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- An Egyptian Princess, Volume 9. - 5/9 -
board Syloson's boat. After an hour's sail they reached a beautifully- built and fast-sailing vessel, the Hygieia, which belonged to Kallias.
He was waiting for them on board his trireme. The leave-taking between himself and his young friends was especially affectionate. Bartja hung a heavy and costly gold chain round the neck of the old man in token of his gratitude, while Syloson, in remembrance of the dangers they had shared together, threw his purple cloak over Darius' shoulders. It was a master-specimen of Tynan dye, and had taken the latter's fancy. Darius accepted the gift with pleasure, and said, as he took leave: "You must never forget that I am indebted to you, my Greek friend, and as soon as possible give me an opportunity of doing you service in return."
"You ought to come to me first, though," exclaimed Zopyrus, embracing his deliverer. "I am perfectly ready to share my last gold piece with you; or what is more, if it would do you a service, to sit a whole week in that infernal hole from which you saved me. Ah! they're weighing anchor. Farewell, you brave Greek. Remember me to the flower-sisters, especially to the pretty, little Stephanion, and tell her her long-legged lover won't be able to plague her again for some time to come at least. And then, one more thing; take this purse of gold for the wife and children of that impertinent fellow, whom I struck too hard in the heat of the fray."
The anchors fell rattling on to the deck, the wind filled the sails, the Trieraules--[Flute-player to a trireme]--took his flute and set the measure of the monotonous Keleusma or rowing-song, which echoed again from the hold of the vessel. The beak of the ship bearing the statue of Hygieia, carved in wood, began to move. Bartja and Sappho stood at the helm and gazed towards Naukratis, until the shores of the Nile vanished and the green waves of the Hellenic sea splashed their foam over the deck of the trireme.
Our young bride and bridegroom had not travelled farther than Ephesus, when the news reached them that Amasis was dead. From Ephesus they went to Babylon, and thence to Pasargadae, which Kassandane, Atossa and Croesus had made their temporary residence. Kassandane was to accompany the army to Egypt, and wished, now that Nebenchari had restored her sight, to see the monument which had lately been built to her great husband's memory after Croesus' design, before leaving for so long a journey. She rejoiced in finding it worthy of the great Cyrus, and spent hours every day in the beautiful gardens which had been laid out round the mausoleum.
It consisted of a gigantic sarcophagus made of solid marble blocks, and resting like a house on a substructure composed of six high marble steps. The interior was fitted up like a room, and contained, beside the golden coffin in which were preserved such few remains of Cyrus as had been spared by the dogs, vultures, and elements, a silver bed and a table of the same metal, on which were golden drinking-cups and numerous garments ornamented with the rarest and most costly jewels.
The building was forty feet high. The shady paradises--[Persian pleasure-gardens]--and colonnades by which it was surrounded had been planned by Croesus, and in the midst of the sacred grove was a dwelling- house for the Magi appointed to watch over the tomb.
The palace of Cyrus could be seen in the distance--a palace in which he had appointed that the future kings of Persia should pass at least some months of every year. It was a splendid building in the style of a fortress, and so inaccessibly placed that it had been fixed on as the royal treasure-house.
Here, in the fresh mountain air of a place dedicated to the memory of the husband she had loved so much, Kassandane felt well and at peace; she was glad too to see that Atossa was recovering the old cheerfulness, which she had so sadly lost since the death of Nitetis and the departure of Darius. Sappho soon became the friend of her new mother and sister, and all three felt very loath to leave the lovely Pasargadm.
Darius and Zopyrus had remained with the army which was assembling in the plains of the Euphrates, and Bartja too had to return thither before the march began.
Cambyses went out to meet his family on their return; he was much impressed with Sappho's great beauty, but she confessed to her husband that his brother only inspired her with fear.
The king had altered very much in the last few months. His formerly pale and almost noble features were reddened and disfigured by the quantities of wine he was in the habit of drinking. In his dark eyes there was the old fire still, but dimmed and polluted. His hair and beard, formerly so luxuriant, and black as the raven's wing, hung down grey and disordered over his face and chin, and the proud smile which used so to improve his features had given way to an expression of contemptuous annoyance and harsh severity.
Sometimes he laughed,--loudly, immoderately and coarsely; but this was only when intoxicated, a condition which had long ceased to be unusual with him.
He continued to retain an aversion to his wives; so much so that the royal harem was to be left behind in Susa, though all his court took their favorite wives and concubines with them on the campaign. Still no one could complain that the king was ever guilty of injustice; indeed he insisted more eagerly now than before on the rigid execution of the law; and wherever he detected an abuse his punishments were cruel and inexorable. Hearing that a judge, named Sisamnes, had been bribed to pronounce an unjust sentence, he condemned the wretched man to be flayed, ordered the seat of justice to be covered with his skin, appointed the son to the father's vacant place and compelled him to occupy this fearful seat.--[Herodot. V. 25.]--Cambyses was untiring as commander of the forces, and superintended the drilling of the troops assembled near Babylon with the greatest rigor and circumspection.
The hosts were to march after the festival of the New Year, which Cambyses celebrated this time with immense expense and profusion. The ceremony over, he betook himself to the army. Bartja was there. He came up to his brother, beaming with joy, kissed the hem of his robe, and told him in a tone of triumph that he hoped to become a father. The king trembled as he heard the words, vouchsafed his brother no answer, drank himself into unconsciousness that evening, and the next morning called the soothsayers, Magi and Chaldaeans together, in order to submit a question to them. "Shall I be committing a sin against the gods, if I take my sister to wife and thus verify the promise of the dream, which ye formerly interpreted to mean that Atossa should bear a future king to this realm?"
The Magi consulted a short time together. Then Oropastes cast himself at the king's feet and said, "We do not believe, O King, that this marriage would be a sin against the gods; inasmuch as, first: it is a custom among the Persians to marry with their own kin; and secondly, though it be not written in the law that the pure man may marry his sister, it is written that the king may do what seemeth good in his own eyes. That which pleaseth thee is therefore always lawful."
Cambyses sent the Magi away with rich gifts, gave Oropastes full powers as regent of the kingdom in his absence, and soon after told his horrified mother that, as soon as the conquest of Egypt and the punishment of the son of Amasis should have been achieved, he intended to marry his sister Atossa.
At length the immense host, numbering more than 800,000 fighting men, departed in separate divisions, and reached the Syrian desert in two months. Here they were met by the Arabian tribes whom Phanes had propitiated--the Amalekites and Geshurites--bringing camels and horses laden with water for the host.
At Accho, in the land of the Canaanites, the fleets of the Syrians, Phoenicians and Ionians belonging to Persia, and the auxiliary ships from Cyprus and Samos, won by the efforts of Phanes, were assembled. The case of the Samian fleet was a remarkable one. Polykrates saw in Cambyses' proposal a favorable opportunity of getting rid of all the citizens who were discontented with his government, manned forty triremes with eight thousand malcontent Samians, and sent them to the Persians with the request that not one might be allowed to return home.--[Herod. III. 44.]
As soon as Phanes heard this he warned the doomed men, who at once, instead of sailing to join the Persian forces, returned to Samos and attempted to overthrow Polykrates. They were defeated, however, on land, and escaped to Sparta to ask help against the tyrant.
A full month before the time of the inundation, the Persian and Egyptian armies were standing face to face near Pelusium on the north-east coast of the Delta.
Phanes' arrangements had proved excellent. The Arabian tribes had kept faith so well that the journey through the desert, which would usually have cost thousands of lives, had been attended with very little loss, and the time of year had been so well chosen that the Persian troops reached Egypt by dry roads and without inconvenience.
The king met his Greek friend with every mark of distinction, and returned a friendly nod when Phanes said: "I hear that you have been less cheerful than usual since the death of your beautiful bride. A woman's grief passes in stormy and violent complaint, but the sterner character of a man cannot so soon be comforted. I know what you feel, for I have lost my dearest too. Let us both praise the gods for granting us the best remedy for our grief--war and revenge." Phanes accompanied the king to an inspection of the troops and to the evening revel. It was marvellous to see the influence he exercised over this fierce spirit, and how calm--nay even cheerful--Cambyses became, when the Athenian was near.
The Egyptian army was by no means contemptible, even when compared with the immense Persian hosts. Its position was covered on the right by the walls of Pelusium, a frontier fortress designed by the Egyptian kings as a defence against incursions from the east. The Persians were assured by deserters that the Egyptian army numbered altogether nearly six hundred thousand men. Beside a great number of chariots of war, thirty thousand Karian and Ionian mercenaries, and the corps of the Mazai, two hundred and fifty thousand Kalasirians, one hundred and sixty thousand Hermotybians, twenty thousand horsemen, and auxiliary troops, amounting to more than fifty thousand, were assembled under Psamtik's banner; amongst these last the Libyan Maschawascha were remarkable for their military deeds, and the Ethiopians for their numerical superiority.
The infantry were divided into regiments and companies, under different standards, and variously equipped.
[In these and the descriptions immediately following, we have drawn our information, either from the drawings made from Egyptian monuments in Champollion, Wilkinson, Rosellini and Lepsius, or from the monuments themselves. There is a dagger in the Berlin Museum, the blade of which is of bronze, the hilt of ivory and the sheath of leather. Large swords are only to be seen in the hands of the
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