Justinus: Epitome of Pompeius Trogus' Philippic Histories

    - books 1 and 2

Translated by Rev. J.S.Watson (1853). See key to translations for an explanation of the format.


[Preface]   L  After many Romans,men even of consular dignity, had committed the acts of their countrymen to writing in Greek, a foreign language, Trogus Pompeius, a man of eloquence equal to that of the ancients, whether prompted by a desire to emulate their glory, or charmed by the variety and novelty of the undertaking, composed the history of Greece, and of the whole world, in the Latin tongue, in order that, as our actions might be read in Greek, so those of the Greeks might be read in our language; attempting a work that demanded extraordinary resolution and labour. 2 For when, to most authors who write the history only of particular princes or nations, their task appears an affair of arduous effort, must not Trogus Pompeius, in attempting the whole world, seem to have acted with a boldness like that of Hercules, since in his books are contained the actions of all ages, monarchs, nations, and people? 3 All that the historians of Greece had undertaken separately, according to what was suitable to each, Trogus Pompeius, omitting only what was useless, has put together in one narration, everything being assigned to its proper period, and arranged in the regular order of events. 4 From these forty-four volumes therefore (for such was the number that he published), I have extracted, during the leisure that I enjoyed in the city, whatever was most worthy of being known; and, rejecting such parts as were neither attractive for the pleasure of reading, nor necessary by way of example, have formed, as it were, a small collection of flowers, that those who are acquainted with the history of Greece might have something to refresh their memories, and those who are strangers to it something for their instruction. 5 This work I have sent to you, not so much that it may add to your knowledge, as that it may receive your correction; and that, at the same time, the account of my leisure, of which Cato thinks that an account must be given, may stand fair with you. 6 For your approbation is sufficient for me for the present, with the expectation of receiving from posterity, when the malice of detraction has died away, an ample testimony to my diligence.


[1.1]   L  Originally, the government of nations and tribes was in the hands of kings; who were elevated to the height of this dignity not their flattery of the people, but by their discretion, as commended by the prudent. 2 The people were not then bound by any laws; the wills of their princes were instead of laws. 3 It was their custom to defend, rather than advance, the boundaries of their empire. The dominions of each were confined within his own country.

4 The first of all princes, who, from an extravagant desire of ruling, changed this old and, as it were, hereditary custom, was Ninus, king of the Assyrians. 5 It was he who first made war upon his neighbours, and subdued the nations, as yet too barbarous to resist him, as far as the frontiers of Libya. 6 Sesostris, king of Egypt, and Tanaus, king of Scythia, were indeed prior to him in time; the one of whom advanced into Pontus, and the other as far as Egypt; 7 but these princes engaged in distant wars, not in struggles with their neighbours; they did not seek dominion for themselves, but glory for their people, and, content with victory, declined to govern those whom they subdued. But Ninus established the greatness of his acquired dominion by immediately possessing himself of the conquered countries. 8 Overcoming, accordingly, the nearest people, and advancing, fortified with an accession of strength, against others, while each successive victory became the instrument of one to follow, he subjugated the nations of the whole east. 9 His last war was with Zoroaster, king of the Bactrians, who is said to have been the first that invented magic arts, and to have investigated, with great attention, the origin of the world and the motions of the stars. 10 After killing Zoroaster, Ninus himself died, leaving a son called Ninyas, still a minor, and a wife, whose name was Semiramis.

[1.2]   L  Semiramis, not daring to entrust the government to a youth, or openly to take it upon herself (as so many great nations would scarcely submit to one man, much less to a woman), pretended that she was the son of Ninus instead of his wife, a male instead of a female. 2 The stature of both mother and son was low, their voice alike weak, and the cast of their features similar. 3 She accordingly clad her arms and legs in long garments, and decked her head with a turban; and, that she might not appear to conceal anything by this new dress, she ordered her subjects also to wear the same apparel; a fashion which the whole nation has since retained. 4 Having thus dissembled her sex at the commencement of her reign, she was believed to be a male. 5 She afterwards performed many noble actions; and when she thought envy was overcome by the greatness of them, she acknowledged who she was, and whom she had impersonated. 6 Nor did this confession detract from her authority as a sovereign, but increased the admiration of her, since she, being a woman, surpassed not only women, but men, in heroism.

7 It was she that built Babylon, and constructed round the city a wall of burnt brick; bitumen, a substance which everywhere oozes from the ground in those parts, being spread between the bricks instead of mortar. 8 Many other famous acts, too, were performed by this queen; for, not content with preserving the territories acquired by her husband, she added Ethiopia also to her empire; 9 and she even made war upon India, into which no prince, except her and Alexander the Great, ever penetrated. 10 At last, conceiving a criminal passion for her son, she was killed by him, after holding the kingdom two and forty years from the death of Ninus.

11 Her son Ninyas, content with the empire acquired by his parents, laid aside the pursuits of war, and, as if he had changed sexes with his mother, was seldom seen by men, but grew old in the company of his women. 12 His successors too, following his example, gave answers to their people through their ministers. 13 The Assyrians, who were afterwards called Syrians, held their empire thirteen hundred years.

[1.3]   L  The last king that reigned over them was Sardanapallus, a man more effeminate than a woman. 2 One of his satraps, named Arbaces, governor of the Medes, having, with great difficulty and after much solicitation, obtained admission to visit him, found him, among crowds of concubines, and in the dress of a woman, spinning purple wool with a distaff, and distributing tasks to girls, but surpassing all the women in the effeminacy of his person and the wantonness of his looks. 3 At that sight, feeling indignant that so many men should be subject to one so much of a woman, and that those who bore swords and arms should obey one that handled wool, he proceeded to his companions, and told them what he had seen, protesting that he could not submit to a prince who had rather be a woman than a man. 4 A conspiracy was consequently formed, and war raised against Sardanapallus; who, hearing of what had occurred, and acting, not like a man that would defend his kingdom, but as women are wont to do under fear of death, first looked about for a hiding-place, but afterwards marched into the field with a few ill-disciplined troops. 5 Being conquered in battle, he withdrew into his palace, and, having raised and set fire to a pile of combustibles, threw himself and his riches into the flames, in this respect only acting like a man. 6 After him Arbaces, who was the occasion of his death, and who had been governor of the Medes, was made king, and transferred the empire from the Assyrians to the Medes.

[1.4]   L  After several kings, the crown, by order of succession, descended to Astyages. 2 This prince, in a dream, saw a vine spring from the womb of his only daughter, with the branches of which all Asia was overshadowed. 3 The soothsayers being consulted concerning the vision, replied, that he would have a grandson by that daughter, whose greatness was foreshown, and the loss of Astyages's kingdom portended. 4 Alarmed at this answer, he gave his daughter in marriage, not to an eminent man, nor to one of his own subjects (lest nobility on the father or mother's side should rouse the spirit of his grandson), but to Cambyses, a man of mean fortune, and of the race of the Persians, which was at that time obscure. 5 But not having, even thus, got rid of his fear of the dream, he sent for his daughter, while she was pregnant, that her child might be put to death under the very eye of his grandfather. 6 The infant, as soon as it was born, was given to Harpagus, a friend of the king's and in his secrets, to be killed. 7 Harpagus, fearing that if the crown, on the death of the king (as Astyages had no male issue), should devolve upon his daughter, she might exact from the agent, for the murder of her child, that revenge which she could not inflict on her father, gave the infant to the herdsman of the king's cattle to be exposed. 8 The herdsman, by chance, had a son born at the same time; 9 and his wife, hearing of the exposure of the royal infant, entreated, with the utmost earnestness, that the child might be brought and shown to her. 10 The herdsman, overcome by her solicitations, went back into the wood, and found a dog by the infant, giving it her teats, and protecting it from the beasts and birds of prey. 11 Being moved with pity, with which he saw even a dog moved, he carried the child to the cattle-folds, the dog vigilantly following him. 12 When the woman took the babe into her hands, it smiled upon her as if it knew her; and there appeared so much vivacity in it, with a certain sweetness in its smile as it clung to her, that the wife at once entreated the herdsman to expose her own child instead of the other, and to allow her to bring up the royal infant, whether to his own fortune or to her hopes. 13 Thus the lot of the children being changed, the one was brought up as the shepherd's son, and the other exposed as the king's grandson. 14 The nurse had afterwards the name of Spaco; for so the Persians call a dog.

[1.5]   L  The boy after a time, while he was among the shepherds, received the name of Cyrus. 2 Subsequently, being chosen by lot king among his play-fellows, and having boldly scourged such of them as were disobedient to him, a complaint was made to the king by the parents of the boys, who were angry that free-born youths should be lashed with servile stripes by the king's slave. 3 Astyages having sent for the boy and questioned him, and the boy replying, without any change of countenance, that "he had acted as a king," was struck with his high spirit, and reminded of his dream and its interpretation. 4 In consequence, as both the resemblance of his features, the time of his exposure, and the confession of the herdsman, concurred exactly, he acknowledged him as his grandson. 5 And since he seemed to have had his dream accomplished, by the boy's exercise of rule among the shepherds, he subdued his feelings of animosity; but with regard to him only; 6 for, being incensed with his friend Harpagus, he, in revenge for the preservation of his grandson, killed his son, and gave him to his father to eat. 7 Harpagus, dissembling his resentment for the present, deferred showing his malice towards the king, until a proper time for vengeance should occur.

8 Some time having elapsed, and Cyrus being grown up, Harpagus, prompted by his resentment for the loss of his child, wrote him an account how he had been banished to the Persians by his grandfather; how his grandfather had ordered him to be killed when he was an infant; how he had been saved by his kindness; how he himself had incurred the king's displeasure, and how he had lost his son. 9 He exhorted him to raise an army, and march directly to seize the throne, promising that the Medes should join him. 10 This letter, because it could not be conveyed openly, as the king's guards occupied all the roads, was enclosed in the body of a hare, of which the bowels had been taken out; and the hare was committed to a trusty slave, to be carried into Persia to Cyrus. Nets were also given him, that the plot might be concealed under the appearance of a hunting expedition.

[1.6]   L  Cyrus, after reading the letter, was exhorted in a dream to make the same attempt; but was also admonished to take the first man that he should meet on the following day, as a companion in his enterprise. 2 Commencing his journey from the country, accordingly, before it was light, he met a slave named Soebaris, coming from the slave-house of a certain Mede. 3 Having questioned him as to his birth-place, and hearing that he was born in Persia, he knocked off his fetters, took him with him as his companion, and returned to Persepolis. 4 Here, having called the people together, he ordered them all to attend him with axes, and to cut down a wood that skirted each side of the road. 5 When they had thoroughly accomplished this, he invited them on the following day to a feast prepared for them. 6 Then, as soon as he saw them exhilarated with the banquet, he asked them, "if an offer were made them, which sort of life they would choose, a life of labour like that of yesterday, or of feasting like the present?" As they all exclaimed, "A life of feasting like the present," he told them that, "as long as they obeyed the Medes, they must lead a life like the drudgery of yesterday; but, if they would follow him, a life like the present entertainment." 7 All expressing their joy, he made war upon the Medes.

8 Astyages, forgetting his treatment of Harpagus, entrusted him with the management of the war. 9 Harpagus immediately delivered up the forces, which he had received from Astyages, to Cyrus, and took revenge for the king's cruelty by a treacherous desertion of him. 10 Astyages, hearing of this occurrence, and collecting troops from all quarters, marched against the Persians in person. Having vigorously renewed the contest, he posted part of his army, while his men were fighting, in their rear, and ordered that those who turned back should be driven on the enemy with the point of the sword; 11 telling them that, "unless they conquered, they would find men in their rear not less stout than those in their front; and they were therefore to consider whether they would penetrate the one body by fleeing, or the other body by fighting." 12 In consequence of this obligation to fight, great spirit and vigour was infused into his army. 13 As the Persian troops, therefore, were driven back, and were gradually retiring, their mothers and wives ran to meet them, and besought them to return to the field. 14 While they hesitated, they took up their garments, and showed them the secret parts of their persons, asking them, "if they would shrink back into the wombs of their mothers or their wives." 15 Checked with this reproach, they returned to the battle, and, making a vigorous assault, compelled those from whom they had fled to flee in their turn. 16 In this battle Astyages was taken prisoner; from whom Cyrus took nothing but his kingdom, and, acting towards him the part rather of a grandson than of a conqueror, made him ruler of the powerful nation of the Hyrcanians; for to the Medes he was unwilling to return. 17 Such was the termination of the empire of the Medes, who had ruled three hundred and fifty years.

[1.7]   L  In the beginning of his reign, Cyrus appointed Soebaris (his companion in his undertakings, whom, in conformity with his dream, he had released from the slave-house, and made a sharer in all his enterprises), governor of Persia, and gave him his sister in marriage. 2 But several cities, which had been tributary to the Medes, thinking that their condition was changed by this change in the government, revolted from Cyrus; a revolt which was the occasion and source of many wars against him. 3 When he had at length, however, reduced most of them to submission, and was carrying on war against the Babylonians, Croesus, king of Lydia, whose power and riches were at that time extraordinary, came to the aid of that people, but, being soon defeated and abandoned, fled back to his kingdom. 4 Cyrus, after his victory, as soon as he had settled affairs in Babylonia, transferred the war into Lydia, 5 where he easily routed the army of Croesus, already dispirited by the event of the former battle. Croesus himself was taken prisoner. 6 But in proportion to the smallness of the danger in the battle, was the greatness of the clemency shown by Cyrus on his victory. 7 To Croesus was granted his life, part of his hereditary possessions, and the city (?) Barene, in which he lived, though not the life of a king, yet one scarcely inferior to royal dignity. 8 This lenience was of no less advantage to the conqueror than to the conquered; 9 for when it was known that war was made upon Croesus, auxiliaries flocked to him from the whole of Greece, as if to extinguish a conflagration that threatened them all; 10 so popular was Croesus in all the Greek cities; and Cyrus would have incurred a heavy war with Greece, if he had resolved on any severe treatment of Croesus.

11 Some time after, when Cyrus was engaged in other wars, the Lydians rebelled, 12 and, being a second time conquered, their arms and horses were taken from them, and they were compelled to keep taverns, to turn their thoughts to amusements, and open houses of pleasure. 13 Thus a nation, formerly powerful through its industry, and brave in the field, was rendered effeminate by ease and luxury, and lost its ancient spirit; and those whom their wars had proved invincible till the time of Cyrus, idleness and sloth overpowered when they had fallen into dissoluteness of manners.

14 The Lydians had many kings before Croesus, remarkable for various turns of fate; but none to be compared, in singularity of fortune, to Candaules. 15 This prince used to speak of his wife, on whom he doted for her extreme beauty, to everybody, for he was not content with the quiet consciousness of his happiness, unless he also published the secrets of his married life; 16 just as if silence concerning her beauty had been a detraction from it. 17 At last, to gain credit to his representations, he showed her undressed to his confidant, Gyges; 18 an act by which he both rendered his friend, who was thus tempted to corrupt his wife, his enemy, and alienated his wife from him, by transferring, as it were, her love to another; 19 for, soon after, the murder of Candaules was stipulated as the condition of her marriage with Gyges, and the wife, making her husband's blood her dowry, bestowed at once his kingdom and herself on her paramour.

[1.8]   L  Cyrus, after subduing Asia, and reducing the whole of the east under his power, made war upon the Scythians. 2 At that time, the Scythians were ruled by a queen named Tomyris, who, not alarmed like a woman at the approach of an enemy, suffered them to pass the river Araxes, though she might have hindered them from passing it; thinking that it would be easier for her to fight within the limits of her kingdom, and that escape would be harder for the enemy when they were obstructed by the river. 3 Cyrus accordingly, having carried his troops across, and advanced some distance into Scythia, pitched his camp. 4 On the day following, having quitted his camp in pretended alarm, and as if in full flight, he left behind him abundance of wine, and such things as were proper for a feast. 5 The news of this event being brought to the queen, she despatched her son, a very young man, with a third part of her army, in pursuit of him. 6 When they reached the camp of Cyrus, the youth, inexperienced in military matters, seeming to think he was come to feast and not to fight, paid no attention to the enemy, but allowed his barbarians, who were unused to wine, to overload themselves with it; 7 so that the Scythians were overcome with wine before they were subdued by the enemy; 8 for Cyrus, learning what had happened, and returning in the night, fell upon them unawares, and killed all the Scythians together with the queen's son.

9 But Tomyris, after losing so great an army, and, what she still more lamented, her only son, did not pour forth her sorrow for her loss in tears, but turned her thoughts to the solace of revenge, and entrapped her enemies, exulting in their recent victory, by a deception and stratagem similar to their own. 10 For, counterfeiting timidity on account of the damage which she had received, and taking to flight, she allured Cyrus into a narrow defile, 11 where, placing an ambush on the hills, she slew two hundred thousand of the Persians with their king himself; 12 a triumph in which this also was remarkable, that not a man to tell of such a massacre survived. 13 The queen ordered the head of Cyrus to be cut off and thrown into a vessel full of human blood, adding this exclamation against his cruelty, "Satiate thyself with blood for which thou hast thirsted, and of which thou hast always been insatiable." 14 Cyrus reigned thirty years, and was a man wonderfully distinguished, not only in the beginning of his reign, but during the whole course of his life.

[1.9]   L  He was succeeded by his son Cambyses, who added Egypt to his father's dominions, 2 but, disgusted at the superstitions of the Egyptians, ordered the temples of Apis and the other gods to be demolished. 3 He also sent an army to destroy the celebrated temple of Ammon; which army was overwhelmed with tempests and heaps of sand, and utterly annihilated. 4 Afterwards he learned in a dream that his brother Smerdis was to be king. 5 Alarmed at this vision, he did not scruple to add fratricide to sacrilege; 6 nor was it to be expected, indeed, that he, who, in contempt of religion, had braved the gods themselves, would spare his own relations. 7 To execute this cruel service, he selected from his confidants a man named Prexaspes, one of the Magi. 8 But in the meantime, he himself, being severely hurt in the thigh by his sword, which had started out of its sheath, died of the wound, and paid the penalty whether of the fratricide which he had intended, or of the sacrilege which he had perpetrated. 9 The Magus, receiving intelligence of this event, accomplished his task before the report of the king's death was spread abroad, and, having killed Smerdis, to whom the kingdom belonged, set up in his place his own brother Oropastes, 10 who closely resembled him in features and person, and, no one suspecting any imposture in the case, Oropastes was declared king instead of Smerdis. 11 This transaction was the more easily kept secret, as, among the Persians, the person of the king is concealed from public view, under pretext of keeping his majesty inviolate. 12 The Magi, to gain the favour of the people, granted a remission of the taxes, and an immunity from military service, for three years, 13 that they might secure by indulgence and bounties the kingdom which they had gained by fraud. 14 The imposition was first suspected by Otanes, a man of noble birth, and extremely happy in forming conjectures. 15 He accordingly, by the aid of certain agents, inquired of his daughter, who was one of the royal concubines, whether the son of king Cyrus was now king. 16 She replied that "she neither knew, nor could learn from any other woman, as all the females were shut up in separate apartments." 17 He then desired her to feel his head while he was asleep; as Cambyses had cut off both the Magus's ears. 18 Being then assured by his daughter that "the king was without ears," he disclosed the affair to some of the Persian noblemen, and, having persuaded them to murder the pretended king, bound them to the commission of the deed by a solemn oath. 19 To this conspiracy seven only were privy, who at once (lest if time were allowed for change of mind, the affair should be made public by any one) proceeded to the palace with swords hidden under their garments. 20 Here, having killed all that they met, they made their way to the Magi, who indeed did not want courage to defend themselves, 21 for they drew their swords and killed two of the conspirators. 22 They were overpowered, however, by numbers. Gobryas, having seized one of them by the waist, and his companions hesitating to use their swords, lest, as the affair was transacted in the dark, they should stab him instead of the Magus, desired them to thrust the weapon into the Magus even through his body; 23 but, as good fortune directed, the Magus was slain, and Gobryas escaped unhurt.

[1.10]   L  The Magi being slain, the glory of the noblemen, in having recovered the kingdom, was indeed great, but proved far greater in this, that when they came to debate about the disposal of it, they were able to act in concert. 2 They were so equal in merit and nobility of birth, that their very equality would have rendered it hard for the people to make a selection from them. 3 They themselves, therefore, contrived a method by which they might refer the judgment respecting them to religion and fortune, 4 and agreed that, on an appointed day, they should all bring their horses early in the morning before the palace, and that he whose horse should neigh first, on the rising of the sun, should be king. 5 For the Persians believe the sun to be the only god, and regard horses as sacred to the god. 6 Among the conspirators was Darius the son of Hystaspes, to whom, when he felt anxious about his chance of the kingdom, his groom said that, "if that matter was the only obstacle to his success, there would not be the least difficulty about it." 7 The groom then took the horse, in the night before the appointed day, to the place agreed upon, and there let him cover a mare, thinking that from the pleasure of the leap would result what actually came to pass. 8 On the next day, accordingly, when they were all met at the appointed hour, the horse of Darius, recognizing the place, set up a neigh from desire for the mare, and, while the other horses were silent, was the first to give a fortunate signal for his master. 9 Such was the moderation of the other nobles, that when they heard the omen, they immediately leaped from their horses, and saluted Darius as king. 10 The whole people too, following the judgment of their chiefs, acknowledged him as their ruler. 11 Thus the kingdom of the Persians, recovered by the valour of seven of its noblest men, was by so easy a mode of decision conferred upon one of them. 12 It is incredible that they should have resigned, with so much patience, their pretensions to a kingdom, for which, in order to recover it from the Magi, they had not hesitated to expose their lives. 13 However, besides possessing gracefulness of person, and merit deserving of such an empire, Darius was related to the preceding kings; 14 and, in the beginning of his reign, he took to wife the daughter of Cyrus, in order to strengthen his kingdom by a royal marriage, so that it might not so much, seem transferred to a stranger, as to be restored to Cyrus's family.

15 Some time after, when the Assyrians had revolted and seized upon Babylon, and the capture of the city proved difficult, so that the king was in great anxiety about it, Zopyrus, one of the assassins of the Magi, caused himself to be mangled with stripes, in his own house, over his whole body, and his nose, ears, and lips to be cut off, and in this condition presented himself unexpectedly before the king; 16 when he privately informed Darius, who was astonished, and inquired the cause and author of so dire an outrage, with what object he had done it, and, having settled his plan of action for the future, set out for Babylon in the character of a deserter. 17 There he showed the people his lacerated body; complained of the barbarity of the king, by whom, in the competition for the throne, he had been defeated, not by merit but by fortune, not by the judgment of men but by the neighing of a horse; 18 and bade them form an opinion, from his treatment of his friends, what was to be apprehended by his enemies; 19 exhorting them not to trust to their walls more than to their arms, and to allow him, whose resentment was fresher, to carry on the war in common with them. 20 The nobleness and bravery of the man was known to them all; nor did they doubt of his sincerity, of which they had the wounds on his person, and the marks of his ill-usage, as proofs. 21 He was therefore chosen general by the suffrages of all; and, having received a small body of men, and the Persians, once or twice, purposely retreating from the field, he fought some successful battles. 22 At last he betrayed the whole army, with which he had been entrusted, to Darius, and brought the city under his power. 23 Some time after, Darius made war upon the Scythians, as shall be related in the following book.


[2.1]   L  In narrating the acts of the Scythians, which were very great and glorious, we must commence from their origin; 2 for they had a rise not less illustrious than their empire; nor were they more famous for the government of their men than for the brave actions of their women. 3 As the men were founders of the Parthians and Bactrians, the women settled the kingdom of the Amazons; 4 so that to those who compare the deeds of their males and females, it is difficult to decide which of the sexes was more distinguished.

5 The nation of the Scythians was always regarded as very ancient; though there was long a dispute between them and the Egyptians concerning the antiquity of their respective races; 6 the Egyptians alleging that, "In the beginning of things, when some countries were parched with the excessive heat of the sun, and others frozen with extremity of cold, so that, in their early condition, they were not only unable to produce human beings, but were incapable even of receiving and supporting such as came from other parts (before coverings for the body were found out against heat and cold, or the inconveniences of countries corrected by artificial remedies), 7 Egypt was always so temperate, that neither the cold in winter nor the sun's heat in summer, incommoded its inhabitants; 8 and its soil so fertile, that no land was ever more productive of food for the use of man; 9 and that, consequently, men must reasonably be considered to have been first produced in that country, where they could most easily be nourished."

10 The Scythians, on the other hand, thought that the temperateness of the air was no argument of antiquity; 11 "because Nature, when she first distributed to different countries degrees of heat and cold, immediately produced in them animals fitted to endure the several climates, 12 and generated also numerous sorts of trees and herbs, happily varied according to the condition of the places in which they grew; 13 and that, as the Scythians have a sharper air than the Egyptians, so are their bodies and constitutions in proportion more hardy. 14 But that if the world, which is now distinguished into parts of a different nature, was once uniform throughout; whether a deluge of waters originally kept the earth buried under it; 15 or whether fire, which also produced the world, had possession of all the parts of it, the Scythians, under either supposition as to the primordial state of things, had the advantage as to origin. For if fire was at first predominant over all things, and, being gradually extinguished, gave place to the earth, no part of it would be sooner separated from the fire, by the severity of winter cold, than the northern, since even now no part is more frozen with cold; 16 but Egypt and all the east must have been the latest to cool, as being now burnt up with the parching heat of the sun. 17 But if originally all the earth were sunk under water, assuredly the highest parts would be first uncovered when the waters decreased, and the water must have remained longest in the lowest grounds; 18 while the sooner any portion of the earth was dry, the sooner it must have begun to produce animals; 19 but Scythia was so much higher than all other countries, that all the rivers which rise in it run down into the Lake Maeotis, and then into the Pontic and Egyptian seas; 20 whereas Egypt, (which, though it had been fenced by the care and expense of so many princes and generations, and furnished with such strong mounds against the violence of the encroaching waters, and though it had been intersected also by so many canals, the waters being kept out by the one, and retained by the other, was yet uninhabitable, unless the Nile were excluded) could not be thought to have the most ancient population; being a land, which, whether from the accessions of soil collected by its kings, or those from the Nile, bringing mud with it, must appear to have been the most recently formed of all lands." 21 The Egyptians being confounded with these arguments, the Scythians were always accounted the more ancient.

[2.2]   L  Scythia, which stretches towards the east, is bounded on one side by the Euxine Sea; on the other, by the Rhipaean Mountains; at the back, by Asia and the river Phasis. 2 It extends to a vast distance, both in length and breadth. 3 The people have no landmarks, for they neither cultivate the soil, nor have they any house, dwelling, or settled place of abode, but are always engaged in feeding herds and flocks, and wandering through uncultivated deserts. 4 They carry their wives and children with them in waggons, which, as they are covered with hides against the rain and cold, they use instead of houses. 5 Justice is observed among them, more from the character of the people, than from the influence of laws. 6 No crime in their opinion is more heinous than theft; for, among people that keep their flocks and herds without fence or shelter in the woods, what would be safe, if stealing were permitted? 7 Gold and silver they despise, as much as other men covet them. 8 They live on milk and honey. 9 The use of wool and clothes is unknown among them, although they are pinched by perpetual cold; they wear, however, the skins of wild animals, great and small. 10 Such abstemiousness has caused justice to be observed among them, as they covet nothing belonging to their neighbours; for it is only where riches are of use, that the desire of them prevails. 11 And would that other men had like temperance, and like freedom from desire for the goods of others! 12 There would then assuredly be fewer wars in all ages and countries, 13 and the sword would not destroy more than the natural course of destiny. 14 And it appears extremely wonderful, that nature should grant that to them which the Greeks cannot attain by long instruction from their wise men and the precepts of their philosophers; and that cultivated morals should have the disadvantage in a comparison with those of unpolished barbarians. 15 So much better effect has the ignorance of vice in the one people than the knowledge of virtue in the other.

[2.3]   L  They thrice aspired to the supreme command in Asia; while they themselves remained always either unmolested or unconquered by any foreign power. 2 Darius, king of the Persians, they forced to quit Scythia in disgraceful flight. 3 They slew Cyrus with his whole army. 4 They cut off in like manner Zopyrion, a general of Alexander the Great, with all his forces. 5 Of the arms of the Romans they have heard, but never felt them. 6 They founded the Parthian and Bactrian powers. 7 They are a nation hardy in toils and warfare; their strength of body is extraordinary; they take possession of nothing which they fear to lose, and covet, when they are conquerors, nothing but glory.

8 The first that proclaimed war against the Scythians was Sesostris, king of Egypt, previously sending messengers to announce conditions on which they might become his subjects. 9 But the Scythians, who were already apprized by their neighbours of the king's approach, made answer to the deputies, 10 that the prince of so rich a people had been foolish in commencing a war with a poor one (for war was more to be dreaded by himself at home), 11 as the result of the contest was uncertain, prizes of victory there were none, and the ill consequences of defeat were apparent; 12 and that the Scythians, therefore, would not wait till he came to them, since there was so much more to be desired in the hands of the enemy, but would proceed of their own accord to seek the spoil." 13 Nor were their deeds slower than their words; and the king, hearing that they were advancing with such speed, took to flight, and leaving behind him his army and all his military stores, returned in consternation to his own kingdom. 14 The marshlands prevented the Scythians from invading Egypt; 15 in their retreat from which they subdued Asia, and made it tributary, imposing, however, only a moderate tribute, rather as a token of their power over it, than as a recompense for their victory. 16 After spending fifteen years in the reduction of Asia, they were called home by the importunity of their wives, who sent them word that "unless their husbands returned, they would seek issue from their neighbours, and not suffer the race of the Scythians to fail of posterity through the fault of their women." 17 Asia was tributary to them for fifteen hundred years; and it was Ninus, king of Assyria, that put a stop to the payment of the tribute.

[2.4]   L  Among the Scythians, in the meantime, two youths of royal extraction, (?) Plynos and Scolopitus, being driven from their country by a faction of the nobility, took with them a numerous band of young men, 2 and found a settlement on the coast of Cappadocia, near the river Thermodon, occupying the Themiscyrian plains that border on it. 3 Here, making it their practice for several years to rob their neighbours, they were at last, by a combination of the surrounding people, cut to pieces in an ambuscade. 4 Their wives, when they found that to exile was added the loss of their husbands, took arms themselves, and maintained their position, repelling the attacks of their enemies at first, and afterwards assailing them in return. 5 They relinquished all thoughts of marrying with their neighbours, saying that it would be slavery, not matrimony. 6 Venturing to set an example unparalleled through all generations, they established their government without the aid of men, and soon maintained their power in defiance of them. 7 And that none of their females might seem more fortunate than others, they put to death all the men who had remained at home. 8 They also took revenge for their husbands that were killed in war, by a great slaughter of their neighbours.

9 Having thus secured peace by means of their arms, they proceeded, in order that their race might not fail, to form connexions with the men of the adjacent nations. 10 If any male children were born, they put them to death. The girls they bred up to the same mode of life with themselves, not consigning them to idleness, or working with wool, 11 but training them to arms, the management of horses, and hunting; burning their right breasts in infancy, that their use of the bow might not be obstructed by them; and hence they were called Amazons. 12 They had two queens, Marpesia and Lampedo, who, dividing their forces into two bodies (after they were grown famous for their power), conducted their wars, and defended their borders separately and by turns. 13 And that a reason for their success might not be wanting, they spread a report that they were the daughters of Mars.

14 After subduing the greater part of Europe, they possessed themselves also of some cities in Asia. 15 Having then founded Ephesus and several other towns there, they sent a detachment of their army home, laden with a vast quantity of spoil. 16 The rest, who remained to secure their power in Asia, were cut to pieces, together with their queen Marpesia, by a combination of the barbarous tribes. 17 Orithyia, the daughter of Marpesia, succeeded to the government in her place, and has attracted extraordinary admiration, not only for her eminent skill in war, but for having preserved her virginity to the end of her life. 18 So much was added by her valour and conduct to the fame and glory of the Amazons, that the king, for whom Hercules was bound to perform twelve labours, ordered him, as if it were a thing impossible, to bring him the arms of the queen of the Amazons. 19 Hercules, accordingly, having proceeded thither with nine ships of war, the principal young men of Greece accompanying him, attacked the Amazons unawares. 20 Two sisters at this time held the government, Antiope and Orithyia; but Orithyia was engaged in a war abroad. 21 When Hercules, therefore, landed on the coast of the Amazons, there was but a small number of them there with their queen Antiope, free from all apprehension of hostilities. 22 Hence it happened that a few only, roused by the sudden alarm, took up arms, and these afforded an easy conquest to the enemy. 23 Many were slain, and many taken prisoners; among the latter were two sisters of Antiope, Menalippe being taken by Hercules, and Hippolyte by Theseus. 24 Theseus, having received his prisoner as his share of the spoil, took her to wife, and had by her his son Hippolytus. 25 Hercules, after his victory, restored his captive Menalippe to her sister, receiving the arms of the queen as a recompense; and having thus executed what was imposed on him, he returned to the king.

26 But Orithyia, when she found that war had been made upon her sister, and that the assailant was a chief of the Athenians, exhorted her followers to revenge the affront, saying that the "coast of the Pontus, and Asia, had been conquered in vain, if they were still exposed, not merely to the wars, but to the marauding invasions, of the Greeks." 27 She then solicited aid from Sagillus, king of Scythia; representing to him "their Scythian descent, the loss of their husbands, their obligation to take arms, and their reasons for making war;" adding, "that they had proved by their valour, that the Scythians must be thought to have women not less spirited than their men." 28 Sagillus, alive to the glory of his nation, sent his son Panasagoras, with a numerous body of cavalry, to their aid. 29 But some disagreement having occurred before the battle, they were deserted by their auxiliaries, and worsted in the conflict by the Athenians. 30 They had, however, the camp of their allies as a place of refuge, under whose protection, they returned to their kingdom unmolested by other nations.

31 After Orithyia, Penthesilea occupied the throne, of whose valour there were seen great proofs among the bravest heroes in the Trojan war, when she led an auxiliary force thither against the Greeks. 32 But Penthesilea being at last killed, and her army destroyed, a few only of the Amazons, who had remained at home in their own country, established a power that continued (defending itself with difficulty against its neighbours), to the time of Alexander the Great. 33 Their queen Minithya, or Thalestris, after obtaining from Alexander the enjoyment of his society for thirteen days, in order to have issue by him, returned into her kingdom, and soon after died, together with the whole name of the Amazons.

[2.5]   L  The Scythians, in their Asiatic expedition, having been absent from their wives and children eight years, were met on their return home by a war raised by their slaves. 2 For their wives, weary of waiting so long for their husbands, and thinking that they were not detained by war, but had perished in the field, married their slaves that had been left at home to take care of the cattle; 3 who, taking up arms, repelled their masters, returning with victory, from the borders of their country, as if they had been strangers. 4 Success against them being uncertain, the Scythians were advised to change their method of attack, remembering that they were not to fight with soldiers, but with slaves, who were to be conquered, not by means of arms, but of magisterial authority; that whips, not weapons, were to be used in the field; and that, swords being laid aside, rods and scourges, and other instruments of terror to slaves, were to be provided. 5 This suggestion being approved, and all being equipped as was prescribed, the Scythians, as soon as they drew near the enemy, held out scourges towards them unexpectedly, and struck them such terror, that they conquered with the dread of stripes those whom they could not conquer with the sword, and who took to flight, not as defeated enemies, but as fugitive slaves. 6 As many as could be taken, paid the penalty for their rebellion on the cross. 7 The women too, conscious of their ill conduct, put an end to their lives partly by the sword and partly by hanging.

8 After this occurrence, there was peace among the Scythians till the time of king Ianthyrus, 9 on whom Darius, king of Persia, as was said above, made war, because he could not obtain his daughter in marriage. 10 Darius, having entered Scythia with seven hundred thousand armed men, and the enemy allowing him no opportunity of fighting, dreading lest, if the bridge over the Ister were broken down, his retreat should be cut off, hurried back in alarm, with the loss of eighty thousand men; 11 which loss, however, out of so vast a, number, was scarcely accounted a disaster. 12 Darius afterwards subdued Asia and Macedonia, and defeated the Ionians in a fight at sea. 13 Then, learning that the Athenians had given aid to the Ionians against him, he turned all his warlike fury upon them.

[2.6]   L  Since we have now come to the wars of the Athenians, which were carried on, not only beyond expectation as to what could be done, but even beyond belief as to what was done, the efforts of that people having been successful beyond their hopes, the origin of their city must be briefly set forth; 2 for they did not, like other nations, rise to eminence from a mean commencement, 3 but are the only people that can boast, not only of their rise, but also of their birth. 4 It was not a concourse of foreigners, or a rabble of people collected from different parts, that raised their city, but men who were born on the same ground which they inhabit; and the country which is their place of abode, was also their birthplace. 5 It was they who first taught the art of working with wool, and the use of oil and wine. They also showed men, who had previously fed on acorns, how to plough and sow. 6 Literature and eloquence, it is certain, and the state of civilisation which we enjoy, had Athens as their temple. 7 Before Deucalion's time, they had a king named Cecrops, whom, as all antiquity is full of fables, they represented to have been of both sexes, because he was the first to join male and female in marriage. 8 To him succeeded Cranaus, whose daughter Atthis gave name to the country. 9 After him reigned Amphictyon, who first consecrated the city to Minerva, and gave it the name of Athens. 10 In his days, a deluge swept away the greater part of the inhabitants of Greece. 11 Those only escaped, whom a refuge on the mountains protected, or who went off in ships to Deucalion, king of Thessaly, by whom, from this circumstance, the human race is said to have been restored. 12 The crown then descended, in the course of succession, to Erechtheus, in whose reign the sowing of corn was commenced by Triptolemus at Eleusis; 13 in commemoration of which benefit the nocturnal mysteries of Ceres were instituted. 14 Aegeus also, the father of Theseus, was king of Athens; Medea divorced herself from him, on account of the adult age of her step-son, and returned to Colchis with her son Medus, whom she had had by Aegeus. 15 After Aegeus reigned Theseus, and after Theseus his son Demophoōn, who afforded aid to the Greeks against the Trojans. 16 Between the Athenians and Dorians there had been animosities of long standing, which the Dorians, intending to revenge in war, consulted the oracle about the event of the contest. 17 The answer was, that the "Dorians would have the advantage, if they did not kill the king of the Athenians." 18 When they came into the field, the Doric soldiers were charged above all things to take care not to attack the king. 19 At that time the king of the Athenians was Codrus, who, learning the answer of the god and the directions of the enemy, laid aside his royal dress, and entered the camp of the enemy in rags, with a bundle of sticks on his back. 20 Here, among a crowd of people that stood in his way, he was killed by a soldier whom he had purposely wounded with a pruning knife. His body being recognized as that of the king, the Dorians went off without coming to battle; 21 and thus the Athenians, through the bravery of a prince who submitted to death for the safety of his country, were relieved from war.

[2.7]   L  After Codrus there was no king at Athens; a circumstance which is attributed to the respect paid to his memory. 2 The government of the state was placed in the hands of magistrates elected annually. 3 At this period the people had no laws, for the wills of their princes had always been received instead of laws. 4 Solon, a man of eminent integrity, was in consequence chosen to found the state, as it were afresh, by the establishment of laws. 5 This man acted with such judicious moderation between the commons and the senate (though whatever he proposed in favour of one class, seemed likely to displease the other), that he received equal thanks from both parties. 6 Among many illustrious acts of Solon, the following is eminently worthy of record. 7 A war had been carried on between the Athenians and Megarians, concerning their respective claims to the island of Salamis, almost to the utter destruction of both. 8 After many defeats, it was made a capital offence at Athens to propose a law for the recovery of the island. 9 Solon, anxious lest he should injure his country by keeping silence, or himself by expressing his opinion, pretended to be suddenly seized with madness, 10 under cover of which he might not only say, but do, what was prohibited. 11 In a strange garb, like an insane person, he rushed forth into the public streets, where, having collected a crowd about him, he began, that he might the better conceal his design, to urge the people in verse (which he was unaccustomed to use), to do what was forbidden, 12 and produced such an effect on the minds of all, that war was instantly decreed against the Megarians; and the enemy being defeated, the island became subject to the Athenians.

[2.8]   L  After a time, the Megarians, cherishing the remembrance of the war made upon them by the Athenians, and fearing that they might be said to have taken up arms to no purpose, went on board a fleet with a design to seize the Athenian matrons as they were celebrating the Eleusinian mysteries during the night. 2 Their intention becoming known, Pisistratus, the Athenian general, placed a body of young men in ambush to receive them, directing the matrons, at the same time, to continue the celebration of the sacred rites with their usual cries and noise, even while the enemy were approaching, in order that they might not know that their coming was expected; 3 and thus attacking the Megarians unawares, just as they were leaving their ships, he put them all to the sword. Immediately after, having taken some women with his men on board the fleet which he had seized, to appear like captured matrons of the Athenians, he set sail for Megara. 4 The Megarians, seeing ships of their own build approaching, apparently with the desired prey on board, went out to the harbour to meet them. Pisistratus cut them to pieces, and almost succeeded in taking their city. 5 Thus the Megarians, having their own stratagem turned against them, afforded their enemies a triumph.

6 But Pisistratus, as if he had conquered for himself and not for his country, possessed himself of the sovereign authority by a subtle contrivance. 7 Having undergone a voluntary scourging in his own house, he ran out, with his body lacerated, into the open street, 8 and, having summoned an assembly of the people, showed them his wounds, complaining of the cruelty of the great men of the city, from whom he pretended to have received this treatment. 9 Tears were joined to his words, and the credulous mob was easily inflamed be a calumnious speech, in which he affirmed that he had incurred the hatred of the senate by showing his love for the common people. 10 He thus obtained a guard for the protection of his person, by the aid of which he got the sovereign power into his hands, and reigned thirty-three years.

[2.9]   L  After his death Diocles, one of his sons, having offered violence to a maiden, was slain by her brother. 2 His other son, whose name was Hippias, taking upon him the authority of his father, ordered the murderer of his brother to be apprehended; 3 who, being forced by torture to name those that were privy to the murder, named all the intimate friends of the tyrant. 4 These being put to death, and Hippias asking him "whether any of the guilty still survived," he replied, that "there was no one surviving whom he should more rejoice to see die than the tyrant himself." 5 By which answer he proved himself superior to the tyrant, after having avenged, too, the violated honour of his sister.

6 The city being animated, through his spirited conduct, with a desire for liberty, Hippias was at last deprived of his power, and driven into exile. 7 Setting out for Persia, he offered himself as a leader to Darius against his own country; Darius being then, as has been said before, ready to make war on the Athenians. 8 The Athenians, hearing of Darius's approach, requested assistance from the Lacedaemonians, who were then in alliance with them. 9 But finding that they delayed at home four days, in consequence of some religious scruple, they did not wait for their help, but, having mustered ten thousand of their own citizens, and a thousand auxiliaries from Plataea, went out to battle in the plain of Marathon, against six hundred thousand of the enemy. 10 Miltiades was both their general in the field, and the person who advised them not to wait for assistance, being possessed with such confidence of success, that he thought there was more trust to be placed in speed than in their allies. 11 Great, therefore, was their spirit as they proceeded to battle; so that, though there was a mile between the two armies, they came full speed upon the enemy before their arrows were discharged. Nor did the result fall short of their daring; 12 for such was the courage with which they fought, that you might have supposed there were men on one side and a herd of cattle on the other. 13 The Persians, utterly defeated, fled to their ships, of which many were sunk and many taken. 14 In this battle, the bravery of every individual was such, that it was difficult to determine to whom the highest praise was due. 15 Amongst others, however, the heroism of Themistocles, then a young man, was greatly distinguished; in whom, even then, appeared a genius indicative of his future eminence as a general. 16 The merit of Cynaegirus, too, an Athenian soldier, has met with great commendation from historians; 17 for, after having slain a great number in the battle, and having chased the fleeing enemy to their ships, he seized a crowded vessel with his right hand, and would not let it go till he had lost his hand; 18 and even then, when his right hand was cut off, he took hold of the ship with his left, and having lost this hand also, he at last seized the ship with his teeth. 19 So undaunted was his spirit, that neither being weary with killing so many, nor disheartened with the loss of his hands, he fought to the last maimed as he was, with his teeth, like a wild beast. 20 The Persians lost two hundred thousand men in the battle or by shipwreck. 21 Hippias also, the Athenian tyrant, who was the promoter and encourager of the war, was killed on the occasion; the gods, the avengers of his country, inflicting on him the penalty of his perfidy.

[2.10]   L  Some time after, Darius, when he was going to renew the war, died in the midst of his preparations for it, leaving behind him several sons, some born before his accession to the crown, and others after it. 2 Ariamenes, the eldest of them, claimed the kingdom by the law of primogeniture, a law which he said that both order of birth and nature herself had prescribed to all nations. 3 Xerxes, however, alleged, that the dispute was not so much about the order as the good fortune of their birth; 4 for that "Ariamenes was born first indeed to Darius, but while he was in a private station; that he himself was born to him first after he was king; 5 and that, consequently, such of his brothers as were born before him might claim, the private estate which Darius then possessed, but could have no claim to the kingdom; he himself being the first-born whom his father, when king, had bred up to succeed him on the throne. 6 In addition to this," he said, "Ariamenes was sprung, not only from a father but from a mother in a private condition, and from a maternal grandfather of similar station; 7 but he himself was both sprung from a mother who was a queen, and had never known his father except as a king; he had also for his maternal grandfather king Cyrus, not the heir, but the founder of so great an empire; 8 and even if their father had left both brothers with equal claims, yet he himself ought to have the advantage in right of his mother and grandfather." 9 The settlement of the controversy they left, with mutual consent, to their uncle Artaphernes, as the fittest judge of their family differences; 10 who, having heard their pleas in his own house, decided in favour of Xerxes. But the contest was conducted in so brotherly a way, that neither did he who gained the cause show any unseemly triumph, nor did he who lost it express dissatisfaction; and, during the very time of the contention, they sent presents to one another, and gave such entertainments, as showed not only mutual confidence, but pleasure in each other's society. The judgment, too, was pronounced without witnesses, and heard without a murmur. 11 So much more contentedly did brothers then share the greatest kingdoms, than they now divide the smallest estates!

12 Xerxes then proceeded, during five years, with his preparations for the war against Greece, which his father had commenced. 13 As soon as Demaratus, king of the Lacedaemonians, who was then an exile at the court of Xerxes, understood his intentions, he, feeling more regard for his country, notwithstanding his banishment, than for the king in return for his favours, sent full intelligence of the matter to the magistrates of the Lacedaemonians, that they might not be surprised by an unexpected attack; writing the account on wooden tablets, and hiding the writing with wax spread over it; 14 taking care, however, not merely that writing without a cover might not give proof against him, but that too fresh wax might not betray the contrivance. These tablets he committed to a trusty slave, who was ordered to deliver them into the hands of the authorities at Sparta. 15 When they were received, the object of them was long a matter of inquiry, because the magistrates could see nothing written on them, and yet could not imagine that they were sent to no purpose; and they thought the matter must be momentous in proportion to its mysteriousness. 16 While the men were still engaged in conjecture, the sister of king Leonidas surmised the writer's intention. 17 The wax being accordingly scraped off, the account of the warlike preparations appeared. 18 Xerxes had already armed seven hundred thousand men of his own kingdom, and three hundred thousand of his auxiliaries; 19 so that there was some ground for the assertion that rivers were drunk up by his army, and that all Greece could scarcely contain it. 20 He is also said to have had a fleet of twelve hundred ships. 21 But for this vast army a general was wanting; for if you contemplate its king, you could not commend his capacity as a leader, however you might extol his wealth, 22 of which there was such abundance in his realm, that, while rivers were drained by his forces, his treasury was still unexhausted. 23 He was always seen foremost in flight, and hindmost in battle; he was a coward in danger, and when danger was away, a boaster; 24 and, in fine, before he made trial of war, elated with confidence in his strength (as if he had been lord of nature itself), he levelled mountains, filled up valleys, covered some seas with bridges, and contracted others, for the convenience of navigation, into shorter channels.

[2.11]   L  In proportion to the terror of his entrance into Greece, was the shame and dishonour of his retreat from it. 2 Leonidas, king of the Spartans, having occupied the straits of Thermopylae with four thousand men, Xerxes, in contempt of so small a number, ordered such of the Persians as had lost relatives in the battle of Marathon, to commence an attack upon them; 3 who, while they endeavoured to avenge their friends, were the first to be slaughtered, and a useless multitude taking their place, the havoc became still greater. 4 For three days was the struggle maintained, to the grief and indignation of the Persians. 5 On the fourth, it being told Leonidas that the summit of the mountain was occupied by twenty thousand of the enemy, he exhorted the allies "to retire, and reserve themselves to their country for better times;" saying, that "he himself would try his fortune with the Spartans; 6 that he ought to care more for his country than for his life, and that others should be preserved for the defence of Greece." 7 On hearing the king's resolution, the rest retired, the Lacedaemonians alone remaining.

8 At the beginning of the war, when the Spartans consulted the oracle at Delphi, they had received the answer, that "either the king or their city must fall." 9 King Leonidas, accordingly, when he proceeded to battle, had so fixed the resolution of his men, that they felt they must go to the field with minds prepared for death. 10 He had posted himself in a narrow pass, too, that he might either conquer more gloriously with a few, or fall with less damage to his country. 11 The allies being therefore sent away, he exhorted his Spartans "to remember that, however they struggled, they must expect to perish; to take care not to show more resolution to stay than to fight;" 12 adding that, "they must not wait till they were surrounded by the enemy, but when night afforded them opportunity, must surprise them in security and at their ease; 13 as conquerors could die nowhere more honourably than in the camp of the foe." 14 There was no difficulty in stimulating men determined to die. 15 They immediately seized their arms, and six hundred men rushed into the camp of five hundred thousand, making directly for the king's tent, and resolving either to die with him, or, if they should be overpowered, at least in his quarters. 16 An alarm spread through the whole Persian army. The Spartans being unable to find the king, marched uncontrolled through the whole camp, killing and overthrowing all that stood in their way, like men who knew that they fought, not with the hope of victory, but to avenge their own deaths. 17 The contest was protracted from the beginning of the night through the greater part of the following day. 18 At last, not conquered, but exhausted with conquering, they fell amidst vast heaps of slaughtered enemies. 19 Xerxes, having thus met with two defeats by land, resolved next to try his fortune by sea.

[2.12]   L  Themistocles, the general of the Athenians, having discovered that the Ionians, on whose account they had undertaken this war with the Persians, were come to the assistance of the king with a fleet, resolved to draw them over to his own side. 2 Being unable to find any opportunity of speaking with them, he caused placards to be fixed, and inscriptions to be written, on the rocks where they were to land, to the following effect; 3 "What madness possesses you, O Ionians? What evil are you going to do? Do you intend to make war on those who were formerly your founders, and lately your avengers? 4 Did we build your cities that a people might arise from them to destroy ours? 5 Was it not Darius's reason for attacking us before, and is it not now that of Xerxes, that we did not desert you when you rebelled against them? 6 But pass over from your place of confinement to our camp; 7 or, if this course is unsafe, withdraw when the battle begins; keep back your vessels with your oars, and retire from the engagement." 8 Before this encounter at sea, Xerxes had sent four thousand armed men to plunder the temple of Apollo, 9 as if he had been at war, not with the Greeks only, but with the immortal gods; 10 but the whole of this detachment was destroyed by a storm of rain and thunder, that he might be convinced how feeble human strength is against the powers of heaven. 11 Afterwards he burnt Thespiae, Plataea, and Athens, all abandoned by their inhabitants; venting his rage on the buildings by fire, since he could not destroy the people by the sword. 12 For the Athenians, after the battle of Marathon, because Themistocles forewarned them that their victory would not be the termination of the war, but the cause of a greater one, had built two hundred ships; 13 and when, at the approach of Xerxes, he consulted the oracle at Delphi, they were answered, that "they must provide for their safety with wooden walls." 14 Themistocles, thinking that defence with shipping was meant, persuaded them all, that "the citizens, not the walls, constituted their country; that a city consisted, not of its buildings, but of its inhabitants; 15 that it would be better for them, therefore, to trust their safety to their ships than to their city; and that the god was the adviser of this course." 16 The counsel being approved, they committed their wives and children, with their most valuable property, to certain islands out of the way; while the men went in arms on board the ships. 17 Other cities also followed the example of the Athenians. 18 But when the whole fleet of the allies was assembled, ready for an engagement, and had posted itself in the narrow strait of Salamis, that it might not be overwhelmed by superior numbers, a dissension arose among the leading men of the different cities, 19 who were disposed to relinquish the plan of a general war, and go off each to defend his own country. Themistocles, fearing that, the strength of his countrymen would be too much weakened by such desertion of their allies, sent intimation to Xerxes by a trusty slave, that "he might now easily make himself master of all Greece, when it was collected in one place; 20 but that if the several states which were inclined to go away should once be dispersed, he would have to pursue each of them singly with far greater trouble." 21 By this stratagem he induced the king to give the signal for battle. The Greeks, at the same time, taken by surprise by the enemy's attack, proceeded to oppose them with their united force. 22 The king, meantime, remained on shore as a spectator of the combat, with part of the ships near him; 23 while Artemisia, queen of Halicarnassus, who had come to the assistance of Xerxes, was fighting with the greatest gallantry among the foremost leaders; 24 so that you might have seen womanish fear in a man, and manly boldness in a woman. 25 While the result of the battle was still doubtful, the Ionians, according to the admonition of Themistocles, began gradually to withdraw from the contest; and their desertion broke the courage of the rest. 26 The Persians, as they were considering in which direction they might flee, suffered a repulse, and were soon after utterly defeated, and put to flight. 27 In the confusion, many ships were taken, and many sunk; but the greater number, fearing the king's cruelty not less than the enemy, went off to their respective homes.

[2.13]   L  While Xerxes was confounded at his disaster, and doubtful what course to pursue, Mardonius addressed him, 2 advising him "to return home to his kingdom, lest fame, carrying the news of his defeat, and exaggerating everything according to her custom, should occasion any sedition in his absence; 3 and to leave with him three hundred thousand men-at-arms, chosen from the whole army, with which force he would either subdue Greece to the king's glory, or, if the result should prove unfavourable, would retire before the enemy without dishonour to him." 4 Mardonius's suggestion being approved, the force which he requested was given him, and the king prepared to return home with the rest of the army. 5 The Greeks, hearing of his flight, formed a design to break down the bridge, which, as conqueror of the sea, he had made at Abydus; so that, his retreat being cut off, he might either be destroyed with his army, or might be forced, by the desperate state of his affairs, to sue for peace. 6 But Themistocles, fearing that the enemy, if they were stopped, might take courage from despair, and open by their swords a passage not to be opened by other means, and observing that "there were enemies enough left in Greece, and that the number ought not to be increased by preventing their escape," 7 but finding that he was unable to move his countrymen by his admonitions, despatched the same slave as before to Xerxes, acquainting him of the intention of the Greeks to break down the bridge, and urging him to secure a passage by a speedy flight. 8 Xerxes, alarmed at the message, left his army to be conducted by his generals, and hurried away himself, with a few attendants, to Abydus; 9 where, having found the bridge broken down by the winter storms, he crossed in the utmost trepidation in a fishing-boat. 10 It was a sight worth contemplation for judging of the condition of man, so wonderful for its vicissitudes, to see him shrinking down in a little boat, whom shortly before the whole ocean could scarcely contain; to behold him wanting servants to attend him, whose armies had burdened the earth with their numbers! 11 Nor had the land-forces, which he had committed to his generals, a more fortunate retreat; for to their daily fatigue (and there is no rest to men in fear) was added the want of provisions. 12 A famine of several days produced also a pestilential disease; and so fatal was the infection, that the roads were filled with dead bodies; and birds and beasts of prey, allured by the attraction of food, followed close upon the army.

[2.14]   L  In Greece, in the meantime, Mardonius took Olynthus by storm. 2 He also invited the Athenians to listen to offers of peace, and of the king's friendship; promising to rebuild their city, which had been burnt, in greater splendour than before. 3 But when he saw that they would not sell their liberty at any rate, he set fire to what they had begun to rebuild, and led off his army into Boeotia. 4 Thither the army of the Greeks, which consisted of a hundred thousand men, followed him, and there a battle was fought. 5 But the fortune of the king was not changed with the general; for Mardonius, being defeated, escaped, as it were from a shipwreck, with but a small number of followers. 6 His camp, which was filled with the king's treasures, was taken; and hence it was, on the division of the Persian gold among them, that the charms of wealth first attracted the Greeks. 7 By chance, on the same day on which the army of Mardonius was defeated, an engagement was fought by sea near the mountain Mycale, on the coast of Asia. 8 Before the encounter began, and whilst the fleets stood opposite one another, a rumour spread through both parties, chat the Greeks had gained a victory, and that the army of Mardonius was utterly destroyed. 9 It is said that so great was the speed of this report, that when the battle was fought in Boeotia in the morning, the news of the victory arrived in Asia by noon, passing over so much sea, and so large a space of ground, in so very short a time. 10 When the war was over, and they proceeded to consider the respective merits of the cities that had been engaged in it, the bravery of the Athenians was praised above that of any other people. 11 Among the leaders too, Themistocles, being pronounced the most meritorious by the judgment of the several states, added greatly to the glory of his country.

[2.15]   L  The Athenians, then, being enriched by the spoils of war, as well as in glory, applied themselves to rebuild their city. 2 Having enlarged the compass of their walls, they became an object of suspicion to the Lacedaemonians, naturally reflecting how great power a city, when fortified, might secure to a people for whom it had done so much when in a state of ruin. 3 They therefore sent ambassadors to admonish them that "they should not build what might prove a stronghold for the enemy, and a place of shelter for them in a future war." 4 Themistocles seeing that envy was entertained towards the rising hopes of his city, but not thinking it prudent to deal abruptly with the Spartans, made answer to the ambassadors, that "deputies should be sent to Lacedaemon to confer with them about the matter." 5 After thus dismissing the messengers, he exhorted his countrymen "to expedite the work." 6 Allowing some time to elapse, he set out, with some others, as an embassy to Sparta; but sometimes pretending ill health on the road, sometimes complaining of the tardiness of his colleagues, without whom nothing could be properly done, and thus putting off from day to day, he endeavoured to gain time for his countrymen to finish the erection of their walls. 7 In the meanwhile word was brought to the Spartans that the work was advancing at Athens with great speed; and they accordingly sent ambassadors a second time to ascertain the truth. 8 Themistocles then sent a letter by the hand of a slave, to the magistrates of the Athenians, desiring them "to take the ambassadors into custody, and keep them as hostages, lest any violent measures should be adopted against himself at Sparta." 9 He then went to the public assembly of the Lacedaemonians, and told them that "Athens was now well fortified, and could sustain a war, if any should be made upon it, not only with arms, but with walls; 10 and that their ambassadors were detained by way of hostages at Athens, in case they should on that account resolve on anything injurious towards himself." 11 He then upbraided them severely "for seeking to increase their power, not by their own valour, but by weakening their allies." 12 Being then permitted to depart, he was received by his countrymen as if he had triumphed over Sparta.

13 After this occurrence, the Spartans, that they might not impair their strength in idleness, and that they might take vengeance for the war which had been twice made upon Greece by the Persians, proceeded to lay waste the Persian territories. 14 They chose Pausanias to be general of their army, and that of their allies, who, coveting, instead of the mere office of general, the entire sovereignty of Greece, treated with Xerxes for a marriage with his daughter, as a reward for betraying his country, restoring him, at the same time, his prisoners, that the good feeling of the king might be secured by such an obligation. 15 He wrote also to Xerxes, "to put to death whatever messengers he sent to him, lest the negotiation should be betrayed by their babbling." 16 But Aristeides, the general of the Athenians, and his associate in the command, by traversing the attempts of his colleague, and taking prudent precautions on the occasion, defeated his treasonable designs. Not long after, Pausanias was brought to trial and condemned. 17 Xerxes, when he found that this perfidious scheme was discovered, made fresh preparations for war. 18 The Greeks nominated as their general Cimon the Athenian, the son of Miltiades, under whose command the battle of Marathon was fought; a young man whose future greatness his manifestations of affection towards his father foretold. 19 For he redeemed the body of his father (who had been thrown into prison on a charge of embezzling the public money, and had died there), taking his fetters on himself, that it might receive the rites of burial. 20 Nor did he, in his conduct of the war, disappoint the opinion of those who chose him; for, not falling in merit below his father, he forced Xerxes, defeated both by land and sea, to retreat in trepidation to his own dominions.

Following books (3-6) →

Attalus' home page   |   15.12.16   |   Any comments?