Herodotus, Selections, Part II

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. Onesilaos 5  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 Peisistratos 7  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. Kynegeiros 11 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 Medes 14  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 Achaemenid 17  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 ].


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 Xanthippos 21  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.