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VII.57‑137

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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VII.175‑239

(Vol. III) Herodotus

 p441  Book VII: chapters 138‑174

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] 138 Rawlinson p117 H & W The professed intent of the king's march was to attack Athens, but in truth all Hellas was his aim. This the Greeks had long since learnt, but not all of them regarded the matter alike. Those of them that had paid tribute of earth and water to the Persian were of good courage, thinking that the foreigner would do them no harm; but they who had refused tribute were sore afraid, since there were not in Hellas ships enough to do battle with their invader, and the greater part of them had no stomach for grappling with the war, but were making haste to side with the Persian.

[link to original Greek text] 139 Here I am constrained perforce to declare an opinion which will be displeasing to most; but I will not refrain from uttering what seems to me to be  p443 true. Had the Athenians been panic-struck by the threatened peril and left their own country, or had they not indeed left it but remained and surrendered themselves to Xerxes, none would have essayed to withstand the king by sea. If, then, no man had withstood him by sea, I will show what would have happened by land: though the Peloponnesians had built not one but many walls across the Isthmus for their armour,1 yet the Lacedaemonians would have been deserted by their allies (these having no choice or free will in the matter, but seeing their cities taken one by one by the foreign fleet), till at last they would have stood alone; and so standing they would have fought a great fight and nobly perished. Such would have been their fate; or it may be that, when they saw the rest of Hellas siding with the enemy, they would have made terms with Xerxes; and thus either way Hellas would have been subdued by the Persians. For I cannot perceive what advantage could accrue from the walls built across the isthmus, while the king was master of the seas. But as it is, to say that the Athenians were the saviours of Hellas is to hit the truth. For which part soever they took, that way the balance was likely to incline; and by choosing that Hellas should remain free they and none others roused all the rest of the Greeks who had not gone over to the Persians, and did under heaven beat the king off. Nor were they moved to desert Hellas by the threatening oracles that came from Delphi and sorely dismayed them, but they stood firm and were bold to abide the invader of their country.

[link to original Greek text] 140 Rawlinson p118 H & W For the Athenians had sent messages to  p445 Delphi and asked that an oracle be given them; and when they had performed all due rites at the temple and sat them down in the inner hall, the priestess, whose name was Aristonice, gave them this answer:

Wretches, why tarry thus? Nay, flee from your houses and city,

Flee to the ends of the earth from the circle embattled of Athens!

Body and head are alike, nor one is stable nor other,

Hands and feet wax faint, and whatso lieth between them

Wasteth in darkness and gloom; for flame destroyeth the city,

Flame and the War‑god fierce, swift driver of Syrian horses.

Many a fortress too, not thine alone, shall he shatter;

Many a shrine of the gods he'll give to the flame for devouring;

Sweating for fear they stand, and quaking for dread of the foeman,

Running with gore are their roofs, foreseeing the stress of their sorrow;

Wherefore I bid you begone! Have courage to lighten your evil.2

[link to original Greek text] 141 When the Athenian messengers heard that, they were very greatly dismayed, and gave themselves up for lost by reason of the evil foretold. Then Timon son of Androbulus, as notable a man as any Delphian, counselled them to take boughs of supplication, and to go once again and in that guise enquire of the  p447 oracle. Thus the Athenians did; "Lord," they said, "regard in thy mercy these suppliant boughs which we bring to thee, and give us some better answer concerning our country; else we will not depart out of thy temple, but abide here till we die." Thereupon the priestess gave them this second oracle:

Vainly doth Pallas strive to appease great Zeus of Olympus;

Words of entreaty are vain, and cunning counsels of wisdom.

Nathless a rede I will give thee again, of strength adamantine.

All shall be taken and lost that the sacred border of Cecrops

Holds in keeping to‑day, and the dales divine of Cithaeron;

Yet shall a wood-built wall by Zeus all‑seeing be granted

Unto the Trito-born, a stronghold for thee and thy children.

Bide not still in thy place for the host that cometh from landward,

Cometh with horsemen and foot; but rather withdraw at his coming,

Turning thy back to the foe; thou yet shalt meet him in battle.

Salamis, isle divine! 'tis writ that children of women

Thou shalt destroy one day, in the season of seed-time or harvest.

[link to original Greek text] 142 Rawlinson p120 H & W This being in truth and appearance a more merciful answer than the first, they wrote it down  p449 and departed back to Athens. So when the messengers had left Delphi and laid the oracle before the people, there was much enquiry concerning its meaning, and there were two contrary opinions in especial among the many that were uttered. Some of the elder men said that the god's answer signified that the acropolis should be saved; for in old time the acropolis of Athens had been fenced by a thorn hedge, and by their interpretation it was this fence that was the wooden wall. But others supposed that the god signified their ships, and they were for doing nought else but equip these. They then that held their ships to be the wooden wall were disabled by the two last verses of the priestess' answer:

Salamis, isle divine! 'tis writ that children of women

Thou shalt destroy one day, in the season of seed-time or harvest.

This verses confounded the opinion of those who said that their ships were the wooden wall; for the readers of oracles took the verses to mean, that they should offer battle by sea near Salamis and be there overthrown.

[link to original Greek text] 143 Now there was a certain Athenian, by name and title Themistocles son of Neocles, who had lately risen to be among their chief men. He said, that the readers of oracles had not rightly interpreted the whole; and this was his plea: had the verse been verily spoken of the Athenians, the oracle had used a word less mild of import, and had called Salamis rather "cruel" than "divine," if indeed the dwellers in that place were in it and for it to perish; nay (said he), rightly understood, the god's oracle  p451 was spoken not of the Athenians but of their enemies; and his counsel was that they would believe their ships to be the wooden wall, and so make ready to fight by sea. Themistocles thus declaring, the Athenians judged him to be a better counsellor than the readers of oracles, who would have had them prepare for no sea fight, and in brief offer no resistance at all, but leave Attica and settle in some other country.

[link to original Greek text] 144 Rawlinson p122 H & W Themistocles had ere this given another counsel that seasonably prevailed. The revenues from the mines at Laurium3 had brought great wealth into the Athenians' treasury, and when they were to receive each man ten drachmae for his share, then Themistocles persuaded the Athenians to make no such division, but out of the money to build two hundred ships of war, that is, for the war with Aegina; it was that war whereof the outbreak then saved Hellas, by compelling the Athenians to become seamen. The ships were not used for the purpose wherefor they were built, but it was thus that they came to serve Hellas in her need. These ships, then, had been made and were already there for the Athenians' service, and now they must build others besides; and in their debate after the giving of the oracle they resolved, that they would put their trust in heaven and meet the foreign invader of Hellas with the whole power of their fleet, ships and men, and with all other Greeks that were so minded.

 p453  [link to original Greek text] 145 These oracles, then, had been given to the Athenians. All the Greeks that had the better purpose for Hellas now assembling themselves together and there taking counsel and plighting faith, they resolved in debate to make an end of all their feuds and their wars against each other, from whatever cause arising; and among others that were afoot the greatest was the war between the Athenians and the Aeginetans. Presently, learning that Xerxes was at Sardis with his army, they planned to send men into Asia to spy out the king's doings, and to despatch messengers, some to Argos, who should make the Argives their brothers in arms against the Persian, some to Gelon son of Dinomenes in Sicily, some to Corcyra, praying aid for Hellas, and some to Crete; for they hoped that since the danger threatened all Greeks alike, all of Greek blood might unite and work jointly for one common end. Now the power of Gelon was said to be very great, surpassing by far any power in Hellas.

[link to original Greek text] 146 Rawlinson p124 H & W Being so resolved, and having composed their quarrels, they first sent three men as spies into Asia. These came to Sardis, and took note of the king's army; but they were discovered, and after examination by the generals of the land army they were led away for execution. So they were condemned to die; but when Xerxes heard of it he blamed the judgment of his generals, and sent some of his guards, charging them if they found the spies alive to bring them before him. They were  p455 found still living and brought into the king's presence; then Xerxes, having enquired of them the purpose of their coming, bade his guards lead them about and show them all his army, horse and foot; and when the spies should have seen all to their hearts' content, send them away unharmed whithersoever they would go.

[link to original Greek text] 147 The reason alleged for his command was this: had the spies been put to death, the Greeks would not so soon have learnt the unspeakable greatness of his power, and the Persians would have done their enemy no great harm by putting three men to death; "but if they return to Hellas," said he, "methinks when the Greeks hear of my power they will before the expedition surrender this peculiar freedom that they have, and so we need not be at pains to march against them." This was like that other saying of Xerxes', when he was at Abydos and saw ships laden with cornº sailing out of the Pontus through the Hellespont, voyaging to Aegina and the Peloponnese. They that sat by him, perceiving that they were enemy ships, were for taking them, and looked to the king for him to give the word. But Xerxes asked them whither the ships were sailing; "to your enemies, Sire," said they, "carrying corn." Whereto Xerxes answered, "And are not we too sailing to the same places as they, with corn among all our other provisions? What wrong are they doing us in carrying food thither?"

[link to original Greek text] 148 So the spies were sent back after they had thus seen all, and returned to Europe. They of the  p457 Greeks who had sworn alliance against the Persian next after sending the spies sent messengers to Argos. Now this is what the Argives say of their own part in the matter: — They were informed from the first that the foreigner was stirring up war against Hellas; knowing this, when they learnt that the Greeks would essay to gain their aid against the Persian, they sent (they say) messengers to Delphi, there to enquire of the god how it were best for themselves that they should act; for six thousand of them had been lately4 slain by a Lacedaemonian army and Cleomenes son of Anaxandrides its general; for this cause, they said, the messengers were went. The priestess gave this answer to their questioning:

Hated of dwellers around, by the gods' immortal belovéd,

Crouch with a lance in rest, like a warrior fenced in his armour,

Guarding thy head5 from the below; and the head shall shelter the body.

This answer had already been uttered by the priestess; and presently the messengers came to Argos, and there appeared in the council chamber and spoke as they were charged. Then the Argives (this is their story) answered to what was said, that they would do as was asked of them if they might first make a thirty years' peace with Lacedaemon, and the command of half the allied power were theirs; they would be content with half, albeit if they had their rights they should have commanded the whole.

[link to original Greek text] 149 Rawlinson p127 This, they say, was the answer of their  p459 council, although the oracle forbade them to make the alliance with the Greeks; and though they feared the oracle, yet they were instant that a thirty years' treaty might be made, that so their children might have time in those years to grow to be men; were there no such treaty, — so, by their account they reasoned, — then, if after the evil that had befallen them the Persian should deal them yet another wound, it was to be feared that they would be at the Lacedaemonians' mercy. Then those of the envoys that were Spartans replied to what was said by the council, "That the matter of a treaty would be brought before their general assembly; but as touching the command, they themselves had been commissioned to answer, and to say, that the Spartans had two kings, and the Argives but one; now it was impossible to deprive either Spartan of his command; but there was nought to hinder the Argive from having the same right of voting as their two had." At that, — say the Argives, — they deemed that the Spartans' covetousness was past all bearing, and that it was better to be ruled by the foreigners than give way to the Lacedaemonians; and they bade the envoys depart from the land of Argos before sunset, else they would be entreated as enemies.

[link to original Greek text] 150 H & W Such is the Argives' account of this matter; but there is another story told in Hellas: That before Xerxes set forth on his march against Hellas, he sent a herald to Argos, who said on his coming (so the story goes), "Men of Argos, this is the message to you of king Xerxes. Perses our forefather had, as we believe, Perseus son of Danaë for his father, and Andromeda daughter of Cepheus  p461 for his mother; if that be so, then we are descended from your nation. Wherefore in all right and reason neither should we march against the land of our forefathers, nor should you become our enemies by aiding others, nor do aught but abide by yourselves in peace; for if all go as I desire, I will hold none in higher esteem than you." Hearing this, the Argives were thereby much moved; and though for the nonce they made no promise and demanded no share, yet when the Greeks strove to gain their aid, then, knowing that the Lacedaemonians would not grant it, they did demand a part of the command, that so they might have a pretext for abiding at peace.

[link to original Greek text] 151 Rawlinson p128 This is borne out (say some Greeks) by the tale of a thing which happened many years afterwards. It chanced that while Athenian envoys, Callias son of Hipponicus, and the rest who had come up with him, were at Susa, called the Memnonian,6 about some other business,7 the Argives also had at this same time sent envoys of the Susa, asking of Xerxes' son Artoxerxes "if the friendship which they had compounded with Xerxes still held good, as they desired; or did he consider them as his enemies?" Whereto Artoxerxes answered, "Ay indeed it holds good, and I deem no city a better friend to me than Argos."

[link to original Greek text] 152 H & W Now, if it be true that Xerxes sent a herald with the aforesaid message to Argos, and that the Argive envoys came up to Susa and questioned Artoxerxes about their friendship, I cannot with exactness say; nor do I now declare that I hold  p463 aught for truth but what the Argives themselves say. But this I know full well, — if all men should carry their own private troubles to market for barter with their neighbours, not one but when he had looked into the troubles of other men would be right glad to carry home again what he had brought.8 Thus judging, you shall see that others did yet more foully than the Argives. For myself, though it be my business to set down that which is told me, to believe it is none at all of my business; let that saying hold good for the whole of my history; for indeed there is another tale current, whereby it would seem that it was the Argives who invited the Persian into Hellas, because after the breaking of their battle by the Lacedaemonians there was nothing that they would rather not have than their present distresses.

[link to original Greek text] 153 Thus ends the story of the Argives. As for Sicily, envoys were sent thither by the allies to hold converse with Gelon, Syagrus from Lacedaemon being among them. This Gelon's ancestor, he who made a settlement at Gela, was of the island of Telos that lies off Triopium; he, when the founding of Gela by Antiphemus and the Lindians of Rhodes was afoot, would not be left behind. His posterity became in time ministering priests of the goddesses of the nether world9 and continued so to be; this office had been won as I shall show by Telines, one of their forefathers. Certain Geloans, worsted in party strife, having been banished to the town of Mactorium, inland of Gela, Telines brought them back to Gela, with no force of men to aid him but  p465 only the holy instruments of the goddesses' worship. Whence he got these, and whether or no they were of his own discovering, I cannot say; however that be, it was in their strength that he restored the exiles, on the condition that his posterity should be ministering priests of the goddess. Now the story that is told me makes me marvel that Telines should have achieved such a feat; for I have ever supposed that such feats are not for every man's performing but only such as have a stout heart and a manly strength; but Telines is reported by the dwellers in Sicily to have been contrariwise of a soft and womanish habit.

[link to original Greek text] 154 Rawlinson p131 So he won this right; and at the decease10 of Cleandrus son of Pantares, — who was for seven years despot of Gela, and was slain by a man of that city named Sabyllus, — the sovereignty passed to Cleandrus' brother Hippocrates. While Hippocrates was despot, Gelon, a descendant of the ministering priest Telines, was one of Hippocrates' guard, as were Aenesidemus son of Pataecus and many others; and in no long time he was appointed for his worth to be captain of all the horse; for Hippocrates besieging Callipolis and Naxos and Zancle and Leontini, nay, Syracuse too and many of the foreigners' towns, Gelon in those wars shone preëminent. None of the cities aforesaid escaped being enslaved by Hippocrates save only Syracuse; the Syracusans were defeated in battle on the river Elorus, but were rescued by the Corinthians and Corcyraeans, who made a peace for them on the  p467 condition that the Syracusans should deliver up to Hippocrates Camarina, which was formerly theirs.

[link to original Greek text] 155 Rawlinson p132 H & W When Hippocrates, too, after reigning the same number of years as his brother Cleandrus, came to his end near the town of Hybla, whither he had marched against the Sicels, then Gelon made a pretence of serving the cause of Hippocrates' sons Euclides and Cleandrus, whose rule the citizens would no longer bear; but in very deed, when he had defeated the men of Gela, he deposed the sons of Hippocrates and held sway himself. After this stroke of good fortune, the Syracusan landowners (as they were called) being driven into banishment by the commonalty and their own slaves (Cyllyrians, as they were called), Gelon brought them back from the town of Casmena to Syracuse, and took possession of that city also; for the Syracusan commonalty delivered themselves and it to Gelon at his coming.

[link to original Greek text] 156 Having taken Syracuse for his own, he made less account of his rule over Gela, which he gave in charge to his brother Hiero; over Syracuse he reigned, and all his care was for Syracuse. Straightway that city grew and waxed great; for not only did Gelon bring all the people of Camarina to Syracuse and give them its citizenship, razing the town of Camarina, but he did likewise to more than half of the townsmen of Gela; and when the Megarians11 in Sicily surrendered to him on terms after a siege, he took the wealthier of them, who had made war on him and looked to be put to death therefor, and brought them to Syracuse to be citizens there; but as for the commonalty of Megara,  p469 who had had no hand in the making of that war and expected that no harm would be done them, these too he brought to Syracuse and sold them for slaves to be carried out of Sicily. In like fashion he dealt with the Euboeans12 of Sicily, making the same difference; the cause of his so doing to the people of both places was, that he held the commonalty to be an exceeding thankless crew to live withal.

[link to original Greek text] 157 Rawlinson p134 H & W By these means Gelon had grown to greatness as a despot; and now, when the Greek envoys were come to Syracuse, they had audience of him and spoke as follows. "The Lacedaemonians and their allies," said they, "have sent us to win your aid against the foreigner; for it cannot be, we think, that you have no knowledge of the Persian invader of Hellas, how he purposes to bridge the Hellespont and lead all the hosts of the east from Asia against us, making an open show of marching against Athens, but in very deed with intent to subdue all Hellas to his will. Now you are rich in power, and being lord of Sicily you rule thereby what is not the least part of Hellas; wherefore, we pray you, send help to them that would free Hellas, and aid them in so doing. For the uniting of all of Greek stock is the mustering of a mighty host, able to meet our invaders in the field; but if some of us play false, and others will not come to our aid, and the sound part of Hellas be but small, then it is to be feared that all Greek lands alike will be undone. Think not that if the Persian defeat us in battle and subdue us, he will leave you unassailed; but look well to yourself ere that day come. Aid us, and you champion your  p471 own cause; a well-laid plan commonly leads to a happy issue."

[link to original Greek text] 158 Thus they spoke; whereto Gelon answered, speaking very vehemently: "Men of Hellas, it is with a self-seeking plea that you have made bold to come hither and invite me to be your ally against the foreigners; yet what of yourselves? When I was at feud with the Carchedonians,13 and prayed you to stand my comrades against a foreign army, and when I was instant that you should avenge the slaying of Dorieus14 son of Anaxandrides by the men of Egesta, and when I promised to free those trading ports whence great advantage and profit have accrued to you, — then neither for my sake would you come to aid nor to avenge the slaying of Dorieus; and for all that you did, all these lands lie beneath the foreigners' feet. Let that be; for all ended well, and our state was bettered. But now that the war has come round to you in your turn, 'tis the time for remembering Gelon! Yet albeit you so slighted me, I will not take example by you; I am ready to send to your aid two hundred triremes, twenty thousand men-at‑arms, two thousand horse, two thousand archers, two thousand slingers, and two thousand light-armed men to run with horsemen;15 and I undertake that I will furnish provision for the whole Greek army till we have made an end of the war. But I thus promise on this one condition, that I shall be general and leader of the Greeks against the foreigner. On no other condition will I come myself or send others."

 p473  [link to original Greek text] 159 Rawlinson p134 H & W When Syagrus heard that, he could not contain himself; "Verily," he cried, "loud would lament Agamemnon son of Pelops, an he heard that the Spartans had been bereft of their command by Gelon and his Syracusans! Nay, put that thought from you, that we will deliver up the command to you. If it is your will to aid Hellas, know that you must obey the Lacedaemonians; but if (as I think) you are too proud to obey, then send no aid."

[link to original Greek text] 160 Thereupon Gelon, seeing how unfriendly were Syagrus' words, thus and for the last time declared his mind to them: "My Spartan friend, the hard words that a man hears are apt to arouse his anger; but for all the arrogant tenor of your speech you shall not move me to make an unseemly answer. When you set such store by the command, it is but reasonable that I should set yet more, being the leader of an army many times greater than yours and more ships by far. But seeing that you answer me thus stiffly, we will abate somewhat of our first condition. It might be, that you should command the army, and I the fleet; or if it be your pleasure to lead by sea, then I am willing that the army should be mine. With that you must needs be content, unless you would depart hence without such allies as we are."

[link to original Greek text] 161 Such was Gelon's offer; and the Athenian envoy answered him ere the Lacedaemonian could speak. "King of the Syracusans," said he, "Hellas sends us to you to ask not for a leader but for an army; and you say no word of sending an army save and except you can be the leader of Hellas; it  p475 is for the command that all your desire is. Now as long as you sought the leadership of the whole armament, we Athenians were content to hold our peace, knowing that the Laconian was well able to answer for both of us; but since, failing to win the whole, you would fain command the fleet, we would have you know how the matter stands. Even though the Laconian should suffer you to command it, not so will we; for the command of the fleet is ours, the Lacedaemonians desire it not for themselves. If they desire to lead it, we withstand them not; but none other will we suffer to be admiral. For it were vain that we should possess the greatest multitude of sea‑faring men in Hellas, if, being Athenians, we yield up our command to Syracusans, — we who can show of all the longest lineage, and who alone among Greeks have never changed our dwelling;16 and whose he was of whom the poet Homer says, that of all who came to Ilion he was the best man in ordering and marshalling armies.17 Thus we are not to be reproached for this that we say."

[link to original Greek text] 162 Rawlinson p138 "My Athenian friend," Gelon answered, "it would seem that you have many that lead, but none that will follow. Since, then, you will waive no claim but must have the whole, 'tis high time that you depart home with all speed and tell your Hellas that her year has lost her spring." Of which saying this is the signification, that Gelon's army was the most notable part of the Greek army, even as the spring is of the year; so he compared Hellas  p477 deprived of alliance with him to a year bereft of its spring.18

[link to original Greek text] 163 After such trafficking with Gelon the Greek envoys sailed away. But Gelon feared therefore that the Greeks would not avail to overcome the foreigner, yet deemed it a thing hard and intolerable that he, the despot of Sicily, should go to the Peloponnese to be at the beck and call of Lacedaemonians; wherefore of this plan he thought no more, but followed another instead. As soon as he was informed that the Persian had crossed the Hellespont, he sent Cadmus son of Scythes,19 a man of Cos, to Delphi with three ships of fifty oars, carrying with them money and messages of friendship; Cadmus was to watch the event of the battle, and if the foreigner should be victorious then to give him the money, and earth and water withal on behalf of Gelon's dominions; but if the Greeks, then to carry all back again.

[link to original Greek text] 164 H & W This Cadmus had ere now inherited from his father the despotism of Cos; and albeit it was strong and well stablished, yet of his own will and under no constraint of danger, but of mere justice, he gave over the government to the whole body of Coans and betook himself to Sicily, where he was given by the Samians that city of Zancle which changed its name to Messene, and he planted a colony there. Thus had Cadmus come, and it was he now whom Gelon sent, by reason of the justice that he knew to be ever in him; and this that I will relate was  p479 not the least of the many just acts of Cadmus' life; he had in his power great sums entrusted to him by Gelon, and might have kept them; yet he would not do so, but when the Greeks had prevailed in the sea‑fight and Xerxes had betaken himself homeward, Cadmus for his part returned back to Sicily with all that money.

[link to original Greek text] 165 But there is another story told by the dwellers in Sicily: that even though he was to be under Lacedaemonian authority Gelon would still have aided the Greeks, had it not been for Terillus son of Crinippus, the despot of Himera; who, being expelled from Himera by Theron son of Aenesidemus, sovereign ruler of Acragas, did at this very time bring against Gelon three hundred thousand Phoenicians, Libyans, Iberians, Ligyes, Elisyci, Sardinians, and Cyrnians,20 led by Amilcas son of Annon, the king of the Carchedonians; whom Terillus won to this purpose partly by private friendship, but chiefly by the zealous aid of Anaxilaus son of Cretines, despot of Rhegium; he gave his own children as hostages to Amilcas, and brought him into Sicily to the help of his father-in‑law; for Anaxilaus had to wife Terillus' daughter Cydippe. Thus it was (they say) that Gelon sent the money to Delphi, because he could not aid the Greeks.

[link to original Greek text] 166 Rawlinson p141 They add this tale too, — that Gelon and Theron won a victory over Amilcas the Carchedonian  p481 in Sicily on the selfsame day whereon the Greeks vanquished the Persian at Salamis. This Amilcas was, on his father's side, a Carchedonian, and a Syracusan on his mother's, and had been made king of Carchedon for his manly worth. When the armies met and he was worsted in the battle, it is said that he vanished out of sight; for Gelon sought for him in every place, yet nowhere on earth could he be found, dead or alive.

[link to original Greek text] 167 H & W The story told by the Carchedonians themselves has a show of truth. They say, that the foreigners fought with the Greeks in Sicily from dawn till late evening (so long, it is said, the mellay was drawn out), during all which time Amilcas stayed in the camp offering sacrifice and striving to win favourable omens by burning whole bodies on a great pyre; and when he saw his army routed, he cast himself into the fire where he was pouring libations on the sacrifice; whereby he was consumed and no more seen.21 Whether it were thus that he vanished, as the Phoenicians say, or in some other way, as say the Carchedonians and Syracusans, sacrifice is offered to him, and monuments have been set up in all the colonists' cities, the greatest of all which is in Carchedon itself.

[link to original Greek text] 168 Rawlinson p142 Thus much of the Sicilian part. As for the Corcyraeans, their answer to the envoys and their acts were as I will show; for the men who had gone to Sicily sought their aid too, using the same plea as they had used with Gelon; and the Corcyraeans for  p483 the nonce promised to send help and protection, declaring that they could not suffer Hellas to perish, — for if she should fall, of a surety the very next day would see them also enslaved, — but they must render aid to the best of their power. Thus they gave a specious answer; but when the time came for sending help, their minds were changed; they manned sixty ships, and did with much ado put out to sea and make the coast of the Peloponnese; but there they anchored off Pylos and Taenarus in the Lacedaemonian territory, waiting like the others to see which way the war should incline; they had no hope that the Greeks would prevail, but thought that the Persian would win a great victory and be lord of all Hellas. What they did, therefore, was done of set purpose, that they might be able to say to the Persian, "O king, we whose power is as great as any, and who could have furnished as many ships as any state save Athens, — we, when the Greeks essayed to gain our aid in this war, would not resist you nor do aught displeasing to you." This plea they hoped would win them some advantage more than ordinary; and so, methinks, it would have been. But they were ready with an excuse which they could make to the Greeks, and in the end they made it; when the Greeks blamed them for sending no help, they said that they had manned sixty triremes, but by stress of the etesian winds they could not round Malea; thus it was (they said) that they could not arrive at Salamis: it was no craven spirit that made them late for the sea‑fight.

[link to original Greek text] 169 Rawlinson p144 H & W With such a plea they put the Greeks off. But the Cretans, when the Greeks appointed to deal with them strove to gain their aid, did as I will  p485 show. They sent messengers to Delphi, enquiring if it should be for their advantage to succour the Greeks. The priestess answered them, "Foolish folk, ye are not then content with the weeping that Minos sent upon your people for the help given to Menelaus, angered because that those others22 would not aid to avenge his death at Camicus, yet ye did aid them to avenge the stealing of that woman from Sparta by a foreigner." This being brought to the ears of the Cretans, they would have nothing to do with succouring the Greeks.

[link to original Greek text] 170 For Minos (it is said), having gone to Sicania, which is now called Sicily, in search for Daedalus, there perished by a violent death; and presently all the Cretans save the men of Polichne and Praesus were bidden by a god to go with a great host to Sicania, where for five years they beleaguered the town of Camicus, where in my day the men of Acragas dwelt; but since they could not take it nor abide there for the famine that afflicted them, they left it and departed away. But when they were at sea off Iapygia, a great storm caught and drove them ashore; and their ships being wrecked, and no way left of returning to Crete, they founded there the town of Hyria, and abode in it, changing from Cretans to Messapians of Iapygia, and from islanders to dwellers on the mainland. From Hyria they made settlements in those other towns, which a very long time afterwards the Tarentines essayed to destroy, but suffered great disaster thereby; so that none has ever heard of so great a slaughter of  p487 Greeks as was made of the Tarentines and Rhegians; three thousand townsmen of these latter were slain, who had been constrained by Micythus son of Choerus to come and help the Tarentines, and of the Tarentine slain no count was kept. Micythus was a servant of Anaxilaus, and had been left in charge of Rhegium; it was he who was banished from Rhegium and settled in Tegea of Arcadia, and who set up those many statues at Olympia.

[link to original Greek text] 171 Rawlinson p147 H & W But this business of the Rhegians and Tarentines is a matter apart from my history. Crete being thus left desolate (so the Praesians say), it was peopled by Greeks in especial among other men; and in the third generation after Minos befel the Trojan business, wherein the Cretans bore themselves as bravely as any in the cause of Menelaus. After this when they returned from Troy they and their flocks and herds were afflicted by famine and pestilence, till Crete was once more left desolate; then came a third people of Cretans, and it is they who, with those that were left, now dwell there. It was this that the priestess bade them remember, and so stayed them from aiding the Greeks as they would have done.

[link to original Greek text] 172 The Thessalians had at first taken the Persian part not willingly but of necessity, as their acts showed, because they misliked the devices of the Aleuadae. For as soon as they heard that the Persian was about to cross over into Europe, they sent messengers to the Isthmus, where were assembled in council for the Greek cause men chosen from the cities that had the best will towards Hellas. To these the Thessalian messengers came, and said,  p489 "Men of Hellas, the pass of Olympus must be guarded, that Thessaly and all Hellas may be sheltered from the war. Now we are ready to guard it with you; but you too must send a great force; if you will not send it, be assured that we shall make terms with the Persian; for it is not right that we should be left to stand alone for an outpost of Hellas and so perish for your sakes. If you will not send help, there is no constraint that you can put upon us; for no necessity can prevail over lack of ability. As for us, we will essay for ourselves to find some way of deliverance." Thus spoke the men of Thessaly.

[link to original Greek text] 173 Rawlinson p148 Thereupon the Greeks resolved that they would send a land army to Thessaly by sea to guard the pass. When the army had mustered, they passed through the Euripus, and came to Alus in Achaea, where they disembarked and took the road for Thessaly, leaving their ships where they were; and they came to the pass of Tempe, which runs from the lower23 Macedonia into Thessaly along the river Peneus, between the mountains Olympus and Ossa. There the Greeks encamped, to the number of about ten thousand men-at‑arms altogether, and the Thessalian horse was there withal; the general of the Lacedaemonians was Euaenetus son of Carenus, chosen among the polemarchs, yet not of the royal house; and of the Athenians, Themistocles son of Neocles. They remained but a few days there; for messengers came from Alexander son of Amyntas, the Macedonian, counselling them to depart and not abide there to be trodden under foot of the invading  p491 host; whereby the message signified the multitude of the army, and the ships. Thus admonished by the messengers (as they thought that the advice was good and that the Macedonian meant well by them), the Greeks followed their counsel. But to my thinking what persuaded them was fear, since they were informed that there was another pass leading into Thessaly by the hill country of Macedonia through the country of the Perrhaebi, near the town of Gonnus; which indeed was the way whereby Xerxes' army descended on Thessaly. So the Greeks went down to their ships and made their way back to the Isthmus.

[link to original Greek text] 174 Rawlinson p150 This was their expedition to Thessaly, while the king was planning to cross into Europe from Asia and was already at Abydos. The Thessalians, being bereft of their allies, did thereupon take the Persian part whole-heartedly and with no further doubt, so that in their acts they approved themselves men most useful to the king.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Cp. I.181, where the wall of Babylon is called a θώρηξ.

2 Lit. spread courage over your evils. But most commentators translate "steep your souls in woe."

3 Silver, lead, and perhaps copper mines in Attica, from which the state drew an annual revenue. Apparently when this exceeded the usual amount the general public received a largesse. Even if the population numbered 30,000 (cp.  V.97) ten drachmae per head would be only 50 talents; far too small a sum for the building of 200 ships; Herodotus cannot mean more than that the Laurium money was a contribution towards a ship-building fund.

4 In the battle of Tiryns, 494; cp. VI.77.

5 That is, those with full citizenship, the nucleus of the population; σῶμα being the remainder.

6 Cp. V.53.

7 In 448, apparently. See How and Wells ad loc. for a full discussion of the matter.

8 The general idea, — rather obscurely expressed, — seems to be that some who judge the Argives harshly have really just as many κακά and αἰσχρά (which Herodotus appears to confuse) of their own.

9 Demeter and Persephone.

10 In 498.

11 At Hybla, N. of Syracuse, on the E. coast of Sicily.

12 A colony from Chalcis, at Leontini.

13 The Carthaginians were as influential in the west of the island as Gelon in the east; Greeks and Semites continually competed for commercial supremacy.

14 Cp. V.42‑46.

15 Probably active infantry troops, able to keep up with the cavalry.

16 Most Greek populations had traditionally immigrated into their present localities from elsewhere; but the Athenians had no such tradition; their writers often dwell on the fact with pride.

17 Menestheus: Iliad II.552.

18 According to Aristotle (Rhet. I.7 and III.10) Pericles used the same simile in a funeral oration, referring to the State's loss of its young men.

19 Probably the expelled ruler of Zancle; cp. the following chapter, and VI.23.

20 The Carthaginians invaded Sicily with a force drawn from Africa and the western Mediterranean. The Ligyes are Ligurians, the Cyrnians Corsicans; the Elisyci an Iberian people living on the coast between the Pyrenees and the Rhone. According to a statement quoted from the historian Ephorus, this Carthaginian expedition was part of a concerted plan, whereby the Greek world was to be attacked by the Carthaginians in the west and the Persians in the east simultaneously.

21 The story may be true; or it may have arisen out of the name Hamilcar (= Abd Melqart, servant of Melqart); for self-immolation by fire is closely associated with Melqart worship.

22 That is, the Greeks would not help the Cretans to avenge the death of Minos; yet afterwards the Cretans helped the Greeks to avenge the carrying off of Helen.

23 As opposed to the hill country further inland.


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