Imatges de pÓgina


sovereign thought fit'to ordain. Having thus replied, with a surprising temper, he collected the mangled parts of his innocent fon, and went home, as our author conjectures, to inter

them". Cyrus fent ASTYAGES, having thus vented his rage upon the unfortuback to his nate Harpagus, began to consider with himself what he should real pe- do with Cyrus'; ani, having again consulted the mages, their

answer was, that, if the boy lived, he must of neceffity be king. Aftyages then acquainted them, that he was still alive; adding, as a very material circumstance, that he had been chofen king by the boys of the neighbourhood where he lived, and performed all the parts of a real king with the utmost rigour and severity. Hereupon the mages replied, that the predi&tion of his reign was already accomplished, in the choice which the boys had made of him for their king, and that he would never reign a second time; for dreams, faid they, 'often end in things of small importance, and are fulfilled by trifling events. They advised him therefore to diveft himself of all fear, and send the boy to his parents in Perfias.

ASTYAGES, well pleased with this answer, called Cyrus; and, owning how much he had been wanting in the affection which he ought naturally to have had for him, by reafon of an insignificant dream, defired him to get ready for a journey into Persia, where he would find his real father and mother, in circumstances very different from those of the poor herdfinan Mithridates, and his wife Spacot.

Thus Aflzages, after many kind expressions, dismissed his young grandíon, attended by several lords of the first rank. Upon his arrival at his father's house, he was received by his parents with a tenderness and joy, which is more eafy to conceive, than express. As they had long given him over for dead, they asked him, in what manner his life had been preferved. He then acquainted them, that he had lived in an intire ignorance of his condition, and had been unacquainted with his true birth, believing himself the son of the king's herdsman, till those, who attended him on his journey into Persia, informed him of all that had passed. He related how he had been educated by the herdfman's wife, and, frequently repeating the name of Cyno, commended her on all occasions : and this name his parents made use of, as our author informs us, to persuade the Persians, that the preservation of their son was, in a very particular manner, owing to the immortal gods, since he had been nourished, as they industrioully spread abroad, and was commonly believed, by a bitch ". Herod. lib. i. c. 119.

s Idem ibid. c. 120.

i Idem ibid. c. 121. u Idem ibid. c. 122.


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When Cyrus attained to the age of manhood, and was be- Harpagus come very popular in his own country, and famous in Media, ftirs up a on account of his extraordinary parts, Harpagus, who had revolt never forgot the inhuman murder of his son, began to court against his friendship, with a design to join with him, who had been Altyages. equally injured, in revenging fo barbarous a treatment. At the fame time, he solicited the leading men among the Medes, who were highly dissatisfied with the tyrannical government of Altyages, to take up arms, and redeem themselves, and their unhappy country, from the calamities they groaned under, by deposing Astyages, and advancing his grandson Cyrus to the throne. They all to a man shewed themselves disposed to fecond his designs : whereupon he thought it high time to discover his intentions to Cyrus, who was to act the chief part in this revolution ; and accordingly he acquainted him with them by a letter, which, as all the roads leading to Persia were guarded by the king's troops, he conveyed to him in the belly of an hare; the hare he delivered to one of his most trusty domestics, dressed in the habit of an hunter, injoining him to defire Cyrus not to open the letter in the presence of any person whatsoever.

The messenger executed his orders; and Cyrus, opening Cyrus's the hare with his own hands, found a letter, reminding him fratagem of the care which the gods had had of his preservation against to cause the the wicked designs, and barbarous attempts, of his grandfa- Persians to ther

, and encouraging him to ftir up the Persians to a revolt, revolt, and, at the head of their forces, to invade Media, where all the chief commanders were ready to join him, and determined, at all events, to advance him to the throne, instead of his unnatural grandfather. He took care to put him in mind of what he had suffered on his account, and how barbarously he had been punished for not executing the king's bloody orders. Cyrus, having read the letter, began to confider what measures he should take, to induce the Per fans to revolt ; and, after various schemes, fixed upon the following as the most proper : he feigned a letter from Astyages, appointing him commander in chief of all the Persian forces. This he read in a general afsembly of the nation, and, in virtue of his new commission, commanded them all to attend him, every man with an hatchet. He was obeyed ; and, being all met,' in pursuance to his orders, he injoined them to clear, in one day, a spot of ground, containing eighteen or twenty furlongs, overgrown with thorns and briars. This laborious piece of work being performed, not without some reluctancy, he dismissed them, with orders to attend him again the next day. In the mean time, he caused all his father's flocks and herds to be killed and dressed, provided wine, and bought all the dainties Perfia could supply

him 4

him with. They all assembled the next day, expecting to be employed as they had been the day before; but, contrary to their expectations, Cyrus ordered them to sit down on the green turf, and entertained them with a great feast. When they had folaced themselves with dainties, which to that time they had been strangers to, the young prince asked them, whether they would chuse to live always in that manner, or as they had done the day before. They all answered readily, that, as mirth and pleasure were greatly preferable to toil and labour, they would gladly chuse the condition of the present day before that of the preceding. Upon this answer, Cyrus acquainted them, that, if they hearkened to his advice, they should enjoy these, and far greater pleasures, without any kind of servile labour: but, if they refused to follow him, they must undergo innumerable hardships, like those they had complained of the day before. He then disclosed to them his true design of delivering his country from the Median bondage, and encouraged his countrymen to join him in so great and glorious an enterprize, by telling them, that some divine power had brought him into the world, and miraculously saved his life

, that he might be one day the author of their happiness. The Persians, who had lived for many years, with the utmost reluctancy, in subjection to the Médes, declared him, with one accord, their leader, and protested, that they would stand by him in so good a cause, even at the expence of their lives W.

In the mean time Aftyages, being informed of what was

doing in Persia, dispatched a messenger to Cyrus, injoining Aftyages him to repair forthwith into Media ; but Cyrus, by the same defeated by messenger, returned this resolute answer, that he would come Cyrus. sooner than Astyages desired. Whereupon the king drew to

gether all his forces, and, forgetful of his cruelty towards Harpagùs, appointed him general of the army. The two nations came to a general engagement; but the chief officers among the Medes passing over to Cyrus, with the bodies under their command, the rest of the army was routed with great Naughter. When Astjages heard of this defeat, he flew into a

violent paffion ; and, vowing that Cyrus should not long enjoy His cruelty the pleasure of his victory, he first caused the mages, who to the ma- had interpreted his dream, to be impaled; and then, arming ges. all' the Medes, marched out himself at the head of them.

Both armies came to a second engagement, in which the Medes were again defeated, and the king himself taken prisoner

. Aslyages, in this state, was reproached and insulted by the revengeful Harpagus, who, among other things, asked him, what he now thought of his tragical feast, when he compelled

w HERODOT. 1. i. c. 123-127.

him to devour the Aesh of his own son, for which inhuman and barbarous action he had now fallen from the throne to a prison. Afyages, in return, fixing his eyes on Harpagus, asked him, whether he had been instrumental in bringing about this revolution. He answered, that it was chiefly owing to him, fince he had the first encouraged Cyrus to this undertaking. Then, replied Aftyages, you are the weakest and most unjuft Brave an of all men ; the weakest, in giving the kingdom to another, swer to the when you might have seized on it yourself, since you have insulting been able to effect this change; the moft unjust, in enslaving Harpayour country, to revenge a private injury; for, if you were gus. determined to depose me, and confer the kingdom on another, without taking the power into your own hands, you might, with more justice, have advanced a Mede to that dignity, than a Persian : whereas the Medes, who were before lords of Perfia, and no-way concerned in the injury, are now, by your means, reduced to the condition of flaves; and the Persians, who were servants to the Medes, are now become their lords. In this manner, concludes our author, Altyages was deprived of the kingdom, after he had reigned thirty-five years; and, through his cruelty, the Medes became subject to the Persians, after they had ruled over all those provinces of Afia, that lie on the other side the Halys, for the space of an hundred and twenty-eight years, including the time of the Scythian dominion over that part of Asia. As for Astyages, Cyrus kept him prisoner in his palace till he died, without practising any fur- His death, ther severity upon him *.

This is the account Herodotus gives us ; which every impartial and judicious reader must conclude to be an arrant romance, composed perhaps by some admirer of Cyrus, and adopted by our author, as more agreeable to the depraved taste of his countrymen, who took greater delight in surprising, though fabulous

, events, than in the relation of plain historical truths. What the same author relates of the death of this great hero

, deserves, in our opinion, no more credit than what he has told of his birth, education, and advancement to the crown. This prince, according to himy, invaded the Massagetes; and having, in the first battle, feigned a flight, left a great quantity of provisions, especially of wine, in the field. The barbarians did not fail to seize on the booty, and indulged themfelves in drinking to such an excess, that they all fell asleep on the spot. In this condition Cyrus returned upon them, obtained an easy victory, and took a great many prisoners, among whom was Spargapises the son of queen Tomyris

. This heroine, being informed of the defeat of her troops, and capti* HERODOT. 1. i. c. 127-130. .

y Idem ibid. c. 211–21.36; N


Vol. V.

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vity of her son, sent an herald to Cyrus, intreating him to release the young prince; which he refusing to do, Spargapises, preferring death to flavery, laid violent hands on himfelf: whereupon his mother Tomyris, animated with an eager defire of revenge, gave the Persians battle a second time; which, says our author, was the most obstinate and bloody that ever

was fought by the barbarians. Many fell on both sides ; but, Cyrus's

at laft, the Massagetes carrying the day, the greatest part of defeat and the Persian army was cut in pieces, and Cyrus himself killed death, ac

in the field, after having reigned twenty-nine years. Tomyris, cording to the fame having found his body among the Nain, caused his head to be author.

cut off, and thrown into a vessel filled with human blood, in-
fulting the memory of the dead prince with these words, Glut
thyself with the blood which thou haft so insatiably thirsted
after 2.

hat the fame historian relates of his childish revenge upon the river Gyndes (C), while he was on his march to befiege Babylon, is utterly repugnant to the idea we have of that wile and experienced commander: for he tells us, that one of the sacred horses of Cyrus being drowned in that river, that prince, highly resenting such an affront, immediately caused the Gyndes to be cut by his army into three hundred and fixty chanels; a work which employed his army the whole fummer, and obliged him to postpone the siege of Babylon to the spring ensuing. Who can imagine, that a commander of fo great experience, and such an extraordinary moderation, as Cyrus is, even by Herodotus himself, represented to have been, while he was marching to the conquest of Babylon, should so idly waste his time, and spend the ardour of his troops in such an unprofit

able piece of work ? Cyrus's We shall now give what we look upon as the true history hiftors, ac- of Cyrus, being extracted out of Xenophon, whom we choose cording to to follow in what concerns that great conqueror, and excellent Xeno prince, seeing his accounts are far inore agreeable to holy writ, phon, the standard of truth, than those of Herodotus. We are told, more con- for instance, in Scripture, that the Babylonians were reduced fonant

by the united forces of the Medes and Persians; and this is with the what we read in Xenophon : whereas Herodotus raises the Persacred

fian empire on the ruins of that of the Medes'; which is rewritings.

pugnant to Scripture. It is true, that moft of the antients have chosen to follow Herodotus rather than Xenophon : but that we can easily account for. The relations of the former are interwoven with events far more strange and surprising,

z Herod. 1. i. c, 14. (C) The river Gyndes rises on through Dardania, falls into the the hills of Matiene, and, palling Tigrisa


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