Persian Warning

In 512 BC, as Darius led his armies north of the Black Sea, the Scythians sent the Persian king a message comprising a mouse, a frog, a bird, and five arrows.

"Our victory is assured," he told his captains. "These arrows signify that the Scythians will lay down their arms; the mouse means the land of Scythia will be surrendered to us; the frog means that their rivers and lakes will also be ours; and the Scythian army will fly likea bird from our forces."

A cunning adviser, however, soon furnished the king with another interpretation: "The Scythians mean that unless you turn into mice and burrow in the ground for safety, or turn into frogs and hide in the waters, or turn into birds and fly away, you will all be slain by the Scythian archers."

Deciding that the second was the more likely interpretation, Darius beat a hasty retreat and managed to escape from Scythian territory unscathed.

[In 533 AD, the Romans and Persians signed "The Endless Peace" -- and were back at war within seven years.]

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