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before him, except the hands and feet and head, which were laid by
themselves in a covered basket. When Harpagus seemed to have eaten his
fill, Astyages called out to him to know how he had enjoyed the
repast. On his reply that he had enjoyed it excessively, they whose
business it was brought him the basket, in which were the hands and
feet and head of his son, and bade him open it, and take out what he
pleased. Harpagus accordingly uncovered the basket, and saw within
it the remains of his son. The sight, however, did not scare him, or
rob him of his self-possession. Being asked by Astyages if he knew
what beast's flesh it was that he had been eating, he answered that he
knew very well, and that whatever the king did was agreeable. After
this reply, he took with him such morsels of the flesh as were
uneaten, and went home, intending, as I conceive, to collect the
remains and bury them.
Such was the mode in which Astyages punished Harpagus: afterwards,
proceeding to consider what he should do with Cyrus, his grandchild,
he sent for the Magi, who formerly interpreted his dream in the way
which alarmed him so much, and asked them how they had expounded it.
They answered, without varying from what they had said before, that
"the boy must needs be a king if he grew up, and did not die too
soon." Then Astyages addressed them thus: "The boy has escaped, and
lives; he has been brought up in the country, and the lads of the
village where he lives have made him their king. All that kings
commonly do he has done. He has had his guards, and his doorkeepers,
and his messengers, and all the other usual officers. Tell me, then,
to what, think you, does all this tend?" The Magi answered, "If the
boy survives, and has ruled as a king without any craft or
contrivance, in that case we bid thee cheer up, and feel no more alarm
on his account. He will not reign a second time. For we have found
even oracles sometimes fulfilled in an unimportant way; and dreams,
still oftener, have wondrously mean accomplishments." "It is what I
myself most incline to think," Astyages rejoined; "the boy having been
already king, the dream is out, and I have nothing more to fear from
him. Nevertheless, take good heed and counsel me the best you can
for the safety of my house and your own interests." "Truly," said
the Magi in reply, "it very much concerns our interests that thy
kingdom be firmly established; for if it went to this boy it would
pass into foreign hands, since he is a Persian: and then we Medes
should lose our freedom, and be quite despised by the Persians, as
being foreigners. But so long as thou, our fellow-countryman, art on
the throne, all manner of honours are ours, and we are even not
without some share in the government. Much reason therefore have we to
forecast well for thee and for thy sovereignty. If then we saw any
cause for present fear, be sure we would not keep it back from thee.
But truly we are persuaded that the dream has had its accomplishment
in this harmless way; and so our own fears being at rest, we recommend
thee to banish thine. As for the boy, our advice is that thou send him
away to Persia, to his father and mother."
Astyages heard their answer with pleasure, and calling Cyrus
into his presence, said to him, "My child, I was led to do thee a
wrong by a dream which has come to nothing: from that wrong thou
wert saved by thy own good fortune. Go now with a light heart to
Persia; I will provide thy escort. Go, and when thou gettest to thy
journey's end, thou wilt behold thy father and thy mother, quite other
people from Mitradates the cowherd and his wife."
With these words Astyages dismissed his grandchild. On his arrival
at the house of Cambyses, he was received by his parents, who, when
they learnt who he was, embraced him heartily, having always been
convinced that he died almost as soon as he was born. So they asked
him by what means he had chanced to escape; and he told them how
that till lately he had known nothing at all about the matter, but had
been mistaken- oh! so widely!- and how that he had learnt his
history by the way, as he came from Media. He had been quite sure that
he was the son of the king's cowherd, but on the road the king's

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