Gesta Romanorum Vol. I (1871)/Of Over-reaching and Conspiracy, and of Caution opposed to them

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Justin records, (21) that the Lacedæmonians conspired against their king; and prevailing, banished him. It happened that a king of the Persians plotted the destruction of the same state, and prepared to besiege Lacedæmon with a large army. The exile, though smarting beneath the wrongs accumulated on him by his own subjects, could not but regard the land of his nativity; and feel for it that deep and rooted love which forms, as it were, the very existence of the real patriot. Having ascertained, therefore, the hostile designs of the Persian monarch against the Lacedæmonians, he reflected by what means he might securely forewarn them of the impending danger. Accordingly, taking up his tablets, he communicated his discovery, and explained how they might best resist and defeat their enemies.

When he had written, he enveloped the whole in wax, and finding a trust-worthy messenger, despatched him to the insurgent nobles. On inspection of the tablets, no writing could be distinguished; for the entire surface of the wax discovered not the slightest impression. This naturally gave rise to much discussion, and each delivered his opinion as to the intent and further disposal of the tablets. But the mystery none of them could unravel. Now it chanced that a sister of the Lacedæmonian king, understanding their perplexity, requested permission to inspect them. Her desire was admitted; she commenced a minute investigation, and assisted by that peculiar shrewdness, which women frequently display in emergencies, raised the wax, and a portion of the writing became manifest. She had now a clue, and proceeding in her work, gradually removed the waxen covering and exhibited the legend at full. The nobles of the council thus pre-monished, rejoiced exceedingly; took the necessary steps, and secured themselves against the menaced siege.


My beloved, the king, is Christ, who is banished, by human depravity, from his right. Nevertheless, he so loved us, as to contrive a means of freeing us from the attacks of our enemy the devil.



Note 21.Page 105.

It is not worth while to investigate how much of this story is recorded by Justin.