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towards Sardis. Having left Cappadocia, and pass- Xerxes. ed the river Halys, he came to Celene, a city of Phrygia, near which is the source of the Mæander. Py. thius, a Lydian, had his residence in this city, and next to Xerxes was the most opulent prince of those times. He entertained Xerxes and his whole army with an incredible magnificence, and made him an offer of all his wealth towards defraying the expences of his expedition. Xerxes, surprised and charmed at so generous an offer, had the curiosity to enquire to what sum his riches amounted. Pythius made answer, that having the design of offering them to his service, he had taken an exact account of them, and that the silver he had by him amounted to two thousand * talents (which make six millions French money); and the gold to four millions of Darickst, wanting seven thousand (that is to say, to forty millions of livres, wanting seventy thousand, reckoning ten livres French money to the Darick). All this money he offered him, telling him, that his revenues were sufficient for the support of his houshold. Xerxes made him very hearty acknowledgments, entered into a particular friend ship with him, and that he might not be outdone in generosity, instead of accepting his offers, obliged him to accept of a present of the seven thousand Daricks, which were wanting to make up his gold a found sum of four millions.
After such a conduct as this, who would not think that Pythius's peculiar character and particular virtue had been generosity, and a noble contempt of riches ? And yet he was one of the most penurious princes in the world ; and who, besides his sordid avarice with regard to himself, was extremely cruel and inhuman to his subjects, whom he kept continually employed in hard and fruitless lahour, always digging in the gold and silver mines, which he had in his territories. When he was ab.
• About 255,0001. sterling. + About 1,700,0001. sterling. # Plutarch calls him Pythis. Plut, de virt. mulier. p. 202.
Xerxes. sent from home, all his subjects went with tears in
their eyes to the princess his wife, laid their coinplaints before her, and implored her assistance. Commiserating their condition, she made use of a very extraordinary method to work upon her husband, and to give him a clear sense and a kind of palpable demonstration of the folly and injustice of his conduct. On his return home, she ordered an entertainment to be prepared for him, very magnificent in appearance, but what in reality was no entertainment. All the courses and services were of gold and silver; and the prince, in the midst of all these rich dishes and splendid rarities, could not satisfy his hunger. He casily divined the meaning of this ænigma, and began to consider, that the end of gold and silver was not merely to be looked upon, but to be employed and made use of; and chat to neglect, as he had done, the business of hus. bandry and the tilling of lands, by employing all his peaple in digging and working of mines, was the direct way to bring a famine both upon himself and his country. For the future therefore he only re. served a fifth part of his people for the business of mining. Plutarch has preserved this fact in a trea. tise, wherein he has collected a great many others to prove the ability and industry of ladies. We have The same disposition of mind designed in fabulous story, in the example of a * prince, who reigned in this very country, for whom every thing that he touched was immediately turned into gold, according to the request which he himself had made to the gods, and who by that means was in danger of pe. rishing with hunger.
• The same prince, who had made such obliging offers to Xerxes, having desired as a favour of him some time afterwards, that out of his five sons who served in his army, he would be pleased to leave him the eldest, in order to be a support and com.
Herod. 1. vii. c. 38, 38 Sen. de ira, 1. iii. c. 17. • Midas, king of Phrygia.
fort to him in his old age ; the king was so enraged Xerxes. at the proposal, though so reasonable in itself, that he caused the eldest son to be killed before the
eyes of his father, giving the latter to understand, that it was a favour he spared him and the rest of his children; andthen causing the dead body to becut in two, and one part to be placed on the right, and the other on the left, he made the whole army pass between them, as if he meant to purge and purify it. by such a sacrifice. What a monster in nature is a prince of this kind! How is it possible to have any. dependence upon the friendship of the great, or to rely upon their warmest professions and protesta.. tions of gratitude and service?
p From Phrygia Xerxes marched, and arrived at Sardis, where he spent the winter. From hence he sent heralds to all the cities of Greece, except Athens and Lacedæmon, to require them to give him earth and water, which, as we have taken notice before, was the way of exacting and acknowledging submission.
As soon as the spring of the year came on, he left Sardis, and directed his march towards the Hellespont. Being arrived there, he was desirous to see a naval engagement for his curiosity and diversion. To this end, a throne was erected for him upon an eminence; and in that situation, seeing all the sea crowded with his vessels, and the land covered with his troops, he at first felt a secret joy diffuse itself through his soul, in surveying with his own eyes the vast extent of his power, and con, sidering himself as the most happy of mortals : But reflecting soon afterwards, that of so many thousands, in an hundred years time there would not be one living soul remaining, his joy was turned into grief, and he could not forbear weeping at the uncertainty and instability of human things. He might have found another subject of refiection,
Herod. I. vii. c. 30-32
& Ibid. c. 44, &
Xerxes, which would have more justly merited his tears and
affliction, had he turned his thoughts upon himself,
In the same conversation Xerxes asked his uncle if he still persisted in his first opinion, and if he would still advise him not to make war against Greece, supposing he had not seen the vision, which occasioned him to change his sentiments. Artabanes owned he still had his fears; and that he was very uneasy concerning two things. What are those two things, replied Xerxes? The land and the sea, says Artabanes : The land, because there is no coun. try that can feed and maintain so numerous an army; the sea, because there are no ports capable of receiving such a multitude of vessels. The king was very sensible of the strength of this reasoning; but as it was now too late to go back, he made answer, that in great undertakings men ought not so narrowly to examine all the inconveniencies that may attend them ; that if they did, no signal enterprizes would ever be attempted ; and that if his predecessors had observed so scrupulous and timorous a rule of policy, the Persian empire would never
have attained its present height of greatness and Xerxes. glory.
Artabanes gave the king another piece of very prudent advice, which he thought fit to follow no more than he had the former : This advice was, not to employ the Ionians in his service against the Grecians, from whom they were originally descended, and on which account he ought to suspect their fidelity. Xerxes, however, after these conversations with his uncle, treated him with great friendship, paid him the highest marks of honour and respect, sent him back to Susa to take the care and administration of the empire upon him during his own absence, and to that end vested him with his whole authority.
Xerxes, at a vast expence, had caused a bridge of boats to be built upon the sea, for the passage of his forces from Asia into Europe. The space that separates the two continents, formerly called the Hellespont, and now called the streiglets of the Dardanells, or of Gallipoli, is seven stadia's in breadth, which is near an English mile.
A violent storm arising on a sudden, soon after broke down the bridge. Xerxes hearing this news on his arrival, fell into a transport of passion ; and in order to avenge himself of so cruel an affront, commanded two pair of chains to be thrown into the sea, as if he meant to shackle and confine it, and that his men should give it three hundred strokes of a whip, and speak to it in this manner : Thou troublesome and unhappy element, thus does thy master chastise thee for having affronted him without reason. Know, that Xerxes will easily find nicans to pass over thy waters in spite of all thy billows and resistance. The extravagance of this prince did not stop here; but making the undertakers of the work answerable for events, which do not in the least depend upon the power of
+ Herod. l. vii. c. 33...38.