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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

 p301  Book VII: chapters 1‑56

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] 1 Rawlinson p1 H & W When the message concerning the fight at Marathon came to Darius son of Hystaspes, greatly wroth as he was already against the Athenians for their attack upon Sardis, he was now much more angered and the more desirous of sending an expedition against Hellas. Forthwith he sent messengers to all cities commanding the equipment of an army, charging each to provide much more than they had before provided of ships and horses and provision and vessels of transport. By these messages Asia was shaken for three years,​1 the best men being enrolled for service against Hellas and making preparation therefor. In the fourth year the Egyptians, whom Cambyses had enslaved, revolted from the Persians; thereupon Darius was but the more desirous of sending expeditions even against both.

[link to original Greek text] 2 Rawlinson p2 But while Darius was making preparation against Egypt and Athens, there arose a great quarrel among his sons concerning the chief power in the land, they holding that he must before his army marched declare an heir to the kingship according to Persian law. For Darius had three sons born to him before he became king by his first wife,  p303 the daughter of Gobryas, and four besides after he became king by Atossa daughter of Cyrus; of the earlier sons Artabazanes was the eldest, and Xerxes of the later; and being sons of different mothers they were rivals, Artabazanes pleading that he was the eldest of all Darius' offspring and that it was everywhere customary that the eldest should rule; Xerxes, that he was son of Cyrus' daughter Atossa and that it was Cyrus who had won the Persians their freedom.

[link to original Greek text] 3 Darius delaying his judgment in this matter, it chanced that at this time Demaratus son of Ariston had come up to Susa, banished of his own will from Lacedaemon after he had lost the kingship of Sparta. Learning of the contention between the sons of Darius, this man, as the story goes, came and counselled Xerxes to add to what he said another plea, to wit, that he had been born when Darius was already king and ruler of Persia, but Artabazanes when Darius was yet a subject; therefore (Xerxes should say) it was neither reasonable nor just that any rather than he should have the royal prerogative; for at Sparta too (said Demaratus in his counselling) it was ever customary, that if there be sons born before their father was king, to the later-born should fall the succession to the kingship. Xerxes then following Demaratus' advice, Darius judged his plea to be just and declared him king. But to my thinking Xerxes would have been made king even without this advice; for Atossa was all‑powerful.

[image ALT: missingALT. It is zzz, further captioned in the text of this webpage.]

Herodotus is aware of the fact that Xerxes' accession was not uncontested. The king confirms this in the "Harem Inscription".

National Museum, Tehran.
Photo © Livius.Org | Jona Lendering, by kind permission.

 p305  [link to original Greek text] 4 Rawlinson p4 Having declared Xerxes king, Darius was intent on his expedition. But in the year after this, and the revolt of Egypt, death came upon him in the midst of his preparation, after a reign of six and thirty years​2 in all; nor was it granted to him to punish either the revolted Egyptians, or the Athenians.

[link to original Greek text] 5 Darius being dead, the royal power descended to his son Xerxes. Now Xerxes was at first by no means eager to march against Hellas; it was against Egypt that he mustered his army.α But Mardonius son of Gobryas, who was Xerxes' cousin and son of Darius' sister, and was ever with the king and had more influence with him than any Persian, reasoned thus in his discourse: "Sire, it is not seemly that the Athenians should go unpunished for their deeds, after all the evil they have done to the Persians. Nay, my counsel is that for the nonce you do what you have in hand; then, when you have tamed the insolence of Egypt, lead your armies against Athens, that you may have fair fame among men, and that all may in time to come beware how they invade your realm." This argument of his was for vengeance' sake;​3 but he would ever slip a plea into it, that Europe was an exceeding fair land, one that bore all kinds of orchard trees, a land of high excellence, worthy of no mortal master but the king.

[link to original Greek text] 6 This he said, because he desired adventures, and would himself be viceroy of Hellas. And at the last he so wrought upon and over-persuaded Xerxes  p307 that the king was moved to do as he said; for there were other things too that allied themselves to aid in winning Xerxes' consent. Firstly, there came messengers out of Thessaly from the Aleuadae (who were princes of Thessaly) with all earnestness inviting the king into Hellas; and secondly, those of the house of Pisistratus who had come up to Susa did likewise, using the same pleas as the Aleuadae, and offering Xerxes besides even more than they. With these came Onomacritus, an Athenian oracle-monger,​4 one that had set in order the oracles of Musaeus; with him they had come, being now reconciled to him after their quarrel; for Onomacritus had been banished from Athens by Pisistratus' son Hipparchus, having been caught by Lasus​5 of Hermione in the act of interpolating in the writings of Musaeus an oracle showing that the islands off Lemnos should disappear into the sea. For this cause Hipparchus banished him, though before that they had been close friends. Now he came to Susa with Pisistratus' kin; and whensoever he came into the king's presence they would use high language concerning him and he would recite from his oracles; all that portended disaster to the Persian he left unspoken, but chose out and recited such prophecies as were most favourable, telling of the Hellespont, how it must be bridged by a man of Persia, and how the host should march. So Xerxes was beset by Onomacritus with his oracles, and by the Pisistratidae and Aleuadae with their counsels.

[link to original Greek text] 7 Rawlinson p7 H & W Having been over-persuaded to send an expedition against Hellas, Xerxes first marched against  p309 the rebels, in the year after Darius' death. These he subdued, and laid Egypt under a much harder slavery than in the time of Darius; and he committed the governance of it to Achaemenes, his own brother, Darius' son. This Achaemenes, being then viceroy of Egypt, was at a later day​6 slain by a Libyan, Inaros son of Psammetichus.

[link to original Greek text] 8 After the conquest of Egypt, purposing now to take in hand the expedition against Athens, Xerxes held as assembly of the noblest among the Persians, convened with special intent, that he might learn their opinions and himself declare his will before them all. When they were assembled, Xerxes spoke to them as follows: — "Persians! this is no new law of my bringing in and ordaining, but one that I have received and will obey. As I learn from our eldest, we have never yet remained at peace ever since Cyrus deposed Astyages and we won this our lordship from the Medes. It is the will of heaven; and we ourselves win advantage by our many enterprises. Now of the nations that Cyrus and Cambyses and Darius my father subdued and added to our realm, none need tell you; for well you know them. But for myself, ever since I came to this throne, I have taken thought how best I shall not fall short in this honourable place of those that went before me, nor gain for the Persians a lesser power than they; and my thought persuades me, that we may win not only renown, but a land neither less nor worse, but more fertile, than that which we now possess; and not only so, but vengeance and requital withal. For this cause I have now summoned you together, that I may  p311 impart to you my purpose. It is my intent to bridge the Hellespont and lead my army through Europe to Hellas, that I may punish the Athenians for what they have done to the Persians and to my father. You saw that Darius my father was minded to make an expedition against these men. But he is dead, and it was not granted him to punish them; and I, on his and all the Persians' behalf, will never rest till I have taken and burnt Athens, for the unprovoked wrong that its people did to my father and me; first they came to Sardis with our slave Aristagoras the Milesian, and burnt the groves and the temples; and next, how they dealt with us when we landed on their shores and Datis and Artaphrenes were our generals, all of you, I think, know. For these causes then I am resolved to send an army against them; and thus much advantage, as my reckoning shows me, we shall gain thereby: if we subdue those men, and therefore neighbours who dwell in the land of Pelops the Phrygian, we shall make the borders of Persian territory and of the firmament of heaven to be the same; for no land that the sun beholds will lie on our borders, but I will make all to be one country, when I have passed over the whole of Europe. For, as I learn, there will then be left neither inhabited city, nor nation of men, that is able to meet us in battle, if those of whom I speak are once taken out of our way. Thus they that have done us wrong and they that have done us none will alike bear the yoke of slavery. As for you, this is how you shall best please me: when I declare the  p313 time for your coming, every one of you must appear, and with a good will; and whosoever comes with his army best equipped shall receive from me such gifts as are reckoned most precious among us. All this, then, must so be done; but that none may think that I take counsel of myself alone, I lay the matter before you all, and bid him who will to declare his opinion." So spake Xerxes, and ceased.

[link to original Greek text] 9 Rawlinson p9 H & W After him spoke Mardonius, and said: — "Sire, you surpass not only all Persians that have been but also all that shall be; for besides that you have dealt excellently and truly with all other matters, you will not suffer the Ionians7 that dwell in Europe to make a mock of us, which thing they have no right to do. For it were strange indeed, that we, who have subdued and made slaves of Sacae and Indians and Ethiopians and Assyriansβ and many other great nations, for no wrong done to the Persians but of mere desire to add to our power, — that we, I say, shall not take vengeance on the Greeks for unprovoked wrong-doing. What have we to fear from them? Have they mighty hosts or abundance of wealth to affright us? Their manner of fighting we know, and their wealth we know, that it is but little; and we have conquered and hold their sons, even those who dwell in our land and are called Ionians and Aeolians and Dorians. I myself have tried conclusions with these men, when by your father's command I marched against them; and I marched as far as Macedonia and wellnigh to Athens itself,  p315 yet none came out to meet me in battle. Yet wars the Greeks do wage, and, as I learn, most senselessly they do it, in their wrongheadedness and folly. When they have declared war against each other, they come down to the fairest and most level ground that they can find and there they fight, so that the victors come not off without great harm; and of the vanquished I say not so much as a word, for they are utterly destroyed. Yet speaking as they do the same language, they should end their disputes by the means of heralds and messengers, and by any way rather than fighting; or if needs must that they war against each other, they should discover each where his strongest defence lies, and there make his essay. The Greek custom, then, is no good one; and when I marched as far as the land of Macedonia, it came not into their thoughts to fight. But against you, O king! who shall make war? For you will have at your back the multitudes of Asia, and all your ships; for myself, I think there is not so much boldness in Hellas as that; but if time should show me wrong in my judgment, and those men were foolhardy enough to do battle with us, they would be taught that we are the greatest warriors on earth. But whatsoever betide, let us be ever venturesome; for nought comes of itself, and all men's gains are the fruit of adventure."

[link to original Greek text] 10 Rawlinson p12 Thus smoothly Mardonius spoke of Xerxes' opinion, and made an end. The rest of the Persians held their peace, not daring to utter any counsel contrary to that which had been given; then spoke Artabanus the son of Hystaspes, who was the king's uncle, and emboldened thereby. "O king," he said,  p317 "if opinions opposite the one to the other be not uttered, it is not possible that choice should find the better, but that one which has been spoken must be followed; but if they be spoken, the better can be found; even as the purity of gold cannot of itself be discerned, but when gold by rubbing​8 is compared with gold, we then discern the better. Now I forbade Darius, your father and my brother, to lead his army against the Scythians, who have no cities anywhere to dwell in. But he, in his hope to subdue the nomad Scythians, would not be guided by me; he led his army, and returned from that expedition with the loss of many gallant men of his host. You, O king! are purposing to lead your armies against men far better than the Scythians — men who are said to be the most doughty warriors by sea and land; and it is right that I should show to you what danger lies therein. You will bridge the Hellespont (so you say) and march your army through Europe to Hellas. Now I will suppose that matters have so fallen out that you are worsted either by land or by sea, or even both; for the men are said to be valiant, and well may we guess that it is so, seeing that so great a host, that followed Datis and Artaphrenes to Attica, was destroyed by the Athenians alone. Be it, then, granted that they win not success both by sea and by land; but if they attack with their ships and prevail in a sea‑fight, and then sail to the Hellespont and thereafter break your bridge, that, O king, is the hour of peril. It is from no wisdom of my own of that I thus conjecture; it is because I know what disaster was that which wellnigh overtook us, when  p319 your father, making a highway over the Thracian Bosporus, and bridging the river Ister, crossed over to attack the Scythians. At that time the Scythians used every means of entreating the Ionians, who had been charged to guard the bridges of the Ister, to break the way of passage;​9 and then, if Histiaeus the despot of Miletus had consented to the opinion of the other despots and not withstood it, the power of Persia had perished. Yet it were a thing of dread even in the telling, that one, and he but a man, should hold in his hand all the king's fortunes. Do you then make no plan to run into any such danger, when there is no need therefor, but be ruled by me: for the nonce, dismiss this assembly; and presently, whenever you so please, having first considered the matter by yourself, declare what seems to you best. A well-laid plan is ever to my mind most profitable; for even though it be thwarted later, yet none the less has the plan been good, and it is but chance that has baffled the design; but he that has made a sorry plan has gotten, if fortune favour him, but a chance prize, and none the less has his plan been evil. You see how the god smites with his thunderbolt creatures of greatness more than common, nor suffers them to display their pride, but such as are little move him not to anger; and you see how it is ever on the tallest buildings and trees that his bolts fall; for it is heaven's way to bring low all things of surpassing bigness. Thus a numerous host is destroyed by one that is lesser, the god of his jealousy sending panic fear or thunderbolt among them, whereby they do unworthily perish; for the god suffers pride in none but himself. Now haste is ever the parent of failure,  p321 whereof grievous hurts are apt to come; but in waiting there is good, which in due time shall appear, though in the present it seem not so. This, O king, is my counsel to you. But to you I say, Mardonius son of Gobryas! cease from foolish speaking about the Greeks, for they deserve not to be maligned. It is by speaking calumniously of the Greeks that you would hearten the king to send this expedition; and that, methinks, is the end to which you press with all eagerness. Nay, let it not be so. Calumny is a very gross business; there are two in it that do and one that suffers wrong. He that utters the calumny wrongs another, accusing an absent man, and the other does a wrong likewise in that he is overpersuaded before he has learnt the whole truth; and he that is absent and hears not what is said of him suffers wrong in the matter, being maligned by the one and condemned by the other. Nay, if an army must by all means be sent against these Greeks, hear me now: Let the king himself abide in the Persian land, and let us two stake our children's lives upon it; then do you lead out the army, choosing what men you will and taking as great an armament as you desire; and if it fare with the king's fortunes as you say it will, let my sons be slain, and myself too with them; but if the issue be as I foretell, let your sons be so treated, and you likewise, if you return. But if you will not submit yourself to this, and will at all hazards lead your army overseas to Hellas, then I think that they who are left behind in this place will hear that Mardonius has wrought great harm to Persia, and is torn asunder by dogs and birds in the land of Athens or of Lacedaemon, if not peradventure ere that on  p323 the way thither; and that thus you have learnt what manner of men are they whom you would persuade the king to attack."

[link to original Greek text] 11 Rawlinson p15 H & W Thus spoke Artabanus. But Xerxes answered in wrath, "Artabanus, you are my father's brother; that shall save you from receiving the fit reward of foolish words. Yet for your craven lack of spirit I lay upon you this disgrace, that you shall not go with me and my army against Hellas, but abide here with the women; and I myself will accomplish all that I have said, with no help from you. For may I not be the son of Darius, who was the son of Hystaspes, who was the son of Arsames, who was the son of Ariaramnes, who was the son of Teïspes, who was the son of Cyrus, who was the son of Cambyses, who was the son of Teïspes, who was the son of Achaemenes,​10 if I do not avenge me on the Athenians; well knowing, that if we remain at peace, yet so will not they, but will assuredly invade our country, if we may infer from what they have done already, for they burnt Sardis and marched into Asia. Wherefore, it is not possible for either of us to turn back; to do or suffer is our task, that what is ours be under the Greeks, or what is theirs under the Persians; there is no middle way in our quarrel. Honour then demands that we avenge ourselves for what has been done to us; thus shall I learn what is this evil that will befal me when I march against these Greeks — men that even Pelops the Phrygian, the  p325 slave of my forefathers, did so utterly subdue that to this day they and their country are called by the name of their conqueror."

[link to original Greek text] 12 Rawlinson p16 So far discourse went; and presently there came the night-time, and Xerxes was pricked by the counsel of Artabanus; and taking counsel of night, he saw clearly that to send an army against Hellas was none of his business. Having made this second resolve he fell asleep; then it would appear (for so the Persians say) that in the night he saw this vision: It seemed to Xerxes that a tall and goodly man stood over him and said, "Art thou then changing thy counsel, Persian, and wilt not lead thine army against Hellas, albeit thou hast proclaimed the mustering of thy host? thou dost not well to change thy counsel, nor will he that thou seest pardon thee for it; nay, let thy course be according to thy design of yesterday."

[link to original Greek text] 13 Thus the vision spake, and seemed to Xerxes to vanish away; but when day dawned the king took no account of this dream, but assembling the Persians whom he had before gathered together, he thus addressed them: "Forgive me, Persians! for that I turn and twist in my purpose; for I am not yet come to the fullness of my wisdom, and they are ever with me who exhort me to do as I said. 'Tis true that when I heard Artabanus' opinion my youthful spirit did for the nonce take fire, whereby there brake from me an unseemly and wrongful answer to one older than myself; yet now I see my fault and will follow his judgment. Know therefore that my purpose of marching against Hellas is changed, and abide in peace."

[link to original Greek text] 14 When the Persians heard that, they rejoiced,  p327 and did obeisance. But when night came on, the same vision stood again over Xerxes as he slept, and said, "Son of Darius, hast thou then plainly renounced thine army's march before the Persians, and made my words of no account, as though thou hadst not heard them? Know then this for a surety: if thou leadest not thine army forthwith, this shall be the outcome of it, that as a little while made thee great and mighty, so in a moment shalt thou be brought low again."

[link to original Greek text] 15 Rawlinson p18 Greatly affrighted by the vision, Xerxes leapt up from his bed, and sent a messenger to Artabanus to call him; and when he came, "Artabanus," said Xerxes, "for the moment my right judgment forsook me, and I answered your good counsel with foolish words; but after no long time I repented, and saw that it was right for me to follow your advice. Yet, though I desire, I cannot do it; for since I have turned me and repented, a vision comes haunting my sight, that will in no wise consent that I should do as you counsel; and even now it has gone with a threat. Now if it be a god that sends the vision, and it be his full pleasure that there be this expedition against Hellas, that same dream will hover about you and lay on you the same charge as on me; and I am persuaded that this is likeliest to be, if you take my attire and sit so clothed upon my throne, and presently lie down to sleep in my bed."

[link to original Greek text] 16 H & W Thus said Xerxes; Artabanus would not obey the first command, thinking it was not for him to sit on the royal throne; at last he was compelled, and did as he was bidden, saying first: "O king,  p329 I judge it of equal worth whether a man be wise, or be willing to obey good counsel; to both of these you have attained, but evil communications are your bane; even as the sea, who is of all creatures the most serviceable to men, is hindered (they say) from following his natural bent by the blasts of winds that fall upon him. But for myself — it was not that hard words I had from you that stung me so much as this, that when two opinions were laid before the Persians, the one tending to the increase of pride, and the other to its abatement, showing how evil a thing it is to teach the heart continual desire of more than it has, of these two opinions you preferred that one which was most fraught with danger to yourself and the Persians. Now, therefore, since you are turned to the better opinion, you say that while you would renounce your expedition against the Greeks you are haunted by a dream sent by some god, which forbids you to leave off from the expedition. But you err again, my son; this is none of heaven's working. The roving dreams that visit men are of such nature as you shall learn of me, that am many years older than you. Those visions that rove about us in dreams are for the most part the thoughts of the day; and in these latter days we have been very earnestly busied about this expedition. But if nevertheless this be not such as I determine, and have in it somewhat of heaven's will, then you have spoken the conclusion of the matter; let it appear to me even as it has to you, and utter its command; but if it has ever a mind to appear, I must needs see it none the more by virtue of wearing your dress instead of mine, and sleeping in your bed rather than my own. Whatever be this that appears to  p331 you in your sleep, assuredly it has not come to such folly as to infer from your dress that I am you, when it sees me. We are now to learn if it will take no account of men and not deign to appear and haunt me, whether I wear your robes or my own; for if indeed it will continually be coming, I myself would say that it is of heaven's sending. But if you are resolved that so this must be done, and there is no averting it, but it has come to this pass, that I must lie down to sleep in your bed, so let it be; this duty I will fulfil, and let the vision appear also to me. But till then I will keep my present opinion."

[link to original Greek text] 17 Rawlinson p20 So saying, Artabanus did as he was bidden, hoping to prove Xerxes' words vain; he put on Xerxes' robes and sat on the king's throne. Presently while he slumbered there came to him in his sleep the same dream that had haunted Xerxes, and standing over him thus it spoke: "Art thou then he that would dissuade Xerxes from marching against Hellas, thinking so to protect him? But neither hereafter nor now shalt thou go scatheless for striving to turn aside that which must be. To Xerxes himself hath it been declared what shall befal him, if he disobey."

[link to original Greek text] 18 With this threat (so it seemed to Artabanus) the vision made as though it would burn his eyes with hot irons, and he leapt up with a loud cry; then sitting by Xerxes he told him all the tale of what he had seen in his dream, and next he said: "O king, having seen, as much as a man may, how the greater has often been brought low by the less, I was loath that you should always give the rein to your youthful  p333 spirit; for I knew how evil a thing it was to have many desires, remembering the end of Cyrus' expedition against the Massagetae and Cambyses' against the Egyptians, and having myself marched with Darius against the Scythians. Knowing this, I judged that you had but to abide in peace for all men to deem you fortunate. But since heaven impels, and the gods, as it seems, mark Hellas for destruction, I myself do change and correct my judgment; and do you now declare the god's message to the Persians, and bid them obey your first command for all due preparation: so act, that nought on your part be lacking to the fulfilment of heaven's commission." After this discourse, the vision giving them courage, Xerxes when daylight came imparted all this to the Persians, and Artabanus now openly persuaded to that course from which he alone had before openly dissuaded.

[link to original Greek text] 19 Rawlinson p22 After this Xerxes, being now intent on the expedition, saw yet a third vision in his sleep, which the Magians interpreted to have regard to the whole earth and to signify that all men should be his slaves. This was the vision: Xerxes thought that he was crowned with an olive bough, the shoots of which spread over the whole earth, and presently the crown vanished from off his head where it was set. This the Magians interpreted; and of the Persians who had been assembled, every man forthwith rode away to his own governor­ship and there used all zeal to fulfil the king's behest, each desiring to receive the promised gifts; and thus it was that Xerxes dealt with the mustering of his army, searching out every part of the continent.

 p335  [link to original Greek text] 20 For full four years​11 from the conquest of Egypt he was equipping his host and preparing all that was needful therefor; and ere the fifth year was completed he set forth on his march with the might of a great multitude. Of all armaments whereof we have knowledge this was by much the greatest, insomuch that none were aught in comparison with it, neither the armament that Darius led against the Scythians, nor the host of the Scythians when in pursuit of the Cimmerians they brake into Media​12 and subdued wellnigh all the upper lands of Asia, wherefor Darius afterwards essayed to punish them, nor — in so far as report tells — the armament led by the sons of Atreus against Troy, nor that Mysian and Teucrian host which before the Trojan war crossed the Bosporus into Europe,​13 subduing there all the Thracians and coming down to the Ionian sea, and marching southward as far as the river Peneus.

[link to original Greek text] 21 Rawlinson p24 H & W All these armaments and whatsoever others have ever been could not together be compared with this single one. For what nation did not Xerxes lead from Asia against Hellas? What water did not fall short of the needs of his host, save only the great rivers? Some supplied him with ships, some were enrolled in his infantry, some were charged with the provision of horsemen, others of horse-bearing transports to follow the army, and others again of warships for the bridges, or of food and ships.

[link to original Greek text] 22 First of all he had now for about three years been making all his preparations in regard of Athos,  p337 inasmuch as they who first essayed to sail round it had suffered shipwreck. Triremes were anchored off Elaeus in the Chersonese; with these for their headquarters, all sorts and conditions of men in the army were made to dig a canal under the lash, coming by turns to the work; and they that dwelt about Athos dug likewise. Bubares son of Megabazus and Artachaees son of Artaeus, Persians both, were the overseers of the workmen. This Athos is a mountain great and famous, running out into the sea; it is inhabited by men. At the mountain's landward end, it is in the form of a peninsula, and there is an isthmus of about twelve furlongs' width; here is a place of level ground or little hills, from the sea by Acanthus to the sea which is over against Torone. On this isthmus, which is at the end of Athos, there stands a Greek town, Sane; there are others too seaward of Sane and landward of Athos, which it was now the Persians' intent to make into island and not mainland towns; to wit, Dion, Olophyxus, Acrothoum, Thyssus, Cleonae.

[image ALT: missingALT. It is zzz, further captioned in the text of this webpage.]

The remains of Xerxes' canal through the Athos peninsula.

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

[link to original Greek text] 23 Rawlinson p26 These are the towns situate on Athos; and the foreigners dug as I shall show,​14 dividing up the ground among their several nations. They drew a straight line near to the town of Sane; and when the channel had been digged to some depth, some stood at the bottom of it and dug, others took the stuff as it was digged out and delivered it to yet others that stood higher on stages, and they again to others as they received it, till they came to those that were highest; these carried it out and cast it away. With all save only the Phoenicians the steep sides of the  p339 canal brake and fell, doubling the labour thereby; for inasmuch as they made the span of the same breadth at its highest and its lowest, this could not but happen. But the Phoenicians showed therein the same skill as in all else that they do; having taken in hand the portion that fell to them, they so dug as to make the topmost span of the canal as wide again as the canal was to be, and narrowed it ever as they wrought lower, till at the bottom their work was of the same span as what the rest had wrought. There is a meadow hard by, where they made a place for buying and marketing; and ever and anon much ground grain was brought to them from Asia.

[link to original Greek text] 24 H & W As far as I judge by conjecture, Xerxes gave command for this digging out of pride, because he would display his power and leave memorials of it; for they might very easily have drawn their ships across the isthmus; yet he bade them dig a canal from sea to sea, wide enough to float two triremes rowed abreast. The same men who were charged with the digging were also charged to join the banks of the river Strymon by a bridge.

[link to original Greek text] 25 Rawlinson p28 Thus did Xerxes accomplish this work; and for the bridges he charged the Phoenicians and Egyptians with the making of ropes of papyrus and white flax,​15 and storing of provision for his army, that neither it nor the beasts of burden in the march to Hellas should starve; in such places as enquiry showed to be fittest he bade them store it, carrying it to the several places from all parts of Asia in vessels of merchandise and transports. For  p341 the corn,º they brought that as they were severally charged to the White Headland (as it is called) in Thrace, or Tyrodiza in the Perinthian country, or Doriscus, or Eïon on the Strymon,​a or Macedonia.

[link to original Greek text] 26 While these wrought at their appointed task, all the land force had been mustered and was marching with Xerxes to Sardis, setting forth from Critalla in Cappadocia, which was the mustering-place appointed for all the host that was to march with Xerxes himself by land. Now which of his viceroys received the promised gifts from the king for bringing the best-equipped army, I cannot say; for I know not even if the matter was ever determined. But when they had crossed the river Halys and entered into Phrygia, they marched through that country to Celaenae,​16 where is the source of the river Maeander and another as great as the Maeander, which is called Cataractes; it rises in the very market-place of Celaenae and issues into the Maeander. There also hangs the skin of Marsyas the Silenus, of which the Phrygian story tells that it was flayed off him and hung up by Apollo.17

[link to original Greek text] 27 Rawlinson p30 H & W In this town sat awaiting them a Lydian, Pythius, son of Atys; he entertained Xerxes himself and all the king's army with the best of good cheer, and declared himself willing to provide money for the war. Pythius thus offering money, Xerxes asked the Persians that were about him who this  p343 Pythius was that offered it and how much wealth he possessed: "O king," said they, "this is he who gave your father Darius that gift of a golden plane-tree and vine; and now he is, next to yourself, the richest man of whom we have knowledge."

[link to original Greek text] 28 Marvelling at this last saying, Xerxes next himself asked Pythius how much wealth he had. "O king," said Pythius, "I will not conceal the quantity of my substance from you, nor pretend that I do not know it; I know and will tell you the exact truth. As soon as I learnt that you were coming down to the Greek sea, being desirous to give you money for the war, I enquired into the matter, and my reckoning showed me that I had two thousand talents of silver, and of gold four million Daric staters​18 lacking seven thousand. All this I freely give to you; for myself, I have a sufficient livelihood from my slaves and my farms."

[link to original Greek text] 29 Rawlinson p32 Thus he spoke; Xerxes was pleased with what he said, and replied: "My Lydian friend, since I came out of Persia I have met with no man yet who was willing to give hospitality to my army, nor any who came of his own motion into my presence and offered to furnish money for the war, save you alone. But you have entertained my army nobly, and offer me great sums. Therefore in return for this I give you these privileges: I make you my friend, and of my own wealth I give you the seven thousand staters which will make up your full tale of four millions, that your four millions may not lack the seven thousand, but by my completing of  p345 it you may have the full and exact tale. Continue yourself in possession of that which you now possess, and have skill ever to be such as you are; for neither now nor hereafter shall you repent of what you now do."

[link to original Greek text] 30 Having thus spoken and made his words good Xerxes journeyed ever further. Passing by the Phrygian town called Anaua, and the lake from which salt is gotten, he came to Colossae, a great city in Phrygia; wherein the river Lycus plunges into a cleft in the earth out of sight,​19 till it appears again about five furlongs away and issues like the other river into the Maeander. From Colossae the army held its course for the borders of Phrygia and Lydia, and came to the town Cydrara, where stands a pillar set up by Croesus, with a writing thereon to mark the boundary.

[link to original Greek text] 31 Rawlinson p34 H & W Passing from Phrygia into Lydia, he came to the place where the roads part, the left hand road bearing towards Caria and the right hand to Sardis, by which latter way the traveller must needs cross the river Maeander and pass by the town of Callatebus, where craftsmen make honey out of wheat and tamarisks; by this road went Xerxes, and found a plane-tree, to which for its beauty he gave adornment of gold, and charged one of his Immortals to guard it; and on the next day he came to the chief city of the Lydians.

[link to original Greek text] 32 Having arrived in Sardis, he first sent heralds to Hellas to demand earth and water and command the preparation of meals for the king; to all other  p347 places he sent to demand earth, only neither to Athens nor to Lacedaemon. The reason of his sending for earth and water the second time was this — he fully believed that as many as had formerly not given it to Darius' messengers, would now be compelled to give by fear; and he sent because he desired to know this of a surety.

[link to original Greek text] 33 After this he prepared to march to Abydos; and meanwhile his men were bridging the Hellespont from Asia to Europe. On the Chersonese, which is by the Hellespont, there is between the town of Sestus and Madytus a broad headland​20 running out into the sea over against Abydos; it was here that not long after this the Athenians with Xanthippus son of Ariphron for general took Artaÿctes a Persian, who was governor of Sestus, and crucified him alive; he had even been wont to bring women into the temple of Protesilaus at Elaeus and do impious deeds there.

[link to original Greek text] 34 Rawlinson p36 Beginning then from Abydos they whose business it was made bridges across to that headland, the Phoenicians one of flaxen cables, and the Egyptians the second, which was of papyrus. From Abydos to the opposite shore it is a distance of seven furlongs.​21 But no sooner had the strait been bridged than a great storm swept down and brake and scattered all that work.

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The Hellespont between Sestos (left) and Abydos (right), where Xerxes built his bridge.

Photo © Livius.Org | Jona Lendering, by kind permission.

[link to original Greek text] 35 When Xerxes heard of that, he was very angry, and gave command that the Hellespont be scourged with three hundred lashes, and a pair of  p349 fetters be thrown into the sea; nay, I have heard ere now that he sent branders with the rest to brand the Hellespont. This is certain, that he charged them while they scourged to utter words outlandish and presumptuous: "Thou bitter water," they should say, "our master thus punishes thee, because thou didst him wrong albeit he had done thee none. Yea, Xerxes the king will pass over thee, whether thou wilt or no; it is but just that no man offers thee sacrifice, for thou art a turbid and briny river." Thus he commanded that the sea should be punished, and that they who had been overseers of the bridging of the Hellespont should be beheaded.

[link to original Greek text] 36 H & W So this was done by those who were appointed to that thankless honour; and new masters of their craft set about making the bridges. The manner of their doing it was as I will show. That they might lighten the strain of the cables, they laid fifty-oared ships and triremes alongside of each other, three hundred and sixty to bear the bridge that was nearest to the Euxine sea, and three hundred and fourteen to bear the other; all lay obliquely to the line of the Pontus and parallel with the current of the Hellespont.​22 Having so laid the ships alongside they let down very great anchors, both from the end of the ship nearest the Pontus to hold fast against the winds blowing from within that sea, and from the other end, towards the west and the Aegean, to hold against the west and south winds. Moreover they left for passage an opening in the line of fifty-oared ships and triremes, that so he that would might be able to voyage to the Pontus, or out  p351 of it. Having so done, they stretched the cables from the land, twisting them taut with wooden windlasses; and they did not as before keep the two kinds apart, but assigned for each bridge two cables of flax and four of papyrus. All these were of the same thickness and fair appearance, but the flaxen were heavier in their proportion, a cubit thereof weighing a talent.​23 When the strait was thus bridged, they sawed balks of wood to a length equal to the breadth of the floating supports,​24 and laid them in order on the taut cables, and having set them alongside they then made them fast. This done, they heaped brushwood on to the bridge, and when this was all laid in order they heaped earth on it and stamped it down; then they made a fence on either side, lest the beasts of burden and horses should be affrighted by the sight of the sea below them.

[link to original Greek text] 37 Rawlinson p38 H & W When the bridges and the work at Athos were ready, and the moles at the canal's entrances, that were built to prevent the surf from silting up the entrances of the digged passage, and the canal itself was reported to be now perfectly made, the army then wintered, and at the beginning of spring​25 was ready and set forth from Sardis to march to Abydos. When they had set forth, the sun left his place in the heaven and was unseen, albeit the sky was without clouds and very clear, and the day was turned into night.​b When Xerxes saw and took note of that, he was moved to think upon it, and asked the Magians what the vision might signify. They declared to him, that the god was showing to the Greeks the desolation of their cities; for the  p353 sun (they said) was the prophet of the Greeks, as the moon was theirs. Xerxes rejoiced exceedingly to hear that, and kept on his march.

[link to original Greek text] 38 H & W As he led his army away, Pythius the Lydian, being affrighted by the heavenly vision and encouraged by the gifts that he had received, came to Xerxes and said, "Sire, I have a boon to ask that I desire of you, easy for you to grant and precious for me to receive." Xerxes, supposing that Pythius would demand anything rather than what he did verily ask, answered that he would grant the boon, and bade him declare what he desired. Thereupon Pythius took courage and said: "Sire, I have five sons, and all of them are constrained to march with you against Hellas. I pray you, O king! take pity on me that am so old, and release one of my sons, even the eldest, from service, that he may take care of me and my possessions; take the four others with you, and may you return back with all your design accomplished."

[link to original Greek text] 39 Rawlinson p40 Xerxes was very angry, and thus replied: "Villain, you see me myself marching against Hellas, and taking with me my sons and brothers and kinsfolk and friends; and do you, my slave — who should have followed me with all your household and your very wife — speak to me of your son? Then be well assured of this, that a man's spirit dwells in his ears; when it hears good words it fills the whole body with delight, but when it hears the contrary thereto it swells with anger. At that time when you did me good service and promised more, you  p355 will never boast that you outdid your king in the matter of benefits; and now that you have turned aside to the way of shamelessness, you shall receive a lesser requital than you merit. You and four of your sons are saved by your hospitality; but you shall be mulcted in the life of that one whom you most desire to keep." With that reply, he straightway bade those who were charged to do the like to find the eldest of Pythius' sons and cut him asunder, then having so done to set the one half of his body on the right hand of the road and the other on the left, that the army might pass this way between them.

[link to original Greek text] 40 This they did, and the army passed between. First went the baggage train and the beasts of burden, and after them a mixed host of all sorts of nations, not according to their divisions but all mingled together; when more than half had passed there was a space left, and these latter came not near the king. After that, first came a thousand horsemen, chosen out of all Persians; next, a thousand spearmen, picked men like the others, carrying their spears reversed; and after them, ten horses of the breed called Nesaean, equipped with all splendour. The horses are called Nesaean, because there is in Media a wide plain of that name, where the great horses are bred. Behind these ten horses was the place of the sacred chariot of Zeus,​26 drawn by eight white horses, the charioteer on foot following the horses and holding the reins; for no mortal man may mount into that seat. After these came Xerxes himself in a chariot drawn by Nesaean  p357 horses, his charioteer, Patiramphes, son of Otanes a Persian, standing beside him.​c

[link to original Greek text] 41 Rawlinson p42 It was thus that Xerxes rode out of Sardis; but when he was so minded he would alight from the chariot into a carriage. Behind him came a thousand spearmen of the best and noblest blood of Persia, carrying their spears in the customary manner; after them a thousand picked Persian horsemen, and after the horse ten thousand that were footmen, chosen out of the rest of the Persians. One thousand of these latter bore golden pomegranates on their spear-shafts in place of the spike, and surrounded the rest; the nine thousand were enclosed within, and bore silver pomegranates; they that held their spears reversed carried golden pomegranates also, and they that were nearest to Xerxes, apples of gold. After the ten thousand came ten thousand Persian horsemen in array. After these there was a space of two furlongs, and next the rest of the multitude followed without order or division.

[link to original Greek text] 42 From Lydia the army took its course to the river Caicus and the land of Mysia, and leaving the Caicus, through Atarneus to the town of Carene, keeping the mountain of Cane​27 on the left. Thence they journeyed over the plain of Thebe, passing the town of Adramytteum and the Pelasgian town Antandrus; and then came into the territory of Ilium, with Ida on their left. Then this first befel them, that when they had halted for the night at the foot of Ida they were smitten by a storm of thunder and fiery winds, whereby very many there perished.

[link to original Greek text] 43 Rawlinson p44 H & W When the army had come to the river Scamander,  p359 which was the first river after the beginning of their march from Sardis that fell short of their needs and could not suffice for the army and the cattle, — being arrived at this river, Xerxes ascended to the citadel of Priam, having a desire to view it; and having viewed and enquired of all that was there he sacrificed a thousand kine to Athene of Ilium, and the Magians offered libations to the heroes. After their so doing, the army was seized with a panic fear in the night. When it was day they journeyed on thence, keeping on their left the towns of Rhoetium and Ophryneum and Dardanus, which marches with Abydos,​28 and on their right the Teucrian Gergithae.

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The site of Ilium — better known today as Troy.

Then glorious Hector gathered the Trojans together, leading them from the ships to a stretch of open ground, clear of dead, beside the eddying river . . . Leaning on his spear he addressed the troops: ". . . bring cattle and fine sheep from the city . . ." (Iliad VIII.489 ff.)

Photo © Livius.Org | Jona Lendering, by kind permission.

[link to original Greek text] 44 Rawlinson p46 When Xerxes had come to the midst of Abydos, he desired to see the whole of his army; and this he could do, for a lofty seat of white stone had been set up for him on a hill​29 there with that intent, built by the people of Abydos at the king's command. There Xerxes sat, and looked down on the sea‑shore, viewing his army and his fleet; and as he viewed them he was fain to see the ships contend in a race. They did so, and the Phoenicians of Sidon won it; and Xerxes was pleased with the race, and with his armament.

[link to original Greek text] 45 But when he saw the whole Hellespont hidden by his ships, and all the shores and plains of Abydos thronged with men, extend are first declared himself happy, and presently he fell a‑weeping.

[link to original Greek text] 46 Perceiving that, his uncle Artabanus, who in the beginning had spoken his mind freely and counselled  p361 Xerxes not to march against Hellas — Artabanus, I say, marking how Xerxes wept, questioned him and said, "What a distance is there, O king, between your acts of this present and a little while ago! Then you declared your happiness, and now you weep." "Ay verily," said Xerxes; "for I was moved to compassion, when I considered the shortness of all human life, seeing that of all this multitude of men not one will be alive a hundred years hence." "In our life," Artabanus answered, "we have deeper sorrows to bear than that. For short as our lives are, there is no man here or elsewhere so fortunate, that he shall not be constrained, ay many a time and not once only, to wish himself dead rather than alive. Misfortunes so fall upon us and sicknesses so trouble us, that they make life to seem long for all its shortness. Thus is life so sorry a thing that death has come to be a man's most desirable refuge therefrom; the god is seen to be envious therein, after he has given us but a taste of the sweetness of living."

[link to original Greek text] 47 Xerxes answered and said, "Human life, Artabanus, is such as you define it to be. Yet let us speak no more of that, nor remember evils in our present prosperous state; but tell me this. If you had not seen the vision in your dream so clearly, would you still have held your former opinion, and counselled me not to march against Hellas, or would you have changed from it? Come, tell me that truly." Artabanus answered and said, "O king, may the vision that appeared in my dream bring such an end as we both desire! But for myself, I am even now full of fear, yea distraught, for many other reasons that I p363have, and this in especial — that I see the two greatest things in the world to be most your enemies."

[link to original Greek text] 48 Rawlinson p48 "Sir," Xerxes answered, "I marvel at you. What are these two things that you say are most my enemies? Is it that you find some fault with the numbers of my land army, and suppose that the Greek host will be many times greater than ours? Or think you that our navy will fall short of theirs? Or that the fault is in both? For if in this regard our power seems to you to lack aught, it were best to muster another host with all speed."

[link to original Greek text] 49 "O king," Artabanus answered and said, "There is no fault that any man of sound judgment could find either with this army or with the number of your ships; and if you gather more, those two things whereof I speak grow yet the more your enemies. These two are the land and the sea. The sea has nowhere any harbour, as I guess, that if a storm arise will be warrantable to receive this navy and save your ships. Yet such harbours there should be, not in one place alone but all along the land along which you sail. Seeing then that there are no harbours able to receive you, learn thereby that men are the subjects and not the rulers of their accidents. Now I have spoken of one of the two, and I will tell you of the other: this is how the land is your enemy: if so be that nothing stands in your way to hinder you, the land is the more your enemy the further you advance, with never true knowledge of what lies beyond;  p365 and no man is ever full fed with success. Therefore, I say, if none withstand you, the increase of your territory and the time passed in getting it will beget famine. He is the best man, who is timid in counsel because he takes all that may befal him into account, but is in action bold."

[link to original Greek text] 50 "Artabanus," Xerxes answered, "you do reasonably in so defining all these matters. But this I say, fear not everything, nor take account of all alike; for if on whatever occasion befal you were minded to take everything alike into account, you would never do anything; better it is to suffer half the dreaded ill by facing all with a stout heart, rather than to fear all chances and so suffer nought. But if you quarrel with whatever is said, yet cannot show where security lies, you must be proved as wrong on your part as he that holds the contrary opinion. In this then both are alike; and how shall one that is but man know where there is security? It is, I think, impossible. It is they, then, who have the will to act that do oftenest win the prizes, not, truly, they that palter and take account of all chances. You see, to what power Persia has attained. Now, if those kings who came before me had held such opinions as yours, or not holding them themselves had had counsellors like you, you would never have seen our fortunes at their present height; but as it is, those kings encountered dangers, and by so doing advanced them to this height. Great successes are not won save by great risks. We, then, will do as they did; we are using the fairest season of the year to journey in, and we will return home the conquerors  p367 of all Europe, having nowhere suffered famine or any other harm; for firstly, we carry ample provision with us on our march, and secondly we shall have the food of those whose land and nation we invade; and those against whom we march are no wandering tribes, but tillers of the soil."

[link to original Greek text] 51 Rawlinson p50 Then said Artabanus: "O king, I see that you will not suffer us to fear any danger; yet take from me this counsel: for needs must there be much speaking when our businesses are so many. Cyrus son of Cambyses subdued and made tributary to Persia all Ionians save only the Athenians. It is my counsel, then, that you do by no means lead these Ionians against the land of their fathers; even without their aid we are well able to overcome our enemies; for if they come with our army, they must behave either very unjustly by enslaving their parent state or very justly by aiding it to be free. Now, if they deal very unjustly, they bring us no great advantage, but by dealing very justly they may well thereby do great harm to your army. Take therefore to heart the truth of even that ancient saying, 'That the end of every matter appeareth not at its beginning.' "

[link to original Greek text] 52 H & W "Artabanus," Xerxes answered, "there is no opinion which you have declared wherein you are so misled as in this your fear lest the Ionians change sides; we have the surest warranty for them (and you and all that marched with Darius against the Scythians can witness it) in that with these it lay to destroy or to save the whole Persian army; and they  p369 gave proof of justice and faithfulness, and no evil intent. Moreover, seeing that they have left in our country their children and wives and possessions, we need not deem it even possible that they will make any violent change. Therefore be quit of that fear too; keep a stout heart and guard my household and sovereignty; for to you alone I entrust the symbols of my kingship."

[link to original Greek text] 53 Having thus spoken, and sent Artabanus away to Susa, Xerxes next sent for the most notable among the Persians; and when they were present, "Persians," he said, "I have assembled you to make this demand, that you bear yourselves bravely and never sully the great and glorious former achievements of the Persians; let us each and all be zealous; for this is the common advantage of all that we seek. For this cause I bid you set your hands to the war with might and main; for as I am assured, we march against valiant men, whom if we overcome, it is certain that no other human host will ever withstand us. Now let us cross over, having first prayed to the gods who hold Persia for their allotted realm."

[link to original Greek text] 54 All that day they made preparation for the crossing; and on the next day they waited till they should see the sun rise, burning all kinds of incense on the bridges, and strewing the way with myrtle boughs. At sunrise, Xerxes poured a libation from a golden phial into the sea, praying to the sun that no such accident should befal him as to stay him from subduing Europe ere he should reach its farthest borders. After the prayer, he cast the  p371 phial into the Hellespont, and a golden bowl withal, and a Persian sword, that which they call "acinaces."​30 As to these, I cannot rightly determine whether he cast them into the sea for offerings to the sun, or repented of his scourging of the Hellespont and gave gifts to the sea as atonement.​d

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An akinakes, shown on a relief from the northern stairs of the Apadana in Persepolis.

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

[link to original Greek text] 55 Rawlinson p52 This done, they crossed over, the foot and horse all by the bridge nearest to the Pontus, and the beasts of burden and the train of service by the bridge toward the Aegean. In the van came the ten thousand Persians, all wearing garlands, and after them the mixed host of divers nations. All that day these crossed, and on the next, first the horsemen and they that bore their spears reversed; these also wore garlands. After them came the sacred horses and the sacred chariot, then Xerxes himself not spearmen and the thousand horse, and after them the rest of the host. Meanwhile the ships put out and crossed to the opposite shore. But I have heard ere now, that the king crossed last of all.

[link to original Greek text] 56 Having passed over to Europe, Xerxes viewed his army crossing under the lash; seven days and seven nights it was in crossing, with never a rest. There is a tale that, when Xerxes had now crossed the Hellespont, a man of the Hellespont cried, "O Zeus, why hast thou taken the likeness of a Persian man and changed thy name to Xerxes, leading the whole world with thee to remove Hellas from its place? For that thou mightest have done without these means."

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 489‑487.

2 521‑485.

3 Some take the Greek to mean "this argument was his helper"; but the statement seems rather pointless.

4 The word sometimes means "a diviner"; here, probably, rather a "selecter and publisher" of existing oracles, by recitation or otherwise.

5 A poet and musician, Pindar's teacher.

6 In 460; cp.  III.15.

7 To an oriental all Greeks alike were "Ionians," Persian Yaunâ; cp. the "Javan" of the Bible. In Aristoph. Acharn. 104 the Persian ambassador addresses a Greek as χαυνόπρωκτ’ Ἰαοναῦ.

Thayer's Note: The first word of that quote from Aristophanes is quite irrelevant to the matter at hand or to Herodotus, but since Prof. Godley provided us the opening, so to speak, it seems unfair to leave Greek-challenged readers mystified. χαυνόπρωκτος is an adjective meaning "having a wide anus", the implication being that they were in the habit of allowing themselves to be sodomized: a vigorous way of expressing the contemptuous opinion that the Ionians were not masculine, that they were easily dominated.

When I was a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy in 1969, my squadron — the 37th, currently deactivated — as we marched to lunch in formation, regularly sang a ditty, at the top of our lungs, that included the phrase "Navigators' asses are forty inches wide": expressing a similar pro-forma contempt for Air Force officers who did not become at least full-fledged pilots. Visitors, often parents, were almost always in attendance to watch us march off to lunch; standing by the Chapel on the parapet over­looking us, if they heard us clearly, they must have chalked down to youthful military spirit what they surely would never have tolerated in their children at home. I imagine by now the culture has changed at the Academy.

8 i.e. rubbing against the touchstone, which would be stained by pure gold.

9 Cp. IV.136 ff.

10 The first seven names represent two parallel lines of descent from Teïspes son of Achaemenes (except that the first "Teïspes" is a fiction), which Herodotus has apparently fused into one direct line. Xerxes could claim descent from both, in virtue of his mother Atossa, Cyrus' daughter; hence perhaps this confusion. For a complete discussion see How and Wells, Appendix IV. It may be remembered that Herodotus probably deals with Egyptian chronology in the same way, making a sequence out of lists of kings some of whom were contemporaries.

11 484‑481.

12 Cp. I.103; IV.1.

13 It seems fairly clear that there was some sort of movement from one continent to the other; Herodotus makes it from Asia to Europe; but on the evidence it is just as likely to have been the other way. See How and Wells, ad loc.

14 In spite of the incredulity of antiquity, the canal was no doubt actually made and used. Traces of it are said to exist. See, e.g. How and Wells, ad loc.

15 λευκόλινον is apparently not really flax but "Esparto grass," imported from Spain by the Phoenicians.

16 This implies a considerable divergence to the south from the "Royal road," for which see V.52. Xerxes here turns south to avoid the difficult route through the Hermes valley, probably; cp. How and Wells, ad loc.

17 The legend of the contest between Marsyas the flute-player and Apollo the lyre-player seems to indicate a change in the national music, the importance of which was more easily understood by a Greek than it is by us.

18 The Daric stater was equivalent to about 22s. of our money.

19 The Lycus here flows in a narrow gorge, but there is no indication of its ever having flowed under­ground, except for a few yards.

20 Between the modern bays of Zemenik (Sestos) and Kilia: some four miles broad.

21 The modern width at the narrowest part is nearly half as much again; perhaps this can be explained by the washing away of the coasts, due to a current which strikes them near Sestos and rebounds on Abydos.

22 Or it may mean, as Stein thinks, that the ships of the upper or N. E. bridge were ἐπικαρσίαι, and those of the lower or S. W. one were κατὰ ῥόον. For a discussion of the various difficulties and interpretations of the whole passage, see How and Wells' notes, ad loc.

23 About 80 lbs.

24 i.e. the line of ships supporting the cables.

25 Probably about the middle of April 480.

26 That is, of Ormuzd.

27 Modern Kara Dagh.

28 It was about nine miles from Abydos.

29 Probably what is called Mal‑Tepe, on the promontory of Nagara.

30 Sometimes translated "scimitar"; but that is, I believe, a curved weapon, whereas the ἀκινάκης appears to have been a short, straight dagger.

Thayer's Note: Prof. Godley is right. See the article Acinaces in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

Thayer's Notes:

a To distinguish the place from the little town of Eion in the Argolis (Diodorus IV.37, Strabo VIII.6.13 = 373E) and the much obscurer Eion in Pieria. See the photograph at VII.107.

b The completion of the canal is usually dated, as Godley dates it here, to 480 B.C.; and there was indeed an eclipse of the sun that spring, on April 9th — but it was not visible in Greece or indeed anywhere near the Mediterranean. What this event might have been, assuming this is a true report, is a mystery; compounded by the hint in the Magi's interpretation, that it really was an eclipse of the sun by the moon.

c Nisaea was indeed famous for her horses; the ancient sources are conveniently collected by A. W. Mair in his footnote to Oppian, CynI.312; most of them are online and linked there.

d My own interpretation is different again. The acinaces, as Herodotus himself records (VIII.120), was given by the king of Persia as a token of "friendship", with strong overtones of overlord­ship; see also the citations in the Smith's Dictionary article Acinaces. Xerxes here has the hubris to treat the sea just as he treats his vassals. If you go against my wishes, I shall have you flogged (above, § 35), but if you behave, I will give you gifts and you will be my friend.

Lendering's Notes:

α The Daiva Inscription refers to insurrections at the beginning of Xerxes' reign.

β As usual, Herodotus uses "Assyria" to refer to all of Mesopotamia.

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