mind was gradually
developed. He applied himself with great diligence to acquiring the
various accomplishments and arts then most highly prized, such as
leaping, vaulting, racing, riding, throwing the javelin, and drawing
the bow. In the friendly contests which took place among the boys, to
test their comparative excellence in these exercises, Cyrus would
challenge those whom he knew to be superior to himself, and allow them
to enjoy the pleasure of victory, while he was satisfied, himself,
with the superior stimulus to exertion which he derived from coming
thus into comparison with attainments higher than his own. He pressed
forward boldly and ardently, undertaking every thing which promised
to be, by any possibility, within his power; and, far from being
disconcerted and discouraged at his mistakes and failures, he always
joined merrily in the laugh which they occasioned, and renewed his
attempts with as much ardor and alacrity as before. Thus he made great
and rapid progress, and learned first to equal and then to surpass one
after another of his companions, and all without exciting any jealousy
or envy.

It was a great amusement both to him and to the other boys, his
playmates, to hunt the animals in the park, especially the deer. The
park was a somewhat extensive domain, but the animals were soon very
much diminished by the slaughter which the boys made among them.
Astyages endeavored to supply their places by procuring more. At
length, however, all the sources of supply that were conveniently at
hand were exhausted; and Cyrus, then finding that his grandfather was
put to no little trouble to obtain tame animals for his park,
proposed, one day, that he should be allowed to go out into the
forests, to hunt the wild beasts with the men. "There are animals
enough there, grandfather," said Cyrus, "and I shall consider them all
just as if you had procured them expressly for me."

In fact, by this time Cyrus had grown up to be a tall and handsome
young man, with strength and vigor sufficient, under favorable
circumstances, to endure the fatigues and exposures of real hunting.
As his person had become developed, his mind and manners, too,
had undergone a change. The gayety, the thoughtfulness, the
self-confidence, and talkative vivacity of his childhood had
disappeared, and he was fast becoming reserved, sedate, deliberate,
and cautious. He no longer entertained his grandfather's company by
his mimicry, his repartees, and his childish wit. He was silent; he
observed, he listened, he shrank from publicity, and spoke, when he
spoke at all, in subdued and gentle tones. Instead of crowding forward
eagerly into his grandfather's presence on all occasions, seasonable
and unseasonable, as he had done before, he now became, of his own
accord, very much afraid of occasioning trouble or interruption. He
did not any longer need a Sacian to restrain him, but became, as
Xenophon expresses it, a Sacian to himself, taking great care not to
go into his grandfather's apartments without previously ascertaining
that the king was disengaged; so that he and the Sacian now became
very great friends.

This being the state of the case, Astyages consented that Cyrus
should go out with his son Cyaxares into the forests to hunt at the
next opportunity. The party set out, when the time arrived, on
horseback, the hearts of Cyrus and his companions bounding, when
they mounted their steeds, with feelings of elation and pride. There
were certain attendants and guards appointed to keep near to Cyrus,
and to help him in the rough and rocky parts of the country, and to
protect him from the dangers to which, if left alone, he would
doubtless have been exposed. Cyrus talked with these attendants, as
they rode along, of the mode of hunting, of the difficulties of
hunting, the characters and the habits of the various wild beasts,
and of the dangers to be shunned. His attendants told him that the
dangerous beasts were bears, lions, tigers, boars, and leopards;
that such animals as these often attacked and killed men, and that
he must avoid them; but that stags, wild goats, wild sheep, and wild
asses were harmless, and that he could hunt such animals as they as
much as he pleased. They told him, moreover, that steep, rocky, and
broken ground was more dangerous to the huntsman than any beasts,
however ferocious; for riders, off their guard, driving impetuously
over such ways, were often thrown from their horses, or fell with
them over precipices or into chasms, and were killed.

[Illustration: CYRUS'S HUNTING.]

Cyrus listened very attentively to these instructions, with every
disposition to give heed to them; but when he came to the trial,
he found that the ardor and impetuosity of the chase drove all
considerations of prudence wholly from his mind. When the men got into
the forest, those that were with Cyrus roused a stag, and all set off
eagerly in pursuit, Cyrus at the head. Away went the stag over rough
and dangerous ground. The rest of the party turned aside, or followed
cautiously, while Cyrus urged his horse forward in the wildest
excitement, thinking of nothing, and seeing nothing but the stag
bounding before him. The horse came to a chasm which he was obliged to
leap. But the distance was too great; he came down upon his knees,
threw Cyrus violently forward almost over his head, and then, with a
bound and a scramble, recovered his feet and went on. Cyrus clung
tenaciously to the horse's mane, and at length succeeded in getting
back to the saddle, though, for a moment his life was in the most
imminent danger. His attendants were extremely terrified, though he
himself seemed to experience no feeling but the pleasurable
excitement of the chase; for, as soon as the obstacle was cleared, he
pressed on with new impetuosity after the stag, overtook him, and
killed him with his javelin. Then, alighting from his horse, he stood
by the side of his victim, to wait the coming up of the party, his
countenance beaming with an expression of triumph and delight.

His attendants, however, on their arrival, instead of applauding his
exploit, or seeming to share his pleasure, sharply reproved him for
his recklessness and daring. He had entirely disregarded their
instructions, and they threatened to report him to his grandfather.
Cyrus looked perplexed and uneasy. The excitement and the pleasure of
victory and success were struggling in his mind against his dread of
his grandfather's displeasure. Just at this instant he heard a new
halloo. Another party in the neighborhood had roused fresh game. All
Cyrus's returning sense of duty was blown at once to the winds. He
sprang to his horse with a shout of wild enthusiasm, and rode off
toward the scene of action. The game which had been started, a furious
wild boar, just then issued from a thicket directly before him. Cyrus,
instead of shunning the danger, as he ought to have done, in
obedience to the orders of those to whom his grandfather had intrusted
him, dashed on to meet the boar at full speed, and aimed so true a
thrust with his javelin against the beast as to transfix him in the
forehead. The boar fell, and lay upon the ground in dying struggles,
while Cyrus's heart was filled with joy and triumph even greater than

When Cyaxares came up, he reproved Cyrus anew for running such risks.
Cyrus received the reproaches meekly, and then asked Cyaxares to give
him the two animals that he had killed; he wanted to carry them home
to his grandfather.

"By no means," said Cyaxares, "your grandfather would be very much
displeased to know what you had done. He would not only condemn you
for acting thus, but he would reprove us too, severely, for allowing
you to do so."

"Let him punish me," said Cyrus, "if he wishes, after I have shown him
the stag and the boar, and you may punish me too, if you think best;
but do let me show them to him."

Cyaxares consented, and Cyrus made arrangements to have the bodies of
the beasts and the bloody javelins carried home. Cyrus then presented
the carcasses to his grandfather, saying that it was some game which
he had taken for him. The javelins he did not exhibit directly, but
he laid them down in a place where his grandfather would see them.
Astyages thanked him for his presents, but he said he had no such need
of presents of game as to wish his grandson to expose himself to such
imminent dangers to take it.

"Well, grandfather," said Cyrus, "if you do not want the meat, give it
to me, and I will divide it among my friends." Astyages agreed to
this, and Cyrus divided his booty among his companions, the boys, who
had before hunted with him in the park. They, of course, took their
several portions home, each one carrying with his share of the gift a
glowing account of the valor and prowess of the giver. It was not
generosity which led Cyrus thus to give away the fruits of his toil,
but a desire to widen and extend his fame.

When Cyrus was about fifteen or sixteen years old, his uncle Cyaxares
was married, and in celebrating his nuptials, he formed a great
hunting party, to go to the frontiers between Media and Assyria to
hunt there, where it was said that game of all kinds was very
plentiful, as it usually was, in fact, in those days, in the
neighborhood of disturbed and unsettled frontiers. The very causes
which made such a region as this a safe and frequented haunt for wild
beasts, made it unsafe for men, and Cyaxares did not consider it
prudent to venture on his excursion without a considerable force to
attend him. His hunting party formed, therefore, quite a little army.
They set out from home with great pomp and ceremony, and proceeded to
the frontiers in regular organization and order, like a body of troops
on a march. There was a squadron of horsemen, who were to hunt the
beasts in the open parts of the forest, and a considerable detachment
of light-armed footmen also, who were to rouse the game, and drive
them out of their lurking places in the glens and thickets. Cyrus
accompanied this expedition.

When Cyaxares reached the frontiers, he concluded, instead of
contenting himself and his party with hunting wild beasts, to make an
incursion for plunder into the Assyrian territory, that being, as
Zenophon expresses it, a more noble enterprise than the other. The
nobleness, it seems, consisted in the greater imminence of the danger,
in having to contend with armed men instead of ferocious brutes, and
in the higher value of the prizes which they would obtain in case of
success. The idea of there being any injustice or wrong in this wanton
and unprovoked aggression upon the territories of a neighboring nation
seems not to have entered the mind either of the royal robber himself
or of his historian.

Cyrus distinguished himself very conspicuously in this expedition,
as he had done in the hunting excursion before; and when, at length,
this nuptial party returned home, loaded with booty, the tidings of
Cyrus's exploits went to Persia. Cambyses thought that if his son was
beginning to take part, as a soldier, in military campaigns, it was
time for him to be recalled. He accordingly sent for him, and Cyrus
began to make preparations for his return.

The day of his departure was a day of great sadness and sorrow among
all his companions in Media, and, in fact, among all the members of
his grandfather's household. They accompanied him for some distance on
his way, and took leave of him, at last, with much regret and many
tears. Cyrus distributed among them, as they left him, the various
articles of value which he possessed, such as his arms, and ornaments
of various kinds, and costly articles of dress. He gave his Median
robe, at last, to a certain youth whom he said he loved the best of
all. The name of this special favorite was Araspes. As these his
friends parted from him, Cyrus took his leave of them, one by one, as
they returned, with many proofs of his affection for them, and with a
very sad and heavy heart.

The boys and young men who had received these presents took them home,
but they were so valuable, that they or their parents, supposing that
they were given under a momentary impulse of feeling, and that they
ought to be returned, sent them all to Astyages. Astyages sent them to
Persia, to be restored to Cyrus. Cyrus sent them all back again to his
grandfather, with a request that he would distribute them again to
those to whom Cyrus had originally given them, "which," said he,
"grandfather, you must do, if you wish me ever to come to Media again
with pleasure and not with shame."

Such is the story which Xenophon gives of Cyrus's visit to Media, and
in its romantic and incredible details it is a specimen of the whole
narrative which this author has given of his hero's life. It is not,
at the present day, supposed that these, and the many similar stories
with which Xenophon's books are filled, are true history. It is not
even thought that Xenophon really intended to offer his narrative as
history, but rather as an historical romance--a fiction founded on
fact, written to amuse the warriors of his times, and to serve as a
vehicle for inculcating such principles of philosophy, of morals, and
of military science as seemed to him worthy of the attention of his
countrymen. The story has no air of reality about it from beginning to
end, but only a sort of poetical fitness of one part to another, much
more like the contrived coincidences of a romance writer than like the
real events and transactions of actual life. A very large portion of
the work consists of long discourses on military, moral, and often
metaphysical philosophy, made by generals in council, or commanders in
conversation with each other when going into battle. The occurrences
and incidents out of which these conversations arise always take place
just as they are wanted and arrange themselves in a manner to produce
the highest dramatic effect; like the stag, the broken ground, and
the wild boar in Cyrus's hunting, which came, one after another, to
furnish the hero with poetical occasions for displaying his juvenile
bravery, and to produce the most picturesque and poetical grouping of
incidents and events. Xenophon too, like other writers of romances,
makes his hero a model of military virtue and magnanimity, according
to the ideas of the times. He displays superhuman sagacity in
circumventing his foes, he performs prodigies of valor, he forms the
most sentimental attachments, and receives with a romantic confidence
the adhesions of men who come over to his side from the enemy, and
who, being traitors to old friends, would seem to be only worthy of
suspicion and distrust in being received by new ones. Every thing,
however, results well; all whom he confides in prove worthy; all whom
he distrusts prove base. All his friends are generous and noble, and
all his enemies treacherous and cruel. Every prediction which he makes
is verified, and all his enterprises succeed; or if, in any respect,
there occurs a partial failure, the incident is always of such a
character as to heighten the impression which is made by the final and
triumphant success.

Such being the character of Xenophon's tale, or rather drama, we shall
content ourselves, after giving this specimen of it, with adding, in
some subsequent chapters, a few other scenes and incidents drawn from
his narrative. In the mean time, in relating the great leading events
of Cyrus's life, we shall take Herodotus for our guide, by following
his more sober, and, probably, more trustworthy record.



B.C. 718-545

The wealth of Croesus.--The Mermnadæ.--Origin of the Mermnadean
dynasty.--Candaules and Gyges.--Infamous proposal of
Candaules.--Remonstrance of Gyges.--Nyssia's suppressed
indignation.--She sends for Gyges.--Candaules is assassinated.--Gyges
succeeds.--The Lydian power extended.--The wars of
Alyattes.--Destruction of Minerva's temple.--Stratagem of
Thrasybulus--Success of the stratagem.--A treaty of peace
concluded.--Story of Arion and the dolphin.--The alternative.--Arion
leaps into the sea.--He is preserved by a dolphin.--Death of
Alyattes.--Succession of Croesus.--Plans of Croesus for subjugating
the islands.--The golden sands of the Pactolus.--The story of
Midas.--Wealth and renown of Croesus.--Visit of Solon.--Croesus and
Solon.--What constitutes happiness.--Cleobis and Bito.--Croesus
displeased with Solon.--Solon treated with neglect.--The two sons
of Croesus.--The king's dream.--Arrival of Adrastus.--The wild
boar.--Precautions of Croesus.--Remonstrance of Atys.--Explanation
of Croesus.--Atys joins the expedition.--He is killed by
Adrastus.--Anguish of Adrastus.--Burial of Atys.--Adrastus kills
himself.--Grief of Croesus.

The scene of our narrative must now be changed, for a time, from
Persia and Media, in the East, to Asia Minor, in the West, where the
great Croesus, originally King of Lydia, was at this time gradually
extending his empire along the shores of the Ægean Sea. The name of
Croesus is associated in the minds of men with the idea of boundless
wealth, the phrase "as rich as Croesus" having been a common proverb
in all the modern languages of Europe for many centuries. It was to
this Croesus, king of Lydia, whose story we are about to relate,
that the proverb alludes.

The country of Lydia, over which this famous sovereign originally
ruled, was in the western part of Asia Minor, bordering on the Ægean
Sea. Croesus himself belonged to a dynasty, or race of kings, called
the Mermnadæ. The founder of this line was Gyges, who displaced the
dynasty which preceded him and established his own by a revolution
effected in a very remarkable manner. The circumstances were as

The name of the last monarch of the old dynasty--the one, namely, whom
Gyges displaced--was Candaules. Gyges was a household servant in
Candaules's family--a sort of slave, in fact, and yet, as such slaves
often were in those rude days, a personal favorite and boon companion
of his master. Candaules was a dissolute and unprincipled tyrant. He
had, however, a very beautiful and modest wife, whose name was Nyssia.
Candaules was very proud of the beauty of his queen, and was always
extolling it, though, as the event proved, he could not have felt for
her any true and honest affection. In some of his revels with Gyges,
when he was boasting of Nyssia's charms, he said that the beauty of
her form and figure, when unrobed, was even more exquisite than that
of her features; and, finally, the monster, growing more and more
excited, and having rendered himself still more of a brute than he was
by nature by the influence of wine, declared that Gyges should see for
himself. He would conceal him, he said, in the queen's bed-chamber,
while she was undressing for the night. Gyges remonstrated very
earnestly against this proposal. It would be doing the innocent
queen, he said, a great wrong. He assured the king, too, that he
believed fully all that he said about Nyssia's beauty, without
applying such a test, and he begged him not to insist upon a proposal
with which it would be criminal to comply.

The king, however, did insist upon it, and Gyges was compelled to
yield. Whatever is offered as a favor by a half-intoxicated despot to
an humble inferior, it would be death to refuse. Gyges allowed himself
to be placed behind a half-opened door of the king's apartment, when
the king retired to it for the night. There he was to remain while the
queen began to unrobe herself for retiring, with a strict injunction
to withdraw at a certain time which the king designated, and with the
utmost caution, so as to prevent being observed by the queen. Gyges
did as he was ordered. The beautiful queen laid aside her garments
and made her toilet for the night with all the quiet composure and
confidence which a woman might be expected to feel while in so sacred
and inviolable a sanctuary, and in the presence and under the
guardianship of her husband. Just as she was about to retire to rest,
some movement alarmed her. It was Gyges going away. She saw him. She
instantly understood the case. She was overwhelmed with indignation
and shame. She, however, suppressed and concealed her emotions; she
spoke to Candaules in her usual tone of voice, and he, on his part,
secretly rejoiced in the adroit and successful manner in which his
little contrivance had been carried into execution.

The next morning Nyssia sent, by some of her confidential messengers,
for Gyges to come to her. He came, with some forebodings, perhaps, but
without any direct reason for believing that what he had done had been
discovered. Nyssia, however, informed him that she knew all, and that
either he or her husband must die. Gyges earnestly remonstrated
against this decision, and supplicated forgiveness. He explained the
circumstances under which the act had been performed, which seemed, at
least so far as he was concerned, to palliate the deed. The queen was,
however, fixed and decided. It was wholly inconsistent with her ideas
of womanly delicacy that there should be two living men who had both
been admitted to her bed-chamber. "The king," she said, "by what he
has done, has forfeited his claims to me and resigned me to you. If
you will kill him, seize his kingdom, and make me your wife, all shall
be well; otherwise you must prepare to die."

From this hard alternative, Gyges chose to assassinate the king,
and to make the lovely object before him his own. The excitement of
indignation and resentment which glowed upon her cheek, and with
which her bosom was heaving, made her more beautiful than ever.

"How shall our purpose be accomplished?" asked Gyges. "The deed," she
replied, "shall be perpetrated in the very place which was the scene
of the dishonor done to me. I will admit you into our bed-chamber in
my turn, and you shall kill Candaules in his bed."

When night came, Nyssia stationed Gyges again behind the same door
where the king had placed him. He had a dagger in his hand. He waited
there till Candaules was asleep. Then at a signal given him by the
queen, he entered, and stabbed the husband in his bed. He married
Nyssia, and possessed himself of the kingdom. After this, he and
his successors reigned for many years over the kingdom of Lydia,
constituting the dynasty of the Mermnadæ, from which, in process of
time, King Croesus descended.

The successive sovereigns of this dynasty gradually extended the
Lydian power over the countries around them. The name of Croesus's
father, who was the monarch that immediately preceded him, was
Alyattes. Alyattes waged war toward the southward, into the
territories of the city of Miletus. He made annual incursions into the
country of the Milesians for plunder, always taking care, however,
while he seized all the movable property that he could find, to leave
the villages and towns, and all the hamlets of the laborers without
injury. The reason for this was, that he did not wish to drive away
the population, but to encourage them to remain and cultivate their
lands, so that there might be new flocks and herds, and new stores of
corn, and fruit, and wine, for him to plunder from in succeeding
years. At last, on one of these marauding excursions, some fires which
were accidentally set in a field spread into a neighboring town, and
destroyed, among other buildings, a temple consecrated to Minerva.
After this, Alyattes found himself quite unsuccessful in all his
expeditions and campaigns. He sent to a famous oracle to ask the

"You can expect no more success," replied the oracle, "until you
rebuild the temple that you have destroyed."

But how could he rebuild the temple? The site was in the enemy's
country. His men could not build an edifice and defend themselves, at
the same time, from the attacks of their foes. He concluded to demand
a truce of the Milesians until the reconstruction should be completed,
and he sent embassadors to Miletus, accordingly, to make the proposal.

The proposition for a truce resulted in a permanent peace, by means
of a very singular stratagem which Thrasybulus, the king of Miletus,
practiced upon Alyattes. It seems that Alyattes supposed that
Thrasybulus had been reduced to great distress by the loss and
destruction of provisions and stores in various parts of the country,
and that he would soon be forced to yield up his kingdom. This was,
in fact, the case; but Thrasybulus determined to disguise his real
condition, and to destroy, by an artifice, all the hopes which
Alyattes had formed from the supposed scarcity in the city. When the
herald whom Alyattes sent to Miletus was about to arrive, Thrasybulus
collected all the corn, and grain, and other provisions which he could
command, and had them heaped up in a public part of the city, where
the herald was to be received, so as to present indications of the
most ample abundance of food. He collected a large body of his
soldiers, too, and gave them leave to feast themselves without
restriction on what he had thus gathered. Accordingly, when the herald
came in to deliver his message, he found the whole city given up to
feasting and revelry, and he saw stores of provisions at hand, which
were in process of being distributed and consumed with the most
prodigal profusion. The herald reported this state of things to
Alyattes. Alyattes then gave up all hopes of reducing Miletus by
famine, and made a permanent peace, binding himself to its
stipulations by a very solemn treaty. To celebrate the event, too, he
built two temples to Minerva instead of one.

A story is related by Herodotus of a remarkable escape made by Arion
at sea, which occurred during the reign of Alyattes, the father of
Croesus. We will give the story as Herodotus relates it, leaving the
reader to judge for himself whether such tales were probably true, or
were only introduced by Herodotus into his narrative to make his
histories more entertaining to the Grecian assemblies to whom he read
them. Arion was a celebrated singer. He had been making a tour in
Sicily and in the southern part of Italy, where he had acquired
considerable wealth, and he was now returning to Corinth. He embarked
at Tarentum, which is a city in the southern part of Italy, in a
Corinthian vessel, and put to sea. When the sailors found that they
had him in their power, they determined to rob and murder him. They
accordingly seized his gold and silver, and then told him that he
might either kill himself or jump overboard into the sea. One or the
other he must do. If he would kill himself on board the vessel, they
would give him decent burial when they reached the shore.

Arion seemed at first at a loss how to decide in so hard an
alternative. At length he told the sailors that he would throw himself
into the sea, but he asked permission to sing them one of his songs
before he took the fatal plunge. They consented. He accordingly went
into the cabin, and spent some time in dressing himself magnificently
in the splendid and richly-ornamented robes in which he had been
accustomed to appear upon the stage. At length he reappeared, and took
his position on the side of the ship, with his harp in his hand. He
sang his song, accompanying himself upon the harp, and then, when he
had finished his performance, he leaped into the sea. The seamen
divided their plunder and pursued their voyage. Arion, however,
instead of being drowned, was taken up by a dolphin that had been
charmed by his song, and was borne by him to Tænarus, which is the
promontory formed by the southern extremity of the Peloponnesus. There
Arion landed in safety. From Tænarus he proceeded to Corinth, wearing
the same dress in which he had plunged into the sea. On his arrival,
he complained to the king of the crime which the sailors had
committed, and narrated his wonderful escape. The king did not believe
him, but put him in prison to wait until the ship should arrive. When
at last the vessel came, the king summoned the sailors into his
presence, and asked them if they knew any thing of Arion. Arion
himself had been previously placed in an adjoining room, ready to be
called in as soon as his presence was required. The mariners answered
to the question which the king put to them, that they had seen Arion
in Tarentum, and that they had left him there. Arion was then himself
called in. His sudden appearance, clothed as he was in the same dress
in which the mariners had seen him leap into the sea, so terrified the
conscience-stricken criminals, that they confessed their guilt, and
were all punished by the king. A marble statue, representing a man
seated upon a dolphin, was erected at Tænarus to commemorate this
event, where it remained for centuries afterward, a monument of the
wonder which Arion had achieved.

At length Alyattes died and Croesus succeeded him. Croesus
extended still further the power and fame of the Lydian empire, and
was for a time very successful in all his military schemes. By looking
upon the map, the reader will see that the Ægean Sea, along the coasts
of Asia Minor, is studded with islands. These islands were in those
days very fertile and beautiful, and were densely inhabited by a
commercial and maritime people, who possessed a multitude of ships,
and were very powerful in all the adjacent seas. Of course their land
forces were very few, whether of horse or of foot, as the habits and
manners of such a sea-going people were all foreign to modes of
warfare required in land campaigns. On the sea, however, these
islanders were supreme.

Croesus formed a scheme for attacking these islands and bringing
them under his sway, and he began to make preparations for building
and equipping a fleet for this purpose, though, of course, his
subjects were as unused to the sea as the nautical islanders were
to military operations on the land. While he was making these
preparations, a certain philosopher was visiting at his court: he
was one of the seven wise men of Greece, who had recently come from
the Peloponnesus. Croesus asked him if there was any news from that
country. "I heard," said the philosopher, "that the inhabitants of the
islands were preparing to invade your dominions with a squadron of ten
thousand horse." Croesus, who supposed that the philosopher was
serious, appeared greatly pleased and elated at the prospect of his
sea-faring enemies attempting to meet him as a body of cavalry. "No
doubt," said the philosopher, after a little pause, "you would be
pleased to have those sailors attempt to contend with you on
horseback; but do you not suppose that they will be equally pleased
at the prospect of encountering Lydian landsmen on the ocean?"

Croesus perceived the absurdity of his plan, and abandoned the
attempt to execute it.

Croesus acquired the enormous wealth for which he was so celebrated
from the golden sands of the River Pactolus, which flowed through his
kingdom. The river brought the particles of gold, in grains, and
globules, and flakes, from the mountains above, and the servants and
slaves of Croesus washed the sands, and thus separated the heavier
deposit of the metal. In respect to the origin of the gold, however,
the people who lived upon the banks of the river had a different
explanation from the simple one that the waters brought down the
treasure from the mountain ravines. They had a story that, ages
before, a certain king, named Midas, rendered some service to a god,
who, in his turn, offered to grant him any favor that he might ask.
Midas asked that the power might be granted him to turn whatever he
touched into gold. The power was bestowed, and Midas, after changing
various objects around him into gold until he was satisfied, began to
find his new acquisition a source of great inconvenience and danger.
His clothes, his food, and even his drink, were changed to gold when
he touched them. He found that he was about to starve in the midst of
a world of treasure, and he implored the god to take back the fatal
gift. The god directed him to go and bathe in the Pactolus, and he
should be restored to his former condition. Midas did so, and was
saved, but not without transforming a great portion of the sands of
the stream into gold during the process of his restoration.

Croesus thus attained quite speedily to a very high degree of
wealth, prosperity, and renown. His dominions were widely extended;
his palaces were full of treasures; his court was a scene of
unexampled magnificence and splendor. While in the enjoyment of all
this grandeur, he was visited by Solon, the celebrated Grecian
law-giver, who was traveling in that part of the world to observe the
institutions and customs of different states. Croesus received Solon
with great distinction, and showed him all his treasures. At last he
one day said to him, "You have traveled, Solon, over many countries,
and have studied, with a great deal of attention and care, all that
you have seen. I have heard great commendations of your wisdom, and I
should like very much to know who, of all the persons you have ever
known, has seemed to you most fortunate and happy."

The king had no doubt that the answer would be that he himself was the

"I think," replied Solon, after a pause, "that Tellus, an Athenian
citizen, was the most fortunate and happy man I have ever known."

"Tellus, an Athenian!" repeated Croesus, surprised. "What was there
in his case which you consider so remarkable?"

"He was a peaceful and quiet citizen of Athens," said Solon. "He lived
happily with his family, under a most excellent government, enjoying
for many years all the pleasures of domestic life. He had several
amiable and virtuous children, who all grew up to maturity, and loved
and honored their parents as long as they lived. At length, when his
life was drawing toward its natural termination, a war broke out with
a neighboring nation, and Tellus went with the army to defend his
country. He aided very essentially in the defeat of the enemy, but
fell, at last, on the field of battle. His countrymen greatly lamented
his death. They buried him publicly where he fell, with every
circumstance of honor."

Solon was proceeding to recount the domestic and social virtues of
Tellus, and the peaceful happiness which he enjoyed as the result of
them, when Croesus interrupted him to ask who, next to Tellus, he
considered the most fortunate and happy man.

Solon, after a little farther reflection, mentioned two brothers,
Cleobis and Bito, private persons among the Greeks, who were
celebrated for their great personal strength, and also for their
devoted attachment to their mother. He related to Croesus a story of
a feat they performed on one occasion, when their mother, at the
celebration of some public festival, was going some miles to a temple,
in a car to be drawn by oxen. There happened to be some delay in
bringing the oxen, while the mother was waiting in the car. As the
oxen did not come, the young men took hold of the pole of the car
themselves, and walked off at their ease with the load, amid the
acclamations of the spectators, while their mother's heart was filled
with exultation and pride.

Croesus here interrupted the philosopher again, and expressed his
surprise that he should place private men, like those whom he had
named, who possessed no wealth, or prominence, or power, before a
monarch like him, occupying a station of such high authority and
renown, and possessing such boundless treasures.

"Croesus," replied Solon, "I see you now, indeed, at the height of
human power and grandeur. You reign supreme over many nations, and
you are in the enjoyment of unbounded affluence, and every species
of luxury and splendor. I can not, however, decide whether I am to
consider you a fortunate and happy man, until I know how all this is
to end. If we consider seventy years as the allotted period of life,
you have a large portion of your existence yet to come, and we can not
with certainty pronounce any man happy till his life is ended."

This conversation with Solon made a deep impression upon Croesus's
mind, as was afterward proved in a remarkable manner; but the
impression was not a pleasant or a salutary one. The king, however,
suppressed for the time the resentment which the presentation of
these unwelcome truths awakened within him, though he treated Solon
afterward with indifference and neglect, so that the philosopher soon
found it best to withdraw.

Croesus had two sons. One was deaf and dumb. The other was a young
man of uncommon promise, and, of course, as he only could succeed his
father in the government of the kingdom, he was naturally an object of
the king's particular attention and care. His name was Atys. He was
unmarried. He was, however, old enough to have the command of a
considerable body of troops, and he had often distinguished himself
in the Lydian campaigns. One night the king had a dream about Atys
which greatly alarmed him. He dreamed that his son was destined to die
of a wound received from the point of an iron spear. The king was made
very uneasy by this ominous dream. He determined at once to take every
precaution in his power to avert the threatened danger. He immediately
detached Atys from his command in the army, and made provision for his
marriage. He then very carefully collected all the darts, javelins,
and every other iron-pointed weapon that he could find about the
palace, and caused them to be deposited carefully in a secure place,
where there could be no danger even of an accidental injury from them.

About that time there appeared at the court of Croesus a stranger
from Phrygia, a neighboring state, who presented himself at the palace
and asked for protection. He was a prince of the royal family of
Phrygia, and his name was Adrastus. He had had the misfortune, by some
unhappy accident, to kill his brother; his father, in consequence of
it, had banished him from his native land, and he was now homeless,
friendless, and destitute.

Croesus received him kindly. "Your family have always been my
friends," said he, "and I am glad of the opportunity to make some
return by extending my protection to any member of it suffering
misfortune. You shall reside in my palace, and all your wants shall be
supplied. Come in, and forget the calamity which has befallen you,
instead of distressing yourself with it as if it had been a crime."

Thus Croesus received the unfortunate Adrastus into his household.
After the prince had been domiciliated in his new home for some time,
messengers came from Mysia, a neighboring state, saying that a wild
boar of enormous size and unusual ferocity had come down from the
mountains, and was lurking in the cultivated country, in thickets and
glens, from which, at night, he made great havoc among the flocks and
herds, and asking that Croesus would send his son, with a band of
hunters and a pack of dogs, to help them destroy the common enemy.
Croesus consented immediately to send the dogs and the men, but he
said that he could not send his son. "My son," he added, "has been
lately married, and his time and attention are employed about other

When, however, Atys himself heard of this reply, he remonstrated very
earnestly against it, and begged his father to allow him to go. "What
will the world think of me," said he "if I shut myself up to these
effeminate pursuits and enjoyments, and shun those dangers and toils
which other men consider it their highest honor to share? What will my
fellow-citizens think of me, and how shall I appear in the eyes of my
wife? She will despise me."

Croesus then explained to his son the reason why he had been so
careful to avoid exposing him to danger. He related to him the dream
which had alarmed him. "It is on that account," said he, "that I am so
anxious about you. You are, in fact, my only son, for your speechless
brother can never be my heir."

Atys said, in reply, that he was not surprised, under those
circumstances, at his father's anxiety; but he maintained that this
was a case to which his caution could not properly apply.

"You dreamed," he said, "that I should be killed by a weapon pointed
with iron; but a boar has no such weapon. If the dream had portended
that I was to perish by a tusk or a tooth, you might reasonably have
restrained me from going to hunt a wild beast; but iron-pointed
instruments are the weapons of men, and we are not going, in this
expedition, to contend with men."

The king, partly convinced, perhaps, by the arguments which Atys
offered, and partly overborne by the urgency of his request, finally
consented to his request and allowed him to go. He consigned him,
however, to the special care of Adrastus, who was likewise to
accompany the expedition, charging Adrastus to keep constantly by his
side, and to watch over him with the utmost vigilance and fidelity.

The band of huntsmen was organized, the dogs prepared, and the train
departed. Very soon afterward, a messenger came back from the hunting
ground, breathless, and with a countenance of extreme concern and
terror, bringing the dreadful tidings that Atys was dead. Adrastus
himself had killed him. In the ardor of the chase, while the huntsmen
had surrounded the boar, and were each intent on his own personal
danger while in close combat with such a monster, and all were hurling
darts and javelins at their ferocious foe, the spear of Adrastus
missed its aim, and entered the body of the unhappy prince. He bled to
death on the spot.

Soon after the messenger had made known these terrible tidings, the
hunting train, transformed now into a funeral procession, appeared,
bearing the dead body of the king's son, and followed by the wretched
Adrastus himself, who was wringing his hands, and crying out
incessantly in accents and exclamations of despair. He begged the king
to kill him at once, over the body of his son, and thus put an end to
the unutterable agony that he endured. This second calamity was more,
he said, than he could bear. He had killed before his own brother, and
now he had murdered the son of his greatest benefactor and friend.

Croesus, though overwhelmed with anguish, was disarmed of all
resentment at witnessing Adrastus's suffering. He endeavored to soothe
and quiet the agitation which the unhappy man endured, but it was in
vain. Adrastus could not be calmed. Croesus then ordered the body of
his son to be buried with proper honors. The funeral services were
performed with great and solemn ceremonies, and when the body was
interred, the household of Croesus returned to the palace, which was
now, in spite of all its splendor, shrouded in gloom. That night--at
midnight--Adrastus, finding his mental anguish insupportable retired
from his apartment to the place where Atys had been buried, and
killed himself over the grave.

       *       *       *       *       *

Solon was wise in saying that he could not tell whether wealth and
grandeur were to be accounted as happiness till he saw how they would
end. Croesus was plunged into inconsolable grief, and into extreme
dejection and misery for a period of two years, in consequence of this
calamity, and yet this calamity was only the beginning of the end.



B.C. 560

Change in the character of Cyrus.--His ambition.--Capriciousness
of Astyages.--Cyrus makes great progress in mental and personal
accomplishments.--Harpagus's plans for revenge.--Suspicions of
Astyages.--Condition of Persia.--Discontent in Media.--Proceedings
of Harpagus.--His deportment toward Astyages.--Co-operation in
Media.--Harpagus writes to Cyrus.--Harpagus's singular method
of conveying his letter to Cyrus.--Contents of Harpagus's
letter.--Excitement of Cyrus.--Cyrus accedes to Harpagus's
plan.--How to raise an army.--The day of toil.--The day of
festivity.--Speech of Cyrus.--Ardor of the soldiers.--Defection of
Harpagus.--The battle.--Rage of Astyages.--His vengeance on the
magi.--Defeat and capture of Astyages.--Interview with Harpagus.--Cyrus
King of Media and Persia.--Confinement of Astyages.--Acquiescence
of the Medes.--Death of Astyages.--Suddenness of Cyrus's

While Croesus had thus, on his side of the River Halys--which was
the stream that marked the boundary between the Lydian empire on the
west and the Persian and Assyrian dominions on the east--been employed
in building up his grand structure of outward magnificence and
splendor, and in contending, within, against an overwhelming tide
of domestic misery and woe, great changes had taken place in the
situation and prospects of Cyrus. From being an artless and
generous-minded child, he had become a calculating, ambitious, and
aspiring man, and he was preparing to take his part in the great
public contests and struggles of the day, with the same eagerness for
self-aggrandizement, and the same unconcern for the welfare and
happiness of others, which always characterizes the spirit of ambition
and love of power.

Although it is by no means certain that what Xenophon relates of his
visit to his grandfather Astyages is meant for a true narrative of
facts, it is not at all improbable that such a visit might have been
made, and that occurrences, somewhat similar, at least, to those which
his narrative records, may have taken place. It may seem strange to
the reader that a man who should, at one time, wish to put his
grandchild to death, should, at another, be disposed to treat him with
such a profusion of kindness and attention. There is nothing, however,
really extraordinary in this. Nothing is more fluctuating than the
caprice of a despot. Man, accustomed from infancy to govern those
around him by his own impetuous will, never learns self-control. He
gives himself up to the dominion of the passing animal emotions of the
hour. It may be jealousy, it may be revenge, it may be parental
fondness, it may be hate, it may be love--whatever the feeling is
that the various incidents of life, as they occur, or the influences,
irritating or exhilarating, which are produced by food or wine, awaken
in his mind, he follows its impulse blindly and without reserve. He
loads a favorite with kindness and caresses at one hour, and directs
his assassination the next. He imagines that his infant grandchild is
to become his rival, and he deliberately orders him to be left in a
gloomy forest alone, to die of cold and hunger. When the imaginary
danger has passed away, he seeks amusement in making the same
grandchild his plaything, and overwhelms him with favors bestowed
solely for the gratification of the giver, under the influence of an
affection almost as purely animal as that of a lioness for her young.

Favors of such a sort can awaken no permanent gratitude in any heart,
and thus it is quite possible that Cyrus might have evinced, during
the simple and guileless days of his childhood, a deep veneration and
affection for his grandfather, and yet, in subsequent years, when he
had arrived at full maturity, have learned to regard him simply in the
light of a great political potentate, as likely as any other potentate
around him to become his rival or his enemy.

This was, at all events, the result. Cyrus, on his return to Persia,
grew rapidly in strength and stature, and soon became highly
distinguished for his personal grace, his winning manners, and for
the various martial accomplishments which he had acquired in Media,
and in which he excelled almost all his companions. He gained, as
such princes always do, a vast ascendency over the minds of all
around him. As he advanced toward maturity, his mind passed from its
interest in games, and hunting, and athletic sports, to plans of war,
of conquest, and of extended dominion.

In the mean time, Harpagus, though he had, at the time when he endured
the horrid punishment which Astyages inflicted upon him, expressed no
resentment, still he had secretly felt an extreme indignation and
anger, and he had now, for fifteen years, been nourishing covert
schemes and plans for revenge. He remained all this time in the court
of Astyages, and was apparently his friend. He was, however, in heart
a most bitter and implacable enemy. He was looking continually for a
plan or prospect which should promise some hope of affording him his
long-desired revenge. His eyes were naturally turned toward Cyrus.
He kept up a communication with him so far as it was possible, for
Astyages watched very closely what passed between the two countries,
being always suspicious of plots against his government and crown.
Harpagus, however, contrived to evade this vigilance in some degree.
He made continual reports to Cyrus of the tyranny and misgovernment of
Astyages, and of the defenselessness of the realm of Media, and he
endeavored to stimulate his rising ambition to the desire of one day
possessing for himself both the Median and Persian throne.

In fact, Persia was not then independent of Media. It was more or less
connected with the government of Astyages, so that Cambyses, the chief
ruler of Persia, Cyrus's father, is called sometimes a king and
sometimes a _satrap_, which last title is equivalent to that of
viceroy or governor general. Whatever his true and proper title may
have been, Persia was a Median dependency, and Cyrus, therefore, in
forming plans for gaining possession of the Median throne, would
consider himself as rather endeavoring to rise to the supreme command
in his own native country, than as projecting any scheme for foreign

Harpagus, too, looked upon the subject in the same light. Accordingly,
in pushing forward his plots toward their execution, he operated in
Media as well as Persia, He ascertained, by diligent and sagacious,
but by very covert inquiries, who were discontented and ill at ease
under the dominion of Astyages, and by sympathizing with and
encouraging them, he increased their discontent and insubmission.
Whenever Astyages, in the exercise of his tyranny inflicted an injury
upon a powerful subject, Harpagus espoused the cause of the injured
man, condemned, with him, the intolerable oppression of the king, and
thus fixed and perpetuated his enmity. At the same time, he took pains
to collect and to disseminate among the Medes all the information
which he could obtain favorable to Cyrus, in respect to his talents,
his character, and his just and generous spirit, so that, at length,
the ascendency of Astyages, through the instrumentality of these
measures, was very extensively undermined, and the way was rapidly
becoming prepared for Cyrus's accession to power.

During all this time, moreover, Harpagus was personally very
deferential and obsequious to Astyages, and professed an unbounded
devotedness to his interests. He maintained a high rank at court and
in the army, and Astyages relied upon him as one of the most obedient
and submissive of his servants, without entertaining any suspicion
whatever of his true designs.

At length a favorable occasion arose, as Harpagus thought, for the
execution of his plans. It was at a time when Astyages had been guilty
of some unusual acts of tyranny and oppression, by which he had
produced extensive dissatisfaction among his people. Harpagus
communicated, very cautiously, to the principal men around him, the
designs that he had long been forming for deposing Astyages and
elevating Cyrus in his place. He found them favorably inclined to the
plan. The way being thus prepared, the next thing was to contrive some
secret way of communicating with Cyrus. As the proposal which he was
going to make was that Cyrus should come into Media with as great a
force as he could command, and head an insurrection against the
government of Astyages, it would, of course, be death to him to have
it discovered. He did not dare to trust the message to any living
messenger, for fear of betrayal; nor was it safe to send a letter
by any ordinary mode of transmission, lest the letter should be
intercepted by some of Astyages's spies, and thus the whole plot be
discovered. He finally adopted the following very extraordinary plan:


He wrote a letter to Cyrus, and then taking a hare, which some of his
huntsmen had caught for him, he opened the body and concealed the
letter within. He then sewed up the skin again in the most careful
manner, so that no signs of the incision should remain. He delivered
this hare, together with some nets and other hunting apparatus, to
certain trustworthy servants, on whom he thought he could rely,
charging them to deliver the hare into Cyrus's own hands, and to say
that it came from Harpagus, and that it was the request of Harpagus
that Cyrus should open it himself and alone. Harpagus concluded that
this mode of making the communication was safe; for, in case the
persons to whom the hare was intrusted were to be seen by any of the
spies or other persons employed by Astyages on the frontiers, they
would consider them as hunters returning from the chase with their
game, and would never think of examining the body of a hare, in the
hands of such a party, in search after a clandestine correspondence.

The plan was perfectly successful. The men passed into Persia without
any suspicion. They delivered the hare to Cyrus, with their message.
He opened the hare, and found the letter. It was in substance as

     "It is plain, Cyrus, that you are a favorite of Heaven, and
     that you are destined to a great and glorious career. You
     could not otherwise have escaped, in so miraculous a manner,
     the snares set for you in your infancy. Astyages meditated
     your death, and he took such measures to effect it as would
     seem to have made your destruction sure. You were saved by
     the special interposition of Heaven. Yon are aware by what
     extraordinary incidents you were preserved and discovered,
     and what great and unusual prosperity has since attended
     you. You know, too, what cruel punishments Astyages
     inflicted upon me, for my humanity in saving you. The time
     has now come for retribution. From this time the authority
     and the dominions of Astyages may be yours. Persuade the
     Persians to revolt. Put yourself at the head of an army, and
     march into Media. I shall probably myself be appointed to
     command the army sent out to oppose you. If so, we will join
     our forces when we meet, and I will enter your service. I
     have conferred with the leading nobles in Media, and they
     are all ready to espouse your cause. You may rely upon
     finding every thing thus prepared for you here; come,
     therefore, without any delay."

Cyrus was thrown into a fever of excitement and agitation on reading
this letter. He determined to accede to Harpagus's proposal. He
revolved in his mind for some time the measures by which he could
raise the necessary force. Of course he could not openly announce his
plan and enlist an army to effect it, for any avowed and public
movement of that kind would be immediately made known to Astyages,
who, by being thus forewarned of his enemies' designs, might take
effectual measures to circumvent them. He determined to resort to
deceit, or, as he called it, stratagem; nor did he probably have any
distinct perception of the wrongfulness of such a mode of proceeding.
The demon of war upholds and justifies falsehood and treachery, in all
its forms, on the part of his votaries. He always applauds a forgery,
a false pretense, or a lie: he calls it a stratagem.

Cyrus had a letter prepared, in the form of a commission from
Astyages, appointing him commander of a body of Persian forces to be
raised for the service of the king. Cyrus read the fabricated document
in the public assembly of the Persians, and called upon all the
warriors to join him. When they were organized, he ordered them to
assemble on a certain day, at a place that he named, each one provided
with a woodman's ax. When they were thus mustered, he marched them
into a forest, and set them at work to clear a piece of ground. The
army toiled all day, felling the trees, and piling them up to be
burned. They cleared in this way, as Herodotus states, a piece of
ground eighteen or twenty furlongs in extent. Cyrus kept them thus
engaged in severe and incessant toil all the day, giving them, too,
only coarse food and little rest. At night he dismissed them,
commanding them to assemble again the second day.

On the second day, when they came together, they found a great banquet
prepared for them, and Cyrus directed them to devote the day to
feasting and making merry. There was an abundance of meats of all
kinds, and rich wines in great profusion. The soldiers gave themselves
up for the whole day to merriment and revelry. The toils and the hard
fare of the day before had prepared them very effectually to enjoy the
rest and the luxuries of this festival. They spent the hours in
feasting about their camp-fires and reclining on the grass, where they
amused themselves and one another by relating tales, or joining in
merry songs and dances. At last, in the evening, Cyrus called them
together, and asked them which day they had liked the best. They
replied that there was nothing at all to like in the one, and nothing
to be disliked in the other. They had had, on the first day, hard work
and bad fare, and on the second, uninterrupted ease and the most
luxurious pleasures.

"It is indeed so," said Cyrus, "and you have your destiny in your own
hands to make your lives pass like either of these days, just as you
choose. If you will follow me, you will enjoy ease, abundance, and
luxury. If you refuse, you must remain as you are, and toil on as you
do now, and endure your present privations and hardships to the end of
your days." He then explained to them his designs. He told them that
although Media was a great and powerful kingdom, still that they were
as good soldiers as the Medes, and with the arrangements and
preparations which he had made, they were sure of victory.

The soldiers received this proposal with great enthusiasm and joy.
They declared themselves ready to follow Cyrus wherever he should lead
them, and the whole body immediately commenced making preparations for
the expedition. Astyages was, of course, soon informed of these
proceedings. He sent an order to Cyrus, summoning him immediately into
his presence. Cyrus sent back word, in reply, that Astyages would
probably see him sooner than he wished, and went on vigorously with
his preparations. When all was ready, the army marched, and, crossing
the frontiers, they entered into Media.

In the mean time, Astyages had collected a large force, and, as had
been anticipated by the conspirators, he put it under the command of
Harpagus. Harpagus made known his design of going over to Cyrus as
soon as he should meet him, to as large a portion of the army as he
thought it prudent to admit to his confidence; the rest knew nothing
of the plan; and thus the Median army advanced to meet the invaders, a
part of the troops with minds intent on resolutely meeting and
repelling their enemies, while the rest were secretly preparing to go
over at once to their side.

When the battle was joined, the honest part of the Median army fought
valiantly at first, but soon, thunderstruck and utterly confounded at
seeing themselves abandoned and betrayed by a large body of their
comrades, they were easily overpowered by the triumphant Persians.
Some were taken prisoners; some fled back to Astyages; and others,
following the example of the deserters, went over to Cyrus's camp and
swelled the numbers of his train. Cyrus, thus re-enforced by the
accessions he had received, and encouraged by the flight or dispersion
of all who still wished to oppose him, began to advance toward the

Astyages, when he heard of the defection of Harpagus and of the
discomfiture of his army, was thrown into a perfect phrensy of rage
and hate. The long-dreaded prediction of his dream seemed now about to
be fulfilled, and the magi, who had taught him that when Cyrus had
once been made king of the boys in sport, there was no longer any
danger of his aspiring to regal power, had proved themselves false.
They had either intentionally deceived him, or they were ignorant
themselves, and in that case they were worthless impostors. Although
the danger from Cyrus's approach was imminent in the extreme, Astyages
could not take any measures for guarding against it until he had first
gratified the despotic cruelty of his nature by taking vengeance on
these false pretenders. He directed to have them all seized and
brought before him, and then, having upbraided them with bitter
reproaches for their false predictions, he ordered them all to be

He then adopted the most decisive measures for raising an army. He
ordered every man capable of bearing arms to come forward, and then,
putting himself at the head of the immense force which he had thus
raised, he advanced to meet his enemy. He supposed, no doubt, that
he was sure of victory; but he under-rated the power which the
discipline, the resolution, the concentration, and the terrible energy
of Cyrus's troops gave to their formidable array. He was defeated. His
army was totally cut to pieces, and he himself was taken prisoner.

Harpagus was present when he was taken, and he exulted in revengeful
triumph over the fallen tyrant's ruin. Astyages was filled with rage
and despair. Harpagus asked him what he thought now of the supper in
which he had compelled a father to feed on the flesh of his child.
Astyages, in reply, asked Harpagus whether he thought that the success
of Cyrus was owing to what he had done. Harpagus replied that it was,
and exultingly explained to Astyages the plots he had formed, and the
preparations which he had made for Cyrus's invasion, so that Astyages
might see that his destruction had been effected by Harpagus alone, in
terrible retribution for the atrocious crime which he had committed
so many years before, and for which the vengeance of the sufferer had
slumbered, during the long interval, only to be more complete and
overwhelming at last.

Astyages told Harpagus that he was a miserable wretch, the most
foolish and most wicked of mankind. He was the most foolish, for
having plotted to put power into another's hands which it would have
been just as easy for him to have secured and retained in his own; and
he was the most wicked, for having betrayed his country, and delivered
it over to a foreign power, merely to gratify his own private revenge.

The result of this battle was the complete overthrow of the power and
kingdom of Astyages, and the establishment of Cyrus on the throne of
the united kingdom of Media and Persia. Cyrus treated his grandfather
with kindness after his victory over him. He kept him confined, it
is true, but it was probably that indirect and qualified sort of
confinement which is all that is usually enforced in the case of
princes and kings. In such cases, some extensive and often sumptuous
residence is assigned to the illustrious prisoner, with grounds
sufficiently extensive to afford every necessary range for recreation
and exercise, and with bodies of troops for keepers, which have much
more the form and appearance of military guards of honor attending on
a prince, than of jailers confining a prisoner. It was probably in
such an imprisonment as this that Astyages passed the remainder of his
days. The people, having been wearied with his despotic tyranny,
rejoiced in his downfall, and acquiesced very readily in the milder
and more equitable government of Cyrus.

Astyages came to his death many years afterward, in a somewhat
remarkable manner. Cyrus sent for him to come into Persia, where he
was himself then residing. The officer who had Astyages in charge,
conducted him, on the way, into a desolate wilderness, where he
perished of fatigue, exposure, and hunger. It was supposed that this
was done in obedience to secret orders from Cyrus, who perhaps found
the charge of such a prisoner a burden. The officer, however, was
cruelly punished for the act; but even this may have been only for
appearances, to divert the minds of men from all suspicion that Cyrus
could himself have been an accomplice in such a crime.

The whole revolution which has been described in this chapter, from
its first inception to its final accomplishment, was effected in a
very short period of time, and Cyrus thus found himself very
unexpectedly and suddenly elevated to a throne.

Harpagus continued in his service, and became subsequently one of his
most celebrated generals.



B.C. 547

Plans of Croesus.--The River Halys.--Nature of the oracles.--Situation
of Delphi.--The gaseous vapor.--The priestess.--The sacred tripod.--The
oracle of Dodona.--The two black doves.--The priestesses of
Dodona.--Manner of obtaining responses.--The great brazen caldron.--The
Oasis of Jupiter Ammon.--Discovery of the Oasis of Jupiter Ammon.--Other
oracles.--Mode of consulting the oracle.--Mystic ceremonies.--Croesus
puts the oracle to the test.--Manner of doing it.--Return of the
messengers.--The replies.--Croesus decides in favor of Delphi.--His
costly gifts.--The silver tank.--The golden lion.--The bread-maker.--Her
history.--The oracle questioned.--The response.--Delight of
Croesus.--Supplementary inquiry.--Croesus's feeling of security.--Nature
of the oracles.--Means by which the credit of the oracles was
sustained.--Whether the priests were impostors.--Answers of the
oracles.--Collusion between the priests and those who consulted the
oracle.--Is there any revelation truly divine?

As soon as Cyrus had become established on his throne as King of the
Medes and Persians, his influence and power began to extend westward
toward the confines of the empire of Croesus, king of Lydia.
Croesus was aroused from the dejection and stupor into which the
death of his son had plunged him, as related in a former chapter, by
this threatening danger. He began to consider very earnestly what he
could do to avert it.

The River Halys, a great river of Asia Minor, which flows northward
into the Black Sea, was the eastern boundary of the Lydian empire.
Croesus began to entertain the design of raising an army and
crossing the Halys, to invade the empire of Cyrus, thinking that that
would perhaps be safer policy than to wait for Cyrus to cross the
Halys, and bring the war upon him. Still, the enterprise of invading
Persia was a vast undertaking, and the responsibility great of being
the aggressor in the contest. After carefully considering the subject
in all its aspects, Croesus found himself still perplexed and

The Greeks had a method of looking into futurity, and of ascertaining,
as they imagined, by supernatural means, the course of future events,
which was peculiar to that people; at least no other nation seems ever
to have practiced it in the precise form which prevailed among them.
It was by means of the oracles. There were four or five localities in
the Grecian countries which possessed, as the people thought, the
property of inspiring persons who visited them, or of giving to some
natural object certain supernatural powers by which future events
could be foretold. The three most important of these oracles were
situated respectively at Delphi, at Dodona, and at the Oasis of
Jupiter Ammon.

Delphi was a small town built in a sort of valley, shaped like an
amphitheater, on the southern side of Mount Parnassus. Mount Parnassus
is north of the Peloponnesus, not very far from the shores of the Gulf
of Corinth. Delphi was in a picturesque and romantic situation, with
the mountain behind it, and steep, precipitous rocks descending to
the level country before. These precipices answered instead of walls
to defend the temple and the town. In very early times a cavern or
fissure in the rocks was discovered at Delphi, from which there issued
a stream of gaseous vapor, which produced strange effects on those who
inhaled it. It was supposed to inspire them. People resorted to the
place to obtain the benefit of these inspirations, and of the
knowledge which they imagined they could obtain by means of them.
Finally, a temple was built, and a priestess resided constantly in it,
to inhale the vapor and give the responses. When she gave her answers
to those who came to consult the oracle, she sat upon a sort of
three-legged stool, which was called the sacred tripod. These stools
were greatly celebrated as a very important part of the sacred
apparatus of the place. This oracle became at last so renowned, that
the greatest potentates, and even kings, came from great distances to
consult it, and they made very rich and costly presents at the shrine
when they came. These presents, it was supposed, tended to induce the
god who presided over the oracle to give to those who made them
favorable and auspicious replies. The deity that dictated the
predictions of this oracle was Apollo.

There was another circumstance, besides the existence of the cave,
which signalized the locality where this oracle was situated. The
people believed that this spot was the exact center of the earth,
which of course they considered as one vast plain. There was an
ancient story that Jupiter, in order to determine the central point of
creation, liberated two eagles at the same time, in opposite quarters
of the heavens, that they might fly toward one another, and so mark
the middle point by the place of their meeting. They met at Delphi.

Another of the most celebrated oracles was at Dodona. Dodona was
northwest of Delphi, in the Epirus, which was a country in the western
part of what is now Turkey in Europe, and on the shores of the
Adriatic Sea. The origin of the oracle at Dodona was, as the
priestesses there told Herodotus, as follows: In very ancient times,
two black doves were set at liberty in Thebes, which was a very
venerable and sacred city of Egypt. One flew toward the north and the
other toward the west. The former crossed the Mediterranean, and then
continued its flight over the Peloponnesus, and over all the southern
provinces of Greece, until it reached Dodona. There it alighted on a
beech-tree, and said, in a human voice, that that spot was divinely
appointed for the seat of a sacred oracle. The other dove flew to the
Oasis of Jupiter Ammon.

There were three priestesses at Dodona in the days of Herodotus. Their
names were Promenea, Timarete, and Nicandre. The answers of the oracle
were, for a time, obtained by the priestesses from some appearances
which they observed in the sacred beech on which the dove alighted,
when the tree was agitated by the wind. In later times, however, the
responses were obtained in a still more singular manner. Then was a
brazen statue of a man, holding a whip in his hand. The whip had three
lashes, which were formed of brazen chains. At the end of each chain
was an _astragalus_, as it was called, which was a row of little knots
or knobs, such as were commonly appended to the lashes of whips used
in those days for scourging criminals.

These heavy lashes hung suspended in the hand of the statue over a
great brazen caldron, in such a manner that the wind would impel them,
from time to time, against its sides, causing the caldron to ring and
resound like a gong. There was, however, something in this resonance
supernatural and divine; for, though it was not loud, it was very
long continued, when once the margin of the caldron was touched,
however gently, by the lashes. In fact, it was commonly said that if
touched in the morning, it would be night before the reverberations
would have died entirely away. Such a belief could be very easily
sustained among the common people; for a large, open-mouthed vessel
like the Dodona caldron, with thin sides formed of sonorous metal,
might be kept in a state of continual vibration by the wind alone.

They who wished to consult this oracle came with rich presents both
for the priestesses and for the shrine, and when they had made the
offerings, and performed the preliminary ceremonies required, they
propounded their questions to the priestesses, who obtained the
replies by interpreting, according to certain rules which they had
formed, the sounds emitted by the mysterious gong.

The second black dove which took its flight from Thebes alighted, as
we have already said, in the Oasis of Jupiter Ammon. This oasis was
a small fertile spot in the midst of the deserts of Africa, west of
Egypt, about a hundred miles from the Nile, and somewhat nearer
than that to the Mediterranean Sea. It was first discovered in the
following manner: A certain king was marching across the deserts, and
his army, having exhausted their supplies of water, were on the point
of perishing with thirst, when a ram mysteriously appeared, and took a
position before them as their guide. They followed him, and at length
came suddenly upon a green and fertile valley, many miles in length.
The ram conducted them into this valley, and then suddenly vanished,
and a copious fountain of water sprung up in the place where he
had stood. The king, in gratitude for this divine interposition,
consecrated the spot and built a temple upon it, which was called the
temple of Jupiter Ammon. The dove alighted here, and ever afterward
the oracles delivered by the priests of this temple were considered as
divinely inspired.

These three were the most important oracles. There were, however, many
others of subordinate consequence, each of which had its own peculiar
ceremonies, all senseless and absurd. At one there was a sort of
oven-shaped cave in the rocks, the spot being inclosed by an
artificial wall. The cave was about six feet wide and eight feet deep.
The descent into it was by a ladder. Previously to consulting this
oracle certain ceremonies were necessary, which it required several
days to perform. The applicant was to offer sacrifices to many
different deities, and to purify himself in various ways. He was then
conducted to a stream in the neighborhood of the oracle, where he
was to be anointed and washed. Then he drank a certain magical water,
called the water of forgetfulness, which made him forget all previous
sorrows and cares. Afterward he drank of another enchanted cup, which
contained the water of remembrance; this was to make him remember all
that should be communicated to him in the cave. He then descended the
ladder, and received within the cave the responses of the oracle.

At another of these oracles, which was situated in Attica, the magic
virtue was supposed to reside in a certain marble statue, carved in
honor of an ancient and celebrated prophet, and placed in a temple.
Whoever wished to consult this oracle must abstain from wine for three
days, and from food of every kind for twenty-four hours preceding the
application. He was then to offer a ram as a sacrifice; and afterward,
taking the skin of the ram from the carcass, he was to spread it out
before the statue and lie down upon it to sleep. The answers of the
oracle came to him in his dreams.

But to return to Croesus. He wished to ascertain, by consulting some
of these oracles, what the result of his proposed invasion of the
dominions of Cyrus would be, in case he should undertake it; and in
order to determine which of the various oracles were most worthy of
reliance, he conceived the plan of putting them all to a preliminary
test. He effected this object in the following manner:

He dispatched a number of messengers from Sardis, his capital, sending
one to each of the various oracles. He directed these messengers to
make their several journeys with all convenient dispatch; but, in
order to provide for any cases of accidental detention or delay, he
allowed them all one hundred days to reach their several places of
destination. On the hundredth day from the time of their leaving
Sardis, they were all to make applications to the oracles, and inquire
what Croesus, king of Lydia, was doing at that time. Of course he
did not tell them what he should be doing; and as the oracles
themselves could not possibly know how he was employed by any human
powers, their answers would seem to test the validity of their claims
to powers divine.

Croesus kept the reckoning of the days himself with great care, and
at the hour appointed on the hundredth day, he employed himself in
boiling the flesh of a turtle and of a lamb together in a brazen
vessel. The vessel was covered with a lid, which was also of brass. He
then awaited the return of the messengers. They came in due time, one
after another, bringing the replies which they had severally obtained.
The replies were all unsatisfactory, except that of the oracle at
Delphi. This answer was in verse, as, in fact, the responses of
that oracle always were. The priestess who sat upon the tripod was
accustomed to give the replies in an incoherent and half-intelligible
manner, as impostors are very apt to do in uttering prophecies, and
then the attendant priests and secretaries wrote them out in verse.

The verse which the messenger brought back from the Delphic tripod was
in Greek; but some idea of its style, and the import of it, is
conveyed by the following imitation:

     "I number the sands, I measure the sea,
     What's hidden to others is known to me.
     The lamb and the turtle are simmering slow
     With brass above them and brass below."

Of course, Croesus decided that the Delphic oracle was the one that
he must rely upon for guidance in respect to his projected campaign.
And he now began to prepare to consult it in a manner corresponding
with the vast importance of the subject, and with his own boundless
wealth. He provided the most extraordinary and sumptuous presents.
Some of these treasures were to be deposited in the temple, as sacred
gifts, for permanent preservation there. Others were to be offered as
a burnt sacrifice in honor of the god. Among the latter, besides an
incredible number of living victims, he caused to be prepared a great
number of couches, magnificently decorated with silver and gold, and
goblets and other vessels of gold, and dresses of various kinds richly
embroidered, and numerous other articles, all intended to be used in
the ceremonies preliminary to his application to the oracle. When the
time arrived, a vast concourse of people assembled to witness the
spectacle. The animals were sacrificed, and the people feasted on the
flesh; and when these ceremonies were concluded, the couches, the
goblets, the utensils of every kind, the dresses--every thing, in
short, which had been used on the occasion, were heaped up into one
great sacrificial pile, and set on fire. Every thing that was
combustible was consumed, while the gold was melted, and ran into
plates of great size, which were afterward taken out from the ashes.
Thus it was the workmanship only of these articles which was destroyed
and lost by the fire. The gold, in which the chief value consisted,
was saved. It was gold from the Pactolus.

Besides these articles, there were others made, far more magnificent
and costly, for the temple itself. There was a silver cistern or tank,
large enough to hold three thousand gallons of wine. This tank was to
be used by the inhabitants of Delphi in their great festivals. There
was also a smaller cistern, or immense goblet, as it might, perhaps,
more properly be called, which was made of gold. There were also many
other smaller presents, such as basins, vases, and statues, all of
silver and gold, and of the most costly workmanship. The gold, too,
which had been taken from the fire, was cast again, a part of it being
formed into the image of a lion, and the rest into large plates of
metal for the lion to stand upon. The image was then set up upon the
plates, within the precincts of the temple.

There was one piece of statuary which Croesus presented to the
oracle at Delphi, which was, in some respects, more extraordinary than
any of the rest. It was called the bread-maker. It was an image
representing a woman, a servant in the household of Croesus, whose
business it was to bake the bread. The reason that induced Croesus
to honor this bread-maker with a statue of gold was, that on one
occasion during his childhood she had saved his life. The mother of
Croesus died when he was young, and his father married a second
time. The second wife wished to have some one of her children, instead
of Croesus, succeed to her husband's throne. In order, therefore, to
remove Croesus out of the way, she prepared some poison and gave it
to the bread-maker, instructing her to put it into the bread which
Croesus was to eat. The bread-maker received the poison and promised
to obey. But, instead of doing so, she revealed the intended murder to
Croesus, and gave the poison to the queen's own children. In
gratitude for this fidelity to him, Croesus, when he came to the
throne, caused this statue to be made, and now he placed it at Delphi,
where he supposed it would forever remain. The memory of his faithful
servant was indeed immortalized by the measure, though the statue
itself, as well as all these other treasures, in process of time
disappeared. In fact, statues of brass or of marble generally make far
more durable monuments than statues of gold; and no structure or
object of art is likely to be very permanent among mankind unless the
workmanship is worth more than the material.

Croesus did not proceed himself to Delphi with these presents, but
sent them by the hands of trusty messengers, who were instructed to
perform the ceremonies required, to offer the gifts, and then to make
inquiries of the oracle in the following terms.

"Croesus the sovereign of Lydia and of various other kingdoms, in
return for the wisdom which has marked your former declarations, has
sent you these gifts. He now furthermore desires to know whether it is
safe for him to proceed against the Persians, and if so, whether it is
best for him to seek the assistance of any allies."

The answer was as follows:

"If Croesus crosses the Halys, and prosecutes a war with Persia, a
mighty empire will be overthrown. It will be best for him to form an
alliance with the most powerful states of Greece."

Croesus was extremely pleased with this response. He immediately
resolved on undertaking the expedition against Cyrus; and to express
his gratitude for so favorable an answer to his questions, he sent
to Delphi to inquire what was the number of inhabitants in the city,
and, when the answer was reported to him, he sent a present of a
sum of money to every one. The Delphians, in their turn, conferred
special privileges and honors upon the Lydians and upon Croesus in
respect to their oracle, giving them the precedence in all future
consultations, and conferring upon them other marks of distinction
and honor.

At the time when Croesus sent his present to the inhabitants of
Delphi, he took the opportunity to address another inquiry to the
oracle, which was, whether his power would ever decline. The oracle
replied in a couplet of Greek verse, similar in its style to the one
recorded on the previous occasion.

It was as follows:

     "Whene'er a mule shall mount upon the Median throne,
     Then, and not till then, shall great Croesus fear to lose his own."

This answer pleased the king quite as much as the former one had done.
The allusion to the contingency of a mule's reigning in Media he
very naturally regarded as only a rhetorical and mystical mode of
expressing an utter impossibility. Croesus considered himself and
the continuance of his power as perfectly secure. He was fully
confirmed in his determination to organize his expedition without any
delay, and to proceed immediately to the proper measures for obtaining
the Grecian alliance and aid which the oracle had recommended. The
plans which he formed, and the events which resulted, will be
described in subsequent chapters.

In respect to these Grecian oracles, it is proper here to state, that
there has been much discussion among scholars on the question how they
were enabled to maintain, for so long a period, so extended a credit
among a people as intellectual and well informed as the Greeks. It was
doubtless by means of a variety of contrivances and influences that
this end was attained. There is a natural love of the marvelous among
the humbler classes in all countries, which leads them to be very
ready to believe in what is mystic and supernatural; and they
accordingly exaggerate and color such real incidents as occur under
any strange or remarkable circumstances, and invest any unusual
phenomena which they witness with a miraculous or supernatural
interest. The cave at Delphi might really have emitted gases which
would produce quite striking effects upon those who inhaled them; and
how easy it would be for those who witnessed these effects to imagine
that some divine and miraculous powers must exist in the aërial
current which produced them. The priests and priestesses, who
inhabited the temples in which these oracles were contained, had, of
course, a strong interest in keeping up the belief of their reality in
the minds of the community; so were, in fact, all the inhabitants of
the cities which sprung up around them. They derived their support
from the visitors who frequented these places, and they contrived
various ways for drawing contributions, both of money and gifts, from
all who came. In one case there was a sacred stream near an oracle,
where persons, on permission from the priests, were allowed to bathe.
After the bathing, they were expected to throw pieces of money into
the stream. What afterward, in such cases, became of the money, it is
not difficult to imagine.

Nor is it necessary to suppose that all these priests and priestesses
were impostors. Having been trained up from infancy to believe that
the inspirations were real, they would continue to look upon them as
such all their lives. Even at the present day we shall all, if we
closely scrutinize our mental habits, find ourselves continuing to
take for granted, in our maturer years, what we inconsiderately
imbibed or were erroneously taught in infancy, and that, often, in
cases where the most obvious dictates of reason, or even the plain
testimony of our senses, might show us that our notions are false. The
priests and priestesses, therefore, who imposed on the rest of
mankind, may have been as honestly and as deep in the delusion
themselves as any of their dupes.

The answers of the oracles were generally vague and indefinite, and
susceptible of almost any interpretation, according to the result.
Whenever the event corresponded with the prediction, or could be made
to correspond with it by the ingenuity of the commentators, the story
of the coincidence would, of course, be every where spread abroad,
becoming more striking and more exact at each repetition. Where there
was a failure, it would not be direct and absolute, on account of
the vagueness and indefiniteness of the response, and there would
therefore be no interest felt in hearing or in circulating the story.
The cases, thus, which would tend to establish the truth of the
oracle, would be universally known and remembered, while those of a
contrary bearing would be speedily forgotten.

There is no doubt, however, that in many cases the responses were
given in collusion with the one who consulted the oracle, for the
purpose of deceiving others. For example, let us suppose that
Croesus wished to establish strongly the credibility of the Delphic
oracle in the minds of his countrymen, in order to encourage them to
enlist in his armies, and to engage in the enterprise which he was
contemplating against Cyrus with resolution and confidence; it would
have been easy for him to have let the priestess at Delphi know what
he was doing on the day when he sent to inquire, and thus himself to
have directed her answer. Then, when his messengers returned, he would
appeal to the answer as proof of the reality of the inspiration which
seemed to furnish it. Alexander the Great certainly did, in this way,
act in collusion with the priests at the temple of Jupiter Ammon.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fact that there have been so many and such successful cases of
falsehood and imposture among mankind in respect to revelations from
Heaven, is no indication, as some superficially suppose, that no
revelation is true, but is, on the other hand, strong evidence to
the contrary. The Author of human existence has given no instincts
in vain; and the universal tendency of mankind to believe in the
supernatural, to look into an unseen world, to seek, and to imagine
that they find, revelations from Heaven, and to expect a continuance
of existence after this earthly life is over, is the strongest
possible natural evidence that there is an unseen world; that man may
have true communications with it; that a personal deity reigns, who
approves and disapproves of human conduct, and that there is a future
state of being. In this point of view, the absurd oracles of Greece,
and the universal credence which they obtained, constitute strong
evidence that there is somewhere to be found inspiration and prophecy
really divine.



B.C. 546

Reasons which induced Croesus to invade Media.--The
Lacedæmonians.--Embassadors to Sparta.--Preparations of Croesus.--The
counsel of Sardaris.--The army begins to march.--Thales the
Milesian.--Mathematical skill of Thales.--His theorems.--Ingenious
plan of Thales for crossing the Halys.--Advance of Cyrus.--Preparations
for battle.--Great battle at Pteria.--Undecisive result.--Croesus
returns to Sardis.--Cyrus follows him.--Confusion and alarm at
Sardis.--The Lydian cavalry.--Nature of cavalry.--Manner of receiving
a cavalry charge.--The camels.--Cyrus opposes them to the cavalry.--The
battle fought.--Cyrus victorious.--Situation of Sardis.--Its walls.--An
ancient legend.--Cyrus besieges the city.--The reconnoissance.--The
walls scaled.--Storming of the city.--Croesus made prisoner.--The
funeral pile.--Anguish and despair of Croesus.--The saying of
Solon.--Croesus is saved.--He becomes Cyrus's friend.--Croesus
sends his fetters to the oracle at Delphi.--Explanations of the
priests.--Their adroitness and dexterity.

There were, in fact, three inducements which combined their influence
on the mind of Croesus, in leading him to cross the Halys, and
invade the dominions of the Medes and Persians: first, he was
ambitious to extend his own empire; secondly, he feared that if he did
not attack Cyrus, Cyrus would himself cross the Halys and attack him;
and, thirdly, he felt under some obligation to consider himself the
ally of Astyages, and thus bound to espouse his cause, and to aid him
in putting down, if possible, the usurpation of Cyrus, and in
recovering his throne. He felt under this obligation because Astyages
was his brother-in-law; for the latter had married, many years before,
a daughter of Alyattes, who was the father of Croesus. This, as
Croesus thought, gave him a just title to interfere between the
dethroned king and the rebel who had dethroned him. Under the
influence of all these reasons combined, and encouraged by the
responses of the oracle, he determined on attempting the invasion.

The first measure which he adopted was to form an alliance with the
most powerful of the states of Greece, as he had been directed to do
by the oracle. After much inquiry and consideration, he concluded
that the Lacedæmonian state was the most powerful. Their chief city
was Sparta, in the Peloponnesus. They were a warlike, stern, and
indomitable race of men, capable of bearing every possible hardship,
and of enduring every degree of fatigue and toil, and they desired
nothing but military glory for their reward. This was a species of
wages which it was very easy to pay; much more easy to furnish than
coin, even for Croesus, notwithstanding the abundant supplies of
gold which he was accustomed to obtain from the sands of the Pactolus.

Croesus sent embassadors to Sparta to inform the people of the plans
which he contemplated, and to ask their aid. He had been instructed,
he said, by the oracle at Delphi, to seek the alliance of the most
powerful of the states of Greece, and he accordingly made application
to them. They were gratified with the compliment implied in selecting
them, and acceded readily to his proposal. Besides, they were already
on very friendly terms with Croesus; for, some years before, they
had sent to him to procure some gold for a statue which they had
occasion to erect, offering to give an equivalent for the value of it
in such productions as their country afforded. Croesus supplied them
with the gold that they needed, but generously refused to receive any

In the mean time, Croesus went on, energetically, at Sardis, making
the preparations for his campaign. One of his counselors, whose name
was Sardaris, ventured, one day, strongly to dissuade him from
undertaking the expedition. "You have nothing to gain by it," said he,
"if you succeed, and every thing to lose if you fail. Consider what
sort of people these Persians are whom you are going to combat. They
live in the most rude and simple manner, without luxuries, without
pleasures, without wealth. If you conquer their country, you will find
nothing in it worth bringing away. On the other hand, if they conquer
you, they will come like a vast band of plunderers into Lydia, where
there is every thing to tempt and reward them. I counsel you to leave
them alone, and to remain on this side the Halys, thankful if Cyrus
will be contented to remain on the other."

But Croesus was not in a mood of mind to be persuaded by such

When all things were ready, the army commenced its march and moved
eastward, through one province of Asia Minor after another, until they
reached the Halys. This river is a considerable stream, which rises in
the interior of the country, and flows northward into the Euxine Sea.
The army encamped on the banks of it, and some plan was to be formed
for crossing the stream. In accomplishing this object, Croesus was
aided by a very celebrated engineer who accompanied his army, named
Thales. Thales was a native of Miletus, and is generally called in
history, Thales the Milesian. He was a very able mathematician and
calculator, and many accounts remain of the discoveries and
performances by which he acquired his renown.

For example, in the course of his travels, he at one time visited
Egypt, and while there, he contrived a very simple way of measuring
the height of the pyramids. He set up a pole on the plain in an
upright position, and then measured the pole and also its shadow. He
also measured the length of the shadow of the pyramid. He then
calculated the height of the pyramid by this proportion: as the
length of shadow of the pole is to that of the pole itself, so is
the length of the shadow of the pyramid to its height.

Thales was an astronomer as well as a philosopher and engineer. He
learned more exactly the true length of the year than it had been
known before; and he also made some calculations of eclipses, at least
so far as to predict the year in which they would happen. One eclipse
which he predicted happened to occur on the day of a great battle
between two contending armies. It was cloudy, so that the combatants
could not see the sun. This circumstance, however, which concealed the
eclipse itself, only made the darkness which was caused by it the more
intense. The armies were much terrified at this sudden cessation of
the light of day, and supposed it to be a warning from heaven that
they should desist from the combat.

Thales the Milesian was the author of several of the geometrical
theorems and demonstrations now included in the Elements of Euclid.
The celebrated fifth proposition of the first book, so famous among
all the modern nations of Europe as the great stumbling block in the
way of beginners in the study of geometry, was his. The discovery of
the truth expressed in this proposition, and of the complicated
demonstration which establishes it, was certainly a much greater
mathematical performance than the measuring of the altitude of the
pyramids by their shadow.

But to return to Croesus. Thales undertook the work of transporting
the army across the river. He examined the banks, and found, at
length, a spot where the land was low and level for some distance from
the stream. He caused the army to be brought up to the river at this
point, and to be encamped there, as near to the bank as possible, and
in as compact a form. He then employed a vast number of laborers to
cut a new channel for the waters, behind the army, leading out from
the river above, and rejoining it again at a little distance below.
When this channel was finished, he turned the river into its new
course, and then the army passed without difficulty over the former
bed of the stream.

The Halys being thus passed, Croesus moved on in the direction of
Media. But he soon found that he had not far to go to find his enemy.
Cyrus had heard of his plans through deserters and spies, and he had
for some time been advancing to meet him. One after the other of the
nations through whose dominions he had passed, he had subjected to
his sway, or, at least, brought under his influence by treaties and
alliances, and had received from them all re-enforcements to swell
the numbers of his army. One nation only remained--the Babylonians.
They were on the side of Croesus. They were jealous of the growing
power of the Medes and Persians, and had made a league with Croesus,
promising to aid him in the war. The other nations of the East were in
alliance with Cyrus, and he was slowly moving on, at the head of an
immense combined force, toward the Halys, at the very time when
Croesus was crossing the stream.

The scouts, therefore, that preceded the army of Croesus on its
march, soon began to fall back into the camp, with intelligence that
there was a large armed force coming on to meet them, the advancing
columns filling all the roads, and threatening to overwhelm them. The
scouts from the army of Cyrus carried back similar intelligence to
him. The two armies accordingly halted and began to prepare for
battle. The place of their meeting was called Pteria. It was in the
province of Cappadocia, and toward the eastern part of Asia Minor.

A great battle was fought at Pteria. It was continued all day, and
remained undecided when the sun went down. The combatants separated
when it became dark, and each withdrew from the field. Each king
found, it seems, that his antagonist was more formidable than he had
imagined, and on the morning after the battle they both seemed
inclined to remain in their respective encampments, without evincing
any disposition to renew the contest.

Croesus, in fact, seems to have considered that he was fortunate in
having so far repulsed the formidable invasion which Cyrus had been
intending for him. He considered Cyrus's army as repulsed, since they
had withdrawn from the field, and showed no disposition to return to
it. He had no doubt that Cyrus would now go back to Media again,
having found how well prepared Croesus had been to receive him. For
himself, he concluded that he ought to be satisfied with the advantage
which he had already gained, as the result of one campaign, and return
again to Sardis to recruit his army, the force of which had been
considerably impaired by the battle, and so postpone the grand
invasion till the next season. He accordingly set out on his return.
He dispatched messengers, at the same time, to Babylon, to Sparta, to
Egypt, and to other countries with which he was in alliance, informing
these various nations of the great battle of Pteria and its results,
and asking them to send him, early in the following spring, all the
re-enforcements that they could command, to join him in the grand
campaign which he was going to make the next season.

He continued his march homeward without any interruption, sending off,
from time to time, as he was moving through his own dominions, such
portions of his troops as desired to return to their homes, enjoining
upon them to come back to him in the spring. By this temporary
disbanding of a portion of his army, he saved the expense of
maintaining them through the winter.

Very soon after Croesus arrived at Sardis, the whole country in the
neighborhood of the capital was thrown into a state of universal alarm
by the news that Cyrus was close at hand. It seems that Cyrus had
remained in the vicinity of Pteria long enough to allow Croesus to
return, and to give him time to dismiss his troops and establish
himself securely in the city. He then suddenly resumed his march, and
came on toward Sardis with the utmost possible dispatch. Croesus,
in fact, had no announcement of his approach until he heard of his

All was now confusion and alarm, both within and without the city.
Croesus hastily collected all the forces that he could command. He
sent immediately to the neighboring cities, summoning all the troops
in them to hasten to the capital. He enrolled all the inhabitants of
the city that were capable of bearing arms. By these means he
collected, in a very short time, quite a formidable force, which he
drew up, in battle array, on a great plain not far from the city, and
there waited, with much anxiety and solicitude, for Cyrus to come on.

The Lydian army was superior to that of Cyrus in cavalry, and as the
place where the battle was to be fought was a plain, which was the
kind of ground most favorable for the operations of that species of
force, Cyrus felt some solicitude in respect to the impression which
might be made by it on his army. Nothing is more terrible than the
onset of a squadron of horse when charging an enemy upon the field
of battle. They come in vast bodies, sometimes consisting of many
thousands, with the speed of the wind, the men flourishing their
sabers and rending the air with the most unearthly cries, those in
advance being driven irresistibly on by the weight and impetus of the
masses behind. The dreadful torrent bears down and overwhelms every
thing that attempts to resist its way. They trample one another and
their enemies together promiscuously in the dust; the foremost of the
column press on with the utmost fury, afraid quite as much of the
headlong torrent of friends coming on behind them, as of the line of
fixed and motionless enemies who stand ready to receive them before.
These enemies, stationed to withstand the charge, arrange themselves
in triple or quadruple rows, with the shafts of their spears planted
against the ground, and the points directed forward and upward to
receive the advancing horsemen. These spears transfix and kill the
foremost horses; but those that come on behind, leaping and plunging
over their fallen companions, soon break through the lines and put
their enemies to flight, in a scene of indescribable havoc and

Croesus had large bodies of horse, while Cyrus had no efficient
troops to oppose them. He had a great number of camels in the rear of
his army, which had been employed as beasts of burden to transport
the baggage and stores of the army on their march. Cyrus concluded to
make the experiment of opposing these camels to the cavalry. It is
frequently said by the ancient historians that the horse has a natural
antipathy to the camel, and can not bear either the smell or the sight
of one, though this is not found to be the case at the present day.
However the fact might have been in this respect, Cyrus determined
to arrange the camels in his front as he advanced into battle. He
accordingly ordered the baggage to be removed, and, releasing their
ordinary drivers from the charge of them, he assigned each one to the
care of a soldier, who was to mount him, armed with a spear. Even if
the supposed antipathy of the horse for the camel did not take effect,
Cyrus thought that their large and heavy bodies, defended by the
spears of their riders, would afford the most effectual means of
resistance against the shock of the Lydian squadrons that he was now
able to command.

The battle commenced, and the squadrons of horse came on. But, as soon
as they came near the camels, it happened that, either from the
influence of the antipathy above referred to, or from alarm at the
novelty of the spectacle of such huge and misshapen beasts, or else
because of the substantial resistance which the camels and the spears
of their riders made to the shock of their charge, the horses were
soon thrown into confusion and put to flight. In fact, a general panic
seized them, and they became totally unmanageable. Some threw their
riders; others, seized with a sort of phrensy, became entirely
independent of control. They turned, and trampled the foot soldiers of
their own army under foot, and threw the whole body into disorder. The
consequence was, that the army of Croesus was wholly defeated; they
fled in confusion, and crowded in vast throngs through the gates into
the city, and fortified themselves there.

Cyrus advanced to the city, invested it closely on all sides, and
commenced a siege. But the appearances were not very encouraging. The
walls were lofty, thick, and strong, and the numbers within the city
were amply sufficient to guard them. Nor was the prospect much more
promising of being soon able to reduce the city by famine. The wealth
of Croesus had enabled him to lay up almost inexhaustible stores of
food and clothing, as well as treasures of silver and gold. He hoped,
therefore, to be able to hold out against the besiegers until help
should come from some of his allies. He had sent messengers to them,
asking them to come to his rescue without any delay, before he was
shut up in the city.

The city of Sardis was built in a position naturally strong, and one
part of the wall passed over rocky precipices which were considered
entirely impassable. There was a sort of glen or rocky gorge in this
quarter, outside of the walls, down which dead bodies were thrown on
one occasion subsequently, at a time when the city was besieged, and
beasts and birds of prey fed upon them there undisturbed, so lonely
was the place and so desolate. In fact, the walls that crowned these
precipices were considered absolutely inaccessible, and were very
slightly built and very feebly guarded. There was an ancient legend
that, a long time before, when a certain Males was king of Lydia, one
of his wives had a son in the form of a lion, whom they called Leon,
and an oracle declared that if this Leon were carried around the walls
of the city, it would be rendered impregnable, and should never be
taken. They carried Leon, therefore, around, so far as the regular
walls extended. When they came to this precipice of rocks, they
returned, considering that this part of the city was impregnable
without any such ceremony. A spur or eminence from the mountain of
Tmolus, which was behind the city, projected into it at this point,
and there was a strong citadel built upon its summit.

[Illustration: THE SIEGE OF SARDIS.]

Cyrus continued the siege fourteen days, and then he determined that
he must, in some way or other, find the means of carrying it by
assault, and to do this he must find some place to scale the walls. He
accordingly sent a party of horsemen around to explore every part,
offering them a large reward if they would find any place where an
entrance could be effected. The horsemen made the circuit, and
reported that their search had been in vain. At length a certain
soldier, named Hyræades, after studying for some time the precipices
on the side which had been deemed inaccessible, saw a sentinel, who
was stationed on the walls above, leave his post and come climbing
down the rocks for some distance to get his helmet, which had
accidentally dropped down. Hyræades watched him both as he descended
and as he returned. He reflected on this discovery, communicated it to
others, and the practicability of scaling the rock and the walls at
that point was discussed. In the end, the attempt was made and was
successful. Hyræades went up first, followed by a few daring spirits
who were ambitious of the glory of the exploit. They were not at first
observed from above. The way being thus shown, great numbers followed
on, and so large a force succeeded in thus gaining an entrance that
the city was taken.

In the dreadful confusion and din of the storming of the city,
Croesus himself had a very narrow escape from death. He was saved by
the miraculous speaking of his deaf and dumb son--at least such is the
story. Cyrus had given positive orders to his soldiers, both before
the great battle on the plain and during the siege, that, though they
might slay whomever else they pleased, they must not harm Croesus,
but must take him alive. During the time of the storming of the town,
when the streets were filled with infuriated soldiers, those on the
one side wild with the excitement of triumph, and those on the other
maddened with rage and despair, a party, rushing along, overtook
Croesus and his helpless son, whom the unhappy father, it seems, was
making a desperate effort to save. The Persian soldiers were about to
transfix Croesus with their spears, when the son, who had never
spoken before, called out, "It is Croesus; do not kill him." The
soldiers were arrested by the words, and saved the monarch's life.
They made him prisoner, and bore him away to Cyrus.

Croesus had sent, a long time before, to inquire of the Delphic
oracle by what means the power of speech could be restored to his son.
The answer was, that that was a boon which he had better not ask; for
the day on which he should hear his son speak for the first time,
would be the darkest and most unhappy day of his life.

Cyrus had not ordered his soldiers to spare the life of Croesus in
battle from any sentiment of humanity toward him, but because he
wished to have his case reserved for his own decision. When Croesus
was brought to him a captive, he ordered him to be put in chains, and
carefully guarded. As soon as some degree of order was restored in the
city, a large funeral pile was erected, by his directions, in a public
square, and Croesus was brought to the spot. Fourteen Lydian young
men, the sons, probably, of the most prominent men in the state, were
with him. The pile was large enough for them all, and they were placed
upon it. They were all laid upon the wood. Croesus raised himself
and looked around, surveying with extreme consternation and horror the
preparations which were making for lighting the pile. His heart sank
within him as he thought of the dreadful fate that was before him. The
spectators stood by in solemn silence, awaiting the end. Croesus
broke this awful pause by crying out, in a tone of anguish and

"Oh Solon! Solon! Solon!"

The officers who had charge of the execution asked him what he meant.
Cyrus, too, who was himself personally superintending the scene, asked
for an explanation. Croesus was, for a time, too much agitated and
distracted to reply. There were difficulties in respect to language,
too, which embarrassed the conversation, as the two kings could speak
to each other only through an interpreter. At length Croesus gave an
account of his interview with Solon, and of the sentiment which the
philosopher had expressed, that no one could decide whether a man was
truly prosperous and happy till it was determined how his life was
to end. Cyrus was greatly interested in this narrative; but, in the
mean time, the interpreting of the conversation had been slow, a
considerable period had elapsed, and the officers had lighted the
fire. The pile had been made extremely combustible, and the fire was
rapidly making its way through the whole mass. Cyrus eagerly ordered
it to be extinguished. The efforts which the soldiers made for this
purpose seemed, at first, likely to be fruitless; but they were aided
very soon by a sudden shower of rain, which, coming down from the
mountains, began, just at this time, to fall; and thus the flames were
extinguished, and Croesus and the captives saved.

Cyrus immediately, with a fickleness very common among great monarchs
in the treatment of both enemies and favorites, began to consider
Croesus as his friend. He ordered him to be unbound, brought him
near his person, and treated him with great consideration and honor.

Croesus remained after this for a long time with Cyrus, and
accompanied him in his subsequent campaigns. He was very much incensed
at the oracle at Delphi for having deceived him by its false responses
and predictions, and thus led him into the terrible snare into which
he had fallen. He procured the fetters with which he had been chained
when placed upon the pile, and sent them to Delphi with orders that
they should be thrown down upon the threshold of the temple--the
visible symbol of his captivity and ruin--as a reproach to the oracle
for having deluded him and caused his destruction. In doing this, the
messengers were to ask the oracle whether imposition like that which
had been practiced on Croesus was the kind of gratitude it evinced
to one who had enriched it by such a profusion of offerings and gifts.

To this the priests of the oracle said in reply, that the destruction
of the Lydian dynasty had long been decreed by the Fates, in
retribution for the guilt of Gyges, the founder of the line. He had
murdered his master, and usurped the throne, without any title to it
whatever. The judgments of Heaven had been denounced upon Gyges for
this crime, to fall on himself or on some of his descendants. The
Pythian Apollo at Delphi had done all in his power to postpone the
falling of the blow until after the death of Croesus, on account of
the munificent benefactions which he had made to the oracle; but he
had been unable to effect it: the decrees of Fate were inexorable. All
that the oracle could do was to postpone--as it had done, it said, for
three years--the execution of the sentence, and to give Croesus
warning of the evil that was impending. This had been done by
announcing to him that his crossing the Halys would cause the
destruction of a mighty empire, meaning that of Lydia, and also by
informing him that when he should find a mule upon the throne of Media
he must expect to lose his own. Cyrus, who was descended, on the
father's side, from the Persian stock, and on the mother's from that
of Media, was the hybrid sovereign represented by the mule.

When this answer was reported to Croesus, it is said that he was
satisfied with the explanations, and admitted that the oracle was
right, and that he himself had been unreasonable and wrong. However
this may be, it is certain that, among mankind at large, since
Croesus's day, there has been a great disposition to overlook
whatever of criminality there may have been in the falsehood and
imposture of the oracle, through admiration of the adroitness and
dexterity which its ministers evinced in saving themselves from



B.C. 544-538

Babylon.--The River Euphrates.--Canals.--Curious boats.--Their mode
of construction.--Primitive navigation.--Return of the boatmen.--Extent
of Babylon.--Parks, gardens, palaces, etc.--The walls of
Babylon.--Marvelous accounts.--The ditches.--Streets and gates.--Palace
of the king.--Temple of Belus.--The bridge.--Sculptures.--The hanging
gardens.--Construction of the gardens.--The platform and
terraces.--Engine for raising water.--Floral beauties.--The works of
Nitocris.--Her canals and levees.--The bridge over the Euphrates.--The
tomb of the queen.--Cyrus plans an attack upon Babylon.--Government of
Lydia.--Cyrus returns eastward.--Revolt of the Lydians.--Detachment of
Mazares.--Flight of Pactyas.--Pactyas at Cyme.--The people consult the
oracle.--Reply of the oracle.--Aristodicus and the birds'
nests.--Capture of Pactyas.--Situation of Belshazzar.--Belshazzar's
feeling of security.--Approach of Cyrus.--Cyrus draws off the water
from the river.--The city captured.

In his advance toward the dominions of Croesus in Asia Minor, Cyrus
had passed to the northward of the great and celebrated city of
Babylon. Babylon was on the Euphrates, toward the southern part of
Asia. It was the capital of a large and very fertile region, which
extended on both sides of the Euphrates toward the Persian Gulf. The
limits of the country, however, which was subject to Babylon, varied
very much at different times, as they were extended or contracted by
revolutions and wars.

The River Euphrates was the great source of fertility for the whole
region through which it flowed. The country watered by this river was
very densely populated, and the inhabitants were industrious and
peaceable, cultivating their land, and living quietly and happily on
its fruits. The surface was intersected with canals, which the people
had made for conveying the water of the river over the land for the
purpose of irrigating it. Some of these canals were navigable. There
was one great trunk which passed from the Euphrates to the Tigris,
supplying many minor canals by the way, that was navigable for vessels
of considerable burden.

The traffic of the country was, however, mainly conducted by means of
boats of moderate size, the construction of which seemed to Herodotus
very curious and remarkable. The city was enormously large, and
required immense supplies of food, which were brought down in these
boats from the agricultural country above. The boats were made in
the following manner: first a frame was built, of the shape of the
intended boat, broad and shallow, and with the stem and stern of the
same form. This frame was made of willows, like a basket, and, when
finished, was covered with a sheathing of skins. A layer of reeds was
then spread over the bottom of the boat to protect the frame, and to
distribute evenly the pressure of the cargo. The boat, thus finished,
was laden with the produce of the country, and was then floated down
the river to Babylon. In this navigation the boatmen were careful to
protect the leather sheathing from injury by avoiding all contact with
rocks, or even with the gravel of the shores. They kept their craft in
the middle of the stream by means of two oars, or, rather, an oar and
a paddle, which were worked, the first at the bows, and the second at
the stern. The advance of the boat was in some measure accelerated by
these boatmen, though their main function was to steer their vessel by
keeping it out of eddies and away from projecting points of land, and
directing its course to those parts of the stream where the current
was swiftest, and where it would consequently be borne forward most
rapidly to its destination.

These boats were generally of very considerable size, and they
carried, in addition to their cargo and crew, one or more beasts
of burden--generally asses or mules. These animals were allowed
the pleasure, if any pleasure it was to them, of sailing thus idly
down the stream, for the sake of having them at hand at the end of
the voyage, to carry back again, up the country, the skins, which
constituted the most valuable portion of the craft they sailed in. It
was found that these skins, if carefully preserved, could be easily
transported up the river, and would answer the purpose of a second
voyage. Accordingly, when the boats arrived at Babylon, the cargo was
sold, the boats were broken up, the skins were folded into packs, and
in this form the mules carried them up the river again, the boatmen
driving the mules as they walked by their side.

Babylon was a city of immense extent and magnitude. In fact, the
accounts given of the space which it covered have often been
considered incredible. These accounts make the space which was
included within the walls four or five times as large as London. A
great deal of this space was, however, occupied by parks and gardens
connected with the royal palaces, and by open squares. Then, besides,
the houses occupied by the common people in the ancient cities were of
fewer stories in height, and consequently more extended on the ground,
than those built in modern times. In fact, it is probable that, in
many instances, they were mere ranges of huts and hovels, as is the
case, indeed, to a considerable extent, in Oriental cities, at the
present day, so that it is not at all impossible that even so large an
area as four or five times the size of London may have been included
within the fortifications of the city.

In respect to the walls of the city, very extraordinary and apparently
contradictory accounts are given by the various ancient authors who
described them. Some make them seventy-five and others two or three
hundred feet high. There have been many discussions in respect to the
comparative credibility of these several statements, and some
ingenious attempts have been made to reconcile them. It is not,
however, at all surprising that there should be such a diversity in
the dimensions given, for the walling of an ancient city was seldom of
the same height in all places. The structure necessarily varied
according to the nature of the ground, being high wherever the ground
without was such as to give the enemy an advantage in an attack, and
lower in other situations, where the conformation of the surface was
such as to afford, of itself, a partial protection. It is not,
perhaps, impossible that, at some particular points--as, for example,
across glens and ravines, or along steep declivities--the walls of
Babylon may have been raised even to the very extraordinary height
which Herodotus ascribes to them.

The walls were made of bricks, and the bricks were formed of clay and
earth, which was dug from a trench made outside of the lines. This
trench served the purpose of a ditch, to strengthen the fortification
when the wall was completed. The water from the river, and from
streams flowing toward the river, was admitted to these ditches on
every side, and kept them always full.

The sides of these ditches were lined with bricks too, which were
made, like those of the walls, from the earth obtained from the
excavations. They used for all this masonry a cement made from a
species of bitumen, which was found in great quantities floating down
one of the rivers which flowed into the Euphrates, in the neighborhood
of Babylon.

The River Euphrates itself flowed through the city. There was a
breast-work or low wall along the banks of it on either side, with
openings at the terminations of the streets leading to the water, and
flights of steps to go down. These openings were secured by gates of
brass, which, when closed, would prevent an enemy from gaining access
to the city from the river. The great streets, which terminated thus
at the river on one side, extended to the walls of the city on the
other, and they were crossed by other streets at right angles to them.
In the outer walls of the city, at the extremities of all these
streets, were massive gates of brass, with hinges and frames of the
same metal. There were a hundred of these gates in all. They were
guarded by watch-towers on the walls above. The watch-towers were
built on both the inner and outer faces of the wall, and the wall
itself was so broad that there was room between these watch-towers for
a chariot and four to drive and turn.

The river, of course, divided the city into two parts. The king's
palace was in the center of one of these divisions, within a vast
circular inclosure, which contained the palace buildings, together
with the spacious courts, and parks, and gardens pertaining to them.
In the center of the other division was a corresponding inclosure,
which contained the great temple of Belus. Here there was a very lofty
tower, divided into eight separate towers, one above another, with a
winding staircase to ascend to the summit. In the upper story was a
sort of chapel, with a couch, and a table, and other furniture for use
in the sacred ceremonies, all of gold. Above this, on the highest
platform of all, was a grand observatory, where the Babylonian
astrologers made their celestial observations.

There was a bridge across the river, connecting one section of the
city with the other, and it is said that there was a subterranean
passage under the river also, which was used as a private
communication between two public edifices--palaces or citadels--which
were situated near the extremities of the bridge. All these
constructions were of the most grand and imposing character. In
addition to the architectural magnificence of the buildings, the gates
and walls were embellished with a great variety of sculptures: images
of animals, of every form and in every attitude; and men, single and
in groups, models of great sovereigns, and representations of hunting
scenes, battle scenes, and great events in the Babylonian history.

The most remarkable, however, of all the wonders of Babylon--though
perhaps not built till after Cyrus's time--were what were called the
hanging gardens. Although called the hanging gardens, they were not
suspended in any manner, as the name might denote, but were supported
upon arches and walls. The arches and walls sustained a succession of
terraces, rising one above another, with broad flights of steps for
ascending to them, and on these terraces the gardens were made. The
upper terrace, or platform, was several hundred feet from the ground;
so high, that it was necessary to build arches upon arches within, in
order to attain the requisite elevation. The lateral thrust of these
arches was sustained by a wall twenty-five feet in thickness, which
surrounded the garden on all sides, and rose as high as the lowermost
tier of arches, upon which would, of course, be concentrated the
pressure and weight of all the pile. The whole structure thus formed a
sort of artificial hill, square in form, and rising, in a succession
of terraces, to a broad and level area upon the top. The extent of
this grand square upon the summit was four hundred feet upon each

The surface which served as the foundation for the gardens that
adorned these successive terraces and the area above was formed in the
following manner: Over the masonry of the arches there was laid a
pavement of broad flat stones, sixteen feet long and four feet wide.
Over these there was placed a stratum of reeds, laid in bitumen, and
above them another flooring of bricks, cemented closely together, so
as to be impervious to water. To make the security complete in this
respect, the upper surface of this brick flooring was covered with
sheets of lead, overlapping each other in such a manner as to convey
all the water which might percolate through the mold away to the sides
of the garden. The earth and mold were placed upon this surface, thus
prepared, and the stratum was so deep as to allow large trees to take
root and grow in it. There was an engine constructed in the middle of
the upper terrace, by which water could be drawn up from the river,
and distributed over every part of the vast pile.

The gardens, thus completed, were filled to profusion with every
species of tree, and plant, and vine, which could produce fruit
or flowers to enrich or adorn such a scene. Every country in
communication with Babylon was made to contribute something to
increase the endless variety of floral beauty which was here literally
enthroned. Gardeners of great experience and skill were constantly
employed in cultivating the parterres, pruning the fruit-trees and
the vines, preserving the walks, and introducing new varieties of
vegetation. In a word, the hanging gardens of Babylon became one of
the wonders of the world.

The country in the neighborhood of Babylon, extending from the river
on either hand was in general level and low, and subject to
inundations. One of the sovereigns of the country, a queen named
Nitocris, had formed the grand design of constructing an immense lake,
to take off the superfluous water in case of a flood, and thus
prevent an overflow. She also opened a great number of lateral and
winding channels for the river, wherever the natural disposition of
the surface afforded facilities for doing so, and the earth which was
taken out in the course of these excavations was employed in raising
the banks by artificial terraces, such as are made to confine the
Mississippi at New Orleans, and are there called _levees_.[B] The
object of Nitocris in these measures was two-fold. She wished, in the
first place, to open all practicable channels for the flow of the
water, and then to confine the current within the channels thus made.
She also wished to make the navigation of the stream as intricate and
complicated as possible, so that, while the natives of the country
might easily find their way, in boats, to the capital, a foreign
enemy, if he should make the attempt, might be confused and lost. These
were the rivers of Babylon on the banks of which the captive Jews sat
down and wept when they remembered Zion.

[Footnote B: From the French word _levée_, raised.]

This queen Nitocris seems to have been quite distinguished for her
engineering and architectural plans. It was she that built the bridge
across the Euphrates, within the city; and as there was a feeling of
jealousy and ill will, as usual in such a case, between the two
divisions of the town which the river formed, she caused the bridge to
be constructed with a movable platform or draw, by means of which the
communication might be cut off at pleasure. This draw was generally up
at night and down by day.

Herodotus relates a curious anecdote of this queen, which, if true,
evinces in another way the peculiar originality of mind and the
ingenuity which characterized all her operations. She caused her tomb
to be built, before her death, over one of the principal gates of the
city. Upon the façade of this monument was a very conspicuous
inscription to this effect: "If any one of the sovereigns, my
successors, shall be in extreme want of money, let him open my tomb
and take what he may think proper; but let him not resort to this
resource unless the urgency is extreme."

The tomb remained for some time after the queen's death quite
undisturbed. In fact, the people of the city avoided this gate
altogether, on account of the dead body deposited above it, and the
spot became well-nigh deserted. At length, in process of time, a
subsequent sovereign, being in want of money, ventured to open the
tomb. He found, however, no money within. The gloomy vault contained
nothing but the dead body of the queen, and a label with this
inscription: "If your avarice were not as insatiable as it is base,
you would not have intruded on the repose of the dead."

It was not surprising that Cyrus, having been so successful in his
enterprises thus far, should now begin to turn his thoughts toward
this great Babylonian empire, and to feel a desire to bring it under
his sway. The first thing, however, was to confirm and secure his
Lydian conquests. He spent some time, therefore, in organizing and
arranging, at Sardis, the affairs of the new government which he
was to substitute for that of Croesus there. He designated certain
portions of his army to be left for garrisons in the conquered cities.
He appointed Persian officers, of course, to command these forces;
but, as he wished to conciliate the Lydians, he appointed many of the
municipal and civil officers of the country from among them. There
would appear to be no danger in doing this, as, by giving the command
of the army to Persians, he retained all the real power directly in
his own hands.

One of these civil officers, the most important, in fact, of all, was
the grand treasurer. To him Cyrus committed the charge of the stores
of gold and silver which came into his possession at Sardis, and of
the revenues which were afterward to accrue. Cyrus appointed a Lydian
named Pactyas to this trust, hoping by such measures to conciliate the
people of the country, and to make them more ready to submit to his
sway. Things being thus arranged, Cyrus, taking Croesus with him,
set out with the main army to return toward the East.

As soon as he had left Lydia, Pactyas excited the Lydians to revolt.
The name of the commander-in-chief of the military forces which Cyrus
had left was Tabalus. Pactyas abandoned the city and retired toward
the coast where he contrived to raise a large army, formed partly of
Lydians and partly of bodies of foreign troops, which he was enabled
to hire by means of the treasures which Cyrus had put under his
charge. He then advanced to Sardis, took possession of the town, and
shut up Tabalus, with his Persian troops, in the citadel.

When the tidings of these events came to Cyrus, he was very much
incensed, and determined to destroy the city. Croesus, however,
interceded very earnestly in its behalf. He recommended that Cyrus,
instead of burning Sardis, should send a sufficient force to disarm
the population, and that he should then enact such laws and make such
arrangements as should turn the minds of the people to habits of
luxury and pleasure. "By doing this," said Croesus, "the people
will, in a short time, become so enervated and so effeminate that you
will have nothing to fear from them."

Cyrus decided on adopting this plan. He dispatched a Median named
Mazares, an officer of his army, at the head of a strong force, with
orders to go back to Sardis, to deliver Tabalus from his danger, to
seize and put to death all the leaders in the Lydian rebellion
excepting Pactyas. Pactyas was to be saved alive, and sent a prisoner
to Cyrus in Persia.

Pactyas did not wait for the arrival of Mazares. As soon as he heard
of his approach, he abandoned the ground, and fled northwardly to the
city of Cyme, and sought refuge there. When Mazares had reached Sardis
and re-established the government of Cyrus there, he sent messengers
to Cyme, demanding the surrender of the fugitive.

The people of Cyme were uncertain whether they ought to comply. They
said that they must first consult an oracle. There was a very ancient
and celebrated oracle near Miletus. They sent messengers to this
oracle, demanding to know whether it were according to the will of
the gods or not that the fugitive should be surrendered. The answer
brought back was, that they might surrender him.

They were accordingly making arrangements for doing this, when one of
the citizens, a very prominent and influential man, named Aristodicus,
expressed himself not satisfied with the reply. He did not think it
possible, he said, that the oracle could really counsel them to
deliver up a helpless fugitive to his enemies. The messengers must
have misunderstood or misreported the answer which they had received.
He finally persuaded his countrymen to send a second embassy: he
himself was placed at the head of it. On their arrival, Aristodicus
addressed the oracle as follows:

"To avoid a cruel death from the Persians, Pactyas, a Lydian, fled to
us for refuge. The Persians demanded that we should surrender him.
Much as we are afraid of their power, we are still more afraid to
deliver up a helpless suppliant for protection without clear and
decided directions from you."

The embassy received to this demand the same reply as before.

Still Aristodicus was not satisfied; and, as if by way of bringing
home to the oracle somewhat more forcibly a sense of the true
character of such an action as it seemed to recommend, he began to
make a circuit in the grove which was around the temple in which the
oracle resided, and to rob and destroy the nests which the birds had
built there, allured, apparently, by the sacred repose and quietude of
the scene. This had the desired effect. A solemn voice was heard from
the interior of the temple, saying, in a warning tone,

"Impious man! how dost thou dare to molest those who have placed
themselves under my protection?"

To this Aristodicus replied by asking the oracle how it was that it
watched over and guarded those who sought its own protection, while it
directed the people of Cyme to abandon and betray suppliants for
theirs. To this the oracle answered,

"I direct them to do it, in order that such impious men may the sooner
bring down upon their heads the judgments of heaven for having dared
to entertain even the thought of delivering up a helpless fugitive."

When this answer was reported to the people of Cyme, they did not dare
to give Pactyas up, nor, on the other hand, did they dare to incur
the enmity of the Persians by retaining and protecting him. They
accordingly sent him secretly away. The emissaries of Mazares,
however, followed him. They kept constantly on his track, demanding
him successively of every city where the hapless fugitive sought
refuge, until, at length, partly by threats and partly by a reward,
they induced a certain city to surrender him. Mazares sent him, a
prisoner, to Cyrus. Soon after this Mazares himself died, and Harpagus
was appointed governor of Lydia in his stead.

In the mean time, Cyrus went on with his conquests in the heart of
Asia, and at length, in the course of a few years, he had completed
his arrangements and preparations for the attack on Babylon. He
advanced at the head of a large force to the vicinity of the city. The
King of Babylon, whose name was Belshazzar, withdrew within the walls,
shut the gates, and felt perfectly secure. A simple wall was in those
days a very effectual protection against any armed force whatever, if
it was only high enough not to be scaled, and thick enough to resist
the blows of a battering ram. The artillery of modern times would have
speedily made a fatal breach in such structures; but there was nothing
but the simple force of man, applied through brazen-headed beams of
wood, in those days, and Belshazzar knew well that his walls would bid
all such modes of demolition a complete defiance. He stationed his
soldiers, therefore, on the walls, and his sentinels in the watch
towers, while he himself, and all the nobles of his court, feeling
perfectly secure in their impregnable condition, and being abundantly
supplied with all the means that the whole empire could furnish, both
for sustenance and enjoyment, gave themselves up, in their spacious
palaces and gardens, to gayety, festivity, and pleasure.

Cyrus advanced to the city. He stationed one large detachment of his
troops at the opening in the main walls where the river entered into
the city, and another one below, where it issued from it. These
detachments were ordered to march into the city by the bed of the
river, as soon as they should observe the water subsiding. He then
employed a vast force of laborers to open new channels, and to widen
and deepen those which had existed before, for the purpose of drawing
off the waters from their usual bed. When these passages were thus
prepared, the water was let into them one night, at a time previously
designated, and it soon ceased to flow through the city. The
detachments of soldiers marched in over the bed of the stream,
carrying with them vast numbers of ladders. With these they easily
scaled the low walls which lined the banks of the river, and
Belshazzar was thunderstruck with the announcement made to him in the
midst of one of his feasts that the Persians were in complete and full
possession of the city.



B.C. 608

The Jewish captivity.--Jeremiah and the book of Chronicles.--Incursions
of Nebuchadnezzar.--Denunciations of Jeremiah.--Predictions of
Jeremiah.--Exasperation of the priests and people.--Defense of
Jeremiah.--He is liberated.--Symbolic method of teaching.--The wooden
yoke and the iron yoke.--The title deeds of Jeremiah's estate.--The
deeds deposited.--Baruch writes Jeremiah's prophecies.--He reads them
to the people.--Baruch summoned before the council.--The roll sent
to the king.--The roll destroyed.--Jeremiah attempts to leave the
city.--The king sends for Jeremiah.--He is imprisoned.--Jeremiah cast
into a dungeon.--The king orders him to be taken up.--Jerusalem
besieged by the Babylonians.--Capture of the king.--Captivity of the
Jews.--The prophet Daniel.--Cyrus takes possession of Babylon, and
allows the Jews to return.--Assembling of the Jews.--The number
that returned.--Arrival of the caravan at Jerusalem.--Building the
Temple.--Emotions of the old men.--Rejoicings of the young men.

The period of the invasion of Babylonia by Cyrus, and the taking of
the city, was during the time while the Jews were in captivity there.
Cyrus was their deliverer. It results from this circumstance that the
name of Cyrus is connected with sacred history more than that of any
other great conqueror of ancient times.

It was a common custom in the early ages of the world for powerful
sovereigns to take the people of a conquered country captive, and make
them slaves. They employed them, to some extent, as personal household
servants, but more generally as agricultural laborers, to till the

An account of the captivity of the Jews in Babylon is given briefly
in the closing chapters of the second book of Chronicles, though many
of the attendant circumstances are more fully detailed in the book
of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet who lived in the time of the
captivity. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, made repeated
incursions into the land of Judea, sometimes carrying away the
reigning monarch, sometimes deposing him and appointing another
sovereign in his stead, sometimes assessing a tax or tribute upon the
land, and sometimes plundering the city, and carrying away all the
gold and silver that he could find. Thus the kings and the people were
kept in a continual state of anxiety and terror for many years,
exposed incessantly to the inroads of this nation of robbers and
plunderers, that had, so unfortunately for them, found their way
across their frontiers. King Zedekiah was the last of this oppressed
and unhappy line of Jewish kings.

The prophet Jeremiah was accustomed to denounce the sins of the Jewish
nation, by which these terrible calamities had been brought upon them,
with great courage, and with an eloquence solemn and sublime. He
declared that the miseries which the people suffered were the special
judgments of Heaven, and he proclaimed repeatedly and openly, and in
the most public places of the city, still heavier calamities which he
said were impending. The people were troubled and distressed at these
prophetic warnings, and some of them were deeply incensed against
Jeremiah for uttering them. Finally, on one occasion, he took his
stand in one of the public courts of the Temple, and, addressing the
concourse of priests and people that were there, he declared that,
unless the nation repented of their sins and turned to God, the whole
city should be overwhelmed. Even the Temple itself, the sacred house
of God, should be destroyed, and the very site abandoned.

The priests and the people who heard this denunciation were greatly
exasperated. They seized Jeremiah, and brought him before a great
judicial assembly for trial. The judges asked him why he uttered such
predictions, declaring that by doing so he acted like an enemy to his
country and a traitor, and that he deserved to die. The excitement was
very great against him, and the populace could hardly be restrained
from open violence. In the midst of this scene Jeremiah was calm and
unmoved, and replied to their accusations as follows:

"Every thing which I have said against this city and this house, I
have said by the direction of the Lord Jehovah. Instead of resenting
it, and being angry with me for delivering my message, it becomes you
to look at your sins, and repent of them, and forsake them. It may be
that by so doing God will have mercy upon you, and will avert the
calamities which otherwise will most certainly come. As for myself,
here I am in your hands. Yon can deal with me just as you think best.
Yon can kill me if you will, but you may be assured that if you do so,
you will bring the guilt and the consequences of shedding innocent
blood upon yourselves and upon this city. I have said nothing and
foretold nothing but by commandment of the Lord."[C]

[Footnote C: Jeremiah, xxvi., 12-15.]

The speech produced, as might have been expected, a great division
among the hearers. Some were more angry than ever, and were eager to
put the prophet to death. Others defended him, and insisted that he
should not die. The latter, for the time, prevailed. Jeremiah was set
at liberty, and continued his earnest expostulations with the people
on account of their sins, and his terrible annunciations of the
impending ruin of the city just as before.

These unwelcome truths being so painful for the people to hear, other
prophets soon began to appear to utter contrary predictions, for the
sake, doubtless, of the popularity which they should themselves
acquire by their promises of returning peace and prosperity. The name
of one of these false prophets was Hananiah. On one occasion,
Jeremiah, in order to present and enforce what he had to say more
effectually on the minds of the people by means of a visible symbol,
made a small wooden yoke, by divine direction, and placed it upon
his neck, as a token of the bondage which his predictions were
threatening. Hananiah took this yoke from his neck and broke it,
saying that, as he had thus broken Jeremiah's wooden yoke, so God
would break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar from all nations within two
years; and then, even those of the Jews who had already been taken
captive to Babylon should return again in peace. Jeremiah replied that
Hananiah's predictions were false, and that, though the wooden yoke
was broken, God would make for Nebuchadnezzar a yoke of iron, with
which he should bend the Jewish nation in a bondage more cruel than
ever. Still, Jeremiah himself predicted that after seventy years from
the time when the last great captivity should come, the Jews should
all be restored again to their native land.

He expressed this certain restoration of the Jews, on one occasion, by
a sort of symbol, by means of which he made a much stronger impression
on the minds of the people than could have been done by simple words.
There was a piece of land in the country of Benjamin, one of the
provinces of Judea, which belonged to the family of Jeremiah, and
it was held in such a way that, by paying a certain sum of money,
Jeremiah himself might possess it, the right of redemption being in
him. Jeremiah was in prison at this time. His uncle's son came into
the court of the prison, and proposed to him to purchase the land.
Jeremiah did so in the most public and formal manner. The title deeds
were drawn up and subscribed, witnesses were summoned, the money
weighed and paid over, the whole transaction being regularly completed
according to the forms and usages then common for the conveyance of
landed property. When all was finished, Jeremiah gave the papers into
the hands of his scribe, directing him to put them safely away and
preserve them with care, for after a certain period the country of
Judea would again be restored to the peaceable possession of the Jews,
and such titles to land would possess once more their full and
original value.

On one occasion, when Jeremiah's personal liberty was restricted so
that he could not utter publicly, himself, his prophetical warnings,
he employed Baruch, his scribe, to write them from his dictation, with
a view of reading them to the people from some public and frequented
part of the city. The prophecy thus dictated was inscribed upon a roll
of parchment. Baruch waited, when he had completed the writing, until
a favorable opportunity occurred for reading it, which was on the
occasion of a great festival that was held at Jerusalem, and which
brought the inhabitants of the land together from all parts of Judea.
On the day of the festival, Baruch took the roll in his hand, and
stationed himself at a very public place, at the entrance of one of
the great courts of the Temple; there, calling upon the people to hear
him, he began to read. A great concourse gathered around him, and all
listened to him with profound attention. One of the by-standers,
however, went down immediately into the city, to the king's palace,
and reported to the king's council, who were then assembled there,
that a great concourse was convened in one of the courts of the
Temple, and that Baruch was there reading to them a discourse or
prophecy which had been written by Jeremiah. The members of the
council sent a summons to Baruch to come immediately to them, and
to bring his writing with him.

When Baruch arrived, they directed him to read what he had written.
Baruch accordingly read it. They asked him when and how that discourse
was written. Baruch replied that he had written it, word by word, from
the dictation of Jeremiah. The officers informed him that they should
be obliged to report the circumstances to the king, and they counseled
Baruch to go to Jeremiah and recommend to him to conceal himself, lest
the king, in his anger, should do him some sudden and violent

[Footnote D: See the account of these transactions in the 36th chapter
of Jeremiah.]

The officers then, leaving the roll in one of their own apartments,
went to the king, and reported the facts to him. He sent one of his
attendants, named Jehudi, to bring the roll. When it came, the king
directed Jehudi to read it. Jehudi did so, standing by a fire which had
been made in the apartment, for it was bitter cold.

After Jehudi had read a few pages from the roll, finding that it
contained a repetition of the same denunciations and warnings by which
the king had often been displeased before, he took a knife and began
to cut the parchment into pieces, and to throw it on the fire. Some
other persons who were standing by interfered, and earnestly begged
the king not to allow the roll to be burned. But the king did not
interfere. He permitted Jehudi to destroy the parchment altogether,
and then sent officers to take Jeremiah and Baruch, and bring them to
him but they were nowhere to be found.

The prophet, on one occasion, was reduced to extreme distress by the
persecutions which his faithfulness, and the incessant urgency of his
warnings and expostulations had brought upon him. It was at a time
when the Chaldean armies had been driven away from Jerusalem for a
short period by the Egyptians, as one vulture drives away another from
its prey. Jeremiah determined to avail himself of the opportunity to
go to the province of Benjamin, to visit his friends and family there.
He was intercepted, however, at one of the gates, on his way, and
accused of a design to make his escape from the city, and go over to
the Chaldeans. The prophet earnestly denied this charge. They paid no
regard to his declarations, but sent him back to Jerusalem, to the
officers of the king's government, who confined him in a house which
they used as a prison.

After he had remained in this place of confinement for several days,
the king sent and took him from it, and brought him to the palace. The
king inquired whether he had any prophecy to utter from the Lord.
Jeremiah replied that the word of the Lord was, that the Chaldeans
should certainly return again, and that Zedekiah himself should fall
into their hands, and be carried captive to Babylon. While he thus
persisted so strenuously in the declarations which he had made so
often before, he demanded of the king that he should not be sent back
again to the house of imprisonment from which he had been rescued. The
king said he would not send him back, and he accordingly directed,
instead, that he should be taken to the court of the public prison,
where his confinement would be less rigorous, and there he was to be
supplied daily with food, so long, as the king expressed it, as there
should be any food remaining in the city.

But Jeremiah's enemies were not at rest. They came again, after a
time, to the king, and represented to him that the prophet, by his
gloomy and terrible predictions, discouraged and depressed the hearts
of the people, and weakened their hands; that he ought, accordingly,
to be regarded as a public enemy; and they begged the king to proceed
decidedly against him. The king replied that he would give him into
their hands, and they might do with him what they pleased.

There was a dungeon in the prison, the only access to which was from
above. Prisoners were let down into it with ropes, and left there to
die of hunger. The bottom of it was wet and miry, and the prophet,
when let down into its gloomy depths, sank into the deep mire. Here he
would soon have died of hunger and misery; but the king, feeling some
misgivings in regard to what he had done, lest it might really be a
true prophet of God that he had thus delivered into the hands of his
enemies, inquired what the people had done with their prisoner; and
when he learned that he had been thus, as it were, buried alive, he
immediately sent officers with orders to take him out of the dungeon.
The officers went to the dungeon. They opened the mouth of it. They
had brought ropes with them, to be used for drawing the unhappy
prisoner up, and cloths, also, which he was to fold together and place
under his arms, where the ropes were to pass. These ropes and cloths
they let down into the dungeon, and called upon Jeremiah to place them
properly around his body. Thus they drew him safely up out of the
dismal den.

These cruel persecutions of the faithful prophet were all unavailing
either to silence his voice or to avert the calamities which his
warnings portended. At the appointed time, the judgments which had
been so long predicted came in all their terrible reality. The
Babylonians invaded the land in great force, and encamped about the
city. The siege continued for two years. At the end of that time the
famine became insupportable. Zedekiah, the king, determined to make a
sortie, with as strong a force as he could command, secretly, at
night, in hopes to escape with his own life, and intending to leave
the city to its fate. He succeeded in passing out through the city
gates with his band of followers, and in actually passing the
Babylonian lines; but he had not gone far before his escape was
discovered. He was pursued and taken. The city was then stormed, and,
as usual in such cases, it was given up to plunder and destruction.
Vast numbers of the inhabitants were killed; many more were taken
captive; the principal buildings, both public and private, were
burned; the walls were broken down, and all the public treasures of
the Jews, the gold and silver vessels of the Temple, and a vast
quantity of private plunder, were carried away to Babylon by the
conquerors. All this was seventy years before the conquest of Babylon
by Cyrus.


Of course, during the time of this captivity, a very considerable
portion of the inhabitants of Judea remained in their native land. The
deportation of a whole people to a foreign land is impossible. A vast
number, however, of the inhabitants of the country were carried away,
and they remained, for two generations, in a miserable bondage. Some
of them were employed as agricultural laborers in the rural districts
of Babylon; others remained in the city, and were engaged in servile
labors there. The prophet Daniel lived in the palaces of the king. He
was summoned, as the reader will recollect, to Belshazzar's feast, on
the night when Cyrus forced his way into the city, to interpret the
mysterious writing on the wall, by which the fall of the Babylonian
monarchy was announced in so terrible a manner.

One year after Cyrus had conquered Babylon, he issued an edict
authorizing the Jews to return to Jerusalem, and to rebuild the city
and the Temple. This event had been long before predicted by the
prophets, as the result which God had determined upon for purposes of
his own. We should not naturally have expected that such a conqueror
as Cyrus would feel any real and honest interest in promoting the
designs of God; but still, in the proclamation which he issued
authorizing the Jews to return, he acknowledged the supreme divinity
of Jehovah, and says that he was charged by him with the work of
rebuilding his Temple, and restoring his worship at its ancient seat
on Mount Zion. It has, however, been supposed by some scholars, who
have examined attentively all the circumstances connected with these
transactions, that so far as Cyrus was influenced by political
considerations in ordering the return of the Jews, his design was to
re-establish that nation as a barrier between his dominions and those
of the Egyptians. The Egyptians and the Chaldeans had long been deadly
enemies, and now that Cyrus had become master of the Chaldean realms,
he would, of course, in assuming their territories and their power, be
obliged to defend himself against their foes.

Whatever may have been the motives of Cyrus, he decided to allow
the Hebrew captives to return, and he issued a proclamation to that
effect. As seventy years had elapsed since the captivity commenced,
about two generations had passed away, and there could have been very
few then living who had ever seen the land of their fathers. The Jews
were, however, all eager to return. They collected in a vast assembly,
with all the treasures which they were allowed to take, and the stores
of provisions and baggage, and with horses, and mules, and other
beasts of burden to transport them. When assembled for the march, it
was found that the number, of which a very exact census was taken, was
forty-nine thousand six hundred and ninety-seven.

They had also with them seven or eight hundred horses, about two
hundred and fifty mules, and about five hundred camels. The chief
part, however, of their baggage and stores was borne by asses, of
which there were nearly seven thousand in the train. The march of
this peaceful multitude of families--men, women, and children
together--burdened as they went, not with arms and ammunition for
conquest and destruction, but with tools and implements for honest
industry, and stores of provisions and utensils for the peaceful
purposes of social life, as it was, in its bearings and results, one
of the grandest events of history, so it must have presented, in its
progress, one of the most extraordinary spectacles that the world has
ever seen.

The grand caravan pursued its long and toilsome march from Babylon
to Jerusalem without molestation. All arrived safely, and the people
immediately commenced the work of repairing the walls of the city and
rebuilding the Temple. When, at length, the foundations of the Temple
were laid, a great celebration was held to commemorate the event. This
celebration exhibited a remarkable scene of mingled rejoicing and
mourning. The younger part of the population, who had never seen
Jerusalem in its former grandeur, felt only exhilaration and joy at
their re-establishment in the city of their fathers. The work of
raising the edifice, whose foundations they had laid, was to them
simply a new enterprise, and they looked forward to the work of
carrying it on with pride and pleasure. The old men, however, who
remembered the former Temple, were filled with mournful recollections
of days of prosperity and peace in their childhood and of the
magnificence of the former Temple, which they could now never hope to
see realized again. It was customary in those days, to express sorrow
and grief by exclamations and outcries, as gladness and joy are
expressed audibly now. Accordingly, on this occasion, the cries of
grief and of bitter regret at the thought of losses which could now
never be retrieved, were mingled with the shouts of rejoicing and
triumph raised by the ardent and young, who knew nothing of the past,
but looked forward with hope and happiness to the future.

The Jews encountered various hinderances, and met with much opposition
in their attempts to reconstruct their ancient city, and to
re-establish the Mosaic ritual there. We must, however, now return to
the history of Cyrus, referring the reader for a narrative of the
circumstances connected with the rebuilding of Jerusalem to the very
minute account given in the sacred books of Ezra and Nehemiah.



Xenophon's romantic tales.--Panthea a Susian captive.--Valuable
spoil.--Its division.--Share of Cyrus.--Panthea given to
Cyrus.--Araspes.--Abradates.--Account of Panthea's capture.--Her
great loveliness.--Attempts at consolation.--Panthea's renewed
grief.--Cyrus declines to see Panthea.--His reasons.--Araspes's
self-confidence.--Panthea's patience and gentleness.--Araspes's
kindness to Panthea.--His emotions master him.--Araspes in
love.--Progress of the army.--Araspes confesses his love.--Panthea
offended.--Panthea appeals to Cyrus.--Cyrus reproves Araspes.--Cyrus's
generosity.--Araspes's continued distress.--Plan of Cyrus.--Araspes
pretends to desert.--Panthea proposes to send for her husband.--Cyrus
consents.--Joyful meeting of Panthea and her husband.--The armed
chariots.--Abradates's eight-horse chariot.--Panthea's presents for
her husband.--Imposing spectacle.--Panthea's preparations.--Panthea
offers her presents.--Abradates's pleasure.--Abradates departs for
the field.--The farewell.--The order of battle.--Appearance of
Abradates.--The charge.--Terrible havoc made by the chariots.--The
great victory.--The council of war.--Abradates slain.--Panthea's
grief.--Cyrus's kindness to Panthea.--She is inconsolable.--Panthea
kills herself on the dead body of her husband.

In the preceding chapters of this work, we have followed mainly the
authority of Herodotus, except, indeed, in the account of the visit
of Cyrus to his grandfather in his childhood, which is taken from
Xenophon. We shall, in this chapter, relate the story of Panthea,
which is also one of Xenophon's tales. We give it as a specimen of
the romantic narratives in which Xenophon's history abounds, and on
account of the many illustrations of an ancient manners and customs
which it contains, leaving it for each reader to decide for himself
what weight he will attach to its claims to be regarded as veritable
history. We relate the story here in our own language, but as to the
facts, we follow faithfully the course of Xenophon's narration.

Panthea was a Susian captive. She was taken, together with a great
many other captives and much plunder, after one of the great battles
which Cyrus fought with the Assyrians. Her husband was an Assyrian
general, though he himself was not captured at this time with his
wife. The spoil which came into possession of the army on the occasion
of the battle in which Panthea was taken was of great value. There
were beautiful and costly suits of arms, rich tents made of splendid
materials and highly ornamented, large sums of money, vessels of
silver and gold, and slaves--some prized for their beauty, and others
for certain accomplishments which were highly valued in those days.
Cyrus appointed a sort of commission to divide this spoil. He pursued
always a very generous policy on all these occasions, showing no
desire to secure such treasures to himself, but distributing them with
profuse liberality among his officers and soldiers.

The commissioners whom he appointed in this case divided the spoil
among the various generals of the army, and among the different bodies
of soldiery, with great impartiality. Among the prizes assigned to
Cyrus were two singing women of great fame, and this Susian lady.
Cyrus thanked the distributors for the share of booty which they had
thus assigned to him, but said that if any of his friends wished for
either of these captives, they could have them. An officer asked for
one of the singers. Cyrus gave her to him immediately, saying, "I
consider myself more obliged to you for asking her, than you are to me
for giving her to you." As for the Susian lady, Cyrus had not yet seen
her, but he called one of his most intimate and confidential friends
to him, and requested him to take her under his charge.

The name of this officer was Araspes. He was a Mede, and he had been
Cyrus's particular friend and playmate when he was a boy, visiting his
grandfather in Media. The reader will perhaps recollect that he is
mentioned toward the close of our account of that visit, as the
special favorite to whom Cyrus presented his robe or mantle when he
took leave of his friends in returning to his native land.

Araspes, when he received this charge, asked Cyrus whether he had
himself seen the lady. Cyrus replied that he had not. Araspes then
proceeded to give an account of her. The name of her husband was
Abradates, and he was the king of Susa, as they termed him. The reason
why he was not taken prisoner at the same time with his wife was, that
when the battle was fought and the Assyrian camp captured, he was
absent, having gone away on an embassage to another nation. This
circumstance shows that Abradates, though called a king, could hardly
have been a sovereign and independent prince, but rather a governor or
viceroy--those words expressing to our minds more truly the station of
such a sort of king as could be sent on an embassy.

Araspes went on to say that, at the time of their making the capture,
he, with some others, went into Panthea's tent, where they found her
and her attendant ladies sitting on the ground, with veils over their
faces, patiently awaiting their doom. Notwithstanding the concealment
produced by the attitudes and dress of these ladies, there was
something about the air and figure of Panthea which showed at once
that she was the queen. The leader of Araspes's party asked them all
to rise. They did so, and then the superiority of Panthea was still
more apparent than before. There was an extraordinary grace and beauty
in her attitude and in all her motions. She stood in a dejected
posture, and her countenance was sad, though inexpressibly lovely. She
endeavored to appear calm and composed, though the tears had evidently
been falling from her eyes.

The soldiers pitied her in her distress, and the leader of the party
attempted to console her, as Araspes said, by telling her that she had
nothing to fear; that they were aware that her husband was a most
worthy and excellent man; and although, by this capture, she was lost
to him, she would have no cause to regret the event, for she would be
reserved for a new husband not at all inferior to her former one
either in person, in understanding, in rank, or in power.

These well-meant attempts at consolation did not appear to have the
good effect desired. They only awakened Panthea's grief and suffering
anew. The tears began to fall again faster than before. Her grief soon
became more and more uncontrollable. She sobbed and cried aloud, and
began to wring her hands and tear her mantle--the customary Oriental
expression of inconsolable sorrow and despair. Araspes said that in
these gesticulations her neck, and hands, and a part of her face
appeared, and that she was the most beautiful woman that he had ever
beheld. He wished Cyrus to see her.

Cyrus said, "No; he would not see her by any means." Araspes asked him
why. He said that there would be danger that he should forget his duty
to the army, and lose his interest in the great military enterprise in
which he was engaged, if he should allow himself to become captivated
by the charms of such a lady, as he very probably would be if he were
now to visit her. Araspes said in reply that Cyrus might at least see
her; as to becoming captivated with her, and devoting himself to her
to such a degree as to neglect his other duties, he could certainly
control himself in respect to that danger. Cyrus said that it was not
certain that he could so control himself; and then there followed a
long discussion between Cyrus and Araspes, in which Araspes maintained
that every man had the command of his own heart and affections, and
that, with proper determination and energy, he could direct the
channels in which they should run, and confine them within such limits
and bounds as he pleased. Cyrus, on the other hand, maintained that
human passions were stronger than the human will; that no one could
rely on the strength of his resolutions to control the impulses of the
heart once strongly excited, and that a man's only safety was in
controlling the circumstances which tended to excite them. This was
specially true, he said, in respect to the passion of love. The
experience of mankind, he said, had shown that no strength of moral
principle, no firmness of purpose, no fixedness of resolution, no
degree of suffering, no fear of shame, was sufficient to control, in
the hearts of men, the impetuosity of the passion of love, when it was
once fairly awakened. In a word, Araspes advocated, on the subject of
love, a sort of new school philosophy, while that of Cyrus leaned very
seriously toward the old.

In conclusion, Cyrus jocosely counseled Araspes to beware lest he
should prove that love was stronger than the will by becoming himself
enamored of the beautiful Susian queen. Araspes said that Cyrus need
not fear; there was no danger. He must be a miserable wretch indeed,
he said, who could not summon within him sufficient resolution and
energy to control his own passions and desires. As for himself, he was
sure that he was safe.

As usual with those who are self-confident and boastful, Araspes
failed when the time of trial came. He took charge of the royal
captive whom Cyrus committed to him with a very firm resolution to be
faithful to his trust. He pitied the unhappy queen's misfortunes, and
admired the heroic patience and gentleness of spirit with which she
bore them. The beauty of her countenance, and her thousand personal
charms, which were all heightened by the expression of sadness and
sorrow which they bore, touched his heart. It gave him pleasure to
grant her every indulgence consistent with her condition of captivity,
and to do every thing in his power to promote her welfare. She was
very grateful for these favors, and the few brief words and looks of
kindness with which she returned them repaid him for his efforts to
please her a thousand-fold. He saw her, too, in her tent, in the
presence of her maidens, at all times; and as she looked upon him
as only her custodian and guard, and as, too, her mind was wholly
occupied by the thoughts of her absent husband and her hopeless grief,
her actions were entirely free and unconstrained in his presence. This
made her only the more attractive; every attitude and movement seemed
to possess, in Araspes's mind, an inexpressible charm. In a word, the
result was what Cyrus had predicted. Araspes became wholly absorbed in
the interest which was awakened in him by the charms of the beautiful
captive. He made many resolutions, but they were of no avail. While he
was away from her, he felt strong in his determination to yield to
these feelings no more; but as soon as he came into her presence,
all these resolutions melted wholly away, and he yielded his heart
entirely to the control of emotions which, however vincible they might
appear at a distance, were found, when the time of trial came, to
possess a certain mysterious and magic power, which made it most
delightful for the heart to yield before them in the contest, and
utterly impossible to stand firm and resist. In a word, when seen at a
distance, love appeared to him an enemy which he was ready to brave,
and was sure that he could overcome; but when near, it transformed
itself into the guise of a friend, and he accordingly threw down the
arms with which he had intended to combat it, and gave himself up to
it in a delirium of pleasure.

Things continued in this state for some time. The army advanced from
post to post, and from encampment to encampment, taking the captives
in their train. New cities were taken, new provinces overrun, and new
plans for future conquests were formed. At last a case occurred in
which Cyrus wished to send some one as a spy into a distant enemy's
country. The circumstances were such that it was necessary that a
person of considerable intelligence and rank should go, as Cyrus
wished the messenger whom he should send to make his way to the court
of the sovereign, and become personally acquainted with the leading
men of the state, and to examine the general resources of the kingdom.
It was a very different case from that of an ordinary spy, who was
to go into a neighboring camp merely to report the numbers and
disposition of an organized army. Cyrus was uncertain whom he should
send on such an embassy.

In the mean time, Araspes had ventured to express to Panthea his love
for her. She was offended. In the first place, she was faithful to her
husband, and did not wish to receive such addresses from any person.
Then, besides, she considered Araspes, having been placed in charge of
her by Cyrus, his master, only for the purpose of keeping her safely,
as guilty of a betrayal of his trust in having dared to cherish and
express sentiments of affection for her himself. She, however, forbore
to reproach him, or to complain of him to Cyrus. She simply repelled
the advances that he made, supposing that, if she did this with
firmness and decision, Araspes would feel rebuked and would say no
more. It did not, however, produce this effect. Araspes continued to
importune her with declarations of love, and at length she felt
compelled to appeal to Cyrus.

Cyrus, instead of being incensed at what might have been considered a
betrayal of trust on the part of Araspes, only laughed at the failure
and fall in which all his favorite's promises and boastings had ended.
He sent a messenger to Araspes to caution him in regard to his
conduct, telling him that he ought to respect the feelings of such a
woman as Panthea had proved herself to be. The messenger whom Cyrus
sent was not content with delivering his message as Cyrus had dictated
it. He made it much more stern and severe. In fact, he reproached the
lover, in a very harsh and bitter manner, for indulging such a
passion. He told him that he had betrayed a sacred trust reposed in
him, and acted in a manner at once impious and unjust. Araspes
was overwhelmed with remorse and anguish, and with fear of the
consequences which might ensue, as men are when the time arrives for
being called to account for transgressions which, while they were
committing them, gave them little concern.

When Cyrus heard how much Araspes had been distressed by the message
of reproof which he had received, and by his fears of punishment, he
sent for him. Araspes came. Cyrus told him that he had no occasion to
be alarmed. "I do not wonder," said he, "at the result which has
happened. We all know how difficult it is to resist the influence
which is exerted upon our minds by the charms of a beautiful woman,
when we are thrown into circumstances of familiar intercourse with
her. Whatever of wrong there has been ought to be considered as more
my fault than yours. I was wrong in placing you in such circumstances
of temptation, by giving you so beautiful a woman in charge."

Araspes was very much struck with the generosity of Cyrus, in thus
endeavoring to soothe his anxiety and remorse, and taking upon himself
the responsibility and the blame. He thanked Cyrus very earnestly for
his kindness; but he said that, notwithstanding his sovereign's
willingness to forgive him, he felt still oppressed with grief and
concern, for the knowledge of his fault had been spread abroad in the
army; his enemies were rejoicing over him, and were predicting his
disgrace and ruin; and some persons had even advised him to make his
escape, by absconding before any worse calamity should befall him.

"If this is so," said Cyrus, "it puts it in your power to render me a
very essential service." Cyrus then explained to Araspes the necessity
that he was under of finding some confidential agent to go on a secret
mission into the enemy's country, and the importance that the
messenger should go under such circumstances as not to be suspected
of being Cyrus's friend in disguise. "You can pretend to abscond,"
said he; "it will be immediately said that you fled for fear of my
displeasure. I will pretend to send in pursuit of you. The news of
your evasion will spread rapidly, and will be carried, doubtless, into
the enemy's country; so that, when you arrive there, they will be
prepared to welcome you as a deserter from my cause, and a refugee."

This plan was agreed upon, and Araspes prepared for his departure.
Cyrus gave him his instructions, and they concerted together the
information--fictitious, of course--which he was to communicate to the
enemy in respect to Cyrus's situation and designs. When all was ready
for his departure, Cyrus asked him how it was that he was so willing
to separate himself thus from the beautiful Panthea. He said in reply,
that when he was absent from Panthea, he was capable of easily
forming any determination, and of pursuing any line of conduct that
his duty required, while yet, in her presence, he found his love for
her, and the impetuous feelings to which it gave rise, wholly and
absolutely uncontrollable.

As soon as Araspes was gone, Panthea, who supposed that he had really
fled for fear of the indignation of the king, in consequence of his
unfaithfulness to his trust, sent to Cyrus a message, expressing her
regret at the unworthy conduct and the flight of Araspes, and saying
that she could, and gladly would, if he consented, repair the loss
which the desertion of Araspes occasioned by sending for her own
husband. He was, she said, dissatisfied with the government under
which he lived, having been cruelly and tyrannically treated by the
prince. "If you will allow me to send for him," she added, "I am sure
he will come and join your army; and I assure you that you will find
him a much more faithful and devoted servant than Araspes has been."

Cyrus consented to this proposal, and Panthea sent for Abradates.
Abradates came at the head of two thousand horse, which formed a very
important addition to the forces under Cyrus's command. The meeting
between Panthea and her husband was joyful in the extreme. When
Abradates learned from his wife how honorable and kind had been the
treatment which Cyrus had rendered to her, he was overwhelmed with a
sense of gratitude, and he declared that he would do the utmost in his
power to requite the obligations he was under.

Abradates entered at once, with great ardor and zeal, into plans for
making the force which he had brought as efficient as possible in the
service of Cyrus. He observed that Cyrus was interested, at that time,
in attempting to build and equip a corps of armed chariots, such as
were often used in fields of battle in those days. This was a very
expensive sort of force, corresponding, in that respect, with the
artillery used in modern times. The carriages were heavy and strong,
and were drawn generally by two horses. They had short, scythe-like
blades of steel projecting from the axle-trees on each side, by which
the ranks of the enemy were mowed down when the carriages were driven
among them. The chariots were made to contain, besides the driver of
the horses, one or more warriors, each armed in the completest manner.
These warriors stood on the floor of the vehicle, and fought with
javelins and spears. The great plains which abound in the interior
countries of Asia were very favorable for this species of warfare.


Abradates immediately fitted up for Cyrus a hundred such chariots at
his own expense, and provided horses to draw them from his own troop.
He made one chariot much larger than the rest, for himself, as he
intended to take command of this corps of chariots in person. His own
chariot was to be drawn by eight horses. His wife Panthea was very
much interested in these preparations. She wished to do something
herself toward the outfit. She accordingly furnished, from her own
private treasures, a helmet, a corslet, and arm-pieces of gold. These
articles formed a suit of armor sufficient to cover all that part of
the body which would be exposed in standing in the chariot. She also
provided breast-pieces and side-pieces of brass for the horses. The
whole chariot, thus equipped, with its eight horses in their gay
trappings and resplendent armor, and with Abradates standing within
it, clothed in his panoply of gold, presented, as it drove, in the
sight of the whole army, around the plain of the encampment, a most
imposing spectacle. It was a worthy leader, as the spectators
thought, to head the formidable column of a hundred similar engines
which were to follow in its train. If we imagine the havoc which a
hundred scythe-armed carriages would produce when driven, with
headlong fury, into dense masses of men, on a vast open plain, we
shall have some idea of one item of the horrors of ancient war.

The full splendor of Abradates's equipments were not, however,
displayed at first, for Panthea kept what she had done a secret for a
time, intending to reserve her contribution for a parting present to
her husband when the period should arrive for going into battle. She
had accordingly taken the measure for her work by stealth, from the
armor which Abradates was accustomed to wear, and had caused the
artificers to make the golden pieces with the utmost secrecy. Besides
the substantial defenses of gold which she provided, she added various
other articles for ornament and decoration. There was a purple robe,
a crest for the helmet, which was of a violet color, plumes, and
likewise bracelets for the wrists. Panthea kept all these things
herself until the day arrived when her husband was going into battle
for the first time with his train, and then, when he went into his
tent to prepare himself to ascend his chariot, she brought them to

Abradates was astonished when he saw them. He soon understood how they
had been provided, and he exclaimed, with a heart full of surprise and
pleasure, "And so, to provide me with this splendid armor and dress,
you have been depriving yourself of all your finest and most beautiful

"No," said Panthea, "you are yourself my finest ornament, if you
appear in other people's eyes as you do in mine, and I have not
deprived myself of you."

The appearance which Abradates made in other people's eyes was
certainly very splendid on this occasion. There were many spectators
present to see him mount his chariot and drive away; but so great was
their admiration of Panthea's affection and regard for her husband,
and so much impressed were they with her beauty, that the great
chariot, the resplendent horses, and the grand warrior with his armor
of gold, which the magnificent equipage was intended to convey, were,
all together, scarcely able to draw away the eyes of the spectators
from her. She stood, for a while, by the side of the chariot,
addressing her husband in an under tone, reminding him of the
obligations which they were under to Cyrus for his generous and noble
treatment of her, and urging him, now that he was going to be put to
the test, to redeem the promise which she had made in his name, that
Cyrus would find him faithful, brave, and true.

The driver then closed the door by which Abradates had mounted, so
that Panthea was separated from her husband, though she could still
see him as he stood in his place. She gazed upon him with a
countenance full of affection and solicitude. She kissed the margin of
the chariot as it began to move away. She walked along after it as it
went, as if, after all, she could not bear the separation. Abradates
turned, and when he saw her coming on after the carriage, he said,
waving his hand for a parting salutation, "Farewell, Panthea; go back
now to your tent, and do not be anxious about me. Farewell." Panthea
turned--her attendants came and took her away--the spectators all
turned, too, to follow her with their eyes, and no one paid any regard
to the chariot or to Abradates until she was gone.

On the field of battle, before the engagement commenced, Cyrus, in
passing along the lines, paused, when he came to the chariots of
Abradates, to examine the arrangements which had been made for them,
and to converse a moment with the chief. He saw that the chariots were
drawn up in a part of the field where there was opposed to them a very
formidable array of Egyptian soldiers. The Egyptians in this war were
allies of the enemy. Abradates, leaving his chariot in the charge of
his driver, descended and came to Cyrus, and remained in conversation
with him for a few moments, to receive his last orders. Cyrus directed
him to remain where he was, and not to attack the enemy until he
received a certain signal. At length the two chieftains separated;
Abradates returned to his chariot, and Cyrus moved on. Abradates then
moved slowly along his lines, to encourage and animate his men, and to
give them the last directions in respect to the charge which they were
about to make on the enemy when the signal should be given. All eyes
were turned to the magnificent spectacle which his equipage presented
as it advanced toward them; the chariot, moving slowly along the line,
the tall and highly-decorated form of its commander rising in the
center of it, while the eight horses, animated by the sound of the
trumpets, and by the various excitements of the scene, stepped
proudly, their brazen armor clanking as they came.

When, at length, the signal was given, Abradates, calling on the other
chariots to follow, put his horses to their speed, and the whole line
rushed impetuously on to the attack of the Egyptians. War horses,
properly trained to their work, will fight with their hoofs with
almost as much reckless determination as men will with spears. They
rush madly on to encounter whatever opposition there may be before
them, and strike down and leap over whatever comes in their way, as if
they fully understood the nature of the work that their riders or
drivers were wishing them to do. Cyrus, as he passed along from one
part of the battle field to another, saw the horses of Abradates's
line dashing thus impetuously into the thickest ranks of the enemy.
The men, on every side, were beaten down by the horses' hoofs, or
over-turned by the wheels, or cut down by the scythes; and they who
here and there escaped these dangers, became the aim of the soldiers
who stood in the chariots, and were transfixed with their spears. The
heavy wheels rolled and jolted mercilessly over the bodies of the
wounded and the fallen, while the scythes caught hold of and cut
through every thing that came in their way--whether the shafts of
javelins and spears, or the limbs and bodies of men--and tore every
thing to pieces in their terrible career. As Cyrus rode rapidly by, he
saw Abradates in the midst of this scene, driving on in his chariot,
and shouting to his men in a phrensy of excitement and triumph.

The battle in which these events occurred was one of the greatest and
most important which Cyrus fought. He gained the victory. His enemies
were every where routed and driven from the field. When the contest
was at length decided, the army desisted from the slaughter and
encamped for the night. On the following day, the generals assembled
at the tent of Cyrus to discuss the arrangements which were to be made
in respect to the disposition of the captives and of the spoil, and to
the future movements of the army. Abradates was not there. For a time,
Cyrus, in the excitement and confusion of the scene did not observe
his absence. At length he inquired for him. A soldier present told
him that he had been killed from his chariot in the midst of the
Egyptians, and that his wife was at that moment attending to the
interment of the body, on the banks of a river which flowed near the
field of battle. Cyrus, on hearing this, uttered a loud exclamation of
astonishment and sorrow. He dropped the business in which he had been
engaged with his council, mounted his horse, commanded attendants to
follow him with every thing that could be necessary on such an
occasion, and then, asking those who knew to lead the way, he drove
off to find Panthea.

When he arrived at the spot, the dead body of Abradates was lying upon
the ground, while Panthea sat by its side, holding the head in her
lap, overwhelmed herself with unutterable sorrow. Cyrus leaped from
his horse, knelt down by the side of the corpse, saying, at the same
time, "Alas! thou brave and faithful soul, and art thou gone?"

At the same time, he took hold of the hand of Abradates; but, as he
attempted to raise it, the arm came away from the body. It had been
cut off by an Egyptian sword. Cyrus was himself shocked at the
spectacle, and Panthea's grief broke forth anew. She cried out with
bitter anguish, replaced the arm in the position in which she had
arranged it before, and told Cyrus that the rest of the body was in
the same condition. Whenever she attempted to speak, her sobs and
tears almost prevented her utterance. She bitterly reproached herself
for having been, perhaps, the cause of her husband's death, by urging
him, as she had done, to fidelity and courage when he went into
battle. "And now," she said, "he is dead, while I, who urged him
forward into the danger, am still alive."

Cyrus said what he could to console Panthea's grief; but he found it
utterly inconsolable. He gave directions for furnishing her with every
thing which she could need, and promised her that he would make ample
arrangements for providing for her in future. "You shall be treated,"
he said, "while you remain with me, in the most honorable manner; or
if you have any friends whom you wish to join, you shall be sent to
them safely whenever you please."

Panthea thanked him for his kindness. She had a friend, she said, whom
she wished to join, and she would let him know in due time who it was.
In the mean time, she wished that Cyrus would leave her alone, for a
while, with her servants, and her waiting-maid, and the dead body of
her husband. Cyrus accordingly withdrew. As soon as he had gone,
Panthea sent away the servants also, retaining the waiting-maid
alone. The waiting-maid began to be anxious and concerned at
witnessing these mysterious arrangements, as if they portended some
new calamity. She wondered what her mistress was going to do. Her
doubts were dispelled by seeing Panthea produce a sword, which she had
kept concealed hitherto beneath her robe. Her maid begged her, with
much earnestness and many tears, not to destroy herself; but Panthea
was immovable. She said she could not live any longer. She directed
the maid to envelop her body, as soon as she was dead, in the same
mantle with her husband, and to have them both deposited together in
the same grave; and before her stupefied attendant could do any thing
to save her, she sat down by the side of her husband's body, laid her
head upon his breast, and in that position gave herself the fatal
wound. In a few minutes she ceased to breathe.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cyrus expressed his respect for the memory of Abradates and Panthea by
erecting a lofty monument over their common grave.



General character of Xenophon's history.--Dialogues and
conversations.--Ancient mode of discussion.--Cyrus's games.--Grand
procession.--The races.--The Sacian.--His success.--Mode of finding
a worthy man.--Pheraulas wounded.--Pheraulas pursues his course.--He
receives the Sacian's horse.--Sumptuous entertainment.--Pheraulas
and the Sacian.--Riches a source of disquiet and care.--Argument of
Pheraulas.--Remark of the Sacian.--Reply of Pheraulas.--Singular
proposal of Pheraulas.--The Sacian accepts it.--The plan carried into
effect.--The happy result.--Cyrus's dinner party.--Conversation
about soldiers.--The discontented soldier.--His repeated
misfortunes.--Amusement of the party.--The awkward squad.--Merriment
of the company.--The file-leader and the letters.--Remark of
Cyrus.--Animadversion version of Aglaitadas.--Aglaitadas's argument
for melancholy.--Defense of the officers.--General character of
Xenophon's Cyropædia.

We have given the story of Panthea, as contained in the preceding
chapter, in our own language, it is true, but without any intentional
addition or embellishment whatever. Each reader will judge for himself
whether such a narrative, written for the entertainment of vast
assemblies at public games and celebrations, is most properly to be
regarded as an invention of romance, or as a simple record of
veritable history.

A great many extraordinary and dramatic incidents and adventures,
similar in general character to the story of Panthea, are interwoven
with the narrative in Xenophon's history. There are also, besides
these, many long and minute details of dialogues and conversations,
which, if they had really occurred, would have required a very high
degree of skill in stenography to produce such reports of them
as Xenophon has given. The incidents, too, out of which these
conversations grew, are worthy of attention, as we can often judge,
by the nature and character of an incident described, whether it is
one which it is probable might actually occur in real life, or only an
invention intended to furnish an opportunity and a pretext for the
inculcation of the sentiments, or the expression of the views of the
different speakers. It was the custom in ancient days, much more than
it is now, to attempt to add to the point and spirit of a discussion,
by presenting the various views which the subject naturally elicited
in the form of a conversation arising out of circumstances invented
to sustain it. The incident in such cases was, of course, a fiction,
contrived to furnish points of attachment for the dialogue--a sort of
trellis, constructed artificially to support the vine.

We shall present in this chapter some specimens of these
conversations, which will give the reader a much more distinct idea
of the nature of them than any general description can convey.

At one time in the course of Cyrus's career, just after he had
obtained some great victory, and was celebrating his triumphs, in the
midst of his armies, with spectacles and games, he instituted a series
of races, in which the various nations that were represented in his
army furnished their several champions as competitors The army marched
out from the city which Cyrus had captured, and where he was then
residing, in a procession of the most imposing magnificence. Animals
intended to be offered in sacrifice, caparisoned in trappings of gold,
horsemen most sumptuously equipped, chariots of war splendidly built
and adorned, and banners and trophies of every kind, were conspicuous
in the train. When the vast procession reached the race-ground, the
immense concourse was formed in ranks around it, and the racing went

When it came to the turn of the Sacian nation to enter the course,
a private man, of no apparent importance in respect to his rank or
standing, came forward as the champion; though the man appeared
insignificant, his horse was as fleet as the wind. He flew around the
arena with astonishing speed, and came in at the goal while his
competitor was still midway of the course. Every body was astonished
at this performance. Cyrus asked the Sacian whether he would be
willing to sell that horse, if he could receive a kingdom in exchange
for it--kingdoms being the coin with which such sovereigns as Cyrus
made their purchases. The Sacian replied that he would not sell his
horse for any kingdom, but that he would readily give him away to
oblige a worthy man.

"Come with me," said Cyrus, "and I will show you where you may throw
blindfold, and not miss a worthy man."

So saying, Cyrus conducted the Sacian to a part of the field where a
number of his officers and attendants were moving to and fro, mounted
upon their horses, or seated in their chariots of war. The Sacian took
up a hard clod of earth from a bank as he walked along. At length they
were in the midst of the group.

"Throw!" said Cyrus.

The Sacian shut his eyes and threw.

It happened that, just at that instant, an officer named Pheraulas
was riding by. He was conveying some orders which Cyrus had given him
to another part of the field. Pheraulas had been originally a man of
humble life, but he had been advanced by Cyrus to a high position on
account of the great fidelity and zeal which he had evinced in the
performance of his duty. The clod which the Sacian threw struck
Pheraulas in the mouth, and wounded him severely. Now it is the part
of a good soldier to stand at his post or to press on, in obedience
to his orders, as long as any physical capacity remains; and
Pheraulas, true to his military obligation, rode on without even
turning to see whence and from what cause so unexpected and violent
an assault had proceeded.

The Sacian opened his eyes, looked around, and coolly asked who it was
that he had hit. Cyrus pointed to the horseman who was riding rapidly
away, saying, "That is the man, who is riding so fast past those
chariots yonder. You hit _him_."

"Why did he not turn back, then?" asked the Sacian.

"It is strange that he did not," said Cyrus; "he must be some madman."

The Sacian went in pursuit of him. He found Pheraulas with his face
covered with blood and dirt, and asked him if he had received a blow.
"I have," said Pheraulas, "as you see." "Then," said the Sacian, "I
make you a present of my horse." Pheraulas asked an explanation. The
Sacian accordingly gave him an account of what had taken place between
himself and Cyrus, and said, in the end, that he gladly gave him his
horse, as he, Pheraulas, had so decisively proved himself to be a most
worthy man.

Pheraulas accepted the present, with many thanks, and he and the
Sacian became thereafter very strong friends.

Some time after this, Pheraulas invited the Sacian to an
entertainment, and when the hour arrived, he set before his friend and
the other guests a most sumptuous feast, which was served in vessels
of gold and silver, and in an apartment furnished with carpets, and
canopies, and couches of the most gorgeous and splendid description.
The Sacian was much impressed with this magnificence, and he asked
Pheraulas whether he had been a rich man at home, that is, before he
had joined Cyrus's army. Pheraulas replied that he was not then rich.
His father, he said, was a farmer, and he himself had been accustomed
in early life to till the ground with the other laborers on his
father's farm. All the wealth and luxury which he now enjoyed had been
bestowed upon him, he said, by Cyrus.

"How fortunate you are!" said the Sacian; "and it must be that you
enjoy your present riches all the more highly on account of having
experienced in early life the inconveniences and ills of poverty. The
pleasure must be more intense in having desires which have long been
felt gratified at last than if the objects which they rested upon had
been always in one's possession."

"You imagine, I suppose," replied Pheraulas, "that I am a great deal
happier in consequence of all this wealth and splendor; but it is not
so. As to the real enjoyments of which our natures are capable, I can
not receive more now than I could before. I can not eat any more,
drink any more, or sleep any more, or do any of these things with any
more pleasure than when I was poor. All that I gain by this abundance
is, that I have more to watch, more to guard, more to take care of. I
have many servants, for whose wants I have to provide, and who are a
constant source of solicitude to me. One calls for food, another for
clothes, and a third is sick, and I must see that he has a physician.
My other possessions, too, are a constant care. A man comes in, one
day, and brings me sheep that have been torn by the wolves; and, on
another day, tells me of oxen that have fallen from a precipice, or of
a distemper which has broken out among the flocks or herds. My wealth,
therefore, brings me only an increase of anxiety and trouble, without
any addition to my joys."

"But those things," said the Sacian, "which you name, must be unusual
and extraordinary occurrences. When all things are going on
prosperously and well with you, and you can look around on all your
possessions and feel that they are yours, then certainly you must be
happier than I am."

"It is true," said Pheraulas, "that there is a pleasure in the
possession of wealth, but that pleasure is not great enough to balance
the suffering which the calamities and losses inevitably connected
with it occasion. That the suffering occasioned by losing our
possessions is greater than the pleasure of retaining them, is proved
by the fact that the pain of a loss is so exciting to the mind that it
often deprives men of sleep, while they enjoy the most calm and quiet
repose so long as their possessions are retained, which proves that
the pleasure does not move them so deeply. They are kept awake by the
vexation and chagrin on the one hand, but they are never kept awake by
the satisfaction on the other."

"That is true," replied the Sacian. "Men are not kept awake by the
mere continuing to possess their wealth, but they very often are by
the original acquisition of it."

"Yes, indeed," replied Pheraulas; "and if the enjoyment of _being_
rich could always continue as great as that of first becoming so, the
rich would, I admit, be very happy men; but it is not, and can not be
so. They who possess much, must lose, and expend, and give much; and
this necessity brings more of pain than the possessions themselves can
give of pleasure."

The Sacian was not convinced. The giving and expending, he maintained,
would be to him, in itself, a source of pleasure. He should like to
have much, for the very purpose of being able to expend much. Finally,
Pheraulas proposed to the Sacian, since he seemed to think that riches
would afford him so much pleasure, and as he himself, Pheraulas, found
the possession of them only a source of trouble and care, that he
would convey all his wealth to the Sacian, he himself to receive only
an ordinary maintenance from it.

"You are in jest," said the Sacian.

"No," said Pheraulas, "I am in earnest." And he renewed his
proposition, and pressed the Sacian urgently to accept of it.

The Sacian then said that nothing could give him greater pleasure than
such an arrangement. He expressed great gratitude for so generous an
offer, and promised that, if he received the property, he would
furnish Pheraulas with most ample and abundant supplies for all his
wants, and would relieve him entirely of all responsibility and care.
He promised, moreover, to obtain from Cyrus permission that Pheraulas
should thereafter be excused from the duties of military service, and
from all the toils, privations, and hardships of war, so that he might
thenceforth lead a life of quiet, luxury, and ease, and thus live in
the enjoyment of all the benefits which wealth could procure, without
its anxieties and cares.

The plan, thus arranged, was carried into effect. Pheraulas divested
himself of his possessions, conveying them all to the Sacian. Both
parties were extremely pleased with the operation of the scheme, and
they lived thus together for a long time. Whatever Pheraulas acquired
in any way, he always brought to the Sacian, and the Sacian, by
accepting it, relieved Pheraulas of all responsibility and care. The
Sacian loved Pheraulas, as Xenophon says, in closing this narrative,
because he was thus continually bringing him gifts; and Pheraulas
loved the Sacian, because he was always willing to take the gifts
which were thus brought to him.

Among the other conversations, whether real or imaginary, which
Xenophon records, he gives some specimens of those which took place at
festive entertainments in Cyrus's tent, on occasions when he invited
his officers to dine with him. He commenced the conversation, on one
of these occasions, by inquiring of some of the officers present
whether they did not think that the common soldiers were equal to the
officers themselves in intelligence, courage, and military skill, and
in all the other substantial qualities of a good soldier.

"I know not how that may be," replied one of the officers. "How they
will prove when they come into action with the enemy, I can not tell;
but a more perverse and churlish set of fellows in camp, than these I
have got in my regiment, I never knew. The other day, for example,
when there had been a sacrifice, the meat of the victims was sent
around to be distributed to the soldiers. In our regiment, when the
steward came in with the first distribution, he began by me, and so
went round, as far as what he had brought would go. The next time he
came, he began at the other end. The supply failed before he had got
to the place where he had left off before, so that there was a man in
the middle that did not get any thing. This man immediately broke out
in loud and angry complaints, and declared that there was no equality
or fairness whatever in such a mode of division, unless they began
sometimes in the center of the line.

"Upon this," continued the officer, "I called to the discontented man,
and invited him to come and sit by me, where he would have a better
chance for a good share. He did so. It happened that, at the next
distribution that was made, we were the last, and he fancied that only
the smallest pieces were left, so he began to complain more than
before. 'Oh, misery!' said he, 'that I should have to sit here!' 'Be
patient,' said I; 'pretty soon they will begin the distribution with
us, and then you will have the best chance of all.' And so it proved
for, at the next distribution, they began at us, and the man took his
share first; but when the second and third men took theirs, he fancied
that their pieces looked larger than his, and he reached forward and
put his piece back into the basket, intending to change it; but the
steward moved rapidly on, and he did not get another, so that he lost
his distribution altogether. He was then quite furious with rage and

Cyrus and all the company laughed very heartily at these mischances of
greediness and discontent; and then other stories, of a somewhat
similar character, were told by other guests. One officer said that a
few days previous he was drilling a part of his troops, and he had
before him on the plain what is called, in military language, a
_squad_ of men, whom he was teaching to march. When he gave the order
to advance, one, who was at the head of the file, marched forward with
great alacrity, but all the rest stood still. "I asked him," continued
the officer, "what he was doing. 'Marching,' said he, 'as you ordered
me to do.' 'It was not you alone that I ordered to march,' said I,
'but all.' So I sent him back to his place, and then gave the command
again. Upon this they all advanced promiscuously and in disorder
toward me, each one acting for himself, without regard to the others,
and leaving the file-leader, who ought to have been at the head,
altogether behind. The file-leader said, 'Keep back! keep back!' Upon
this the men were offended, and asked what they were to do about such
contradictory orders. 'One commands us to advance, and another to keep
back!' said they; 'how are we to know which to obey?'"

Cyrus and his guests were so much amused at the awkwardness of these
recruits, and the ridiculous predicament in which the officer was
placed by it, that the narrative of the speaker was here interrupted
by universal and long-continued laughter.

"Finally," continued the officer, "I sent the men all back to their
places, and explained to them that, when a command was given, they
were not to obey it in confusion and unseemly haste, but regularly and
in order, each one following the man who stood before him. 'You must
regulate your proceeding,' said I, 'by the action of the file-leader;
when he advances, you must advance, following him in a line, and
governing your movements in all respects by his.'

"Just at this moment," continued the officer, "a man came to me for a
letter which was to go to Persia, and which I had left in my tent. I
directed the file-leader to run to my tent and bring the letter to me.
He immediately set off, and the rest, obeying literally the directions
which I had just been giving them, all followed, running behind him
in a line like a troop of savages, so that I had the whole squad of
twenty men running in a body off the field to fetch a letter!"

When the general hilarity which these recitals occasioned had a little
subsided, Cyrus said he thought that they could not complain of the
character of the soldiers whom they had to command, for they were
certainly, according to these accounts, sufficiently ready to obey the
orders they received. Upon this, a certain one of the guests who was
present, named Aglaitadas, a gloomy and austere-looking man, who had
not joined at all in the merriment which the conversation had caused,
asked Cyrus if he believed those stories to be true.

"Why?" asked Cyrus; "what do _you_ think of them?"

"_I_ think," said Aglaitadas, "that these officers invented them to
make the company laugh. It is evident that they were not telling the
truth, since they related the stories in such a vain and arrogant

"Arrogant!" said Cyrus; "you ought not to call them arrogant; for,
even if they invented their narrations, it was not to gain any selfish
ends of their own, but only to amuse us and promote our enjoyment.
Such persons should be called polite and agreeable rather than

"If, Aglaitadas," said one of the officers who had related the
anecdotes, "we had told you melancholy stories to make you gloomy and
wretched, you might have been justly displeased; but you certainly
ought not to complain of us for making you merry."

"Yes," said Aglaitadas, "I think I may. To make a man laugh is a very
insignificant and useless thing. It is far better to make him weep.
Such thoughts and such conversation as makes us serious, thoughtful,
and sad, and even moves us to tears, are the most salutary and the

"Well," replied the officer, "if you will take my advice, you will
lay out all your powers of inspiring gloom, and melancholy, and of
bringing tears, upon our enemies, and bestow the mirth and laughter
upon us. There must be a prodigious deal of laughter in you, for none
ever comes out. You neither use nor expend it yourself, nor do you
afford it to your friends."

"Then," said Aglaitadas, "why do you attempt to draw it from me?"

"It is preposterous!" said another of the company; "for one could more
easily strike fire out of Aglaitadas than get a laugh from him!"

Aglaitadas could not help smiling at this comparison; upon which
Cyrus, with an air of counterfeited gravity, reproved the person who
had spoken, saying that he had corrupted the most sober man in the
company by making him smile, and that to disturb such gravity as that
of Aglaitadas was carrying the spirit of mirth and merriment
altogether too far.

       *       *       *       *       *

These specimens will suffice. They serve to give a more distinct idea
of the Cyropædia of Xenophon than any general description could
afford. The book is a drama, of which the principal elements are such
narratives as the story of Panthea, and such conversations as those
contained in this chapter, intermingled with long discussions on the
principles of government, and on the discipline and management of
armies. The principles and the sentiments which the work inculcates
and explains are now of little value, being no longer applicable to
the affairs of mankind in the altered circumstances of the present
day. The book, however, retains its rank among men on account of a
certain beautiful and simple magnificence characterizing the style and
language in which it is written, which, however, can not be
appreciated except by those who read the narrative in the original



B.C. 530

Progress of Cyrus's conquests.--The northern countries.--The
Scythians.--Their warlike character.--Cyrus's sons.--His queen.--Selfish
views of Cyrus.--Customs of the savages.--Cyrus arrives at the
Araxes.--Difficulties of crossing the river.--Embassage from
Tomyris.--Warning of Tomyris.--Cyrus calls a council of war.--Opinion
of the officers.--Dissent of Croesus.--Speech of Croesus.--His
advice to Cyrus.--Cyrus adopts the plan of Croesus.--His reply
to Tomyris.--Forebodings of Cyrus.--He appoints Cambyses
regent.--Hystaspes.--His son Darius.--Cyrus's dream.--Hystaspes's
commission.--Cyrus marches into the queen's country.--Success of the
stratagem.--Spargapizes taken prisoner.--Tomyris's concern for her
son's safety.--Her conciliatory message.--Mortification of
Spargapizes.--Cyrus gives him liberty within the camp.--Death of
Spargapizes.--Grief and rage of Tomyris.--The great battle.--Cyrus
is defeated and slain.--Tomyris's treatment of Cyrus's
body.--Reflections.--Hard-heartedness, selfishness, and cruelty
characterize the ambitious.

After having made the conquest of the Babylonian empire, Cyrus found
himself the sovereign of nearly all of Asia, so far as it was then
known. Beyond his dominions there lay, on every side, according to the
opinions which then prevailed, vast tracts of uninhabitable territory,
desolate and impassable. These wildernesses were rendered unfit for
man, sometimes by excessive heat, sometimes by excessive cold,
sometimes from being parched by perpetual drought, which produced bare
and desolate deserts, and sometimes by incessant rains, which drenched
the country and filled it with morasses and fens. On the north was the
great Caspian Sea, then almost wholly unexplored, and extending, as
the ancients believed, to the Polar Ocean.

On the west side of the Caspian Sea were the Caucasian Mountains,
which were supposed, in those days, to be the highest on the globe. In
the neighborhood of these mountains there was a country, inhabited by
a wild and half-savage people, who were called Scythians. This was, in
fact, a sort of generic term, which was applied, in those days, to
almost all the aboriginal tribes beyond the confines of civilization.
The Scythians, however, if such they can properly be called, who lived
on the borders of the Caspian Sea, were not wholly uncivilized. They
possessed many of those mechanical arts which are the first to be
matured among warlike nations. They had no iron or steel, but they
were accustomed to work other metals, particularly gold and brass.
They tipped their spears and javelins with brass, and made brazen
plates for defensive armor, both for themselves and for their horses.
They made, also, many ornaments and decorations of gold. These they
attached to their helmets, their belts, and their banners. They were
very formidable in war, being, like all other northern nations,
perfectly desperate and reckless in battle. They were excellent
horsemen, and had an abundance of horses with which to exercise their
skill; so that their armies consisted, like those of the Cossacks of
modern times, of great bodies of cavalry.

The various campaigns and conquests by which Cyrus obtained
possession of his extended dominions occupied an interval of about
thirty years. It was near the close of this interval, when he was, in
fact, advancing toward a late period of life, that he formed the plan
of penetrating into these northern regions, with a view of adding them
also to his domains.

He had two sons, Cambyses and Smerdis. His wife is said to have been a
daughter of Astyages, and that he married her soon after his conquest
of the kingdom of Media, in order to reconcile the Medians more easily
to his sway, by making a Median princess their queen. Among the
western nations of Europe such a marriage would be abhorred, Astyages
having been Cyrus's grandfather; but among the Orientals, in those
days, alliances of this nature were not uncommon. It would seem that
this queen was not living at the time that the events occurred which
are to be related in this chapter. Her sons had grown up to maturity,
and were now princes of great distinction.

One of the Scythian or northern nations to which we have referred were
called the Massagetæ. They formed a very extensive and powerful realm.
They were governed, at this time, by a queen named Tomyris. She was a
widow, past middle life. She had a son named Spargapizes, who had,
like the sons of Cyrus, attained maturity, and was the heir to the
throne. Spargapizes was, moreover, the commander-in-chief of the
armies of the queen.

The first plan which Cyrus formed for the annexation of the realm of
the Massagetæ to his own dominions was by a matrimonial alliance. He
accordingly raised an army and commenced a movement toward the north,
sending, at the same time, embassadors before him into the country of
the Massagetæ, with offers of marriage to the queen. The queen knew
very well that it was her dominions, and not herself, that constituted
the great attraction for Cyrus, and, besides, she was of an age when
ambition is a stronger passion than love. She refused the offers, and
sent back word to Cyrus forbidding his approach.

Cyrus, however, continued to move on. The boundary between his
dominions and those of the queen was at the River Araxes, a stream
flowing from west to east, through the central parts of Asia, toward
the Caspian Sea. As Cyrus advanced, he found the country growing more
and more wild and desolate. It was inhabited by savage tribes, who
lived on roots and herbs, and who were elevated very little, in any
respect, above the wild beasts that roamed in the forests around them.
They had one very singular custom, according to Herodotus. It seems
that there was a plant which grew among them, that bore a fruit, whose
fumes, when it was roasting on a fire, had an exhilarating effect,
like that produced by wine. These savages, therefore, Herodotus
says, were accustomed to assemble around a fire, in their convivial
festivities, and to throw some of this fruit in the midst of it. The
fumes emitted by the fruit would soon begin to intoxicate the whole
circle, when they would throw on more fruit, and become more and more
excited, until, at length, they would jump up, and dance about, and
sing, in a state of complete inebriation.

Among such savages as these, and through the forests and wildernesses
in which they lived, Cyrus advanced till he reached the Araxes. Here,
after considering, for some time, by what means he could best pass
the river, he determined to build a floating bridge, by means of boats
and rafts obtained from the natives on the banks, or built for the
purpose. It would be obviously much easier to transport the army by
using these boats and rafts to _float_ the men across, instead of
constructing a bridge with them; but this would not have been safe,
for the transportation of the army by such a means would be gradual
and slow; and if the enemy were lurking in the neighborhood, and
should make an attack upon them in the midst of the operation, while
a part of the army were upon one bank and a part upon the other, and
another portion still, perhaps, in boats upon the stream, the defeat
and destruction of the whole would be almost inevitable. Cyrus planned
the formation of the bridge, therefore, as a means of transporting his
army in a body, and of landing them on the opposite bank in solid
columns, which could be formed into order of battle without any delay.

While Cyrus was engaged in the work of constructing the bridge,
embassadors appeared, who said that they had been sent from Tomyris.
She had commissioned them, they said, to warn Cyrus to desist entirely
from his designs upon her kingdom, and to return to his own. This
would be the wisest course, too, Tomyris said, for himself, and she
counseled him, for his own welfare, to follow it. He could not foresee
the result, if he should invade her dominions and encounter her
armies. Fortune had favored him thus far, it was true, but fortune
might change, and he might find himself, before he was aware, at the
end of his victories. Still, she said, she had no expectation that he
would be disposed to listen to this warning and advice, and, on her
part, she had no objection to his persevering in his invasion. She did
not fear him. He need not put himself to the expense and trouble of
building a bridge across the Araxes. She would agree to withdraw all
her forces three days' march into her own country, so that he might
cross the river safely and at his leisure, and she would await him at
the place where she should have encamped; or, if he preferred it, she
would cross the river and meet him on his own side. In that case, he
must retire three days' march from the river, so as to afford her the
same opportunity to make the passage undisturbed which she had offered
him. She would then come over and march on to attack him. She gave
Cyrus his option which branch of this alternative to choose.

Cyrus called a council of war to consider the question. He laid the
case before his officers and generals, and asked for their opinion.
They were unanimously agreed that it would be best for him to accede
to the last of the two proposals made to him, viz., to draw back
three days' journey toward his own dominions, and wait for Tomyris to
come and attack him there.

There was, however, one person present at this consultation, though
not regularly a member of the council, who gave Cyrus different
advice. This was Croesus, the fallen king of Lydia. Ever since the
time of his captivity, he had been retained in the camp and in the
household of Cyrus, and had often accompanied him in his expeditions
and campaigns. Though a captive, he seems to have been a friend; at
least, the most friendly relations appeared to subsist between him and
his conqueror; and he often figures in history as a wise and honest
counselor to Cyrus, in the various emergencies in which he was placed.
He was present on this occasion, and he dissented from the opinion
which was expressed by the officers of the army.

"I ought to apologize, perhaps," said he, "for presuming to offer any
counsel, captive as I am; but I have derived, in the school of
calamity and misfortune in which I have been taught, some advantages
for learning wisdom which you have never enjoyed. It seems to me that
it will be much better for you not to fall back, but to advance and
attack Tomyris in her own dominions; for, if you retire in this
manner, in the first place, the act itself is discreditable to you: it
is a retreat. Then, if, in the battle that follows, Tomyris conquers
you, she is already advanced three days' march into your dominions,
and she may go on, and, before you can take measures for raising
another army, make herself mistress of your empire. On the other hand,
if, in the battle, you conquer her, you will be then six days' march
back of the position which you would occupy if you were to advance

"I will propose," continued Croesus, "the following plan: Cross the
river according to Tomyris's offer, and advance the three days'
journey into her country. Leave a small part of your force there, with
a great abundance of your most valuable baggage and supplies--luxuries
of all kinds, and rich wines, and such articles as the enemy will most
value as plunder. Then fall back with the main body of your army
toward the river again, in a secret manner, and encamp in an
ambuscade. The enemy will attack your advanced detachment. They will
conquer them. They will seize the stores and supplies, and will
suppose that your whole army is vanquished. They will fall upon the
plunder in disorder, and the discipline of their army will be
overthrown. They will go to feasting upon the provisions and to
drinking the wines, and then, when they are in the midst of their
festivities and revelry, you can come back suddenly with the real
strength of your army, and wholly overwhelm them."

Cyrus determined to adopt the plan which Croesus thus recommended.
He accordingly gave answer to the embassadors of Tomyris that he would
accede to the first of her proposals. If she would draw back from the
river three days' march, he would cross it with his army as soon as
practicable, and then come forward and attack her. The embassadors
received this message, and departed to deliver it to their queen. She
was faithful to her agreement, and drew her forces back to the place
proposed, and left them there, encamped under the command of her son.

Cyrus seems to have felt some forebodings in respect to the manner in
which this expedition was to end. He was advanced in life, and not now
as well able as he once was to endure the privations and hardships of
such campaigns. Then, the incursion which he was to make was into a
remote, and wild, and dangerous country and he could not but be aware
that he might never return. Perhaps he may have had some compunctions
of conscience, too, at thus wantonly disturbing the peace and invading
the territories of an innocent neighbor, and his mind may have been
the less at ease on that account. At any rate, he resolved to settle
the affairs of his government before he set out, in order to secure
both the tranquillity of the country while he should be absent, and
the regular transmission of his power to his descendants in case he
should never return.

Accordingly, in a very formal manner, and in the presence of all his
army, he delegated his power to Cambyses, his son, constituting him
regent of the realm during his absence. He committed Croesus to his
son's special care, charging him to pay him every attention and honor.
It was arranged that these persons, as well as a considerable portion
of the army, and a large number of attendants that had followed the
camp thus far, were not to accompany the expedition across the
river, but were to remain behind and return to the capital. These
arrangements being all thus finally made, Cyrus took leave of his son
and of Croesus, crossed the river with that part of the army which
was to proceed, and commenced his march.

The uneasiness and anxiety which Cyrus seems to have felt in respect
to his future fate on this memorable march affected even his dreams.
It seems that there was among the officers of his army a certain
general named Hystaspes. He had a son named Darius, then a youth of
about twenty years of age, who had been left at home, in Persia, when
the army marched, not being old enough to accompany them. Cyrus
dreamed, one night, immediately after crossing the river, that he saw
this young Darius with wings on his shoulders, that extended, the one
over Asia and the other over Europe, thus overshadowing the world.
When Cyrus awoke and reflected upon his dream, it seemed to him to
portend that Darius might be aspiring to the government of his empire.
He considered it a warning intended to put him on his guard.

When he awoke in the morning, he sent for Hystaspes, and related to
him his dream. "I am satisfied," said he, "that it denotes that your
son is forming ambitious and treasonable designs. Do you, therefore,
return home, and arrest him in this fatal course. Secure him, and let
him be ready to give me an account of his conduct when I shall

Hystaspes, having received this commission, left the army and
returned. The name of this Hystaspes acquired a historical immortality
in a very singular way, that is, by being always used as a part of the
appellation by which to designate his distinguished son. In after
years Darius did attain to a very extended power. He became Darius the
Great. As, however, there were several other Persian monarchs called
Darius, some of whom were nearly as great as this the first of the
name, the usage was gradually established of calling him Darius
Hystaspes; and thus the name of the father has become familiar to all
mankind, simply as a consequence and pendant to the celebrity of the

After sending off Hystaspes, Cyrus went on. He followed, in all
respects, the plan of Croesus. He marched his army into the country
of Tomyris, and advanced until he reached the point agreed upon. Here
he stationed a feeble portion of his army, with great stores of
provisions and wines, and abundance of such articles as would be
prized by the barbarians as booty. He then drew back with the main
body of his army toward the Araxes, and concealed his forces in a
hidden encampment. The result was as Croesus had anticipated. The
body which he had left was attacked by the troops of Tomyris, and
effectually routed. The provisions and stores fell into the hands of
the victors. They gave themselves up to the most unbounded joy, and
their whole camp was soon a universal scene of rioting and excess.
Even the commander, Spargapizes, Tomyris's son, became intoxicated
with the wine.

While things were in this state, the main body of the army of Cyrus
returned suddenly and unexpectedly, and fell upon their now helpless
enemies with a force which entirely overwhelmed them. The booty was
recovered, large numbers of the enemy were slain, and others were
taken prisoners. Spargapizes himself was captured; his hands were
bound; he was taken into Cyrus's camp, and closely guarded.

The result of this stratagem, triumphantly successful as it was, would
have settled the contest, and made Cyrus master of the whole realm, if
as he, at the time, supposed was the case, the main body of Tomyris's
forces had been engaged in this battle; but it seems that Tomyris had
learned, by reconnoiterers and spies, how large a force there was in
Cyrus's camp, and had only sent a detachment of her own troops to
attack them, not judging it necessary to call out the whole. Two
thirds of her army remained still uninjured. With this large force
she would undoubtedly have advanced without any delay to attack Cyrus
again, were it not for her maternal concern for the safety of her son.
He was in Cyrus's power, a helpless captive, and she did not know to
what cruelties he would be exposed if Cyrus were to be exasperated
against her. While her heart, therefore, was burning with resentment
and anger, and with an almost uncontrollable thirst for revenge, her
hand was restrained. She kept back her army, and sent to Cyrus a
conciliatory message.

She said to Cyrus that he had no cause to be specially elated at
his victory; that it was only one third of her forces that had been
engaged, and that with the remainder she held him completely in her
power. She urged him, therefore, to be satisfied with the injury which
he had already inflicted upon her by destroying one third of her army,
and to liberate her son, retire from her dominions, and leave her in
peace. If he would do so, she would not molest him in his departure;
but if he would not, she swore by the sun, the great god which she
and her countrymen adored, that, insatiable as he was for blood, she
would give it to him till he had his fill.

Of course Cyrus was not to be frightened by such threats as these. He
refused to deliver up the captive prince, or to withdraw from the
country, and both parties began to prepare again for war.

Spargapizes was intoxicated when he was taken, and was unconscious of
the calamity which had befallen him. When at length he awoke from his
stupor, and learned the full extent of his misfortune, and of the
indelible disgrace which he had incurred, he was overwhelmed with
astonishment, disappointment, and shame. The more he reflected upon
his condition, the more hopeless it seemed. Even if his life were to
be spared, and if he were to recover his liberty, he never could
recover his honor. The ignominy of such a defeat and such a captivity,
he knew well, must be indelible.

He begged Cyrus to loosen his bonds and allow him personal liberty
within the camp. Cyrus, pitying, perhaps, his misfortunes, and the
deep dejection and distress which they occasioned, acceded to this
request. Spargapizes watched an opportunity to seize a weapon when he
was not observed by his guards, and killed himself.

His mother Tomyris, when she heard of his fate, was frantic with grief
and rage. She considered Cyrus as the wanton destroyer of the peace of
her kingdom and the murderer of her son, and she had now no longer any
reason for restraining her thirst for revenge. She immediately began
to concentrate her forces, and to summon all the additional troops
that she could obtain from every part of her kingdom. Cyrus, too,
began in earnest to strengthen his lines, and to prepare for the great
final struggle.

At length the armies approached each other, and the battle began. The
attack was commenced by the archers on either side, who shot showers
of arrows at their opponents as they were advancing. When the arrows
were spent, the men fought hand to hand, with spears, and javelins,
and swords. The Persians fought desperately, for they fought for their
lives. They were in the heart of an enemy's country, with a broad
river behind them to cut off their retreat, and they were contending
with a wild and savage foe, whose natural barbarity was rendered still
more ferocious and terrible than ever by the exasperation which they
felt, in sympathy with their injured queen. For a long time it was
wholly uncertain which side would win the day. The advantage, here and
there along the lines, was in some places on one side, and in some
places on the other; but, though overpowered and beaten, the several
bands, whether of Persians or Scythians, would neither retreat
nor surrender, but the survivors, when their comrades had fallen,
continued to fight on till they were all slain. It was evident, at
last, that the Scythians were gaining the day. When night came on, the
Persian army was found to be almost wholly destroyed; the remnant
dispersed. When all was over, the Scythians, in exploring the field,
found the dead body of Cyrus among the other ghastly and mutilated
remains which covered the ground. They took it up with a ferocious and
exulting joy, and carried it to Tomyris.

Tomyris treated it with every possible indignity. She cut and
mutilated the lifeless form; as if it could still feel the injuries
inflicted by her insane revenge. "Miserable wretch!" said she; "though
I am in the end your conqueror, you have ruined my peace and happiness
forever. You have murdered my son. But I promised you your fill of
blood, and you shall have it." So saying, she filled a can with
Persian blood, obtained, probably, by the execution of her captives,
and, cutting off the head of her victim from the body, she plunged it
in, exclaiming, "Drink there, insatiable monster, till your murderous
thirst is satisfied."

This was the end of Cyrus. Cambyses, his son, whom he had appointed
regent during his absence, succeeded quietly to the government of his
vast dominions.

In reflecting on this melancholy termination of this great conqueror's
history, our minds naturally revert to the scenes of his childhood,
and we wonder that so amiable, and gentle, and generous a boy should
become so selfish, and unfeeling, and overbearing as a man. But such
are the natural and inevitable effects of ambition and an inordinate
love of power. The history of a conqueror is always a tragical and
melancholy tale. He begins life with an exhibition of great and noble
qualities, which awaken in us, who read his history, the same
admiration that was felt for him, personally, by his friends and
countrymen while he lived, and on which the vast ascendency which he
acquired over the minds of his fellow-men, and which led to his power
and fame, was, in a great measure, founded. On the other hand, he ends
life neglected, hated, and abhorred. His ambition has been gratified,
but the gratification has brought with it no substantial peace or
happiness; on the contrary, it has filled his soul with uneasiness,
discontent, suspiciousness, and misery. The histories of heroes would
be far less painful in the perusal if we could reverse this moral
change of character, so as to have the cruelty, the selfishness, and
the oppression exhaust themselves in the comparatively unimportant
transactions of early life, and the spirit of kindness, generosity,
and beneficence blessing and beautifying its close. To be generous,
disinterested, and noble, seems to be necessary as the precursor of
great military success; and to be hard-hearted, selfish, and cruel is
the almost inevitable consequence of it. The exceptions to this rule,
though some of them are very splendid, are yet very few.

                         THE END.


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