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From The Æthiopica: “Heliodorus - An Aethiopian Romance” translated by Thomas Underdowne (Anno 1587), revised and partly rewritten by F. A. Wright; George Routledge & Sons Ltd.: London; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.; [with additional corrections in the online edition by S. Rhoads;] pp. 193-230.




Calasiris and Chariclea after they had escaped this danger, both to get themselves out of their present perils and also hastening because of what had been foretold them, pressed on all with speed to Memphis. They came to the city just as those things were doing which the dead man prophesied. For they who were at Memphis had shut the gates a little before Thyamis came with his army from Bessa, since they had warning of his attack from a soldier who served under Mitranes and had escaped from the battle at Bessa. Thyamis then commanded his soldiers to lay aside their armour along one part of the wall, and to take some rest after their long journey, and determined himself to lay siege to the town. The citizens, who before were afraid of a great army, when they saw from the walls there were so few, despising them, gathered together the few archers and horsemen which were left as garrison for the town, and themselves taking such weapons as came to their hands, were eager to go forth and fight. But they were checked by a certain wise and noble man who said that although it happened that the governor was at war in Ethiopia, yet the matter ought to be brought before Arsace his wife, that the soldiers with her consent might be the readier to defend the city. As he seemed to speak well they all hastened to the king’s palace, where in the king’s absence the governors dwell.


Arsace was a beautiful woman, of tall stature, and singular wisdom to do anything; she was too of high stomach because of the nobleness of her birth, as is likely seeing that she was the sister of the great king. But by reason of her unlawful and dissolute lust she was not without reprehension and blame. And besides other facts, she was in a manner the cause of Thyamis’ banishment, when he was constrained to leave Memphis. For immediately after Calasiris went privily from Memphis, because of that which was told him by the gods about his sons, and could not be found so that it was thought he was dead, Thyamis as the elder son was called to the office of priesthood. As he was doing sacrifice publicly on his first entry into the temple of Isis, Arsace, seeing him to be a proper young man and of good age — for he was the handsomest man in that company and the best attired — cast many wanton looks and dishonest countenances at him. Which Thyamis regarded no whit, for he was both by nature very honest and well instructed from a child: and perhaps he did not even suspect the purpose of her play, or thought that she did it for some other reason, because he was altogether intent upon his sacrifices. But his brother Petosiris, who before had envied his brother the priesthood and had now well marked Arsace’s allurements, took her unlawful enticements as a good occasion to endamage his brother. Wherefore he came to Oroöndates secretly and told him of her desire, adding very falsely that Thyamis had made a match with her. The governor suffered himself easily to be persuaded, because of the suspicions he had already conceived of Arsace. Yet he molested her not, either because he could not manifestly convict her, or else he thought it best to wink at it for reverence and honour that he 195 bare to the blood royal. But he threatened openly to kill Thyamis, and never ceased until he drove him into exile and placed his brother Petosiris in his room.

But all this was done before. At that time, when the whole multitude flocked to her house and certified her of the coming of their enemies and besought her to give command for the soldiers to assemble, Arsace, who knew thereof already, answered that she would not lightly do so, because she knew not how many her enemies were, nor who, nor whence they came, nor for what reason. It was therefore best first to go to the walls and see all their ordinances, and then provide such things as are possible and convenient. They thought she said well and went every man to the walls. There by Arsace’s command a tent was pitched of purple silk garnished with gold, and she herself very costly arrayed came and sat in a high seat, with her guard about her glistering in gilt armour. Then she held out her mace in token of peaceable parley, and commanded the enemy captains to approach near to the walls. Theagenes and Thyamis, elected of the army, thereupon came and stood under the wall, clad in armour but with their heads bare, and the herald said unto them: ‘Arsace, wife of Oroöndates, chief governor, and sister of the great king, asketh who you are, what your meaning is, and wherefore you are so bold to come hither.’ They answered that their company were men of Bessa; but for himself Thyamis said who he was, and that having been wronged by his brother Petosiris and by Oroöndates and deprived craftily of his priesthood, he was now brought to be restored again by the Bessians. If he recovered the priest’s office, then should it be peace, and the people of Bessa would return home without any more harm doing. If not, he meant to commit the matter to the 196 judgment of war and force of arms. Arsace had good cause, if she remembered the past, to take revenge upon Petosiris for the falsehood he practised against her and the untrue accusations that he laid against her to Oroöndates, whereby he brought her into suspicion with her husband of vile and unlawful dealing and caused him craftily to be banished.

All the people of Memphis were disturbed at these words; they recognised Thyamis, and believing what he said was true, suspected now the reason of his sudden banishment, whereof at first they knew not. But Arsace was most troubled of them all, so that a whole storm of thoughts in a manner overwhelmed her. She was sore incensed against Petosiris, and calling to mind that which was past devised with herself how she might be revenged. Then when she looked at Thyamis and Theagenes she was diversely affected by passion for them both; for the one calling to mind her old love, and in the other finding occasion of a new and stronger desire; so that those who stood by her well perceived the troubles of her mind. Yet for all this when she had paused a while and come back to herself, not unlike one who is recovered of the holy evil, she said: ‘Good sirs, you were not well advised to take this war in hand, for in a thieves’ quarrel you have brought both the people of Bessa and yourselves, young men beautiful and of good parentage, as I guess, into manifest danger, inasmuch as is if we should fight with you you could not sustain the first assault of our force. Never may the great king’s power be brought so low that you would not be trapped even by the remnants of his army in this city, though the governor himself be away. But in my opinion we need not trouble the mass of men on either side. This is a private not a public quarrel, and it is better that it 197 be privately finished and brought to such an end as the gods appoint. I think it reason therefore, and I give command that all the men of Memphis and Bessa be quiet and stir not without occasion, and that they whose is the quarrel about the priesthood should fight for it hand to hand, on condition that the conqueror have the same.’

When Arsace said this all the Memphites shouted loud and praised her advice; for they began to suspect the mischievous attempt of Petosiris, and every man was glad to lay the imminent and present danger which was before their eyes on another man’s back. But the people of Bessa were not content and at first would not expose their captain to such a danger, until Thyamis persuaded them, telling them that Petosiris was but feeble and unskilful in fight, and that he would have a great advantage in the battle by reason of his practice. Arsace thought the same, it may be deemed, when she ordained that the battle be between these two, that she might have her desire without suspicion and be revenged sufficiently on Petosiris, if he fought with his brother Thyamis who was by far the better man.

Then a man might have seen her ordinance accomplished swifter than speech. Thyamis hastened to accept her challenge, and put on the rest of his armour that he wanted with a cheerful countenance, while Theagenes encouraged him and set on his headpiece, whereon was a very fair plume of feathers, glistering by reason it was well gilted, and fastened the rest of his armour securely about him. As for Petosiris, he was thrust out of the gates by violence to do that which was commanded, although he used many prayers to entreat that he might not fight, and took his weapons in hand sore against his will. When 198 Thyamis saw him he said: ‘Do you not see, good Theagenes, how Petosiris quaketh for fear?’ ‘I see it well,’ answered he; ‘but how will you do this which you have taken in hand? He is not a plain enemy, but your own brother, that you must fight.’ ‘You say well,’ quoth he, ‘and as I myself thought. By the grace of God I mean to overcome him and not to kill him. God forbid that my wrath and indignation should proceed so far that with the blood and slaughter of mine own brother I should either revenge injuries past or purchase honour to come.’ ‘You speak like a noble man,’ said Theagenes, ‘and one that well understandeth the force of nature; but what will you have me do to help you?’ He answered: ‘As to this battle, it may be despised. Yet inasmuch as the variety of human fortune bringeth many things to pass oftentimes contrary to our expectation, if I get the victory you shall ride into the city with me and live in equal authority with me. But if anything otherwise than we hope happen to me, then you shall be captain of these robbers of Bessa, who love you well, and so live until God appoint some better end for your affairs.’

When these things were ordered thus, they with weeping eyes embraced and kissed each other. Theagenes sat down there, as he was, to see what would happen; and thereby, although he knew it not, gave Arsace occasion to have her full of looking upon him, viewing him round about and suffering her eyes to take such delight as she wished. But Thyamis went against Petosiris; who did not wait to strike one blow, but as soon as he saw him come turned to the gates and would have gone into the city again. But he lost his labour; for those who kept the gates would not let him in, and they who were on every part of the 199 wall whereto he drew exhorted one another not to help him. He therefore cast away his weapons and fled as fast as he could about the city. Theagenes also ran, being both anxious for Thyamis and impatient to see all that was done. Marry he was not armed, lest men should think he meant to help Thyamis, but laid his shield and his spear at that side of the wall where Arsace sat, giving her leave to look upon them in his absence, and then followed them. Petosiris was neither quite caught nor yet very far in front, but always near to being overtaken, just so much ahead as would expect an unarmed man to outrun one in armour. By this time they had run once or twice around the walls; but as they ran the third time, Thyamis bent his spear against his brother’s back and bade him stop, or else he should have a blow in the sight of the whole city, who looked upon them and was judge of that controversy. Then it was that some god, or else that fortune which doth govern human affairs, by a new scene augmented the play, and as though in rivalry introduced the beginning of another tragedy, bringing Calasiris on that very day and hour, as it were from the machine, to be a sharer in that race and an unhappy witness of his sons’ deadly strife. Although he had suffered much and tried every device, imposing upon himself exile and wanderings in strange lands, if at all he might escape that cruel sight, yet now overcome by destiny he was compelled to behold that whereof the gods by oracle gave him warning before. For seeing the pursuit afar off he knew by the past warnings that they were his children; wherefore he started running faster than his age permitted him, forcing his strength that he might come before the end of the battle.

As soon as he got near and was now running hard 200 by them he cried: ‘My sons, what means this? Why are you so mad?’ But they knew not their father, since he was still in his beggar’s weeds, while their minds were set on the race, and went by him, supposing that he was a vagrant or one that was out of his wits. Of those that were on the walls some were amazed that he spared not himself but ran ever upon armed men, others laughed him to scorn as though he were mad. But the old man, seeing that he was not recognised by reason of his vile apparel, cast off the rags that were upon him, and let his hair fall unbound, and flinging away the burden on his shoulders and the staff in his hand, stood before them face to face, a reverend and a priest-like man. Then bending down and stretching forth his hands in suppliant fashion he cried out with tears: ‘My sons, behold, I am Calasiris, your father. Make an end here, and refrain the rage which ill hap hath raised betwixt you, inasmuch as you have a father now and owe obedience to him.’ Then they began to quail, and failing at their father’s knees embraced him, looking at him with careful eyes that they might be sure it was he indeed. And when they perceived it was himself and no vision, there arose diverse, yea and contrary, thoughts in their minds. They were glad of their father, who contrary to their expectations was alive; but they were angry and sore ashamed of the case he found them in, and they were in doubt also of that which after should befall. And while the people of the city marvelled and neither said nor did anything but stood in a manner like dumb pictures, because they knew not what it meant, another act was interlaced into the play. Chariclea, as she followed Calasiris, espied Theagenes afar off — for a lover’s eye is quick of sight, so that oftentimes, though it be a great way off, it will judge 201 a likeness by a movement or a gesture — and as if she had been stricken mad by the sight ran to him like one distraught, and hanging by her arms about his neck said nothing, but greeted him with tears and lamentations. He seeing her foul face, of purpose beblacked, and her apparel vile and all torn, supposing her belike to be one of the makeshifts of the city and a vagabond, cast her off and put her away, and at length, when she would not let him go, gave her a blow on the ear, for that she troubled him in seeing Calasiris. Then spake she to him softly: ‘Pythius, have you quite forgotten the torch?’ Theagenes was stricken by that word, as if he had been pierced with a dart, knowing that the torch was one of the tokens agreed on between them, and looking steadfastly upon her was enlightened by the beams from her eyes, as by the sun appearing through the clouds, and clasped her close within his arms. To be short, all the multitude on the wall, where Arsace sat sore swollen and jealously looking upon Chariclea, had their fill of such wondrous doings as commonly are but seen upon the stage. A wicked battle between two brothers was ended, and that which men thought would be finished with blood had of a tragical beginning a comical ending. A father saw his sons in armour one against the other come to that point that almost before his eyes he saw his children’s death, and then made himself their love day and peace, not being able to escape the necessity of fate, but happy in that he came in due time to that which was determined before. Sons after ten years absence recovered their father, who had been the cause to them of bloody strife for his priesthood, and now adorning him with the emblems of that holy office escorted him home. But above all, Theagenes and Chariclea, who played the lovers’ parts in this comedy, were most 202 talked of; and since they had found each other contrary to their hope they made the city to look upon them more than all the other sights that were then to be seen. For great companies of every age came out at the gates into the open fields, and such as were youthful and newly come to man’s estate drew near to Theagenes. Those that were of riper years, grown men indeed, approached Thyamis, since they by reason of their age knew him well. The maidenly sort, who now thought upon husbands, flocked about Chariclea; while the old men and such as were of the holier kind surrounded Calasiris. Thus was there made a sudden sacred pomp and bravery.

After Thyamis had sent back the people of Bessa, and given them thanks for the pains they took in his quarrel, with promise that at the next full moon he would send them a hundred oxen, a thousand sheep, and ten groats apiece in money, he suffered his father, as he went, to lean upon his shoulder, who now because of his sudden joy began to wax feeble and very faint. Petosiris did the same on the other side; and thus was the old man brought into Isis’ temple with torches lighted and with great rejoicings and many instruments of music, so that the lusty youths began also to dance. Nor was Arsace behind, but with her train followed in brave wise and offered great chains of gold in Isis’ temple, under pretence to do as others did in the city, but in truth her eyes were always upon Theagenes, and she looked more on him than on any other. Not that she had an honest mind towards him; and when Theagenes led Chariclea by the hand and put the crowd aside that she might take no harm, Arsace conceived a wonderful jealousy. But Calasiris, after he came to the inner part of the temple, fell upon his face, and held the feet of the god’s image 203 fast and lay there so long that he was almost dead; indeed he had much ado to arise when they who stood by called upon him. And when he had poured libations to the gods and made his prayers, taking the crown of priesthood from his own head he crowned therewith his son Thyamis, telling the people that he was old and saw that he should not live long, and that his eldest son by the law ought to succeed him, and that he had all things requisite, both in body and mind, to perform his holy duties. After the people by a great shout had declared that they approved what he did, he went himself to a certain part of the temple which is appointed for the priests, and remained there with his sons and Theagenes quietly; while all the other people went every man to his own house.

Arsace also departed with much ado, but she returned divers times, pretending to use great diligence about the service of the god. Yet at length she went away, turning herself, as long as she might, to see Theagenes. As soon as she came into the palace she went straight to her bed, and cast herself thereon, attired as she was, without speaking a word, being a woman otherwise very lasciviously bent, but then especially inflamed when she had seen Theagenes’ excellent beauty, which far surpassed all that ever she had seen before. So lay she all that night, tossing her body from one side to another and lamenting sore. Sometimes she would rise up, sometimes lean upon her elbow, sometimes cast her clothes almost all from her. Then she would suddenly fall upon her bed again and call in her maid, and without bidding her do anything send her away again. To be short, love had made her mad, and none would have known why, if an old woman called Cybele, her chamberlain and bawd, had not come into her room — for she could well 204 perceive all that was being done by reason of a lamp that burnt there and made Arsace’s state more evident — and said: ‘Mistress, for shame! What ado is this? Doth any new or strange disease pain you? Hath the sight of any man troubled my dearling? What man is so proud and mad as to despise your desire and will, and not rather be entangled by your beauty and account it a passing blessed estate to lie and have to do with you? Tell me my dear daughter; for there is no man so strong hearted but he shall be made to yield by our flattering allurements. Tell me quickly, and you shall have your heart’s desire; as in effect, I think, you have oftentimes proved before now.’

These words, and many more like them did the old quean speak, using diverse flatteries to make Arsace confess her pain; who, after she had waited a while, said thus: ‘I am sorely wounded, mother, than ever I was before, and although I have used your ready help many times in like cases, yet I doubt whether now you will have a like success. The battle which this day was like to be fought before the walls, to all other folk was bloodless and concluded in peace. But to me it is the beginning of a worse fray, whereby I am like to lose, not one limb or member, but my wit and senses, because it shewed to me for my misfortune the young stranger who, when the two brothers fought, ran by Thyamis’ side. You know well enough, mother, of whom I speak. There is no small difference between the brightness of his beauty and other men’s, so that even a rustic who had never been enamoured of fairness would perceive it, and much more your manifold experience. Therefore, dear mother, seeing that now you know my grief, it is time for you to put 205 in practice all manner of means and old women’s tricks and flatterings, if you wish your nurseling to live; for there is no other way to keep me alive but to enjoy him.’ ‘I know the young man well,’ said the old woman; ‘he was broad breasted and large between the shoulders, straight necked and comely, taller than the rest; to make an end with one word, he far surpassed all other men. His eyes were a little fiery, so that he looked very lovingly and yet courageously also, his hair was smooth combed, and he had a little young yellow beard. To him a stranger woman, marry not uncomely but passing impudent, methought, ran suddenly and cast her arms about him and held him fast and would not go away. Do you not mean this man, mistress?’ ‘Yes, even this one, mother,’ answered she; ‘and you have done very well to remind me of that common impudent harlot with her painted beauty whereof she is so proud. Yet surely she is much more happy than I, seeing that she has gotten such a lover.’ The old woman smiled a little at this and said: ‘Mistress, take a good heart and be no longer sorrowful. The stranger counteth her beautiful for this day; but if I can bring it to pass that he have the fruition of you and your beauty, he will soon change gold for brass, as the proverb is, and set naught by the harlot who now maketh so much of herself.’ ‘If you do this, my dear Cybele,’ quoth she, ‘you will heal at once in me two wounds, jealousy and love; delivering me from the one and satisfying me with the other.’ ‘If I can,’ said she, ‘it shall be done. Be cheerful and take your ease and despair not before we begin, but live in hope.’

She said thus, and took the lamp away, and shut the 206 chamber door. Scarce had she seen the dawn when she called one of the king’s eunuchs, and taking a maid with her, to whom she gave a few small cakes and other things necessary to do sacrifice, went to the temple of Isis. She came to the door and said that she must do sacrifice for her mistress Arsace, who was troubled this night with certain dreams and wished to appease the goddess. But the verger would not let her in, but sent her away, telling her that the temple place was full of sorrow. ‘Calasiris the priest,’ said he, ‘after he came home from his long journey made a sumptuous feast in the evening with his children, and surrendered himself to mirth and merriment. When the banquet was done, he poured libations and prayed to the goddess, and after telling his sons that for this night at least they would see their father, and giving them charge concerning two young Greeks that came with him, that they should do what they were able for them, went to bed. Then either in the excess of his joy the passages of his breath became too relaxed and open, since his body was enfeebled by age; or else it was that the gods granted him that which he craved; but about cock crow he was found dead, his sons by reason of his warning having watched near him all the night. So now we have sent for all the priestly crew in the city, to do his death rites according to the manner of our country. Wherefore you must now depart: for it is not lawful for any man, except he be a priest, to enter into the temple or to offer sacrifice for seven days.’ ‘How will the strangers then pass this time?’ said Cybele. ‘The new priest Thyamis,’ quoth he, ‘hath commanded a house to be prepared for them outside the temple. You may see them now approaching, and in accordance with his order going out of the temple for this time.’ Cybele, 207 taking this for a good occasion to get them away and make it the beginning of her policy, said: ‘Most excellent verger, you may do both the strangers and us a good turn, and especially Arsace the great king’s sister; for you know how great favour she beareth to Greeks, and how courteously she entertaineth strangers. Tell the young folk that by Thyamis’ command their lodging is prepared in our palace.’ The verger did so, suspecting nothing of Cybele’s deep designs but thinking that he would do the strangers a great pleasure, if by his means they procured their lodging in the prince’s court, and also render those who asked it of him a good turn, without harm or detriment to any man. So coming to Theagenes and Chariclea, who were very sorrowful and wept bitterly, he said: ‘You are not doing as the laws and customs of our country enjoin, and that too although you had commandment that you should not mourn. You weep and wail for a priest, at whose departure hence our sacred doctrine biddeth you rather to be glad and rejoice, as one who hath gained a better estate and a quieter rest. You deserve pardon indeed, for you have lost, as you say, a father and a patron and one on whom all your hopes depended. Yet ought you not altogether to despair. Thyamis, it seems hath succeeded his father not only in the office of priesthood but in good will toward you, and hath given special charge for your welfare. Wherefore a fine lodging is prepared for you, such as would beseem rich men of this country, not to say strangers who are now at a narrow pinch and low ebb, as may be deemed. Follow this woman then,’ — showing them Cybele — ‘and count her as mother to you both and accept her entertainment.’

Thus said he, and Theagenes and Chariclea consented; either because they were overwhelmed by 208 this unexpected storm of trouble, or else that in such a time they were content to take any lodging as a refuge. They would have been more heedful, beseemeth, if they had suspected what tragical and intolerable things that lodging would procure them, to their own great harm. But then the fortune that governed their affairs, when it had refreshed them a few hours and given them leave to be merry for one day, suddenly sent upon them fresh causes for grief and brought them into their enemy’s hands, as if they had yielded themselves to be bound, making them prisoners under colour of courteous entertainment without any knowledge of what should happen afterward. Such folly and blindness doth a life of wandering cast upon the eyes of those who travel through strange and unknown countries.

When they came unto the governor’s house, and went through the sumptuous entrances, which were greater and higher than might beseem any private man’s estate, furnished with the prince’s guard and the other courtly rout, they wondered and were troubled seeing the palace so far too great for their present fortunes. Yet for all that they followed Cybele who comforted them in many ways and bade them be of good cheer, calling them her children and her dearlings, and promised that they should have excellent good luck. At length, when she had brought them to her parlour, which was far from the noise of the court, sitting by them alone without more company, she said: ‘My children, I know the cause of the grief and sorrow wherein you be now, namely the death of the priest Calasiris who was to you in place of a father. Marry, tell me now also who you be and whence you come. That you are Greeks I understand, and by what I see I may guess 209 that you are of good parentage; for a comely countenance and so elegant a beauty is a manifest token of high blood. I pray you, tell me of what country in Greece and city you be, and how you happened to travel hither. I desire to hear the same, both for your own advantage and that I may certify my mistress Arsace thereof also, who is sister of the great king and wife of Oroöndates chief governor, a lover of Greeks and all handsomeness, and very liberal to strangers, to the intent that you may come into her sight in such honourable fashion as your estate shall require. You will tell your story to a woman who is not altogether alien to you; for I myself am a Greek, a Lesbian by birth, brought hither captive, and yet more fortunate here than in mine own country. I serve my mistress in all matters, so that without me she does nothing, save breathe and live: I am her mind, I am her ears; to be short, I am all: I bring to her acquaintance good and honest men and I keep all her secrets.’ Theagenes comparing that which Cybele said with that which Arsace did the day before, and thinking how wantonly with fixed looks continually she beheld him so that her nods and becks declared scarce a chaste mind, gathered that small good would ensue to them from all this. But just as he made ready to reply somewhat to the old woman Chariclea said softly to him in his ear: ‘In your talk remember your sister, I pray.’

Perceiving what she meant thereby, he gave this answer: ‘Mother, you know already that we are Greeks. Know then this further, that we be brother and sister, who voyaging to seek our parents, taken prisoner by pirates, have had worse luck even than they, by falling into crueller men’s hands. After we had been robbed of all our great riches, scarce escaping 210 with our lives, by the good-will of God we met with the noble Calasiris, and came with him hither, in mind to pass the rest of our life here. But now we are, as you see, forsaken of all men and left quite alone, and have together with our other parents lost him, who seemed and was indeed a father to us. Such then is our estate. As for the courteous and gentle entertainment we have at your hand, we give you very hearty thanks, and you will do us even more pleasure if you procure us a dwelling apart from other company, deferring the courtesy whereof you talked, that is to acquaint us with Arsace, nor bringing into her high fortunes our strange, banished restless life. For you know well that friendship and acquaintance ought to be between such as are of one condition.’ When he had said thus, Cybele could not rule herself, but gave manifest tokens by the cheerfulness of her countenance that she was very glad to hear the words ‘brother and sister,’ thinking that Chariclea would surely be no impediment to Arsace’s disports. ‘O beautiful young man,’ quoth she, ‘you will not say this of Arsace, when you have tried her fashions; she is conformable to all fortune and is ever ready to help those who are in undeserved mishaps. Though she be a Persian, yet in her nature she imitateth the Greeks, much rejoicing in those that come from thence, and is wonderfully delighted with their company and manners. Wherefore be you both of good cheer: you shall be adorned with all honour that may happen to a man, and your sister shall be of her familiar and near acquaintance. But what are your names that I must tell her?’ After she had heard them say ‘Theagenes and Chariclea’ she bade them tarry there awhile and ran off herself to Arsace, bidding the door-keeper — who was also an old woman — to let no man 211 come in nor suffer the young folks to go any whither abroad. ‘Not even if your son Achaemenes come?’ asked the door-keeper; ‘for he went out a little while after you were gone to the temple, to dress his eye which is yet somewhat sore.’ ‘No,’ quoth Cybele, ‘open not, even for him. Lock the door and keeping the key with you say I have taken it away.’ And so it happened.

Cybele had scarce gone forth when Theagenes and Chariclea, being left alone, began to lament and remember their past mishaps, so that they both with one mind and almost with the same words bewailed each other. She cried oft, ‘O Theagenes’; ‘O Chariclea,’ oft said he. ‘What fortune have we!’ quoth he; ‘In what case are we!’ said she. And at every word they embraced each other; and when they had wept a while, they fell to kissing again. Last of all, when they thought of Calasiris, they bewailed him with tears; and especially Chariclea, because for a longer time she had known his love and goodwill toward her. Wherefore with tears she cried out, ‘O good Calasiris; for I may not call him by the best of all names, ‘father,’ inasmuch as God hath every way cut me off therefrom. I know not the father who begot me. Charicles, who made me his child by adoption, alas! I have betrayed. And now I have lost him also who took charge of me and hath saved and nourished me hitherto; nor will the crew of priests suffer me to weep over his dead body as is accustomably done in burials. But surely, my nurse and saviour — yea and I will call thee father too though god refuse — here and now, where I may and as I may, I offer thee libations of my tears and do thee the death rights with my locks.’ And therewith she pulled out a great handful of her hair. Theagenes tried to 212 appease her and held her hands softly, but she lamented nevertheless saying: ‘To what end shall we live any longer! To what hope may we look! He who conducted us through strange lands, the stay of our error, our guide to our country, the knowledge of our parents, our comfort in adversity, the case of our ill fortune, the anchor of all our affairs, Calasiris is dead, and hath left us two, a miserable pair in a strange land, not knowing what is best to do. Now every journey by land, every voyage by water is by ignorance debarred us. A grave and courteous, an old and wise head, he hath gone from us, and never saw the end of all his kindnesses toward us.’

As she in this and such like fashion lamented, while Theagenes sometimes joined in her sorrow and sometimes concealed his own grief that Chariclea’s tears might abate, Achaemenes returned and finding the gate locked asked of the porter: ‘What ado is here?’ When he was told it was his mother’s deed, he came near the door, and considering the cause thereof in his mind he heard Chariclea lament; then stooping down he looked through the openings, whereby the fastening of the bolts are opened, and saw all that was being done within. He asked the door-keeper again who these were; but she answered that she knew no more than that they were two strangers, a man and maid belike, whom his mother brought in a while ago. He kneeled down again to see if he might more plainly view them, and although he had never known Chariclea before he marvelled at her excellent beauty, and considered what a manner of one she would be if she were not in such sorrow and heaviness; and with this wondering he privily fell in love with her. As for Theagenes, he thought that he 213 dimly recognized him as one he had doubtfully seen. As he was thinking thereon, Cybele returned, having told Arsace of the young folks’ estate and called her most happy for her good fortune, in that of itself such luck had come to pass as a thousand devices and tricks would scarce have accomplished, and she now had her beloved in the same house with her, seeing and being seen in safety. With many such words as these she set Arsace on fire, so that she could scarce restrain her, in such haste was she to behold him. But yet she caused her to be content for a while, saying she would not have him see her while her eyes were swollen for lack of sleep, but a day after, when she had recovered her old beauty again. Thus she made her merry and full of hope that she would have her heart’s desire, and took order with her what was best to do and how she should entertain the strangers.

When she came in then she said: ‘Why be you so inquisitive here, my son?’ ‘Tell me,’ quoth he, ‘what strangers be those within and of what country?’ ‘It is not for you to know,’ answered she; ‘keep a still tongue, and tell this to no man, neither be much among the strangers. So our mistress commands.’ He went away then, as his mother bade him, and deemed that Theagenes was kept to serve Arsace’s turn by night. And as he went, he said thus to himself: ‘Is not this he whom Mitranes, captain of the watch, delivered to me to be carried to Oroöndates, and from him to be sent to the great king, that one whom the people of Bessa took from me, at what time I was in mortal danger, so that I almost alone of all that carried him escaped with my life? Or is it that my eyes beguile me? Nay, I am well enough now, and see as I was wont to do. Moreover I hear that 214 Thyamis came here a day or two ago, and in a combat with his brother recovered the priesthood again. Surely it is he. But I will not say any word of my knowledge now. I will mark how our mistress is affected toward these guests.’ Thus he talked with himself.

But Cybele, going in to the young folks, saw the signs of their lamentation. For though, when they heard the door open, they tried to trim themselves and counterfeited their wonted guise, the old woman perceived that their eyes were yet full of water. Wherefore she cried out and said: ‘My dear children, why weep you out of season, when you should rejoice and thank your good fortune, for that Arsace thinketh to do you all the good that you can wish, and wills that to-morrow you come into her presence, and in the meantime shows you all manner of courtesy and gentleness? Wherefore you must leave off these foolish and childish tears, and look up and deck yourselves and in every point do as Arsace would have you.’ ‘The remembrance of Calasiris’ death,’ quoth Theagenes, ‘caused us to weep, who have lost the fatherly affection which was in him toward us.’ ’These be but toys,’ said the old woman. ‘Old Calasiris, your feigned father, has yielded to the common law of nature and age. All now depends for you on one person: power, riches, dalliance, and the fruits of a flourishing youth: in a word, think of your own fortune and worship Arsace. Only be ruled by me how you must come into her presence, since she so commands, and how you must use her if she bid you do aught. For her stomach is high and princely, as you know, augmented by youthful age and excellent beauty, which will not have a nay, if it make any request.’


Theagenes at this was silent and thought within himself that in this talk was contained somewhat that was very beastly and not to be admitted. Within a while after came certain eunuchs, bringing meat from the prince’s table on dishes of gold, which surpassed all manner of cost and sumptuousness. ‘Our lady,’ said they, ‘sends you this as a first entertainment for honour’s sake’ — and setting down the dishes they straightway departed. The young folk at Cybele’s bidding tasted a little of that which was set before them, lest they should seem to be scornful thereof; and this was done every evening for the days that followed. The next morning about the first hour the same eunuchs came to Theagenes and said: ‘Right happy man, our mistress hath sent for you, and we are commanded to bring you to her presence. Wherefore go and enjoy that happiness which she vouchsafeth to very few and at seldom times.’ He stayed a while, but at length, as if he were drawn by violence, he rose and said: ‘Is her commandment that you bring me alone, or that this my sister shall go with me also?’ ‘You must go alone,’ said they, ‘and she also shall go alone another time. Marry now there are certain noble men of Persia with her, and it is a custom to talk with men by themselves, and with women on another occasion.’ Then Theagenes stooped down and said softly to Chariclea: ‘Surely this is neither honest dealing nor without suspicion.’ She answered him that there was no gainsaying, but that he must go and make such countenance as if he would do all her will. So he followed with them: but when they told him how he should speak to her, and, that it was the custom for those who entered to fall down and worship her, he made no answer.


When he came in and saw her sitting in her chair of state, clothed in purple and cloth of gold, glorious with jolly jewels and her costly bonnet, finely attired and decked, with her guard about her, and the chief magistrates of the Persians by her side, he was not abashed a whit but rather the more encouraged against the Persian bravery. As though he had quite forgotten that whereof he talked with Chariclea, as touching worship and reverence, he neither bowed his knee nor fell down before her, but holding up his head aloft said: ‘Arsace of royal blood, God save thee.’ Whereat when those who were present were offended and murmured against him as one rash and over-bold, in that he had not worshipped her, Arsace smiled a little, and answered for him thus: ‘Pardon him as one ignorant of our customs and a stranger born in Greece, who by reason of his country despiseth our pomp.’ And therewithal she took off her bonnet, sore against the will of those that stood by: for so the Persians render salute to those who have first saluted them. And when she had bidden him to be of good cheer by an interpreter — for although she understood, she could not speak the Greek tongue — and told him to say if he wanted anything and he should have it, she sent him back again, commanding her eunuchs and guards to wait upon him. There Achaemenes seeing him again called him better to his remembrance. But though he marvelled and suspected the cause of the over great honour he had, yet he said nothing and determined to do that which first he planned. As for Arsace, she made a sumptuous banquet to the magistrates of Persia, under colour to honour them as she was wont to do, but in truth for joy that she had talked with Theagenes. To whom she sent not only part of her meat, as was her habit, 217 but carpets and coverings of sundry colours wrought in Sidon and Lydia; she sent also to wait upon them a boy for him and a girl for her, both born in Ionia and about fourteen years of age. Moreover she urged Cybele to make haste and do out of hand what she intended, because she could wait no longer; who indeed herself before this had left no way unsearched, but tried Theagenes’ mind by all manner of means. Marry she did not tell him Arsace’s mind plainly, but by divers byeways and circumstances she meant to make him understand the same, by telling him of her lady’s good will toward him and by commending not only her shape and beauty that all men saw, but on convenient occasions also those parts that were concealed by her apparel. She praised too her manners, for that they were amiable and nothing coy and that she had great delight in fine and stalwart young men; the drift of all her talk being to see if he had any pleasure in the sports of Venus. Theagenes commended the good will that she bare to the Greeks, and her friendly fashions, and whatever else of that sort she talked about, and further for the same gave hearty thanks. But he passed over that which contained any dishonest thing, as though he understood it not at all. Wherefore the old woman was sore grieved and nipped at the heart; for she thought he understood what she meant, but utterly despised and set at naught all her planning. She knew moreover that Arsace would abide no longer, but began even now to be angry and tell her plainly she could no longer contain herself: wherefore she craved the performance of her promise, which Cybele had deferred by divers delays, sometimes saying that the young man would but was afraid, sometimes that one or other mischance fell in the way.


By this time five or six days were past, and since Arsace had called for Chariclea once or twice and used her honourably, to do Theagenes pleasure, Cybele was compelled to speak to him more plainly, and tell him of her mistress’ love without circumstance, promising that he would have a thousand good turns if he would consent. ’For shame,’ she cried, ’what lingering is this and refusal of love! How can so fair a young man of good age refuse to lie with a woman like himself that dieth for him, and doth not rather account it an advantage to have to do with her. Especially when he need fear nothing, seeing that her husband is out of the way, and I who brought her up and keep her secrets provide the opportunity. You have neither spouse nor wife to hinder you; although that is a thing which many men of sense have disregarded, knowing they would do no harm at home and would do themselves good by gaining great riches, and counting also the fruit of this pleasure a great reward.’ At last she began to interlace threats with her talk, saying, ’Gentlewomen and such as long for men will not be appeased, but conceive great displeasure when they are cruelly deceived, and punish the stubborn as if they had done them great wrong, and that not without cause. Consider: she is a Persian of the blood royal, as you confessed, and of great power and authority, so that she may honour whom she will, and punish such as withstand her pleasure, without controlment; you are a stranger, alone without any to help you. Wherefore spare yourself and her. She is worthy of your regard, who is so furiously inflamed with your love which she of right ought to enjoy. Take care for the wrath which proceedeth from love, and beware of the revenge which followeth contempt: I have known many men who have repented afterward of 219 such a stomach as this. I have greater experience in these venerious affairs than you: this white head that you see hath been at many such contests, but I never knew any so violent and implacable as you.’ Then turning to Chariclea — for necessity made her bold to speak thereof in her presence — she said: ‘My daughter, help me to persuade this thy brother, whom I know not how to term. This will be for your profit also. You will not be loved a whit the less; you will receive the more honour; you will have riches in plenty; and she will provide you with a splendid marriage: which things are to be desired even by those who are in happy estate, much more by strangers and such as are now plainly in great distress.’

Thereat Chariclea looked upon her frowningly and with burning eyes, and said: ‘It were an excellent thing, and one to be wished, that good Arsace either had no such infirmity, or that having it she used it discreetly. But seeing that such a human chance hath happened unto her and she is overcome as you say, I would counsel Theagenes myself not to refuse the act, if he may do it without danger. My fear is that if it come to light and the governor hap to know of so shameful a thing, his deed will breed him harm and her no good.’ When she heard this Cybele leapt for joy and embracing and kissing Chariclea said: ‘My daughter, thou dost very well to have pity upon a woman like thyself and to seek thy brother’s safety. Thou needest have no fear as to this matter: not even the sun, as the proverb is, shall know thereof.’ ‘Let me alone now,’ said Theagenes, ‘and give me time to consider.’ Thereupon Cybele went out; and as soon as she was gone Chariclea said thus: ‘Theagenes, even such good fortune as God sends us contains within it more adversity than felicity. Yet it is the 220 part of wise men to turn their ill haps, as much as they may, to better issues. Whether you be in mind to do this deed or not I cannot tell; although I would not be greatly against it, if there were no other way to preserve us. But if — as you should do — you deem it a filthy act which is asked of you, then feign only to consent, and with fair words feeding the barbarous woman’s desire soothe her hope, and by promises allay her hot passion, cutting her short by delays, lest in her rage she put some cruel device in practise against us. By the grace of God it is likely that time will provide a remedy for all this: but in any case, Theagenes, beware lest you slip from thought into the filthiness of the act itself.’ Theagenes smiled hereat a little and said: ‘I perceive that even in trouble you are not without jealousy, which is woman’s natural disease, But be sure that I cannot feign any such thing; to say and to do unhonest things are both alike dishonest. Furthermore, that Arsace should give up hope bringeth another advantage with it; she will cease to trouble us any more. While, if I must suffer, fortune and my own mind have inured me now to bear whatever betides.’ ‘Take care lest you bring us into great mischief,’ quoth Chariclea; and therewith she held her tongue.

While they were considering of these matters Cybele went to Arsace, and encouraged her to look for better success, saying that Theagenes had given certain tokens of consent: which done, she returned to her own lodging. That night she said nothing, save by exhorting Chariclea, whom at the first she made her bedfellow, to help her in this case; but in the morning she asked Theagenes what he meant to do. He gave her a plain denial and bade her never to look for such a thing at his hand. With which answer she went 221 sadly to Arsace; where having made report of Theagenes’ stoutness, her mistress ordered that she be thrust out head foremost, and then went to her chamber and vexed herself cruelly on her bed. The old woman was scarce outside, when her son Achaemenes saw her sadly weeping, and said: ‘Mother what mishap has befallen? Has any ill news vexed our mistress? Are there any evil tidings come from the camp? Have the Ethiopians the upper hand of our lord Oroöndates in this war?’ And many such other questions. ‘Tush,’ quoth she, ‘thy prating is of no effect:’ and therewith she made haste to be gone.

But he would not let her go, but went after her, and taking her by the hand besought her to tell her son the cause of her grief. Then she took him by the hand, and led him aside into a part of the orchard, said: ‘I would never have declared mine own and my lady’s troubles to any other man. But seeing that she is danger and I in peril of my life — for I know that Arsace’s madness will fall into my neck — I am constrained to tell you, if haply you can help her who conceived and bare you into the world, and nourished you with these breasts. Our mistress doth love the young man who is in our house, not with tolerable or usual love, but so that she is almost mad therewith. Both she and I hoped that we should speed well, but we have lost our labour. Hence came all these courtesies toward the strangers and our manifold goodwill. But now, since the young man, like a fool and cruel fellow who will not be ruled, hath refused to do as we would have him, I think she will not live, while I shall be slain as having beguiled and cheated her with promises. In this case are we now. If thou canst help me with anything, do it; if not, when thy 222 mother is dead, see that her death rites are duly performed.’ ‘What reward shall I have, mother?’ said he. ‘This is no time to boast myself, or with long circumstances to promise you help, seeing you be in such and so desperate a case.’ ‘Look for whatever reward you wish,’ said Cybele. ‘She hath made you her chief cup bearer for my sake already, and if you have any higher office in mind, tell me. As for the riches you shall have in recompense, if you save her, unhappy creature, of them there shall be no counting.’ ‘Mother,’ quoth he, ‘I perceived as much a good while ago, but I said nothing and looked ever for what would come of it. I care for no honour, nor regard any riches: but if she will give me the maid who is called Theagenes’ sister to wife, then she shall have her heart’s desire. I loved the maid beyond all measure, mother. Wherefore, since our mistress knoweth by her own case what and how great a grief love is, she hath good reason to help him who is sick of that same disease, seeing also that he promises her such good fortune.’ ‘Have no doubt,’ said Cybele. ‘Our mistress will requite you without delay, when you have done thus much for her and saved her in such distress. Besides perhaps we may persuade the maid ourselves without troubling her. But tell me how you will help.’ ‘I will not tell you,’ said he, ‘until I have a promise confirmed by our lady’s oath. As for you, say nothing to the maid, lest you mar your market against your will: for I see well that she too has a lofty stomach.’ She promised he should have his desire, and hastening to Arsace’s chamber fell at her knees and bade her be of good cheer: ‘By the grace of God, all shall be well, if only you send for my son Achaemenes to come to you.’ ‘Let him be called,’ said Arsace, ‘if you mean not to deceive me again.’


Achaemenes came in, and when Cybele had told her all the matter Arsace sware by express words that he should have his desire, as touching the marriage of Theagenes’ sister. Then said Achaemenes: ‘Let Theagenes henceforth be quiet. He is your bondman and slave, although he now behaveth himself so stubbornly against his mistress.’ ‘How mean you this?’ said Arsace. Then Achaemenes told her all: that Theagenes was taken prisoner by law of war; that Mitranes sent him to Oroöndates to be conveyed to the great king; that he himself in taking him thither lost him because of the attack of the people of Bessa and Thyamis, so that he hardly escaped with his life: lastly he brought out and showed the letter from Mitranes to Oroöndates, and said that if Arsace needed anymore proof he would have Thyamis for witness. At this Arsace recovered some hope, and made no delay but came out of her chamber, and sitting in the seat where she was wont to hear and give judgment, she commanded Theagenes to be brought before her. As soon as he came she asked him if he knew Achaemenes, who stood near. He said yea. ‘Were you not once his prisoner?’ quoth she. Theagenes confessed that he was. ‘Then are you my bondman,’ said she, ‘and shall do as my slaves, being ruled by my will whether you wish it or not. As for your sister, I have betrothed her to Achaemenes who is chief of my household, both for her mother’s sake and his own good will toward us, so long delaying the marriage as to fix a day and provide such things as are needful for a sumptuous feast.’ Theagenes was stricken by these words as with a grievous wound, but he resolved not to contrary her, but to avoid her force, as a man would shun the assault of some wild beast: ‘Lady,’ said he, ‘the gods be thanked, 224 inasmuch as we are well born, that in our adversity it is our good hap to be enslaved to none other than you, who have already shewn so great humanity and good will to us when we seemed to be but aliens and strangers. As for my sister, though she is not a prisoner nor a slave, yet she is ready to do your pleasure and be called as you wish. Wherefore do with her as you think is right.’ ‘Let him be put among the waiters at our table,’ quoth Arsace, ‘and learn from Achaemenes to pour out the wine, so that he may be inured beforehand to serve at the king’s board.’

This done, they went out, Theagenes very heavy and devising of what had best be done, but Achaemenes laughing and scorning him with words like these: ‘Lo, you who were lately so proud and lofty, the free man with head held high, who thought scorn to submit and worship Arsace, surely now you will have to stoop, or else with fists you will be taught to know your duty.’ But Arsace, when she had sent all the others from her, said to Cybele: ‘Now, Cybele, he hath no more excuses. Go then and tell the proud fellow that if he will be ruled by us and do our will, he shall be made free and have plenty of all things. But if he be still in a contrary mind and despise his lover, he shall understand that his mistress is angry and be made the vilest of all her slaves and tormented with every manner of punishments.’ Cybele came and told him Arsace’s command, adding of herself what she thought was suitable to persuade him. Theagenes desired her to wait a while, and took Chariclea alone, and said thus: ‘Now, Chariclea, are we quite undone; every cable, as the proverb goes, is broken, every anchor of hope is lost. Now are we no longer free men in misery, we have again become slaves.’ And therewith he told her how. ‘We are 225 subject to the reproachful scoffs and torments of the barbarians, so that either we must do our master’s bidding or else be numbered among the condemned. Yet even this were tolerable if Arsace had not promised — which is the most grievous thing of all — to marry you to Achaemenes, Cybele’s son. It is plain that either that shall not be done at all, or that I shall not see it, as long as life gives me a sword and weapons to withstand the same. But what shall we do? What way can we devise to break off my abominable act with Arsace and your shameful marriage with Achaemenes?’ ‘By agreeing to the one,’ said Chariclea, ‘you may prevent that other which concerns me.’ ‘Hush, hush,’ quoth Theagenes, ‘God forbid that the anger of heaven be so hard upon us that I, who never had to do with Chariclea, should unlawfully meddle with another woman. Nay, I think I have found a good remedy; since surely necessity is the deviser of all manner of shifts.’

Therewith he went aside to Cybele and said: ‘Tell your mistress that I would speak with her alone, so that no man may hear.’ The old woman, thinking this to be what they looked for, and that Theagenes would now yield, went hastily to Arsace and received command to bring him after supper, which she did. After she had charged the attendants to be still and let her mistress rest without stirring about the chamber, she conveyed Theagenes in privily; for every place was very dark, so that one might work secretly enough, and there was but one lamp in her chamber. When she had thus done she would have shrunk away, but Theagenes stopped her and said: ’Mistress, for this time let Cybele be here, for I know that she is very trusty to keep counsel.’ Then taking Arsace by the hand he spake thus: ’Mistress, I 226 delayed the doing of that which you commanded me, not out of wilfulness against your wishes, but that I might provide security for myself. And now, seeing that fortune hath kindly made me your slave, I am the more ready to do your will in all points. But first I must ask you to grant me one thing, instead of the great and manifold benefits that you have promised me. Break off the marriage of Chariclea and Achaemenes. For it is not right, to say no more, that a woman of very high parentage should be matched with a bond slave. Else I swear to you by the Sun, fairest of the gods, and by all the rest of the gods also, that I will never do what you want of me, and before Chariclea sustain any violence you shall see me slay myself.’ To this Arsace answered: ‘Think not but that I will do what I can to pleasure you, since I am ready to deliver myself into your hands. But I have promised by oath to marry your sister to Achaemenes.’ ‘It is well then, mistress,’ quoth he; ‘you may marry me sister to him, whoever she be: but her whom I love and is my spouse and all but wife I know you will not marry; nor if you would, may you.’ ‘What mean you by this?’ said she. ‘I mean the truth,’ he answered; ‘Chariclea is not my sister but my spouse. Wherefore you are released from your oath, and you can have a plain proof when you please, if you list to make a bridal feast for us.’ This nipped her, when she heard that Chariclea was his wife, so that she fell into a great jealousy. But for all that she said: ‘You shall have your desire, and we will appease Achaemenes with another wife.’ ‘Then I will perform my promise,’ said Theagenes, ‘when this is undone.’ And therewith he bent down to kiss her hand; but she leaning forward, instead of her hand kissed him with her mouth. So Theagenes went out 227 with a kiss of hers, but he kissed her not in return.

As soon as he got leisure he told Chariclea all — who heard some things that made her jealous also — and added moreover the strange end that his promise tended unto, and how by that one thing he had wrought many feats. ‘Achaemenes’ wedding.’ said he, ‘is defeated and a delay found for Arsace’s lust. But chief of all, Achaemenes now will set all on a broil, being offended in that he is beguiled of what he hoped for, and also because he sees me in better favour with Arsace than himself. He will know all this from his mother, since I provided that she should be there to hear what I said, wishing her to tell Achaemenes this, and also to be a witness of the familiarity which in words only passed between us. For although it is enough to have a clear conscience before God, yet it is well for a man in freedom so to lead his life — which lasteth here but a little while — that others also have good opinion of him. Moreover we may expect that Achaemenes will revenge himself on Arsace, being a slave born — for almost always that which is under obedience is opposed to that which hath authority over it — and beside he has been wronged, and beguiled of an oath, and sees another now preferred above himself. He knows of all her mischief and ill behaviour, and needs not to invent aught against her, as men being angry have oft attempted to do, but from the plain truth has his vengeance ready to his hand.’

After he had told Chariclea all these things and exhorted her yet to have a little hope, the next day he was taken by Achaemenes to wait at table; for so Arsace commanded. For that purpose she sent him costly apparel, a chain, bracelets of gold, and other rich jewels, part whereof willingly, part against his 228 will, he put on. When Achaemenes began to teach him how he should serve her cup, he ran to a table nearby whereon stood much plate, and taking a precious goblet in his hand said: ‘I need no teaching, but will of my own head serve my mistress: I make no ado of matter so easy as this. Your fortune, my good friend, hath forced such knowledge upon you; but nature and occasion can teach me what I have to do.’ Then he poured in wine softly, and holding the cup finely with the tips of his fingers and going with a seemly and fit pace, delivered it to Arsace. This draught set her on fire more than she was before; for drinking and looking upon Theagenes at the same time she supped more of his love than of the wine. Nor did she drink the goblet quite off, but on purpose by craft left a little to drink to Theagenes. On the other side Achaemenes was sore vexed and filled both with anger and jealousy, so that Arsace saw him looking scornfully and whispering somewhat to those who stood by. When dinner was done, Theagenes said: ‘Mistress, I pray you grant me this my first request, let none but me wear this dress and serve at your table.’ Arsace consented; but as he went out wearing the accustomed garb Achaemenes came out also, and reproached him for his forwardness, and told him that such rash ways were very childish, and that their mistress only winked at them because he was a stranger and without experience: ‘If you continue to be so wanton,’ said he, ‘you will suffer for it. And this I tell you as a friend, and one who will soon be your kinsman; for your mistress has promised that I shall marry your sister.’ Much more like this he said; but Theagenes, with his eyes upon the ground, passed by him as though he heard him not, until Cybele came upon them, hastening to put her mistress 229 to bed for the afternoon. Seeing her son looking gloomy she asked what he ailed. ‘This strange younker,’ he said, ‘has been honoured before me both yesterday and to-day, slipping in and gaining the office of cup bearer. He has given us, her chief servitors, the go by, and standing near her royal person hands the cup, so that our honour, which is now but an honour in name, is utterly despised. It were ill enough that he should be preferred to us and admitted to greater and more secret privities, while we to our own hurt keep silence and aid him, but it would not be so grievous if he did not vent his insolence on us who serve with him and help him in his fine doings. But of that we will talk another time. For the moment mother, I would fain see my betrothed wife, my sweetest Chariclea, if that by looking upon her I may somewhat abate the grief of my mind.’ ‘What wife, son?’ quoth Cybele; ‘You seem to chafe at trifles and know not the greater matters. You are not to marry Chariclea now.’ ‘What say you mother,’ cried he, am I not worthy to marry her, who is my fellow-servant? Why so, I pray you.’ ‘Because of our good will and unlawful service to Arsace,’ answered she. ‘For though we set more by her than our own ease, and preferred her desire to our lives, doing all we could to pleasure her, yet as soon as this gentle and goodly lover of hers came into her chamber, the sight of him did so move her that it made her break her oath and give Chariclea up to him, in that he vowed that she was not his sister but his spouse.’ ‘Did she promise him, mother?’ said he. ‘Yea, son,’ answered Cybele, ‘she promised him, while I was by and heard it, and meaneth within these few days to make them a sumptuous wedding, and will marry thee to some other.’ Thereat Achaemenes groaned bitterly 230 and clapping his hands said: ‘I will make this a sorrowful wedding for them all. Only help me to defer it for a while, and if any man ask for me, say I am sore sick in the country. That fine gentleman calleth his sister his wife; as though we did not understand that he doth it only to disannul that which by promise was granted to me. Even if he embrace and kiss her as he doth now, yea even if he lie with her, it is no clear proof that she is his wife and not his sister. Nay, I will see to this, and with me the gods, whose religion is violated by the breaking of an oath.’

This said, anger and jealousy, love and disappointment, set him so on fire — which things were sufficient to trouble any man even if he were not a barbarian — that, without weighing reasonably what he meant to do, he yielded to the first impulse. That very evening he found means to steal away an Armenian horse, which the governor kept for processions and reviews, and rode off to Oroöndates, who was then mustering his army at the great city of Thebes, and making all manner of provision, both of men and weapons and also of all other things necessary for the war.


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