Greek Literatur Week 5

On Feb 11th 6:04 pm I began reading book 3 of Herodotus Histories. Immediantly with in the first few words of the chapter, I see a trickster, Amasis. Cambyses demands Amasis daughter. Instead of Amasis granting Cambyses request, he sends a random girl named Nitestis. Of course Cambyses’s finds out — the girl tells Cambyses’s — and Cambyses is enraged. Thus causing Cambyses and his Persian army to invade Egypt.

Also, I most note Phanes. Phanes was a trusted bodygaurd of Amasis, like Gyges was to Candaules. This man Phanes had beef with Amasis and ran away. I don’t know what the problem was between Phanes and Amasis regardless, I am sure that Phanes didn’t think his actions through. His wife and kids were still in Egypt, he should’ev taken them with him. Of course Cambyses found his children, then he cut their throats so that the blood gushed in a bowl, he then added water and wine, Cambyse’s men then drunk this blood, water and wine cocktail.

Further on into my reading I noticed somthing that caught my attention. Cambyses, after taking Egypt, plans three expiditions of conquest to other countries. One of the regions Cambyeses plans to overtake is the land of the long-lived Ethiopians. First Cambyses get’s in contact with the Fish-Eaters from Elephantine (Im assuming these people love fish); the Fish-Eaters speak Ethiopian. Cambyses gives many gifts to these men (who are considered to be the tallest and most attractive men in the world) such as a gold necklace, purple robe, an alabaster box of myrrh and wine from the fruit of a palm tree. Cambyses tell’s these men what to say when they see the King of Ethiopia.

Once the Fish-Eaters arrive they quickly pour on the flattery, clamming Cambyses wants to be “friends”, the king realizes the plot and says the most savage thing I have read in this book. Here is what the Ethiopian king said from my own translation: “Wow, ok yall think I’m dumb huh? You claim your boy Cambyses wants peace yet he ensalves people who have done no harm. How about you go back to Egypt and give Cambyses this huge bow and tell him this ‘You a fraud G, I know your plans! When your team can draw a bow this big catch me ousside with these hands how bout dat. Also, be thankful to God that we don’t want Perisa, cuz if we did, we would already have it.’”

I knew that Cambyses would be furious when he heard this message and I was right. Cambyses, in a fury of anger, headed straight for Ethiopia, he didn’t even prepare provisions for the trip, thus I wasn’t suprised when Cambyses army ran out of food, I was suprised when his men cased lots, so that one out of every ten soldiers was eaten! Cambyses had also sent other divisions of his finite army to the Carthaginians and Ammonians.

It would appear that A: the gods simply didn’t care for Cambyses anymore or B: going to war with three regions at the same time is simply a foolish idea lol. The part of Cambyses army that started out from thebes made it halfway between Oasis and the Ammonia country, after that, they were never seen again. Once I read this I had to close the book and laugh, not at their misfortune but at the irony of it all. Here we have Cambyses from Persia. Cambyses concurs Egpyt with his mighty army, this same powerful army then disappears out of the blue. They were reportedly killed by the wind! Not by 100,000 archers or the great Spartans not even a battalion of elephant riding Zulu Warriors but the wind covered them with sand. Either way, had a portion of his army died from glorious battle or wheather conditions I’m sure Cambyses would agree — if he had it to do all over again — being satisfied with ones own land and living happily without envy or greed is the best way to go.

I was told by Dr. Sandridge that this chapter would be bloody, at this point in the story I wasn’t half way throught with the chapter; nonetheless Dr. Sandridge was correct.

Throughout my readings the most vicious acts of violence I found were from Cambyses. It would appear after his great loss while approaching Ethiopia and Ammonia (I have not the slightest clue of what happend to the war on the Carthaginians), Cambyses went crazy. The first of crazy things Cambyses did was stab Apis, I was suprised no one stepped in and killed Cambyses. Next thing Cambyses did was have all the priest whipped additionally, all Egyptians found festival making were killed. It is said that because of these deeds from Cambyses he went mad, this makes since to me.

Next Cambyses set his eyes on his own brother. While reading chapter 31, it became evident to me that Cambyses was extremly jealous of his brother, Cambyses had him killed because he could draw “two fingerbreaths” of the bow from the Long-Lived Ethiopians. After reading this passage of the book I became almost angry with Cambyses. I have two brother’s and while at times malicious thoughts of ambush do come to mind, I could never kill one of them! Especially not over somthing as trivial as a bow and arrow.

On Tuesday Feb 14th (Valentines Day) I woke up early for class. Around 7:11am I was on the bus headed for campus, while riding I took out Herodotus Histories and began reading. Around chapter 69 of book 3 Otanes becomes suspicious about who sits on the throne in Egypt. From this chapter I learned that Otanes was “the very greatest of the persians in birth and wealth,” yet the king had not invited him or any nobles to his palace or left the citadel. Otanes inquires of his daughter Phaedyme to figure out who she sleeps with, whether with “Smerdis, the son of Cyrus” or “with Smerdis the Magian.” I thought Otanes way of finding the truth in this matter was quite mind boggeling. He told his daughter that while she is sleeping with Smerdis to feel for his ears. Otanes said ”If you find that he has ears, you may be sure that you are sleeping with Smerdis, the son of Cyrus. If not, you are with Smerdis the Magian.” The reason I found this mind boggeling was because of Otanes logic or reasoning, did Pheadyme really need to sleep with Smerdis to see if he had ears or not? Or mabye Pheadyme only saw Smerdis at night when she entered his sleeping chambers.

Upon Pheadyme finding out the truth — that she slept with Smerdis the Magian — she told her father Otanes, who then begins assembling his most trusted comrades. I must pause in my reflection to highlight the power women in this book hold, in their testemony. I recall how Candaules wife blackmailed Gyges, causing a new man to become king. Additionally, Nitetis who realized she wasn’t who Cambyses had requested. It was her words of Nitetis testimony that caused Cambyses to become furious and invade Egypt; this invasion decision ironically caused Cambyses to loose his life.

But back to the the military coup, as I was reading this part of the book I thought to myself “Wow, this sounds like a military coup waiting to happen.” Granted I was right. Within the next few pages of the book, Otanes brings in his homies Aspathines and Gobryas (from their names they sound dangerous). Their number then grows from three men to seven.

I never thought that seven men could take control of a whole country nonetheless, these seven men pulled it off. Now they had to decide who would be king.

After Darius cheats in the horse competition and is declared King. Herodotus gives an in depth look into the tributes given by multiple regions. After this account, Herodotus starts explaining the abundance of gold and other treasures that are produced by different regions.

It was Feb 15th around 10:58 that I began reading again. Herodotus was just beginning his talk on India and how Indians derive their gold from the sand. Throughout this geological digression from taxes, I found the discussion on Inida to be very enlightening. The first piece of information— as presented by Herodotus — I took note of was the language of India. As cited in chapter 98, Herodotus explains that,”There are many peoples amoung the Indians, all speaking different languages.” Herodotus also explains that that not all Indians are nomads, some however, are.

Herodotus also makes note of the Padaei people, who are “eaters of raw meat.” The choice meat of Padaei people came as a shock to me, they like to eat their own people. Only the ones that are sick get eaten. Even if somones claims they aren’t sick, if those who are close to this person choose, they can kill and eat the “sick” person. I personally think seeking medicine would be a better course than cannibalism, but different strokes for different folks I guess.

Further on into my reading I would’ev wished to ask Herodotus some questions. One question I have for Herodotu’s is how did he know the color of the Indian mens semen? I’m assuming he asked around, which would lead me to wonder why he would make such an inquiry? Also, are there really ants bigger than fox’s but smaller than dog’s? If ants could become slightly larger than fox’s, I would’t leave the house much.