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Produced by John Bickers, Dagny, and David Widger


By Herodotus

Translated into English by G. C. Macaulay



{e Herodotou diathesis en apasin epieikes, kai tois men
agathois sunedomene, tois de kakois sunalgousa}.—Dion.


This text was prepared from the third edition, printed in 1914, by
MacMillan and Co., Limited, St. Martin's Street, London.

Greek text has been transliterated and marked with brackets, as in the
opening citation above.



1. In the meantime those of the Persians who had been left behind in
Europe by Dareios, of whom Megabazos was the commander, had subdued the
people of Perinthos first of the Hellespontians, since they refused to
be subject to Dareios. These had in former times also been hardly dealt
with by the Paionians: for the Paionians from the Strymon had been
commanded by an oracle of their god to march against the Perinthians;
and if the Perinthians, when encamped opposite to them, should shout
aloud and call to them by their name, they were to attack them; but if
they should not shout to them, they were not to attack them: and thus
the Paionians proceeded to do. Now when the Perinthians were encamped
opposite to them in the suburb of their city, a challenge was made and
a single combat took place in three different forms; for they matched a
man against a man, and a horse against a horse, and a dog against a dog.
Then, as the Perinthians were getting the better in two of the three,
in their exultation they raised a shout of paion, 1 and the Paionians
conjectured that this was the very thing which was spoken of in the
oracle, and said doubtless to one another, "Now surely the oracle
is being accomplished for us, now it is time for us to act." So the
Paionians attacked the Perinthians when they had raised the shout of
paion, and they had much the better in the fight, and left but few of
them alive.

2. Thus it happened with respect to those things which had been done to
them in former times by the Paionians; and at this time, although the
Perinthians proved themselves brave men in defence of their freedom,
the Persians and Megabazos got the better of them by numbers. Then after
Perinthos had been conquered, Megabazos marched his army through the
length of Thracia, forcing every city and every race of those who
dwell there to submit to the king, for so it had been commanded him by
Dareios, to subdue Thracia.

3. Now the Thracian race is the most numerous, except the Indians, in
all the world: and if it should come to be ruled over by one man, or
to agree together in one, it would be irresistible in fight and the
strongest by far of all nations, in my opinion. Since however this is
impossible for them and cannot ever come to pass among them, 2 they are
in fact weak for that reason. They have many names, belonging to their
various tribes in different places; but they all follow customs which
are nearly the same in all respects, except the Getai and Trausians and
those who dwell above the Crestonians.

4. Of these the practices of the Getai, who believe themselves to be
immortal, have been spoken of by me already: 3 and the Trausians perform
everything else in the same manner as the other Thracians, but in regard
to those who are born and die among them they do as follows: - when
a child has been born, the nearest of kin sit round it and make
lamentation for all the evils of which he must fulfil the measure, now
that he is born, 301 enumerating the whole number of human ills; but
when a man is dead, they cover him up in the earth with sport and
rejoicing, saying at the same time from what great evils he has escaped
and is now in perfect bliss.

5. Those who dwell above the Crestonians do as follows: - each man has
many wives, and when any man of them is dead, a great competition takes
place among his wives, with much exertion on the part of their friends,
about the question of which of them was most loved by their husband; and
she who is preferred by the decision and so honoured, is first praised
by both men and women, then her throat is cut over the tomb by her
nearest of kin, and afterwards she is buried together with her husband;
and the others are exceedingly grieved at it, for this is counted as the
greatest reproach to them.

6. Of the other Thracians the custom is to sell their children to be
carried away out of the country; and over their maidens they do not keep
watch, but allow them to have commerce with whatever men they please,
but over their wives they keep very great watch; and they buy their
wives for great sums of money from their parents. To be pricked with
figures is accounted a mark of noble rank, and not to be so marked is a
sign of low birth. 4 Not to work is counted most honourable, and to be a
worker of the soil is above all things dishonourable: to live on war and
plunder is the most honourable thing.

7. These are their most remarkable customs; and of the gods they worship
only Ares and Dionysos and Artemis. Their kings, however, apart from the
rest of the people, worship Hermes more than all gods, and swear by him
alone; and they say that they are descended from Hermes.

8. The manner of burial for the rich among them is this: - for three days
they expose the corpse to view, and they slay all kinds of victims
and feast, having first made lamentation. Then they perform the burial
rites, either consuming the body with fire or covering it up in the
earth without burning; and afterwards when they have heaped up a mound
they celebrate games with every kind of contest, in which reasonably the
greatest prizes are assigned for single combat. 5 This is the manner of
burial among the Thracians.

9. Of the region lying further on towards the North of this country
no one can declare accurately who the men are who dwell in it; but the
parts which lie immediately beyond the Ister are known to be uninhabited
and vast in extent. The only men of whom I can hear who dwell beyond
the Ister are those who are said to be called Sigynnai, and who use the
Median fashion of dress. Their horses, it is said, have shaggy hair all
over their bodies, as much as five fingers long; and these are small and
flat-nosed and too weak to carry men, but when yoked in chariots they
are very high-spirited; therefore the natives of the country drive
chariots. The boundaries of this people extend, it is said, to the parts
near the Enetoi, who live on the Adriatic; and people say that they
are colonists from the Medes. In what way however these have come to
be colonists from the Medes I am not able for my part to conceive, but
everything is possible in the long course of ages. However that may be,
the Ligurians who dwell in the region inland above Massalia call traders
sigynnai, and the men of Cyprus give the same name to spears.

10. Now the Thracians say that the other side of the Ister is occupied
by bees, and that by reason of them it is not possible to pass through
and proceed further: but to me it seems that when they so speak, they
say that which is not probable; for these creatures are known to be
intolerant of cold, and to me it seems that the regions which go up
towards the pole are uninhabitable by reason of the cold climate. These
then are the tales reported about this country; and however that may
be, Megabazos was then making the coast-regions of it subject to the

11. Meanwhile Dareios, so soon as he had crossed over the Hellespont and
come to Sardis, called to mind the service rendered to him by Histiaios
the Milesian and also the advice of the Mytilenian Coës, and having
sent for them to come to Sardis he offered them a choice of rewards.
Histiaios then, being despot of Miletos, did not make request for
any government in addition to that, but he asked for the district of
Myrkinos which belonged to the Edonians, desiring there to found a city.
Histiaios chose this for himself; but Coës, not being a despot but a man
of the people, asked to be made despot of Mitylene.

12. After the desires of both had been fulfilled, they betook themselves
to that which they had chosen: and at this same time it chanced that
Dareios saw a certain thing which made him desire to command Megabazos
to conquer the Paionians and remove them forcibly from Europe into Asia:
and the thing was this: - There were certain Paionians named Pigres and
Mantyas, who when Dareios had crossed over into Asia, came to Sardis,
because they desired themselves to have rule over the Paionians, and
with them they brought their sister, who was tall and comely. Then
having watched for a time when Dareios took his seat publicly in the
suburb of the Lydian city, they dressed up their sister in the best way
they could, and sent her to fetch water, having a water-jar upon her
head and leading a horse after her by a bridle round her arm, and at the
same time spinning flax. Now when the woman passed out of the city by
him, Dareios paid attention to the matter, for that which was done by
the woman was not of Persian nor yet of Lydian fashion, nor indeed
after the manner of any people of Asia. He sent therefore some of his
spearmen, bidding them watch what the woman would do with the horse.
They accordingly followed after her; and she having arrived at the river
watered the horse, and having watered him and filled her jar with the
water, she passed along by the same way, bearing the water upon her
head, leading the horse after her by a bridle round her arm, and at the
same time turning the spindle.

13. Then Dareios, marvelling both at that which he heard from those who
went to observe and also at that which he saw himself, bade them bring
her into his presence: and when she was brought, her brothers also came,
who had been watching these things at no great distance off. So then
when Dareios asked of what country she was, the young men said that they
were Paionians and that she was their sister; and he replied: "Who then
are these Paionians, and where upon the earth do they dwell?" and he
asked them also what they desired, that they had come to Sardis. They
declared to him that they had come to give themselves up to him, and
that Paionia was a country situated upon the river Strymon, and that
the Strymon was not far from the Hellespont, and finally that they were
colonists from the Teucrians of Troy. All these things severally they
told him; and he asked whether all the women of that land were as
industrious as their sister; and they very readily replied to this also,
saying that it was so, for it was with a view to that very thing that
they had been doing this.

14. Then Dareios wrote a letter to Megabazos, whom he had left to
command his army in Thrace, bidding him remove the Paionians from their
place of habitation and bring them to the king, both themselves and
their children and their wives. Then forthwith a horseman set forth to
ride in haste bearing the message to the Hellespont, and having passed
over to the other side he gave the paper to Megabazos. So he having
read it and having obtained guides from Thrace, set forth to march upon

15. and the Paionians, being informed that the Persians were coming
against them, gathered all their powers together and marched out in the
direction of the sea, supposing that the Persians when they invaded them
would make their attack on that side. The Paionians then were prepared,
as I say, to drive off the army of Megabazos when it came against them;
but the Persians hearing that the Paionians had gathered their powers
and were guarding the entrance which lay towards the sea, directed their
course with guides along the upper road; and passing unperceived by the
Paionians they fell upon their cities, which were left without men, and
finding them without defenders they easily took possession of them. The
Paionians when they heard that their cities were in the hands of the
enemy, at once dispersed, each tribe to its own place of abode, and
proceeded to deliver themselves up to the Persians. Thus then it
happened that these tribes of the Paionians, namely the Siropaionians,
6 the Paioplians and all up to the lake Prasias, were removed from their
place of habitation and brought to Asia;

16. but those who dwell about mount Pangaion, and about the Doberians
and Agrianians and Odomantians, 7 and about the lake Prasias itself,
were not conquered at all by Megabazos. He tried however to remove even
those who lived in the lake and who had their dwellings in the following
manner: - a platform fastened together and resting upon lofty piles stood
in the middle of the water of the lake, with a narrow approach to it
from the mainland by a single bridge. The piles which supported the
platform were no doubt originally set there by all the members of the
community working together, but since that time they continue to set
them by observance of this rule, that is to say, every man who marries
brings from the mountain called Orbelos three piles for each wife and
sets them as supports; and each man takes to himself many wives. And
they have their dwelling thus, that is each man has possession of a hut
upon the platform in which he lives and of a trap-door 8 leading through
the platform down to the lake: and their infant children they tie with
a rope by the foot, for fear that they should roll into the water. To
their horses and beasts of burden they give fish for fodder; and of fish
there is so great quantity that if a man open the trap-door and let down
an empty basket by a cord into the lake, after waiting quite a short
time he draws it up again full of fish. Of the fish there are two kinds,
and they call them paprax and tilon.

17. So then those of the Paionians who had been conquered were being
brought to Asia: and Megabazos meanwhile, after he had conquered the
Paionians, sent as envoys to Macedonia seven Persians, who after himself
were the men of most repute in the army. These were being sent to
Amyntas to demand of him earth and water for Dareios the king. Now from
lake Prasias there is a very short way into Macedonia; for first, quite
close to the lake, there is the mine from which after this time there
came in regularly a talent of silver every day to Alexander; and after
the mine, when you have passed over the mountain called Dysoron, you are
in Macedonia.

18. These Persians then, who had been sent to Amyntas, having arrived
came into the presence of Amyntas and proceeded to demand earth and
water for king Dareios. This he was willing to give, and also he invited
them to be his guests; and he prepared a magnificent dinner and received
the Persians with friendly hospitality. Then when dinner was over, the
Persians while drinking pledges to one another 9 said thus: "Macedonian
guest-friend, it is the custom among us Persians, when we set forth a
great dinner, then to bring in also our concubines and lawful wives to
sit beside us. Do thou then, since thou didst readily receive us and
dost now entertain us magnificently as thy guests, and since thou art
willing to give to king Dareios earth and water, consent to follow our
custom." To this Amyntas replied: "Persians, among us the custom is not
so, but that men should be separate from women. Since however ye being
our masters make this request in addition, this also shall be given
you." Having so said Amyntas proceeded to send for the women; and
when they came being summoned, they sat down in order opposite to the
Persians. Then the Persians, seeing women of comely form, spoke to
Amyntas and said that this which had been done was by no means well
devised; for it was better that the women should not come at all, than
that they should come and should not seat themselves by their side, but
sit opposite and be a pain to their eyes. So Amyntas being compelled
bade them sit by the side of the Persians; and when the women obeyed,
forthwith the Persians, being much intoxicated, began to touch their
breasts, and some no doubt also tried to kiss them.

19. Amyntas seeing this kept quiet, notwithstanding that he felt anger,
because he excessively feared the Persians; but Alexander the son
of Amyntas, who was present and saw this, being young and without
experience of calamity was not able to endure any longer; but being
impatient of it he said to Amyntas: "My father, do thou grant that
which thy age demands, and go away to rest, nor persevere longer in
the drinking; but I will remain here and give to our guests all that is
convenient." On this Amyntas, understanding that Alexander was intending
to do some violence, said: "My son, I think that I understand thy words,
as the heat of anger moves thee, namely that thou desirest to send me
away and then do some deed of violence: therefore I ask of thee not to
do violence to these men, that it may not be our ruin, but endure to see
that which is being done: as to my departure, however, in that I will do
as thou sayest."

20. When Amyntas after having made of him this request had departed,
Alexander said to the Persians: "With these women ye have perfect
freedom, guests, to have commerce with all, if ye so desire, or with as
many of them as ye will. About this matter ye shall be they who give the
word; but now, since already the hour is approaching for you to go to
bed and I see that ye have well drunk, let these women go away, if so it
is pleasing to you, to bathe themselves; and when they have bathed, then
receive them back into your company." Having so said, since the Persians
readily agreed, he dismissed the women, when they had gone out, to the
women's chambers; and Alexander himself equipped men equal in number to
the women and smooth-faced, in the dress of the women, and giving them
daggers he led them into the banqueting-room; and as he led them in, he
said thus to the Persians: "Persians, it seems to me that ye have been
entertained with a feast to which nothing was wanting; for other things,
as many as we had, and moreover such as we were able to find out and
furnish, are all supplied to you, and there is this especially besides,
which is the chief thing of all, that is, we give you freely in addition
our mothers and our sisters, in order that ye may perceive fully that
ye are honoured by us with that treatment which ye deserve, and also in
order that ye may report to the king who sent you that a man of Hellas,
ruler under him of the Macedonians, entertained you well at board and
bed." Having thus said Alexander caused a Macedonian man in the guise of
a woman to sit by each Persian, and they, when the Persians attempted to
lay hands on them, slew them.

21. So these perished by this fate, both they themselves and their
company of servants; for there came with them carriages and servants and
all the usual pomp of equipage, and this was all made away with at the
same time as they. Afterwards in no long time a great search was made by
the Persians for these men, and Alexander stopped them with cunning
by giving large sums of money and his own sister, whose name was
Gygaia; - by giving, I say, these things to Bubares a Persian, commander
of those who were searching for the men who had been killed, Alexander
stopped their search.

22. Thus the death of these Persians was kept concealed. And that these
descendants of Perdiccas are Hellenes, as they themselves say, I happen
to know myself, and not only so, but I will prove in the succeeding
history that they are Hellenes. 10 Moreover the Hellanodicai, who manage
the games at Olympia, decided that they were so: for when Alexander
wished to contend in the games and had descended for this purpose into
the arena, the Hellenes who were to run against him tried to exclude
him, saying that the contest was not for Barbarians to contend in but
for Hellenes: since however Alexander proved that he was of Argos,
he was judged to be a Hellene, and when he entered the contest of the
foot-race his lot came out with that of the first. 11

23. Thus then it happened with regard to these things: and at the same
time Megabazos had arrived at the Hellespont bringing with him the
Paionians; and thence after passing over the straits he came to Sardis.
Then, since Histiaios the Milesian was already engaged in fortifying
with a wall the place which he had asked and obtained from Dareios as a
reward for keeping safe the bridge of boats (this place being that
which is called Myrkinos, lying along the bank of the river Strymon),
Megabazos, having perceived that which was being done by Histiaios, as
soon as he came to Sardis bringing the Paionians, said thus to Dareios:
"O king, what a thing is this that thou hast done, granting permission
to a Hellene who is skilful and cunning to found a city in Thracia in
a place where there is forest for shipbuilding in abundance and great
quantity of wood for oars and mines of silver and great numbers both
of Hellenes and Barbarians living round, who when they have obtained
a leader will do that which he shall command them both by day and by
night. Therefore stop this man from doing so, that thou be not involved
in a domestic war: and stop him by sending for him in a courteous
manner; but when thou hast got him in thy hands, then cause that he
shall never again return to the land of the Hellenes."

24. Thus saying Megabazos easily persuaded Dareios, who thought that he
was a true prophet of that which was likely to come to pass: and
upon that Dareios sent a messenger to Myrkinos and said as follows:
"Hisiaios, king Dareios saith these things: - By taking thought I find
that there is no one more sincerely well disposed than thou art to me
and to my power; and this I know having learnt by deeds not words. Now
therefore, since I have it in my mind to accomplish great matters,
come hither to me by all means, that I may communicate them to thee."
Histiaios therefore, trusting to these sayings and at the same time
accounting it a great thing to become a counsellor of the king, came
to Sardis; and when he had come Dareios spoke to him as follows:
"Histiaios, I sent for thee for this reason, namely because when I had
returned from the Scythians and thou wert gone away out of the sight of
my eyes, never did I desire to see anything again within so short a time
as I desired then both to see thee and that thou shouldst come to speech
with me; since I perceived that the most valuable of all possessions is
a friend who is a man of understanding and also sincerely well-disposed,
both which qualities I know exist in thee, and I am able to bear witness
of them in regard to my affairs. Now therefore (for thou didst well in
that thou camest hither) this is that which I propose to thee: - leave
Miletos alone and also thy newly-founded city in Thracia, and coming
with me to Susa, have whatsoever things I have, eating at my table and
being my counseller."

25. Thus said Dareios, and having appointed Artaphrenes 12 his own
brother and the son of his father to be governor of Sardis, he marched
away to Susa taking with him Histiaios, after he had first named Otanes
to be commander of those who dwelt along the sea coasts. This man's
father Sisamnes, who had been made one of the Royal Judges, king
Cambyses slew, because he had judged a cause unjustly for money, and
flayed off all his skin: then after he had torn away the skin he cut
leathern thongs out of it and stretched them across the seat where
Sisamnes had been wont to sit to give judgment; and having stretched
them in the seat, Cambyses appointed the son of that Sisamnes whom he
had slain and flayed, to be judge instead of his father, enjoining him
to remember in what seat he was sitting to give judgment.

26. This Otanes then, who was made to sit in that seat, had now
become the successor of Megabazos in the command: and he conquered the
Byzantians and Calchedonians, and he conquered Antandros in the land
of Troas, and Lamponion; and having received ships from the Lesbians
he conquered Lemnos and Imbros, which were both at that time still
inhabited by Pelasgians.

27. Of these the Lemnians fought well, and defending themselves for a
long time were at length brought to ruin; 13 and over those of them
who survived the Persians set as governor Lycaretos the brother of that
Maiandrios who had been king of Samos. This Lycaretos ruled in Lemnos
till his death. And the cause of it 14 was this: - he continued to
reduce all to slavery and subdue them, accusing some of desertion to the
Scythians and others of doing damage to the army of Dareios as it was

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