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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 56

53. This is the report given by the Lacedemonians alone of all the Hellenes; but this which follows I write in accordance with that which is reported by the Hellenes generally,—I mean that the names of these kings of the Dorians are rightly enumerated by the Hellenes up to Perseus the son of Danae (leaving the god out of account), 36 and proved to be of Hellenic race; for even from that time they were reckoned as Hellenes. I said "up to Perseus" and did not take the descent from a yet higher point, because there is no name mentioned of a mortal father for Perseus, as Amphitryon is for Heracles. Therefore with reason, as is evident, I have said "rightly up to Perseus"; but if one enumerates their ancestors in succession going back from Danae the daughter of Acrisios, the rulers of the Dorians will prove to be Egyptians by direct descent..

54. Thus I have traced the descent according to the account given by the Hellenes; but as the story is reported which the Persians tell, Perseus himself was an Assyrian and became a Hellene, whereas the ancestors of Perseus were not Hellenes; and as for the ancestors of Acrisios, who (according to this account) belonged not to Perseus in any way by kinship, they say that these were, as the Hellenes report, Egyptians..

55. Let it suffice to have said so much about these matters; and as to the question how and by what exploits being Egyptians they received the sceptres of royalty over the Dorians, we will omit these things, since others have told about them; but the things with which other narrators have not dealt, of these I will make mention.

56. These are the royal rights which have been given by the Spartans to their kings, namely, two priesthoods, of Zeus Lakedaimon and Zeus Uranios; 37 and the right of making war against whatsoever land they please, and that no man of the Spartans shall hinder this right, or if he do, he shall be subject to the curse; and that when they go on expeditions the kings shall go out first and return last; that a hundred picked men shall be their guard upon expeditions; and that they shall use in their goings forth to war as many cattle as they desire, and take both the hides and the backs of all that are sacrificed..

57. These are their privileges in war; and in peace moreover things have been assigned to them as follows:—if any sacrifice is performed at the public charge, it is the privilege of the kings to sit down at the feast before all others, and that the attendants shall begin with them first, and serve to each of them a portion of everything double of that which is given to the other guests, and that they shall have the first pouring of libations and the hides of the animals slain in sacrifice; that on every new moon and seventh day of the month there shall be delivered at the public charge to each one of these a full-grown victim in the temple of Apollo, and a measure 38 of barley-groats and a Laconian "quarter" 39 of wine; and that at all the games they shall have seats of honour specially set apart for them: moreover it is their privilege to appoint as protectors of strangers 40 whomsoever they will of the citizens, and to choose each two "Pythians:" now the Pythians are men sent to consult the god at Delphi, and they eat with the kings at the public charge. And if the kings do not come to the dinner, it is the rule that there shall be sent out for them to their houses two quarts 41 of barley-groats for each one and half a pint 42 of wine; but if they are present, double shares of everything shall be given them, and moreover they shall be honoured in this same manner when they have been invited to dinner by private persons. The kings also, it is ordained, shall have charge of the oracles which are given, but the Pythians also shall have knowledge of them. It is the rule moreover that the kings alone give decision on the following cases only, that is to say, about the maiden who inherits her father's property, namely who ought to have her, if her father have not betrothed her to any one, and about public ways; also if any man desires to adopt a son, he must do it in presence of the kings: and it is ordained that they shall sit in council with the Senators, who are in number eight-and-twenty, and if they do not come, those of the Senators who are most closely related to them shall have the privileges of the kings and give two votes besides their own, making three in all. 4201.


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