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and praising, most of all, the beauty and the wit of the Athenian women, and they have sent us, not only to bring back a faithful report of the grandeur of your city, but they have ordered us to bring a number of your most beautiful and best educated maidens, to become wives of the king and his nobles. In the meantime they hold those Greeks in captivity, and also our wives and children, and they have threatened us and them with dreadful punishment if we do not bring back the maidens; and we thought at first to purchase slaves, but we fear detection, for how can slaves make fitting queens? But now the plague which has struck down your people seems to offer us some hope of safety. For, perhaps, some of your maidens, being without protectors in this calamity, will themselves be willing to go with us, or their guardians, fearing the worst, will send them. And in token of