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The History Of Herodotus Volume 1 of 2

Page: 150

32. About her death, as about the death of Smerdis, two different stories are told. The Hellenes say that Cambyses had matched a lion's cub in fight with a dog's whelp, and this wife of his was also a spectator of it; and when the whelp was being overcome, another whelp, its brother, broke its chain and came to help it; and having become two instead of one, the whelps then got the better of the cub: and Cambyses was pleased at the sight, but she sitting by him began to weep; and Cambyses perceived it and asked wherefore she wept; and she said that she had wept when she saw that the whelp had come to the assistance of its brother, because she remembered Smerdis and perceived that there was no one who would come to his 25 assistance. The Hellenes say that it was for this saying that she was killed by Cambyses: but the Egyptians say that as they were sitting round at table, the wife took a lettuce and pulled off the leaves all round, and then asked her husband whether the lettuce was fairer when thus plucked round or when covered with leaves, and he said "when covered with leaves": she then spoke thus: "Nevertheless thou didst once produce the likeness of this lettuce, when thou didst strip bare the house of Cyrus." And he moved to anger leapt upon her, being with child, and she miscarried and died.

33. These were the acts of madness done by Cambyses towards those of his own family, whether the madness was produced really on account of Apis or from some other cause, as many ills are wont to seize upon men; for it is said moreover that Cambyses had from his birth a certain grievous malady, that which is called by some the "sacred" disease: 26 and it was certainly nothing strange that when the body was suffering from a grievous malady, the mind should not be sound either.

34. The following also are acts of madness which he did to the other Persians:—To Prexaspes, the man whom he honoured most and who used to bear his messages 2601 (his son also was cup-bearer to Cambyses, and this too was no small honour),—to him it is said that he spoke as follows: "Prexaspes, what kind of a man do the Persians esteem me to be, and what speech do they hold concerning me?" and he said: "Master, in all other respects thou art greatly commended, but they say that thou art overmuch given to love of wine." Thus he spoke concerning the Persians; and upon that Cambyses was roused to anger, and answered thus: "It appears then that the Persians say I am given to wine, and that therefore I am beside myself and not in my right mind; and their former speech then was not sincere." For before this time, it seems, when the Persians and Croesus were sitting with him in council, Cambyses asked what kind of a man they thought he was as compared with his father Cyrus; 27 and they answered that he was better than his father, for he not only possessed all that his father had possessed, but also in addition to this had acquired Egypt and the Sea. Thus the Persians spoke; but Croesus, who was present and was not satisfied with their judgment, spoke thus to Cambyses: "To me, O son of Cyrus, thou dost not appear to be equal to thy father, for not yet hast thou a son such as he left behind him in you." Hearing this Cambyses was pleased, and commended the judgment of Croesus.


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