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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 98

45. And seeing all the Hellespont covered over with the ships, and all the shores and the plains of Abydos full of men, then Xerxes pronounced himself a happy man, and after that he fell to weeping.

46. Artabanos his uncle therefore perceiving him,—the same who at first boldly declared his opinion advising Xerxes not to march against Hellas,—this man, I say, having observed that Xerxes wept, asked as follows: "O king, how far different from one another are the things which thou hast done now and a short while before now! for having pronounced thyself a happy man, thou art now shedding tears." He said: "Yea, for after I had reckoned up, it came into my mind to feel pity at the thought how brief was the whole life of man, seeing that of these multitudes not one will be alive when a hundred years have gone by." He then made answer and said: "To another evil more pitiful than this we are made subject in the course of our life; for in the period of life, short as it is, no man, either of these here or of others, is made by nature so happy, that there will not come to him many times, and not once only, the desire to be dead rather than to live; for misfortunes falling upon us and diseases disturbing our happiness make the time of life, though short indeed, seem long: thus, since life is full of trouble, death has become the most acceptable refuge for man; and God, having given him to taste of the sweetness of life, is discovered in this matter to be full of jealousy."

47. Xerxes made answer saying: "Artabanos, of human life, which is such as thou dost define it to be, let us cease to speak, and do not remember evils when we have good things in hand: but do thou declare to me this:—If the vision of the dream had not appeared with so much evidence, wouldest thou still be holding thy former opinion, endeavouring to prevent me from marching against Hellas, or wouldest thou have changed from it? Come, tell me this exactly." He answered saying: "O king, may the vision of the dream which appeared have such fulfilment as we both desire! but I am even to this moment full of apprehension and cannot contain myself, taking into account many things besides, and also seeing that two things, which are the greatest things of all, are utterly hostile to thee."

48. To this Xerxes made answer in these words: "Thou strangest of men, 47 of what nature are these two things which thou sayest are utterly hostile to me? Is it that the land-army is to be found fault with in the matter of numbers, and that the army of the Hellenes appears to thee likely to be many times as large as ours? or dost thou think that our fleet will fall short of theirs? or even that both of these things together will prove true? For if thou thinkest that in these respects our power is deficient, one might make gathering at once of another force."


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