Summary of Herodotus

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary, with occasional notes, of the Histories of Herodotus, based mostly on the translation by Peter Greene (1987), with occasional reference to translations by A.D. Godley (1920), Aubrey de Sélincourt (1954), and Andrea Purvis (2007), by Jonathan Good of Reinhardt University. Permission to reprint in nonprofit venues is hereby granted, although correct attribution is required. Please email me ( with suggestions or corrections.

  **** BOOK 1 ****  
1:1 This is a report of great and wonderful deeds manifested by Greeks and Barbarians. Chroniclers of the Persians say the Phoenicians came to Argos, and made off with Io.
1:2 Io came to Egypt, and Greeks came to Tyre and carried off Europa, the king’s daughter, in revenge. Then they went one more, and carried off Medea, daughter of king of Colchis.
1:3 Thus was “Alexander” (Paris) moved to carry off Helen.
1:4 The Persians say that this was unjust, but only fools make a big thing of such things. The Greeks, however, destroyed the kingdom of Priam as a result of Paris and Helen. As a consequence the Persians regard the Greeks as their foes. The Persians claim all of Asia, but Europe and the Greeks are completely separate.
1:5 But the Phoenicians say that they brought Io to Egypt, willingly, as the ship’s captain had impregnated her. Herodotus will not say if either story is true, but will “set my mark upon that man that I myself know began unjust acts against the Greeks, and, having so marked him, will go forward in my account.”
1:6 Croesus the Lydian subdued the Ionians, Aeolians, and Asiatic Dorians, and befriended the Spartans. The earlier Cimmerian raids into Ionia were just that.
1:7 Lydian sovereignty belonged to the Heraclidae, but had devolved onto the Mermnadae. After 505 years, Candaules (a.k.a. Myrsilus) ruled Sardis.
1:8 Candaules praised his wife’s beauty to his bodyguard Gyges, and insisted that Gyges see her naked for himself. Gyges protested this outrageous suggestion.
1:9 But Candaules had a plan: Gyges would hide behind a door, and could sneak out after she had removed her clothing.
1:10 All went according to plan – but the wife saw Gyges. She understood what had happened but said nothing. Among the barbarians, even for a man to be seen naked is a great shame.
1:11 The wife gave Gyges a choice: either kill my husband and usurp the throne, or die yourself. He chose to kill Gyges, and attack him from the same place that he saw her naked.
1:12 She gave him a dagger, and he killed Gyges, usurping the throne. Archilochus of Paros referred to him in a poem of iambic trimeters.
1:13 There was some opposition to this, but they agreed to submit to the judgment of Delphi. Delphi blessed the usurpation, but foretold that in the fifth generation that the Heraclids would have their revenge.
1:14 Gyges sent silver and gold thank-offerings to Delphi.
1:15 Gyges invaded Miletus and Smyrna, and captured Colophon. He reigned 38 years, and was succeeded by son Ardys, who captured Priene and invaded Miletus.
1:16 Ardys reigned 49 years, and was succeeded by son Sadyattes, who reigned twelve. He was succeeded by son Alyattes, who fought the Cimmerians and Medes
1:17 He fought the Milesians like his father, by destroying their crops.
1:18 He fought for eleven years. Miletus suffered two major reverses, one at Limeneion, the other at Maeander. The Milesians were aided by no one else but the Chians, whom they had once helped.
1:19 But in the twelfth year, Alyattes set a temple of Athena on fire, and when he returned to Sardis, he fell sick. He asked at Delphi what was wrong, and it told him he had to rebuild the temple.
1:20 He heard this from Delphi. Miletus adds: Periander, son of Cypselus, sent a messenger to Thrasybulus, tyrant of Miletus, telling of this oracle.
1:21 Alyattes sent a herald to Miletus to ask for a truce so that he could rebuild the temple. Thrasybulus collected all the corn in the city, and gave an order that everyone should drink and be merry.
1:22 The herald reported this to Alyattes, who then realized that his war on Miletus was futile. So the two kings became guest-friends, and Alyattes built two temples of Athena. He recovered from his sickness.
1:23 Periander was prince of Corinth, and witnessed the return of the lyre-player Arion of Methymna to Taenarum. Taenarum is the southernmost point of the Peloponnese
1:24 Arion was at Periander’s court in Corinth, but longed to travel, so he went to Italy, where he made money. He then wanted to return. So he hired some Corinthians to ferry him from Tarentum. They plotted to throw him overboard and steal his money. He sang one last time, jumped overboard, and was rescued by a dolphin, who took him to Taenarum, whence he got to Corinth. The Corinthian sailors were confused when they met him in Corinth. At Taenarum there is a dedicatory offering to Arion, featuring a man riding a dolphin. No punishment is recorded for the Corinthian sailors.
1:25 Alyattes died after a reign of 57 years. He gave gifts at Delphi when he recovered from his sickness
1:26 Croesus son of Alyattes succeeded, and attacked Ephesus, then other Ionian and Aeolian cities. Ephesians dedicated their city to Artemis by tying a rope from her temple to the city wall, a distance of seven stades. No mention of whether the rope trick was effective.
1:27 Croesus built ships in preparation for attacking the islands, but called off the plan when he heard that the islands were going to attack him with horses.
1:28 Croesus subdued all Asia Minor west of river Halys except for Cilicians and Lycians.
1:29 Teachers of learning came to Sardis, including Solon of Athens.
1:30 Croesus asked Solon, who is the most blessed man of all? Answer: Tellus the Athenian. He had healthy children, and died gloriously in battle.
1:31 Croesus then asked who was second most blessed? Answer: Cleobis and Biton, prize winning athletes who also pulled their mother in a wagon for 45 stades to a temple, and then died.
1:32 Croesus objected. Is he not blessed? Solon said that riches count for nothing in the end.
1:33 Croesus thus expelled Solon.
1:34 God had his revenge on Croesus. He sent a dream that his son Atys would be killed by an iron spear point. (The other son, deaf and dumb, was unworthy of consideration.) Croesus arranged for his son to be married, and kept all spears away from him.
1:35 Adrastus, an impure royal Phrygian came to Croesus begging for purification. He was the son of Gordias, the son of Midas, and had killed his brother accidentally. Croesus took him in.
1:36 A great boar appeared on the Mysian Olympus and ravaged the countryside. The Mysians made an appeal to Croesus, who sent a team without Adrastus.
1:37 Atys objected: people will call him a coward.
1:38 Croesus explained about the dream.
1:39 Atys countered that boars don’t wield iron spears.
1:40 Croesus conceded that his son was right and allowed Atys to go.
1:41 Adrastus was appointed guardian of Atys.
1:42 Adrastus accepted the charge.
1:43 But Adrastus threw a spear at the boar and missed, and killed Atys.
1:44 Croesus was greatly upset, and called on Zeus the Purifier to witness this violation of guest-friendship.
1:45 Croesus buried his son and refused to kill Adrastus, contrary to his request. So Adrastus slit his own throat.
1:46 Croesus mourned Atys, but then the conquest of Astyages by Cyrus snapped him out of it. He asked numerous oracles what he should do about the Persians.
1:47 Croesus sent messengers to the various oracles, asking them to inquire what he was doing on the hundredth day after they left Sardis.
1:48 Delphi was the only one that was accurate: Croesus was boiling tortoise and lamb in a bronze cauldron.
1:49 The Oracle at Amphiarus was also accurate.
1:50 Croesus made sacrifices to Delphi.
1:51 Croesus sent rich gifts to Delphi.
1:52 He also sent some gifts to Amphiarus.
1:53 The Lydians asked whether they should make war on the Persians, and the answer was that if they went to war, a mighty empire would fall.
1:54 Croesus gave further gifts to the Oracle, and Delphi extended several privileges to Lydia.
1:55 A third consultation of the oracle by Croesus gave another ambiguous answer.
1:56 Croesus was happy, and asked which of the Greeks he should take into his friendship. He learned that the Spartans (Dorians) and Athenians (Ionians) were most preeminent.
1:57 Herodotus proposes that the Pelasgians originally spoke a non-Greek language, on the evidence of Creston. The Attic race was Pelasgian, but changed its language when it merged with the Hellenes.
1:58 The Pelasgians never did anything as long as they did not speak Greek.
1:59 The Attic peoples were being held subject by Pisistratus, son of Hippocrates. Hippocrates witnessed a miracle at the Olympics: jars of meat and water began to boil without fire. Chilon the Lacademonian advised him not to have a son, but Hippocrates ignored the advice. Thus Pisistratus, who formed a third faction (hill folk) between the men of the plain (led by Lycurgus) and men of the coast (led by Megacles). Pisistratus took power by trickery.
1:60 But Megacles and Lycurgus got together and forced him out. Then they fell out, and Megacles offered a marriage alliance between his daughter and Pisistratus. Even though Greeks are clever, and Athenians cleverest of all, they performed a trick: they got a tall beautiful woman named Phya to dress up in armor as Athena, and be drawn by a chariot into Athens. Heralds claimed that she blessed the return of Pisistratus as ruler.
1:61 Thus did Pisistratus come back, and marry Megacles’ daughter. But he already had children, and didn’t want any more, so he lay with her in an unnatural manner. Megacles found out, and was angry. Pisistratus fled to Eretria.
1:62 After ten years, he made move against Attica, and captured Marathon. He marched on Athens, and Amphilytus the Acarnanian delivered an oracle.
1:63 Pisistratus was inspired by the oracle, and routed the Athenians. He sent his sons after them, to tell them to return to their homes and be of good cheer.
1:64 Pisistratus took power for the third time, and established it firmly.
1:65 What did Croesus hear of Sparta? The Spartans were the worst Greeks until Lycurgus, inspired by Delphi, devised a new constitution for Sparta (or imported it from Crete). So Sparta instituted laws about the regiments of thirty, the communal meals, etc.
1:66 They grew prosperous, and inspired by the oracle, attacked Tegea in Arcadia. They came with fetters, but lost the battle, and were held captive in their own fetters.
1:67 In the time of Croesus they asked the Oracle whether they should go to war again against Tegea, and the Oracle said they should acquire the bones of Orestes, son of Agamemnon. They asked where they might find these. They couldn’t find them, but then Lichas found them.
1:68 Lichas discovered a smith of Tegea, who claimed to have discovered a seven-foot coffin beneath his courtyard. This seemed to fulfill the oracle, so he persuaded the smith to rent him the courtyard, dug up the bones, and took them back to Sparta. This helps explain the Spartan advantage in war.
1:69 Croesus sought, and got, an alliance with Sparta. He sent gold so they could build a statue of Apollo.
1:70 In return, the Spartans made a large bronze mixing bowl as a gift. But it did not reach Sardis. Either the Samians stole it, or the Spartans, hearing that Croesus was captured, sold it to them. (And if the Spartans sold it, they would say that it was stolen, wouldn’t they?)
1:71 Croesus prepared for war against Persia. One Lydian asked him why he did so, when the Persians were so much poorer than he was? What did he have to gain? But Croesus ignored the question.
1:72 Cappadocians are called Syrians by the Greeks. They were at subject to the Medes before they were subject to the Persians. The boundary between Median and Lydian empires was the river Halys.
1:73 Croesus attacked Cappadocia, both because he wanted more territory, and because he wanted revenge on Cyrus, on behalf of his brother-in-law Astyages, son of Cyaxares. Cyaxares had mistreated a group of Scythians resident at his court, who then killed one of the boys entrusted to their care and served it to Cyaxares. They then escaped to Alyattes at Sardis.
1:74 Cyaxares demanded them back, which Alyattes refused, provoking a five-year war between Lydia and Media. One day in year six there occurred an eclipse, predicted by Thales, and the two sides made peace, sealed by marriages.
1:75 Cyrus held Astyages, his own maternal grandfather, in captivity for five years. Thus did Croesus invade across the Halys. Either they crossed using the bridges that were there, or Thales diverted the river around the camp. Herodotus disbelieves this because it leaves unexplained how the army got back.
1:76 Croesus took Pteria and environs, and made the inhabitants into slaves. Cyrus advanced, and a great but indecisive battle was fought. Cyrus attempted to get the Ionians to defect, but they didn’t.
1:77 Croesus’s army was smaller than Cyrus’s, so he withdrew to Sardis, and called on the Egyptians and Babylonians to come to his aid (he had treaties with both).
1:78 The whole outer part of Sardis filled with snakes! Croesus sent for Telmessian diviners. But before they could get him an answer, he was captured. But the message was not a good one anyway: an alien host would soon arrive.
1:79 Cyrus had decided to press the advantage and come to Sardis.
1:80 Croesus sent what army he had left, including his superior cavalry. But Cyrus sent his camels against the cavalry, and they bolted. A lot of Lydians defected. Croesus was penned in Sardis.
1:81 Croesus sent messengers to his allies.
1:82 These include the Spartans. But the Spartans were fighting with Argos over Thyreae. There was combat between two groups of 300. The results – Argives had two survivors, Spartans one. But the Spartan did not abandon the battlefield and stripped the Argive dead. Thus both sides claimed victory. After further fighting, the Spartan killed the two Argives. But he was ashamed of being the only survivor and killed himself right there. The Argives cut their hair short, and their women don’t wear gold, until they have recaptured Thyreae. The Spartans began growing their hair long. An obvious reference to Thermopylae.
1:83 The Lydians found the Spartans like this, and they still wanted to send aid. But just as they were loading up the ship, they got news the Croesus was captured.
1:84 After fourteen days of siege Sardis fell. One place had not been protected by a lion cub ritual, and the Persians noticed that the walls were scalable (a Lydian had come down to retrieve his helmet). So they scaled the walls in that particular place, and Sardis fell.
1:85 The Persians invaded Croesus’s palace. Croesus, past caring, was about to be killed by one, when his mute son suddenly cried out not to. He continued to speak thereafter.
1:86 So Croesus was made a prisoner. The oracle was fulfilled – his own empire fell. Cyrus constructed a pyre in order to burn Croesus and fourteen Lydians. He set it ablaze and overheard Croesus cry out “Solon.” Curious to learn more, Cyrus attempted to put out the fire but it was already going too strong.
1:87 Croesus called to Apollo, and a storm arose and quenched the fire. So Croesus demonstrated that he was beloved of the gods. Cyrus asked him why he attacked, and Croesus answered that the gods induced him to do so.
1:88 So Croesus was freed, and admired. He asked permission to speak, and asked what the Persians were doing? Cyrus said they were plundering the city of Croesus. Croesus answered that it wasn’t his city anymore, and that they were plundering the city of Cyrus.
1:89 Croesus gave some further advice, since Persians are proud but poor. The man who acquired the most plunder would use it to foment a rebellion. So Cyrus should place men at each gate and dun each person exiting 10% of their takings. This would be a nice compromise.
1:90 Cyrus was pleased, and asked Croesus what he could do for him. Croesus requested that he be allowed to send his fetters to Delphi as an ironic offering to the god that induced him to attack in the first place.
1:91 The Oracle replied that Croesus was being punished for the sins of Gyges. And he should have enquired which empire.
1:92 Croesus made many dedications throughout Greece. Some of these came from the expropriated estates of Pantaleon, a conspirator against him, whom Croesus had killed with a carding comb. Presumably this is where his reputation as rich comes from.
1:93 Lydia does not have much to brag about, except the gold dust that comes from Mount Tmolus, and the impressive tomb of Alyattes, consisting of a stone base and a mound of earth, funded mostly by whores. It is near the Gygaean lake.
1:94 Lydians were the first to use coinage, and to become shopkeepers. They claim to have invented games in use among the Greeks, as a distraction from famine. Half of Lydians had to leave on account of the famine, and they ended up in Umbria, where they called themselves Tyrrhenians, after Atys’s son Tyrrhenus. Is this an example of the Etruscans having Anatolian origins?
1:95 Now to the history of Cyrus. The Medes revolted against the Assyrians, and inspired others to do so.
1:96 The Mede Deioces, son of Phraortes, became a judge of the Medes. He carried out his duties well and won a great reputation
1:97 But he gave up this job, because he needed to attend to his own affairs. So lawlessness grew again, and the Medes realized they needed a king A parallel to the Israelites asking for a king?
1:98 They made Deioces king, and he had them build a new palace at Ecbatana, including seven concentric walls.
1:99 Deioces established various ceremonies to increase his prestige: all communication through messengers, no spitting in the royal presence. Thus would those who knew him before come to think he was now a different sort of person.
1:100 He judged various cases brought to him, and that he found out about through his spies.
1:101 Deioces thus united the various tribes of the Median nation, and ruled them.
1:102 Deioces ruled for 53 years, then was succeeded by his Phraortes, who attacked the Persians, whom he subjugated. He tried the same with other peoples, including the Assyrians, who had fallen on hard times, but they defeated and killed him. Phraortes ruled 23 years.
1:103 Phraortes’ son Cyaxares succeeded. He reorganized the army, fought the Lydians, and besieged Nineveh. While doing this, a host of Scythians came upon him.
1:104 The Scythians defeated the Medes, and took possession of all of Asia.
1:105 The Scythians moved against Egypt. Psammetichus met them in Palestine and bribed them not to attack. The Scythians retreated. Some of them plundered the temple of Aphrodite Urania in Ascalon, and their descendants are afflicted with the female sickness.
1:106 The Scythians were masters of Asia for 28 years, but eventually the Medes defeated them and regained their Asian empire, and also defeated Nineveh (to be related in another part of the book).
1:107 Cyaxares reigned 40 years, and was succeeded by his son Astyages. He had a dream in which his daughter, Mandane, urinated all over Asia. The Magi’s interpretation troubled him, and so he married her to Cambyses of Persia. No actual explanation of the dream is given here.
1:108 Another dream: Astyages saw a vine grow out of Mandane’s privy parts and cover all of Asia. Astyges was determined to kill whatever she gave birth to, because the Magi said that the child would replace him as king. Thus Harpagus, his kinsman and steward, was summoned to dispatch Cyrus.
1:109 Harpagus could not go through with it, however.
1:110 He tried to get one of Astyages’ herdsmen, Mitradates, to expose it.
1:111 Mitradates goes home and explains the situation to his wife, Cyno (in Median, Spako).
1:112 Her own baby had been stillborn, and she convinced her husband to substitute the corpse for Cyrus’s, and to raise Cyrus as though he were their own child.
1:113 Mitradates left the corpse on the mountains, then after three days sent for Harpagus, whose men confirmed the death.
1:114 When the child was ten, he revealed his nature when playing with his fellow boys. He effortlessly assumed a leadership role, and punished a boy who refused to carry out his order. The boy’s father Artembares was angry and took it up with Astyages.
1:115 Astyages sent for Mitradates and Cyrus, and asked the boy to explain himself. Cyrus replied that he held the position by vote of his fellows, and had justly punished the malcontent.
1:116 Astyages began to suspect something, and Mitradates confessed.
1:117 Astyages was furious with Harpagus, who told him what transpired. In good conscience he could say that the deed was carried out.
1:118 Astyages concealed his anger. He proposed to celebrate a sacrifice to the gods for saving his grandchild.
1:119 Harpagus thought he was off the hook, and sent his thirteen-year-old son to Astyages, who killed and cooked him. At the feast Harpagus ate his own son (everyone else ate mutton). Astyages then revealed the head and hands of his dead son. Harpagus gave no signs of disturbance, but gathered the remains and headed home, in order to bury it.
1:120 The Magi assured Astyages that Cyrus had already become king during the boys’ game, and so the king had nothing to fear from letting the boy live. But for good measure Astyages decided to send the boy away to the Persians.
1:121 Astyages congratulated Cyrus on surviving, and told Cyrus that he was sending him away to live among the Persians, where he would have better parents than Mitradates and Cyno.
1:122 Cambyses received Cyrus with joy. From his stepmother’s name, they believed he had been suckled by a dog. Cf. Romulus and Remus?
1:123 Harpagus tried to cultivate Cyrus with the hope of eventually wreaking revenge on Astyages. He also planted the idea in the heads of high-ranking noblemen that they should depose Astyages in favor of Cyrus. He communicated with Cyrus by putting a message inside a hare, and having a huntsman deliver it.
1:124 Message: Cyrus, now is the time for revolt! I am the general set up against you, and I will ensure that we all join your cause.
1:125 Cyrus ordered the men of Persia to assemble, each with a scythe
1:126 He ordered them to clear a patch of land. The next day he served them a banquet. Which did they prefer? The second! This is how it is with you, he said. Let’s revolt!
1:127 Astyages armed the Medes, and appointed Harpagus to lead them. But some of them joined the Persians, and others fled.
1:128 Astyges then sent a threatening message to Cyrus, and had the Magi impaled. He armed men and boys to defend his capital, but they were defeated, and so was he.
1:129 Harpagus jeered at him, and told him that it was his doing. Cyrus called him stupid and unjust: why not grab the throne yourself? Why subject your own people to slavery?
1:130 Astyages was deposed, having ruled for 35 years. The Medes had ruled Asia beyond Halys for 128 years, except for the years when the Scythians ruled. Later the Medes rebelled against the Persians (under Darius), but this was unsuccessful. Asytages was kept by Cyrus as a sort of pet. Footnote: 687-559 BC, with the Scythian period being 634-606.

Cf. the fate of Croesus.

1:131 Persian customs: no images or temples, because no anthropomorphic gods. They offer sacrifices to Zeus up in the mountains, and to the sun, moon, earth, and fire, water, and winds.
1:132 No libations, music, or grains in sacrifice. Magi must be present for sacrifice.
1:133 Birthdays are important. They drink a lot.
1:134 Protocol for greetings between equals and unequals.
1:135 The Persians welcome foreign customs. Median dress, Egyptian breastplates, Greek buggery.
1:136 A man’s status based on the number of his sons. From five to twenty, his education exclusively consists of horsemanship, archery, and truth telling. A boy is kept from his father until age five so that his father will not miss him if he dies.
1:137 No one may kill anyone for a single crime. No one has yet been a parricide or matricide.
1:138 They do not talk of forbidden things. Lying is the worst, second is indebtedness. Lepers excluded – the disease is a testament to their crimes. They revere rivers.
1:139 All Persian names end in “s.”
1:140 Secrets that Persians described to Herodotus: burial rites – no corpse is buried until dragged and torn by dog or bird. Corpses covered wax then buried. Magi are like Egyptian priests, but different: they are allowed to kill everything except man or dog.
1:141 With the Lydians reduced by the Persians, the Ionians and the Aeolians sent messages to Cyrus that they wanted the same terms that they enjoyed with Croesus. Cyrus told a story about fishes and a flute player, the meaning of which was no: he had asked them for help against Croesus, and they didn’t give it. So they all prepared for a fight (except Miletus, which was on good terms with Cyrus), and appealed to Sparta for help.
1:142 Description of the four distinct dialects of Ionia.
1:143 The twelve cities of Ionia were proud to be called Ionians (others shunned the name on account of the Ionians’ putative “weakness”), and set up the Panionium. They didn’t let anyone else join.
1:144 Same is true of the Dorians of the Five City Country (it was formerly the six city country – Halicarnassus was expelled on account of taking a bronze tripod from the temple of Triopian Apollo, contrary to custom).
1:145 Ionians were divided into twelve divisions when they were in Achaea. The Achaeans drove them out, and they too are divided into twelve divisions.
1:146 The twelve divisions of Achaeans match up with the twelve divisions of Ionians. The Ionians, once they arrived in Asia, mixed with the local population. This is especially true of those who set out from Athens, who murdered Carians and stole their women. As a consequence, Carian women will not dine with their husbands, nor even speak their names aloud.
1:147 All Ionians keep the feast of Apaturia except for Ephesus and Colophon, because of the allegation of a certain murder.
1:148 The Panionium is a sacred place in Mycale, dedicated to Poseidon. All Greek festivals end in the letter “a.”
1:149 Aeolians also have twelve cities, although they lost Smyrna to the Ionians
1:150 The Aeolians lost Smyrna because they gave shelter to certain men of Colophon. When the Smyrnaeans were celebrating a feast of Dionysus outside their city walls, the refugees locked the gates of the city. Agreement: the Smyrnaeans got their movable goods, and the Colophonians got to keep the city! The Smyrnaeans were divided up among the other eleven Aeolian cities How did this happen?
1:151 But the Aeolians decided to follow the leadership of the Ionians.
1:152 Aeolians and Ionians got to Sparta, and Pythermus the Phocaean spoke for them. But the Spartiates rejected the appeal. But they sent a penteconter to Ionia to spy what was going on, and then an embassy to Cyrus, warning him not to harm any Greek city.
1:153 Cyrus’s reply: “I never fear people who have a place set aside in their cities for cheating each other.” The Persians do not have such places. Cyrus entrusted Ionia to deputies and went back to Babylon. !!!
1:154 When Cyrus left, one of the deputies (Pactyes, a Lydian) induced the Ionians to revolt. He marched on Sardis and besieged the other deputy (Talabus) there.
1:155 Upon hearing of this, Cyrus asked Croesus what he should do? Croesus told him to punish Pactyes but to spare the rest of the Lydians.
1:156 Cyrus was pleased with this advice. He told Mazares, a Mede, to proclaim to the Lydians what Croesus had suggested, but that those who had marched to the attack on Sardis would be enslaved. Pactyes to be brought to Cyrus’s presence.
1:157 Pactyes fled to Cyme. Lydians changed their way of life. Mazares asked Cyme for Pactyes, and they consulted an oracle about it.
1:158 The oracle said: surrender Pactyes. But Aristodicus stopped them. He distrusted the oracle, and they asked it again.
1:159 Aristodicus himself asked the oracle again, and the oracle confirmed the earlier decision. Aristodicus then went around tearing out the nests of birds in the temple, and the oracle objected to this loss of suppliants. Aristodicus then said: you care for birds, but not for humans? Oracle’s reply: yes, that you may the quicker sin and be destroyed and thus come no more to consult this oracle about the surrender of a suppliant. ?
1:160 Cymeans did not wish to surrender Pactyes and perish themselves, nor keep him and withstand a siege. So they sent him to Mytilene. The Mytileneans agreed to surrender him to Mazares for a certain sum. But the deal fell through, because then the Cymeans sent a ship to Mytilene to get Pactyes and send him to Chios. But the Chians surrendered him in return for Atarneus, a place in Mysia opposite Lesbos. Everything from Atarneus was kept away from sacred rituals.
1:161 Mazares then made war on everyone who had besieged Tabalus, he enslaved Priene and let his army ravage the plain of the Meander and Magnesia. But then he got sick and died.
1:162 Harpagus then took over. He took Ionian cities with earthworks.
1:163 First he attacked Phocaea. Arganthonis, king of Tartessus and their friend, invited the Phocaeans to settle in his territory, and when they declined, he sent them money to build a wall.
1:164 Harpagus came to Phocaea. He asked that one outer wall be torn down, and one house consecrated. But the Phocaeans wanted a day to deliberate, and asked Harpagus to withdraw from the wall. He did so, and then the Phocaeans all got onto ships and took off to Chios. The Persians took over an empty city. “passage obscure”
1:165 Since the Chians would not sell the Phocaeans the Oenussian Islands, they headed to Corsica, where twenty years before they had built a city called Alalia. But first they stopped back at Phocaea, and murdered the Persian guard. Some of them headed to Corsica, but some of them, homesick, refused to go.
1:166 The combined numbers of Phocaeans on Corsica made a nuisance of themselves, and provoked a united front of Etruscans and Carthaginians against them. The Phocaeans defeated them at sea, but it was a “Cadmean victory,” so the Phocaeans left Corsica and sailed to Rhegium. I.e. like a pyrrhic victory.
1:167 The Etruscans stoned the survivors to death, but then the Oracle commanded that they hold athletic contests in memory of the Phocaeans. The others who fled to Rhegium founded a city called Hyele, in the land of Oenotria.
1:168 Harpagus also captured the Teians, who took off and founded the city of Abdera.
1:169 The other cities of Ionia fought it out against Harpagus, and put up a good fight, but they were defeated, and enslaved. The islands then surrendered.
1:170 At the panionium, Bias of Priene suggested they all go to Sardinia. But Thales of Miletus suggested they set up a deliberative council at Teos.
1:171 Harpagus marched against the Carians, Caunians, and Lycians. Carians were once useful to King Minos. They invented plumes on helmets, designs on shields, and grips on shields. Prior to this shields were controlled by baldrics. The Cretans say that the Dorians and Ionians drove them from the Islands, and they ended up on the mainland. The Carians say that they have always lived on the mainland.
1:172 Herodotus believes that the Caunians are autochthonous, although they claim to come from Crete. Their culture has converged with the Carians, but they expelled all foreign gods.
1:173 Lycians from Crete in ancient times. Rivalry between Minos and Sarpedon; the latter was expelled, and came to Milyas in Asia.
1:174 Carians enslaved by Harpagus. Cnidians surrendered to him.
1:175 Pedasians held out against Harpagus.
1:176 But eventually the Pedasians were reduced. The Lycians came out and fought, however.
1:177 Harpagus destroyed lower Asia, Cyrus destroyed upper Asia.
1:178 Cyrus then attacked the Assyrians, especially Babylon. The city is large and surrounded by a moat.
1:179 The moat is a big borrow pit for the mud bricks used for the walls. Asphalt, from the nearby town of Is, was used for cement.
1:180 Two divisions to Babylon, one on either side of the Euphrates.
1:181 Another wall inside the larger one. In the center, the temple of Zeus Belus, an eight-level ziggurat.
1:182 The god comes to the temple and rests on a couch, as he does in a similar way in Thebes in Egypt. Both places feature a woman who does not have sex with men.
1:183 Near the temple: a great golden statue of Zeus, with golden altars.
1:184 There are many kings in Babylon, of whom two were women. All these adorned the city. Semiramis built the dykes on the plain. H. does not fulfill the promise of an Assyrian account.
1:185 Nitocris altered the course of the Euphrates so that it was crooked and ran slower, as a defensive arrangement.
1:186 She also ingeniously built a bridge across the Euphrates in Babylon.
1:187 She had herself buried in a tomb over a Babylonian gate, and invited any future Babylonian king to open the tomb if he truly needed money. Darius did so, and found a note of rebuke.
1:188 It was against this woman’s son, Laybnetus, that Cyrus made war. Cyrus travels everywhere with water from the Choaspes river.
1:189 Cyrus was angry at Gyndes River for carrying off one of his horses, so he vowed to weaken it. He had his men dig 180 canals along the bank all summer long.
1:190 This allowed him to approach and battle the Babylonians, who retreated into their city. 538 BC
1:191 Following the example of Nitocris, Cyrus changed the flow of the Euphrates, which allowed his men to use the main channel to enter Babylon.
1:192 Babylon is very rich.
1:193 Babylonian agriculture possible through irrigation. Sesame oil, palm trees bearing dates.
1:194 Boat traffic: round boats made of wooden ribs and skin are floated downstream, with cargo and a donkey. Once the cargo is sold, the wood is also auctioned off. The skins are packed on the donkey, and they are driven back up to Armenia.
1:195 Babylonian clothes, shoes, headgear. Body adorned with myrrh. Staff (with device) and seals.
1:196 The female auction: beautiful marriageable girls are auctioned off. The money is used to bribe men to take the ugly and crippled girls.
1:197 Babylonians bring their sick to the marketplace, and people give them advice on their illnesses.
1:198 Burials are embalmed in honey, dirges like the Egyptians. Husband and wife offer incense after coitus, and wash themselves in the morning.
1:199 Women must go to the temple of Aphrodite and sleep with someone who pays them. Pretty women depart soon enough, but plain women sometimes wait three or four years for a taker.
1:200 Three tribes of Babylonians eat nothing but fish.
1:201 When Cyrus had conquered this nation, he set his heart on conquering the Massagetae.
1:202 Discussion of the river Araxes.
1:203 Discussion of Caspian Sea.
1:204 Caucasus to the west of the Caspian sea; a great plain to the east. This is where the Massagetae live, whom Cyrus wanted to conquer.
1:205 The king of Massagetae died, so his wife Tomyris ruled. Cyrus wooed her, but she rejected him. So he waged war, building bridges across the Araxes.
1:206 She gave him a choice – we’ll withdraw from the river, or you can welcome us into your land. The war council chooses the latter option.
1:207 Croesus begged to differ. It’s a security risk. Better to take the (potential) fight to them.
1:208 Cyrus took Croesus’ advice, and crossed the river. Cyrus entrusted Croesus to his son Cambyses, in case anything should happen to him.
1:209 Cyrus crossed the Araxes, and during his first night there he had a dream in which the son of Hystaspes [Darius] grew wings, one of which covered Asia and the other Europe. Cyrus interpreted this to mean that the son was plotting against him, so he told Hystaspes to get back to Persia and prepare his son for questioning.
1:210 But the gods were telling Cyrus that his time was up, and that he should pass the throne to Darius. Hystaspes protested that his son would never plot to take the throne.
1:211 Hystaspes went back to guard Darius. Cyrus advanced, left the useless part of his army, and retreated. One third of he Massagetae army came upon them and slaughtered them, then gorged themselves on the Persians’ food. The Persians then returned and slaughtered the Massagetae, and captured the son of Tomyris, Spargapises.
1:212 Tomyris sent a message to Cyrus: don’t get cocky, you have won by trickery and not force. Give me back my son and get out of my country, or you will “have your fill of blood.”
1:213 Cyrus paid no heed. When Spargapises had sobered up, he asked to be freed from his chains, and was so – he then escaped.
1:214 Tomyris gathered her forces and fought Cyrus. It was the “severest” battle, and the Massagetae ultimately won, killing most of the Persians and Cyrus himself. Tomyris dishonored Cyrus’s corpse by cutting off his head, putting it in a skin bag, and filling the bag with blood, thereby fulfilling her promise. “There are many stories of the death of Cyrus, but this that I have told seems to me the most convincing.” In other words, H. can’t resist a fulfilled prophecy.
1:215 Massagetae similar to Scythians in clothing and warfare.
1:216 Each man marries a wife, but these are kept in common. Greeks say the Scythians do this but in fact it’s the Massagetae. When a man wants a woman he hangs his quiver on the front of her wagon and lies with her, fearlessly. When a man is old, his relatives kill him, along with his sheep and goats, and stew the meat together and hold a feast. Any man who dies of disease regretfully does not get this treatment, but is buried. They don’t sow land but live off cattle and fish, and they drink milk. They worship the sun, and sacrifice horses to it.
  **** BOOK 2 ****  
2:1 Cambyses inherited the kingdom. He thought of the Ionians and Aeolians as slaves, and made war on Egypt.
2:2 The Egyptians thought they were the oldest of mankind. The Pharoah Psammetichus ran a language deprivation experiment on some infants. At one point, when given food, the infants spontaneously said “bekos.” Inquiries revealed that the Phrygians called bread “bekos” and thus conceded primacy to them. This story comes from the priests of Hephaestos in Memphis.
2:3 H. heard other things too from them, and he went to Thebes and Heliopolis to hear what they had to say. But H. is not keen to set forth their account of the divine, save only for the gods’ names, for he thinks that everyone knows equally about the gods. H. the lumper. (But why is he reticent to write religious practices, when he writes everything else?)
2:4 Egyptians first to invent the twelve-month solar year. They are cleverer than the Greeks, who must insert an intercalary month every other year. Egyptians simply do twelve thirty-day months, with a five-day intercalary period. Egyptians were the first to use names of twelve gods, and the Greeks took these from them. Egyptians were the first to assign altars and images and temples to the gods and to carve figures on stone. “Most of these things they showed me by clear proof.” Min the first king of Egypt. At one point Egypt was entirely marsh. The Greeks stole everything from the Egyptians!
2:5 Deposits of earth reach far out into the Mediterranean.
2:6 Length of seacoast of Egypt is 60 shoeni.
2:7 60 shoeni is 3600 furlongs. From the seacoast inland, as far as Heliopolis, Egypt is flat and marshy.
2:8 But further south from Heliopolis Egypt is narrow. The quarries for the pyramids of Memphis are there.
2:9 Heliopolis to Thebes is a distance of nine days’ journey. From there to Elephantine: 1800 furlongs.
2:10 Egypt the product of silting-up. The delta was once a gulf.
2:11 If the Nile were to divert its course to the Red Sea, it would silt that up, too.
2:12 H. has seen seashells on mountains, and brine-salt coming to the surface, and Egypt’s soil is different from Libya’s, and Syria’s. This is further proof that it was once under sea.
2:13 In the olden days if the river rose twelve feet it would flood the entire delta. Now, if it rises 24 feet, it does not flood the country.
2:14 Egyptians practice farming using the river flood. (But if the land rises any higher beyond the power of the Nile to flood it, and there is no rain, they might starve)
2:15 The Ionians call the Delta Egypt, but clearly the Egyptians had their origins upstream, and migrated to the Delta, as it appeared.
2:16 If the Ionians are right, however, the Delta counts as a fourth part of the word, in addition to Europe, Asia, and Libya.
2:17 H. thinks that west of the Nile is Libyan, and east is Asian. Nile flows in one channel from Katadoupoi (Elephantine) to Cercasorus, but thereafter divides. The various mouths are: Pelusian, Canobic, Sebennytic, Saitic, and Menesian. The Bolbitine and Bucolic mouths are artificial.
2:18 Inhabitants of the cities of Marea and Apis did not consider themselves Egyptians and wished to eat beef. They asked the oracle of Ammon to be allowed to do so. Ammon replied that they were Egyptians, since they lived in the Nile watershed.
2:19 No one could tell H. why the Nile floods as it does, despite his enquiries.
2:20 Greeks have three explanations. First is that Etesian winds cause the flooding by blocking its flow to the sea. But this is not a good theory: these winds don’t always blow, and other rivers don’t flood.
2:21 Second: because the Nile flows from Ocean. This is even more fanciful a theory.
2:22 Third: Nile comes from a source of melting snow. But it flows from the south, where it’s hotter. How can this be?
2:23 The Ocean theory probably derives from Homer.
2:24 H’s theory: the Nile floods in summertime. “Whatever country the sun is nearest to, and over it, must specially need to be thirsty of water and have the native streams of its rivers wasted away.”
2:25 H. believes that winter sun in the Libyan south dries up the Nile (unlike any other river), which thus runs fullest when the summer sun is in the north.
2:26 Sun is also the cause of the dryness of the air.
2:27 No wind: because it is not natural for a breeze to come from exceedingly hot places.
2:28 One more theory, from a clerk of the holy things of Athena in the city of Saïs: there are two mountains, their peaks sharply pointed, named Crophi and Mophi, between Syene and Elephantine. The springs of the Nile flow between the two mountains. One flows north and the other south. The springs are unfathomable, as proven by Psammetichus.
2:29 Further up the river you go, the faster the currents flow.
2:30 South of Elephantine, you come to the land of the Deserters, a.k.a. the Asmach. These were Egyptians who joined the Ethiopians, because Psammeticus kept them at their guard station for three years. So they went over to the Ethiopians. The king told them to expel some of his domestic enemies and to take their land. The Ethiopians became more civilized on account of the Asmach.
2:31 Beyond the Nile is desert.
2:32 A story from the men of Cyrene: they went to the oracle of Ammon and spoke with Etearchus, king of the Ammonians, who had Nasamonians at his court. These are Libyans. They told him about wild men in the desert. They were small in stature, and dark-skinned.
2:33 The Nile cleaves Libya in two as the Ister cleaves Europe in two.
2:34 Comparison Ister to Nile.
2:35 Egyptians do the opposite of what others do: women go to shops, men weave, and they push the woof down. Men carry on their heads, women on their shoulders. Women pee standing up, men sitting down. They defecate indoors but eat outside.
2:36 Priests shave their heads. In grief they grow their hair long. Egyptians live with their animals. Their bread comes from spelt, not barley or wheat. The knead dough with their feet, and mud with their hands. They circumcise. Men have two garments, women one only. They write right to left. Two types of writing: sacred and common.
2:37 They have excessive reverence for their gods. Bronze cups that they clean. Linen clothes that they wash. Circumcision for cleanliness. Priests shave their bodies every other day, and wash twice a day and twice at night. Dietary customs – meat and wine, but no fish or beans. Priesthood hereditary.
2:38 Bulls property of Epaphus, but priests will only sacrifice perfect ones.
2:39 They sacrifice the animal and flay it, and cut off its head. This they sell to the Greeks, but if there are no Greeks around, they throw it into the river. No Egyptian will taste the head of any creature that had life.
2:40 Ritual for the unnamed greatest (female) god. They kill an ox, draw out its stomach, cut off its head and limbs, but leave everything else, and fill the torso with food and spices. They then set it on fire. They lament it, and then feast on what remains.
2:41 Egyptians sacrifice pure bulls and calves, but only Isis gets cows. Isis has cow horns like the Greek Io. Egyptians reverence cows, and will thus avoid using Greek utensils. Dead cows they throw into the river, and bulls they bury with their horns poking above the surface of the ground. After awhile, a ship from Prospontis, an island on the delta, comes by and the crew collects the bones, and takes them back to a shrine to Aphrodite at Artabechis, a city on the island.
2:42 Devotees of Theban Zeus, or those from the province of Thebes, sacrifice goats, but not sheep. Devotees of Mendes or those from Mendes sacrifice sheep but not goats. The Thebans say that Heracles wanted to see Zeus, but Zeus declined. Heracles was so insistent, however, that Zeus flayed a ram and dressed himself in the skin. Thus do the Egyptians depict Zeus wearing ram’s horns. The Ammonians learned this from the Egyptians, and indeed derived their name from Amon, the Egyptian name for Zeus. (Ammonians are colonists of Egyptians and Ethiopians, and speak a hybrid language).
2:43 Heracles is one of the twelve Gods in Egypt. The Greeks learned of Heracles from the Egyptians. H. has many proofs of this.
2:44 H. sailed to Tyre in Phoenicia, and Thasos, a Tyrian colony. Each of these places have shrines Heracles, both of which were older than the Greek Heracles. Thus there are two Heracles: the ancient god, and the hero. Those who have established separate cults to these two figures are correct to do so.
2:45 One Greek story of Heracles is false, that he came to Egypt and they wanted to sacrifice him, so he slaughtered them all. But the Egyptians only sacrifice certain animals, how would they sacrifice humans? And how could a human kill so many people single-handedly?
2:46 The people of Mendes reckon Pan to be one of the eight gods, predating the twelve. The Egyptians depict Pan the same way the Greeks do. The Medesians hold goats sacred, especially males, and those who tend male goats are honored. One goat in particular is singled out and greatly mourned when he dies. But once a male goat publicly copulated with a woman – a monstrosity. Mendes is a city on the Delta.
2:47 To Egyptians, pigs are unclean, and swineherds form their own low caste. Pigs are only sacrificed to the Moon or Dionysus.
2:48 The Egyptian Dionysia is like the Greek, except that the phalluses are replaced by eighteen-inch-high puppets, which themselves have moveable phalluses, also about eighteen inches long.
2:49 Melampus introduced the Dionysus cult to the Greeks, including the phallic procession. He learned them from Cadmus, and those Phoenicians who came with him to Boeotia.
2:50 The “names” (i.e. personalities) of nearly all the Greek gods derive from Egypt.
2:51 The Pelasgians taught the Greeks about erect phallus statues of Hermes.
2:52 The Pelasgians made sacrifices to the “gods,” but under the instruction of the oracle at Dodona, differentiated them in the Egyptian manner.
2:53 Whence these gods came into existence is anyone’s guess. Hesiod and Homer created the Greek theogony, and they were 400 years prior to H.
2:54 Phoenicians stole two women from Thebes and sold one to the Libyans and another to the Greeks. These two women established oracles. The Theban priests say this.
2:55 The women of Dodona, however, say that two black doves flew from Thebes in Egypt, and one came to Libya and the other to Greece. The alighted in trees and announced in human voices that oracles should be established.
2:56 Herodotus says that if the slave woman story is true, the one sold into Greece (Pelasgia) was sold into Thesprotia, where she set up the shrine. She had been a handmaid in the temple of Zeus in Thebes so it was natural she should do this. Once she learned Greek, she told them of her sister in Libya. Thesprotia and Dodona in extreme NW of Greece, near Epirus.
2:57 The Dodonaeans called the women doves, because they spoke in a foreign tongue, which sounded birdlike. Thus the story about the doves alighting. That they were dark-skinned indicates they came from Egypt.
2:58 The divination at Thebes is similar to Dodona. Divination from sacrifices came from Egypt, as did processions and assemblies. Egyptians older than Greeks – thus the Greeks learned from the Egyptians.
2:59 But the Egyptians hold assemblies not once a year, but often. These include Artemis at Bubastis, Isis (Demeter) at Busiris, Athena at Sais, Helios at Heliopolis, Leto at Buto, Ares at Papremis.
2:60 When they sail to Bubastis, men and women, they make a great noise. Upon arrival, some women scream obscenities at the women who live there, some women take to dancing, others throw their clothes in the river and cavort about naked. They make great sacrifices and drink much wine.
2:61 The festival at Busiris is a more solemn affair, with thousands beating their breasts. The Carians there go even further and cut their foreheads, demonstrating that they’re not Egyptians.
2:62 At Sais, the festival features lamps burning all night long.
2:63 Those who go to Heliopolis and Buto perform the sacrifice only. In Papremis they perform the sacrifice and rites as elsewhere. They also have a fight with sticks over the image of Ares, in honor of his desire to see his mother, for which he raised a gang and fought his mother’s guard.
2:64 The Egyptians do not copulate in temples, and ritually cleanse themselves from intercourse before going to temple. The Greeks do this; most everyone else does not care.
2:65 Egypt does not have many wild animals. Those it does have are all sacred. There is a hereditary office of people looking after them. If someone kills an animal, if it was intentional, he dies; if not, the killer pays a fine to the animal keeper. Killers of ibis and hawks, though, are always executed.
2:66 Egyptian cats: when females give birth, they completely ignore the males, so the males kill the kittens, so that the females might return. When a fire breaks out, Egyptians do everything possible to save the cats, who frequently run right back into the burning building, to the distress of the Egyptians. A cat death in the family prompts all humans to shave their eyebrows.
2:67 Cats are mummified and buried in Bubastis. Female dogs are buried in one’s own town. Hawks go to Buto, ibises go to the city of Hermes.
2:68 Crocodile: for four months of the year it eats nothing. From modest eggs this great creature is hatched. It has no tongue and moves its upper, not lower, jaw. It is blind under water but sees well in the air. Its mouth teems with leeches, and sandpipers come and eat them, for which the crocodile is grateful.
2:69 Some Egyptians view the crocodile as sacred, others treat it as an enemy. Those who live near Thebes treat it as especially sacred. Out of a colony of crocodiles, one is tamed and trained, and honored with jewelry and given special food to eat. But those around Elephantine eat them; they don’t see crocodiles as sacred at all.
2:70 Hunters put pig’s flesh on a hook and line, and then beat a live pig on the riverbank. The croc, hearing the squeals, comes and swallows the pig flesh, and they reel it in. They then cover its eyes with mud to subdue him easily.
2:71 The hippopotamus is sacred to the people around Papremis, but not to the rest of the Egyptians. Its skin is so think you can make spear shafts of it.
2:72 Otters, lepidotus (a fish), eels, and fox-goose are all sacred.
2:73 The phoenix comes rarely to Heliopolis, when its father dies (every 500 years). The phoenix conveys its dead father, emplastered in myrrh, to the shrine of the sun in Egypt.
2:74 Two-horned serpents around Thebes are also sacred, and are buried in the shrine of Zeus.
2:75 Around Buto are the bones of many winged snakes, which come into Egypt from Arabia in the springtime, but the ibises kill them all.
2:76 Two types of ibis: one white, and one black. The snakes’ wings are not feathered but leathery.
2:77 Egyptians are great record-keepers, and very healthy, since they physic themselves three days a month, and on account of their climate, which is constant (changes in weather cause disease). They consume barley bread and barley wine (no vines in Egypt). Fish is either dried or pickled. They pickle small birds, other flesh is roasted or boiled.
2:78 At wealthy banquets, the host parades the likeness of a dead man in a coffin, as a reminder to his guests of their mortality.
2:79 The Egyptians do not adopt others’ customs. They have a Linus song that they have sung forever.
2:80 Young Egyptians (and Spartans) will yield to their elders in the streets, but Egyptians alone will do obeisance, dropping a hand to the knee, in place of greetings.
2:81 They wear linen tunics, but never bring wool into temples, nor are they buried in wool. This is in accord with so-called Orphic and Bacchic rites (which are really Egyptian and Pythagorean), whose members are not buried in wool.
2:82 Each day is dedicated to a god, and the day on which a man is born determines certain life outcomes. Egyptians record every monstrous occurrence, and follow the outcome, for future reference, should the occurrence happen again.
2:83 To no man is the art of divination assigned, but only certain gods. There are various places, with various methods. The one with the greatest honor is Leto, at Buto.
2:84 Medicine: each doctor specializes in a particular disease, and the land is full of them.
2:85 When someone notable dies, the women plaster their heads with mud, wander through the city beating their breasts, and exposing their breasts. They then carry the corpse for embalming.
2:86 The embalmers offer three grades of product. The most expensive involves removing the brain, removing the viscera and stuffing the torso with myrrh and spices, and burying the corpse in saltpeter for seventy days. They then wrap the corpse in bandages and return it to the family.
2:87 The second grade of embalming involves injecting cedar oil through the anus, burial in saltpeter, and then removing the plug and letting the dissolved contents run out. The saltpeter eats away the flesh, leaving only skin and bones. This product is returned to the family.
2:88 The third method, for poor people, involves rinsing out the belly with a purge and embalming it for seventy days.
2:89 Wives of important men, and beautiful women, are not given to the embalmers right away, but are held back three or four days, to lessen the possibility that the workers might copulate with the corpse.
2:90 People (even foreigners) killed by crocodiles, or the Nile itself, must be buried with great care.
2:91 The city of Chemmis, in the Theban province, celebrates Perseus, including with an athletic festival. This Greek custom seems an anomaly, but they say that Perseus’s ancestors came from Chemmis, and Perseus himself returned to Egypt to slay the Gorgon in Libya.
2:92 Marsh Egyptians have made certain innovations in cheap food, such as lotus and papyrus.
2:93 Mechanics of fish reproduction: the males swim out to sea, shedding their seed. The females follow, swallowing it and conceiving. On the way back, the females take the lead, shedding eggs, which the males then eat; only the eggs the survive get to become new fish.
2:94 Castor bean oil used for lighting lamps. It’s like olive oil but has a heavy smell.
2:95 Protection from mosquitos: either sleep on a high tower, so that the wind blows the insects away, or surround your bed with your fishing net, which the mosquitos can’t penetrate.
2:96 Egyptian freight boats are made of acacia wood. They are towed upstream from the riverbank. Going downstream, they contrive that the boat should tow a raft, itself towing a heavy stone. This keeps the boat from going too fast, and keeps it going in a straight line.
2:97 When the Nile floods, the cities are like islands in the Aegean, and the Egyptians sail between them.
2:98 City of Anthylla is well known and assigned to the wife of the pharaoh for the provision of shoes. Another city is Archandrus, named after Archandrus.
2:99 H. saw all this with his eyes, what follows comes from what the Egyptians told him. Min, first king of Egypt, dammed off Memphis from the Nile. The levies are carefully maintained lest Memphis get flooded. Min founded a temple of Hephaestus there.
2:100 There followed 330 kings, including 18 Ethiopians and one woman, named Nitocris. She inherited the throne from her assassinated brother, and got her revenge. She had an underground chamber built, invited those responsible, and flooded it. Lest she be subject to revenge, she threw herself into a cellar of hot ashes.
2:101 The priests had only something else to say about the last king Moeris. He built, as a memorial to himself, a propylaea, a lake, and pyramids, to the north of Memphis.
2:102 Sesostris was a great conqueror. When he conquered people who put up a fight, he put up a pillar recording the deed. When he conquered people who did not put up a fight, he put up a pillar recording it, along with the carving of a vagina, indicating cowardice. Ramses II
2:103 Sesostris got as far as Thrace and Scythia. He left some of his troops to settle about the river Phasis.
2:104 These are the ancestors of the Colchians, who now live there. Like the Egyptians, they have always circumcised their male infants. Everyone else who practices it learned it either from the Egyptians or the Colchians.
2:105 Egyptians and Colchians are also similar in their language, way of life, and especially their weaving.
2:106 Most of the pillars of Sesostris are gone, but a few remain in Palestine. Two statues of Sesostris can be seen in Ionia, with inscriptions in Egyptian. These are not of Memnon, contrary to popular belief.
2:107 Sesostris had entrusted the governance of Egypt to his brother. Upon Sesostris’s return to Egypt, his brother tried to assassinate him by inviting him to a banquet, but then burning the house down. Sesostris escaped by making two of his sons lie down on the fire, so that he, his wife, and the rest of his sons could escape. This they did, at the price of two of the king’s sons.
2:108 Sesostris had his revenge on his brother, and then got his captives to dig canals throughout Egypt to connect cities to the Nile. This obviated the need for pack animals like horses, of which Egypt now knows nothing, even though it is flat enough. Method of revenge is unstated.
2:109 Sesostris also divided Egypt up into square allotments, and gave one to each of his subjects. Each one was taxed, but if the river carried off a portion of it, a subject could get royal agents to come and measure it, and get his tax burden reduced proportionate to the loss. Thus did the Egyptians learn geometry, and pass it on to the Greeks. (The Greeks learned about sundials and the twelve-hour day from the Babylonians.)
2:110 Sesostris, who was the only Egyptian king to rule Ethiopia, set up massive statues of himself, his wife, and children, in front of the temple of Hephaestus. Darius wanted to set up a similar statue of himself, but the priests would not let him, saying that Sesostris, unlike Darius, had conquered the Scythians.
2:111 Under Sesostris’s successor Pheros, the Nile flooded more than usual, and wind made it stormy. Angered, Pheros threw a spear into it, for which he suffered blindness. Ten years later, an oracle from the city of Buto said that his blindness could be cured if he washed his eyes in the urine of a woman who had slept with no man but her husband. Pheros’s own wife did not pass this test, and neither did the vast majority of women who gave up their urine. When he did recover his sight, he married the woman, and executed all the other ones.
2:112 Pheros succeeded by Proteus, who built a section of Memphis south of the temple of Hephaestus. Tyrian Phoenicians live there now. In this section is a shrine to the “foreign Aphrodite” – Herodotus thinks this is actually a shrine to Helen, who stayed with Proteus. No other shrine to Aphrodite gets the adjective “foreign.”
2:113 Contrary winds had blown Paris (“Alexander”) and Helen to Egypt. His servants abandoned him and took refuge at a shrine to Heracles, which automatically freed them from him. They told the story of the elopement to the priests there, and the keeper of the Nile mouth, name of Thonis.
2:114 Thonis asked Proteus what he should do, and Proteus bade him arrest the pair and bring them to him.
2:115 Proteus ordered Helen and the treasure to stay in Egypt in safekeeping for Menelaus, and gave Alexander three days to get out of Egypt.
2:116 Herodotus suspects that Homer knew and actually believed this story, but discarded it for the sake of his epic. One can get hints of it in the Iliad and the Odyssey, which H. quotes.
2:117 The Cypria, therefore, which says that it took Paris and Helen two days to get to Troy, cannot be by Homer.
2:118 The Egyptians claim that the Greeks went to Troy, demanded satisfaction, and the Trojans swore that Paris and Helen were not there but in Egypt. The Greeks thus besieged Troy, took it, and discovered that there was indeed no Helen! Thus they believed the Trojans, and Menelaus went to Egypt.
2:119 Menelaus discovered Helen and his treasure quite intact, but in order to get favorable winds to get home, he sacrificed two native children. He was thus chased out of Egypt into Libya, and no one knows what happened to him thereafter.
2:120 Herodotus agrees with this story, because there is no way that the Trojans would have protected Paris and Helen; common sense says that they would have handed over the pair.
2:121 Rhampsinitus succeeded Proteus. A workman in charge of building the king’s treasury left a back door into it, and told his two sons about it on his deathbed. The sons began to help themselves to the king’s silver, to the king’s astonishment and chagrin, as there was no sign of entry otherwise. So he made traps, and at their next foray into the treasury, one of them was caught. The other cut off his head, so as to conceal his identity. So the king hung up the body with guards, thinking that someone would want to bury it properly. Indeed, the mother of the boys threatened to expose their scheme if her surviving son did not get the body back. He did, by getting the guards drunk. When they had all passed out, he took the body, and for good measure shaved the right cheek of each of them. The king, now obsessed with catching the thief, prostituted his own daughter (allegedly – H. does not believe it). The price of sleeping with her was to tell her the cleverest and wickedest thing you had ever done, and if someone confessed to the robbery of the treasury or the thief’s body, she was to grab on and not let go. The thief, when he had heard of this, acquired the arm of a corpse, confessed his crimes to the king’s daughter – and left her holding a severed arm. Rhampsinitus, astounded at the man’s cleverness, proclaimed immunity for him. The thief trusted this and came forward; Rhampsinitis married him to his daughter, for excelling all the other Egyptians. 121 goes on for three pages.
2:122 Rhampsinitis descended into Hades and played dice with Demeter, and then returned with a gift from her, a golden napkin. From this event the Egyptians derived a festival, which involves a blindfolded priest being led to a temple of Demeter and back again by two wolves.
2:123 Demeter and Dionysus (Isis and Osiris) are the lords of the underworld. When the body dies, the soul creeps into some other living thing, and so on, going through all the creatures of nature until, three thousand years later, it arrives in a human again. Extensive footnote in Grene about the transmigration of souls.
2:124 Rhampsinitus succeeded by Cheops, whose reign was bad. He closed the temples, and had Egyptians working for him, first making a road from the river to a building site, and then constructing a pyramid on it.
2:125 The pyramid was constructed using a system of levers. Some surviving notes record the amount of food paid to each worker.
2:126 Cheops prostituted his own daughter in order to build the pyramid. She charged extra and so built her own pyramid.
2:127 Cheops reigned for fifty years, and was succeeded by his brother Chephren, who also built a pyramid, but not as grand as his brother’s. He reigned for fifty-six years. There must have been a great gap in age between Cheops and Chephren.
2:128 So for 106 years all sorts of evil befell the Egyptians, and they do not refer by name to these kings. They call the pyramids after Philitis, a shepherd who used to graze his flocks in the area. Note in Grene: the pyramid period is lumped in with the Hyksos as something Egyptians don’t like to talk about.
2:129 Mycerinus, Cheops’s son, succeeded Chephren. He restored the temples and allowed Egyptians to go about their business. He judged justly, and paid people dissatisfied with his judgments out of his own pocket. But then his daughter died, and he went into deep mourning. He buried her in a hollow gilded wooden calf.
2:130 The calf was not buried but given its own room in the palace in Sais, where incense is still burned in front of it. Adjoining this room is another room full of images of Mycerinus’s concubines, some twenty of them.
2:131 But another story is that Mycerinus slept with his daughter, who killed herself in shame. He buried her in the cow, and the girl’s mother cut off the hands of the servant girls who covered for the deed. The statues suffered the same fate. But H. doubts this, because the hands just fell off through the passage of time.
2:132 Description of the cow – it is decorated with thick gold, and wears a red cape. They take it out and parade it every year, because of a promise Mycerinus made to his daughter as she was dying.
2:133 The oracle of Buto predicted that he had six years left to live, and would die in the seventh. Mycerinus reproached the god, because his predecessors had ruled harshly and a long time, while he had done justice and was to be deprived. The oracle responded that Egypt was fated to suffer for 150 years, and he was going against fate! So he started to enjoy himself, knowing that his time on earth was to be short.
2:134 Mycerinus built a pyramid. Some say that it was built by Rhodopis, a courtesan, but that is untrue, because no courtesan could build such a pyramid, and besides she was active during the reign of Amasis.
2:135 Rhodopis was indeed a famous and rich courtesan, but she did not make enough money to build a pyramid. Instead, she donated a number of iron roasting-spits to the Oracle at Delphi.
2:136 Asuchis was succeeded Mycerinus, and he built a pyramid of bricks, on which he left a self-justifying inscription. He passed a law saying that a man could get a loan by pledging the corpse of his father, but if he hadn’t paid back the loan by the time of his own death, the corpse could not be buried.
2:137 Asuchis was succeeded by Anysis, who was blind and in whose reign the Ethiopians invaded and ruled Egypt. Anysis fled into the marshes. The Ethiopian king, Sabacos, punished people’s law breaking by making them build embankments around cities.
2:138 Description of the temple of Bubastis
2:139 Sabacos ruled Egypt for fifty years, as the oracles had foretold. He also saw a vision in his sleep telling him to execute all the priests of Egypt, and he felt he was being entrapped to bring down divine punishment on himself. So he left. Kushite pharaoh Shabaka, 25th dynasty, 705-690 BC.
2:140 Anysis returned to rule. He had been brought food by the Egyptians, who had also built up an island for him in the swamp. The island is called Elbo, and it remained a secret until the reign of Amyrtaeus, some 700 years later. Amyrtaeus of Sais the only king of the 28th dynasty of Egypt. Reigned 404-399 BC.
2:141 Anysis was succeeded by Sethos, a priest of Hephaestus. Sethos disrespected the Egyptian army, who consequently did not defend Egypt when Sennacherib and his Assyrians invaded. He trusted in a vision that all would be well if he made a stand, so he recruited a rag-tag band of shopkeepers and handworkers, and encamped at Pelusium. But in the night mice came and gnawed the bowstrings, quivers, and shield straps, so that everyone fled the next day. You can now see a statue of Sethos in the temple of Hephaestus, holding a mouse by the tail. The inscription reads, “Look on me and be pious.” An example of an entrapment dream.
2:142 In recorded Egyptian history there have been 341 generations, each one producing a king and a high priest. During this whole time there had never been a god in man-shape, and the sun only rose differently four times – twice rising in the west, and twice setting in the east. Apart from that, say the priests, nothing else was different. A testament to Egyptian cultural conservatism.
2:143 Once the historian Hecataeus was in Egyptian Thebes, tracing his family tree, to establish that he was descended from a god in the sixteenth generation. But the priests of Zeus showed him the long line of statues of all the high priests, son succeeding father, 345 of them, and none of them was connected to a god, or even a hero.
2:144 Prior to this the gods did rule in Egypt. Horus (Apollo) was the last god to rule.
2:145 Among the Greeks, Heracles, Dionysus, and Pan are the youngest of the gods, but among the Egyptians Pan is the oldest, one of the Eight, which precedes the Twelve. (Heracles is a member of the Twelve, and Dionysus is one of the offspring of the Twelve.)
2:146 The Egyptians are right; the Greeks date the origin of these gods to the first time they heard of them, but they existed prior to that time.
2:147 The priest of Hephaestus was succeeded by twelve kings, who divided Egypt into twelve zones, one for each. They had a pact of mutual friendship. A prophecy stated that the one who poured libations from a bronze vessel in the Temple of Hephaestus would rule all of Egypt.
2:148 The twelve kings left a memorial to themselves in the form of a labyrinth, which is even more awe-inspiring than the pyramids. Description of the labyrinth.
2:149 An even greater marvel is the man-made Lake of Moeris, in the middle of which one finds two pyramids.
2:150 When the lake was dug, the dirt was put into the Nile, which carried it away. Something similar happened in Assyria, for more nefarious purposes – thieves built a tunnel to steal the king’s treasure, and cast the “spoil” into the Tigris, so no one suspected anything.
2:151 The twelve kings were gathered for libations in the temple of Hephaestus, but there were only eleven golden cups for the purpose. Without thinking, Psammeticus held out his bronze helmet for the libation, thereby unwittingly fulfilling the prophecy. The others accepted that he did this without guile, but still chased him into the marshes.
2:152 Psammeticus had earlier been an exile in Syria, chased there by Sabacos. Psammetichus received an oracle from Buto that he would be revenged by men of bronze emerging from the sea. The appearance of bronze-clad Ionian and Carian raiders he took to be a fulfillment of this oracle. Psammetichus made an alliance with them, and they put him on the throne.
2:153 Having achieved the throne, Psammetichus built the propylaea for the temple of Hephaestus in Memphis. Opposite, he built a courtyard for Apis for when he appears.
2:154 Psammetichus settled the Carians and Ionians in Egypt, and gave to them Egyptian children, so that they could teach the children Greek. These were the first foreigners settled in Egypt, and the reason why there can be communication between Greeks and Egyptians today. Later, Amasis moved the Carians/Ionians to Memphis, where they served as his personal bodyguard agains the Egyptians.
2:155 Buto is on the Sebennytic Mouth of the Nile. In Buto is a temple to Apollo and Artemis. The oracle is in a shrine to Leto.
2:156 Chemmis is an island in an adjoining lake, reputed to be floating. On it is a temple to Apollo.
2:157 Psammetichus reigned 54 years, during which time he besieged the Syrian town of Azotus. The town held out a long time, but eventually Psammetichus captured it.
2:158 Necos succeeded Psammetichus and attempted to dig a canal from the Nile to the Red Sea. Many Egyptians died in the effort.
2:159 Nicos thus abandoned the canal, and turned to warfare. He defeated the Syrians at Magdolus, after which he took the city of Cadytis [Gaza]. He dedicated the garments he wore during these acts to Apollo in Branchidae in Miletus. He reigned sixteen years.
2:160 He was succeeded by his son Psammis. Men of Elis boasted that they had established the best festival ever, the Olympics. The Egyptians responded that any festival that restricts foreigners cannot be just.
2:161 Psammis invaded Ethiopia, and died after a reign of only six years. He was succeeded by his son Apries. Apries reigned for twenty-five years and won victories at Tyre and Sidon. But he met an unfortunate end following an expedition against Cyrene. The expedition was a disaster, and the survivors started a revolt.
2:162 Amasis emerged as the leader of the revolt, and was shamefully treated by Apries, who cut off his nose and ears. This only won him more sympathy.
2:163 Amasis and the Egyptians, and Apries and his Greek mercenaries, met for battle at Momemphis.
2:164 Seven classes of Egyptians: priests, warriors, cowherds, swineherds, shopkeepers, interpreters, and pilots. Warriors are called Calasiries and Hermotybies.
2:165 Hermotybies are from certain provinces, and war is all they do.
2:166 Calasiries are from certain provinces, and war is all they do.
2:167 As with the Egyptians, so with the Greeks: those involved in handicraft and trade are distinctly inferior to those who have leisure to train for war. Spartans especially believe this, while the Corinthians are the most pro-commerce of the Greeks.
2:168 Each of the warriors was given a plot of land and men to work it, along with daily rations of grain, meat, and wine.
2:169 Amasis, who had numbers on his side, defeated Apries. Amasis kept Apries prisoner for a while, and treated him well, but the Egyptians demanded their revenge, so Amasis handed Apries over to them, and they strangled him. He is buried in the temple of Athena in Sais.
2:170 The One (Osiris) is also buried there. There is also a lake that looks like the one in Delos called the Round Pond.
2:171 On this lake are performed, by night, the mysteries of Osiris.
2:172 Amasis took a golden footbath and fashioned the image of a god out of it, which the Egyptians reverenced. He then revealed to them the origins of the statue, and said that he was like the footbath, and they must now reverence him.
2:173 His style of government is that he would take care of business in the morning, and enjoy himself as a common man in the afternoon. People objected to this, saying that a king has to act the part at all times. In response, Apries said that he was like a bow, strung when necessary, unstrung when not.
2:174 Previously he had indulged in theft. Some oracles convicted him, others (unjustly) let him off. When he became king he took care of the oracles that convicted him, and ignored the ones that did not, on the principle that truth telling deserves respect.
2:175 In Sais he built a propylaea for the temple of Athena, for which he brought immense stones from far away.
2:176 Amasis also dedicated other monumental statues.
2:177 Egypt prospered under Amasis. He also passed a law that, on pain of death, every man had to make a declaration every year what his means of livelihood was to the regional governor. Solon copied this, and it’s an excellent law.
2:178 Amasis was a philhellene. He granted Naucratis to the Greeks, and built various sanctuaries to their gods. (Odd, given that the Greek mercenaries were fighting for Apries?)
2:179 Naucratis was for a long time the only port. If anyone came accidentally to the other mouths, they were directed to Naucratis.
2:180 Amasis even contributed quite generously to the rebuilding of Delphi
2:181 Amasis concluded a treaty of friendship with Cyrene, and took a wife Ladice from there. But he couldn’t have sex with her, and claimed that she had bewitched him. Ladice prayed to Aphrodite, who inspired Amasis to perform properly ever after. Ladice in thanks had an image made and sent to Cyrene. What was the image of – Aphrodite, or Ladice?
2:182 Amasis himself also sent many offerings to shrines throughout Greece.
  **** BOOK 3 ****  
3:1 Cyrus’s son Cambyses, king of Persia, marched against Pharaoh Amasis. Cambyses’s army included Asiatic Greeks. Cambyses had asked for an Egyptian oculist who, resentful at being torn from his family, suggested that Cambyses ask for the hand of Amasis’s daughter in marriage (knowing that this would cause problems). Amasis, not wanting his daughter to become a Persian concubine, sent the daughter of Apries instead. Angered at being fooled, Cambyses declared war.
3:2 Egyptians claim that Cambyses was the son of Nitetis, Apries’s daughter, and thus a native Egyptian, and that Cyrus, not Cambyses, had asked for Amasis’s daughter. But this is not justified by the facts: a bastard cannot inherit the throne in Persia as long as a legitimate heir lives, and Cambyses was the son of Cassandane, daughter of Pharnaspaes, an Achaemenid.
3:3 Another story, but not a convincing one: a Persian women paid a visit to Cyrus’s wives, and admired the tall sons she saw by Cassandane’s side. Cassandane wondered why then Cyrus favored his Egyptian women over her? Cambyses, the elder of her two sons, claimed that when he was older he would turn Egypt upside down in revenge.
3:4 Phanes the Halicarnassan was a mercenary of Amasis, but ran away. Amasis was eager to get him back, and so sent people after him. They found him in Lycia, but he eluded capture by getting everyone drunk, and he proceeded to Persia. The intelligence that Phanes offered proved decisive, particularly his advice about getting safe-conduct from the Arabian king.
3:5 The only way to Egypt is through the desert. Description of it (i.e. of Palestine from Phoenicia to Gaza)
3:6 The Egyptians import wine from everywhere, but there are no empty wine-jars to be seen, because they collect them, send them to Memphis, fill them with water, and send them to the desert in Syria.
3:7 This was a Persian invention in order to facilitate crossing the desert. But at the time of the invasion it did not exist, necessitating the safe-conduct.
3:8 Arabs take pledges very seriously. A pact is sealed with blood of both parties smeared on seven stones, invoking Dionysus and Urania – the only gods they worship, which they call Orotalt and Alilat. They cut their hair in a certain way in honor of Dionysus.
3:9 The Arab king filled camel-skins with water to help the Persians through the desert. Or, less credibly, he stitched together several cowhides and made a pipe extending from the River Corys to the desert, where it filled reservoirs. Note in Selincourt: No such river exists.
3:10 Amasis, who had reigned for 44 years, died before the invasion, and was embalmed and buried in Sais. Psammenitus, his son, took up defensive positions at the Pelusian mouth of the Nile. A light rain occurred at Thebes, an unparalleled event. Presumably the rain was an ill omen.
3:11 Before the battle, the Asiatic Greeks serving the Egyptians killed the sons of Phanes in full view of the Persians, by slitting their throats and collecting the blood in a bowl. They mixed it with water and wine, and everyone in the army drank from it. But the Egyptians lost.
3:12 H. saw the bones of the men slain in battle. Egyptian skulls were thick while Persian ones were thin. This is because the Egyptians shave their heads and live in a warm climate, while the Persians wear hats and live in a cooler climate.
3:13 The Egyptians retreated to Memphis, and shut themselves up in the city. Cambyses sent a Mytilenean ship to try to make terms, but the Egyptians smashed it and killed all the sailors. But they eventually surrendered. The Libyans preemptively surrendered and sent tribute and presents. Cyrene and Barca followed suit. Cambyses accepted the Libyan surrender, but treated the Cyreneans with contempt, most likely because their offering wasn’t large enough. Cambyses distributed Cyrene’s 500 minae to his troops.
3:14 Cambyses humiliated Psammenitus. Cambyses dressed Psammenitus’s daughter and a group of noble females as slaves and had them carry water in front of their parents. Fathers wept, but not Psammenitus. Then the king’s son and 2000 noble sons were marched past in bridles on their way to execution for the Mytilenean ship. Again, Psammenitus was impassible. But he did weep at the sight of an old man, his friend, who had been reduced to beggary. Why? “My own suffering is too great for tears, but I can’t help but weep for a friend who has been so cast down.” Croesus, who was there, wept at this, and Cambyses felt pity. He commuted the king’s son’s death sentence.
3:15 But they were too late to save him. Psammenitus was brought to Cambyses and lived at his court. He might have become Egyptian governor after the Persian custom, but he attempted to stir up revolt, and was forced to drink bull’s blood and died. Apparently bull’s blood is poisonous.
3:16 Cambyses desecrated the body of Amasis, contrary to both Egyptian and Persian custom. The Egyptians say that it was another man’s body, but H. believes this is untrue, an attempt at Egyptian face-saving.
3:17 Cambyses wanted to attack the Carthaginians, Ammonians, and Ethiopians. He wanted to send his navy against Carthage, and land forces against Ammon. To Ethiopia he sent spies, ostensibly bearing gifts to their king. He also wanted to find out about the Table of the Sun.
3:18 The Table of the Sun bears all sorts of boiled meat, which people may come and take. The magistrates put meat there at night. The natives say it appears spontaneously.
3:19 The Phoenicians in his navy refused to sail against Carthage. Cambyses recruited Fish-Eaters around Elephantine to serve as spies in Ethiopia.
3:20 The Fish-Eaters were sent to Ethiopia with gifts: a scarlet robe, a gold chain necklace and bracelets, an alabaster cask of myrrh, and a jar of palm-wine. The Ethiopians choose their king by height.
3:21 The king of the Ethiopians saw through their ostensible gifts. He gave them a bow and said that until the Persians can draw it, they can remain in their own land.
3:22 The king commented that they, like their garment manufacturing process, were treacherous. He also said, in relation to their gold ornaments, that the Ethiopians had stronger fetters than these. About the myrrh, and how it is smeared on the body, he said the same thing as the garments. He did like the Persians’ wine, but when told how Persian bread was made said that it’s no wonder you don’t live very long, since you eat dung.
3:23 The Ethiopians live to 120 on average. They eat boiled meat and drink milk. Their great age derives from a fountain. The water is light (nothing floats in it) and sweet smelling, and if you wash in it, your skin is smoothed. The king showed them his dungeon full of prisoners bound in gold chains (bronze is their most valuable metal). He also showed them the Table of the Sun.
3:24 Burial customs: they shrink the body, cover it with gypsum and paint it to look like the dead person, then put it in a tubular crystal coffin. They keep this in their houses and offer food to it; after a year they put it outside the city.
3:25 The Fish-Eaters returned and made their report to Cambyses, who went insane with anger and ordered an expedition against Ethiopia. On the way there he ordered 50,000 of his troops to enslave the Ammonians and to burn the shrine of Zeus Ammon. The rest of his troops he marched against Ethiopia without proper provisions, and they resorted to cannibalism.
3:26 The Greeks sent against the Ammonians disappeared without a trace. The Ammonians say that a great gust of wind buried the Greek army in a huge pile of sand.
3:27 At Memphis the god Apis appeared, so the Egyptians put on their finest clothes in celebration. Cambyses thought they were mocking his misfortunes, and asked why they didn’t dress up for him when he was there before? The Egyptians said that Apis only appears once in a long time and is worth celebrating. Cambyses did not believe them and ordered them murdered.
3:28 Cambyses sent for the priests of Apis, and they told him the same thing. Cambyses asked them to bring Apis to him. Apis is a calf born of an older, infertile cow. He is all black with a white triangle on his forehead. He has the image of an eagle on his back, the hairs on his tail are double, and he has a knot under his tongue.
3:29 Cambyses struck the calf with a knife, wounding it in the thigh and mocking the Egyptians for honoring such gods. He had the Apis priests whipped and broke up the celebration at Memphis. Apis died a few days later and the priests buried him in secret.
3:30 If Cambyses was not in control of his wits before, he definitely was not after this impiety. He killed his brother Smerdis, since Smerdis was the only one who could even begin to draw the Ethiopian bow. Cambyses also had a dream that Smerdis took the throne, so he sent Prexaspes to do him in – either by taking him out hunting and killing him in the field, or by drowning him in the Red Sea.
3:31 This was the first outrage. The second is that he fell in love with his sister and desired to marry her. A number of Persian grandees judged that there was no impediment to marriage, even though it was against Persian usage, fearing both Cambyses and the dictates of their own customs. They said that there was a law stating that the Persian king can do what he likes. So he married her, and then took up with another of his sisters, whom he had murdered. Is H. suggesting that Cambyses has gone native in Egypt?


3:32 Cambyses and this sister were watching a puppy fight a lion cub. The lion was besting the puppy, so the puppy’s brother broke its chain and came to his brother’s aid. Cambyses’s sister cried, saying that Smerdis was no longer alive to come to Cambyses’s aid should he need it. The Greeks say that this is why he had her murdered. The Egyptians claim that she showed him a full lettuce, then stripped off the leaves, and asked him which one looked better. When he said the full lettuce, she accused him of doing the same thing to the house of Cyrus. He attacked her – she miscarried and died.
3:33 This behavior may have been the result of epilepsy.
3:34 Cambyses asked Prexaspes what the Persians thought of him. Prexaspes replied that they admire him, but think that he might overindulge in wine. Cambyses was angry at this. Croesus was much more politic: Croesus says that his father Cyrus was a better man, because Cambyses did not have a son as good as Cyrus did.
3:35 Cambyses then shot an arrow at Prexaspes’s son’s heart, to “prove” that he wasn’t a drunkard, and his shot killed the boy. Another time, for no real reason, he buried twelve Persian noblemen alive up to their heads.
3:36 Croesus tried to restrain Cambyses, claiming the authority of Cyrus to do so. Cambyses mocked him for losing his own territory, and tried to shoot him, but Cambyses escaped. Cambyses ordered his attendants to capture Croesus, which they did, but contrary to orders they did not kill him, knowing that Cambyses would soon regret his order. Cambyses did regret his order, and was glad to have Croesus back, but killed the attendants anyway for defying him.
3:37 Cambyses violated graves in Memphis, mocked the Egyptian Hephaestus in his temple there, and mocked (and burned) the Cabiri at their shrine.
3:38 Clearly Cambyses was insane, because he would never have mocked what others hold sacred. Every nation will ultimately choose its own customs as the best ones. Darius called some Greeks together and asked how much money it would take for them to eat their dead fathers. No amount in the world could induce them to do such a thing. He then asked some Callatians (an Indian people), who do eat their dead, whether they would dispose of theirs by burning them. They were horrified at the thought. This illustrates Pindar’s line about how “custom is king of all.” This is an important (and Herodotean) passage but seems contradictory. Cambyses clearly thinks that his Persian customs are best, which allows him to indulge his bigotry.
3:39 Polycrates had seized Samos, and divided it into thirds, giving the other two parts to his brothers Pantagnotus and Syloson, but he killed the one and banished the other, taking the whole island for himself. He made an alliance with Amasis of Egypt and became very powerful.
3:40 Amasis, alarmed at this, wrote to Polycrates suggesting that he realize that fortune is fickle.
3:41 Polycrates, seeing this advice was good, threw away his favorite signet ring into the ocean, to give himself a little come-down.
3:42 A fisherman caught a nice, big fish, and gave it to Polycrates. The cooks preparing it for dinner discovered the ring in its belly! Polycrates wrote to Amasis relating this marvel.
3:43 Amasis realized that Polycrates would come to a hard fall, so he sent a messenger to dissolve the alliance.
3:44 At this point the Spartans made war on Samos, invited by a Samian faction. Polycrates asked Cambyses to ask him for help for his Egyptian campaign. Onto these ships Polycrates sent those he suspected of being against him, instructing Cambyses not to send them home again. What exactly was Polycrates doing, inviting a request? Why wouldn’t he just volunteer?
3:45 Various theories about what happened to these Samians.
3:46 H. thinks that they made it to Sparta. They gave a long speech. The Spartans said that they had forgotten the beginning and couldn’t understand the end. Then the Samians returned with a sack, saying “the sack needs grain.” The Spartans replied that the word “sack” was redundant, but they agreed to help. Laconic discourse!
3:47 The Samians had helped Sparta against Messenia and Sparta wanted to repay the debt. But the Spartans say that they wanted to avenge the theft of the bowl, and the theft of the breastplate that Amasis had sent them. Grene says: passage rather confusing. Bowl originally appears in 1:70.
3:48 The Corinthians joined in the expedition. At the time of the affair of the bowl, Periander had sent 300 sons of the chief men of Corcyra to King Alyattes at Sardis, to be made into eunuchs. But the Samians intercepted them and told them to seek sanctuary in their temple of Artemis. When the Corinthians tried to cut off their food, the Samians instituted a festival involving the throwing of sesame and honey cakes, which fed the Corcyrans. The Corinthians eventually gave up, and now joined the expedition seeking revenge.
3:49 If the Corinthians and Corcyrans had been on friendly terms when Periander died, the Corinthians would not have joined in the expedition against Samos. But a continual state of war existed between them ever since Corinth colonized Corcyra.
3:50 Periander had sent the boys for castration because he wanted revenge on Corcyra. Periander had killed his wife Melissa. Her father Procles, prince of Epidaurus, told her two sons who had killed her. The younger, Lycophron, refused to speak with Periander, so Periander expelled him from Corinth.
3:51 Periander asked the other son what Procles had told them, and the son eventually recalled what it was (he had taken no heed of it at the time). Periander sent word everywhere not to welcome Lycophron, and no one did. Eventually he found someone to take him in.
3:52 Periander proclaimed that anyone who spoke to Lycophron owed a fine to Apollo. Periander eventually found Lycophron himself in a homeless state, took pity on him, and invited him home again. Lycophron only told Periander that he owed a fine to Apollo. Periander then just sent him to Corcyra, and made war on Epidaurus, capturing Procles.
3:53 Periander grew old, and recalled Lycophron to come and inherit the kingdom (the older son was weak of mind and unworthy of succeeding). Lycophron refused. Periander sent the boy’s sister to entreat him, to no avail. He then sent a herald proposing that the two should trade places: Periander to Corcyra, and Lycophron to Corinth. Lycoprhon agreed, but the Corcyrans did not want Periander, so they killed Lycophron. Thus was Periander angry with them.
3:54 The Spartans came to Samos. They were repelled, but eventually had some success. Picking up from 3:47.
3:55 The Spartans Archias and Lycopes had joined the Samians and died when their escape route was cut off. Herodotus met anther Archias, grandson of the original one, in Pitane. His grandfather had received a public funeral in Samos. His own father had been named Samius in reference to the battle. Are the Samians honoring them for their courage, or had they defected to the Samian side?
3:56 The Spartans besieged the Samians for forty days but got nowhere, so they left. A silly story exists that Polycrates gilded some lead coins to buy them off.
3:57 The Samian exiles then went to Siphnos, which was very wealthy.
3:58 The Samians needed money, and asked the Siphnians for ten talents. The Siphnians refused, and so the Samians conquered them, thereby fulfilling a misunderstood pronouncement from the Oracle. The Samians took ten talents from them.
3:59 These Samians then took the island of Hydrea and left some Troezenians to guard it for them. They then settled in Cydonia in Crete. They stayed there for five years and built a few temples, but in the sixth year the Aeginetans beat them at sea, and offered their boar’s-head ships prows in the temple of Athena in Aegina. The Aeginetans were nursing a grudge from the days of Amphicrates, king of Samos, who had attacked Aegina.
3:60 The Samians are responsible for three marvels of engineering: a tunnel carved straight through a hill to bring water, a mole in the sea around the harbor, and a great temple. These achievements are why H. has spent so much time talking about Samos. Is this the Heraion? (A temple to Hera, now a world heritage site.)
3:61 Two Magi conspired to unseat Cambyses (still mad in Egypt). The death of the king’s brother Smerdis was not widely known, and a Magus, Patizeithes, who had been left as steward of the household back in Susa, concocted a plan. His brother, coincidentally named Smerdis, also resembled the dead Smerdis. Patizeithes sent out heralds proclaiming that “Smerdis” was now king and that everyone should obey him. Picking up from 3:38.
3:62 Cambyses heard this announcement (at Ecbatana in Syria), and accused Prexaspes of not carrying out the order to kill Smerdis. Prexaspes defended himself, saying he did indeed kill Smerdis.
3:63 They sent for the herald, and asked if he had been given the order from Smerdis or from someone else. The herald claimed he had heard it from Patizeithes. Prexaspes perceived that the Magians had risen against Cambyses: Patizeithes and his brother Smerdis.
3:64 Cambyses now realized that the prophecy had been fulfilled about Smerdis and he had killed his brother Smerdis for nothing. He also, when leaping onto his horse, managed to wound himself with his own sword in his thigh (in the exact place where he had wounded Apis). He was fated to die in Ecbatana; he figured that this would be in Median Ecbatana, but it turned out to be Syrian Ecbatana.
3:65 As he lay dying, Cambyses then gathered the leading men of Persia and confessed to them that he had killed his own brother Smerdis, and that the Magian Smerdis was now ruling in Susa. He enjoined them to take it back.
3:66 Cambyses’s wound then grew gangrenous and he died, after seven years and five months on the throne, leaving no issue. The Persian notables were in disbelief – they really believed that the king’s brother Smerdis was ruling. Prexaspes by now was denying that he had killed Smerdis, as it would not have been safe for him to admit it.
3:67 The substitute Smerdis ruled thus without fear, and with a certain kindness to his subjects.
3:68 After eight months, a notable named Otanes began to suspect something was up, because Smerdis never came out of the palace, and never summoned anyone to see him. Otanes’s daughter Phaedyme was one of Smerdis’s wives, and Otanes asked her whom she slept with? Phaedyme replied that she did not know as she had never seen the real Smerdis. He asked her to ask Atossa, the king’s sister.
3:69 Phaedyme replied that all the women are kept separate from each other. Otanes then told her to feel for Smerdis’s ears – the Magian Smerdis had lost his as a punishment. Phaedyme discovered that he had none, and reported this fact to her father.
3:70 Otanes then confided to Aspathines and Gobryas, who already suspected something was up. Each of them brought on a friend: Intraphrenes, Megabyzus, and Hydarnes. When Darius, son of Hystaspes, vice-gerent of Persia arrived in Susa, they took him on as well.
3:71 Darius claimed that he was coming to kill Smerdis, thinking that he was a usurper. When he discovered that others thought so too, he said that they should act quickly. Otanes counseled caution, but Darius said that already the conspiracy was too big and at too great a risk of being betrayed by an informant.
3:72 Otanes then asked how they could all get past the guards? Darius replied that the guards would not deny entry to noblemen, and if an excuse was needed, Darius would claim to be delivering a message from his father to the king. Both liars and truth-tellers hope to achieve a certain end. Why all the scruple about lying?
3:73 Gobyrus agreed, as did the other five conspirators.
3:74 Prexaspes had been won over by the Magi, and was in on the deception, in return for position and treasure. He was enjoined to publicly claim that Smerdis was the king’s brother. They believed that the Persians would believe him.
3:75 Instead of saying what he was supposed to, however, he recited Cyrus’s genealogy, told of his own deeds, and confessed to the murder. Then he hurled himself down from the wall of the palace and died.
3:76 The Seven were on their way to Smerdis when they heard about this. The division between Otanes (caution) and Darius (act now) reappeared. But then they witnessed seven pairs vultures tear apart two vultures, and they understood it to mean they should move without delay.
3:77 The guards let the Seven in. The eunuchs of the inner court stopped them, but the Seven stabbed them and carried on.
3:78 The Magians were debating what to do about Prexaspes, when they heard the commotion and saw what was happening. One grabbed a spear, the other a bow and arrows. The bow was useless, but the spear wounded Aspathines and Intraphrenes. The bowman retreated, with Gobyrus and Darius chasing him. Gobyrus and the Magus were locked in struggle, and it was dark, so Darius was unwilling to strike lest he hurt Gobyrus. But Gobyrus told him to go ahead, and luckily Darius killed the Magus.
3:79 The conspirators cut off the heads of the Magians and paraded them around, telling the Persians what had happened. The Persians then attacked every Magian they could lay their hands on. They now celebrate the day as Slaughter of the Magians, and no Magian dares appear in public.
3:80 The conspirators then debated what form of government their new regime should adopt. Some Greeks refuse to believe that this debate took place, nevertheless it did. Otanes went first, and spoke in favor of popular government (isonomia, or equality before the law). Giving monarchs absolute power absolutely corrupts them. Equality before the law acts as a check on this tendency. The Constitutional Debate.
3:81 Megabyzus spoke in favor of oligarchy, or rule by a few, on the principle that the masses are fickle and feckless. Oppression by kings is bad, but at least kings act deliberately; mobs do not. The next best thing is to adopt a constitution favoring rule by a few – included, of course, would be all the conspirators themselves.
3:82 Darius spoke in favor of monarchy. It is best to have one ruler – provided he is the best. Oligarchy leads to violent quarrels among the members of the ruling clique, from which a victor, and thus a monarch, emerges – so why not just pick a monarch right off the bat? Democracy, too, leads to faction and partisanship, and then the advent of a people’s champion (a monarch again) who promises to break it up. And anyway, says Darius, Persia has always been a monarchy – why change now?
3:83 The remaining four sided with Darius. Otanes then withdrew himself from further consideration, on the condition that he and his descendants not be ruled by anyone. This came to pass – his is the only free house in Persia.
3:84 Otanes, since he was the first to bring them together, got other special privileges. The others got the right to come in on the king at any time, and the king should choose his wife from the families of the Seven. As for who would become king, the man whose horse would be first to neigh after dawn would become king.
3:85 Darius asked his groomsman Oebares to game the contest. Oebares took the horse’s favorite mare and tied her up where the contest would be. Then he led out the horse and let the horse mount the mare.
3:86 The next day the horse neighed when he got to the spot. Thunder and lightning accompanied this, clinching the deal.
3:87 A variant of the story is that Oebares rubbed his hand on the mare’s genitals, kept it hidden, and then waved it under the horse’s nose at dawn, provoking the neigh.
3:88 Thus did Darius become king of Persia. He held all Asia in subjection except for Arabia; with these he was an ally, because they had given the Persians support during their invasion of Egypt. He married Atossa and Artystone, also the daughter of Smerdis, Parmys, and also the daughter of Otanes [Phaedyme]. Darius set up a statue of a man on horseback, inscribed to his horse and groom. 521 BC.
3:89 Darius set up twenty satrapies, and kept careful account of the taxes each one owed. From this he was called a shopkeeper (while Cambyses was a master of slaves, and Cyrus a father).
3:90-94 Description of the satrapies and the taxes they raised.
3:95 Darius received 14560 talents yearly.
3:96 Eventually he got taxes from the Greek islands, and from Thessaly. He melted it all down, poured it into an earthenware vessel, and broke the vessel. He broke off whatever he needed for the coinage whenever he needed it.
3:97 The Persians themselves don’t pay tax. Those Ethiopians whom Cambyses actually conquered, those settled near Nysa, Colchians, their neighbors in the Caucasus, and Arabians all contribute gifts.
3:98 The Indians are a diverse people. Some live in swamps and construct reed boats.
3:99 Some Indians are nomads and eaters of raw meat. When one of the Padaei falls sick, his fellow Padaei kill and eat him. They do the same with old people too, but few people make it this far, having been killed and eaten while sick.
3:100 Other Indians will not eat anything living.
3:101 Other Indians have sex in public, and their semen is black.
3:102 Some northern Indians are warlike. They use their huge ants to dig out gold from the sand. They hitch two male camels on either side of a female camel, ideally one that has young offspring.
3:103 A camel in its hind legs has four thighs and four knees, and its genitals point outwards.
3:104 The Indians go out on their camels during the hottest part of the day, when the ants have gone underground.
3:105 The Indians come and fill their bags with sand. The ants sense them and start to chase them; the Indians then cut loose the male camels for the ants to attack. They are slower than the females, who are thinking of their offspring anyway and rush home to them.
3:106 “Somehow the furthest parts of the world have the finest things in them; but in the same way Greece has much the best blend of seasons.” India has bigger animals, except for horses. They have lots of gold. They have trees that produce a woolly fruit, from which they make clothing.
3:107 The Arabians to the south specialize in aromatic woods, especially frankincense. The only thing that can drive the tiny winged snakes away from the frankincense trees they guard is the smoke of the storax.
3:108 A general principle: those animals that are cowardly and preyed upon are prolific, while predators do not produce many offspring. The hare produces lots of offspring; indeed, it is the only animal that can conceive on top of an existing pregnancy. The lioness, however, only produces one cub in her lifetime, because her womb is expelled along with the cub (who has torn it to shreds anyway).
3:109 Thus the winged snakes. The females kill the males just after mating. The young snakes eat through their mother’s belly and are born at the price of killing her.
3:110 Arabians need to protect themselves from the flying snakes with ox-hides when they go out to collect cassia.
3:111 They collect cinnamon from birds’ nests. No one knows where these birds get it, but they build their nests from it. The Arabians cut off the limbs of oxen, and leave them at the base of the cliffs where the birds’ nests are. The birds pick up the limbs and try to incorporate them into their nests, but they cannot bear the weight and come crashing down, after which the Arabians can help themselves to the cinnamon.
3:112 Ladanum, a sweet-smelling substance, is stinky at first and produced in the beards of goats.
3:113 Two types of sheep are found in Arabia: one that has a long tail that normally drags on the ground (Arabian shepherds construct a little cart for it) and another that has a very broad tail.
3:114 Ethiopia is beyond this. It has gold, elephants, ebony – and handsome, tall, long-lived men.
3:115 H. does not know much about European extremes. He is unsure of the existence of Eridanus river (which is a Greek, not barbarian name), and the amber that it produces, nor can he attest to the existence of the Tin Islands. But amber and tin do come from Europe.
3:116 There is gold in northern Europe, but H. cannot confirm that it is stolen from griffins by the Arimaspi – a race of one-eyed men. “Certainly, however, it seems likely that the ends of the earth, which enclose and entirely shut in all the rest, should have in themselves what we think most beautiful and rarest.”
3:117 The Persians built a dam in the country of the Chorasmians and thereby prevented the flow of their river and thus their agriculture. Every summer they petition the Great King to open the gate on the dam, and he does so, after extracting a great fee from them.
3:118 The Seven conspirators had the right to walk in on the king unannounced – but not when he was with a woman. Darius was with a woman, but Intraphrenes did not believe the guards who told him this, so he mutilated them.
3:119 Informed of this outrage, Darius became paranoid that the other conspirators had done it by common consent. He interviewed them all one by one, and when he was satisfied that Intaphrenes acted alone, he had him arrested and jailed, along with his sons and all his household. His wife continually petitioned for mercy, and Darius allowed her to spring one from jail. She thought about it and asked for her brother. Why her brother, and not her husband or sons? She can always get another husband and produce more sons, but not another brother. Darius then released the brother and her eldest son, but killed all the rest. “Brother” is unmentioned in the original list of arrestees.
3:120 Oroetes, a Persian, had been appointed viceroy of Sardis by Cambyses – and he longed to kill Polycrates, ruler of Samos. Mitrobates accused him of being a bad subject, because he had failed to add Samos to his king’s dominions. Continuing from 3:39.
3:121 Others say that Polycrates, either intentionally or by chance, insulted Oroetes’s herald.
3:122 Polycrates had wanted to establish a thalassocracy in the mode of Minos of Crete. When Oroetes found this out, he sent Myrsus, son of Gyges (a Lydian), with the message: Cambyses is trying to kill me, so accept me as a refugee, along with all my money. You can use this to help establish your empire. Presumably not the Gyges of 1:8.
3:123 Polycrates was delighted, but sent Maeandrius as a spy to confirm the story. Expecting him, Oroetes filled up eight chests with stones, with a layer of gold on the top of it. Maeandrius was fooled and gave a report Polycrates.
3:124 Polycrates then sailed to Oroetes despite the advice of his friends, many bad omens, and the fervent intervention of his daughter, who had dreamed of Polycrates aloft in the air, being washed by Zeus, and anointed by the sun.
3:125 Polycrates traveled to Sardis with a posse including Democedes of Croton, a noted Greek doctor. Oroetes then captured and crucified him, fulfilling the dream (he was washed by Zeus when it rained, anointed by the sun when it was clear). Oroetes told the Samians to return to Samos and to be grateful that he allowed them their freedom; the non-Samians he had enslaved.
3:126 Thus did Polycrates meet his downfall, as predicted by the Pharaoh Amasis. But during the rule of the Magi, Oroetes had Mitrobates, viceroy of Dascyleium, murdered, along with his son Cranaspes. He also committed a number of other dirty deeds, including the murder of a messenger of Darius. See 3:120
3:127 Darius then contrived to kill Oroetes, but did not want to risk an open confrontation, on account of Oroetes’s great strength. So he called together some notables and asked who would be willing to kill someone by stealth.
3:128 Bagaeus was selected, and he forged a number of letters from Darius. He went to Sardis and had the royal secretary read them all one by one, to gauge the reaction from the bodyguards. He noticed that they were especially respectful of the king’s pronouncements, so Bagaeus then handed the secretary a command that the bodyguards to drop their spears, which they did. The last letter: kill Oroetes. They drew their scimitars and did so.
3:129 Darius took control of Oroetes’s possessions. Some time later Darius twisted his ankle, and the Egyptian doctors at his court only made the problem worse. Someone told him about the doctor Democedes, who had been enslaved by Oroetes, and who was now at Susa (in a rather bad state).
3:130 Despite his protestations (he wanted to be sent back to Greece eventually), Democedes was induced to heal the Persian king. Darius rewarded him with golden fetters, and each of his wives gave him a scoop of gold.
3:131 Democedes had fled his tyrannical father and went first to Aegina and set up shop as a physician. He gained such a reputation that the Aeginetans hired him at public expense. The Athenians then hired him away, and then Polycrates.
3:132 Democedes then enjoyed great esteem at the court of Darius. He saved the inept Egyptian doctors from impalement, and rescued an Elean soothsayer, formerly in the same position as him, from slavery.
3:133 Atossa then had a growth on her breast, which at first she hid. It grew worse, so she sent for Democedes – who promised to heal her, as long as she granted his wish. Atossa first appears in 3:68
3:134 Atossa was cured, and then under the instruction of Democedes, gave a speech to Darius about expanding his empire. Darius told her that he was going to conquer the Scythians, but she told him to attack Greece instead. She said that she would like other servants of the quality of Democedes. Darius agreed, and would send spies to Greece to scope it out.
3:135 He charged Democedes to act as a guide to fifteen Persians on their tour of Greece. He gave Democedes gifts to pass on, and a merchantman to travel in.
3:136 They put in at Sidon, and traveled around the Greek world, observing and making maps. At Tarentum, however, King Aristophilides arrested the Persians on suspicion of being spies, and Democedes absconded to Croton. Aristophilides then released arrested the Persians.
3:137 The Persians then came to Croton and captured Democedes. The Crotoniates were divided: some were for handing him over out of fear of Persia, some were for retaining him out of fellow-feeling. These won, and the Persians sailed back without completing their survey of Greece. As they were leaving, Democedes told them to tell Darius that Democedes had contracted to marry the daughter of the wrestler Milon, of whom Darius was a fan.
3:138 The Persians were shipwrecked at Iapygia, and enslaved, but Gillus, a Tarentine exile, redeemed them and they returned to Darius. Darius was willing to do anything for Gillus. Gillus wanted to return to Tarentum to rule it, but was chary of the chaos that would ensue if the Persians brought him back, so he said that the Cnidians, friends of the Tarentines, would be most helpful. The Cnidians obeyed, but were unsuccessful at restoring Gillus.
3:139 When Cambyses made war on Egypt, a lot of Greeks came there for trading or tourism, including Syloson, brother of Polycrates. At the time, Darius was a bodyguard of Cambyses, and saw Syloson’s red cloak, which he coveted and attempted to buy. Syloson gave it to him gratis. 3:39
3:140 Syloson learned of the subsequent fortunes of Darius, and so presented himself at Susa as a benefactor of the king. Darius offered him treasure, but Syloson just wanted Samos back.
3:141 Otanes was commissioned to carry this out. One of the Seven, who had counseled caution and defended isonomia.
3:142 Maeandrius (Polycrates’s deputy) ruled Samos. He wanted to be just, but failed. He had set up an altar to Zeus and, gathering the Samians together, announced that he was now their ruler – but that he was going to institute equality before the law. He just wanted six talents, and to be a priest of Zeus, and to pass this on to his descendants. But some Samians objected on account of his low birth.
3:143 Maeandrius then retreated to the citadel, and called each citizen in individually, but had them all arrested one by one. He fell sick, and in fear, his brother Lycaretus had all the prisoners killed.
3:144 When the Persians got to Samos, no one offered them opposition, and Maeandrius offered to leave under truce. Otanes agreed.
3:145 But Maeandrius’s crazed brother Charilaus berated him, and offered to use Maeandrius’s mercenaries to attack the Persians himself
3:146 Maeandrius accepted the offer, in the hopes of weakening Syloson’s new position. Maeandrius had built an escape tunnel and could leave whenever he wanted. The mercenaries under Charilaus attacked and caught the Persians by surprise. They killed a number of Persians, but were then forced back into the citadel.
3:147 Otanes had been ordered to hand over the island to Syloson with as little damage as possible, but forgot this and enjoined his men to slaughter the Samians.
3:148 Maeandrius then escaped and went to Sparta. The Spartan king Cleomenes resisted Maeandrius’s attempted bribery, and enjoined the ephors to expel him, on the principle that not all Spartans would be so scrupulous as himself.
3:149 The Persians completely depopulated Samos. Afterwards, Otanes, inspired by a dream, resettled it.
3:150 The Babylonians had been preparing to revolt, and now did so. Each Babylonian man was allowed to pick one female from his household as a breadmaker, and they strangled all the others, reducing the number of mouths to feed. Babylonian revolt.
3:151 Darius personally besieged Babylon, but the Babylonians were well supplied and taunted the Persians: You will conquer us when mules have foals.
3:152 For seven months Darius tried to take Babylon, but nothing worked.
3:153 Zopyrus, son of Megabyzus, one of the Seven, had a mule who bore a foal! This inspired him to try to engineer the fall of Babylon.
3:154 Zopyrus then cut off his ears and nose, shaved his hair, and whipped himself. In this state he came to Darius.
3:155 Darius was astonished, but Zopyrus said that he wasn’t going to ask permission to do this, and presented a plan: he would go to the Babylonians claiming that Darius had mutilated him, and that he was defecting to them. Darius was to send expendables against the city at certain times and places, and Zopyrus would help the Babylonians defend the city and gain their trust. Then, Darius should send the entire army, with Persians attacking the gates of Belus and Cissian.
3:156 Zopyrus defected and claimed that Darius had mutilated him, since Zopyrus had counseled calling off the siege.
3:157 Zopyrus advised the Babylonians how to defeat the Persian troops, and they were successful. Delighted, the Babylonians entrusted Zopyrus with the command of their troops.
3:158 During the all-out assault, Zopyrus opened the Cissian and Belian gates. Some Babylonians saw this and retreated to the temple of Belus, while others were taken completely by surprise. Thus did Darius take Babylon.
3:159 Darius pulled down the walls and the gates of Babylon, and impaled three thousand of the leading citizens. But he didn’t want the race to die out, so he imported women for them from the surrounding tribes to that they could perpetuate themselves.
3:160 Darius esteemed Zopyrus above everyone else. Darius said that he would rather have Zopyrus unblemished than twenty more Babylons. He gave Zopyrus Babylon to rule, free of all taxes, for the rest of his life. Zopyrus’s son Megabyzus commanded troops against the Athenians, and his son Zopyrus defected to the Athenians.
**** BOOK 4 ****
4:1 Darius then invaded Scythia. The Scythians had invaded and ruled upper Asia for 28 years, thereby displacing the Medes. Darius wanted revenge for this.
4:2 The slaves in Scythia are blinded because the Scythians drink milk. Using a bellows, they blow air into the mare’s vulva, while others milk her. The slaves then shake this milk, and the Scythians draw off the top part, which they consider the most valuable. Note in Grene saying this is an obscure passage, suggesting that churning is boring and so you want slaves not to be distracted by other things.
4:3 While the Scythians were ruling in Asia, their slaves and women gave rise to a race of children. When these learned of their parentage, they fought against the Scythians for independence, when the Scythians returned from fighting the Medes. The Scythians, thinking that it was futile to fight against them, came after them bearing whips, to remind them of their slavery (and not with weapons, suggesting equality).
4:4 The slaves were bewildered by this and fled.
4:5 Scythians claim to be the youngest of all nations. Their progenitor Targitaus had three sons, Lipoxais, Arpoixais, and Colaxais. From heaven fell golden objects: a plough, a yoke, a sword, and a flask. When the eldest two approached in turn, the items caught fire, but when the youngest approached, the fire was quenched. Thus was Colaxais made king of the Scythians.
4:6 Scythians call themselves Skoloti. Each of the brothers gave rise to a tribe: Auchatae, Catiari and Traspians, Paralatae.
4:7 The king has the sacred gold and guards it with utmost care.
4:8 The Pontine Greeks say that Heracles, driving the oxen of Geryon, came into the Scythian country, at the time uninhabited. He drew his lion skin around him, and drifted off to sleep. His mares were spirited away.
4:9 Heracles woke up, looked all over for his horses, and came to a half-woman, half-snake who lived in a cave. She had the horses, and would return them, if Heracles slept with her. That he did, and she conceived three sons. He told her that the one who could string his bow, and gird himself with his belt, should be the king of the land, and the others should be sent out.
4:10 Three boys: Agathyrsus, Gelonus, Scythes. The first two failed, the third succeeded, and became king, becoming the eponymous ancestor of the Scythians.
4:11 Another story which H. believes. The nomadic Scythians were hard pressed by the Massagetae, and crossed the river Araxes into Cimmerian country. Most Cimmerian people wanted to move away, but the princes were in favor of fighting, dying and being buried in their own land. So they divided into two groups, fought each other, and killed each other off. The rest of the Cimmerians buried them, and abandoned the place to the Scythians. What a strange story.
4:12 Many remnants of Cimmerian culture may be seen in Scythia. The Cimmerians ended up in Asia. The Scythians mistakenly pursued them into Media.
4:13 Aristeas of Proconnesus wrote a poem about Scythian origins that is not believable.
4:14 Aristeas was an important man in Proconnesus. He went into a fuller’s shop there and died. The fuller closed the shop and went to tell Aristeas’s relatives. But the story of his death was contradicted by a traveler from Cyzicus, who had met him earlier on the road. The relatives of Aristeas went to the fuller’s shop to discover that there was no body. Seven years later he appeared and wrote his poem, and then he disappeared again. Another strange, pointless story.
4:15 The Metapontines in Italy claim that Aristeas appeared to them, and told them to establish an altar to Apollo and set beside it a statue of Aristeas of Proconnesus. The oracle bade them to heed the stranger, and in Metapontum you can see the altar and the statue, surrounded by bay trees.
4:16 H. does not know exactly what is to the north of Scythian country. But he will report what he has heard.
4:17 Callipidae (Greek Scythians) and Alazones share many of the same customs, except they are more agricultural. The Neuri live beyond them, and beyond that the land is uninhabited.
4:18 More tribes, including the Man-Eaters.
4:19 East of the farmers, if you cross the river Panticapes, are the nomad Scythians.
4:20 Across the river Gerrhus are the territories called Royal and here the best of the Scythians live. Beyond them live the Black Cloaks, and beyond them no one.
4:21 Beyond the Tanais are the Sauromatians, and beyond them the Budini.
4:22 Beyond the Budini is a desert, and beyond them the Thyssagetae and Iyrcae, who have a peculiar way of hunting involving shooting arrows from trees, and then dropping directly onto a horse for the chase.
4:23 Further beyond them live the Baldies, people bald from birth and who have snub noses. They have their own language but dress like Scythians. They harvest the fruit of a fig-like tree and prepare a drink from it, called aschy.
4:24 Traveling to these faraway lands requires seven translators.
4:25 Beyond the Baldies are impassible mountains, and rumor has it that there live goat-footed men, and people who sleep through six months of the year. To the east of the Baldies are the Issendones.
4:26 Among the Issendones men and women have equal power, and they celebrate funerals by chopping up the body of the deceased, mixing it with chopped-up goat and sheep, and having a feast. They gild the head and treat it as a cult object.
4:27 Beyond the Issendones are men with one eye (called Arimaspians), and griffins that guard treasure of gold.
4:28 In Scythia, it is extremely cold eight months of the year. Rain happens in the summer, not in the winter. Horses can endure the winter, but not mules and asses, contrary to other parts of the world.
4:29 The coldness prevents cows’ horns from growing. Homer notes that in Libya, a hot place, horns grow quickly.
4:30 As an aside: in Elis, no mule can be bred. There is no natural explanation for this; the Eleans say that the land is under a curse. They drive their mares into a neighboring territory so that they can mate with the jackasses there.
4:31 To the north of Scythian country there are feathers in the air that makes it unpassable. H. thinks this represents snow, which appears like feathers and does make the land impassible.
4:32 The Scythians know nothing of the Hyperboreans, although they are mentioned by Hesiod and by Homer.
4:33 The Delians know about the Hyperboreans. They receive holy offerings wrapped in wheat straw from them. Two girls, Hyperoche and Laodice, accompanied the first offering, but they did not return.
4:34 Boys and girls at Delos cut their hair in honor of the Hyperboreans who died at Delos.
4:35 Other Delians say that Arge and Opis had come earlier from the Hyperboreans.
4:36 A Hyperborean named Abaris circumambulated the earth carrying an arrow and eating nothing. Parallel to the Hyperboreans are the Hypernotians in the south.
4:37 From the Red Sea northwards: Persians, Medes, Saspires, Colchians, northern sea.
4:38 One peninsula to the west, more or less Asia Minor.
4:39 Another peninsula to the west, more or less the Levant, Egypt, and Libya.
4:40 To the east, desert.
4:41 Libya to the west of Egypt.
4:42 Phoenician circumnavigation of Africa.
4:43 Sataspes also circumnavigated Africa. He had raped the virgin daughter of Zopyrus, and was about to be impaled, when his mother convinced Xerxes to substitute a long voyage as punishment. Xerxes agreed. But Sataspes turned around, claiming that his boat could go no further. So Xerxes impaled him on the old charge.
4:44 Most of Asia discovered by Darius, who wanted to know where the Indus emptied into the sea.
4:45 Of Europe’s western and northern coastlines there is no clear knowledge.
4:46 The Euxine Pontus, against which Darius made his campaign, contains the stupidest nations in the world (save for the Scythians). The Scythians are clever in that they are nomadic, and thus unconquerable.
4:47 Five Sythian rivers.
4:48 Ister [Dniester] flows the same whether summer or winter.
4:49 Details about tributaries.
4:50 The Ister is even greater than the Nile. Theory about constant volume.
4:51 Tyras another river.
4:52 Hypanis the third river.
4:53 Borysthenes the fourth river.
4:54 Panticapes the fifth river.
4:55 Hypacyris the sixth river.
4:56 Gerrhus the seventh river.
4:57 Tanaïs the eighth river.
4:58 The clover which feeds the cattle in Scythia gives cows the most bile, as you can see when you open one up.
4:59 Scythians worship Hestia, Zeus, and the Earth. Then Apollo, Aphrodite, Ares, and Heracles. Royal Scythians sacrifice to Poseidon. (Perhaps start from here for Book 4)
4:60 Scythian sacrifice involves strangling the victim, cooking and eating it. No libations.
4:61 Since their country is lacking in trees, they cook meat by putting it in cauldrons, and then burning the animal’s bones beneath.
4:62 They do save wood to sacrifice to Ares, and they sacrifice some of their prisoners of war.
4:63 They have nothing to do with pigs.
4:64 Scythian warriors drink the blood of their first victim. They present heads to the king, in return for which they are entitled to a share in the booty. They hang scalps from their horses’ bridles, and the man with the most scalps has the most prestige. Sometimes they make garments out of the scalps, and arrow quivers out of the skins of their enemies’ hands.
4:65 They make drinking cups out of the heads of their bitterest enemies.
4:66 Once a year the governor of each district brews wine and those who have killed enemies get to drink it. Those who haven’t killed anyone must sit to the side in disgrace.
4:67 Scythian soothsayers prophesy using willow rods. Enarees, who are androgynes, prophesy using lime bark.
4:68 When the king falls sick, three prophets name a culprit. When the culprit denies it, more prophets are called in. If they confirm the judgment, the man’s head is cut off. If they deny it, the original prophets are killed.
4:69 They are killed by being burned on wagon full of firewood.
4:70 Contracts are solemnized by mixing the blood of the two parties in a bowl of wine, much prayer, dipping things into it, and then drinking it.
4:71 When a king dies, they prepare the body and put it on tour throughout Scythia. People seeing the corpse self-mutilate in grief. It ends up in the land of the Gerrhi, where it is buried in a great pit, along with several servants who are sacrificed, and gold grave goods. They then make the barrow as big as possible.
4:72 When a year has passed, they strangle fifty servants, and fifty horses, stuff them, and mount them in a circle around the king’s tomb in his honor.
4:73 When an ordinary man dies, his body is brought around to his relatives. At the burial the mourners purify themselves in a sort of sauna.
4:74 They have wild and cultivated hemp, from which they make clothing.
4:75 In the sauna, they throw hemp seeds on the hot rocks and get giggly. The women make a paste that they smear on themselves. It smells great, and when they take it off the next day they are perfectly clean.
4:76 The Scythians avoid foreign customs. For instance, Anacharsis, traveled abroad and attempted to bring back the cult of Cybele to Scythia. He celebrated the rites himself, but someone informed on him, and the king himself came and shot him with an arrow.
4:77 Another story is that Anacharsis was sent to Greece, and discovered that the Greeks were overrestless for learning, except the Spartans, with whom it was possible to have a civilized conversation. But H. thinks that the Greeks may have invented this story themselves.
4:78 Ariapithes, king of the Scythians, had a son named Scyles by a woman of Istria (i.e. not a Scythian). His mother taught him Greek. When Ariapithes was assassinated, Scyles took over as king – and continued to practice Hellenism in secret.
4:79 When he was initiated into the rites of Dionysus in the (Milesian) city of Borysthenes, a thunderbolt destroyed a great house there, but Scyles ignored this portent. The Scythians, who could not understand rites that involve ecstasy, were always mocking them; a Borysthenite thought it would be fun to show the Scythians that their own king was now a devotee. The Scythians were furious.
4:80 Scyles was thus deposed, and sought refuge in Thrace. But the Scythians found him and beheaded him.
4:81 The number of (true) Scythians is unknown, but may be inferred from a large bronze bowl at Exampaeus, six times the size of a bowl at the mouth of the Pontus. The king Ariantas demanded that each Scythian bring him a bronze arrowhead, and out of these arrowheads he fashioned the bowl.
4:82 The mighty rivers are the country’s chief marvel, along with a footprint of Heracles.
4:83 Artabanus warned his brother Darius not to march against the Scythians, but Darius was not convinced. A return to the main storyline.
4:84 Oeobazus asked Darius if he could leave behind one of his sons. Darius replied that he could leave behind all three. Oeobazus was delighted, but Darius had them all killed.
4:85 Darius marched from Susa, through Chalcedon, to the Bosporus, which he crossed. He marveled at its beauty. Cf. Xerxes crossing the Hellespont?
4:86 Measurements of Pontus, Bosporus, Hellespont.
4:87 Mandrocles the Samian built a bridge of boats across the Bosporus. Darius set up two white pillars, listing in Assyrian and Greek, all the nations he led on this expedition.
4:88 Darius was proud of the bridge of boats and rewarded Mandrocles lavishly, and made dedications in the temple of Hera in honor of it.
4:89 Darius ordered his Ionian subjects to sail up to the Ister, which they did. Darius himself marched into Thrace, and encamped at the river Tearus.
4:90 The Tearus is good for healing both men and horses, especially of itch.
4:91 Darius set up a pillar there, in honor of his invasion
4:92 Darius then marched his army to the River Artescus, in the country of the Odrysians. There he ordered each of his men to place a stone in a pile. He left great heaps of stones there.
4:93 The Getae of Thrace (unlike other Thracian tribes) resisted Darius on his way to the Ister. He thus enslaved them.
4:94 The Getae believe they are immortal, that is, they are continually reincarnated. When they die, they go to the company of the daemon Salmoxis, and every five years they deliberately send someone to parlay with him.
4:95 Salmoxis had been human, in fact, a disciple of Pythagoras, thus his own belief in reincarnation. After making a great deal of money in the Greek world, he returned to Thrace and preached reincarnation. He built a hideout and disappeared for three years, and then returned, thereby “proving” his theory to the simpleminded Getae.
4:96 H. neither believes nor disbelieves this story, although he thinks that Salmoxis lived prior to Pythagoras.
4:97 Darius ordered the Ionians to break up the bridge across the Bosporus, but Cöes enjoined him not to, in order to preserve a way back, should things not go as planned.
4:98 So Darius took a rope, tied sixty knots to it, and told the Ionians to untie a knot every day. If he wasn’t back, they could sail away. Until then, they were to guard the bridge.
4:99 Scythia begins at the Ister. Description of geography.
4:100 Scythia’s neighbors (man-eaters, black cloaks, et al.).
4:101 Scythia is four sided, with two sides on the sea.
4:102 In the face of the invasion of Darius, the Scythians sent embassies to their neighbors, who had already taken counsel together. These were the kings of the Taurians, the Agathyrsi, the Neuri, the Man-Eaters, the Black Cloaks, the Geloni, the Budini, the Sauromatians.
4:103 Taurians sacrifice to the Maiden shipwrecked people and those they have captured in raids, usually by bashing in the head with a club, and tossing his body from a crag. They mount the heads of their defeated enemies on poles.
4:104 Agathyrsi live “delicately” – they wear a lot of gold jewelry and hold all wives in common. Thus they have neither envy nor hatred. In other usages they are like Thracians.
4:105 Neuri follow Scythian customs. They were banished from their land by snakes, and settled in with the Budini. They are also said to transform into wolves once a year, although H. does not believe this.
4:106 Man-Eaters are the most savage and least civilized of all, and are cannibals.
4:107 Black Cloaks wear black garments, otherwise they are like Scythians.
4:108 Budini have blue eyes and red hair. Their city is Gelonus, and is constructed of wood. The Gelonians worship Greek gods because they were formerly Greeks, and their language contains vestiges of Greek.
4:109 Budini are nomads and eat lice. They capture otters and beavers in their large lake, and use their skins for clothing, and testicles to cure troubles of the womb.
4:110 When the Greeks defeated the Amazons at the battle of Thermodon, they loaded them on three boats and sailed away, but the Amazons mutinied, killed the Greeks, and drifted on, since they had no knowledge of sailing. They came to The Cliffs, on the Maeetian lake. There they disembarked, seized some horses, and ravaged the countryside.
4:111 The Scythians thought they were men, but discovered from some of the Amazonian dead that they were women! So they gathered a number of young men and told them to camp near the Amazons, to retreat if attacked, but to return and camp near them again at the first opportunity. They wanted to breed with these fearsome creatures.
4:112 The Amazons, seeing the young men meant them no harm, allowed them to get closer and closer.
4:113 One by one the young men paired off with the Amazons.
4:114 The Scythians and Amazons combined their camps. The Amazons learned the Scythian language. The Scythians proposed that they return to Scythian society, but the Amazons objected, saying that they would not get along with the Scythian women, because their customs were too different. They enjoined the Scythian men to get their inheritance, and come and live with the Amazons. This they did.
4:115 When they returned, the Amazons proposed that they move beyond the river Tanais, out of fear of revenge by the other Scythians.
4:116 This they did too, and their descendants are the Sauromatians, who follow their ancestors’ customs – their women are warlike and hunters, as expected.
4:117 The Sauromatians don’t speak Scythian correctly, because the Amazons never learned it quite right. No Sauromatian woman may marry until she has killed an enemy, and some women die old maids on account of this rule.
4:118 The Scythians made an appeal to all the neighboring kings, saying that Darius wasn’t just out for revenge against the Scythians, but is engaged in a war of conquest over all of them. Continuing from 4:102
4:119 The Geloni, Budini, and Sauromatians all agreed to help, but the others refused, saying that the Scythians provoked the attack.
4:120 So the Scythians did not risk an open battle with the Persians. Instead, they divided their army (including the Sauromatians) into two parts. The one was to carry out scorched earth tactics, and retreat before the Persians, but to attack if they turned their backs. The other was to do much the same thing, except to lead the Persians also into the lands of those who refused to help, and force them to participate in the war.
4:121 The Scythians sent out their cavalry against the Persians, and they put their women and children into wagons and sent them to the north.
4:122 The cavalry found the Persians, stayed a day away from them, and scorched the earth. The Persians chased a Scythian regiment eastwards into the land of the Budini.
4:123 The Persians came across the wooden fortified town, abandoned, and burned it. They kept going into the barren desert.
4:124 Darius tried building eight great forts along the River Oarus. The Scythians, though, disappeared and went back into Scythia. So Darius abandoned his forts.
4:125 Back in Scythia, the Scythians once again stayed a day away from the Persians. The Scythians led the Persians into the land of the Black Cloaks, and the Man Eaters, and the Neuri, disturbing them greatly. The Agathyrsi told them not to invade.
4:126 Darius then sent a messenger to Idanthyrsus, the Scythian king. Why do you keep running away? Either fight or submit!
4:127 Idanthyrsus answered: I am not refusing to fight you, I just don’t have anything to fight for. I am doing nothing now that I wouldn’t have done in peacetime. We will fight you for our fathers’ graves, if you can find them. We serve no one but Zeus, and we won’t submit to you.
4:128 One group of Scythian cavalry was incensed and decided to attack while the Persian cavalry was gathering supplies. The Persian cavalry sought refuge with the infantry.
4:129 The Persian cavalry had asses and mules, which surprised the Scythian horses during the attack. Scythia has no asses because of the cold, and their horses were disquieted by the braying.
4:130 But the Scythians got the better of them. The Scythians would leave shepherds and flocks that the Persians could find. The Persians were elated when they discovered them.
4:131 But it was just bait to keep them in Scythia and get them into dire straits. The Scythians sent him a message consisting of a bird, a mouse, a frog, and five arrows.
4:132 Darius took this to mean that the Scythians were surrendering to him: mouse = earth, frog = water. But Gobyrus thought it meant: if you don’t become like birds and fly away, or mice and burrow into the earth, or frogs and jump into the water, we’ll shoot you with our arrows.
4:133 A detachment of Scythians visited the Ionians guarding the bridge, and told them to get going after their sixty day promise was up.
4:134 The Scythians and Persians stood facing each other, and a hare ran between the two sides. The Scythians excitedly took off after it. Darius then realized that they were not about to surrender, and that Gobyrus’s interpretation of the objects was probably correct. Gobyrus then proposed they should get away by lighting fires at night to make it look like they were more numerous, leave their asses and weaker soldiers there, and sneak away.
4:135 Darius took this advice. He told the men he abandoned that he was going to attack the Scythians, and they would stay and guard the camp.
4:136 The Persians in the camp quickly realized they had been betrayed, and surrendered to the Scythians. The entire mass of the Scythians then pursued the Persians, but they missed each other, and the Scythians got to the bridge of rafts before the Persians did. There, they enjoined the Ionians to break up the bridge and depart.
4:137 Miltiades was in favor of the plan, but Histiaeus of Miletus said no: they all owed their positions to Darius, and should stay loyal to him. Thus did he win the argument.
4:138 [Various people who voted for the proposal.]
4:139 The Ionians started to break up the bridge on the Scythian side, and told the Scythians they would complete the job, but in the meantime they should pursue the Persians and avenge themselves on them.
4:140 But the Scythians missed the Persians again; their former scorched earth tactics meant that their own movement was channeled. They thought the Persians would be in those non-scorched parts, but they stuck closely to the track. They came upon the bridge and were terrified that the Ionians had deserted them.
4:141 An Egyptian with the loudest voice in the world in the service of Darius called for Histiaeus of Miletus, who returned with his Greeks and quickly reunited the bridge.
4:142 So the Persians escaped, and when they found out about it the Scythians held the Ionians in contempt: they claimed that as free men the Ionians were base and unmanly, but as slaves they were the most loyal and subservient.
4:143 Darius marched through Thrace and left Megabyzus in charge of it. Darius had once mentioned that he would like to have as many Megabyzuses as the seeds in a pomegranate.
4:144 Megabyzus, upon learning that Chalcedon was older than Byzantium, thought the Chalcedonians must have been blind as to have passed over the site now occupied by Byzantium.
4:145 At the same time, an action against Libya occurred. But first, some backstory: the descendants of those who sailed on the Argo (the Minyae) were expelled from Lemnos by the Pelasgians. They put in in Lacedaemon, encamped on Mount Taygetus, and lit a fire. After some parlaying, the Spartans allowed them to stay in the country, because the Tyndaridae had also sailed on the Argo. They married into the Spartans.
4:146 But then the Minyae grew insolent, and demanded a share in the kingship. So the Spartans resolved to kill them. They arrested them and put them in jail, and planned to kill them at night, as is Spartan custom. But their wives came to see them, and gave them their clothing, and the men walked out as women. They returned to Mount Taygetus.
4:147 Theras, former regent of Sparta, did not like having to give up power, so he left to join his kinsfolk on the island of Callistae.
4:148 Theras asked the Spartans if he could take the Minyae with him, and they let him. Many of them did not go, but went to the northern Peloponnese and established cities there. Thera took the remaining Minyae to Callistae which was renamed Thera in his honor.
4:149 Theras’s son did not join him, so Theras left him in Sparta, a “lamb among wolves,” which actually became his nickname. His son, Aegeus, founded a Spartan tribe. The children of this tribe kept dying, however, so according to an oracle they established a temple of the avenging spirits Laius and Oedipus. Then their children started surviving.
4:150 Later on, Grinnus was king of Thera, and he went to the Oracle about some other matters. Unprompted, the Oracle told him to establish a colony in Libya. Grinnus demurred, and suggested that his man Battus might do it. But then they left and thought nothing more of it. They didn’t even know where Libya was.
4:151 There was no rain in Thera for seven years, and again the Oracle told them to colonize Libya. They found someone on Crete, a certain Corobius, who had been to Libya, specifically to the island of Platea, and so hired him as a guide.
4:152 Corobius’s supplies ran out, and he was resupplied by a Samian vessel that had been blown off course on its way to Egypt. They went on to make a lot of profit from the unspoiled city of Tartessus, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and bought a bronze bowl for the Samian temple of Hera.
4:153 The Theraeans sent a pair of men from each of their tribes to Platea, as colonizers, in two penteconters, under the command of Battus.
4:154 There is another story: in Crete there is a city called Oaxus whose king, Etearchus, married a woman who was evil to his daughter by a previous marriage, named Phronime. The stepmother managed to convince Etearchus that Phronime was guilty of lechery, and he contrived a guest-friendship with Themison, a trader of Thera. Etearchus got Themison to swear to do something for him, and that something was: take Phronime out to sea and drown her. Themison was furious, and got out of his oath by lowering Phronime into the sea, and then retrieving her. He dissolved the guest-friendship and sailed to Thera.
4:155 Polymnestus took Phronime as his concubine, and she bore him Battus, meaning stutterer. But H. believes that Battus, the Libyan word for king, was given to him as the result of the colony on Platea.
4:156 The Thereans who went to Libya returned home, but the Thereans shot at them with arrows, forcing them to return and colonize an island off Libya, i.e. Platea.
4:157 They were there for two years, but nothing good came of it, so some of theme sailed to Delphi. The Oracle told them that they need to colonize Libya, not an island off the coast. So they returned and colonized Aziris, a beautiful place on the mainland.
4:158 They stayed there for six years, and then the Libyans promised them an even better place: Israsa, to the west.
4:159 Battus ruled for forty years, his son Arcesilaus for sixteen more. In the reign of the third ruler, Battus the Fortunate, the Oracle enjoined Greek everywhere to settle in Cyrene. But this movement had an adverse effect on their Libyan neighbors, who went and placed themselves under the protection of the Egyptians. The Egyptians, under king Apries, sent an army against Cyrene, which the Cyreneans humiliated. The Egyptians were so angry at the result that they revolted against Apries. Cf. 2:161
4:160 Battus the Fortunate had a son Arcesilaus. He disputed with his brothers, who went off to found Barca, which attracted some Libyans. Arcesilaus sent an army after them, and they fought at Leucon. There the Libyans defeated the Cyreneans handily. So Arcesilaus was strangled by his brother Haliarchus. Eryxo, Arcesilaus’s wife, then murdered Haliarchus.
4:161 Arcesilaus was succeeded by his son Battus, who asked the Oracle what form their government should take do in the wake of this disaster. It recommended bringing in from Mantinea, in Arcadia, a commissioner for reform; the Mantineans selected Demonax, who came to Cyrene and divided them into three tribes. He allowed Battus to retain certain priesthoods but turned the rest of his possessions over to the public.
4:162 Battus was succeeded by another Arcesilaus, who objected to the new arrangements, and demanded back his traditional rights. But he was worsted and fled to Samos, and his mother Pheretime to Salamis in Cyprus, whose ruler was Euelthon. She begged him for help in putting her son back on the throne. He gave her some things, but not an army, and in the face of her persistent request for one gave her a golden spindle, a distaff, and wool – the proper presents for a woman.
4:163 Arcesilaus tried to recruit Samians to his cause, and consulted the Oracle, which gave a cryptic response.
4:164 Arcesilaus did return with the Samians to reclaim his throne. But he sought vengeance against those who had expelled him, contrary to the Oracle, as it turns out. In pursuing some of them, he was killed in the marketplace of Barca.
4:165 His mother, acting as regent in Cyrene, learned about Arceilaus’s death, and fled to Egypt, placing herself under the protection of the Persian viceroy Aryandes. Arcesilaus had sided with the Persians.
4:166 Aryandes met an unfortunate end, because he minted pure silver coinage, in imitation of Darius’s golden coinage. Darius thought this was insubordinate, and had him killed.
4:167 In the meantime, Aryandes sent Pheretime back to Cyrene with a force to put her back on the throne, but probably to annex Cyrene for himself.
4:168 Starting from Egypt, we encounter the Adrymachidae, who are Egyptian in custom but who dress like Libyans. They bite lice and throw them away – the only ones to do so. Girls appear naked before the king and the one he likes the most gets deflowered by him. Description of Libyan neighbors parallel to that of Scythian neighbors – cf. Budini
4:169 The next are the Giligamae. Their country produces the silphium plant. They’re much like everyone else.
4:170 Next, the Asbystae, who live more inland. They drive four-horse chariots.
4:171 Next, the Auschisae, and within them, the tiny population of Bacales.
4:172 Next, the Nasamones, who are herdsmen, harvest dates, and hunt locusts, which they grind into a powder and drink with milk. They enjoy their women in common. Cf. Agathyrsi of 4:104
4:173 Next, the Psylli, who are no longer with us: their wells dried up, and they marched south, where a sandstorm buried them all. The Nasamones took over their former territory.
4:174 To the south, the Garamantes, who live in a beast-haunted country. They have no warlike traditions, and they avoid everyone.
4:175 Next on the seacoast, the Macae, who shave their heads but let the middle part grow. Their bucklers are made of ostrich skins.
4:176 Next, the Gindanes, whose women put a leather ring on their ankles for every man they’ve slept with, and the women with the most is considered the best, because she has been loved by the most men.
4:177 There is a cape that projects into the sea, and there live the Lotus-Eaters, who live solely from the enjoyment of lotus. No reference to Odyssey 9, surprisingly
4:178 Next, the Machlyes, who also use lotus, but not as much as the Lotus-Eaters. Near them is the island of Phla in the Tritonian lake, which the Spartans once tried to colonize.
4:179 A story: Jason was sailing on the Argo around the Peloponnesus to Delphi, with a hecatomb and a great bronze tripod, when he was blown off course to Libya and ended up in the Tritonian lake. He couldn’t find his way out, but Triton appeared and offered to help him in return for the tripod. This exchange was made, along with a prophecy that if any of the descendants of the Argonauts would carry off the tripod, a hundred Greek cities would be established around the Tritonian lake. Thus did the Libyans hide the tripod.
4:180 Next, the Auseans, who grow their hair long in the front (the Machlyes grow it long at the back). They have an annual festival of Athena in which the fairest girl is decked out in Hellenic armor and paraded around the lake. Then all the girls are divided into teams and fight each other with sticks and stones. Anyone who dies is judged not to have been a virgin. But they hold all women in common, and fuck in the mass, like cattle. Any child born is compared to the men after three month’s time, and the man whom the baby most resembles is judged to be the father.
4:181 Thus the seacoast. Inland is a stretch of land inhabited by wild beasts, and further inland a caravan route from Thebes to northwest Africa. Along the way are huge lumps of salt, but in the middle of those are cold, freshwater springs. From Thebes one comes to the Ammonians.
4:182 Then one comes after a journey of ten days to Augila, where the Nasamones come when picking fruit of palm trees.
4:183 Then another journey of ten days, and another oasis, around which live the Garamantes, and the backward grazing oxen. Their horns project forward, and they can’t go forward without the horns pushing into the ground. Their skins are thick and smooth. The Garamantes hunt the cave-dwelling Ethiopians in four-horse chariots, because the Ethiopians are the world’s fastest runners. The Ethiopians eat snakes, lizards, and other reptiles. Their language sounds like the communication of bats. Cf. 4:174
4:184 After another journey, one finds the Atarantes, who have no individual names. They curse a lot, especially the sun when it is hot. Then another journey, and one finds the Atlantes, who eat no living creature and have no dreams.
4:185 Houses are built with salt, because it never rains, and thus the rain will not melt the salt.
4:186 From Egypt to the Tritonian Lake are flesh-eating, milk-drinking nomads, who nonetheless abstain from beef, as do the Egyptians. The Cyreneans also don’t eat beef on account of Isis, whom they honor. The Barcaeans eat neither pigs nor cows.
4:187 To the west of the Tritonian lake the Libyans are no longer nomads, and have the custom of burning with sheep’s grease the veins in their children’s scalps, so that the phlegm running down from the head may do them no damage. Thus are they so healthy. If the child convulses during the burning, they douse the wound with goat’s urine. I have no idea what’s going on here.
4:188 Among the nomads, they cut off the ear of a sacrificial animal and throw it over the house. Then they bend back the victim’s neck. They sacrifice to the sun and moon only. Presumably the house is a tent, if they’re nomads.
4:189 Libyan women’s costume served as the model for the robe and aegis of Athena. The Libyans also taught the Greeks about harnessing four horses together. Cf. 4:170, where H. says that the Asbystae drive four-horse chariots and imitate the Cyrenaeans in most customs (although he does not specify that the four-horse custom itself comes from Cyrene).
4:190 The nomads bury their dead as do the Greeks, except for the Nasamones, who bury them in a sitting position (indeed, they ensure that a man dies in this position, and not on his back). Their moveable houses are made of asphodel stalks wrapped around rushes.
4:191 To the west of the river Triton and next to the Aseans are the cultivator Libyans, who are settled, and who shave the left sides of their heads while letting the right side grow long. They smear themselves with vermillion, and are said to be descended from Trojan refugees. The Libyan hills are populated by all kinds of strange, wild beasts.
4:192 In the nomads’ country there are other, equally strange creatures.
4:193 Next to the Maxyes are the Zaueces, whose women act as chariot drivers in wartime.
4:194 Next, the Gyzantes, whose bees produce a great deal of honey. They also smear themselves with vermillion, and eat monkeys.
4:195 Off the coast, according to the Carthaginians, is an island called Cyrauis, full of olives and vines. There is also a lake where girls draw up gold dust from the mud, with feathers smeared with pitch. H. has seen pitch brought out of the lake in Zacynthus. So the story may be true. “I do not know if this is exactly true; I write down just what I am told.” Zacynthus is an island in the Ionian sea.
4:196 The Carthaginians attest to a place beyond the pillars of Hercules, where trade is conducted not in person, but by leaving goods on the shore and signaling their presence with smoke signals. The natives come and deposit gold, and then retreat. If the Carthaginians think it is fair, they take it and go, but if not, they go back to their boats and sit there. Then the natives bring more gold, and the process continues until the Carthaginians are satisfied and leave. No one touches either the gold or the merchandise until this agreement is reached.
4:197 The Libyans don’t care much about Persia. The Libyans and the Ethiopians are native, while the Phoenicians and the Greeks are immigrants.
4:198 Only the region of Cinyps is comparable in ground quality to Asia and Europe. It gives three hundredfold yields.
4:199 The hill country of Cyrene has three growing seasons, which move in succession up each of the hills.
4:200 Aryandes, Persian viceroy of Egypt, sent men to help Pheretime regain the throne of Cyrene. They came to Barca and demanded the surrender of whoever had killed Arcesilaus. But the Barcans claimed collective responsibility. So the Persians besieged Barca for nine months, and tried to dig tunnels under the walls. But a blacksmith, striking a bronze shield against the ground and listening to the quality of the ringing, discovered where they were. The Barcans then dug down and killed the Persians in the tunnels. We now rejoin the narrative from 167
4:201 The Persians, however, conquered by stratagem. They constructed a trench over which they placed planks, and covered them with earth. They then told the Barcaeans that they wanted to parley and would abide by the treaty as long as the earth abides. The Barcaeans said that they would pay an indemnity to the Persian king, and the Persians would abandon their siege. The Barcaeans came out, and the Persians broke down the hidden bridge; the Barcaeans fell into the pit, and the Persians were free from their oath, since the earth did not abide.
4:202 Those of Barca who were most guilty were handed over to Pheretime, who had them all impaled. She also had the women’s breasts cut off. The rest were sold into slavery, except for the Battiadae, to whom she turned over the city.
4:203 They then went to Cyrene. Badres, the commander of the fleet, wanted to take the city, but Amasis, general of the army, forbade it, as he had only been sent against Barca. They were then recalled to Egypt, and Cyreneans gave them supplies for the journey. Their stragglers were killed by Libyans.
4:204 Darius gave the enslaved Barcaeans a village in Bactrian country to settle in, which they named Barca.
4:205 Pheretime did not end her life well. She went to Egypt where she was consumed by worms, as divine punishment for the vengeance she took on Barca.
**** BOOK 5 ****
5:1 The Persians whom Darius had left in Europe under Megabyzus attacked the Greeks. They defeated the Perinthians, who had already been defeated by the Paeonians. There was an oracle that the Paeonians should attack if mentioned by name. There was a series of single combats involving two dogs, horses, and men. The Perinthains won two of these three and shouted “paean” to the victories – at which point the Paeonians, “called by name,” attacked and won.
5:2 Megabyzus conquered Thrace city by city, as commanded by Darius.
5:3 The Thracians are the most numerous nation except for the Indians, but they are divided politically. They all have the same customs, except the Getae, the Trausi, and those who live above the Crestonaeans.
5:4 The Getae have been mentioned. The Trausi mourn babies born, and bury their dead with joy, because life is a vale of tears. Getae in 4:94
5:5 Those who live above the Crestonaeans are polygamists. When one dies, everyone judges which of his wives loved him the most. The “winner” is slaughtered and buried with him.
5:6 Other Thracians sell their children for export. Being tattooed a mark of high birth. Working the land is low, idleness is better, living off war and plunder the best of all.
5:7 They worship Ares, Dionysus, and Artemis. Their kings worship Hermes, from whom they claim descent.
5:8 For their funerals, they sacrifice animals over three days. They burn or bury the corpse under a mound. Then they hold funeral games, with single combat being the most prestigious event.
5:9 The only people H. knows who live beyond the Ister are the Sigynnae, who wear Medean dress and claim to be a colony of the Medes. H. does not know how this came about. They have shaggy horses that are useless for carrying men but can be harnessed to carts.
5:10 The Thracians claim that no one can live north of the Ister on account of the great numbers of bees. But H. does not believe this, because bees can’t stand the cold.
5:11 Darius crossed the Hellespont and came to Sardis. He sent for Histiaeus of Miletus, ruler of Miletus, and rewarded him with the grant of Myrcinus. He also sent for Coës of Mytilene, who wanted to become ruler of Mytilene.
5:12 Darius then saw something that made him want to conquer the Paeonians. Two Paeonians, Pigres and Mantyes, wanted to rule the Paeonians themselves. They got their sister to walk a horse in front of Darius and carry a jar on her head, while spinning flax. Darius sent scouts after her, and watched her water the horse and fill the jar from a river.
5:13 Darius called the woman to him, and her two brothers came with her. They wanted him to conquer Paeonia for them. They told Darius that all Paeonian women were as diligent as their sister.
5:14 Darius told Megabyzus to move against Paeonia, and bring the inhabitants to him.
5:15 The Paeonians gathered in defense, but the Persians went around them to their now-empty cities. So the Paeonians surrendered, and were moved into Asia.
5:16 Some people were not conquered by Megabyzus, though, including the lake-dwelling peoples who live in huts on platforms.
5:17 Persian messengers then asked Macedonia for earth and water.
5:18 Amyntas, the Macedonian king, complied, and put on a great banquet. At the Persian request, they brought out their wives, and sat them by the Persians. Drunk, the Persians started making passes at the women.
5:19 Amyntas endured this, but his son Alexander was incensed and bade his father depart. Amyntas did so, but not before warning Alexander not to do anything rash.
5:20 He told the Persians that the women needed to bathe, and then they would join the Persians in bed. So they left, but he dressed young beardless men in women’s clothes and armed them with daggers. After a speech, the young men each killed a Persian.
5:21 The Persians and all their gear were disappeared. Alexander bribed the Persian Bubares, who was sent to search for them, with money and his own sister. So Bubares called off the search.
5:22 The deaths of the Persians passed into history. The Macedonian kings (descendants of Perdiccas) are Greeks, and allowed to participate in the Olympics.
5:23 Megabazus came to Sardis with the Paeonians. He had heard Histiaeus of Miletus was fortifying Myrcinus, and urged Darius to stop him.
5:24 Darius sent for Histiaeus, and invited him to come with him to Susa to be one of his advisors.
5:25 Artaphrenes appointed viceroy of Sardis. Otanes appointed general of the peoples who lived by the sea. Otanes’s father Sisamnes had been punished for his unjust judgment by being flayed alive; strips of his skin were stretched on his judgment seat. Otanes now had to sit on this.
5:26 Otanes succeeded Megabazus, and captured cities in the Troad and moved against some islands.
5:27 Lycaretus appointed governor of Lemnos. He was the brother of Maeandrius, king of Samos. He oppressed the Lemnians and met his end there. 3:143
5:28 Naxos and Miletus caused trouble for Ionia. They had been torn by faction until the Parians reconciled them.
5:29 The Parians had recommended that the owners of well-run farms should run Miletus, and told everyone to obey them.
5:30 But now, rich men had been exiled by Naxian democrats, and came to Miletus, which was being administered by Aristagoras, son-in-law of Histiaeus, now in Susa. The Naxians asked Aristagoras for some power, with which they could return to Naxos. But he said Artaphrenes [Persian viceroy of Sardis] could help, and went to him himself.
5:31 Artaphrenes agreed to attack Naxos on behalf of the exiles, with a view to taking it, and the other Cyclades, for Persia.
5:32 Darius gave his consent, and Artaphrenes appointed Megabates as commander. Later on, Pausanius of Sparta contracted to marry this man’s daughter, as he wanted to become king of Greece.
5:33 Megabates sailed ostensibly to the Hellespont, but made way to Naxos. But the mission fell apart: Megabates wanted to punish Scylax for not guarding a ship, but Scylax was a friend of Aristagoras, so Aristagoras prevented this. Incensed, Megabates told the Naxians what they had planned.
5:34 The Naxians prepared for a siege. The Persians besieged them for four months and got nowhere, so they built a fort for the Naxian exiles and went away.
5:35 Aristagoras could not fulfill his promise to Artaphrenes, and began to fear that the kingship over Miletus would be taken from him. At the same time there came from Susa a slave with a tattooed head, from Histiaeus, urging him to revolt. Histiaeus did not like being in Susa and despaired of going home again.
5:36 Aristagoras asked his counselors about revolt. Everyone was in favor except Hecateus the chronicler, who suggested that they could not fight against the Persian empire. He suggested instead that they seize the treasure of the shrine of the Branchidae, which Croesus had deposited there, and become masters of the sea.
5:37 Aristagoras revolted, and declared an isonomic constitution, and inviting other Asian Greeks to join him.
5:38 The Mytilenaeans stoned Coës to death, and other cities expelled their princes. They set up military governors, and Aristagoras went to Sparta to seek an alliance.
5:39 Cleomenes was king of Sparta. Cleomenes was the son of Anaxandrides, who had married his niece but produced no children. The Ephors directed him to put aside his wife and get another one, but Anaxandrides would not do so. 3:148
5:40 The Ephors asked him to take a second wife, so he did, maintaining two households, contrary to Spartan custom.
5:41 The second wife conceived and bore Cleomenes – but the first wife then bore in succession three sons: Dorieus, Leonidas, and Cleombrotus.
5:42 Dorieus thought he would be made king, but it was Cleomenes. Dorieus was so angry he led a colonization effort in Libya, but without consulting the oracle. He was driven out two years later and returned to Greece.
5:43 Dorieus got advice to go to Italy, and the oracle confirmed this. So he collected his men from Libya and headed to Italy.
5:44 Dorieus intervened in a fight between Sybaris and Croton. The Crotonites asked him to help them, and he did. But later they denied this – the only help they got was from Callias, an Elean seer. Both settlements on the instep of the Italian boot.

Is this the Elean soothsayer from 3:132?

5:45 Both Croton and Sybaris back up their claims. The Sybarites claim that an altar to Athena of Crathis was founded by Dorieus, while the Crotonites show the allotments of land given to Callias of Elis – would there not be some for Dorieus too, if he had actually fought? Let the reader make up his own mind.
5:46 Dorieus and his men met their end at the hands of the Phoenicians and Egestans on Sicily. The one survivor, Euryleon, then went on and took Minoa after deposing its tyrant Pithagoras. He then went after Selinus, and held it for a time, before the Selinuntines killed him.
5:47 Butacides also died with Dorieus. A Crotoniate, Butacides had contracted to marry the daughter of Telys of Sybaris. He was banished from Croton, but was disappointed in his wife, so he went to Cyrene, and from there joined the expedition of Dorieus. He was handsome and an Olympic victor; consequently the Egestans set up a hero’s shrine for him and offered sacrifices. Was he banished because of his marriage? Is this how Dorieus came to intervene?
5:48 He would have succeeded Cleomenes, who did not live long and left only a daughter, Gorgo.
5:49 Aristagoras besought Cleomenes to aid the Greeks of Asia Minor, appealing to fellow-feeling, and the possibility of treasure and/or an empire in Asia. Picking up from 5:38
5:50 But Cleomenes rejected him when Aristagoras revealed that Susa was three months’ march from the sea. Spartans do not go that far away.
5:51 Aristagoras then turned to pleading, and offered ten talents, later raising it to fifty. Gorgo cried out that the stranger would corrupt him if he didn’t send him away. So Aristagoras got nothing from Sparta.
5:52 The Royal Road goes from Sardis to Susa. Each section has a number of stages.
5:53 There are 111 stages in all. 13500 furlongs from Sardis to Memnonian Palace. Ninety days’ journey.
5:54 So Aristagoras told the truth – in fact, he didn’t account for the extra time from the coast to Sardis.
5:55 Aristagoras then went to Athens. Hipparchus son of Pisistratus had been killed by Harmodius and Aristogiton. Hippias brother of Hipparchus then assumed control, and ruled even more harshly.
5:56 Hipparchus saw a vision that foretold his fate. The evening before the Panathenaea, he dreamed that a handsome man stood over him and spoke mysterious lines about a lion suffering the unendurable. Hipparchus passed the dream on to his interpreters, but thought no more of it. He was killed leading the procession.
5:57 Harmodius and Aristogiton were both Gephyraeans. They claim to be from Eretria. But H. has discovered that they were Phoenicians who came with Cadmus to Boeotia and lived in Tanagra. The Boeotians then expelled them to Athens.
5:58 These Phoenicians brought the alphabet to Greece.
5:59 H. saw Cadmean letters on a tripod at a shrine in Boeotia.
5:60 Another tripod bears an inscription to Apollo.
5:61 Another tripod bears an inscription to Apollo.
5:62 Hippias, bitter about the death of Hipparchus, oppressed the Athenians. He banished the Alcmaeonidae and others, who tried to return but were kept out. Even the construction of a temple at Delphi availed them not.
5:63 The Athenians bribed the Oracle to suggest that the Spartans free Athens from the Pisistratids. Thus they sent an army under the command of Anchimolius. It arrived by sea, but was intercepted by Thessalians under their king Cineas (with whom the Pisistratids had an alliance). The Thessalian cavalry was victorious. Anchimolius is buried in Alopecae in Attica.
5:64 The Spartans tried again, with a land force under King Cleomenes. This time they defeated the Thessalian cavalry and besieged Athens, accompanied by the exiles.
5:65 The Spartans were not prepared to carry out an extensive siege, but by luck managed to capture the children of the Pisistratids. They thus forced them to go into exile, having reigned 36 years.
5:66 Athens flourished under the new regime. The two rulers, Cleisthenes the Alcmaeonid and Isagoras son of Tisandrus struggled for power. Cleisthenes, almost beaten, allied himself with the popular party, and increased the number of tribes from four to ten.
5:67 Cleisthenes imitated his namesake, his maternal grandfather Cleisthenes of Sicyon. This Cleisthenes made war on the Argives, and banned rhapsodic contests because too many sang Homeric verses, and too many of these praised the Argives. He also attempted to expel from Sicyon the shrine of the Argive hero Adrastus, but the Oracle would not let him, so he imported from Thebes a shrine to Melanippus, who had been Adrastus’s enemy. Cleisthenes then transferred all honors given to Adrastus to Melanippus.
5:68 Cleisthenes also renamed the Sicyonian tribes, so that they would not be the same as the Argive ones. But he insulted them, naming them Hogites, Assites, and Porkites. But not his own tribe – this he called Rulers of the People.
5:69 Cleisthenes the Athenian in a similar fashion wanted to disrupt the Athenian connection to Ionia, so he renamed the Athenian tribes. This reorganization won him support.
5:70 Isagoras then called on Cleomenes of Sparta, who sent a herald to Athens demanding that the Athenians expel Cleisthenes.
5:71 How the “Accursed” got their name. There was an association of young men gathered around Cylon, an Olympic victor, who tried to seize power, but failed. All of them were executed, likely by the Alcmaeonidae, although they had been promised safety. This was before Pisistratus. So the Accursed were those who killed them, i.e. the Alcmaeonidae?
5:72 When Cleomenes’s herald gave his message, Cleisthenes actually left. Cleomenes then came and personally expelled 700 Athenian families, and tried to entrust the Council to 300 partisans of Isagoras. But the Council refused to obey, and Cleomenes, Isagoras and their party took refuge in the Acropolis while the Athenians besieged them. When Cleomenes attempted to enter the shrine of the goddess she stood up and told the Dorian to go back to Sparta. Cleomenes replied that he was Achaean, not Dorian. On the third day the Spartans were allowed to leave, and Cleomenes too was driven out. An interesting miracle.
5:73 The rest of those captured were bound and executed, and Cleisthenes and the 700 were recalled. The Athenians then sent an embassy to Sardis because they wanted an alliance with the Persians. Artaphrenes was dismissive, but said that he would consider an alliance in return for earth and water. The ambassadors did this, and were reprimanded for it when they got home. Presumably partisans of Isagoras?
5:74 Cleomenes got a Peloponnesian army together in order to march on Athens, install Isagoras, and punish the Athenian popular party. The Boeotians and the Chalcidians moved against Attica, while the Spartans invaded Eleusis. Chalcis near Athens, not the Chalcidicean penninsula


5:75 But then the Corinthians, considering the campaign unjust, deserted Cleomenes, as did Demaratus, the other Spartan king. (Thus did there arise a Spartan rule, that both kings were not allowed to go on campaign at the same time. Similarly, one of the two images of Castor and Pollux had to stay back in Sparta.)
5:76 Then the rest of the Spartan allies, seeing the desertions, deserted themselves. This was the fourth Dorian invasion of Attica – twice they waged war, and twice as allies of Athens.
5:77 The Athenians then had their revenge against the Boeotians and Chalcidians, defeating them both in battle. The Athenians captured many and held them for ransom, and the chains they used are still on display in the acropolis, as is a bronze four-horse chariot that they had made.
5:78 Once freed of her princes, Athens became great. Equality and freedom of speech are wonderful. People fought hard for Athens once they had a proper stake in it. But cf. anti-democratic sentiment in 5:97
5:79 The Thebans wished for revenge on the Athenians, and asked the Oracle what to do. The Oracle told them to consult those nearest to you. The Thebans thought this could not mean their nearest neighbors, because their support was a given.
5:80 Someone proposed that the Oracle referred to Aegina. Asopus had had two daughters, Thebe and Aegina (thus the Aeginetans were “nearest” to the Thebans). The Thebans asked the Aeginetans to help, and the Aeginetans sent the Aeacidae to help them. Note in Grene: the images of the sons of Aeacus and of Aeacus himself.
5:81 The Thebans thus attacked, but were defeated by the Athenians. So they begged the Aeginetans for men. The Aeginetans, at the time prosperous, and remembering their traditional enmity to Athens, then waged “unofficial war” against it. While the Athenians were attacking Boeotia, the Aeginetans raided the seacoast of Attica.
5:82 The enmity came about in a certain way. The Epidaurians were having trouble growing crops. The Oracle recommended that they fashion images of “earth” and “increase” out of olive wood. The Epidaurians asked the Athenians for some wood, and the Athenians agreed, in return for yearly offerings to Athena Polias and Erechtheus.
5:83 Aegina, subject to Epidaurus, revolted, and stole the images of “earth” and “increase.” They set them up in Aegina, and performed sacrifices and choruses to them.
5:84 So Epidaurus stopped sending payment to Athens. The Athenians were annoyed, but Epidaurus told them to contact Aegina. They did so, but Aegina disavowed any obligation.
5:85 The Athenians sent a trireme with men to get the images back. But the men were unable to move them! So they tied ropes around the images, and as they pulled there was a thunderstorm and an earthquake. The men pulling went mad and started killing each other. The sole survivor returned to Phalerum. Phalerum was the ancient port of Athens before the development of the Piraeus.
5:86 The Aeginetans say that the Athenians sent more than one trireme, and that as the Athenians were pulling the images they fell to their knees and have remained so to this day (H. finds this unbelievable). The Aeginetans sent for help from Argos, and the Argives surprised the Athenians and cut them off from their ships. At this point the thunder and earthquake happened.
5:87 Both parties agree that only one Athenian got back, but the Argives say that they destroyed the Athenian army, while the Athenians say that it was on account of earthquake-induced madness. The Athenians add that the widows of the dead men all killed the survivor with their brooch-pins, angry that their husbands had not returned.
5:88 To punish the women for this grave misdeed, the Athenians compelled them to abandon their Dorian dress for Ionian, which had no pins. (Originally it was Carian dress.) The Argives and Aeginetans for their part prescribed even longer brooches for their women, which they were to dedicate at the shrines of their goddesses. Downgraded in fashion + loss of identity.
5:89 So when the Thebans asked for help, the Aeginetans were happy to provide it. They were ravaging the seacoast when Delphi told the Athenians not to retaliate for thirty years, and in the thirty-first to consecrate a sanctuary to Aeacus. At that point war against them would be successful. The Athenians dedicated the sanctuary, but were unwilling to wait thirty years. Picking up from 5:81
5:90 But they were distracted by an issue from Sparta. The Spartans heard about how the Athenians had bribed the oracle. The Spartans had thus driven out their own guest-friends, and the Athenians were not obviously grateful for this service. Cleomenes discovered in the Acropolis several oracles foretelling dreadful deeds that the Athenians would do to the Spartans. The Pisistratids had them before, but abandoned them when they fled the city. 5:63 above.

Were the oracles written down?

5:91 The oracle said that if Athens were an oligarchy then Sparta would control it, but if it was a democracy it would control Sparta. So the Spartans sent for Hippias at Sigeum on the Hellespont, with a view to putting him back in control of Athens. They told all their allies they were doing this. Sparta naturally favors Athenian oligarchy over Athenian democracy
5:92 The Corinthians balked because they did not want to restore an oligarchy. Socles the Corinthian told the story of the Bacchidae, their own oligarchic faction, who practiced strict endogamy. No one would marry Labda, the lame daughter of Amphion, so she married Eëtion. The Oracle warned the Bacchiadae that the offspring of this union would be a danger to them, so they sent a ten-man unit to kill the baby. But the baby smiled, and melted the heart of each of the ten in turn. They reproached each other, and asked for the baby again, but Labda had overheard them, so she hid the baby in a chest. They searched everywhere, but could not find him. So they resolved to claim that they had killed the child. The child grew up and got the nickname Cypselus (meaning chest). He captured Corinth and ruled (harshly) for thirty years. His son Periander succeeded him. At first Periander was gentler, but then he became harsher. (Thrasybulus of Miletus demonstrated to his messenger how he should rule by cutting down the tallest stalks of wheat in a field.) So Periander started killing the most prominent citizens. He even had his wife Melissa killed, and buried without clothing (after having sex with her corpse). When the Oracle of the Dead informed him that Melissa was cold, on account of being buried naked, he got all the women of Corinth to come to the temple of Hera in their finest clothing. He had them strip down and burnt all their clothes, dedicating them to Melissa. The Oracle then told him about the treasure of a guest-friend of his (his original request). This sort of thing is why the Corinthians are chary of restoring Hippias. This is the longest section in the Histories. It is four pages long in Grene.
5:93 Hippias replied that the Corinthians will wish for the Pisistratids, when Athens is vexing them. But the other allies took courage from the words of Socles and gave similar speeches.
5:94 Hippias then went back to Sigeum, which the Pisistratids had captured from Mytilene. The Mytilenaeans fought to get it back from the Athenians.
5:95 The poet Alcaeus of Mytilene threw his arms away in order to escape the Athenians. They hung it up in the temple of Athene in Sigeum. Periander then served as an arbiter between Athens and Mytilene. He ruled that both sides should keep what they already had. How do they choose arbiters? Why not just go to the oracle?
5:96 Hippias then stirred up trouble. He suggested to Artaphrenes that the Athenians would like to submit to the Persians. The Athenians then sent a messenger to tell them not to listen to exiles. Artaphrenes told them that they should take Hippias back. The Athenians rejected this and became enemies of the Persians.
5:97 Aristagoras of Miletus then came to Athens and addressed the assembly. He said everything to them that he had said to Sparta, and convinced them to aid Miletus. (“It is easier to fool many than to fool one.”) The Athenians voted to send twenty ships under Melanthius. These ships were the source of evil for the Greeks and Persians. Picking up from 5:55
5:98 Aristagoras then went ahead to Ionia. He sent a messenger to the Paeonian prisoners of war, now settled in Phrygia. He said that Ionia was revolting, and that they should leave. They did. The Persians pursued them through Chios, but they went to Lesbos, then Doriscus, and then on foot to Paeonia. 5:15
5:99 The Athenians came with twenty ships, and five from the Eretrians, who owed Miletus from before. They attacked Sardis, but Aristagoras remained in Miletus.
5:100 The Ionians took Ephesus and then Sardis without a fight, although Artaphrenes and his posse personally defended the acropolis.
5:101 Houses in Sardis are made of reeds, and the Ionians accidentally burned the city. This angered the Persians and Lydians there, and the Ionians then retreated to mount Tmolus.
5:102 The temple of Cybele was burned, and the Persians eventually exacted revenge for this. The Persians chased the Ionians to Ephesus and severely defeated them. Eualcides, the Eretrian general, was slain.
5:103 The Athenians abandoned the alliance, while the Ionian survivors went to the Hellespont and reduced Byzantium and other cities.
5:104 The Cypriots joined in, except for Amathus, which was then besieged by Onesilus. “Salamis” is a city-state on Cyprus, not to be confused with the island off Athens.
5:105 When informed of the destruction of Sardis, Darius asked for a bow, and shot an arrow into the sky, praying to Zeus to grant him the chance to punish the Athenians. He enjoined a servant to always remind him of Athens.
5:106 Darius called Histiaeus to account. Histiaeus spun him a line, saying that he had nothing to do with it, and that Darius should send him to Ionia to help return it to Persian allegiance.
5:107 Darius bought it.
5:108 The Persians (and Phoenician allies) came to Cyprus to aid Amathus, and Onesilus asked for help from Ionia.
5:109 The Cypriots gave the Ionians the choice to fight the Persians on land or the Phoenicians at sea. The Ionians chose the sea.
5:110 The Persians met the Cypriots on land. Persian general Artybius vs. Cypriot Onesilus.
5:111 Onesilius debated whether to fight Artybius or his bucking horse. His squire recommended the former.
5:112 The Ionians were victorious over the Phoenicians at sea, and Onesilius struck at Artybius. As his horse came crashing down, the squire shore off its legs.
5:113 But then the Curians and the Salaminians deserted, and the Persians got the better of the Cypriots, killing Onesilius.
5:114 The Amathusians cut off Onesilius’s head, because he had besieged them, and hung it on their gate. A swarm of bees made its home therein. The Oracle told them to bury it and make annual sacrifices to Onesilius the hero, and all would be right with them.
5:115 The Ionians retreated. The city of Soli held out the longest, but after five months the Persians took it by undermining the walls.
5:116 Cypriots were reduced to slavery after a year of freedom. The Persians pursued the Ionians, defeated them, and divvied up the plunder.
5:117 Daurises the Persian general went to the Hellespont to take back the cities there, and then turned his attention to Caria.
5:118 The Carians got word of this and debated strategy.
5:119 The Carians were defeated; the survivors took refuge in a shrine of Zeus of the battles. Should they surrender or escape from Asia?
5:120 Some Milesians then joined them, so they fought again, and were defeated even worse than before.
5:121 But there were still enough survivors to ambush the Persians, surprise them, and defeat them.
5:122 Hymaees, another Persian general, continued to take the cities of the Troad. He died there of illness, however.
5:123 Artaphrenes and Otanes marched against Ionia and Aeolia. They took Clazomenae in Ionia and Cyme in Aeolia.
5:124 Aristagoras, the coward, considered where he should run to.
5:125 Hecataeus suggested fortifying the island of Leros.
5:126 But Aristagoras settled on Myrcinus in Thrace. There, when he was beleaguering a town, the Thracians killed him and his army, even though they were willing to leave under treaty terms.
**** BOOK 6 ****
6:1 Histaeus arrived in Ionia. Artaphrenes asked him about the revolt, Histaeus played dumb, but Artaphrenes saw through it.
6:2 Histaeus therefore escaped to Chios.
6:3 Histaeus claimed that Darius planned to swap the populations of Phoenicia and Ionia. Darius did not plan this; Histaeus was only trying to scare the Ionians.
6:4 Histaeus sent letters to Persians in Sardis, but the messenger Hermippus gave them to Artaphrenes instead. Artaphrenes told Hermippus to deliver the letters, and then bring the return letters to him. This came to pass, and Artaphrenes thus killed a number of Persians who were revealed to him. Presumably their fate rested on the content of their reply – why not just kill them off the bat?
6:5 The Chians then tried to restore Histaeus to Miletus, but the Milesians did not want him back, given their experience of Aristagoras and their taste of freedom. Histaeus was wounded in attempting to return, so retreated to Chios. Mytilene on Lesbos gave him eight ships, however. They set up base at Byzantium, and prevented ships from sailing through unless they agreed to support him.
6:6 The Persians were driving on Miletus.
6:7 The Panionium voted that Miletus should defend itself, and all the other Ionian cities should man their ships for the defense of Miletus at sea. They gathered at Lade, a tiny island off the coast of Miletus.
6:8 Ship catalogue of defenders, to a total of 353 triremes.
6:9 The Persians had 600 triremes at their disposal, but the generals were still afraid that they might not be able to beat the Ionians. So they got the Ionian refugees serving with them to approach their countrymen and try to peel them from the alliance, with promises of reward if they did, and punishment if they didn’t.
6:10 The Ionians refused, but each thought the offer had been made to him alone.
6:11 Dionysus, general of the Phocaeans gave an inspirational talk that they would be victorious, if the Persians attacked at all.
6:12 Dionysus trained the Ionians for seven days, quite hard, until they had enough and refused to work any more.
6:13 The Samians then went over to the Persians.
6:14 The Phoenicians (on the Persian side) went to battle against the Ionians. Some eleven ships of Samians stayed for the fight, contrary to orders, for which they were rewarded later. The Lesbians, however, also took off – as did many of the Ionians too.
6:15 The Chians stood firm, however, and performed quite well against the enemy, although they suffered many casualties.
6:16 The Chians then left, beached their ships, and marched overland. They came upon Ephesus while the women there were celebrating the Thesmophoria. Unaware of what had happened, and thinking that an army was invading, the Ephesians came out and killed the Chians.
6:17 Dionysus of Phocaea then took off, and set himself up in Sicily as a pirate.
6:18 The Persians then besieged Miletus and took it in the sixth year since Aristagoras’s revolt.
6:19 The Oracle had foretold this: the Persians were the long-haired ones, and the Didyman Temple was plundered.
6:20 The Persians took the Milesians and settled them at Ampe, on the Red Sea near the Tigris. They took the area around Miletus for themselves, but allowed the Pedasian Carians some of it. Obviously Red Sea = Persian Gulf
6:21 Although Sybaris was tied in guest-friendship with Miletus, and although Miletus had publicly mourned when Sybaris was captured by the men of Croton, Sybaris didn’t do anything to mourn the capture of Miletus. This contrasts with the Athenians, who did mourn, and who fined a playwright who wrote a play about it, because it reminded them of something terrible.
6:22 Some Samians, not wanting to become slaves of Persia, set out to found a new settlement on Sicily.
6:23 While in transit, they decided to take Zancle (Messina), currently unguarded. The people of Zancle returned to retake it, but their ally Hippocrates, prince of Gela, sold them out, and turned them over to the Samians. For this, the Samians gave Hippocrates half the goods of Zancle.
6:24 Scythes, king of Zancle, had been sent to Inyx as a prisoner, but he escaped and went to Darius in Persia. He ended his days there in wealth and honor.
6:25 The Persians restored Aeaces, son of Syloson, to the rulership of Samos. The Persians did not burn Samos in thanks for its abandoning the Ionian alliance. After Miletus, the Persians went after Caria.
6:26 Histaeus entrusted Byzantium to Bisaltes, and with Lesbian troops, sailed for Chios. He killed a number of Chians, and set up his base at Polichne.
6:27 The Chians should have known: portents abounded, like the 100 youths they sent to Delphi, only two of whom returned (the rest died of illness), and the 119 children who died when their school building collapsed (one escaped). Histaeus totally conquered them.
6:28 Histaeus, with Ionians and Aeolians, beseiged Thasos, but retreated when he found out that the Phoenicians were coming. He went to Lesbos, but when he went to raid crops on the mainland, he encountered Harpagus, who killed his troops and took him captive.
6:29 The Persian horse was responsible for the victory. Histaeus tried to flee, but was captured; he revealed his identity in Persian.
6:30 Artaphrenes and Harpagus had him impaled, and sent his head to Darius in Susa. But Darius was displeased that Histaeus had not been sent alive, and ordered the killers to bury the head with proper rites.
6:31 After wintering in Miletus, the Persian fleet captured Chios, Lesbos, and Tenedos, and the Persians “netted” the inhabitants by joining hands in a long line and sweeping across the island.
6:32 The Persians, as they promised, castrated the best-looking Ionian boys and sent the best-looking girls to Darius. Then they burned the cities, temples and all, marking the third enslavement of Ionia.
6:33 The Persians then attacked the cities on the left side of the Hellespont as you sail into it, moving into Europe.
6:34 All Chersonese, except Cardia, was subdued. Miltiades son of Cypselus had established sovereignty here in earlier times. At one point the Dolonci, a Thracian tribe, lived there, and were sore pressed by the Apsinthians. They asked the Oracle what to do, and it told them to adopt as their “founder” the first person who offered them hospitality on the way home. A digression
6:35 Miltiades was a notable Athenian at the time of Pisistratus, and offered the returning Dolonci a place to stay. They told him what the Oracle had said and begged him to obey it; he inclined to, as he was disaffected with Pisistratus. He went to the Oracle to ask himself.
6:36 The Oracle said yes, so he went with some other Athenians to assume control over the Chersonese. The first thing he did is that he walled off the isthmus, to keep the Apsinthians at bay.
6:37 Miltiades then made war against the Lampsacenes, but they ambushed and captured him. Croesus, hearing of this, told them to let Miltiades go, lest he crush them “like a pine tree” (as the Lampsacenes came to understand, the only tree that does not send out new shoots when cut down). They did so, as they were afraid of Croesus.
6:38 Miltiades escaped, but died childless, and the settlement passed to his nephew Stesagores. The Chersonesans instituted a cult in honor of the founder Miltiades, including games at which no Lampascene is allowed to compete. But Stesagores died childless, assassinated at a town hall meeting by a supposed deserter but really an enemy agent.
6:39 The next ruler was Stesagores’ younger brother, also named Miltiades, who was sent by the Pisistradids from Athens to take over. He stayed indoors, allegedly out of grief for Stesagores, but when the leading citizens came to join in, he enslaved them all. He ruled with the help of five hundred mercenaries, and married Hegisipyle, daughter of the Thracian King.
6:40 Miltiades briefly fled Chersonese at the advent of the Scythians, and returned when they left.
6:41 Miltiades learned about that the Phoenicians were in Tenedos, and so took off for Athens. The Phoenicians intercepted one of his ships, on which his son Metiochus was sailing. They sent him to Darius at Susa, where he was treated well and took a Persian wife. Phoenicians in the service of the Persians, of course
6:42 In 493 BC, the Persians did some useful things for the Ionians, like demanding they stop raiding each other and submit their disputes to arbitration, and measuring out each area and assessing its tribute, a system which has lasted.
6:43 Mardonius, son of Gobyrus, came to Ionia, and put down all the princes and set up democracies in the cities. !!!
6:44 Then they moved on the European Greeks. These they did not treat as well. But while rounding Athos, a great number of their ships were wrecked in a storm. Many men were battered to death on rocks, eaten by sharks, drowned or killed by hypothermia.
6:45 While encamped, the Persians were attacked by Thracian Brygi, who even wounded Mardonius. The Persians then conquered and enslaved them, but they had to return to Persia, having suffered significant loss.
6:46 Darius demanded that the Thasians pull down their walls and send their ships to Abdera. The Thasians, rich from their mines, had invested in these defenses.
6:47 The Thasians did so.
6:48 Darius sent messengers throughout Greece, asking for earth and water (submission). He asked his tributary cities to start constructing warships and horse transports.
6:49 Some cities did give earth and water, including the Aeginetans. The Athenians were incensed by this, thinking that they went over to Persia just to get help in their dispute with Athens. The Athenians denounced Aegina to the Spartans.
6:50 So Cleomenes, one of the Spartan kings, went to Aegina to arrest those deemed responsible. But Crius, son of Polycrites, prevented him. He said that Cleomenes was only doing this because Athens told him to, and if it were an official act of state, the other king (Demaratus) would have accompanied him. Crius left, promising vengeance. Why should the king go himself? Why not send a detachment of soldiers?
6:51 Demaratus was of slightly less distinguished ancestry. Back in Sparta, he maliciously attacked Cleomenes. Digression.
6:52 Origin story about why Sparta has two kings (not endorsed by any poet). Aristodemus died, and his wife Argeia was left to raise twin boys. She refused to mention who was senior. The Oracle told them to honor both as kings, but honor the senior one more. So they watched Argeia, who consistently fed and washed one first. The Spartans figured that this was the senior, and treated him accordingly. Their names were Eurythenes and Procles, and they were usually at odds with each other, a tradition that has continued.
6:53 No other Greeks agree with this story, though. The kings of the Dorians, back to Perseus, were counted as Greeks. But if you trace back the ancestors of Danäe, the mother of Persus, they are Egyptian.
6:54 Persian account: Perseus was an Assyrian who turned Greek.
6:55 Others have told why the Egyptians came to rule the Dorians.
6:56 Spartan kings have the privilege of: two priesthoods (both of Zeus), the right to wage war unimpeded by any Spartan objection, and with a hundred man guard, and unlimited sacrifices at the start of the campaign.
6:57 They also have: the right to sit first at a banquet, a double share of food, first libation and the skins of the sacrificed animals. Every new moon they get a perfect victim at public expense for the temple of Apollo, and grain and wine. Good seats at the games. The right to appoint consuls for the protection of foreigners, and also two Pythians. They control the marriage of heiresses, the maintenance of roads, and peoples’ adoption of children. They convene the Gerousia. Apparently the Spartans have influence over the Oracle.
6:58 When kings die, they are entitled to certain funerary practices. Two people must defile themselves with mourning. Everyone must attend the funeral. The market is canceled for ten days.
6:59 When a new king succeeds to the office, he cancels all debts to the previous king. This is like a new Persian king, who forgives outstanding tribute.
6:60 Like with the Egyptians, certain Spartan professions (cooks, flute-players, and heralds) are hereditary.
6:61 When Cleomenes came back from Aegina he was upset at Demaratus for slandering him, and sought to remove him from the kingship in the following manner. When Ariston, father of Demaratus, was king, he had two wives, and no children by either of them, so he contrived to take a third wife. This woman was the most beautiful in all of Sparta, was married to a friend of his. She had been the most plain, but her nurse’s constant prayer at the shrine of Helen reversed her fortune: a woman [apparently Helen herself] met her on the road, touched her head, and transformed her appearance. She married one Agetus. Continuation from 6:50.

Bias towards Cleomenes, who was “working for the common good of Greece”; Demaratus was motivated by envy and hatred.

Beautiful woman already married, like Helen herself.

6:62 Ariston roped Agetus into an agreement about a compulsory exchange. Agetus took something out of the treasures of Ariston, and then Ariston took Agetus’s wife. Agetus objected, but he had sworn an oath. The beautiful wife is unnamed.
6:63 She gave birth to a son, and Ariston, thinking that it might not be his, denied paternity. But he came to think of it as his own, in fact named him “Demaratus,” that is, “answer to the people’s prayer.”
6:64 Demaratus succeeded Ariston, and soon came into conflict with Cleomenes. Cf. 5:75
6:65 Cleomenes made a pact with Leotychides, promising that he could replace Demaratus. Leotychides disliked Demaratus himself, because Demaratus had scooped his fiancée. Leotychides then publicly accused Demaratus of being illegitimate, calling the ephors who overheard Ariston’s original remark as witnesses.
6:66 The Spartans submitted the question to the Oracle. Cleomenes allied himself with Cobon, a man of influence at Delphi, and Cobon persuaded the prophetess Perialla to give Cleomenes the answer he wanted. This indeed came to pass, but later the influence was exposed, and Cobon was banished from Delphi, and Perialla deprived of her office. Another instance of the Oracle being influenced.
6:67 But it worked, and Demaratus was deprived of his kingship. Demaratus still held an elected office, however, and was watching a festival, when Leotychides, who had replaced him as king, sent over a servant to mock him, asking “What’s it like to hold elected office after the kingship?” Demaratus said that at least he had held both, and promised that the question would be the beginning of great good or evil for Sparta. With that, he left and sacrificed an ox to Zeus.
6:68 Demaratus then sent for his mother, and asked her earnestly who his father really was.
6:69 His mother told him that a phantom in the guise of Ariston (who was really the hero Astrabacus) had lain with her, but after Ariston had taken her to wife. Demaratus himself was premature.
6:70 Demaratus then escaped to Persia, where he was honored by Darius. The Spartans tried to catch him, and did catch some of his servants, but not the former king.
6:71 Leotychides begat Zeuxidemus, who begat Archidemus. Zeuxidemus died before he could become king, and Leotychides married a second wife Eurydame, by whom he had a girl Lampito. Archidemus married Lampito. Apparently it is acceptable to marry your half-aunt.
6:72 Later on, Leotychides was deprived of his kingship when he led an army into Thessaly. It was on the verge of winning when Leotychides was caught accepting a bribe from the Thessalians. He was banished to Tegea, and his house was razed.
6:73 In the meantime, both Cleomenes and Leotychides led an expedition to Aegina, which offered no resistance. They picked out ten notable men, and gave them as hostages to Athens, Aegina’s implacable foe.
6:74 But then it came out how Cleomenes had gamed the Oracle, and he fled to Thessaly, and then to Arcadia, where he stirred them up against Sparta.
6:75 The Spartans, afraid, recalled him to Sparta. But upon his arrival he was seized by madness. Upon encountering any Spartiates, he would hit him with a stick. So they confined him in a cage. Cleomenes pressured his helot guard to give him a knife, and the helot did so, for fear of what Cleomenes would do to him if he ever got out. Cleomenes then mutilated himself to death. Most Greeks say this was punishment for his meddling with the Oracle. (Athenians say it was because he had damaged the sanctuary of the goddess while on campaign in Eleusis, and Argives say it was because he had killed some of their people who had taken refuge in the sanctuary of Argus, and then razed it to the ground.)
6:76 Cleomenes had consulted the Oracle, who told him that he could capture Argos. He could not obtain favorable omens for crossing the river Erasinus, so he retreated to Thryeae and brought his men on boats to Tiryns.
6:77 The Argives then came down, and camped near the Spartans. They weren’t afraid of an open battle, but were worried about trickery, on account of a prophecy. They thus did whatever the Spartan herald ordered the Spartans to do. This seems like a dumb thing to do, if you’re worried about trickery.
6:78 Cleomenes noticed this, and sent word around that “breakfast” was now code for “attack.” So the Spartans attacked the Argives while they were eating breakfast and routed them. The surviving Argives took shelter in the sanctuary of Argus.
6:79 Cleomenes, through some deserters, got the names of those who had repaired to the sanctuary. He got a herald to call them out, saying that he had their ransom (standard ransom: 2 minas per person), but when they came out he killed them one by one. Only when those inside realized what was happening did they stop coming out.
6:80 Cleomenes then piled firewood around the sanctuary and burned it down. Upon being told it was a sanctuary of “Argus,” he realized that this is what the Oracle meant when it said he would conquer “Argos,” and he felt deceived.
6:81 Cleomenes sent most of his army home, but retained 1000 or so and went to the shrine of Hera to sacrifice. The priest forbade him as a foreigner, so Cleomenes had his helots flog him and performed the sacrifice himself. He then returned to Sparta.
6:82 When he got back to Sparta, his enemies accused him of taking a bribe not to conquer Argos. Cleomenes replied that in conquering “Argus” he had fulfilled the prophecy. He told a story (which he may have just made up) that when he was sacrificing to Hera, a flame came out of her breast, thereby indicating that he had fulfilled her will. If the flame had come out of her head, it would have indicated that he should conquer Argos from head to foot. The Spartans accepted this explanation.
6:83 The slaves took over Argos, but were expelled when the sons of the Argive dead grew to manhood. The slaves then went to Tiryns and took it over. Tiryns and Argos got along until a prophet Cleander arose among the slaves and incited them to attack Argos. The Argives eventually won ensuing war.
6:84 Thus the Argive explanation for Cleomenes’s insanity and death. The Spartans themselves claim that he learned habit of heavy drinking from the Scythians. H. believes that Cleomenes was paying for what he did to Demaratus.
6:85 After the death of Cleomenes, the Aeginetans came to Sparta with a suit against Leotychides, saying that it was wrong of him to hand over the Aeginetan hostages to Athens. The court agreed, saying that they should go back to Aegina, in fact that Leotychides himself should be handed to them as well. But the Spartan Theasides warned them that harming a Spartan king could come back to haunt them, so they only demanded that he accompany them to Athens as they got their men back.
6:86 Leotychides tried to convince the Athenians to give back the hostages, but they refused on various excuses. Leotychides then told a story: a Milesian came to Sparta and spoke with Glaucus, who had a great reputation for integrity. The Milesian wanted to entrust half his property to Glaucus for safekeeping. After a while the heirs of the man came to get the money. Glaucus denied knowledge of the affair, but said that he would give them the money if it turned out that he had indeed accepted it. He went to the Oracle who chastised him, saying that to tempt a god and to actually sin were the same thing. He called after the Milesians, and returned their money, but he now has no descendants nor anything named after him in Sparta. In other words, don’t think too long about a deposit, just give it back upon request.
6:87 The Athenians were unmoved, however. To punish them, the Aeginetans captured the theoric ship, carrying Athenian officers of state, as it was sailing to an every-five-years festival in Sunium.
6:88 The Athenians sought revenge. An Aeginetan dissident name Nicodromus came to them offering to control the island as their ally.
6:89 Nicodromus captured the old city, but the Athenians were a day late in arriving. They did not have enough warships, and so had to borrow some from the Corinthians.
6:90 Nicodromus, and some other Aeginetan dissidents, thus left the island. The Athenians gave them Sunium as their home base, and they used it to conduct raids on Aegina.
6:91 Earlier, the rich men of Aegina had defeated the popular party when it rose against them under Nicodromus. They executed some 700 of them, including one whose hands they hacked off as he clutched the door of the temple of Demeter. As a consequence, they suffered a curse that they could not get rid of.
6:92 The Athenians arrived with their seventy ships, and defeated the Aeginetans. The Aeginetans called on the Argives for help, but were rebuffed, because Aeginetan ships, taken by Cleomenes, had put in at the Argive coast and attacked them. With them were some men of Sicyon. The Argives demanded compensation of 500 talents from each people; the Sicyonians acknowledged their fault, and paid 100 talents, but the Aeginetans did not. So the Argive state would not help Aegina, but about 1000 volunteers came forward. The Athenians killed most of these, including the general Eurybates.
6:93 The Athenians became disordered, and the Aeginetans captured four of their ships.
6:94 Thus were the Greeks at war with each other, but the Persians had designs on them. The slave was constantly reminding Darius about the Athenians, the Pisistratids were there and hoping the Persians would attack, and Darius himself wanted to subjugate those Greeks who did not voluntarily submit to him. He dismissed Mardonius, leader of the earlier unsuccessful invasion, and appointed Datis and Artaphrenes in his stead.
6:95 These generals gathered an army and equipment, put it on ships, and sailed directly across from Samos to Greece, lest they get shipwrecked near Athos, as had happened the previous year.
6:96 The Persians put in at Naxos, enslaved everyone they could get their hands on (many Naxians had fled to the hills), and burned their buildings.
6:97 The Delians too took off for Tenos, but Datis forbade his men to land and plunder. He sent a herald to the Delians that he meant them no harm, and personally burned a great deal of incense on the altar at Delos. The Delians are “holy” and thus entitled to a certain protection.
6:98 Datis then sailed to Eretria, but as he was leaving Delos it suffered an earthquake. From the reign of Darius, then Xerxes, then Artaxerxes, more evils befell Greece than all the previous twenty generations. Some of these came from the Persians, some from the Greeks themselves. Note in Grene: an attempt by Herodotus to link up the Persian and Peloponnesian wars.
6:99 As the Persians sailed through the islands they recruited more soldiers, and also hostages for good behavior. The people of Carystus balked at this, so the Persians harried them until they complied.
6:100 The Eretrians learned that the Persians were coming for them, and they besought the Athenians’ help. But the Athenians only sent the 4000 people whom they had settled in Chalcidice. The Eretrians were divided themselves: some were in favor of retreat to the hills of Euboea, others wanted to sell out Eretria for private gain. 5:77
6:101 The Persians landed and set up against Eretria. The Eretrians weren’t interested in facing them in the field, but wanted to preserve the walls of their city. The siege lasted for six days, but on the seventh two Eretrians betrayed the town to the Persians. They plundered the city, burned the temples, and enslaved the inhabitants.
6:102 They then sailed to Marathon in order to set up against Athens, on the advice of Hippias, son of Pisistratus.
6:103 The Athenians marched out to meet them. They were led by ten generals, including one Miltiades. His father Cimon had been exiled by the Pisistratids, and while in exile, he had managed to sponsor a winning chariot team at the Olympics. The second time it won he allowed the victory to be attributed to Pisistratus, and so won the right to return to Athens. But the sons of Pisistratus eventually ambushed and killed him.
6:104 Miltiades had twice escaped death, once from the Phoenicians, and another from the courts, before which his enemies had brought him on account of his despotism in the Chersonese. But he was acquitted, and then elected general. Cf. 6:41
6:105 The generals, when they were still in the city, sent the runner Phidippides to Sparta. While en route, he met Pan, who enjoined the Athenians honor him. They set up a shrine of Pan under the acropolis and propitiated him with sacrifices and torch races.
6:106 Phidippides arrived in Sparta, and begged their help. They said they could not, because of the Carnea – they could not go until the full moon.
6:107 Hippias guided the Persians to Marathon. He had dreamt of having sex with his own mother, which he interpreted to mean that he would return to rule Athens. At Marathon, he suffered a coughing and sneezing fit, so hard that he lost a tooth, which he could not find. He thought this an ill omen – the only land of Attica he possessed is where the tooth lay.
6:108 The Plataeans arrived to help the Athenians, since the Athenians had helped them against the Thebans.
6:109 The ten Athenian generals were evenly divided about going into battle, some thinking their forces were too small, others that they should attack anyway. The deciding vote, in favor of attacking, was cast by the polemarch Callimachus, under the influence of a stirring entreaty by Miltiades.
6:110 Each general got a turn leading for a day, and all those in favor of attacking turned their leadership over to Miltiades on their respective days. But he did not lead an attack until his own actual day.
6:111 He set the troops in order. The right was under the command of Callimachus the polemarch, and the Plataeans were on the left. The Athenians have not forgotten this service of the Plateans. The center was weak, but the two wings were strong.
6:112 The Athenians charged, and fought very well. They were counted as the first Athenians to charge, and the first to face Median dress.
6:113 The Persians defeated the Greek center, but the Greek wings overpowered the Persians, joined up, and routed the remainder. The Greeks pursued the Persians to their ships.
6:114 The Greek polemarch was killed in the fighting, along with some of the generals.
6:115 The Greeks captured seven of the ships, but the Persians made off in the rest of them, and tried to get to Athens before the Athenians could get back to defend it.
6:116 But the Athenians got there first, so the Persians sailed back to Asia.
6:117 6400 Persians died at Marathon, and 192 Athenians. Epizelus the Athenian became blind in the fighting, and continued so for the rest of his life, even though he was not struck by anything.
6:118 Datis, sailing back to Asia, discovered a statue of Apollo in one of the ships, and he stopped by Delos and left it in the temple of Apollo there. He asked them to take it to the Theban Delium, but they didn’t. Some time later, however, the Thebans came and took it themselves, on account of a prophecy.
6:119 Datis took the enslaved Eretrians to Darius, who had good reason to be angry with them. But when he saw them, he did them no harm, but merely settled them on one of his estates called Ardericia, in the land of Cissia. There, men draw up three products from a well: asphalt, oil, and salt.
6:120 Two thousand Spartans arrived quite quickly after the full moon. They were too late for the battle, but keen to see the Medes, so they went to Marathon to see them. They congratulated the Athenians on the victory, and went home again.
6:121 That the Alcmaeonidae signaled to the Persians with a shield is incredible, as they hated tyranny even more than Callias, who was the only one in Athens who dared to buy the goods of Pisistratus at public auction after he had been expelled. This seems to come out of nowhere.
6:122 Callias is worth remembering for helping to free his country, for his wins at the Olympics, and for his liberality. He also allowed his daughters their own choices in marriage. Apparently an interpolation and not by Herodotus.
6:123 The Alcmaeonidae hated tyranny as much as Callias. They could not have held up a shield to warn the Persians. They helped to drive the Pisistratids from Athens, even more than Harmodius and Aristogeiton.
6:124 Some say that they may have betrayed their country since it had become too democratic. But they were honored by Athens. A shield was displayed, but no one knows who did so.
6:125 Alcmaeon had been honored by Croesus, who allowed him to take all the gold he could carry. Alcmaeon therefore stuffed himself with gold and gold dust in the treasury. His appearance was amusing to Croesus, who gave him even more.
6:126 Cleisthenes of Sicyon had a daughter, and he put out a call for suitors.
6:127 All sorts of distinguished and wealthy single men came from all over Greece.
6:128 He kept them there for a year, testing their manliness. He was favorable to Hippoclides of Athens.
6:129 On the day of the wedding feast there was one final test of skill. Hippoclides sang and danced, to the consternation of his potential father in law. When Hippoclides stood on his head and danced in their air, that too much for Cleisthenes, who told him that he was out of the running. Hippoclides retorted with “not a jot cares Hippoclides!” Dancing was not “manly”?
6:130 Cleisthenes awarded a talent of silver to each of the suitors as a consolation prize, and awarded his daughter to Megacles, son of Alcmaeon.
6:131 Alcmaeon had a son, whom he named after his father in law. This Cleisthenes established the tribes and democracy in Athens. Megacles had another son, Hippcrates, who had a daughter Agariste. She married Xanthippus, and gave birth to Pericles, after dreaming about giving birth to a lion.
6:132 Miltiades had such prestige after Marathon that he asked for, and got, the use of seventy ships, on the promise that he would lead them to gold.
6:133 Miltiades led this fleet to Paros, on the pretext that they had helped the Persians when they invaded, but he really just hated them personally. He demanded one hundred talents’ worth of protection money. The Parians balked, and reinforced their walls.
6:134 A woman prisoner of war and priestess named Timo suggested that Miltiades steal a sacred image from a temple that she told him about. He tried to do this, but wrenched his thigh.
6:135 So Miltiades went back to Athens in a sorry state, with no money and no conquest of Paros. The Parians found out about Timo and asked the Oracle whether they could kill her; the Oracle denied permission, saying that the expedition was fated to end badly for Miltiades.
6:136 Miltiades however was put on trial for misleading the people. He faced a sentence of death, but his friends, invoking Marathon and his conquest of Lemnos, succeeded in getting him fined fifty talents. His wound festered and he died, and his son Cimon paid the fine.
6:137 Re: Lemnos. The Pelasgians had been driven out of Attica by the Athenians. This action may or may not have been just.
6:138 The Pelasgians took over Lemnos, and sought revenge by kidnapping a large group of Athenian women, with whom they had children. But the Athenian women taught Attic ways to their children, including the idea that they were superior to the Lemnians. The Lemnians, fearful of losing their culture, killed both the women and children.
6:139 Their land was not as fruitful as before, and they believed that they were being punished for their atrocious “Lemnian” deed, so they asked the Oracle what they should do. The Oracle told them to go to Athens and ask them. The Athenians told them to turn their country over to them. They replied that they would do so, if the Athenians arrived in a single day in a ship blown by the north wind. (Lemnos is to the south of Athens, i.e. this feat is ostensibly impossible.)
6:140 But once the Athenians had conquered the Chersonese, it was possible for an Athenians ship, blown by the north wind, to get there in a day. Miltiades reminded them of their promise. One group of them agreed, and the other did not, so the Athenians besieged them until they capitulated. Thus did Miltiades capture Lemnos.
**** BOOK 7 ****
7:1 When Darius heard the news about Marathon, he was very angry, and as determined as ever to punish the Athenians. He also had to deal with a revolt in Egypt.
7:2 A succession dispute arose among the sons of Darius. Darius had had three children by the daughter of Gobyrus, and four by Atossa, daughter of Cyrus. The eldest son of the first group, Artobazanes, claimed it on the basis of seniority, while the eldest of the second, Xerxes, claimed it on the basis that he was a descendant of Cyrus.
7:3 The exiled Spartan king Demaratus arrived, and counseled Xerxes to make the further claim that he was born while his father was king, while Artobazanes was born while his father was a private person. In Sparta, sons of reigning kings take precedence over any offspring they had prior to assuming the throne. This argument was convincing to Darius, who appointed Xerxes the successor. H. believes that Atossa was particularly powerful and also helped engineer the decision.
7:4 Darius resumed his preparations for war, but suddenly died after a reign of 36 years. He never got to invade Egypt or Greece.
7:5 Xerxes thus became king. At first he was only for attacking Egypt, but Mardonius, son of Gobyrus, argued that he should not forget Athens, because of the wrongs they had done him, and also because Europe was fertile and he deserved to possess it.
7:6 Mardonius had his own agenda: he wanted adventure, and to become viceroy of Greece. He had moral support from the Aleuadae, the kings of Thessaly, from the Pisistratids at Susa, and from Onomacritus, an Athenian who had been exiled for fraud by Hipparchus.
7:7 Xerxes subdued Egypt and imposed harsh terms on it. He placed his brother Achaemenes in charge of it.
7:8 Xerxes gathered a war council and asserted his intention of subduing Greece, both for revenge and for the resources. He announced that he would bridge the Hellespont and drive his army into Greece. He envisioned a day when the whole world would be subject to him, and “those who are innocent in our sight and those who are guilty will alike bear the yoke of slavery.” He promised gifts to the commander whose troops were best prepared. Clearly a statement of hubris meant to justify the ultimate outcome.
7:9 Mardonius affirmed Xerxes’s opinion. He pointed out that the Persians have subdued the Asiatic Greeks, so subduing the mainlanders should be easy. He mocked their style of fighting, which seems to produce the most casualties even on the victor’s side, but he noticed that they didn’t come out to fight him when he invaded Macedonia. So he predicted nothing but success.
7:10 Artabanus, Xerxes’s uncle, then offered a contrary opinion, on the principle that the good is only apparent when compared with the bad. He pointed out that Cyrus could not subdue the Scythians, and the Greeks are better than them. Contrary to Mardonius, they are brave both on land and sea, as they proved at Marathon. Gods always want to punish people at the top of their game. Artabanus thus wagered himself and his children against Mardonius and his.
7:11 Xerxes was angry with Artabanus for these words, and condemned him to say at home with the women.
7:12 But Xerxes was haunted by Artabanus’s speech, and began to have second thoughts. In a dream that night, a tall and handsome man stood over him and warned him against changing his mind.
7:13 But the next day he called his war council together and announced that he had been too rash, and was calling off the invasion of Greece.
7:14 The Persians were relieved, but that night the vision spoke to him again, warning him that he would be brought low quickly.
7:15 Xerxes called for Artabanus, and told him of the dream. He proposed that Artabanus dress up like Xerxes, and sit on his throne and lie on his bed, and see if the god sent the same dream to him, since he had also counseled not invading Greece.
7:16 Artabanus demurred, but then relented.
7:17 The dream did come to Artabanus, and accused him of standing in the way of fate.
7:18 Artabanus then reversed his course, and supported the invasion.
7:19 Xerxes saw a third vision in which he was crowned with olive. The shoots spread over the earth, and then the crown itself disappeared. The Magi said that this referred to the recruitment of Xerxes’s army, from every part of the world.
7:20 It took four years of preparation, and was to be the largest invasion force ever. The invasion of Scythia was nothing in comparison, and neither was the original war against Troy.
7:21 This was the greatest invasion force ever assembled.
7:22 Given what had happened the last time the Persians invaded Athos, extensive preparations were made to ensure a smooth passage there. The Persians compelled people for three years to dig a canal through the isthmus for the passage of their ships.
7:23 The canal kept falling in on itself, but the Phoenicians avoided this problem by making the canal, at the surface, twice as wide as it needed to be, and tapering the sides down so that it was the right width at the required depth.
7:24 This canal was rather unnecessary, because Xerxes could easily have drawn his ships across the isthmus, but he wanted to show his power and leave a monument to himself.
7:25 Xerxes also laid up stores of food and other supplies along his army’s planned route to Greece.
7:26 While these preparations were being made, Xerxes and his army marched from Critalla in Cappadocia to Sardis, where they were to meet the other viceroys and the troops they brought, with a reward promised for the best turnout. On the way they passed Celaenae, where they saw displayed the skin of the satyr Marsyas, which had been flayed by Apollo, according to local legend.
7:27 While there, a certain Pythius entertained the king and his army, and offered money for the invasion. Xerxes, surprised at this, asked who he was, and his men responded that he had given Darius the golden plane tree and vine, and is now the wealthiest man in the empire after Xerxes himself.
7:28 Xerxes inquired after Pythius’s wealth, and Pythius revealed to him that he had two thousand talents of silver, and four million (minus seven thousand) staters of gold. He offered Xerxes the lot, since his own estates and slaves were enough for him to live on.
7:29 Xerxes was delighted at this offer. He offered friendship to Pythius, and did not take any of the wealth, but gave him seven thousand gold staters from his own treasury, so that he would have an even four million.
7:30 Xerxes kept on marching, through Anaua, Colossae, and Cydrara, where they saw the pillar set up by Croesus marking the boundary between Phrygia and Lydia.
7:31 Xerxes crossed into Phrygia and then traveled to Sardis, passing the city of Callatebus on the way. Xerxes found a plane tree, which he adorned with gold. He left one of the Immortals to guard it.
7:32 Once in Sardis, he sent messengers to every city in Greece demanding earth and water, except for Athens and Sparta.
7:33 He got ready to march to Abydos on the Hellespont, while his men were busy bridging it. Some Greeks from the other side (on the Chersonese) managed to crucify the Persian viceroy of Sestos, who had been kidnapping and abusing women.
7:34 From Abydos to the land opposite, the Phoenicians constructed the bridge with flax, and the Egyptians with papyrus. But then a storm came and wiped out their efforts.
7:35 Xerxes punished the Hellespont by lashing it, lowering fetters into it, and even reputedly branding it. He cursed it with harsh language, and swore that he would cross it. He also beheaded the supervisors of the bridge-building. A superstitious, tyrannical barbarian.
7:36 Xerxes’s men then built two parallels bridge by tying boats side-by-side from one side of the Hellespont to the other. They constructed causeways of planks over the tops of the boats, and put dirt and brush on them, so that the horses would think they were walking on land and not panic. They left a gap so that small boats could sail through.
7:37 The army wintered in Sardis, and come spring, they marched out toward Abydos. An eclipse of the sun was interpreted by the Magi as a good omen, since the sun was Greek and the moon Persian, so the Persians would eclipse the Greeks. Landmark: “the eclipse cannot be confirmed from astronomical calculations.”
7:38 Pythius the Lydian, however, was disquieted by the eclipse, and asked Xerxes if one of his five sons, all of whom were set to join the expedition, could stay home with him in Lydia.
7:39 Xerxes was angry at this request, since all of his own family was going into Greece. He found the eldest son, cut him in two, and placed one half on each side of the road, so the army could march through it. Another tyrannical move.
7:40 The army was huge, and consisted of all sorts of people from throughout the empire. Then Xerxes himself came in his chariot.
7:41 He occasionally switched to a covered wagon. Then came his personal guard, consisting of spearmen and horsemen.
7:42 The army marched north, passing Atarneus, Carene, and Adramytteum. The army encamped near Mount Ida, where a thunderstorm killed some of them.
7:43 When the army got to the river Scamander, they drank it dry. Xerxes climbed up to Priam’s citadel at Troy, where he offered the sacrifice of 1000 cattle, and the Magi libations to heroes. The army then marched to Abydos. It is unexplained why the host panicked at night, after the sacrifices.
7:44 Xerxes longed to see all of his army at once, so he climbed onto a dais that the Abydians had constructed for him. He wanted to see a ship race too, which took place, and which the Sidonians won.
7:45 Upon the sight of the bridge and all his men, Xerxes declared himself happy, but then burst into tears.
7:46 Artabanus, the uncle who opposed the expedition, asked him what was wrong. Xerxes replied that the shortness of life was depressing – not one of the men, a hundred years from now, would be alive. Artabanus replied that there are greater occasions for pity – most men lead very difficult lives, and death comes as a release.
7:47 Xerxes said they should drop the topic, but asked Artabanus about his opinion of the invasion. If the dream vision had not been so clear, would he have changed his mind? Artabanus replied that he was indeed full of fear.
7:48 Xerxes was amazed. What on earth did Artabanus have to fear? The Greeks?!
7:49 Artabanus replied that his army and navy were mighty, but their size was a liability. There were no harbors along the way that could accommodate all the ships, and the physical needs of his army would desolate the land it moved through.
7:50 Xerxes told him not to worry, on the principle that it is better to act decisively and to deal with difficulties as they arise, rather than to worry about everything beforehand at the risk of never doing anything at all. Besides, the army is carrying large amounts of food, and will have the food of Greece at its disposal too.
7:51 Artabanus enjoined Xerxes to leave the Ionians at home, at least. If they earnestly help us against their ancestors they’ll be scoundrels, but that won’t help us much. If they turn out to be true to their fellow Greeks, they’ll have the potential to do us great harm.
7:52 Xerxes again dismissed this advice. He noted that the Ionians were great allies against the Scythians, and their wives and children in Ionia function as hostages for good behavior. 4:98, 4:135-42.
7:53 Xerxes sent Artabanus back to Susa, gathered the most notable Persians around him, and gave them a pep talk about the campaign.
7:54 The next day the Persians burned incense and strewed the road with myrtle. When the sun rose Xerxes poured a libation into the sea and prayed to the sun that no harm should befall them during the crossing. He then tossed the cup, and a mixing bowl and a sword, into the sea. These may have been offerings to the sun, or to the Hellespont in compensation for his earlier behavior.
7:55 Everyone then crossed. The elite units crossed first, taking two days. Xerxes crossed last of all.
7:56 Then the rest of the army crossed under the lash. The whole operation took seven days. A local remarked that Zeus himself had come down in the form of Xerxes.
7:57 A portent appeared at this time, to which Xerxes paid no heed, although he should have: a mare gave birth to a hare. The meaning was obvious: Xerxes would invade majestically, but then he would be forced to flee in disgrace. Back in Sardis, a mule gave birth to another mule with two sets of genitals, one male and one female. He ignored this portent too. H. offers no meaning for the second portent.
7:58 The navy sailed to Cape Sarpedon and awaited the army, which marched east through the Chersonese and then west once past the Black River (which they drank dry).
7:59 The army got to Doriscus, where a fort had been built by Darius for the earlier invasion. Here Xerxes ordered and numbered his army. The navy brought their ships ashore.
7:60 The land army numbered one million, seven hundred thousand. They counted them by squeezing ten thousand men together, drawing a circle around them, and then building a wall on the circle the height of a man’s navel. This was a handy measure of ten thousand men, and they ran through the army until everyone had been counted.
7:61 The Persians were commanded by Otanes. Formerly the Greeks called these people Cephenes, after their king Cepheus. They acquired the name Perses, son of Perseus, who had married Cepheus’s daughter Andromeda.
7:62 The Medes had the same equipment as the Persians, and were commanded by Tigranes. Once the Medes were called Arians. The Cissians were commanded by Anaphes. The Hyrcanians were commanded by Magapanus.
7:63 The Assyrians, also known as Syrians, were there with the Chaldeans. They were commanded by Otaspes.
7:64 The Bactrians and the Scythian Sacae were commanded by Hystaspes.
7:65 The Indians were commanded by Pharnazathres.
7:66 The Arians were commanded by Sisamnes. The Parthians and Chorasmians were commanded by Artabazus. The Sogdians were commanded by Azanes. The Gandarians and the Dadicae were commanded by Artyphius.
7:67 The Caspians were commanded by Ariomardus. The Sarangae were commanded by Pherendates. The Pactyes were commanded by Artayntes.
7:68 The Utians and the Mycians were commanded by Arsamenes. The Paricanians were commanded by Oeobazus.
7:69 The Arabians and the Ethiopians were live above Egypt were commanded by Arsames.
7:70 The Ethiopians of the east served with the Indians.
7:71 The Libyans were commanded by Massages.
7:72 The Paphlagonians and Matieni were commanded by Dotus. The Mariandyni, Ligyans, and Syrians were commanded by Gobryas.
7:73 The Phrygians and Armenians were commanded by Artochmes.
7:74 The Lydians and Mysians were commanded by Artaphrenes.
7:75 The Thracians were commanded by Bassaces.
7:76 An unnamed tribe had small shields of oxhide and helmets of bronze.
7:77 The Cabalees and Milyae were commanded by Badres.
7:78 The Moschi and Tibareni were commanded by Ariomardus. The Macrones and Mossynoeci were commanded by Artayctes.
7:79 The Mares and Colchinas were commanded by Pharandates. The Alarodians and Saspires were commanded by Masistius.
7:80 The island nations of the Red Sea were commanded by Mardontes.
7:81 All these leaders appointed sub-leaders for sub-units of each nation.
7:82 The supreme commanders were Mardonius, Tritantaechmes, Smerdimenes, Masistes, Gergis, and Megabyzus.
7:83 The Persian Ten Thousand, a.k.a. the Immortals, were commanded by Hydarnes. They had the best equipment, servants, concubines, and pack animals.
7:84 All of these people were horsemen, and some of them furnished cavalry.
7:85 The Sagartians furnished 8000 horse. They fight with lassos.
7:86 The Medians, Cissians, Indians, Bactrians, Caspians, Libyans, Paricanians, and Arabians (on camels) also brought cavalry.
7:87 The number of cavalry was 80,000. The Arabians served apart from the rest of the cavalry, to avoid frightening the horses with their camels.
7:88 Harmamithres and Tithaeus commanded the cavalry. Pharnuches was also to be a commander, but he was left behind in Sardis, who was severely injured when his horse bolted and threw him. The Persians sawed off the horse’s legs at the knees in punishment.
7:89 The triremes numbered 1207. The Phoenicians and Palestinian Syrians provided 300. The Egyptians provided 200. Palestinian Syrians = Jews?
7:90 The Cyprians provided 150 ships.
7:91 The Cilicians provided 100 ships. The Pamphylians provided 30 ships.
7:92 The Lycians provided 50 ships.
7:93 The Dorians of Asia provided 30 ships. The Carians provided 70 ships.
7:94 The Ionians provided 100 ships.
7:95 The islanders provided 17 ships. The Aeolians provided 60 ships. The Hellespontines (excepting those of Abydos, whose ships made up the bridge) provided 100 ships.
7:96 On board each ship served Persians, Medes, and Sacae. The Phoenician (and of them the Sidonian) ships were fastest. Each native group had its own leaders, but they are unworthy of being recorded, as they served under the overall Persian command.
7:97 The admirals of the navy were Ariabignes (Ionians and Carians), Achaemenes (Egyptians), Prexaspes and Magabyzus (all the rest). All other types of ship besides trireme numbered some 3000.
7:98 The most notable beyond these were Tetramnestus of Sidon, Matten of Tyre, Merbalus of Aradia, Syennesis of Cilicia, Cyberniscus of Lycia, Gorgus and Timonax of Cyprus, and Histiaeus, Pigres, and Damasithymus of Caria.
7:99 The other captains are beneath notice, but Artemesia of Halicarnassus took over from her husband’s command and led her contingent quite well.
7:100 Xerxes inspected his troops in his chariot. He then alit on a Sidonian ship and inspected all his ships.
7:101 Xerxes sent for Demaratus, the exiled Spartan king, to ask him about whether the Greeks would actually fight his massive army. Demaratus asked if he wanted a flattering or a truthful answer. Xerxes said he wanted the truth.
7:102 Demaratus said that Greece is poor, but courageous, through a combination of wisdom and law. The Spartans in particular will not avoid fighting, even if they were only 1000 in number and all the rest of Greece was allied with Xerxes against them. Famous pro-Hellenic propaganda.W
7:103 Xerxes laughed and inquired why, given the great disparity in numbers, and the command structure: the Persians are under the command of a single ruler, while the Greeks are all disunited and value their “freedom.” Moreover, the huge differential in numbers makes any challenge very foolish.
7:104 Demaratus answered that Xerxes had commanded him to tell the truth, and that he has no reason to favor the Spartans who had deprived him of his office. He personally would not choose to fight anyone. Fighting singly, the Greeks are no worse than anyone else. Fighting together, they are the most gallant men on earth, for their master is Law, and the law enjoins them never to flee battle.
7:105 Xerxes dismissed Demaratus with kindness. He installed Mascames as viceroy in Doriscus, and then marched onward through Thrace.
7:106 Mascames, viceroy in Doriscus, was highly valued by Xerxes, who sent him yearly gifts. The Greeks did not succeed in expelling him once the Persians were defeated, unlike all the other installed viceroys.
7:107 Boges, of the installed viceroys, was also praised. Rather than surrender, he waited until his food ran out, then destroyed his wife, children, and servants, threw their bodies onto a fire. He threw the gold and silver of the city into the river Strymon, and then jumped into the fire himself. His surviving children were greatly honored in Susa.
7:108 Xerxes marched from Doriscus towards Greece, forcing those he encountered to join his army. The river Lisus failed on account of the army drinking it.
7:109 He continued into Greece, passing certain cities and lakes.
7:110 Certain Thracian tribes, except the Satrae, joined under compulsion.
7:111 The Satrae, from the mountains, are the only free Thracians. They have an oracle of Dionysus.
7:112 Xerxes passed by the forts of the Pierians, and Mount Pangaeus.
7:113 The country around Pangaeus is called Phyllis, and it’s where Boges was viceroy of Eion, on the Strymon river. The river Angites empties into this river, and the magi cut the throats of white horses into this river, seeking a favorable omen.
7:114 They crossed at a place called the Nine Roads, and on account of this name, according to Persian custom, they buried alive nine local youths.
7:115 Xerxes passed through Bisaltia, the plain of Syleus, Stagirus, and Acanthus.
7:116 Xerxes praised the Acanthians highly, making them his guest friends and granting them Median clothing, on account of their enthusiasm for the war, and their work on the canal.
7:117 While there, the architect of the canal, Artachaees, happened to die. He was the tallest man in Persia and had the loudest voice. Xerxes lamented this loss, and gave him a funeral at which the whole army poured libations. The Acanthians now sacrifice to him as a hero.
7:118 Some Greeks who received and entertained Xerxes and his army did so at great personal cost, and lost pretty much everything.
7:119 All places had been warned long in advance about Xerxes’s invasion, and had planned accordingly by producing and preparing food. But the Persians still made off with all their hosts’ moveable property.
7:120 Megacreon of Abdera gave the witty comment that at least the Persians ate only once per day, not twice, like the Greeks.
7:121 Xerxes ordered his fleet to Therme (on the other side of the Chalcidean peninsula), and divided his army into three parts for marching overland.
7:122 The fleet sailed through the canal and then rounded Ampelos. It sailed through the Toronaic gulf and recruited ships and men from the Greek settlements there.
7:123 The fleet sailed around Therambos, at the end of the Pallene peninsula, and collected more support from the settlements there.
7:124 They arrived at Therme and awaited Xerxes, who was traveling overland through Paeonia and Crestonia.
7:125 At night, wild lions would attack the Persian camels – and nothing else. H. wonders why they chose the camels, particularly as they had never seen such creatures before. A sign?
7:126 The lions are native to the land between the rivers Nestus and Achelous. Also, wild oxen are found here, which have great horns which the Greeks import.
7:127 Xerxes reached Therme and joined the fleet there. His army drank the river Echeidoros dry.
7:128 Xerxes viewed Mount Olympus and Mount Ossa across the Thermaic Gulf, and learned that there was a narrow pass between them through which the River Peneus flowed. He boarded his favorite Sidonian ship and scouted the territory.
7:129 All sorts of rivers join together and form the Peneus, which flows to the sea. Prior to the formation of the Peneus, Thessaly was a lake. Poseidon created the Peneus though an earthquake.
7:130 Xerxes realized why the Thessalians had been among the first to offer allegiance to him – all he would have to do is block up the Peneus and flood their country.
7:131 Xerxes spent some time around Therme. His heralds returned, some bearing earth and water, others nothing.
7:132 Many Greeks gave their allegiance to Xerxes. Those who did not made a solemn oath that they would dun the traitors one tenth of their goods, and grant them to Delphi, if they were victorious.
7:133 Xerxes sent no heralds to Athens and Sparta, because the heralds that Darius had earlier sent to these places had been cast into the Pit, and into a well. Was the devastation that Athens suffered divine punishment for this violation? H. does not think so. A digression; prior narrative resumes at 7:138.
7:134 Sparta, however, felt the wrath of Talthybius, the herald of Agamemnon. The Spartans did not get any good omens for a long time after their killing of the heralds, and this distressed them greatly. In an assembly, the Spartans asked for two Spartiates who could offer themselves in compensation for the heralds. Sperthias and Bulis volunteered, and departed for Media to meet their deaths.
7:135 On their way to Susa, Sperthias and Bulis were guests of Hydarnes, the Persian viceroy for the Asian coast. Hydarnes asked them why they insisted on fighting Xerxes, when he knows how to reward good people and Sparta would have an important place in a Persian administration. The Spartans replied that Hydarnes knows nothing of freedom, that he is addressing them from the position of an important slave. Pro-Hellenic propaganda.
7:136 When the Spartans arrived in Susa, they refused to bow before Xerxes, on the principle that it was not their custom to bow before human creatures. Xerxes took this with magnanimity, and refused to kill them in recompense for the heralds.
7:137 The two Spartans thus returned to Sparta. The wrath of Talthybius was assuaged for now, but it fell upon the descendants of Sperthias and Bulis. During the Peloponnesian War, their sons Nicolas and Aneristus were sent as envoys into Asia, were captured by Thracians and sent to Athens, where they were executed. “430 BC – the last chronological event recorded by H.”
7:138 Those Greeks who gave earth and water to Xerxes were confident that nothing bad would befall them, but those who did not were very fearful, given the disparity in numbers in both ships and men. Resumption of narrative from 7:132
7:139 In H.’s opinion, if the Athenians had retreated from the Persian advance, or submitted to Xerxes, no one would have opposed the Persians at sea, and on land the Spartans would have been eventually the only ones left opposing them, as their allies deserted them one by one, of necessity. The Spartans would have fought valiantly and died nobly, and then all of Greece would have been under Persian dominion. All the walls across the Isthmus would count for nothing if the Persians had control of the sea. It was Athens that served as an inspiration for others to oppose the Persians. Pro-Athenian sentiment.
7:140 An Oracle that the Athenians got from Delphi was extremely distressing.
7:141 The Athenians were very worried, but Timon of Delphi urged them to approach the Oracle again, as suppliants. They did so, and this time the Oracle gave a similarly pessimistic answer, but suggested that a “wall of wood” might save them, and mentioned the island of Salamis.
7:142 The Athenians then debated what the wall of wood could be. Some thought it was the Acropolis, which in those days was surrounded by a thorn hedge. Others thought it was Athens’s fleet, although they were baffled by the reference to Salamis.
7:143 Themistocles claimed that the oracle referred to the fleet, and that Salamis “slaying children of women” referred to the Persians, not the Athenians.
7:144 Themistocles had earlier convinced the Athenians not to distribute the windfall from the silver mines of Larium to each citizen, but to spend it on the construction of triremes for the war against Aegina. So the Athenians had become good sailors, and their boats were still there for their use.
7:145 All the Greeks who were for fighting the Persians got together and made peace with one another, including Athens and Aegina. They sent spies into Asia to report on the Persian movements, and envoys throughout the Greek world in search of allies.
7:146 The spies at Sardis were discovered, and tortured, but before they were executed, Xerxes ordered them freed, gave them a tour of his army, and let them go unharmed.
7:147 Xerxes explained that letting the Greeks know about the greatness of his army would be psychologically intimidating to them, while killing three of their men would do them no real harm. On another occasion he allowed grain ships to pass through the Hellespont, even though they were sailing to Aegina, his enemy. He informed his generals that they would conquer Aegina soon enough, and then the grain would be theirs.
7:148 The anti-Persian Greeks approached the Argives looking for an alliance. The Argives had foreseen this and asked Delphi what to do – they were not in the mood to do any favors for Sparta, given that the Spartans had recently killed 6000 Argives. The Argives asked the Spartans for a thirty-year truce, and leadership of half the confederacy. 6:77
7:149 This was not quite what the Oracle had recommended – which was neutrality. But the Argives wanted their children to grow to be men, thus the request for the truce. The Spartan envoys said that the truce would need to be referred to their council, but they could not give up half the command, although the king of Argos could share half the command with one of the Spartan kings. At this, the Argives set the Spartan envoys away, saying they’d rather be ruled by Persians than Spartans.
7:150 This is the Argive story, at any rate. Another story among the Greeks is that the Argives were flattered by an earlier Persian embassy, which claimed that the Persians and Argives were of the same stock, and it would not be right for the Persians to make war on their kin. The Argives thus made a request to the Spartans that they knew Spartans would never accept, so that they could have an excuse to remain neutral.
7:151 Some evidence exists to support this version. A few years later, some Athenian envoys were at Susa, at the same time as some Argives. The Argives asked the new king Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, whether they enjoyed with him the same relationship they had with his father. He replied yes.
7:152 Did Xerxes actually send an embassy to Argos? Did the Argives actually send one to Artaxerxes? H. cannot say for certain. He is sympathetic to the Argives, however, given their situation. Another story holds that they originally invited the Persians in, on account of their conflict with Sparta.
7:153 Another set of envoys went to seek the alliance of Gelon in Sicily. Gelon’s ancestor had come from Telos, and settled in Gela. His descendants became hierophants of Demeter and Persephone. Narrative continues at 7:157
7:154 Hippocrates became tyrant of Gela, and with Gelon as commander of his cavalry, conquered many Sicilian cities, except for Syracuse, which was rescued by Corinthians and Corcyrians.
7:155 Upon the death of Hippocrates, Gelon seized the throne himself from his sons, and then succeeded in conquering Syracuse too.
7:156 Gelon set himself up in Syracuse and turned over Gela to his brother Hiero. He brought numerous notable people there and made them citizens, but sold a lot of common people into slavery.
7:157 So the Greeks came to Gelon to ask for his help. They told Gelon that Xerxes was coming for them, and claimed that Gelon would be next. From 7:153
7:158 But Gelon angrily pointed out that the Greeks did not come to his aid against the Carthaginians, nor help to avenge the murder of Dorieus. Nonetheless, he was not going to be like them, and offered ships, soldiers, cavalry, archers, and slingers. He even offered food. But only on the condition that he get to lead the Greeks against the barbarians. 5:42-46
7:159 Syagrus of Sparta flatly refused this condition. If Gelon was serious about saving Greece, he would need to acquiesce to Spartan leadership.
7:160 Gelon then offered to lead the fleet, if the Spartans led the land army, or vice versa.
7:161 The Athenians envoys then said that they would not relinquish control of the fleet. They were the oldest people in Greece who had always lived in the same place, and in the Iliad were designated good commanders.
7:162 Gelon then sent them off, with the comment that “spring has been taken out of the year” – i.e. the best part has been removed.
7:163 Gelon wanted to participate, but not under the command of the Spartans. He sent Cadmus to Delphi with money to see which way the battle went, and if the Persians won, he was to give them the money and submit to them on behalf of Gelon. If the Greeks won, he was to come back home.
7:164 Earlier, Cadmus had inherited the tyranny of Cos – and relinquished control of it to the Coan people, on account of his sense of justice. He went to Sicily and obtained from the Samians the city of Zancle, which he renamed Messana. After the Greeks won at Salamis, Cadmus returned to Gelon with all the money, even though he could easily have made off with it.
7:165 But perhaps Gelon could not come and help the Greeks on account of a major attack by Terrillos, prince of Himera. Terrillos had been driven out of Himera by Theron, and came to Sicily with a great army under the command of Hamilcar, king of Carthage.
7:166 Gelon, allied with Theron, defeated Hamilcar on the same day that the Greeks won at Salamis. Upon being defeated, Hamilcar disappeared, never to be found again.
7:167 The Carthaginians say that Hamilcar was busy sacrificing during the battle, and when he noticed that his side had lost, he hurled himself onto the pyre. He has a hero-cult on Sicily and at Carthage.
7:168 The Greek envoys then went to Corcyra, to try to get them to fight against the Persians. They said that they could not sit idly by while Greece was on the verge of death, but the sixty ships they sent held back to see which way the battle went. Their formal excuse was that they were foiled by the wind.
7:169 The Greek envoys went to Crete to ask for their help. The Cretans asked the Oracle what to do, and the reply was don’t bother: you helped the Greeks at Troy, they didn’t help you avenge Minos. So the Cretans stayed out.
7:170 When Minos went looking for Daedalus, he came to Sicily, and there met a violent death. Most Cretans came to Sicily to seek vengeance, and besieged Camicus for five years, but were unsuccessful and left. While they were sailing home, they were shipwrecked on Iapygia (the heel of Italy). Since they had no means of getting back to Crete, they just stayed there, founding the city of Hyria, and eventually other settlements. The Tarentines tried to expel them, but were soundly defeated.
7:171 Crete was desolated, and Greeks moved into the vacuum. Three generations after Minos came the Trojan War, in which Cretans played an important role. When they returned, however, a famine and sickness befell their livestock, and they had to abandon the island. Those who live there now are descendants of a third set of settlers.
7:172 The Thessalians Medized of necessity. But they also sent representatives to the anti-Persian council at the isthmus of Corinth. They said that they could try to prevent the Persians from marching through Thessaly, but they needed help.
7:173 This force sailed through Euripus and disembarked at Alus in Achaea. They marched to Thessaly and encamped between Olympus and Ossa. The Spartan general was Euaenetus, the Athenian commander was Themistocles. But Alexander of Macedonia came down and warned them that they would get crushed by the Persians, so they removed again the to isthmus.
7:174 So now the Thessalians, abandoned by their allies, Medized with pleasure.
7:175 Back at the isthmus, the Greeks voted to guard the pass at Thermopylae, as being narrower than the one in Thessaly. The fleet would sail around to Artemisium and would be in a position to communicate with the land forces.
7:176 Artemisium is a narrow pass between Sciathus and Magnesia. Thermopylae is a very narrow pass between Mount Oeta and the sea.
7:177 They judged that Thermopylae and Artemisium would be the best places to hold off the Persians, and so set out to defend them.
7:178 The Delphians, in terror, were consulting their god, who told them that the winds would be great allies of Greece. So they told everyone, and constructed an altar to the winds in Thyia, where they offered sacrifice.
7:179 Xerxes sent ten of his best ships from Therme to Sciathus, which three Greek ships were guarding. They quickly fled.
7:180 The Persians captured one of the ships. They took its most handsome mariner to the prow, and cut his throat, for ritualistic purposes. The man’s name was Leon, which might also have sealed his fate. A reference to lions attacking camels in 7:125?
7:181 The Persians captured another ship, and a Greek named Pytheas aboard kept fighting until he was half dead from his injuries. But rather than finish him off, the Persians admired his bravery, brought him back to their camp, nursed him back to health and treated him very well. But the other sailors they sold into slavery.
7:182 The third ship ran aground. The crew escaped and made its way back to Athens. The Persians only got the empty ship.
7:183 The Greek ships at Artemisium were made aware of these events by means of signal fires. They moved to Chalcis. Three of the ten barbarian ships were wrecked on a reef between Sciathus and Magnesia, and they marked the spot with a white pillar. Thus warned, the whole fleet sailed out from Therme, headed for Sepias.
7:184 The Persian forces so far had suffered no losses at all. They still had 1207 ships, each with a native crew of 200 men, and 30 commanders. There were 3000 penteconters (transport ships), with 80 men on each. There were 700,100 infantry, 80,000 horsemen, with 20,000 Arabian camel-drivers and Libyan charioteers. The total was 2,317,610 men. What about the three that were wrecked?
7:185 Xerxes also picked up men and ships from the European Greeks, numbering about 300,000.
7:186 As many men again served in the baggage train.
7:187 Then there were women bakers, concubines, eunuchs, pack animals, and dogs. The army would have consumed a million bushels of grain a day. It is no wonder that some rivers gave out.
7:188 The fleet sailed out and put in at a place in Magnesia. The next day a great storm arose, and a “Hellespontian” wind from the northeast. Those who managed to pull their ships onto the beach saved them, but many at anchor were lost.
7:189 The Athenians claim that they had sacrificed to Boreas, the north wind, who obliged them with a storm. The Athenians later built a shrine to Boreas in thanks. “winds would be allies of Greece” from 1:178
7:190 Four hundred Persian ships were lost, along with their crews and equipment. Aminocles of Magnesia afterwards made a fortune in scavenging, although he also lost his son.
7:191 The Persians also lost a number of transport ships. Their Magi, by sacrificing to Thetis, managed to quell the storm on the third day – if it didn’t stop of its own accord.
7:192 Greek watchers on Euboea ran down and told the Greek sailors at Chalcis. They poured libations to Poseidon, and headed back to Artemisium thinking they could now take on the Persians.
7:193 The Persians, for their part, sailed to the gulf of Pagasae, and anchored at Aphetae.
7:194 Fifteen Persian ships mistook the Greek ones for their own, sailed into the midst of them, and were captured. The Persian commander, Sandoces, was once crucified by Darius, who then changed his mind and freed him. But this time he did not escape.
7:195 The Greeks also captured Aridolis from Caria, and Penthylus from Paphos. They were questioned for intelligence, and then sent bound to the isthmus.
7:196 Xerxes, marching on land through Thessaly, set up a contest between his horses and the Thessalian horses, since they had a reputation as being the best in Greece. But his horses won handily. Many rivers there gave out as the Persian forces drank from them.
7:197 Xerxes’s guides told him a local tale. In accordance with an oracle, the Achaeans lay on the descendants of Phrixus certain hard trials. If the eldest son enters the People’s Assembly, he can’t come out again; if he does he is to be sacrificed. Athamas was to be a scapegoat, but Cytissorus, son of Phrixus, appeared and saved him. Thus the guilt was transferred to his descendants. Xerxes therefore avoided the grove out of respect to Athamas.
7:198 Xerxes advanced into Malis, and crossed the rivers Spercheus, Dyras, and Black.
7:199 Xerxes passed the city of Trachis, which is on a plain of about 5000 acres. South of this is a ravine through which the river Asopus flows.
7:200 South of the Asopus is the river Phoenix, and fifteen stades beyond that is Thermopylae. Between these is the village Anthele, where one finds a shrine to Demeter and a temple to Amphictyon.
7:201 Xerxes encamped in the part of Malis belonging to Trachis. The Greeks encamped in the pass of Thermopylae itself.
7:202 The Greek forces consisted of: 300 Spartans, 500 Tegeans, 500 Mantineans, 120 Orchomeneans (from Arcadia), 1000 other Arcadians, 400 Corinthians, 200 Philians, 80 Mycenaeans, 700 Thespians, and 400 Thebans.
7:203 Opuntian Locrians and Phocians also sent forces, inspired by messages that the Persian emperor was but a man, and that the bigger they are, the harder they’ll fall.
7:204 The leader of the Spartans was King Leonidas, who was descended in twenty generations from Heracles. He had become king unexpectedly.
7:205 Leonidas’s older brother Cleomenes died without issue, and his next oldest brother Dorieus died in Sicily. So Leonidas became king: he was older than Cleombrotus, and married to Cleomenes’s daughter. He made sure to bring the Thebans (whose commander was Leontiades), since they were under suspicion of Medism.
7:206 The Spartans sent the three hundred ahead to inspire the other Greeks and to prevent them from Medizing, even though the rest of their force was delayed by the Carneia.
7:207 As the Persians approached the Pass, the Greeks were quite frightened. Many of them were for retreating to the isthmus. The Phocians and Locrians disagreed, and Leonidas elected to remain there, and to ask for more help.
7:208 Xerxes sent a horseman to spy on the Greeks. He saw the Spartans exercising and combing their hair, and was amazed at their seeming indifference. So he rode back leisurely and made his report.
7:209 Xerxes did not understand that the men were actually making preparations to kill, or to die. He summoned Demaratus to ask what was going on. Demaratus confirmed that they were indeed preparing to fight – “when they are going to risk their lives, they make their heads beautiful.”
7:210 Xerxes waited four days, thinking that the Spartans would eventually run off, but when that didn’t happen, on the fifth day he sent some Medes against them. The Spartans killed most of them, and then a second wave, and then more. The encounter lasted all day.
7:211 Then Xerxes sent the Immortals, under Hydarnes. But the Greeks manhandled them too – the space was too confined, negating the Persian numerical advantage, the Persian spears were shorter, and the Spartans were more skilled, including at feigned retreat.
7:212 Xerxes leapt three times from his throne in fear of his army. He was expecting eventual victory, but the Greeks just kept on going.
7:213 At this point Ephialtes, a man of Malis, hoping for a great reward, told Xerxes about the mountain path around Thermopylae. Xerxes sent troops and overpowered the Phocians guarding it. Ephialtes had a price put on his head, and was later killed for another reason, but the Spartans honored the killer anyway.
7:214 Another story is that Onetes and Corydallus were the ones who spoke to Xerxes about the mountain pass, but H. does not believe it. It was Ephialtes who had the price put on his head, and it was he who would have known about the pass, being a local Malian.
7:215 Xerxes ordered Hydarnes to lead some men to the mountain pass at evening.
7:216 The path is called Anopaea, and ends at the Locrian town of Alpenus.
7:217 The Persians marched at night, and at dawn encountered the Phocians guarding the pass.
7:218 The Phocians were alerted to the Persians by the sound of rustling leaves, since there was no wind. They armed themselves and prepared to fight the Persians; one volley of arrows did great damage and the survivors retreated higher up the mountain. Hydarnes realized they weren’t Spartans, and kept going along the path.
7:219 Back at Thermopylae, the prophet Megistias predicted the Spartans’ imminent defeat. Reports indicated that the Persians had found the mountain pass and were about to encircle the Spartans. A debate ensued whether to retreat or stand firm.
7:220 Leonidas elected to stand firm, and send the non-Spartans away. He thought it disgraceful to retreat (and, indeed, wanted the Spartans to monopolize any glory). He was also acting in accord with an oracle, which said that either Sparta would be destroyed, or a king of Sparta would be destroyed. So he would be saving Sparta by sacrificing himself.
7:221 Leonidas specifically sent the prophet Megistias off, but he didn’t go; instead, he sent off his only son, who was serving in the army.
7:222 The Thespians and Thebans remained. The Thespians, under Demohilius, did so because they wanted to; the Thebans were kept there by Leonidas as quasi-hostages.
7:223 The Spartans fought with great frenzy, and with no heed to their safety, knowing that their deaths were imminent. They killed many Persians, who were being forced forward by their commanders whipping them.
7:224 With their spears broken, they fell back to using their swords. Leonidas perished, along with other notable Spartiates. On the Persian side fell Abrocomes and Hyperanthes, sons of Darius.
7:225 Persians and Spartans fought viciously for the body of Leonidas, and the Spartans finally managed to drag him off. But then the soldiers with Ephialtes arrived from the mountain pass. So the surviving Spartan retreated to a little hill and defended themselves with daggers, and hands and teeth, until none of them were left.
7:226 The bravest Spartiate was perhaps Dieneces. A Malian told him that when the Persians shot their arrows, there were so many that they blotted out the sun. Dieneces nonchalantly replied that this was no big deal, as they’d just fight in the shade.
7:227 Dieneces was responsible for other witty sayings. After him, the Spartiates Alpheus and Maron were bravest. Among the Thespians, it was Dithyrambus.
7:228 They were all buried there, under a monument later bearing the inscription: “Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their words we lie.”
7:229 Two Spartans, both suffering eye trouble, were ordered to go home. Euryptus refused, charged into the enemy, and was killed. Aristodemus, however, went home, and the Spartans were very angry with him.
7:230 Some say that they were sent back to Sparta as messengers, and that Euryptus arrived back in time for the battle, while Aristodemus dawdled and was late for it, thereby saving his life.
7:231 Back at Sparta, no one would talk to Aristodemus, and his nickname became “the Coward.”
7:232 Aristodemus redeemed himself at Plataea, however. Another messenger named Pantites missed the battle, and hanged himself out of shame.
7:233 Once the Spartans were reduced to fighting on their little hill, the Thebans abandoned them, ran toward the Persians, claimed that they were fighting under duress and would happily join them. Some of them were mistakenly killed, however, and the rest were marked with the royal brand.
7:234 Xerxes summoned Demaratus and admitted that he had been right about Spartan behavior. He asked Demaratus if all Spartans were like this? Demaratus replied that yes, they were. Xerxes then asked Demaratus how he could overcome them.
7:235 Demaratus advised him to take 300 ships of his fleet to the island of Cythera and engage the Spartans directly from there. The Spartans would be obliged to retreat and to fight on their own. If he advanced down to the isthmus, there would be another Thermopylae there, only worse.
7:236 But Xerxes’s brother Achaemenes overheard this, and suspected a trap. They had just lost 400 ships, and to send out another 300 would weaken the remaining forces almost to the point of equality with the Greeks. Better to keep the fleet together to support the land troops.
7:237 Xerxes accepted Achaemenes’s advice, but objected to Achaemenes’s characterization of Demaratus as a fifth columnist.
7:238 Xerxes then found Leonidas’s body, detached his head, and mounted it on a pole. Xerxes must have really hated Leonidas to offend propriety in this way. The Persians generally honor people who have shown bravery in battle.
7:239 H. thinks that Demaratus did indeed retain some residual partiality to Sparta. Demaratus was in Susa when Xerxes made up his mind to invade Greece. He informed them of these plans by means of steganography: he took the wax off a wax tablet, wrote out the information on the wood, and then covered the tablet with wax again, and sent it to Sparta. The Spartans were perplexed, but Gorgo, Leonidas’s wife, suggested that they remove the wax, and discovered the real message. This is the story they tell. Presumably Demaratus wrote some inert message on the wax, to throw off anyone reading it.
**** BOOK 8 ****
8:1 The Greek fleet: 127 Athenian ships (with some Plataean sailors), 40 Corinthian ships, 20 Megarian ships, 20 Chalcidian ships (on loan from Athens), 18 Aeginetan ships, 12 Sicyonian ships, 10 Spartan ships, 8 Epidaurian ships, 7 Eretrian ships, 5 Troizenian ships, 2 Styrian ships, 2 Ceans ships (and 2 penteconters). The Locrians added 7 penteconters.
8:2 These were stationed at Artemisium. The Spartan Eurybiades was in overall command, the others refusing to serve under Athenians.
8:3 The Athenians had gracefully relinquished control for the greater good of Greece. But this was only for the desperate hour of defense – when they went back on the offence, they retook the command.
8:4 The Euboeans begged the Greeks to stay at Artemisium, at least until they had the chance to evacuate Euboea. But Eurybiades paid them no heed. Thus they tried to bribe Themistocles thirty talents to keep the Athenians there.
8:5 Themistocles in turn bribed Eurybiades and the Corinthian Adiamantus out of the thirty talents. He suggested that it came from the Athenian treasury.
8:6 The Persians moved against the Greeks, but they did not want to attack them head on, because then they would just flee under cover of darkness. The Persians wanted to annihilate them.
8:7 The Persians sent two hundred ships around Euboea to Europus, in order to try and trap the Greeks if they were to retreat that way.
8:8 Scyllias of Scione, the best diver of his time, serving with the Persians, decided to defect to the Greeks, and thus swam underwater from Aphetae to Artemisium, to tell them of these plans. H. does not believe this – he probably came in a boat. Why did Scyllias want to defect?
8:9 They decided to meet these ships rounding Euboea, and attack them late in the day, to test them in battle and to practice the tactic of breaking the line. They did not actually attack the ships rounding Euboea, they attacked the main body of ships at Aphetae.
8:10 The Persians confidently advanced and surrounded the Greeks. Some Ionians in the Persian fleet were quite reluctant to see their fellow Greeks encircled; others were quite eager for battle.
8:11 But the Greeks used the hedgehog defense, and they captured thirty Persian ships. The battle ended at nightfall to the advantage of the Greeks. Antidorus of Lemnos defected to the Greeks, for which he was rewarded land on Salamis.
8:12 It rained all night long, and the Persians could not row because of all the dead bodies clogging their oars. They took this as a bad omen.
8:13 The ships sailing around Euboea also encountered the storm, and many were shipwrecked. “All this was done by the god, that the Persian armament might be made equal with that of the Greeks and not much greater.”
8:14 On the morrow, fifty-three Attic ships arrived to help the Greeks, and they attacked the Cilician ships, and destroyed them.
8:15 By the third day, in disgrace and fear of Xerxes, the barbarians tried attacking themselves. This battle took place at the same time as Thermopylae.
8:16 The fight turned out to be evenly matched – as it turns out the barbarians’ numbers worked against them, giving them little room to maneuver. They destroyed a number of Greek ships, however, even though they suffered slightly greater losses themselves.
8:17 The Egyptians were the most skilled on the Persian side, taking five Greek ships. The Athenians were the best on the Greek side.
8:18 Both sides gladly retreated after the battle. The Greeks decided to retreat further south.
8:19 Themistocles thought it would be a good idea to try to detach the Ionian and Carian ships from the Persian fleet. He ordered his men to slaughter as many Euboean sheep as they could (so that they would not fall into the hands of the enemy), and to light fires to hide their departure.
8:20 The Euboeans had disregarded an oracle of Bakis, which instructed them to get their goats away from Euboea when those speaking a barbarian tongue cast into the brine a yoke of papyrus. So they had only themselves to blame for the loss of their flocks.
8:21 The Greeks received news of the results of Thermopylae, and so elected to retreat.
8:22 Themistocles left inscriptions at the freshwater wells on Euboea in Greek for the Ionians, enjoining them to defect to the Greek side, or at least withdraw to neutrality. Failing that, he asked, at least fight like cowards. He figured that if these messages were reported to Xerxes, he would keep them out of the fighting, and thus help the Greek cause.
8:23 A man from Histiaia told the Persians that the Greeks had left. In disbelief, they kept him under guard, and sailed out to discover that indeed, they had. So they took over Histiaia (near Artimisium on the northern tip of Euboea).
8:24 Xerxes allowed everyone from the fleet permission to go and inspect the battlefield at Thermopylae. He had most of the his 20,000 dead buried so that it wouldn’t look like they had suffered much loss.
8:25 Everyone went to see the battlefield, although they weren’t fooled by Xerxes’s artifice: it made no sense that there should be 4000 Greek dead all together and only 1000 Persian dead.
8:26 Then some poor Arcadians came to the Persians offering their services. Xerxes asked what the Greeks were doing, and the Arcadians replied that they were celebrating the Olympic festivals, in particular the gymnastic and horseracing events – for which the prize was an olive crown. Tigranes then exclaimed, “what sort of men have you led us to fight against, who contend not for money, but purely for the sake of excelling?” Pro-Hellenic propaganda.
8:27 After Thermopylae, the Thessalians sent a messenger to the Phocians. There was a lot of enmity between these two peoples. Earlier, the Thessalians had invaded Phocia, but Tellias the Elean got the Phocians to smear themselves with gypsum, and attack the Thessalians at night. Their appearance gave the Phocians a psychological advantage, and a convenient marker for whom not to kill. The Phocians acquired the arms of some 4000 soldiers, half of which they dedicated at Abae and the other half at Delphi. They also sponsored statues that stand around the tripod in front of the temple at Delphi.
8:28 The Phocians also laid a trap for the Thessalian cavalry – they enticed them to charge over land that gave way and broke their horses’ legs.
8:29 The Thessalian message to the Phocians was that they should pay the Thessalians fifty talents of silver, since the Thessalians now had influence with the Persians, and could get the Phocians enslaved if they wanted.
8:30 The Phocians refused, likely on account of their hatred of the Thessalians (if the Thessalians had not Medized, the Phocians probably would have). They said that they could Medize too if they wanted, but they would not be traitors to Greece.
8:31 The Thessalians were so angry at this reply, that they became guides to the Persians, to lead them to Phocis.
8:32 The Phocians, however, abandoned Phocis – some fled to the peak of Parnassus, others among the Ozolian Locrians. The Persians set the whole country ablaze
8:33 They plundered and burned any number of cities, including a shrine and oracle of Apollo. They raped and murdered any Phocians they happened to catch.
8:34 The barbarian army split in two, with Xerxes taking the bigger part towards Athens through Boeotia, which Medized.
8:35 The others marched towards Delphi in order to plunder the shrine there, and show off the treasures to Xerxes, even though he already knew about them through other peoples’ reports.
8:36 The terrified Delphians asked their own oracle about whether they should bury the treasure or remove it elsewhere. The god said to do nothing, as he was able to defend himself. The Delphians sent their women and children to Achaea, the men retreated to Parnassus and carried their personal goods to the Corycian cave. Only sixty men and the prophet remained in Delphi.
8:37 At this point a miracle occurred: the prophet, Aceratus, saw the sacred arms, which no one is allowed to touch, bring themselves out of the shrine and lie in front of the temple. Even better: when the barbarians were near the temple of Athena Pronaia, a shout emerged from within, and lightning struck off two chunks of Parnassus, which fell on them and killed quite a few.
8:38 So it was the barbarians’ turn to be filled with fear, and the Delphians chased them and killed a few more. The survivors fled to Boeotia. Some claim to have seen two larger-than-life hoplites chasing them and killing them also. Viz. the appearance of warrior saints.
8:39 The Delphians claim these were Phylacus and Autonous, local heroes whose shrines were near the temple. H. personally saw the chunks of Parnassus that had fallen on the Persians.
8:40 The Greek fleet left Artemisium and put in at Salamis, on the request of the Athenians, who were hoping for some help in evacuating their women and children. They had expected that the Peloponnesians would be stationed in Boeotia, but instead they were fortifying the isthmus, leaving Athens exposed.
8:41 The Athenians, trusting in the oracle about the wooden wall, abandoned Attica for Salamis, Aegina, and Troezen. They were also disturbed by the apparent abandonment of the acropolis by a large snake that lived there, and which formerly ate honey cakes left for it. The honey cakes remained uneaten, and the Athenians understood that Athena herself had abandoned the acropolis.
8:42 The Greek fleet put in at Salamis, rather than Troezen. The Spartan Eurybiades was still in command, although the Athenians contributed the most ships.
8:43 The Peloponnesian ship numbers at this point: Sparta 16, Corinth 40, Sicyon 15, Epidaurus 10, Troezen 5, Hermione 3. All except the latter were of Dorian or Macedonian stock; the men of Hermione were Dryopian.
8:44 For its part Athens contributed 180 ships. The Plataeans had earlier disembarked in order to save their families, and thus missed the battle.
8:45 The Megarians contributed 20 ships, the Ambraciots 7, the Leucadians 3.
8:46 Aegina contributed 30 ships, Chalcidice 20, Eretria 7, Ceos 2 (and 2 penteconters), Naxos 4, Styria 2, Cythia 1 (and a penteconter). The Seriphians, Siphnians, and Melians also served on the Greek side, the only islanders who did not Medize.
8:47 Beyond all that, Croton (Italy) contributed one ship, commanded by Phayllus, a three-time victor in the Pythian games.
8:48 The Melians, Siphnians, and Seriphians furnished penteconters. The total number of ships not including penteconters was 378.
8:49 The Greeks held a council of war at Salamis, and some voiced the opinion that they should retreat to the isthmus and fight there. If they were to fight at Salamis and be defeated, then they would be on an island surrounded by Persian ships. At the isthmus, any survivors of a loss would be able to join forces with the rest of the Greeks.
8:50 A report arrived that the Persians had burned Thespiae and Plataea, and were moving into Attica with a similarly destructive intent.
8:51 By this point the Persians had been in Europe for four months. They captured Athens – completely deserted except for some holdouts on the acropolis, who were treasurers of the temple, and indigent people who believed in the other interpretation of the oracle about the “wooden wall.”
8:52 The Persians besieged these people from a position on the Areopagus, by shooting flaming arrows at their barricade. The Pisistratids, accompanying the Persians, tried to propose terms of surrender, but the Athenians just ignored them and rolled boulders down onto them.
8:53 On one side of the acropolis was a sheer cliff, which meant that it was consequently undefended. But some Persians managed to scale it and open the gates. At this point, some Athenians threw themselves down the cliff, and others took refuge in the sanctuary. But they were killed, and the sanctuary plundered.
8:54 Xerxes, perhaps out of fear about what had happened to the sanctuary, ordered the Athenian exiles who were with him to sacrifice on the acropolis according to Greek custom. This they did.
8:55 The Athenians noticed a fresh shoot sprouting from the stump of the burnt olive tree in the temple of Erechtheus on the acropolis. This tree had been a gift of Athena (Poseidon had given a spring, but it was of salt water.)
8:56 The Greeks at Salamis were deeply disturbed when they heard the news, so much so that some of them actually boarded their ships and left. The remainder voted to retreat to the isthmus and fight a sea battle there.
8:57 Upon returning to his ship, Themistocles told his compatriot Mnesiphilus about the plans to retreat to the isthmus. Mnesiphilus believed that this was a bad decision: if they left Salamis, there would be nothing to hold the fleet together, and each contingent would leave to defend its own territory. He enjoined Themistocles to go to Eurybiades and try to persuade him to change his mind.
8:58 Themistocles thus went back to Eurybiades, and successfully persuaded him to reconsider. Eurybiades called another council of war.
8:59 Themistocles made his case. Adiamantus of Corinth stated that “those who get off the mark too soon are whipped,” to which Themistocles replied “those who get left behind are never crowned.”
8:60 Themistocles did not mention his fears of everyone abandoning the alliance, as Mnesiphilus predicted, since that would have been in bad taste with all the allies present. Instead, he pointed out that the open sea near the isthmus is not as useful to the Greeks, whose ships are heavier and fewer. Furthermore, if the Greeks should retreat, they’ll lose several islands, and the army will follow them on land to the isthmus. But at Salamis, the confined space will work to the Greeks’ advantage, and we’ll be defending the island, where our wives and children have taken refuge, and you’ll be defending the Peloponnese anyway, just a little further out. Themistocles was confident of victory, and when achieved it will keep the land forces away from the Peloponnese. A long chapter, divided in Purvis as 8.60, 8.60a, 8.60b, and 8.60g, not by numbered subsections.
8:61 Adiamantus told him to be quiet, since he had no homeland, and enjoined Eurybiades to forbid anyone so deprived of voting. Themistocles angrily retorted that as long as the Athenians had 200 ships, they had a homeland.
8:62 Themistocles then told Eurybiades that to remain would be good and noble, to retreat would be the ruin of Greece – and if he retreated, the Athenians would pack up and leave for Siris in Italy, which was theirs by ancient right and which they are destined to colonize.
8:63 This last argument was probably the most persuasive, and Eurybiades chose to remain at Salamis.
8:64 The next day at dawn an earthquake occurred, which inspired the Greeks to invoke Aeacus and his descendants as allies. They prayed to all the gods, then sent a ship to Aegina to fetch the images of Aeacus, Telemon, and Ajax. Wikipedia: Aeacus was a mythological king of the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf. By Endeïs, Aeacus had two sons, Telamon (father of Ajax and Teucer) and Peleus (father of Achilles).
8:65 On the Persian side, Dicaeus, an Athenian exile, was with Demaratus the Spartan, and saw a huge dust cloud rising from Eleusis, as though produced by tens of thousands of marching soldiers (even though Attica had been abandoned). They also heard a cry that sounded like the Iacchus song of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Demaratus, unfamiliar with these rites, asked what this divine vision portended. Dicaeus replied that it represented aid for the Athenians and bad things for Xerxes’s forces, either on land or sea. Demaratus told him to keep this prophecy to himself, lest he lose his head. They watched as the dust cloud drifted out to sea, and they knew that the Greeks would prevail there. Another longish chapter, comprising six subsections in Purvis.
8:66 But now the Persians had suffered some losses on land and sea, but they had recruited as they went through Greece, so their numbers were not appreciably diminished.
8:67 The fleet arrived at Phalerum (at the time the port of Athens), and Xerxes set himself up on a raised throne on the shore, where he received the ships’ leaders, and learn what their plans were.
8:68 They were all in favor of fighting, except Artemisia, who recognized the differential in skill. Instead, she counseled waiting them out, as they had no supplies on Salamis. Besides, not all of your allies are to be trusted (they’re “bad slaves”).
8:69 The people who liked her were dismayed at this speech, thinking that it represented her death warrant, but the people who disliked her were delighted. Xerxes, however, praised her serious opinion, but still opted to fight – his fleet would surely fight better than they had at Euboea, with him watching.
8:70 The Persians sailed out and formed their battle lines, preparing to fight the next day as it was getting late. The Greeks were terrified, since they feared that if they lost, they would be stuck on Salamis, with no way of getting back to defend their own territories.
8:71 On land, the Persians were marching towards the isthmus, which the Greeks were doing everything to fortify and defend, including with the construction of a wall.
8:72 Certain Peloponnesians were responsible for all of this; others didn’t actually care, and no longer had the excuse of the Olympic games or Carnean festival as reasons for not contributing.
8:73 Seven nations inhabit the Peloponnese. The Arcadians and Cynurians are native, the Achaeans are native but moved within the Peloponnese, and the Dorians, Aetolians, Dryopians, and Lemnians are all immigrants. Those of these people who remained neutral effectively took the side of Persia.
8:74 The land forces at the isthmus felt they were racing against time, especially since they didn’t expect the fleet to win. At the fleet there was grumbling against Eurybiades, and a widespread feeling that they should retreat to the isthmus to aid the land forces, rather than defend an area already lost.
8:75 Themistocles then secretly sent a message to the Persians, claiming that he was a partisan of Xerxes and that the Greeks were planning on running away. So the recommended course of action was, rather than let this happen, to attack now, which would force the Greeks to start fighting among themselves, as other partisans of Xerxes would reveal themselves. I believe that this is the meaning of this passage – it is somewhat unclear.
8:76 The Persians took the bait. They maneuvered ships onto the other side of Salamis, to cut off any Greek retreat, and stationed men on the island of Psyttaleia to slaughter any Greek survivors swimming there.
8:77 H. cites an oracle of Bacis that clearly foretells a Greek victory. He dares not refute such things, and gives no heed to those who do.
8:78 Back at Salamis, the Greeks were still arguing, and did not realize the Persians had encircled them.
8:79 At this point the Athenian Aristides, who had been ostracized despite his reputation for justice, arrived and pulled Themistocles aside. They had been political opponents, but the desperate times forced him to put aside this conflict. He informed Themistocles that the argument about retreat was useless, since the Persians had encircled them.
8:80 Themistocles claimed that this was good news, because it’s what he wanted to have happen, because it forced the Greeks to fight and not retreat. Themistocles told Aristides to tell the other commanders, because if Themistocles told them, they might think he was making it up.
8:81 Aristides did tell the other commanders, and emphasized the difficulty with which he managed to get to them. Some still did not believe him.
8:82 But a trireme of Tenians defected to the Greeks, and told them the same news. With the earlier Lemnian defection at Artimisium, the Greek ship total became 380.
8:83 So the Greeks prepared to fight. Themistocles gave an inspiring speech about always choosing the right, and at that moment the images of Aeacus and his descendants arrived from Aegina.
8:84 Aminias of Pallene, an Athenian, rammed the first Persian ship – or perhaps it was the returning ship from Aegina. A phantom woman appeared and reproached some other Greeks for not attacking.
8:85 In the ensuing battle some Ionians did act as willing cowards, as Themistocles had urged them to, but most did not. Some Samian ships took Greek ones, and their captains were later rewarded by Xerxes. 8:22.
8:86 But the advantage was largely to the Greeks, due to their proper discipline and ordered ranks, versus the barbarians’ lack of order and sense of purpose. Although they did fight better than before, with Xerxes watching them.
8:87 Artemisia cleverly saved herself by ramming one of her own side’s ships. The Athenian ship chasing her ship assumed that she had defected and gave up the chase.
8:88 Fortunately for Artemisia, Xerxes and his courtiers saw her – and assumed that she had destroyed a Greek ship. No one from the ship survived, so she got away with it. Xerxes remarked that “my men have become women, and my women men.”
8:89 In the battle were killed many notable Persians, including Xerxes’s brother, but very few Greeks, since most of them knew how to swim. The Persians generally did not, and some ships trying to retreat impeded other ships heading into battle.
8:90 Some Phoenician survivors came to Xerxes and badmouthed the Ionians, blaming them for the loss. But at that moment the crew of a Samothracian ship began throwing javelins at the crew of an Aeginetan ship that had just rammed it. They killed the crew and took over their ship. Xerxes was impressed by this action, which contradicted what the Phoenicians had just told him. He decided that the Phoenicians were responsible for the loss, and he ordered their heads removed.
8:91 The Aeginetans laid in ambush to ram Persian vessels rowing toward Phaleron. The Persian ships were trying to escape from the Athenians, and ran right into the Aeginetans.
8:92 Polycritus the Aeginetan managed to capture a Sidonian ship and liberate Pytheas, who could then escape to Salamis. He saw Themistocles’ ship, and mocked him for his notion that Aegina was pro-Persian. 7:181.
8:93 The Aeginetans acquired the greatest reputation from this battle, and after them the Athenians. The Athenian captain who had pursued Artemisia would not have given up if he had known it was her, for the Greeks had put a large price on her head for the scandal of being a woman doing a man’s job.
8:94 According to the Athenians, the Corinthians decided to flee from the battle, but then encountered a mystery vessel whose crew shamed them into returning to battle. The Corinthians deny this; they claim to have been the first in the engagement, and that everyone else agrees.
8:95 Aristides for his part recruited a number of Greeks on the shore, sailed to Psyttaleia, and slaughtered the Persians there. 8:79, 8:76.
8:96 The Greeks prepared for further battle, thinking that Xerxes would send in a second wave of intact ships. Much of the wreckage washed up on the Colian shore, thereby fulfilling a Bacian oracle about how the “women of Colias shall roast their barley with oar-blades.”
8:97 Xerxes then became nervous that the Ionians would defect and go to the Hellespont and break up the bridge there, at which point he would be stuck in Europe and his forces potentially destroyed. But he didn’t want to appear like a coward, so he made to construct a ship bridge out to Salamis, and prepared for another sea battle, as though he was determined to finish off the Greeks. Only Mardonius saw through this ruse.
8:98 Xerxes sent word of the disaster to Persia, using their marvelous horse-and-rider relay system. “And him neither snow nor rain nor heat nor night holds back for the accomplishment of the course that has been assigned to him, as quickly as he may.” The motto of the USPS.
8:99 The Persians at Susa were celebrating the destruction of Athens when the message about Salamis arrived, and their joy turned to sorrow.
8:100 Mardonius realized that he would probably be held responsible for the loss. He approached Xerxes and told him not to be discouraged, as only the fleet had been defeated and not the army, and that he should attack the Peloponnesus quickly. He also said that if Xerxes was going to return home to Persia, at least leave him a force with which to finish the job of subduing Greece.
8:101 Xerxes thought which of these courses to adopt. He called Artemisia to him, as asked her advice, since she had been right about the battle of Salamis
8:102 She told him that he should retreat and leave Mardonius to finish the job. If he should be victorious, Greece will belong to Xerxes, but if he should fail, it’s no great loss.
8:103 Xerxes was delighted, since that was what he wanted to hear. H. believes that should the entire world have counseled him to stay, he would still have left. He entrusted some of his children to Artemisia, and sent her back to Ephesus.
8:104 Xerxes send along one of his highly regarded eunuchs. Among the Pedasians (in Halicarnassus) there exists a priestess of Athena, who sprouts a beard every time the city is threatened. This had already happened twice.
8:105 Hermotimus, also a Pedasian, got some revenge. A certain Panionius of Chios had a lucrative business of buying boys, castrating them, and then selling them to the Persians at a great markup. This fate had befallen Hermotimus, but he acquired some status at the Persian court.
8:106 Hermotinus ran into Panionius, and pretended to be grateful for the castration, given his current status in life. He invited Panionious to Sardis, and once there with his family, revealed his real bitterness about his fate. He then compelled Panionius to castrate his four sons, and then for them to castrate their father, thus delivering a just, if brutal, revenge.
8:107 Xerxes empowered Mardonius to take whatever troops he wanted, and by night, Xerxes instructed his admirals to make for the Hellespont to guard the bridge, which they did under cover of darkness.
8:108 The next day the Greeks prepared to fight, expecting that the remainder of Persian fleet would still be there. When they discovered that it wasn’t, they pursued it as far as Andros, without finding it. They then held a debate: Themistocles was in favor of going to the Hellespont and breaking up the bridge, while Eurybiades wanted to let them escape, lest they cause more mischief while trapped in Europe. This was convincing to everyone else.
8:109 Themistocles then gave a speech in which he seemingly agreed with the idea of not pursuing the Persians. This was so that he could escape to the Persian court if he ever needed to – which indeed eventually he did. More base cleverness on the part of Themistocles.
8:110 So he sent a trusted messenger to Xerxes back in Attica, claiming that he had convinced everyone to stop pursuing his ships to the Hellespont.
8:111 The Greeks, at Andros, decided to subdue it. Themistocles tried to shake them down for money, but the Andrians pleaded poverty.
8:112 So he besieged Andros, and sent demands for money to other islands that had Medized. Some of them complied.
8:113 Xerxes, Mardonius, and the Persian troops retreated to Thessaly, thinking that it would be a better place to spend the winter. There, Mardonius selected his troops, some 300,000 men, mostly Persians and Medes.
8:114 Meanwhile, the Spartans received an Oracle that they should revenge the death and dismemberment of Leonidas. They sent a messenger to Xerxes demanding retribution. Xerxes just laughed, and referred them to Mardonius.
8:115 Xerxes retreated to the Hellespont. Many with him suffered hunger and dysentery on the journey, and Xerxes didn’t even get back the chariot he had left in Macedonia – the Thracians had made off with it.
8:116 A Thracian king had declared that he would never march against Greece, and forebade his six sons to do so. He retreated to a hill, but his sons disobeyed him and marched with Xerxes. Upon their return, the king had their eyes gouged out.
8:117 Upon arriving at the Hellespont, the troops discovered that the bridge had loosened in a storm. They took the opportunity to gorge themselves on the food available there, but this action (and the “change in water”) killed a number of them. How did the water “change”?
8:118 Another story of this retreat is that Xerxes entrusted his army to Hydarnes and then sailed to Asia on a Phoenician ship, with a number of other Persians. A storm came up and threatened the ship, and the helmsmen advised that they needed to jettison some people in order to lighten the ship. The men obediently jumped overboard. Upon arrival in Asia, Xerxes awarded the helmsman with a golden crown for saving his life, and then had his head chopped off for causing the death of so many Persians. The arbitrary, tyrannical behavior that Greeks expect of Persians.
8:119 But H. does not believe this story, because if it really happened, Xerxes would have summoned the Phoenician rowers and thrown them overboard, and set the Persians to rowing.
8:120 Further evidence that it could not have happened: Xerxes made it on foot to Abdera, because he made a treaty of friendship with them, and gave them a gold scimitar and gold turban. It was there that he (allegedly) first loosened his belt since leaving Athens, since he was now safe.
8:121 The Greeks could not destroy Adros, but they did wreak havoc on Carystus, then they went back to Salamis. They dedicated three triremes: one at the isthmus, one at Sunium, and one at Salamis (for Ajax). They sent firstfruits to Delphi, where it paid for a statue holding a ship’s prow in its hand.
8:122 The Greeks inquired whether the god wanted more, and he replied that he was pleased with their offerings, except those of the Aeginetians. So they offered three golden stars on a bronze mast.
8:123 The Greeks sailed to the isthmus, and held a vote about who was the bravest in the recent battle. Everyone voted to give himself first prize, but they all voted to give Themistocles second prize.
8:124 Everyone sailed home without resolving the issue, but Themistocles wanted more recognition, so he went to Sparta. They gave Eurybiades the victor’s prize of an olive wreath, but they also gave Themistocles the prize of the finest chariot in Sparta, for his cleverness and dexterity. They gave speeches in his honor, and an escort of three hundred Spartiates as he was leaving.
8:125 Upon Themistocles’ return to Athens, an enemy of his, Timodemus, kept mocking him. He said that he only got the honors from Sparta on account of his being from Athens. Themistocles replied that Timodemus was also from Athens, but they weren’t honoring him. Not completely clear.
8:126 Artabazus had accompanied Xerxes back to the Hellespont, and on his return to Thessaly he discovered the Potideans in open revolt.
8:127 Artabazus besieged Potidea, and Olynthia too on the suspicion that they had similar sentiments. He captured Olynthia, slaughtered its inhabitants, and gave it over to Critobulus of Torone and to the Chalcidian people as their possession.
8:128 Artabazus then turned his full attention to Potidea. Within the city was one Timoxenus of Scione, who was willing to betray the place. Artabazus and Timoxenus carried out a correspondence by wrapping letters around the shafts of arrows. This was discovered by the Potideans when one of the arrow missed its target and hit someone in the shoulder. For now, however, the Potideans did not take any action, lest all of Scione be brought into shame.
8:129 The siege lasted for three months. An extreme and prolonged ebb tide encouraged the Persians to wade through to Pallene, but as they were doing so, a flood tide came roaring in and drowned many of them, and left others sitting ducks for the people of Potidea, who came out in boats to kill them. This was the revenge of Poseidon for the barbarians’ sacrilege against his temple outside of town. Why did they want to go to Pallene?
8:130 What remained of the Persian fleet ferried the king and his fleet across the Hellespont, and spent the winter at Samos, to guard against another Ionian revolt. Their morale was low after Salamis, but they expected that Mardonius would prevail on land. They did not repair the bridge?
8:131 The Greek navy, some 110 ships, gathered at Aegina. The overall commander was Leotyches, king of Sparta, and the commander of the Athenians was Xanthippus. What happened to Eurybiades and Themistocles?
8:132 Messengers from Ionia came to the navy and requested that they help free Ionia. A group of seven of them had tried to kill Strattis, tyrant of Chios, but they were betrayed by one of them, and so the remaining six came to the Greeks at Aegina. The Greeks refused to sail past Delos, however, on account of their residual fear of the Persians. Strattis was Greek, but ruled on behalf of Xerxes.
8:133 Mardonius sent Mys of Europus around to the various oracles, most likely to inquire about the best course of action in his current predicament.
8:134 He went to Lebadea, where he bribed one of the locals to down go into the cave of Trophonius. He also went to the Abae among the Phocians, and to the oracle of Ismenian Apollo at Thebes. He bribed some stranger to go into the cave of Amphiarus (no Theban may enter, as he is an ally to them, not a prophet).
8:135 Then Mys came to the shrine of Ptoan Apollo in the countryside of Thebes. Three men from Thebes came with him to write any prophecies down, but to their surprise the oracle began speaking in a foreign tongue! Mys grabbed their tablet and wrote down the prophecy himself, which he said was delivered in the Carian language. He returned to Thessaly with it.
8:136 Mardonius then sent Alexander of Macedon to Athens, most likely in the hopes of recruiting Athens as an ally against the rest of Greece.
8:137 The Macedonian monarchy had been established seven generations previous to Alexander. Three brothers, sons of Temenos, were banished from Argos and came to Illyria. They ended up in Macedonia working for hire, tending animals for a local lord. His lady cooked their meals, and the loaf she made for the youngest consistently grew to twice its prepared size. The lord thought this must be a portent of some kind, and thus banished them. They demanded their wages, and he offered them a ray of sunshine that had fallen through the chimney hole of his house! The youngest drew a circle around the sunshine as it hit the ground, and gathered its light three times into his garment. The brothers then left. How and Wells: “Perdiccas symbolically claims possession of the hearth of the house and thus of the whole estate of its master, and then calls the sun to witness his claim to house and land.”
8:138 One of the lord’s counselors explained the significance of what the youngest had done, so he sent some men after them to kill them. But a swelling river blocked their way. The brothers settled in another part of Macedon, which they used as a base to conquer it.
8:139 The youngest, named Perdiccas, became the first king of the Temenid dynasty.
8:140 Alexander came to Athens to deliver a message on behalf of Mardonius, which claimed to be a relaying of a message from Xerxes himself, instructing Mardonius to forgive any Athenian transgression against the Persians, to allow them to live free and independent, to help themselves to neighboring territory, and to have their temples rebuilt at Persian expense. Mardonius said that he had no choice but to carry this out, and he urged the Athenians to become Persian allies, since they had no hope of eventual victory against Persia.
8:141 The Spartans caught wind of this embassy, and fearful of prophecies that they would be driven from the Peloponnese by a combination of Medes and Athenians, sent a messenger to Athens themselves. The Athenians arranged things so that the envoys would be present at the same time.
8:142 The Spartans urged the Athenians not to betray Greece, and offered to house and feed the Athenian noncombatants for the remainder of the war. Mardonius is not to be trusted, given that he works for a despot, and is a lying barbarian.
8:143 The Athenians replied to Alexander: we know we’re not as powerful as the Persians, but our love of freedom is very powerful indeed, and we’ll defend it to the death, and with the help of our gods and heroes, whom Xerxes so disrespected when he came into Attica.
8:144 The Athenians replied to the Spartans: you have nothing to fear. We won’t betray Greece for any amount. We share much in common: blood, language, gods, rites, habits, and upbringing. How can we abandon these? But please send troops as soon as you can. And with that, the envoys returned to Sparta.
**** BOOK 9 ****
9:1 Upon hearing Alexander’s message, Mardonius eagerly set out to wage war on Athens, aided by the Thessalians. Anyone he came across he drafted.
9:2 As Mardonius was coming through Boeotia, the Thebans attempted to prevent him from going further by telling him that this would be the best place to stop. From there, he could send money to all the cities, and watch as the Greeks began fighting each other. Was this advice sincere?
9:3 Mardonius did not take the advice, wanting to take Athens a second time to impress Xerxes. When he arrived there, however, he found the city still deserted.
9:4 He sent a messenger, Murychides of the Hellespont, to Salamis to deliver to the Athenians the same offer that Alexander had before. He thought they would be more pliable now that they saw he was master of Attica.
9:5 An Athenian, either through conviction or bribery, supported the offer, but the other Athenians stoned him to death – and the women went to his house and stoned his wife and children.
9:6 The Athenians had retreated to Salamis on account of the slowness of the Spartans coming north to help them. They sent messengers to Sparta.
9:7 The Spartans, however, were celebrating the festival of Hyacinthia, and putting the finishing touches on the isthmian wall. H. includes the text of the Athenian message to Sparta, which was full of anger. Not the Carnea this time.

9:7 is in three sections, the latter two of which are designed a and b.

9:8 The Spartans delayed giving an answer every day for ten days. H. thinks that they were desperate for Athenian help when they wall was incomplete, but now that it was complete, they didn’t need to worry about Athens.
9:9 At this point the Athenian Chileus addressed the Spartan ephors, telling them not to put too much faith in the wall, given that there were plenty of other ways to get into the Pelonponnese, especially if the Athenians go over to the Persian side.
9:10 So the Spartans sent out an army of 5000 men, with seven helots each, northward to Boeotia. The army was formally under the command of Pleistarchus, the boy-king, and actually under the command of Pausanias, his cousin and guardian.
9:11 The Athenian envoys didn’t know about this, and came before the ephors once again, expressing great disappointment and promsing that Athens would make an alliance with Persia, and then march on Sparta. But the ephors told them about the army. The envoys, amazed, set out in pursuit, along with an army of 5000 perioikoi.
9:12 Once the Argives realized what was going on, they went and told Mardonius. They had earlier freely promised Mardonius that they would try to keep the Spartans from marching out of the Peloponnese.
9:13 Mardonius had not done any damage to Attica, thinking that he could still make an alliance with Athens, but once he realized what was going on, he burned Athens and withdrew from it. He wanted to fight any battle on flat land suitable to cavalry.
9:14 He heard, though, that 1000 Spartan troops had reached Megara, so he divered his army towards them. He wanted to destroy them. Megara is the furthest the Persians got into Europe.
9:15 Mardonius then got another report that the Greeks had amassed at the isthmus, so he withdrew to Theban territory in Boeotia. The army cut down all the trees and built a fort, and the Theban Attaginos held a feast for Mardonius and fifty notable Persians.
9:16 Thersandros of Orchomenus (in Boeotia) was at this banquet, and told H. about it. Rather than having the Persians on one side and the Thebans on another, the host paired them off, so each Persian shared a couch with a Theban. After dinner, Thersandros’s Persian partner predicted great disaster for his side. “What comes from God, no man can turn back… This is the bitterest pain to human beings: to know much and control nothing.” No specific oracle is mentioned.
9:17 With the Persians were a large contingent of Medized Greeks. The Phocians, who had only Medized reluctantly, arrived and were placed apart from the other troops. The Persian cavalry then appeared before them, and the Phocians feared that the Persians were going to slaughter them. Harmokydes, the Phocian general, ordered his troops to stand firm and fight back.
9:18 The Persians actually charged, and the Phocians formed up into defensive positions. The Persians then turned around and left, either because they were afraid of the Phocians, or they had been ordered to do so by Mardonius, who was only testing their bravery. Mardonius then sent a messenger to the Phocians congratulating them on passing his test. They were not cowardly, as he had feared.
9:19 The Spartans, marching north, encamped on the isthmus. Their example encouraged other Peloponnesians to come north too. They were joined by the Athenians at Eleusis, and in Boeotia took up positions at the foot of Mount Cithaeron, facing the enemy.
9:20 Since the Greeks did not advance, the Persians sent their cavalry against them, and did them significant damage, in addition to insulting them as women.
9:21 The Megarians bore the brunt of these attacks, and sent a message to Pausanias asking for reinforcement, lest they be forced to retreat. No one volunteered to join them except for 300 Athenians under Olympiodorus.
9:22 At the next charge, the Athenians managed to kill Masistius, the Persian commander. The other Persians didn’t notice at the time, and wheeled around to retreat – when they realized that Masisitus wasn’t with them, they all returned together to try to get the body.
9:23 The Athenians called for more help, and there was an intense fight for the dead man. The 300 Athenians were being overpowered by the Persian cavalry, but then much of the rest of the Greek army arrived, and the Greeks got the upper hand, keeping the body and killing more Persians. Infantry defeats cavalry!
9:24 Back at their camp, the Persians bitterly mourned Masistius, shaving their heads, and the manes of their animals.
9:25 The Greeks’ morale was greatly boosted by this victory, and they all wanted to take a turn viewing the body of Masistius. They then came down and lined up in the plain, near the spring Gargaphia and the shrine of the hero Adrocrates.
9:26 But a dispute arose between the Athenians and Tegeans, each of whom wanted placement on the other wing (the Spartans got one wing by right). The Tegeans gave a long speech justifying why they should get it. Six numbered subsections in 9:26.


9:27 The Athenians then gave their arguments, pointing out all their ancestors’ heroic deeds and their recent performance at Marathon. But they said they would submit to Spartan orders, and perform well wherever they were placed. All the Greeks shouted that the Athenians were worthy of the wing. Six numbered subsections in 9:27.
9:28 The order of battle, from the right: Spartans (with helots), Tegeans, Corinthians, Potideans, Arcadians, Sicyonians, Epidaurians, Troezenians, Lepreonians, Mycenaeans, Phliasians, Hermionians, Eretrians, Chalcidians, Ambraciots, Cephallenians, Aeginetans, Megarians, Plataeans, Athenians. Six numbered subsections in 9:28.
9:29 All told there were some 39,000 hoplites, and 70,000 lightly armed troops.
9:30 Thus the total Greek forces amounted to almost 110,000, but with the Thespian survivors of Thermopylae counted (these were in camp, although unarmed), the total got to 110,000.
9:31 The barbarian battle order was: Persians, Medes, Bactrians, Indians, Sacae, Boeotians, Locrians, Malians, Thessalians, Phocians. These did not match up with the Greek contingents one to one – the Persians outnumbered the Spartans, for instance, and were lined up against the Tegeans too. But the idea was to match strength with strength.
9:32 Various other peoples on the barbarian side gave them a total of 300,000 troops, which included som 50,000 Greeks who had Medized.
9:33 The next day, both sides made their sacrifices. The prophet Tisamenus of Elea, now a citizen of Sparta, made the sacrifice for the Greek side. He had received an oracle at Delphi that he would win five great contests. So he devoted himself to pentathalon, and almost won it, but the Spartans realized that it referred to battles. They tried to bribe Tisamenus to come over to them. He demanded Spartan citizenship – the Spartans balked, but relented once the Persian threat became apparent.
9:34 This demand was parallel to what Melampus had earlier done to the Argives. Their women had gone mad, and Melampus was called from Pylos to help cure them. He demanded as his price half the kingship of Argos. The Argives said no, but as more of their women went mad, they relented. What qualification did Melampus have for curing women of madness?
9:35 Tisamenus, now a Spartiate, by his prophesying helped the Spartans win five great contests: Platea, Tegea, Dipaea, Messenians, Tanagra.
9:36 Tisamenus’s sacrifices were favorable at Plataea, but only if they stayed on the south side of the river Asopus.
9:37 Mardonius also received similar omens, that he should fight in self-defense and not go on the attack. These omens were provided by the seer Hegesistratus the Elean, who had earlier managed to escape a death sentence at Sparta, by chopping off his own foot and thereby escaping the stocks. Eventually the Spartans captured and killed him.
9:38 This happened later, though. In the meantime, the sacrifices would not come out favorably for fighting. More and more Greeks were arriving and joining the Greek side, so Mardonius was advised to watch the mountain passes and try to cut them off.
9:39 The armies had been facing each other for eight days when Mardonius took this advice. Almost at once the Persian cavalry intercepted some 500 Greeks bringing supplies to the Greek camp, and killed most of them.
9:40 But for the next two days neither side would cross the Asopus river, although the Thebans were itching for a fight.
9:41 On the eleventh day, the Persians debated. Artabazus suggested that they retreat to Thebes, where they had plenty of food, and wait out the Greeks, rather than risking everything in a pitched battle. They had a lot of gold too, and they could send it out and bribe selected Greeks into Medizing. Mardonius, however, thought that the longer they waited, the stronger the Greeks would get. The sacrifices of Hegesistratus were not according to Persian custom and could be disregarded.
9:42 No one dared contradict this, since Mardonius held authority directly from Xerxes. He asked his commanders whether they knew of any prophecies about the Persians meeting their destruction. Either they didn’t know, or they did, but dared not say anything. Mardonius said that he knew of a prophecy that the Persians would despoil Delphi, and then meet destruction, so if they stayed away from Delphi, they’d be fine. Pro-Hellenic propaganda – authority, not the better argument, wins.
9:43 H. says that this prophecy was for the Illyrians, not the Persians. A Bacian prophecy (and some others) did foretell destruction of the Persians.
9:44 Later that night, Alexander of Macedon rode up to the Athenian sentries, requesting to speak with their commanders.
9:45 Alexander revealed that he cared about Greece and did not want to see it subdued. Mardonius had not attacked because he couldn’t get the sacrifices to come out right, but now he has determined to attack anyway, and it is likely to occur tomorrow. If it doesn’t, the Greeks should hold firm anyway, because his supplies are running low.
9:46 The Athenians went and told Pausanias about this intelligence, and he offered to trade wings with them, since the Athenians had experience of fighting the Persians at Marathon, while the Spartans had experience fighting Boeotians and Thessalians. The Athenians said that they were going to propose this, but didn’t want to incur the Spartans’ wrath, so were glad that the Spartans proposed it themselves.
9:47 The Persians perceived what the Greeks had done, and exchanged their own troops so that the Persians were up against the Spartans. The Greeks then switched again, and the Persians switched again in response.
9:48 Mardonius then sent a messenger accusing the Spartans of cowardice, and offering to fight Persians vs. Spartans alone.
9:49 The Spartans made no reply, so Mardonius sent his cavalry against the Greeks. They did some damage, riding up and shooting arrows or throwing javelins at the Greek infantry, and destroying the spring of Gargaphia.
9:50 The Greeks were now cut off from a water supply, and from food as well: their baggage train, which had been sent to the Peloponnese for more supplies, was now cut off by the cavalry.
9:51 The Greeks thus decided to withdraw to the Island, a nearby hill between two streams, that night.
9:52 After a day of relentless attack, they did move at night – but most of the Greeks went straight to Plataea, where they encamped around the temple of Hera.
9:53 Pausanias ordered the Spartans to move with the others, thinking that they were going to the Island – but one captain, Amompharetus, refused to go, believing that it would be disgraceful to run from the enemy.
9:54 The Athenians sent a messenger to watch what the Spartans were actually doing, and to ask what the Athenians should do themselves.
9:55 The Athenians came upon the Spartans in the midst of a great quarrel about whether to stay or to go. Pausanias told the Athenian messenger to get the Athenians to join the Spartans, and to do whatever they did.
9:56 When day broke, Pausanias led the Spartan troops off – and Amompharetus did follow. The Athenians also followed, but by a different route.
9:57 Amompharetus couldn’t believe that Pausanias actually left without him (although Pausanias paused just out of sight, in case Amompharetus and his troops were attacked, so Pausanias could come back to help them). But then Amompharetus did order his men to follow. When they were almost caught up with Pausianias’s troops, suddenly the Persian cavalry came down on them.
9:58 Mardonius summoned the Thessalian commanders and expressed amazement at the apparent cowardice of the Spartans. They were continually changing their position, and now had run away! Artabazus, he said, should be ashamed of his advice to take shelter in Thebes. Mardonius was determined to pursue the Spartans and punish them.
9:59 So they attacked the Spartans, and did not even see the nearby Athenians.
9:60 The Spartans sent word to the Athenians to come and help them.
9:61 The Athenians did come eagerly, but at that point were set upon by Greeks in the service of Xerxes. The Spartans were sorely pressed by the Persians, and even offered sacrifice, although the sacrifies did not turn out well for them. Pausanias, with his eyes fixed on the Temple of Hera in Plataea, prayed to her that it would turn out well.
9:62 While he was praying, the Tegeans, who were with the Spartans, attacked the Persians, and suddenly the sacrifices turned out well, so the Spartans attacked too. “In spirit and strength, the Persians were the equals of the Greeks, but they had no armor, and they were unskilled besides and no match for their enemies in cunning. They made their charges singly or in tens… and so they were destroyed.”
9:63 Mardonius, mounted on a white charger, was surrounded by a thousand picked Persians who fought especially hard as long as he was alive. But when he fell, they lost heart and were routed. Their lack of armor hurt them severely.
9:64 Thus did the Spartans vindicate Leonidas. Mardonius was killed by Aeimnestus, a notable man of Sparta. Later, Aeimnestus died fighting the Messenians, along with his three hundred troops.
9:65 The Persians retreated in a disorderly fashion to their wooden fort, but at no point did anyone violate the temple of Demeter, who was not in the mood to welcome those who had earlier violated her shrine at Eleusis.
9:66 Artabazus, who had been skeptical of the entire enterprise, saw what transpired, and took his troops at speed off to Phocian territory, in order to get to the Hellespont.
9:67 Most of the Medized Greeks gave up at this point, except the Thebans, who were still quite enthusiastic. As a result, some three hundred of them were slaughtered by the Athenians.
9:68 In general, the project was a Persian one, and collapsed once they gave up. Their cavalry shielded the retreating soldiers, however.
9:69 The Greeks pursued the losers, and when word got to those Greeks who had sat out at the Temple of Hera that the Spartans were victorious, they marched out to join in the activity. However, some six hundred of them were killed by the Theban cavalry.
9:70 The Spartans ineffectively besieged the Persians in their wooden fort, but then the Athenians arrived. More skilled in siege warfare, they conquered the fort and slaughtered those within. The men of Tegea made off with Mardonius’s bronze manger, which they dedicated at a temple of Athena Alea.
9:71 The best infantry fighters on the Persian side were the Persians themselves, and the best cavalry were the Sacae. The best individual soldier was Mardonius. On the Greek side the Tegeans and the Athenians distinguished themselves, but the Spartans were the most distinguished of all. Aristodemus, the sole Spartan survivor of Thermopylae, redeemed himself.
9:72 The Spartan Callicrates died of an arrow to the ribs. He claimed he did not mind dying, but he did mind dying before he could have performed any brave deeds.
9:73 Sophanes, an Athenian from the deme of Decelea, earned glory. The Deceleans had once performed a worthy deed, by revealing to the Tyndaridae (sons of Helen’s father Tyndareus, her brothers the Dioscuri) where Helen was hiding. The Spartans thus bestowed freedom from dues and a privileged place at religious festivals on the Decleans, which is why they did not molest Decelea in the opening phase of the Peloponnesian war. Theseus and Perithous had stolen Helen from Sparta.
9:74 Sophanes, at the Battle of Platea, had an anchor, which he attached to himself and planted in the ground, so that he could not be moved from his spot. (Or, he had an anchor on his shield, which he ceaselessly whirled around.)
9:75 Sophanes had earlier killed Eurybates of Argos during the siege of Aegina; he was killed in turn by the Edoni at Datus, fighting for the gold mines there.
9:76 A concubine of Pharendates the Persian presented herself to Pausanias and threw herself on his mercy. She claimed to be a Coan, the daughter of Hegetorides. As it happens Hegetorides was a guest-friend of Pausanias, so he allowed her to go to Aegina, where she wanted to go.
9:77 Both the Mantineans and Eleans were despondent to have missed the battle, and upon their return home, banished the military commanders they held responsible.
9:78 Lampon of Aegina suggested to Pausanias that he impale the body of Mardonius, as revenge for the Persian treatment of Leonidas.
9:79 Pausanias thanked him for this advice but rejected it, saying that such behavior was inherently unjust, and that the victory of Platea was vengeance enough for Leonidas.
9:80 The helots were ordered to collect booty, and kept much of it for themselves. But they sold a lot what they thought was bronze (but was actually gold) to the Aeginetans.
9:81 Of the declared booty, a tenth was granted to Delphi, which funded a bronze tripod in front of the serpent column. Another tenth was granted to Olympia, which funded a ten-cubit statue of Zeus. Another tenth was granted to the Isthmus, and funded a seven-cubit statue of Poseidon. The rest was divided up – more to those who had shown especial bravery, and a tenfold share to Pausanias. Not the statue of Zeus by Phidias, done later.
9:82 It is said that Pausanias ordered the Persian bakers and cooks to prepare a meal of the sort that they would have prepared for Mardonius. Of course, it was elaborate and served elaborately. He then ordered his own servants to serve a Spartan meal, which was much simpler. He then showed the tableau to his generals, and proclaimed that the Persians were quite foolish: they already had meals like this, and they came to Greece to steal meals like this! Pro-Spartan propaganda.
9:83 Long afterwards, the Plataeans found chests of gold and silver and other things. They also found freaks of nature among the Persian bones: a skull without suture, a skull with all upper teeth as a single bone, and the skeleton of a man 7.5 feet tall.
9:84 Mardonius’s body was never found. H. heard that Dionysophanes of Ephesus was the one to steal it, although many others claimed to have done so. Rumor also had it that Mardonius’s son Artontes paid a great deal of money for it.
9:85 The Greeks buried their own dead at Plataea. The Spartans buried the irens, Spartiates, and helots separately. Other Greeks buried their dead all together – and those Greeks who did not participate built Potemkin burial mounds, for the sake of posterity. Irens – Spartan soldiers between 20 and 30 years old.
9:86 The Greeks debated, and then marched on Thebes, in order to arrest the Theban leaders who had supported Persia, and to besiege and destroy the town if they could not. The latter is what happened.
9:87 After nineteen days, Timagenidas, one of the Theban leaders, suggested that they try to bribe the Greeks. If that didn’t work, then he would indeed give himself up. Thus were he and the other leaders handed over to Pausanias.
9:88 The Thebans thought they would be put on trial, and that they could get off by bribing the judges, but Pausanias foreclosed this possibility by just executing them all.
9:89 Artabazus, in his retreat, reached Thessaly, and was given a banquet by the Thessalians. He kept news of Plataea to himself, lest the Thessalians turn on him and turn him over to the Greeks. He told them that he was trying to get to Thrace on a matter of urgency, and that Mardonius was following, and they should entertain him too. The Thracians attacked his men, but he himself got away, crossing at Byzantium by boat.
9:90 On the same day as Plataea, the Persians suffered a defeat at Mycale in Ionia. An embassy of anti-Persian Samians had come to the Greek fleet, commanded by the Spartan Leotychides and stationed at Delos, and enjoined them to attack the Persians in Ionia, claiming that one glimpse of the Greek fleet would encourage the Ionians to revolt, and the Persians would be sitting ducks.
9:91 Leotychides asked the Samian his name, and he responded “Hegesistratus.” Leotychides took this as a good omen, and requested oaths of loyalty from the Samians. Hegesistratus = “leader of the army”
9:92 The Samians did so and sailed off, but Leotychides retained Hegesistratus on his own ship, for the sake of the good luck that his name would bring.
9:93 The Greeks sacrificed the next day, with favorable results provided by the prophet Deiphonus of Apollonia (on the Ionic gulf). Deiphonus’s father Euenius had been selected by the citizens of Apollonia to guard their sacred flock, but one night he dozed off and wolves attacked, killing about sixty of the sheep. For this he was blinded, but then the flock had no young, and their land produced no crops. Both Delphi and Dodona said that the punishment of Euenius had been unjust, that the gods themselves had sent the wolves, and they would continue to punish the Apollonians until they gave Euenius whatever he wanted as compensation. There are a number of cities named Apollonia.
9:94 They kept the oracle to themselves, and nonchalantly asked Euenius what it would take to slake his anger against them. He replied that he would be satisfied with the two largest estates in Apollonia, and the finest house in the city. So they told him that that is what they’d give him, in accordance with the oracle. He was angry at this, thinking that he had been tricked, but he did get the estates and the house, and also received the gift of prophecy, for which he became famous.
9:95 But Deiphonus may not actually have been the son of Euenius. He may only have claimed to be so, for the sake of his trade.
9:96 The Greeks sailed from Delos to Samos, and the Persians sailed to the mainland to be under the protection of their army, the remnant that Xerxes had left behind at Mycale to guard Ionia.
9:97 The Persians put in at Gaeson and Scolopois, where they drew up their ships onto the shore and built a stockade around them.
9:98 The Greeks followed, and Leotychides’s herald shouted to those on shore, in Greek, that the Ionians should remember their freedom and also the watchword “Hera” – and that they should pass it on. Themistocles had done much the same thing at Artemesia: either a message could be communicated behind the backs of the Persians, or if the Persians were made aware of the meaning, would become suspicious of their Greek allies. Cf. 8:22.
9:99 It worked: the Persians indeed became suspicious of the Samians (who had, earlier, released 500 Athenian prisoners of war), and thus they deprived them of their arms. They then sent the Milesians to guard mountain passes, as an excuse to get them away from the army.
9:100 The Greeks, having landed, advanced on the Persians. Somehow a rumor spread among them about Plataea, and a herald’s baton on the shore provided further evidence of this. Morale was very high as a result.
9:101 The two battles were linked by the nearby presence of shrines of Demeter. Perhaps divine will communicated the rumor about Plataea to those at Mycale.
9:102 The Athenians heartily attacked, hoping that the victory would be theirs (the Spartans were sneaking around the back). They managed to force the Persians back into their fort, which they then raided. Two Persian commanders were killed, and two escaped.
9:103 The Spartans arrived and tried to partake as much as they could. Many Sicyonians were killed, along with their commander. The unarmed Samians tried to help the Greeks as much as they could.
9:104 Persian survivors, running to the hills, were now misguided by the Milesians they had stationed there. The Milesians did not help them escape, but directed them back towards their enemies, and then set upon them themselves.
9:105 The Athenians were the best in this battle, and of the Athenians, the best was Hermoycus, a pancrationist. He later died fighting the Carystians.
9:106 The Greeks then burned the Persian palisades and the ships, and took what treasure they could find. They then debated what to do with Ionia. The Spartans wanted to expel all the Medized Greeks and give the territory to their Ionian allies, but the Athenians forebade it – some of the Greeks who had Medized had been their colonists. So they bound together the islanders in an alliance, and then sailed to the Hellespont to break up the bridge.
9:107 Among the Persian refugees, Masistes, son of Darius, started verbally abusing the Persian commander Artayntes for losing the battle. Artayntes drew his sword to attack Masistes, but Xenagoras the Halicarnassian picked him up from behind and stopped him. For this service to the king’s brother he was granted the rulership of all Cilicia.
9:108 Xerxes, in Sardis, fell in love with Masistes’s wife, who was also there. She resisted his entreaties, so finally he arranged for a marriage between his own son, Darius, and Masistes’s and Masistes’s wife’s daughter. He thought this strategem would bring him closer to Masistes’s wife, but afterwards what happened is that he fell in love with the daughter, Artaynte. Why not give the name of Masistes’s wife? This is not the first time H. neglects to name a woman actor.
9:109 Xerxes’s own wife Amestris wove a beautiful cloak, which she gave to Xerxes. He showed it to Artaynte, and then swore that she could have anything of his that she wanted. Of course she wanted the cloak, and Xerxes was forced to give it to her. She wore it around, thereby revealing the affair that Amestris already suspected. Is this episode a reflection back to the story of Gyges and Candaules that began the whole work?

Why do kings always seem to make these rash promises?

9:110 Amestris did not blame the girl for this situation, but the girl’s mother, Masistes’s wife. She waited for the king’s birthday feast, and then asked Xerxes for Masistes’s wife as a gift. Xerxes, suspecting the worst, balked at this request.
9:111 But the custom was that the king, at his banquet, could not refuse. Xerxes told Masistes to let his wife go, and that Xerxes would provide him with one of his own daughters. Masistes was amazed at this request and turned it down, so Xerxes grew angry and withdrew the offer of his daughter, but said that he would still have to let go of his wife.
9:112 Amestris mutilated Masistes’s wife by cutting off her breasts, nose, ears, lips, and tongue. Amestris fed these to dogs.
9:113 Masistes, upon discovering what had happened to his wife, took off with her, their children, and some supporters to Bactria, in order to raise a revolt there against Xerxes. But Xerxes sent an army after them, which caught up with them and killed them all.
9:114 The Greeks, sailing from Mycale, came to the Hellespont, and discovered the boat bridge in disrepair. The Spartans returned to the Peloponnese, but the Athenians stayed there and attacked Chersonese, besieging Sestos. “Chersonese” = (any) “peninsula,” in this case Gallipoli.
9:115 The Persians in the area, along with the local Aeolians, had taken refuge in Sestos.
9:116 The Persian satrap of the area was Artayctes, who had robbed the shrine of Protesilaus after Xerxes made many offerings there. He tricked Xerxes into doing this by saying that Xerxes should confiscate the house of a local man who had waged war on the king’s land, and give it to Artayctes. He sent the treasure to Sestos, sowed grain where the shrine had been, and helped himself to the local women whenever he would visit. The Athenian siege was the last thing he was expecting. Protesilaus was a hero of the Trojan war who enjoyed a local cult. He had been the first off the ships and thus the first to die, according to fate.
9:117 The siege went on for some time, and the men were in favor of giving it up, but the commanders refused until either the city fell, or Athens recalled them.
9:118 The conditions inside Sestos were terrible, however, and Artayctes and another Persian commander Oebazus snuck out one night with some troops. The others in the fort then signaled their desire to surrender. Some Athenians pursued Artayctes and Oebazus, while others held the fort.
9:119 Oebazus was captured by the Thracians and sacrificed according to their custom, and those with him were also killed. Artayctes and those with him were overtaken by the Athenians, captured, and brought back in chains.
9:120 The Athenians guarding Artayctes were cooking some fish, which started jumping around as if alive and freshly caught. They marveled at this, but Artayctes claimed the sign was for him: Protesilaus was angry with what Artayctes had done, and Artayctes was willing to pay 100 talents to the hero’s shrine, and 200 to the Athenians to let him and his son go free. But the Athenian general Xanthippus thought that the man’s crimes deserved a more severe punishment, as did the people who lived around the shrine. So they crucified him on the shore next to the end of the pontoon bridge, and stoned his son to death while he watched.
9:121 With that, the Athenians sailed for home, taking some material used to construct the bridge that they wanted to dedicate at their shrines.
9:122 Artayctes was the grandson of Artembares. Artembares had, years earlier, advised Cyrus to attack Persia’s neighbors and thus get some better land than that which they had. Cyrus said that should they do this, they should steel themselves to be ruled by others. “From soft countries come soft men. It is not possible that from the same land stems a growth of wondrous fruit and men who are good soldiers.” Thus they stayed in Persia, preferring to rule in a poor land rather than be slaves in a rich one. But Cyrus did attack Persia’s neighbors, and did start building the Persian empire. The idea that Greece was poor, and thus tough, is certainly theme of this book.