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Py'thius

Πύθιος ; called Πύθης by Plutarch, vol. ii. p. 262d., and some others), a Lydian, the son of Atys, who lived in the time of the Persian invasion of Greece. He was a man of enormous wealth, which he derived from his gold mines in the neighbourhood of Celaenae in Phrygia, of which place he seems to have made himself governor. So eagerly did he prosecute his search for gold, that his subjects were almost all withdrawn from agriculture. Plutarch (l.c.) tells an amusing story of the device adopted by his wife to point out to him the absurdity of the course he was pursuing. She had a quantity of gold wrought into representations of various kinds of food, and set nothing but these before him one day for dinner. When Xerxes arrived at Celaenae, Pvthius banqueted him and his whole army. He had previously sent a golden plane tree and vine as a present to Dareius. He informed Xerxes that, intending to offer him a quantity of money to defray the expenses of his expedition, he had reckoned up his wealth and found it to consist of 2000 talents of silver coin and 4,000,000, all but 7000, darics of gold coin. The whole of this he offered to Xerxes, who however did not accept it; but made him a present of the odd 7000 darics, and granted him the rights of hospitality. His five sons accompanied Xerxes. Pythius, alarmed by an eclipse of the sun which happened, came to Xerxes, and begged that the eldest might be left behind. This request so enraged the king that he had the young man immediately killed and cut in two, and the two portions of his body placed on either side of the road, and then ordered the army to march between them. His other sons perished in different battles. Pythius, overwhelmed with grief, passed the rest of his days in solitude (Hdt. 7.27-29, 38, 39; Plin. Nat. 33.10 ; Plut. l.c.).

[C.P.M]

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