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But of all nations the Persians were the first to become notorious for their luxury; and the Persian kings even spent their winters at Susa and their summers at Ecbatana. And [p. 824] Aristocles and Chares say that Susa derives its name from the seasonable and beautiful character of the place: for that what the Greeks call the lily, is called in the Persian language σοῦσον. But they pass their autumns in Persepolis; and the rest of the year they spend in Babylon. And in like manner the kings of the Parthians spend their spring in Rhagæ, and their winter in Babylon, and the rest of the year at Hecatompylus. And even the very thing which the Persian monarchs used to wear on their heads, showed plainly enough their extreme devotion to luxury. For it was made, according to the account of Dinon, of myrrh and of something called labyzus. And the labyzus is a sweet-smelling plant, and more valuable than myrrh. And whenever, says Dinon, the king dismounts from his chariot, he does not jump down, however small the height from the chariot to the ground may be, nor is he helped down, leaning on any one's hand, but a golden chair is always put by him, and he gets on that to descend; on which account the king's chairbearer always follows him. And three hundred women are his guard, as Heraclides of Cumæ relates, in the first book of his history of Persia. And they sleep all day, that they may watch all night; and they pass the whole night in singing and playing, with lights burning. And very often the king takes pleasure with them in the hall of the Melophori. The Melophori are one of his troops of guards, all Persians by birth, having golden apples (μῆλα) on the points of their spears, a thousand in number, all picked men out of the main body of ten thousand Persians who are called the Immortals. And the king used to go on foot through this hall, very fine Sardian carpets being spread in his road, on which no one but the king ever trod. And when he came to the last hall, then he mounted a chariot, but sometimes he mounted a horse; but on foot he was never seen outside of his palace. And if he went out to hunt, his concubines also went with him. And the throne on which he used to sit, when he was transacting business, was made of gold; and it was surrounded by four small pillars made of gold, inlaid with precious stones, and on them there was spread a purple cloth richly embroidered.
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