As soon as the Icthyophagi (Fish Eaters) arrived from Elephantine, Cambyses, having told them what they were to say, forthwith despatched them into
Ethiopia with these following gifts: to wit, a purple robe, a gold chain for the neck, armlets, an alabaster box of myrrh, and a cask of palm wine.
The Ethiopians to whom this embassy was sent are said to be the tallest and handsomest men in the whole world. In their customs they differ greatly
from the rest of mankind, and particularly in the way they choose their kings; for they find out the man who is the tallest of all the citizens, and
of strength equal to his height, and appoint him to rule over them.
The Icthyophagi on reaching this people, delivered the gifts to the king of the country, and spoke as follows:-
"Cambyses, king of the Persians, anxious to become thy ally and sworn friend, has sent us to hold converse with thee, and to bear thee the gifts thou
seest, which are the things wherein he himself delights the most." Hereon the Ethiopian, who knew they came as spies, made answer:-
"The king of the Persians sent you not with these gifts because he much desired to become my sworn friend- nor is the account which ye give of
yourselves true, for ye are come to search out my kingdom. Also your king is not a just man for were he so, he had not coveted a land which is not his
own, nor brought slavery on a people who never did him any wrong.
Bear him this bow, and say 'The king of the Ethiops thus advises the king of the Persians when the Persians can pull a bow of this strength thus
easily, then let him come with an army of superior strength against the long-lived Ethiopians- till then, let him thank the gods that they have not
put it into the heart of the sons of the Ethiops to covet countries which do not belong to them.'
So speaking, he unstrung the bow, and gave it into the hands of the messengers. Then, taking the purple robe, he asked them what it was, and how it
had been made. They answered truly, telling him concerning the purple, and the art of the dyer- whereat he observed "that the men were deceitful, and
their garments also."
Next he took the neck-chain and the armlets, and asked about them. So the Icthyophagi explained their use as ornaments. Then the king laughed, and
fancying they were fetters, said,
"the Ethiopians had much stronger ones."
Thirdly, he inquired about the myrrh, and when they told him how it was made and rubbed upon the limbs, he said the same as he had said about the
robe. Last of all he came to the wine, and having learnt their way of making it, he drank a draught, which greatly delighted him; whereupon he asked
what the Persian king was wont to eat, and to what age the longest-lived of the Persians had been known to attain.
They told him that the king ate bread, and described the nature of wheat adding that eighty years was the longest term of man's life among the
Persians. Hereat he remarked, "It did not surprise him, if they fed on dirt, that they died so soon; indeed he was sure they never would have lived
so long as eighty years, except for the refreshment they got from that drink (meaning the wine), wherein he confessed the Persians surpassed the