of Priam. Henceforth they ever looked upon the Greeks as their open
enemies. For Asia, with all the various tribes of barbarians that
inhabit it, is regarded by the Persians as their own; but Europe and
the Greek race they look on as distinct and separate.
Such is the account which the Persians give of these matters. They
trace to the attack upon Troy their ancient enmity towards the Greeks.
The Phoenicians, however, as regards Io, vary from the Persian
statements. They deny that they used any violence to remove her into
Egypt; she herself, they say, having formed an intimacy with the
captain, while his vessel lay at Argos, and perceiving herself to be
with child, of her own free will accompanied the Phoenicians on
their leaving the shore, to escape the shame of detection and the
reproaches of her parents. Whether this latter account be true, or
whether the matter happened otherwise, I shall not discuss further.
I shall proceed at once to point out the person who first within my
own knowledge inflicted injury on the Greeks, after which I shall go
forward with my history, describing equally the greater and the lesser
cities. For the cities which were formerly great have most of them
become insignificant; and such as are at present powerful, were weak
in the olden time. I shall therefore discourse equally of both,
convinced that human happiness never continues long in one stay.
Croesus, son of Alyattes, by birth a Lydian, was lord of all the
nations to the west of the river Halys. This stream, which separates
Syria from Paphlagonia, runs with a course from south to north, and
finally falls into the Euxine. So far as our knowledge goes, he was
the first of the barbarians who had dealings with the Greeks,
forcing some of them to become his tributaries, and entering into
alliance with others. He conquered the Aeolians, Ionians, and
Dorians of Asia, and made a treaty with the Lacedaemonians. Up to that
time all Greeks had been free. For the Cimmerian attack upon Ionia,
which was earlier than Croesus, was not a conquest of the cities,
but only an inroad for plundering.
The sovereignty of Lydia, which had belonged to the Heraclides,
passed into the family of Croesus, who were called the Mermnadae, in
the manner which I will now relate. There was a certain king of
Sardis, Candaules by name, whom the Greeks called Myrsilus. He was a
descendant of Alcaeus, son of Hercules. The first king of this dynasty
was Agron, son of Ninus, grandson of Belus, and great-grandson of
Alcaeus; Candaules, son of Myrsus, was the last. The kings who reigned
before Agron sprang from Lydus, son of Atys, from whom the people of
the land, called previously Meonians, received the name of Lydians.
The Heraclides, descended from Hercules and the slave-girl of
Jardanus, having been entrusted by these princes with the management
of affairs, obtained the kingdom by an oracle. Their rule endured
for two and twenty generations of men, a space of five hundred and
five years; during the whole of which period, from Agron to Candaules,
the crown descended in the direct line from father to son.
Now it happened that this Candaules was in love with his own wife;
and not only so, but thought her the fairest woman in the whole world.
This fancy had strange consequences. There was in his bodyguard a
man whom he specially favoured, Gyges, the son of Dascylus. All
affairs of greatest moment were entrusted by Candaules to this person,
and to him he was wont to extol the surpassing beauty of his wife.
So matters went on for a while. At length, one day, Candaules, who was
fated to end ill, thus addressed his follower: "I see thou dost not
credit what I tell thee of my lady's loveliness; but come now, since
men's ears are less credulous than their eyes, contrive some means
whereby thou mayst behold her naked." At this the other loudly
exclaimed, saying, "What most unwise speech is this, master, which
thou hast uttered? Wouldst thou have me behold my mistress when she is
naked? Bethink thee that a woman, with her clothes, puts off her
bashfulness. Our fathers, in time past, distinguished right and
wrong plainly enough, and it is our wisdom to submit to be taught by
them. There is an old saying, 'Let each look on his own.' I hold thy