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Arcesilaus, the son of Battus who was nicknamed ‘The Happy,’ was not at all like his father in his ways. In fact, while his father was still living, he surrounded his house with a rampart, and was fined two hundred pounds by his father; and when his father had come to his end, for one thing Arcesilaus, being harsh by nature (and this gave him his nickname),2 and for another consorting with a vicious friend Laarchus, instead of being a king became a despot. Laarchus, secretly scheming to become despot, banished or murdered the noblest among the men of Cyrene, and diverted all the blame for this from himself to Arcesilaus; and finally he brought Arcesilaus into a wasting and grievous illness by a drink containing sea-hare,3 and thus [p. 569] accomplished his death; then he took over the sovereign rule himself on the pretext that he was keeping it for Arcesilaus's son Battus. The boy, by reason of his lameness and his youth as well, was looked down upon, but to his mother many gave heed, for she was discreet and humane, and had many influential relatives. Wherefore Laarchus lavished attentions upon her, trying to win her as his wife, saying that it was only right and proper to make Battus his own son by marrying her, and to proclaim him colleague in the sovereignty. Eryxo (for that was the woman's name), after taking counsel with her brothers, bade Laarchus to have an interview with them, as if she herself looked with favour on the marriage. But when Laarchus interviewed them, and they purposely misled him and put him off, Eryxo sent a maid-servant to him to tell him from her that at present her brothers declared themselves opposed, but if the union should be consummated, they would cease their dissent and give over; he must, therefore, come to her by night if he were willing; for if the beginning were once made, all the rest would be well.

This was joyful news to Laarchus, and, all excitement in view of the woman's compliant mood, he agreed to come whenever she should give the word. Eryxo carried out all this in consultation with Polyarchus the eldest of her brothers. When a time had been determined upon for the coming together, Polyarchus was secretly introduced into his sister's room, having with him two young men with sword in hand who were intent on avenging [p. 571] the murder of their father, whom Laarchus, a short time before, had put to death.

When Eryxo sent for Laarchus, he came in unattended, and, the young men falling upon him, he was run through by their swords and killed. His body they threw over the wall and, bringing forward Battus, they proclaimed him king in succession to his father's rights, and Polyarchus restored to the people of Cyrene their original form of government.

It happened that there were in the city numerous soldiers of Amasis, king of the Egyptians. These Laarchus had employed as trusty retainers, and they were not the least of his instruments through which he terrorized the citizens. These soldiers sent men to Amasis to accuse Polyarchus and Eryxo, He was much incensed and had thoughts of making war on the people of Cyrene, but just then it happened that his mother died, and it was during the days in which he was holding her funeral that messengers returned from Amasis with the tidings. So Polyarchus thought it best to go there to make his defence. When Eryxo would not be left behind, but expressed her wish to go with him and share the danger, their mother Critola, although well on in years, would not be left behind either. Her standing was of the highest, since she was the sister of Battus the Happy. When they came to Egypt, the people expressed wondrous approval of their exploit, and Amasis expressed extraordinary approval of the self-control and courage of the woman; and after honouring both Polyarchus and the women with presents and royal attentions he sent them back to Cyrene. [p. 573]

1 Cf. Herodotus, iv. 160; Polyaenus, Strategemata, viii. 41; Müller, Frag. Histor. Graec. iii. p. 387, Nicolaus Damasc. Frag. 52.

2 He was nicknamed ‘The Harsh.’

3 A kind of fish (Lepus marinus); Plutarch (Moralia, 983 f) says that it is fatal to human beings.

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