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Darius the Great
Makers of History

written by "Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879"
...nion of Polycrates. Polycrates, although the seat of his dominion [Pg 107]was a small island in the Ægean Sea, was a very wealthy, and powerful, and prosperous prince. All his plans and enterprises had been remarkably successful. He had built and equipped a powerful fleet, and had conquered many islands in the neighborhood of his own. He was projecting still wider schemes of conquests, and hoped, in fact, to make himself the master of all the seas. A very curious incident is related of Polycrates, which illustrates very strikingly the childish superstition which governed the minds of men in those ancient days. It seems that in the midst of his prosperity, his friend and ally, the King of Egypt—for these events, though narrated here, occurred before the invasion of Egypt by Cambyses—sent to him a letter, of which the following is the purport. Letter of Amasis.Suggestion of Amasis. "Amasis, king of Egypt, to Polycrates. "It always gives me great satisfaction and pleasure to hear of the prosperity of a friend and ally, unless it is too absolutely continuous and uninterrupted. Something like an alternation of good and ill fortune is best for man; I have never known an instance of a very long-continued course of unmingled and uninterrupted [Pg 108]success that did not end, at last, in overwhelming and terrible calamity. I am anxious, therefore, for you, and my anxiety will greatly increase if this extraordinary and unbroken prosperity should continue much longer. I counsel you, therefore, to break the current yourself, if fortune will not break it. Bring upon yourself some calamity, or loss, or suffering, as a means of averting the heavier evils which will otherwise inevitably befall you. It is a general and substantial welfare only that can be permanent and final." Adopted by Polycrates.Polycrates throws away his ring. Polycrates seemed to think there was good sense in this suggestion. He began to look aro...

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