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26.

There was a woman in Pontus who declared that she was with child by Apollo. Many disbelieved her, as was natural, but many also lent an ear to her, so that when she gave birth to a male child, many notable persons took an interest in its care and rearing. For some reason or other, the name given to the boy was Silenus. Lysander took these circumstances for his foundation, and supplied the rest of his cunning fabric himself, making use of not a few, nor yet insignificant, champions of the tale, [2] who brought the story of the boy's birth into credit without exciting suspicion. They also brought back another response from Delphi, and caused it to be circulated in Sparta, which declared that sundry very ancient oracles were kept in secret writings by the priests there, and that it was not possible to get these, nor even lawful to read them, unless someone born of Apollo should come after a long lapse of time, give the keepers an intelligible token of his birth, and obtain the tablets containing the oracles. [3] The way being thus prepared, Silenus was to come and demand the oracles as Apollo's son, and the priests who were in the secret were to insist on precise answers to all their questions about his birth, and finally, persuaded, forsooth, that he was the son of Apollo, were to show him the writing. Then Silenus, in the presence of many witnesses, was to read aloud the prophecies, especially the one relating to the kingdom, for the sake of which the whole scheme had been invented, and which declared that it was more for the honor and interest of the Spartans to choose their kings from the best citizens. [4]

But when at last Silenus was grown to be a youth, and was ready for the business, Lysander's play was ruined for him by the cowardice of one of his actors, or co-workers, who, just as he came to the point, lost his courage and drew back. However, all this was actually found out, not while Lysander was alive, but after his death.

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