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Melpomene   


easily? If thou deemest thyself able to resist my arms, cease thy
wanderings and come, let us engage in battle. Or if thou art conscious
that my strength is greater than thine- even so thou shouldest cease
to run away- thou hast but to bring thy lord earth and water, and to
come at once to a conference."
To this message Idanthyrsus, the Scythian king, replied:- "This is
my way, Persian. I never fear men or fly from them. I have not done so
in times past, nor do I now fly from thee. There is nothing new or
strange in what I do; I only follow my common mode of life in peaceful
years. Now I will tell thee why I do not at once join battle with
thee. We Scythians have neither towns nor cultivated lands, which
might induce us, through fear of their being taken or ravaged, to be
in any hurry to fight with you. If, however, you must needs come to
blows with us speedily, look you now, there are our fathers' tombs-
seek them out, and attempt to meddle with them- then ye shall see
whether or no we will fight with you. Till ye do this, be sure we
shall not join battle, unless it pleases us. This is my answer to
the challenge to fight. As for lords, I acknowledge only Jove my
ancestor, and Vesta, the Scythian queen. Earth and water, the
tribute thou askedst, I do not send, but thou shalt soon receive
more suitable gifts. Last of all, in return for thy calling thyself my
lord, I say to thee, 'Go weep.'" (This is what men mean by the
Scythian mode of speech.) So the herald departed, bearing this message
to Darius.
When the Scythian kings heard the name of slavery they were filled
with rage, and despatched the division under Scopasis to which the
Sauromatae were joined, with orders that they should seek a conference
with the Ionians, who had been left at the Ister to guard the
bridge. Meanwhile the Scythians who remained behind resolved no longer
to lead the Persians hither and thither about their country, but to
fall upon them whenever they should be at their meals. So they
waited till such times, and then did as they had determined. In
these combats the Scythian horse always put to flight the horse of the
enemy; these last, however, when routed, fell back upon their foot,
who never failed to afford them support; while the Scythians, on their
side, as soon as they had driven the horse in, retired again, for fear
of the foot. By night too the Scythians made many similar attacks.
There was one very strange thing which greatly advantaged the
Persians, and was of equal disservice to the Scyths, in these assaults
on the Persian camp. This was the braying of the asses and the
appearance of the mules. For, as I observed before, the land of the
Scythians produces neither ass nor mule, and contains no single
specimen of either animal, by reason of the cold. So, when the asses
brayed, they frightened the Scythian cavalry; and often, in the middle
of a charge, the horses, hearing the noise made by the asses, would
take fright and wheel round, pricking up their ears, and showing
astonishment. This was owing to their having never heard the noise, or
seen the form, of the animal before: and it was not without some
little influence on the progress of the war.
The Scythians, when they perceived signs that the Persians were
becoming alarmed, took steps to induce them not to quit Scythia, in
the hope, if they stayed, of inflicting on them the greater injury,
when their supplies should altogether fail. To effect this, they would
leave some of their cattle exposed with the herdsmen, while they
themselves moved away to a distance: the Persians would make a
foray, and take the beasts, whereupon they would be highly elated.
This they did several times, until at last Darius was at his wits'
end; hereon the Scythian princes, understanding how matters stood,
despatched a herald to the Persian camp with presents for the king:
these were, a bird, a mouse, a frog, and five arrows. The Persians
asked the bearer to tell them what these gifts might mean, but he made
answer that he had no orders except to deliver them, and return
again with all speed. If the Persians were wise, he added, they
would find out the meaning for themselves. So when they heard this,

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