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Pages of Euterpe

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recovered all his treasures. After this friendly treatment Menelaus,
they said, behaved most unjustly towards the Egyptians; for as it
happened that at the time when he wanted to take his departure, he was
detained by the wind being contrary, and as he found this
obstruction continue, he had recourse to a most wicked expedient. He
seized, they said, two children of the people of the country, and
offered them up in sacrifice. When this became known, the
indignation of the people was stirred, and they went in pursuit of
Menelaus, who, however, escaped with his ships to Libya, after which
the Egyptians could not say whither he went. The rest they knew full
well, partly by the inquiries which they had made, and partly from the
circumstances having taken place in their own land, and therefore
not admitting of doubt.
Such is the account given by the Egyptian priests, and I am myself
inclined to regard as true all that they say of Helen from the
following considerations:- If Helen had been at Troy, the
inhabitants would, I think, have given her up to the Greeks, whether
Alexander consented to it or no. For surely neither Priam, nor his
family, could have been so infatuated as to endanger their own
persons, their children, and their city, merely that Alexander might
possess Helen. At any rate, if they determined to refuse at first, yet
afterwards when so many of the Trojans fell on every encounter with
the Greeks, and Priam too in each battle lost a son, or sometimes two,
or three, or even more, if we may credit the epic poets, I do not
believe that even if Priam himself had been married to her he would
have declined to deliver her up, with the view of bringing the
series of calamities to a close. Nor was it as if Alexander had been
heir to the crown, in which case he might have had the chief
management of affairs, since Priam was already old. Hector, who was
his elder brother, and a far braver man, stood before him, and was the
heir to the kingdom on the death of their father Priam. And it could
not be Hector's interest to uphold his brother in his wrong, when it
brought such dire calamities upon himself and the other Trojans. But
the fact was that they had no Helen to deliver, and so they told the
Greeks, but the Greeks would not believe what they said- Divine
Providence, as I think, so willing, that by their utter destruction it
might be made evident to all men that when great wrongs are done,
the gods will surely visit them with great punishments. Such, at
least, is my view of the matter.
(1.) When Proteus died, Rhampsinitus, the priests informed me,
succeeded to the throne. His monuments were the western gateway of the
temple of Vulcan, and the two statues which stand in front of this
gateway, called by the Egyptians, the one Summer, the other Winter,
each twenty-five cubits in height. The statue of Summer, which is
the northernmost of the two, is worshipped by the natives, and has
offerings made to it; that of Winter, which stands towards the
south, is treated in exactly the contrary way. King Rhampsinitus was
possessed, they said, of great riches in silver- indeed to such an
amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even
equalled his wealth. For the better custody of this money, he proposed
to build a vast chamber of hewn stone, one side of which was to form a
part of the outer wall of his palace. The builder, therefore, having
designs upon the treasures, contrived, as he was making the
building, to insert in this wall a stone, which could easily be
removed from its place by two men, or even by one. So the chamber
was finished, and the king's money stored away in it. Time passed, and
the builder fell sick, when finding his end approaching, he called for
his two sons, and related to them the contrivance he had made in the
king's treasure-chamber, telling them it was for their sakes he had
done it, that so they might always live in affluence. Then he gave
them clear directions concerning the mode of removing the stone, and
communicated the measurements, bidding them carefully keep the secret,
whereby they would be Comptrollers of the Royal Exchequer so long as
they lived. Then the father died, and the sons were not slow in

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