Tales From Herododotus XII. A Rebuff to Darius for Disturbing the Tomb of Nitocris, Queen of Babylon

Translated from Tales From Herodotus.

Nitocris, the Queen of Babylon, contrived a certain deceit as follows. Over the most frequented gates of the town she constructed a tomb up high up, above the gates themselves; and she engraved letters on the tomb saying this:

“Should any king of Babylon of those born after me be in need of wealth, let him open up the tomb and take as much wealth as he wants; should he not, however, truly be in need he shall not otherwise open it; for such bodes not well.”

This tomb was untouched until the monarchy came around to Darius. And it seemed to Darius that it was a fiendish thing both that no-one made use of these gates and also, with the wealth laid within and the wealth itself inviting him, no-one took it. (And no-one made use of these gates for the sake of this, because the body arose over his head whenever passing through.) And having opened the tomb he discovered not the wealth, but a body, and letters that read as follows, “Unless you were insatiable for wealth and shamefully greedy, you would not have opened a grave for bodies.”

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