Atossa’s subsequent good fortune and happiness did not cool her friendship. She always called Sappho her sister. The hanging-gardens were the latter’s residence in summer, and in her conversations there with Kassandane and Atossa one name was often mentioned—the name of her, who had been the innocent cause of events which had decided the destinies of great kingdoms and noble lives—the Egyptian Princess.
Here we might end this tale, but that we feel bound to give our readers some account of the last days of Cambyses. We have already described the ruin of his mind, but his physical end remains still to be told, and also the subsequent fate of some of the other characters in our history.
A short time after the departure of the queens, news reached Naukratis that Oroetes, the satrap of Lydia, had, by a stratagem, allured his old enemy, Polykrates, to Sardis and crucified him there, thus fulfilling what Amasis had prophecied of the tyrant’s mournful end. This act the satrap had committed on his own responsibility, events having taken place in the Median kingdom which threatened the fall of the Achaemenidaean dynasty.
The king’s long absence in a foreign country had either weakened or entirely dissipated, the fear which the mere mention of his name had formerly inspired in those who felt inclined to rebel. The awe that his subjects had formerly felt for him, vanished at the tidings of his madness, and the news that he had wantonly exposed the lives of thousands of their countrymen to certain death in the deserts of Libya and Ethiopia, inspired the enraged Asiatics with a hatred which, when skilfully fed by the powerful Magi, soon roused, first the Medes and Assyrians, and then the Persians, to defection and open insurrection. Motives of self-interest led the ambitious high-priest, Oropastes, whom Cambyses had appointed regent in his absence, to place himself at the head of this movement. He flattered the people by remitting their taxes, by large gifts and larger promises, and finding his clemency gratefully recognized, determined on an imposture, by which he hoped to win the crown of Persia for his own family.
He had not forgotten the marvellous likeness between his brother Gaumata (who had been condemned to lose his ears) and Bartja, the son of Cyrus, and on hearing that the latter, the universal favorite, as he well knew, of the Persian nation, had disappeared, resolved to turn this to account by passing off his brother as the vanished prince, and setting him on the throne in place of Cambyses. The hatred felt throughout the entire kingdom towards their insane king, and the love and attachment of the nation to Bartja, made this stratagem so easy of accomplishment, that when at last messengers from Oropastes arrived in all the provinces of the empire declaring to the discontented citizens that, notwithstanding the rumor they had heard, the younger son of Cyrus was still alive, had revolted from his brother, ascended his father’s throne and granted to all his subjects freedom from tribute and from military service during a period of three years, the new ruler was acknowledged throughout the kingdom with rejoicings.