(Essentials of European Literature)

Cyrus, son of the King of Persia, had been given away as a child to a shepherd, who was ordered to kill the infant because his grandfather had been told by an omen that his grandson would eventually kill him. Instead, the shepherd had reared the boy to manhood. Now, under the name of Artamene, he was the best general of Cyaxares, King of Cappadocia. He was also secretly in love with Mandane, Cyaxares’ daughter.

The kings of Cappadocia and of Pontus had decided to settle a dispute between themselves by a combat, using two hundred men on each side. Artamene had been given the command of the Cappadocian warriors, to the great disappointment of his explosive rival, Philidaspes. Although all the odds were against him, Artamene was the only survivor and won the victory for the Cappadocians.

He discovered, however, that Philidaspes was also in love with Mandane. They had a violent fight and Cyaxares, unaware of the real cause of the quarrel, had them both put in prison.

There were other great battles fought, and Artamene, now out of prison, was again victorious. Then he disappeared and was believed dead. This was the occasion for Mandane to confess her love for him to her confidante, Martesie, a thing she had never dared do before. Eventually, Artamene returned. He accidentally learned that Philidaspes was actually the prince of Assyria, heir to the throne of his mother Nitocris, and that he was plotting to take Mandane away. The King of Pontus had also become a new rival for the love of Mandane. To make matters worse, Thomyris, Queen of Scythia, who had never loved before, had fallen in love with Artamene the moment she saw him when he was sent on a mission to her court.

Philidaspes, now King of Assyria, had succeeded in taking Mandane to Babylon, where he pleaded with her to love him or at least to let him hope that she would, someday, accept his suit.

Meanwhile, Artamene, sent in pursuit of Mandane, had laid siege to mighty Babylon, but Philidaspes managed to escape to Sinope with Mandane and Mazare, the chivalrous prince of Sacia. Sinope was set afire, and while the Assyrian king was locked up in a tower, Mazare took Mandane away to sea. A shipwreck brought her to the fortress of the King of Pontus.

When Cyaxares arrived at Sinope and failed to find his daughter, he also discovered that Artamene was in love with her. He still, however, did not know the hero’s real identity, and he was...

(The entire section is 1004 words.)