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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 89

14. The Persians accordingly when they heard this were rejoiced and made obeisance: but when night had come on, the same dream again came and stood by Xerxes as he lay asleep and said: "Son of Dareios, it is manifest then that thou hast resigned this expedition before the assembly of the Persians, and that thou hast made no account of my words, as if thou hadst heard them from no one at all. Now therefore be well assured of this:—if thou do not make thy march forthwith, there shall thence spring up for thee this result, namely that, as thou didst in short time become great and mighty, so also thou shalt speedily be again brought low."

15. Xerxes then, being very greatly disturbed by fear of the vision, started up from his bed and sent a messenger to summon Artabanos; to whom when he came Xerxes spoke thus: "Artabanos, at the first I was not discreet, when I spoke to thee foolish words on account of thy good counsel; but after no long time I changed my mind and perceived that I ought to do these things which thou didst suggest to me. I am not able however to do them, although I desire it; for indeed, now that I have turned about and changed my mind, a dream appears haunting me and by no means approving that I should do so; and just now it has left me even with a threat. If therefore it is God who sends it to me, and it is his absolute will and pleasure that an army should go against Hellas, this same dream will fly to thee also, laying upon thee a charge such as it has laid upon me; and it occurs to my mind that this might happen thus, namely if thou shouldst take all my attire and put it on, and then seat thyself on my throne, and after that lie down to sleep in my bed."

16. Xerxes spoke to him thus; and Artabanos was not willing to obey the command at first, since he did not think himself worthy to sit upon the royal throne; but at last being urged further he did that which was commanded, first having spoken these words: (a) "It is equally good in my judgment, O king, whether a man has wisdom himself or is willing to follow the counsel of him who speaks well: and thou, who hast attained to both these good things, art caused to err by the communications of evil men; just as they say that the Sea, which is of all things the most useful to men, is by blasts of winds falling upon it prevented from doing according to its own nature. I however, when I was evil spoken of by thee, was not so much stung with pain for this, as because, when two opinions were laid before the Persians, the one tending to increase wanton insolence and the other tending to check it and saying that it was a bad thing to teach the soul to endeavour always to have something more than the present possession,—because, I say, when such opinions as these were laid before us, thou didst choose that one which was the more dangerous both for thyself and for the Persians. (b) And now that thou hast turned to the better counsel, thou sayest that when thou art disposed to let go the expedition against the Hellenes, a dream haunts thee sent by some god, which forbids thee to abandon thy enterprise. Nay, but here too thou dost err, my son, since this is not of the Deity; 16 for the dreams of sleep which come roaming about to men, are of such nature as I shall inform thee, being by many years older than thou. The visions of dreams are wont to hover above us 17 in such form 18 for the most part as the things of which we were thinking during the day; and we in the days preceding were very much occupied with this campaign. (c) If however after all this is not such a thing as I interpret it to be, but is something which is concerned with God, thou hast summed the matter up in that which thou hast said: let it appear, as thou sayest, to me also, as to thee, and give commands. But supposing that it desires to appear to me at all, it is not bound to appear to me any the more if I have thy garments on me than if I have my own, nor any more if I take my rest in thy bed than if I am in thy own; for assuredly this thing, whatever it may be, which appears to thee in thy sleep, is not so foolish as to suppose, when it sees me, that it is thou, judging so because the garments are thine. That however which we must find out now is this, namely if it will hold me in no account, and not think fit to appear to me, whether I have my own garments or whether I have thine, but continue still to haunt thee; 19 for if it shall indeed haunt thee perpetually, I shall myself also be disposed to say that it is of the Deity. But if thou hast resolved that it shall be so, and it is not possible to turn aside this thy resolution, but I must go to sleep in thy bed, then let it appear to me also, when I perform these things: but until then I shall hold to the opinion which I now have."


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