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Croesus, informed of all these circumstances, sent messengers to
Sparta, with gifts in their hands, who were to ask the Spartans to
enter into alliance with him. They received strict injunctions as to
what they should say, and on their arrival at Sparta spake as
"Croesus, king of the Lydians and of other nations, has sent us to
speak thus to you: 'Oh Lacedaemonians, the god has bidden me to make
the Greek my friend; I therefore apply to you, in conformity with
the oracle, knowing that you hold the first rank in Greece, and desire
to become your friend and ally in all true faith and honesty.'"
Such was the message which Croesus sent by his heralds. The
Lacedaemonians, who were aware beforehand of the reply given him by
the oracle, were full of joy at the coming of the messengers, and at
once took the oaths of friendship and alliance: this they did the more
readily as they had previously contracted certain obligations
towards him. They had sent to Sardis on one occasion to purchase
some gold, intending to use it on a statue of Apollo- the statue,
namely, which remains to this day at Thornax in Laconia, when Croesus,
hearing of the matter, gave them as a gift the gold which they wanted.
This was one reason why the Lacedaemonians were so willing to make
the alliance: another was, because Croesus had chosen them for his
friends in preference to all the other Greeks. They therefore held
themselves in readiness to come at his summons, and not content with
so doing, they further had a huge vase made in bronze, covered with
figures of animals all round the outside of the rim, and large
enough to contain three hundred amphorae, which they sent to Croesus
as a return for his presents to them. The vase, however, never reached
Sardis. Its miscarriage is accounted for in two quite different
ways. The Lacedaemonian story is that when it reached Samos, on its
way towards Sardis, the Samians having knowledge of it, put to sea
in their ships of war and made it their prize. But the Samians declare
that the Lacedaemonians who had the vase in charge, happening to
arrive too late, and learning that Sardis had fallen and that
Croesus was a prisoner, sold it in their island, and the purchasers
(who were, they say, private persons) made an offering of it at the
shrine of Juno: the sellers were very likely on their return to Sparta
to have said that they had been robbed of it by the Samians. Such,
then, was the fate of the vase.
Meanwhile Croesus, taking the oracle in a wrong sense, led his
forces into Cappadocia, fully expecting to defeat Cyrus and destroy
the empire of the Persians. While he was still engaged in making
preparations for his attack, a Lydian named Sandanis, who had always
been looked upon as a wise man, but who after this obtained a very
great name indeed among his countrymen, came forward and counselled
the king in these words:
"Thou art about, oh! king, to make war against men who wear
leathern trousers, and have all their other garments of leather; who
feed not on what they like, but on what they can get from a soil
that is sterile and unkindly; who do not indulge in wine, but drink
water; who possess no figs nor anything else that is good to eat.
If, then, thou conquerest them, what canst thou get from them,
seeing that they have nothing at all? But if they conquer thee,
consider how much that is precious thou wilt lose: if they once get
a taste of our pleasant things, they will keep such hold of them
that we shall never be able to make them loose their grasp. For my
part, I am thankful to the gods that they have not put it into the
hearts of the Persians to invade Lydia."
Croesus was not persuaded by this speech, though it was true
enough; for before the conquest of Lydia, the Persians possessed
none of the luxuries or delights of life.
The Cappadocians are known to the Greeks by the name of Syrians.
Before the rise of the Persian power, they had been subject to the
Medes; but at the present time they were within the empire of Cyrus,
for the boundary between the Median and the Lydian empires was the

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