“After this Cambyses took counsel with himself, and planned three expeditions. One was against the Carthaginians, another against the Ammonians, and a third against the long-lived Ethiopians, who dwelt in that part of Libya which borders upon the southern sea. He judged it best to dispatch his fleet against Carthage and to send some portion of his land army to act against the Ammonians, while his spies went into Ethiopia, under the pretense of carrying presents to the king, but in reality to take note of all they saw, and especially to observe whether there was really what is called “the table of the Sun” in Ethiopia.
Now the Table of the Sun according to the accounts given of it may be thus described:- It is a meadow in the skirts of their city full of the boiled flesh of all manner of beasts, which the magistrates are careful to store with meat every night, and where whoever likes may come and eat during the day. The people of the land say that the earth itself brings forth the food. Such is the description which is given of this table.
When Cambyses had made up his mind that the spies should go, he forthwith sent to Elephantine for certain of the Icthyophagi who were acquainted with the Ethiopian tongue; and while they were being fetched, issued orders to his fleet to sail against Carthage. But the Phoenicians said they would not go, since they were bound to the Carthaginians by solemn oath, and since it would be wicked in them to make war on their own children.
Now when the Phoenicians refused, the rest of the fleet was unequal to the undertaking; and so it was that the Carthaginians escaped, and were not enslaved by the Persians. Cambyses thought it not right to force the war upon the Phoenicians, because they had yielded themselves to the Persians, and because upon the Phoenicians all his sea-service depended. The Cyprians had also joined the Persians of their own accord, and took part with them in the expedition against Egypt.
As soon as the Icthyophagi arrived from Elephantine, Cambyses, having told them what they were to say, forthwith dispatched them into Ethiopia with these following gifts: to wit, a purple robe, a gold chain for the neck, armlets, an alabaster box of myrrh, and a cask of palm wine.
The Ethiopians to whom this embassy was sent are said to be the tallest and handsomest men in the whole world. In their customs they differ greatly from the rest of mankind, and particularly in the way they choose their kings; for they find out the man who is the tallest of all the citizens, and of strength equal to his height, and appoint him to rule over them.
The Icthyophagi on reaching this people, delivered the gifts to the king of the country, and spoke as follows:- "Cambyses, king of the Persians, anxious to become thy ally and sworn friend, has sent us to hold converse with thee, and to bear thee the gifts thou seest, which are the things wherein he himself delights the most."
Hereon the Ethiopian, who knew they came as spies, made answer:- "The king of the Persians sent you not with these gifts because he much desired to become my sworn friend- nor is the account which ye give of yourselves true, for ye are come to search out my kingdom. Also your king is not a just man- for were he so, he had not coveted a land which is not his own, nor brought slavery on a people who never did him any wrong. Bear him this bow, and say- 'The king of the Ethiops thus advises the king of the Persians when the Persians can pull a bow of this strength thus easily, then let him come with an army of superior strength against the long-lived Ethiopians- till then, let him thank the gods that they have not put it into the heart of the sons of the Ethiops to covet countries which do not belong to them.'
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