Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- An Egyptian Princess, Volume 8. - 5/11 -
taken captive. Amasis had meanwhile become blind, and allowed his miserable son to do what he liked; the wretch dared to . . ."
"Kill your only son?"
"You have said it."
"And your other child?"
"The girl is still in their hands."
"They will do her an injury when they hear . . ."
"Let her die. Better go to one's grave childless, than unrevenged."
"I understand. I cannot blame you any longer. The boy's blood must be revenged."
And so saying, the old man pressed the Athenian's right hand. The latter dried his tears, mastered his emotion, and cried: "Let us go to the council of war now. No one can be so thankful for Psamtik's infamous deeds as Cambyses. That man with his hasty passions was never made to be a prince of peace."
"And yet it seems to me the highest duty of a king is to work for the inner welfare of his kingdom. But human beings are strange creatures; they praise their butchers more than their benefactors. How many poems have been written on Achilles! but did any one ever dream of writing songs on the wise government of Pittakus?"
"More courage is required to shed blood, than to plant trees."
"But much more kindness and wisdom to heal wounds, than to make them.-- I have still one question which I should very much like to ask you, before we go into the hall. Will Bartja be able to stay at Naukratis when Amasis is aware of the king's intentions?"
"Certainly not. I have prepared him for this, and advised his assuming a disguise and a false name."
"Did he agree?"
"He seemed willing to follow my advice."
"But at all events it would be well to send a messenger to put him on his guard."
"We will ask the king's permission."
"Now we must go. I see the wagons containing the viands of the royal household just driving away from the kitchen."
"How many people are maintained from the king's table daily?"
"About fifteen thousand."
"Then the Persians may thank the gods, that their king only takes one meal a day."
[This immense royal household is said to have cost 400 talents, that is (L90,000.) daily. Athenaus, Deipn. p. 607.]
Six weeks after these events a little troop of horsemen might have been seen riding towards the gates of Sardis. The horses and their riders were covered with sweat and dust. The former knew that they were drawing near a town, where there would be stables and mangers, and exerted all their remaining powers; but yet their pace did not seem nearly fast enough to satisfy the impatience of two men, dressed in Persian costume, who rode at the head of the troop.
The well-kept royal road ran through fields of good black, arable land, planted with trees of many different kinds. It crossed the outlying spurs of the Tmolus range of mountains. At their foot stretched rows of olive, citron and plane-trees, plantations of mulberries and vines; at a higher level grew firs, cypresses and nut-tree copses. Fig-trees and date-palms, covered with fruit, stood sprinkled over the fields; and the woods and meadows were carpeted with brightly-colored and sweetly-scented flowers. The road led over ravines and brooks, now half dried up by the heat of summer, and here and there the traveller came upon a well at the side of the road, carefully enclosed, with seats for the weary, and sheltering shrubs. Oleanders bloomed in the more damp and shady places; slender palms waved wherever the sun was hottest. Over this rich landscape hung a deep blue, perfectly cloudless sky, bounded on its southern horizon by the snowy peaks of the Tmolus mountains, and on the west by the Sipylus range of hills, which gave a bluish shimmer in the distance.
The road went down into the valley, passing through a little wood of birches, the stems of which, up to the very tree-top, were twined with vines covered with bunches of grapes.
The horsemen stopped at a bend in the road, for there, before them, in the celebrated valley of the Hermus, lay the golden Sardis, formerly the capital of the Lydian kingdom and residence of its king, Croesus.
Above the reed-thatched roofs of its numerous houses rose a black, steep rock; the white marble buildings on its summit could be seen from a great distance. These buildings formed the citadel, round the threefold walls of which, many centuries before, King Meles had carried a lion in order to render them impregnable. On its southern side the citadel-rock was not so steep, and houses had been built upon it. Croesus' former palace lay to the north, on the golden-sanded Pactolus. This reddish-colored river flowed above the market-place, (which, to our admiring travellers, looked like a barren spot in the midst of a blooming meadow), ran on in a westerly direction, and then entered a narrow mountain valley, where it washed the walls of the temple of Cybele.
Large gardens stretched away towards the east, and in the midst of them lay the lake Gygaeus, covered with gay boats and snowy swans, and sparkling like a mirror.
A short distance from the lake were a great number of artificial mounds, three of which were especially noticeable from their size and height.
[See also Hamilton's Asia Minor, I. P. 145. Herodotus (I. 93.) calls the tombs of the Lydian kings the largest works of human hands, next to the Egyptian and Babylonian. These cone-shaped hills can be seen to this day, standing near the ruins of Sardis, not far from the lake of Gygaea. Hamilton (Asia Minor, I. p. i) counted some sixty of them, and could not ride round the hill of Alayattes in less than ten minutes. Prokesch saw l00 such tumuli. The largest, tomb of Alyattes, still measures 3400 feet in circumference, and the length of its slope is 650 feet. According to Prokesch, gigantic Phallus columns lie on some of these graves.]
"What can those strange-looking earth-heaps mean?" said Darius, the leader of the troop, to Prexaspes, Cambyses' envoy, who rode at his side.
"They are the graves of former Lydian kings," was the answer. "The middle one is in memory of the princely pair Panthea and Abradatas, and the largest, that one to the left, was erected to the father of Croesus, Alyattes. It was raised by the tradesmen, mechanics, and girls, to their late king, and on the five columns, which stand on its summit, you can read how much each of these classes contributed to the work. The girls were the most industrious. Gyges' grandfather is said to have been their especial friend."
"Then the grandson must have degenerated very much from the old stock."
"Yes, and that seems the more remarkable, because Croesus himself in his youth was by no means averse to women, and the Lydians generally are devoted to such pleasures. You see the white walls of that temple yonder in the midst of its sacred grove. That is the temple of the goddess of Sardis, Cybele or Ma, as they call her. In that grove there is many a sheltered spot where the young people of Sardis meet, as they say, in honor of their goddess."
"Just as in Babylon, at the festival of Mylitta."
"There is the same custom too on the coast of Cyprus. When I landed there on the way back from Egypt, I was met by a troop of lovely girls, who, with songs, dances, and the clang of cymbals, conducted me to the sacred grove of their goddess."
"Well, Zopyrus will not grumble at Bartja's illness."
"He will spend more of his time in the grove of Cybele, than at his patient's bedside. How glad I shall be to see that jolly fellow again!"
"Yes, he'll keep you from falling into those melancholy fits that you have been so subject to lately." "You are quite right to blame me for those fits, and I must not yield to them, but they are not without ground. Croesus says we only get low-spirited, when we are either too lazy or too weak to struggle against annoyances, and I believe he is right. But no one shall dare to accuse Darius of weakness or idleness. If I can't rule the world, at least I will be my own master." And as he said these words, the handsome youth drew himself up, and sat erect in his saddle. His companion gazed in wonder at him.
"Really, you son of Hystaspes," he said, "I believe you must be meant for something great. It was not by chance that, when you were still a mere child, the gods sent their favorite Cyrus that dream which induced him to order you into safe keeping."
"And yet my wings have never appeared."
"No bodily ones, certainly; but mental ones, likely enough. Young man, young man, you're on a dangerous road."
"Have winged creatures any need to be afraid of precipices?"
"Certainly; when their strength fails them."
"But I am strong."
"Stronger creatures than you will try to break your pinions."
"Let them. I want nothing but what is right, and shall trust to my star."
"Do you know its name?"
"It ruled in the hour of my birth, and its name is Anahita."
"I think I know better. A burning ambition is the sun, whose rays guide
Previous Page Next Page
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything