Page images
PDF
EPUB

HOW TO CAJOLE A DREAM.

55

however, after no long time I repented, and acknowledged that those measures which you suggested ought to be adopted by me. I am not, however, able to perform them, though desirous of doing so; for after I had altered my resolution, and acknowledged my error, a dream frequently presents itself to me by no means approving of my so doing, and it has just now vanished, after threatening me. If, then, it is a deity who sends this dream, and it is his pleasure that an expedition against Greece should at all events take place, this same dream will also flit before you, and give the same injunction as to me. This I think will happen, if you should take all my apparel, and having put it on, should afterwards sit on my throne, and then go to sleep in my bed." Xerxes thus addressed him; but Artabanus not obeying the first order, as he did not think himself worthy to sit on the royal throne, when he was at last compelled did as he was desired, after he had spoken as follows: "I deem it an equal merit, O king! to form good plans and to be willing to yield to one who gives good advice; and though both of these qualities attach to you, the converse of wicked men leads you astray, just as blasts of wind falling on the sea, which of all things is the most useful to mankind, do not suffer it to follow its proper nature. As for me, grief did not so much vex me at hearing your reproaches as that when two opinions were proposed by the Persians, one tend

56

35

ARTABANUS INCREDULOUS.

ing to increase their arrogance, the other to check it, and to show how hurtful it is to teach the mind to be constantly seeking for more than we already possessthat when these two opinions were proposed, you should choose that which is more dangerous both to yourself and the Persians. Now, however, after you have changed to the better resolution, you say that since you have given up the expedition against the Greeks, a dream has come to you, sent by some god, which forbids you to abandon the enterprise. But these things, my son, are not divine, for dreams, which wander among men, are such as I will explain to you, being many years older than you are. Those visions of dreams most commonly hover around men respecting things which one has thought of during the day; and we, during the preceding days, have been very much busied . about this expedition. If, therefore, this is not such as I judge, but has something divine in it, you have correctly summed up the whole in few words; then let it appear and give to me the same injunction as to you. And it ought not to appear to me any the more for my having your apparel than my own, nor the more because I go to sleep on your bed than on my own; if, indeed, it will appear at all. For that which has appeared to you in your sleep, whatever it be, can never arrive to such a degree of simplicity as to suppose that when it sees me, it is you, conjecturing from your apparel.

ARTABANUS TEMPTED.

57

But if it shall hold me in contempt, and not deign to appear to me, whether I be clothed in your robes or in my own; and if it shall visit you again, this indeed would deserve consideration; for if it should repeatedly visit you, I should myself confess it to be divine. If, however, you have resolved that so it should be, and it is not possible to avert this, but I must needs sleep in your bed, well, when this has been done, let it appear also to me; but, till that time, I shall persist in my present opinion."

'Artabanus having spoken thus, and hoping to show that Xerxes had said nothing of any moment, did what was ordered; and having put on the apparel of Xerxes, and sat in the royal throne, when he afterwards went to bed, the same dream which had appeared to Xerxes came to him when he was asleep, and standing over Artabanus, spoke as follows:-"Art thou, then, the man who dissuadeth Xerxes from invading Greece, as if thou wert very anxious for him? But neither hereafter nor at present shalt thou escape unpunished for endeavouring to avert what is fated to be. What Xerxes must suffer if he continues disobedient has been declared to him himself." Artabanus imagined that the dream uttered these threats, and was about to burn out his eyes with hot irons. He therefore, having uttered a loud shriek, leaped up, and seating himself by Xerxes, when he had related all the particulars of

58

ARTABANUS PERSUADED.

the vision in the dream, spoke to him in this manner: -"I, O king, being a man who have seen already many and great powers overthrown by inferior ones, would not suffer you to yield entirely to youth, knowing how mischievous it is to desire much, calling to mind the expedition of Cyrus against the Massageta, how it fared; and calling to mind also that of Cambyses against the Ethiopians; and having accompanied Darius in his invasion of Scythia-knowing all these things, I was of opinion, that if you remained quiet, you must be pronounced happy by all men. But since some divine impulse has sprung up, and, as it seems, some heaven-sent destruction impends over the Greeks, I myself am converted, and change my opinion. Do you then make known to the Persians the intimation sent by the deity, and command them to follow the orders first given by you for the preparations, and act so that, since the deity permits, nothing on your part may wanting." When he had thus spoken, both being carried away by the vision, as soon as it was day, Xerxes acquainted the Persians with what had happened; and Artabanus, who before was the only man who greatly opposed the expedition, now as openly promoted it.'

be

It need hardly be said that here the dream intimations were cruelly unreliable.

DREAMS OF PHERECYDES AND SOCRATES.

DIOGENES LAERTIUS.

'Pherecydes is said to have told the Lacedæmonians to honour neither gold nor silver, as Theopompus says in his "Marvels;" and it is reported that Hercules laid this injunction on him in a dream, and that the same night he appeared also to the kings of Sparta, and enjoined them to be guided by Pherecydes. But some attribute these stories to Pythagoras.'-Life of Pherecydes.

'It is said that Socrates in a dream saw a cygnet on his knees, who immediately put forth feathers and flew up on high, uttering a sweet note; and that the next day Plato came to him, and that he pronounced him the bird which he had seen.'-Life of Plato.

PRESAGES OF SUCCESS.

XENOPHON.

After the battle of Cunaxa, the death of Cyrus, and the treacherous murder or detention of the Grecian generals by the Persians, the "ten thousand" were in

« PreviousContinue »