Anecdotes of Archery
Part 3 of 34
CYAXARES, king of the Medes, and great grandfather to CYRUS, engaged fome Scythian Archers to teach his fon the ufe of the bow. This nation had a law, that their children fhould learn three things particularly, from the age of five to that of twenty, viz. To ride a horfe well, to fhoot well, and never to tell a lie. ZENOPHON obferves, that CYRUS was from a child brought up to Archery.
HERODOTUS informs us, that when CAMBYSES had conquered EGYPT, and had thoughts of invading AETHIOPIA, he fent fome fpies before him; who, under pretence of carrying prefents to the king, might privately inquire into the ftrength and condition of the kingdom. When they were arrived at court, and had made their prefents, the king of AETHIOPIA faid to them,
" It was not from any confideration of my friend-
" fhip, that the king of PERSIA fent you to me
" with thefe prefents; neither have you fpoken
" the truth, but are come into my kingdom as
" fpies. If CAMBYSES was an honeft man he
" would defire no more than his own; and not
" endeavour to reduce a people under fervitude,
" who have never done him any injury. How-
" ever, give him this bow from me, and let him
" know, that the king of AETHIOPIA advifes
" the king of PERSIA, to make war againft the
" AETHIOPIANS, when the PERSIANS fhall be
" able thus eafily to draw fo ftrong a bow; and
" in the meanwhile to thank the gods, that they
" never infpired the AETHIOPIANS with a defire
" of extending their dominions beyond their own
Saying this, he unbent the bow and delivered it to the ambaffadors.
The prophets ISAIAH and JEREMIAH, both fpeak of this nation, as being famous for bending and handling the bow *. The beft part of the armies of ALEXANDER the GREAT were Archers.
THE bowmen of Athens performed wonders in many battles; but particularly under DEMOSTHENES, their renowned general, when they defeated the Lacedemonians near the city of Pylos. PLATO mentions, that one thoufand Archers were appointed for the ftanding guard of the city of Athens. This celebrated philofopher was an advocate for Archery, and recommended to the Athenians that proper matters might be employed by the ftate, to teach their youth the ufe of the bow; and that a large field fhould be fet apart, near every town and city, for that purpofe.
THE Cretans began to teach their youth the ufe of the bow at feven years of age; and fo expert were this people in the ufe of the weapon, that all the neighbouring monarchs were defirous of having a band of Cretan Archers in their armies. " The arrows of Gortynia," fays CLAUDIAN,
"aimed from a trufty bow, are
" fure to wound, nor ever mifs the deftined
THE victories obtained by the Parthians, over the Romans, was chiefly afcribed to their fuperiority in the ufe of their bows. With thefe they purfued MARCUS ANTONINUS over the hills of Media and Armenia,—conquered the noble Valerian,—and flew the Apoftate Julian.
Though we find very little mention of the bow in the Roman armies, yet they often employed auxiliary Archers in their wars. DOMITIAN, COMMODUS, and THEODOMUS were accounted excellent fhooters. It is evident alfo they had matters at Rome to teach the art, among whom was T FLAVIUS EXPEDITUS; whofe image SPON has given from a fepulchral bafs relief, where he is called DOCTOR SAGITTARUM.