Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Herodotus
Pages of Clio



Previous | Next
                  

Clio   


her first attempt to persuade her husband, the woman spoke a second
time, saying, "If then there is no persuading thee, and a child must
needs be seen exposed upon the mountains, at least do thus. The
child of which I have just been delivered is stillborn; take it and
lay it on the hills, and let us bring up as our own the child of the
daughter of Astyages. So shalt thou not be charged with unfaithfulness
to thy lord, nor shall we have managed badly for ourselves. Our dead
babe will have a royal funeral, and this living child will not be
deprived of life."
It seemed to the herdsman that this advice was the best under
the circumstances. He therefore followed it without loss of time.
The child which he had intended to put to death he gave over to his
wife, and his own dead child he put in the cradle wherein he had
carried the other, clothing it first in all the other's costly attire,
and taking it in his arms he laid it in the wildest place of all the
mountain-range. When the child had been three days exposed, leaving
one of his helpers to watch the body, he started off for the city, and
going straight to Harpagus's house, declared himself ready to show the
corpse of the boy. Harpagus sent certain of his bodyguard, on whom
he had the firmest reliance, to view the body for him, and,
satisfied with their seeing it, gave orders for the funeral. Thus
was the herdsman's child buried, and the other child, who was
afterwards known by the name of Cyrus, was taken by the herdsman's
wife, and brought up under a different name.
When the boy was in his tenth year, an accident which I will now
relate, caused it to be discovered who he was. He was at play one
day in the village where the folds of the cattle were, along with
the boys of his own age, in the street. The other boys who were
playing with him chose the cowherd's son, as he was called, to be
their king. He then proceeded to order them about some he set to build
him houses, others he made his guards, one of them was to be the
king's eye, another had the office of carrying his messages; all had
some task or other. Among the boys there was one, the son of
Artembares, a Mede of distinction, who refused to do what Cyrus had
set him. Cyrus told the other boys to take him into custody, and
when his orders were obeyed, he chastised him most severely with the
whip. The son of Artembares, as soon as he was let go, full of rage at
treatment so little befitting his rank, hastened to the city and
complained bitterly to his father of what had been done to him by
Cyrus. He did not, of course, say "Cyrus," by which name the boy was
not yet known, but called him the son of the king's cowherd.
Artembares, in the heat of his passion, went to Astyages,
accompanied by his son, and made complaint of the gross injury which
had been done him. Pointing to the boy's shoulders, he exclaimed,
"Thus, oh! king, has thy slave, the son of a cowherd, heaped insult
upon us."
At this sight and these words Astyages, wishing to avenge the
son of Artembares for his father's sake, sent for the cowherd and
his boy. When they came together into his presence, fixing his eyes on
Cyrus, Astyages said, "Hast thou then, the son of so mean a fellow
as that, dared to behave thus rudely to the son of yonder noble, one
of the first in my court?" "My lord," replied the boy, "I only treated
him as he deserved. I was chosen king in play by the boys of our
village, because they thought me the best for it. He himself was one
of the boys who chose me. All the others did according to my orders;
but he refused, and made light of them, until at last he got his due
reward. If for this I deserve to suffer punishment, here I am ready to
submit to it."
While the boy was yet speaking Astyages was struck with a
suspicion who he was. He thought he saw something in the character
of his face like his own, and there was a nobleness about the answer
he had made; besides which his age seemed to tally with the time
when his grandchild was exposed. Astonished at all this, Astyages
could not speak for a while. At last, recovering himself with

Previous | Next
Site Search