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crown, and the Medes, in consequence of his cruelty, were brought
under the rule of the Persians. Their empire over the parts of Asia
beyond the Halys had lasted one hundred and twenty-eight years, except
during the time when the Scythians had the dominion. Afterwards the
Medes repented of their submission, and revolted from Darius, but were
defeated in battle, and again reduced to subjection. Now, however,
in the time of Astyages, it was the Persians who under Cyrus
revolted from the Medes, and became thenceforth the rulers of Asia.
Cyrus kept Astyages at his court during the remainder of his life,
without doing him any further injury. Such then were the circumstances
of the birth and bringing up of Cyrus, and such were the steps by
which he mounted the throne. It was at a later date that he was
attacked by Croesus, and overthrew him, as I have related in an
earlier portion of this history. The overthrow of Croesus made him
master of the whole of Asia.
The customs which I know the Persians to observe are the
following: they have no images of the gods, no temples nor altars, and
consider the use of them a sign of folly. This comes, I think, from
their not believing the gods to have the same nature with men, as
the Greeks imagine. Their wont, however, is to ascend the summits of
the loftiest mountains, and there to offer sacrifice to Jupiter, which
is the name they give to the whole circuit of the firmament. They
likewise offer to the sun and moon, to the earth, to fire, to water,
and to the winds. These are the only gods whose worship has come
down to them from ancient times. At a later period they began the
worship of Urania, which they borrowed from the Arabians and
Assyrians. Mylitta is the name by which the Assyrians know this
goddess, whom the Arabians call Alitta, and the Persians Mitra.
To these gods the Persians offer sacrifice in the following
manner: they raise no altar, light no fire, pour no libations; there
is no sound of the flute, no putting on of chaplets, no consecrated
barley-cake; but the man who wishes to sacrifice brings his victim
to a spot of ground which is pure from pollution, and there calls upon
the name of the god to whom he intends to offer. It is usual to have
the turban encircled with a wreath, most commonly of myrtle. The
sacrificer is not allowed to pray for blessings on himself alone,
but he prays for the welfare of the king, and of the whole Persian
people, among whom he is of necessity included. He cuts the victim
in pieces, and having boiled the flesh, he lays it out upon the
tenderest herbage that he can find, trefoil especially. When all is
ready, one of the Magi comes forward and chants a hymn, which they say
recounts the origin of the gods. It is not lawful to offer sacrifice
unless there is a Magus present. After waiting a short time the
sacrificer carries the flesh of the victim away with him, and makes
whatever use of it he may please.
Of all the days in the year, the one which they celebrate most
is their birthday. It is customary to have the board furnished on that
day with an ampler supply than common. The richer Persians cause an
ox, a horse, a camel, and an ass to be baked whole and so served up to
them: the poorer classes use instead the smaller kinds of cattle. They
eat little solid food but abundance of dessert, which is set on
table a few dishes at a time; this it is which makes them say that
"the Greeks, when they eat, leave off hungry, having nothing worth
mention served up to them after the meats; whereas, if they had more
put before them, they would not stop eating." They are very fond of
wine, and drink it in large quantities. To vomit or obey natural calls
in the presence of another is forbidden among them. Such are their
customs in these matters.
It is also their general practice to deliberate upon affairs of
weight when they are drunk; and then on the morrow, when they are
sober, the decision to which they came the night before is put
before them by the master of the house in which it was made; and if it
is then approved of, they act on it; if not, they set it aside.
Sometimes, however, they are sober at their first deliberation, but in

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