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

The text is in the public domain.

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


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(Vol. III) Herodotus

 p245  Book VI: chapters 94‑140

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.
Cartouches are links to in‑depth articles at Livius.Org or LacusCurtius.

[link to original Greek text] 94 Rawlinson p482 H & W Thus Athens and Aegina grappled together in  p247 war. But the Persian was going about his own business; for his servant was ever reminding them to remember the Athenians,​1 and the Pisistratidae were at his elbow maligning the Athenians, and moreover Darius desired to take this pretext for subduing all the men of Hellas that had not given him earth and water. As for Mardonius, who had fared so ill with his armament, him he dismissed from his command, and appointed other generals to lead his armies against Athens and Eretria, DatisMede, and his own nephew Artaphrenes son of Artaphrenes; and the charge he gave them at their departure was, to enslave Athens and Eretria, and bring the slaves into his presence.

[link to original Greek text] 95 When these the appointed generals on their way from the king's presence were arrived at the Aleïan plain in Cilicia, bringing with them a host great and well furnished, there they encamped and were overtaken by all the armament of ships that was assigned to each portion; and the transports too for horses came up, that in the year before this Darius had bidden his tributary subjects to make ready. Having cast the horses into these, and embarked the land army in the ships, they sailed to Ionia with six hundred triremes. Thence they held their course not by the mainland and straight towards the Hellespont and Thrace, but setting forth from Samos they sailed by the Icarian sea and from island to island; this, to my thinking, was because they feared above all the voyage round Athos, seeing that in the year past they had come to great disaster by holding their course that way;  p249 and moreover Naxos constrained them, in that they had not yet taken it.

[link to original Greek text] 96 Rawlinson p484 When they approached Naxos from the Icarian sea and came to land (for it was Naxos which the Persians purposed first to attack), the Naxians, mindful of what had before happened,​2 fled away to the mountains, not abiding their coming. The Persians enslaved all of them that they caught, and burnt even their templesβ and their city; which done, they set sail for the other islands.

[link to original Greek text] 97 While they so did, the Delians also left Delos and fled away to Tenos. But Datis, when his host was sailing landwards, went before it in his ship and bade his fleet anchor not off Delos, but across the water off Rhenaea; and being informed where the Delians were, he sent a herald to them with this proclamation: "Holy men, why have you fled away, and so misjudged my intent? For it is my own desire, and the king's command to me, to do no harm to the land wherein the two gods​3 were born, neither to the land itself nor to those that dwell therein. Now, therefore, I bid you return to your homes and dwell in your island." This proclamation he made to the Delians, and presently laid upon the altar and burnt there three hundred talents' weight of frankincense.α

[link to original Greek text] 98 H & W This done, Datis sailed with his host against Eretria first, taking with him Ionians and Aeolians; and after he had put out thence to sea, there was an earthquake in Delos, the first and last, as the Delians say, before my time. This portent was sent by  p251 heaven, as I suppose, to be an omen of the ills that were coming on the world. For in three generations, that is, in the time of Darius son of Hystaspes and Artoxerxes son of Xerxes,​4 more ills befel Hellas than in twenty generations before Darius; which ills came in part from the Persians and in part from the wars for preëminence among the chief of the nations themselves. Thus it was no marvel that there should be an earthquake in Delos where none had been ere that. Also there was an oracle concerning Delos, wherein it was written:

Delos itself will I shake, that ne'er was shaken aforetime.

Now as touching the names of those three kings, Darius signifies the Doer, Xerxes the Warrior, Artoxerxes the Great Warrior; and such the Greeks would rightly call them in their language.

[link to original Greek text] 99 Rawlinson p487 Launching out to sea from Delos, the foreigners put in at the islands, and gathered an army thence and took the sons of the islanders for hostages. When in their voyage about the islands they came to Carystos, the Carystians gave them no hostages and refused to join with them against neighbouring cities, whereby they signified Eretria and Athens; wherefore the Persians besieged them and laid waste their land, till the Carystians too came over to their side.

[link to original Greek text] 100 The Eretrians, when they learnt that the Persian host was sailing to attack them, entreated aid from the Athenians. These did not refuse the  p253 aid, but gave the Eretrians for their defenders the four thousand tenant farmers that held the land of the Chalcidian horse-breeders.​5 But it would seem that all was unstable in the designs of the Eretrians; for they sent to the Athenians for aid, but their counsels were divided; the one part of them planned to leave the city and make for the heights of Euboea, the other part plotted treason in hope so to win advantage for themselves from the Persians. Then Aeschines son of Nothon, who was a leading man in Eretria, out of his knowledge of both designs told those Athenians who had come how matters stood, and entreated them, moreover, to depart to their own country, lest they should perish like the rest; and the Athenians in this followed Aeschines' advice.

[link to original Greek text] 101 Rawlinson p488 So they saved themselves by crossing over to Oropus; the Persians in their sailing held their course for Temenos and Choereae and Aegilea, all in Eretrian territory, and having taken possession of these places they straightway disembarked their horses and made preparation to attack their enemies. The Eretrians had no design of coming out and fighting; all their care was to guard their walls, if they could, seeing that it was the prevailing counsel not to leave the city. The walls were stoutly attacked, and for six days many fell on both sides; but on the seventh two Eretrians of repute, Euphorbus son of Alcimachus and Philagrus son of Cineas, betrayed the city to the Persians. These entered the city and plundered and burnt the temples, in  p255 revenge for the temples that were burnt at Sardis; moreover they enslaved the townspeople, according to Darius' command.

[link to original Greek text] 102 H & W Having subdued Eretria they delayed for a few days, and then sailed to the Attic land, pressing hard forward and thinking that they would do to the Athenians what they had done to the Eretrians; and Marathon6 being the fittest part of Attica for horsemen to ride over, and nearest to Eretria, thither they were guided by Hippias son of Pisistratus.

[image ALT: missingALT. It is a view of the seacoast at Marathon, as further captioned in the text of this webpage.]

The beach at Marathon, where the Persians landed.

Photo © Livius.Org | Marco Prins, by kind permission.

[link to original Greek text] 103 Rawlinson p490 When the Athenians learnt of this, they too marched out to Marathon. Ten generals led them, of whom the tenth was Miltiades, whose father, Cimon son of Stesagoras, had been, as fate would have it, banished from Athens by Pisistratus son of Hippocrates. Being an exile, he had the luck to win the prize for four-horse chariots at Olympia, by this victory gaining the same honour as his mother's son Miltiades had won. At the next Olympiad he was a winner again with the same team of mares, but suffered Pisistratus to be proclaimed victor, for which surrender of his victory he returned to his home under treaty. A third Olympic prize he won with the same team; after that, Pisistratus himself being now dead, fate willed that Miltiades should be slain by Pisistratus' sons; these suborned men and slew him by night in the town-hall. Cimon lies buried outside the city, beyond the road that is called Through the Hollow; and the mares that won him the three Olympic prizes are buried over against his grave. None others save the mares of  p257 the Laconian Evagoras had ever achieved the same. Now Stesagoras, the eldest of Cimon's sons, was at that time being brought up in the Chersonese with Miltiades his uncle; but the younger, named Miltiades after that Miltiades who planted a settlement on the Chersonese, was with Cimon himself at Athens.

[link to original Greek text] 104 Rawlinson p492 This Miltiades, then, had now come from the Chersonese and was general of the Athenian army, after twice escaping death; for the Phoenicians, who held him in chase as far as Imbros, set great store by catching him and bringing him before the king; and when he had escaped from them to his country and supposed himself to be now in safety, he was next met by his enemies, who haled him before a court and would have justice on him for his rule of the Chersonese. From them too he was freed, and after that was appointed a general of the Athenians by the people's choice.

[link to original Greek text] 105 And first, while they were yet in the city, the generals sent as a herald to Sparta Phidippides, an Athenian, and one, moreover, that was a runner of long distances and made that his calling. This man, as he said himself and told the Athenians, when he was in the Parthenian hills above Tegea, met with Pan; who, calling to Phidippides by name, bade him say to the Athenians, "Why is it that ye take no thought for me, that am your friend, and ere now have oft been serviceable to you, and will be so again?" This story the Athenians believed to be true, and when their state won to prosperity they founded a  p259 temple of Pan beneath the acropolis, and for that message sought the god's favour with yearly sacrifices and torch-races.

[link to original Greek text] 106 Rawlinson p494 H & W But now, at the time when he was sent by the generals and said that Pan had appeared to him, this Phidippides was at Sparta on the day after he left Athens;​7 and he came before the rulers and said, "Lacedaemonians, the Athenians entreat you to send them help, and not suffer a most ancient city of Hellas to be brought into bondage by foreigners; for even now Eretria has been enslaved, and Hellas is the weaker by the loss of a notable city." Thus Phidippides gave the message wherewith he was charged, and the Lacedaemonians resolved to send help to the Athenians; but they could not do this immediately, being loath to break their law; for it was the ninth day of the first part of the month, and they would make no expedition (they said) on the ninth day, when the moon was not full.8

[link to original Greek text] 107 So they waited for the full moon. As for the Persians, they were guided to Marathon by Hippias son of Pisistratus. Hippias in the past night had seen a vision in his sleep, wherein he thought that he lay with his own mother; he interpreted this dream to signify that he should return to Athens and recover his power, and so die an old man in his own mother-country. Thus he interpreted the vision; for the nonce, being the Persians' guide, he carried the slaves taken in Eretria to the island of the Styreans called Aeglea; moreover, it was he who made the  p261 ships to anchor when they had put in at Marathon, and who set the foreigners in array when they were landed. Now while he dealt with these matters he fell a‑sneezing and a‑coughing more violently than he was wont; he was well stricken in years, and the most of his teeth were loose; whereby the violence of his cough made one of his teeth to fall out. It fell into the sand, and Hippias used all diligence to find it; but the tooth being nowhere to be seen, he said lamentably to them that stood by, "This land is none of ours, nor shall we avail to subdue it; my tooth has all the share of it that was for me."

[link to original Greek text] 108 Rawlinson p496 This then Hippias guessed to be the fulfilment of his dream. The Athenians were arrayed in the precinct of Heracles, and now the whole power of the Plataeans came to their aid; for the Plataeans had put themselves under the protection of Athens,​9 and the Athenians had taken upon them many labours for their sake. The manner of the Plataeans' so doing was this: — Being hard pressed by the Thebans, they had offered themselves to the first comers, Cleomenes son of Anaxandrides and the Lacedaemonians; but these would not accept them, and said: "We dwell afar off, and such aid as ours would be found but cold comfort to you; for you might be enslaved many times over ere any of us heard of it. We counsel you to put yourselves in the protection of the Athenians, who are your neighbours, and can defend you right well." This counsel the Lacedaemonians gave not so much out of their goodwill to the Plataeans, as because they desired that the Athenians should bring trouble on themselves  p263 by making enemies of the Boeotians. The Lacedaemonians, then, gave them this counsel; the Plataeans obeyed it, and when the Athenians were sacrifi­cing to the twelve gods​10 they came as suppliants and sat them down by the altar, and so put themselves under protection. Hearing of this the Thebans sent an army against the Plataeans, and the Athenians came to the Plataeans' aid; but when they were about to join general, the Corinthians would not suffer them; as they chanced to be there, they made a reconciliation at the instance of both the parties, and drew a frontier line on the condition that the Thebans should not meddle with such Boeotians as desired not to be reckoned as part and parcel of Boeotia. Having given this judgment the Corinthians took their departure; but when the Athenians were on their way home the Boeotians set upon them and were worsted in the fight. The Athenians then made a frontier beyond that which had been assigned by the Corinthians for the Plataeans, and set the Asopus itself for the Theban border on the side of Plataea and Hysiae. — In the manner aforesaid the Plataeans had put themselves in the protection of the Athenians, and now they came to Marathon to aid them.

[link to original Greek text] 109 Rawlinson p498 H & W But the counsels of the Athenian generals were divided; some advised that they should not fight, thinking they were too few to do battle with the Median army, and some, of whom was Miltiades, that they should. Now there was an eleventh that had a vote, namely, that Athenian who had been  p265 chosen as polemarch​11 by lot, — for by old Athenian custom the polemarch voted among the generals, — and at this time the polemarch was Callimachus of Aphidnae; so their counsels being divided and the worse opinion like to prevail, Miltiades betook himself to this man. "Callimachus," said he, "it is for you to‑day to choose, whether you will enslave Athens, or free her and thereby leave such a memorial for all posterity as was left not even by Harmodius and Aristogiton. For now is Athens in greater peril than ever since she was first a city; and if her people bow their necks to the Medes, their fate is certain, for they will be delivered over to Hippias; but if our city be saved, she may well grow to be the first of Greek cities. How then this can be brought about, and how it comes that the deciding voice in these matters is yours, I will now show you. We ten generals are divided in counsel, some bidding us to fight and some to forbear. Now if we forbear to fight, it is likely that some great schism will rend and shake the courage of our people till they make friends of the Medes; but if we join battle before some at Athens be infected by corruption, then let heaven but deal fairly with us, and we may well win in this fight. It is you that all this concerns; all hangs on you; for if you join yourself to my opinion, you make your country free and your city the first in Hellas; but if you choose the side of them that would persuade us not to fight, you will have wrought the very opposite of the blessings whereof I have spoken."

[link to original Greek text] 110 By this plea Miltiades won Callimachus to be his ally; and with the polemarch's vote added it  p267 was resolved to fight. Thereafter the generals whose counsel was for fighting made over to Miltiades the day's right of leading that fell to each severally;​12 he received it, but would not join battle till the day of his own leader­ship came round.

[link to original Greek text] 111 Rawlinson p500 When his turn came, then were the Athenians arrayed for battle as I shall show: the right wing was commanded by Callimachus the polemarch; for it was then the Athenian custom, that the holder of that office should have the right wing. He being there captain, next to him came the tribes one after another in the order of their numbers;​13 last of all the Plataeans were posted on the left wing. Ever since that fight, when the Athenians bring sacrifices to the assemblies that are held at the five-yearly festivals,​14 the Athenian herald prays that all blessings may be granted to Athenians and Plataeans alike. But now, when the Athenians were arriving at Marathon, it so fell out that their line being equal in length to the Median, the middle part of it was but a few ranks deep, and here the line was weakest, each wing being strong in numbers.

[link to original Greek text] 112 H & W Their battle being arrayed and the omens of sacrifice favouring, straightway the Athenians were let go and charged the Persians at a run. There was between the armies a space of not less than eight furlongs. When the Persians saw them come running they prepared to receive them, deeming the Athenians frenzied to their utter destruction, who  p269 being (as they saw) so few were yet charging them at speed, albeit they had no horsemen nor archers. Such was the imagination of the foreigners; but the Athenians, closing all together with the Persians, fought in admirable fashion; for they were the first Greeks, within my knowledge, who charged their enemies at a run, and the first who endured the sight of Median garments and men clad therein; till then, the Greeks were affrighted by the very name of the Medes.

[link to original Greek text] 113 Rawlinson p502 For a long time they fought at Marathon; and the foreigners overcame the middle part of the line, against which the Persians themselves and the Sacae were arrayed; here the foreigners prevailed and broke the Greeks, pursuing them inland. But on either wing the Athenians and Plataeans were victorious; and being so, they suffered the routed of their enemies to fly, and drew their wings together to fight against those that had broken the middle of their line; and here the Athenians had the victory, and followed after the Persians in their flight, hewing them down, till they came to the sea. There they called for fire and laid hands on the ships.

[link to original Greek text] 114 In this work was slain Callimachus the polemarch, after doing doughty deeds; there too died one of the generals, Stesilaus son of Thrasylaus; moreover, Cynegirus​15 son of Euphorion fell there, his hand smitten off by an axe as he laid hold of a ship's poop, and many other famous Athenians.

[link to original Greek text] 115 Seven ships the Athenians thus won; with the rest the Persians pushed off from shore, and  p271 taking the Eretrian slaves from the island wherein they had left them, sailed round Sunium, hoping to win to the city before the Athenians' coming. There was an accusation rife at Athens that this plan arose from a device of the Alcmeonidae, who, it was said, made a compact with the Persians and held up a shield for them to see when they were now on shipboard.

[link to original Greek text] 116 Rawlinson p504 So the Persians sailed round Sunium; but the Athenians marched back with all speed to defend their city, and outstripped the foreigners in their coming; they came from one precinct of Heracles at Marathon, and encamped in another at Cynosarges. The foreign fleet lay a while off Phalerum, which was then the Athenians' arsenal; there they anchored, and thence sailed away back to Asia.

[link to original Greek text] 117 H & W In this fight at Marathon there were slain of the foreigners about six thousand four hundred men, and of the Athenians a hundred and ninety‑two. These are the numbers of them that fell on both sides. And it fell out that a marvellous thing happened: a certain Athenian, Epizelus son of Cuphagoras, while he fought doughtily in the mellay lost the sight of his eyes, albeit neither stabbed in any part nor shot, and for the rest of his life continued blind from that day. I heard that he told the tale of this mishap thus: a tall man-at‑arms (he said) encountered him, whose beard spread all over his shield; this apparition passed Epizelus by, but slew his neighbour in the line. Such was the tale Epizelus told, as I heard.

[image ALT: missingALT. It is a view of the seacoast at Marathon, as further captioned in the text of this webpage.]

The battle of Marathon, as shown on a painting in the Stoa Poikile in Athens, was the inspiration of this Roman sarcophagus.

Museo di Santa Giulia, Brescia.
Photo © Livius.Org | Marco Prins, by kind permission.

 p273  [link to original Greek text] 118 Rawlinson p506 Datis journeyed with his army to Asia; and being arrived at Myconos he saw a vision in his sleep. What that vision was, no man says; but as soon as day broke, Datis made search through his ships; and finding in a Phoenician ship a gilt image of Apollo, he enquired whence this plunder had been taken. Learning from what temple it had come, he sailed in his own ship to Delos; where, the Delians being now returned to their island, Datis set the image in the temple, and charged the Delians to carry it away to the Theban place Delium, on the sea‑coast over against Chalcis. This charge given, Datis sailed back. But the Delians never carried that statue away; twenty years after that, the Thebans brought it to Delium, being so commanded by an oracle.

[link to original Greek text] 119 When Datis and Artaphrenes touched Asia in their voyage, they carried the enslaved Eretrians inland to Susa.γ Before the Eretrians were taken captive king Darius had been terribly wroth with them for doing him unprovoked wrong; but seeing them brought before him and subject to him, he did them no hurt, but gave them a domain of his own called Ardericca in the Cissian land to dwell in; this place is two hundred and ten furlongs distant from Susa, and forty from the well that is of three kinds, whence men bring up asphalt and salt and oil. This is the manner of their doing it: — a windlass is used in the drawing, with half a skin made fast to it in place of a bucket; therewith he that draws dips into  p275 the well, and then pours into a tank, whence what is drawn is poured into another tank, and goes three ways; the asphalt and the salt grow forthwith solid; the oil,​16 which the Persians call rhadinace, is dark and evil-smelling. There king Darius planted the Eretrians, and they dwelt in that place till my time, keeping their ancient language. Such was the fate of the Eretrians.

[link to original Greek text] 120 Rawlinson p508 After the full moon two thousand Lacedaemonians came to Athens, making so great haste to reach it that they were in Attica on the third day from their leaving Sparta. Albeit they came too late for the battle, yet they desired to see the Medes; and they went to Marathon and saw them. Presently they departed back again, praising the Athenians and their achievement.

[image ALT: missingALT. It is a view of the Soros at Marathon, as further captioned in the text of this webpage.]

The Athenian funeral mound at the battlefield of Marathon. It was once capped by a monument which seems to have been removed by the Roman billionaire Herodes Atticus to his estate in the Peloponnese.

Photo © Livius.Org | Marco Prins, by kind permission.

[link to original Greek text] 121 It is to me a thing marvellous and incredible, that the Alcmeonidae could ever by agreement have held up a shield as a sign for the Persians, desiring to make Athens subject to foreigners and to Hippias; for it is plain to see that they were despot-haters as much as Callias (son of Phaenippus and father of Hipponicus), ay, and even more than he. Callias was the only Athenian who dared buy Pisistratus' possessions when they were put up to auction by the state after Pisistratus' banishment from Athens; and he devised other acts of bitter enmity against him.

[link to original Greek text] 12217 This Callias is worthy of all men's remembrance for many reasons: firstly, because he so excellently freed his country, as I have said;  p277 secondly, for what he did at Olympia, where he won a horse-race, and was second in a four-horse chariot-race, having already won a Pythian prize, and was the cynosure of all Hellas for the lavishness of his spending; and thirdly, for his way of behaviour in the matter of his three daughters. For when they were of marriageable age, he gave them a most splendid gift and one very pleasant to them, promising that each of them should wed that husband whom she should choose for herself in all Athens.

[link to original Greek text] 123 Rawlinson p510 H & W The Alcmeonidae were despot-haters as much as ever was Callias. Therefore it is to me a strange and unbelievable accusation, that they of all men should have held up a shield; for at all times they shunned despots, and it was by their devising that the sons of Pisistratus were deposed from their despotism. Thus in my judgment it was they who freed Athens much more than did Harmodius and Aristogiton; for these did but enrage the rest of Pisistratus' kin by killing Hipparchus, and did nought to end the rule of the rest of them; but the Alcmeonidae did most plainly set their country free, if indeed it was in truth they by whose persuasion the Pythian priestess signified to the Lacedaemonians that they should free Athens, as I have ere now made plain.

[link to original Greek text] 124 Nay (one will say), but they bore perhaps some grudge against the Athenian commonalty, and therefore betrayed their country. But there were none at Athens that were of better repute or more honoured than they; wherefore plain reason forbids to believe that they of all men could have held the shield aloft for any such cause. Indeed a shield was held aloft, and that cannot be denied; for the  p279 thing was done; but who did it I know not, and can say no further.

[link to original Greek text] 125 The Alcmeonidae had been men of renown in old time at Athens, and from the days of Alcmeon​18 and also Megacles their renown increased. For when the Lydians sent from Sardis came from Croesus to the Delphic oracle, Alcmeon son of Megacles wrought with and zealously aided them; so Croesus, hearing from the Lydians who visited the oracle of Alcmeon's benefits to himself, sent for him to Sardis, and there made him a gift of as much gold as he could carry away at one time on his person. Such being the gift, Alcmeon planned and practised a device: he donned a wide tunic, leaving a deep fold in it, and shod himself with the most spacious buskins that he could find, and so entered the treasury whither he was guided. There, falling upon a heap of gold-dust, first he packed by his legs as much as gold as his buskins would contain; then he filled the fold of his tunic all full of gold and strewed the dust among the hair of his head, and took more of it into his mouth; till when he came out the treasury, hardly dragging the weight of his buskins, he was like anything rather than a human creature, with his mouth crammed full and his body swollen. When Croesus saw him he fell a‑laughing, and gave him all the gold he already had and as much more again. Thus that family grew very rich, and Alcmeon came to keep four-horse chariots, and won therewith at Olympia.

 p281  [link to original Greek text] 126 Rawlinson p512 In the next generation Cleisthenes19 the despot of Sicyon raised that house yet higher, so that it grew more famous in Hellas than it had formerly been. For Cleisthenes son of Aristonymus, who was the son of Myron, who was the son of Andreas, had one daughter, whose name was Agariste. He desired to wed her to the best man he could find in Hellas; wherefore, the Olympian games being then toward, wherein he was victor in a race of four-horse chariots, Cleisthenes made a proclamation, bidding whatever Greek thought himself worthy to be his son-in‑law come on the sixtieth day from then or earlier to Sicyon, where (said Cleisthenes) he would make good his promise of marriage in a year from that sixtieth day. Then all the Greeks who were proud of themselves and their country came to ask the lady's hand; whom, having that end in view, Cleisthenes made to contend in running and wrestling.

[link to original Greek text] 127 From Italy came Smindyrides of Sybaris, son of Hippocrates, the most luxurious liver of his day (and Sybaris was then at the height of its prosperity), and Damasus of Siris, son of that Amyris who was called The Wise. These came from Italy; from the Ionian Gulf, Amphimnestus son of Epistrophus, an Epidamnian; he was of the Ionian Gulf. From Aetolia came Males, the brother of that Titormus who excelled all Greeks in strength, and fled from the sight of men to the farthest parts of the Aetolian land. From the Peloponnese came Leocedes, son of Phidon the despot of Argos, that Phidon who made weights and measures for the Peloponnesians,20  p283 and dealt more high-handedly than any other Greek; for he drove out the Elean stewards of the lists, and ordered the contests at Olympia himself; this man's son now came; and Amiantus an Arcadian from Trapezus, son of Lycurgus; and an Azenian from the town of Paeus, Laphanes son of that Euphorion who, as the Arcadian tale relates, gave lodging to the Dioscuri, and from that time forward kept open house for all men; and Onomastus from Elis, son of Agaeus. These came from the Peloponnese itself; from Athens, Megacles, son of that Alcmeon who visited Croesus, and beside him Hippoclides son of Tisandrus, the richest and goodliest man in Athens. From Eretria, which at that time was prosperous, Lysanias; he was the only man from Euboea; from Thessaly came a Scopad, Diactorides of Crannon; and from the Molossians, Alcon.

[link to original Greek text] 128 Rawlinson p516 H & W Such was the roll of the suitors. When they were come on the day appointed, Cleisthenes first enquired the country and lineage of each; then he kept them with him for a year, making trial of their manly worth and temper and upbringing and manner of life; this he did by consorting with them alone and in company, putting the younger of them to contests of strength, but especially watching their demeanour at the common meal; for as long as he kept them with him he did all for them and entertained them with magnificence. Now those of the suitors that best pleased him were they who came from Athens, and of this Hippoclides son of Tisandrus was judged the foremost, both for his manly worth and because by his lineage he was akin to the Cypselid family of Corinth.

 p285  [link to original Greek text] 129 When the day appointed came for the marriage feast to be held and Cleisthenes himself to declare whom he chose out of all, Cleisthenes sacrificed a hundred oxen and gave a feast to the suitors themselves and the whole of Sicyon. After dinner the suitors vied with each other in music and social discourse. As they sat late drinking, Hippoclides, now far outdoing the rest, bade the flute-player play him music, and when the flute-player so did, he began to dance; and he pleased himself marvellous well with his dancing; but Cleisthenes saw the whole business with much disfavour. After a while, Hippoclides bade a table be brought; when it came he danced on it Laconian first and then Attic figures; last of all he rested his head on the table and made gestures with his legs in the air.​a Now Cleisthenes at the first and the second bout of dancing could no more bear to think of Hippoclides as his son-in‑law, for his dancing and his shamelessness; yet he had held himself in check, not willing to vent his wrath on Hippoclides; but when he saw him making gestures with his legs, he could no longer keep silence, but cried, " 'Tis very well, son of Tisandrus, but you have danced yourself out of your marriage." Whereat quoth the other, "Hippoclides cares nought for that!" which is a byword from that day.

[link to original Greek text] 130 H & W Then Cleisthenes bade them all be silent, and spoke to the company at large. "Suitors for my daughter's hand," said he, "I thank you one and all; and were it possible I would grant each of you his wish, neither choosing out one to set him above another nor disparaging the rest. But seeing that I have but one damsel to plan for and so cannot  p287 please all of you, to those of you whose suit is rejected I make a gift of a talent of silver to each, for his desire to take a wife from my house and for his sojourn away from his home; and to Megacles son of Alcmeon do I betroth my daughter Agariste, as by Athenian law ordained." Megacles accepted the betrothal, and so Cleisthenes made good his promise of the marriage.

[link to original Greek text] 131 Rawlinson p518 Such is the tale of the choice among the suitors; and thus the fame of the Alcmeonidae was noised abroad in Hellas. Of this marriage was born that Cleisthenes (so called after him of Sicyon, his mother's father) who gave the Athenians their tribes and their democratic state; he and Hippocrates were born to Megacles; Hippocrates was father of another Megacles and another Agariste, called after Agariste who was Cleisthenes' daughter; she, being wedded to Xanthippus son of Ariphron, and with child, saw a vision in her sleep whereby she thought she gave birth to a lion. In a few days she bore Xanthippus a son, Pericles.

[link to original Greek text] 132 After the Persian disaster at Marathon, the fame of Miltiades, which had before been great at Athens, was increased. He asked of the Athenians seventy ships and an army and money, not telling them against what country he would lead them, but saying that he would make them rich men if they followed him; for he would bring them to a country whence they should easily carry away abundance of gold; so he promised when he asked for the ships; which the Athenians, being thus assured, gave him.

[link to original Greek text] 133 Miltiades took his army and sailed for Paros,  p289 on the pretext that the Parians had brought this on themselves by first sending triremes with the Persian fleet to Marathon. Such was the pretext whereof he spoke; but he had a grudge against the Parians because Lysagoras son of Tisias, a man of Parian descent, had made ill blood between him and Hydarnes the Persian. Having come to the place to which he sailed, Miltiades with his army drove the Parians within their walls and there besieged them; and sending in a herald he demanded a hundred talents, which (said he) if they would not give him, his army should not return before it had stormed their city. The Parians had no thought at all of giving any money to Miltiades, and had no other purpose but to defend their city, which they did by building their wall at night to double its former height where it was most assailable, and also by other devices.

[link to original Greek text] 134 Rawlinson p520 As far as this all Greeks tell the same story; thenceforward this is the tale as it is told by the Parians themselves: Miltiades (they say) being in a quandary, a Parian slave woman named Timo, who was an under-priestess of the goddesses of the dead, had speech with him; coming before Miltiades, she counselled him, if he set great store by the taking of Paros, to do as she should advise him. Presently, at her advice, he passed through to the hill before the city, and there he climbed over the fence of the precinct of Demeter the Lawgiver, — not being able to open the door, — and having so done went to the shrine, whether to move something that should not be moved, or with some other intent; but when he was at the very door he was seized straightway by panic fear and returned by the same way; and in  p291 leaping down from the wall he twisted his thigh, or as some say took a blow on his knee.

[link to original Greek text] 135 H & W So Miltiades sailed back home in sorry plight; for he brought no wealth, nor had he won Paros; he had besieged the town for six-and‑twenty days and laid waste the island. The Parians, learning that Timo the under-priestess of the goddesses had been Miltiades' guide, desired to punish her for this, and having now rest from the siege sent messengers to Delphi to enquire if they should put the under-priestess to death for having compassed the taking of her country by guiding its enemies, and revealing to Miltiades the rites that no male should know. But the Pythian priestess forbade them; it was not Timo, she said, that was in fault, but Miltiades was doomed to make an ill end, and an apparition had guided him in these evil courses.

[link to original Greek text] 136 Such was the priestess' reply to the Parians; but when Miltiades returned back from Paros many tongues were let loose against him at Athens; and Xanthippus son of Ariphron impeached him before the people, calling for the penalty of death for the deceit which he had practised on the Athenians. Miltiades was present, but could not speak in his own defence, his thigh being mortified; but he was laid before the court on a bed, and his friends spoke for him, ever calling to mind the figure at Marathon and the conquest of Lemnos, — how Miltiades had punished the Pelasgians and taken Lemnos and delivered it to the Athenians. The people took his side in so far as they would not condemn him to death, but they fined him fifty talents for his wrongdoing. Presently Miltiades died of the gangrene  p293 and mortification of his thigh, and the fifty talents were paid by his son Cimon.

[link to original Greek text] 137 Rawlinson p522 Now this is how Miltiades son of Cimon won Lemnos. When the Pelasgians​21 were cast out of Attica by the Athenians, whether justly or unjustly, — as to that I can say nothing, beyond what is recorded, namely, that Hecataeus the son of Hegesandrus declares in his history that the act was unjust; for (says Hecataeus) when the Athenians saw the land under Hymettus which, being their own, they had given to the Pelasgians as a dwelling-place in reward for the wall that had once been built round the acropolis, — when the Athenians saw how well this place was tilled which erewhile had been bad and worthless, they grudged and coveted the land, and so drove the Pelasgians out on this and no other pretext. But the Athenians themselves say that their reason for expelling the Pelasgians was just. The Pelasgians, they say, issued out from their settlement at the foot of Hymettus and dealt wrongfully with the Athenians in this wise: neither the Athenians nor any other dwellers in Hellas had as yet servants at that time, and their sons and daughters resorted to the Nine Wells​22 for water; and whenever they came, the Pelasgians mistreated them out of mere arrogance and pride. Nor yet were they content with so doing, but at last were caught in the act of planning to attack Athens. The Athenians, by their own showing, dealt so much more rightly than the Pelasgians, that when they might have killed them, caught plotting as they were, they would not so do  p295 but bade them depart out of the country. Thereupon the Pelasgians departed, and took Lemnos in possession, besides other places. This is the Athenian story; the other is told by Hecataeus.

[link to original Greek text] 138 Rawlinson p524 H & W These Pelasgians, dwelling at that time in Lemnos and desiring vengeance on the Athenians, and well knowing the time of the Athenian festivals, got them fifty-oared ships and lay in ambush for the Athenian women when they were celebrating a festival for Artemis at Brauron;​b carrying off many of the women, they sailed away further with them and brought them to Lemnos to be their concubines. Now as these women bore more and more children, they taught their sons the speech of Attica and Athenian manners. These boys would not consort with the sons of the Pelasgian women; if one of themselves were beaten by one of the others, they would all run to his aid and help each other; nay, the Athenian-bred boys even claimed to rule the others, and were much the stronger than they. When the Pelasgians perceived that, they took counsel together; and it troubled them much in their counsels to think what the boys would do when they grew to man's estate, if they were resolved to help each other against the sons of the lawful wives and essayed to rule them forthwith. Thereupon the Pelasgians judged it best to slay the sons of the Attic women; and this they did, and slew the boys' mothers likewise. From this and the former deed which was one by the women, when they slew their own husbands who were Thoas' companions, a "Lemnian crime" has been a proverb in Hellas for any deed of cruelty.

 p297  [link to original Greek text] 139 Rawlinson p526 But when the Pelasgians had slain their own sons and the women, their land brought forth no fruit, nor did their wives and their flocks and herds bear offspring as before. Under stress of hunger and childlessness they sent to Delphi to ask for some way of release from their present ills; and the Pythian priestess bidding them pay the Athenians whatsoever penalty the Athenians themselves would adjudge, the Pelasgians went to Athens and offered to pay the penalty for all their wrong-doing. The Athenians set in their town-hall a couch adorned to the best of their power, with a table thereby covered with all manner of good things, and said to the Pelasgians, "Deliver your land to us in a like state"; whereto the Pelasgians answered, "We will deliver it when a ship shall accomplish her voyage with a north wind from your country to ours in one day"; this they said, well assured that the thing was impossible; for Attica is far to the south of Lemnos.

[link to original Greek text] 140 This and no more was then said. But a great many years afterward, when the Chersonese by the Hellespont was made subject to Athens, Miltiades son of Cimon did, by virtue of the Etesian​23 winds then constantly blowing, accomplish the voyage from Elaeus on the Chersonese to Lemnos; which done, he issued a proclamation to the Pelasgians bidding them leave their island, reminding them of the oracular word which the Pelasgians thought they would never see fulfilled. The men of Hephaestia, then, obeyed him; but they of Myrina would not agree that the Chersonese was Attic land, and they stood a siege; but in the end they too submitted. Thus did Miltiades and the Athenians take Lemnos in possession.

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A helmet, dedicated to Zeus by Miltiades. We do not know on which occasion Miltiades wore it: perhaps at Marathon, perhaps in the Chersonese, perhaps on Lemnos.

Archaeological Museum, Olympia.
Photo © Livius.Org | Alexander Smarius, by kind permission.

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Close‑up (enhanced) of the inscription with Miltiades' name: ΜΙΛΤΙΑΔE𐌔.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Cp.  V.105.

2 This probably refers to the Persian treatment of rebels, described in chs. 31 and 32.

3 Apollo and Artemis.

4 522‑524.

5 Cp. V.77.

6 For a detailed discussion of various questions connected with the battle of Marathon, readers are referred to How and Wells, Appendix XVIII.

7 According to Isocrates the distance traversed was 150 miles.

8 This statement probably applies only to the month Carneius (Attic Metageitnion), when the Carneia were celebrated at Sparta in honour of Apollo, from the 7th to the 15th of the month.

9 In 519, according to Thucydides (III.68); Grote gives a later date.

10 The twelve gods were Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, Hephaestus, Athene, Ares, Aphrodite, Hermes, Hestia. The βωμός was a central altar in the agora, from which distances were measured.

11 One of the nine archons, all chosen by lot.

12 Each general seems to have been generalissimo in turn.

13 There was a fixed official order; but Plutarch's account of the battle places certain tribes according to a different system. Perhaps the battle-order was determined by lot.

14 e.g.  the great Panathenaea, and the festival of Poseidon.

15 Brother of the poet Aeschylus.

16 Petroleum.

17 This chapter is generally held to be an interpolation; it is only found in one (not the best) class of the MSS., and contains un‑Herodotean words and phrases.

18 Alcmeon 'flourished' about 590; Croesus' reign was 560‑546; it was Megacles son of Alcmeon, and not Alcmeon himself, who was Croesus' contemporary.

19 Cleisthenes of Sicyon was contemporary with Alcmeon.

20 P. introduced the "Aeginetan" system of weights and measures. For the chronological difficulty connected with this mention of him, see the commentators.

21 The Pelasgians were driven into Attica by the Boeotian immigration, about sixty years after the Trojan war according to legend.

22 S. E. of Athens, near the Ilissus.

23 North-east winds, blowing in July, August, and September.

Thayer's Notes:

a It took the late twentieth century to make this passage intelligible again: Hippoclides was break-dancing. And times do change: contrast Cleisthenes' reaction with that of St. John Paul II in this video of break dancers performing for him at the Vatican.

b A good account of the festival and its history, with further citations, is given by the article Brauronia in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

Lendering's Notes:

α This would be eight metric tons, which is not very likely (and quite impossible in the literal sense of pla­cing the entire amount on an altar) but compare 1.183. The Persians may have identified the prophetic god Apollo, worshipped on Delos, with their own "wise lord" Ahuramazda.

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The Persian supreme god Ahuramazda, in his visual aspect symbolized by the winged disc — the faravahar — on a staircase of Xerxes' palace in Persepolis. The god's name means "the wise lord", making it easy to identify him with the Greek god of wisdom, Apollo.

Photo © Livius.Org | Marco Prins, by kind permission.

β Archaeologists have identified a destroyed temple, but their interpretation that this was one of the sanctuaries destroyed by the Persian army is contested.

γ Cuneiform sources document the existence of colonies of deported people in Babylonia. According to Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 1.23, the descendants of the Eretrians were still a recognizable group in the second quarter of the first century A.D.

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Page updated: 4 Jan 22