Page images
PDF
EPUB

cedæmonians; the basons undoubtedly were not.--Many other smaller presents accompanied these; among which were some silver dishes, and the figure of a woman in gold, three cubits high, who, according to the Delphians, was the person who made bread for the family of Cræsuso. This prince, besides all that we have enumerated, consecrated at Delphi his wife's necklaces and girdles.

. LII. To Amphiaraus, having heard of his valour and misfortunes, he sent a shield of solid gold, with a strong spear made entirely of gold, both shast and head. These were all, within my memory, preserved at Thebes, in the temple of the Ismenian Apollo.

LIII. The Lydians, who were intrusted with the care of these presents, were directed to enquire whether Cræsus might auspiciously undertake an expedition against the Persians, and whether he should procure any confederate assistance. On their arrival at the destined places, they deposited their presents, and made their enquiries of the oracles precisely in the following terms : “ Crosus, sovereign of Lydia, and of various nations, esteems these the only genuine oracles; in return for the sagacity which has marked your declarations, he sends these proofs of his liberality: he finally desires to know whether he may proceed against the Persians, and whether he should require the assistance of allies.” The answers of the oracles tended to the same purpose; both of them assuring Cresus, that if he prosecuted a war with Persia, he should overthrow a mighty enpire?"; and both recommended him to form an alliance with the most powerful states of Greece,

ther

70 Made bread for the family of Cræsus.]-Cræsus, says Plutarch, honoured the woman who made his bread, with a statue of gold, from an honest emotion of gratitude. Alyattes, the father of Cræsus, married a second wife, by whom he had other children. This woman wished to remove Cræsus out of the way, and gave the female baker a dose of poison, charging her to put it into the bread which she made for Cresus. The woman informed Cræsus of thiş, and gave the poisoned bread to the queen's children. By these means Çræsus succeeded his father; and acknowledged the fidelity of the woman, by. thus making the god himself an evidence of his gratitude.-T,

LIV. The report of these communications transported Croesus with excess of joy: elated with the idea of becoming the conqueror of Cyrus, he sent again to Delphi, enquired the number of inhabitants there, and presented each with two golden

staters.

71 Overthrow a mighty empire.]-It appears, that the very words of the oracle must have been here originally: they are preserved by Suidas and others, and are these:

Κροισος Αλυν διαβας μεγαλην αρχην καταλυσει: which Cicero rendersCræsus, Halym penetrans, magnam pervertet opum vim.

De Div. xi. 56. By crossing Halys, Cræsus will destroy a mighty power.-T.

*

staters In acknowledgment for his liberality, the Delphians assigned to Cræsus and the Lydians the privilege of first consulting the oracle, in preference to other nations; a distinguished seat in their temple; together with the immutable right, to such of them as pleased to accept it, of being enrolled among the citizens of Delphi.

power

LV. After the above-mentioned marks of his munificence to the Delphians, Croesus consulted their oracle a third time. His experience of its veracity increased the ardour of his curiosity; he was now anxious to be informed whether his would be perpetual. The following was the answer of the Pythian :

When o'er the Medes a mule shall sit on high, O’er pebbly Hermus?? then, soft Lydian, fly; Fly with all haste; for safety scorn thy fame, Nor scruple to deserve a coward's name.

LVI. When the above verses were communicated to Crosus, he was more delighted than ever; confident that a mule would never be sovereign of the Medes, and that consequently he could have nothing to fear for himself or his posterity. His first object was to discover which were the most powerful of the Grecian states, and to obtain their alliance. The Lacedæmonians of Doric, and the Athenians of Ionian origin, seemed to claim his distinguished preference. These nations, always eminent, were formerly known by the appellation of Pelasgians and Hellenians 73. The former had never changed their place of residence; the latter often. Under the reign of Deucalion, the Hellenians possessed the region of Phthiotis; but under Dorus the son of Hellenus, they inhabited the country called Istiæotis, which borders upon Ossa and Olympus. They were driven from hence by the Cadmæans, and fixed themselves in Macednum, near mount Pindus : migrating from thence to Dryopis, and afterwards to the Peloponnesus, they were known by the name of Dorians.

confident

* There was both a silver and a gold coin of this name: The silver weighed four Attic drachms, and was worth about three shillings and a penny. The gold Attic stater was equal to twenty drachms, or fifteen shillings and five pence.

72 O'er pebbly Hermus, &c.]--It bas been usually translated Fly to Hermus : but Trap Eppor certainly means trans: Hermum; and when said to a Lydian, implies, that he should desert his country.-T.

LVII. What language the Pelasgians used, I cannot positively affirm: some probable conclusion may perhaps be formed, by attending to the dialect of the remnant of the Pelasgians, who now inhabit Crestona 7+ beyond the Tyrrhenians*, but who formerly dwelt in the country now called Thessaliotis, and were neighbours to those whom we at present name Dorians. Considering these with the above, who founded the cities of Placia and Scylace on the Hellespont, but once lived near the Athenianst, together with the people of other Pelasgian towns who have since changed their names, it is upon the whole reasonable to affirm, that they formerly spoke a barbarous language. The Athenians, therefore, who were also of Pelasgian origin, must necessarily, when they came amongst the Hellenians, have learned their language. It is observable, that the inhabitants of Crestona and Placia speak in the same tongue, but are neither of them understood by the.

inhabit

73 Pelasgians and Hellenians.]- On this passage Mr. Bryant remarks, that the whole is exceedingly confused, and that by it one would imagine Herodotus excluded the Athenians from being Pelasgic. See Bryant's Mythology, vol. iii. p. 397.-T.

people

74 Crestona.] It appears that Count Caylus has confounded Crestona of Thrace with Crotona of Magna Grecia; but as he has adduced no argument in proof of his opinion, I do not consider it of any importance.-Larcher.

* Major Rennel thinks that this may be a mistake, and that it should be read Thermæans.-See his work on Herodotus, p. 45.

“ It may be suspected that Tyrrhenian is a mistake, and that Thermæon should be substituted for it, as Therma, afterwards Thessalonia, agrees to the situation. Therma and its gulf are mentioned in Polym. 121, 123, 124. We have heard of no Tyrrhenians but those of Italy."

† We are informed in the 6th book, c. 137, that the Athe. nians expelled them from their habitations, because they offered violence to the young women who went to draw water at the nine fountains.

« PreviousContinue »