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VIII.40‑96

This webpage reproduces a section of
Herodotus
published in Vol. IV
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,
1925

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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IX.1‑89

(Vol. IV) Herodotus

 p95  Book VIII: chapters 97‑144

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. IV, 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] 97 Rawlinson p343 H & W When Xerxes was aware of the calamity that had befallen him, he feared lest the Greeks (by Ionian counsel or their own devising) might sail to the Hellespont to break his bridges, and he might be cut off in Europe and in peril of his life; and so he planned flight. But that neither the Greeks nor his own men might discover his intent, he essayed to build a mole across to Salamis,1 and made fast a line of Phoenician barges to be a floating bridge and a wall; and he made preparation for war, as though he would fight at sea again. The rest who saw him  p97 so doing were fully persuaded that he was in all earnestness prepared to remain there and carry on the war; but none of this deceived Mardonius, who had best experience of Xerxes' purposes.

[link to original Greek text] 98 Rawlinson p344 While Xerxes did thus, he sent a messenger to Persia with news of his present misfortune. Now there is nothing mortal that accomplishes a course more swiftly than do these messengers, by the Persians' skilful contrivance. It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of day's journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed. The first rider are delivers his charge to the second, the second to the third, and thence it passes on from hand to hand, even as in the Greek torch-bearers' race2 in honour of Hephaestus. This riding-post is called in Persia, angareïon.3

99 When the first message came to Susa, telling that Xerxes had taken Athens, it gave such delight to the Persians who were left at home that they strewed all the roads with myrtle boughs and burnt incense and gave themselves up to sacrificial feasts and jollity; but the second, coming on the heels of the first, so confounded them that they all rent  p99 their tunics, and cried and lamented without ceasing, holding Mardonius to blame; and it was not so much in grief for their ships that they did this as because they feared for Xerxes himself.

100 Such was the plight of the Persians for all the time until the coming of Xerxes himself ended it. But Mardonius, seeing that Xerxes was greatly distressed by reason of the sea‑fight, and suspecting that he planned flight from Athens, considered with himself that he would be punished for over-persuading the king to march against Hellas, and that it was better for him to risk the chance of either subduing Hellas or dying honourably by flying at a noble quarry; yet his hope rather inclined to the subduing of Hellas; wherefore taking all this into account he made this proposal: "Sire, be not grieved nor greatly distressed by reason of this that has befallen us. It is not on things of wood that all the issue hangs for us, but on men and horses; and there is not one of these men, who think that they have now won a crowning victory, that will disembark from his ship and essay to withstand you, no, nor anyone from this mainland; they that have withstood us have paid the penalty. If then it so please you, let us straightway attack the Peloponnese; or if it please you to wait, that also we can do. Be not cast down; for the Greeks have no way of escape from being accountable for their former and their latter deeds, and becoming your slaves. It is best then that you should do as I have said; but if you are resolved that you will lead your army away, even then I have another  p101 plan. Do not O king, make the Persians a laughing-stock to the Greeks; for if you have suffered harm, it is by no fault of the Persians, nor can you say that we have anywhere done less than brave men should; and if Phoenicians and Egyptians and Cyprians and Cilicians have so done, it is not the Persians who have any part in this disaster. Wherefore since the Persians are nowise to blame, be guided by me; if you are resolved that you will not remain, do you march away homewards with the greater part of your army; but it is for me to enslave and deliver Hellas to you, with three hundred thousand of your host whom I will choose."

101 Rawlinson p346 When Xerxes heard that, he was as glad and joyful as a man in his evil case might be, and said to Mardonius that he would answer him when he had first taken counsel which of the two plans he would follow; and as he consulted with those Persians whom he summoned, he was fain to bid Artemisia too to the council, because he saw that she alone at the former sitting had discerned what was best to do. When Artemisia came, Xerxes bade all others withdraw, both Persian councillors and guards, and said to her: "It is Mardonius' counsel that I should abide here and attack the Peloponnese; for the Persians, he says, and the land army are nowise to blame for our disaster, and of that they would willingly give proof. Wherefore it is his counsel that I should do this; else he offers to choose out three hundred thousand men of the army and deliver Hellas to me enslaved, while I myself by his counsel march away homeward with the rest of the host. Now therefore I ask of you:  p103 as you did rightly in counselling me against the late sea‑fight, so now counsel me as to which of these two things I shall be best advised to do."

102 Being thus asked for advice she replied: "It is difficult, O king, to answer your asking for advice by saying that which is best; but in the present turn of affairs I think it best that you march away back, and that Mardonius, if he wills and promises to do as he says, be left here with those whom he desires. For if he subdue all that offers to subdue, and prosper in the purpose wherewith he speaks, the achievement, Sire, is yours; for it will be your servants that have wrought it. But if again the issue be contrary to Mardonius' opinion, it is no great misfortune so long as you and all that household of yours be safe; for while you and they of your house are safe, many a time and oft will the Greeks have to fight for their lives. As for Mardonius, if aught ill befall him, it is no matter for that; nor will any victory of the Greeks be a victory in truth, when they have but slain your servant; but as for you, you will be marching home after the burning of Athens, which thing was the whole purpose of your expedition."

103 Rawlinson p348 Artemisia's counsel pleased Xerxes; for it happened that she spoke his own purpose; in truth I think that he would not have remained, though all men and women had counselled him so to do; so panic-stricken was he. Having then thanked Artemisia, he sent her away to carry his sons to Ephesus; for he had some bastard sons with him.

104 H & W With these sons he sent Hermotimus as guardian; this man was by birth of Pedasa, and the  p105 most honoured by Xerxes of all his eunuchs. The people of Pedasa dwell above Halicarnassus. This happens among these people: when aught untoward is about to befall within a certain time all those that dwell about their city, the priestess of Athene then grows a great beard. This had already happened to them twice.

105 Hermotimus, who came from this place Pedasa, had achieved a fuller vengeance for wrong done to him than had any man within my knowledge. Being taken captive by enemies and exposed for sale, he was bought by one Panionius of Chios, a man that had set himself to earn a livelihood out of most wicked practices; he would procure beautiful boys and castrate and take them to Sardis and Ephesus, where he sold them, for a great price; for the foreigners value eunuchs more than perfect men, by reason of the full trust that they have in them. Now among the many whom Panionius had castrated in the way of trade was Hermotimus, who was not in all things unfortunate; for he was brought from Sardis among other gifts to the king, and as time went on he stood higher in Xerxes' favour than any other eunuch.

106 Now while the king was at Sardis and there preparing to lead his Persian armament against Athens, Hermotimus came for some business that he had in hand down to the part of Mysia which is inhabited by Chians and called Atarneus, and there he found Panionius. Perceiving who he was, he held long and friendly converse with him; "it is to you," he said, "that I owe all this prosperity of  p107 mine; now if you will bring your household and dwell her, I will make you prosperous in return," — promising this and that; Panionius accepted his offer gladly, and brought his children and his wife. But Hermotimus, having got the man and all his household in his power, said to him: "Tell me, you that have made a livelihood out of the wickedest trade on earth! what harm had I or any of my forefathers done to you, to you or yours, that you made me to be no man, but a thing of nought? ay, you thought that the gods would have no knowledge of your devices of old; but their just law has brought you for your wicked deeds into my hands, and now we shall be well content with the fulness of that justice which I will execute upon you." With these words of reproach, he brought Panionius' sons before him and compelled him to castrate all four of them, his own children; this Panionius was compelled to do; which done, the sons were compelled to castrate their father in turn. Thus was Panionius overtaken by vengeance and by Hermotimus.

107 Rawlinson p350 Having given his sons to Artemisia's charge to be carried to Ephesus, Xerxes called Mardonius to him and bade him choose out whom he would from the army, and make his words good so far as endeavour availed. For that day matters went thus far; in the night, the admirals by the king's command put out to sea from Phalerum and made for the Hellespont again with all speed, to guard the bridges for the king's passage. When the foreigners came near to the "Girdle"4 in their course, they thought that certain little headlands, which here jut  p109 out from the mainland, were ships, and they fled for a long way; but learning at last that they were no ships but headlands they drew together and went on their way.

108 When it was day, the Greeks saw the land army abiding where it had been and supposed the ships also to be at Phalerum; and thinking that there would be a sea‑fight they prepared to defend themselves. But when they learnt that the ships were gone, they straightway resolved on pursuit; so they pursued Xerxes' fleet as far as Andros, but had no sight of it; and when they came to Andros they held a council there. Themistocles declared his opinion that they should hold their course through the islands, and having pursued after the ships should sail forthwith to the Hellespont to break the bridges; but Eurybiades offered a contrary opinion, saying that to break the bridges would be the greatest harm that they could do to Hellas. "For," said he, "if the Persian be cut off and compelled to remain in Europe, he will essay not to be inactive, seeing that if he be inactive neither can his cause prosper nor can he find any way of return home, but his army will perish of hunger; but if he be adventurous and busy, it may well be that every town and nation in Europe may join itself to him severally, by conquest or ere that by compact; and he will live on whatsoever yearly fruits of the earth Hellas produces. But, as I think that the Persian will not remain in Europe after his defeat in the sea‑fight, let us suffer him to flee, till he come in his flight to his own country; and thereafter let it be that country and not ours that is at stake in the war."  p111 With that opinion the rest of the Peloponnesian admirals also agreed.

109 When Themistocles perceived that he could not persuade the greater part of them to sail to the Hellespont, he turned to the Athenians (for they were the angriest at the Persians' escape, and they were minded to sail to the Hellespont even by themselves, if the rest would not) and thus addressed them: "This I have often seen with my eyes, and much oftener heard, that beaten men when they be driven to bay will rally and retrieve their former mishap. Wherefore I say to you, — as it is to a fortunate chance that we owe ourselves and Hellas, and have driven away so mighty a cloud of enemies, let us not pursue after men that flee. For it is not we that have won this victory, but the gods and the heroes, who deemed Asia and Europe too great a realm for one man to rule, and that a wicked man and an impious; one that dealt alike with temples and homes, and burnt and overthrew the images of the gods, — yea, that scourged the sea and threw fetters thereinto. But as it is well with us for the nonce, let us abide now in Hellas and take thought for ourselves and our households; let us build our houses again and be diligent in sowing, when we have driven the foreigner wholly away; and when the next spring comes let us set sail for the Hellespont and Ionia." This he said with intent to put somewhat to his credit with the Persian, so that he might have a place of refuge if ever (as might chance) he should suffer aught at the hands of the Athenians; and indeed it did so happen.

110 Rawlinson p353 H & W Thus spoke Themistocles with intent to  p113 deceive, and the Athenians obeyed him; for since he had ever been esteemed wise and now had shown himself to be both wise and prudent, they were ready to obey whatsoever he said. Having won them over, Themistocles straightway sent men in a boat whom he could trust not to reveal under any question whatsoever the message which he charged them to deliver to the king; of whom one was again his servant Sicinnus. When these men came to Attica, the rest abode with the boat, and Sicinnus went up to Xerxes: "Themistocles son of Neocles," he said, "who is the Athenian general, no all the allies the worthiest and wisest, has sent me to tell you this: Themistocles the Athenian has out of his desire to do you a service stayed the Greeks when they would pursue your ships and break the bridges of the Hellespont; and now he bids you go your way, none hindering you." With that message, the men returned to their boat.

111 Rawlinson p354 But the Greeks, now that they were no longer minded to pursue the foreigners' ships farther or sail to the Hellespont and break the way of passage, beleaguered Andros that they might take it. For the men of that place, the first islanders of whom Themistocles demanded money, would not give it; but when Themistocles gave them to understand that the Athenians had come with two great gods to aid them, even Persuasion and Necessity, and that therefore the Andrians must assuredly give money, they answered and said, "It is then but reasonable that Athens is great and prosperous, being blest with serviceable gods; as for us Andrians, we are but  p115 blest with a plentiful lack of land, and we have two unserviceable gods who never quit our island but are ever fain to dwell there, even Poverty and Impotence; being possessed of these gods, we of Andros will give no money; for the power of Athens can never be stronger than our inability."

112 H & W So for thus answering and refusing to there they were besieged. There was no end to Themistocles' avarice; using the same agents whom he had used with the king, he sent threatening messages to the other islands, demanding money, and saying that if they would not give what he asked he would bring the Greek armada upon them and besiege and take their islands. Thereby he collected great sums from the Carystians and Parians; for these were informed that Andros was besieged for taking the Persian part, and that Themistocles was of all the generals the most esteemed; which so affrighted them that they sent money; and I suppose that there were other islanders too that gave, and not these alone, but I cannot with certainty say. Nevertheless the Carystians got thereby no respite from misfortune; but the Parians propitiated Themistocles with money and so escaped the armament. To Themistocles issued out from Andros and took monies from the islanders, unknown to the other generals.

113 They that were with Xerxes waited for a few days after the sea‑fight and then marched away to Boeotia by the road whereby they had come; for Mardonius was minded to give the king safe conduct, and deemed the time of year unseasonable for war; it was better, he thought, to  p117 winter in Thessaly, and then attack the Peloponnese in the spring. When they were arrived in Thessaly, Mardonius there chose out first all the Persians called Immortals, save only Hydarnes their general, who said that he would not quit the king's person; and next, the Persian cuirassiers, and the thousand horse,5 and the Medes and Sacae and Bactrians and Indians, alike their footmen and the rest of the horsemen. He chose these nations entire; of the rest of his allies he picked out a few from each people, the goodliest men and those that he knew to have done some good service; but the Persians that he chose (men that wore torques and bracelets)6 were more in number than those of any other nation, and next to them the Medes; these indeed were as many as the Persians, but not so stout fighters. Thereby the whole number, with the horsemen, grew to three hundred thousand men.

114 Rawlinson p356 Now while Mardonius was marking choice of his army and Xerxes was in Thessaly, there came an oracle from Delphi to the Lacedaemonians, that they should demand justice of Xerxes for the slaying of Leonidas, and take what answer he should give them. The Spartans then sent a herald with all speed; who finding the army yet undivided in Thessaly, came into Xerxes' presence and thus spoke: "The Lacedaemonians and the Heraclidae of Sparta demand of you, king of the Medes! that you pay the penalty for the death of their king, whom you slew while he defended Hellas." At that Xerxes laughed; and after a long while he  p119 pointed to Mardonius, who chanced to be standing by him, and said, "Then here is Mardonius, who shall pay those you speak of such penalty as befits them."

115 So the herald took that utterance and departed; but Xerxes left Mardonius in Thessaly, and himself journeying with all speed to the Hellespont came in forty-five days to the passage for crossing, bringing back with him as good as none (if one may so say) of his host. Whithersoever and to whatsoever people they came, they seized and devoured its produce; and if they found none, they would take for their eating the grass of the field, and strip the bark and pluck the leaves of the trees, garden and wild alike, leaving nothing; so starved they were for hunger. Moreover a pestilence and a dysentery broke out among them on their way, whereby they died. Some that were sick Xerxes left behind, charging the cities whither he came in his march to care for them and nourish them, some in Thessaly and some in Siris of Paeonia and in Macedonia; in Siris he had left the sacred chariot of Zeus when he was marching to Hellas, but in his return he received it not again; for the Paeonians had given it to the Thracians, and when Xerxes demanded it back they said that the horses had been carried off from pasture by the Thracians of the hills who dwelt about the headwaters of the Strymon.

116 Rawlinson p358 It was then that a monstrous deed was done by the Thracian king of the Bisaltae and the Crestonian country. He had refused to be of his own free will Xerxes' slave, and fled away to the  p121 mountains called Rhodope; and he forbade his sons to go with the army to Hellas; but they took no account of that, for they had ever a desire to see the war, and they followed the Persians' march; for which cause, when all the six of them returned back scatheless, their father tore out their eyes.

117 This was their reward. But the Persians, journeying through Thrace to the passage, made haste to cross to Abydos in their ships; for they found the bridges no longer made fast but broken by a storm. There their march was stayed, and more food was given them than on their way; and by reason of their immoderate gorging and the change of water which they drank, many of the army that yet remained died. The rest came with Xerxes to Sardis.

118 But there is another tale, which is this: — When Xerxes came in his march from Athens to Eïon on the Strymon, he travelled no farther than that by land, but committed his army to Hydarnes to be led to the Hellespont, and himself embarked and set sail for Asia in a Phoenician ship. In which voyage he was caught by a strong wind called Strymonian, that lifted up the waves. This storm bearing the harder upon him by reason of the heavy lading of the ship (for the Persians of his company that were on the deck were so many), the king was affrighted and cried to the ship's pilot asking him if there were any way of deliverance; whereat the man said, "Sire, there is none, except there be a riddance of these many that are on board." Hearing that, it  p123 is said, Xerxes said to the Persians, "Now it is for you to prove yourselves careful for your king; for it seems that my deliverance rests with you"; whereat they did obeisance and leapt into the sea; and the ship, being thus lightened, came by these means safe to Asia. No sooner had Xerxes disembarked on land, than he made the pilot a gift of a golden crown for saving the king's life, but cut off his head for being the death of many Persians.

119 Rawlinson p360 This is the other tale of Xerxes' return; but I for my part believe neither the story of the Persians' fate, nor any other part of it. For if indeed the pilot had spoken to Xerxes as aforesaid, I think that there is not one in ten thousand but would say that the king would have bidden the men on deck (who were Persians and of the best blood of Persia) descend into the ship's hold, and would have taken of the Phoenician rowers a number equal to the number of the Persians and cast them into the sea. Nay, the truth is that Xerxes did as I have already said, and returned to Asia with his army by road.

120 And herein too lies a clear proof of it: it is known that when Xerxes came to Abdera in his return he entered into bonds of friendship with its people, and gave them a golden sword and a gilt tiara; and as the people of Abdera say (but for my part I wholly disbelieve them), it was here that Xerxes in his flight back from Athens first loosed his girdle,7 as being here in safety. Now Abdera  p125 lies nearer to the Hellespont than the Strymon and Eïon, where they say that he took ship.

121 As for the Greeks, not being able to take Andros they betook themselves to Carystus, and having laid it waste they returned to Salamis. First of all they set apart for the gods, among other firstfruits, three Phoenician triremes, one to be dedicated at the Isthmus, where it was till my lifetime, the second at Sunium, and the third for Aias at Salamis where they were. After that, they divided the spoil and sent the firstfruits of it to Delphi; whereof was made a man's image twelve cubits high, holding in his hand the figure-head of a ship; this stood in the same place as the golden statue of Alexander the Macedonian.

122 H & W Having sent the firstfruits to Delphi the Greeks inquired in common of the god, if the firstfruits that he had received were of full measure and if he was content therewith; whereat he said that this was so as touching what he received from all other Greeks, but not from the Aeginetans; of these he demanded the victor's prize for the sea‑fight of Salamis. When the Aeginetans learned that, they dedicated three golden stars that are set on a bronze mast, in the angle, nearest to Croesus' bowl.

123 Rawlinson p362 After the division of the spoil, the Greeks sailed to the Isthmus, there to award the prize of excellence to him who had shown himself most worthy of it in that war. But when the admirals came and gave their divers votes at the altar of Poseidon, to judge who was first and who second among them, each of them there voted for himself, supposing himself to have done the best service, but the greater part of them united in giving the second  p127 place to Themistocles. So they each gained but one vote, but Themistocles far outstripped them in votes for the second place.

124 The Greeks were too jealous to adjudge the prize, and sailed away each to his own place, leaving the matter doubtful; nevertheless, Themistocles was cried up, and all Hellas glorified him for the wisest man by far of the Greeks. But because he had not received from them that fought at Salamis the honour due to his pre‑eminence, immediately afterwards he betook himself to Lacedaemon, that he might receive honour there; and the Lacedaemonians made him welcome and paid him high honour. They bestowed on Eurybiades a crown of olive as the reward of excellence, and another such crown on Themistocles for his wisdom and cleverness; and they gave him the finest chariot in Sparta; and with many words of praise, they sent him on his homeward way with the three hundred picked men of Sparta who are called Knights to escort him as far as the borders of Tegea. Themistocles was the only man of whom I have heard to whom the Spartans gave this escort.

125 But when Themistocles returned to Athens from Lacedaemon, Timodemus of Aphidnae, who was one of Themistocles' enemies but a man in nowise notable, was crazed with envy and spoke bitterly to Themistocles of his visit to Lacedaemon, saying that the honours he had from the Lacedaemonians were paid him for Athens' sake and not for his own. This he would continually be saying; till Themistocles replied, "This is the truth of the matter — had I been of Belbina8 I had not been thus honoured  p129 by the Spartans; nor had you, sirrah, for all you are of Athens." Such was the end of that business.

126 Rawlinson p364 Artabazus son of Pharnaces, who was already a notable man among the Persians and grew to be yet more so by the Plataean business, escorted the king as far as the passage with sixty thousand men of the army that Mardonius had chosen. Xerxes being now in Asia, when Artabazus came near Pallene in his return (for Mardonius was wintering in Thessaly and Macedonia and making no haste to come to the rest of his army), he thought it right that he should enslave the people of Potidaea, whom he found in revolt. For the king having marched away past the town and the Persian fleet taken flight from Salamis, Potidaea had openly revolted from the foreigners; and so too had the rest of the people of Pallene.

127 H & W Thereupon Artabazus laid siege to Potidaea; and suspecting that Olynthus too was plotting revolt from the king, he laid siege to it also, the town being held by Bottiaeans who had been driven from the Thermaic gulf by the Macedonians. Having besieged and taken Olynthus, he brought these men to a lake and there cut their throats, and delivered their city over to the charge of Critobulus of Torone and the Chalcidian people; and thus the Chalcidians gained possession of Olynthus.

128 Having taken Olynthus, Artabazus was instant in dealing with Potidaea; and his zeal was aided by Timoxenus the general of the Scionaeans, who agreed to betray the place to him; I know not how the agreement was first made, nothing being told thereof; but the end was as I  p131 will now show. Whenever Timoxenus wrote a letter for sending to Artabazus, or Artabazus to Timoxenus, they would wrap it round the shaft of an arrow at the notches9 and put feathers to the letter, and shoot it to a place whereon they had agreed. But Timoxenus' plot to betray Potidaea was discovered; for Artabazus in shooting an arrow to the place agreed upon, missed it and hit the shoulder of a man of Potidaea; and a throng gathering quickly round the man when he was struck (which is a thing that ever happens in war), they straightway took the arrow and found the letter and carried it to their generals, the rest of their allies of Pallene being also there present. The generals read the letter and perceived who was the traitor, but they resolved for Scione's sake that they would not smite Timoxenus to the earth with a charge of treason, lest so the people of Scione should ever after be called traitors.

129 Rawlinson p366 Thus was Timoxenus' treachery brought to light. But when Artabazus had besieged Potidaea for three months, there was a great ebb‑tide in the sea, lasting for a long while, and when the foreigners saw that the sea was turned into a marsh they made to pass over it into Pallene. But when they had made their way over two fifths of it and three yet remained to cross ere they could be in Pallene, there came a great flood-tide, higher, as the people of the place say, than any one of the many that had been before; and some of them that knew not how  p133 to swim were drowned, and those that knew were slain by the Potidaeans, who came among them in boats. The Potidaeans say that the cause of the high sea and flood and the Persian disaster lay herein, that those same Persians who now perished in the sea had profaned the temple and the image of Poseidon that was in the suburb of the city; and I think that in saying that this was the cause they say rightly. They that escaped alive were led away by Artabazus to Mardonius in Thessaly. Thus fared these men, who had been the king's escort.

130 All that was left of Xerxes' fleet, having in its flight from Salamis touched the coast of Asia and ferried the king and his army over from the Chersonese to Abydos, wintered at Cyme. Then early in the first dawn of spring they mustered at Samos, where some of the ships had wintered; the most of their fighting men were Persians and Medes. Mardontes son of Bagaeus and Artaÿntes son of Artachaees came to be their admirals, and Artaÿntes chose also his own nephew Ithamitres to have a share in the command. But by reason of the heavy blow dealt them they went no further out to sea westwards, nor was any man instant that they should do so, but they lay off Samos keeping watch against a revolt in Ionia, the whole number of their ships, Ionian and other, being three hundred; nor in truth did they expect that the Greeks would come to Ionia, but rather that they would be content to guard their own country; thus they inferred, because the Greeks had not pursued them when they fled from Salamis, but had been glad to be quit of them. In regard to the sea, the Persians were at heart beaten men, but they supposed that  p135 on land Mardonius would easily prevail. So they were at Samos, and there planned to do what harm they could to their enemies, and to listen the while for tidings of how it went with Mardonius.

131 Rawlinson p368 But as for the Greeks, the coming of spring and Mardonius' being in Thessaly moved them to action. They had not yet begun the mustering of their army, but their fleet, an hundred and ten ships, came to Aegina; and their general and admiral was Leutychides son of Menares, tracing his lineage from son to father through Hegesilaus, Hippocratides, Leutychides, Anaxilaus, Archidemus, Anaxandrides, Theopompus, Nicandrus, Charilaus, Eunomus, Polydectes, Prytanis, Euryphon, Procles, Aristodemus, Aristomachus, Cleodaeus, to Hyllus who was the son of Heracles; he was of the second royal house.10 All the aforesaid had been kings of Sparta, save the seven named first after Leutychides. The general of the Athenians was Xanthippus son of Ariphron.

132 H & W When all the ships were arrived at Aegina, there came to the Greek quarters messengers from the Ionians, the same who a little while before that had gone to Sparta and entreated the Lacedaemonians to free Ionia; of whom one was Herodotus the son of Basileïdes.11 These, who at first were seven, made a faction and conspired to slay Strattis, the despot of Chios; but when their conspiracy became known, one of the accomplices  p137 having revealed their enterprise, the six that remained got them privily out of Chios, whence they went to Sparta and now to Aegina, entreating the Greeks to sail to Ionia. The Greeks brought them as far as Delos, and that not readily; for they feared all that lay beyond, having no knowledge of those parts, and thinking that armed men were everywhere; and they supposed that Samos was no nearer to them than the Pillars of Hercules.12 So it fell out that the foreigners were too disheartened to dare to sail farther west than Samos, while at the same time the Greeks dared go at the Chians' request no farther east than Delos; thus fear kept the middle space between them.

133 Rawlinson p370 The Greeks, then, sailed to Delos, and Mardonius wintered in Thessaly. Having here his headquarters he sent thence a man of Europus called Mys to visit the places of divination, charging him to inquire of all the oracles whereof he could make trial. What it was that he desired to learn from the oracles when he gave this charge, I cannot say, for none tells of it; but I suppose that he sent to inquire concerning his present business, and that alone.

134 This man Mys is known to have gone to Lebadea and to have bribed a man of the country to go down into the cave of Trophonius,13 and to have gone to the place of divination at Abae in Phocis; to Thebes too he first went, where he inquired of Ismenian Apollo (sacrifice is there the  p139 way of divination, even as at Olympia), and moreover bribed one that was no Theban but a stranger to lie down to sleep in the shrine of Amphiaraus. No Theban may seek a prophecy there; for Amphiaraus bade them by an oracle to choose which of the two they would and forgo the other, and take him either for their prophet or for their ally; and they chose that he should be their ally; wherefore no Theban may lay him down to sleep in that place.

135 Rawlinson p372 H & W But at this time there happened, as the Thebans say, a thing at which I marvel greatly. It would seen that this man Mys of Europus came in his wanderings among the places of divination to the precinct of Ptoan Apollo. This temple is called Ptoum,14 and belongs to the Thebans; it lies by a hill, above the lake Copaïs, very near to the town Acraephia. When the man called Mys entered into this temple, three men of the town following him that were chosen on the state's behalf to write down the oracles that should be given, straightway the diviner prophesied in a foreign tongue. The Thebans that followed him stood astonied to hear a strange language instead of Greek, and knew not what this present matter might be; but Mys of Europus snatched from them the tablet that they carried and wrote on it that which was spoken by the prophet, saying that the words of the oracle were Carian; and having written all down he went away back to Thessaly.

136 Mardonius read whatever was said in the oracles; and presently he sent a messenger to Athens,  p141 Alexander, a Macedonian, son of Amyntas; him he sent, partly because the Persians were akin to him; for Bubares, a Persian, had taken to wife Gygaea Alexander's sister and Amyntas' daughter, who had borne to him that Amyntas of Asia who was called by the name of his mother's father, and to what the king gave Alabanda15 a great city in Phrygia for his dwelling; and partly he sent him because he learnt that Alexander was a protector and benefactor to the Athenians. It was thus that he supposed he could best gain the Athenians for his allies, of whom he heard that they were a numerous and valiant people, and knew that they had been the chief authors of the calamities which had befallen the Persians at sea. If he gained their friendship he looked to be easily master of the seas, as truly he would have been; and on land he supposed himself to be by much the stronger; so he reckoned that thus he would have the upper hand of the Greeks. Peradventure this was the prediction of the oracles, counselling him to make the Athenian his ally, and it was in obedience to this that he sent his messenger.

137 This Alexander was seventh in descent from Perdiccas, who got for himself the tyranny of Macedonia in the way that I will show. Three brothers of the lineage of Temenus came as banished men from Argos16 to Illyria, Gauanes and Aeropus and Perdiccas; and from Illyria they crossed over into the highlands of Macedonia till they came to the town Lebaea. There they served for wages as  p143 thralls in the king's household, one tending horses and another oxen, and Perdiccas, who was the youngest, the lesser flocks. Now the king's wife cooked their food for them; for in old times the ruling houses among men, and not the commonalty alone, were lacking in wealth; and whenever she baked bread, the loaf of the thrall Perdiccas grew double in bigness. Seeing that this ever happened, she told her husband; and it seemed to him when he heard it that this was a portent, signifying some great matter. So he sent for his thralls and bade them depart out of his territory. He said it was but just that they should have their wages ere they departed; whereupon the king, when they spoke of wages, was moved to foolishness, and said, "That is the wage you merit, and it is that I give you," pointing to the sunlight that shone down the smoke-vent into the house. Gauanes and Aeropus, who were the elder, stood astonied when they heard that; but the boy said, "We accept what you give, O king, and with that he took a knife that he had upon him and drew a line with it on the floor of the house round the sunlight;17 which done, he thrice gathered up the sunlight into the fold of his garment, and went his way with his companions.

138 Rawlinson p375 H & W So they departed; but one of them that sat by declared to the king what this was that the boy had done, and how it was of set purpose that the youngest of them had accepted the gift offered; which when the king heard, he was angered, and sent riders after them to slay them. But there is in that land a river, whereto the descendants from  p145 Argos of these men offer sacrifice, as their deliverer; this river, when the sons of Temenus had crossed it, rose in such flood that the riders could not cross. So the brothers came to another part of Macedonia and settled near the place called the garden of Midas son of Gordias,18 wherein roses grow of themselves, each bearing sixty blossoms and of surpassing fragrance; in which garden, by the Macedonian story, Silenus19 was taken captive; above it rises the mountain called Bermius, which none can ascend for the wintry cold. Thence they issued forth when they had won that country, and presently subdued also the rest of Macedonia.

139 Rawlinson p376 From that Perdiccas Alexander was descended, being the son of Amyntas, who was the son of Alcetes; Alcetes' father was Aeropus, and his was Philippus; Philippus' father was Argaeus, and his again was Perdiccas, who won that lordship.

140 Such was the lineage of Alexander son of Amyntas; who, when he came to Athens from Mardonius who had sent him, spoke on this wise. "This, Athenians, is what Mardonius says to you: — There is a message come to me from the king, saying, 'I forgive the Athenians all the offences which they have committed against me; and now, Mardonius, I bid you do this: — Give them back their territory, and let them choose more for themselves, besides, wheresoever they will, and dwell under their own laws; and rebuild all their temples  p147 that I burnt, if they will make a covenant with me." This being the message, needs must that I obey it (says Mardonius), unless you take it upon you to hinder me. And this I say to you: — Why are you so mad as to wage war against the king? you cannot overcome him, nor can you resist him for ever. For the multitude of Xerxes' host, and what they did, you have seen, and you have heard of the power that I now have with me; so that even if you overcome and conquer us (whereof, if you be in your right minds, you can have no hope), yet there will come another host many times as great as this. Be not then minded to match yourselves against the king, and thereby lose your land and ever be yourselves in jeopardy, but make peace; which you can most honourably do, the king being that way inclined; keep your freedom, and agree to be our brothers in arms in all faith and honesty. — This, Athenians, is the message which Mardonius charges me to give you. For my own part I will say nothing of the goodwill that I have towards you, for it would not be the first that you have learnt of that; but I entreat you to follow Mardonius' counsel. Well I see that you will not have power to wage war against Xerxes for ever; did I see such power in you, I had never come to you with such language as this; for the king's might is greater than human, and his arm is long. If therefore you will not straightway agree with them, when the conditions which they offer you, whereon they are ready to agree, are so great, I fear what may befall you; for of all the allies you dwell most in the very path of the war, and you alone will never escape destruction, your country being marked out for a battlefield. Nay, follow his counsel;  p149 for it is not to be lightly regarded by you that you are the only men in Hellas whose offences the great king is ready to forgive and whose friend he would be."

141 Rawlinson p378 H & W Thus spoke Alexander. But the Lacedaemonians had heard that Alexander was come to Athens to bring the Athenians to an agreement with the foreigner; and remembering the oracles, how that they themselves with the rest of the Dorians must be driven out the Peloponnese by the Medes and the Athenians, they were greatly afraid lest the Athenians should agree with the Persian, and they straightway resolved that they would send envoys. Moreover it so fell out for both, that they made their entry at one and the same time; for the Athenians delayed, and tarried for them, being well assured that the Lacedaemonians were like to hear that the messenger was come from the Persians for an agreement; and they had heard that the Lacedaemonians would send their envoys with all speed; therefore it was of set purpose that they did it, that they might make their will known to the Lacedaemonians.

142 So when Alexander had made an end of speaking, the envoys from Sparta took up the tale, and said, "We on our part are sent by the Lacedaemonians to entreat you to do nought hurtful to Hellas and accept no offer from the foreigner. That were a thing unjust and dishonourable for any Greek, but for you most of all, on many counts; it was you who stirred up this war, by no desire of ours, and your territory was first the stake of that battle, wherein all Hellas is now engaged; and setting that apart, it is a thing not to be borne that not all this alone but slavery too should be brought  p151 upon the Greeks by you Athenians, who have ever of old been known for givers of freedom to many. Nevertheless we grieve with you in your afflictions, for that now you have lost two harvests and your substance has been for a long time wasted; in requital wherefor the Lacedaemonians and their allies declare that they will nourish your women and all of your households that are unserviceable for war, so long as this war shall last. But let not Alexander the Macedonian win you with his smooth-tongued praise of Mardonius' counsel. It is his business to follow that counsel, for as he is a despot so must he be the despot's fellow-worker; but it is not your business, if you be men rightly minded; for you know, that in foreigners there is no faith nor truth." Thus spoke the envoys.

143 Rawlinson p380 But to Alexander the Athenians thus replied: "We know of ourselves that the power of the Mede is many times greater than ours; there is no need to taunt us with that. Nevertheless in our zeal for freedom we will defend ourselves to the best of our ability. But as touching agreements with the foreigner, do not you essay to persuade us thereto, nor will we consent; and now carry this answer back to Mardonius from the Athenians, that as long as the sun holds the course whereby he now goes, we will make no agreement with Xerxes; but we will fight against him without ceasing, trusting in the aid of the gods and the heroes whom he has set at nought and burnt their houses and their adornments. To you we say, come no more to Athenians with such a plea, nor under the semblance of rendering us a service counsel us to do wickedly;  p153 for we would not that you who are our friend and protector should suffer any harm at Athenian hands."

144 Such was their answer to Alexander; but to the Spartan envoys they said: "It was most human that the Lacedaemonians should fear our making an agreement with the foreigner; but we think you do basely to be afraid, knowing the Athenian temper to be such that there is nowhere on earth such store of gold or such territory of surpassing fairness and excellence that the gift of it would win us to take the Persian part and enslave Hellas. For there are many great reasons why we should not do this, even if we so desired; first and chiefest, the burning and destruction of the adornments and temples of our gods, whom we are constrained to avenge to the uttermost rather than make covenants with the doer of these things, and next the kinship of all Greeks in blood and speech, and the shrines of gods and the sacrifices that we have in common, and the likeness of our way of life, to all which it would ill beseem Athenians to be false. Know this now, if you knew it not before, that as long as one Athenian is left alive we will make no agreement with Xerxes. Nevertheless we thank you for your forethought concerning us, in that you have so provided for our wasted state that you offer to nourish our households. For your part, you have given us full measure of kindness; yet for ourselves, we will make shift to endure as best we may, and not be burdensome to you. But now, seeing that this is so, send your army with all speed; for as we guess, the foreigner  p155 will be upon us and invading our country in no long time, but as soon as ever the message comes to him that we will do nothing that he requires of us; wherefore, ere he comes into Attica, now is the time for us to march first into Boeotia." At this reply of the Athenians the envoys returned back to Sparta.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Ctesias and Strabo place this project before and not after the battle; plainly it would have been useless (and indeed impossible) to the Persians after their defeat.

2 Torch-races were run at certain Athenian festivals. They were of various kinds. One was "a relay or team race. There were several lines of runners; the first man in each line had his torch lighted at the altar and ran with it at full speed to the second, to whom he passed it on, the second to the third, and so on till the last man carried it to the goal. The line of runners which first passed its torch alight to the goal was the winning team" (How and Wells).

3 ἄγγαρος is apparently a Babylonian word, the Persian word for a post-rider being in Greek ἀστάνδης (How and Wells). ἄγγαρος passed into Greek usage; cp. Aesch. Ag. 282.

Thayer's Note: Further details and citations, mostly about the extension of the system to the Roman post, are provided by the article Angaria in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

4 A promontory on the west coast of Attica, between Piraeus and Sunium.

5 Two regiments of a thousand horse are mentioned in VII.40 and 55.

6 cp. VII.83.

7 cp. perhaps V.106, where Histiaeus swears to Darius that he will not take off his tunic till he reaches Ionia; or the reference may be to a man's being εὔζωνος (with his 'loins girded up') for swift travel.

8 An islet S. of Sunium; a typical instance of an unimportant place.

9 Probably points on each side of the notch (where the arrow lies on the string) to give the fingers better grip. "The parchment was rolled round the butt end of the arrow and then feathers put over it to hide it" (How and Wells).

10 The first royal house was the line of Agis, from whom Leonidas was descended (VII.204). The second was the line of Euryphon. In the present list "the first king among the ancestors of Leutychides is Theopompus, the seven more immediate ancestors of L. belonging to a younger branch, which gained the throne by the deposition of Demaratus" (How and Wells).

11 Otherwise unknown.

12 "As far as off as the Straits of Gibraltar" — a figure of distance.

13 See How and Wells ad loc. for a full description of the method of consulting this subterranean deity: also on Amphiaraus and "Ptoan" Apollo. All these shrines are in Boeotia, the home of early Greek superstitions.

14 Called after Ptous, son of Athamas, according to Apollodorus. The story of Athamas, and his plot with Ino their stepmother against his children's lives, was localised in Boeotia as well as Achaea, cp. VII.197.

15 Alabanda was not in Phrygia but in Caria (cp. VII.195); Stein prefers to read Alabastra, a town which Herodotus, according to Stephanus of Byzantium, places in Phrygia.

16 The story of an Argive origin of the Macedonian dynasty appears to be mythical. It rests probably on the similarity of the name Argeadae, the tribe to which the dynasty belonged.

17 The action is said to symbolise claiming possession of house and land, and also to call the sun to witness the claim. Ancient Germany, apparently, had a similar custom.

18 This was the fertile and beautiful valley in which stood Aegae or Edessa (modern Vodena), the ancient home of the Macedonian kings.

Thayer's Note: Vodena, a Slavic name meaning "waters" — as does Edessa, apparently — started to be used in the Middle Ages; in 1923 Greece restored the old name, and the town is now once again called Edessa.

19 This is a Phrygian tale, transferred to Macedonia. Silenus was a "nature-deity," inhabiting places of rich vegetation: if captured, he was fabled in the Greek version of the myth to give wise counsel to his captor. One may compare the story of Proteus captured by Menelaus, in the Odyssey.


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