Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- An Egyptian Princess, Volume 1. - 10/11 -
the most celebrated physician of our day, whom you Samians will have known at the court of Polycrates, hastened to the spot, but no skill could now avail the happy Lysander,--he was dead.
"Milo was obliged to forego the victor's wreath"; and the fame of this youth will long continue to sound through the whole of Greece.
[By the laws of the games the wrestler, whose adversary died, had no right to the prize of victory.]
I myself would rather be the dead Lysander, son of Aristomachus, than the living Kallias growing old in inaction away from his country. Greece, represented by her best and bravest, carried the youth to his grave, and his statue is to be placed in the Altis by those of Milo of Crotona and Praxidamas of AEgina". At length the heralds proclaimed the sentence of the judges: 'To Sparta be awarded a victor's wreath for the dead, for the noble Lysander hath been vanquished, not by Milo, but by Death, and he who could go forth unconquered from a two hours' struggle with the strongest of all Greeks, hath well deserved the olive-branch.'"
Here Kallias stopped a moment in his narrative. During his animated description of these events, so precious to every Greek heart, he had forgotten his listeners, and, gazing into vacancy, had seen only the figures of the wrestlers as they rose before his remembrance. Now, on looking round, he perceived, to his astonishment, that the grey-haired man with the wooden leg, whom he had already noticed, though without recognizing him, had hidden his face in his hands and was weeping. Rhodopis was standing at his right hand. Phanes at his left, and the other guests were gazing at the Spartan, as if he had been the hero of Kallias's tale. In a moment the quick Athenian perceived that the aged man must stand in some very near relation to one or other of the victors at Olympia; but when he heard that he was Aristomachus-the father of that glorious pair of brothers, whose wondrous forms were constantly hovering before his eyes like visions sent down from the abodes of the gods, then he too gazed on the sobbing old man with mingled envy and admiration, and made no effort to restrain the tears which rushed into his own eyes, usually so clear and keen. In those days men wept, as well as women, hoping to gain relief from the balm of their own tears. In wrath, in ecstasy of delight, in every deep inward anguish, we find the mighty heroes weeping, while, on the other hand, the Spartan boys would submit to be scourged at the altar of Artemis Orthia, and would bleed and even die under the lash without uttering a moan, in order to obtain the praise of the men.
For a time every one remained silent, out of respect to the old man's emotion. But at last the stillness was broken by Joshua the Jew, who began thus, in broken Greek:
"Weep thy fill, O man of Sparta! I also have known what it is to lose a son. Eleven years have passed since I buried him in the land of strangers, by the waters of Babylon, where my people pined in captivity. Had yet one year been added unto the life of the beautiful child, he had died in his own land, and had been buried in the sepulchres of his fathers. But Cyrus the Persian (Jehovah bless his posterity!) released us from bondage one year too late, and therefore do I weep doubly for this my son, in that he is buried among the enemies of my people Israel. Can there be an evil greater than to behold our children, who are unto us as most precious treasure, go down into the grave before us? And, may the Lord be gracious unto me, to lose so noble a son, in the dawn of his early manhood, just at the moment he had won such brilliant renown, must indeed be a bitter grief, a grief beyond all others!"
Then the Spartan took away his hands from before his face; he was looking stern, but smiled through his tears, and answered:
"Phoenician, you err! I weep not for anguish, but for joy, and would have gladly lost my other son, if he could have died like my Lysander."
The Jew, horrified at these, to him, sinful and unnatural words, shook his head disapprovingly; but the Greeks overwhelmed the old man with congratulations, deeming him much to be envied. His great happiness made Aristomachus look younger by many years, and he cried to Rhodopis: "Truly, my friend, your house is for me a house of blessing; for this is the second gift that the gods have allowed to fall to my lot, since I entered it."--"What was the first?" asked Rhodopis. "A propitious oracle."--"But," cried Phanes, "you have forgotten the third; on this day the gods have blessed you with the acquaintance of Rhodopis. But, tell me, what is this about the oracle?"--"May I repeat it to our friends?" asked the Delphian.
Aristomachus nodded assent, and Phryxus read aloud a second time the answer of the Pythia:
"If once the warrior hosts from the snow-topped mountains descending Come to the fields of the stream watering richly the plain, Then shall the lingering boat to the beckoning meadows convey thee Which to the wandering foot peace and a home will afford. When those warriors come from the snow-topped mountains descending Then will the powerful Five grant thee what they long refused."
Scarcely was the last word out of his mouth, when Kallias the Athenian, springing up, cried: "In this house, too, you shall receive from me the fourth gift of the gods. Know that I have kept my rarest news till last: the Persians are coming to Egypt!"
At this every one, except the Sybarite, rushed to his feet, and Kallias found it almost impossible to answer their numerous questions. "Gently, gently, friends," he cried at last; "let me tell my story in order, or I shall never finish it at all. It is not an army, as Phanes supposes, that is on its way hither, but a great embassy from Cambyses, the present ruler of the most powerful kingdom of Persia. At Samos I heard that they had already reached Miletus, and in a few days they will be here. Some of the king's own relations, are among the number, the aged Croesus, king of Lydia, too; we shall behold a marvellous splendor and magnificence! Nobody knows the object of their coming, but it is supposed that King Cambyses wishes to conclude an alliance with Amasis; indeed some say the king solicits the hand of Pharaoh's daughter."
"An alliance?" asked Phanes, with an incredulous shrug of the shoulders. "Why the Persians are rulers over half the world already. All the great Asiatic powers have submitted to their sceptre; Egypt and our own mother- country, Hellas, are the only two that have been shared by the conqueror."
"You forget India with its wealth of gold, and the great migratory nations of Asia," answered Kallias. "And you forget moreover, that an empire, composed like Persia of some seventy nations or tribes of different languages and customs, bears the seeds of discord ever within itself, and must therefore guard against the chance of foreign attack; lest, while the bulk of the army be absent, single provinces should seize the opportunity and revolt from their allegiance. Ask the Milesians how long they would remain quiet if they heard that their oppressors had been defeated in any battle?"
Theopompus, the Milesian merchant, called out, laughing at the same time: "If the Persians were to be worsted in one war, they would at once be involved in a hundred others, and we should not be the last to rise up against our tyrants in the hour of their weakness!"
"Whatever the intentions of the envoys may be," continued Kallias, "my information remains unaltered; they will be here at the latest in three days."
"And so your oracle will be fulfilled, fortunate Aristomachus!" exclaimed Rhodopis, "for see, the warrior hosts can only be the Persians. When they descend to the shores of the Nile, then the powerful Five,' your Ephori, will change their decision, and you, the father of two Olympian victors, will be recalled to your native land.
[The five Ephori of Sparta were appointed to represent the absent kings during the Messenian war. In later days the nobles made use of the Ephori as a power, which, springing immediately from their own body, they could oppose to the kingly authority. Being the highest magistrates in all judicial and educational matters, and in everything relating to the moral police of the country, the Ephori soon found means to assert their superiority, and on most occasions over that of the kings themselves. Every patrician who was past the age of thirty, had the right to become a candidate yearly for the office. Aristot. Potit, II. and IV. Laert. Diog. I. 68.]
"Fill the goblets again, Knakias. Let us devote this last cup to the manes of the glorious Lysander; and then I advise you to depart, for it is long past midnight, and our pleasure has reached its highest point. The true host puts an end to the banquet when his guests are feeling at their best. Serene and agreeable recollections will soon bring you hither again; whereas there would be little joy in returning to a house where the remembrance of hours of weakness, the result of pleasure, would mingle with your future enjoyment." In this her guests agreed, and Ibykus named her a thorough disciple of Pythagoras, in praise of the joyous, festive evening.
Every one prepared for departure. The Sybarite, who had been drinking deeply in order to counteract the very inconvenient amount of feeling excited by the conversation, rose also, assisted by his slaves, who had to be called in for this purpose.
While he was being moved from his former comfortable position, he stammered something about a "breach of hospitality;" but, when Rhodopis was about to give him her hand at parting, the wine gained the ascendancy and he exclaimed, "By Hercules, Rhodopis, you get rid of us as if we were troublesome creditors. It is not my custom to leave a supper so long as I can stand, still less to be turned out of doors like a miserable parasite!"
"Hear reason, you immoderate Sybarite," began Rhodopis, endeavoring with a smile to excuse her proceeding. But these words, in Philoinus' half- intoxicated mood, only increased his irritation; he burst into a mocking laugh, and staggering towards the door, shouted: "Immoderate Sybarite, you call me? good! here you have your answer: Shameless slave! one can still perceive the traces of what you were in your youth. Farewell then, slave of Iadmon and Xanthus, freedwoman of Charaxus!" He had not however finished his sentence, when Aristomachus rushed upon him, stunned him with a blow of his fist, and carried him off like a child down to the boat in which his slaves were waiting at the garden-gate.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Did the ancients know anything of love Folly to fret over what cannot be undone Go down into the grave before us (Our children) He who kills a cat is punished (for murder) In those days men wept, as well as women Lovers delighted in nature then as now Multitude who, like the gnats, fly towards every thing brilliant Olympics--The first was fixed 776 B.C. Papyrus Ebers Pious axioms to be repeated by the physician, while compounding
Previous Page Next Page
1 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything