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offerings which he had sent, on which he dwelt especially, and told
him how it was the encouragement given him by the oracle which had led
him to make war upon Persia. All this he related, and at the end again
besought permission to reproach the god with his behaviour. Cyrus
answered with a laugh, "This I readily grant thee, and whatever else
thou shalt at any time ask at my hands." Croesus, finding his
request allowed, sent certain Lydians to Delphi, enjoining them to lay
his fetters upon the threshold of the temple, and ask the god, "If
he were not ashamed of having encouraged him, as the destined
destroyer of the empire of Cyrus, to begin a war with Persia, of which
such were the first-fruits?" As they said this they were to point to
the fetters- and further they were to inquire, "If it was the wont
of the Greek gods to be ungrateful?"
The Lydians went to Delphi and delivered their message, on which
the Pythoness is said to have replied- "It is not possible even for
a god to escape the decree of destiny. Croesus has been punished for
the sin of his fifth ancestor, who, when he was one of the bodyguard
of the Heraclides, joined in a woman's fraud, and, slaying his master,
wrongfully seized the throne. Apollo was anxious that the fall of
Sardis should not happen in the lifetime of Croesus, but be delayed to
his son's days; he could not, however, persuade the Fates. All that
they were willing to allow he took and gave to Croesus. Let Croesus
know that Apollo delayed the taking of Sardis three full years, and
that he is thus a prisoner three years later than was his destiny.
Moreover it was Apollo who saved him from the burning pile. Nor has
Croesus any right to complain with respect to the oracular answer
which he received. For when the god told him that, if he attacked
the Persians, he would destroy a mighty empire, he ought, if he had
been wise, to have sent again and inquired which empire was meant,
that of Cyrus or his own; but if he neither understood what was
said, nor took the trouble to seek for enlightenment, he has only
himself to blame for the result. Besides, he had misunderstood the
last answer which had been given him about the mule. Cyrus was that
mule. For the parents of Cyrus were of different races, and of
different conditions- his mother a Median princess, daughter of King
Astyages, and his father a Persian and a subject, who, though so far
beneath her in all respects, had married his royal mistress."
Such was the answer of the Pythoness. The Lydians returned to
Sardis and communicated it to Croesus, who confessed, on hearing it,
that the fault was his, not the god's. Such was the way in which Ionia
was first conquered, and so was the empire of Croesus brought to a
close.
Besides the offerings which have been already mentioned, there are
many others in various parts of Greece presented by Croesus; as at
Thebes in Boeotia, where there is a golden tripod, dedicated by him to
Ismenian Apollo; at Ephesus, where the golden heifers, and most of the
columns are his gift; and at Delphi, in the temple of Pronaia, where
there is a huge shield in gold, which he gave. All these offerings
were still in existence in my day; many others have perished: among
them those which he dedicated at Branchidae in Milesia, equal in
weight, as I am informed, and in all respects like to those at Delphi.
The Delphian presents, and those sent to Amphiaraus, came from his own
private property, being the first-fruits of the fortune which he
inherited from his father; his other offerings came from the riches of
an enemy, who, before he mounted the throne, headed a party against
him, with the view of obtaining the crown of Lydia for Pantaleon. This
Pantaleon was a son of Alyattes, but by a different mother from
Croesus; for the mother of Croesus was a Carian woman, but the
mother of Pantaleon an Ionian. When, by the appointment of his father,
Croesus obtained the kingly dignity, he seized the man who had plotted
against him, and broke him upon the wheel. His property, which he
had previously devoted to the service of the gods, Croesus applied
in the way mentioned above. This is all I shall say about his
offerings.

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