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pile 2}, with *fourteen Lydian youths around him. He did this, either desirous of offering to some deity the first fruits of his victory, in compliance with a vow which he had made; or, perhaps, anxious to know whether any deity would liberate Cræsus, of whose piety he had heard much, from the danger of being consumed by fire. When Cræsus stood erect upon the pile, although in this extremity of misery, he did not forget the saying of Solon, which now appeared of divine inspiration, that no living mortal could be accounted happy. When the remembrance of this saying occurred to Crosus, it is said, that rousing himself from the profoundest silence of affliction, he thrice pronounced aloud the name of Solon 124. Cyrus hearing this, desired by his interpreters to
123 An huge wooden pile.]— The cruelty of this conduct of Cyrus is aggravated from the consideration that Cræsus was his relation. See chap. 73.-T.
* Fourteen Lydian youths.]—Achilles, in the Iliad, sacrifices twelve Trojan youths at the funeral pile of Patroclus.
And twelve sud victims of the Trojan line
Their lives effus'd around thy funeral pyre.
Then last of all, and horrible to tell,
Sad sacrifice, twelve Trojan captives fell. The reader will, doubtless, agree with me, that the word sad is in both these places very ill and feebly applied by Pope in his version. The expression of Homer is, agnac TEXVQ,— Illustrious youths or sons. .
124 The name of Solon.]—It seems in this place not improper to introduce from Plutarch the following particulars, with respect to Cræsus and Solon. That Solon, says Plu
know who it was that he invoked. They approached, and asked him, but he continued silent. At length, being compelled to explain himself, he said, “I named a man with whom I had rather that all kings should converse, than be master of the greatest riches.” Not being sufficientlyi understood, he was solicited to be more explicit; to their repeated and importunate enquiries, he replied to this effect: That Solon, an Athenian, had formerly visited him, a man who, when he had seen all his immense riches, treated them with disdain ; whose sayings were at that moment verified in his fate; sayings which he had applied not to him in particular, but to all mankind, and especially to those who were in their own esti
tarch, should converse with Cresus, seems to some not consistent with chronology; but I cannot for this reason reject a relation so credible in itself, and so well attested. Plutarch, after this remark, proceeds to give an account of the conversation betwixt Cræsus and Solon, nearly in the same words with Herodotus: “ The felicity of that man,” concludes the philosopher, to the king, “ who still lives, is like the glory of a wrestler still within the ring, precarious and uncertain.” He was then disinissed, having vexed, but not instructed Cræsus. But when Cræsus was conquered by Cyrus, his city taken, and himself a prisoner, he was bound, and about to be burned on a pile; then he remembered the words of Solon, and three times pronounced his name. The explanation given at the request of Cyrus, preserved the life of Cresus, and obtained him respect and honour with his conqueror. Thus Solon had the glory, by the same saying, to instruct one prince and preserve another.—Plutarch's Life of Solon,
mation happy. While Crosus was thus speaking the pile was lighted, and the flame began to ascend. Cyrus being informed of what had passed, felt compunction for what he had done * His heart reproached him, that being himself a mortal, he had condemned to a cruel death by fire, a man formerly not inferior to himself. He feared the anger of the gods, and reflecting that all human affairs are precarious and uncertain, he commanded the fire to be instantly extinguished, and Croesus to be saved with his companions. They could not, however, with all their efforts, extinguish the flames.
* Dryden has made an admirable use of this pathetic emotion, in his Ode on Cecilia’s Day:
The master saw the madness rise ;
He chose a mournful muse,
Soft pity to infuse;
Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
And weltering in his blood;
With not a friend to close his eyes;
Revolving in his altered soul,
And now and then a sigh he stole,
LXXXVII. In this extremity, the Lydians affirm, that Crosus, informed of the change of the king's sentiments in his favour, by seeing the officious but seemingly useless efforts of the multitude to extinguish the flames, implored the assistance of Apollo, entreating, that if he had ever made him any acceptable offering "as, he would now interpose, and deliver him from the impending danger. When Cresus, with tears, had thus invoked the god, the sky, which before was serene and tranquil, suddenly became dark and gloomy, a violent storm of rain succeeded, and the fire of the pile was extinguished. This event satisfied Cyrus, that Cresus was both a good man in himself, and a favourite of Heaven: causing him to be taken down from the pile, “ Cræsus," said he, addressing him, “ what could induce you to invade my territories, and become my enemy rather than my friend?” “ O king,” replied Crosus, “it was the prevalence of your good and of my evil fortune, which prompted my attempt. I attacked your dominions, impelled and deluded by
125 Ever made him any acceptable offering.]-Larcher is of opinion, that in this passage Herodotus must have had in his eye the following lines of Homer:
Thou source of light; whom Tenedos adores,
God of the silver bow, &c.— Iliad, Book i. v. 55*. * The fate of Cræsus contradicts the old Greek proverb, that even the gods might be won by gifts--meidem. dupee xj Dres, dogos.--Eurip. .
the deity of the Greeks. No one can be so infatuated as not to prefer tranquillity to war. In peace, children inter their parents; war violates the order of nature, and causes parents to inter their children *. It must have pleased the gods that these things should so happen."
LXXXVIII. Cyrus immediately ordered him to be unbound, placed him near his person, and
* See the pathetic scene in Shakspeare's King Henry VI. the 3d part, where the son is represerited as killing his father, and the father his son, in the broils between the houses of York and Lancaster.
O God! it is my father's face,
I who at his hands received my life, .
Is this our foeman's face?
And hath bereft thee of thy life too late !.* * In the dungeon among the captives of Pride, Spenser introduces Cræsus;
There was that great proud King of Babylon
And him as onely god to call upon,
Into an oxe he was transformed of yore.
His heart too high, through his great riches store, . And proud Antiochus, the which advanc'd His cursed hand’gainst God, and on bis altars daunc'da