Ekekeleusto

copertina-iraq-seleucia

Φασὶ δὲ αὐτῷ τὰς Σελευκείας οἰκίζοντι, τὴν μὲν ἐπὶ τῇ θαλάσσῃ, διοσημίαν ἡγήσασθαι κεραυνοῦ, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο θεὸν αὐτοῖς κεραυνὸν ἔθετο, καὶ θρησκεύουσι καὶ ὑμνοῦσι καὶ νῦν κεραυνόν· ἐς δὲ τὴν ἐπὶ τοῦ Τίγρητος ἡμέραν ἐπιλέξασθαι τοὺς μάγους κελευομένους, καὶ τῆς ἡμέρας ὥραν, ᾗ τῶν θεμελίων ἄρξασθαι τῆς ὀρυχῆς ἔδει, ψεύσασθαι τὴν ὥραν τοὺς μάγους, οὐκ ἐθέλοντας ἐπιτείχισμα τοιόνδε σφίσι γενέσθαι. καὶ Σέλευκος μὲν ἐν τῇ σκηνῇ τὴν δεδομένην ὥραν ἀνέμενεν, ὁ δὲ στρατὸς ἐς τὸ ἔργον ἕτοιμος, ἀτρεμῶν ἔστε σημήνειεν ὁ Σέλευκος, ἄφνω κατὰ τὴν αἰσιωτέραν ὥραν δόξαντές τινα κελεύειν ἐπὶ τὸ ἔργον ἀνεπήδησαν, ὡς μηδὲ τῶν κηρύκων ἐρυκόντων ἔτι ἀνασχέσθαι. τὸ μὲν δὴ ἔργον ἐξετετέλεστο, Σελεύκῳ δὲ ἀθύμως ἔχοντι, καὶ τοὺς μάγους αὖθις ἀνακρίνοντι περὶ τῆς πόλεως, ἄδειαν αἰτήσαντες ἔλεγον οἱ μάγοι· “τὴν πεπρωμένην ὦ βασιλεῦ μοῖραν, χείρονά τε καὶ κρείσσονα, οὐκ ἔστιν οὔτε ἀνδρὸς οὔτε πόλεως ἐναλλάξαι. μοῖρα δέ τις καὶ πόλεών ἐστιν ὥσπερ ἀνδρῶν. καὶ τήνδε χρονιωτάτην μὲν ἐδόκει τοῖς θεοῖς γενέσθαι, ἀρχομένην ἐκ τῆσδε τῆς ὥρας ἧς ἐγένετο· δειμαίνοντες δ’ ἡμεῖς ὡς ἐπιτείχισμα ἡμῖν ἐσομένην, παρεφέρομεν τὸ πεπρωμένον. τὸ δὲ κρεῖσσον ἦν καὶ μάγων πανουργούντων καὶ βασιλέως ἀγνοοῦντος αὐτό. τοιγάρτοι τὸ δαιμόνιον τὰ αἰσιώτερα τῷ στρατῷ προσέταξεν. καὶ τοῦτο ἔνι σοι καταμαθεῖν ὧδε, ἵνα μή τι καὶ νῦν ἡμᾶς ἔτι τεχνάζειν ὑπονοῇς. αὐτός τε γὰρ ὁ βασιλεὺς σὺ τῷ στρατῷ παρεκάθησο, καὶ τὸ κέλευσμα αὐτὸς ἐδεδώκεις ἀναμένειν· καὶ ὁ εὐπειθέστατος ὤν σοι πρὸς κινδύνους καὶ πόνους οὐκ ἠνέσχετο νῦν οὐδὲ ἀναπαύσεως ἐπιτάγματος, ἀλλ’ ἀνέθορεν, οὐδὲ ἀνὰ μέρος ἀλλ’ ἀθρόως, ἐπιστάταις αὐτοῖς, καὶ ἐνόμιζε κεκελεῦσθαι. καὶ ἐκεκέλευστο δή· διόπερ οὐδὲ σοῦ κατερύκοντος αὐτοὺς ἔτι ἐπείθοντο. τί ἂν οὖν βασιλέως ἐν ἀνθρώποις εἴη καρτερώτερον ἄλλο θεοῦ; ὃς τῆς σῆς γνώμης ἐπεκράτησε, καὶ ἡγεμόνευσέ σοι τῆς πόλεως ἀντὶ ἡμῶν, δυσμεναίνων ἡμῖν τε καὶ γένει παντὶ τῷ περιοίκῳ. ποῦ γὰρ ἔτι τὰ ἡμέτερα ἰσχύσει, δυνατωτέρου γένους παρῳκισμένου; ἡ μὲν δὴ πόλις σοι γέγονε σὺν τύχῃ καὶ μεγιστεύσει καὶ χρόνιος ἔσται: σὺ δὲ ἡμῖν, ἐξαμαρτοῦσιν ὑπὸ δέους οἰκείων ἀγαθῶν ἀφαιρέσεως, τὴν συγγνώμην βεβαίου.” (Appian, Rhomaïka 11. [= Syr.] 58)

They say that when he was about to build the two Seleucias a portent of thunder preceded the foundation of the one by the sea, for which reason he consecrated thunder as a divinity of the place. Accordingly the inhabitants worship thunder and sing its praises to this day. They say, also, that when the Magians were ordered to indicate the propitious day and hour for beginning the foundations of Seleucia-on-the-Tigris they falsified as to the hour because they did not want to have such a stronghold built against themselves. While the king was waiting in his tent for the appointed hour, and the army, in readiness to begin the work, stood quietly till Seleucus should give the signal, suddenly, at the true hour of destiny, they seemed to hear a voice ordering them on. So they sprang to their work with such alacrity that the heralds who tried to stop them were not able to do so. When the work was brought to an end Seleucus, being troubled in his mind, again made inquiry of the Magians concerning his city, and they, having first secured a promise of impunity, replied, “That which is fated, o king, whether it be for better or worse, neither man nor city can change, for there is a fate for cities as well as for men. It pleases the gods that this city shall endure for ages, because it was begun on the hour on which it was begun. We feared lest it should be a stronghold against ourselves, and falsified the appointed time. Destiny is stronger than crafty Magians or an unsuspecting king. For that reason the deity announced the more propitious hour to the army. It is permitted you to know these things so surely that you need not suspect us of deception still, for you were presiding over the army yourself, as king, and you had yourself ordered them to wait; but the army, ever obedient to you in facing danger and toil, could not now be restrained, even when you gave them the order to stop, but sprang to their work, not a part of them merely, but all together, and their officers with them, thinking that the order had been given. In fact it had been given. That was the reason why not even you could hold them back. What can be stronger in human affairs than a king, unless it be a god, who overcame your intention and supplanted us in giving you directions about the city; for the god is in hostility to us and to all the people round about? What can our resources avail hereafter with a more powerful race settled along side of us? This city of yours has had a fortunate beginning, it will be great and enduring. We beg that you will confirm your pardon of our fault which we committed from fear of the loss of our own prosperity.” The king was pleased with what the Magians said and pardoned them. (tr. Horace White)

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