This is one of the chapters from A Traveller’s True Tale by Lucian and translated by Alfred J. Church.
When the two armies had been set in array and the standards raised, and the asses had brayed (for the Sun Folk and the Moon Folk also have asses for trumpeters), the battle began. And in a very short space of time the left wing of the Sun Folk turned and fled, for they could not abide that the Horse Vultures should come to close quarters with them.
Then we pursued, killing not a few as we went, but King Phaeton’s Air Gnats, that were on his right wing, drove back the forces that were posted on the left of us and pursued them till they came to the infantry. But when these charged to help their own people, the Air Gnats broke and fled, and this all the more speedily, because they saw that the left wing of their army had been vanquished.
And now the Sun Folk fled all over the field, and we pursued, taking many prisoners and killing many. There was, as one may suppose, a great quantity of bloodshed, and this poured down upon the clouds and dyed them till they were altogether red. This was a thing that I had often seen when I lived upon the Earth, especially about the time of sunset, but knew not the cause until now.
After a while, when we were near weary of pursuing, we turned back and set up two trophies which should be monuments of our victory. We set up two, because we judged that we had won two battles, one with our infantry on Spiderweb Field, for so we called it, and one with our cavalry in Cloudland.
But we had hardly done this when our scouts came running in with all speed, bringing tidings that the Cloud Centaurs who should have helped King Phaeton in the battle were coming; and when we looked out we saw them, monstrous great creatures, of as strange a shape as ever I beheld. They were half horses and half men, as the common Centaurs are, but the horses had wings.
And the man-half, that is to say from the saddle upward, was as high as the great statue of Rhodes which they call the Colossus. (Men who have not traveled in these parts should know that it is of a hundred feet and stands with its legs stretched across the mouth of the harbor.) As for the horse-half, ’twas as big as a good-sized merchantman. Their number I do not dare to write, for ’tis quite incredible, and I am not disposed to put such things in my history as my readers will not readily believe.
Their leader was the Archer from the Zodiac, the same that stands between the Balances and Capricorn and receives the Sun into his dominions at the month of November. These Cloud Centaurs being come up, and finding that their friends had been worsted in the battle, sent a message to King Phaeton that he should try his fortune again.
Meanwhile, they set to and helped him to very good purpose, for they charged the Moon Folk; and being in orderly array and the others very much confused and scattered, some in pursuing and some in gathering spoil, put them to flight without much ado. They pursued King Endymion up to the very walls of his city and killed the most part of his birds. After this, they tore down the trophies which we had set up and scoured all Spiderweb Field, taking no few prisoners, and among them myself and two of my companions. After this, King Phaeton came and set up two trophies for himself.
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That same day, we that were prisoners were taken off to the Sun, having our hands tied behind our backs with a length of spiderweb. As for the city of the Moon King, the Sun Folk decided that it were best not to besiege it. But returning to their own country, they built up a great wall between the Sun and the Moon, so that the light should not come any more from the one to the other. This wall was double and was built altogether of clouds. Thus there was brought about a very plain eclipse of the Moon, which had night everywhere, and that without ceasing.
This was a condition of life which King Endymion and his people could not endure. He sent therefore ambassadors, beseeching the Sun Folk to pull down the wall which they had built, for that else the Moon Folk would have to live in darkness for the rest of their days. These ambassadors promised, on behalf of their King, that they would pay tribute to Phaeton and be his allies and good friends for all time to come, giving hostages by way of surety for that which they promised.
So the Sun Folk were gathered in public assembly, and the first day, being of a very hot and fiery temper, they did not abate their anger against the Moon Folk one jot; but the second day, as commonly happens with this kind of people, they thought better of it and granted the prayer of the ambassadors. So peace was made, as I have written below:
There shall be peace and friendship between the Sun Folk and their allies of the one part and the Moon Folk and their allies of the other part for ever.
1. The Sun Folk shall pull down the wall which they have built between the Sun and the Moon and shall not invade Moonland any more.
2. The Sun Folk shall send back all prisoners of war, receiving for each such sum as shall be agreed between the high contracting parties.
3. The Moon Folk shall acknowledge all the Stars to be free and independent, and shall keep the peace with the Sun Folk forever.
4. The high contracting parties guarantee to each other their respective territories.
5. The Moon Folk shall pay a tribute to the Sun Folk, ten thousand barrels of dew by the year.
6. The colony to the Morning Star shall be sent by the high contracting parties in common; and it shall be lawful for any citizen of the other Stars to take part therein.
7. This treaty shall be engraved on a column of fine brass, which shall be set up in the air midway between the Sun and the Moon.
To this have set their hands, on the part of his Highness King Phaeton, the Lords Firebrace and Summertown and Flashington; and on the part of his Highness King Endymion, the Lords Night Rider and Moonson and Shineall.
So peace was made. And straightway the Sun Folk pulled down the wall which they had built and sent back the prisoners of war, myself being among them. When we came to the Moon, my comrades came out to meet us, and King Endymion with them. They were right glad to see us, even to tears. And the King was very earnest with me that I should remain in his country; or, if I would, should join this said colony to the Morning Star. He promised me that if I would consent, he would bestow the princess, his daughter, on me in marriage. For all that I would not consent, but asked him to send me back to the sea, for I was minded to prosecute my voyage. And when he saw that I was steadfastly resolved, he sent us away, having first entertained us right royally for seven days.