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Thereupon Astyages said in jest: “And why,1 pray, Cyrus, did you imitate Sacas in everything else but did not sip any of the wine?”

“Because, by Zeus,” said he, “I was afraid that poison had been mixed in the bowl. And I had reason to be afraid; for when you entertained your friends on your birthday, I discovered beyond a doubt that he had poured poison into your company's drink.”

“And how, pray,” said he, “did you discover that, my son?”

“Because, by Zeus,” said he, “I saw that you were unsteady both in mind and in body. For in the first place you yourselves kept doing what you never allow us boys to do; for instance, you kept shouting, all at the same time, and none of you heard anything that the others were saying; and you fell to singing, and in a most ridiculous manner at that, and though you did not hear the singer, you swore that he sang most excellently; and though each one of you kept telling stories of his own strength, yet if you stood up to dance, to say nothing of dancing in time, why, you could not even stand up straight. And all of you quite forgot—you, that you were king; and the rest, that you were their sovereign. It was then that I also for my part discovered, and for the first time, that what you were practising was your boasted ‘equal freedom of speech’; at any rate, never were any of you silent.”

1 Cyrus's temperance lecture

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