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Solon   


to do it was useless, and not to do it would get him ill-will, and
desirous to bring himself out of all straits, and to escape all displeasure
and exceptions, it being a hard thing, as he himself says-
"In great affairs to satisfy all sides," as an excuse for travelling,
bought a trading vessel, and, having leave for ten years' absence,
departed, hoping that by that time his laws would have become familiar.
His first voyage was for Egypt, and he lived, as he himself says-
"Near Nilus' mouth, by fair Canopus' shore," and spent some time in
study with Psenophis of Heliopolis, and Sonchis the Saite, the most
learned of all the priests; from whom, as Plato says, getting knowledge
of the Atlantic story, he put it into a poem, and proposed to bring
it to the knowledge of the Greeks. From thence he sailed to Cyprus,
where he was made much of by Philocyprus, one of the kings there,
who had a small city built by Demophon, Theseus's son, near the river
Clarius, in a strong situation, but incommodious and uneasy of access.
Solon persuaded him, since there lay a fair plain below, to remove,
and build there a pleasanter and more spacious city. And he stayed
himself, and assisted in gathering inhabitants, and in fitting it
both for defence and convenience of living; insomuch that many flocked
to Philocyprus, and the other kings imitated the design; and, therefore,
to honour Solon, he called the city Soli, which was formerly named
Aepea. And Solon himself, in his Elegies, addressing Philocyprus,
mentions this foundation in these words:-
"Long may you live, and fill the Solian throne,
Succeeded still by children of your own;
And from your happy island while I sail,
Let Cyprus send for me a favouring gale;
May she advance, and bless your new command,
Prosper your town, and send me safe to land."
That Solon should discourse with Croesus, some think not agreeable
with chronology; but I cannot reject so famous and well-attested a
narrative, and, what is more, so agreeable to Solon's temper, and
so worthy his wisdom and greatness of mind, because, forsooth, it
does not agree with some chronological canons, which thousands have
endeavoured to regulate, and yet, to this day, could never bring their
differing opinions to any agreement. They say, therefore, that Solon,
coming to Croesus at his request, was in the same condition as an
inland man when first he goes to see the sea; for as he fancies every
river he meets with to be the ocean, so Solon, as he passed through
the court, and saw a great many nobles richly dressed, and proudly
attended with a multitude of guards and footboys, thought every one
had been the king, till he was brought to Croesus, who was decked
with every possible rarity and curiosity, in ornaments of jewels,
purple, and gold, that could make a grand and gorgeous spectacle of
him. Now when Solon came before him, and seemed not at all surprised,
nor gave Croesus those compliments he expected, but showed himself
to all discerning eyes to be a man that despised the gaudiness and
petty ostentation of it, he commanded them to open all his treasure
houses, and carry him to see his sumptuous furniture and luxuries,
though he did not wish it; Solon could judge of him well enough by
the first sight of him; and, when he returned from viewing all, Croesus
asked him if ever he had known a happier man than he. And when Solon
answered that he had known one Tellus, a fellow-citizen of his own,
and told him that this Tellus had been an honest man, had had good
children, a competent estate, and died bravely in battle for his country,
Croesus took him for an ill-bred fellow and a fool, for not measuring
happiness by the abundance of gold and silver, and preferring the
life and death of a private and mean man before so much power and
empire. He asked him, however, again, if, besides Tellus, he knew
any other man more happy. And Solon replying, Yes, Cleobis and Biton,
who were loving brothers, and extremely dutiful sons to their mother,
and, when the oxen delayed her, harnessed themselves to the wagon,
and drew her to Juno's temple, her neighbours all calling her happy,
and she herself rejoicing; then, after sacrificing and feasting, they

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