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once been as blessed by fortune as himself, that he was burning alive;
afraid, moreover, of retribution, and full of the thought that
whatever is human is insecure. So he bade them quench the blazing fire
as quickly as they could, and take down Croesus and the other Lydians,
which they tried to do, but the flames were not to be mastered.
Then, the Lydians say that Croesus, perceiving by the efforts made
to quench the fire that Cyrus had relented, and seeing also that all
was in vain, and that the men could not get the fire under, called
with a loud voice upon the god Apollo, and prayed him, if he ever
received at his hands any acceptable gift, to come to his aid, and
deliver him from his present danger. As thus with tears he besought
the god, suddenly, though up to that time the sky had been clear and
the day without a breath of wind, dark clouds gathered, and the
storm burst over their heads with rain of such violence, that the
flames were speedily extinguished. Cyrus, convinced by this that
Croesus was a good man and a favourite of heaven, asked him after he
was taken off the pile, "Who it was that had persuaded him to lead
an army into his country, and so become his foe rather than continue
his friend?" to which Croesus made answer as follows: "What I did, oh!
king, was to thy advantage and to my own loss. If there be blame, it
rests with the god of the Greeks, who encouraged me to begin the
war. No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace, in which, instead
of sons burying their fathers, fathers bury their sons. But the gods
willed it so."
Thus did Croesus speak. Cyrus then ordered his fetters to be taken
off, and made him sit down near himself, and paid him much respect,
looking upon him, as did also the courtiers, with a sort of wonder.
Croesus, wrapped in thought, uttered no word. After a while, happening
to turn and perceive the Persian soldiers engaged in plundering the
town, he said to Cyrus, "May I now tell thee, oh! king, what I have in
my mind, or is silence best?" Cyrus bade him speak his mind boldly.
Then he put this question: "What is it, oh! Cyrus, which those men
yonder are doing so busily?" "Plundering thy city," Cyrus answered,
"and carrying off thy riches." "Not my city," rejoined the other, "nor
my riches. They are not mine any more. It is thy wealth which they are
Cyrus, struck by what Croesus had said, bade all the court to
withdraw, and then asked Croesus what he thought it best for him to do
as regarded the plundering. Croesus answered, "Now that the gods
have made me thy slave, oh! Cyrus, it seems to me that it is my
part, if I see anything to thy advantage, to show it to thee. Thy
subjects, the Persians, are a poor people with a proud spirit. If then
thou lettest them pillage and possess themselves of great wealth, I
will tell thee what thou hast to expect at their hands. The man who
gets the most, look to having him rebel against thee. Now then, if
my words please thee, do thus, oh! king:- Let some of thy bodyguards
be placed as sentinels at each of the city gates, and let them take
their booty from the soldiers as they leave the town, and tell them
that they do so because the tenths are due to Jupiter. So wilt thou
escape the hatred they would feel if the plunder were taken away
from them by force; and they, seeing that what is proposed is just,
will do it willingly."
Cyrus was beyond measure pleased with this advice, so excellent
did it seem to him. He praised Croesus highly, and gave orders to
his bodyguard to do as he had suggested. Then, turning to Croesus,
he said, "Oh! Croesus, I see that thou are resolved both in speech and
act to show thyself a virtuous prince: ask me, therefore, whatever
thou wilt as a gift at this moment." Croesus replied, "Oh! my lord, if
thou wilt suffer me to send these fetters to the god of the Greeks,
whom I once honoured above all other gods, and ask him if it is his
wont to deceive his benefactors- that will be the highest favour
thou canst confer on me." Cyrus upon this inquired what charge he
had to make against the god. Then Croesus gave him a full account of
all his projects, and of the answers of the oracle, and of the

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