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- An Egyptian Princess, Volume 10. - 10/12 -
the crown on his head, declared the royal harem his own, and had shown himself once from a distance to the people, who were to recognize in him the murdered Bartja. After that time, however, for fear of being at last unmasked, he concealed himself in his palace, giving himself up, after the manner of Asiatic monarchs, to every kind of indulgence, while his brother held the sceptre with a firm hand, and conferred all the important offices of state on his friends and family.
No sooner did Oropastes feel firm ground under his feet, than he despatched the eunuch Ixabates to Egypt, to inform the army of the change of rulers that had taken place and persuade them to revolt in favor of Bartja, who he knew had been idolized by the Soldiers.
The messenger had been well chosen, fulfilled his mission with much skill, and had already won over a considerable part of the army for the new king, when he was taken prisoner by some Syrians, who brought him to Memphis in hopes of reward.
On arriving in the city of the Pyramids he was brought before the king, and promised impunity on condition of revealing the entire truth.
The messenger then confirmed the rumor, which had reached Egypt, that Bartja had ascended the throne of Cyrus and had been recognized by the greater part of the empire.
Cambyses started with terror at these tidings, as one who saw a dead man rise from his grave. He was by this time fully aware that Bartja had been murdered by Prexaspes at his own command, but in this moment he began to suspect that the envoy had deceived him and spared his brother's life. The thought had no sooner entered his mind than he uttered it, reproaching Prexaspes so bitterly with treachery, as to elicit from him a tremendous oath, that he had murdered and buried the unfortunate Bartja with his own hand.
Oropastes' messenger was next asked whether he had seen the new king himself. He answered that he had not, adding that the supposed brother of Cambyses had only once appeared in public, and had then shown himself to the people from a distance. On hearing this, Prexaspes saw through the whole web of trickery at once, reminded the king of the unhappy misunderstandings to which the marvellous likeness between Bartja and Gaumata had formerly given rise, and concluded by offering to stake his own life on the correctness of his supposition. The explanation pleased the king, and from that moment his diseased mind was possessed by one new idea to the exclusion of all others--the seizure and slaughter of the Magi.
The host was ordered to prepare for marching. Aryandes,--one of the Achaemenidae, was appointed satrap of Egypt, and the army started homeward without delay. Driven by this new delusion, the king took no rest by day or night, till at last his over-ridden and ill-used horse fell with him, and he was severely wounded in the fall by his own dagger.
After lying insensible for some days, he opened his eyes and asked first to see Araspes, then his mother, and lastly Atossa, although these three had set out on their journey home months before. From all he said it appeared that during the last four years, from the attack of fever until the present accident, he had been living in a kind of sleep. He seemed astonished and pained at hearing what had happened during these years. But of his brother's death he was fully aware. He knew that Prexaspes had killed him by his--the king's--orders and had told him that Bartja lay buried on the shores of the Red Sea.--During the night which followed this return to his senses it became clear to himself also, that his mind had been wandering for along time. Towards morning he fell into a deep sleep, and this so restored his strength, that on waking he called for Croesus and required an exact relation of the events that had passed during the last few years.
His old friend and adviser obeyed; he felt that Cambyses was still entrusted to his care, and in the hope, faint as it was, of bringing him back to the right way, he did not suppress one of the king's acts of violence in his relation.
His joy was therefore great at perceiving, that his words made a deep impression on the newly-awakened mind of the king. With tears in his eyes, and with the ashamed look of a child, he grieved over his wrong deeds and his madness, begged Croesus to forgive him, thanked him for having borne so long and faithfully with him, and commissioned him to ask Kassandane and Sappho especially for forgiveness, but also, Atossa and all whom he had unjustly offended.
The old man wept too, but his tears were tears of joy and he repeatedly assured Cambyses that he would recover and have ample opportunity of making amends for the past. But to all this Cambyses shook his head resolutely, and, pale and wan as he looked, begged Croesus to have his couch carried on to a rising ground in the open air, and then to summon the Achaemenidae. When these orders, in spite of the physicians, had been obeyed, Cambyses was raised into an upright sitting position, and began, in a voice which could be heard at a considerable distance:
"The time to reveal my great secret has arrived, O ye Persians. Deceived by a vision, provoked and annoyed by my brother, I caused him to be murdered in my wrath. Prexaspes wrought the evil deed by my command, but instead of bringing me the peace I yearned for, that deed has tortured me into madness and death. By this my confession ye will be convinced, that my brother Bartja is really dead. The Magi have usurped the throne of the Achaemenidae. Oropastes, whom I left in Persia as my vicegerent and his brother Gaumata, who resembles Bartja so nearly that even Croesus, Intaphernes and my uncle, the noble Hystaspes, were once deceived by the likeness, have placed themselves at their head. Woe is me, that I have murdered him who, as my nearest kinsman, should have avenged on the Magi this affront to my honor. But I cannot recall him from the dead, and I therefore appoint you the executors of my last will. By the Feruer of my dead father, and in the name of all good and pure spirits, I conjure you not to suffer the government to fall into the hands of the unfaithful Magi. If they have obtained possession thereof by artifice, wrest it from their hands in like manner; if by force, use force to win it back. Obey this my last will, and the earth will yield you its fruits abundantly; your wives, your flocks and herds shall be blessed and freedom shall be your portion. Refuse to obey it, and ye shall suffer the corresponding evils; yea, your end, and that of every Persian shall be even as mine."
After these words the king wept and sank back fainting, on seeing which, the Achaemenidae rent their clothes and burst into loud lamentations. A few hours later Cambyses died in Croesus' arms. Nitetis was his last thought; he died with her name on his lips and tears of penitence in his eyes. When the Persians had left the unclean corpse, Croesus knelt down beside it and cried, raising his hand to heaven: "Great Cyrus, I have kept my oath. I have remained this miserable man's faithful adviser even unto his end."
The next morning the old man betook himself, accompanied by his son Gyges, to the town of Barene, which belonged to him, and lived there many years as a father to his subjects, revered by Darius and praised by all his contemporaries.
After Cambyses' death the heads of the seven Persian tribes held a council, and resolved, as a first measure, on obtaining certain information as to the person of the usurper. With this view, Otanes sent a confidential eunuch to his daughter Phaedime, who, as they knew, had come into the possession of the new king with the rest of Cambyses' harem.
[The names of the seven conspiring chiefs, given by Herodotus agree for the most part with those in the cuneiform inscriptions. The names are: Otanes, Intaphernes, Gobryas, Megabyzus, Aspatines, Hydarnes and Darius Hystaspis. In the inscription Otana: Vindafrand, Gaubaruva, Ardumams, Vidarna, Bagabukhsa and Darayavus.]
Before the messenger returned, the greater part of the army had dispersed, the soldiers seizing this favorable opportunity to return to their homes and families, after so many years of absence. At last, however, the long-expected messenger came back and brought for answer, that the new king had only visited Phaedime once, but that during that visit she had, at great personal risk, discovered that he had lost both ears. Without this discovery, however, she could assert positively that though there were a thousand points of similarity between the usurper and the murdered Bartja, the former was in reality none other than Gaumata, the brother of Oropastes. Her old friend Boges had resumed his office of chief of the eunuchs, and had revealed to her the secrets of the Magi. The high-priest had met the former keeper of the women begging in the streets of Susa, and had restored him to his old office with the words: "You have forfeited your life, but I want men of your stamp." In conclusion. Phaedime entreated her father to use every means in his power for the overthrow of the Magi, as they treated her with the greatest contempt and she was the most miserable of women.
Though none of the Achaemenidae hall really for a moment believed; that Bartja was alive and had seized on the throne, so clear an account of the real person of the usurper was very welcome to them, and they resolved at once to march on Nisaea with the remnant of the army and overthrow the Magi either by craft or force.
They entered the new capital unassailed, and finding that the majority of the people seemed content with the new government, they also pretended to acknowledge the king as the son of Cyrus, to whom they were prepared to do homage. The Magi, however, were not deceived; they shut themselves up in their palace, assembled an army in the Nisaean plain, promised the soldiers high pay, and used every effort to strengthen the belief of the people in Gaumata's disguise. On this point no one could do them more injury, or, if he chose, be more useful to them, than Prexaspes. He was much looked up to by the Persians, and his assurance, that he had not murdered Bartja, would have been sufficient to tame the fast-spreading report of the real way in which the youth had met his death. Oropastes, therefore, sent for Prexaspes, who, since the king's dying words, had been avoided by all the men of his own rank and had led the life of an outlaw, and promised him an immense sum of money, if he would ascend a high tower and declare to the people, assembled in the court beneath, that evil-disposed men had called him Bartja's murderer, whereas he had seen the new king with his own eyes and had recognized in him the younger son of his benefactor. Prexaspes made no objection to this proposal, took a tender leave of his family while the people were being assembled, uttered a short prayer before the sacred fire-altar and walked proudly to the palace. On his way thither he met the chiefs of the seven tribes and seeing that they avoided him, called out to them: "I am worthy of your contempt, but I will try to deserve your forgiveness."
Seeing Darius look back, he hastened towards him, grasped his hand and said: "I have loved you like a son; take care of my children when I am no more, and use your pinions, winged Darius." Then, with the same proud demeanor he ascended the tower.
Many thousands of the citizens of Nisaea were within reach of his voice, as he cried aloud: "Ye all know that the kings who have, up to the present time, loaded you with honor and glory, belonged to the house of the Achaemenidae. Cyrus governed you like a real father, Cambyses was a stern master, and Bartja would have guided you like a bridegroom, if I, with this right hand which I now show you, had not slain him on the
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