Or if you prefer to receive us into your country, then withdraw yourself as I have said.” Hearing this, Cyrus called together the leading Persians and laid the matter before them, asking them to advise him which he should do. They all spoke to the same end, urging him to let Tomyris and her army enter his country.
But Croesus the Lydian, who was present, was displeased by their advice and spoke against it. “O King,” he said, “you have before now heard from me that since Zeus has given me to you I will turn aside to the best of my ability whatever misadventure I see threatening your house. And disaster has been my teacher.
Now, if you think that you and the army that you lead are immortal, I have no business giving you advice; but if you know that you and those whom you rule are only men, then I must first teach you this: men's fortunes are on a wheel, which in its turning does not allow the same man to prosper forever.
So, if that is the case, I am not of the same opinion about the business in hand as these other counsellors of yours. This is the danger if we agree to let the enemy enter your country: if you lose the battle, you lose your empire also, for it is plain that if the Massagetae win they will not retreat but will march against your provinces.
And if you conquer them, it is a lesser victory than if you crossed into their country and routed the Massagetae and pursued them; for I weigh your chances against theirs, and suppose that when you have beaten your adversaries you will march for the seat of Tomyris' power.
And besides what I have shown, it would be a shameful thing and not to be endured if Cyrus the son of Cambyses should yield and give ground before a woman. Now then, it occurs to me that we should cross and go forward as far as they draw back, and that then we should endeavor to overcome them by doing as I shall show.
As I understand, the Massagetae have no experience of the good things of Persia, and have never fared well as to what is greatly desirable. Therefore, I advise you to cut up the meat of many of your sheep and goats into generous portions for these men, and to cook it and serve it as a feast in our camp, providing many bowls of unmixed wine and all kinds of food.
Then let your army withdraw to the river again, leaving behind that part of it which is of least value. For if I am not mistaken in my judgment, when the Massagetae see so many good things they will give themselves over to feasting on them; and it will be up to us then to accomplish great things.”
So these opinions clashed; and Cyrus set aside his former plan and chose that of Croesus; consequently, he told Tomyris to draw her army off, for he would cross (he said) and attack her; so she withdrew as she had promised before. Then he entrusted Croesus to the care of his own son Cambyses, to whom he would leave his sovereignty, telling Cambyses to honor Croesus and treat him well if the crossing of the river against the Massagetae should not go well. With these instructions, he sent the two back to Persia, and he and his army crossed the river.
After he had crossed the Araxes, he dreamed that night while sleeping in the country of the Massagetae that he saw the eldest of Hystapes' sons with wings on his shoulders, the one wing overshadowing Asia and the other Europe.
Hystaspes son of Arsames was an Achaemenid, and Darius was the eldest of his sons, then about twenty years old; this Darius had been left behind in Persia, not yet being of an age to go on campaign.
So when Cyrus awoke he considered his vision, and because it seemed to him to be of great importance, he sent for Hystaspes and said to him privately, “Hystaspes, I have caught your son plotting against me and my sovereignty; and I will tell you how I know this for certain.
The gods care for me and show me beforehand all that is coming. Now then, I have seen in a dream in the past night your eldest son with wings on his shoulders, overshadowing Asia with the one and Europe with the other.