Herodotus Part 2 (Selections from from Scrolls 1–9)

First phase of translation by Lynn Sawlivich
Second phase of translation by Gregory Nagy, Claudia Filos, Sarah Scott, and Keith Stone

Note: The language of Herodotus in referring to the myths and rituals of the ancient world is exquisitely precise, and we have much to learn from it. Accordingly, the translators have taken special care in tracking key words above and beyond the vocabulary that is tracked in the rest of the Sourcebook.

Scroll 1: Kyrnos

After the fall of Lydia, the Persians conquered the rest of Asia Minor. The citizens of Phocaea abandoned their city and sailed away to their colony in Corsica, where they fought with the neighboring populations.

167. The Carthaginians and the Tyrrhenians drew lots for the men from the Phocaean ships destroyed in Kyrnos.1 The people of Agylla won most of them and led them out and stoned them to death. But later everything from Agylla that passed by the place where the stoned Phocaeans lay, whether flocks or beasts of burden or people, became twisted and lame and apoplexied. When the people of Agylla sent envoys to Delphi to atone for their offense, the Pythia told them to make offerings [enagizein]2 to the Phocaeans and to institute a competition [agōn] of gymnastics and chariot races. The people of Agylla still fulfil [epi-teleîn] these practices. Thus these Phocaeans met their fate [= moira], but the others who fled to Rhegion set out from there and founded a city [polis] in Oinotria which is now called Hyele. They established [ktizein] it after being informed by a man from Poseidonia that when the Pythia gave her oracular pronouncement [khrêsai], she meant to establish Kyrnos as a cult hero [hērōs], not to establish the island Kyrnos as a colony.3 Thus it was concerning Ionian Phocaea.

Scroll 1: Tīmēsios

168. The people of Teos, like the Phocaeans, abandoned their native land rather than endure slavery. When the Persian general Harpagos captured their wall by building a mound, they embarked upon their ships and sailed away to Thrace. There they founded the polis of Abdera, which Tīmēsios of Klazomenai had previously established, but he had been driven out by the Thracians and got no benefit from it. He now receives from the people of Teos in Abdera the honors [tīmai] of a hero [hērōs].

Scroll 2: Hēraklēs

44. I saw in Tyre in Phoenicia another sacred precinct of Hēraklēs, of the Hēraklēs called Thasian. I also went to Thasos, where I discovered a sacred precinct that had been established by the Phoenicians when they sailed looking for Europa and settled Thasos. Now this was five generations before Hēraklēs son of Amphitryon was born in Hellas, so my inquiry plainly shows that Hēraklēs is an ancient god. I think that those Hellenes act most correctly who have established and perform two kinds of worship for Hēraklēs, sacrificing [thuein] to one as an immortal, called Olympian, and making offerings [enagizein] to the other as a hero.

Scroll 2: Hesiod, Homer

53. Where each of the gods came from, whether they had always existed, and what outward forms they had, the Hellenes did not know until just yesterday or the day before, so to speak. I think that Hesiod and Homer were 400 years older than I, and no more, and it is they who made a theogony [theogoniā] for the Hellenes. They gave names to the gods, apportioned their honors [tīmai] and functions [tekhnai], and indicated [sēmainein] their outward forms [eidos plural]. The poets who are said to be earlier than these men I think are later.4 . . . This part involving Hesiod and Homer is my own opinion.

 Scroll 5: Philippos

47. Philippos of Kroton, the son of Boutakides, also followed Dorieus the Spartan when he went to establish a colony in Sicily, and was killed along with him by the Phoenicians and the people of Egesta. He had been banished from Kroton when he became engaged to the daughter of Telys of Sybaris, but was cheated of his marriage and sailed away to Kyrene. There he joined the Spartan expedition, providing a ship and men at his own expense. Philippos was an Olympic victor and the handsomest Hellene of his day. Because of his beauty he received from the people of Egesta a thing they grant to no one else: they built a hero shrine [hērōion] over his tomb [taphos] and [hilaskesthai] him with sacrifices [thusiai].

Scroll 5: Onesilaos

In 499 the Ionians revolted from Persia.

104. All the people of Cyprus, except for the people of [the city of] Amathus, voluntarily joined the Ionians in revolt against the Medes. Onesilaos5 son of Khersis son of Siromos son of Euelthon was the younger brother of Gorgos, king of Salamis in Cyprus. This man [= Onesilaos] even previously had urged Gorgos to revolt from the king of Persia, but once he learned that the Ionians had rebelled he tried most urgently to get him to do it. When he could not persuade Gorgos, Onesilaos and his partisans watched for him to go out from the city of the Salaminians, then shut him outside the gates. Gorgos, deprived of his city [polis], went into exile among the Medes. Onesilaos ruled Salamis and persuaded all the people of Cyprus to rebel; all, that is, except the people of Amathous. When they chose not to comply, he besieged them.

110. Later the Persians came to the plain of Salamis. The kings of Cyprus arranged the Cyprians in order, matching them against the opposing soldiers, and selected the best [aristoi] of the men of Salamis and Soloi to face the Persians. Onesilaos voluntarily took his position against Artybios, the Persian general.

111. Artybios rode a horse taught to rear up against an armed man. Onesilaos had a shield-bearing-attendant [hup-aspistēs] who was Carian in lineage [genos], highly reputed in warfare and otherwise full of courage. When he learned of the horse, Onesilaos said to his attendant, “I have learned that the horse of Artybios rears up and kills with his feet and mouth any man he attacks. So you consider and tell me now whether you wish to watch for your chance and strike Artybios or his horse.” His attendant [opāōn]6  said, “My king, I am ready to do either or both or anything you command. But I will speak out what seems to me to be most fitting for your affairs. I say that a king and a general ought to attack a king and a general. If you bring down your man the general, it is a great thing for you. Secondly, if he brings you down—may it not happen!—the misfortune is halved by dying at the hands of a worthy man. And we subordinates [hup-ēretai] ought to attack other subordinates [hup-ēretai], and that horse. Have no fear of his tricks [mēkhanai]. I promise that he never again shall rise up against any man.”

112. Thus he spoke, and immediately the armies joined battle on land and sea. By sea the Ionians achieved excellence that day and defeated the Phoenicians; among them the Samians were best [aristoi]. On land, when the armies came together and fell upon each other in battle, this is what happened to the generals: When Artybios on his horse attacked him, Onesilaos, by arrangement with his shield-bearing-attendant [hup-aspistēs], struck Artybios as he bore down on him. Then when the horse kicked at the shield of Onesilaos, the Carian struck with his scimitar [drepanon] and sheered off its feet. Thus the Persian general Artybios fell there together with his horse.

113. While the others fought, Stesenor, tyrant of Kourion, turned traitor, taking not a small force of men with him. (The people of Kourion are said to be descended from colonizers sent there from Argos.) As soon as the men of Kourion defected, the force of war-charioteers from Salamis did the same. Once this happened the Persians defeated the Cyprians, and in the rout of the army many men fell, including Onesilaos son of Khersis, the one who had caused the revolt of the Cyprians, and Aristocyprus son of Philocyprus, king of Soloi. This Philocyprus was the one whom Solon, coming to Cyprus, praised [aineîn] most among the despots [turannoi] of that time.

114. Because he had besieged them, the people of Amathous cut off the head [of the dead body] of Onesilaos and brought it to Amathous, where they hanged it up above the gates. As it hung there empty, a swarm of bees entered it and filled it with honeycomb. When they [= the people of Amathous] asked-for-oracular-advice [khrêsthai] about this event, there-was-an-oracular-pronouncement [manteuesthai] that they must take the head down and bury it, and to make sacrifice [thuein] every year to Onesilaos as a hero [hērōs], saying that it would be better for them if they did this. The people of Amathous did as they were told and still perform these rituals even in my day.

Scroll 6: Marathon

In 490 the Persians under Darius invaded the Hellenic mainland.

102. After subduing Eretria, the Persians waited a few days and then sailed away to the land of Attica, pressing ahead in expectation of doing to the Athenians exactly what they had done to the Eretrians. Marathon was the place in Attica most suitable for riding horses and closest to Eretria, so Hippias son of Peisistratos7 led them there.

103. When the Athenians learned this, they too marched out to Marathon, with ten generals leading them. The tenth was Miltiades, and it had befallen his father Kimon son of Stesagoras to be banished from Athens by Peisistratos son of Hippokrates. While in exile he happened to take the Olympic prize in the four-horse chariot race, and by taking this victory he won the same prize as his half-brother Miltiades. In the next Olympics he won with the same horses but permitted Peisistratos to be heralded, and by resigning the victory to that man he came back from exile to his own property under truce. After taking yet another Olympic victory with the same horses, it befell him to be murdered by the sons of Peisistratos; Peisistratos was no longer living. They murdered him by placing men in ambush at night near the prytaneion. Kimon was buried in front of the city, across the road called ‘Through the Hollow’, and buried opposite him are the mares who won the three Olympic prizes. The mares of Euagoras the Laconian performed as well as these, but none others. Stesagoras, the elder of Kimon’s sons, was then being brought up with his uncle Miltiades in the Chersonesus. The younger was with Kimon at Athens, and he took the name Miltiades from Miltiades the founder of the Chersonesus.8

104. It was this Miltiades who was now Athenian general, after coming from the Chersonese and escaping a two-fold death. The Phoenicians pursued him as far as Imbros, considering it of great importance to catch him and bring him to the king. He got away from them, but when he reached his own country and thought he was safe his personal enemies met him next. They brought him to court and prosecuted him for tyranny in the Chersonese, but he was acquitted and appointed Athenian general, elected by the community [dēmos].

105. While still in the city, the generals first sent to Sparta the herald Philippides, an Athenian and a long-distance runner who made that his calling. As Philippides himself said at the time that he brought the message to the Athenians, when he was in the Parthenian mountain above Tegea [in Arcadia] he encountered Pan. Pan shouted the name of Philippides and told him to ask the Athenians why they paid him no attention, though he was well-disposed toward the Athenians, had often been of service to them, and would be in the future. The Athenians believed that these things were true, and when they became prosperous they established a sacred precinct of Pan beneath the Acropolis. Ever since that message they propitiate him with annual sacrifices and a torch-race.

106. This Philippides was in Sparta on the day after leaving the city of Athens, that time when he was sent by the generals and said that Pan had appeared to him. He came to the magistrates and said, “Lacedaemonians, the Athenians ask you to come to their aid and not allow the most ancient polis among the Hellenes to fall into slavery at the hands of the barbarians. Even now Eretria has been enslaved, and Hellas has become weaker with the loss of an important polis.” He told them what he had been ordered to say, and they resolved to send help to the Athenians, but they could not do this immediately, for they were unwilling to break the customary law [nomos]. It was the ninth day of the rising month, and they said that on the ninth they could not go out to war until the moon’s circle was full.

107. So they waited for the full moon, while the barbarians were guided to Marathon by Hippias son of Peisistratos. The previous night Hippias had a dream in which he slept with his mother. He supposed from the dream that he would return from exile to Athens, recover his rule, and end his days an old man in his own country. Thus he reckoned from the dream. Then as guide he disembarked the slaves from Eretria onto the island of the Styrians called Aigilia, and brought to anchor the ships that had put ashore at Marathon, then marshaled the barbarians who had disembarked onto land. As he was tending to this, he happened to sneeze and cough more violently than usual. Since he was an elderly man, most of his teeth were loose, and he lost one of them by the force of his cough. It fell into the sand and he put great effort into looking for it, but the tooth could not be found. He groaned aloud and said to those standing by him: “This land is not ours and we will not be able to subdue it. My tooth holds whatever share of it was mine.”

108. Hippias supposed that the dream had in this way come true. As the Athenians were marshaled in the sacred space of Hēraklēs, the men of Plataea came to help them in full force. The Plataeans had put themselves under the protection of the Athenians, and the Athenians had undergone many labors on their behalf. This is how they did it: When the Plataeans were pressed by the Thebans, they first tried to put themselves under the protection of Kleomenes son of Anaxandrides and the Lacedaemonians, who happened to be there. But they [= the Lacedaemonians] did not accept them, saying, “We live too far away and our help would be cold comfort to you. You could be enslaved many times over before any of us heard about it. We advise you to put yourselves under the protection of the Athenians, since they are your neighbors and men not bad [kakoi] at giving help.” The Lacedaemonians gave this advice not so much out of good will toward the Plataeans as wishing to cause trouble for the Athenians with the Boeotians. So the Lacedaemonians gave this advice to the Plataeans, who did not disregard it. When the Athenians were making sacrifices to the twelve gods, they [= the Plataeans] sat at the altar as suppliants and put themselves under protection. When the Thebans heard this they marched against the Plataeans, but the Athenians came to their aid. As they were about to join battle, the Corinthians, who happened to be there, prevented them and brought about a reconciliation. Both sides appealed to their arbitration, so they fixed the boundaries of the territory on condition that the Thebans leave alone those Boeotians who were unwilling to be enrolled as Boeotian. After rendering this decision, the Corinthians departed. The Boeotians attacked the Athenians as they were leaving but were defeated in battle, and the Athenians went beyond the boundaries the Corinthians had made for the Plataeans, fixing the Asopos river as the boundary for the Thebans in the direction of Plataea and Hysiai. So the Plataeans had put themselves under the protection of the Athenians in the aforesaid manner, and now came to help at Marathon.

 109. The Athenian generals were of divided opinion, some advising not to fight because they were too few to attack the army of the Medes;9 others, including Miltiades, advising to fight. Thus they were at odds, and the inferior plan prevailed. An eleventh man had a vote, chosen by lot to be polemarch of Athens, and by ancient custom the Athenians had made his vote of equal weight with the generals. Kallimakhos of Aphidnai was polemarch at this time. Miltiades approached him and said, “Kallimakhos, it is now in your hands to enslave Athens or make it free, and thereby leave behind for all posterity a memorial such as not even Harmodios and Aristogeiton left.10 Now the Athenians have come to their greatest danger since they first came into being, and, if we surrender, it is clear what we will suffer when handed over to Hippias. But if the polis prevails, it will take first place among Hellenic cities. I will tell you how this can happen, and how the deciding voice on these matters has devolved upon you. The ten generals are of divided opinion, some urging to attack, others urging not to. If we do not attack now, I expect that great strife [stasis] will fall upon and shake the spirit of the Athenians, leading them to Medize. But if we attack now, before any corruption befalls the Athenians, we can win the battle, if the gods are fair. All this concerns and depends on you in this way: if you vote with me, your fatherland will be free and your polis the first in Hellas. But if you side with those eager to avoid battle, you will have the opposite to all the good things I enumerated.”

110. By saying this Miltiades won over Kallimakhos. The vote of the polemarch was counted in and the decision to attack was ratified. Thereafter the generals who had voted to fight turned the presidency over to Miltiades as each one’s day came in turn. He accepted the office but did not make an attack until it was his own day to preside.

111. When the presidency came round to him, he arrayed the Athenians for battle, with the polemarch Kallimakhos commanding the right wing, since it was then the Athenian law [nomos] for the polemarch to hold the right wing. He led, and the other subdivisions [phūlai] were numbered out in succession next to each other. The Plataeans were marshaled last, holding the left wing. Ever since that battle, when the Athenians are conducting sacrifices at the festivals every fourth year, the Athenian herald prays for good things for the Athenians and Plataeans together. As the Athenians were marshaled at Marathon, it happened that their line of battle was as long as the line of the Medes. The center, where the line was weakest, was only a few ranks deep, but each wing was strong in numbers.

112. When they had been set in order and the sacrifices were favorable, the Athenians were let go and charged the barbarians at a run. The space between the armies was no less than eight stadium-lengths. The Persians saw them running to attack and prepared to receive them, thinking the Athenians absolutely crazy, since they saw how few of them there were and that they ran up so fast without either cavalry or archers. So the barbarians imagined, but when the Athenians all together fell upon the barbarians they fought memorably. These are the first Hellenes we know of to employ running against the enemy. They are also the first to stand up to looking at Median uniforms and the men wearing it, for up until then just hearing the name of the Medes caused the Hellenes to panic.

113. They fought a long time in Marathon. In the center of the line the barbarians prevailed, where the Persians and Sakai were arrayed. The barbarians prevailed there and broke through in pursuit inland, but on each wing the Athenians and Plataeans prevailed. In victory they let the routed barbarians flee, and brought the wings together to fight those who had broken through the center. The Athenians prevailed, then followed the fleeing Persians and struck them down. When they reached the sea they asked for fire and laid hold of the Persian ships.

114. In this ordeal [ponos] Kallimakhos the polemarch was slain, an aristocratic [agathos] man, and of the generals Stesilaos son of Thrasylaos died. Kynegeiros11 son of Euphorion fell there, his hand cut off with an axe as he grabbed a ship’s figurehead. Many other famous Athenians also fell there.

115. In this way the Athenians mastered seven ships. The barbarians pushed off with the rest, picked up the Eretrian slaves from the island where they had left them, and sailed around Sounion hoping to get to the city before the Athenians. There was an accusation [aitiā] at Athens that they devised this by way of a plan of the Alkmaionidai, who were said to have arranged to hold up a shield as a signal once the Persians were in their ships.

116. They sailed around Sounion, but the Athenians marched back to defend the city as fast as their feet could carry them and got there ahead of the barbarians. Coming from the sacred space of Hēraklēs in Marathon, they pitched camp in the sacred space of Hēraklēs in Kynosarges. The barbarians lay at anchor off Phaleron, the Athenian naval port at that time. After riding anchor there, they sailed their ships back to Asia.

117. In the battle at Marathon about 6,400 men of the barbarians were killed, and 192 Athenians; that many fell on each side. The following marvel happened there: an Athenian, Epizelos son of Kouphagoras, was fighting as an aristocratic [agathos] man in the battle when he was deprived of his sight, though struck or hit nowhere on his body, and from that time on he spent [diateleîn] the rest of his life in blindness. I have heard that he tells this story about his experience [pathos]: he saw opposing him a tall armed man, whose beard overshadowed his shield, but the phantom [phasma] passed him by and killed the man next to him. I hear that this is the story Epizelos tells.

Scroll 6: Miltiades

34. Until the Phoenicians subdued the Chersonesus for the Persians, Miltiades son of Kimon son of Stesagoras was despot [turannos] there. Miltiades son of Kypselos had gained the rule earlier in this way: The Thracian Dolonkoi were crushed in war by the Apsinthians, so they sent their kings to Delphi to inquire [khrēsthai] about the war. The Pythia answered [an-heleîn] that they should bring to their territory as founder [oikistēs] the first man who invites them to hospitality [xeniā] after they leave the sacred precinct. But as the Dolonkoi passed through Phokis and Boeotia, going along the Sacred Way, no one invited them, so they turned toward Athens.

35. At that time in Athens, Peisistratos held all power, but Miltiades son of Kypselos also had great influence. His household [oikiā] was rich enough to maintain four-horse chariot teams, and he traced his earliest descent to Aiakos and [the nymph] Aigina [Aegina], though his later ancestry was Athenian. Philaios son of Ajax was the first of that lineage [oikiā] to be an Athenian. Miltiades was sitting on his porch when he saw the Dolonkoi go by with clothing and spears that were not of-local-origin [en-khōria], so he called out to them, and when they came over he invited them in for lodging and hospitality [xeniā]. They accepted, and after he gave them hospitality [xeniā], they revealed all the story of the oracle to him and asked him to obey the god. He was persuaded as soon as he heard their speech, for he was tired of the rule [arkhē] of Peisistratos and wanted to get out of the way. He immediately set out for Delphi to ask the oracle if he should do what the Dolonkoi asked of him.

36. The Pythia also told him do so. Then Miltiades son of Kypselos, previously an Olympic victor in the four-horse chariot races, recruited any Athenian who wanted to take part in the expedition, sailed off with the Dolonkoi, and took possession of their territory. Those who brought him appointed him turannos. His first act was to wall off the isthmus of the Chersonesus from the polis of Kardia across to Paktye, so that the Apsinthians not be able to harm them by making inroads into their territory. The isthmus is 36 stadium-lengths across, and to the south of the isthmus the Chersonesus is 420 stadium-lengths.

37. After Miltiades had pushed away the Apsinthians by walling off the neck of the Chersonesus, he made war first on the people of Lampsakos, but the people of that place laid an ambush and took him prisoner. Miltiades, however, stood high in the opinion of Croesus the Lydian, and when Croesus heard what had happened he sent word to the people of Lampsakos and commanded them to release Miltiades. If they did not do so, he threatened to wipe them out like a pine tree. The people of Lampsakos went astray in their counsels as to what the utterance [epos] meant with which Croesus had threatened them, saying he would destroy them like a pine tree, until at last one of the elders understood and said what it was: the pine is the only tree that once cut down never emits any shoots; it is utterly destroyed. So out of fear of Croesus the people of Lampsakos freed Miltiades from his bonds and sent him off.

38. So he escaped by the intervention of Croesus, but he later died [teleutân ‘reached his telos’] childless and left his rule and property to Stesagoras, the son of his half-brother Kimon. Since his death [teleutân = reaching of his telos, the people of the Chersonesus follow the custom [nomos] of sacrificing [thuein] to him as their founder [oikistēs], instituting a [seasonal] competition [agōn] of gymnastics and chariot-racing. No one from Lampsakos is allowed to compete [agōnizesthai] in this event.

Scroll 6: Helen, Astrabakos

Sparta had two kings from rival families that traced their descent from Hēraklēs.

61. While Kleomenes was in Aegina working for the common good [agatha] of Hellas, Dēmarātos slandered him, not out of care for the Aeginetans, but out of jealousy and envy. Once Kleomenes returned home [nosteîn] from Aegina, he planned to remove Dēmarātos from his kingship, using the following affair as a pretext against him: Ariston, king of Sparta, had married twice but had no children. He did not allow that he was responsible [aitios], so he married a third time. This is how it came about: He had among the Spartans a friend [philos] to whom he was especially attached. This man’s wife was by far the most beautiful woman in Sparta, but she who was now most beautiful had once been the ugliest. Her nurse considered her inferior looks and how she was of prosperous [olbioi] people yet unattractive, and, seeing how the parents felt her appearance to be a great misfortune, she contrived to carry her every day to the sacred precinct [hieron] of Helen, which is in the place called Therapne, beyond the sacred precinct [hieron] of Phoebus [Apollo]. Every time the nurse carried the child there, she set her beside the statue [agalma] [of Helen] and prayed to the goddess to release the child from her ugliness. Once as she was leaving the sacred precinct [hieron], it is said that a woman appeared [phainesthai] to her and asked her what she was carrying in her arms. The nurse said she was carrying a child and the woman asked her to show it to her, but she refused, saying that the parents had forbidden her to show it to anyone. But the woman strongly told her to show it to her, and when the nurse saw how important it was to her, she showed her the child. The woman stroked the child’s head and said that she would be the most beautiful woman in all Sparta. From that day her looks changed, and when she reached the right age [hōrā] for marriage, Agētos son of Alkeides married her. This man was the friend [philos] of Ariston.

62. So, lust [erōs] for this woman pricked Ariston, and he contrived as follows: he promised to give his friend any one thing out of all he owned, whatever Agetos might choose, and he told his friend to make him the same promise. Agētos had no fear about his wife, seeing that Ariston was already married, so he agreed and they took oaths on these terms. Ariston gave Agētos whatever it was that he chose out of all his treasures, and then, seeking equal recompense from him, tried to take his friend’s wife. Agētos said that he had agreed to anything but that, but he was forced by his oath—and by being misled through deception [apatē]—to let his wife be taken.

63. In this way Ariston married his third wife, after divorcing the second one. But his new wife gave birth to Dēmarātos too soon, before ten [lunar] months had passed. When one of his servants announced to him as he sat in council with the ephors that he had a son, Ariston, knowing the time of the marriage, counted up the months on his fingers and swore on oath, “This could not be mine.” The ephors heard this but did not make anything of it. When the boy grew up, Ariston regretted having said that, for he did think [nomizein] Dēmarātos to be his own son. He named him Dēmarātos because before his birth the Spartans, acting-as-the-entirety-of-the people [pan-dēmei] had made a prayer [ārā] that Ariston, the man most highly esteemed out of all the kings of Sparta, might have a son. Thus he was named Dēmarātos ‘announced-in-prayer-by-the-people [dēmos]’.12

64. Time passed and Ariston died, so Dēmarātos held the kingship. But it seems that these matters had to become known and cause Dēmarātos to lose his kingship. He had already had a falling out with Kleomenes when he had brought the army back from Eleusis, and now they were even more at odds when Kleomenes crossed over the sea to attack the Aeginetans who were Medizing.13

65. Kleomenes wanted revenge, so he made a deal with Leotykhides son of Menares son of Agis, of the same lineage [oikiā] as Dēmarātos. The deal was that Leotykhides would go with Kleomenes against the Aeginetans if he became king. Leotykhides had already become strongly hostile [ekhthros] to Dēmarātos for the following reason: Leotykhides was betrothed to Perkalos, daughter of Demarmenos, but Dēmarātos plotted and robbed him of his marriage, stealing Perkalos and marrying her first. From this affair Leotykhides had hostility [= noun of ekhthros] against Dēmarātos, so at the instigation of Kleomenes he took an oath against him, saying that he was not king of the Spartans by right, since he was the son of Ariston. After making this oath, he prosecuted him, recalling [ana-sōzein] that the utterance [epos] that Ariston had made when the servant told him he had a son, and he counted up the months and swore that it was not his. Taking his stand on this saying, Leotykhides declared that Dēmarātos was not the son of Ariston and that he was not the rightful king of Sparta, bringing as witnesses the ephors who had been sitting beside Ariston and heard him say this.

66. Since there was in the end [telos] continued quarreling [neikos plural], the Spartans resolved to ask the oracle [khrēstērion] at Delphi if Dēmarātos was the son of Ariston. At the instigation of Kleomenes this was revealed to the Pythia. He had won over a man of great dynastic influence among the Delphians, Kobon son of Aristophantos, and Kobon persuaded the prophetess [pro-mantis], Periallos, to say what Kleomenes wanted her to. When the ambassadors asked if Demaretos was the son of Ariston, the Pythia judged [krinein] that he was not. All this got out later; Kobon was exiled from Delphi, and Perialla the prophetess [pro-mantis] was deposed from her position of honor [tīmē].

67. So it was concerning the loss by Dēmarātos of his kingship. Then he went into exile from Sparta and defected to the Medes14 because of an insult [oneidos]. And what follows is the kind of insult it was. After he was deposed from the kingship he was elected to the office [arkhē] of archon [arkhōn] [of a festival]. It was at the time of the [festival of the] Gymnopaidiai, and Dēmarātos was performing-his-official-role-as-observer [theâsthai]. Leotykhides, now the king instead of him [=Dēmarātos], sent an attendant [therapōn] to Dēmarātos to ask him, as a joke and an insult, what it was like for him to be-an-archon [arkhein] after being king [basileuein]. Pained [algeîn] at the question, he [=Dēmarātos] said that he had experience of both, while Leotykhides did not, and that this question would be the beginning for Sparta of either immense misery [kakotēs] or immense happiness [eudaimoniā].15 He said this, covered his head, left the viewing-area [theātron], and went back to his house, where he immediately made preparations and sacrificed [thuein] an ox to Zeus. Then he summoned his mother.

68. When she came in, he put some of the entrails [of the sacrificed ox- in her hands and entreated her, saying, “Mother, appealing to Zeus of-the-household [herkeios] and to all the other gods, I beseech you to tell me the truth [alētheia]. Who is my father? Tell me the straight story. Leotykhides said in his quarrelling-words [neikos plural] that you were already pregnant by your former husband when you came to Ariston. Others say more ineptly that you went to one of the servants [oiketai], the keeper-of-donkeys [ono-phorbos], and that I am his son. I adjure you by the gods to speak what is true [alēthes]. If you have done any of the things they say, you are not the only one; you are in company with many women. There is much talk at Sparta that Ariston did not have child-bearing seed in him, or his former wives would have given him children.”

69. Thus he spoke. His mother answered, “My son, since you adjure me by entreaties to speak the truth [alētheia], I will speak out to you all that is true [alēthes]. On the third night after Ariston brought me to his household, a phantom [phasma] resembling him came to me. It slept with me and then put on me the garlands [stephanoi] that it had. It went away, and when Ariston came in later and saw me with the garlands [stephanoi], he asked who gave them to me. I said he did, but he denied it. I swore an oath that just a little while before he had come in and slept with me and given me the garlands [stephanoi], and I said it was not good of him to deny it. When he saw me swearing, he perceived that this was a happening [pragma] that was superhuman [theion]. For one thing, it was evident [phanēnai that the garlands [stephanoi] had come from the hero-shrine [hērōion] that is established at the courtyard doors, which they call the shrine of Astrabakos. For another thing, the seers [mantis plural] responded [an-haireîn] [to those who consulted them] that this was the same hero [hērōs] [who had come to me]. Thus, my son, you have all you want to know. Either you are from this hero [hērōs] and Astrabakos the hero [hērōs] is your father, or Ariston is, since I conceived you that night. As for how your enemies [ekhthroi] attack you, mainly saying that Ariston himself, when your birth was announced, denied in front of many who heard it that you were his because the ten months had not yet been completed [ek-teleîn], he let that utterance [epos] rush out [of his mouth] all too hastily, because of ignorance about such things. Some women give birth after nine months or seven months; not all complete [ek-teleîn] the ten months. I gave birth to you, my son, after seven months. A little later Ariston himself recognized that he had blurted out that utterance [epos] because of thoughtlessness. Do not believe other stories about your manner of birth. Your have heard the whole truth [alēthēs]. May the wife of Leotykhides himself, and the wives of the others who say these things, give birth to children fathered by keepers-of-donkeys [ono-phorboi].” 16

Scroll 7: Artakhaiēs

In preparation for a second invasion, the Persians, now under Xerxes, dug a canal around Mount Athos to avoid the storms on its seaward side.

117. While Xerxes was at Akanthos, it happened that Artakhaiēs, overseer of the digging of the canal, fell sick and died. He was highly esteemed by Xerxes and Achaemenid17 in lineage [genos]. He was the tallest man in Persia, being just four fingers short of five royal cubits, and had the loudest voice on earth. Xerxes was deeply distressed by his death and gave him a magnificent funeral and burial, with the whole army heaping a mound over his grave. Because of an oracle [theo-propion], the people of Akanthos sacrifice [thuein] to Artakhaiēs as a hero [hērōs], invoking him by name. Thus King Xerxes lamented the death of Artakhaiēs.

Scroll 7: Talthybios

133. Xerxes did not send envoys to Athens and Sparta to demand earth,18 because earlier Darius had sent heralds on this same mission, and when they made the demand, the Athenians threw them into a pit and the Spartans cast them into a well, telling them to carry earth and water to the king from there. Therefore Xerxes did not send men to make the demand. I am unable to say what calamitous event befell the Athenians for treating the heralds this way, unless it was the devastation of their territory and city [polis], but I do not think that it happened for this cause [aitiā].

134. But the anger [mēnis] of Talthybios, herald of Agamemnon, did fall upon the Lacedaemonians. In Sparta there is a sacred precinct [hieron] of Talthybios, and descendants of Talthybios called the Talthybiadai, are granted the privilege [geras] of conducting all embassies from Sparta. Afterwards the Spartans could get no favorable responses to whatever they sacrificed [thuein], and this went on for a long time. Feeling overburdened and dismayed, the Lacedaemonians held frequent assemblies and issued a proclamation for one of the Lacedaemonians to volunteer to die on Sparta’s behalf. Two Spartans of good birth and highest attainment in wealth, Sperthias son of Anēristos and Boulis son of Nikolaos, volunteered to pay [tinein] the penalty [poinē] to Xerxes for the heralds of Darius who had been killed in Sparta. So the Spartans sent them away to the Medes to die.

135. The bravery of these men deserves admiration, as do their utterances [epea]. On their way to Susa, the Persian capital, they came to Hydarnes, a Persian by lineage genos and the general of the coastal inhabitants in Asia, who gave them hospitality [xeniā] and feasted them. Treating them as guests [xenoi], he asked, “Men of Lacedaemon, why do you avoid being friends [philoi] of the king? You can look at me and my affairs and see that the king knows how to give honor [tīmē] to men who are noble [agathoi]. If you would just give yourselves to the king, since you are reputed by him to be noble [agathoi], each of you would rule the land of Hellas by the king’s gift.” To this they answered, “The advice you give us is not equally good, since you speak partly from knowledge, partly from ignorance. You know about being a slave, but you have no experience of freedom [eleutheriā], even to know if it is sweet or not. If you tried it, you would advise us to fight for it not only with spears, but even with axes.” Thus they answered Hydarnes.

136. They went from there up to Susa. When they had an audience with the king, the bodyguards commanded them to fall on their knees and bow [proskuneîn] before the king. They tried to use force, but the Spartans said they would never do it, even if they were pushed onto their heads, since it was not their custom [nomos] to bow [proskuneîn] to a human and that was not their reason for coming. So they got out of doing that, and then said, “King of the Medes, the Lacedaemonians have sent us to pay [tinein] the penalty [poinē] for the heralds who were killed in Sparta.” Xerxes replied magnanimously that he would not be like the Lacedaemonians, who confound the customs [nomina=noun from nomos] of all humanity by killing heralds. He said he would not do what he blamed in others, nor would he free the Lacedaemonians from guilt [aitiā] by killing these two.

137. At first the anger [mēnis] of Talthybios relented against the Spartans once they did this, even though Sperthias and Boulis returned home [nosteîn]. But long afterwards the Lacedaemonians say that it awoke again during the war of the Peloponnesians and the Athenians. What was most superhuman [theion], I think, about the affair was this: as was just [dikaion], the anger [mēnis] of Talthybios fell upon messengers and did not abate until it had its outcome. That it fell upon the sons of those men who went up to the king to appease the anger [mēnis]—upon Nikolas son of Boulis and Anēristos son of Sperthias—makes it clear to me that the affair involved divine intervention in consequence of the mēnis. Aneristos was the one who landed at Tirynthian Halieis and captured it with the crew of a merchant ship. These two were sent as messengers by the Lacedaemonians to Asia, but at Bisanthe in the Hellespont they were betrayed by Sitalkes son of Teres, king of the Thracians, and by Nymphodoros son of Pytheas, of Abdera. They were taken prisoner and carried away to Attica, where the Athenians executed them, and with them Aristeas son of Adeimantos, a Corinthian. This happened many years after the king’s expedition.19 I now go back to my former narrative.

Scroll 7: Thetis

In 480 the Persians invaded, coming by land to Thermopylae and by sea to Magnesia, across from the Hellenic fleet at Artemision.

188. The Persian fleet put to sea and reached the beach of the Magnesian territory, between the city [polis] of Kasthanaia and the headland of Sepias.20 The first ships to arrive moored close to land, with the others after them at anchor; since the beach was not large, they were at anchor in rows eight ships deep out into the sea [pontos]. Thus they spent the night, but at dawn out of a clear and windless sky a storm descended upon them and the sea began to boil. A strong east wind blew, which the people inhabiting [oikeîn] those parts call Hellespontiēs. Those who felt the wind rising or had proper mooring dragged their ships up on shore ahead of the storm and so survived with their ships. But the wind carried those ships caught out in the open against the rocks called the Ovens at Pelion or onto the beach. Some ships were wrecked on the headland of Sepias, others were cast ashore at the city [polis] of Meliboia or at Kasthanaia. The storm was indeed beyond endurance.

189. The story is told that because of an oracle [theo-propion] the Athenians invoked Boreas, the north wind, to help them, since another oracle [khrēstērion] told them to summon their son-in-law as an ally. According to the Hellenic story, Boreas had an Attic wife, Oreithyia, the daughter of Erekhtheus, ancient king of Athens. Because of this connection, so the tale goes, the Athenians reckoned Boreas to be their son-in-law. They were stationed off Khalkis in Euboea, and when they saw the storm rising, they then, if they had not already, sacrificed to [thuesthai] and called upon [epi-kaleîn] Boreas and Oreithyia to help [tīmōreîn] them by destroying the barbarian fleet, just as before at Athos. I cannot say whether this was why Boreas descended upon the barbarians as they lay at anchor, but the Athenians say that he had come to their aid before and that he was the agent this time. When they went home they established a sacred precinct [hieron] of Boreas beside the Ilissos river.

190. They say that at the very least no fewer than 400 ships were destroyed in this ordeal [ponos], along with innumerable men and abundant property. This shipwreck proved useful to Ameinokles son of Kretines, a man of Magnesia who owned land around Sepias, for he later picked up many gold and silver cups cast up on shore, found the Persian treasures, and acquired other untold wealth. Although he became very rich from his gleanings, he did not enjoy luck in everything, for even he was grieved by a calamity that was utterly unfavorable [a-kharis] when his son was killed.

191. There was no counting how many grain-ships and other vessels were destroyed. The generals of the fleet were afraid that the Thessalians might attack them now that they were in a bad situation, so they built a high palisade out of the wreckage. The storm lasted three days. Finally [telos] the Magi [magoi] made sacrifices [en-toma] and cast-spells-upon [kat-aeidein] the wind, sacrificing [thuein] also to Thetis and the Nereids. Thus they made the wind stop on the fourth day, or perhaps it died down on its own. They sacrificed to Thetis after hearing from the Ionians the story that it was at this place that Peleus had abducted [harpazein] her, and that all the headland of Sepias belonged to her and to the other Nereids.

192. So on the fourth day the storm had ceased. On the second day after the storm began, the scouts [hēmero-skopoi] stationed on the headlands of Euboea ran down and indicated [sēmainein] to the Hellenes everything about the shipwreck. After hearing this they prayed to Poseidon as their savior [sōtēr] and poured libations, then hurried to Artemision hoping to find few ships opposing them. So they came a second time to Artemision and made their station there. Ever since then up to the present they are accustomed [nomizein= verb of nomos] to call Poseidon their savior [sōtēr].

Book 7: Thermopylae

201. King Xerxes lay encamped in Trakhis in Malis, and the Hellenes in the pass. This place is called Thermopylae by most of the Hellenes, but by the natives and their neighbors Pylai.1 Each lay encamped in these places. Xerxes was master of everything to the north from Trakhis, and the Hellenes of all that lay toward the south on the mainland.

202. The Hellenes that awaited the Persians in that place were these: 300 Spartan armed men; 1,000 from Tegea and Mantinea, half from each place; 120 from Orkhomenos in Arcadia and 1,000 from the rest of Arcadia; that many Arcadians, 400 from Corinth, 200 from Phlius, and 80 Mycenaeans. These were the Peloponnesians present; from Boeotia there were 700 Thespians and 400 Thebans.

203. In addition, the Opuntian Locrians had come in full force at the summons, and 1,000 Phocians. The Hellenes had summoned them by messengers who told them that this was only the advance guard, that the rest of the allies were expected any day now, and that the sea was being watched, with the Athenians and Aiginetans and all those enrolled in the fleet on guard. There was nothing for them to be afraid of. The invader of Hellas was not a god but a human being, and there was not, and never would be, any mortal on whom some amount of misery was not bestowed from the start at birth, with the greatest men taking the largest share. The one marching against them was certain to fall from pride, since he was a mortal. When they heard this, the Locrians and Phocians marched to Trakhis to help.

204. Each city had its own general, but the one most admired and the leader of the whole army was a Lacedaemonian, Leonidas son of Anaxandrides son of Leon son of Eurykratides son of Anaxandros son of Eurykrates son of Polydoros son of Alkamenes son of Teleklos son of Arkhelaos son of Hegesilaos son of Doryssos son of Leobotes son of Ekhestratos son of Agis son of Eurysthenes son of Aristodemos son of Aristomakhos son of Kleodaios son of Hyllos son of Hēraklēs. Leonidas had gained the kingship at Sparta unexpectedly.

205. Having two elder brothers, Kleomenes and Dorieus, he had renounced all thought of the kingship, but Kleomenes had died without male offspring, and Dorieus was also no longer alive, having met his end in Sicily. Thus the succession fell to Leonidas, because he was older than Anaxandrides’ youngest son Kleombrotos and had married Kleomenes’ daughter. He now came to Thermopylae with the appointed 300 he had selected, all of whom had sons. He also brought those Thebans whom I counted among the number, whose general was Leontiades son of Eurymakhos. Leonidas took pains to bring only the Thebans among the Hellenes, because they were strongly accused of Medizing. So he summoned them to the war wishing to know whether they would send their men with him or openly refuse the Hellenic alliance. They sent the men but were really on the other side.

206. The Spartans sent these men with Leonidas on ahead so that the rest of the allies would see them and march, instead of Medizing like the others if they learned that the Spartans were delaying. At present the Feast of the Karneia was in their way, but once they had completed the festival, they intended to leave a garrison at Sparta and march out in full force with all speed. The rest of the allies planned to do likewise, for the Olympiad coincided with these events. Thus they sent their advance guard, not expecting the war at Thermopylae to be decided so quickly.

207. So they intended, but the Hellenes at Thermopylae, when the Persians drew near the pass, fearfully took counsel whether to depart. The rest of the Peloponnesians were for returning to the Peloponnese and guarding the isthmus, but the Phocians and Locrians were greatly angered by this counsel. Leonidas voted to remain where they were and send messengers to the cities, bidding them send help, since they were too few to ward off the army of the Medes.

208. While they thus debated, Xerxes sent a mounted scout to see how many there were and what they were doing, for while he was still in Thessaly he had heard that a small army was gathered there and that its leaders were Lacedaemonians, including Leonidas, a Hērakleid8 in genos. Riding up to the camp, the horseman watched and spied out the place, but he could not see the whole camp, for it was impossible to see those posted inside the wall they had rebuilt and were guarding. He did take note of those outside, whose arms lay in front of the wall, and it chanced that at that time the Lacedaemonians were posted there. He saw some of the men exercising naked and others combing their hair. He marveled at the sight and perceived their numbers. When he had observed it all carefully, he rode back undisturbed, since no one pursued him or paid him any attention at all. So he returned and told Xerxes all that he had seen.

209. When Xerxes heard that, he could not comprehend the reality that the Lacedaemonians were preparing to kill or be killed to the best of their ability. What they did appeared laughable to him, so he sent for Demaretos the son of Ariston, who was in his camp, and when he came asked him about each of these matters, wanting to understand what it was that the Lacedaemonians were doing. Demaretos said, “You have already heard about these men from me, when we were setting out for Hellas. But when you heard, you mocked me, though I told you how I saw these affairs turning out. For it is my greatest aim, O King, to exercise truthin your presence. Hear me now. These men have come to fight us for the pass, and for that they are preparing. This is their custom [nomos]: when they are about to risk their psūkhai, they carefully arrange their hair. Know that if you overcome these men and those remaining behind at Sparta, there is no other on earth that will raise its hands to withstand you, my King. You are now attacking the fairest kingdom in Hellas and men who are aristoi.” What he said seemed completely incredible to Xerxes, so he then asked how they would fight against his army, being so few. Demaretos answered, “My King, take me for a liar if this does not turn out as I say.” So he spoke, but he did not persuade Xerxes.

210. He let four days go by, expecting them to run away at any minute. They did not leave, and it seemed to him that they stayed out of folly and shamelessness. On the fifth day he got angry and sent the Medes and Cissians against them, bidding them take them prisoner and bring them into his presence. The Medes bore down upon the Hellenes and attacked. Many fell, but others attacked in turn, and they were not driven off, though they suffered terrible disaster. They made it clear to everyone, especially to the king himself, that among so many people there were few real men. The battle lasted all day.

211. After the Medes were roughly handled they retired, and the Persians whom the king called Immortals attacked in turn, led by Hydarnes. It was thought that they would easily accomplish the task, but when they joined battle with the Hellenes they fared neither better nor worse than the Median army, since they used shorter spears than the Hellenes and could not use their numbers fighting in a narrow space. The Lacedaemonians fought memorably, showing themselves skilled fighters amidst unskilled on many occasions, as when they would turn their backs and feign flight all together. The barbarians would see them fleeing and give chase with shouting and noise, but when the Lacedaemonians were overtaken they would turn to face the barbarians and overthrow innumerable Persians. A few of the Spartans themselves were also slain. When the Persians could gain no inch of the pass, attacking by companies and in every other fashion, they withdrew.

212. During these assaults in the battle, it is said that the king as he watched jumped up three times from the throne in fear for his army. Thus they contended, and on the next day the barbarians fought no better. They joined battle supposing that their enemies, being so few, were now disabled by wounds and could no longer resist. But the Hellenes stood ordered in ranks by nation and each of them fought in turn, except the Phocians, who were posted on the mountain to guard the path. When the Persians found nothing different from what they saw the day before, they withdrew.

213. The king was at a loss how to deal with the present difficulty. Ephialtes son of Eurydemos, a Malian, thinking he would get a great reward from the king, came to speak with him and told him of the path leading over the mountain to Thermopylae. Thus he caused the destruction of the Hellenes remaining there. Later he fled into Thessaly in fear of the Lacedaemonians, and in exile a price was put on his head by the Pylagoroi, when the Amphiktyons assembled at Pylai.3 Still later he returned from exile to Antikyra and was killed by Athenades, a Trakhinian. Athenades slew Ephialtes for a different reason, which I will tell later in my history, but he was given no less tīmē by the Lacedaemonians. In this way Ephialtes was later killed.

214. There is another story told, that Onetes son of Phanagoras, a Karystian, and Korydallos of Antikyra are the ones who gave the king this information and guided the Persians around the mountain, but I find it totally incredible. One must judge by the fact that the Pylagoroi set a price not on Onetes and Korydallos but on Ephialtes the Trakhinian, and I suppose they had exact knowledge. And we know that Ephialtes was banished on this charge. Onetes, though not a Malian, might have known the path if he had often come to that country, but Ephialtes was the one who guided them along the path around the mountain. I write him down as the one who was responsible [aitios].

215. Xerxes was pleased by what Ephialtes promised to accomplish. He immediately became overjoyed and sent out Hydarnes and the men under Hydarnes’ command, who set forth from the camp at about lamp-lighting time. This path had been discovered by the native Malians, who used it to guide the Thessalians into Phocis when the Phocians had fenced off the pass with a wall and were sheltered from the war. So, long ago, the Malians had discovered that the pass was in no way a good thing.

216. The path is as follows: It begins at the river Asopos as it flows through the ravine, and this mountain and the path have the same name, Anopaia. This Anopaia stretches along the ridge of the mountain and ends at Alpenos, the Locrian polis nearest to Malis, near the rock called Blackbuttock and the seats of the Kerkopes, where it is narrowest.

217. Of this nature was the path. The Persians crossed the Asopos and traveled all night along this path, with the Oetaean mountains on their right and the Trakhinian on their left. At dawn they came to the summit of the pass. In this part of the mountain 1,000 armed men of the Phocians were on watch, as I have already shown, defending their own country and guarding the path. The lower pass was held by those I have mentioned, but the Phocians had voluntarily promised Leonidas to guard the path over the mountain.

218. The Phocians learned in the following way that the Persians had climbed up: They had ascended without the Phocians’ notice because the mountain was entirely covered with oak trees. Though there was no wind, a great noise arose like leaves being trodden underfoot. The Phocians jumped up and began to put on their arms, and in a moment the barbarians were there. When they saw the men arming themselves, they were amazed, for they had supposed that no opposition would appear, but they had now met with an army. Hydarnes feared that the Phocians might be Lacedaemonians and asked Ephialtes what country the army was from. When he learned with certainty, he arrayed the Persians for battle. The Phocians, assailed by thick showers of arrows and supposing that the Persians had set out against them from the start, fled away to the top of the mountain and prepared to be destroyed. So they thought, but the Persians with Ephialtes and Hydarnes paid no attention to the Phocians and went down the mountain as fast as possible.

219. The seer [mantis] Megistias, after examining the sacrifices, first told the Hellenes at Thermopylae that death was coming to them with the dawn. Then deserters came who announced the circuit made by the Persians. These gave their reports [sēmainein] while it was still night; a third report came from the watchers running down from the heights when day dawned. The Hellenes then took counsel, but their opinions were divided. Some advised not to leave their post, but others spoke against them. They eventually parted, some taking their departure and dispersing each to their own cities, others preparing to remain there with Leonidas.

220. It is said that Leonidas himself sent them away, concerned lest they be killed, but felt it not fitting for himself and the Spartans to desert that post which they had come to defend at the beginning. But I tend more to believe that when Leonidas perceived that the allies were dispirited and unwilling to run all risks with him, he told them to depart. But it was not good for him to leave: If he remained, he would leave a name of great kleos, and the good fortune [eudaimoniā]of Sparta would not be blotted out. When the Spartans had asked the oracle about this war as soon as it first arose, the Pythia prophesied to them that either Lacedaemon would be destroyed by the barbarians or their king would be killed. She gave them this answer in hexameter verse [epea], running as follows:

For you, inhabitants of wide-wayed Sparta, either your great and glorious city must be wasted by Persian men, or if not that, then the bound of Lacedaemon must mourn a dead king, from Hēraklēs’ line. The menos of bulls or lions will not restrain him with opposing force, for he has the menos of Zeus. I declare that he will not be restrained until he utterly tears apart one of these.

Considering this and wishing to lay up kleos for the Spartans alone, he sent away the allies rather than have them leave in disorder after divided counsels.

221. Not the least proof I have of this is that Leonidas publicly dismissed the seer who attended the expedition, lest he die with them. This was Megistias the Akarnanian, said to be descended from Melampous, the one who told from the sacrifices what was going to happen to them. He was dismissed but did not leave, instead sending away his only son who was also with the army.

222. Those allies who were dismissed went off in obedience to Leonidas, only the Thespians and Thebans remaining with the Lacedaemonians. The Thebans remained against their will and desire, for Leonidas kept them as hostages. The Thespians very gladly remained, saying they would not abandon Leonidas and those with him by leaving; instead they would stay and die with them. Their general was Demophilos son of Diadromes.

223. Xerxes made libation at sunrise and waited till about mid-morning, then made his assault. Ephialtes had advised this, for the descent from the mountain is more direct and the way is much shorter than the circuit and ascent. Xerxes and his barbarians attacked, but Leonidas and his Hellenes, knowing they were going to their deaths, advanced now much farther than before into the wider part of the pass. In all the previous days they had sallied out into the narrow way and fought there, guarding the defensive wall. But now they joined battle outside the narrows and many of the barbarians fell, for the leaders of the companies beat everyone with whips from behind, urging them ever forward. Many of them were pushed into the sea and drowned; far more were trampled alive by each other, with no regard for who perished. Since the Hellenes knew that they must die at the hands of those who had come around the mountain, they displayed the greatest strength they had against the barbarians, fighting recklessly and desperately.

224. By this time most of them had had their spears broken and were killing the Persians with swords. Leonidas fell in that ordeal [ponos], an aristos man, and with him other famous Spartans, whose names I have learned since they were worthy men. Indeed, I have learned the names of all 300. Many famous Persians also fell there, including two sons of Darius, Abrokomes and Hyperanthes, born to Darius by Phratagune daughter of Artanes. Artanes was the brother of king Darius, and son of Hystaspes son of Arsames. When he gave his daughter in marriage to Darius, he gave his whole house as dowry, since she was his only child.

225. So two brothers of Xerxes fought and fell there. There was a great struggle between the Persians and Lacedaemonians over Leonidas’ body, until the Hellenes by their achievement [aretē] dragged it away and routed their enemies four times. The battle went on until the men with Ephialtes arrived. When the Hellenes saw that they had come, at that point the struggle turned, for they retired back to the narrow part of the way, passed behind the wall, and took their position crowded together on the hill, all except the Thebans. This hill is at the mouth of the pass, where now stands the stone lion in honor of Leonidas. In that place they defended themselves with swords, if they still had them, and with hands and teeth. The barbarians buried them with missiles, some attacking from the front and throwing down the defensive wall, others surrounding them on all sides.

226. Thus were the Lacedaemonians and Thespians, and the Spartan Dienekes is said to have been aristos. They say that he made this saying [epos] before they joined battle with the Medes: He had learned from a Trakhinian that there were so many of the barbarians that when they shot their missiles, the sun was hidden by the multitude of their arrows. He was not at all disturbed by this and made light of the multitude of the Medes, saying that their Trakhinian xenos brought them good news. If the Medes hid the sun, they could fight them in the shade instead of out in the sun. This epos and others like it they say Dienekes the Lacedaemonian left behind as a memorial.

227. Next after him two Lacedaemonian brothers, Alpheus and Maron, sons of Orsiphantos, are said to have been aristoi. The Thespian who gained most renown was one whose name was Dithyrambos son of Harmatides.

228. There is an inscription written over these men, who were buried where they fell, and over those who died before the others went away dismissed by Leonidas. It reads as follows:

Here four thousand from the Peloponnese once fought three million.

That inscription is for them all, but the Spartans have their own:

xenos, go tell the Spartans that we lie here obedient to their commands.

That one is to the Lacedaemonians, this one to the seer [mantis]:

This is a monument to Megistias who has kleos, slain by the Medes who crossed the Sperkheios river. The mantis well knew his coming doom, but bore not to abandon the leaders of Sparta.

Except for the seer’s inscription, the Amphiktyons are the ones who honored them with inscriptions and pillars. That of the seer Megistias was inscribed by Simonides4 son of Leoprepes for the sake of xeniā.

229. It is said that two of these 300, Eurytos and Aristodemos, could have agreed with each other either to come home safe together to Sparta, since Leonidas had dismissed them from the camp and they were lying at Alpenoi very sick of ophthalmia, or to die with the others, if they were unwilling to return home. They could have done either of these things, but they could not agree and had different intentions. When Eurytos learned of the Persians’ circuit, he demanded his armor and put it on, then told his helot5 to lead him to the fighting. The helot led him there and fled away, and he rushed into the fray and was killed. But Aristodemos lost his psūkhē6 and stayed behind. Now if Aristodemos alone had been sick and returned to Sparta, or if they had they had both made the trip, I think the Spartans would have had no mēnis against them. But when one of them died, and the other had the same excuse but was unwilling to die, the Spartans had no choice but to have great mēnis at Aristodemos.

230. Some say that in this way and by this excuse Aristodemos came home safe to Sparta. Others say that he had been sent out of the camp as a messenger and could have come back in time for the battle but chose not to, staying behind on the road and so surviving, while his fellow-messenger arrived at the battle and was killed.

231. When Aristodemos returned to Lacedaemon, he was disgraced and without tīmē. He was deprived of tīmē in this way: no Spartan would give him fire or speak with him, and they taunted him by calling him Aristodemos the Trembler. But in the battle at Plataea he made up for all the blame brought against him.

232. It is said that another of the 300 survived because he was sent as a messenger to Thessaly. His name was Pantites. Returning to Sparta, he was deprived of tīmē and hanged himself.

233. The Thebans, whose general was Leontiades, fought against the king’s army as long as they were with the Hellenes and under compulsion. But when they saw the Persian side prevailing and the Hellenes with Leonidas hurrying toward the hill, they split off and approached the barbarians, holding out their hands. With the most true words ever spoken, they explained that they were Medizers, had been among the first to give earth and water to the king, had come to Thermopylae under constraint, and were guiltless of the harm done to the king. By this plea they saved their lives, and the Thessalians bore witness to their words. But they were not completely lucky. When the barbarians got hold of them as they approached, they even killed some of them as they drew near. Most of them were branded by Xerxes’ command with the king’s markings, starting with the general Leontiades. His son Eurymakhos long afterwards was murdered by the Plataeans when, as general of 400 Thebans, he seized the city of Plataea. Thus fought the Hellenes at Thermopylae.


1 ‘The Gates’—since it served as the entrance into Greece from the north. Thermopylae means ‘the Hot Gates’, from the warm springs there. ^

2 That is, one of the Hērakleidai, descendants of Hēraklēs. ^

3 The Amphictyonic League was a religious association of numerous Hellenic states, whose emissaries were called Pylagoroi, since they held their agorā at Pylai. ^

4 The premier lyric poet of this era. ^

5 The Helots were inhabitants of Messenia and Laconia held as serfs by the Spartans. ^

6 That is, he lost his nerve. ^

Book 8: Phylakaos and Autonoos

After their victory at Thermopylae, all central Hellas lay open to the Persians.

36. When the people of Delphi heard of the barbarians’ approach, they fell into great terror. In their fear they asked the oracle about the sacred [hiera] property, if they should bury it underground or carry it away to another country. The god forbade them to move it, saying that he was able to guard his own. When the Delphians heard this, they then took thought for themselves. They sent their children and women across to Akhaia, while most of the men climbed up to the peaks of Parnassos and carried their goods up to the Korykian cave, and others retired to Amphissa in Locris. All the Delphians abandoned the city except for 60 men and the minister of the oracle.

37. When the barbarians came near in their approach and saw the sacred precinct from afar, the minister of the oracle, whose name was Akeratos, saw that the sacred weapons, which are unholy for any man to touch, had been carried out of the hall and placed in front of the temple, so he went to tell the Delphians who were there about this portent. When the barbarians in their haste had come to a spot near the sacred precinct of Athena Pronaia, they received portents even greater than the one before. It is a very great marvel that weapons of war should by themselves appear lying outside in front of the temple, but what happened next is the most marvelous of all portents ever. When the barbarians came near the sacred precinct of Athena Pronaia, thunderbolts fell upon them from heaven, two peaks broke off Parnassos and rushed at them with a terrible noise, hitting many of them, and a shout and war-cry came from the sacred precinct of Pronaia.

38. When all this happened at once, panic fell upon the barbarians. The Delphians saw them fleeing and came down in pursuit, killing quite a number of them. The survivors fled straight to Boeotia, and I have learned that the barbarians who got home said they saw still other divine occurrences: two armed men, larger than human, followed in pursuit, killing them.

39. The Delphians say that these two are native heroes, Phylakos1 and Autonoos.2 Their areas are near the sacred precinct, that of Phylakos right by the road above the sacred precinct of Athena Pronaia, that of Autonoos near the spring Kastalia, under the peak of Hyampeia. The rocks that fell from Parnassos were still there in my day, lying in the sacred precinct of Athena Pronaia, where they crashed down upon the barbarians. This was the departure of those men from the sacred precinct.


1 Literally, ‘Guardian’. ^

2 Literally, ‘He who has his own noos’. ^


Book 8: Salamis

40. At the request of the Athenians, the fleet of the Hellenes came from Artemision and put in at Salamis. The Athenians requested them to put in at Salamis so that they could bring their children and women out of Attica and also take counsel what they should do. They had been disappointed in their plans, so they were going to hold a council about the current state of affairs. They expected to find the full forces of the Peloponnesians in Boeotia awaiting the barbarian, but they found no such thing. They learned that they were fortifying the Isthmus1 instead and considered the defense of the Peloponnese the most important thing, disregarding all the rest. When the Athenians learned this, they asked the fleet to put in at Salamis.

41. While the others put in at Salamis, the Athenians landed in their own country. When they arrived they made a proclamation that every Athenian should save his children and servants as he best could. Thereupon most of them sent their households to Trozen, and some to Aigina and Salamis. They were anxious to get everything out safely because they wished to obey the oracle, and also not least because of this: The Athenians say that a great snake lives in the sacred precinct guarding the acropolis.2 They say this and even put out monthly offerings for it as if it really existed. The monthly offering is a honey-cake. In all the time before this the honey-cake had been consumed, but this time it was untouched. When the priestess indicated [semainein] this, the Athenians were all the more eager to abandon the polis, since the goddess had deserted the acropolis. When they had removed everything to safety they returned to the camp.

42. When those from Artemision had put in at Salamis, the rest of the Hellenic fleet learned of this and streamed in from Trozen, for they had been commanded to assemble at Pogon, the harbor of Trozen. Many more ships assembled now than had fought at Artemision, and from more cities. The admiral was the same as at Artemision, Eurybiades son of Eurykleides, a Spartan but not of royal family. The ships provided by the Athenians were by far the most numerous and the most seaworthy.

43. The following took part in the war: From the Peloponnese, the Lacedaemonians provided 16 ships; the Corinthians the same number as at Artemision; the Sikyonians furnished 15 ships, the Epidaurians 10, the Trozenians 5, the Hermioneans 3. All of these except the Hermioneans are Dorian and Macedonian and had last come from Erineos and Pindos and the Dryopian region. The Hermioneans are Dryopians, driven out of the country now called Doris by Hēraklēs and the Malians.

44. These were the Peloponnesians who took part in the war. From the mainland outside the Peloponnese came the following: The Athenians provided more than all the rest, 180 ships, alone, since the Plataeans did not fight with the Athenians at Salamis for this reason: when the Hellenes departed from Artemision and were off Khalkis, the Plataeans landed on the opposite shore of Boeotia and attended to the removal of their households, and in bringing these to safety they were left behind. The Athenians, while the Pelasgians ruled what is now called Hellas, had been Pelasgians, bearing the name of Kranaoi. When Kekrops was their king they were called Kekropidai, and when Erekhtheus succeeded to the rule they changed their name and became Athenians, but when Ion son of Xouthos was commander of the Athenian army they were called after him Ionians.

45. The Megarians provided the same number as at Artemision. The Ambraciots came to help with 7 ships, and the Leucadians, who are Dorians from Corinth, with 3.

46. Of the islanders, the Aiginetans provided 30 ships. They had other manned ships, but they guarded their own land with these and fought at Salamis with the 30 most seaworthy. The Aiginetans are Dorians from Epidauros and their island was formerly called Oinone. After the Aiginetans came the Khalkidians with the 20 ships from Artemision, and the Eretrians with the same 7; these are Ionians. Next were the Keians, Ionians from Athens, with the same ships as before. The Naxians provided 4 ships. They had been sent by their fellow citizens to the Persians, like the rest of the islanders, but they disregarded their orders and came to the Hellenes at the urging of Demokritos, an esteemed man among the townsmen and at that time captain of a trireme. The Naxians are Ionians descended from Athens. The Styrians provided the same number of ships as at Artemision, and the Kythnians one trireme and a 50-oared boat; these are both Dryopians. The Seriphians and Siphnians and Melians also took part, since they were the only islanders who had not given earth and water to the barbarian.

47. All these people who live this side of Thesprotia and the Acheron river took part in the war. The Thesprotians border on the Ambraciots and Leucadians, who were the ones who came from the most distant countries to take part in the war. The only ones living beyond these to help Hellas in its danger were the Krotonians,3 with one ship. Its captain was Phayllos, three times victor in the Pythian games. The Krotonians are Achaeans by genos.

48. All of these came to the war providing triremes, except the Melians and Siphnians and Seriphians, who brought fifty-oared boats. The Melians, from Lacedaemon by genos, provided two; the Siphnians and Seriphians, who are Ionians from Athens, one each. The total number of ships, besides the fifty-oared boats, was 378.

49. When the generals from the aforementioned cities met at Salamis, they held a council and Eurybiades proposed that whoever wanted should give his opinion on what place under their control was most suitable for a sea battle. Attica was already lost, and he proposed they consider the places that were left. The consensus of most of the speakers was to sail to the Isthmus and fight at sea for the Peloponnese, giving this reason: if they were defeated in the fight at Salamis they would be besieged on an island, where no help could come to them, but if they were at the Isthmus they could get ashore to their own lands.

50. While the generals from the Peloponnese considered this argument, an Athenian came with the message that the barbarian had reached Attica and it was all laid waste by fire. The army with Xerxes had made its way through Boeotia and burned the polis of the Thespians, who had abandoned it and gone to the Peloponnese, and Plataea likewise. Now they had come to Athens and were devastating everything there. They burnt Thespiai and Plataea because they learned from the Thebans that they had not Medized.

51. Since the crossing of the Hellespont, where the barbarians began their journey, they had spent one month there crossing into Europe and in three more months were in Attica, when Kalliades was archon at Athens. When they took the city it was deserted, but in the sacred precinct they found a few Athenians, stewards of the sacred precinct and poor people, who defended themselves against the assault by fencing the acropolis with doors and logs. They had not withdrawn to Salamis out of poverty, but also because they thought they had found out the meaning of the oracle the Pythia had given, that the wooden wall would be impregnable. They believed that according to the oracle this, not the ships, was the refuge.

52. The Persians took up a position on the hill opposite the acropolis, which the Athenians call the Areopagus, and besieged them in this way: they wrapped arrows in tow and set them on fire, then shot them at the barricade. Still the besieged Athenians defended themselves, although they had come to extreme misery and their barricade had failed them. When the Peisistratidai proposed terms of surrender they would not listen, but contrived defenses such as rolling down boulders onto the barbarians when they came near the gates. For a long time Xerxes was at a loss, unable to capture them.

53. But in time a way out of their difficulties was revealed to the barbarians, since by the oracle all the mainland of Attica had to become subject to the Persians. In front of the acropolis, and behind the gates and the ascent, was a place where no one was on guard, since no one thought any man could get up that way. But here some men climbed up, near the sacred precinct of Kekrops’ daughter Aglauros, though the place was a sheer cliff. When the Athenians saw that they had ascended to the acropolis, some threw themselves off the wall and were killed, and others fled into the chamber. The Persians who had come up first turned to the gates, got them open, and murdered the suppliants. When all had been laid low, they plundered the sacred precinct and set fire to the entire acropolis.

54. Thus Xerxes took complete possession of Athens, and he sent a horseman to Susa to announce his present success to Artabanos. On the day after the messenger was sent, he called together the Athenian exiles who accompanied him and told them to go up to the acropolis and perform sacrifices in their own way. He gave this order after having a dream, or because he felt remorse after burning the sacred precinct. The Athenian exiles did as they were commanded.

55. I will tell why I have mentioned this. In that acropolis is a shrine of Erekhtheus, called the “Earthborn,” and in the shrine are an olive tree and a pool of salt water.4 The story among the Athenians is that they were set there by Poseidon and Athena as tokens when they contended for the land. It befell the olive tree to be burned by the barbarians with the rest of the sacred precinct, but on the day after its burning, when the Athenians bidden by the king to sacrifice went up to the sacred precinct, they saw a shoot of about a cubit’s length sprung from the stump, and they reported this.5

56. When these happenings concerning the Athenian acropolis were announced to the Hellenes at Salamis, some of the Peloponnesian generals became so alarmed that they did not even wait for the proposed matter to be decided, but jumped into their ships and hoisted their sails for flight. Those left behind resolved that the fleet should fight for the Isthmus. Night fell and they dissolved the assembly and boarded their ships.

57. When Themistokles returned to his ship, Mnesiphilos, an Athenian, asked him what had been decided. Learning from him that they had resolved to sail to the Isthmus and fight for the Peloponnese, he said, “If they put out from Salamis, you will no longer be fighting for one country. Each will make his way to his own polis, and neither Eurybiades nor any other man will be able to keep them from disbanding the army. Hellas will be destroyed by bad planning. If there is any way at all that you could persuade Eurybiades to change his decision and remain here, go try to undo this resolution.”

58. This advice greatly pleased Themistokles. He made no answer and went to the ship of Eurybiades. When he got there he said he wanted to talk with him on a matter of common interest, so Eurybiades told him to come aboard and say what he wanted. Themistokles sat next to him and told him all that he had heard from Mnesiphilos, pretending it was his own idea and adding a lot. Finally by his entreaty he persuaded him to disembark and gather the generals for a council of war.

59. When they were assembled, before Eurybiades had a chance to put forward the reason he had called the generals together, Themistokles argued vehemently since his request was so earnest. While he was speaking, the Corinthian general Adeimantos son of Okytos said, “Themistokles, at the agōnes those who start before the signal are beaten with rods.” Themistokles said in justification, “Those left behind win no crown.”

60. Thus he answered the Corinthian mildly. He then said to Eurybiades nothing of what he had said before, how if they put out from Salamis they would flee different ways, for it would not be fit for him to accuse the allies in their presence. Instead he relied on a different argument and said, “It is in your hands to save Hellas, if you will obey me and remain here to fight, and not obey the words of these others and move your ships back to the Isthmus. Compare each plan after you have heard. If you join battle at the Isthmus, you will fight in the open sea where it is least to our advantage, since our ships are heavier and fewer in number. You will also lose Salamis and Megara and Aigina, even if we succeed in all else. Their land army will accompany their fleet, and so you will lead them to the Peloponnese and risk all Hellas. But if you do what I say, you will find it useful in these ways: First, by engaging many ships with our few in the strait, we shall win a great victory, if the war turn out reasonably, for it is to our advantage to fight in a strait and to their advantage to fight in a wide area. Second, Salamis will survive, where we have carried our children and women to safety. It also has in it something you are very fond of: by remaining here you will be fighting for the Peloponnese just as much as at the Isthmus, and you will not lead them to the Peloponnese, if you are sensible. If what I expect happens and we win the victory with our ships, you will not have the barbarians upon you at the Isthmus. They will advance no further than Attica and depart in disorder, and we shall profit by the survival of Megara and Aigina and Salamis, where it is prophesied that we will prevail against our enemies. Men usually succeed when they have reasonable plans. They do not if their plans are unreasonable, and the god does not assent to human intentions.”

61. As Themistokles said this, Adeimantos the Corinthian attacked him again, advising that a man without a country should keep quiet and that Eurybiades should not ask the vote of a man without a polis. He advised Themistokles to contribute his opinion when he provided a polis, attacking him in this way because Athens was captured and occupied. This time Themistokles spoke many bad words against him and the Corinthians, declaring that so long as they had 200 manned ships the Athenians had both a polis and a land greater than theirs, and that none of the Hellenes could repel them if they attacked.

62. He declared [semainein] this and turned his argument to Eurybiades, saying more vehemently than before, “If you remain here, by staying you will be an agathos man. If not, you will ruin Hellas. All our strength for war is in our ships, so listen to me. If you do not do this, we will immediately gather up our households and travel to Siris in Italy, which has been ours since ancient times, and the prophecies say we must found a colony there. You will remember these words when you are without such allies.”

63. When Themistokles said this, Eurybiades changed his mind. I think he did so chiefly out of fear that the Athenians might desert them if they set sail for the Isthmus. If the Athenians left, the rest would be no match for the enemy, so he made the choice to remain there and fight.

64. After this skirmish of pronouncements [epea], since Eurybiades had so resolved, the men at Salamis prepared to fight where they were. At sunrise on the next day there was an earthquake on land and sea, and they resolved to pray to the gods and summon the Aiakidai as allies.6 When they had so resolved, they did as follows: they prayed to all the gods, called Ajax and Telamon to come straight from Salamis, and sent a ship to Aigina for Aiakos and the other Aiakidai.

65. dikaios son of Theokydes, an Athenian exile who had become important among the Medes, said that at the time when the land of Attica was being laid waste by Xerxes’ army and there were no Athenians in the country, he was with Demaretos the Lacedaemonian on the Thriasian plain and saw advancing from Eleusis a cloud of dust as if raised by the feet of about 30,000 men. They marveled at what men might be raising such a cloud of dust and immediately heard a cry. The cry seemed to be the “Iacchus” of the mysteries, and when Demaretos, ignorant of the rites of Eleusis, asked him what was making this sound, dikaios said, “Demaretos, there is no way that some great disaster will not befall the king’s army. Since Attica is deserted, it is obvious that this voice is divine and comes from Eleusis to help the Athenians and their allies. If it descends upon the Peloponnese, the king himself and his army on the mainland will be endangered. But if it turns towards the ships at Salamis, the king will be in danger of losing his fleet. Every year the Athenians observe this festival for the Mother and the Maiden,7 and any Athenian or other Hellene who wishes is initiated. The voice which you hear is the ‘Iacchus’ they cry at this festival.”8 To this Demaretos replied, “Keep silent and tell this to no one else. If these words of yours are reported to the king, you will lose your head, and neither I nor any other man will be able to save you, so hold your peace. The gods will see to the army.” Thus he advised, and after the dust and the cry came a cloud, which rose aloft and floated away towards Salamis to the camp of the Hellenes. In this way they understood that Xerxes’ fleet was going to be destroyed. dikaios son of Theokydes used to say this, appealing to Demaretos and others as witnesses.9

66. When those stationed with Xerxes’ fleet had been to see the Laconian disaster at Thermopylae, they crossed over from Trakhis to Histiaia, waited three days, and then sailed through the Euripos, and in three more days they were at Phaleron, the port of Athens. I think no less a number invaded Athens by land and sea than came to Sepias and Thermopylae. Those killed by the storm, at Thermopylae, and in the naval battles at Artemision, I offset with those who did not yet follow the king: the Melians and Dorians and Locrians and the whole force of Boeotia except the Thespians and Plataeans; and the Karystians and Andrians and Tenians and all the rest of the islanders, except the five cities whose names I previously mentioned. The farther into Hellas the Persian advanced, the more nations followed him.

67. All these came to Athens except the Parians. The Parians stayed behind in Kythnos watching to see which way the war turned out. When the rest of them reached Phaleron, Xerxes himself went down to the ships, wishing to mix with the sailors and hear their opinions. He came and sat on his throne, and present at his summons were the despots of all the nations and the company leaders from the fleet. They sat according to the tīmē the king had granted each of them, first the king of Sidon, then the king of Tyre, then the rest. When they sat in order one after another, Xerxes sent Mardonios to test each by asking if they should fight at sea.

68. Mardonios went about questioning them, starting with the Sidonian, and all the others were unanimous, advising to fight at sea, but Artemisia10 said, “Tell the king, Mardonios, that I, who neither was most cowardly [kakē] in the sea battles off Euboea nor performed the least feats of arms, say this: ‘Master, it is right for me to declare my real opinion, what I think to be best for your cause. And I say to you this: Spare your ships, and do not fight at sea. Their men are as much stronger than your men by sea as men are stronger than women. Why is it so necessary for you to risk everything by fighting at sea? Do you not possess Athens, for which you set out on this march, and do you not have the rest of Hellas? No one stands in your way. Those who opposed you have got what they deserved. I will tell you how I think the affairs of your enemies will turn out: If you do not hurry to fight at sea, but keep your ships here and stay near land, or even advance into the Peloponnese, then, my lord, you will easily accomplish what you intended when you came here. The Hellenes are not able to hold out against you for a long time, but you will scatter them, and they will each flee to their own cities. I have learned that they have no food on this island, and it is not likely, if you lead your army against the Peloponnese, that those of them who have come from there will sit still, nor will they care to fight at sea for Athens. But if you hurry to fight at sea immediately, I fear that your fleet if worsted may also injure your army on land. In addition, my King, take this to heart: Good people’s slaves tend to be kakoi, and the slaves of kakoi tend to be good. You, who are aristos among men, have kakoi slaves, who are accounted your allies, the Egyptians and Cyprians and Cilicians and Pamphylians, who are of no use at all.’”

69. When she said this to Mardonios, all who were well-disposed toward Artemisia lamented her words, thinking she would suffer some evilfrom the king because she advised against fighting at sea. Those who were jealous and envied her, because she was given tīmē among the chief of all the allies, were glad at her answer, thinking she would be killed. But when the counsels were reported to Xerxes, he was greatly pleased by Artemisia’s opinion. Even before this he had considered her of excellent character, and now he praised her much more highly. Still he ordered that the majority be obeyed, for he believed that at Euboea they had purposely fought as kakoi because he was not there. This time he had made preparations to see the battle in person.

70. When the command to put out to sea was given, they set sail for Salamis and were marshaled in line at leisure. There was not enough daylight left for them to fight, since night came on, so they made preparations for the next day. Fear and dread possessed the Hellenes, especially those from the Peloponnese. They were afraid because they were stationed in Salamis and were about to fight at sea on behalf of the land of the Athenians, and if they were defeated they would be trapped on an island and besieged, leaving their own land unguarded.

71. That very night the land army of the barbarians began marching to the Peloponnese. Yet every possible device had been used to prevent the barbarians from invading by the mainland. As soon as the Peloponnesians learned that Leonidas and his men at Thermopylae were dead, they ran together from their cities and took up their position at the Isthmus. Their general was Kleombrotos son of Anaxandrides, the brother of Leonidas. When they were in position at the Isthmus, they demolished the Skironian road and then, after resolving in council, built a wall across the Isthmus. Since there were many tens of thousands and everyone worked, the task was completed, as they brought in stones and bricks and logs and baskets full of sand. At no moment of the day or night did those who had marched out there rest from their work.

72. These were the Hellenes who marched out in full force to the Isthmus: the Lacedaemonians and all the Arcadians, the Eleians and Corinthians and Sikyonians and Epidaurians and Phliasians and Trozenians and Hermioneans. These were the ones who marched out and feared for Hellas in her peril. The rest of the Peloponnesians cared nothing, though the Olympian and Karneian festivals were now past.

73. Seven nations inhabit the Peloponnese. Two of these are aboriginal and are now settled in the land where they lived in the old days, the Arcadians and Kynourians. One nation, the Achaean, has never left the Peloponnese, but it has left its own country and inhabits another nation’s land. The four remaining nations of the seven are immigrants, the Dorians and Aetolians and Dryopians and Lemnians. The Dorians have many famous cities, the Aetolians only Elis, the Dryopians Hermione and Asine near Laconian Kardamyle, the Lemnians all the Paroreatai. The Kynourians are aboriginal and seem to be the only Ionians, but they have been Dorianized by time and by Argive rule. They are the Orneatai and the perioikoi.11 All the remaining cities of these seven nations, except those I enumerated, stayed neutral. If I may speak freely, by staying neutral they Medized.

74. Those at the Isthmus were involved in so great a labor [ponos], since all they had was at stake and they did not expect the ships to win distinction. Those at Salamis heard of their labors but still were full of dread, fearing not for themselves but for the Peloponnese. For a time each man talked quietly to his neighbor, wondering at Eurybiades’ folly, but finally it came out into the open. They held an assembly and talked at length on the same matters as before: some said they must sail away to the Peloponnese and risk battle for that country, not stay and fight for a captured land; but the Athenians and Aiginetans and Megarians said they must stay and defend themselves.

75. When the Peloponnesians were outvoting him, Themistokles secretly left the assembly, then sent a man by boat to the Median fleet after ordering him what to say. His name was Sikinnos, and he was Themistokles’ servant and his sons’ attendant. Later Themistokles enrolled him as a Thespian, when the Thespians were adopting citizens, and made him olbios with wealth. He now came by boat and said to the generals of the barbarians, “The Athenian general has sent me without the knowledge of the other Hellenes. He is on the king’s sideand prefers that your affairs prevail, not the Hellenes’. I am to tell you that the Hellenes are terrified and plan flight, and you can now perform the finest deed of all if you do not allow them to escape. They are not of one mind and they will no longer oppose you. Instead you will see them fighting against themselves, those who are on your side against those who are not.” After indicating [semainein] this, he departed.

76. When they found the message credible, they first landed many of the Persians on the islet of Psyttalea, which lies between Salamis and the mainland. When it was midnight they brought their western wing in a circle towards Salamis, and those stationed at Keos and Kynosoura also put out to sea, occupying all the passage as far as Mounikhia with their ships. They launched their ships in this way so that the Hellenes would have no escape: they would be trapped at Salamis and pay the penalty for the battles at Artemision. The purpose of their landing Persians on the islet called Psyttalea was this: When the battle took place, it was chiefly there that the men and wrecks would be washed ashore, for the island lay in the path of the impending battle. The Persians would be able to save some of those who washed up and kill the others. They did this in silence lest their enemies hear, making their preparations at night without sleep.

77. I cannot say against oracles that they are not true [alēthēs], and I do not wish to try to discredit them when they speak plainly. Consider the following:

When they bridge the sacred [hieros] headland of golden-sworded Artemis and Kynosoura by the sea, after sacking shiny Athens in mad hope, divine dikē will extinguish mighty koros, the son of hubris, lusting terribly, thinking to devour all. Bronze will come together with bronze, and Ares will redden the sea [pontos] with blood. Then far-seeing Zeus and august Victory [Nikē] will bring to Hellas the day of freedom.

Considering this, I dare to say nothing against Bakis concerning oracles when he speaks so plainly, nor will I consent to it by others.12

78. Among the generals at Salamis there was fierce argument. They did not yet know that the barbarians had encircled them with their ships, supposing them still marshaled in the place where they had seen them by day.

79. As the generals disputed, Aristides son of Lysimakhos, an Athenian, crossed over from Aigina. Although he had been ostracized by the community [dēmos], as I learn of his character I have come to believe that he was the aristos and most dikaios man in Athens. This man stood at the assembly and called Themistokles out, although he was no philos of his, but his bitter enemy [ekhthros]. Because of the magnitude of the present evils, he deliberately forgot all that and called him out, wanting to talk to him. He had already heard that those from the Peloponnese were anxious to set sail for the Isthmus, so when Themistokles came out, Aristides said: “On all occasions and especially now our feud [stasis] must be over which of us will do our country more good deeds. I say that it is all the same for the Peloponnesians to speak much or little about sailing away from here, for I have seen with my own eyes that even if the Corinthians and Eurybiades himself wanted to, they would not be able to get out. We are encircled by the enemy. Go in and indicate [semainein] this to them.”

80. Themistokles answered, “Your exhortation is most useful and you bring good news. You have come as an eyewitness of just what I wanted to happen. Know that I am the cause of what the Medes are doing. When the Hellenes would not willingly enter battle, it was necessary to force them against their will. Since you have come bringing good news, announce it to them yourself. If I say these things, they will think I made it up and they will not believe that the barbarians are doing this. Go in yourself and indicate [semainein] how it stands. It would be best if they believe you when you tell [semainein] them, but if they find these things incredible it is all the same to us. They will not be able to run away, if indeed we are surrounded on all sides as you say.”

81. Aristides went in and told them, saying that he had come from Aigina and had barely got by the blockade when he sailed out, since all the Hellenic camp was surrounded by Xerxes’ ships. He advised them to prepare to defend themselves. He said this and left, and again a dispute arose among them. The majority of the generals did not believe the news.

82. While they were still held by disbelief, a trireme of Tenian deserters arrived, captained by Panaitios son of Sosimenes, which brought them the whole truth. For this deed the Tenians were engraved on the tripod at Delphi with those who had conquered the barbarian. With this ship that deserted at Salamis and the Lemnian which deserted earlier at Artemision, the Hellenic fleet reached its full number of 380 ships, for it had fallen short of the number by two ships.

83. When they found the words of the Tenians worthy of belief, the Hellenes prepared to fight at sea. As dawn glimmered they held an assembly of the fighting men, and Themistokles gave the best address among the others. His words [epea] all involved comparing the better and lesser elements in human nature and the human condition. He wrapped up his speech by advising them to choose the better of these, then gave the command to mount the ships. Just as they embarked, the trireme which had gone after the Aiakidai arrived from Aigina. Then the Hellenes set sail with all their ships, and as they were putting out to sea the barbarians immediately attacked them.

84. The rest of the Hellenes began to back water and tried to beach their ships, but Ameinias of Pallene, an Athenian, charged and rammed a ship. When his ship became entangled and could not get free, the others came to help Ameinias and joined battle. The Athenians say that the fighting at sea began this way, but the Aiginetans say that the ship which had been sent to Aigina after the Aiakidai was the one that started it. The story is also told that the phantom of a woman appeared to them, who cried commands loud enough for all the Hellenic fleet to hear, reproaching them first with, “Men possessed [daimonioi], how long will you still be backing water?”

85. The Phoenicians were marshaled against the Athenians, holding the western wing toward Eleusis. Against the Lacedaemonians were the Ionians, on the eastern wing toward Piraeus, and a few of them fought as kakoi according to Themistokles’ instructions, but the majority did not. I can list the names of many captains who captured Hellenic ships, but I will mention none except Theomestor son of Androdamas and Phylakos son of Histiaios, both Samians. I mention only these because Theomestor was appointed despot of Samos by the Persians for this feat, and Phylakos was recorded as a benefactor of the king and granted much land. The king’s benefactors are called “orosangai” in the Persian language.

86. Thus it was concerning them. But the majority of the ships at Salamis were sunk, some destroyed by the Athenians, some by the Aiginetans. Since the Hellenes fought in order by line, but the barbarians were no longer in position and did nothing sensibly, it was likely to turn out as it did. Yet they were agathoi that day, much more agathoi than they had been at Euboea, for they all showed zeal out of fear of Xerxes, each one thinking that the king was watching him.

87. I cannot say exactly how each of the other barbarians or Hellenes fought, but this is what happened to Artemisia, and it gave her still higher esteem with the king: When the king’s side was all in commotion, at that time Artemisia’s ship was pursued by a ship of Attica. She could not escape, for other friendlyships were in front of her and hers was the nearest to the enemy. So she resolved to do something which did in fact benefit her: as she was pursued by the Attic ship, she charged and rammed a friendly ship, with a Kalyndian crew and Damasithumos himself, king of the Kalyndians, aboard. I cannot say if she had some quarrel with him while they were still at the Hellespont, or whether she did this on purpose or if the ship of the Kalyndians fell in her path by chance. But when she rammed and sank it, she had the luck of doing herself two good deeds: When the captain of the Attic ship saw her ram a ship with a barbarian crew, he decided that Artemisia’s ship was either Hellenic or a deserter from the barbarians fighting for them, so he turned away to deal with others.

88. Thus she happened to escape and not be destroyed, and it also turned out that the evil thing which she had done won her exceptional esteem from Xerxes. It is said that the king, as he watched the battle, saw her ship ram the other, and one of the bystanders said, “Master, do you see how well Artemisia contends in the agōn, and how she has sunk an enemy ship?” When he asked if the deed was truly Artemisia’s, they affirmed it, knowing reliably the insignia [sēma] of her ship, and they supposed that the ruined ship was an enemy. As I have said, all this happened to bring her luck, and also that no one from the Kalyndian ship survived to accuse her. It is said that Xerxes replied to what was told him, “My men have become women, and my women men.” They say this is what Xerxes said.

89. In this ordeal [ponos] the general Ariabignes died, son of Darius and the brother of Xerxes. Many other famous men of the Persians and Medes and other allies also died, but only a few Hellenes, since they knew how to swim. Those whose ships were sunk swam across to Salamis, unless they were killed in action, but many of the barbarians drowned in the sea since they did not know how to swim. Most of the ships were sunk when those in the front turned to flee, since those marshaled in the rear, as they tried to get forward with their ships so they too could display some feat to the king, ran afoul of their own side’s ships in flight.

90. It also happened in this commotion that certain Phoenicians whose ships had been destroyed came to the king and accused the Ionians of treason, saying that it was by their doing that the ships had been lost. It turned out that the Ionian generals were not put to death, and those Phoenicians who slandered them were rewarded as I will show. While they were still speaking, a Samothracian ship rammed an Attic ship. The Attic ship sank and an Aiginetan ship bore down and sank the Samothracian ship, but the Samothracians, being javelin-throwers, by pelting them with missiles knocked the fighters off the ship that had sunk theirs and boarded and seized it. This saved the Ionians. When Xerxes saw them performing this great feat, he turned to the Phoenicians and commanded that their heads be cut off, so that men who were kakoi might not slander those more agathoi. In his deep vexation he blamed everyone. Whenever Xerxes, as he sat beneath the mountain opposite Salamis which is called Aigaleos, saw one of his own men achieve some feat in the battle, he inquired who did it, and his scribes wrote down the captain’s name with his father and polis. The presence of Ariaramnes, a Persian and a philos of the Ionians, contributed still more to this disaster of the Phoenicians.

91. Thus they dealt with the Phoenicians. The barbarians were routed and tried to flee by sailing out to Phaleron, but the Aiginetans lay in wait for them in the strait and then performed deeds worth telling. The Athenians in the commotion destroyed those ships who either resisted or tried to flee, the Aiginetans those sailing out of the strait. Whoever escaped from the Athenians charged right into the Aiginetans.

92. The ships of Themistokles, as he was pursuing a ship, and of Polykritos son of Krios, an Aiginetan, then met. Polykritos had rammed a Sidonian ship, the one which had captured the Aiginetan ship that was on watch off Skiathos, and on it was Pytheas son of Iskhenoos, the one the Persians marveled at when severely wounded and kept aboard their ship because of his achievement [aretē]. This Sidonian ship carrying him with the Persians was now captured, so Pytheas came back safe to Aigina. When Polykritos saw the Attic ship, he recognized it by seeing the flagship’s insignia, so he shouted to Themistokles and mocked and reproached him concerning the Medizing of the Aiginetans. After ramming an enemy ship, Polykritos hurled these insults at Themistokles. The barbarians whose ships were still intact fled and reached Phaleron under cover of the land army.

93. In this battle the Hellenes with the best reputation as aristoi were the Aiginetans, then the Athenians. Among individuals they were Polykritos the Aiginetan and the Athenians Eumenes of Anagyros and Aminias of Pallene, the one who pursued Artemisia. If he had known she was in that ship, he would not have stopped before either capturing it or being captured himself. Thus the Athenian captains had been ordered, and there was a prize offered of 10,000 drachmas to whoever took her alive, since they were indignant that a woman waged war against Athens. But she escaped, as I said earlier, and the others whose ships survived were also in Phaleron.

94. The Athenians say that when the ships joined battle, the Corinthian general Adeimantos, struck with bewilderment and terror, hoisted his sails and fled away. When the Corinthians saw their flagship fleeing they took off in the same way, but when in their flight they were opposite the sacred precinct of Athena Skiras on Salamis, by divine providence a boat encountered them. No one appeared to have sent it, and the Corinthians knew nothing about the affairs of the fleet when it approached. They reckon the affair to involve the gods because when the boat came near the ships, the people on the boat said, “Adeimantos, you have turned your ships to flight and betrayed the Hellenes, but they are overcoming their enemies to the fulfillment of their prayers for victory.” Adeimantos did not believe them when they said this, so they spoke again, saying that they could be taken as hostages and killed if the Hellenes were not seen to be victorious. So he and the others turned their ships around and came to the fleet, but it was all over. The Athenians spread this rumor about them, but the Corinthians do not agree at all, and they consider themselves to have been among the foremost in the battle. The rest of Hellas bears them witness.

95. Aristides son of Lysimakhos, the Athenian whom I mentioned a little before this as an aristos man, did this in the commotion that arose at Salamis: taking many of the armed men who were arrayed along the shore of Salamis, he brought them across and landed them on the island of Psyttalea, and they slaughtered all the Persians who were on that islet.

96. When the battle was broken off, the Hellenes towed to Salamis as many of the wrecks as were still there and kept ready for another battle, supposing that the king could still make use of his surviving ships. A west wind had caught many of the wrecks and carried them to the shore in Attica called Kolias. Thus not only was all the rest of the oracle fulfilled which Bakis and Musaeus had spoken about this battle, but also what had been said many years before this in an oracle by Lysistratos, an Athenian soothsayer, concerning the wrecks carried to shore there. Its meaning had eluded all the Hellenes:

The Kolian women will cook with oars.

But this was to happen after the king had marched away.

97. When Xerxes understood the disaster that had happened, he feared that some of the Ionians might advise the Hellenes, if they did not themselves so intend, to sail to the Hellespont and destroy the bridges. He would be trapped in Europe in danger of destruction, so he resolved on flight. He did not want to be detected either by the Hellenes or by his own men, so he attempted to build a dike across to Salamis, and joined together Phoenician cargo ships to be both a bridge and a wall, making preparations as if to fight another sea battle. All who saw him doing this confidently supposed that he had every intention of preparing to stay and fight there, but none of this eluded Mardonios, who had the most experience of the king’s thoughts. While doing all this, Xerxes sent a messenger to Persia to announce the disaster.


1 The Isthmus of Corinth is the narrow strip of land that connects the Peloponnese with mainland Greece. Thus the Peloponnese is almost an island, and its name means ‘the island [nēsos] of Pelops’. ^

2 It was common in local Greek religious practice to conceptualize the spirit of the dead hero as a snake. ^

3 Kroton was a Hellenic polis in Italy. Cf. Herodotus 5.47 on Philippos. ^

4 The hero Erekhtheus, mentioned in Iliad II 547, was worshipped as the proto-Athenian by the Athenians. ^

5 More on Erekhtheus in Nagy, Best of the Achaeans, pp. 182-183. The verb anatrekhein ‘spring up’, applied here to the shoot of olive, is the same verb applied in Iliad XVIII 56 / 437 to the sudden growth-spurt of Achilles. ^

6 Aiakidai = ‘descendants of Aiakos’; the hero Aiakos was considered by the people of Aigina to be the ancestor of the human race in Aigina. See the notes on Pindar, Pythian 8. Two of Aiakos’ sons were Telamon and Peleus. Telamon was father of Aias=Ajax, Peleus was father of Achilles. Ajax and Telamon were worshipped by the people of Salamis as their local heroes. Aiakos was not only the stylized ancestor of the population of Aigina (by way of being considered the ancestor of the elite of the polis, who presumably claimed to represent the whole population): he was also the “real” ancestor of some of the greatest epic heroes of Homeric poetry. ^

7 Demeter and Persephone. ^

8 Iakkhos (Iacchus) is the cult name of Dionysus in the context of the festival for the Mother and the Maiden. ^

9 In this narrative, Herodotus makes use of the fact that the name of dikaios happens to mean ‘man of dikē’. ^

10 Queen of the Carians, ruler of Halicarnassus. Her name happens to mean: ‘the woman of Artemis’. ^

11 The perioikoi, ‘neighbors [of Sparta]’, were free inhabitants of Laconia, higher in status than the Helots, but lower than the Spartans themselves. ^

12 Bakis was the personification of a distinguished oracle. ^


Book 9: Plataea

Xerxes retreated to Asia, leaving Mardonios and Artabazos in Boeotia in command of the Persian forces. In 479 the Persians and Hellenes met near Plataea.

58. When Mardonios learned that the Hellenes had gone away at night and he saw the place deserted, he summoned Thorax of Larissa and his brothers Eurypylos and Thrasydeios and said, “Sons of Aleuas, what will you say now when you see this place deserted? You their neighbors said the Lacedaemonians do not flee from battle, but are the first men in warfare. But earlier you saw them changing their posts, and now we all see that they ran away last night. When they had to fight in battle against those who are without falsehood aristoi among men, they showed that they are nobodies among all the Hellenic nobodies. Since you had no knowledge of the Persians, I can readily forgive you for praising those you did know something about. I am more surprised at Artabazos for dreading the Lacedaemonians and declaring that most cowardly opinion that we must strike camp and go to be besieged in the city of the Thebans. The king will hear of it from me. But we will speak of this some other time. For now, they must not be allowed to do this. We must pursue them until we catch them and make them pay the penaltyfor all they have done to the Persians.”

59. He said this and led the Persians at a run across the Asopos river in the tracks of the Hellenes, supposing them to be fleeing. He went after the Lacedaemonians and Tegeans alone, since because of the hills he did not see the Athenians making their way to the plain. When the remaining commanders of the barbarian companies saw the Persians setting out to pursue the Hellenes, they all immediately raised their standards and pursued as fast as each could, marshaled in no order or line. They advanced on the Hellenes in a confused uproar and expected to ravage them.

60. When the cavalry attacked, the Spartan commander Pausanias sent a messenger on horseback to the Athenians saying, “Men of Athens, while a great struggle is offered whether Hellas be free or enslaved, we Lacedaemonians and you Athenians are betrayed by our allies who ran away last night. I am resolved that what we must now do is fight in the way that will best defend each other. If the cavalry had first rushed against you, we and the Tegeans, who are with us and did not betray Hellas, would have had to come to your aid. But now, since all the cavalry has attacked us, you are right to come to the defense of the part that is most pressed. If something has befallen to make it impossible for you to come help, grant us the favor of sending us your archers. We know that since you have been by far the most zealous in this present war, you will also comply with this request.”

61. When the Athenians heard this, they started to march out to bring all the help they could, but the Hellenes who had taken the king’s side and were drawn up against them attacked them on their march. They could no longer bring help, since the enemy pressed and harassed them, so the Lacedaemonians and Tegeans were left to fight alone. The Lacedaemonians were 50,000 in number, including the light-armed men, the Tegeans, who never separated from the Lacedaemonians, 3,000. They offered sacrifice, since they were about to give battle to Mardonios and the army with him, but the sacrifices were not favorable. Meanwhile many of them fell and many more were wounded, for the Persians had made a barricade of their shields and were constantly shooting an immense number of arrows at them. As the Spartans were pressed and the sacrifices did not turn out, Pausanias looked towards the sacred precinct of Hera at Plataea and invoked the goddess, praying that they in no way be cheated of their hope.

62. While he was still praying, the Tegeans moved out in front and attacked the barbarians, and as soon as Pausanias’ prayer was finished the sacrifices became favorable to the Lacedaemonians. When at last this had happened, they too advanced on the Persians, and the Persians threw down their bows to meet them. The battle took place first near the shields, and after they fell there was violent fighting for a long time right at the sacred precinct of Demeter. Finally there was hand-to-hand combat, for the barbarians had grabbed hold of the spears and snapped them off. The Persians were not inferior in courage and strength, but they were without armor and were also ignorant of tactics and unequal to their opponents in sophiā. They jumped forward one at a time or joined together in groups of ten or more or fewer, and fell upon the Spartans only to be killed.

63. Wherever Mardonios happened to be, fighting from a white horse with 1,000 picked troops, the aristoi of the Persians, around him, there they pressed the enemy hardest. For as long as Mardonios was alive, they held out in their defense and laid low many of the Lacedaemonians. But when Mardonios was killed and the force marshaled around him, which was the strongest part of the army, also fell, the others fled and gave way before the Lacedaemonians. What caused them the most harm was that their clothing had no armor; they were naked as they fought against armored men.

64. There dikē for the murder of Leonidas was fulfilled by Mardonios for the Spartans according to the oracle, and the finest victory we know of was won by Pausanias son of Kleombrotos son of Anaxandrides. The names of his earlier ancestors have been told in the case of Leonidas, since they were the same for both. Mardonios was killed by Arimnestos, an important man in Sparta, who long after the Median war with 300 men gave battle in Stenykleros in time of war to all the Messenians and was killed along with the 300.

65. Back at Plataea, when the Persians were routed by the Lacedaemonians, they fled in disorder to their camp and to the wooden wall they had built in Theban territory. I marvel that although they fought near the grove of Demeter, not a single Persian was seen to enter the sacred precinct or die there, and most of them fell near the sacred precinct in unconsecrated ground. It is my opinion—if one ought to hold opinions about divine affairs—that the goddess herself did not let them in because they had burned the temple in Eleusis.

66. This is what the battle was like so far. Artabazos son of Pharnaces had from the very beginning disliked that Mardonios was left behind by the king, and now his advice not to offer battle had gotten nowhere, though he had strongly counseled against it. Since he was displeased by all the things Mardonios had done, he himself did this: He had no small force with him, about 40,000 men. When the battle took place, since he well knew what the outcome of the fight would be, Artabazos led the troops under his generalship out in battle array after commanding them all to go together wherever he led them when they saw him hurrying. He gave this command as if he were leading the army to battle, but as they advanced up the road he saw the Persians fleeing, so he no longer led his men in the same formation, but he ran by the quickest route in flight neither to the wooden wall nor to Thebes, but to Phocis, wanting to reach the Hellespont as quickly as possible.

67. So they fled in this way. Although all the other Hellenes on the king’s side fought as kakoi on purpose, the Boeotians fought the Athenians for a long time. The Medizing Thebans had great zeal for the battle and did not fight as kakoi on purpose, so that 300 of them, the leading men and aristoi, fell there at the hands of the Athenians. But they too were routed and fled to Thebes, though not in the same way as the Persians and the whole crowd of the other allies who fled without any fight to the finish or any achievement at all.

68. That they all fled before even coming to grips with the enemy because they saw the Persians doing so proves to me that all the fortunes of the barbarians depended on the Persians. In this way they all fled, except the cavalry, including that of the Boeotians, which benefited those in flight by keeping close to the enemy and keeping their fleeing philoi out of reach of the Hellenes, who in victory pursued and slaughtered Xerxes’ men.

69. During this rout a message was carried to the other Hellenes marshaled near the sacred precinct of Hera and absent from the fight that there had been a battle and Pausanias’ men had won. When they heard this, without drawing themselves into formation, those with the Corinthians made their way through the foothills at the base of the mountain along the road that bears straight for the sacred precinct of Demeter, and those with the Megarians and Phliasians traveled through the plain along the smoothest of the routes. When the Megarians and Phliasians came near the enemy, the Theban cavalry, whose commander was Asopodoros son of Timandros, saw them hurrying in disorder and rode their horses at them. They fell upon them and mowed down 600 of them, and riding in pursuit swept them back to Kithairon.

70. These died with no account taken of them. When the Persians and the rest of the throng fled to the wooden wall, they were able to mount the towers before the Lacedaemonians got there, and once on top they strengthened the wall as best they could. Then the Lacedaemonians approached and a fierce fight for the wall began. As long as the Athenians were absent, they defended themselves and got the better of the Lacedaemonians, who did not know how to assault a wall, but when the Athenians arrived the battle for the wall turned more violent and lasted a long time. Finally by their achievement [aretē] and perseverance the Athenians mounted the wall and breached it, and the Hellenes poured in. The first to get inside the wall were the Tegeans, and it was they who plundered the tent of Mardonios, taking from it among other things the horses’ manger, all of bronze and worth seeing. The Tegeans dedicated the manger of Mardonios in the temple of Athena Alea, but all the rest of what they took they brought to the same place as the other Hellenes. Once the wall had fallen, the barbarians no longer kept to their ranks, nor did anyone think of resistance as they wandered in distress, since there were myriads of panicked men trapped in a small space. The Hellenes were able to make such a slaughter that out of 300,000 men, minus the 40,000 which Artabazos fled with, not 3,000 survived. In all, there died in the battle 91 Lacedaemonians from Sparta, 17 Tegeans, and 52 Athenians.

71. Those who were aristoi among the barbarians were the Persian infantry and the cavalry of the Sakai, and of individual men it was said to be Mardonios. Among the Hellenes, the Tegeans and Athenians were agathoi, but it was the Lacedaemonians who excelled in achievement [aretē]. Since they all prevailed over those they fought against, I infer [sēmainein] this only by the fact that the Lacedaemonians attacked and defeated the strongest part of the enemy. In our opinion the man who was by far aristos was Aristodemos, who was in disgrace and without tīmē because he was the only one to return safe from Thermopylae. After him the Spartans Posidonios and Philokyon and Amompharetos were aristoi. Yet when there was talk of who was aristos, the Spartans present decided that Aristodemos had performed great deeds raging in battle and leaving his post because he clearly wished to die due to the guilt he had, but Posidonios had been agathos not wishing to die, and in that was the more agathos man. They may have said this out of envy, but except for Aristodemos all those whom I mentioned who died in the battle were held in tīmē. Because Aristodemos wished to die for the aforementioned reason, he was not given tīmē.

72. These were the most famous at Plataea. Kallikrates died outside the battle. He had come to the camp and was the handsomest man of all the Hellenes of that time, not only of the Lacedaemonians but also of all the other Hellenes. When Pausanias was sacrificing, he was wounded in the side by an arrow as he sat in his place. While the others fought, he was carried out and died a hard death, saying to Arimnestos the Plataean that what bothered him was not that he died for Hellas, but that he had not used his hand in battle and that he had performed no deed worthy of his zeal to perform it.

73. Among the Athenians, Sophanes son of Eutykhides from the deme of Decelea is said to have been of high repute. The Athenians say that the Deceleans once performed a deed useful for all time: when in the old days the Tyndaridai invaded the land of Attica to bring back Helen and were laying waste to the demes, not knowing where Helen had been hidden, they say that the Deceleans, or, as some say, Dekelos himself, because he was impatient at the hubris of Theseus and feared for the entire Athenian country, told them the whole story and guided them to Aphidnai, which Titakos, an original inhabitant, betrayed to the Tyndaridai. Ever since that deed the Dekeleans have enjoyed tax-free status and the front seats at Sparta, and this is still in effect: in the war that arose many years later between the Athenians and the Peloponnesians, when the Lacedaemonians plundered the rest of Attica they left Dekelea alone.

74. Sophanes, who then was aristos among the Athenians, was from that deme. Two stories are told about him. One says that he carried an iron anchor fastened by a bronze chain to the belt of his breastplate, and when he came near the enemy in his approach he would let it down, so that when the enemy fell upon him they would not be able to move him from his position. When the enemy were routed, he would weigh anchor and set off in pursuit. That is one story, but another is told at variance with the one previously narrated: on his shield, which he was always swaying round and round, he carried an anchor as the insignia [sēma], and not an iron one fastened from his breastplate.

75. Sophanes performed another splendid deed: when the Athenians were besieging Aigina, he challenged and killed Eurybates the Argive, a winner in the pentathlon. But much later it befell Sophanes, an agathos man, while he was an Athenian general with Leagros son of Glaukon, to be killed by the Edonians as he fought for the gold mines in Datos.

76. As soon as the barbarians had been mowed down by the Hellenes at Plataea, a woman came to them deserting from the enemy, the concubine of Pharandates son of Teaspis, a Persian. When she learned that the Persians had been destroyed and the Hellenes were victorious, she adorned herself along with her servants with many gold ornaments and the finest apparel she had, got down from her carriage, and went to the Lacedaemonians while they were still engaged in the slaughter. She saw Pausanias managing all that business, and since she already knew his name and country from having often heard of it, she recognized him as Pausanias, grasped his knees, and said, “King of Sparta, save me, your suppliant, from captive servitude. You have done me service so far by destroying these men who have no regard for daimones or gods. I am Koan in genos, daughter of Hegetorides son of Antagoras. The Persian took me from Kos by forceand made me his wife.” He answered, “Woman, have no fear, both as my suppliant and if you are telling the truth and really are the daughter of Hegetorides of Kos, for he is my chief xenos among the inhabitants of those lands.” So he spoke, and he put her in the care of the ephors who were present, then later sent her to Aigina, where she wanted to go.

77. Right after the woman’s arrival the Mantineans got there, when it was all over. When they found they had come too late for the battle, they lamented greatly and declared that they deserved to be punished. Hearing that the Medes with Artabazos were in flight, they wanted to pursue them to Thessaly, but the Lacedaemonians advised against pursuing those in flight. They returned to their own country and banished the leaders of the army from the land. After the Mantineans came the Eleians, and the Eleians went away lamenting just like the Mantineans. When they got back home, they too exiled their leaders. That is what happened with the Mantineans and the Eleians.

78. In the camp of the Aiginetans at Plataea was Lampon son of Pytheas, a leading man among the Aiginetans. He rushed to Pausanias with a most unholy plan, and arriving there in haste said, “Son of Kleombrotos, you have accomplished a feat of extraordinary greatness and beauty, and a god has permitted you to deliver Hellas and lay up a store of kleos the greatest of all the Hellenes we know of. But do what remains to be done, and you will have an even greater reputation, and any barbarian will hereafter beware of initiating sinful deeds against the Hellenes. When Leonidas was killed at Thermopylae, Mardonios and Xerxes cut off his head and stuck it on a pole. If you pay them back in kind, you will be praised first by all the Spartans, then by all the other Hellenes. By impaling Mardonios you will take vengeance on your uncle Leonidas.” He said this expecting to gratify Pausanias, but he answered as follows:

79. “Aiginetan xenos, I am grateful for your good will and foresight, but you have missed the mark of good counsel. You exalted me on high, and my country and my deed, then you cast me down to nothingness by advising me to maltreat a corpse, saying I will have a better reputation if I do this. But it is more fitting for barbarians to do this than Hellenes, and we are indignant even when they do it. For this reason I would not please the Aiginetans or any others who find delight in these things. It is enough for me to please the Spartans by performing righteous deeds, and also by righteous speech. As for Leonidas, whom you told me to avenge, I declare he has been greatly avenged: with the countless psūkhai of these men he and all the others who met their end at Thermopylae are given tīmē. Do not approach me again with such a plan nor give me counsel, and be grateful that you are unharmed.”

80. Lampon heard that answer and departed. Pausanias issued a proclamation that no one was to touch the spoils, and commanded the helots to bring together all the goods. They scattered through the camp and found tents adorned with gold and silver, gilded and silver-plated couches, and golden bowls and cups and other drinking vessels. They found sacks on the wagons and saw cauldrons of gold and silver in them. They stripped the bracelets and necklaces and golden daggers from the corpses as they lay, but they took no account of the many-colored clothing. The helots stole much of this and sold it to the Aiginetans, but they also showed as much of it as they could not hide. This was the beginning of great wealth for the Aiginetans, since they bought the gold from the helots as if it were bronze.

81. They collected the goods and set aside a tenth part for the god at Delphi. From this tithe they dedicated the golden tripod which stands on the bronze three-headed snake very close to the altar. They set aside another tithe for the god in Olympus, and from it dedicated the bronze Zeus of 10 cubits, and another to the god at the Isthmus, and from it was made the bronze Poseidon of 7 cubits. They set these aside, then divided the rest. Each took what he merited from the Persian concubines and gold and silver and other goods and beasts of burden. No one tells how much was set aside and granted to the aristoi among those at Plataea, but I suppose they did receive gifts. Ten of everything was set aside and granted to Pausanias: women, horses, talents of silver, camels, and likewise all the other goods.

82. This is also said to have happened: Xerxes in his flight from Hellas left behind all his furnishings for Mardonios. When Pausanias saw Mardonios’ establishment adorned with gold and silver and embroidered hangings, he ordered the bakers and cooks to prepare dinner in the same way as for Mardonios. When they had done as they were ordered, Pausanias looked at the gold and silver couches richly covered and the gold and silver tables and the magnificent preparation for dinner and was astounded at the good things set before him. For a joke he ordered his own servants to prepare a Laconian dinner, and when that meal was made there was a big difference between them. Pausanias laughed and summoned the Hellenic generals, and when they assembled Pausanias pointed to the preparation of each dinner and said, “Men of Hellas, I have brought you together because I wish to show you the folly of the Mede, who with this way of life came to rob us who live in poverty.” It is said that Pausanias spoke thus to the Hellenic generals.

83. Long after this many of the Plataeans found chests of gold and silver and other goods. The following things also came to light at a later time: The Plataeans had collected the bones into one place, and when the corpses had become bare of flesh, a skull was discovered that had no suture and was all of one bone, and a jawbone came to light with the upper jaw all of a single piece, both the incisors and molars all from a single bone. There also appeared the bones of a man five cubits tall.

84. On the next day Mardonios’ corpse disappeared. What man did it I cannot exactly say, but I have heard that many men of all nations have buried Mardonios, and I know that many have received great gifts from Artontes, Mardonios’ son, for that deed. But which of these was the one who made off with Mardonios’ corpse and buried it, I am unable to learn with certainty. Rumor has it that Dionysophanes, an Ephesian, buried Mardonios. In such a way he was buried.

85. After the Hellenes at Plataea had divided the spoils, they each buried their own men separately. The Lacedaemonians made three tombs, and there they buried their irenes,1 among whom were Posidonios and Amompharetos and Philokyon and Kallikrates. So in one of the tombs were the irenes, in the other the rest of the Spartans, and in the third the helots. Thus they made their burials, and the Tegeans buried theirs all together in a separate place. The Athenians also buried theirs together, and the Megarians and Phliasians buried those killed by the cavalry. The tombs of all of these were full, but I have learned that each of the others whose tombs are seen at Plataea, ashamed of their absence from the battle, heaped up empty mounds for the sake of future generations. There is one there called the tomb of the Aiginetans, and I hear that Kleades son of Autodikos, a Plataean and their proxenos,2 erected it at the request of the Aiginetans ten years after the fact.


1 One of the classes of citizens at Sparta. ^

2 A man who in his own polis looked after the affairs of the citizens of another polis. He maintained xeniā with the entire foreign polis. ^


Scroll 9: Plataea

Xerxes retreated to Asia Minor, leaving Mardonios and Artabazos in Boeotia in command of the Persian forces. In 479 the Persians and Hellenes faced off in the vicinity of Plataea.

58. When Mardonios learned that the Hellenes had gone away at night and he saw the place deserted, he summoned Thorax of Larissa and his brothers Eurypylos and Thrasydeios and said, “Sons of Aleuas, what will you say now when you see this place deserted? You their neighbors said the Lacedaemonians do not flee from battle, but are the first men in warfare. But earlier you saw them changing their posts, and now we all see that they ran away last night. When they had to be judged [dia-krinein] in battle against those who are without falsehood best [aristoi] among men, they showed that they are nobodies among all the Hellenic nobodies. Since you had no knowledge of the Persians, I can readily forgive you for praising [aineîn] those you did know something about. I am more surprised at Artabazos for dreading the Lacedaemonians and declaring that most cowardly opinion that we must break camp and go to be besieged in the city of the Thebans. The king will hear of it from me. But we will speak of this some other time. For now, they must not be allowed to do this. We must pursue them until we catch them and bring about justice [dikē] for all they have done to the Persians.”

59. He said this and led the Persians at a run across the Asopos river, following the tracks of the Hellenes, and supposing them to be fleeing. He went after the Lacedaemonians and Tegeans alone, since because of the hills he did not see the Athenians making their way to the plain. When the remaining commanders of the barbarian companies saw the Persians setting out to pursue the Hellenes, they all immediately raised their standards [sēmēia derived from sēma] and pursued as fast as each could, marshaled in no order [kosmos] or line. They advanced on the Hellenes in a confused uproar and expected to ravage them.

60. When the cavalry attacked, the Spartan commander Pausanias sent a messenger on horseback to the Athenians saying, “Men of Athens, while a great ordeal [agōn] is offered whether Hellas be free or enslaved, we Lacedaemonians and you Athenians are betrayed by our allies who ran away last night. I am resolved that what we must now do is fight in the way that will best [arista] defend each other. If the cavalry had first rushed against you, we and the Tegeans, who are with us and did not betray Hellas, would have had to come to your aid. But now, since all the cavalry has attacked us, you are right [dikaioi] to come to the defense of the divisions [moirai] that are most pressed. If something has happened to make it impossible for you to come help, grant us the favor [kharis] of sending us your archers. We know, since you have been by far the most eager [pro-thūmoi] in this present war, that you will also comply with this request.”

61. When the Athenians heard this, they started to march out to bring all the help they could, but the Hellenes who had taken the king’s side and were drawn up against them attacked them on their march. They could no longer bring help, since the enemy pressed and harassed them, so the Lacedaemonians and Tegeans were left to fight alone. The Lacedaemonians were 50,000 in number, including the light-armed men, the Tegeans, who never separated from the Lacedaemonians, 3,000. They made-sacrificial-offerings [sphagiazesthai], since they were about to engage in battle against Mardonios and the army with him, but the sacrificial-offerings [sphagia] were not favorable. Meanwhile many of them fell and many more were wounded, for the Persians had made a barricade of their shields and were constantly shooting an immense number of arrows at them. As the Spartans were pressed and the sacrifices did not turn out, Pausanias looked towards the sacred-precinct-of-Hera [Hēraion] at Plataea and invoked [epi-kaleîsthai] the goddess, praying that they in no way be cheated of their hope.

62. While he was still making his invocation [epi-kaleîsthai], the Tegeans moved out in front and attacked the barbarians, and as soon as the prayer [eukhē] of Pausanias was completed, the sacrificial-offerings [sphagia] became favorable to the Lacedaemonians as they made-sacrifice [thuein]. When at last this had happened, they too advanced on the Persians, and the Persians threw down their bows to face them. The battle was taking place first around the row shields, and after this collapsed there was violent fighting for a long time right at the sacred-precinct-of-Demeter [Dēmētrion]. Finally there was hand-to-hand combat, for the barbarians had grabbed hold of the spears and snapped them off. The Persians were not inferior in courage and strength, but they were without armor and were also ignorant of tactics and unequal to their opponents in skill [sophiā]. They jumped forward one at a time or joined together in groups of ten or more or fewer, and fell upon the Spartans only to be killed.

63. Wherever Mardonios happened to be, fighting from a white horse with 1,000 hand-picked troops, the best [aristoi] of the Persians, around him, there they pressed the enemy hardest. That was because, as long as Mardonios was alive, they held out in their defense and mowed down many of the Lacedaemonians. But when Mardonios was killed and the force that was marshaled around him, which was the strongest part of the army, also fell, the others fled and gave way before the Lacedaemonians. What caused them the most harm was that their clothing had no armor; they were naked as they were in competition [agōn] against armored men.

64. At this point justice [dikē] was fulfilled [epi-teleîn] in return for the killing of Leonidas by Mardonios according to the oracle [khrēstērion] received by the Spartans, and the finest victory we know of was won by Pausanias son of Kleombrotos son of Anaxandrides. The names of his earlier ancestors have been told in the case of Leonidas, since they were the same for both. Mardonios was killed by Arimnestos, a notable [logimos] man in Sparta, who long after the Median war with 300 men fought in battle at Stenykleros in time of war against all the Messenians and was killed along with the 300.

65. Back at Plataea, when the Persians were routed by the Lacedaemonians, they fled in disorder [= without kosmos] to their camp and to the wooden wall they had built in a portion [moira] of Theban territory. For me it is a marvel [thauma] that although they fought near the grove [alsos] of Demeter, not a single Persian was seen to enter the sacred precinct[temenos] or die there, and most of them fell in the periphery of the sacred precinct [hieron] in unconsecrated-ground [bebēlon]. It is my opinion—if one ought to hold opinions about affairs that are superhuman [theia]—that the goddess herself did not let them in because they had burned the temple [anaktoron] in Eleusis.

Scroll 9: Protesilaos

After Plataea the Hellenes defeated the enemy fleet at Mykale, driving the Persians from Europe. Herodotus ends his Histories with the following episode:

114. The Hellenes who had set out from Mykale for the Hellespont first came to anchor at Lekton, driven off course by the winds, then reached Abydos and found the bridges broken up which they thought they would find still intact. Since they had come to the Hellespont chiefly because of the bridges, the Peloponnesians with Leotykhides resolved to sail back to Hellas, but the Athenians and their general Xanthippos21 decided to remain there and attack the Chersonesus. So the others sailed away, and the Athenians crossed over from Abydos to the Chersonesus and besieged Sestos.

115. The native Aeolians held the place, and with them were the Persians and a huge mass of the other allies. When they heard that the Hellenes had come to the Hellespont, they came in from the outlying towns [peri-oikis plural] and met in Sestos, since its wall was the strongest in the area. Among them came the Persian Oiobazos from the city [polis] of Kardia, carrying there with him the cables of the bridges.

116. 9.116.1 The despot [turannos] of this province [= the Chersonesus] was Artayktes, a representative of [the king] Xerxes. He was a Persian, a formidable and impious man. He had deceived the king at the time of the expedition against Athens by robbing from Elaious the possessions [khrēmata] of Protesilaos son of Iphiklos. 9.116.2 The tomb [taphos] of Protesilaos is at Elaious in the Chersonesus, and there is a sacred precinct [temenos] around it. There was a vast amount of possessions [khrēmata] there: gold and silver bowls, bronze, fabrics, and other dedicated offerings, all of which Artayktes seized and carried off because the king had given them to him. He deceived Xerxes by saying, 9.116.3 “Master, there is here the house [oikos] of a Hellene who waged war against your land, but he met with justice [dikē] and was killed. Give me his house [oikos] so that all may know not to wage war against your land.” This was going to be easy, to persuade Xerxes to give him [= Artayktes] a man’s house [oikos] by saying this, since Xerxes had no suspicion of what he [= Artayktes] really thought. When he [= Artayktes] said that Protesilaos waged war against the king’s land, he had in mind [noeîn] that the Persians consider [nomizein] all Asia to belong to them and to their successive kings. So the king made him the gift, and he [= Artayktes] carried off the possessions [khrēmata] from Elaious to Sestos. As for the sacred precinct [temenos], he [= Artayktes] used it for planting and farming. And whenever he would come [from Sestos] to Elaious for visits, he would even have sex inside the inner sanctum [aduton] with women. When the Athenians besieged him in Sestos, he had made no preparations for a siege, not expecting the Hellenes at all, so that they attacked him off his guard.

117. As the siege continued into late autumn, the Athenians began to chafe at being away from home unable to capture the wall of Sestos. They asked the generals to lead them back home, but the generals said they would not do so until the wall was captured or the Athenian state summoned them. So they put up with the present state of affairs.

118. Those inside the wall had now reached such complete misery [kakon] that they even boiled and ate the cords of their beds. When even those ran out, the Persians, including Artayktes and Oiobazos, ran away during the night, climbing down the rear of the wall where the enemy were the fewest. When it was day, the people of the Chersonesus signaled [sēmainein] from the towers what had happened and opened the gates for the Athenians. Most of them went in pursuit, while some took possession of the city [polis].

119. Oiobazos escaped into Thrace, but the Apsinthian Thracians caught him and sacrificed [thuein] him to their native god Pleistōros in their own special way, killing those with him in a different way. Artayktes and his followers had set out in flight later, so they were caught a little beyond Aigospotamoi. They defended themselves for a long time until some were killed and the rest taken prisoner. The Hellenes bound them, including Artayktes and his son, and brought them to Sestos.

120. 9.120.1 The people of the Chersonesus say that a portent [teras] happened to one of the guards while he was roasting salted fish [tarīkhoi]: the salted fish [tarīkhoi] on the fire began to jump and writhe just like newly-caught fish. 9.120.2 A crowd gathered in amazement, but when Artayktes saw the portent [teras] he called out to the man roasting the salted fish [tarīkhoi] and said, “Athenian stranger [xenos], have no fear of this portent [teras]; it has not been sent to you. Instead Protesilaos of Elaious indicates [sēmainein] to me that even when salted and dead [tarīkhos]22 he holds power from the gods to punish one who treats him without justice [a-dikeîn]. I now wish to impose upon myself a ransom, paying to the god 100 talents in return for the property I took from the sacred precinct [hieron], and giving to the Athenians 200 talents for myself and my son, if I survive.” But this promise did not persuade the general Xanthippos. The people of Elaious, seeking-vengeance [tīmōreîn] for Protesilaos, asked that he be put to death, and the mind [noos] of the general inclined the same way. They led him to the point where Xerxes had bridged the strait, though some say they took him to the tumulus [kolōnos] above the city [polis] of Madytos, nailed him to a board, and crucified [ana-kremannunai] him, stoning his son to death before his eyes.

121. After they did this they sailed away to Hellas carrying many goods, including the cables of the bridges to be dedicated in the sacred precincts [hiera]. Nothing more than this happened that year.

122. The grandfather of this Artayktes who was crucified [ana-kremannunai] was Artembares, who expounded an argument to the Persians that they adopted and proposed to Cyrus, saying, “Since Zeus grants empire [hēgemoniā] to the Persians, and among individuals to you, Cyrus, by deposing Astyages, let us emigrate from the small and rugged land we inhabit and take possession of a better one. Many such lands neighbor ours, and there are many further away, and if we take possession of one of them we will be more wondrous [thaumastoi] in more ways. It is reasonable for men who are-rulers [arkhein] to do this, and when will there ever be a better time than when we rule [arkhein] so many men and all of Asia?” Cyrus listened but did not admire [thaumazein] the argument. He told them to do this, but he advised [par-aineîn] them to prepare to rule [arkhein] no longer but to be ruled [arkhesthai] instead, for from soft lands tend to come soft men, and the same land cannot produce a wondrous [thaumastos] harvest and men who are good [agathoi] at warfare. The Persians admitted their error and took leave, defeated by the opinion of Cyrus, and they chose to inhabit [oikeîn] an unfertile land and rule [arkhein] rather than sow a plain and be slaves to others.


[ back ] 1. Kyrnos is modern Corsica. Also Kyrnos is the name of a son of Hēraklēs. The men from the ship were now prisoners of war.

[ back ] 2 The verb enagizein means ‘to make offerings to a dead hero, to participate in the pollution of’, from agos ‘pollution’.  See §90 in Nagy 2006, “The Epic Hero,” http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:Nagy.The_Epic_Hero.2005.

[ back ] 3 The verb ktizein ‘means establish a place as a city’, and ‘institute a person as a cult hero’. 

[ back ] 4 Such as Orpheus and Musaeus. 

[ back ] 5 His name means ‘he who benefits the people’. 

[ back ] 6 On the meaning of opāōn as ‘attendant’ or, more literally, ‘follower’, see Nagy Classical Inquiries 2015.05.01, §§1–7: http://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/meriones-rides-again-an-alternative-model-for-a-heroic-charioteer.

[ back ] 7 Hippias succeeded his father [cf. 1.59–64] as despot [turannos] of Athens, until he was driven out and fled to Persia. 

[ back ] 8 Cf. Herodotus 6.34–38. 

[ back ] 9 Meaning the Persians, as often in Herodotus. 

[ back ] 10 Famous tyrannicides who assassinated Hipparkhos, brother of Hippias. 

[ back ] 11 Brother of Aeschylus. Aeschylus himself fought at Marathon. 

[ back ] 12 We see here a striking example of the meaning built into verbs like arâsthai ‘announce-in-prayer’ and eukhesthai, with the same meaning, ‘announce-in-prayer.’ This example helps us understand the context of ἀράταν (arātān) at line 3 of the “Brothers Song” of Sappho, as analyzed in §§52–59 of Nagy 2015.09.08, “A poetics of sisterly affect in the Brothers Song and in other songs of Sappho,” http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:NagyG.A_Poetics_of_Sisterly_Affect.2015

[ back ] 13 Herodotus regularly uses this word mēdizein ‘Medize’ in the sense of ‘taking the Persian side’, and he frequently uses ‘Mede’ for ‘Persian’, since the Persians took over the empire of the Medes. 

[ back ] 14 Meaning the Persians, as often in the subsequent narrative. 

[ back ] 15 These ominous words spoken by someone who is now an arkhōn ‘archon’ at a festival of Sparta after having been basileus ‘king’ of Sparta is an allusion, it has been argued, to what had been planned by the Persian invaders of Greece: if they had defeated the Spartans, they would have undone the kingship and would have put all the Peloponnesus in charge of Dēmarātos as dictator, giving him the title ‘archon of the Peloponnesus’. For a summary of this argument, see ch.12§26n56 of Nagy Pindar’s Homer (1990), http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Pindars_Homer.1990

[ back ] 16 At ch.11§40 of Pindar’s Homer, I analyze the multiple meanings embedded in the word-games at work in this story. A key to understanding the subtext is that the name Astrabakos conveys the idea of a mule, which is an offspring of female horse and a male donkey: the female is of course high-born, like the queen of Sparta, while the male is low-born, like the man who tends donkeys. 

[ back ] 17 The Achaemenids were the Persian royal family. 

[ back ] 18 Earth and water were tokens of submission. 

[ back ] 19 In 430, during the Peloponnesian War, 50 years later. 

[ back ] 20 Meaning ‘the place of the sepia’. It was here, according to epic tradition, that Peleus and Thetis conceived Achilles. 

[ back ] 21 Father of Pericles. 

[ back ] 22 The noun tarikhos means ‘preserved by drying’. The description ‘preserved’ in the secular sense applies to a dried or salted fish; ‘preserved’ in the sacred sense applies to a mummified corpse.