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intentions; set to work to construct a bridge on which his army
might cross the river, and began building towers upon the boats
which were to be used in the passage.
While the Persian leader was occupied in these labours, Tomyris
sent a herald to him, who said, "King of the Medes, cease to press
this enterprise, for thou canst not know if what thou art doing will
be of real advantage to thee. Be content to rule in peace thy own
kingdom, and bear to see us reign over the countries that are ours
to govern. As, however, I know thou wilt not choose to hearken to this
counsel, since there is nothing thou less desirest than peace and
quietness, come now, if thou art so mightily desirous of meeting the
Massagetae in arms, leave thy useless toil of bridge-making; let us
retire three days' march from the river bank, and do thou come
across with thy soldiers; or, if thou likest better to give us
battle on thy side the stream, retire thyself an equal distance."
Cyrus, on this offer, called together the chiefs of the Persians,
and laid the matter before them, requesting them to advise him what he
should do. All the votes were in favour of his letting Tomyris cross
the stream, and giving battle on Persian ground.
But Croesus the Lydian, who was present at the meeting of the
chiefs, disapproved of this advice; he therefore rose, and thus
delivered his sentiments in opposition to it: "Oh! my king! I promised
thee long since, that, as Jove had given me into thy hands, I would,
to the best of my power, avert impending danger from thy house.
Alas! my own sufferings, by their very bitterness, have taught me to
be keen-sighted of dangers. If thou deemest thyself an immortal, and
thine army an army of immortals, my counsel will doubtless be thrown
away upon thee. But if thou feelest thyself to be a man, and a ruler
of men, lay this first to heart, that there is a wheel on which the
affairs of men revolve, and that its movement forbids the same man
to be always fortunate. Now concerning the matter in hand, my judgment
runs counter to the judgment of thy other counsellors. For if thou
agreest to give the enemy entrance into thy country, consider what
risk is run! Lose the battle, and therewith thy whole kingdom is lost.
For assuredly, the Massagetae, if they win the fight, will not
return to their homes, but will push forward against the states of thy
empire. Or if thou gainest the battle, why, then thou gainest far less
than if thou wert across the stream, where thou mightest follow up thy
victory. For against thy loss, if they defeat thee on thine own
ground, must be set theirs in like case. Rout their army on the
other side of the river, and thou mayest push at once into the heart
of their country. Moreover, were it not disgrace intolerable for Cyrus
the son of Cambyses to retire before and yield ground to a woman? My
counsel, therefore, is that we cross the stream, and pushing forward
as far as they shall fall back, then seek to get the better of them by
stratagem. I am told they are unacquainted with the good things on
which the Persians live, and have never tasted the great delights of
life. Let us then prepare a feast for them in our camp; let sheep be
slaughtered without stint, and the winecups be filled full of noble
liquor, and let all manner of dishes be prepared: then leaving
behind us our worst troops, let us fall back towards the river. Unless
I very much mistake, when they see the good fare set out, they will
forget all else and fall to. Then it will remain for us to do our
parts manfully."
Cyrus, when the two plans were thus placed in contrast before him,
changed his mind, and preferring the advice which Croesus had given,
returned for answer to Tomyris that she should retire, and that he
would cross the stream. She therefore retired, as she had engaged; and
Cyrus, giving Croesus into the care of his son Cambyses (whom he had
appointed to succeed him on the throne), with strict charge to pay him
all respect and treat him well, if the expedition failed of success;
and sending them both back to Persia, crossed the river with his army.
The first night after the passage, as he slept in the enemy's
country, a vision appeared to him. He seemed to see in his sleep the

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