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The camels, too, were not unserviceable in this battle, though Xenophon makes no great account of them; and observes that in his time they made no other use of them than for carrying the baggage.
I do not undertake to write a panegyric upon Cyrus, or to magnify his merit. It is sufficient to take notice, that in this affair we see all the qualities of a great general shine out in him. Before the battle, in admirable sagacity and foresight in discovering and disconcerting the enemy's measures; an infinite exactness in the detail of affairs in taking care that his army should be provided with every thing necessary, and all his orders punctually executed at the time fixed; a wonderful application to gain the hearts of his soldiers, and to inspire them with confidence and ardour: in the heat of action, what a spirit and activity; what a presence of mind in giving orders as occasion requires; what courage and intrepidity, and at the same time what humanity towards the enemy, whose valour he respects, and whose blood he is unwilling to shed! We shall soon see what use he made of his victory.
But what appears to me still more remarkable, and more worthy of admiration, than all the rest, is the constant care he took, on all occasions, to pay that homage and worship to the Deity, which he thought belonged to him. Doubtless the reader has been surprised to see, in the relation I have given of this battle, how many times Cyrus, in sight of all his army, makes mention of the gods, offers sacrifices and libations to them, addresses himself to them, and implores their succour and protection. But in this I have added nothing to the original text of the historian, who was also a military man himself, and who thought it no dishonour to himself or his profession to relate these particular circumstances. What a shame then, and a reproach would it be to a Christian officer or general, if on a day of battle he should blush to appear as religious and devout as a pagan prince; and if the Lord of hosts, the God of armies whom he acknowledges as such, should make a less impression upon his mind, than respect for the false deities of paganism did upon the mind of Cyrus!
As for Cresus, he makes no great figure in this action; not one word is said of him in the whole engagement. But that profound silence which Xenophon observes with regard to him, seems, in my opinion, to imply a great deal, and gives us to understand that a man may be a powerful prince, or a rich potentate, without being a great warrior.
But let us return to the camp of the Persians.* It is easy to imagine what must be the affliction and distress of Panthea, when the news was brought her of Abradates's death. Having caused his body to be brought to her, and leaning her head upon her knees, quite out of her senses, with her eyes steadfastly fixed upon the melancholy object, she thought of nothing but feeding her grief and indulging her
Cyrop. 1. vii. p. 184-186
misery with the sight of that dismal and bloody spectacle. Cyrus being told what a condition she was in, ran immediately to her, sympathized with her affliction, and bewailed her unhappy fate with tears of com. passion, doing all that he possibly could to give her comfort, and ordering extraordinary honours to be shown to the brave deceased Abradates. But no sooner was Cyrus retired, than Panthea, over. powered with grief, stabbed herself with a dagger, and fell dead upon the body of her husband. They were both buried in one common grave upon the very spot, and a monument was erected for them, which was.standing in the time of Xenophon.
The taking of Sardis and of Cresus. The next day in the morning Cyrus marched towards Sardis.* If we may believe Herodotus, Cresus did not imagine that Cyrus intended to shut him up in the city, and therefore marched out with his forces to meet him, and to give him battle. According to the historian, the Lydians were the bravest and most warlike people of Asia. Their principal strength consisted in their cavalry: Cyrus, in order to render that the less serviceable to them, made his camels advance first, of which animals the horse could endure neither the sight nor the smell, and therefore immediately retired on their approach. Upon which the riders dismounted, and came to the engagement on foot, which was very obstinately maintained on both sides; but at length the Lydians gave way, and were forced to retreat into the city;t which Cyrus quickly besieged, causing his engines to be levelled against the walls, and his scaling-ladders to be prepared, as if he intended to attack it by storm. But whilst he was amusing the besieged with these preparations, the night follow ing he made himself master of the citadel, by a private way that led thereto, which he was informed of by a Persian slave, who had been a servant to the governor of that place. At break of day he entered the city, where he met with no resistance. His first care was to preserve it from being plundered; for he perceived the Chaldeans had quitted their ranks, and already begun to disperse themselves in all quarters. To stop the rapacious hands of foreign soldiers, and tie them as it were by a single command, in a city so abounding with riches as Sardis was, is a thing not to be done but by so singular an authority as Cyrus had over his army. He gave all the citizens to understand, that their lives should be spared, and neither their wives nor children touched, provided they brought him all their gold and silver. This condition they readily complied with ; and Croesus himself whom Cyrus had ordered to be conducted to him, set them an example, by delivering up all his riches and treasures to the conqueror.
* Herod. 1. i. c. 79-84.
Cyrop. 1 vii. p. 180
When Cyrus had given all necessary orders concerning the city,* Le had a private conversation with the king, of whom he asked, among other things, what he now thought of the oracle of Delphi, and of the answers given by the god that presided there, for whom it was said, he had always a great regard? Cræsus first acknowedged, that he had justly incurred the indignation of that god, for naving shown a distrust of the truth of his answers, and for having put him to the trial by an absurd and ridiculous question; and then declared, that notwithstanding all this, he still had no reason to complain of him; so that having consulted him, to know what he should do in order to lead a happy life, the oracle had given him an answer, which implied in substance, that he should enjoy a perfect and lasting happiness when he once came to the knowledge of himself. For want of this knowledge, continued he, and believing myself through the excessive praises that were lavished upon me, to be something very different from what I am, I accepted the title of generalissimo of the whole army, and unadvisedly engaged in a war against a prince infinitely my superior in all respects. But now that I am instructed by my defeat, and begin to know myself, I believe I am going to begin to be happy; and if you prove favourable to me (for my fate is in your hands, I shall certainly be so. Cyrus, touched with compassion at the misfortune of the king, who was fallen in a moment from so great an elevation, and admiring his equanimity under such a reverse of fortune, treated him with a great deal of clemency and kindness, suffering him to enjoy both the title and authority of king, under the restriction of not having the power to make war; that is to say, he discharged him (as Cræsus acknowledged himself) from all the burdensome part of regal power, and truly enabled him to lead a happy life, exempt from all care and disquiet. From thenceforward he took him with him in all his expeditions, either out of esteem for him, or to have the benefit of his counsel, or out of policy, and to be the more secure of his person.
Herodotus, and other writers after him, relate this story with the addition of some very remarkable circumstances, which I think it incumbent on me to mention, notwithstanding they seem to be much more wonderful than true.
I have already observed,t that the only son Cræsus had living was dumb. This young prince, seeing a soldier, when the city was taken, ready to give the king, whom he did not know, a stroke upon the head with his scimitar, made such a violent effort and struggle, out of fear and tenderness for the life of his father; that he broke the string of his tongue, and cried out, Soldier, spare the life of Croesus.
Cresus being a prisoner, was condemned by the conqueror to be burnt alive. Accordingly, the funeral pile was prepared, and that unhappy prince, being laid thereon, and just upon the point of
* Cyrop. I. vii. p. 181-184.
| Herod l. I. c. 85.
| Ibid. c. 86–91. Plut. in Solon
exécution, recollecting the conversation he had formerly had with Solon,* was wofully convinced of the truth of that philosopher's admonition, and in remembrance thereof, cried aloud three times, Solon! Solon! Solon! Cyrus, who, with the chief officers of his court, was present at this spectacle, was curious to know why Cræsus pronounced that celebrated philosopher's name with so much vehemence in this extremity. Being told the reason, and reflecting upon the uncertain state of all sublunary things, he was touched with commiseration at the prince's misfortune, caused him to be taken from the pile, and treated him afterwards, as long as he lived, with honour and respect. Thus had Solon the glory, t with one single word, to save the life of one king, and give a wholesome lesson of instruction to another.
Two answers in particular, given by the Delphic oracle, had in. duced Cræsus to engage in the war which proved so fatal to him The one was, that he was to believe himself in danger when the Medes should have a mule to reign over them: the other, that when he should pass the river Halys, to make war against the Medes, he would destroy a mighty empire. From the first of these oracular answers he concluded, considering the impossibility of the thing spoken of, that he had nothing to fear; and from the second he conceived hopes of subverting the empire of the Medes. When he found how things had happened quite contrary to his expectations, with Cyrus's leave he despatched messengers to Delphi, with orders to make a present to the god, in his name, of a golden chain, and at the same time to reproach him for having so basely deceived him by his oracles, notwithstanding the numberless presents and offerings he had made him. The god was at no great pains to justify his answers The mule which the oracle meant was Cyrus, who derived his extraction from two different nations, being a Persian by the father's side, and a Mede by the mother's; and as to the great empire which Cræsus was to overthrow, the oracle did not mean that of the Medés, but his own.
It was by such false and deceitful oracles, that the father of lies, the devil, who was the author of them, imposed upon mankind, in those times of ignorance and darkness, always giving his answers to those that consulted him, in such ambiguous and doubtful terms, that, let the event be what it would, they contained a relative meaning.
When the people of Ionia and Æolia were apprised of Cyrus's having subdued the Lydians, they sent ambassadors to him at Sardis, to desire he would receive them as his subjects upon the same conditions he had granted the Lydians. Cyrus, who before his victory had solicited them in vain to embrace his party, and was then in a condition to compel them to it by force, answered them * This conversation is already related.
+ Και δόξαν έσχεν ο Σόλων ενί λόγο τον μεν σώσας, τον δε παιδεύσας τών βασιλέων. Ρlut. | Herod. 1. i. c. 141. 152, 153.
only by a fable of a fisherman, who having played upon his pipe, in order to make the fish come to him, in vain, found there was no way to catch them but by throwing his net into the water Failing in their hopes of succeeding this way, they applied to the Lacedæmonjans, and demanded their succour. The Lacedæmonians thereupon sent deputies to Cyrus, to let him know that they would not suffer him to undertake any thing against the Greeks. Cyrus only laughed at such a message, and warned them in his turn to take care, and put themselves in a condition to defend their own territories.
The nations of the isles had nothing to apprehend from Cyrus, because he had not yet subdued the Phænicians, and the Persians had no shipping
The history of the besieging and taking of Babylon by Cyrus.
Cyrus stayed in Asia Minor,* till he had entirely reduced all the nations that inhabited it into subjection, from the Ægean sea to the river Euphrates. From thence he proceeded to Syria and Arabia, which he also subjected. After which he entered into Assyria, and advanced towards Babylon, the only city of the east that stood out against him.
The siege of this important place was no easy enterprise. The walls of it were of a prodigious height, and appeared to be inaccessible, without mentioning the immense number of people within them for their defence. Besides, the city was stored with all sorts of provisions for twenty years. However, these difficulties did not discourage Cyrus from pursuing his design: but, despairing to take the place by storm or assault, he made them believe his design was to reduce it by famine. To which end he caused a line of circumvallation to be drawn quite round the city, with a large and deep ditch; and, that his troops might not be over-fatigued, he divided his army into twelve bodies, and assigned each of them its month for guarding the trenches. The besieged, thinking themselves out of all danger, by reason of their ramparts and magazines, insulted Cyrus from the top of their walls, and laughed at all his attempts, and all the trouble he gave himself, as so much unprofitable labour.
Predictions of the principal circumstances relating to the siege and the taking of Baby
lon, as they are set down in different places of the Holy Scriptures.
As the taking of Babylon is one of the greatest events in ancient history, and as the principal circumstances with which it was altended were foretold in the Holy Scriptures many years before it
* Herod. I. i. c. 177. Cyrop. I. vii. p. 186–188