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he had accustomed himself to judge of his own talents and personal merit from the outside of his high place and state. He despises the sage advice of his uncle Artabanus and Demaratus, to give car only to the flatterers of his vanity. He measures the success of his enterprises by the extent of his power. The servile submission of so many nations does not satisfy his ambition; and disdaining too ready and easy an obedience, he pleases himself with exercising his dominion over the elements, with cutting through mountains, and making them navigable, with chastising the sea for breaking down his bridge, and binding the floods with chains. Full of a childish vanity and a ridiculous pride, he looks upon himself as master of nature and the elements; thinks no nation dares oppose his way, and with presumptuous folly and idle assurance reckons upon the millions of men and vessels that follow at his heels. But when after the battle of Salamis he saw the sad remains and shameful ruins of his innumerable troops dispersed over all Greece, he was then convinced of the difference there was between an army and a multitude of men; [e] stratusque per totam passim Græciam Xerxes intellexit, quantùm ab exercitu turba distaret.

I cannot omit applying in this place two of Horace's verses, which seem made for the double event I have now been speaking of.

Vis consili expers mole ruit suá;

Vim temperatam Dii quoque provehunt
În majus.

"Mere brutal force by its own weight descends, "While force more moderate heaven itself be


In short, can the army of Xerxes be better described than by these words, vis consili expers, a power void of counsel and prudence; or can the success of it be expressed better than by the following terms, mole ruit

[e] Senec. 1. 6. de Benef. c. 32.


sud, which shew how that enormous Colossus fell by its own weight and grandeur? Whereas, says Ho race, the gods take a pleasure in augmenting a power founded in justice, and guided by reason, such as was the power of Cyrus, Vim temperatam Dii provehunt in majus.

The second Reflection.


One of the rules I laid down as useful to direct youth in the study of history, was principally to enquire after truth, and early to accustom themselves to know and distinguish the characters of it. This is the natural place of applying this rule. Herodotus and Xenophon, who perfectly agree in what I look upon to be the essential part and substance of Cyrus's history, I mean his expedition against Babylon, and his other conquests, arę very different in their accounts of several other very important facts, such as the birth and death of this prince, and the establishment of the Persian empire.

Youth should not be left ignorant of these differences. Herodotus, and after him Justin, relate, that Astyages, king of the Medes, upon a frightful dream which he had, married his daughter Mandane, to a Persian of obscure birth and condition, named Cambyses. A son being born of this marriage, the king ordered Harpagus one of the principal officers, to put him to death. Harpagus gave him to one of the king's shepherds to be exposed in a forest; but the child being miraculously preserved, and brought up privately by the shepherd's wife, was at last discovered by his grandfather, who was satisfied with sending him to a remote part of Persia, and discharged his whole indignation upon the wretched Harpagus, whose son he caused to be killed and dressed, and served up to his father at an entertainment. The young Cyrus, several years after, informed by Harpagus of his birth and station, and encouraged by his advice and remonstrances, raised an army, marched against Astyages, defeated him in battle and thereby transferred the empire of the Medes to the Persians.


The same Herodotus makes Cyrus die in a manner very unworthy so great a conqueror. This prince according to him, having made war against the Scythians, in the first battle he counterfeited a flight, leaving behind him a large quantity of wine and provisions in the field. The Scythians did not fail to fall greedily upon them. Cyrus returned against them, and finding them all drunk and asleep, he defeated them without difficulty, took abundance of them prisoners, and among the rest the son of queen Tomyris, who commanded an army in person. This young prince, whom Cyrus refused to send back to his mother, recovering. from his drunkenness, and not bearing to suffer captivity, killed himself. Tomyris, animated with a thirst of revenge, gave a second battle to the Persians; and having drawn them in her turn into an ambuscade by a pretended flight, cut off above two hundred thousand of them, with Cyrus their king. And then cutting off Cyrus's head, she threw it into a vessel full* of blood, with this insulting speech," Cruel as thouart, satiate thyself with blood, of which in thy life- ̈ "time thou hast always been insatiable." Satia te, inquit, sanguine quem sitisti cujusque insatiabilis semper fuisti.

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The question is, which of these two historians, who relate the same history in so different a manner, is the best authority. Youth themselves, if properly interrogated by a skilful master, may easily give an answer. The account which Herodotus gives of the first years of Cyrus has more the air of a fable than an history. And for his death, what likelihood is there, that a prince so experienced in war, and still more commendable for his prudence than valour, should have run headlong into the snares laid for him by a woman? What the same historian relates of the violent passion and childish revenge of Cyrus against a river, which had drowned one of his sacred horses, and which he caused his army to cut directly into three hundred and sixty channels, is directly opposite to the


character of this prince, [g] who was famous for his mildness and moderation. [h] Besides, is it probable, that Cyrus, who was marching to the conquest of Babylon, should squander time so precious to him in this manner, spend the ardour of his troops in so useless a labour, and lose the opportunity of surprising the Babylonians, by amusing himself by making war upon a river, instead of carrying his arms against the enemy?

But what absolutely decides in favour of Xenophon, is the agreement of his account with the holy scripture, where we see that Cyrus was so far from raising the empire of the Persians upon the ruins of that of the Medes, as Herodotus remarks, that those two nations acted in concert in the siege of Babylon, and joined their forces to destroy that formidable power.

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Whence then could so great a difference arise between these two historians? Herodotus will tell us. In the very passage, where he relates the birth of Cyrus, and in that where he speaks of his death, he informs us, there were then very different manners of reporting these two great events. Herodotus followed that which was most agreeable to his own fancy; and we know he was fond of any thing extraordinary and wonderful, and very easily gave credit to it. Xenophon was more serious and less credulous; and he tells us in the beginning of his history, that he had very carefully enquired into the birth of Cyrus, his character and education.

We must not conclude from what I have said, that Herodotus is not to be credited in any thing, because he is sometimes mistaken; this rule would be false and

[g] Tully observes, that during his whole reign he never let an angry word tall from him; cujus summo in imperio nemo unquam verbum ullum asperius audivit. Ep. 2. ad Quint. Fratr.

[6] Cùm Babylonem oppugnaturus festinaret ad bellum, cujus maxima momenta in occasionibus sunt

... huc omnem transtulit belli apparatum... Periit itaque & tempus, magna in magnis rebus jactura; & militum ardor, quem inutilis labor fregit; & occasio aggrediendi imparatos, dum ille bellum indictum hosti cum fumine gerit. Senec. lib. 3. de Ira. cap. 21.


unjust; as we should be to blame to believe every thing an author says, because he sometimes speaks truth. Truth and falshood may be found together; but the reader's judgment and prudence consist in knowing how to distinguish them, in pointing them out by certain peculiar circumstances, and in making a just trial and separation of them. And to this judgment in discerning what is true or false the boys should be early accustomed.



My design in this second piece of history is to give some idea of the superiority of the Athenians for several years over all Greece, and to lay open by what means and degrees they arrived at that height of power. The principal persons who in the space of time we speak of, contributed most to the establishment and support of the power of this republic, though by very different qualifications, were Themis tocles, Aristides, Cimon, and Pericles.

Themistocles indeed laid the foundation of this new power by one single piece of advice, in turning the whole power and views of the Athenians towards the sea. Cimon brought these naval forces into service by his maritime expeditions, which reduced the Persian empire to the very brink of ruin. Aristides supplied the expences of the war by his wise economy in the management of the public treasure. And Pericles, by his prudence supported and augmented what the others had acquired, in mixing the gentle exercises of peace with the tumultuous expeditions of war. Thus the rise of the Athenians was owing to the happy concurrence and mixture of the policy of Themistocles, the activity of Cimon, the disinterestedness of Aristides, and the wisdom of Pericles; so that if any one of these causes had been wanting, Athens would never have obtained the supremacy of Greece.


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