At this every one, except the Sybarite, rushed to his feet, and Kallias found it almost impossible to answer their numerous questions. “Gently, gently, friends,” he cried at last; “let me tell my story in order, or I shall never finish it at all. It is not an army, as Phanes supposes, that is on its way hither, but a great embassy from Cambyses, the present ruler of the most powerful kingdom of Persia. At Samos I heard that they had already reached Miletus, and in a few days they will be here. Some of the king’s own relations, are among the number, the aged Croesus, king of Lydia, too; we shall behold a marvellous splendor and magnificence! Nobody knows the object of their coming, but it is supposed that King Cambyses wishes to conclude an alliance with Amasis; indeed some say the king solicits the hand of Pharaoh’s daughter.”
“An alliance?” asked Phanes, with an incredulous shrug of the shoulders. “Why the Persians are rulers over half the world already. All the great Asiatic powers have submitted to their sceptre; Egypt and our own mother-country, Hellas, are the only two that have been shared by the conqueror.”
“You forget India with its wealth of gold, and the great migratory nations of Asia,” answered Kallias. “And you forget moreover, that an empire, composed like Persia of some seventy nations or tribes of different languages and customs, bears the seeds of discord ever within itself, and must therefore guard against the chance of foreign attack; lest, while the bulk of the army be absent, single provinces should seize the opportunity and revolt from their allegiance. Ask the Milesians how long they would remain quiet if they heard that their oppressors had been defeated in any battle?”
Theopompus, the Milesian merchant, called out, laughing at the same time: “If the Persians were to be worsted in one war, they would at once be involved in a hundred others, and we should not be the last to rise up against our tyrants in the hour of their weakness!”
“Whatever the intentions of the envoys may be,” continued Kallias, “my information remains unaltered; they will be here at the latest in three days.”
“And so your oracle will be fulfilled, fortunate Aristomachus!” exclaimed Rhodopis, “for see, the warrior hosts can only be the Persians. When they descend to the shores of the Nile, then the powerful Five,’ your Ephori, will change their decision, and you, the father of two Olympian victors, will be recalled to your native land.
[The five Ephori of Sparta were appointed to represent the absent kings during the Messenian war. In later days the nobles made use of the Ephori as a power, which, springing immediately from their own body, they could oppose to the kingly authority. Being the highest magistrates in all judicial and educational matters, and in everything relating to the moral police of the country, the Ephori soon found means to assert their superiority,