The Long-Lived Ethiopians

Cambyses, Emperor of the Persians, planned an expedition against the long-lived Ethiopians, who were said to live in Libya toward the southern sea.  He sent spies to them, in the guise of messengers bearing gifts for the Ethiopians, in order to learn more about that distant nation.

The spies offered the Ethiopians these gifts, but the Ethiopians were not taken in by this deception, and saw that the Persian Emperor had sent these men as spies.  The king of the Ethiopians said told the spies that were their emperor just, he would not desire the nations of others, but be content with his own land, nor would be enslave men who had never harmed him.  The king gave to the messengers a great bow, telling them that, until the Persians could draw such a bow as easily as the Ethiopians, they should not try to invade their nation.  Until then, the Persians should thank their gods that the Ethiopians had no desire to own land beyond their own.

Cambyses nevertheless led an army against him, but before his army had even reached the Ethiopians, they ran out of food, and were reduced to eating first their baggage animals, and then grass, before finally the soldiers cast lots, and every tenth man was eaten by the other nine in order to keep them alive.  Finally, at this extremity, Cambyses returned to Thebes, and left the long-lived Ethiopians in peace.

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