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ask the oracle if he should attack the Persians; and when an evasive
answer came, fancying it to be in his favour, carried his arms into
the Persian territory. When he reached the river Halys, he transported
his army across it, as I maintain, by the bridges which exist there at
the present day; but, according to the general belief of the Greeks,
by the aid of Thales the Milesian. The tale is that Croesus was in
doubt how he should get his army across, as the bridges were not
made at that time, and that Thales, who happened to be in the camp,
divided the stream and caused it to flow on both sides of the army
instead of on the left only. This he effected thus:- Beginning some
distance above the camp, he dug a deep channel, which he brought round
in a semicircle, so that it might pass to rearward of the camp; and
that thus the river, diverted from its natural course into the new
channel at the point where this left the stream, might flow by the
station of the army, and afterwards fall again into the ancient bed.
In this way the river was split into two streams, which were both
easily fordable. It is said by some that the water was entirely
drained off from the natural bed of the river. But I am of a different
opinion; for I do not see how, in that case, they could have crossed
it on their return.
Having passed the Halys with the forces under his command, Croesus
entered the district of Cappadocia which is called Pteria. It lies
in the neighbourhood of the city of Sinope upon the Euxine, and is the
strongest position in the whole country thereabouts. Here Croesus
pitched his camp, and began to ravage the fields of the Syrians. He
besieged and took the chief city of the Pterians, and reduced the
inhabitants to slavery: he likewise made himself master of the
surrounding villages. Thus he brought ruin on the Syrians, who were
guilty of no offence towards him. Meanwhile, Cyrus had levied an
army and marched against Croesus, increasing his numbers at every step
by the forces of the nations that lay in his way. Before beginning his
march he had sent heralds to the Ionians, with an invitation to them
to revolt from the Lydian king: they, however, had refused compliance.
Cyrus, notwithstanding, marched against the enemy, and encamped
opposite them in the district of Pteria, where the trial of strength
took place between the contending powers. The combat was hot and
bloody, and upon both sides the number of the slain was great; nor had
victory declared in favour of either party, when night came down
upon the battle-field. Thus both armies fought valiantly.
Croesus laid the blame of his ill success on the number of his
troops, which fell very short of the enemy; and as on the next day
Cyrus did not repeat the attack, he set off on his return to Sardis,
intending to collect his allies and renew the contest in the spring.
He meant to call on the Egyptians to send him aid, according to the
terms of the alliance which he had concluded with Amasis, previously
to his league with the Lacedaemonians. He intended also to summon to
his assistance the Babylonians, under their king Labynetus, for they
too were bound to him by treaty: and further, he meant to send word to
Sparta, and appoint a day for the coming of their succours. Having got
together these forces in addition to his own, he would, as soon as the
winter was past and springtime come, march once more against the
Persians. With these intentions Croesus, immediately on his return,
despatched heralds to his various allies, with a request that they
would join him at Sardis in the course of the fifth month from the
time of the departure of his messengers. He then disbanded the army
consisting of mercenary troops- which had been engaged with the
Persians and had since accompanied him to his capital, and let them
depart to their homes, never imagining that Cyrus, after a battle in
which victory had been so evenly balanced, would venture to march upon
While Croesus was still in this mind, all the suburbs of Sardis
were found to swarm with snakes, on the appearance of which the horses
left feeding in the pasture-grounds, and flocked to the suburbs to eat
them. The king, who witnessed the unusual sight, regarded it very

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