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

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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(Vol. III) Herodotus

 p117  Book V: chapters 97‑126

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.

97 Rawlinson p306 H & W They being thus minded, and the Persians hearing an evil report of them, at this moment Aristagoras the Milesian, driven from Sparta by Cleomenes the Lacedaemonian, came to Athens; for that city was more powerful than any of the rest. Coming before the people, Aristagoras spoke  p119 to the same effect as at Sparta, of the good things of Asia, and how the Persians in war were wont to carry neither shield nor spear and could easily be overcome. This he said, and added thereto, that the Milesians were settlers from Athens, and it was but right to save them, being a very wealthy people; and there was nothing that he did not promise in the earnestness of his entreaty, till at last he over-persuaded them. Truly it would seem that it is easier to deceive many than one; for he could not deceive Cleomenes of Lacedaemon, one single man, but thirty thousand1 Athenians he could. The Athenians, then, were over-persuaded, and voted the sending of twenty ships in aid of the Ionians, appointing for their admiral Melanthius, a citizen of Athens in all ways of good repute. These ships were the beginning of troubles for Greeks and foreigners.

98 Rawlinson p308 H & W Aristagoras sailed before the rest; and coming to Miletus, he invented a design wherefrom no advantage was to accrue to the Ionians (nor indeed was that the purpose of his plan, but rather to vex king Darius): he sent a man into Phrygia, to the Paeonians who had been led captive from the Strymon by Megabazus, and now dwelt in a Phrygian territory and village by themselves; and when the man came to the Paeonians, he thus spoke: "Men of Paeonia, I am sent by Aristagoras, despot of Miletus, to point you the way to deliverance, if you will be guided by him. All Ionia is now in revolt against the king, and you have the power to win back safely to your own  p121 country; this shall be your business as far as the sea, and thereafter we will see to it." The Paeonians were right glad when they heard that; some of them abode where they were, fearing danger; but the rest took their children and women and made their flight to the sea. Having come thither, the Paeonians crossed over to Chios; and they were already there, when a great host of Persian horse came hard after them in pursuit. Not being able to overtake them, the Persians sent to Chios, commanding the Paeonians to return back; whereto the Paeonians would not consent, but were brought from Chios by the Chians to Lesbos, and carried by the Lesbians to Doriscus; whence they made their way by land to Paeonia.

99 As for Aristagoras, when the Athenians came with their twenty ships, bringing with them five triremes of the Eretrians (who came to the war to please not the Athenians but the Milesians themselves, thereby repaying their debt; for ere now the Milesians had been the allies of the Eretrians in the war against Chalcis, when the Samians came to aid the Chalcidians against the Eretrians and Milesians) — when these, then, and the rest of the allies had all come, Aristagoras planned a march against Sardis. He himself went not with the army but stayed still at Miletus, and appointed others to be generals of the Milesians, namely, his own brother Charopinus, and another citizen named Hermophantus.

100 The Ionians, having with this armament come to Ephesus, left their ships at Coresus2 in the  p123 Ephesian territory, and themselves marched inland with a great host, taking Ephesians to guide them on their way. Journeying beside the river Caicus, and crossing thence over Tmolus, they came to Sardis and took it, none withstanding them; all of it they took, save only the citadel, which was held by Artaphrenes himself with a great power.

101 Rawlinson p310 Now this it was that hindered them from plundering the city. The greater part of the houses in Sardis were of reeds, and as many as were of brick, even they had roofs of reeds. So it was that when one of these was set afire by a soldier, the flames spread from house to house all over the whole city. While the city was burning, the Lydians and all the Persians that were in the citadel, being hemmed in on every side (for the fire was consuming the outer parts), and having no exit from the city, came thronging into the market-place and to the river Pactolus, which flows through the market-place carrying down gold dust from Tmolus, and issues into the river Hermus as does the Hermus into the sea; they assembled in the market-place by this Pactolus, and there of necessity defended themselves, Lydians and Persians. When the Ionians saw some of their enemies defending themselves and a great multitude of others approaching, they were afraid, and drew off out of the city to the mountain called Tmolus; whence at nightfall they departed to their ships.

102 So Sardis was burnt,3 and therein the temple of Cybebe,4 the goddess of that country; which  p125 burning the Persians afterwards made their pretext for burning the temples of Hellas. But, at this time, the Persians of the provinces this side5 the Halys, on hearing of these matters, gathered together and came to aid the Lydians. It chanced that they found the Ionians no longer at Sardis; but following on their tracks they caught them at Ephesus. There the Ionians stood arrayed to meet them, but were utterly routed in the battle; many men of renown among them the Persians put to the sword, of whom was Evalcides the general of the Eretrians, one that had won crowns as victor in the lists and been greatly belauded by Simonides of Ceos; those of the Ionians that escaped from the battle fled scattered, each to his city.

103 Rawlinson p312 H & W Thus for the nonce they fared in their fighting. But presently the Athenians wholly separated themselves from the Ionians and refused to aid them, though Aristagoras sent messages of earnest entreaty; yet the Ionians, though bereft of their Athenian allies, did none the less busily carry forward their war against the king, so heavily they stood committed by what they had done to Darius. They sailed to the Hellespont and made Byzantium subject to them, and all the other cities of that region; then sailing out from the Hellespont they gained to their cause the greater part of Caria; for even Caunus, which till then had not willed to be their ally, did now join itself to them after the burning of Sardis.

104 The Cyprians did likewise of their own free will, all save the people of Amathus; for these too  p127 revolted from the Medes in such manner as I will show. There was one Onesilus, a younger brother of Gorgus king of the Salaminians,6 and son of Chersis, who was the son of Siromus, who was the son of Evelthon. This man had often before counselled Gorgus to revolt from Darius, and now when he learnt that the Ionians too had revolted he was very instant in striving to move him; but when he could not persuade Gorgus, he and his faction waited till his brother had gone out of the city of Salamis, and shut him out of the gates. Gorgus then having lost his city took refuge with the Medes, and Onesilus was king of Salamis and over-persuaded all Cyprus to revolt with him, all save the Amathusians, who would not consent; and he sat down before their city and besieged it.

105 Rawlinson p314 Onesilus, then, besieged Amathus. But when it was told to Darius that Sardis had been taken and burnt by the Athenians and Ionians, and that Aristagoras the Milesian had been leader of the conspiracy for the weaving of this plan, at his first hearing of it (it is said) he took no account of the Ionians, — being well assured that they of all men would not go scatheless for their rebellion, — but asked who were the Athenians; and being told, he called for his bow, which he took, and laid an arrow on it and shot it into the sky, praying as he sent it aloft, "O Zeus, grant me vengeance on the Athenians," and therewithal he charged one of his servants to say to him thrice whenever dinner was set before him, "Master, remember the Athenians."

106 Having given this charge, he called before  p129 him Histiaeus the Milesian, whom Darius had now kept for a long while with him, and said: "I learn, Histiaeus! that your vicegerent, to whom you gave Miletus in charge, has done me strange wrong: he has brought men from the mainland overseas, and persuaded to follow them certain Ionians, — who shall yet pay me the penalty of their deeds, — and has robbed me of Sardis. Now, therefore, I ask you, how think you that this is well done? And how came such things to be done without counsel from you? Look well to it, that you have not cause to blame yourself hereafter." To this Histiaeus made answer: "Sire, what is this word that you utter — that I and none other should devise a plan whence aught great or small was like to arise for your hurt? And what then have I to desire, and what do I lack, that I should do that? All that you have is mine, and I am deemed worthy to hear all your counsels. Nay, if indeed my vicegerent has any such thing in hand as this whereof you speak, be well assured that he has acted of his own motion. For myself, I cannot even so much as believe the report that the Milesians and my vicegerent are doing you strange wrong. But if it appears that they are so dealing, and it is the truth, O king, that you have heard, then I bid you perceive what it was that you wrought when you brought me from the sea into exile. For it would seem that the Ionians have taken occasion by my being removed out of their sight to do that whereon their hearts had long been set; but had I been in Ionia no city would have stirred. Now therefore send me away on my journey to Ionia with all speed, that I may bring that country to its former peace, and deliver into  p131 your hands that vicegerent of Miletus who has devised all this. Then, when I have done this according to your desire, I swear by the gods of your kingship7 that I will not doff the tunic which I wear when I go down to Ionia, ere I make Sardo,8 the greatest of the isles of the sea, tributary to you."

107 Rawlinson p316 Thus spoke Histiaeus, with intent to deceive; and Darius consented and let him go, charging Histiaeus to appear before him at Susa when he should have achieved what he promised.

108 H & W Now while the message concerning Sardis went up to the king, and Darius, having done as I said with his bow, held converse with Histiaeus, and Histiaeus being suffered to go by Darius made his way to the sea, in all this time matters fell out as I shall show. While Onesilus of Salamis was besieging the Amathusians, news was brought him that Artybius, a Persian, was thought to be coming to Cyprus with a great Persian host; learning which, Onesilus sent heralds about to Ionia to summon the people, and the Ionians after no long deliberation came with a great armament. So the Ionians were in Cyprus when the Persians, crossing from Cilicia, marched to Salamis by land, while the Phoenicians in their ships sailed round the headland which is called the Keys of Cyprus.9

109 H & W In this turn of affairs, the despots of Cyprus assembled the generals of the Ionians, and said to them: "Ionians, we Cyprians bid you choose which  p133 you will encounter, the Persians or the Phoenicians. For if you will set your army in array on land and try conclusions with the Persians, then it is time for you to get you of your ships and array yourselves on land, and for us to embark in your ships to contend with the Phoenicians; but if you desire rather to try conclusions with the Phoenicians, you must so act, whichever you choose, that as far as in you lies Ionia and Cyprus shall be free." To this the Ionians answered, "Nay, we were sent by the common voice of Ionia to guard the seas, not to deliver our ships to men of Cyprus and encounter the Persians on land. We will essay then to bear ourselves bravely in the task whereto we were set; and it is for you to prove yourselves valiant men, remembering what you suffered when you were slaves to the Medians."

110 Thus answered the Ionians; and presently, the Persians being now in the plain of Salamis, the Cyprian kings ordered their battle line, arraying the chosen flower of the Salaminians and Solians over against the Persians and the rest of the Cyprians against the rest of the enemy's army; Onesilus chose for himself a place where he had before him Artybius, the Persian general.

111 Rawlinson p318 Now the horse whereon Artybius rode was trained to fight with men-at‑arms by rearing up. Hearing this, Onesilus said to his esquire (who was Carian born, of great renown in war, and a valiant man ever), "I learn that Artybius' horse rears up and kicks and bites to death whomsoever he encounters. Bethink you then and tell me straightway  p135 which you will watch and smite, Artybius himself or his horse." To this his henchman answered, "O King, ready am I to do either or both, and whatever your bidding be, that to do; yet I will tell you what I judge to accord best with your state. To my mind, it is right that king and general should by king and general be encountered. For if you lay low a man that is a general, you have achieved a great feat; and failing that, if he lay you low (as I pray he may not), it is but half the misfortune to be slain by a noble foe; and for us that are servants it is meet that we fight with servants like ourselves, yea, and with that horse; fear not his tricks; for I promise you that never again shall he do battle with any man."

112 Thus he spoke; and immediately the mellay of the hosts began by land and sea. The Ionian shipmen showed surpassing excellence that day, and overcame the Phoenicians; among them, the Samians were most valorous; and on land, when the armies met, they charged and fought. With the two generals it fared as I shall show. Artybius rode at Onesilus; Onesilus, as he had agreed with his esquire, dealt Artybius a blow as he bore down upon him; and when the horse smote his hoofs on Onesilus' shield, the Carian shore away the horse's legs with a stroke of his falchion.

113 Rawlinson p320 Thus and there fell Artybius the Persian general, with his horse. While the rest yet fought, Stesenor despot of Curium (which is said to be an  p137 Argive settlement) played the traitor, with his great company of men; and at the treachery of the Curians the war‑chariots of the Salaminians did likewise. Thus it was brought about, that the Persians gained the upper hand over the Cyprians. So the army was routed, and many were there slain; among whom was Onesilus, son of Chersis, who had wrought the Cyprian revolt, and the king of the Solians, Aristocyprus son of Philocyprus — that Philocyprus whom Solon of Athens, when he came to Cyprus, extolled in a poem above all other despots.

114 As for Onesilus, then, the Amathusians cut off his head and brought it to Amathus, where they set it aloft above their gates, because he had besieged their city; and the head being there set aloft, when it was hollow a swarm of bees entered it and filled it with their cells. On this an oracle was given to the Amathusians (for they had enquired concerning the matter) that they should take the head down and bury it, and offer yearly sacrifice to Onesilus as to a hero; so doing (said the oracle) they should fare the better.

115 This the Amathusians did, and have done to this day. But when the Ionians of the sea‑fight off Cyprus learnt that Onesilus' cause was lost, and that all the cities of Cyprus were beleaguered save only Salamis, which the Salaminians had delivered up to their former king Gorgus, straightway at this news they made sail away to Ionia. Of the Cyprian cities that which longest stood a siege was Soli; the Persians took it in the fifth month by digging a mine under its walls.

 p139  116 H & W So the Cyprians, having won freedom for a year, were enslaved once more.10 Daurises and Hymaees and Otanes, all of them Persian generals married to daughters of Darius, pursued after those Ionians who had marched to Sardis and drove them to their ships; after which victory they divided the cities among themselves and sacked them.

117 Daurises made for the cities of the Hellespont and took Dardanus, Abydus, Percote, Lampsacus, and Paesus, each of these on its own day; and as he marched from Paesus against Parium, news came to him that the Carians had made common cause with the Ionians and revolted from the Persians; wherefore he turned aside from the Hellespont and marched his army to Caria.

118 Rawlinson p322 It chanced that news of this was brought to the Carians before Daurises' coming; and when the Carians heard, they mustered at the place called the White Pillars, by the river Marsyas11 which flows from the region of Idria and issues into the Maeander. There they mustered, and many plans were laid before them, the best of which, in my judgment, was that of Pixodarus of Cindya, son of Mausolus (he had to wife the daughter of Syennesis, king of Cilicia); the purport of Pixodarus' opinion was, that the Carians should cross the Maeander and fight with the river at their back, that so being unable to flee and compelled to stand their ground they might prove themselves even braver than nature made them. Yet not this, but another  p141 opinion prevailed, to wit, that the Persians and not the Cilicians should have the Maeander at their back, the intent being that if the Persians were worsted in the battle and put to flight they should not escape but be hurled into the river.

119 Presently, when the Persians had come and had crossed the Maeander, they and the Carians joined battle by the river Marsyas; the Carians fought obstinately and long, but at the last they were overcome by odds. Of the Persians there fell as many as two thousand men, and of the Carians ten thousand. Those of them that escaped thence were driven into the precinct of Zeus of Armies at Labraunda,12 a great and a holy grove of plane-trees. (The Carians are the only people known to us who offer sacrifices to Zeus by this name.) Being driven thither, they took counsel how best to save themselves, whether it were better for them to surrender themselves to the Persians or depart wholly away from Asia.

120 Rawlinson p324 But while they took counsel, the Milesians and their allies came up to their aid; whereupon the Carians put aside their former plans, and prepared to wage a new war over again. They met the Persian attack and suffered a heavier defeat in the battle than the first; many of their whole army fell, but the Milesians were hardest stricken.

121 Yet the Carians rallied and fought again after this disaster; for learning that the Persians had set forth to march against their cities, they beset the road with an ambush at Pedasus, whereinto the Persians fell by night and perished, they and  p143 their generals, Daurises and Amorges and Sisimaces; and with these fell also Myrsus, son of Gyges. The captain of this ambuscade was Heraclides of Mylasas, son of Ibanollis.

122 H & W Thus did these Persians perish. Hymaees, who had also been one of those who pursued after the Ionians who marched on Sardis, turned now towards the Propontis, and there took Cius in Mysia; having subdued which, when he heard that Daurises had left the Hellespont and was marching towards Caria, he left the Propontis and led his army to the Hellespont, and made himself master of all the Aeolians that dwell in the territory of Ilium, and of the Gergithae, who are all the remnant that is left of the ancient Teucri; but while he was conquering these nations, Hymaees himself died of a sickness in the Troad.

123 So he died there; and Artaphrenes, viceroy of Sardis, and Otanes, the third general, were appointed to lead the army against Ionia and the Aeolian territory on its borders. They took Clazomenae in Ionia, and in Aeolia Cyme.

124 Aristagoras the Milesian was a man of no high courage, as he plainly showed; for after he had troubled Ionia and thrown all into dire confusion, when he saw what he had done he began to bethink himself of flight; and moreover it seemed to him to be impossible to overcome Darius; wherefore, while the cities were being taken, he called his fellow-rebels together and took counsel with them, saying that it was best for them to have some place of refuge provided, if they should be thrust out of Miletus; and questioning whether he should lead them thence to a settlement in Sardo, or Myrcinus  p145 in Edonia, which Histiaeus had received as a gift from Darius and fortified. Thus questioned Aristagoras.

125 Rawlinson p326 Hecataeus the historian, son of Hegesander, inclined to the opinion that they should set forth to neither of these places, but that Aristagoras should build him a fortress in the island of Leros and there abide, if he were driven from Miletus; and afterwards he might set out from thence and return to Miletus.

126 Such was the counsel of Hecataeus, but Aristagoras himself deemed it best to take his departure for Myrcinus. So he entrusted Miletus to Pythagoras, a citizen of repute, and himself sailed to Thrace with any that would follow him, and took possession of the place whither he had set out; and issuing from thence he was put to the sword by the Thracians, he and his army, while he beleaguered a town, even though the Thracians were ready to depart from it under treaty.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 But even in the palmiest days of Athens the number of voters did not exceed 20,000.

2 A hill (or a part of the town of Ephesus built thereon) south of the Caÿster.

3 In 498.

4 Or Cybele, the great goddess of the Phrygians and Lydians.

5 Lit. "within"; that is, from the Greek point of view, and so west of the Halys.

6 Of Salamis in Cyprus.

7 Cp. III.65. In the inscription at Persepolis Darius invokes Ormazd and the "gods of his race."

8 Sardinia.

9 "The promontory (Cap St. André) at the end of the long tongue of land now 'the Carpass' " How (How and Wells).

10 In 497.

11 Modern Tshina; not to be confused with the better known Marsyas in Phrygia, also a tributary of the Maeander.

12 Site of the cult of a war‑god, whose emblem was the λάβρυς or battle‑axe.

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