The fact that displeasure has been excited among men of letters by this attempt to clothe the hardly-earned results of severer studies in an imaginative form is even clearer to me now than when I first sent this book before the public. In some points I agree with this judgment, but that the act is kindly received, when a scholar does not scorn to render the results of his investigations accessible to the largest number of the educated class, in the form most generally interesting to them, is proved by the rapid sale of the first large edition of this work. I know at least of no better means than those I have chosen, by which to instruct and suggest thought to an extended circle of readers. Those who read learned books evince in so doing a taste for such studies; but it may easily chance that the following pages, though taken up only for amusement, may excite a desire for more information, and even gain a disciple for the study of ancient history.
Considering our scanty knowledge of the domestic life of the Greeks and Persians before the Persian war—of Egyptian manners we know more—even the most severe scholar could scarcely dispense with the assistance of his imagination, when attempting to describe private life among the civilized nations of the sixth century before Christ. He would however escape all danger of those anachronisms to which the author of such a work as I have undertaken must be hopelessly liable. With attention and industry, errors of an external character may be avoided, but if I had chosen to hold myself free from all consideration of the times in which I and my readers have come into the world, and the modes of thought at present existing among us, and had attempted to depict nothing but the purely ancient characteristics of the men and their times, I should have become unintelligible to many of my readers, uninteresting to all, and have entirely failed in my original object. My characters will therefore look like Persians, Egyptians, &c., but in their language, even more than in their actions, the German narrator will be perceptible, not always superior to the sentimentality of his day, but a native of the world in the nineteenth century after the appearance of that heavenly Master, whose teaching left so deep an impression on human thought and feeling.
The Persians and Greeks, being by descent related to ourselves, present fewer difficulties in this respect than the Egyptians, whose dwelling-place on the fruitful islands won by the Nile from the Desert, completely isolated them from the rest of the world.
To Professor Lepsius, who suggested to me that a tale confined entirely to Egypt and the Egyptians might become wearisome, I owe many thanks; and following his hint, have so arranged the materials supplied by Herodotus as to introduce my reader first into a Greek circle. Here he will feel in a measure at home, and indeed will entirely sympathize with them on one important point, viz.: in their ideas on