Another story from the Histories that exemplifies how impactful female characters can be, is that of Cambyses. Herodotus writes that there are multiple stories that try to explain Cambyses’ invasion of Egypt, both of which use women as the pretext. One explanation is that when Cambyses asked Amasis for his daughter in marriage, Amasis sent Nitetis, the daughter of the late King Apries, instead. When the trickery was revealed to Cambyses, he was livid, and it was this deception which “brought down upon Egypt the wrath of Cambyses” (3.1). The other explanation is that when Cambyses was a child, he overheard his mother, Cassandane, say that Cyrus “gives all his attention to that woman he got from Egypt” (3.3). Cambyses vowed to t...
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...son of Tomyris” (1.207-211). Tomyris sent a message to Cyrus saying, “[G]ive me back my son and get out of my country with your forces intact…If you refuse, I swear by the sun our master to give you more blood than you can drink, for all your gluttony” (1.212). When Spargapises killed himself, after Cyrus had ignored Tomyris’ threat, Tomyris engaged Cyrus in the field. During the battle, the Massagetae destroyed most of the Persian army and Cyrus was killed. The queen searched for the dead body of Cyrus, and upon finding it she submerged his head in a skin full of human blood and cried: “Though I have conquered you and live, yet you have ruined me by treacherously taking my son. See now – I fulfil my threat: you have your fill of blood” (1.214). This story seems to present the idea that rulers who attack others out of “gluttony” will be punished, one way or another.
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