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Clio   


Tmolus. Hyroeades, however, having the day before observed a Lydian
soldier descend the rock after a helmet that had rolled down from
the top, and having seen him pick it up and carry it back, thought
over what he had witnessed, and formed his plan. He climbed the rock
himself, and other Persians followed in his track, until a large
number had mounted to the top. Thus was Sardis taken, and given up
entirely to pillage.
With respect to Croesus himself, this is what befell him at the
taking of the town. He had a son, of whom I made mention above, a
worthy youth, whose only defect was that he was deaf and dumb. In
the days of his prosperity Croesus had done the utmost that be could
for him, and among other plans which he had devised, had sent to
Delphi to consult the oracle on his behalf. The answer which he had
received from the Pythoness ran thus:-

Lydian, wide-ruling monarch, thou wondrous simple Croesus,
Wish not ever to hear in thy palace the voice thou hast prayed for
Uttering intelligent sounds. Far better thy son should be silent!
Ah! woe worth the day when thine car shall first list to his
accents.

When the town was taken, one of the Persians was just going to
kill Croesus, not knowing who he was. Croesus saw the man coming,
but under the pressure of his affliction, did not care to avoid the
blow, not minding whether or no he died beneath the stroke. Then
this son of his, who was voiceless, beholding the Persian as he rushed
towards Croesus, in the agony of his fear and grief burst into speech,
and said, "Man, do not kill Croesus." This was the first time that
he had ever spoken a word, but afterwards he retained the power of
speech for the remainder of his life.
Thus was Sardis taken by the Persians, and Croesus himself fell
into their hands, after having reigned fourteen years, and been
besieged in his capital fourteen days; thus too did Croesus fulfill
the oracle, which said that he should destroy a mighty empire by
destroying his own. Then the Persians who had made Croesus prisoner
brought him before Cyrus. Now a vast pile had been raised by his
orders, and Croesus, laden with fetters, was placed upon it, and
with him twice seven of the sons of the Lydians. I know not whether
Cyrus was minded to make an offering of the to some god or other, or
whether he had vowed a vow and was performing it, or whether, as may
well be, he had heard that Croesus was a holy man, and so wished to
see if any of the heavenly powers would appear to save him from
being burnt alive. However it might be, Cyrus was thus engaged, and
Croesus was already on the pile, when it entered his mind in the depth
of his woe that there was a divine warning in the words which had come
to him from the lips of Solon, "No one while he lives is happy."
When this thought smote him he fetched a long breath, and breaking his
deep silence, groaned out aloud, thrice uttering the name of Solon.
Cyrus caught the sounds, and bade the interpreters inquire of
Croesus who it was he called on. They drew near and asked him, but
he held his peace, and for a long time made no answer to their
questionings, until at length, forced to say something, he
exclaimed, "One I would give much to see converse with every monarch."
Not knowing what he meant by this reply, the interpreters begged him
to explain himself; and as they pressed for an answer, and grew to
be troublesome, he told them how, a long time before, Solon, an
Athenian, had come and seen all his splendour, and made light of it;
and how whatever he had said to him had fallen out exactly as he
foreshowed, although it was nothing that especially concerned him, but
applied to all mankind alike, and most to those who seemed to
themselves happy. Meanwhile, as he thus spoke, the pile was lighted,
and the outer portion began to blaze. Then Cyrus, hearing from the
interpreters what Croesus had said, relented, bethinking himself
that he too was a man, and that it was a fellow-man, and one who had

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