Who is Cambyses



While Harpagus was completing the subjugation of the West, Cyrus was making conquest of Upper Asia, and overthrew the kingdom of Assyria, of which the chief city was Babylon, a very wonderful city, wherein there had ruled two famous queens, Semiramis and Nitocris. Now, this queen had made the city wondrous strong by the craft of engineers, yet Cyrus took it by a shrewd device, drawing off the water of the river so as to gain a passage. Thus Babylon also fell under the sway of the Persian. But when Cyrus would have made war upon Tomyris, the queen of the Massagetae, who dwelt to the eastward, there was a great battle, and Cyrus himself was slain and the most part of his host. And Cambyses, his son, reigned in his stead.

CAMBYSES set out to conquer Egypt, taking in his army certain of the Greeks. But of what I shall tell about that land, the most was told to me by the priests whom I myself visited at Memphis and Thebes and Heliopolis. The Egyptians account themselves the most ancient of peoples. If the Ionians are right, who reckon that Egypt is only the Nile Delta, this could not be. But I reckon that the whole Egyptian territory is Egypt, from the Cataracts and Elephantine down to the sea, parted into the Asiatic part and the Libyan part by the Nile.

For the causes of the rising and falling of the Nile, the reasons that men give are of no account. And of the sources whence the river springs are strange stories told, of which I say not whether they be true or false; but the course of it is known for four months' journey by land and water, and in my opinion it is a river comparable to the Ister.

The priests tell that the first ruler of Egypt was Menes, and after him were three hundred and thirty kings, counting one queen, who was called Nitocris. After them came Sesostris, who carried his conquest as far as the Thracians and Scythians; and later was Rhampsinitus, who married his daughter to the clever thief that robbed his treasure-house; and after him Cheops, who built the pyramid, drawing the stones from the Arabian mountain down to the Nile. Chephren also, and Mycerinus built pyramids, and the Greeks have a story-which is not true-that another was built by Rhodopis. And in the reign of Sethon, Egypt was invaded by Sennacherib the Assyrian, whose army's bowstrings were eaten by field-mice.

A thing more wonderful than the pyramids is the labyrinth near Lake Moeris, and still more wonderful is Lake Moeris itself, all which were made by the twelve kings who ruled at once after Sethon. And after them, Psammitichus made himself the monarch; and after him his great-grandson Apries prospered greatly, till he was overthrown by Amasis. And Amasis also prospered, and showed favour to the Greeks. But for whatever reason, in his day Cambyses made his expedition against Egypt, invading it just when Amasis had died, and his son Psammenitus was reigning.

CAMBYSES put the Egyptian army to rout in a great battle and conquered the country, making Psammenitus prisoner. Yet he would have set him up as governor of the province, according to the Persian custom, but that Psammenitus was stirred up to revolt and, being discovered, was put to death. Thereafter Cambyses would have made war upon Carthage, but that the Phoenicians would not aid him; and against the Ethiopians, who are called 'long-lived,' but his army could get no food; and against the Ammonians, but the troops that went were seen no more.

Now, madness came upon Cambyses, and he died, having committed many crimes, among which was the slaying of his brother Smerdis. And there rose up one among the Magi who pretended to be Smerdis, and was proclaimed king. But this false Smerdis was one whose ears had been cut off, and he was thus found out by one of his wives, the daughter of a Persian nobleman, Otanes. Then seven nobles conspired together, since they would not be ruled over by one of the Magi; and having determined that it was best to have one man for ruler, rather than the rule of the people or of the nobles, they slew Smerdis and made Darius, the son of Hystaspes, their king.





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