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Clio   


rightly as a prodigy. He therefore instantly sent messengers to the
soothsayers of Telmessus, to consult them upon the matter, His
messengers reached the city, and obtained from the Telmessians an
explanation of what the prodigy portended, but fate did not allow them
to inform their lord; for ere they entered Sardis on their return,
Croesus was a prisoner. What the Telmessians had declared was that
Croesus must look for the entry of an army of foreign invaders into
his country, and that when they came they would subdue the native
inhabitants; since the snake, said they, is a child of earth, and
the horse a warrior and a foreigner. Croesus was already a prisoner
when the Telmessians thus answered his inquiry, but they had no
knowledge of what was taking place at Sardis, or of the fate of the
monarch.
Cyrus, however, when Croesus broke up so suddenly from his
quarters after the battle at Pteria, conceiving that he had marched
away with the intention of disbanding his army, considered a little,
and soon saw that it was advisable for him to advance upon Sardis with
all haste, before the Lydians could get their forces together a second
time. Having thus determined, he lost no time in carrying out his
plan. He marched forward with such speed that he was himself the first
to announce his coming to the Lydian king. That monarch, placed in the
utmost difficulty by the turn of events which had gone so entirely
against all his calculations, nevertheless led out the Lydians to
battle. In all Asia there was not at that time a braver or more
warlike people. Their manner of fighting was on horseback; they
carried long lances, and were clever in the management of their
steeds.
The two armies met in the plain before Sardis. It is a vast
flat, bare of trees, watered by the Hyllus and a number of other
streams, which all flow into one larger than the rest, called the
Hermus. This river rises in the sacred mountain of the Dindymenian
Mother, and falls into the sea near the town of Phocaea.
When Cyrus beheld the Lydians arranging themselves in order of
battle on this plain, fearful of the strength of their cavalry, he
adopted a device which Harpagus, one of the Medes, suggested to him.
He collected together all the camels that had come in the train of his
army to carry the provisions and the baggage, and taking off their
loads, he mounted riders upon them accoutred as horsemen. These he
commanded to advance in front of his other troops against the Lydian
horse; behind them were to follow the foot soldiers, and last of all
the cavalry. When his arrangements were complete, he gave his troops
orders to slay all the other Lydians who came in their way without
mercy, but to spare Croesus and not kill him, even if he should be
seized and offer resistance. The reason why Cyrus opposed his camels
to the enemy's horse was because the horse has a natural dread of
the camel, and cannot abide either the sight or the smell of that
animal. By this stratagem he hoped to make Croesus's horse useless
to him, the horse being what he chiefly depended on for victory. The
two armies then joined battle, and immediately the Lydian
war-horses, seeing and smelling the camels, turned round and
galloped off; and so it came to pass that all Croesus's hopes withered
away. The Lydians, however, behaved manfully. As soon as they
understood what was happening, they leaped off their horses, and
engaged with the Persians on foot. The combat was long; but at last,
after a great slaughter on both sides, the Lydians turned and fled.
They were driven within their walls and the Persians laid siege to
Sardis.
Thus the siege began. Meanwhile Croesus, thinking that the place
would hold out no inconsiderable time, sent off fresh heralds to his
allies from the beleaguered town. His former messengers had been
charged to bid them assemble at Sardis in the course of the fifth
month; they whom he now sent were to say that he was already besieged,
and to beseech them to come to his aid with all possible speed.
Among his other allies Croesus did not omit to send to Lacedaemon.

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