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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 96

38. Then as he was leading forth his army on its march, Pythios the Lydian, being alarmed by the appearance in the heavens and elated by the gifts which he had received, came to Xerxes, and said as follows: "Master, I would desire to receive from thee a certain thing at my request, which, as it chances, is for thee an easy thing to grant, but a great thing for me, if I obtain it." Then Xerxes, thinking that his request would be for anything rather than that which he actually asked, said that he would grant it, and bade him speak and say what he desired. He then, when he heard this, was encouraged, and spoke these words: "Master, I have, as it chances, five sons, and it is their fortune to be all going together with thee on the march against Hellas. Do thou, therefore, O king, have compassion upon me, who have come to so great an age, and release from serving in the expedition one of my sons, the eldest, in order that he may be caretaker both of myself and of my wealth: but the other four take with thyself, and after thou hast accomplished that which thou hast in thy mind, mayest thou have a safe return home."

38. Then Xerxes was exceedingly angry and made answer with these words: "Thou wretched man, dost thou dare, when I am going on a march myself against Hellas, and am taking my sons and my brothers and my relations and friends, dost thou dare to make any mention of a son of thine, seeing that thou art my slave, who ought to have been accompanying me thyself with thy whole household and thy wife as well? Now therefore be assured of this, that the passionate spirit of man dwells within the ears; and when it has heard good things, it fills the body with delight, but when it has heard the opposite things to this, it swells up with anger. As then thou canst not boast of having surpassed the king in conferring benefits formerly, when thou didst to us good deeds and madest offer to do more of the same kind, so now that thou hast turned to shamelessness, thou shalt receive not thy desert but less than thou deservest: for thy gifts of hospitality shall rescue from death thyself and the four others of thy sons, but thou shalt pay the penalty with the life of the one to whom thou dost cling most." Having answered thus, he forthwith commanded those to whom it was appointed to do these things, to find out the eldest of the sons of Pythios and to cut him in two in the middle; and having cut him in two, to dispose the halves, one on the right hand of the road and the other on the left, and that the army should pass between them by this way.

40. When these had so done, the army proceeded to pass between; and first the baggage-bearers led the way together with their horses, and after these the host composed of all kinds of nations mingled together without distinction: and when more than the half had gone by, an interval was left and these were separated from the king. For before him went first a thousand horsemen, chosen out of all the Persians; and after them a thousand spearmen chosen also from all the Persians, having the points of their spears turned down to the ground; and then ten sacred horses, called "Nesaian," 41 with the fairest possible trappings. Now the horses are called Nesaian for this reason:—there is a wide plain in the land of Media which is called the Nesaian plain, and this plain produces the great horses of which I speak. Behind these ten horses the sacred chariot of Zeus was appointed to go, which was drawn by eight white horses; and behind the horses again followed on foot a charioteer holding the reins, for no human creature mounts upon the seat of that chariot. Then behind this came Xerxes himself in a chariot drawn by Nesaian horses, and by the side of him rode a charioteer, whose name was Patiramphes, son of Otanes a Persian.


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