Bischen, the captain, came up to obey the order, but in the same moment Croesus threw himself at the king’s feet, touched the floor with his forehead, raised his hands and cried: “May thy days and years bring nought but happiness and prosperity; may Auramazda pour down all the blessings of this life upon thee, and the Amescha cpenta be the guardians of thy throne!
[The Amescha cpenta, “holy immortal ones,” maybe compared to the archangels of the Hebrews. They surround the throne of Auramazda and symbolize the highest virtues. Later we find their number fixed at six.]
Do not close thine ear to the words of the aged, but remember that thy father Cyrus appointed me to be thy counsellor. Thou art about to slay thy brother; but I say unto thee, do not indulge anger; strive to control it. It is the duty of kings and of the wise, not to act without due enquiry. Beware of shedding a brother’s blood; the smoke thereof will rise to heaven and become a cloud that must darken the days of the murderer, and at last cast down the lightnings of vengeance on his head. But I know that thou desirest justice, not murder. Act then as those who have to pronounce a sentence, and hear both sides before deciding. When this has been done, if the criminal is proved guilty and confesses his crime, the smoke of his blood will rise to heaven as a friendly shadow, instead of a darkening cloud, and thou wilt have earned the fame of a just judge instead of deserving the divine judgments.”
Cambyses listened in silence, made a sign to Bischen to retire, and commanded Boges to repeat his accusation.
The eunuch made an obeisance, and began: “I was ill and obliged to leave the Egyptian and the Hanging-gardens in the care of my colleague Kandaules, who has paid for his negligence with his life. Finding myself better towards evening, I went up to the hanging-gardens to see if everything was in order there, and also to look at the rare flower which was to blossom in the night. The king, (Auramazda grant him victory!) had commanded that the Egyptian should be more strictly watched than usual, because she had dared to send the noble Bartja . . .”
“Be silent,” interrupted the king, “and keep to the matter in hand.”
“Just as the Tistar-star was rising, I came into the garden, and staid some time there with these noble Achaemenidae, the high-priest and the king Croesus, looking at the blue lily, which was marvellously beautiful. I then called my colleague Kandaules and asked him, in the presence of these noble witnesses, if everything was in order. He affirmed that this was the case and added, that he had just come from Nitetis, that she had wept the whole day, and neither tasted food nor drink. Feeling anxious lest my noble mistress should become worse, I commissioned Kandaules to fetch a physician, and was just on the point of leaving the noble Achaemenidae, in order in person to ascertain my mistress’s state of health, when I saw in the moon-light the figure of a man. I was so ill and weak, that I could hardly stand and had no one near to help me, except the gardener.