Ancient History & Civilisation



[1] Perinthus was the first place in the Hellespont conquered by the Persians Darius had left in Europe under Megabazus’ command, because the inhabitants had refused to acknowledge Darius as their ruler. Once, in the past, the Perinthians were savaged by the Paeonians. What happened was that the Paeonians, from the Strymon River, were advised by their god in an oracle to march against the Perinthians, but actually to attack them if, and only if, while they were encamped there opposite them the Perinthians shouted out their name. So that is what the Paeonians did, and the Perinthians took up a position opposite them in the outskirts of the city. At this juncture, the two sides challenged each other to three duels, pitching man against man, horse against horse, and dog against dog. The Perinthians won two of the contests and were so pleased that they started to sing a victory paean. The Paeonians assumed that this was exactly what the oracle had meant and said to one another, perhaps, ‘Now the oracle should come true! Now is the time to act!’ And so, because the Perinthians had cried out ‘Paean!’, the Paeonians launched an attack, won a significant victory, and left few of the Perinthians alive.

[2] So that is what had happened earlier to the Perinthians at the hands of the Paeonians. Now, however, the Perinthians fought bravely for their freedom, and the Persians under Megabazus defeated them only because they outnumbered them. After the fall of Perinthus, Megabazus marched through Thrace and brought every settlement and tribe living there under the Persian king’s rule. For that was what Darius had told him to do—to conquer Thrace.

[3] The population of Thrace is the largest in the world, after the Indians, of course. If they were ruled by a single person or had a common purpose, they would be invincible and would be by far the most powerful nation in the world, in my opinion. This is completely impossible for them, however—there is no way that it will ever happen—and that is why they are weak. The various tribes have different names in the various lands they inhabit, but their customs and practices are more or less the same in all respects, except that the Getae, the Trausians, and the tribes north of Crestonia have some special practices of their own.

[4] Of these, I have already described the customs of the Getae, with their belief in their own immortality. Trausian customs are basically identical with those found elsewhere in Thrace, except for what they do at birth and death. Whenever a baby is born, its relatives gather around and grieve for the troubles it is going to have to endure now that it has been born, and they recount all the sufferings of human life. When anyone dies, however, they bury him in high spirits and with jubilation, on the grounds that he has been released from so many ills and is now in a perfectly happy state.

[5] The tribes to the north of Crestonia practise polygyny, and when a man dies, his wives are subjected to searching tests (which their friends take very seriously), to see which of them was loved the most by the husband. When a decision has been reached and one of the wives has been singled out for this distinction, her praises are sung by men and women alike, and then her throat is slit over the grave by her nearest male relative, and she is buried along with her husband. All the other wives consider it a huge misfortune, because there is nothing more disgraceful for them than not being chosen.

[6] Elsewhere in Thrace they have the practice of selling their children for export abroad. They do not restrict the behaviour of their young women, but let them have sex with any men they want; however, they keep a very strict eye on their wives. They buy their wives from the woman’s parents for a great deal of money. Being tattooed is taken by them to be a sign of high birth, while it is a sign of low birth to be without tattoos. They consider it best not to work, and working the land is regarded as the most dishonourable profession. The best way to make a living, in their judgement, is off the spoils of war. These are their most remarkable customs.

[7] The only gods they worship are Ares, Dionysus, and Artemis. Thracian rulers, however, differ from ordinary citizens in this respect and worship Hermes above all other gods; Hermes is the only god they swear by, and they also claim to be descended from him.

[8] Well-to-do Thracians are buried as follows. They lay out the corpse for three days, while they slaughter and consume a wide variety of victims, after a period of public mourning. Then they either cremate and bury the corpse, or simply bury it, and after they have heaped up a mound of earth over it, various athletic competitions are held, and the biggest prizes are awarded in the category of one-to-one combat. That is how funerals are conducted in Thrace.

[9] No one can offer a reliable description of the people who live to the north of Thrace, but the land beyond the Ister seems to be vast and desolate. The only people I have been able to hear about who live north of the Ister are called the Sigynnae. Their clothing is Median in style, and they have small, short-faced, long-haired horses; the hair, which grows all over these horses’ bodies, is up to five fingers long. These horses are incapable of carrying people, but they are very fast in harness, and so the local tribesmen travel around in carts. They say that Sigynnan territory extends nearly as far as the land of the Eneti on the Adriatic, and that they themselves are emigrants from Media; I myself would not like to hazard a guess as to how they can be Median emigrants, but anything is possible given enough time. Anyway, in the language of the Ligyes, who live north of Massalia, sigynnae means ‘retailers’, and on Cyprus it means ‘spears’.

[10] According to the Thracians, the land beyond the Ister is infested by bees, and that is why it is impossible to travel further inland. Personally, I find this story implausible, because bees appear to be intolerant of the cold. In fact, I think it is the cold that has stopped people from settling in these northern regions. That is what I was told about this part of the country, but whatever the facts of the matter Megabazus was bringing its coastline under Persian control.

[11] Meanwhile, Darius crossed back over the Hellespont and went to Sardis. The first thing he did once he was there was remember how Histiaeus of Miletus had helped him and how Coës of Mytilene had given him good advice, and he summoned them to Sardis and offered them whatever they wanted. Histiaeus was already the tyrant of Miletus, so he did not want to become tyrant of anywhere else, but he asked for Myrcinus in Edonia, because he wanted to found a settlement there. Coës, however, was not a tyrant but a commoner, so he asked to become the tyrant ofMytilene. Both these requests were granted, and the two men left for the places of their choice.

[12] Now, Darius happened to see something that made him decide to order Megabazus to round up the population of Paeonia and deport them from Europe to Asia. There were two Paeonians called Pigres and Mastyes, who wanted to rule Paeonia as tyrants. When Darius returned to Asia, Pigres and Mastyes went to Sardis, bringing their sister, who was a tall, beautiful woman. They waited until Darius had established himself just outside the Lydian city, and then they dressed their sister in the best clothes they had and sent her to fetch water; as well as carrying a jar on her head, she was leading a horse with the reins around her arm, and was also spinning flax. As the woman passed by, she attracted Darius’ attention, because her actions were not typically Persian or Lydian, or indeed Asian in general. Since his interest was aroused, he sent some of his personal guards after her, with orders to observe what the woman did with the horse. So they followed her. When she got to the river, she watered the horse, filled the jar with water, and then retraced her steps, carrying the water on her head, using her arm to lead the horse, and constantly turning her spindle.

[13] Darius was impressed with what his men told him they had seen her doing, on top of what he had seen with his own eyes, and he gave orders for her to be brought into his presence. His men fetched her, and her brothers (who had been watching the proceedings from somewhere close by) arrived as well. Darius asked where she was from, and the young men answered that they were Paeonians and that she was their sister. ‘But who are Paeonians,’ Darius asked, ‘and whereabouts do they live? And why have you come to Sardis?’ They replied that they had come to submit themselves to him, that Paeonia was a settled country on the River Strymon, not far from the Hellespont, whose inhabitants were originally Teucrian emigrants from Troy. When he had got these details from them, Darius asked them if all the women there were as industrious as their sister. Since all their actions had in fact been designed to lead precisely to this point, Pigres and Mastyes eagerly replied that they were.

[14] Darius next wrote a letter to Megabazus, the military commander he had left in Thrace, ordering him to uproot the people of Paeonia—men, women, and children—from their native land and bring them to him. A man raced off on horseback to the Hellespont with the message, crossed over into Europe, and delivered the letter to Megabazus. He read it, got hold of some guides, and led his army out of Thrace and towards Paeonia.

[15] When the Paeonians found out that the Persians were coming against them, they mobilized an army and marched off in the direction of the sea, because they expected the Persian invasion and attack to come from that direction. The Paeonians were ready to repel Megabazus’ invading army, then, but the Persians found out that they had formed themselves into an army and were guarding the coastal approaches into their country, and got their guides to show them an inland route. They got past the Paeonians without being spotted and fell on their towns, which were now empty of men. So it was no problem for them to capture the towns, because there was no one to defend them against their assaults. As soon as the Paeonians heard that their towns were in enemy hands, the army fell apart as each group of men looked to its own safety and surrendered to the Persians. This is how several Paeonian tribes—the Siriopaeonians, the Paeoplae, and other tribes as far north as Lake Prasias—came to be uprooted from their native land and taken to Asia.

[16] The tribes living by Mount Pangaeum, those on the borders of the territory of the Doberes, the Agrianes, and the Odomantians,† and those living around Lake Prasias itself, were not subjugated by Megabazus at all, although he did try to crush them, and the lake-dwellers too. These people manage to live on the lake by constructing a platform of boards fixed on to high posts in the middle of the lake, with only a single bridge providing a narrow causeway to and from the mainland. Originally, the erection of the posts to support the platforms used to be a joint enterprise undertaken by the whole population, but later it became the practice for each man to fetch from the nearby mountain (its name is Orbelus) three posts for every woman he married—and in this tribe a man may have lots of wives—and set them up in the lake. The way they live, then, is that each man has a hut which constitutes his home on the platform and a trapdoor which leads down through the platform to the lake. They tie a cord around their babies’ ankles, because they worry about them rolling off into the lake. They feed their horses and their yoke-animals on fish. There are so many fish there that if someone opens the trapdoor and drops an empty basket on a rope into the lake, in no time at all he has a basketful of fish to pull back up. There are two species of fish in the lake, whose local names are paprax and tilon.

[17] Anyway, the Paeonian tribes who were defeated were to be taken to Asia. After his victory over the Paeonians, Megabazus sent to Macedonia a delegation consisting of the seven most important Persians in his army after himself. The purpose of their mission to Amyntas was to demand earth and water for King Darius. There is a good short cut from Lake Prasias to Macedonia: first, next to the lake, there is a mine (which later was to provide Alexander with a talent of silver a day), and then after the mine one only has to cross the mountain called Dysorum to reach Macedonia.

[18] When the Persian delegation arrived at Amyntas’ residence, they gained an audience with him and demanded earth and water for King Darius, which Amyntas gave them. He then invited them to dine with him, prepared a magnificent banquet, and entertained the Persians generously. After the meal, over the wine, the Persians said, ‘Macedonian ally, in Persia it is customary for us to bring in our concubines and wives to join us at the close of important meals. You have made us so very welcome, you are entertaining us so lavishly, and you have given King Darius earth and water—let’s see you observe this custom of ours.’

‘My friends from Persia,’ Amyntas replied, ‘that is not the way we do things here: we keep men and women separate. But since you are our masters, if that’s what you want, you shall have it.’ And with these words Amyntas sent for the women.

The women came in response to his summons and sat in a row opposite the Persians. When the Persians saw how beautiful the women were they told Amyntas that what he had done was quite stupid; it would have been better, they said, for the women not to have come in the first place than to come and not sit next to them, but opposite them, where they were a torment to the eyes. Amyntas had no choice but to tell the women to go and sit next to the Persians. As soon as the women did so, the Persians, who were exceedingly drunk, began to touch their breasts, and one or another of them would even try to embrace them.

[19] The sight of this made Amyntas angry, but he was too afraid of the Persians to do anything about it. However, his son Alexander was there and when he saw what was going on, his youth and innocence made him incapable of holding back. In his anger he said to Amyntas, ‘Father, why don’t you give in to your age? You can go and rest; you don’t have to carry on drinking. I’ll stay here and attend to our visitors’ needs.’

Amyntas realized that Alexander was up to no good and said, ‘You’re burning with indignation, son, and I’m pretty sure that these words of yours are meant to get rid of me so that you can cause trouble. I beg you not to harm these men; if you do, you will bring about our destruction. Try not to let the sight of what is going on upset you. But as for my going to bed, I will take your advice.’

[20] With this request to his son, Amyntas left the room. Then Alexander said to the Persians, ‘Sirs, these women are at your disposal. They are all available for sex, and you can pick as many of them as you want. You need only indicate your wishes. For the time being, however, since it’s nearly time for you to go to bed, and you’re obviously pretty well drunk, I suggest that you let these women go and bathe, if that suits you, and then you’ll get them back afterwards.’

The Persians approved of this suggestion. Once the women were out of the room, Alexander sent them back to their quarters; then he personally chose the same number of beardless men as there were women, dressed them in the women’s clothing, and armed them each with a dagger. He brought them into the room and said to the Persians, ‘Sirs, it seems to me that you have had the perfect banquet. You have had the benefit of everything we have, and everything we could get for you as well, and now, to crown it all, we are making you a present of our own mothers and sisters. All this should leave you in no doubt that we honour you as you deserve, and you can also make it clear to the king who sent you on this mission how welcome you were made by a man of Greece, his governor in Macedonia, and how generous he was with bed and board.’ With these words, Alexander had every Macedonian man, disguised as a woman, sit down next to a Persian man, and when the Persians tried to fondle them, the Macedonians killed them.

[21] That is how these Persians met their end. Their servants were killed as well, because the Persians had come with carriages, attendants, and a great deal of baggage, so all these things had to disappear, as well as the men themselves. Not long afterwards, however, a thorough search was undertaken by the Persians for the missing men, and Alexander had to use cunning to make sure that they did not get anywhere. What he did was give a lot of money and also his sister, whose name was Gygaea, to Bubares, the Persian who was in command of the search-party. By means of these gifts, Alexander ensured that the search for the dead Persians would fail, and so their death was concealed and kept secret.

[22] I can personally vouch for the correctness of the claim of these Macedonians, who are descendants of Perdiccas, to be Greeks, and I will prove in a later part of my work that they are Greeks. Besides, the officials in charge of the Greek games at Olympia have acknowledged that this is so. After all, once when Alexander decided to compete in the games and came down to Olympia for that purpose, the Greeks who were drawn against him in the foot-race tried to prevent him from taking part, on the grounds that non-Greeks were not allowed to compete in the games, which were exclusively for Greeks. However, Alexander proved that he was actually an Argive and was therefore judged to be Greek; so he competed in the sprint and came equal first. Anyway, that is what happened then.

[23] Megabazus took the Paeonians to the Hellespont, crossed over, and went to Sardis. By now, Histiaeus of Miletus was fortifying Myrcinus, the place on the River Strymon that Darius had given him, at his request, as a reward for protecting the pontoon bridge. Megabazus found out what Histiaeus was doing, and the first thing he did on arriving in Sardis with the Paeonians was go and speak to Darius. ‘My lord,’ he said, ‘what have you done? You have allowed a Greek—and a cunning and clever Greek at that—to found a settlement in Thrace, where there is a limitless supply of timber for shipbuilding, where there are plenty of spars for oars, and where there are silver mines too. Moreover, now that the local population there, which consists of huge numbers of Greeks as well as non-Greeks, have found a leader, they will do whatever he commands them to do, day and night. I think you should put an end to Histiaeus’ enterprise now, if you want to avoid being embroiled in a war in your own territory. Send for him—but tactfully—and then restrain him. Once you have him here in your control, make sure that he never goes anywhere there are Greeks.’

[24] Darius needed no further argument to convince him that Megabazus’ predictions were accurate, and he sent a man to Myrcinus to deliver the following message: ‘A dispatch from King Darius to Histiaeus: “After thinking the matter over, I have come to the conclusion that there is no one who cares more for me and my affairs than you do; you have proved your loyalty to me by your actions, not by mere words. I have great plans for the future, and I want you here, no matter what, so that I can tell you about them.”’

Histiaeus believed that this message was sincere and he felt important at the prospect of being the king’s adviser, so he went to Sardis. Once he was there Darius said, ‘Histiaeus, the reason I sent for you is that soon after my return from Scythia, which meant that you were no longer in my sight, I very quickly found that there was nothing else I wanted so much as that you should see and talk things over with me. I realized that the most valuable possession in the world is an intelligent, loyal friend, and I have proof enough to know that you have both these qualities and apply them to me and my affairs. So thank you for coming, and I have a suggestion to make: forget about Miletus and this new settlement of yours in Thrace, and come with me to Susa, where everything I have will be yours and you will be a constant companion at my table and my adviser.’

[25] After this speech, Darius appointed Artaphrenes (who was his half-brother on his father’s side) governor of Sardis, and then marched back to Susa, taking Histiaeus with him. He also made Otanes the military commander of the coastal peoples. Otanes’ father Sisamnes had been one of the royal judges, but he had taken a bribe to deliver an unfair verdict, and so King Cambyses slit his throat and flayed off all his skin. He had thongs made out of the flayed skin, and he strung the chair on which Sisamnes had used to sit to deliver his verdicts with these thongs. Then he appointed Sisamnes’ son to be a judge instead of the father whom he had killed and flayed, and told him to bear in mind the nature of the chair on which he would sit to deliver his verdicts.

[26] So now Otanes, the one with this chair to sit on, became the successor to Megabazus’ command, and captured Byzantium, Chalcedon, Antandrus in Troas, and Lamponium. Taking a fleet from the Lesbians, he captured Lemnos and Imbros, both of which were still inhabited by Pelasgians at the time.

[27] After a brave and well-fought defence, the people of Lemnos were eventually defeated. Lycaretus, the brother of Maeandrius (the former ruler of Samos), was the Persian choice for governor of the survivors. Lycaretus died while governing Lemnos ⟨after incurring a great deal of unpopularity⟩,† the reason for which was that he enslaved all the inhabitants and kept them crushed, accusing some of desertion to the Scythian side, and others of inflicting casualties on Darius’ army as it was returning after the Scythian campaign.

[28] Anyway, these were Otanes’ achievements as a military commander. There was a brief respite, but soon troubles began again for the Ionians, this time as a result of Naxos and Miletus. It should be said, first, that Naxos was the most prosperous of the Aegean islands, and second that this coincided with the time when Miletus was at a particular peak and was, moreover, the pride of Ionia. Two generations earlier, however, Miletus had been stricken with a violent period of civil war, until the Parians had sorted things out for them. In fact, from the whole of Greece the Milesians had chosen the Parians as their arbitrators.

[29] The Parians sent their best men to Miletus, and the way they settled the dispute was as follows. It was obvious to them that the Milesians were facing complete economic ruin, so they said they wanted to visit the whole territory, and proceeded to do so. They travelled throughout Milesian territory, and wherever they saw, in the devastated countryside, a well-worked field, they had the name of the owner of the field written down. By the time they had completed their tour of the territory, they had found few such fields. As soon as they got back to the city, they gathered all the people together and put the government of the city in the hands of the owners of the well-worked fields they had found, on the grounds that these men would presumably manage the city’s business as well as they did their own; and they ordered the rest of the population, who had previously been at one another’s throats, to do as their new leaders commanded.

[30] So that is how the Parians sorted out the Milesians’ affairs. At the time in question, however, these cities were responsible for a troubled period in Ionian history. What happened was that certain men of substance were banished from Naxos by the common people and ended up in Miletus. The acting governor of Miletus at the time was Aristagoras the son of Molpagoras, who was the son-in-law and cousin of Histiaeus the son of Lysagoras, whom Darius was detaining in Susa. Histiaeus was in fact the tyrant of Miletus, but he was in Susa at the time of the arrival of the Naxians, who had previously been his allies. Once they were in Miletus, the Naxians asked Aristagoras to lend them some military assistance and help them return home. It occurred to Aristagoras that if he were instrumental in their return, he would become the ruler of Naxos, and so, using their friendship with Histiaeus as the pretext, he put the following proposal to them. ‘I do not myself have the capability’, he said, ‘to provide you with a force great enough to restore you in the face of opposition from the Naxians who are currently in possession of the city, because my information is that they have eight thousand men-at-arms and plenty of longships. However, I will do everything I can to make this work, and I have a plan. Artaphrenes—who is, as you know, the son of Hystaspes and the brother of King Darius—happens to be a friend of mine. Now, he is in charge of the whole Asian coastline, and he has a sizeable army and a powerful fleet. I think that he will do whatever we ask.’

Hearing this, the Naxians enjoined Aristagoras to do the best he could, and told him to offer gifts and to undertake to pay the military expenses, which, they said, they would defray themselves. They did this because they fully expected their appearance on Naxos to cause the inhabitants to submit to them, and they had high hopes that the same would happen on all the other islands too, none of which was yet under Darius’ control.

[31] Aristagoras went to Sardis and told Artaphrenes that although Naxos was not a large island, it was exceptionally beautiful and fertile, lay close to the Ionian coast, and was rich in property and slaves. ‘You should mount an expedition against it,’ he said, ‘and bring back the exiles who have been banished. I should tell you, first, that I’ve got a great deal of money set aside for you once you’ve completed such an expedition, enough to cover everything except the military expenditure, which it is only right that those of us who are directing the expedition should provide. The second point to note is that you will also be gaining for the king not just the island of Naxos itself, but also further islands which are dependent on it—Paros, Andros, and the others called the Cyclades. Then these islands would make an excellent base from which you could launch an attack on Euboea, which is a large, prosperous island, at least as big as Cyprus and easy to take. A fleet of a hundred ships would be enough to subdue all these islands.’

‘You bring good news for the royal house,’† Artaphrenes replied. ‘The only flaw in your otherwise excellent suggestion is the number of ships. Instead of one hundred ships, two hundred will be ready for you at the beginning of spring. However, the king himself must also approve the plan.’

[32] Aristagoras was delighted with this response, and returned to Miletus. Meanwhile Artaphrenes sent a message to Susa to tell Darius about Aristagoras’ proposal. Darius himself approved the plan, and so Artaphrenes not only got two hundred triremes ready, but also mobilized a sizeable force of Persians and their allies. He gave the command of the expedition to a Persian called Megabates, who was an Achaemenid, and was his and Darius’ cousin. (Years later—if there is any truth to the story—Pausanias of Lacedaemon, the son of Cleombrotus, wanted to become the tyrant of all Greece, and he got himself betrothed to Megabates’ daughter.) Artaphrenes then dispatched the expeditionary force, now with Megabates in command, to Aristagoras.

[33] At Miletus, Megabates was joined by Aristagoras, the Ionian contingent, and the Naxian exiles, and then he set sail, ostensibly for the Hellespont. When he reached Chios, however, he anchored off Caucasa, with the intention of making the crossing over to Naxos on a north wind. But Naxos was not destined to fall to this expedition. What happened was that once, when Megabates was making his rounds of the sentries posted to watch the ships, he found that no guards had been set on board a Myndian ship. He angrily told his personal guards to find the ship’s captain, whose name was Scylax, to haul him through one of the ship’s oar-holes, and tie him there, with his head outside and his body inside. When Scylax was tied up, someone told Aristagoras that Megabates had mistreated and tied up his guest-friend from Myndus, and Aristagoras went to the Persian and asked him to reconsider. He got nowhere, however, so he went and untied him himself. When Megabates found out, he was furious and raged against Aristagoras. Aristagoras replied, ‘What has any of this business got to do with you? Didn’t Artaphrenes send you to obey my commands and to sail wherever I tell you to? Why don’t you mind your own business?’ Megabates was so angry at what Aristagoras had said that during the night he sent men in a boat to Naxos to tell the islanders everything that was going on.

[34] Now, the Naxians had in fact had no idea that they were the targets of this expedition, but as soon as they heard the news they brought everything from the fields within the town walls, equipped themselves with food and water for a siege, and reinforced the wall. So they prepared themselves for an enemy attack. Meanwhile, the fleet crossed from Chios to Naxos—and they arrived to find themselves up against opponents who were securely defended. Four months later they were still besieging the town. By this time they had spent all the money the Persians had brought with them, and Aristagoras himself had used up a great deal of money too, and the siege was constantly needing more, so they built a stronghold for the Naxian exiles and returned to the mainland. They had failed.

[35] Aristagoras could not keep his promise to Artaphrenes; he was also under a lot of pressure from the expenses required for the expedition, and he was afraid that the military failure and his quarrel with Megabates would result in the rulership of Miletus being taken away from him. Driven by all these fears, he began to contemplate rebellion, and it also so happened, in fact, that a man with a tattooed head arrived from Histiaeus in Susa with a message telling Aristagoras to rebel against the king. Histiaeus could find no other safe way to communicate to Aristagoras the message he wanted to get through to him, because the roads were guarded, so he shaved the head of his most trustworthy slave, tattooed the message on his scalp, and then waited for his hair to grow back. As soon as it had, he sent him to Miletus with just the one task—to tell Aristagoras, when he got to Miletus, to shave his hair off and examine his scalp. And as I have already said, the tattooed message was that Aristagoras should revolt. The reason Histiaeus took this step was because he hated being kept in Susa; he expected to be let go and sent to the coast in the event of a rebellion by Miletus, but he reckoned that unless the city created trouble he would never again get to see it.

[36] That was Histiaeus’ plan in sending the messenger, and it happened that all these things came together at the same time for Aristagoras. So what he did was seek the advice of his supporters. He told them his own thoughts and explained about Histiaeus’ message. All of them expressed their agreement with him and urged him to revolt, except for the writer Hecataeus, who first tried to stop him embarking on hostilities with the Persian king by listing all the nations and tribes subject to Darius and all his resources; then, when this argument met with no success, he next recommended that they make the attempt to gain control of the sea. He knew that Miletus was weak just then, so he went on to say that the only way for them to achieve this, as far as he could see, was to take from the sanctuary at Branchidae all the valuable property Croesus of Lydia had dedicated there. This would give them a reasonable hope of gaining control of the sea, and he pointed out that the money would then be theirs to make use of, and that otherwise it would be stolen by the enemy. (There was in fact a great deal of valuable property there, as I showed in the first of my narratives.) This proposal of Hecataeus’ did not carry the day, but they still decided to revolt against Persia. They also decided that the first step would be for one of their number to sail to Myous, where the expeditionary force had stopped on the way back from Naxos, and try to seize the commanders, who were on board the ships.

[37] Iatragoras was dispatched on this mission and, with the help of a ruse, he captured Oliatus of Mylasa, the son of Ibanollis, Histiaeus of Termera, the son of Tymnes, Coës the son of Erxander (the man whom Darius had rewarded with Mytilene), Aristagoras of Cyme, the son of Heraclides, and many more. So Aristagoras’ rebellion was out in the open, and he did all he could to damage Darius’ interests. The first thing he did was relinquish his position as tyrant and convert Miletus to a theoretical state of equality before the law, so that the citizens of Miletus would voluntarily join in the rebellion. He then proceeded to do the same throughout Ionia. He expelled some tyrants from their states, and he handed over to the various states they were from the tyrants he had seized from the ships that had sailed with him to Naxos, because he wanted to get on good terms with the people in those places.

[38] As soon as the Mytileneans got Coës back, they took him out and stoned him to death, but the Cymeans let their tyrant go, as did most of the other states. And so the tyrants were deposed throughout the states. Once Aristagoras of Miletus had deposed the tyrants, he told the people in the various states to appoint military commanders, and then he set off as an envoy in a trireme for Lacedaemon, because he needed to find some powerful military support.

[39] In Sparta, Anaxandridas the son of Leon had died and passed the kingdom on to his son Cleomenes, though it was his lineage rather than excellence that gained it for him. What happened was that Anaxandridas had married his sister’s daughter, and although he was pleased with her, they had no children. The ephors therefore summoned him to a meeting and said, ‘Even if you do not look out for yourself, we cannot just let Eurysthenes’ line die out. Your present wife is not bearing you children, so we suggest you let her go and marry someone else. That will make you popular among the Spartiates.’

‘I refuse to do either of these things,’ he replied. ‘It’s wrong of you to advise me to get rid of my present wife, who is blameless as far as I am concerned, and marry someone else. I shall not do as you suggest.’

[40] At this point, the ephors and the elders talked things over and then put the following proposal to Anaxandridas: ‘All right. We can see that you want to keep your present wife, but here is an alternative course of action for you. We recommend that you don’t refuse, otherwise the Spartiates might come to an unpleasant decision in your case. We’re not going to ask you to dismiss your present wife, or to change the way you treat her at the moment, but you must bring in another woman, one who is not barren, and treat her in exactly the same way too.’ Anaxandridas agreed with this idea of theirs, and subsequently had two wives and divided his time between two households, which was completely contrary to Spartiate practice.

[41] Not long afterwards, his new wife gave birth to Cleomenes. By a remarkable coincidence, just as she produced a Spartiate heir apparent, his first wife, who had previously been childless, also became pregnant. When the relatives of Anaxandridas’ new wife heard the news, they began to make a nuisance of themselves; although she really was pregnant, they made out that it was a vain boast and that she was intending to adopt a child. They made such a lot of fuss about the matter that when her time drew near, the ephors were uncertain enough to gather around the woman and watch her labour. She gave birth to Dorieus, and then immediately became pregnant with Leonidas and immediately after that with Cleombrotus (although there is also an alternative account which makes Cleombrotus and Leonidas twins). Meanwhile, Cleomenes remained the only child of Anaxandridas’ new wife, who was the daughter of Prinetadas the son of Demarmenus.

[42] The story goes that Cleomenes was not in possession of all his faculties, but was on the verge of insanity; Dorieus, however, was the outstanding man of his generation, and was sure that if excellence were the criterion, he would become king. Because of this conviction of his, when Anaxandridas died and the Lacedaemonians made the eldest son Cleomenes king, as their constitution demanded, Dorieus was angry and refused to be ruled by Cleomenes. He asked the Spartiates for a band of settlers and led them off on a colonizing expedition. However, he failed to carry out any of the prescribed preliminaries, and did not even consult the Delphic oracle about where he should go and found his colony; he just angrily sailed straight for Libya, with men from Thera to guide him. He came to a very beautiful part of Libya, which was on the River Cinyps, and founded a settlement there, but after two years he was driven out by a combined force of Carthaginians and a Libyan tribe called the Macaes, and returned to the Peloponnese.

[43] At this juncture a man from Eleon called Antichares advised him, on the strength of the oracles of Laius, to colonize Heraclea in Sicily. He claimed that the whole region around Mount Eryx belonged to the descendants of Heracles, because Heracles had taken possession of it. Dorieus listened to what Antichares said, and then travelled to Delphi and asked the oracle whether he would capture the land he was heading for. The Pythia gave him a positive reply, so Dorieus enlisted the same body of people he had taken to Libya and set off for Italy.

[44] At the same time as Dorieus’ emigration Sybaris, under the command of its king Telys, was about to go to war against Croton. The people of Croton—this is the Sybarite version of events—were so terrified that they asked Dorieus to help them, and he agreed. So Dorieus joined forces with the Crotonians and together they captured Sybaris. That is the Sybarite account of what Dorieus and his followers did, but the Crotonians claim that they had no outside help in the war against Sybaris apart from Callias of Elis, a diviner who was one of the Iamidae. He came to be with them, according to the Crotonians, because he deserted to them from the Sybarite tyrant Telys when he kept receiving unfavourable omens about the attack on Croton from the entrails of his sacrificial victims. That is the alternative account given by the Crotonians.

[45] Both sides produce evidence to support their version. The Sybarites point to the existence of a precinct and temple by the dry bed of the River Crathis, which they say Dorieus built after having captured Sybaris and dedicated to Athena under the name of Athena of Crathis. They also point, as their most telling piece of evidence, to the circumstances of Dorieus’ death, and claim that he died because he was contravening the oracle’s prophecy. If he had kept to the original purpose of his expedition and not been sidetracked, they say, he would have captured and held the land around Mount Eryx, without the loss of his own life and those of his men. The Crotonians, for their part, point out that while Callias of Elis was granted a number of special plots of land within Crotonian territory—plots which were still inhabited by Callias’ descendants in my own time—there is no evidence of Dorieus or his descendants having received anything at all. And yet, they argue, if Dorieus had helped them in the war against Sybaris, he would have been given far more than Callias. So this is the evidence produced by either side; anyone can agree with whichever of the two accounts he finds plausible.

[46] Among the settlers who sailed with Dorieus were the Spartiates Thessalus, Paraebates, Celeës, and Euryleon. The expedition reached Sicily in full strength, but then they were defeated in battle by the Phoenicians and Segestans, and all died except for Euryleon, who was the only one to survive this catastrophe. He gathered together the remnants of the army and took Minoa, a colony of Selinous, and helped free the Selinians from their ruler Peithagoras. Having deposed Peithagoras, he next tried to set himself up as the tyrant of Selinous, and ruled for a short while, but then the people of Selinous rose up against him and killed him, despite the fact that he had taken refuge at the altar of Zeus the Protector of the Town Square.

[47] Another person who went to Sicily with Dorieus, and died with him, was Philippus of Croton, the son of Butacides, who had been banished from Croton because of his betrothal to the daughter of Telys of Sybaris. With his marriage plans foiled, Philippus sailed off to Cyrene and set out from there to join Dorieus’ expedition. He provided his own trireme, and paid all his men’s expenses himself. He was an Olympic victor and the most handsome man of his generation in Greece. His good looks have earned him a unique accolade from the people of Segesta: they offer propitiatory sacrifices at his tomb, where they have erected a hero’s shrine.

[48] So that is how Dorieus died. If he had patiently stayed in Sparta and submitted to Cleomenes’ rule, he would have become the king of Lacedaemon, because Cleomenes did not reign for very long, and died without leaving a son, only a daughter, whose name was Gorgo.

[49] In any case, Aristagoras the tyrant of Miletus came to Sparta during Cleomenes’ reign. The Lacedaemonian account of his visit is that he held discussions with Cleomenes, and brought with him a bronze chart on which was engraved a map of the whole earth, showing every stretch of sea and all the rivers. Aristagoras arrived for the meeting and said, ‘Cleomenes, don’t be surprised at how eager I am to have this meeting. This is the situation: the sons of the Ionians are slaves, when they should be free. But it isn’t only we Ionians who should feel the terrible ignominy and pain; more than anyone else, you should feel it too, because you are the champions of Greece. I beg you, then, by the gods of the Greeks, to liberate your kinsmen in Ionia from slavery. Success in this matter will come easily to you, because these non-Greeks aren’t formidable fighters and you have attained the highest achievement of all in military prowess. They fight with bows and short spears; they wear trousers and kurbasias into battle. This is how easy they are to beat.

‘And there is real wealth there; the inhabitants of that continent are better off in material terms than the rest of the world put together. I’m talking about the amount of gold they have for a start, and silver, bronze, gorgeous clothing, yoke-animals, and slaves. You can have as much of all this as you like.

‘I should go on to explain that they live next to one another. Here are the Ionians, and next to them—here—are the Lydians, whose land is fertile and rich in silver.’ As he spoke, Aristagoras pointed to the map of the earth engraved on the chart he had brought with him. ‘And here,’ he went on, ‘just to the east of the Lydians are the Phrygians, who have more flocks of animals, and richer harvests, than any other country I know of. Next to the Phrygians are the Cappadocians—or Syrians, as we call them. Their neighbours are the Cilicians, whose territory stretches down to this sea here, where Cyprus is—that’s this island here. The Cilicians pay five hundred talents of tribute to the Persian king every year. Next to the Cilicians are the Armenians, and these people too have many herds. Then these people here, next to the Armenians, are the Matieneans. The next country along is Cissia, and Susa itself lies on the banks of this river here in Cissia, which is called the Choäspes. Susa is where the Great King usually lives, and where the treasuries are, with all his wealth. All you have to do is capture Susa, and your wealth will then undoubtedly challenge that of Zeus!

‘Now take your land here. It is not very big or particularly fertile; and since it has a limited amount of space, you have to take the risk of fighting with your equals the Messenians, not to mention the Arcadians and the Argives. Desire for gold and silver can certainly move a man to fight and die, but your enemies here don’t have any gold or silver at all. When you could easily make yourselves the rulers of all Asia, how could you choose another option?’

When Aristagoras had finished speaking, Cleomenes told him that he would not give his response straight away, but in two days’ time.

[50] That is as far as they got then. The day chosen for the response arrived and they met as agreed. Cleomenes asked Aristagoras how many days’ journey it was from the Ionian coast to the king’s palace, and at that point Aristagoras, who up till then had been so clever and had been successfully taking Cleomenes in, made a mistake. In pursuit of his aim of seducing the Spartiates to Asia, he should not have told the truth, but he did: he told him that the journey inland would take three months. He was going on to say more about the journey, but Cleomenes interrupted him. ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘I order you to leave Sparta before sunset. You are not saying anything attractive to the Lacedaemonians, if you want them to travel three months’ journey away from the sea.’

[51] With these words Cleomenes returned home. Aristagoras went to Cleomenes’ home with a branch of supplication and, as a suppliant, gained entry and asked Cleomenes to listen to what he had to say, but first to dismiss the child: Cleomenes’ only child, his daughter Gorgo, who was 8 or 9 years old, was standing next to him. Cleomenes told him to go ahead and say whatever he wanted without holding back because of the child. Then Aristagoras began by promising him ten talents if he did what he was asking him to do. When Cleomenes refused the bribe, Aristagoras gradually increased the amount of money he was offering, until he had promised him fifty talents. At this point the child spoke. ‘Father,’ she said, ‘your visitor is going to corrupt you, if you don’t get up and leave.’ Cleomenes was pleased with his daughter’s advice, and went into another room. Aristagoras left Sparta altogether and he never got another chance to describe the journey inland to the king of Persia.

[52] In fact, here is a description of the route. There are royal staging-posts and excellent inns all along it, and every region the road passes through is inhabited and safe. There are twenty staging-posts strung along it as it goes through Lydia and Phrygia, which is a journey of 94½ parasangs. Phrygia ends at the River Halys, where there is a pass, and it is only after getting through this pass that one crosses the river; there is also a substantial guard-post at the Halys. Across the river one continues on into Cappadocia, and along the road between the river and the border with Cilicia, a distance of 104 parasangs, there are twenty-eight staging-posts. At this border there are two passes to get through and two guard-posts to get by. Then there are three staging-posts on the journey through Cilicia of 15½ parasangs. The border between Cilicia and Armenia is formed by a river—the Euphrates—which is deep enough to be navigable. In Armenia there are fifteen staging-posts where one can break one’s journey, and the road covers 56½ parasangs. There is a guard-post on this stretch of road. The road then enters Matiene, where there are thirty-four staging-posts along a route of 137 parasangs.† Matiene has four navigable rivers flowing through it, which have to be crossed by ferry; the first is the Tigris, the second and the third are both called the Zabatus (despite the fact that they are not the same river, not even at their source, since the first one rises in Armenia, while the further one rises in Matiene), and the fourth is the Gyndes, which is the river that Cyrus once divided into three hundred and sixty channels. Across the Gyndes into Cissia, there are eleven staging-posts on this stretch of road, which covers 42½ parasangs and goes up to the Choäspes (another river which is deep enough to be navigable), where Susa has been built. So there are 111 staging-posts in all—111 places to break one’s journey inland from Sardis to Susa.

[53] If these distances in parasangs along the Royal Road are correct, and if a parasang is equal to thirty stades (which it is), then from Sardis to the Memnonian Palace, as it is known, is a distance of 13,500 stades, or 450 parasangs. So, supposing one travels 150 stades a day, the whole journey would take exactly ninety days.

[54] It follows that when Aristagoras of Miletus told Cleomenes the Lacedaemonian that it would take three months to reach the king, he was right. If even greater precision is required, I will provide that too, because the journey from Ephesus to Sardis needs to be taken into account as well. My conclusion is that the sum total of stades from the Greek sea to Susa (or the Memnonian city, as it is called) is 14,040, since it is 540 stades from Ephesus to Sardis. This would add three days on to the three-month journey.

[55] After being thrown out of Sparta, Aristagoras went to Athens, which had become free of its tyrants. This is how it happened. Two members by descent of the family of the Gephyraei, Aristogiton and Harmodius, killed Hipparchus, the son of Pisistratus and brother of the reigning tyrant Hippias, despite the fact that Hipparchus had had a dream which referred unmistakably to his own fate.† The assassination did not improve the situation; in fact, for four years Athens had to endure an even more harsh tyranny than before.

[56] Hipparchus’ dream, which occurred to him on the night before the Panathenaea, was that a tall, attractive man stood over him and spoke the following enigmatic words:

Submit, lion: bear in your suffering heart the insufferable end; No one can avoid the penalty for his crimes.

Early the next morning, he was seen telling the dream-interpreters about his dream, but then he dismissed it from his thoughts, joined in the procession—and died during it.

[57] The Gephyraei—the family to which Hipparchus’ assassins belonged—came originally, according to their account, from Eretria. However, my own researches have led me to conclude that they were Phoenicians, and were among the Phoenicians who accompanied Cadmus to the region now known as Boeotia, where they lived in Tanagra, the district allotted to them. The Cadmeans were driven out of this region by the Argives, and then later the Gephyraei were expelled by the Boeotians and made their way to Athens. The Athenians took them in and allowed them to join the citizen body with the proviso that they should be debarred from a number of insignificant rights.†

[58] The Phoenicians who came to Greece with Cadmus, among whom were the Gephyraei, ended up living in this land and introducing the Greeks to a number of accomplishments, most notably the alphabet, which, as far as I can tell, the Greeks did not have before then. At first the letters they used were the same as those of all Phoenicians everywhere, but as time went by, along with the sound, they changed the way they wrote the letters as well. At this time most of their Greek neighbours were Ionians. So it was the Ionians who learnt the alphabet from the Phoenicians; they changed the shapes of a few of the letters, but they still called the alphabet they used the Phoenician alphabet, which was only right, since it was the Phoenicians who had introduced it into Greece. The Ionian term for papyrus rolls—namely ‘skins’—also goes back a long way, to when they used goatskins and sheepskins to write on, because they did not have any papyrus. In fact even today many non-Greeks use such skins for writing.

[59] I have actually seen some examples of Cadmean writing myself in the sanctuary of Ismenian Apollo at Thebes in Boeotia; the writing was engraved on three tripods, and was basically similar to Ionian script. One of the tripods is inscribed with the line ‘Amphitryon dedicated me out of spoils taken from the Teleboae’.† This must date from the time of Laius the son of Labdacus, grandson of Polydorus, and great-grandson of Cadmus.

[60] Another tripod has the following hexameter lines:

After his victory in the games Scaeus the boxer dedicated me to you,
Far-shooting Apollo, to be a beautiful decoration for your temple.

Scaeus must be the son of Hippocoön (unless the dedicator is actually someone else with the same name as the son of Hippocoön), from the time of Oedipus the son of Laius.

[61] The third tripod has the following lines, again in hexameter verse:

King Laodamas himself dedicated this tripod to you, Clear-sighted Apollo, to be a beautiful decoration for your temple.

It was during the reign of this King Laodamas, who was the son of Eteocles, that the Cadmeans were uprooted by the Argives and made their way to the Encheleis, while the Gephyraei were left behind and then later were forced by the Boeotians to withdraw to Athens. They have their own rituals established in Athens, which no one else in the city is allowed to share; in particular, among other unique rituals of theirs, there is the rite of Demeter Achaea, and the mysteries performed there.

[62] Anyway, now that I have described Hipparchus’ dream and the origins of the Gephyraei, the family to which Hipparchus’ assassins belonged, I had better return to the story I started out to tell, about how the Athenians freed themselves from their tyrants. Hippias’ rule over the Athenians had become even more harsh because of Hipparchus’ murder, when the Alcmaeonidae, an Athenian family who had been banished by Pisistratidae, made an unsuccessful attempt, assisted by other Athenian exiles, to get back to Athens by force of arms and to liberate the state from Hippias’ tyranny. They succeeded in fortifying a place called Leipsydrium, which is above Paeonia, but then they suffered a heavy defeat. After that, the Alcmaeonidae did all they could to damage the Pisistratidae. One thing they did was gain the contract from the Amphictyons to build the present temple in Delphi, which did not exist then. Now, the Alcmaeonidae had been a prominent family for generations, and they were not short of money; the temple they built improved on the plan in a number of respects, including the fact that whereas the contract called for the use of tufa as the building-material, they used Parian marble for the front.

[63] The Athenians claim that while the Alcmaeonidae were based in Delphi they used to bribe the Pythia to advise any Spartiates who came, whether they were there on personal or public business, to liberate Athens. Since they were constantly receiving the same message, then, the Lacedaemonians sent a task force under one of their foremost citizens, a man called Anchimolius the son of Aster, to expel the Pisistratidae from Athens; they did this despite the fact that they and the Pisistratidae were close guestfriends and allies, because for them divine matters took precedence over human ones. Ships were provided to transport the task force.

Anchimolius put in at Phalerum and his men disembarked, but the Pisistratidae had found out in advance that they were coming and had sent for a mercenary force from Thessaly, with whom they had entered into a treaty of alliance. In response to their request, the Thessalians all agreed to send a thousand horsemen under their king Cineas of Conda. The plan the Pisistratidae adopted, once they had gained their reinforcements, was to clear the plain of Phalerum to make it suitable for cavalry, and then send the horsemen against the enemy troops. Losses among the Lacedaemonians from this cavalry attack were heavy, and included Anchimolius; the survivors were forced back to their ships. So that was the end of the first expedition from Lacedaemon. Anchimolius’ tomb is in Attica, at Alopecae near the temple of Heracles at Cynosarges.

[64] The Lacedaemonians next prepared and sent a larger force to attack Athens, and put King Cleomenes, the son of Anaxandridas, in command of the expedition. This time they sent the army by land rather than sea. The Thessalian cavalry engaged them as soon as they entered Attic territory, but they were routed after a brief battle, with the loss of about forty men. The survivors wasted no time in heading straight back to Thessaly. After this victory, Cleomenes and the Athenian partisans of freedom made their way to the city, where they pinned the tyrants inside the Pelasgian Wall and began to besiege them there.

[65] Under normal circumstances, there is no way in which the Lacedaemonians would have got the Pisistratidae out of there. The Pisistratidae had plenty of food and water, and the Lacedaemonians had not planned on a siege, so they would have kept up the blockade for a few days and then gone back to Sparta. What happened, however, was a piece of luck which was as bad for one side as it was helpful to the other: the children of the Pisistratidae were captured as they were being secretly taken out of the country. This threw the Pisistratidae into complete disarray, and in order to recover the children they were forced to surrender on whatever terms the Athenians wanted, which were that they should be out of Attica within five days. And so they left and went to Sigeum on the Scamander River. They had ruled over Athens for a total of thirty-six years. Originally, this family came from Pylos and were descendants of Neleus, from the same stock as Codrus and Melanthus, who had become kings of Athens despite being immigrants. This is why Hippocrates had called his son Pisistratus, to recall Pisistratus the son of Nestor.

So that is how the Athenians rid themselves of tyrants. But now I shall first give an account of all the notable events that happened to them, whether instigated by them or by others, between the time they gained their freedom and the arrival of Aristagoras of Miletus in Athens to ask them to help the Ionians in their rebellion against Darius.

[66] Athens had been an important state before, but once it had rid itself of tyrants it began to grow in stature. There were two particularly powerful men in Athens: Cleisthenes, who was an Alcmaeonid (and was the one, reputedly, who bribed the Pythia), and Isagoras the son of Tisander, who came from a distinguished house, but one whose origins I have been unable to discover. (However, relatives of his offer sacrifices to Carian Zeus.) Now, a power struggle took place between these two men, which Cleisthenes lost. He then allied himself with the common people and instituted the system of ten tribes in Athens, when there had been only four before. The four tribes had been named after the sons of Ion—Geleon, Aegicores, Argades, and Hoples—but Cleisthenes abolished these names and came up instead with the names of local heroes, except in the case of Ajax, whose name was added to the list on the grounds that despite being a foreigner, he had been a neighbour and an ally.

[67] It seems to me that in this Cleisthenes was copying his maternal grandfather, Cleisthenes the tyrant of Sicyon. This Cleisthenes had been at war with Argos, and then he suspended the rhapsodic contests in Sicyon, because they involved the Homeric epics, which constantly celebrate Argos and the Argives. Now, there was (and still is) a shrine in the main square of Sicyon to Adrastus the son of Talaus, and, because he was an Argive, Cleisthenes also wanted to banish this hero from the country. He went to Delphi and asked if it would be all right to banish Adrastus, but the Pythia’s response was that Adrastus had been the king of Sicyon, whereas he was a nobody. Since the god was not letting him take this course, on his return to Sicyon he began to devise a plan for getting rid of Adrastus. When he thought he had found a way to do it, he sent a messenger to Boeotian Thebes asking for permission to introduce Melanippus the son of Astacus into Sicyon. The Thebans gave him permission, and so Cleisthenes introduced Melanippus into Sicyon. He consecrated a precinct in the actual town hall and built it in the most impregnable spot. Now, it should also be explained that the reason Cleisthenes brought Melanippus to Sicyon was that Melanippus and Adrastus had been implacable enemies, because Melanippus had killed Adrastus’ brother Mecisteus and his son-in-law Tydeus. So, having dedicated his precinct, Cleisthenes deprived Adrastus of his sacrifices and festivals and gave them to Melanippus—and Adrastus had always been a particular object of reverence in Sicyon, ever since Polybus, the king of Sicyon, who had no children, bequeathed his kingdom after his death to Adrastus, who was his daughter’s son. One of the ways in which the Sicyonians used to worship Adrastus was by commemorating his sufferings with tragic choruses, who performed in honour of Adrastus rather than Dionysus. But Cleisthenes assigned his choruses to Dionysus, and the rest of his rites to Melanippus.

[68] So that is what Cleisthenes did about Adrastus. However, the Sicyonians and the Argives had the same tribes—the Dorian tribes—and he also wanted to avoid that, so he changed the names of the Sicyonian tribes. In doing so, he made the people of Sicyon laughing-stocks, because he changed the tribal names to ‘Swine’, ‘Donkey’, and ‘Pig’, and just added the usual ending. The only exception was his own tribe, which he named the Rulers of the People after his own rule. The others, however, were called the Swineans, the Donkeyans, or the Pigeans. These tribal names were used in Sicyon not only in Cleisthenes’ time, but for sixty years after his death as well. But then the issue came up and they changed the names to the Hylleis, the Pamphylians, and the Dymanatae, and added a new name for the fourth tribe—the Aegialians, named after Adrastus’ son Aegialeus.

[69] These were the reforms of Cleisthenes of Sicyon. As for his daughter’s son and namesake, Cleisthenes of Athens, I think he was another person with a low opinion of others—in his case the Ionians—and that is why, in imitation of the other Cleisthenes, he wanted the Athenians not to have the same tribes as the Ionians. So when he had won over to his side the ordinary people of Athens, who had previously been discounted, he changed the names of the tribes and increased their number. He created ten tribal leaders, then, where there had formerly been four, and divided the whole population between these ten tribes. And once he had won the ordinary people over, he was far more powerful than his political opponents.

[70] So now it was Isagoras’ turn to lose in the power struggle. His response was to ask Cleomenes of Lacedaemon to help; Cleomenes had been his guest-friend and ally ever since the blockade of the Pisistratidae (and Cleomenes had been accused of having an affair with Isagoras’ wife). At first, Cleomenes sent a messenger to Athens to try to get Cleisthenes and a number of other Athenians banished, on the grounds that they were under a curse. It was Isagoras who told him to say this in the message he sent. For although the Alcmaeonidae and their supporters had been accused of murder (as I shall explain), Isagoras and his allies had not had anything to do with it.

[71] Here is how the ‘accursed’ Athenians came to get their name. An Athenian called Cylon, an Olympic victor, saw himself as the tyrant of Athens. He made himself the leader of a band of young men his own age and tried to seize the Acropolis. When this attempt failed, he and his men took refuge as suppliants at the base of the statue of Athena. The presidents of the naucraries, who constituted the governing body of Athens in those days, persuaded them to leave with assurances that, whatever punishment they faced, they would not be put to death. The Alcmaeonidae were accused of murdering them, however. All this happened before the time of Pisistratus.

[72] When Cleomenes made his attempt, through his representative, to banish Cleisthenes and the Athenians who were under a curse, Cleisthenes slipped out of Athens. Nevertheless, Cleomenes subsequently came to Athens with a small force and, on the advice of Isagoras, expelled seven hundred Athenian families. He next tried to dissolve the Council and to transfer its functions to three hundred of Isagoras’ supporters. When the Council resisted and refused to comply, Cleomenes, with the help of Isagoras and his supporters, occupied the Acropolis. The rest of the Athenians joined forces and besieged them on the Acropolis. The siege lasted for two days and then on the third day the Lacedaemonian contingent were allowed to leave the country under a truce. So the warning Cleomenes had received came true. In the course of occupying the Acropolis, when he reached the top, he was in the process of entering the temple of Athena to pray, but the priestess got up from her chair before he had passed through the doorway and said, ‘Go back, Lacedaemonian. You are not to enter the sanctuary. It is unlawful for Dorians to enter here.’

‘I’m no Dorian, woman,’ he replied. ‘I’m an Achaean.’ So he ignored the omen, carried on with the venture, and was expelled on this occasion, as he had been before, along with the rest of the Lacedaemonians. The Athenians condemned the non-Lacedaemonians to death and threw them into prison. Among those taken was Timesitheus of Delphi, whose extraordinary feats of strength and courage I could describe.

[73] After the prisoners had been executed, the Athenians recalled Cleisthenes and the seven hundred families who had been banished by Cleomenes. Then they sent a delegation to Sardis, because they knew that Cleomenes and the Lacedaemonians were up in arms against them, so they wanted to enter into an alliance with the Persians. The delegation reached Sardis and was in the middle of delivering its message when Artaphrenes the son of Hystaspes, who was the governor of Sardis, asked the Athenians who they were and where they were from that they sought an alliance with the Persians. The Athenian delegates gave him the information he had asked for, and then he curtly stated his position as follows: ‘If the Athenians give King Darius earth and water, he will enter into an alliance with them; otherwise, they will have to leave.’ The delegates wanted to conclude the alliance, so of their own accord they agreed to offer the king earth and water. This got them into a lot of trouble on their return home.

[74] Meanwhile Cleomenes, who felt deeply injured by the Athenians’ actions and their words, was mobilizing an army from all over the Peloponnese. Although he did not explain why he was mustering an army, his intention was to punish the Athenian people and to make Isagoras, who had left the Acropolis with him, the tyrant of Athens. So Cleomenes attacked Eleusis at the head of a large army, and at the same time the Boeotians, by prior arrangement, took Oenoe and Hysiae, which were the most remote villages in Attica, while the Chalcidians invaded and began devastating Attic territory elsewhere. Although the Athenians were being attacked on all sides, they decided to forget about the Boeotians and Chalcidians for the time being, and they went and took up a position facing the Peloponnesians at Eleusis.

[75] Battle was just about to be joined when the Corinthians came to the conclusion that they were perpetrating a miscarriage of justice, so in a complete volte-face they set off back home. Then Demaratus the son of Ariston, who was the other Spartan king and the joint leader of the invading army, followed suit, even though he and Cleomenes had previously been on good terms. (As a result of this rift, a law was passed in Sparta to the effect that both kings were not to take to the field together, as they had up till then. Moreover, since one of the two kings was relieved from active service, one of the two Tyndaridae could be left behind as well, both of whom had also previously gone with the army to support the effort.) Anyway, back in Eleusis, when the remainder of the allies saw that the kings of the Lacedaemonians were at odds and that the Corinthians had abandoned their position, they decamped as well.

[76] This was the fourth time that Dorians had come to Attica. Two of the occasions were hostile invasions, and the other two were for the good of the Athenian people. The first time was when they had also founded Megara (an expedition which should be dated to the time when Codrus was the king of Athens); the second and third times were when they set out from Sparta to get rid of the Pisistratidae; and the fourth time was when Cleomenes attacked Eleusis at the head of a Peloponnesian army. So this was the fourth time that Dorians attacked Athens.

[77] With this army in ignominious tatters, the Athenians, bent on revenge, set out first to take on the Chalcidians. The Boeotians, however, advanced up to the Euripus to support the Chalcidians, and when the Athenians saw the relief force, they decided to attack it before the Chalcidians. So they engaged the Boeotians and won a considerable victory, killing large numbers of the enemy and taking seven hundred prisoners. On the very same day the Athenians crossed the strait to Euboea and fought another battle against the Chalcidians, which they also won. Then they left four thousand smallholders on the land of the Horse-farmers (as men of substance are called in Chalcis). They took prisoners in this battle too, whom they kept bound and under guard with the Boeotian prisoners. Eventually, all the prisoners were released, once a ransom of two minas each had been paid. The Athenians hung the chains they had used to shackle them on the Acropolis, and they were still there in my day, hanging on walls scorched in the fire started by the Persians, opposite the west-facing temple. They set aside a tenth of the ransom and had a bronze four-horse chariot built as a dedicatory offering, which is the first thing one comes across on the left as one enters the Propylaea on the Acropolis. There is an inscription on it which reads as follows:

Crushing the Boeotians and Chalcidians,
The sons of Athens fought well,
Quenched their pride in grievous† bondage of iron,
And made these horses from a tenth of the spoils
As an offering to Pallas Athena.

[78] So Athens flourished. Now, the advantages of everyone having a voice in the political procedure are not restricted just to single instances, but are plain to see wherever one looks. For instance, while the Athenians were ruled by tyrants, they were no better at warfare than any of their neighbours, but once they had got rid of the tyrants they became vastly superior. This goes to show that while they were under an oppressive regime they fought below their best because they were working for a master, whereas as free men each individual wanted to achieve something for himself.†

[79] So this is how the Athenians were occupied. Some time later, the Thebans sent emissaries to Apollo at Delphi, because they wanted to take revenge on Athens. The Pythia told them that they would not gain revenge from their own resources, and that they should inform ‘that which has many voices’ of her response and then ‘apply to the nearest’. So the emissaries returned home, convened an assembly and reported the oracle’s response to the assembled people. On hearing the emissaries say that they should ‘apply to the nearest’, the Thebans said, ‘Aren’t our nearest neighbours the people of Tanagra, Coronea, and Thespiae? But they are always committed fighters, and help us in our wars. So why should we apply for help to them? It doesn’t look as though that is what the oracle meant.’

[80] These were the lines along which they were thinking, when someone at last got the point and said, ‘I think I understand what the oracle means. Asopus is supposed to have had two daughters, Thebe and Aegina. Aegina was Thebe’s sister, then, so I think Apollo is telling us to ask the Aeginetans for help.’ No one could come up with a better idea than this, so they lost no time in sending a message to the Aeginetans to solicit their help, according to the oracle, on the grounds that they were their ‘nearest’. In response the Aeginetans agreed to send the Aeacidae to help them.

[81] The Thebans made an attack, then, with the help of the Aeacidae, but they were badly mauled by the Athenians. So they sent another delegation to Aegina, to return the Aeacidae and ask for men. Now, Aeginetan morale was high, because of their great prosperity, and they also remembered the long-standing antagonism between them and Athens, so they responded to the Thebans’ request by launching an unannounced war against Athens. While the Athenians were attacking the Boeotians, the Aeginetans sent their longships against Attica and weakened Athens a great deal by ravaging Phalerum and a number of coastal villages.

[82] The origin of the grudge the Aeginetans owed the Athenians was as follows. The crops failed at Epidaurus, so the Epidaurians consulted Delphi about this calamity. The Pythia told them to erect statues of Damia and Auxesia and said that matters would then improve for them. The Epidaurians asked whether they should make the statues out of bronze or stone, but the Pythia said neither, and told them to use the wood of a cultivated olive-tree instead. So the Epidaurians asked the Athenians for permission to cut down an olive-tree, because they assumed that Athenian olives would be best suited for religious purposes (though according to another version of the story Athens was the only place in the world where olive-trees grew in those days). The Athenians gave them permission to go ahead, provided that they undertook to bring offerings every year for Athena the Guardian of the Community and for Erechtheus. The Epidaurians agreed to these terms, got the olive wood they wanted, and put up statues made out of this wood. Their land became fertile again and they kept to the terms of their contract with Athens.

[83] Now, both at the time in question and earlier, Aegina was a dependency of Epidaurus. Apart from anything else, this involved their crossing over to Epidaurus to settle the lawsuits that arose among them. After a time, however, the Aeginetans built themselves a navy, adopted an uncompromising attitude, and seceded from Epidaurus. The Aeginetans had control of the sea, so in the ensuing hostilities it was the Epidaurians who suffered, and the Aeginetans also managed to steal these statues of Damia and Auxesis from Epidaurus. They took them to Aegina and set them up in the interior of the island, in a place called Oea, which is about twenty stades from the town. Then they instituted a form of worship which involved sacrificing to the statues and abusive choruses performed by women; each of the deities had ten men appointed to produce the choruses. The abuse in the choruses was reserved for local women, never men. The Epidaurians had the same rituals too, as well as some secret rites.

[84] Now that these statues had been stolen, the Epidaurians stopped fulfilling their obligations to Athens. The Athenians sent an angry message to the Epidaurians, who tried to justify their actions by pointing out that they had kept to the terms of the contract as long as the statues were in their country, and that with the loss of the statues it was unfair for them to have to continue with the offerings; they told the Athenians that they should get what was due to them from those who had the statues—namely the Aeginetans. Under these circumstances, the Athenians sent representatives to Aegina to demand the return of the statues, but the Aeginetans told the Athenians to mind their own business.

[85] Now, according to the Athenians, the next thing that happened, after this demand of theirs, was that the Athenian authorities sent a few of their number to Aegina in a single trireme. When this band of men got to Aegina, they tried to lift the statues off their bases, so that they could take them back to Athens, since they were made out of Athenian wood. However, they could not manage the job this way, so they next threw ropes around the statues and tried to pull them off. But while they were pulling on the ropes, a thunderstorm occurred, and at the same time the earth shook with a tremor. These phenomena drove the crew of the trireme, who were doing the pulling, out of their minds, and in their insanity they mistook members of their own party for enemies and killed one another. Eventually, there was just one person left out of the whole band, and he made his way back to Phalerum.

[86] That is the Athenian version of events, but according to the Aeginetans the Athenians did not come in just one ship; if a single ship had been involved, or just a few, the Aeginetans argue, they would easily have kept them at bay, even without having a fleet of their own. In fact, they say, the Athenians sent a large number of ships to attack the island, and so they gave in and did not engage them at sea. They do not make it perfectly clear in their account whether they gave in because they realized they would be beaten in a sea battle, or because they had decided on the course of action they did in fact take. Anyway, according to the Aeginetans, when the Athenians met with no resistance, they disembarked and made their way to the statues. They tried and failed to drag them off their bases, and so they tied ropes on to them and started to pull. They went on pulling until both the statues did the same thing—something which I find incredible, but others may not. In any case, they claim that the statues fell to their knees and have remained in that position ever since. That is what the Athenians did, according to the Aeginetans, and for their part, they say, as soon as they found out that the Athenians were intending to launch an expedition against them, they had the Argives stand by. So when the Athenians landed on Aegina, the Argives came to help the islanders. They secretly sailed out of Epidaurus over to the island, fell on the Athenians, who had no prior warning of their arrival, and cut them off from their ships. It was at this point that the thunder and the tremor occurred.

[87] That is the Argive and Aeginetan version of events, and it agrees with the Athenian account in saying that only one man got back alive to Attica. The difference is that the Argives claim that it was they who annihilated the Athenian force from which this one man survived, whereas the Athenians claim that it was a divine act. In fact, however, even this sole survivor died, according to the Athenians. Back in Athens he told everyone about the disaster, and when the wives of the men who had gone on the expedition to Aegina heard the news they were furious that he should be the only one to survive. They surrounded him, grabbed hold of him, and stabbed him to death with the brooches which fastened their clothes, while each of them asked him where her husband was. That was how he met his death. The Athenians found what the women had done even more shocking than the disaster on Aegina, but the only punishment they could come up with for the women was to make them change over to the Ionian style of clothing. Previously, women in Athens had dressed in the Dorian fashion (which is very similar to the Corinthian style), so they made them change over to a linen tunic, which did not need fastening with a brooch.

[88] In actual fact, however, the style of clothing they changed to was Carian in origin rather than Ionian, because in the old days women’s clothes throughout Greece, including Ionia, were in the style that we nowadays call Dorian. Anyway, this is also the context in which the Argives and Aeginetans made it customary in each of their countries for brooches to be made half as long again as was normal at the time. (Other customs dating from these events are that women should make a particular point of dedicating their brooches to these two deities, and that no Attic pottery or anything else from Attica was to be taken into their sanctuary, but that in the future locally made cups should be used as drinking-vessels there.) So from then on, thanks to the dispute with Athens, the women of the Argives and the Aeginetans have worn larger brooches than they did before, and this practice still survives today.

[89] That, then, is the origin of the hostility between Aegina and Athens. So when the Thebans applied for help, the memory of what had happened with the statues made the Aeginetans only too glad to come to the Boeotians’ assistance, and they began to devastate the coastal areas of Attica. The Athenians were poised to march against the Aeginetans when they received an oracular reponse from Delphi to the effect that they should do nothing about the Aeginetans’ aggression for thirty years, and in the thirty-first year they should consecrate a precinct to Aeacus and then declare war on Aegina, and everything would go according to plan; however, the oracle said, if they fought the Aeginetans straight away, they would suffer as many troubles as they inflicted throughout that thirty-year period, even though they would ultimately be victorious. In response to this information, the Athenians did consecrate a precinct to Aeacus (the one which is now situated in the city square), but they ignored the part about how they were supposed to wait thirty years, because they had already suffered such horrific treatment at the hands of the Aeginetans.

[90] However, the Athenian preparations for revenge against Aegina were checked by fresh trouble from Lacedaemon: the Lacedaemonians had found out about the trick the Pythia had played on them and the Pisistratidae, and how the Alcmaeonidae had engineered it. They were doubly upset, first because they had driven men who were their friends and allies out of their homeland, and second because the Athenians had never shown them any gratitude for having done so. They were also motivated by oracles which spoke of the terrible things that would be done to them by Athens. They had previously been ignorant of these oracles, but Cleomenes had now brought them to Sparta from the Athenian Acropolis, where he had got them, and they became aware of their content. Originally, these oracles had been in the possession of the Pisistratidae, but when they were banished from Athens they left them in the sanctuary of Athena, where Cleomenes picked them up.

[91] It was not just that the Lacedaemonians had the oracles by then; they could also see that Athenian power was on the increase and that there was no way in which Athens was going to accept their hegemony. They realized that the Attic people, given its freedom, would become a match for them, whereas if it was oppressed by tyranny, it would be weak and submissive. Once they fully appreciated this, they summoned Hippias the son of Pisistratus from Sigeum on the Hellespont. Hippias came in answer to their summons, and then they also invited their other allies to send representatives.

When all their allies were there, the Spartiates addressed them as follows: ‘Friends, we are conscious of having done wrong. At the instigation of false oracles we expelled from their homeland men who were very good friends of ours and who were undertaking to make the Athenians subject to us, and then we handed the state over to a mob of people who are so ungrateful that they had no sooner won their freedom, with our help, than they threw us and our king out in a most insolent manner. Their arrogance has grown along with their power; this is something that their neighbours, the Boeotians and Chalcidians, have learnt to their great cost, but it may well be that others will learn the same lesson too, if they are not careful. So we have made mistakes, but with your help we want to try to remedy them now. The reason we invited Hippias and the rest of you to make the journey to this conference was so that we could reach agreement and join forces to restore him to Athens and return to him what we had taken away.’

[92] Although this plan did not go down well with most of the allies, the only one to speak up was Socleas of Corinth. ‘Whatever next?’ he said. ‘Will the heavens be under the earth and the earth up in the sky on top of the heavens? Will men habitually live in the sea and fish live where men did before? It’s a topsy-turvy world if you Lacedaemonians are really planning to abolish equal rights and restore tyrants to their states, when there is nothing known to man that is more unjust or bloodthirsty than tyranny. If you think it’s such a good idea for states to be ruled by tyrants, you should take the lead and set up a tyrant for yourselves before wanting to do so for others. As things are, however, you have never experienced tyranny, and in fact you take extreme precautions to ensure that it never happens in Sparta, while being indifferent to what happens to us, your allies. No, if you had the firsthand experience of tyranny that we have, your proposals on this issue would be better than they now are.

‘Take the situation in Corinth, for instance. It used to be an oligarchy, with a family called the Bacchiadae,† who married only within their own clan, ruling the city. One of these Bacchiadae, whose name was Amphion, had a daughter called Labda, who was lame. Since no one from within the family wanted to marry her, Eëtion the son of Echecrates married her; Eëtion was a commoner from Petra, but traced his ancestry back to the Lapithae and Caeneidae. Now, Eëtion had no children by Labda or anyone else, so he travelled to Delphi to ask whether he would have an heir. The moment he entered the shrine, the Pythia spoke the following lines to him:

Eëtion, no one honours you, though you are full of honour.
Labda will conceive and give birth to a boulder—
One that will fall on the rulers and punish Corinth.

News of what the oracle had told Eëtion somehow reached the Bacchiadae, who had failed to understand an earlier oracle about Corinth which had the same meaning as the one given to Eëtion. The text of this earlier oracle was:

An eagle conceives in a rocky place and will bear a lion—
A strong, savage lion which will loosen the knees of many.
Beware, Corinthians, beware, you inhabitants
Of craggy Corinth, near fair Peirene.

‘The Bacchiadae had been unable to decipher this earlier oracle, but as soon as they found out about Eëtion’s oracle, they realized that the two of them fitted together. But even so, they did nothing; they preferred to wait for Eëtion’s child to be born and then kill it. As soon as his wife gave birth, they sent ten members of their family to the village where Eëtion was living to kill the baby. The Bacchiadae came to Petra, arrived in Eëtion’s courtyard, and asked to see the baby. Labda had no idea why they had come; she thought they wanted to see the baby because they were friends of her father’s, so she fetched him and put him in the arms of one of the men. Now, on the way to Petra they had decided that whichever of them was the first to get hold of the baby should dash him to the ground. But when Labda brought the baby and handed him over, he providentially happened to smile at the man, and this sight filled the would-be assassin with pity and stopped him killing the child. Feeling sorry for the baby, the first man passed him on to the second—who passed him on to the third, and so on, until he had been passed around all ten, none of whom could bring himself to do the deed. So they handed the baby back to his mother and went outside. Standing near the doorway of the house, they laid into one another, and were especially critical of the one who had been the first to take hold of the child, because he had failed to carry out their plan. After a while, they decided to go back inside the house and make sure that they all played a part in the murder.

‘It was fated, however, that Eëtion’s son would be the source of suffering for Corinth. You see, Labda was standing right by the doors and overheard everything the men said. She was afraid that they’d change their minds the second time they got hold of her baby, and would kill him, so she took him and hid him in the most unlikely place she could think of—a chest, in fact—because she knew that the house would be thoroughly searched if the men came back inside to look for the baby. And that’s exactly what happened. They came into the house and looked around, and when they couldn’t find the baby, they decided to leave and to tell the people who had given them the mission that they had carried out their orders to the letter.

‘So that’s what they said when they got back to Corinth. As the years passed, Eëtion’s son grew, and because it was a chest that had enabled him to escape danger on that occasion, he gained the nickname Cypselus. As an adult, he once consulted the oracle at Delphi. The response was ambiguous, but on the strength of it he attacked Corinth and gained control there. The oracle was as follows:

Happy is the man who is now descending into my dwelling,
Eëtion’s son Cypselus, the king of far-famed Corinth.
Happy is he and happy his children—but no longer his children’s children.

That was the oracle Cypselus received. As a tyrant, this is what he was like: large numbers of Corinthians were forced into exile by him, large numbers had their property confiscated, but by far the largest number lost their lives.

‘His reign lasted for thirty years, and his death was easy. He was succeeded in the tyranny by his son Periander. At first, Periander was less cruel than his father, but after he had corresponded with Thrasybulus, the tyrant of Miletus, he became far more bloodthirsty than Cypselus. He sent an agent to Thrasybulus to ask what was the safest kind of government for him to establish, which would allow him to manage the state best. Thrasybulus took the man sent by Periander out of the city and into a field where there were crops growing. As he walked through the grain, he kept questioning the messenger and getting him to repeat over and over again what he had come from Corinth to ask. Meanwhile, every time he saw an ear of grain standing higher than the rest, he broke it off and threw it away, and he went on doing this until he had destroyed the choicest, tallest stems in the crop. After this walk across the field, Thrasybulus sent Periander’s man back home, without having offered him any advice. When the man got back to Corinth, Periander was eager to hear Thrasybulus’ recommendations, but the agent said that he had not made any at all. In fact, he said, he was surprised that Periander had sent him to a man of that kind—a lunatic who destroyed his own property—and he described what he had seen Thrasybulus doing.

‘Periander, however, understood Thrasybulus’ actions. He realized that he had been advising him to kill outstanding citizens, and from then on he treated his people with unremitting brutality. If Cypselus had left anything undone during his spell of slaughter and persecution, Periander finished the job. One day, moreover, he had all the women in Corinth stripped naked. He did this because of his wife, Melissa. You see, Periander had sent emissaries to the oracle of the dead on the River Acheron in Thesprotia to ask about the location of a friend’s funds. The ghost of Melissa appeared and said that she wouldn’t indicate or reveal where the money was, because she was cold and naked; the clothes Periander had buried her in were no use, the ghost explained, unless they were burnt. As proof of the fact that she really was who she said she was, she said that Periander had put his loaves into a cold oven.

‘Now, this coded information convinced Periander, because he had had sex with Melissa’s corpse, so as soon as the message had been delivered, he issued a proclamation that every woman in Corinth was to leave her home and go to the temple of Hera. The women all put on their finest clothes, because they assumed they were going to a festival, but Periander had secretely posted members of his personal guard there, and he forced them to strip regardless of their station, free women and servants alike. Then he had all the clothing collected and taken to a pit, where he burnt it all up while invoking Melissa. Afterwards, he sent another emissary to the oracle, and this time Melissa’s ghost told him where she had put his friend’s money.

‘That’s what tyranny is like; these are the kinds of deeds it performs. We Corinthians were astonished to find you Lacedaemonians sending for Hippias, and now we’re even more surprised to hear this speech from you. We solemnly implore you, in the names of the gods of Greece, not to turn our states into tyrannies. Will you desist, or will you continue with your unjustifiable attempt to restore Hippias? If you continue, you should know that you do so against the wishes of the people of Corinth.’

[93] This was the speech made by Socleas, the Corinthian representative. In reply, Hippias invoked the same gods and swore that the Corinthians would be the first to miss the Pisistratidae when the time came, as it surely would, for them to suffer at Athenian hands. This reply of Hippias’ was based on his unrivalled and precise knowledge of the oracles. The rest of the Lacedaemonian allies had kept quiet up till then, but after hearing Socleas speak out so freely, every single one of them burst into speech to express their approval of the Corinthian position, and implored the Lacedaemonians not to meddle in the affairs of a Greek state.

[94] So the Lacedaemonians’ plans were thwarted and Hippias was sent packing. Amyntas of Macedonia offered him Anthemous, and the Thessalians gave him permission to live in Iolcus, but Hippias refused both offers and went back to Sigeum. Pisistratus had taken Sigeum from Mytilene by force of arms, and having gained control of the place he set up as tyrant there his illegitimate son Hegesistratus, whose mother was a woman from Argos. However, Hegesistratus had to fight to keep this gift of Pisistratus’: the Mytileneans based in the town of Achilleum and the Athenians in Sigeum became embroiled in a long, drawn-out war. The Mytileneans demanded the return of the land they had lost, and the Athenians refused to acknowledge their claim to the land and argued that Aeolians had no more right to the land of Ilium than themselves or any other Greeks who had helped Menelaus avenge the abduction of Helen.

[95] Among the incidents that occurred in the battles during this war was the occasion when the poet Alcaeus had to make his escape by retreating from an engagement which the Athenians were winning, and the Athenians took possession of his armour and hung it in the temple of Athena in Sigeum. Alcaeus made up a poem about the episode and sent it to Mytilene as a way of telling his friend Melanippus what had happened to him. It was Periander the son of Cypselus who negotiated an end to the hostilities between the Mytileneans and Athenians, after they had asked him to arbitrate. The terms of the peace were that each side was to retain possession of the land they already had. This is how Sigeum came to be subject to Athens.

[96] Once Hippias was back in Asia after leaving Lacedaemon, he started to do everything he could to blacken the Athenians in the eyes of Artaphrenes, and to try to find a way get Athens within his and Darius’ control. When the Athenians found out what Hippias was up to, they sent a message to Sardis advising the Persians not to listen to these exiles from Athens. However, Artaphrenes told them that their future security depended on their taking Hippias back. When this message was brought back to Athens, the Athenians rejected it—and thereby they had effectively decided on open hostility towards Persia.

[97] It was at exactly this juncture—just when the Athenians were in this frame of mind and had fallen out with Persia—that Aristagoras of Miletus arrived in Athens after he had been thrown out of Sparta by the Lacedaemonian king Cleomenes. He chose to come to Athens because after Sparta it was the most powerful Greek state. He presented himself before the Assembly and gave substantially the same speech as he had given in Sparta, emphasizing how rich Asia was and how easy it would be to beat the Persians, since they did not use either shields or long spears when fighting. He went on, however, to point out that Miletus was an Athenian colony, and that therefore it was reasonable to expect Athens to use its considerable power to protect them. His need was so desperate that there was nothing he did not promise, and in the end he did win them over. It seems to be easier to fool a crowd than a single person, since Aristagoras could not persuade Cleomenes of Lacedaemon, who was all alone, but he succeeded with thirty thousand Athenians. So now that they had been won over, the Athenians voted to send a fleet of twenty ships to help the Ionians, and they put Melanthius—an extremely distinguished Athenian—in command of the expedition. These twenty ships proved to be the beginning of misfortune for Greeks and non-Greeks alike.

[98] Aristagoras sailed ahead of the Athenian fleet. Back in Miletus, he came up with a plan which was bound not to help the Ionians in the slightest, nor did he adopt it for this reason; all he wanted to do was annoy Darius. He sent a man to Phrygia, to the Paeonians from the River Strymon who had been captured by Megabazus and transplanted to Phrygia, where they had some land and a village of their own. When Aristagoras’ messenger arrived, he said, ‘Men of Paeonia, Aristagoras, the tyrant of Miletus, has sent me to offer you protection if you decide to do what he suggests. For all Ionia has risen up against the king, and this gives you the opportunity to get safely back to your homeland. If you can get as far as the coast on your own, from there on we will look after you.’

The Paeonians found this idea very much to their liking. Almost all of them (a few stayed behind out of fear) gathered together their women and children, fled to the coast, and then sailed over to Chios. They had just made it to Chios when a large troop of Persian horsemen arrived hard on their heels. Discovering that they had missed their quarry, the Persians sent a message to the Paeonians on Chios, ordering them to return—an order the Paeonians refused to obey. In fact, the Chians took them from Chios to Lesbos, and the Lesbians transported them to Doriscus, and from there they made their way back to Paeonia on foot.

[99] So the Athenian fleet of twenty ships arrived in Miletus, supplemented by five Eretrian triremes. Miletus itself, not Athens, was the reason the Eretrians had joined the expedition: they were repaying a debt. Some time earlier, the Milesians had helped the Eretrians in their war against the Chalcidians (whose resistance to the Eretrians and Milesians was also supported by a force from Samos). Anyway, once the Athenians and Eretrians had arrived, and so had the other allies, Aristagoras launched an attack on Sardis. He did not accompany the army in person, in fact. He stayed in Miletus and gave the command to other Milesians—his own brother Charopinus, and another Milesian, Hermophantus.

[100] This was the army with which the Ionians went to Ephesus. There they left the fleet at Coresus, in Ephesian territory, and started inland in considerable force, using Ephesians as guides. They marched beside the River Cayster, turned north to cross Mount Tmolus, and reached their destination. No one offered them any resistance, and they captured the whole of Sardis except the acropolis, which was defended by Artaphrenes in person, along with a substantial body of men.

[101] They were prevented from looting Sardis, even though they had captured it, because most of the houses there were made out of reeds, and even the ones which were made out of bricks had roofs thatched with reeds. Consequently, as soon as one of the houses had been set alight by a soldier, the fire spread from house to house and engulfed the whole city. With the city on fire, the Lydians and however many Persians there were on the acropolis were surrounded and trapped. The fire was consuming the outskirts all around them, and there was no way out of the city. They poured into the city square and towards the River Pactolus, which is the river that brings gold-dust down from Mount Tmolus; it flows through the middle of the square and then joins the River Hermus on its way down to the sea. Anyway, the Lydians and Persians congregated in the square, by the side of the Pactolus, and had no choice but to make a stand there. But when the Ionians saw some enemy troops putting up a fight, and others bearing down on them in considerable numbers, they became afraid and withdrew back to Mount Tmolus. They left there during the night and returned to their fleet.

[102] During the conflagration of Sardis a sanctuary of the local goddess Cybebe burnt down, and later the Persians made this their excuse for the retaliatory burning of sanctuaries they did in Greece. But now the Persians in the provinces west of the Halys River received word of all this, mobilized their troops and went to help the Lydians. In fact, by the time they got there, the Ionians had left Sardis, but the Persians followed their trail and caught up with them in Ephesus. The Ionians formed up to meet the attack, but in the ensuing battle they were severely defeated. The heavy casualties included some famous people, among them Eualcides, the commander of the Eretrian forces, who had been a successful athlete in major competitions, and who was often celebrated by Simonides of Ceos. The Ionians who survived the battle split up and returned to their various states.

[103] That was how the fighting went. Afterwards, the Athenians abandoned the Ionians altogether; Aristagoras sent messages with urgent requests for help, but the Athenians consistently refused. However, the Ionians had already gone so far in their actions against Darius that despite the loss of the Athenian support they still carried on readying themselves for war against the king. They sent a fleet to the Hellespont and gained control of Byzantium and all the other settlements there, and then the fleet sailed back out of the Hellespont and gained the support of most of Caria. Even Caunus, which had not been prepared to join the alliance earlier, was induced by the burning of Sardis to come in with them.

[104] The whole of Cyprus readily joined the alliance, except for the Amathousians. Here is how the people of Cyprus came to revolt against Persia. There was a man called Onesilus, who was the younger brother of King Gorgus of Salamis; he was the son of Chersis, grandson of Siromus, and great-grandson of Euelthon. Now, he had often tried to persuade Gorgus to break away from Persia in the past as well, but once he heard that even the Ionians were rebelling, he redoubled his efforts at persuasion. He failed to win him over, however, so he waited until Gorgus was out of town and then, with the help of his fellow conspirators, closed the gates against him. The now stateless Gorgus took refuge with the Persians, while Onesilus took over as king of Salamis and set out to persuade the whole of Cyprus to join him in rebellion. The only place he failed to win over to this plan was Amathous, so he proceeded to besiege it.

[105] Meanwhile, news reached King Darius of the Athenian and Ionian capture and burning of Sardis, and he was told that the man who had gathered the troops together, and was therefore the instigator of the whole affair, had been Aristagoras of Miletus. It is said, however, that his first reaction to the news was to discount the Ionians, because he was confident of punishing them for their rebellion, and to ask who the Athenians were. On hearing the answer, he is said to have asked for his bow; he took hold of it, notched an arrow, and shot it up towards the sky. And as he fired it into the air, he said, ‘Lord Zeus, make it possible for me to punish the Athenians.’ Then he ordered one of his attendants to repeat to him three times, every time a meal was being served, ‘Master, remember the Athenians.’

[106] After issuing these instructions, he summoned Histiaeus of Miletus (who had been detained in Susa for a long time by then) and said, ‘Histiaeus, I hear that the person you left in charge of Miletus has been making trouble for me. He has persuaded men from the other continent to join the Ionians, who will pay for their actions, and at the head of this combined force has robbed me of Sardis. What do you think of that? Do you approve of what has happened? And how could they have succeeded without your involvement in their plans? You had better be careful, because otherwise you’ll be sorry later.’

‘My lord,’ Histiaeus replied, ‘how can you say such a thing? How could I be involved in planning anything that would cause you even the slightest amount of distress? What possible motive could I have for doing so? What do I have to be dissatisfied about, when everything that is yours is mine and I have the honour of being privy to all your plans? No, if my deputy has done what you say he has, or anything like it, you can rest assured that he acted on his own. Actually, I can’t quite believe the report that the Milesians and my deputy are making trouble for you, but if your information is correct, my lord, and they really are, then perhaps you can see the effects of your removal of me from the coast. I mean, in all probability the Ionians have simply used the opportunity of being out of my sight to carry out long-cherished plans. If I had been in Ionia, not a single state would have rebelled. So now let me go as quickly as possible to Ionia, so that I can restore order out of all the chaos in your affairs there and deliver into your hands this man I left in charge of Miletus, who is responsible for all this. When I have done everything to your satisfaction, I swear by the gods who protect your majesty that I will not take off the tunic I shall wear on my journey to Ionia, until I have also made Sardo, which is the largest island there is, into a tribute-paying subject state of yours.’

[107] This speech of Histiaeus’ was hardly truthful, but Darius believed him and let him go. He told him to do everything he had promised to do, and then to return to Susa.

[108] So the news about Sardis had reached the king, Darius had done the thing with the bow, he had met with Histiaeus, and Histiaeus had been released by Darius and was on his way to the coast. Meanwhile, Onesilus of Salamis was besieging the Amathousians when he received a report that a Persian called Artybius was on his way to Cyprus by sea with a sizeable army of Persians. This information prompted Onesilus to send messages all over Ionia to ask for help, and it did not take the Ionians long to decide to send a substantial body of troops, who duly arrived in Cyprus. So there were Ionians in Cyprus, and the Persians had sailed across from Cilicia and travelled to Salamis by land, and the Phoenicians were in the process of sailing around the headland which is known as the Keys of Cyprus.

[109] This was the situation when the Cyprian tyrants called the Ionian military commanders to a conference and said, ‘Men of Ionia, we Cyprians are going to give you the choice of which of the two enemy forces to fight. If you decide to position your troops on land and engage the Persians, now is the time for you to leave your fleet and form up on land, while we board your ships and oppose the Phoenicians. On the other hand, you may prefer to take on the Phoenicians. Whichever of the two courses of action you take, you should do your very best to ensure the freedom of both Ionia and Cyprus.’

The Ionians responded by saying, ‘The Ionian authorities sent us here to guard the sea, not to hand our ships over to Cyprians and meet the Persians on land. So we will carry out our mission—and of course we will try to do it well. And you for your part should let the memory of your sufferings as slaves of the Persians encourage you to bravery.’

[110] That was the Ionian response. When the Persian army reached the plain of Salamis, the kings of the Cyprians disposed their troops. They placed their élite troops, the fighting men of Salamis and Soli, opposite the Persians, while the contingents drawn from other Cyprian towns faced other elements of the Persian army. Onesilus deliberately chose a position opposite the Persian commander Artybius.

[111] Now, Artybius used to ride a horse which had been trained to rear up at soldiers in heavy armour. When Onesilus found out about this, he consulted an esquire of his, who was a Carian by birth, a famous fighter, and generally full of courage. ‘I hear’, he said, ‘that Artybius’ horse rears up and uses its hoofs and mouth to kill anyone it attacks. So what do you think? Do you want to face and strike the horse or Artybius himself?’

‘My lord,’ his retainer replied, ‘I am ready to do both or either, just as you command, but I’ll tell you what I think will be best for you. As a king in command of an army you should meet your opposite number, because if you do away with him, another military commander, it’s a significant achievement, and alternatively if he should kill you—which I pray may not happen—death at the hands of a worthy opponent is not an unmitigated disaster. By the same token, then, as your servants, we should take on others of the same rank, even when it’s a horse. Don’t worry about his horse’s tricks; I guarantee that it will never again rear up against anyone else.’

[112] Right after this discussion battle was joined, on land and at sea. At sea, the Ionians proved themselves to be first-rate fighters that day, with the Samians taking the honours as the Phoenicians were defeated. On land, the two armies came together and during the ensuing battle this is what happened to the two commanders. When Artybius came charging down on horseback, Onesilus carried out the plan he had formed with his esquire and aimed at the actual assailant, Artybius;† at the precise moment when the horse brought its hoofs down on to Onesilus’ shield, the Carian lashed out with a billhook and sheared off the horse’s feet. So both Artybius, the Persian commander, and his horse fell there on the field.

[113] Meanwhile, elsewhere in the battle, Stesenor, who was the tyrant of Curium and had a considerable body of fighting men under his command, turned traitor. Curium is said to be a colony of Argos. The treachery of the Curians was immediately copied by the contingent of war chariots from Salamis, and the upshot of this was that the Persians overcame the Cyprians. As the Cyprian army was forced back, casualties were heavy, and included Onesilus the son of Chersis, who was the instigator of the Cyprian revolt, and the king of Soli, Aristocyprus the son of Philocyprus. (This was the Philocyprus who was praised above all other tyrants in a poem which Solon of Athens composed during his visit to Cyprus.)

[114] The people of Amathous took revenge for Onesilus’ siege of their town by cutting off his head, taking it to Amathous, and hanging it above the main entrance to the town. After the head had hung there for a while and had become hollow, a swarm of bees took up residence inside it and filled it with their honeycomb. Faced with this unusual event, the Amathousians consulted an oracle and were told to take the head down and bury it, and to institute a hero-cult of Onesilus, involving annual sacrifices; then, the oracle said, things would improve for them. This cult of Onesilus is still practised in Amathous even today.

[115] Now, as soon as the Ionians who had taken part in the battle off Cyprus heard about Onesilus’ death and found out that all the major towns in Cyprus were under siege (all except for Salamis, that is, which had been returned to Gorgus, its former ruler, by its inhabitants), they sailed back to Ionia. The Cyprian town which held out the longest against its besiegers was Soli; the Persians finally captured it in the fifth month of the siege by tunnelling under its defensive wall.

[116] So the Cyprians, after a year of freedom, were reduced once more to a fresh term of slavery. Meanwhile, three Persian military commanders, Daurises, Hymaees, and Otanes (all of whom were married to daughters of Darius), went after the Ionians who had been involved in the attack on Sardis. They forced them to take to their ships, defeated them in a battle, and then divided up the cities among themselves and proceeded to plunder them.

[117] Daurises made the settlements on the Hellespont his target, and captured Dardanus, Abydus, Percote, Lampsacus, and Paesus, each in a single day.† As he was en route for Parium, after leaving Paesus, he received a message to the effect that Caria had joined in the Ionian rebellion against Persia, so he turned away from the Hellespont and marched his men towards Caria.

[118] Now, the Carians somehow heard that Daurises was on his way before he arrived, so they congregated at White Pillars, by the River Marsyas, which flows from Idrias and joins the Meander. Once they had all gathered there, they discussed what to do. A number of different views were expressed, but the best one, in my opinion, was that of Pixodarus the son of Mausolus, a man from Cindye who was married to the daughter of King Syennesis of Cilicia. His suggestion was that they should cross the Meander and keep the river to their rear while engaging the enemy, so that, with their line of retreat cut off, they would have no choice but to stand firm, and would thereby enhance their natural bravery. However, this proposal of his did not find favour; instead they decided to arrange things so that the Persians, rather than them, had the Meander behind them, the idea being that if the Persians came off worst in the battle and were routed, they would be driven into the river and never return home.

[119] Later the Persians arrived. Once they had crossed the River Meander, the Carians engaged them at the River Marsyas. The battle was long and fierce, but in the end the Carians were beaten by sheer numbers. Persian casualties numbered about two thousand, while about ten thousand Carians fell. The Carians who escaped from the battlefield became trapped in the sanctuary of Zeus the God of War at Labraunda, which consists of a large sacred grove of plane-trees. The Carians are the only known people who sacrifice to Zeus as the God of War. Anyway, finding themselves caught in a trap, they tried to decide whether their chances of safety would be improved if they surrendered to the Persians, or if they evacuated Asia altogether.

[120] They were still undecided when the Milesians and their allies arrived to help them, with the result that the Carians abandoned their earlier deliberations and prepared to join battle all over again. The Persians attacked, battle was joined, and the Carians suffered an even worse defeat than before. Casualties were very heavy indeed, particularly among the Milesian troops.

[121] Some time after this disaster, however, the Carians regrouped and renewed the struggle, when they found out that the Persians were setting out on a campaign against their cities. They set an ambush on the road at Pedasa, the Persians walked into it at night, and were wiped out. They lost not only three of their high-ranking officers—Daurises, Amorges, and Sisimaces—but also Myrsus the son of Gyges. The leader of the Carian troops involved in the ambush was Heraclides the son of Ibanollis, who came from Mylasa. So that was how this Persian army was lost.

[122] Meanwhile Hymaees, another of the Persian commanders engaged in the pursuit of the Ionians who had attacked Sardis, had made his way to the Propontis and taken Cius in Mysia. Subsequently, however, he learnt that Daurises had left the Hellespont and was marching against Caria, so he pulled out of the Propontis and took his army to the Hellespont. There he subjugated all the Aeolians living around Ilium, and also the Gergithes, the remnants of the ancient Teucrians. However, Hymaees himself never left Troas; in the course of annexing these tribes, he became ill and died.

[123] So that is how Hymaees met his end. Artaphrenes, the governor of Sardis, and Otanes, the remaining one of the three Persian military commanders, were then detailed to march on Ionia and the neighbouring Aeolian territory. They captured Clazomenae in Ionia and Cyme in Aeolis.

[124] Once these cities had fallen, Aristagoras of Miletus proved himself to be somewhat of a coward. He had caused all the commotion in Ionia and had stirred up a great deal of trouble, but seeing the current situation, and because he now despaired of ever defeating King Darius, he began to contemplate flight. He therefore convened a meeting of his supporters and, claiming that they should have a bolt-hole available in case they were ever thrown out of Miletus, he asked them whether they thought Sardo or Myrcinus in Edonia (the place which Histiaeus had been in the process of fortifying, after he had been given it by Darius) was the best place for him to found a colony.

[125] Hecataeus the son of Hegesander, who was a writer, argued against sending such an expedition to either of the places Aristagoras had asked about; instead, he recommended that Aristagoras should build himself a stronghold on the island of Leros so that he would have somewhere to lie low if he was ever forced out of Miletus. He pointed out that Leros would make a good base for Aristagoras to return to Miletus at a later date.

[126] That was Hecataeus’ advice, but Aristagoras was strongly in favour of making Myrcinus his destination. So he left an eminent Milesian called Pythagoras in charge of the city, recruited a band of volunteers, and set sail for Thrace. There he gained control of the land he had set out for and made it his military headquarters. However, while he was investing a town (even though the Thracian inhabitants were perfectly prepared to leave it under a truce), the Thracians destroyed his army, and Aristagoras himself was one of the casualties.

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