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CYRUS. I shall divide what I have to say concerning Cyrus into three parts; his education; his first expeditions; the taking of Babylon, and his conquests. I shall relate only the most important circumstances of these events, and such as appear to me most proper for the instruction of youth. These I shall extract from Xenophon, whom I take here for my guide, as the author most worthy of credit upon this article. I. THE EDUCATION OF CYRUS. Cyrop. lib. 1.
. Cyrus was the son of Cambyses king of Persia, and Mandane the daughter of Astyages king of the Medes. [r] He was beautiful in his person, but far more estimable for the excellent endowments of his mind. He was exceeding courteous and humane, desirous of learning, and ardent for glory. He never feared any danger, nor shunned any labour wliere honour was to be acquired. He was brought up after the custom of the Persians, which at that time was admirable.
The public good, and general utility was the principle and end of all their laws., The education of children was considered as the most important duty and essential part of the government. The care of it was not entrusted to fathers and mothers, whom a blind and tender indulgence often rendered incapable of it; the state charged itself with it. They were brought up together, and in the same manner. They did nothing but by rule; the place and duration of their exercises were fixed, the time of their meals, the quality of what they were to eat and drink, the number of their masters, and the different kinds of correction. Their whole food, as well for children as young inen, was bread, and cresses, and water; for their view was to habituate them early to temperance and sobriety; and besides, this sort of simple and frugal food, without
[r] Είδος μίν κάλλισος ψυχήν δε φιλανθρωπότατος, φιλομαθέςατος, και φιλοτιμότατος.
any mixture of sauces and ragoos, strengthened their bodies, and laid a foundation of health capable of supporting the severest fatigues of war till they grow old, [s] as is observed of Cyrus, who found himself as strong and robust in his old age, as he was in his youth. They learned justice in schools, as in other places they do literature; and ingratitude was the crime they punished most severely.
The view of the Persians in all these wise institutions was to be beforehand with evil, as they were persuaded that it was better to prevent faults than punish them; and whereas in other nations they were contented with inflicting punishments upon criminals, the Persians endeavoured in a manner to hinder there being any criminals amongst them.
They continued in the class of children till they were sixteen or seventeen years old ; they then entered the class of youths. They were then laid under the greatest restraints, as that age stood most in need of them. They spent ten years in this class. During this interval, they were every night upon guard, as well for the security of the city, as to inure them to fatigue. In the day-time they went to receive orders from their governors, attended the king when he went a hunting, or applied themselves to their exercises.
The third class was formed of men grown, and there they continued five and twenty years. From hence were taken all the officers, that were to command in the troops, and fill the different posts, employınents, and dignities of the state. And hence they passed into the last class, from whence the wisest and most experienced were chosen to form the public council. .
By these means every citizen might aspire to the first offices of the state; but none could arriveat them, till they had passed through these different classes, and became capable of them by all these exercises.
Cyrus non fuit imbecillior in senectute, quam in juventute. Cic. de Senect. n. 30. VOL. 11.
Cyrus was brought up in this manner till he was twelve years old, and always excelled his equals, both in facility of learning, in courage, and dexterity in executing whatever he undertook. His mother Mandane then carried him into Media to visit his grandfather Astyages, who had heard so much of the fame of this young prince, that he was very desirous of seeing him. He found the manners of the Median court very
different from those of his own country. Pomp, luxury, and magnificence universally prevailed. He was not at all dazzled with it, and without criticising or condemning it, he stood firm to the principles he had imbibed from his infancy. He charmed his grandfather with his wit and vivacity, and gained all hearts by his noble and engaging carriage, of which I shall relate a single instance, from which we may form a judgment of the rest.
Astyages, to make his grandson think no more of returning into his own country, prepared a sumptuous entertainment, in which he spared for no expence, either as to the quantity or the quality and delicacy of meats. Cyrus looked upon all these preparations with a great deal of indifference. And as Astyages seemed very much surprised at it; The Persians, says he, in stead of so many turnings and windings to satisfy their hunger, take a much shorter way to the same end; a little bread and cresses will do it at any time. His grandfather giving him leave to dispose of the dishes that were served up as he thought fit, he distributed them inunediately among such of the king's officers as were present; to one he gave, because he taught him to ride; to another, because he served Astyages well; to a third, because he was very careful of his mother. Sacas, Astyages's cup-bearer, was the only person to whom he gave nothing. This officer; besides his place of cup-bearer, had the post of introducing such asweré to have audience of the king; and as it was not possible for him to grant this favour to Cyrus as often aş he required it, he had the misfortune to displease the young prince, who expressed his resentment upon this
occasion. Astyages seemed uneasy that he had offered this affront to an officer, for whom he had a particular esteem, and who deserved it for his wonderful address in discharging his office; “And is that enough, papa, "answers Cyrus, to merit your favour? then I should
soon have obtained it; for I'll answer for it, I can
serve you better than he.” The little Cyrus was immediately equipped in the habit of a cup-bearer. He advances gravely with a serious air, and a napkin thrown over his shoulder, and holding the cup nicely on three of his fingers, he presented it to the king with a dexterity and grace, that charmed Astyages and Mandane. When this was done, he threw his 'arms around his grandfather's neck, and kissing him cried out with great joy, " O Sacas, poor Sacas, thou art “ undone, I shall have thy place. Astyages was mightily pleased with him; “And well, says he, my
. boy thou shalt have it; nobody can serve me better. “ But you have forgotten one part of the ceremony, “ which is to taste of it before you give it.”. It was, it seems the custom for the chip-bearer to pour out a little of the liquor into his left hand, and taste it, bet fore he presented the cup to the king. " It was not " through forgetfultiess, answered Cyrus, that I did not so." " What then, says Astyages !"
“ It was “ because I apprehended the liquor to be poison.” “ Poison ! how so ?” “ Yes indeed, papa: for it is
not long since I took notice, at an entertainment “ you gave the lords of your court, that after they “ had drank a little of that liquor, all their heads
were turned. They bawled and sung, and talked “ like madmen. You yourself seemed to have for
got that you' were king, and they, that they were your subjects. At last, when you got up to dance, you could not stand without staggering.
replies Astyages, does not the same thing happen " to your father? ' Never, answered Cyrus." “ How then?” “Why, when he has drank, he is no * longer thirsty, and that's all.”. Bb 2
His mother Mandane being upon the point of rcturning into Persia, he cheerfully complied with the repeated instances of his grandfather to continue in Media, because he said, as he did not ride well enough yet, he might have time to perfect himself in that ex. ercise, which was not practised in Persia, the dryness of the soil, and mountainous situation of the country not admitting the breeding of horses.
During this interval that he passed at court, he gained the esteem and love of all mankind. He was mild, affable, obliging, good-natured, and liberal. If the young lords had any favour to bey of the king, he solicited it for them. If there was any cause of complaint against them, he was their mediator with the king. He made their business his own, and managed so well, that he always obtained what he desired.
Cambyses recalling Cyrus to complete the time allotted for the finishing of his exercises in Persia, he immediately set forward on his journey, that his delay might neither give his father, nor his country, any. cause to complain of him. It then appeared how tenderly he was beloved. At his departure he was accompanied by all the world; those of his own age, young men and old, all attended him. Astyages went with him on horseback a considerable way, and when he was obliged to take his leave, the whole company broke out into tears.
Thus Cyrus returned into Persia, where he continued one year more in the class of children. His companions expected to find a great alteration in his manners, after having spent so much time in so voluptuous and splendid a court as that of Media. But when they saw he was contented with their ordinary table, and upon days of feasting was more sober and reserved than any of them, they looked upon him with new adiniration.
He passed from this first class into the second, which is that of the young men; where he shewed that he had not his equal in address, patience and obedience.