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“ throw thee headlong into the sea.". « At the same time he ordered his labourers to be whipt, in order to make them carry on the work the faster.
6 A traveller who lived in the time of Francis the First, and who wrote a book in Latin concerning the singular and remarkable things he had seen in his travels, doubts the truth of this fact; and takes notice, that as he passed near Mount Athos, he could perceive no traces or footsteps of the work we have been speaking of.
c Xerxes, as we have already related, advanced towards Sardis. Having left Cappadocia, and passed the river Halys, he came to Celene, a city of Phrygia, near which is the source of the Mæander. Pythius, a Lydian, had his residence in this city, and next to Xerxes was the most opulent prince of those times. He entertained Xerxes and his whole army with an incredible magnificence, and made him an offer of all his wealth towards defraying the expenses of his expedition. Xerxes, surprised and charmed at so generous an offer, had the curiosity to inquire to what sum his riches amounted. Pythius made answer, that having the design of offering them to his service, he had taken an exact account of them, and that the silver he had by him amounted to two thousand a talents (which make six millions French money); and the gold to four millions of daricks e, wanting seven thousand (that is to say, to forty millions of livres, wanting seventy thousand, reckoning ten livres French money to the darick). All this money he offered him, telling him, that his revenues were sufficient for the support of his household. Xerxes made him very hearty acknowledgments, entered into a particular friendship with him, and that he might not be outdone in generosity, instead of accepting his offers, obliged him to accept as a present of the seven thousand daricks, which were wanting to make up his gold a round sum of four millions.
After such a conduct as this, who would not think that f Pythius's peculiar character and particular virtue had been generosity, and a noble contempt of riches ! and yet he was one of the most penurious princes in the world, and who, besides his sordid avarice with regard to himself, was extremely cruel and inhuman to his subjects, whom he kept continually employed in hard and fruitless labour, always digging in the gold and silver mines which he had in his territories. When he was absent from home, his subjects went with tears in their eyes to the princess his wife, laid their a Plut. de anim. tranq. p. 470. 6 Bellon. singul rer observ. p. 78.
c Herod. l. vii c. 26, 29. d About ...35,000 sterling.
e About .1,700,000 sterling f Piutarch calls him Pythis, Plut. de virt. mulier. p. 262.
complaints before her, and implored her assistance. Commiserating their condition, she inade use of a very extraordinary method to work upon her husband, and to give him a clear sense and a palpable demonstration of the folly and injustice of his conduct." On his return home, she ordered an entertainment to be prepared for him, very magnificent in appearance, but what in reality was no entertainment. All the courses and services were of gold and silver ; and the prince, in the midst of all these rich dishes and splendid rarities, could not satisfy his hunger. He easily divined the mean ing of this enigma, and began to consider, that the end of gold and silver was not merely to be looked upon, but to be employed and made use of; and that to neglect, as he had done, the business of husbandry and the tilling of the land, by employing all his people in digging and working of mines, was the direct way to bring a famine both upon himself and his country. For the future therefore he only reserved a fifth part of his people for the business of mining. Plutarch has preserved this fact in a treatise, wherein he has collected a great many others to prove the ability and industry of ladies. We have the same disposition of mind noticed in fabulous story, in the example of a “ prince who reigned in this very country, for whom every thing that he touched was immediately turned into gold, according to the request which he himself had made to the gods, and who by that means was in danger of perishing with hunger.
• The same prince, who had made such obliging offers to Xerxes, having desired as a favour of him some time afterwards, that out of his five sons who served in his army, he would be pleased to leave him the eldest, in order to be a support and comfort to him in his old age; the king was so enraged at the proposal, though so reasonable in itself, that he caused the eldest son to be killed before the eyes of his father, giving the latter to understand, it was a favour that he spared him and the rest of his children ; and then causing the dead body to be cut in two, and one part to be placed on the right, and the other on the left, he made the whole army pass between them, as if he meant to purge and purify it by such a sacrifice. What a monster in nature is a prince of this kind! How is it possible to have any dependence upon the friendship of the great, or to rely upon their warmest professions and protestations of gratitude and service?
© From Phrygia Xerxes marched, and arrived at Sardis, where he spent the winter. From hence he sent heralds to
a Midas, king of Phrygia. b Herod. 1. vij. c. 38, 39. Sen, de ira, l. iii. c. 17. c Ibid, I. vil. c. 30-3!.
all the cities of Greece, except Athens and Lacedæmon, to require them to give him earth and water, which, as we have taken notice before, was the way of exacting and acknowledging submission.
As soon as the spring of the year came on he left Sardis, and directed his march towards the Hellespont. Being arrived there, he was desirous to see a naval engagement for his curiosity and diversion. To this end, a throne was erected for him upon an eminence : and in that situation, seeing all the sea crowded with his vessels, and the land covered with his troops, he at first felt a secret joy diffuse itself through his soul, in surveying with his own eyes
the vast extent of his power, and considering himself most happy of mortals : but reflecting soon afterwards, that of so many thousands, in a hundred years time there would not be one living soul remaining, his joy was turned into grief, and he could not forbear weeping at the uncertainty and instability of human things. He might have found another subject of reflection, which would have more justly merited his tears and affliction, had he turned his thoughts upon himself, and considered the reproaches he deserved for being the instrument of shortening that fatal term to millions of people, whom his cruel ambition was going to sacrifice in an unjust and unnecessary war.
Artabanes, who neglected no opportunity of making himself useful to the young prince, and of instilling into him sentiments of goodness for his people, took advantage of this moment, in which he found him touched with a sense of tenderness and humanity, and led him into further reflections upon the miseries with which the lives of most men are attended, and which render them so painful and unhappy ; endeavouring at the same time to make him sensible of the duty and obligation of princes, who, not being able to prolong the natural life of their subjects, ought at least to do all that lies in their power to alleviate the troubles and allay the bitterness of it.
In the same conversation Xerxes asked his uncle if he still persisted in his first opinion, and if he would still advise him not to make war against Greece supposing he had not seen the vision, which occasioned him to change his sentiments. Artabanes owned he still had his fears, and that he was very uneasy concerning two things. What are those two things ? replied Xerxes. The land and the sea, says Artabanes : the land, because there is no country that an feed and maintain so nụmerous an army ; the sea, because there are no ports capable of receiving such a multitude of
a Herod. C 44 & 46.
vessels. The king was very sensible of the strength of this reasoning ; but as it was now too late to go back, he made answer, that in great undertakings men ought not so narrowly to examine all the inconveniencies that may attend them ; that if they did, no signal enterprises would ever be attempted ; and that if his predecessors had observed so scrupulous and timorous a rule of policy, the Persian empire would never have attained its present height of greatness and glory.
Artabanes gave the king another piece of very prudent advice, which he no more thought fit to follow than he had the former : this was, not to employ the Ionians in his service against the Grecians, from whom they were originally descended, and on which account he ought to suspect their fidelity. Xerxes, however, after these conversations with his uncle, treated him with great friendship, paid him the highest marks of honour and respect, sent him back to Susa to take the care and administration of the empire upon him during his own absence, and to that end invested him with his whole authority.
a Xerxes, at a vast expense, had caused a bridge of boats to be built upon the sea, for the passage of his forces from Asia into Europe. The space that separates the two continents, formerly called the Hellespont, and now called the straits of the Dardanelles, or of Gallipoli, is seven stadia in breadth, which is near an English mile. A violent storm arose on a sudden, and broke down the bridge. Xerxes hearing this news on his arrival, fell into a transport of rage; and in order to avenge himself of so cruel an affront, commanded two pair of chains to be thrown into the sea, as if he meant to shackle and confine it, and his men to give it three hundred strokes of a whip, and speak to it in this manner: “ Thou troublesome and unhappy element, thus does
thy master chastise thee for having affronted him without reason. Know, that Xerxes will easily find means to pass over thy waters in spite of all thy billows and resistance.” The extravagance of this prince did not stop here ; but making the undertakers of the work answerable for events which do not in the least depend upon the power of man, he ordered all those persons to have their heads struck off, that had been charged with the direction and management of that undertaking.
6 Xerxes commanded two other bridges to be built, one for the army to pass over, and the other for the baggage and beasts of burden. He appointed workmen more able and expert than the former, who went about it in this manner. They placed 360 vessels across, some of them having three banks of oars, and others fifty oars a-piece, with their sides turned towards the Euxine sea; and on the side that faced the Ægean sea, they put 314. They then cast large anchors into the water on both sides, in order to fix and secure all these vessels against the violence of the winds, and against the current a of the water. On the east side they left three passages or vacant spaces between the vessels, that there might be room for small boats to go and come easily, as there was occasion, to and from the Euxine sea. After this upon the land on both sides they drove large piles into the earth, with huge rings fastened to them, to which were tied six vast cables, which went over each of the two bridges; two of which cables were made of hemp, and four of a sort of reeds called Bobao, which were made use of in those times for the making of cordage. Those that were made of hemp must have been of an extraordinary strength and thickness, since every cubit of those cables weighed a talent b. The cables laid over the whole extent of the vessels lengthwise, reached from one side to the other of the sea. When this part of the work was finished, quite over the vessels from side to side, and over the cables we have been speaking of, they laid the trunks of trees, cut purposely, for that use, and planks again over them fastened and joined together, to serve as a kind of floor or solid bottom: all which they covered over with earth, and added rails or battlements on each side, that the horses and cattle might not be frightened with seeing the sea in their passage. This was the mode of constructing those famous bridges built by Xerxes.
a Herod. I. vii. c. 33-36.
When the whole work was completed, a day was appointed for their passii:g over. And as soon as the first rays of the sun began to appear, sweet odours of all kinds were abundantly spread over both of the bridges, and the way was strewed with myrtle. At the same time Xerxes poured out libations into the sea, and turning his face towards the sun, the principal object of the Persian worship, he implored the assistance of that god in the enterprise he had undertaken, and desired the continuance of his protection till he had made the entire conquest of Europe, and liad brought it into subjection to his power. This done, he threw the vessel, which he used in making his libations, together
with a golden cup, and a Persian scymitar, into the sea. The army was seven days and seven nights in passing over these straits; those who were
a Polybius remarks that there is a current of water from the lake Mæotis. and ibe Euxine seu into he Ægean sea, occasioned by the rivers which empty themseives into thuse two seas Pol ! iv. p 07. &
6 A talem in weight consisted of 60 miuæ, that is to say, of 42 pounds of dur weight; and the minæ consisted of 100 drachms.