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to be himself the witness of his death, threatening him with the severest punishment in case of dis-obedience. When he had fulfilled his commission, and the child was dead, I sent some of the most confidential of my, eunuchs to witness the fact, and to bury the body. This, Sir, is the real truth, and the child was thus destroyed.”
CXVIII. Harpagus related the fact without prevarication; but Astyages, dissembling the anger which he really felt, informed him of the confession of the herdsman; and finished his narration in these words, “ The child is alive, and all is well: I was much afflicted concerning the fate of the boy, and but ill could bear the reproaches of my daughter. But as the matter has turned out well, you must send your son to our young stranger, and attend me yourself at supper. I have determined, in gratitude for the child's preservation, to celebrate a festival in honour of those deities who interposed to saye him.”.
CXIX. Harpagus, on hearing this, made his obeisance to the king, and returned chearfully to his house, happy in the reflection that he was not only.not punished for his disobedience, but honoured by an invitation to the royal festival. As soon as he arrived at his house, he hastily called for his only son, a boy of about thirteen, ordering him to hasten to the palace of Astyages, and to
comply with whatever was commanded him. He then related to his wife, with much exultation, all that had happened. As soon as the boy arrived, Astyages commanded him to be cut in pieces, and some part of his flesh to be roasted, another part boiled, and the whole made ready to be served at table. At the hour of supper, among other guests, Harpagus also attended. Before the rest, as well as before Astyages himself, dishes of mutton were placed, but to Harpagus all the body of his son was served, except the head and the extremities, which were kept apart in a covered basket. After he seemed well satisfied with what he had eaten, Astyages asked him how he liked his fare: Harpagus expressing himself greatly delighted, the attendants brought him the basket which contained the head and extremities of his child, and desired him to help himself to what lie thought proper. Harpagus complied, uncovered the vessel, and beheld the remains of his son 156. He continued, however, master of himself, and discovered no unusual emotion. When Astyages enquired if he knew of what flesh and of what
155 The remains of his son.]--A similar example of revenge occurs in Titus Andronicus.
Titus. Why, there they are, both baked in that pie, Whereof their mother daintily hath fed;
Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred.-T. For other instances of similar barbarity, see H. Stevens's Apology for Herodotus, chap. 19, de la Cruauté de nostre Siecle.-T.
wild beast he had eaten, he acknowledged that he did, and that the king's will was always pleasing to him?7. Saying this, he took the remnants of the body, and returned to his house, meaning, as I should suppose, to bury them together.
· CXX. Astyages thus revenged himself upon Harpagus; but deliberating about the destiny of Cyrus, he sent for the magi who had before interpreted his dreams. On their appearance, he requested to know their sentiments of the vision he had formerly explained to them. They persevered in their former declaration, that if the boy survived he would infallibly be king. “ The boy is alive and well,” returned Astyages : “ the children of the village where he lived elected him their king, and he has actually performed all the essential duties of the regal office. He appointed his guards, his messengers, and different attendants, and in all respects exercised kingly authority: concerning this, what do you determine ?”
*57 Pleasing to him.]—This reply of Harpagus, worthy of a servile courtier, brings to mind one of an English nobleman no less despicable. Edgar, king of England, having killed Ethelwold, in the forest of Harewood, the son of that nobleman arrived soon afterwards on the spot; the king, shewing him the body of his father, asked him, how he found the game? The young man replied with perfect indifference, “ That whatever was agreeable to the prince, could not possibly displease him." The above anecdote is related by Larcher from William of Malmesbury,
“ If,” answered the magi, “ the boy really survives, and has reigned as a monarch, in the accidental manner you describe, rely upon this, and dissipate your fears; depend upon it he will reign no more: things of trifling moment frequently accomplish what we seriously foretel, and dreams in particular will often prove of little or no importance.” “I confess,” replied Astyages, “ that I am of the same opinion; the boy having been nominally a king, has fulfilled the purport of my dream, and I need alarm myself no more about him. Do not you, however, remit your assiduity, but consult both for my security and your own.” “ Sir,” answered the magi, “it is of particular importance to us, that your authority should continue, it might otherwise descend to this boy, who is a Persian; in that case we, who are Medes, shall be reduced to servitude; the Persians would despise us as foreigners; but whilst you, who are our countryman, reign over us, we enjoy some degree of authority ourselves, independent of the honours we receive from you. For these reasons we are particularly bound to consult for your safety, and the permanence of your power. If any thing excited our apprehensions of the future, we would certainly disclose it: but as your dream has had this trifling termination, we feel great confidence ourselves, and recommend you to send the child from your presence to his parents in Persia.”
CXXI. On hearing this, Astyages was rejoiced; and sending for Cyrus, “ My child,” said he, “I was formerly induced, by the imperfect representation of a dream, to treat you cruelly, but your better genius preserved you. Go, therefore, in peace to Persia, whither I shall send proper persons to conduct you; there you will see your parents, who are of a very different rank from the herdsman Mitridates and his wife.” .
CXXII. Astyages having thus spoken, sent Cyrus away; on his being restored to the house of his parents, they, who had long since thought him dead, received him with tenderness and transport. They enquired by what means he had been preserved; he told them in reply, that he was entirely ignorant of his birth, and had been involved in much perplexity, but that every thing had been explained to him on his journey to them. He had really believed himself the son of the · herdsman of Astyages, before his conductors explained to him the particulars of his fortune. He related with what tenderness he had been brought up by the wife of the herdsman, whose name, Cyno, he often repeated with the warmest praise. The circumstance of her name his parents laid hold of to persuade the Persians that Providence had, in a particular manner, interposed to save Cyrus, who, when exposed, had been preserved