Page images
PDF
EPUB

the stream. Thus the river Halys separates all the lower parts of Asia, from the sea which flows opposite to Cyprus, as far as the Euxine, a space over which an active man "03 could not travel in less than five days 14

LXXIII. Croesus continued to advance towards Cappadocia; he was desirous of adding the country to his dominions, but he was principally influenced by his confidence in the oracle, and his zeal for revenging on Cyrus, the cause of Astyages. Astyages was son of Cyaxares king of the Medes, and brother-in-law to Cresus; he was now vanquished, and detained in captivity by Cyrus, son of Cambyses. The affinity betwixt Cræsus and Astyages was of this nature: Some tumult having arisen among the Scythian Nomades, a number of them retired clandestinely

into

103 Active man, &c.]-The Greek is ev {wwą ardfo, literally, in English, a well-girt man, a man prepared for expedition. The expression is imitated by Horace:

Hoc iter ignavi divisimus-altius ac nos
Præcinctis unum.

T. 104 Five days.]-Scymnus of Chios, having remarked that the Euxine is a seven days journey distant from Cilicia, adduces the present passage as a proof of our historian's ignorance. Scymnus probably estimated the day's journey at 150 furlongs, which was sometimes done; whilst Herodotus makes it 200. This makes, between their two accounts, a difference of 50 furlongs; a difference too small to put any one out of temper with the historian.-Larcher.

into the territories of the Medes, where Cyaxáres son of Phraortes, and grandson of Deioces, was at that time king. He received the fugitives under his protection, and, after shewing them many

marks of his favour, he entrusted some boys to their care, to learn the language, and the Scythian management of the bow 105. These Scythians employed much of their time in hunting, in which they were generally, though not always, successful. Cyaxares, it seems, was of an irritable disposition, and meeting them one day, when they returned without any game, he treated them with much insolence and asperity. They conceived themselves injured, and determined not to acquiesce in the affront. After some consultation among themselves, they determined to kill one of the children entrusted to their care, to dress him as they were accustomed to do their game, and to serve him up to Cyaxares. Having done this, they resolved to fly to Sardis, where Alyattes, son of Sadyattes, was king. They executed their purpose. Cyaxares and his guests partook of the human flesh,

and

105 Scythian management of the bow.]—The Scythians bad the reputation of being excellent archers, "The scholiast of Theocritus informs us, that, according to Herodotus and Callimachus, Hercules learned the art of the bow from the Scythian Teutarus. Theocritus himself says, that Hercules learned this art from Eurytus, one of the Argonauts. The Athenians had Scythians amongst their troops, as had pro. bably the other Greeks.- Larcher,

and the Scythians immediately sought the protection of Alyattes.

106

LXXIV. Cyaxares demanded their persons ; on refusal of which a war commenced betwixt the Lydians and the Medes, which continued five years. It was attended with various success; and it is remarkable, that one of their engage: ments took place in the night

In the sixth year, and in the midst of an engagement, when neither side could reasonably claim superiority, the day was suddenly involved in darkness. This phenomenon, and the particular period at which it was to happen, had been foretold to the Ionians by Thales '07 the Milesian. Awed by the solemnity

of

106 Took place in the night.]—I am inclined to think that one event only is spoken of here by Herodotus; and that by * vxTopaguar Tiva he meant to express a kind of night-engage. ment, of which the subsequent sentence contains the particulars. Otherwise it seems strange, that he should mention the vuxiqua xoc as a remarkable occurrence, and noi give any particulars concerning it. The objections to this interpretation are, the connecting the sentence by de instead of yap and the following account, that they ceased to fight after the eclipse came on; but neither of these is insuperable. The interpretation of siva is perfectly fair, and not unusual. Astronomers have affirmed, from calculation, that this eclipse must have happened in the seventh year of Astyages, not in the reign of Cyaxares.

107 Foretold to the Ionians by Thales.]—Of Thales, the life is given by Diogenes Laertius; many particulars also concerning him are to be found in Plutarch, Pliny, Lactantius,

Apuleius,

of the event, the parties desisted from the engage-
ment, and it farther influenced them both to listen
to certain propositions for peace, which were made
by Syennesis of Cilicia, and Labynetus 108 of Ba-
bylon. To strengthen the treaty, these persons
also recommended a matrimonial connection.
They advised that Alyattes should give Aryenis his
daughter to Astyages, son of Cyaxares, from the
just conviction that no political engagements are
durable, unless strengthened by the closest of all
possible bonds 104,
The ceremony of concluding

alliances

Apuleius, and Cicero. He was the first of the seven wise mien, the first also who distinguished himself by his knowledge of astrology; add to which, he was the first who

predicted an eclipse. His most memorable saying was, that he was thankful to the gods for three things—That he was born a man, and not a beast; that he was born a man, and not a woman; that he was born a Greek, and not a Barbarian. The darkness in the Iliad, which surprizes the Greeks and Trojans in the midst of a severe battle, though represented as preternatural, and the immediate interposition of Jupiter himself, has not the effect of suspending the battle. This might, perhaps, afford matter of discussion, did not the description of the darkness, and the subsequent prayer of Ajax, from their beauty and sublimity, exclude all criticism.-T.

108 Labynetus.]--The same, says Prideaux, with the Nebuchadnezzar of Scripture. He was called, continues the same author, by Berosus, Nabonnedes; by Megasthenes, Nabonnidichus; by Josephus, Naboardelus.-T.

109. Strengthened by the closest of all possible bonds. It is not, perhaps, much to the credit of modern refinement, that

political

[ocr errors]

alliances is the same in this nation as in Greece, with this addition, that both parties wound themselves in the arm, and lick each other's blood".

LXXV. Astyages, therefore, was the grandfather of Cyrus, though at this time vanquished by him, and his captive, the particulars of which event I shall hereafter relate. This was what excited the original enmity of Cræsus, and prompted him to enquire of the oracle, whether he should make war upon Persia. He interpreted the delusive reply which was given him, in a manner the most favourable to himself, and proceeded in his concerted expedition. When he arrived at the river Halys, he passed over his forces on bridges, which he there found constructed; although the Greeks in general assert, that this service was rendered him by Thales the Milesian. Whilst Cræsus was hesitating over what part of the river he

should

political intermarriages, betwixt those of royal blood, seem anciently to have been considered as more solemn in themselves, and to have operated more effectually to the security of the public peace, than at present.-7.

110 Each other's blood.]-The Scythians, according to Herodotus, have a custom nearly similar. 6 If the Siamese wish to vow an eternal friendship, they make an incision in some part of the body, till the blood appears, which they afterwards reciprocally drink. In this manner the ancient Scythians and Babylonians ratified alliances; and almost all the modern nations of the East observe the same custom."-Civil and Natural History of Siam.

« PreviousContinue »