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V.28‑54

This webpage reproduces a section of Herodotus
published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,
1922

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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V.97‑126

(Vol. III) Herodotus

 p61  Book V: chapters 55‑96

The flags in the text are links to the Greek as printed on facing pages in the Loeb edition.
In the left margin, links to Rawlinson's translation (Vol. III, with valuable notes),
and to the running commentary by How and Wells.

55 Rawlinson p261 H & W Being compelled to leave Sparta, Aristagoras went to Athens; which had been freed from its ruling despots in the manner that I shall show. When Hipparchus, son of Pisistratus and brother of Hippias the despot, had been slain (after seeing in a dream a very clear picture of the evil that befel him) by Aristogiton and Harmodius, men of Gephyraean descent, after this the Athenians were subject for four years to a despotism not less but even more absolute than before.

56 Rawlinson p262 Now this was the vision which Hipparchus saw in a dream: in the night before the Panathenaea he thought that a tall and goodly man stood over him uttering this riddling verses:

Bear an unbearable lot; O lion, be strong for the bearing;

No man on earth doth wrong but at last shall suffer requital.

 p63  As soon as it was day, he imparted this (as was seen) to the interpreters of dreams; and presently putting the vision from his mind, he led the procession in which he met his death.1

57 H & W Now the Gephyraean clan, of which were the slayers of Hipparchus, is said by themselves to have come at first from Eretria; but my own enquiry shows that they were some of the Phoenicians2 who came with Cadmus to the country now called Boeotia, and in that country the lands of Tanagra were allotted to them, where they settled. The Cadmeans having been first expelled thence by the Argives,3 these Gephyraeans were in turn expelled by the Boeotians and betook themselves to Athens. The Athenians received them as citizens of their own on set terms, debarring them from many practices not here deserving mention.

58 These Phoenicians who came with Cadmus (of whom the Gephyraeans were a part) at their settlement in this country, among many other kinds of learning, brought into Hellas the alphabet, which had hitherto been unknown, as I think, to the Greeks; and presently as time went on the sound and the form of the letters were changed. At this time the Greeks that dwelt round them for the most part were Ionians; who, having been taught the letters by the Phoenicians, used them with some few changes of form, and in so doing gave to these characters (as indeed was but just, seeing that the  p65 Phoenicians had brought them into Hellas) the name of Phoenician.4 Thus also the Ionians have from ancient times called papyrus-sheets skins, because formerly for lack of papyrus they used the skins of sheep and goats; and even to this day there are many foreigners who write on such skins.

59 Rawlinson p265 I have myself seen Cadmean characters in the temple of Ismenian Apollo at Thebes of Boeotia, graven on certain tripods and for the most part like Ionian letters. On one of the tripods there is this inscription:

I am Amphitryon's gift, from spoils Teleboan fashioned.

This would be of the time of Laïus, the son of Labdacus, who was the son of Polydorus, who was the son of Cadmus.

60 Rawlinson p266 H & W A second tripod says, in hexameter verse:

I am a gift that is given by Scaeus, the conquering boxer,

Archer Apollo, to thee for thy temple's beauteous adornment.

Scaeus the son of Hippocoon, if indeed the dedicator be he and not another of the same name as Hippocoon's son, would be of the time of Oedipus son of Laïus.

61 The third tripod says, in hexameter verse again:

I am the tripod that erst Laodamas, sovereign ruler,

Gave to far‑seeing Apollo, his temple's beauteous adornment.

 p67  In the sovereignty of this Laodamas son of Eteocles, the Cadmeans were expelled by the Argives and betook themselves to the Encheleis. The Gephyraeans were left behind, but were later compelled by the Boeotians to withdraw to Athens; and they have certain set forms of worship at Athens, wherein the rest of the Athenians have no part; these, in especial the rites and mysteries of Achaean Demeter, are different from the other worships.

62 I have shown what was the vision of Hipparchus' dream, and what the first origin of the Gephyraeans, of whom were the slayers of Hipparchus; now I must go further and return to the story which I began to tell, namely, how the Athenians were freed from their despots. Hippias being their despot and growing ever bitterer in enmity against the Athenians by reason of Hipparchus' death, the Alcmeonidae, a family of Athenian stock banished by the sons of Pisistratus, essayed with the rest of the banished Athenians to make their way back by force and free Athens, but could not prosper in their return and rather suffered great hurt. They had fortified Lipsydrium north of Paeonia; then, in their desire to use all devices against the sons of Pisistratus, they hired themselves to the Amphictyons for the building of the temple at Delphi which now is but then as yet was not there. Being wealthy and like their fathers men of reputation, they wrought the temple into a fairer form than the model shown; in particular, whereas they had agreed to build the temple of tufa, they made its front of Parian marble.

63 Rawlinson p268 H & W These men then, as the Athenians say, sat  p69 them down at Delphi and bribed the Pythian priestess, whenever any Spartans should come to enquire of her on a private or a public account, to bid them set Athens free. Then the Lacedaemonians, when the same command was ever revealed to them, sent Anchimolius the son of Aster, a citizen of repute, to drive out the sons of Pisistratus with an army, albeit the Pisistratids were their close friends; for the gods' will weighed with them more than the will of man. They sent these men by sea on shipboard. So Anchimolius put in at Phalerum and there disembarked his army; but the sons of Pisistratus had got word of the plan already, and sent to ask help from Thessaly, wherewith they had an alliance. The Thessalians at their entreaty joined together and sent their own king, Cineas of Conium, with a thousand horsemen. When the Pisistratids got these allies, they devised a plan whereby they laid the plain of Phalerum waste, so that all that land could be ridden over, and then launched their cavalry against the enemy's army; the horsemen charged and slew Anchimolius and many more of the Lacedaemonians, and drove those that survived to their ships. Thus faring, the first Lacedaemonian armament drew off; and Anchimolius' tomb is at Alopecae in Attica, near to the Heracleum in Cynosarges.5

64 Rawlinson p270 After this the Lacedaemonians sent out a greater army to attack Athens, appointing as its general their king Cleomenes son of Anaxandrides;  p71 this army they sent no longer by sea but by land. When they broke into Attica the Thessalian horse was the first to meet them, and was presently routed and more than forty men were slain; those that were left alive made off for Thessaly by the nearest way they could. Then Cleomenes, when he and the Athenians that desired freedom came before the city, drove the despots' family within the Pelasgic wall6 and there beleaguered them.

65 H & W And assuredly the Lacedaemonians would never have taken the Pisistratid stronghold; for they had no mind to blockade it, and the Pisistratids were well furnished with food and drink; and the Lacedaemonians would but have besieged the place for a few days and then returned back to Sparta. But as it was, there befel a turn of fortune that harmed the one party and helped the other; for the sons of the Pisistratid family were taken as they were being privily carried out of the country. This made all their plans to be confounded; and they submitted to depart out of Attica within five days on the terms prescribed to them by the Athenians, in return for the recovery of their children. Presently they departed to Sigeum on the Scamander. They had ruled the Athenians for six-and‑thirty years;7 they too were in lineage of the house of Pylos and Neleus, born of the same ancestors as the families of Codrus and Melanthus, who had formerly come from foreign parts to be kings of Athens. Hence it was that Hippocrates gave his son for a remembrance the name Pisistratus, calling him after Pisistratus the son of Nestor.

 p73  Thus the Athenians got quit of their despots; and all the noteworthy things that they did or endured, after they were freed and before Ionia revolted from Darius and Aristagoras of Miletus came to Athens to ask help of its people — these first I will now declare.

66 Rawlinson p272 Athens, which had before been great, grew now yet greater when rid of her despots; and those that were of chief power there were two, Cleisthenes an Alcmaeonid (it is he who is reputed to have overpersuaded the Pythian priestess), and Isagoras son of Tisandrus, a man of a notable house, but of what lineage I cannot tell; his kinsfolk sacrifice to Zeus of Caria. These men with their factions fell to contending for power, wherein Cleisthenes being worsted took the commonalty into partnership.8 Presently he divided the Athenians into ten tribes, instead of four as formerly; he called none any more after the names of the sons of Ion, Geleon, Aegicores, Argades, and Hoples, but invented for them names taken from other heroes, all native to the country save only Aias; him he added, albeit a stranger, because he was a neighbour and an ally.

67 Rawlinson p274 H & W Now herein, to my thinking, this Cleisthenes was imitating his own mother's father, Cleisthenes the despot of Sicyon.9 For Cleisthenes, after going to war with the Argives, made an end of minstrels' contests at Sicyon by reason of the Homeric poems, because wellnigh everywhere in these it is Argive and Argos that are the theme of song; furthermore, he conceived the desire to cast out from the land (as being an Argive) Adrastus son of  p75 Talaus, the hero whose shrine stood then as now in the very market-place of Sicyon. He went then to Delphi, and enquired of the oracle if he should cast Adrastus out; but the priestess in answer said: "Adrastus is king of Sicyon, and thou but a common slayer." When the god would not suffer him to work his will in that, he returned back and strove to devise some plan which might rid him of Adrastus; and when he thought he had found one, he sent to Thebes of Boeotia and said he would fain bring into his country Melanippus son of Astacus; whom when the Thebans gave him he brought to Sicyon, and gave him a precinct in the very town-hall of the city, setting him there in its strongest place. Now the reason why Cleisthenes thus brought Melanippus (for this too I must relate) was, that Melanippus was Adrastus' deadliest foe; for Adrastus had slain his brother Mecisteus and his son-in‑law Tydeus. Having then appointed the precinct for him, Cleisthenes took away all Adrastus' sacrifices and festivals and gave them to Melanippus. The Sicyonians had been wont to pay very great honour to Adrastus; for Polybus had been lord of that land, and Adrastus was the son of Polybus' daughter; and Polybus, dying without a son, gave the lordship to Adrastus. Now besides other honours paid to Adrastus by the Sicyonians, they celebrated his lamentable fate with tragic choruses, not in honour of Dionysus but of Adrastus. But Cleisthenes gave the choruses back to Dionysus and the rest of the worship to Melanippus.

68 Rawlinson p276 H & W Such had been his treatment of Adrastus; but as to the tribes of the Dorians, he changed their names, that so these tribes should not be common  p77 to Sicyonians and Argives. In this especially he made a laughing-stock of the Sicyonians; for he named the tribes instead after swine and asses, adding the former ending of the titles, save only for his own tribe; to this he gave a name signifying his own lordship, and calling its folk People-rulers; the rest were Swinites and Assites and Porkites. These were the names of the tribes which the Sicyonians used under Cleisthenes' rule and for sixty years more after his death; but afterwards they took counsel together and changed the names of three to Hylleis, Pamphyli, and Dymanatae, adding thereto a fourth which they made to be called Aegialeis after Aegialeus son of Adrastus.

69 Thus had the Sicyonian Cleisthenes done; and the Athenian Cleisthenes, who was the son of that Sicyonian's daughter and bore his name, did to my thinking imitate his namesake because he contemned the Ionians with his grandsire's contempt desired that the tribes should not be common to his own people and the Ionians. For having drawn to his own party the Athenian commonalty, which was then debarred from all rights, he gave the tribes new names and increased their number, making ten tribe-wardens in place of four, and assigning ten districts to each tribe; and having won over the commonalty he was stronger by far than the rival faction.

70 Rawlinson p278 Then Isagoras, being on the losing side in his turn, devised a counter-plot, and invited the aid of Cleomenes, who had been his friend since the besieging of the Pisistratids; nay, it was laid to  p79 Cleomenes' charge that he resorted to Isagoras' wife. Then Cleomenes first sent a herald to Athens demanding the banishment of Cleisthenes and many other Athenians with him, the Accursed, as he called them; and this he said in his message by Isagoras' instruction; for the Alcmeonidae and their faction were held guilty of that bloody deed, but Isagoras and his friends had no part therein.

71 H & W Now the Accursed at Athens got their name on this wise. There was an Athenian named Cylon, that had been a winner at Olympia. This man put on the brave air of one that aimed at despotism; and gathering a company of men of like age he essayed to seize the citadel; but when he could not win it he took sanctuary by the goddess' statue. Then he and his men were brought away nearby the presidents of the naval boards10 (who then ruled Athens), being held liable to any penalty save death; but they were slain, and the slaying of them was laid to the door of the Alcmeonidae. All this befel before the time of Pisistratus.11

72 Rawlinson p280 Cleomenes then having sent and demanded the banishment of Cleisthenes and the Accursed, Cleisthenes himself privily departed; but none the less did Cleomenes presently appear before Athens, with no great force; and having come he banished seven hundred Athenian households named for him by Isagoras, to take away the curse. Having so done he next essayed to dissolve the Council,12 entrusting the offices of governance to Isagoras' faction. But the Council resisted him and would  p81 not consent; whereupon Cleomenes and Isagoras and his partisans seized the acropolis. The rest of the Athenians united and besieged them for two days; and on the third they departed out of the country under treaty, as many of them as were Lacedaemonians. Thus the prophetic voice that Cleomenes heard had its fulfilment; for when he went up to the acropolis with intent to take possession of it, he approached the shrine of the goddess to address himself to her; but the priestess rose up from her seat, and said, before he had passed through the doorway: "Go back, Lacedaemonian stranger, and enter not into the holy place; for it is not lawful that Dorians should pass in here." "Nay, lady," he answered, no Dorian am I, but an Achaean." So he took no heed to the word of omen, but essayed to work his will, and was, as I have said, then again cast out, with his Lacedaemonians. As for the rest, the Athenians put them in ward under sentence of death, Timesitheus the Delphian among them, whose achievements of strength and courage were most mighty, as I could relate.

73 H & W So these were bound and put to death. After that, the Athenians sent to bring back Cleisthenes and the seven hundred households banished by Cleomenes; then they despatched envoys to Sardis, desiring to make an alliance with the Persians; for they knew that they had provoked the Lacedaemonians and Cleomenes to war. When the envoys came to Sardis and spoke as they had been bidden, Artaphrenes son of Hystaspes, viceroy of Sardis, asked them, "What men are you, and where  p83 dwell you, who desire alliance with the Persians?" Being informed by the envoys, he gave them an answer whereof the substance was, that if the Athenians gave king Darius earth and water, then he would make alliance with them; but if not, his command was that they should begone. The envoys consulted together and consented to give what was asked, in their desire to make the alliance. So they returned to their own country, and were then greatly blamed for what they had done.

74 Rawlinson p282 But Cleomenes, for the despite which he deemed that the Athenians had done him by word and deed, mustered an army from the whole of Peloponnesus, not declaring the purpose for which he mustered it, which was, to avenge himself on the Athenian commonalty and set up Isagoras as despot; — for Isagoras too had come with him out of the acropolis. So Cleomenes broke in as far as Eleusis with a great host, and the Boeotians by a concerted plan took Oenoe and Hysiae, districts on the borders of Attica, while the Chalcidians attacked on another side and raided lands in Attica. The Athenians, thus caught in a ring of foes, kept the Boeotians and Chalcidians for future remembrance, but set up their array against the Peloponnesians where they were at Eleusis.

75 But when the armies were to join battle, the Corinthians first agreed among themselves that they were doing unjustly, and so changed about and departed; and presently Demaratus son of Ariston, the other king of Sparta, did likewise, albeit he had come with Cleomenes from Lacedaemon in joint command of the army and had not till now been at variance with him. From this disunion a law was  p85 made at Sparta that when an army was despatched both kings should not be suffered to go with it (for till then they had both gone together); thus one of the kings being released from service, one of the sons of Tyndarus too could be left at home; for before that time, both of these also were entreated to aid and went with the army.

76 Rawlinson p284 H & W So now at Eleusis, when the rest of the allies saw that the Lacedaemonian kings were not of one mind and that the Corinthians had left their post, they too went off and away. This was the fourth time that Dorians had come into Attica. Twice had they come as invaders in war, and twice to the help of the Athenian commonalty; the first time was when they planted a settlement at Megara13 (this expedition may rightly be said to have been in the reign of Codrus), the second and third when they set out from Sparta to drive out the sons of Pisistratus, and the fourth was now, when Cleomenes broke in as far as Eleusis with his following of Peloponnesians; thus this was the fourth Dorian invasion of Athens.

77 This armament then having been ingloriously scattered, the Athenians first marched against the Chalcidians, to punish them. The Boeotians came to the Euripus to help the Chalcidians. When the Athenians saw the helpers they resolved to attack the Boeotians before the Chalcidians; and meeting the Boeotians in battle they won a great victory; very many they slew, and seven hundred of them they took prisoners. And on that same day the Athenians crossed to Euboea, where they met the  p87 Chalcidians too in battle, and having overcome them likewise they left four thousand tenant farmers14 on the lands of the horse-breeders; for that was the name of the men of substance among the Chalcidians. As many as they took alive of these also, they fettered and kept in ward with the captive Boeotians; but in time they set them free, each for an assessed ransom of two minae. The fetters in which the prisoners had been bound they hung up in the acropolis, where they were still to be seen in my time, hanging from walls that the Medes' fire had charred, over against the cell that faces westwards. Moreover, they dedicated a tenth part of the ransoms, making of it a four-horse chariot; this stands on the left hand of the entrance into the outer porch of the acropolis,15 bearing this inscription:

Athens' bold Sons, what time in glorious Fight

They quelled Boeotian and Chalcidian Might,

In Chains and Darkness did its Pride enslave;

As Ransom's Tithe these Steeds to Pallas gave.

78 Rawlinson p286 H & W Thus grew the power of Athens; and it is proved not by one but by many instances that equality is a good thing; seeing that while they were under despotic rulers the Athenians were no better in war than any of their neighbours, yet once they got quit of despots they were far and away the first of all. This, then, shows that while they were oppressed they willed to be cravens, as men working for a master, but when they were freed each one was zealous to achieve for himself.

 p89  79 Thus then the Athenians did. But presently the Thebans sent to the god, desiring vengeance on Athens. The Pythian priestess said that from the Thebans themselves there was no vengeance for them; they must lay the matter before the "many-voiced" and entreat their nearest. So when the enquirers returned an assembly was called and the oracle laid before it; and when the Thebans learnt the message "that they must entreat their nearest," they said when they heard it: "If this be so, our nearest neighbours are the men of Tanagra and Coronea and Thespiae; yet these are ever our comrades in battle and zealously wage our wars; what need to entreat them? Nay, mayhap the oracle means not this."

80 Thuswise they reasoned, till at last one understood, and said: "Methinks I perceive what it is that the oracle will have us know. Thebe and Aegina, it is said, were daughters of Asopus and sisters; the gods' answer is, I think, that we should entreat the Aeginetans to be our avengers." Seeing that there seemed to be no better opinion before them than this, they sent forthwith to entreat the Aeginetans and invite their aid, such being the oracle's bidding, and the Aeginetans being their nearest. These replied to their demand that they were sending the Sons of Aeacus in aid.

81 Rawlinson p288 The Thebans took the field on the strength of the alliance with that House, and were roughly handled by the Athenians; and they sent again, giving back Aeacus and his sons, and asking for the men instead. But the Aeginetans were uplifted by great prosperity, and had in mind an ancient feud with Athens; wherefore now at the entreaty of the  p91 Thebans, without sending of herald they made war on the Athenians; while these were busied with the Boeotians, they ravaged Phaleron and many other seaboard townships. By so doing they dealt the Athenians a very shrewd blow.

82 H & W Now this was the beginning of the Aeginetans' long-standing arrears of enmity against the Athenians. The Epidaurians' land bore no produce; wherefore they enquired at Delphi concerning this calamity; and the priestess bade them set up images of Damia and Auxesia,16 saying that if they so did their luck would be better. The Epidaurians then asking further, whether they should make the images of bronze or of stone, the priestess bade them do neither, but make them of the wood of the garden olive. So the men of Epidaurus entreated the Athenians to give them olives for the cutting, supposing the olives there to be the holiest; and indeed it is said that at that time there were no olives anywhere save at Athens. The Athenians consented to give the trees, if the Epidaurians would pay yearly sacred dues to Athene the city's goddess and to Erechtheus. The Epidaurians agreed on this condition, and their request was granted. They set up images made of these olives; and their land brought forth fruit, and they fulfilled their agreement with the Athenians.

83 Rawlinson p290 Now still at this time, as before it, the Aeginetans were in all matters subject to the Epidaurians, crossing over to Epidaurus and there  p93 getting, and giving one another, satisfaction at law. But from this time they began to build ships, and stubbornly revolted from the Epidaurians; in which state of enmity, being masters of the sea, they wrought them much hurt, and stole withal their images of Damia and Auxesia, and took these away and set them up in the middle of their own country at a place called Oea, about twenty furlongs distant from their city. Having set them up in this place they sought their favour with sacrifices and choruses of mocking women, ten men being appointed providers of a chorus for each of the deities; and the choruses aimed their raillery not at any men but at the women of the country. The Epidaurians too had the same rites; and they have certain secret rites as well.

84 But when these images were stolen, the Epidaurians ceased from fulfilling their agreement with the Athenians. Then the Athenians sent an angry message to the Epidaurians; but these pleaded that they were doing no wrong; "for as long," they said, "as we had the images in our country, we fulfilled our agreement; but now that we are deprived of them, it is not just that we should still be paying; nay, ask your dues of the men of Aegina, who have the images." The Athenians therefore sent to Aegina and demanded that the images be restored; but the Aeginetans answered that they had nothing to do with the Athenians.

85 After their demand the Athenians (this is their story) despatched one trireme with certain of their citizens; who, coming as they were sent in the  p95 name of the whole people to Aegina, essayed to tear the images, as being made of Attic wood, from their bases, that they might carry them away; but when they could not get possession of them in this manner, they fastened the images about with cords and made to drag them away, till while they dragged they were overtaken by a thunderstorm, and an earthquake withal; whereby the trireme's crew that dragged the images were distraught, and in this affliction slew each other for enemies, till at last but one of all was left, who returned back by himself to Phalerum.

86 Rawlinson p292 H & W This is the Athenian story of the matter; but the Aeginetans say that the Athenians came not in one ship only; "for," they say, "even if we had had no ships of our own, we could right easily have defended ourselves against one ship, or a few more; but the truth is that they descended upon our coasts with many ships, and we yielded to them and made no fight of it at sea." But they can never show with exact plainness whether it was because they confessed themselves to be the weaker at sea‑fighting that they yielded, or because they purposed to do somewhat such as in the event they did. The Athenians then (say the Aeginetans), when no man came out to fight with them, disembarked from their ships and set about dealing with the images; and not being able to drag them from the bases they did there and then fasten them about with cords and drag them, till as they were dragged both the images together (and this I myself do not believe, yet others may) fell with the selfsame motion on their knees, and have remained so from that day. Thus, then, did the Athenians; but as for themselves, the Aeginetans say that they learnt that the Athenians  p97 were about to make war upon them, and therefore they assured themselves of help from the Argives. So when the Athenians disembarked on the land of Aegina, the Argives came to aid the Aeginetans, crossing over from Epidaurus to the island privily, and then falling upon the Athenians unawares and cutting them off from their ships; and it was at this moment that the thunderstorm came upon them, and the earthquake withal.

87 This, then, is the story told by the Argives and Aeginetans, and the Athenians too acknowledge that it was only one man of them who came safe back to Attica; but the Argives say that it was they, and the Athenians say that it was divine power, that destroyed the Attic army when this one man was saved alive; albeit even this one (say the Athenians) was not saved alive but perished as here related. It would seem that he made his way to Athens and told of the mishap; and when this was known (it is said) to the wives of the men who had gone to attack Aegina, they were very wroth that he alone should be safe out of all, and they gathered round him and stabbed him with the brooch-pins of their garments, each asking him "where her man was."

88 Rawlinson p294 Thus was this man done to death; and this deed of their women seemed to the Athenians to be yet more dreadful than their misfortune. They could find, it is said, no other way to punish the women; but they changed their dress to the Ionian fashion; for till then the Athenian women had worn Dorian dress, very like to the Corinthian; it was changed, therefore, to the linen tunic, that so they might have no brooch-pins to use. But if the truth be told, this dress is not in its origin  p99 Ionian, but Carian; for in Hellas itself all the women's dress in ancient times was the same as that which we now call Dorian. As for the Argives and Aeginetans, this was the reason of their even making a law for each of their nations that their brooch pins should be made half as long again as the measure then customary, and that brooch-pins in especial should be dedicated by their women in the temple of those goddesses; and that neither aught else Attic should be brought to the temple, nor earthenware, but that it be the law to drink there from vessels of the country.

89 H & W So then the women of Argolis and Aegina ever since that day wore brooch-pins longer than before, by reason of the feud with the Athenians, and so they did even to my time; and the enmity of the Athenians against the Aeginetans began as I have told. And now at the Thebans' call the Aeginetans came readily to the aid of the Boeotians, remembering the business of the images. The Aeginetans laying waste the seaboard of Attica, the Athenians were setting out to march against them; but there came to them an oracle from Delphi bidding them to hold their hands for thirty years after the wrong-doing of the Aeginetans, and in the thirty-first to mark out a precinct for Aeacus and begin the war with Aegina; thus should their purpose prosper; but if they sent an army against their enemies forthwith, they should indeed subdue them at the last, but in the meanwhile many should be their sufferings and many too their doings. When the Athenians heard this reported to them, they marked out for Aeacus that precinct which is  p101 now set in their market-place; but they could not stomach the message that they must hold their hand for thirty years, after the foul blow dealt them by the Aeginetans.

90 But as they were making ready for vengeance a matter hindered them which took its rise in Lacedaemon. For when the Lacedaemonians learnt of the plot of the Alcmaeonids with the Pythian priestess17 and of her plot against themselves and the Pisistratids, they were very wroth for a double reason, for that they had driven their own guests and friends from the country they dwelt in, and that the Athenians showed them no thankfulness for their so doing. Furthermore, they were moved by the oracles18 which foretold that many deeds of enmity would be done against them by the Athenians; of which oracles they had till now no knowledge; but now Cleomenes had brought them to Sparta, and the Lacedaemonians learnt their content. Cleomenes possessed himself of the oracles from the Athenian acropolis; the Pisistratids had possessed them till then, but when they were driven out they left them in the temple, and being left behind they were regained by Cleomenes.

91 Rawlinson p296 And now the Lacedaemonians, when they regained the oracles and saw the Athenians increasing in power and in nowise ready to obey them, and bethought them that were the Attic race free it would be a match for their own, but were it held down under despotism it would be weak and ready to serve a master, — perceiving all this, they sent to bring Pisistratus' son Hippias from Sigeum on the Hellespont, the Pisistratids' place of refuge; and  p103 Hippias coming at their call, the Spartans sent for envoys from the rest of their allies, and thus bespoke them: "Sirs, our allies, we do acknowledge that we have done wrongly; for, befooled by lying divinations, we drove from their native land men that were our close friends and promised to make Athens subject to us, and presently having so done we delivered that city over to a thankless commonalty; which had no sooner lifted up its head in the freedom which we gave it, than it insolently cast out us and our king, and now has bred a spirit of pride and waxes in power; insomuch that their neighbours of Boeotia and Chalcis have especial cause to know it, and others too are like to know their error anon. But since we erred in doing that which we did, we will now essay with your aid to be avenged of them; for it is on this account and no other that we have sent for this Hippias whom you see and have brought you from your cities, that uniting our counsels and our power we may bring him to Athens and restore that which we took away."

92 Thus spoke the Lacedaemonians, but their words were ill received by the greater part of their allies. The rest then keeping silence, Socles, a Corinthian, said: "Verily the heaven shall be beneath the earth and the earth aloft above the heaven, and men shall dwell in the sea and fishes where men did dwell before, now that you, Lacedaemonians! are destroying the rule of equals and making ready to bring back despotism into the cities — despotism, a thing as unrighteous and bloodthirsty as aught on this earth. For if indeed this seems to you to be a good thing, that the cities be ruled by despots, do  p105 you yourselves first set up a despot among yourselves and then seek to set up such for the rest; but now, having never made trial of despots, and taking most careful heed that none shall arise at Sparta, you deal wrongfully with your allies. But had you such experience of that thing as we have, you would be sager advisers concerning it than you are now.

"For the Corinthian State was ordered in such manner as I will show. The Few ruled; these few, called Bacchiadae, held sway in the city, marrying and giving in marriage among themselves. Now Amphion, one of these men, had a lame daughter, whose name was Labda.19 Seeing that none of the Bacchiadae would marry her, she was wedded to Eetion son of Echecrates, of the township of Petra, a Lapith by lineage, of the posterity of Caeneus. No sons being born to him by this wife or any other, he set out to Delphi to enquire concerning issue; and straightway as he entered the Pythian priestess spoke these verses to him:

Eetion, yet high honour is thine, though honour'd thou art not.

Labda conceiveth anon; and a rolling rock she shall bear thee,

Fated on princes to fall, and execute justice at Corinth.

This oracle given to Eetion was in some wise made known to the Bacchiadae, by whom the former oracle sent to Corinth was not understood, albeit its meaning was the same as the meaning of the oracle of Eetion; it was this:

 p107  Lo, where the eagle's mate conceives in the rocks, and a lion

Mighty and fierce shall be born; full many a knee shall he loosen.

Wherefore I bid you beware, ye Corinthian folk, that inhabit

Nigh Pirene fair and the heights o'erhanging of Corinth.

This oracle, formerly given to the Bacchiadae, was past their interpretation; but now, when they learnt of that one which was given to Eetion, straightway they understood that the former accorded with the oracle of Eetion; and understanding this prophecy too they sat still, purposing to destroy whatever should be born to Eetion. Then, as soon as his wife was delivered, they sent ten men of their clan to the township where Eetion dwelt, to kill the child. These men came to Petra and passing into Eetion's courtyard asked for the child; and Labda, knowing nothing of the purpose of their coming, and thinking that they asked out of friendliness to the child's father, brought it and gave it into the hands of one of them. Now they had planned on their way (as the story goes) that the first of them who received the child should dash it to the ground. So then when Labda brought and gave the child, by heaven's providence it smiled at the man who took it, and he saw that, and compassion forbade him to kill it, and in that compassion he delivered it to a second, and he again to a third; and thus it passed from hand to hand to each of the ten, for none would make an end of it. So they gave the child back to its mother and  p109 went out, and stood before the door reproaching and upbraiding one another, but chiefly him who had first received it, for that he had not done according to their agreement; till as time passed they had a mind to go in again and all have a hand in the killing. But it was written that Eetion's offspring should be the source of ills for Corinth. For Labda heard all this where she stood close to the very door; and she feared lest they should change their minds and again take the child, and kill it; wherefore she bore it away and hid it where she thought it would be hardest to find, in a chest; for she knew that if they returned and set about searching they would seek in every place; which they did. They came and sought, but not finding they resolved to go their ways and say to those that sent them that they had done all their bidding. So they went away and said this. But Eetion's son presently grew, and for his escape from that danger he was called Cypselus, after that chest. When he had come to man's estate, and was seeking a divination, there was given him at Delphi an oracle of double meaning, trusting wherein he grasped at Corinth and won it. This was the oracle:

Happy I ween is the man who cometh adown to my temple,

Cypselus Eetides, great king of Corinth renownèd,

Happy himself and his sons; yet his son's sons shall not be happy.

Such was the oracle. But Cypselus, having gained despotic power, bore himself in this wise: many Corinthians he banished, many he robbed of their  p111 goods, and by far the most of their lives. He reigned for thirty years20 and made a good ending of his life; and his son Periander succeeded to his despotic power. Now Periander at the first was of milder mood than his father; but after he had held converse by his messengers with Thrasybulus the despot of Miletus, he became much more bloodthirsty than Cypselus. For he sent a herald to Thrasybulus and enquired how he should most safely so order all matters as best to govern his city. Thrasybulus led the man who had come from Periander outside the town, and entered into a sown field; where, while he walked through the cornº and plied the herald with still-repeated questions anent his coming from Corinth, he would ever cut off the tallest that he saw of the stalks, and cast away what he cut off, till by so doing he had destroyed the best and richest of the crop; then, having passed through the place and spoken no word of counsel, he sent the herald away. When the herald returned to Corinth, Periander was desirous to hear what counsel he brought; but the man said that Thrasybulus had given him none, 'and that is a strange man,' quoth he, 'to whom you sent me; for he is a madman and a destroyer of his own possessions,' telling Periander what he had seen Thrasybulus do. But Periander understood what had been done, and perceived that Thrasybulus had counselled him to slay those of his townsmen who stood highest; and with that he began to deal very evilly with his citizens. For whatever act of slaughter or banishment Cypselus had left undone, that did Periander bring to accomplishment; and in  p113 a single day he stripped all the women of Corinth, by reason of his own wife Melissa.21 For he had sent messengers to the Oracle of the Dead on the river Acheron in Thesprotia to enquire concerning a deposit that a friend had left; but the apparition of Melissa said that she would tell him nought, nor reveal where the deposit lay; for she was cold (she said) and naked; for the raiment Periander had buried with her had never been burnt, and availed her nothing; and let this (said she) be her witness that she spoke truth — that it was a cold oven whereinto Periander had cast his loaves. When this message was brought back to Periander (for he had had intercourse with the dead body of Melissa and knew her token for true), immediately after the message he made a proclamation that all the Corinthian women should come out into the temple of Here. So they came out as to a festival, wearing their fairest adornment; and Periander set his guards there and stripped them all alike, ladies and serving-women, and heaped all the garments in a pit, where he burnt them, making prayers to Melissa the while. When he had so done and sent a second message, the ghost of Melissa told him the place where the deposit of the friend had been laid.

"Know then, ye Lacedaemonians, that such a thing is despotism, and such are its deeds. We of Corinth did then greatly marvel when he saw that you were sending for Hippias; and now we marvel yet more at your speaking thus; and we entreat you earnestly in the name of the gods of Hellas not to establish despotism in the cities. But if you will not cease from so doing, and will unrighteously essay  p115 to bring Hippias back, then be it known to you that the Corinthians for their part consent not thereto."

93 Rawlinson p304 H & W Thus spoke Socles, the envoy from Corinth; Hippias answered him, calling the same gods as Socles had invoked to witness that verily the Corinthians would be the first to wish Pisistratus' house back, when the time appointed should come for them to be vexed by the Athenians. Hippias made this answer, inasmuch as he had more exact knowledge of the oracles than any man; but the rest of the allies, who had till now kept silence, when they heard the free speech of Socles, each and all of them spoke out and declared for the opinion of the Corinthians, entreating the Lacedaemonians to do no hurt to a Greek city.

94 Thus this design came to nought, and Hippias perforce departed. Amyntas king of the Macedonians would have given him Anthemus, and the Thessalians Iolcus; but he would have neither, and withdrew to Sigeum, which Pisistratus had taken at the spear's point from the Mytilenaeans, and having won it set up as its despot Hegesistratus, his own bastard son by an Argive woman. But Hegesistratus kept not without fighting what Pisistratus had given him; for the Mytilenaeans and Athenians waged war for a long time22 from the city of Achilleum and Sigeum, the Mytilenaeans demanding the place back, and the Athenians not consenting, but bringing proof to show that the Aeolians had no more part or lot in the land of Ilium than they themselves and whatsoever other Greeks had aided Menelaus to avenge the rape of Helen.

 p117  95 Rawlinson p306 H & W Among the many chances that befel in the fights of this war, this is noteworthy, that in a battle when the Athenians were gaining the victory Alcaeus the poet took to flight and escaped, but his armour was taken by the Athenians and hung up in the temple of Athene at Sigeum. Alcaeus made of this and sent to Mytilene a poem, wherein he relates his own misfortune to his friend Melanippus. But as for the Mytilenaeans and Athenians, peace was made between them by Periander son of Cypselus, to whose arbitrament they committed the matter; and the terms of peace were that each party should keep what it had.

96 Thus then Sigeum came to be under Athenian rule. But Hippias, having come from Lacedaemon into Asia, left no stone unturned, maligning the Athenians to Artaphrenes, and doing all he could to bring Athens into subjection to himself and Darius; and while Hippias thus wrought, the Athenians heard of it and sent messengers to Sardis, warning the Persians not to believe banished Athenians. But Artaphrenes bade them receive Hippias back, if they would be safe. When this bidding was brought back to the Athenians, they would not consent to it; and as they would not consent, it was resolved that they should be openly at war with Persia.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Hipparchus was killed in 513.

2 Gephyra (= bridge or dam) was another name for Tanagra; perhaps Herodotus' theory of an oriental origin is based on the fact that there was a place called Gephyrae in Syria.

3 This happened sixty years after the fall of Troy, according to Thucydides.

4 Whether Herodotus' theory of derivation be right or not, there is certainly a similarity in the form and order of early Greek and Phoenician letters.

5 The sites of Alopecae and Cynosarges are doubtful; recent research places them (but with no certainty) south of the Ilissus towards Phalerum. See How and Wells ad loc.

6 An ancient fortification on the N. W. slope of the Acropolis.

7 From 545 to 509.

8 For a comprehension of the reform briefly recorded by Herodotus, readers are referred to Grote, ch. xxxi.

9 Cleisthenes ruled at Sicyon from 600 to 570.

10 "The naucraries were local districts whose presidents were responsible for levying money and contingents for the army and ships for the fleet" (How and Wells). But the statement that they "ruled Athens" appears to be inaccurate.

11 The probable date is between 620 and 600.

12 Herodotus probably means the new Council of 500, fifty from each tribe.

13 There is a clear tradition that this happened soon after the Dorian invasion of the Peloponnese.

14 Settlers among whom the confiscated land, divided into equal lots, was distributed.

15 Probably in the open space in front of the old Propylon; there would not have been room for this monument in the new Propylaea, finished in 432 B.C.

16 The name Damia is probably connected with δᾶ (= γῆ), Earth; Auxesia clearly with αὐξάνω. They were goddesses of increase and fertility.

17 Cp. ch. 63.

18 The Pisistratid family appear to have had a special knowledge of current oracles: cp. ch. 93, and VII.6.

19 Because (according to the Etymologicum Magnum) the "outward distortion of the feet" resembled the letter Λ.

20 655 to 625.

21 Killed by her husband, perhaps accidentally; cp. III.50.

22 Herodotus, whose sixth-century chronology is often inaccurate, appears to be wrong in assigning this war to the period of Pisistratus; its date cannot be later than 600.


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