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THE HISTORY OF CAMBYSES
A. M. 3475.
As soon as Cambyses ascended the throne,* he re. Ant. J. C. 529. solved to make war against Egypt, for a particular af. front, which, according to Herodotus, he pretended to have received from Amasis : but it is more probable that Amasis, who had submitted to Cyrus, and become tributary to him, might draw this war upon himself by refusing, after Cyrus's death, to pay the same homage and tribute to his successor, and by attempting to shake off his yoke.
Cambyses,t in order to carry on the war with success, made vast preparations both by sea and land. The Cypriots and Phænicians furnished him with ships. As for his land army, he added to his own troops a great number of Grecians, Ionians, and Æolians, which made
the principal part of his forces. But none was of greater service to him in this war, than Phanes of Halicarnassus, who being the commander of some auxiliary Greeks, in the service of Amasis, and being in some way or other dissatisfied with that prince, came over to Cambyses, and gave him such intelligence concerning the nature of the country, the strength of the enemy, and the state of his affairs, as very much facilitated the success of his expedition. It was particularly by his advice, that he contracted with an Arabian king, whose territories bordered upon Palestine and Egypt, to furnish his army with water during their march through the desert that lay between these two countries : which agreement that prince fulfilled, by sending the water on the backs of camels, without which Cambyses could never have marched his
army Having made all these preparations, he invaded Egypt in the fourth year of his reign. When he arrived upon the frontiers, he was informed that Amasis was just dead, and that Psammenitus, his son, who succeeded him, was busy in gathering all his forces together, to hinder him from penetrating into his kingdom. Before Cam byses could open a passage into the country, it was necessary he should render himself master of Pelusium, which was the key of Egypt on the side he invaded it. Now Pelusium was so strong, a place, that in all likelihood it must have stopped him a great while. But, according to Polyænus, to facilitate the capture of this city, Cambyses invented the following stratagem. Being informed that the whole garrison consisted of Egyptians, he placed in the front of his army a great number of cats, dogs, sheep, and other animals, which were looked upon as sacred by that nation; and then attacked the city by storm. The soldiers of the garrison riot daring either to fling a dart, or shoot an arrow that way, for fear of hitting some of these animals, Cambyses became master of the place without opposition
Herod. 1 iii. c. 1-3.
t Tbid. c. 4-9.
Ibid. I iii. c. 10.
U Polyæn. I. vide
When Cambyses had got possession of the city,* Psammenitus advanced with a great army, to stop his progress; and a fierce battle ensued between them. But before they engaged, the Greeks who were in Psammenitus's army, in order to be revenged of Phanes for his revolt, took his children, which he had been obliged to leave in Egypt when he fled, and in the presence of the two armies, cut their throats and drank their blood. This outrageous cruelty did not procure them the victory. The Persians, enraged at so horrid a spectacle, fell upon them with such fury, that they quickly routed and overthrew the whole Egyptian army, of which the greatest part were killed upon the spot. Those that could save themselves escaped to Memphis.
On occasion of this battle,t Herodotus takes notice of an extraordinary circumstance, of which he himself was a witness. The bones of the Persians and Egyptians were still in the place where the battle was fought, but separated from one another. The skulls of the Egyptians were so hard, that a violent stroke of a stone would hardly break them; and those of the Persians so soft, that they rught be pierced through with the greatest ease imaginable. The reason of this difference was, that the former, from their infancy, were accustomed to have their heads shaved, and go uncovered, whereas the latter had their heads always covered with their tiaras, which is one of their principal ornaments.
Cambyses, having pursued the run-aways to Memphis, sent a herald into the city, in a vessel of Mitylene, by the river Nile, on which Memphis stood, to summon the inhabitants to surrender. But the people, transported with rage, fell upon the herald, and tore him to pieces, and all that were with him. Cambyses, having soon after taken the place, fully revenged the indignity, causing ten times as inany Egyptians, of the highest rank, as there had been persons massacred in the vessel, to be publicly executed. Among these was the eldest son of Psammenitus. As for the king himself Cambyses was inclined to treat him kindly. He not only spared his life but appointed him an honourable maintenance. But the Egyptian monarch, little affected with this kind usage, endeavoured to raise new troubles and coinmotions, in order to recover his kingdom; as a punishment for which he was made to drink bull's blood, and died immediately. His reign lasted but six months; after which all Egypt submitted to the conqueror. On the news of this success, the Libyans, the Cyrenians, and the Barceans, all sent ambassadors with presents to Cambyses, to make their submission.
From Memphis he went to the city of Sais, which was the burying-place of the kings of Egypt. As soon as he entered the palace, he caused the body of Amasis to be taken out of its tomb; and, after having exposed it to a thousand indignities in his own presence, he ordered it to be cast into the fire, and to be burnt; which was a
* Herod. ), ji. G. 11.
| Ibinh. o. 12.
Ibid c. 13.
Ibid c 16
thing equally contrary to the customs of the Persians and Egyptians The rage which this prince testified against the dead body of Amasis, shows, to what a degree he hated his person.
Whatever was the cause of that aversion, it seems to have been one of the chief motives that induced Cambyses to carry his arms into Egypt.
The next year,* which was the sixth of his reign, he resolved to inake war in three different quarters; against the Carthaginians, the Ammonians, and the Ethiopians. The first of these projects he was obliged to lay aside, because the Phænicians, without whose assistance he could not carry on that war, refused to aid him against the Carthaginians, who were descended from them, Carthage being originally a Tyrian colony.
But being determined to invade the other two nations,f he sent ambassadors into Ethiopia, who, under that character, were to act as spies for him, and to learn the state and strength of the country, and give him intelligence of both. They carried presents along with them, such as the Persians were used to make, as purple, golden bracelets, compound perfumes, and wine. These presents amongst which there was nothing useful, or serviceable to life, except the wine, were despised by the Ethiopians; neither did they make much more account of his annbassadors, whom they took for what they really were, that is, for spies. However, the king of Ethiopia was willing, after his way, to make a present to the king of Persia; and, taking a bow in his hands, which a Persian was so far from being able to draw, that he could scarce lift it, he bent it in presence of the ambassadors, and told them: This is the present, and the counsel the king of Ethiopia gives the king of Persia. When the Persians shall be able to use a bow of this bigness and strength, with as much ease as I have now bent it, then let them come to attack the Ethiopians, and bring more troops with them than Cambyses master of. In the mean time, let them thank the gods for not having put into the hearts of the Ethiopians, a wish to extend their dominions beyond their own country.
This answer having enraged Cambyses,f he commanded his army to begin their march immediately, without considering, that he neither had provisions nor any thing necessary for such an expedi, tion; but he left the Grecians behind him, in his new conquered country, to keep it in subjection during his absence.
As soon as he arrived at Thebes,g in Upper Egypt, he detached 50,000 of his men against the Ammonians, ordering them to ravage the country, and to destroy the temple of Jupiter Ammon, which was situated there. But after several days' march in the desert, a violent wind blowing from the south, brought such a vast quantity of sand upon the army, that the men were all overwhelmed and buried under it.
In the mean time Cambyses marched forward like a madman against the Ethiopians, notwithstanding his being destitute of all sorts
* Herod. l. iii.c. 17.19
† Ibid. c 20—24.
# Ibid. c. 25.
Ibid. c. 25, SO
of provisions; which quickly caused a terrible famine in his army. He had still time, says Herodotus, to remedy this evil; but Cambyses would have thought it a dishonour to have desisted from his undertaking, and therefore he proceeded in his expedition. At first his army was obliged to live upon herbs, roots, and leaves of trees; but coming afterwards into a country entirely barren, they were reduced to the necessity of eating their beasts of burden. At last they were brought to such a cruel extremity, as to be obliged to eat one another; every tenth man, upon whom the lot fell, being doomed to serve as food for his companions; a food, says Seneca, more cruel and terrible that famine itself: Decimum quemque sortili, alimentum habuerunt fame sævius* Notwithstanding all this, the king still persisted in his design, or rather in his madness, nor did the miserable desolation of his army make him sensible of his error. But at length, beginning to be afraid of his own person, he ordered them :) return. During all this dreadful famine among the troops (who would believe it?) there was no abatement of delicacies at his table, and the camels were still reserved which were loaded with every thing that was requisite to set out a sumptuous table. Servabantur illi interim generoso aves, et instrumenta epularum camelis vehebantur, cùm sortirentur milites ejus quis malè peririt, quis pejùs viveret.
The remainder of his army, of which the greatest part was lost in his expedition, he brought back to Thebes; where he succeeded much better in the war he declared against the gods, whom he found more easy to be conquered than men. Thebes was full of temples whose riches and magnificence were almost incredible. All these Cambyses pillaged, and then set them on fire. The wealth of these temples must have been vastly great, since the very remains saved from the flames amounted to an immense sum, 300 talents of gold, and 2300 talents of silver. He likewise carried away at this time the famous circle of gold that encompassed the tomb of king Osymandyas,which was 365 cubits in circumference, and in which were represented all the motions of the several constellations.
From Thebes lie went back to Memphis, where he dismissed all the Greeks, and sent them to their respective homes ;|| but on his return into the city, finding it full of rejoicings, he fell into a great rage, supposing this exultation to be on account of the ill success of bis expedition. He therefore called the magistrates before him, to know the meaning of these public rejoicings; and upon their telling him, that it was because they had found their god Apis, he would not believe them, but caused them to be put to death as impostors that insulted him and his misfortunes. He then sent for the priests, who made him the same answer : upon which he replied, that since their god was so kind and familiar as to appear among them, he would
be acquainted with him, and therefore commanded him forth
Diod. Sic. I. i. p. 43.
Ibid. p. 46
* De Irà, l. iii. c. 20.
with to be brought to him. But when, instead of a god, he saw a calf, he was strangely astonished, and falling again into a rage, he drew out his dagger, and run it into the thigh of the beast; and then upbraiding the priests for their stupidity in worshipping a brute for a god, he ordered them to be severely scourged, and all the Egyptians in Memphis, that should be found celebrating the feast of Apis, to be slain. The god was carried back to the temple, where he languished of his wound for some time, and then died
The Egyptians say,* that after this fact, which they reckon to have been the highest instance of impiety that ever was committed among them, Cambyses grew mad. But his actions showed him to have been mad long before, of which he continued to give various instances: among the
rest are these following: He had a brother,t the only son of Cyrus besides himself, and born of the same mother : his name, according to Xenophon, was Tanaoxares, but Herodotus calls him Smerdis, and Justin, Mergis. He accompanied Cambyses in his Egyptian expedition : but being the only person among all the Persians that could draw the bow which had been brought from the king of Ethiopia, Cambyses from hence conceived such a jealousy against him, that he could bear him no longer in the army, but sent him back into Persia. And not long after, dreaming that a messenger had arrived to inform him that Smerdis sat on the throne, he conceived a suspicion that his brother aspired to the kingdom, and sent after him into Persia Prexaspes, one of his chief confidants, with orders to put him to death, which were accordingly executed.
This murder was the cause of another still more criminal. I Cambyses had with him in the camp his youngest sister, whose name was Meroe. Herodotus acquaints us after what a strange manner this sister became his wife. As the princess was exceedingly beautiful, Cambyses absolutely resolved to marry her. To that end he called together all the judges of the Persian nation, to whom belonged the interpretation of their laws, to know of them whether there was any law that would allow a brother to marry a sister. The judges being unwilling on the one hand directly to authorize such an incestuous marriage, and on the other, fearing the king's violent temper, should they contradict him, endeavoured to find out a salvo, and gave him this crafty answer: That they had no law which permitted a brother to marry his sister, but they had a law which allowed the king of Persia to do what he pleased. And this answer serving his purpose as well as a direct approbation, he solemnly married her, and hereby gave the first example of that incest, which was afterwards practised by most of his successors, and by some of them carried so far as to marry their own daughters, how repugnant soever it be to modesty and good order. This princess he carried with him in all his expeditions, and from
Herod. l. iii. c. 30.
Tbid. 31, 32.