Xenophon, Cyropaedia (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Xen. Cyr.].
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8.8.2Still, as soon as Cyrus was dead, his children at once fell into dissension, states and nations began to revolt, and everything began to deteriorate. And that what I say is the truth, I will prove, beginning with the Persians' attitude toward religion.lgt;

I know, for example, that in early times the kings and their officers, in their dealings with even the worst offenders, would abide by an oath that they might have given, and be true to any pledge they might have made. 8.8.3For had they not had such a [Note] character for honour, and had they not been true to their reputation, not a man would have trusted them, just as not a single person any longer trusts them, now that their lack of character is notorious; and the generals of the Greeks who joined the expedition of Cyrus the Younger would not have had such confidence in them even on that occasion. But, as it was, trusting in the previous reputation of the Persian kings, they placed themselves in the king's power, were led into his presence, and had their heads cut off. And many also of the barbarians who joined that expedition went to their doom, some deluded by one promise, others by another.

8.8.4But at the present time they are still worse, as the following will show: if, for example, any one in the olden times risked his life for the king, or if any one reduced a state or a nation to submission to him, or effected anything else of good or glory for him, such an one received honour and preferment; now, on the other hand, if any one seems to bring some advantage to the king by evil-doing, whether as Mithradates did, by betraying his own father Ariobarzanes, or as a certain Rheomithres did, in violating his most sacred oaths and leaving his wife and children and the children of his friends behind as hostages in the power of the king of Egypt [Note]—such are the ones who now have the highest honours heaped upon them.

8.8.5Witnessing such a state of morality, all the inhabitants of Asia have been turned to wickedness and wrong-doing. For, whatever the character of the rulers is, such also that of the people under them for the most part becomes. In this respect they are now even more unprincipled than before.

8.8.6In money matters, too, they are more dishonest [Note] in this particular: they arrest not merely those who have committed many offences, but even those who have done no wrong, and against all justice compel them to pay fines; and so those who are supposed to be rich are kept in a state of terror no less than those who have committed many crimes, and they are no more willing than malefactors are to come into close relations with their superiors in power; in fact, they do not even venture to enlist in the royal army. 8.8.7Accordingly, owing to their impiety toward the gods and their iniquity toward man, any one who is engaged in war with them can, if he desire, range up and down their country without having to strike a blow. Their principles in so far, therefore, are in every respect worse now than they were in antiquity.

8.8.8In the next place, as I will now show, they do [Note] not care for their physical strength as they used to do/. For example, it used to be their custom neither to spit nor to blow the nose. It is obvious that they observed this custom not for the sake of saving the moisture in the body, but from the wish to harden the body by labour and perspiration. But now the custom of refraining from spitting or blowing the nose still continues, but they never give themselves the trouble to work off the moisture in some other direction. 8.8.9In former times it was their custom also to eat but once in the day, so that they might devote the whole day to business and hard work. Now, to be sure, the custom of eating but once a day still prevails, but they begin to eat at the hour when those who breakfast earliest begin their morning meal, and they keep on eating and drinking until the hour when those who stay up latest go to bed.

8.8.10They had also the custom of not bringing pots into their banquets, evidently because they thought that if one did not drink to excess, both mind and body would be less uncertain. So even now the custom of not bringing in the pots still obtains, but they drink so much that, instead of carrying anything in, they are themselves carried out when they are no longer able to stand straight enough to walk out.

8.8.11Again, this also was a native custom of theirs, neither to eat nor drink while on a march, nor yet to be seen doing any of the necessary consequences of eating or drinking. Even yet that same abstinence prevails, but they make their journeys so short that no one would be surprised at their ability to resist those calls of nature.

8.8.12Again, in times past they used to go out [Note] hunting so often that the hunts afforded sufficient exercise for both men and horses. But since Artaxerxes and his court became the victims of wine, they have neither gone out themselves in the old way nor taken the others out hunting; on the contrary, if any one often went hunting with his friends out of sheer love for physical exertion, the courtiers would not hide their jealousy and would hate him as presuming to be a better man than they.

Xenophon, Cyropaedia (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Xen. Cyr.].
<<Xen. Cyr. 8.7.22 Xen. Cyr. 8.8.5 (Greek) >>Xen. Cyr. 8.8.17

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