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This webpage reproduces a section of
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,
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(Vol. III) Herodotus

 p373  Book VII: chapters 57‑137

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.
Links marked L are to in‑depth articles at Livius.Org.

[link to original Greek text] 57 Rawlinson p54 H & W When all had passed over and they were ready for the road, a great portent appeared among them, whereof Xerxes took no account, though it was easy of interpretation: a mare gave birth to a hare. The meaning of it was easy to guess, being this: Xerxes was to march his army to Hellas with great pomp and pride, but to come back to the same place fleeing for his life. There was another portent, that was shown to him at Sardis: a mule gave birth to a mule, that had double privy parts, both male and female, the male above the other. But of neither sign did he take any account, and journeyed on, his land army with him.

[link to original Greek text] 58 His navy sailed out of the Hellespont and coasted along by the land, contrariwise to the land army; for the ships voyaged westwards, laying their course for the headland of Sarpedon, whither Xerxes had bidden them come and there await him; but the army of the mainland travelled towards the east1 and the sunrise through the Chersonese, with the tomb of Athamas' daughter Helle on its right and the town of Cardia on its left, and marching through the midst of a town called Agora. Thence turning the head of the Black Bay (as it is called) and crossing the Black River, which could not hold its own then against the army, but fell short of its needs — crossing this river, which gives its name to the bay, they went westwards, past the Aeolian town of Aenus and the marsh of Stentor, till they came to Doriscus.

[link to original Greek text] 59 H & W The territory of Doriscus is in Thrace, a wide plain by the sea, and through it flows a great river,  p375 the Hebrus; here had been built that royal fortress which is called Doriscus, and a Persian guard had been posted there by Darius ever since the time of his march against Scythia. It seemed therefore to Xerxes to be a fit place for him to array and number his host, and he did so. All the fleet, being now arrived at Doriscus, was brought by its captains at Xerxes' command to the beach near Doriscus, where stands the Samothracian town of Sane, and Zone; at the end thereof is Serreum, a headland of some name. This country was in former days possessed by the Cicones. To this beach they brought their ships in, and hauled them up for rest. In the meanwhile Xerxes numbered his army at Doriscus.

[link to original Greek text] 60 Rawlinson p56 What the number of each part of it was I cannot with exactness say; for there is no one who tells us that; but the tale of the whole land army was shown to be a million seven hundred thousand. The numbering was on this wise: — Ten thousand men were collected in one place, and when they were packed together as closely as might be a line was drawn round them; this being drawn, the ten thousand were sent away, and a wall of stones built on the line reaching up to a man's middle; which done, others were brought into the walled space, till in this way all were numbered. When they had been numbered, they were marshalled according to their several nations.

[link to original Greek text] 61 Those that served in the army were as I will now show. Firstly, the Persians; for their equipment  p377 they wore on their heads loose caps called tiaras, and on their bodies sleeved tunics of divers colours, with scales of iron like in appearance to the scales of fish, and breeches on their legs; for shields they had wicker bucklers, their quivers hanging beneath these; they carried short spears, long bows, and arrows of reed, and daggers withal that hung from the girdle by the right thigh. Their commander was Otanes, father of Xerxes' wife and son of Amestris. These Persians were in old time called by the Greeks Cephenes, but by themselves and their neighbours Artaei. But when Perseus the son of Danaë and Zeus had come to Cepheus the son of Belus, and taken his daughter Andromeda to wife, a son was born to him whom he called Perses, and him he left there; for Cepheus had no male issue; it was from this Perses that the Persians took their name.2

[link to original Greek text] 62 Rawlinson p60 H & W The Medes in the army were equipped like the Persians; indeed that fashion of armour is Median, not Persian; their commander was Tigranes, an Achaemenid. These were in old time called by all men Arians,3 but when the Colchian woman Medea came from Athens among the Arians they changed their name, like the Persians. This is the Medes' own account of themselves. The Cissians in the army were equipped like the Persians, but they wore  p379 turbans and not caps. Their commander was Anaphes son of Otanes. The Hyrcanians4 were armed like the Persians; their leader was Megapanus; who was afterwards the governor of Babylon.

[link to original Greek text] 63 H & W The Assyrians of the army wore on their heads helmets of twisted bronze made in an outlandish fashion not easy to describe. They bore shields and spears and daggers of Egyptian fashion, and wooden clubs withal studded with iron, and they wore linen breastplates. These are called by Greeks Syrians, but the foreigners called them Assyrians. With them were the Chaldeans. Their commander was Otaspes son of Artachaees.

[link to original Greek text] 64 Rawlinson p64 The Bactrians in the army wore a headgear most like to the Median, carrying their native bows of reed, and short spears. The Sacae, who are Scythians, had on their heads tall caps, erect and stiff and tapering to a point; they wore breeches, and carried their native bows, and daggers, and axes withal, which they call "sagaris."a These were Amyrgian Scythians, but were called Sacae; for that is the Persian name for all Scythians. The commander of the Bactrians and Sacae was Hystaspes, son of Darius and Cyrus' daughter Atossa.

[link to original Greek text] 65 The Indians wore garments of tree-wool,5 and carried bows of reed and iron-tipped arrows of the same. Such was their equipment; they were appointed to march under the command of Pharnazathres son of Artabates.

 p381  [link to original Greek text] 66 Rawlinson p66 The Arians were equipped with Median bows, but in all else like the Bactrians; their commander was Sisamnes son of Hydarnes. The Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdians, Gandarians, and Dadicae in the army had the same equipment as the Bactrians. The Parthians and Chorasmians had for their commander Artabazus son of Pharnaces, the Sogdians Azanes son of Artaeus, the Gandarians and Dadicae Artyphius son of Artabanus.

[link to original Greek text] 67 The Caspians in the army wore cloaks, and carried the reed bows of their country and short swords. Such was their equipment; their leader was Ariomardus, brother to Artyphius; the Sarangae made a brave show with dyed garments and boots knee-high, carrying bows and Median spears. Their commander was Pherendates son of Megabazus. The Pactyes wore cloaks and carried the bows of their country and daggers; their commander was Artaÿntes son of Ithamitres.

[link to original Greek text] 68 The Utians and Mycians and Paricanians were equipped like the Pactyes; the Utians and Mycians had for their commander Arsamenes son of Darius, the Paricanians Siromitres son of Oeobazus.

[link to original Greek text] 69 The Arabians wore mantles girded up, and carried at their right side long bows curving backwards.6 The Ethiopians were wrapt in skins of leopards and lions, and carried bows made of palm-wood strips, full four cubits long, and short arrows therewith, pointed not with iron but with a sharpened stone, that stone wherewith seals are carved; moreover they had spears pointed with a gazelle's horn  p383 sharpened to the likeness of a lance, and studded clubs withal. When they went into battle they painted half their bodies with gypsum and the other half with vermilion. The Arabians, and the Ethiopians who dwell above Egypt, had for commander Arsames son of Darius and Artystone daughter of Cyrus, whom Darius loved best of his wives, and had an image made of her of hammered gold.

[link to original Greek text] 70 Rawlinson p69 H & W The Ethiopians above Egypt and the Arabians had Arsames for commander, and the Ethiopians of the east7 (for there were two kinds of them in the army) served with the Indians; they differed nothing in appearance from the others, but only in speech and hair; for the Ethiopians from the east are straight-haired, but they of Libya have of all men the woolliest hair. These Ethiopians of Asia were for the most part armed like the Indians; but they wore on their heads the skins of horses' foreheads, stripped from the head with ears and mane; the mane served them for a crest, and they wore the horses' ears stiff and upright; for shields they had bucklers of cranes' skin.

[link to original Greek text] 71 The Libyans came in leathern garments, using javelins of charred wood. Their commander was Massages son of Oarizus.

[link to original Greek text] 72 Rawlinson p70 The Paphlagonians in the army had plaited helmets on their heads, and small shields and short spears, and javelins and daggers withal; they wore the shoes of their country, reaching midway to the knee. The Ligyes and Matieni and Mariandyni and  p385 Syrians were equipped like the Paphlagonians. These Syrians are called by the Persians Cappadocians. Dotus son of Megasidrus was commander of the Paphlagonians and Matieni, Gobryas son of Darius and Artystone of the Mariandyni and Ligyes and Syrians.

[link to original Greek text] 73 The Phrygian equipment was most like to the Paphlagonian, with but small difference. By what the Macedonians say, these Phrygians were called Briges as long as they dwelt in Europe, where they were neighbours of the Macedonians; but when they changed their home to Asia they changed their name also and were called Phrygians.8 The Armenians, who are settlers from Phrygia, were armed like the Phrygians. Both these together had for their commander Artochmes, Darius' son-in‑law.

[link to original Greek text] 74 The Lydian armour was most like to the Greek. The Lydians were formerly called Meïones, till they changed their name and were called after Lydus, son of Atys. The Mysians wore on their heads helmets of native form, carrying small shields and javelins of charred wood. These are settlers from Lydia, who are called Olympieni after the mountain Olympus. The commander of the Lydians and Mysians was that Artaphrenes, son of Artaphrenes, who made the onfall on Marathon with Datis.

[link to original Greek text] 75 The Thracians in the army wore fox‑skin caps on their heads, and tunics on their bodies; mantles of divers colours were their covering; they had shoes of fawnskin on their feet and legs, carrying withal javelins and little shields and daggers. These took the name of Bithynians after they crossed over to Asia; before that they were called (as they themselves  p387 say) Strymonians, as dwelling by the Strymon; they say that they were driven from their homes by Teucrians and Mysians. The commander of the Thracians of Asia was Bassaces son of Artabanus.

[link to original Greek text] 76 Rawlinson p72 The [Pisidians] had little shields of raw oxhide; each man carried two wolf-hunter's spears; they wore helmets of bronze, with the ears and horns of oxen wrought in bronze thereon, and crests withal; their legs were wrapped round with strips of purple stuff. In this country is a place of divination sacred to Ares.

[link to original Greek text] 77 H & W The Cabelees,9 who are Meïones, and are called Lasonii, had the same equipment as the Cilicians; when I come in my recording to the place of the Cilicians, I will then declare what it was. The Milyae had short spears and garments fastened by brooches; some of them carried Lycian bows, and wore caps of skin on their heads. The commander of all these was Badres son of Hystanes.

[link to original Greek text] 78 The Moschi wore wooden helmets on their heads, and carried shields and small spears with long points. The Tibareni and Macrones and Mossynoeci in the army were equipped like the Moschi. Their commanders who marshalled them were, for the Moschi and Tibareni, Ariomardus son of Darius and Parmys, the daughter of Cyrus' son Smerdis; for the Macrones and Mossynoeci, Artaÿctes son of Cherasmis, who was governor of Sestus on the Hellespont.

 p389  [link to original Greek text] 79 The Mares wore on their heads the plaited helmets of their country, carrying small shields of hide and javelins. The Colchians had wooden helmets and small shields of raw oxhide and short spears, and swords withal. The commander of the Mares and Colchians was Pharandates son of Teaspis. The Alarodians and Saspires in the army were armed like the Colchians; Masistius son of Siromitres was their commander.

[link to original Greek text] 80 The island tribes that came from the Red Sea, and from the islands where the king plants those who are called Exiles, wore dress and armour likest to the Median. The commander of these islanders was Mardontes son of Bagaeus, who in the next year,10 being then general at Mycale, was there slain in the fight.

[link to original Greek text] 81 These are the nations that marched by the mainland and had their places in the land army. Of this host the commanders were those of whom I have spoken, and these were they that marshalled and numbered the host and appointed captains of thousands and ten thousands, the captains of ten thousands appointing the captains of hundreds and of tens. Others too there were, leaders of troops and nations.11

[link to original Greek text] 82 Rawlinson p74 The commanders then were as aforesaid. The generals of these and of the whole land army were Mardonius son of Gobryas, Tritantaechmes son of that Artabanus who counselled that there should be no expedition against Hellas, Smerdomenes son of Otanes (these two latter were sons of Darius' brethren, whereby they were Xerxes' cousins),  p391 Masistes son of Darius and Atossa, Gergis son of Ariazus, and Megabyzus son of Zopyrus.

[link to original Greek text] 83 These were the generals of the whole land army, saving the Ten Thousand; Hydarnes son of Hydarnes was general of these picked ten thousand Persians, who were called Immortals for this reason, that when any one of them fell out of the number by force of death or sickness, another was chosen, and so they were never more or fewer than ten thousand. The Persians showed of all the richest adornment, and were themselves the best in the army. Their equipment was such as I have recorded; over and above this they made a brave show with the abundance of gold that they had; carriages withal they brought, bearing concubines and servants many and well equipped; and their food was brought to them on camels and beasts of burden, apart from the rest of the army.

[link to original Greek text] 84 There are horsemen in these nations, yet not all of them furnished cavalry, but only such as I will show: first the Persians, equipped like their foot, save that some of them wore headgear of hammered bronze and iron.

[link to original Greek text] 85 H & W There are also certain nomads called Sagartian; they are Persian in speech, and the fashion of their equipment is somewhat between the Persian and the Pactyan; they furnished eight thousand horsemen. It is their custom to carry no armour of bronze or iron, save daggers only, and to use ropes of twisted leather.12 In these they trust when they go to battle; and this is their manner of fighting: when they are at close quarters with their enemy, they throw their ropes, these having a noose at the end;  p393 and whatever they catch, be it horse or man, the thrower drags it to himself, and the enemy thus entangled in the prisoning coils is slain.

[link to original Greek text] 86 This is their manner of fighting; their place in the army was with the Persians. The Median horse were equipped like their foot, and the Cissians likewise. The Indians were armed in like manner as their foot; they rode swift horses and drove chariots drawn by horses and wild asses. The Bactrians were equipped as were their foot, and the Caspians in like manner. The Libyans too were armed like the men of their infantry, and all of them too drove chariots. So likewise the Caspians and Paricanians were armed as the men of their infantry. The Arabians had the same equipment as the men of their infantry, and all of them rode on camels no less swift than horses.

[link to original Greek text] 87 Rawlinson p77 These nations alone are riders; and the number of the horsemen was shown to be eighty thousand, besides the camels and the chariots. All the rest of the riders were ranked in their several troops, but the Arabians were posted hindmost; for the horses not enduring the sight of camels, their place was in the rear, that so the horses might not be affrighted.

[link to original Greek text] 88 The captains of horse were Harmamithres and Tithaeus, sons of Datis; the third who was captain with them, Pharnuches, had been left behind sick at Sardis. For as they set forth from Sardis, an unwelcome mishap befel him; a dog ran under the feet of the horse that he rode, and the horse taken unawares reared up and threw Pharnuches; after his fall he vomited blood and his hurt turned to a  p395 wasting sickness. The horse was straightway dealt with according to Pharnuches' command; his servants led it away to the place where it had thrown their master, and cut off its legs at the knee. Thus it was that Pharnuches lost his captaincy.

[link to original Greek text] 89 The number of the triremes was shown to be twelve hundred and seven; and these were they that furnished them. First, the Phoenicians; they, with the Syrians of Palestine, furnished three hundred. For their equipment, they had on their heads helmets well-nigh of Greek fashion; they wore linen breastplates, and carried shields without rims, and javelins. These Phoenicians dwelt in old time, as they themselves say, by the Red Sea; passing over from thence, they now inhabit the sea‑coast of Syria; that part of Syria and as much of it as reaches to Egypt, is all called Palestine. The Egyptians furnished two hundred ships. These wore plaited helmets, and carried hollow shields with broad rims, and spears for sea‑warfare, and great poleaxes. The greater part of them wore cuirasses and carried long swords.

[link to original Greek text] 90 Rawlinson p80 Such was their armour: the Cyprians furnished a hundred and fifty ships; for their equipment, their princes wore turbans wrapped round their heads; the people wore tunics, but in all else were like the Greeks. Their tribes are these:13 some are from Salamis and Athens, some from Arcadia, some from Cythnus, some from Phoenice, and some from Ethiopia, as the Cyprians themselves say.

 p397  [link to original Greek text] 91 Rawlinson p82 H & W The Cilicians furnished a hundred ships. These, too, wore on their heads the helmets of their country, carrying bucklers of raw oxhide for shields, and clad in woollen tunics; each had two javelins and shields fashioned well-nigh like the falchions of Egypt. These Cilicians were in old time called Hypachaei, and took the name they bear from Cilix a Phoenician, son of Agenor.14 The Pamphylians furnished thirtyb ships: they were armed like Greeks. These Pamphylians are descended from the Trojans of the dispersal who followed Amphilochus and Calchas.

[link to original Greek text] 92 The Lycians furnished fifty ships; they wore cuirasses and greaves, carrying bows of cornel-wood and unfeathered arrows and javelins; goat-skins hung from their shoulders, and they wore on their heads caps set about with feathers; daggers they had too, and scimitars. The Lycians were of Cretan descent, and were once called Termilae; they took the name they bear from Lycus, an Athenian, son of Pandion.

[link to original Greek text] 93 The Dorians of Asia furnished thirty ships; their armour was Greek; they were of Peloponnesian descent. The Carians furnished seventy ships; they had scimitars and daggers, but for the rest Greek equipment. Of them I have spoken in the beginning of my history,15 telling by what name they were formerly called.

[link to original Greek text] 94 Rawlinson p84 The Ionians furnished a hundred ships; their equipment was like the Greek. These Ionians, as long as they were in the Peloponnese dwelling in what is now called Achaia, before Danaus and  p399 Xuthus came to the Peloponnese, as the Greeks say, were called Aegialian Pelasgians;16 they were named Ionians after Ion the son of Xuthus.

[link to original Greek text] 95 The islanders furnished seventeen ships; they were armed like Greeks; they also were of Pelasgian stock, which was later called Ionian by the same right as were the Ionians of the twelve cities,17 who came from Athens. The Aeolians furnished sixty ships; they were equipped like Greeks; in former days they were called Pelasgian, as the Greek story goes. Of the people of the Hellespont, they of Abydos had been charged by the king to abide at home and guard the bridges; the rest that came from Pontus with the army furnished a hundred ships, and were equipped like Greeks. They were settlers from the Ionians and Dorians.

[link to original Greek text] 96 H & W There were fighting men of the Persians and Medes and Sacae on all the ships. The best sailing ships were furnished by the Phoenicians, and among them by the Sidonians. These, like those of them that were ranked in the land army, had their native leaders severally, whose names I do not record, as not being needful for the purpose of my history; for these several leaders of nations are not worthy of mention, and every city, too, of each nation had a leader of its own. These came not as generals but as slaves, like the rest of the armament; who the generals of supreme authority were, and who the Persian commanders of each nation, I have already said.

[link to original Greek text] 97 Of the navy, the admirals were Ariabignes  p401 son of Darius, Prexaspes son of Aspathines, Megabazus son of Megabates, and Achaemenes son of Darius, Ariabignes, son of Darius and Gobryas' daughter, being admiral of the Ionian and Carian fleet; the admiral of the Egyptians was Achaemenes, full brother to Xerxes, and the two others were admirals of the rest. As for the ships of thirty and of fifty oars, and light galleys, and great transports for horses, the sum of them altogether was shown to be three thousand.

[link to original Greek text] 98 Rawlinson p86 Of those that were on shipboard, the most famous, after the admirals, were these: Tetramnestus of Sidon, son of Anysus, Matten of Tyre, son of Siromus, Merbalus of Aradus, son of Agbalus, Syennesis of Cilicia, son of Oromedon, Cyberniscus of Lycia, son of Sicas, Gorgus son of Chersis, and Timonax son of Timagoras, Cyprians both; and of the Carians, Histiaeus son of Tymnes, Pigres son of Hysseldomus, and Damasithymus son of Candaules.

[link to original Greek text] 99 I name none of the rest of the captains, having no need so to do, save only Artemisia, who moves me to marvel greatly that a woman should have gone with the armament against Hellas; for her husband being dead, she herself had his sovereignty and a young son withal, and followed the host under no stress of necessity, but of mere high-hearted valour. Artemisia was her name; she was daughter to Lygdamis, on her father's side of Halicarnassian lineage, and a Cretan on her mother's. She was the leader of the men of Halicarnassus and Cos and Nisyrus and Calydnos, furnishing five ships. Her ships were reputed the best in the whole fleet after the ships of Sidon; and of all his allies she  p403 gave the king the best counsels. The cities, whereof I said she was the leader, are all of Dorian stock, as I can show, the Halicarnassians being of Troezen, and the rest of Epidaurus. Here ends what I have said of the fleet.

[link to original Greek text] 100 Rawlinson p88 H & W When his host had been numbered and marshalled, Xerxes had a desire to ride through and view it. This he presently did; riding in a chariot past the men of each nation, he questioned them, and his scribes wrote all down, till he had gone from end to end of the horse and foot. This done, and the ships being drawn down and launched in the sea, Xerxes alighted from his chariot into a ship of Sidon, sitting wherein under a golden canopy he was carried past the prows of the ships, questioning of them in like manner as of the army and making the answers to be written down. The captains put out as far as four hundred feet from the shore, and there kept the ships anchored in a line, their prows turned landward, and the fighting men on them armed as for war; Xerxes viewed them, passing between the prows and the land.

[link to original Greek text] 101 Having passed by all his fleet likewise and disembarked from his ship, he sent for Demaratus18 son of Ariston, who was marching with him against Hellas, and called and questioned him, saying, "Now, Demaratus, it is my pleasure to ask you what I would fain know. You are a Greek, and, as I am told by you and the other Greeks that converse with me, a man of not the least nor the weakest of Greek cities. Now therefore tell me this: will the Greeks offer me battle and abide my coming? For  p405 to my thinking, even if all the Greeks and all the men of the western lands were assembled together, they are not of power to abide my attack, if they be not in accord. Nathless I would fain learn your mind and hear what you say of them." To this question Demaratus made answer, "O king, must I speak truly, or so as to please you?" Xerxes bade him speak the truth, and said that he would lose none of the king's favour thereby.

[link to original Greek text] 102 Rawlinson p90 Hearing that, "O king," said Demaratus, "seeing that you bid me by all means speak the whole truth, and say that which you shall not afterwards prove to be false, — in Hellas poverty is ever native to the soil, but courage comes of their own seeking, the fruit of wisdom and strong law; by use of courage Hellas defends herself from poverty and tyranny. Now I say nought but good of all Greeks that dwell in those Dorian lands; yet it is not of all that I would now speak, but only of Lacedaemonians; and this I say of them; firstly, that they will never accept conditions from you that import the enslaving of Hellas; and secondly, that they will meet you in battle, yea, even though all the rest of the Greeks be on your side. But, for the number of them, ask me not how many these men are, who are like to do as I say; be it of a thousand men, or of more or of fewer than that, their army will fight with you."

[link to original Greek text] 103 Hearing that, Xerxes smiled, and said, "A strange saying, Demaratus! that a thousand men should fight with a host so great as mine! I pray you tell me this: you were (you say) these men's  p407 king: will you consent at this present to fight with ten men? Yet if the order of your state be such as you define it to be,19 you, being their king should rightly encounter twice as many according to your laws; for if each of those Greeks is a match for ten men of my army, then it is plain to me that you must be a match for twenty. That were a proof that what you say is true; but if you Greeks who so exalt yourselves are like in stature and all else to yourself and those of your nation who have audience of me, then beware lest the words you have spoken be but idle boasting. Nay, let us look at it by plain reason's light: how should a thousand, or ten thousand, or even fifty thousand, if they be all alike free and not under the rule of one man, withstand so great a host as mine? For grant your Greeks to be five thousand, we should so be more than a thousand to one. For, were they under the rule of one according to our custom, they might from fear of him show a valour greater than natural, and under compulsion of the lash might encounter odds in the field; but neither of these would they do while they were suffered to be free. For myself, I think that even were they equal in numbers it would go hard with the Greeks to fight against the Persians alone. Not so; it is we alone and none others that have this skill whereof you speak, yet even of us not many but a few only; there are some among my Persian spearmen that will gladly fight with three Greeks at once; of this you have no knowledge and do but utter arrant folly."

[link to original Greek text] 104 To this Demaratus answered, "O king, I  p409 knew from the first that the truth would be unwelcome to you. But since you constrained me to speak as truly as I could, I have told you how it stands with the Spartans. Yet you yourself best know what love I bear them — men that have robbed me of my honourable office and the prerogative of my house, and made me a cityless exile; then it was your father that received me and gave me dwelling and livelihood. It is not then to be thought that a right-minded man will reject from him plain good will, but rather that he will requite it with full affection. But for myself, I will not promise that I can fight with ten men, no, nor with two, and of my own will I would not even fight with one; yet under stress of necessity, or of some great issue to spur me on, I would most gladly fight with one of those men who claim to be each a match for three Greeks. So is it with the Lacedaemonians; fighting singly they are as brave as any man living, and together they are the best warriors on earth. Free they are, yet not wholly free; for law is their master, whom they fear much more than your men fear you. This is my proof — what their law bids them, that they do; and its bidding is ever the same, that they must never flee from the battle before whatsoever odds, but abide at their post and there conquer or die. If this that I say seems to you but foolishness, then let me hereafter hold my peace; it is under constraint that I have now spoken. But may your wish, O king! be fulfilled."

[link to original Greek text] 105 Rawlinson p92 Thus Demaratus answered; Xerxes made a jest of the matter and showed no anger, but sent him away with all kindness. Having thus conversed  p411 with Demaratus, and having appointed Mascames son of Megadostes his viceroy of that same Doriscus, deposing him whom Darius had set there, Xerxes marched his army through Thrace towards Hellas.

[link to original Greek text] 106 This Mascames, whom he left, so bore himself that to him alone Xerxes ever sent gifts, as being the most valiant of all the viceroys that he or Darius set up; every year he would send them; and so too did Artoxerxes his son to Mascames' descendants. For before this march, viceroys had been appointed everywhere in Thrace and on the Hellespont. All these in that country, except the viceroy of Doriscus, were after this expedition dispossessed by the Greeks; but Mascames of Doriscus could never be dispossessed by any, though many essayed it. For this cause it is that the gifts are sent by whoever is at any time king of Persia.

[link to original Greek text] 107 Of those who were dispossessed by the Greeks there was none whom king Xerxes deemed a valiant man except only Boges, from whom they took Eïon. But this Boges he never ceased praising, and gave very great honour to his sons who were left alive in Persia; and indeed Boges proved himself worthy of all praise. Being besieged by the Athenians under Cimon son of Miltiades, he might have departed under treaty from Eïon and so returned to Asia; yet he would not, lest the king should think that he had saved his life out of cowardice, but he resisted to the last. Then, when there was no food left within his walls, he piled up a great pyre and slew and cast into the fire his children and wife and concubines and servants;  p413 after that, he took all the gold and silver from the city and scattered it from the walls into the Strymon; which done, he cast himself into the fire. Thus it is that he is justly praised by the Persians to this day.

[link to original Greek text] 108 Rawlinson p94 H & W From Doriscus Xerxes went on his way towards Hellas, compelling all that he met to go with his army; for, as I have before shown, all the country as far as Thessaly had been enslaved and was tributary to the king, by the conquests of Megabazus and Mardonius after him. On his road from Doriscus he first passed the Samothracian fortresses,20 whereof that one which is builded farthest westwards is a town called Mesambria. Next to it is a Thasian town, Stryme; between them runs the river Lisus, which now could not furnish water enough for Xerxes' army, but was exhausted. All this region was once called Gallaïc, but it is now called Briantic; yet it too is by rights a land of the Cicones.

[link to original Greek text] 109 Having crossed the bed (then dried up) of the river Lisus he passed by the Greek cities of Maronea, Dicaea, and Abdera. Past these he went, and past certain lakes of repute near to them, the Ismarid lake that lies between Maronea and Stryme, and near Dicaea the Bistonian lake, into which the rivers Travus and Compsantus disembogue. Near Abdera Xerxes passed no lake of repute, but crossed the river Nestus where it flows into the sea. From  p415 these regions he passed by the cities of the mainland, one whereof has near it a lake of about thirty furlongs in circuit, full of fish and very salt; this was drained dry by no more than the watering of the beasts of burden. This town is called Pistyrus.

[link to original Greek text] 110 Rawlinson p96 Past these Greek towns of the sea‑board Xerxes marched, keeping them on his left; the Thracian tribes through whose lands he journeyed were the Paeti, Cicones, Bistones, Sapaei, Dersaei, Edoni, and Satrae.21 Of these tribes they that dwelt by the sea followed his host on shipboard; they that dwelt inland, whose names I have recorded, were constrained to join with his land army, all of them save the Satrae.

[link to original Greek text] 111 But these Satrae, as far as our knowledge goes, have never yet been subject to any man; they alone of all Thracians have ever been and are to this day free; for they dwell on high mountains covered with forests of all kinds and snow; and they are warriors of high excellence. It is they who possess the place of divination sacred to Dionysus; which place is among the highest of their mountains; the Bessi, a clan of the Satrae, are the prophets of the shrine, and it is a priestess that utters the oracle, as at Delphi; nor is aught more of mystery here than there.22

[link to original Greek text] 112 H & W Passing through the land aforesaid Xerxes next passed the fortresses of the Pierians, one called Phagres and the other Pergamus. By this way he  p417 marched under their very walls, keeping on his right the great and high Pangaean range, wherein the Pierians and Odomanti and the Satrae in especial have mines of gold and silver.

[link to original Greek text] 113 Marching past the Paeonians, Doberes, and Paeoplae, who dwell beyond and northward of the Pangaean mountains,23 he went ever westwards, till he came to the river Strymon and the city of Eïon, the governor whereof was that Boges, then still alive, of whom I have lately made mention. All this region about the Pangaean range is called Phyllis; it stretches westwards to the river Angites, which issues into the Strymon, and southwards to the Strymon itself; by that water the Magi slew white horses, offering thus sacrifice for good omens.

[link to original Greek text] 114 Rawlinson p98 Having used these enchantments and many other besides on the river, they passed over it at the Edonian town of Nine Ways,24 by the bridges which they found thrown across it. There, learning that Nine Ways was the name of the place, they buried alive that number of boys and maidens, children of the people of the country. To bury alive is a Persian custom; I have heard that when Xerxes' wife Amestris attained to old age she buried fourteen sons of notable Persians, as a thank-offering on her own behalf to the fabled god of the nether world.

[link to original Greek text] 115 H & W Journeying from the Strymon, the army passed by Argilus, a Greek town standing on a  p419 stretch of sea‑coast further westwards; the territory of which town and that which lies inland of it are called Bisaltia. Thence, keeping on his left hand the gulf off Poseideïon, Xerxes traversed the plain of Syleus (as they call it), passing by the Greek town of Stagirus, and came to Acanthus; he took along with him all these tribes, and those that dwelt about the Pangaean range, in like manner as those others whom I have already recorded, the men of the coast serving in his fleet and the inland men in his land army. All this road, whereby king Xerxes led his army, the Thracians neither break up nor sow aught on it, but they hold it in great reverence to this day.

[link to original Greek text] 116 When Xerxes came to Acanthus, he declared the Acanthians his guests and friends, and gave them a Median dress, praising them for the zeal wherewith he saw them furthering his campaign, and for what he heard of the digging of the canal.

[link to original Greek text] 117 While Xerxes was at Acanthus, it so befel that Artachaees, overseer of the digging of the canal, died of a sickness. He was high in Xerxes' favour, an Achaemenid by lineage; he was the tallest man in Persia, lacking four finger-breadths of five royal cubits25 in stature, and his voice was the loudest on earth. Wherefore Xerxes mourned him greatly and gave him a funeral and burial of great pomp, and the whole army poured libations on his tomb. The Acanthians hold Artachaees a hero, and sacrifice to him, calling upon his name; this they do by the bidding of an oracle.

[link to original Greek text] 118 Rawlinson p100 King Xerxes, then, mourned for the death of  p421 Artachaees. But the Greeks who received Xerxes' army and entertained the king himself were brought to the depth of misery, insomuch that they were driven from house and home; witness the case of the Thasians, who received and feasted Xerxes' army on behalf of their towns on the mainland; Antipatrus son of Orgeus, as notable a man as any of his townsmen, chosen by them for this task, rendered them an account of four hundred silver talents expended on the dinner.

[link to original Greek text] 119 A like account was rendered in all the other cities by the controllers. For since the command for it had been given long before, and the matter was esteemed a weighty one, the dinner was somewhat on this wise: As soon as the townsmen had word from the heralds' proclamation, they divided cornº among themselves in their cities and all of them for many months ground it to wheaten and barley meal; moreover they fed the finest beasts that money could buy, and kept landfowl and waterfowl in cages and ponds, for the entertaining of the army; and they made gold and silver cups and bowls and all manner of service for the table. These latter were made for the king himself and those that ate with him; for the rest of the army they provided only what served for food. At the coming of the army, there was a pavilion built for Xerxes' own lodging, and his army abode in the open air. When the hour came for dinner, the hosts would have no light task; as for the army, when they had eaten their fill and passed the night there, on the next day they would rend the pavilion from the ground and take  p423 all things movable, and so march away, leaving nothing but carrying all with them.

[link to original Greek text] 120 It was then that there was a very apt saying uttered by one Megacreon of Abdera: he counselled his townsmen to go all together, men and women, to their temples, and there in all humility entreat the gods to defend them in the future from half of every threatened ill; and let them (so he counselled) thank the gods heartily for past favour, in that it was Xerxes' custom to take a meal only once a day; else, had they been commanded to furnish a breakfast of like fashion as the dinner, the people of Abdera would have had no choice but either to flee before Xerxes' coming, or to perish most miserably if they awaited him.

[link to original Greek text] 121 Rawlinson p102 So the townsmen, hard put to it as they were, yet did as they were commanded. Quitting Acanthus, Xerxes sent his ships on their course away from him, giving orders to his generals that the fleet should await him at Therma, the town on the Thermaic gulf which gives the gulf its name; for this, he learnt, was his shortest way. For the order of the army's march, from Doriscus to Acanthus, had been such as I will show: dividing all his land army into three portions, Xerxes appointed one of them to march beside his fleet along the sea‑coast, with Mardonius and Masistes for its generals; another third of the army marched as appointed further inland, under Tritantaechmes and Gergis; the third portion, with which went Xerxes himself,  p425 marched between the two, and its generals were Smerdomenes and Megabyzus.

[link to original Greek text] 122 H & W Now when the fleet had left Xerxes and sailed through the canal made in Athos (which canal reached to the gulf wherein stand the towns of Assa, Pilorus, Singus, and Sarte), thence taking on board troops from these cities also, it stood out to sea for the Thermaic gulf, and rounding Ampelus, the headland of Torone, it passed the Greek towns of Torone, Galepsus, Sermyle, Mecyberna, and Olynthus, from all which it received ships and men.

[link to original Greek text] 123 This country is called Sithonia. The fleet held a straight course from the headland of Ampelus to the Canastraean headland, where Pallene runs farthest out to sea, and received ships and men from the towns of what is now Pallene but was formerly called Phlegra, to wit, Potidaea, Aphytis, Neapolis, Aege, Therambus, Scione, Mende, and Sane. Sailing along this coast they made for the place appointed, taking troops from the towns adjacent to Pallene and near neighbours of the Thermaic gulf, whereof the names are Lipaxus, Combrea, Aesa, Gigonus, Campsa, Smila, Aenea; whose territory is called Crossaea to this day. From Aenea, the last-named in my list of the towns, the course of the fleet lay thenceforward to the Thermaic gulf itself and the Mygdonian territory,  p427 till its voyage ended at Therma, the place appointed, and the towns of Sindus and Chalestra, where it came to the river Axius; this is the boundary, between the Mygdonian and the Bottiaean territory, wherein stand the towns of Ichnae and Pella on the narrow strip of sea‑coast.

[link to original Greek text] 124 Rawlinson p105 So the fleet lay there off the river Axius and the city of Therma and the towns between them, awaiting the king. But Xerxes and his land army marched from Acanthus by the straightest inland course, making for Therma. Their way lay through the Paeonian and the Crestonaean country to the river Cheidorus, which, rising in the Crestonaean land, flows through the Mygdonian country and issues by the marshes of the Axius.

[link to original Greek text] 125 Rawlinson p106 As Xerxes thus marched, lions attacked the camels that carried his provision; nightly they would come down out of their lairs and made havoc of the camels alone, seizing nothing else, man or beast of burden; and I marvel what was the reason that constrained the lions to touch nought else but attack the camels, creatures whereof till then they had no sight or knowledge.

[link to original Greek text] 126 H & W There are many lions in these parts, and wild oxen, whose horns are those very long ones which are brought into Hellas. The boundary of the lions' country is the river Nestus that flows through Abdera and the river Achelous that flows through Acarnania. Neither to the east of the Nestus anywhere in the nearer part of Europe, nor to the west  p429 of the Achelous in the rest of the mainland, is any lion to be seen; but they are found in the country between those rivers.

[link to original Greek text] 127 Being come to Therma Xerxes quartered his army there. Its encampment by the sea covered all the space from Therma and the Mygdonian country to the rivers Lydias and Haliacmon, which unite their waters in one stream and so make the border between the Bottiaean and the Macedonian26 territory. In this place the foreigners lay encamped; of the rivers aforesaid, the Cheidorus which flows from the Crestonaean country was the only one which could not suffice for the army's drinking but was thereby exhausted.

[link to original Greek text] 128 When Xerxes saw from Therma the exceeding great height of the Thessalian mountains Olympus and Ossa, and learnt that the Peneus flows in a narrow pass through them, which was the way that led into Thessaly, he was taken with a desire to view the mouth of the Peneus, because he was minded to march by the upper road through the highland people of Macedonia to the country of the Perrhaebi and the town of Gonnus;27 for it was told him that this was the safest way. As he desired, so he did; embarking in a ship of Sidon, wherein he ever embarked when he had some such business in  p431 hand, he hoisted his signal for the rest also to put out to sea, leaving his land army where it was. Great wonder took him when he came and viewed the mouth of the Peneus; and calling his guides he asked them if it were possible to turn the river from its course and lead it into the sea by another way.

[link to original Greek text] 129 Rawlinson p109 H & W Thessaly, as tradition has it, was in old times a lake, being enclosed all round by exceeding high mountains; for on its eastern side it is fenced in by the joining of the lower parts of the mountains Pelion and Ossa, to the north by Olympus, to the west by Pindus, towards the south and the southerly wind by Othrys; in the midst of which mountains aforesaid lies the vale of Thessaly. Seeing therefore that many rivers pour into this vale, whereof the five most notable are Peneus, Apidanus, Onochonus, Enipeus, Pamisus: these five, while they flow towards their meeting from the mountains that surround Thessaly, have their several names, till their waters all unite together and so issue into the sea by one and that a narrow passage; but as soon as they are united, the name of the Peneus thereafter prevails and makes the rest to be nameless. In ancient days, it is said, there was not yet this channel and outfall, but those rivers and the Boebean lake28 withal, albeit not yet named, had the same volume of water as now, and thereby turned all Thessaly into  p433 a sea. Now the Thessalians say that Poseidon made this passage whereby the Peneus flows; and this is reasonable; for whosoever believes that Poseidon is the shaker of the earth, and that rifts made by earthquakes are that god's handiwork, will judge from sight of that passage that it is of Poseidon's making; for it is an earthquake, as it seems to me, that has riven the mountains asunder.29

[link to original Greek text] 130 Rawlinson p111 Xerxes enquiring of his guides if there were any other outlet for the Peneus into the sea, they answered him out of their full knowledge: "The river, O king, has no other way into the sea, but this alone; for there is a ring of mountains round the whole of Thessaly." Whereupon, it is said, quoth Xerxes: "They are wise men, these Thessalians; this then in especial was the cause of their precaution long before30 when they changed to a better mind, that they saw their country to be so easily and speedily conquerable; for nought more would have been needful than to let the river out over their land by barring the channel with a dam and turning it from its present bed, that so the whole of Thessaly save only the mountains might be under water." This he said with especial regard to the sons of Aleues, these Thessalians being the first Greeks who surrendered themselves to the king; Xerxes supposed that when they offered him friendship they spoke for the whole of their nation. Having so said, and ended his viewing, he sailed back to Therma.

[link to original Greek text] 131 Rawlinson p112 Xerxes delayed for many days in the parts of  p435 Pieria; for a third part of his army was clearing a road over the Macedonian mountains, that all the army might pass by that way to the Perrhaebian country; and now returned the heralds who had been sent to Hellas to demand earth, some empty-handed, some bearing earth and water.

[link to original Greek text] 132 Among those who paid that tribute were the Thessalians,31 Dolopes, Enienes, Perrhaebians, Locrians, Magnesians, Melians, Achaeans of Phthia, Thebans, and all the Boeotians except the men of Thespiae and Plataea. Against all of these the Greeks who declared war with the foreigner entered into a sworn agreement, which was this: that if they should be victorious they would dedicate to the god of Delphi the possessions of all Greeks who had of free will surrendered themselves to the Persians. Such was the agreement sworn by the Greeks.

[link to original Greek text] 133 H & W But to Athens and Sparta Xerxes sent no heralds to demand earth, and this was the reason: when Darius had before sent men with this same purpose, the demanders were cast at the one city into the Pit32 and at the other in case of a well, and bidden to carry thence earth and water to the king. For this cause Xerxes sent no demand. What calamity befel the Athenians for thus dealing with the heralds I cannot say, save that their land and their city was laid waste; but I think that there was another reason for this, and not the aforesaid.33

[link to original Greek text] 134 Rawlinson p114 Be that as it may, the Lacedaemonians were visited by the wrath of Talthybius, Agamemnon's  p437 herald; for at Sparta there is a shrine of Talthybius, and descendants of Talthybius called Talthybiadae, who have by right the conduct of all embassies from Sparta. Now after that deed the Spartans could not win good omens from sacrifice, and for a long time it was so. The Lacedaemonians were grieved and dismayed; ofttimes they called assemblies, and made a proclamation inviting some Lacedaemonian to give his life for Sparta; then two Spartans of noble birth and great wealth, Sperthias son of Aneristus and Bulis son of Nicolaus, undertook of their own free will that they would make atonement to Xerxes for Darius' heralds who had been done to death at Sparta. Thereupon the Spartans sent these men to Media for execution.

[link to original Greek text] 135 H & W Worthy of all admiration was these men's deed of daring, and so also were their sayings which I here record. As they journeyed to Susa, they came to Hydarnes, a Persian, who was general of the sea‑coast of Asia; he entertained and feasted them as guests, and as they sat at his board, "Lacedaemonians," he questioned them, "why do you shun the king's friendship? You can judge from what you see of me and my condition how well the king can honour men of worth. So might it be with you; would you but put yourselves in the king's hands, being as you are of proven worth in his eyes, every one of you might by his commission be a ruler of Hellas." To this the Spartans answered: "Your counsels to us, Hydarnes, are ill assorted; one half  p439 of them rests on knowledge, but the other on ignorance; you know well how to be a slave, but you have never tasted of freedom, to know whether it be sweet or not. Were you to taste of it, not with spears you would counsel us to fight for it, no, but with axes."

[link to original Greek text] 136 This was their answer to Hydarnes. Thence being come to Susa and into the king's presence, when the guards commanded and would have compelled them to fall down and do obeisance to the king, they said they would never do that, no not if they were thrust down headlong; for it was not their custom (said they) to do obeisance to mortal men, nor was that the purpose of their coming. Having beaten that off, they next said, "The Lacedaemonians have sent us, O king of the Medes, in requital for the slaying of your heralds at Sparta, to make atonement for their death," and more to that effect; whereupon Xerxes of his magnanimity said that he would not imitate the Lacedaemonians; "for you," said he, "made havoc of all human law by slaying heralds; but I will not do that which I blame in you, nor by putting you to death set the Lacedaemonians free from this guilt."

[link to original Greek text] 137 Rawlinson p116 Thus by this deed of the Spartans the wrath of Talthybius was appeased for the nonce, though Sperthias and Bulis returned to Sparta. But long after that it awoke to life again in the war between the Peloponnesians and Athenians, as the Lacedaemonians say. That seems to me to be a sure sign of heaven's handiwork. It was but just that the wrath of Talthybius descended on ambassadors, nor was  p441  abated till it was satisfied; but the venting of it on the sons of those men who went up to the king to appease it, namely, on Nicolasº son of Bulis and Aneristus son of Sperthias (that Aneristus who landed a merchant ship's crew at the Tirynthian settlement of Halia and took it),34 makes it plain to me that this was heaven's doing by reason of Talthybius' anger. For these two had been sent by the Lacedaemonians as ambassadors to Asia; betrayed by the Thracian king Sitalces son of Tereus and Nymphodorus son of Pytheas of Abdera, they were made captive at Bisanthe on the Hellespont, and carried away to Attica, where the Athenians put them to death,35 and with them Aristeas son of Adimantus, a Corinthian. This happened many years after the king's expedition; I return now to the course of my history.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 North-east, strictly speaking: they marched through the promontory of Gallipoli.

2 Herodotus is always prone to base ethnological conclusions on Greek legends and the similarity of names; so in the next chapter Medea supplies the name of the Medes. — But it is strange that Perseus, being commonly held great-grandfather of Heracles, is here made to marry the grand-daughter of Belus, who in I.7, is Heracles' grandson.

3 Modern philology gives the name "Aryan" of course a very much wider extension; which indeed was beginning even in the time of Strabo.

4 Not mentioned in the list of Darius' subjects in Book III; they lived on the S. E. coast of the Caspian.

5 Cotton.

6 That is, the ends of the bow when unstrung curved upwards, against the natural curve of the whole; which would of course increase its power.

7 For these see III.94. The "eastern Ethiopians" were apparently in or near Beluchistan.

8 This tends to support a reversal of Herodotus' account of racial migration in ch. 20; see the note there.

9 From a district bordered by Caria, Phrygia, Pisidia, and Lycia.

10 479.

11 That is, native leaders, not the regular officers of the army.

12 i.e. lassoes.

13 That is, the entire population contains everywhere these component parts; they are not locally separate.

14 Agenor appears to represent the Phoenician Baal.

15 In I.171.

16 Herodotus generally uses the name "Pelasgian" for the oldest known population of Greece: cp. I.146; II.171.

17 For the twelve cities, see I.142.

18 The exiled king of Sparta; see ch. 3.

19 This no doubt alludes to the double portion given to a Spartan king at feasts; cp.  VI.57.

20 Erected doubtless by the Samothracians to protect their possessions on the mainland.

21 All these are tribes of the Nestus and Strymon valleys or the intervening hill country.

22 Hdt. appears to mean that the method of divination is the "usual" one, as at Delphi; perhaps there were exaggerated accounts of the mysterious rites of the Bessi.

23 In 112 Xerxes was marching along the coast; here he is far inland. Doubtless the explanation lies in the division of his army into three parallel columns (121).

24 About three miles above Eïon on the Strymon.

25 This would make Artachaees eight feet high.

26 Not the whole of Macedonia, but the region originally ruled by the Temenid dynasty, between the rivers Haliacmon and Axius and the foothills of Bermius. Edessa was the chief town.

27 Xerxes' army might have entered Thessaly by marching along the coast between Olympus and the sea, and up the Peneus valley (the pass of Tempe) to Gonnus. Instead, it crossed the mountains; probably both by a route which runs across the southern slope of Olympus to Gonnus, and also by the Petra pass, further inland, between Olympus and Bermius. But Herodotus is mistaken in making the ἄνω ὁδός alone reach Gonnus; the Tempe route would have done the same.

28 In eastern Thessaly, west of Pelion. Naturally, with the whole country inundated, the lake would have no independent existence.

29 The correspondence in formation of the two sides of the pass (salients on one side answering to recesses on the other) gives the impression that they were once united and have been violently separated.

30 As a matter of fact the Thessalians had determined on their policy very recently indeed; but Xerxes apparently supposes that they had resolved to join him from the first.

31 Not all the inhabitants of Thessaly, here, but the tribe of that name which had settled in the Peneus valley and given its name to the surrounding peoples.

32 Into which criminals condemned to death were thrown.

33 Possibly the burning of the temple at Sardis (V.102).

34 Halia was a port in Argolis. The event took place probably between 461 and 450, when Athens and Argos were allied against Sparta.

35 In 430; cp. Thucyd. II.67.

Thayer's Notes:

a I am tempted to see σαγάρις as a cognate of Lat. securis. Among other Greek words for axes, both ἀξίνη and πέλεκυς are generally thought to be words of Semitic origin; and in J. Makkay's "Greek ἀξίνεº and πέλεκυς as Semitic loan-words in Greek and the corresponding axe type", in Essays on Ancient Anatolia in the Second Millennium B.C. (ed. H. I. H. Prince Takahito Mikasa 1998) I find the following note, p183, in which, however, this passage seems to have been overlooked: "Another word of probably Semitic origin — Latin securis 'axe, battleaxe' — probably from Akkadian šukurru does not come into question because it is not attested in Greek."

b Corrected from the Greek as printed on the facing page of the L. C. L. edition.

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