As to marvels, the land of Lydia has them for writing down not exceedingly, like, at any rate, another country, in fact, does, besides the gold-dust that comes down from Tmolus. And it supplies one work that’s far the largest, except for the Egyptian works and the Babylonian; there is in that place Alyattes the father of Croesus’ grave, whose foundation is of large stones, and the rest of the grave is a mound of earth. The human beings whose business is in the public square, the masters of handicrafts and the young working girls that ply their trade about the town had the work built. Its boundary-stones, being five, still even to my time were up on the grave, and on them letters had been carved that stated the parts of the work that each group had had built. And so, it was manifest, when the work of the young girls was measured, that it was the largest part. For all the Lydian people's daughters prostitute themselves and collect their own dowries by doing that until they cohabit, and they themselves give themselves away in marriage. The circumference of the grave, then, is six stades and two plethra and its breadth is thirteen plethra. A large lake is next to the grave, which, the Lydians say, is always full, and it is called Gygian.
That work, then, is like that, and the Lydians observe nearly the same laws as the Greeks, except that they prostitute their female offspring. They were the first of the human beings that we know of to strike coin of gold and silver and use it and were the first also to become retailers. The Lydians for their part assert that the games that are established among themselves and the Greeks, too, were invented by their own. At the same time they got invented by themselves, they say, as they sent a colony to Tyrsenia, and they say an account about those events like this: in the time of King Atys, the son of Manes, a severe food shortage came about throughout all Lydia, and the Lydians a while continued to persevere, but afterward, when it would not cease, they searched for cures, and one of them contrived one against it, another another. It was at that time, then, that there got invented the various kinds of dice, of bones, of ball, and of all the rest of the games, except draughts. (For, in fact, the inventing of that the Lydians do not claim as their own.) So they acted like this in view of the famine on inventing those things: one of the days they played games throughout, just that they might not have to seek food, while the other they ate food and ceased from their games. In a manner like that they continued for twenty years but two. And since the evil would not abate, but rather grew violent to a still greater extent, just then their king divided all the Lydians into two portions: he allotted to the one to remain in and to the other to go out of the country, and over the one of the portions that received by lot to remain there he assigned himself as king, while over the other that departed his own son, whose name was Tyrsenus. So the second group of them, on receiving by lot to go out of the country, went down to Smyrna and built by contrivance boats, into which they placed all the good movables that were theirs, and sailed off in search of livelihood and land, until, after passing by many nations, they came to the Ombrikians, where they erected cities and were settled until now. Instead of Lydians they were named a new name after the king’s son, who had led them up; after him they had their naming and were named Tyrsenians.
The Lydians, then, were enslaved under the Persians, and so indeed henceforth our account goes on to seek Cyrus, who he was that put down the rule of Croesus, and the Persians, in what manner they became the leader of Asia. Therefore, in accordance with that which several of the Persians say, who want not to make Cyrus’ affairs august, but to speak the account of what was, I will write, although I know how to bring to light three other ways of giving an account about Cyrus also. After the Assyrians had ruled Upper Asia for five hundred and twenty years, the Medes were the first to begin to revolt from them; and, I think, they fought with the Assyrians about their freedom and proved good men, and they thrust away from themselves their slavery and were free. After them, all the other nations, too, did the same as the Medes.
When all were autonomous throughout the mainland, they devolved back to tyrannies this way: a man among the Medes proved wise, whose name was Deioces, and he was the son of Phraortes. That Deioces fell in love with tyranny and acted like this: the Medes having their settlements in villages, he, being in his own, both previously was esteemed and even somewhat more eagerly applied himself to and practiced justice; and that, too, although there was lawlessness throughout all the Median land, he did, since he knew that to the just the unjust is an enemy. So the Medes, seeing his manners, chose him as their judge. He, then, inasmuch as he was wooing rule, was straight and just, and as a result, doing that, he had no little praise from his fellow citizens so that those in all the other villages learned by inquiry that Deioces was the only man to judge in accordance with what’s correct, and, although previously they fell in with unjust decisions, then, after they had heard of him, they gladly went constantly to Deioces, on their own indeed, to receive judgement, and finally they entrusted themselves to no other. When the group that went constantly on each and every occasion grew larger, inasmuch as they learned by inquiry that their lawsuits came out in accordance with what was, Deioces, come to the knowledge that everything was referred to himself, as he was unwilling to sit down any longer right where previously he had sat publicly and judged, so he said he would not judge any longer, since it was not profitable for him, careless of his own, to judge for his neighbors throughout the day. Accordingly, there being seizure and lawlessness still far more throughout the villages than was before, the Medes collected in the same place and deliberated with themselves; they said about the present situation (and, as I think, the friends of Deioces said it most), “Because, if we keep our present manner, indeed we are unable to be settled in our country, come let us set over ourselves a king, and thus our country will have good laws and we ourselves will turn to work and not be made to migrate by lawlessness.” Saying nearly that, they persuaded themselves to be a monarchy. At once, from when they were putting forward whom they should set themselves as king, Deioces was prevalent, since by every man he was both put forward and praised, until they consented that he should be king. He then bade them build a palace for himself worthy of the kingdom and strengthen him with lance-bearers. The Medes, indeed, did that; for they built him a large and powerful palace, where he himself pointed out in the country, and, as for lance-bearers, they entrusted to him to select them for himself from all the Medes. He then, when he had gotten hold of the rule, made it necessary for the Medes to make one borough and, because of their efforts to maintain it, to have less care for all the others.
As the Medes were persuaded to do that, too, he had built those large and strong walls that now are called Agbatana, one circle standing in the preceding. That wall is so contrived that one circle is taller than the preceding by its battlements alone; on the one hand, its spot, in fact, is something so near to an ally, since it is a hill, that it would be like that naturally, while, on the other, it was made even somewhat more so by art. The circles being all together seven, right in the last is the royal palace and the treasuries. The largest of them is a wall pretty near to the circle of the Athenians in its size. Of the first circle, then, the battlements are white, and of the second, black; the third circle’s are red, the fourth's, blue, and the fifth's, orange. Thus all those circles’ battlements are adorned as with flowers by paints; as to the last two, one has its battlements silvered, the other gilded. Those walls, then, Deioces had erected for himself round his palace, and the rest of the people he bade to be settled round the wall.
After everything had been built, Deioces first was the establisher of this order: no one should go into the king’s chamber, but should act in all matters through messengers, and the king should be seen by no one; further, in addition to that, to laugh and to spit in his presence, that, indeed, to quite all should be shameful. He made those august rules concerning himself for this reason, that, not seeing him, his contemporaries, who were brought up with him and of a not meaner house and who were not left behind in respect to manly goodness, might not be pained and plot against him, but he might seem to them to be of another kind, since they did not see him. And when that he had ordered completely and he was strengthening himself in his tyranny, he was, in his guarding of what’s just, difficult. As consequently men wrote down their lawsuits and sent them inside into him, so he decided those that went in and sent them out. That, concerning the lawsuits, he did, and the following orders were made by him: if he learned by inquiry that anyone was insolent, whenever he summoned him, in accordance with the deserts of each injustice he rendered judgement, and lookers and listeners were throughout the whole country over which he was ruler. Now, Deioces united the Median nation and that he ruled. There are among the Medes these many races: the Bousians, the Paretacenians, the Strouchatians, the Arizantians, the Boudians, and the Magians. The races of the Medes, then, are these many.
Then there was born Deioces’ son, Phraortes, who, when Deioces had met with his end, after he had reigned fifty-three years, inherited the rule. And, when he had inherited it, he was not content to rule the Medes alone, but, on advancing with an army against the Persians, he attacked them first and rendered them the Medes’ first subjects. Afterward, with those two nations and both powerful, he subjected Asia by going from one nation to another, until, when he had advanced with an army against the Assyrians, and of the Assyrians against those that had Ninus, in fact that had previously ruled all, although then they were alone without allies, seeing that they had revolted, but they yet were in other respects well off for themselves, after against those very men he had advanced with an army, Phraortes himself was killed, who had ruled twenty-two years, and the greater part of his army.
Phraortes, when he had met with his end, Cyaxares, the son of Phraortes, the son of Deioces, succeeded. He, it is said, proved still far more valorous than his forebears. Indeed he was the first to divide those in Asia into divisions by squadrons and the first to set in array each group to be separate, the spear-bearers, the bow-bearers and the horsemen; before that, confusedly, everything alike was confounded. That man was the one who had fought with the Lydians when the day had become night for them as they were fighting, and the one who had joined all Asia above the Halys river to himself. Then he, on collecting all those under his rule, advanced with an army against Ninus, because he was taking revenge for his father and wished to remove that city. And to him, after he had encountered and prevailed over the Assyrians by besieging Ninus, came the Scythians’ large army, and the king of the Scythians, Madyes, Protothyes’ son, led them; they had made an invasion into Asia and thrown the Cimmerians out of Europe; while they attended to them as they fled, they thus came into the Median land.
It is from the Maeetian lake over the Phasis river and to the Colchians a journey of thirty days for a well-girt man, and from the Colchian land it’s not far to go over into the Median land, but there is one nation in the middle of them, the Saspeirians, and, when men pass by it, they are in the Median land. However, the Scythians indeed made no invasion there, but turned out along the far longer upper road, with mount Caucasus on the right. Thereupon the Medes, when they had encountered the Scythians and been worsted in the battle, were deposed from their rule, and the Scythians occupied all Asia. Thence they went against Egypt. And when they had come to be in Palaestinian Syria, Psammetichus, Egypt's king, met them with gifts and entreaties and turned them from making their way farther. So, when they were returning back and came to be in Syria in the city of Ascalon, although the greater of the Scythians went by and out unharmed, some few of them were left behind and plundered the heavenly Aphrodite's shrine. That shrine is, as I have learned by inquiry and found, the most ancient of all shrines that are that god’s (for, in fact, the shrine in Cyprus originated thence, as the Cyprians themselves say) and that among the Cytherians—Phoenicians were the ones who set it up and they were from that Syria. Thus on those of the Scythians who had plundered the shrine in Ascalon and on the descendants of them the god let fall a female illness; and so the Scythians say that at the same time, on account of that, those were ill and they who came to the Scythian land saw among them how those were disposed, whom the Scythians call Enarees. Now, for twenty-eight years the Scythians were the ruler of Asia, and everything was made to migrate by their insolence and belittling, since, for one thing, as tribute they exacted from each group what on each they imposed and, for another, besides the tribute, they seized as they rode round that which each had. At length the greater number of those, indeed, Cyaxares and the Medes, after they had received them as guests and made them drunk, slaughtered, and thus the Medes brought back to safety their rule and were master of those very things of which they had been earlier as well, and they took Ninus (how they took it, in other accounts I will make clear) and brought the Assyrians into their power except the Babylonian portion.
After that, Cyaxares, when he had been king forty years, including those that the Scythians had ruled, met with his end, and Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, succeeded to the kingdom. And to him was born a daughter, whose name he made Mandane, who Astyages dreamt in his sleep made so much water that she filled his own city and inundated besides all Asia as well. After he had made over to the oneirocritics of the Magians his dream, he was afraid on learning from them the details of its lesson. So afterward, that Mandane, who was by then ripe for a husband, he gave as a wife to none of the Medes worthy of himself, since he was in a state of fear at the vision, but he gave her to a Persian, whose name was Cambyses, whom he had found to be of a good house and a quiet manner, because he held him far below a Median man of a middle rank.
While Mandane cohabited with Cambyses, Astyages in the first year saw another vision; it appeared to him that from the genitals of that daughter grew a vine, and the vine occupied all Asia. After he had seen that and made it over to the oneirocritics of the Magians, he summoned from the Persians his daughter, who was about to bring forth, and, on her coming, he guarded her, since he wanted to destroy that which issued from her; for, on the basis of his vision, the oneirocritics of the Magians indicated to him that the issue of his daughter was to be king instead of him. It was that, then, which Astyages was on guard against and, when Cyrus had been born, he called Harpagus, a man of his house, the most loyal of the Medes and trustee of all his affairs, and spoke to him like this, “Harpagus, whatever matter I will attach to you, in no way treat it indifferently and, with a choice of others, latterly meet with your own ruin. Take hold of the son that Mandane has brought forth, and bring it to your own house and kill it; afterward bury it in whatever manner you want.” And he answered, “O king, neither at another time yet did you notice in this man here anything unagreeable, and we are on guard for you also for the time hereafter to make no error. But if it’s dear to you for that thus to be done, as far as concerns me, there must be rendered service suitably.” Harpagus answered with that and, after the small child, adorned for the way to death, had been handed over to him, he went weeping to his house. And, on entering, he pointed out to his wife the whole speech that had been said by Astyages. And she said to him, “Then what is now in your mind to do?” And he answered, “Not as Astyages enjoined, not even if he will go out of his mind and be mad worse than now he is mad; I for my part will not attach myself to his judgement nor render service for a killing like that. For many reasons I will not kill him, indeed because the child is my relative and because Astyages is old and without a male child of issue; if then, at his meeting with his end, the tyranny will go over to that daughter, whose son he now seeks to kill through me, is anything left thereafter for me other than the greatest of dangers? Well, although for the sake of preventing my fall that child must meet his end, yet one of the men of Astyages himself must become the killer and not one of mine.” He said that and at once he sent a messenger to him of the cowherds of Astyages whom he knew pastured the most suitable pasturages and the most beast-filled mountains, whose name was Mitradates. He cohabited with his fellow slave, and the woman’s name, with whom he cohabited, was Kyno in the Greeks’ tongue and in the Median, Spako; for the Medes call the kyon “spax”. The foothills of the mountains, where that very cowherd had his pasturages for his cows, are toward the north wind from Agbatana and toward the Hospitable sea. For there the Median country toward the Saspeirians is very mountainous, high and covered with woods, while the rest of the Median country is completely flat. Accordingly when the cowherd with much haste had come at being called, Harpagus said this: “Astyages bade that you should take hold of that young child and put it on the most desolate of the mountains, that it might be killed most quickly. Moreover this he bade to say to you, that, if you did not kill it, but in any manner preserve it alive, with the worst kind of destruction he would use you fatally, and to look upon it exposed I am appointed.”