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difficulty, and wishing to be quit of Artembares, that he might
examine the herdsman alone, he said to the former, "I promise thee,
Artembares, so to settle this business that neither thou nor thy son
shall have any cause to complain." Artembares retired from his
presence, and the attendants, at the bidding of the king, led Cyrus
into an inner apartment. Astyages then being left alone with the
herdsman, inquired of him where he had got the boy, and who had
given him to him; to which he made answer that the lad was his own
child, begotten by himself, and that the mother who bore him was still
alive with him in his house. Astyages remarked that he was very
ill-advised to bring himself into such great trouble, and at the
same time signed to his bodyguard to lay hold of him. Then the
herdsman, as they were dragging him to the rack, began at the
beginning, and told the whole story exactly as it happened, without
concealing anything, ending with entreaties and prayers to the king to
grant him forgiveness.
Astyages, having got the truth of the matter from the herdsman,
was very little further concerned about him, but with Harpagus he
was exceedingly enraged. The guards were bidden to summon him into the
presence, and on his appearance Astyages asked him, "By what death was
it, Harpagus, that thou slewest the child of my daughter whom I gave
into thy hands?" Harpagus, seeing the cowherd in the room, did not
betake himself to lies, lest he should be confuted and proved false,
but replied as follows:- "Sire, when thou gavest the child into my
hands I instantly considered with myself how I could contrive to
execute thy wishes, and yet, while guiltless of any unfaithfulness
towards thee, avoid imbruing my hands in blood which was in truth
thy daughter's and thine own. And this was how I contrived it. I
sent for this cowherd, and gave the child over to him, telling him
that by the king's orders it was to be put to death. And in this I
told no lie, for thou hadst so commanded. Moreover, when I gave him
the child, I enjoined him to lay it somewhere in the wilds of the
mountains, and to stay near and watch till it was dead; and I
threatened him with all manner of punishment if he failed. Afterwards,
when he had done according to all that I commanded him, and the
child had died, I sent some of the most trustworthy of my eunuchs, who
viewed the body for me, and then I had the child buried. This, sire,
is the simple truth, and this is the death by which the child died."
Thus Harpagus related the whole story in a plain,
straightforward way; upon which Astyages, letting no sign escape him
of the anger that he felt, began by repeating to him all that he had
just heard from the cowherd, and then concluded with saying, "So the
boy is alive, and it is best as it is. For the child's fate was a
great sorrow to me, and the reproaches of my daughter went to my
heart. Truly fortune has played us a good turn in this. Go thou home
then, and send thy son to be with the new comer, and to-night, as I
mean to sacrifice thank-offerings for the child's safety to the gods
to whom such honour is due, I look to have thee a guest at the
Harpagus, on hearing this, made obeisance, and went home rejoicing
to find that his disobedience had turned out so fortunately, and that,
instead of being punished, he was invited to a banquet given in honour
of the happy occasion. The moment he reached home he called for his
son, a youth of about thirteen, the only child of his parents, and
bade him go to the palace, and do whatever Astyages should direct.
Then, in the gladness of his heart, he went to his wife and told her
all that had happened. Astyages, meanwhile, took the son of
Harpagus, and slew him, after which he cut him in pieces, and
roasted some portions before the fire, and boiled others; and when all
were duly prepared, he kept them ready for use. The hour for the
banquet came, and Harpagus appeared, and with him the other guests,
and all sat down to the feast. Astyages and the rest of the guests had
joints of meat served up to them; but on the table of Harpagus,
nothing was placed except the flesh of his own son. This was all put

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