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

The text is in the public domain.

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


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(Vol. IV) Herodotus

 p265  Book IX: chapters 90‑113

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.

90 Rawlinson p458 H & W Now on the selfsame day when the Persians were so stricken at Plataeae, it so fell out that they suffered a like fate at Mycale in Ionia. For the Greeks who had come in their ships with Leutychides the Lacedaemonian being then in quarters at Delos, there came to them certain messengers from Samos, to wit, Lampon son of Thrasycles, Athenagoras son of Archestratides, and Hegesistratus son of Aristagoras; these the Samians had sent, keeping their despatch secret from the Persians and the despot Theomestor son of Androdamas, whom the Persians had made despot of Samos. When they came before the generals, Hegesistratus spoke long and vehemently: "If the Ionians but see you," said he, "they will revolt from the Persians; and the foreigners will not stand; but if perchance they do stand, you will have such a prey as never again"; and he prayed them in the name of the gods of their common worship to deliver Greeks from slavery and drive the foreigner away. That, said he, would be an easy matter for them; "for the Persian ships are unseaworthy and no match for yours; and if you  p267 have any suspicion that we may be tempting you guilefully, we are ready to be carried on your ships as hostages."

91 This Samian stranger being so earnest in entreaty, Leutychides asked him (whether it was that he desired to know for the sake of a presage, or that heaven happily prompted him thereto), "Sir Samian, what is your name?" "Hegesistratus,"1 said he. Then Leutychides cut short whatever else Hegesistratus had begun to say, and cried: "I accept the omen of your name, Sir Samian; now do you see to it that ere you sail hence you and these that are with you pledge yourselves that the Samians will be our zealous allies."

92 H & W Thus he spoke, and then and there added the deed thereto; for straightway the Samians bound themselves by pledge and oath to alliance with the Greeks. This done, the rest sailed away, but Leutychides bade Hegesistratus take ship with the Greeks, for the good omen of his name.

93 Rawlinson p460 The Greeks waited through that day, and on the next day they sought and won favourable augury; their diviner was Deïphonus son of Evenius, a man of that Apollonia which is in the Ionian gulf. This man's father Evenius had once fared as I will now relate. There is at the aforesaid Apollonia a certain flock sacred to the sun, which in the daytime is pastured beside the river Chon, which flows from the mountain called Lacmon through the lands of Apollonia and issues into the sea by the haven of Oricum; by night, those townsmen who are most notable for wealth or lineage are chosen to watch it, each man serving for a year; for the people of  p269 Apollonia set great store by this flock, being so taught by a certain oracle. It is folded in a cave far distant from the town. Now at the time whereof I speak, Evenius was the chosen watchman. But one night he fell asleep, and wolves came past his guard into the cave, killing about sixty of the flock. When Evenius was aware of it, he held his peace and told no man, being minded to restore what was lost by buying others. But this matter was not hid from the people of Apollonia; and when it came to their knowledge they haled him to judgment and condemned him to lose his eyesight for sleeping at his watch. So they blinded Evenius; but from the day of their so doing their flocks bore no offspring, nor did their land yield her fruits as aforetime; and a declaration was given to them at Dodona and Delphi, when they inquired of the prophets what might be the cause of their present ill; the gods told them by their prophets that they had done unjustly in blinding Evenius, the guardian of the sacred flock, "for we ourselves" (said they) "sent those wolves, and we will not cease from avenging him ere you make him such restitution for what you did as he himself chooses and approves; when that is fully done, we will ourselves give Evenius such a gift as will make many men to deem him happy."

94 This was the oracle given to the people of Apollonia. They kept it secret, and charged certain of their townsmen to carry the business through; who did so as I will now show. Coming and sitting down by Evenius at the place where he sat, they spoke of other matters, till at last they fell to commiserating his misfortune; and thus guiding the discourse they asked him what requital he would  p271 choose, if the people of Apollonia should promise to requite him for what they had done. He, knowing nought of the oracle, said he would choose for a gift the lands of certain named townsmen whom he deemed to have the two fairest estates in Apollonia, and a house besides which he knew to be the fairest in the town; let him (he said) have possession of these, and he would forgo his wrath, and be satisfied with that by way of restitution. They that sat by him waited for no further word than that, and said: "Evenius, the people of Apollonia hereby make you that restitution for the loss of your sight, obeying the oracle given to them." At that he was very angry, for he learnt thereby the whole story and saw that they had cheated him; but they bought from the possessors and gave him what he had chosen; and from that day he had a natural gift of divination, so that he won fame thereby.

95 Rawlinson p462 Deïphonus, the son of this Evenius, had been brought by the Corinthians, and practised divination for the army. But I have heard it said ere now, that Deïphonus was no son of Evenius, but made a wrongful use of that name, and wrought for wages up and down Hellas.

96 Having won favourable omens, the Greeks stood out to sea from Delos for Samos. When they were now near Calamisa in the Samian territory, they anchored there hard by the temple of Here that is in those parts, and prepared for a sea‑fight; the Persians, learning of their approach, stood likewise out to sea and made for the mainland, with all their ships save the Phoenicians, whom they sent sailing away. It was determined by them in council that they would not do battle by sea; for they  p273 deemed themselves overmatched; and the reason of their making for the mainland was, that they might lie under the shelter of their army at Mycale, which had been left by Xerxes' command behind the rest of his host to hold Ionia; there were sixty thousand men in it, and Tigranes, the goodliest and tallest man in Persia, was their general. It was the design of the Persian admirals to flee to the shelter of that army, and there to beach their ships and build a fence round them which should be a protection for the ships and a refuge for themselves.

97 H & W With this design they put to sea. So when they came past the temple of the Goddesses2 at Mycale to the Gaeson and Scolopoïs,3 where is a temple of Eleusinian Demeter (which was built by Philistus son of Pasicles, when he went with Nileus son of Codrus to the founding of Miletus), there they beached their ships and fenced them round with stones and trunks of orchard trees that they cut down; and they drove in stakes round the fence, and prepared for siege or victory, making ready of deliberate purpose for either event.

98 Rawlinson p464 When the Greeks learnt that the foreigners were off and away to the mainland, they were ill‑pleased to think that their enemy had escaped them, and doubted whether to return back or make sail for the Hellespont. At the last they resolved that they would do neither, but sail to the mainland; and equipping themselves therefore with gangways and all else needful for a sea‑fight, they  p275 held their course for Mycale. When they came near to the camp and found none putting out to meet them, and saw the ships beached within the wall and a great host of men drawn up in array along the strand, Leutychides thereupon first coasted along in his ship, keeping as near to the shore as he could, and made this proclamation to the Ionians by the voice of a herald: "Men of Ionia, you that hear us, take heed of what I say! for in no case will the Persians understand aught of my charge to you: when we join battle, let a man remember first his freedom, and next the battle‑cry 'Hebe': and let him that hears me not be told of this by him that hears." The purpose of this act was the same as Themistocles' purpose at Artemisium;4 either the message would be unknown to the foreigners and would prevail with the Ionians, or if it were thereafter reported to the foreigners it would make them to mistrust their Greek allies.

99 After this counsel of Leutychides', the Greeks next brought their ships to land and disembarked on the beach, where they put themselves in array. But the Persians, seeing the Greeks prepare for battle and exhort the Ionians, first of all took away the Samians' armour, suspecting that they favoured the Greeks; for indeed when the foreigners' ships brought certain Athenian captives, who had been left in Attica and taken by Xerxes' army, the Samians had set them all free and sent them away to Athens with provision for the way; for which cause in especial they were held suspect, as having set free five hundred souls of Xerxes' enemies.  p277 Furthermore, they appointed the Milesians to guard the passes leading to the heights of Mycale, alleging that they were best acquainted with the country; but their true reason for so doing was, that the Milesians should be away from the rest of their army. In such manner did the Persians safeguard themselves from those Ionians who (they supposed) might turn against them if opportunity were given; for themselves, they set their shields close to make a barricade.

100 The Greeks, having made all preparation, advanced their line against the foreigners. As they went, a rumour sped all about the army, and a herald's wand was seen lying by the water-line; and the rumour that ran was to the effect that the Greeks were victors over Mardonius' army at a battle in Boeotia. Now there are many clear proofs of the divine ordering of things; seeing that at this time, the Persians' disaster at Plataeae falling on the same day as that other which was to befall them at Mycale, the rumour came to the Greeks at that place, whereby their army was greatly heartened and the readier to face danger.

101 Rawlinson p466 H & W Moreover there was this other coincidence, that there were precincts of Eleusinian Demeter on both battlefields; for at Plataeae the fight was hard by the temple of Demeter, as I have already said, and so it was to be at Mycale likewise. It so fell out that the rumour of victory won by the Greeks with Pausanias spoke truth; for the defeat of Plataeae happened while it was yet early in the day, and the defeat of Mycale in the afternoon. That the two fell on the same day of the same  p279 month was proved to the Greeks when they examined the matter not long afterwards. Now before this rumour came they had been faint-hearted, fearing less for themselves than for the Greeks with Pausanias, lest Mardonius should be the stumbling-block of Hellas; but when the report sped among them they grew stronger and swifter in their onset. So Greeks and foreigners alike were eager for battle, seeing that the islands and the Hellespont were the prizes of victory.

102 As for the Athenians and those whose place was nearest them, that is, for about half of the line, their way lay over the beach and level ground; for the Lacedaemonians and those that were next to them, through a ravine and among hills; and while the Lacedaemonians were making a circuit, those others on the other wing were already fighting. While the Persians' shields stood upright, they defended themselves and held their own in the battle; but when the Athenians and their neighbours in the line passed the word and went more zealously to work, that they and not the Lacedaemonians might win the victory, immediately the face of the fight was changed. Breaking down the shields they charged all together into the midst of the Persians, who received the onset and stood their ground for a long time, but at the last fled within their wall; and the Athenians and Corinthians and Sicyonians and Troezenians, who were next to each other in the line, followed hard after and rushed in together likewise. But when the walled place was won, the foreigners made no further defence, but took to flight, all save the Persians, who gathered themselves into bands of a few men and fought  p281 with whatever Greeks came rushing within the walls. Of the Persian leaders two escaped by flight and two were slain; Artaÿntes and Ithamitres, who were admirals of the fleet, escaped; Mardontes and Tigranes, the general of the land army, were slain fighting.

103 Rawlinson p468 While the Persians still fought, the Lacedaemonians and their comrades came up, and finished what was left of the business. The Greeks too lost many men there, notably the men of Sicyon and their general Perilaus. As for the Samians who served in the Median army, and had been disarmed, they, seeing from the first that victory hung in the balance,5 did what they could in their desire to aid the Greeks; and when the other Ionians saw the Samians set the example, they also thereupon deserted the Persians and attacked the foreigners.

104 The Persians had for their own safety appointed the Milesians to watch the passes, so that if haply aught should befall the Persian army such as did befall it, they might have guides to bring them safe to the heights of Mycale. This was the task to which the Milesians were appointed, for the aforesaid reason, and that they might not be present with the army and so turn against it. But they did wholly contrariwise to the charge laid upon them; they misguided the fleeing Persians by ways that led them among their enemies, and at last themselves became their worst enemies and slew them. Thus did Ionia for the second time revolt from the Persians.

 p283  105 In that battle those of the Greeks that fought best were the Athenians, and the Athenian that fought best was one who practised the Pancratium,6 Hermolycus son of Euthoenus. This Hermolycus on a later day met his death in battle at Cyrnus in Carystus during a war between the Athenians and Carystians, and lay dead on Geraestus. Those that fought next best after the Athenians were the men of Corinth and Troezen and Sicyon.

106 When the Greeks had made an end of most of the foreigners, either in battle or in flight, they brought out their booty on to the beach, and found certain stores of wealth; then they burnt the ships and the whole of the wall, which having burnt they sailed away. When they were arrived at Samos, they debated in council whether they should dispeople Ionia, and in what Greek lands under their dominion it were best to plant the Ionians, leaving the country itself to the foreigners; for it seemed to them impossible to stand on guard between the Ionians and their enemies for ever; yet if they should not so stand, they had no hope that the Persians would suffer the Ionians to go unpunished. In this matter the Peloponnesians that were in authority were for removing the people from the marts of those Greek nations that had sided with the Persians, and giving their land to the Ionians to dwell in; but the Athenians misliked the whole design of dispeopling Ionia, or suffering the Peloponnesians to determine the lot of Athenian colonies; and as they resisted hotly, the Peloponnesians  p285 yielded. Thus it came about that they admitted to their alliance the Samians, Chians, Lesbians, and all other islanders who had served with their armaments, and bound them by pledge and oaths to remain faithful and not desert their allies; who being thus sworn, the Greeks set sail to break the bridges, supposing that these still held fast. So they laid their course for the Hellespont.

107 Rawlinson p471 H & W The few foreigners who escaped were driven to the heights of Mycale, and made their way thence to Sardis. While they were journeying on the road, Masistes son of Darius, who had chanced to be present at the Persian disaster, reviled the admiral Artaÿntes very bitterly, telling him (with much beside) that such generalship as his proved him worse than a woman, and that no punishment was too bad for the hurt he had wrought to the king's house. Now it is the greatest of all taunts in Persia to be called worse than a woman. These many insults so angered Artaÿntes, that he drew his sword upon Masistes to kill him; but Xenagoras son of Praxilaus of Halicarnassus, who stood behind Artaÿntes himself, saw him run at Masistes, and caught him round the middle and lifted and hurled him to the ground; meanwhile Masistes' guard came between them. By so doing Xenagoras won the gratitude of Masistes himself and Xerxes, for saving the king's brother; for which deed he was made ruler of all Cilicia by the king's gift. They went then on their way without any outcome of the matter, and came to Sardis.

108 Rawlinson p472 Now it chanced that the king had been at  p287 Sardis ever since he came thither in flight from Athens after his overthrow in the sea‑fight. Being then at Sardis he became enamoured of Masistes' wife, who was also at that place. But as all his messages could not bring her to yield to him, and he would not force her to his will, out of regard for his brother Masistes (which indeed wrought with the woman also, for she knew well that no force would be used with her), Xerxes found no other way to his purpose than that he should make a marriage between his own son Darius and the daughter of this woman and Masistes; for he thought that by so doing he would be likeliest to get her. So he betrothed them with all due ceremony, and rode away to Susa. But when he was come thither and had taken Darius' bride into his house, he thought no more of Masistes' wife, but changed about, and wooed and won this girl Artaÿnte, Darius' wife and Masistes' daughter.

109 But as time went on the truth came to light, and in such manner as I will show. Xerxes' wife, Amestris, wove and gave to him a great gaily-coloured mantle, wondrous to behold. Xerxes was pleased with it, and went wearing it to Artaÿnte; and being pleased with her too, he bade her ask for what she would have in return for her favours, for he would deny nothing at her asking. Thereat — for she and all her house were doomed to evil — she said to Xerxes, "Will you give me whatever I ask of you?" and he promised and swore it, supposing that she would ask anything but that; but when he had sworn, she asked boldly for his mantle. Xerxes strove hard to refuse her, for no cause save  p289 that he feared lest Amestris might have plain proof of his doing what she already guessed; and he offered her cities instead, and gold in abundance, and an army for none but herself to command. Armies are the properest of gifts in Persia. But as he could not move her, he gave her the mantle; and she, rejoicing greatly in the gift, went flaunting her finery.

110 Amestris heard that she had the mantle; but when she learnt the truth her anger was not with the girl; she supposed rather that the girl's mother was guilty and that this was her doing, and so it was Masistes' wife that she plotted to destroy. She waited therefore till Xerxes her husband should be giving his royal feast. This banquet is served once a year, on the king's birthday; the Persian name for it is "tukta," which is in the Greek language "perfect"; on that day (and none other) the king anoints his head, and makes gifts to the Persians. Waiting for that day, Amestris then desired of Xerxes that Masistes' wife should be given to her. Xerxes held it a terrible and wicked act to give up his brother's wife, and that too when she was guiltless of the deed supposed; for he knew the purpose of the request.

111 Rawlinson p474 Nevertheless, Amestris being instant, and the law constraining him (for at this royal banquet in Persia every boon asked must of necessity be granted), he did very unwillingly consent, and delivered the woman to Amestris; then, bidding her do what she would, he sent for his brother and thus spoke: "Masistes, you are Darius' son and my brother, yea, and a right good man; hear me then;  p291 you must live no longer with her who is your wife. I give you my daughter in her place; take her for your own; but put away the wife that you have, for it is not my will that you should have her." At that Masistes was amazed; "Sire," he said, "what is this evil command that you lay upon me, bidding me deal thus with my wife? I have by her young sons and daughters, of whom you have taken a wife for your own son; and I am exceeding well content with herself; yet do you bid me put her away and wed your daughter? Truly, O king, I deem it a high honour to be accounted worthy of your daughter; but I will do neither one nor the other. Nay, constrain me not to consent to such a desire; you will find another husband for your daughter as good as I; but suffer me to keep my own wife." Thus answered Masistes; but cruiser was very angry, and said: "To this pass you are come, Masistes; I will give you no daughter of mine to wife, nor shall you longer live with her that you now have; thus shall you learn to accept that which is offered you." Hearing that, Masistes said nought but this: "Nay, sire, you have not destroyed me yet!" and so departed.

112 But in the meantime, while Xerxes talked with his brother, Amestris sent for Xerxes' guards and used Masistes' wife very cruelly; she cut off the woman's breasts and threw them to dogs, and her nose and ears and lips likewise, and cut out her tongue, and sent her home thus cruelly used.

113 Knowing nought as yet of this, but fearing evil, Masistes ran speedily to his house. Seeing the  p293 havoc made of his wife, straightway he took counsel with his children and set forth to journey to Bactra with his own sons (and others too, belike), purposing to raise the province of Bactra in revolt and work the king the greatest of harm; which he would have done, to my thinking, had he escaped up into the country of the Bactrians and Sacae; for they loved him well, and he was viceroy over the Bactrians. But it was of no avail; for Xerxes learnt his intent, and sent against him an army that slew him on his way, and his sons and his army withal. Such is the story of Xerxes' love and Masistes' death.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Hegesistratus = Army‑leader.

2 Demeter and Persephone.

3 The Gaeson was probably a stream running south of the hill called Mycale; Scolopoïs, a place on its east bank (How and Wells).

4 Cp. VIII.22.

5 ἑτεραλκὴς here probably means "doubtful," giving victory to one side or other; cp. VII.11; in Homer it means "decisive," giving victory to one as opposed to the other.

6 The "pancratium" was a mixture of boxing and wrestling.

Thayer's Note: Full details in the article Pancratium in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

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