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For my own part, I am much surprised that the Roman people has always imposed upon conquered nations a tribute in silver, and not in gold; Carthage, for instance, from which, upon its conquest under Hannibal, a ransom was exacted in the shape of a yearly1 payment, for fifty years, of eight hundred thousand pounds' weight of silver, but no gold. And yet it does not appear that this could have arisen from there being so little gold then in use throughout the world. Midas and Crœsus, before this, had possessed gold to an endless amount: Cyrus, already, on his conquest of Asia,2 had found a booty consisting of twenty-four thousand pounds' weight of gold, in addition to vessels and other articles of wrought gold, as well as leaves3 of trees, a plane-tree, and a vine, all made of that metal.

It was through this conquest too, that he carried off five hundred thousand4 talents of silver, as well as the vase of Semiramis,5 the weight of which alone amounted to fifteen talents, the Egyptian talent being equal, according to Varro, to eighty of our pounds. Before this time too, Saulaces, the descendant of Æëtes, had reigned in Colchis,6 who, on finding a tract of virgin earth, in the country of the Suani,7 extracted from it a large amount of gold and silver, it is said, and whose kingdom besides, had been famed for the possession of the Golden Fleece. The golden arches, too, of his palace, we find spoken of, the silver supports and columns, and pilasters, all of which he had come into possession of on the conquest of Sesostris,8 king of Egypt; a monarch so haughty, that every year, it is said, it was his practice to select one of his vassal kings by lot, and yoking him to his car, celebrate his triumph afresh.

1 Appian and Livy mention the fine as consisting of ten thousand talents in all, or in other words, eight hundred thousand pounds of silver (at eighty pounds to the talent). Sillig is therefore of opinion that Pliny is in error here in inserting the word "annua." The payment of the ten thousand talents, we learn from the same authorities, was spread over fifty years.

2 Asia Minor.

3 "Folia." Hardouin prefers the reading "solia," meaning "thrones," or "chairs of state," probably.

4 Ajasson refuses to place credit in this statement.

5 This vase of Semiramis was her drinking bowl, in much the same sense that the great cannon at Dover was Queen Elizabeth's "pocket pistol."

6 The country to which, in previous times, the Argonauts had sailed in quest of the Golden Fleece, or in other words in search of gold, in which those regions were probably very prolific.

7 See B. vi. c. 4.

8 This story of the defeat of the great Ramses-Sesostris by a petty king of Colchis, would almost appear apocryphal. It is not improbable, how ever, that Sesostris, when on his Thracian expedition, may have received a repulse on penetrating further north, accustomed as his troops must have been, to a warmer climate.

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