Aielouroi

John Reinhard Weguelin, The obsequies of an Egyptian cat, 1886
John Reinhard Weguelin, The obsequies of an Egyptian cat (1886)

Πολλῶν δὲ ἐόντων ὁμοτρόφων τοῖσι ἀνθρώποισι θηρίων πολλῷ ἂν ἔτι πλέω ἐγίνετο, εἰ μὴ κατελάμβανε τοὺς αἰελούρους τοιάδε· ἐπεὰν τέκωσι αἱ θήλεαι, οὐκέτι φοιτέουσι παρὰ τοὺς ἔρσενας· οἳ δὲ διζήμενοι μίσγεσθαι αὐτῇσι οὐκ ἔχουσι. πρὸς ὦν ταῦτα σοφίζονται τάδε· ἁρπάζοντες ἀπὸ τῶν θηλέων καὶ ὑπαιρεόμενοι τὰ τέκνα κτείνουσι, κτείναντες μέντοι οὐ πατέονται· αἳ δὲ στερισκόμεναι τῶν τέκνων, ἄλλων δὲ ἐπιθυμέουσαι, οὕτω δὴ ἀπικνέονται παρὰ τοὺς ἔρσενας· φιλότεκνον γὰρ τὸ θηρίον. πυρκαϊῆς δὲ γενομένης θεῖα πρήγματα καταλαμβάνει τοὺς αἰελούρους· οἱ μὲν γὰρ Αἰγύπτιοι διαστάντες φυλακὰς ἔχουσι τῶν αἰελούρων, ἀμελήσαντες σβεννύναι τὸ καιόμενον, οἱ δὲ αἰέλουροι διαδύνοντες καὶ ὑπερθρώσκοντες τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐσάλλονται ἐς τὸ πῦρ. ταῦτα δὲ γινόμενα πένθεα μεγάλα τοὺς Αἰγυπτίους καταλαμβάνει. ἐν ὁτέοισι δ’ ἂν οἰκίοισι αἰέλουρος ἀποθάνῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ αὐτομάτου, οἱ ἐνοικέοντες πάντες ξυρῶνται τὰς ὀφρύας μούνας, παρ’ ὁτέοισι δ’ ἂν κύων, πᾶν τὸ σῶμα καὶ τὴν κεφαλήν. ἀπάγονται δὲ οἱ αἰέλουροι ἀποφανόντες ἐς ἱρὰς στέγας, ἔνθα θάπτονται ταριχευθέντες, ἐν Βουβάστιπόλι· τὰς δὲ κύνας ἐν τῇ ἑωυτῶν ἕκαστοι πόλι θάπτουσι ἐν ἱρῇσι θήκῃσι. ὣς δὲ αὕτως τῇσι κυσὶ οἱ ἰχνευταὶ θάπτονται. τὰς δὲ μυγαλᾶς καὶ τοὺς ἴρηκας ἀπάγουσι ἐς Βουτοῦν πόλιν, τὰς δὲ ἴβις ἐς Ἑρμέω πόλιν. τὰς δὲ ἄρκτους ἐούσας σπανίας καὶ τοὺς λύκους οὐ πολλῷ τεῳ ἐόντας ἀλωπέκων μέζονας αὐτοῦ θάπτουσι τῇ ἂν εὑρεθέωσι κείμενοι.
(Herodotus, Hist. 2.66-67)

Although there are plenty of domestic animals in Egypt, there would be many more if it were not for what happens to the cats. When female cats give birth, they stop having intercourse with the males. However much the toms want to mate with them, they are unable to do so. The toms have therefore come up with a clever solution. They sneak in and steal the kittens away from their mothers, and then kill them (but not for food). The females, deprived of their young, long to have some more, because the feline species is very fond of its young, and so they go to the males. If a house catches fire, what happens to the cats is quite extraordinary. The Egyptians do not bother to try to put the fire out, but position themselves at intervals around the house and look out for the cats. The cats slip between them, however, and even jump over them, and dash into the fire. This plunges the Egyptians into deep grief. In households where a cat dies a natural death, all the people living there shave off their eyebrows—nothing more. In households where a dog dies, they shave their whole bodies, head and all. After their death, the cats are taken to sacred chambers in the city of Bubastis where they are mummified and buried. Dogs are buried by each householder in his own community in sanctified tombs, and mongooses receive the same form of burial as well. Shrews and hawks are taken to the city of Buto, and ibises to Hermepolis. Bears (which are rare) and wolves (which are not much larger than foxes) are buried wherever they are found lying. (tr. Robin Waterfield)

Terpeu

Hans Leinberger, Memento mori, ca. 1520
Hans Leinberger, Memento mori (ca. 1520)

Αὐτῶν δὲ δὴ Αἰγυπτίων οἳ μὲν περὶ τὴν σπειρομένην Αἴγυπτον οἰκέουσι, μνήμην ἀνθρώπων πάντων ἐπασκέοντες μάλιστα λογιώτατοι εἰσὶ μακρῷ τῶν ἐγὼ ἐς διάπειραν ἀπικόμην, τρόπῳ δὲ ζόης τοιῷδε διαχρέωνται· συρμαΐζουσι τρεῖς ἡμέρας ἐπεξῆς μηνὸς ἑκάστου, ἐμέτοισι θηρώμενοι τὴν ὑγιείην καὶ κλύσμασι, νομίζοντες ἀπὸ τῶν τρεφόντων σιτίων πάσας τὰς νούσους τοῖσι ἀνθρώποισι γίνεσθαι. εἰσὶ μὲν γὰρ καὶ ἄλλως Αἰγύπτιοι μετὰ Λίβυας ὑγιηρέστατοι πάντων ἀνθρώπων τῶν ὡρέων δοκέειν ἐμοὶ εἵνεκα, ὅτι οὐ μεταλλάσσουσι αἱ ὧραι· ἐν γὰρ τῇσι μεταβολῇσι τοῖσι ἀνθρώποισι αἱ νοῦσοι μάλιστα γίνονται τῶν τε ἄλλων πάντων καὶ δὴ καὶ τῶν ὡρέων μάλιστα. ἀρτοφαγέουσι δὲ ἐκ τῶν ὀλυρέων ποιεῦντες ἄρτους, τοὺς ἐκεῖνοι κυλλήστις ὀνομάζουσι. οἴνῳ δὲ ἐκ κριθέων πεποιημένῳ διαχρέωνται· οὐ γάρ σφι εἰσὶ ἐν τῇ χώρῃ ἄμπελοι. ἰχθύων δὲ τοὺς μὲν πρὸς ἥλιον αὐήναντες ὠμοὺς σιτέονται, τοὺς δὲ ἐξ ἅλμης τεταριχευμένους. ὀρνίθων δὲ τούς τε ὄρτυγας καὶ τὰς νήσσας καὶ τὰ μικρὰ τῶν ὀρνίθων ὠμὰ σιτέονται προταριχεύσαντες. τὰ δὲ ἄλλα ὅσα ἢ ὀρνίθων ἢ ἰχθύων σφι ἐστὶ ἐχόμενα, χωρὶς ἢ ὁκόσοι σφι ἱροὶ ἀποδεδέχαται, τοὺς λοιποὺς ὀπτοὺς καὶ ἑφθοὺς σιτέονται. ἐν δὲ τῇσι συνουσίῃσι τοῖσι εὐδαίμοσι αὐτῶν, ἐπεὰν ἀπὸ δείπνου γένωνται, περιφέρει ἀνὴρ νεκρὸν ἐν σορῷ ξύλινον πεποιημένον, μεμιμημένον ἐς τὰ μάλιστα καὶ γραφῇ καὶ ἔργῳ, μέγαθος ὅσον τε πηχυαῖον ἢ δίπηχυν, δεικνὺς δὲ ἑκάστῳ τῶν συμποτέων λέγει “ἐς τοῦτον ὁρέων πῖνέ τε καὶ τέρπευ· ἔσεαι γὰρ ἀποθανὼν τοιοῦτος.” ταῦτα μὲν παρὰ τὰ συμπόσια ποιεῦσι.
(Herodotus, Hist. 2.77-78)

As for the actual people of Egypt, those who live in the cultivated part of the country make a particular practice of recording the history of all peoples, and are consequently by far the most learned people I have ever come across and questioned. Here are some aspects of their lifestyle. They purge themselves for three consecutive days of every month; they make emetics and douches their means of pursuing health, because they believe that all human illness is due to food causing colic. In fact, the Egyptians are, after the Libyans, the most healthy people in the world, which in my opinion is due to the fact that the climate is very stable there. I mean, we generally get ill when things change— and by ‘things’ here I mean especially, but not exclusively, the seasons. The loaves they eat—which are called kyllestis in their language—are made out of emmer wheat. They have no vines in their country, so they drink an ale made out of barley. They eat raw sun-dried fish as well as salted fish. As for birds, they eat quail, duck, and raw salted young birds. In general, however, they first bake or boil any species of bird or fish their country provides, except for those which have been consecrated, before eating them. After the meal at a party of well-to-do Egyptians, a man carries round the room in a coffin a corpse made of wood, which has been painted and carved so as to be as lifelike as possible, and whose length is about a cubit or two. The man shows the corpse to all the guests, one by one, while saying: “Look on this while you drink, for this will be your lot when you are dead.’ That is what happens at their parties. (tr. Robin Waterfield)

Diabolē

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Achaemenid nobleman

This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Σοὶ μὲν δὴ ταῦτα, ὦ βασιλεῦ, συμβουλεύω· σὺ δέ, ὦ παῖ Γωβρύεω, παῦσαι λέγων λόγους ματαίους περὶ Ἑλλήνων οὐκ ἐόντων ἀξίων φλαύρως ἀκούειν. Ἕλληνας γὰρ διαβάλλων ἐπείρεις αὐτὸν βασιλέα στρατεύεσθαι· αὐτοῦ δὲ τούτου εἵνεκα δοκέεις μοι πᾶσαν προθυμίην ἐκτείνειν. μή νυν οὕτω γένηται. διαβολὴ γάρ ἐστι δεινότατον, ἐν τῇ δύο μέν εἰσι οἱ ἀδικέοντες, εἷς δὲ ὁ ἀδικεόμενος. ὁ μὲν γὰρ διαβάλλων ἀδικέει οὐ παρεόντος κατηγορέων, ὁ δὲ ἀδικέει ἀναπειθόμενος πρὶν ἢ ἀτρεκέως ἐκμάθῃ· ὁ δὲ δὴ ἀπεὼν τοῦ λόγου τάδε ἐν αὐτοῖσι ἀδικέεται, διαβληθείς τε ὑπὸ τοῦ ἑτέρου καὶ νομισθεὶς πρὸς τοῦ ἑτέρου κακὸς εἶναι. ἀλλ’ εἰ δὴ δεῖ γε πάντως ἐπὶ τοὺς ἄνδρας τούτους στρατεύεσθαι, φέρε, βασιλεὺς μὲν αὐτὸς ἐν ἤθεσι τοῖσι Περσέων μενέτω, ἡμέων δὲ ἀμφοτέρων παραβαλλομένων τὰ τέκνα στρατηλάτεε αὐτὸς σὺ ἐπιλεξάμενός τε ἄνδρας τοὺς ἐθέλεις καὶ λαβὼν στρατιὴν ὁκόσην τινὰ βούλεαι. καὶ ἢν μὲν τῇ σὺ λέγεις ἀναβαίνῃ βασιλέϊ τὰ πρήγματα, κτεινέσθων οἱ ἐμοὶ παῖδες, πρὸς δὲ αὐτοῖσι καὶ ἐγώ· ἢν δὲ τῇ ἐγὼ προλέγω, οἱ σοὶ ταῦτα πασχόντων, σὺν δέ σφι καὶ σύ, ἢν ἀπονοστήσῃς. εἰ δὲ ταῦτα μὲν ὑποδύνειν οὐκ ἐθελήσεις, σὺ δὲ πάντως στράτευμα ἀνάξεις ἐπὶ τὴν Ἑλλάδα, ἀκούσεσθαί τινά φημι τῶν αὐτοῦ τῇδε ὑπολειπομένων Μαρδόνιον, μέγα τι κακὸν ἐξεργασάμενον Πέρσας, ὑπὸ κυνῶν τε καὶ ὀρνίθων διαφορεύμενον ἤ κου ἐν γῇ τῇ Ἀθηναίων ἤ σέ γε ἐν τῇ Λακεδαιμονίων, εἰ μὴ ἄρα καὶ πρότερον κατ’ ὁδόν, γνόντα ἐπ᾽ οἵους ἄνδρας ἀναγινώσκεις στρατεύεσθαι βασιλέα.
(Herodotus, Hist. 7.10ζ-θ)

So that is my advice to you, my lord. As for you, son of Gobryas, you should stop making rude and defamatory remarks about the Greeks when they don’t deserve them. By disparaging the Greeks you encourage the king to march against them; in fact, I think that is exactly what all this effort of yours is for. But I hope this campaign never materializes. Slander is a truly terrible thing, because it involves two men ganging up to wrong a single victim. The one who casts the aspersions does wrong by accusing someone in his absence, and the other person does wrong by believing the lie before he has found out the truth. Meanwhile, the person who is missing from the discussion is the victim of the situation in the sense that he has been defamed by the one person and has acquired a bad reputation in the other one’s mind. However, if there is absolutely no help for it and we must make war on these Greeks, then consider this proposal, Mardonius. While the king stays here in Persia, in his homeland, you pick your men, take an army of any size you want, and lead the expedition. Let each of us gamble the lives of our children on the outcome. If matters turn out as you say they will for the king, let my children be put to death, and I will join them; but if things turn out as I am predicting, let your children suffer that fate, and you too, if you make it back home. If you aren’t prepared to run this risk, but are still determined to take the army overseas to Greece, I can tell you what news of Mardonius will reach the ears of those who stay behind here: they will be told that Mardonius was the cause of a great disaster for Persia, and that you were then torn apart by dogs and birds somewhere in Athenian territory or somewhere in Lacedaemon—that is, if this doesn’t happen earlier, on the way there. Then you will know what kind of men you are trying to persuade the king to attack.’ (tr. Robin Waterfield)

Bouleuesthai

p.txt

This is part 2 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 3 is here.

Ἐγὼ δὲ οὐδεμιῇ σοφίῃ οἰκηίῃ αὐτὸς ταῦτα συμβάλλομαι, ἀλλ’ οἷόν κοτε ἡμέας ὀλίγου ἐδέησε καταλαβεῖν πάθος, ὅτε πατὴρ ὁ σός ζεύξας Βόσπορον τὸν Θρηίκιον, γεφυρώσας δὲ ποταμὸν Ἴστρον διέβη ἐπὶ Σκύθας. τότε παντοῖοι ἐγένοντο Σκύθαι δεόμενοι Ἰώνων λῦσαι τὸν πόρον, τοῖσι ἐπετέτραπτο ἡ φυλακὴ τῶν γεφυρέων τοῦ Ἴστρου. καὶ τότε γε Ἱστιαῖος ὁ Μιλήτου τύραννος εἰ ἐπέσπετο τῶν ἄλλων τυράννων τῇ γνώμῃ μηδὲ ἠντιώθη, διέργαστο ἂν τὰ Περσέων πρήγματα. καίτοι καὶ λόγῳ ἀκοῦσαι δεινόν, ἐπ’ ἀνδρί γε ἑνὶ πάντα τὰ βασιλέος πρήγματα γεγενῆσθαι. σὺ ὦν μὴ βούλευ ἐς κίνδυνον μηδένα τοιοῦτον ἀπικέσθαι μηδεμιῆς ἀνάγκης ἐούσης, ἀλλὰ ἐμοὶ πείθευ· νῦν μὲν τὸν σύλλογον τόνδε διάλυσον· αὖτις δέ, ὅταν τοι δοκῇ, προσκεψάμενος ἐπὶ σεωυτοῦ προαγόρευε τά τοι δοκέει εἶναι ἄριστα. τὸ γὰρ εὖ βουλεύεσθαι κέρδος μέγιστον εὑρίσκω ἐόν· εἰ γὰρ καὶ ἐναντιωθῆναί τι θέλει, βεβούλευται μὲν οὐδὲν ἧσσον εὖ, ἕσσωται δὲ ὑπὸ τῆς τύχης τὸ βούλευμα· ὁ δὲ βουλευσάμενος αἰσχρῶς, εἴ οἱ ἡ τύχη ἐπίσποιτο, εὕρημα εὕρηκε, ἧσσον δὲ οὐδέν οἱ κακῶς βεβούλευται. ὁρᾷς τὰ ὑπερέχοντα ζῷα ὡς κεραυνοῖ ὁ θεὸς οὐδὲ ἐᾷ φαντάζεσθαι, τὰ δὲ σμικρὰ οὐδέν μιν κνίζει· ὁρᾷς δὲ ὡς ἐς οἰκήματα τὰ μέγιστα αἰεὶ καὶ δένδρεα τὰ τοιαῦτα ἀποσκήπτει τὰ βέλεα. φιλέει γὰρ ὁ θεὸς τὰ ὑπερέχοντα πάντα κολούειν. οὕτω δὲ καὶ στρατὸς πολλὸς ὑπὸ ὀλίγου διαφθείρεται κατὰ τοιόνδε· ἐπεάν σφι ὁ θεὸς φθονήσας φόβον ἐμβάλῃ ἢ βροντήν, δι’ ὧν ἐφθάρησαν ἀναξίως ἑωυτῶν. οὐ γὰρ ἐᾷ φρονέειν μέγα ὁ θεὸς ἄλλον ἢ ἑωυτόν. ἐπειχθῆναι μέν νυν πᾶν πρῆγμα τίκτει σφάλματα, ἐκ τῶν ζημίαι μεγάλαι φιλέουσι γίνεσθαι· ἐν δὲ τῷ ἐπισχεῖν ἔνεστι ἀγαθά, εἰ μὴ παραυτίκα δοκέοντα εἶναι, ἀλλ’ ἀνὰ χρόνον ἐξεύροι τις ἄν.
(Herodotus, Hist. 7.10γ-ε)

I don’t have any special expertise that leads me to this conclusion; it’s just that disaster very nearly overwhelmed us once before under similar circumstances, when your father built a pontoon bridge across the Thracian Bosporus, bridged the River Ister, crossed it, and invaded Scythia. On that occasion the Scythians did everything they could to persuade the Ionians, whose job it was to guard the bridges across the Ister, to dismantle the causeway. And if Histiaeus the tyrant of Miletus had gone along with all his fellow tyrants, rather than opposing their view, that would have been the end of Persia. However terrifying it is even to hear it said, the whole of the king’s affairs depended on a single man. You should not choose to run that kind of risk when you don’t really have to. No, listen to me instead. Dissolve this meeting now, think things over by yourself and then later, whenever you like, give us whatever orders you see fit. In my experience, nothing is more advantageous than good planning. I mean, even if a set-back happens, that doesnt alter the fact that the plan was sound; it’s just that the plan was defeated by chance. However, if someone who hasn’t laid his plans properly is attended by fortune, he may have had a stroke of luck, but that doesn’t alter the fact that his plan was unsound. You can see how the god blasts living things that are prominent and prevents their display of superiority, while small creatures don’t irritate him at all; you can see that it is always the largest buildings and the tallest trees on which he hurls his thunderbolts. It is the god’s way to curtail anything excessive. And so even a massive army may be destroyed by a small force if it attracts the god’s resentment and he sends panic or thunder, until they are shamefully destroyed. This happens because the god does not allow anyone but himself to feel pride. The offspring of haste in any venture is error, and error in turn tends to lead to serious harm. Benefits come from waiting; even if they aren’t apparent at first, one will discover them in time. (tr. Robin Waterfield)

Ameinonas

Xerxes_I_relief
Xerxes I

This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Ὦ βασιλεῦ, μὴ λεχθεισέων μὲν γνωμέων ἀντιέων ἀλλήλῃσι οὐκ ἔστι τὴν ἀμείνω αἱρεόμενον ἑλέσθαι, ἀλλὰ δεῖ τῇ εἰρημένῃ χρᾶσθαι, λεχθεισέων δὲ ἔστι, ὥσπερ τὸν χρυσὸν τὸν ἀκήρατον αὐτὸν μὲν ἐπ᾽ ἑωυτοῦ οὐ διαγινώσκομεν, ἐπεὰν δὲ παρατρίψωμεν ἄλλῳ χρυσῷ, διαγινώσκομεν τὸν ἀμείνω. ἐγὼ δὲ καὶ πατρὶ τῷ σῷ, ἀδελφεῷ δὲ ἐμῷ Δαρείῳ ἠγόρευον μὴ στρατεύεσθαι ἐπὶ Σκύθας, ἄνδρας οὐδαμόθι γῆς ἄστυ νέμοντας· ὁ δέ ἐλπίζων Σκύθας τοὺς νομάδας καταστρέψεσθαι, ἐμοί τε οὐκ ἐπείθετο, στρατευσάμενός τε πολλοὺς καὶ ἀγαθοὺς τῆς στρατιῆς ἀποβαλὼν ἀπῆλθε. σὺ δέ, ὦ βασιλεῦ, μέλλεις ἐπ’ ἄνδρας στρατεύεσθαι πολλὸν ἔτι ἀμείνονας ἢ Σκύθας, οἳ κατὰ θάλασσάν τε ἄριστοι καὶ κατὰ γῆν λέγονται εἶναι. τὸ δὲ αὐτοῖσι ἔνεστι δεινόν, ἐμέ σοι δίκαιόν ἐστι φράζειν. ζεύξας φὴς τὸν Ἑλλήσποντον ἐλᾶν στρατὸν διὰ τῆς Εὐρώπης ἐς τὴν Ἑλλάδα. καὶ δὴ καὶ συνήνεικε ἤτοι κατὰ γῆν ἢ καὶ κατὰ θάλασσαν ἑσσωθῆναι, ἢ καὶ κατ’ ἀμφότερα· οἱ γὰρ ἄνδρες λέγονται εἶναι ἄλκιμοι, πάρεστι δὲ καὶ σταθμώσασθαι, εἰ στρατιήν γε τοσαύτην σὺν Δάτι καὶ Ἀρταφρένεϊ ἐλθοῦσαν ἐς τὴν Ἀττικὴν χώρην μοῦνοι Ἀθηναῖοι διέφθειραν. οὐκ ὦν ἀμφοτέρῃ σφι ἐχώρησε· ἀλλ’ ἢν τῇσι νηυσὶ ἐμβάλωσι καὶ νικήσαντες ναυμαχίῃ πλέωσι ἐς τὸν Ἑλλήσποντον καὶ ἔπειτα λύσωσι τὴν γέφυραν, τοῦτο δή, βασιλεῦ, γίνεται δεινόν.
(Herodotus, Hist. 7.10α-β)

‘My lord,’ he* said, ‘unless opposing views are heard, it is impossible to pick and choose between various plans and decide which one is best. All one can do is go along with the opinion that has been voiced. However, if opposing views are heard, it is possible to decide. Think of a piece of pure gold: taken all by itself it is impossible to tell that it is pure; only by rubbing it on the touchstone and comparing gold with gold can we tell which one is best. I told your father, my brother Darius, not to attack the Scythians, people with no established settlement anywhere, but he didn’t listen to me; he was sure he could defeat the nomad Scythians. So he launched a campaign against them and when he came back he had lost a great many brave fighting men from his army. But this campaign you’re planning, my lord, is against men who are vastly superior to the Scythians; they have the highest reputation for bravery on both land and sea. There is danger involved, and it is only right for me to point it out to you. You say that you will bridge the Hellespont and march through Europe to Greece. Now, suppose you suffer defeat in a land or naval engagement, or even in both. After all, these Greeks do have a reputation as fighters. In fact, we can assess their abilities from the fact that the Athenians alone destroyed an army of the size of the one that invaded Attica under Datis and Artaphrenes. Anyway, suppose things don’t go their way in both spheres, but that they engage us at sea, defeat us, and then sail to the Hellespont and dismantle the bridge. That is where the danger lies, my lord.

* Artabanus, Xerxes’ uncle.

(tr. Robin Waterfield)

Basilea

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Αὐτίκα δὲ προβαλλομένων ὅντινα στήσονται βασιλέα, ὁ Δηιόκης ἦν πολλὸς ὑπὸ παντὸς ἀνδρὸς καὶ προβαλλόμενος καὶ αἰνεόμενος, ἐς ὃ τοῦτον καταινέουσι βασιλέα σφίσι εἶναι. ὁ δ’ ἐκέλευε αὐτοὺς οἰκία τε ἑωυτῷ ἄξια τῆς βασιληίης οἰκοδομῆσαι καὶ κρατῦναι αὐτὸν δορυφόροισι· ποιεῦσι δὴ ταῦτα οἱ Μῆδοι. οἰκοδομέουσί τε γὰρ αὐτῷ οἰκία μεγάλα τε καὶ ἰσχυρά, ἵνα αὐτὸς ἔφρασε τῆς χώρης, καὶ δορυφόρους αὐτῷ ἐπιτρέπουσι ἐκ πάντων Μήδων καταλέξασθαι. ὁ δὲ ὡς ἔσχε τὴν ἀρχήν, τοὺς Μήδους ἠνάγκασε ἓν πόλισμα ποιήσασθαι καὶ τοῦτο περιστέλλοντας τῶν ἄλλων ἧσσον ἐπιμέλεσθαι. πειθομένων δὲ καὶ ταῦτα τῶν Μήδων οἰκοδομέει τείχεα μεγάλα τε καὶ καρτερὰ ταῦτα τὰ νῦν Ἀγβάτανα κέκληται, ἕτερον ἑτέρῳ κύκλῳ ἐνεστεῶτα. μεμηχάνηται δὲ οὕτω τοῦτο τὸ τεῖχος ὥστε ὁ ἕτερος τοῦ ἑτέρου κύκλος τοῖσι προμαχεῶσι μούνοισι ἐστι ὑψηλότερος. τὸ μέν κού τι καὶ τὸ χωρίον συμμαχέει κολωνὸς ἐὼν ὥστε τοιοῦτο εἶναι, τὸ δὲ καὶ μᾶλλόν τι ἐπετηδεύθη. κύκλων δ’ ἐόντων τῶν συναπάντων ἑπτά, ἐν δὴ τῷ τελευταίῳ τὰ βασιλήια ἔνεστι καὶ οἱ θησαυροί. τὸ δ’ αὐτῶν μέγιστόν ἐστι τεῖχος κατὰ τὸν Ἀθηνέων κύκλον μάλιστά κῃ τὸ μέγαθος. τοῦ μὲν δὴ πρώτου κύκλου οἱ προμαχεῶνες εἰσὶ λευκοί, τοῦ δὲ δευτέρου μέλανες, τρίτου δὲ κύκλου φοινίκεοι, τετάρτου δὲ κυάνεοι, πέμπτου δὲ σανδαράκινοι. οὕτω τῶν πέντε κύκλων οἱ προμαχεῶνες ἠνθισμένοι εἰσὶ φαρμάκοισι· δύο δὲ οἱ τελευταῖοί εἰσὶ ὁ μὲν καταργυρωμένους ὁ δὲ κατακεχρυσωμένους ἔχων τοὺς προμαχεῶνας. ταῦτα μὲν δὴ ὁ Δηιόκης ἑωυτῷ τε ἐτείχεε καὶ περὶ τὰ ἑωυτοῦ οἰκία, τὸν δὲ ἄλλον δῆμον πέριξ ἐκέλευε τὸ τεῖχος οἰκέειν. οἰκοδομηθέντων δὲ πάντων κόσμον τόνδε Δηιόκης πρῶτός ἐστι ὁ καταστησάμενος, μήτε ἐσιέναι παρὰ βασιλέα μηδένα, δι’ ἀγγέλων δὲ πάντα χρᾶσθαι, ὁρᾶσθαι τε βασιλέα ὑπὸ μηδενός, πρός τε τούτοισι ἔτι γελᾶν τε καὶ ἀντίον πτύειν καὶ ἅπασι εἶναι τοῦτό γε αἰσχρόν. ταῦτα δὲ περὶ ἑωυτὸν ἐσέμνυνε τῶνδε εἵνεκεν, ὅκως ἂν μὴ ὁρῶντες οἱ ὁμήλικες, ἐόντες σύντροφοί τε ἐκείνῳ καὶ οἰκίης οὐ φλαυροτέρης οὐδὲ ἐς ἀνδραγαθίην λειπόμενοι, λυπεοίατο καὶ ἐπιβουλεύοιεν, ἀλλ’ ἑτεροῖός σφι δοκέοι εἶναι μὴ ὁρῶσι.
(Herodotus, Hist. 1.98-99)

They were immediately faced with the question of whom to appoint as king. Everyone was full of praise for Deioces and wholeheartedly endorsed his nomination, until at length they agreed that he should be their king. He ordered them to build him a palace fit for a king and to assign him personal guards for his protection, and the Medes did so: they built him a large, secure residence in a part of the country he designated, and they let him pick his personal guards from among the whole Median population. Once power was in his hands, Deioces insisted that the Medes build a single city and maintain this one place, which involved caring less for their other communities. The Medes obeyed him in this too; they built the place which is now known as Ecbatana—a huge, impregnable stronghold consisting of concentric circles of defensive walls. This stronghold is designed so that each successive circle is higher than the one below it just by the height of its bastions. This design is helped, of course, to a certain extent by the fact that the place is on a hill, but it was also deliberately made that way. There are seven circles altogether, and the innermost one contains the royal palace and the treasuries. The largest of the walls is approximately the same size as the wall around Athens. The bastions of the outer five circles have all been painted various colours—first white, then black, red, blue, and orange. But as for the bastions of the last two circles, the first are covered in silver and the second in gold. So Deioces had this stronghold built for himself, surrounding his own residence, but he told the whole population to build their houses outside the stronghold. Once the building programme was completed, Deioces was the first to establish the following rules: no one was to enter “into the king’s presence, but all business was to be conducted through messengers; the king was to be seen by no one; and furthermore absolutely no one was to commit the offence of laughing or spitting in the king’s presence. The reason he instituted this grandiose system of how to behave in relation to himself was to prevent any of his peers seeing him. They had been brought up with him, their lineage was no worse than his, and they were just as brave as he was, so he was worried that if they saw him they might get irritated and conspire against him; on the other hand, if they could not see him, they might think that he had changed. (tr. Robin Waterfield)

Katadoulōsai

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Πρὸς μὲν Ἀλέξανδρον ταῦτα ὑπεκρίναντο, πρὸς δὲ τοὺς ἀπὸ Σπάρτης ἀγγέλους τάδε· “τὸ μὲν δεῖσαι Λακεδαιμονίους μὴ ὁμολογήσωμεν τῷ βαρβάρῳ, κάρτα ἀνθρωπήϊον ἦν· ἀτὰρ αἰσχρῶς γε οἴκατε ἐξεπιστάμενοι τὸ Ἀθηναίων φρόνημα ἀρρωδῆσαι, ὅτι οὔτε χρυσός ἐστι γῆς οὐδαμόθι τοσοῦτος οὔτε χώρη κάλλεϊ καὶ ἀρετῇ μέγα ὑπερφέρουσα, τὰ ἡμεῖς δεξάμενοι ἐθέλοιμεν ἂν μηδίσαντες καταδουλῶσαι τὴν Ἑλλάδα. πολλά τε γὰρ καὶ μεγάλα ἐστι τὰ διακωλύοντα ταῦτα μὴ ποιέειν μηδ’ ἢν ἐθέλωμεν, πρῶτα μὲν καὶ μέγιστα τῶν θεῶν τὰ ἀγάλματα καὶ τὰ οἰκήματα ἐμπεπρησμένα τε καὶ συγκεχωσμένα, τοῖσι ἡμέας ἀναγκαίως ἔχει τιμωρέειν ἐς τὰ μέγιστα μᾶλλον ἤ περ ὁμολογέειν τῷ ταῦτα ἐργασαμένῳ, αὖτις δὲ τὸ Ἑλληνικὸν ἐὸν ὅμαιμόν τε καὶ ὁμόγλωσσον καὶ θεῶν ἱδρύματά τε κοινὰ καὶ θυσίαι ἤθεά τε ὁμότροπα, τῶν προδότας γενέσθαι Ἀθηναίους οὐκ ἂν εὖ ἔχοι. ἐπίστασθέ τε οὕτω, εἰ μὴ πρότερον ἐτυγχάνετε ἐπιστάμενοι, ἔστ’ ἂν καὶ εἷς περιῇ Ἀθηναίων, μηδαμὰ ὁμολογήσοντας ἡμέας Ξέρξῃ. ὑμέων μέντοι ἀγάμεθα τὴν προνοίην τὴν πρὸς ἡμέας ἐοῦσαν, ὅτι προείδετε ἡμέων οἰκοφθορημένων οὕτω ὥστε ἐπιθρέψαι ἐθέλειν ἡμέων τοὺς οἰκέτας. καὶ ὑμῖν μὲν ἡ χάρις ἐκπεπλήρωται, ἡμεῖς μέντοι λιπαρήσομεν οὕτω ὅκως ἂν ἔχωμεν, οὐδὲν λυπέοντες ὑμέας. νῦν δέ, ὡς οὕτω ἐχόντων, στρατιὴν ὡς τάχιστα ἐκπέμπετε. ὡς γὰρ ἡμεῖς εἰκάζομεν, οὐκ ἑκὰς χρόνου παρέσται ὁ βάρβαρος ἐσβαλὼν ἐς τὴν ἡμετέρην, ἀλλ’ ἐπειδὰν τάχιστα πύθηται τὴν ἀγγελίην ὅτι οὐδὲν ποιήσομεν τῶν ἐκεῖνος ἡμέων προσεδέετο. πρὶν ὦν παρεῖναι ἐκεῖνον ἐς τὴν Ἀττικήν, ἡμέας καιρός ἐστι προβοηθῆσαι ἐς τὴν Βοιωτίην.” οἱ μὲν ταῦτα ὑποκριναμένων Ἀθηναίων ἀπαλλάσσοντο ἐς Σπάρτην.
(Herodotus, Hist. 8.144)

This was the Athenian reply to Alexander. To the messengers from Sparta they spoke as follows: ‘It may have been natural for you to worry in case we came to terms with Xerxes, but we still think your fear reflects badly on you, because you are perfectly well aware of the Athenian temperament. You should have known that there isn’t enough gold on earth, or any land of such outstanding beauty and fertility, that we would accept it in return for collaborating with the enemy and enslaving Greece. Even if we were inclined to do so, there are plenty of important obstacles in the way. First and foremost, there is the burning and destruction of the statues and homes of our gods; rather than entering into a treaty with the perpetrator of these deeds, we are duty-bound to do our utmost to avenge them. Then again, there is the fact that we are all Greeks—one race speaking one language, with temples to the gods and religious rites in common, and with a common way of life. It would not be good for Athens to betray all this shared heritage. So if you didn’t know it before, we can assure you that so long as even a single Athenian remains alive, we will never come to terms with Xerxes. However, we would like to thank you for your thoughtful offer to look after our families during our time of economic ruin. Your kindness leaves nothing to be desired, but we’ll find some way to hold out, without troubling you. So there we are, then; what you must do now is get an army in the field as quickly as possible. It looks as though it won’t be long before the Persian comes and invades our country; he’ll do so just as soon as he receives our message and finds out that we are turning him down flat. It would be a good idea for us† to have an army in Boeotia to pre-empt his attempt to invade Attica.’ After listening to the Athenian reply, the messengers returned to Sparta. (tr. Robin Waterfield)