translated by Shlomo Felberbaum

Text and photographs Copyright © 1999—2003 Lost Trails
all rights reserved

Installment 15

Against that Amasis it was that Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, advanced with an army and led others whom he ruled and of the Greeks the Ionians and the Aeolians on account of a reason like this: Cambyses, having sent to Egypt a herald, demanded from Amasis a daughter and demanded that at the advising of an Egyptian man, who, finding fault with Amasis, did that, since him out of all the physicians in Egypt he had drawn away from wife and offspring and given over to the Persians, when Cyrus, having sent to Amasis, demanded a physician for the eyes, who was the best of those in Egypt. Because with that indeed the Egyptian found fault, he induced and bade Cambyses to demand from Amasis a daughter, that either he might give her and be grieved or not give her and incur Cambyses’ enmity. Then Amasis, vexed by and afraid of the power of the Persians, was able neither to give nor deny; for he knew well that Cambyses was to have her not as a wife, but as a concubine. Since that indeed he took account of, he did this: of Apries the former king was a daughter, very tall and a possessor of good looks, the only one left of the house, and her name was Nitetis. That child it was that Amasis adorned with clothing and gold and sent off to the Persians as his own daughter. So after a time, when her Cambyses greeted and named with a father’s name, the child said to him, “O king, you have not learned that you have been deceived by Amasis, who me for you with adornment did deck out and send off, as if his own daughter he were giving, although I am in truth Apries’, whom, albeit he was his master, he with the Egyptians revolted against and killed “. That word it was and that cause that arose and led Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, greatly angered, against Egypt.

Now, thus say the Persians, but the Egyptians claim Cambyses as their own, as they assert of that daughter of Amasis it was that he was born, because Cyrus was he who sent to Amasis for his daughter and not Cambyses, and giving that account, not correctly they give the account. And yet it has not escaped their notice (for if in fact any others, the Egyptians indeed know the Persians’ usages) that first it is not their law for a bastard to become king, a legitimate child being present, and in turn that Cambyses was the child of Cassandane, the daughter of Pharnaspes, an Achaimenid man, and not born of the Egyptian, but they turn aside their account and pretend they are of the house of Cyrus’ family.

Indeed the above is thus, but also this is given as an account, although it’s not persuasive to me, that of the Persian women one came to Cyrus’ wives and, when she had seen by Cassandane stood offspring, possessors of good looks and tall, gave praise much and marvelled excessively and Cassandane, being Cyrus’ wife, said this: “However, me, although of children like this I am mother, Cyrus holds in dishonor’s place and her lately acquiredfrom Egypt puts for himself in honor’s”; she, vexed at Nitetis, said that, and ofher children the older, Cambyses, said, “Therefore for you, o mother, whenever I become a man, Egypt’s high places low I will put and its low high”; that he said when he was somewhere around ten years old and the women came to be in a state of marvel; so he distinctly remembered that just then, when he had come to manhood and gotten hold of the kingdom, and made the expedition against Egypt.

There happened to come about also another matter like this with regard to that invasion: of the auxiliaries of Amasis was a man, in race Halicarnassian, and his name was Phanes, both in judgement capable and in what pertains to war valorous. That Phanes, finding some fault, I suppose, with Amasis, ran away by boat from Egypt, because he wanted to come to speeches with Cambyses. Then, seeing that he was among the auxiliaries of no small account and had the most exact knowledge about Egypt, Amasis pursued after and and took pains to take him and pursued after by dispatching the most loyal of the eunuchs with a trireme for him, who took him in Lycia and, having taken him, did not bring him back to Egypt, since Phanes circumvented him with wisdom. For, after he had gotten the guards utterly drunk, he departed to the Persians. So to Cambyses, minded to advance with an army against Egypt and being at a loss about the march, how he was to pass out through the waterless land, when he had come over, he not only pointed all the other affairs of Amasis, but also related the march and advised thus, that he should send to the Arabians’ king and ask him to render his passage out through it safe.

By that way alone then are visible approaches to Egypt; for from Phoenicia up to the borders of the city of Cadytis is the Syrians called Palaestinian’s, from the city of Cadytis that is, as it seems to me, not much smaller than Sardis, from that land the marts on the sea up to the city of Ienysus are the Arabian’s, from Ienysus again is the Syrians’ up to the very lake Serbonis, along which Mount Casium stretches to the sea, and from the very lake Serbonis, in which there’s an account that Typho is hidden, from that place by now is Egypt. What indeed is between the city of Ienysus and Mount Casium and lake Serbonis, being no small place, but one that extends approximately three days of the way, is terribly waterless.

That which a few of the voyagers to Egypt have fixed in mind I am going to point out. To Egypt from all Greece and besides from Phoenicia earthenware is brought in full of wine throughout each year and one empty earthen jar of wine in number it is not possible to see. How then, one might say, is it used up? I will point that out too. Each ruler of a deme must from his own city gather together and bring all the earthenware to Memphis and those from Memphis to those very waterless spots in Syria must convey it, after they have filled it with water. Thus the earthenware that resorts to and is taken out in Egypt to the earlier brought is conveyed, into Syria.

Now thus the Persians are those who prepared that approach to Egypt by equipping it with water precisely in accordance with what has been said, as soon as they had taken over Egypt, but since then water was not yet ready, Cambyses, having acquired instruction by inquiry from the Halicarnassian foreigner, sent to the Arabian messengers and asked for safety in fact and gave pledges and received them from him.

The Arabians reverence pledges similarly to most of human beings and make them in a manner like this: regarding those who want to make sureties, another man, standing in the midst of them both, with a sharp stone cuts the inner part of the hands superficially along the big fingers of those who are making the pledges and thereupon, taking hold of a piece of wool from the cloak of each, he anoints with their blood seven stones that lie in the midst and, doing that, he calls on Dionysus and Urania. Then, after that man has brought that to completion, the maker of the pledges recommends the foreigner to his friends or maybe the townsman, if he makes them to a townsman, and his friends themselves too think just to reverence the pledges. And of gods only Dionysus and Urania they believe exist and regarding their hairs’ cropping they crop them they assert just as Dionysus himself is cropped, as they crop them round about by shaving underneath their temples. And they name Dionysus Orotalt and Urania Alilat.

Therefore after the Arabian had made his pledge to the messengers that had come from Cambyses, he contrived like this: having filled skins of camels with water, he loaded them on all the live ones among the camels and, having done that, he drove to the waterless land and awaited there Cambyses’ army. That more persuasive of the accounts has been said and also the less persuasive must, at least since indeed it is said, be spoken. There is a large river in Arabia, whose name is Korus, and it discharges into the so-called Red sea. It’s that river then from which it is said the king of the Arabians, after he had had sewn a conduit of raw cowhide and other skins that in length reached to the waterless land, led right through it the water and in the waterless land had large receptacles dug, that they might receive and bring the water to safety (a way of twelve days is from the river to that waterless land); he led it through three conduits into three places.

At the so-called Pelousian mouth of the Nile encamped Psammenitus, Amasis’ son, awaiting Cambyses. For Cambyses did not overtake Amasis alive when he drove against Egypt, but Amasis died, after he had been king forty four years, in which no untoward thing had happened to him. Then, dead and mummified, he was buried in the burial-places in the shrine, which he himself had had built. So, in the time when Psammenitus, Amasis’ son, was king of Egypt, quite the greatest phenomenon came about for the Egyptians, as Egyptian Thebes was rained on, which neither previously at all had been rained on nor later was up to my time, as the Thebans themselves say. For indeed the upper parts of Egypt are absolutely not rained on, but in fact then Thebes was rained on with a drizzle.

When the Persians had marched out through the waterless land and sat near the Egyptians with the intention that they would engage in an encounter, thereupon the auxiliaries of the Egyptian, being Greek and Carian men, found fault with Phanes, because he had led an army against Egypt that spoke a foreign language, and contrived a matter in regard to him like this: there were Phanes’ children left behind in Egypt, whom they led into the camp and into their father’s sight, and they set a bowl in the midst of both camps and afterward they led out each of the children, one by one, and cut their throats over the bowl. Then after they had gone through all the children, they poured wine and water into it and, when they had imbibed of the blood, all the auxiliaries right then engaged in an encounter. And, the battle having become fierce and there having fallen of both camps many in multitude, the Egyptians got put to rout.

Now, I saw a great marvel, after I had learned of it by inquiry from the natives; for, the bones having been heaped separately of each of the groups who had fallen in that battle, since the Persians’ bones lay separately as they had been separated at the beginning, and on the other side the Egyptians’, the Persians’ heads are so lacking in strength that, if you should wish with a pebble alone to hit them, you will bore through them, whereas those of the Egyptians are somewhat so very hard, with difficulty, should you smite them with a stone, you would break through them. And they said the following’s the cause of that, and they persuaded me at least easily, that the Egyptians, beginning immediately from when they’re small children, shave their heads and against the sun the bone is thickened. Moreover, that same act is also cause of their not going bald; for among the Egyptians one can see the fewest bald people out of all human beings. For those then that is cause of having heads that are hard and for the Persians, that they have heads that lack strength, here’s the cause: they stay in the shade from the beginning and wear tiaras as caps. Now, those sights are like that and I saw also others similar to those in Papremis among those who perished with Achaimenes at Inaros the Libyan’s hand.

So the Egyptians after the battle, when they had been put to rout, fled with no order. And, after they had been cooped up in Memphis, Cambyses sent up the river a Mytilenian ship that brought a Persian man as herald to call forth the Egyptians for an agreement. But they, when they had seen the ship had gone into Memphis, after they had poured out all together from the wall, destroyed the ship and, after they had drawn asunder its men by working off their flesh, they carried them to the wall. Then, as the Egyptians, beseiged a time after that, made themselves over, so the adjacent Libyans in fear of what had been done concerning Egypt gave themselves over without a battle and they imposed tribute on themselves and sent gifts. And thus the Cyrenians and the Barcians, in fear similarly as the Libyans, did other deeds like that. But Cambyses, although he received kindly the gifts that had gone from the Libyans, yet found fault with those that had come from the Cyrenians, as it seems to me, because they were few (for indeed the Cyrenians sent five hundred minae of silver) and he grasped and with his own hand dispersed them to his host.

The tenth day after Cambyses had taken over the wall in Memphis, he seated down in the suburb for insult the king of the Egyptians, Psammenitus, who had reigned six months—he seated down that man with other Egyptians and made thorough trial of his soul by doing this: after he had dressed his daughter with the clothing of a slave, he sent her out with a water-jar for water and sent along other maidens too, children of the first men, after he had selected them out, similarly dressed as the king’s daughter. And when with crying and weeping the maidens went by their fathers, all the other men cried in answer and wept in answer as they saw their offspring treated badly, but Psammenitus, on looking forward and learning of that, bent to the earth. Then, the water-bearers having gone by, he next sent his son with two thousand other Egyptians who had the same age, bound with a rope round their necks and bridled in their mouths, and they were led to pay the penalty for those of the Mytilenians who had perished in Memphis with the ship; for the king’s judges came to that judgement, that for each man ten of the first Egyptians should perish in turn. So, after he had seen them go out by and learned his son was being led to death, although all the other Egyptians who were sitting down round him were weeping and took it terribly, he did the same thing that he had also in his daughter’s case. And, when those had gone by, it so happened that from among his symposiasts a man somewhat beyond his youth, having fallen from what was his and having nothing except all that a beggar has and so asking for something from the host, went by Psammenitus, Amasis’ son, and those of the Egyptians who were sitting down in the suburb. Then, when Psammenitus had gotten a look, after he had let out a loud wail and called by name his companion, he struck his head. And lo! there were guards over him, who indicated everything that was done by him at each going forth to Cambyses. So Cambyses, marvelling at what was done, sent a messenger and asked him a question in these words: “Lord Cambyses asks you, Psammenitus, on just what account, when you saw your daughter treated badly and your son going to death, you neither let out a cry nor let out a sob, but the beggar, although he is not at all related to you, as he has learned by inquiry from others, you honored?” The one then asked about that and the other replied with this: “O son of Cyrus, my own evils were too great for weeping out, but my companion’s sorrow was worth tears, who, having fallen from many happy things, has come to beggary at old age’s threshold.” And when that had been brought back, the story goes that it seemed to them well to have been spoken. And, as is said by the Egyptians, Croesus shed tears (for he too had in fact followed Cambyses to Egypt) and those of the Persians who were present shed tears, and some pity entered into Cambyses himself and immediately he bade bring his son to safety from those who were perishing and, after they had made him stand up from the suburb, lead him to him.

Then indeed those who went after his son found he no longer survived, but had been the first to be chopped up, and they made Psammenitus stand up and brought him to Cambyses, where he dwelled the remaining time and suffered no violence. And if indeed he had known how not to be busy with many affairs, he would have regained Egypt so as to be its guardian, since the Persians are wont to honor the sons of kings and, even if they revolt from them, nevertheless to their sons at least they give back their rule. Now, it is possible to form an estimate by many others’ case that they have the custom of doing that thus and morever by that of Inarus’ son, Thannyras, who took back the rule his father had, as well as by that of Amyrtaeus’ son, Pausiris, as he too took back his father’s rule; yet than Inarus and Amyrtaeus none yet had worked greater evils against the Persians. But, as it was, since Psammenitus was contriving evils, he paid the price; for he was caught revolting from the Egyptians and, because he had become detected by Cambyses, he drank bull’s blood and died forthwith. Thus indeed he met with his end.

Then Cambyses came from Memphis to the city of Sais, because he wanted to do what he in fact actually did. For, after he had gone into Amasis’ house, he immediately bade from its burial-place Amasis’ dead body bring out, outside, and when that had come to completion for him, he bade whip it, pluck its hairs, prick it and maltreat it all the other ways. And when they were tired of doing that in fact, since indeed the corpse, seeing that it was mummified, held out and would not at all flow its contents out, Cambyses bade burn it up and so enjoined what’s not holy. For the Persians believe fire to be a god. Accordingly to burn up corpses is in no way in law’s place for either, for the Persians, on account of the very reason that has been spoken, since they say apportioning a human being’s corpse to a god is not just, whereas by the Egyptians fire is believed to be an animate beast and itself to consume all the very things that it gets hold of and, filled with its food, to die with what is consumed. Accordingly not to beasts is it their law in any way to offer one’s corpse and on that account they mummify it that it may not lie and be eaten up by worms. Thus indeed Cambyses gave the injunction to do what was lawful to neither. However, as the Egyptians say, the one who suffered that was not Amasis, but another of the Egyptians with the same age as Amasis, whom by maltreating the Persians thought they maltreated Amasis. For they say that, when Amasis had learned by inquiry from the seat of prophecy what was to come about concerning himself after he was dead, then indeed, trying to find remedy for what was coming on, he buried that human being, who had been whipped after he was dead, at the doors within his tomb and enjoined on his son to put him as far as possible in the inmost part of the tomb. Now, those injunctions from Amasis that relate to the burial and the human being seem to me not to have come about to begin with, but the Egyptians seem merely to make the matter august.

After that Cambyses took counsel about three expeditions, against the Carchedonians, against the Ammonians and against the long-lived Ethiopians, who have their settlements in Libya at the south sea. And to him in his taking counsel it seemed good to dispatch the army of ships against the Carchedonians, one of the foot, after he had separated it, against the Ammonians and watchers at first against the Ethiopians to see what is spoken of as the sun’s table among the Ethiopians, whether it truly exists, and in addition to that to be on watch for all other matters, while by their account they brought gifts for their king.

The table of the sun is said to be something like this: a meadow exists in the suburb filled up with boiled pieces of meat of all the quadrupeds, into which during the nights each group of those of the townsmen who are in charge, put the meats, as they have it as their care, while during the day whoever wants comes forward and feasts, and the natives assert the earth itself gives that forth on each occasion. So indeed what is called the table of the sun is said to be like this.

So when it had seemed good to Cambyses to send the watchers, he immediately summoned from the city of Elephantine those of the Fish-eating men who knew the Ethiopian tongue. And in that time, in which they went after those, he bade the army of ships to sail against Carchedon, but the Phoenicians asserted that they would not do that, because they had bound themselves in great oaths and would do unholy acts against their own children, should they advance with an army. Hence, the Phoenicians not wanting, the remaining proved not worthy of battle. Now, the Carchedonians thus escaped slavery at the Persians’ hands. For Cambyses thought not just to apply violence to the Phoenicians, in that they had given themselves to the Persians and the army of ships in its entirety was dependent on the Phoenicians. And the Cyprians too gave themselves to the Persians and advanced with an army against Egypt.

When the Fish-eaters had come to Cambyses from Elephantine, he sent them to the Ethiopians, when he had given the injunction about what they had to say and they were bringing as gifts a purple garment, a torque for round the neck and bangles of gold, an alabaster vase of perfume and a jar of palm wine. Those Ethiopians then, to whom Cambyses sent off are said to be the tallest and most beautiful of all human beings and as to laws they assert that they use both others that are separate from those of all other human beings and, particularly, concerning the kingship one like this: whomever of the townsmen they judge to be tallest and in proportion to his height to have strength, they think that one worthy to be king.

When indeed to those men then the Fish-eaters had come, they, offering the gifts to their king, said this: “The king of the Persians, Cambyses, since he wants to become both your friend and foreign tie, sent us off on bidding us to come to speeches with you and offers you as gifts those things that even he himself takes most pleasure in using.” Then the Ethiopian, because he had learned that they had come as watchers, spoke to them like this: ”Neither the king of the Persians sent you as bearers of gifts, since he preferred at much cost to become my foreign tie nor do you speak truths, as you are watchers of my rule, nor is he a just man; for, if he were just, he would neither have conceived a desire for a country other than his own nor be leading to slavery human beings, by whom he has been done no injustice. But, as it is, offer him this bow here and say these words here: ‘The king of the Ethiopians advises the Persians’ king, whenever the Persians draw so easily bows that are so great in size, then against the long-lived Ethiopians, while he excels in multitude, to advance with an army, but until that time to acknowledge gratitude to the gods, who work no change on the mind of the Ethiopians’ sons to acquire another land in addition to their own.” And, after he had said that and let go the bow, he gave it over to those who had come. Then he took hold of the garment of purple and asked what it was and how made and, when the Fish-eaters had spoken the truth about the purple and its dyeing, he asserted that the human beings were deceitful and their garments deceitful. Then second he asked about the gold, the torque for round the neck and the bangles, and, when the Fish-eaters were relating its ornament, the king, with a laugh and in the belief that they were fetters, said that among them were stronger fetters than those. Then the third thing he asked about, the perfume, and, when they had spoken about its making and anointing, he spoke the same speech that he had also spoken about the garment. At length, when he had come to the wine and learned by inquiry of its making, having taken excessive pleasure in the drink, he asked what the king ate and what is the longest time a Persian man lived and they said that he ate bread with a relation of the nature of the kinds of wheat and that eighty years is put forth as the longest full complement of life for a man. In light of that the Ethiopian asserted he marvelled not at all if, eating dung, they live few years, as they would not be able to live even so many years, if they were not recovering themselves with that drink. And he pointed out the wine to the Fish-eaters, since in respect to that they themselves were worsted by the Persians.

When the Fish-eaters in response had asked the king about their life and diet, he said that the greater number of them came to one hundred and twenty years and some exceed even that and their food was boiled pieces of meat and their drink milk. Then, when the spies were marvelling about the years, he led them to a stream, from which, bathing themselves, they became sleeker, just as if it should be of olive oil, and it gave off an odor from itself as if of violets. Moreover the spies said the water of that stream was indeed somewhat so lacking in strength as for nothing to be able to float on it, neither wood nor all of what is lighter than wood, but they all went to the bottom. So if that water of theirs is truly of such a kind as it is said, on that account they would be, should they use it in all repects, long-lived. Then, when they departed from the stream, he led them to the men’s prison, where all were bound in gold fetters, as among those Ethiopians bronze is the rarest and most honored of all things. After they had beheld the prison, they beheld what is spoken of as the sun’s table.

After that they finally beheld their tombs, which are said to be prepared out of transparent stone in a manner like this: whenever they dry the dead body, either probably just as the Egyptians or in some other way, they chalk and adorn by painting all of it together in an attempt to make its looks similar to the degree possible and thereupon set a hollow pillar made of transparent stone round it (a large and easily worked one is dug up for them); then in the middle of the pillar is the corpse and it shows through, without either furnishing any unagreeable odor or anything else unpleasant and it has everything visible similarly to the corpse itself. A year indeed the closest relatives have the pillar in their houses and they offer of the first-fruits of everything to and bring sacrifices for it. After that they convey out and set them round the city.

After they had beheld everything, the spies departed back. And those having made announcements of that back, immediately Cambyses became angry and advanced with an army against the Ethiopians without either announcing orders for any preparation of grain or taking into account that he was to advance with an army to the farthest parts of the earth, and seeing that he was mad and not sane, when he had heard from the Fish-eaters, he advanced with an army, after he had arrayed those of the Greeks who were present to abide right there, at the same time as he was taking with himself all the foot. When in advancing with an army he had come to be in Thebes, he selected out of the army about five myriads and enjoined on those to lead the Ammonians into captivity as slaves and burn down the oracle of Zeus, while he himself led the remaining army and went against the Ethiopians. But before the host had gone through the fifth part of the way, immediately all that they had which was of the character of foods had failed them and after the foods also the yoke-animals failed as they were being consumed. Now, if, when Cambyses had learned that, he would have battled with his judgement and led the army back, after the failing that had come about at the beginning he would have been a wise man, but, as it was, considering it of no account, he went on each and every occasion to the farther point. So as long as the soldiers were able to take something from the earth, they were living on by eating grass, but when they had come to the sand, some of them did an awful deed; for they chose by lot one of them from a decade and ate him. Having learned of that by inquiry, Cambyses, in fear of cannibalism, on letting the expedition against the Ethiopians go, made his way back and came to Thebes with the loss of many from his army. Then from Thebes he went down to Memphis and let the Greeks go sailing off.

(to be continued)

Text and photographs Copyright © 1999—2003 Lost Trails
all rights reserved