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Euterpe   


adorned with pillars carved so as to resemble palm trees, and with
other sumptuous ornaments. Within the cloister is a chamber with
folding doors, behind which lies the sepulchre of the king.
Here too, in this same precinct of Minerva at Sais, is the
burial-place of one whom I think it not right to mention in such a
connection. It stands behind the temple, against the backwall, which
it entirely covers. There are also some large stone obelisks in the
enclosure, and there is a lake near them, adorned with an edging of
stone. In form it is circular, and in size, as it seemed to me,
about equal to the lake in Delos called "the Hoop."
On this lake it is that the Egyptians represent by night his
sufferings whose name I refrain from mentioning, and this
representation they call their Mysteries. I know well the whole course
of the proceedings in these ceremonies, but they shall not pass my
lips. So too, with regard to the mysteries of Ceres, which the
Greeks term "the Thesmophoria," I know them, but I shall not mention
them, except so far as may be done without impiety. The daughters of
Danaus brought these rites from Egypt, and taught them to the Pelasgic
women of the Peloponnese. Afterwards, when the inhabitants of the
peninsula were driven from their homes by the Dorians, the rites
perished. Only in Arcadia, where the natives remained and were not
compelled to migrate, their observance continued.
After Apries had been put to death in the way that I have
described above, Amasis reigned over Egypt. He belonged to the
canton of Sais, being a native of the town called Siouph. At first his
subjects looked down on him and held him in small esteem, because he
had been a mere private person, and of a house of no great
distinction; but after a time Amasis succeeded in reconciling them
to his rule, not by severity, but by cleverness. Among his other
splendour he had a golden foot-pan, in which his guests and himself
were wont upon occasion to wash their feet. This vessel he caused to
be broken in pieces, and made of the gold an image of one of the gods,
which he set up in the most public place in the whole city; upon which
the Egyptians flocked to the image, and worshipped it with the
utmost reverence. Amasis, finding this was so, called an assembly, and
opened the matter to them, explaining how the image had been made of
the foot-pan, wherein they had been wont formerly to wash their feet
and to put all manner of filth, yet now it was greatly reverenced.
"And truly," he went on to say, "it had gone with him as with the
foot-pan. If he was a private person formerly, yet now he had come
to be their king. And so he bade them honour and reverence him."
Such was the mode in which he won over the Egyptians, and brought them
to be content to do him service.
The following was the general habit of his life:- from early
dawn to the time when the forum is wont to fill, he sedulously
transacted all the business that was brought before him; during the
remainder of the day he drank and joked with his guests, passing the
time in witty and, sometimes, scarce seemly conversation. It grieved
his friends that he should thus demean himself, and accordingly some
of them chid him on the subject, saying to him- "Oh! king, thou dost
but ill guard thy royal dignity whilst thou allowest thyself in such
levities. Thou shouldest sit in state upon a stately throne, and
busy thyself with affairs the whole day long. So would the Egyptians
feel that a great man rules them, and thou wouldst be better spoken
of. But now thou conductest thyself in no kingly fashion." Amasis
answered them thus:- "Bowmen bend their bows when they wish to
shoot; unbrace them when the shooting is over. Were they kept always
strung they would break, and fail the archer in time of need. So it is
with men. If they give themselves constantly to serious work, and
never indulge awhile in pastime or sport, they lose their senses,
and become mad or moody. Knowing this, I divide my life between
pastime and business." Thus he answered his friends.
It is said that Amasis, even while he was a private man, had the
same tastes for drinking and jesting, and was averse to engaging in

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