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The History Of Herodotus Volume 1 of 2

Page: 72

211. Hystaspes then, having made answer with these words and having crossed over the Araxes, was going his way to the Persian land to keep watch over his son Dareios for Cyrus; and Cyrus meanwhile went forward and made a march of one day from the Araxes according to the suggestion of Croesus. After this when Cyrus and the best part of the army 218 of the Persians had marched back to the Araxes, and those who were unfit for fighting had been left behind, then a third part of the army of the Massagetai came to the attack and proceeded to slay, not without resistance, 219 those who were left behind of the army of Cyrus; and seeing the feast that was set forth, when they had overcome their enemies they lay down and feasted, and being satiated with food and wine they went to sleep. Then the Persians came upon them and slew many of them, and took alive many more even than they slew, and among these the son of the queen Tomyris, who was leading the army of the Massagetai; and his name was Spargapises.

212. She then, when she heard that which had come to pass concerning the army and also the things concerning her son, sent a herald to Cyrus and said as follows: "Cyrus, insatiable of blood, be not elated with pride by this which has come to pass, namely because with that fruit of the vine, with which ye fill yourselves and become so mad that as the wine descends into your bodies, evil words float up upon its stream,—because setting a snare, I say, with such a drug as this thou didst overcome my son, and not by valour in fight. Now therefore receive the word which I utter, giving thee good advice:—Restore to me my son and depart from this land without penalty, triumphant over a third part of the army of the Massagetai: but if thou shalt not do so, I swear to thee by the Sun, who is lord of the Massagetai, that surely I will give thee thy fill of blood, insatiable as thou art."

213. When these words were reported to him Cyrus made no account of them; and the son of the queen Tomyris, Spargapises, when the wine left him and he learnt in what evil case he was, entreated Cyrus that he might be loosed from his chains and gained his request, and then so soon as he was loosed and had got power over his hands he put himself to death.

214. He then ended his life in this manner; but Tomyris, as Cyrus did not listen to her, gathered together all her power and joined battle with Cyrus. This battle of all the battles fought by Barbarians I judge to have been the fiercest, and I am informed that it happened thus:—first, it is said, they stood apart and shot at one another, and afterwards when their arrows were all shot away, they fell upon one another and engaged in close combat with their spears and daggers; and so they continued to be in conflict with one another for a long time, and neither side would flee; but at last the Massagetai got the better in the fight: and the greater part of the Persian army was destroyed there on the spot, and Cyrus himself brought his life to an end there, after he had reigned in all thirty years wanting one. Then Tomyris filled a skin with human blood and had search made among the Persian dead for the corpse of Cyrus: and when she found it, she let his head down into the skin and doing outrage to the corpse she said at the same time this: "Though I yet live and have overcome thee in fight, nevertheless thou didst undo me by taking my son with craft: but I according to my threat will give thee thy fill of blood." Now as regards the end of the life of Cyrus there are many tales told, but this which I have related is to my mind the most worthy of belief.


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