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

Previous | Next


escort had told him all the truth; and then he spoke of the
cowherd's wife who had brought him up, and filled his whole talk
with her praises; in all that he had to tell them about himself, it
was always Cyno- Cyno was everything. So it happened that his parents,
catching the name at his mouth, and wishing to persuade the Persians
that there was a special providence in his preservation, spread the
report that Cyrus, when he was exposed, was suckled by a bitch. This
was the sole origin of the rumour.
Afterwards, when Cyrus grew to manhood, and became known as the
bravest and most popular of all his compeers, Harpagus, who was bent
on revenging himself upon Astyages, began to pay him court by gifts
and messages. His own rank was too humble for him to hope to obtain
vengeance without some foreign help. When therefore he saw Cyrus,
whose wrongs were so similar to his own, growing up expressly (as it
were) to be the avenger whom he needed, he set to work to procure
his support and aid in the matter. He had already paved the way for
his designs, by persuading, severally, the great Median nobles, whom
the harsh rule of their monarch had offended, that the best plan would
be to put Cyrus at their head, and dethrone Astyages. These
preparations made, Harpagus, being now ready for revolt, was anxious
to make known his wishes to Cyrus, who still lived in Persia; but as
the roads between Media and Persia were guarded, he had to contrive
a means of sending word secretly, which he did in the following way.
He took a hare, and cutting open its belly without hurting the fur, he
slipped in a letter containing what he wanted to say, and then
carefully sewing up the paunch, he gave the hare to one of his most
faithful slaves, disguising him as a hunter with nets, and sent him
off to Persia to take the game as a present to Cyrus, bidding him tell
Cyrus, by word of mouth, to paunch the animal himself, and let no
one be present at the time.
All was done as he wished, and Cyrus, on cutting the hare open,
found the letter inside, and read as follows:- "Son of Cambyses, the
gods assuredly watch over thee, or never wouldst thou have passed
through thy many wonderful adventures- now is the time when thou mayst
avenge thyself upon Astyages, thy murderer. He willed thy death,
remember; to the gods and to me thou owest that thou art still
alive. I think thou art not ignorant of what he did to thee, nor of
what I suffered at his hands because I committed thee to the
cowherd, and did not put thee to death. Listen now to me, and obey
my words, and all the empire of Astyages shall be thine. Raise the
standard of revolt in Persia, and then march straight on Media.
Whether Astyages appoint me to command his forces against thee, or
whether he appoint any other of the princes of the Medes, all will
go as thou couldst wish. They will be the first to fall away from him,
and joining thy side, exert themselves to overturn his power. Be
sure that on our part all is ready; wherefore do thou thy part, and
that speedily."
Cyrus, on receiving the tidings contained in this letter, set
himself to consider how he might best persuade the Persians to revolt.
After much thought, he hit on the following as the most expedient
course: he wrote what he thought proper upon a roll, and then
calling an assembly of the Persians, he unfolded the roll, and read
out of it that Astyages appointed him their general. "And now," said
he, "since it is so, I command you to go and bring each man his
reaping-hook." With these words he dismissed the assembly.
Now the Persian nation is made up of many tribes. Those which
Cyrus assembled and persuaded to revolt from the Medes were the
principal ones on which all the others are dependent. These are the
Pasargadae, the Maraphians, and the Maspians, of whom the Pasargadae
are the noblest. The Achaemenidae, from which spring all the Perseid
kings, is one of their clans. The rest of the Persian tribes are the
following: the Panthialaeans, the Derusiaeans, the Germanians, who are
engaged in husbandry; the Daans, the Mardians, the Dropicans, and
the Sagartians, who are nomads.

Previous | Next
Site Search