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ing garrisons; when, being altogether unlooked for, and unfeared, he surrounded Sardis with his army; wherein Creesus having no other companies than his citizens and ordinary guards, after fourteen days siege the same was entered by assault, and all executed that resisted. Crosus having now neither arms to fight nor wings to fly, Sardis being on all parts strongly encompassed, u thrust himself into the heap and miserable multitude of his vassals, and had undergone the common fortune of common persons vanquished, had not a son of his, who had been dumb all his life, (* by extremity of passion and fear enabled,) cried out to the soldiers to spare Croesus. Who thereupon being taken and imprisoned, despoiled of all things but the expectation of death, he was forthwith tied in fetters, and set on the top of a great and high heap of wood, to be consumed to ashes thereon. To which when the fire was set and kindled, remembering the discourse which he had with. the Athenian lawgiver, he thrice cried out on his name, Solon, Solon, Solon; and being demanded what he meant by that invocation, he first used silence; but urged again, he told them, that he now found it true which Solon had long since told him, that many men in the race and courses of their lives might well be accounted fortunate, but no man could discern himself for happy indeed, till his end.
Of which answer y Cyrus being speedily informed, remembering the changes of fortune and his own mortality, he commanded his ministers of justice to withdraw the fire with all diligence to save Croesus, and to conduct him to his presence; which done, Cyrus demanded of him who it was that had persuaded him, or what self-reason had conducted him to invade his territory, and to make him of a friend an enemy? To whom he thus answered, It was thy prosperous and my unprosperous destiny (the Grecian god flattering therewithal my ambition) that were the inventors and conductors of Crocesus's war against Cyrus.
Cyrus being pierced with Crosus's answer, and bewailing
* In communi calamitate suam vocis est incitamentum, &c. Solin.c.7. quisque habet fortunam. Curt.
y Homo qui in homine calamitoso * Memoriam metus perimit: timor misericors est meminit sui. Cass.
his estate, though victorious over it, did not only spare his life, but entertained him ever after as a king and his companion, shewing therein a true effect of mercy indeed; quæ non causam, sed fortunam spectat.
And herein is the real difference discerned between that behaviour which we call beneficium latronis, and gratiam principis ; a thief sometimes sparing the life of him which is in his power, but unjustly; a king that giveth breath, and a continuance of being, to him that was the cause and author of his own evil.
The report made by Xenophon is, that Cyrus did friendly entertain Cræsus at the first sight, not mentioning that which Herodotus delivers, and is here already set down, that he should have been burnt alive. It may well be that Xenophon, pourtraying (in Cyrus) an heroical prince, thought an intent so cruel fitter to be forgotten than rehearsed, as too much misbeseeming a generous nature. And it is very likely, that nearness of alliance might withhold Cyrus (had he been otherwise vicious) from so cruel a purpose against his grandmother's brother. Howsoever it was, the moral part of the story hath given credit and reputation to the report of Herodotus, (as to many the like it often doth,) and made it pass for current, though the trust reposed in Crosus afterwards may seem to argue, that Cyrus did not use him inhumanly at the first.
For as Herodotus himself telleth us, when Cyrus passed with his army over Araxes into Scythia, he left Cræsus to accompany and advise his son Cambyses, governor of the empire in his absence, with whom he lived all the time of Cyrus, and did afterwards follow Cambyses into Egypt, where he hardly escaped his tyrannous hand. What his end was I do not find.
But in this time the races of three of the greatest kings in that part of the world took end, to wit, of the Babylonians, Medians, and Lydians, in Balthasar, Cyaxares, and Crosus.
How Cyrus won Babylon. AFTER this Lydian war ensued the great conquest of Babylon, which gave unto Cyrus an empire so large and mighty, that he was justly reputed the greatest monarch then living upon earth. How long time the preparations for this great action took up, it is uncertain ; only it seems, that ten whole years did pass between his taking those two cities of Sardis and Babylon, which nevertheless I do not think to have been wholly occupied in provision for the Assyrian -war, but rather to have been spent in settling the estate which he had already purchased. And hereunto perhaps may be referred that which Ctesias hath in his fragments, of a war made by Cyrus upon the Scythians, though related as foregoing the victory obtained against Cræsus. He telleth us, that Cyrus invaded Scythia, and, being victorious over that nation, took Amorges their king prisoner: but being in a second battle overthrown by the wife of Amorges, Sparetha, and therein taken, the one king was delivered for the other.
Likewise it may be thought that no small part of those troubles which arose in the Lower Asia, grew soon after the departure of the victorious army, before the conquest was fully established.
For after Cyrus was returned out of Asia the Less, many nations, conquered formerly by Croesus, and now by Cyrus, revolted from him; against whom he employed Pactias, and then Harpagus, who first reduced the Phocians under their former obedience, and then the rest of the Greeks inhabiting Asia the Less, as the Ionians, Carians, Æolians, and Lycians, who resolvedly (according to the strength they had) defended themselves. But in the attempt upon Babylon itself, it is not to be doubted that Cyrus employed all his forces, having taken order beforehand, that nothing should be able to divert him, or to raise that siege, and make frustrate the work upon which he did set all his rest. And great reason there was, that he should bend all his care and strength unto the taking of that city, which beside the fame and reputation that it held, as being head of an empire thereon depending, was so strongly fenced with a treble wall of great height, and surrounded with waters unfordable, so plentifully victualled for many years, that the inhabitants were not only free from all doubt and fear of their estate, but despised and derided all purposes and power of their besiegers.
The only hope of the Medes and Persians, who despaired of carrying by assault a city so well fortified and manned, was, in cutting off all supplies of victuals and other necessaries: whereof though the town was said to be stored sufficiently for more than twenty years, yet might it well be deemed, that in such a world of people as dwelt within those gates, one great want or other would soon appear, and vanquish the resolution of that unwarlike multitude. In expecting the success of this course, the besiegers were likely to endure much travail, and all in vain, if they did not keep strait watch and strong guards upon all quarters.
This was hard to do, in regard of the vast circuit of those walls which they were to gird in, with numbers neither great enough, nor of men sufficiently assured unto their commander; the consideration whereof ministered unto the Babylonians matter of good pastime, when they saw the 2 Lydians, Phrygians, Cappadocians, and others, quartered about their town to keep them in, who having been their ancient friends and allies, were more likely to join with them, if occasion were offered, than to use much diligence on the behalf of Cyrus; who had, as it were yesterday, laid upon their necks the galling yoke of servitude. Whilst the besieged were pleasing themselves in this deceitful gladness, that is the ordinary forerunner of sudden calamity, Cyrus, whom the ordinance of God made strong, constant, and inventive, devised, by so many channels and trenches as were sufficient and capable of Euphrates, to draw the same from the walls of Babylon, thereby to make his approach the more facile and assured ; which when by the labour of many hands he had performed, he stayed the time of his advantage for the execution; for he had left certain banks or heads uncut, between the main river which surrounded the city, and his own trenches.
* Xenoph. Cyropæd. 1.7.
Now Balthasar, finding neither any want or weakness within, nor any possibility of approach for his enemies without, prepared an exceeding sumptuous feast, public plays, and other pastimes; and thereto invited a thousand of his princes or nobility, besides his wives, courtesans, and others of that trade. This he did, either to let the besiegers know that his provisions were sufficient, not only for all needful uses, but even for jollity and excess; or because he hoped that his enemies, under the burden of many distresses, were well near broken; or in honour of Bel his most reverenced idol; or that it was his birth or coronationday; or for many or all these respects. And he was not contented with such magnificence as no prince else could equal, but (using Daniel's words) he lifted himself up against the Lord of heaven; for he and his princes, wives, and concubines, made carousing cups of the vessels of God, in contempt of whom he praised his own puppets, made of silver and gold, of brass, of iron, wood, and stone: Quanta fuit stultitia in vasibus aureis bibentes, ligneos et lapideos deos laudare!“ How great a foolishness was it," (saith St. Jerome,)“ drinking in golden cups, to praise gods of wood " and stone!" While Balthasar was in this sort triumphing, and his brains well filled with vapours, he beheld a hand, which by divine power wrote on the wall opposite unto him certain words which he understood not; wherewith so great a fear and amazement seized him, as a the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against the other. Which passion when he had in some part recovered, he cried out for his Chaldeans, astrologians, and soothsayers, promising them great rewards, and the third place of honour in the kingdom to him that could read and expound the writing; but it exceeded their art. In this disturbance and astonishment, the queen hearing what had passed, and of the king's amazement, after reverence done, used this speech; There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom
a Dan. v. 6.