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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



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Isocrates, Orations, 1.21
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1. Herodotus, Histories, 3.1, 3.25, 3.32-3.36, 7.11, 7.39, 9.111 (5th cent. BCE - 5th cent. BCE)

3.1. Cyrus' son Cambyses was leading an army of his subjects, Ionian and Aeolian Greeks among them, against this Amasis for the following reason. Cambyses had sent a herald to Egypt asking Amasis for his daughter; he asked on the advice of an Egyptian, who advised it out of resentment against Amasis, that out of all the Egyptian physicians Amasis had dragged him away from his wife and children and sent him up to Persia when Cyrus sent to Amasis asking for the best eye-doctor in Egypt . ,Out of resentment, the Egyptian by his advice induced Cambyses to ask Amasis for his daughter, so that Amasis would either be wretched if he gave her, or hated by Cambyses if he did not. Amasis, intimidated by the power of Persia and frightened, could neither give his daughter nor refuse her; for he knew well that Cambyses was not going to take her as his wife but as his concubine. ,After considering the matter, he did as follows. There was a daughter of the former king Apries, all that was left of that family, quite tall and pretty, and her name was Nitetis; this girl Amasis adorned with clothes and gold and sent to Cambyses as his own daughter. ,But after a time, as he embraced her addressing her as the daughter of Amasis, the girl said to him, “O King, you do not understand how you have been made a fool of by Amasis, who dressed me in finery and sent me to you as his own daughter, when I am in fact the daughter of Apries, the ruler Amasis revolted from with the Egyptians and killed.” ,This speech and this crime that occurred turned Cyrus' son Cambyses, furiously angry, against Egypt . So the Persians say. 3.25. Having seen everything, the spies departed again. When they reported all this, Cambyses was angry, and marched at once against the Ethiopians, neither giving directions for any provision of food nor considering that he was about to lead his army to the ends of the earth; ,being not in his right mind but mad, however, he marched at once on hearing from the Fish-eaters, ordering the Greeks who were with him to await him where they were, and taking with him all his land army. ,When he came in his march to Thebes , he detached about fifty thousand men from his army, and directed them to enslave the Ammonians and burn the oracle of Zeus; and he himself went on towards Ethiopia with the rest of his host. ,But before his army had accomplished the fifth part of their journey they had come to an end of all there was in the way of provision, and after the food was gone, they ate the beasts of burden until there was none of these left either. ,Now had Cambyses, when he perceived this, changed his mind and led his army back again, he would have been a wise man at last after his first fault; but as it was, he went ever forward, taking account of nothing. ,While his soldiers could get anything from the earth, they kept themselves alive by eating grass; but when they came to the sandy desert, some did a terrible thing, taking by lot one man out of ten and eating him. ,Hearing this, Cambyses feared their becoming cannibals, and so gave up his expedition against the Ethiopians and marched back to Thebes , with the loss of many of his army; from Thebes he came down to Memphis, and sent the Greeks to sail away. 3.32. There are two tales of her death, as there are of the death of Smerdis. The Greeks say that Cambyses had set a lion cub to fight a puppy, and that this woman was watching too; and that as the puppy was losing, its brother broke its leash and came to help, and the two dogs together got the better of the cub. ,Cambyses, they say, was pleased with the sight, but the woman wept as she sat by. Cambyses perceiving it asked why she wept, and she said that when she saw the puppy help its brother she had wept, recalling Smerdis and knowing that there would be no avenger for him. ,For saying this, according to the Greek story, she was killed by Cambyses. But the Egyptian tale is that as the two sat at table the woman took a lettuce and plucked off the leaves, then asked her husband whether he preferred the look of it with or without leaves. “With the leaves,” he said; whereupon she answered: ,“Yet you have stripped Cyrus' house as bare as this lettuce.” Angered at this, they say, he sprang upon her, who was great with child, and she miscarried and died of the hurt he gave her. 3.33. Such were Cambyses' mad acts to his own household, whether they were done because of Apis or grew from some of the many troubles that are wont to beset men; for indeed he is said to have been afflicted from his birth with that grievous disease which some call “sacred.” It is not unlikely then that when his body was grievously afflicted his mind too should be diseased. 3.34. I will now relate his mad dealings with the rest of Persia . He said, as they report, to Prexaspes—whom he held in particular honor, who brought him all his messages, whose son held the very honorable office of Cambyses' cup-bearer—thus, I say, he spoke to Prexaspes: ,“What manner of man, Prexaspes, do the Persians think me to be, and how do they speak of me?” “Sire,” said Prexaspes, “for all else they greatly praise you, but they say that you love wine too well.” ,So he reported of the Persians. The king angrily replied: “If the Persians now say that it is my fondness for wine that drives me to frenzy and madness, then it would seem that their former saying also was a lie.” ,For it is said that before this, while some Persians and Croesus were sitting with him, Cambyses asked what manner of man they thought him to be in comparison with Cyrus his father; and they answered, “Cambyses was the better man; for he had all of Cyrus' possessions and had won Egypt and the sea besides.” ,So said the Persians; but Croesus, who was present, and was dissatisfied with their judgment, spoke thus to Cambyses: “To me, son of Cyrus, you do not seem to be the equal of your father; for you have as yet no son such as he left after him in you.” This pleased Cambyses, and he praised Croesus' judgment. 3.35. Remembering this, then, he said to Prexaspes in his anger: “Judge then if the Persians speak the truth, or rather are themselves out of their minds when they speak of me so. ,Yonder stands your son in the porch; now if I shoot and pierce his heart, that will prove the Persians to be wrong; if I miss, then say that they are right and that I am out of my senses.” ,So saying, he strung his bow and hit the boy, and gave orders to open the fallen body and examine the wound: and the arrow being found in the heart, Cambyses laughed in great glee and said to the boy's father: ,“It is plain, Prexaspes, that I am in my right mind and the Persians mad; now tell me: what man in the world did you ever see that shot so true to the mark?” Prexaspes, it is said, replied (for he saw that Cambyses was mad, and he feared for his own life), “Master, I think that not even the god himself could shoot so true.” ,Thus did Cambyses then; at another time he took twelve Persians, equal to the noblest in the land, convicted them of some minor offense, and buried them alive up to the neck. 3.36. For these acts Croesus the Lydian thought fit to take him to task, and addressed him thus: “Sire, do not sacrifice everything to youth and temper, but restrain and control yourself; prudence is a good thing, forethought is wise. But you kill men of your own country whom you have convicted of some minor offense, and you kill boys. ,If you do so often, beware lest the Persians revolt from you. As for me, your father Cyrus earnestly begged me to counsel you and to give you such advice as I think to be good.” Croesus gave him this counsel out of goodwill; but Cambyses answered: ,“It is very well that you should even dare to counsel me; you, who governed your own country so well, and gave fine advice to my father—telling him, when the Massagetae were willing to cross over into our lands, to pass the Araxes and attack them; thus you worked your own ruin by misgoverning your country and Cyrus', who trusted you. But you shall regret it; I have long waited for an occasion to deal with you.” ,With that Cambyses took his bow to shoot him dead; but Croesus leapt up and ran out; and Cambyses, being unable to shoot him, ordered his attendants to catch and kill him. ,They, knowing Cambyses' mood, hid Croesus; intending to reveal him and receive gifts for saving his life, if Cambyses should repent and ask for Croesus, but if he should not repent nor wish Croesus back, then to kill the Lydian. ,Not long after this Cambyses did wish Croesus back, and the attendants, understanding this, told him that Croesus was alive still. Cambyses said that he was glad of it; but that they, who had saved Croesus, should not escape with impunity, but be killed; and this was done. 7.11. Thus spoke Artabanus. Xerxes answered angrily, “Artabanus, you are my father's brother; that will save you from receiving the fitting reward of foolish words. But for your cowardly lack of spirit I lay upon you this disgrace, that you will not go with me and my army against Hellas, but will stay here with the women; I myself will accomplish all that I have said, with no help from you. ,May I not be the son of Darius son of Hystaspes son of Arsames son of Ariaramnes son of Teispes son of Cyrus son of Cambyses son of Teispes son of Achaemenes, if I do not have vengeance on the Athenians; I well know that if we remain at peace they will not; they will assuredly invade our country, if we may infer from what they have done already, for they burnt Sardis and marched into Asia. ,It is not possible for either of us to turn back: to do or to suffer is our task, so that what is ours be under the Greeks, or what is theirs under the Persians; there is no middle way in our quarrel. ,Honor then demands that we avenge ourselves for what has been done to us; thus will I learn what is this evil that will befall me when I march against these Greeks—men that even Pelops the Phrygian, the slave of my forefathers, did so utterly subdue that to this day they and their country are called by the name of their conqueror.” 7.39. Xerxes became very angry and thus replied: “Villain, you see me marching against Hellas myself, and taking with me my sons and brothers and relations and friends; do you, my slave, who should have followed me with all your household and your very wife, speak to me of your son? Be well assured of this, that a man's spirit dwells in his ears; when it hears good words it fills the whole body with delight, but when it hears the opposite it swells with anger. ,When you did me good service and promised more, you will never boast that you outdid your king in the matter of benefits; and now that you have turned aside to the way of shamelessness, you will receive a lesser requital than you merit. You and four of your sons are saved by your hospitality; but you shall be punished by the life of that one you most desire to keep.” ,With that reply, he immediately ordered those who were assigned to do these things to find the eldest of Pythius sons and cut him in half, then to set one half of his body on the right side of the road and the other on the left, so that the army would pass between them. 9.111. Nevertheless, since Amestris was insistent and the law compelled him (for at this royal banquet in Persia every request must of necessity be granted), he unwillingly consented, and delivered the woman to Amestris. Then, bidding her do what she wanted, he sent for his brother and spoke as follows: ,“Masistes, you are Darius' son and my brother, and a good man; hear me then. You must no longer live with her who is now your wife. I give you my daughter in her place. Take her for your own, but do away with the wife that you have, for it is not my will that you should have her.” ,At that Masistes was amazed; “Sire,” he said, “what is this evil command that you lay upon me, telling me to deal with my wife in this way? I have by her young sons and daughters, of whom you have taken a wife for your own son, and I am very content with her herself. Yet you are asking me to get rid of my wife and wed your daughter? ,Truly, O king, I consider it a great honor to be accounted worthy of your daughter, but I will do neither the one nor the other. No, rather, do not force me to consent to such a desire. You will find another husband for your daughter as good as I, but permit me to keep my own wife.” ,This was Masistes' response, but Xerxes was very angry and said: “You have come to this pass, Masistes. I will give you no daughter of mine as a wife, nor will you any longer live with her whom you now have. In this way you will learn to accept that which is offered you.” Hearing that, Masistes said “No, sire, you have not destroyed me yet!” and so departed.
2. Plato, Phaedrus, None (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

267c. Socrates. And what shall we say of Polus and his shrines of learned speech, such as duplication and sententiousness and figurativeness, and what of the names with which Licymnius presented him to effect beautiful diction? Phaedrus. Were there not some similar inventions of Protagoras, Socrates? Socrates. Yes, my boy, correctness of diction, and many other fine things. For tearful speeches, to arouse pity for old age and poverty, I think the precepts of the mighty Chalcedonian hold the palm, and he is also a genius
3. Demosthenes, Orations, 21.71-21.74, 21.123-21.124, 54.25 (4th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
agonistic Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
anger, control of Braund and Most, Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (2004) 127
anger/fury/ire/orge/rage/wrath Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
areopagos Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
aristotle Braund and Most, Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (2004) 127
atimia, atimos Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
boeotus Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
bouleutai, cf. councilors chole/cholos Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
brauron Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
demosthenes, prosecution of meidias Braund and Most, Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (2004) 127
demosthenes Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
euaeon Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
exile Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
isocrates Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
killing Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
law courts, and anger Braund and Most, Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (2004) 127
machismo Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
mania Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
meidias Braund and Most, Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (2004) 127; Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
offend, cf. insult Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
oratory athenian Braund and Most, Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (2004) 127
orge Braund and Most, Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (2004) 127
plato, phaedrus Braund and Most, Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (2004) 127
plato Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
priestess Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
self-aggrandizement, control Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
slight Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
socrates Braund and Most, Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (2004) 127
strike Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
symposion, symposiast Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
thrasymachus Braund and Most, Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen (2004) 127
thucydides Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
thumos Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116
vengeance' Riess, Performing interpersonal violence: court, curse, and comedy in fourth-century BCE Athens (2012) 116