Herodotus – The Histories, Book 4, “Melpomene” [145-205] – Greeks in Cyrene become Subjects of the Persian Empire
145. Around this time, an expedition was about to be led into Libya on a long distant pretext. The descendants of the Argonauts were driven from Lemnos by the Pelasgi & had taken Athenian women to Lacedaemonian. The Spartans asked what they were up to & they answered they were sons of the Argonauts. They’d been run out of their homes. The Spartans allowed them to settle nearby & even intermarried with them.
146. Before long, these settlers demanded a share of the Spartan throne, making the Spartans imprison them & put a sentence of death on them. This had to be done at night. But the prisoners wives visited them & traded clothes with them. The prisoners walked out dressed as their wives.
147. At this time, Theras, a Cadmeian, was about to lead a colony out of Sparta. When his nephews claimed his estate, they claimed the government. Theras & his family set up on an island called Thera, originaly settled by Callisté, a Phoenician.
148. Theras had men from various tribes to drive out the original inhabitants. Theras heard about the descendants breaking out of jail && sailed to pick them up & bring them to build the colony. Some didn’t join & set up colonies that were later destroyed by Elis.
149. Thera was named after the founder. His son, also names Thera, refused to come with him, calling his a sheep among wolves. He renamed his son, Oeolycus, who was to be father of Aegeus. Later Aegeus’s people were ordered by the Oracle to drive out Oedipus & Laïus’s furies & stop the plagues.
150. A descendant of Thera, Grinus, went to Delphi & offered a hecatomb & asked what he should do. She said to establish a colony in Libya. He was too old, so he sent Battus, who had no idea where Libya was.
151. 7 years had passed & no rain fell in Thera. The trees died out. Theraeans sent someone to the Oracle & was told it was because they hadn’t colonized Libya. They sent people to Crete to ask about Libya & only on man could tell them about it, Corôbius, who’d accidentally sailed to an island, Platea. They decided to scout the place out.
152. They left him there & his supplies were running low. But a Samian, Colaeus found him there on his way to Egypt. They gave him a year of supplies. They wanted to go to Egypt but a storm sent them to Gibraltar. They found tons of wealth there that they brought back to Samos.
153. The Theraeans after leaving Corôbius in Platea, went back to get men from all 7 districts to colonize Platea.
154. The Cyrenaeans say a king Etearchus ruled Axus & had a daughter, Phronima. Etearchus’s wife died his new wife treated her like shit. Themison, a Theraean, told him he’d swear he’d do anything for him. So, Etearchus told him to throw Phronima into the sea. He knew it was wrong, so he tied a rope around here, dropped her into the sea & pulled her out. They sailed her off to Thera.
155. A gentleman there, Polymnêstus took her as a concubine. They had a son, Battus, with a lisp & a stammer. The Oracle may have given him that name when she addressed him in her own native language where “Battus” means “King”. She told him to colonize Libya. He thought it was impossible so he went to Thera.
156. The Theraeans weren’t doing well & asked the Oracle why not. She said they had to establish a colony that was equal to Cyrêné.
157. Things weren’t going well & they asked her again. They actually had to have a colony physically in Libya, not on an island off the coast of Libya. They landed in a place called Aziris.
158. They stayed 6 years until the Libyans asked them to move to a place called Irasa near a spring they called “Apollo’s fountain”. It was a better place with rain & plenty of groundwater.
159. Battus ruled for 40 years. His son, Arcesilaüs ruled for 16 years. During the rule of another Battus, Greeks started pouring into the place. Cyrenaeans gave newcomers land. Libyans found themselves being pushed around, so their king, Adicran, enlisted the Egyptians to help them. The Egyptian king, Apries sent an army out to Thesté for their first battle ever with Greeks. They were beaten so badly that Egyptians revolted from Apries.
160. Battus’s son, Arcesilaüs, became king but had a falling out with his brothers, who left & founded a city, Barca. They also encouraged Libyans to revolt from Cyrêné. Arcesilaüs marched against his brothers, who ran off to Leucon. Libyans, however, succeeded in their revolt. 7000 Cyrenaeans died, as did Arcesilaüs – poisoned by his brother. His widow, Eryxo, avenged him.
161. Arcesilaüs’s son, another Battus, became king. He was lame & walked with a limp. Cyrenaeans sent out a messenger to Delphi to ask what king of government they ought to set up. She said to get an arbitrator from Arcadia. The Arcadians sent a man named Demônax. He got to know the place & formed the city into 3 tribes – Theraeans, Spartans/Cretans & a miscellaneous tribe. Battus was stripped of his privileges & they were given to the people.
162. Battus’s son, Arcesilaüs (yet another one), tried to reclaim his father’s confiscated powers. He was denied & he went off to Salamis in Cyprus, ruled by Evelthon at the time. His mother, Pheretima, asked Evelthon for an army to regain Cyrêné. Evelthon just gave her presents & told her that he only gave armies to men.
163. Arcesilaü rounded up troops in Samos by offering lands if they won. He consulted with the Oracle in Delphi who said they’d rule for 8 generations – no more – but only if he was a gentle rulers. She also said if he found an oven full of jars, he wasn’t to bake them. If he heated the oven, he was to avoid the island or else he’d die along with the most powerful bull.
164. Arcesilaüs went back to Cyrêné with troops & got control. He drove his opponents into banishment. Some ran off forever, some were sent to Cyprus to die but they ended up landing in Cnidus. The Cnidians sent the prisoners to Thera. Some exiles were found in the Tower of Anglômachus & he had them burnt to death. The Oracle said not to do this – this was the oven she spoke of. He was married to a daughter of the King of Barca, & he moved there. Cyrenaean exiles in Barca recognized him & killed him. That’s what you get for disobeying the Oracle.
165. His mother, Pheretima, lived in Barca & still had her privileges in Cyrêné, managing the government. She heard of her son’s death & ran off to Egypt. Arcesilaüs had done favors for Cambyses in helping the Persians subdue Egypt. She asked Aryandes, the governor of Egypt, to help in her revenge.
166. Aryandes was later punished with death by Darius for helping a rival of his & for minting his own coins.
167. Aryandes felt compassion for Pheretima & gave her forces. A scout went to Barca to ask who had killed Arcesilaüs. The answer was resounding – all the people did it. It’s believed Aryanded only gave her troops to subjugate the Libyans for the Persians.
168. Libyans, starting near Egypt begin with the Adrymachidae, who have similar customs to the Egyptians but with Libyan dress. Women wear bronze rings on their legs. When they catch critters on their bodies, they bite them in half & throw them away. Women about to be brides can be taken by the king.
169. The Gilligammae live near Platea & Cyrêné. Silphium (a medicinal plant) grows there. The Gilligammae customs are typical of other Libyans.
170. The Absytae are to the west, living about Cyrêné but not quite on the coast. They often use 4 horse chariots & imitate the Cyrenaeans.
171. West of them are the Auschisae above Barca reaching to the sea at Euesperides. In the middle of their territory is the Cabalian tribe. They are like the Libyans above Cyrêné.
172. The Nasamonians live to the west. In the summer, they leave their flocks by the sea & go up to a place called Augila to get dates & locusts. The locusts are ground up into a powder & put into milk. Each man has several wives. They resemble the Massagetae. To swear oaths, they lay a hand on the tomb of a great & just man. For divination, they go to their ancestors’ graves & sleep. Pledging faith to each other, they drink out of each other’s hand.
173. The Psylli were swept away. The Southwest wind blew for so long that it dried up their water tanks. The region of Sytris had no springs at all. So, the Psyilli declared war on the win. When they got into the desert, the wind rose up & buried them. The Nasamonians took over their lands.
174. The Garamantians avoid contact with anyone. They have no weapons & don’t know how to defend themselves.
175. West from them are the Macae. They let the hair on top of their heads long & cut it short everywhere else (progenitors of the mullet). They use ostrich skins for shields. The River Cinyps comes from “the Hill of Graces” into their lands. The hill is covered with trees but the rest of the area is bare.
176. The Gidanes women wear leather anklets. Every lover she has had gives her one. The woman with the most anklets has the highest status because she is loved by the most men.
177. The Lotophagi live beyond them & eat only fruit from the Lotus tree, which looks like dates. They can even make wine from it.
178. The Machlyans also eat lotus but not as much as the Lotusphagi. They live as far as the River Triton, which empties into the Lake Tritônis, which has an island, Phla, that the Spartans colonized.
179. When Jason built the Argo at Mount Pelion, he put a hecatomb on board, as well as a brass tripod. They sailed past Sparta & got as far as Malea, when a wind took them to Libya. They went as far as Lake Tritônis. Trying to find their way out, Triton appeared to them. They offered the chair in exchange for showing them the route out of there. Triton brought to his temple & predicted when a descendant of the Argonauts reclaimed the Tripod, Greeks would build 100 cities by the lake. Libyans heard this prediction & hid the chair.
180. Beyond them are the Auseans. They are also by Lake Tritônis. Machlyans let their hair grow long only at the back of their heads while the Auseans only let it grow on the front. The Ausean maidens have an annual feast in honor of Minerva. They divide into 2 groups & fight with sticks & stones. If any die of their wounds, it was because they were false “maidens”. The prettiest of the maidens is given a Corinthian helmet & Greek armor. Then she’s paraded around in a chariot. The Auseans believe Minerva was Neptune’s daughter & when they had a falling out, she was adopted by Jupiter. These people don’t have families. They live together like wild animals.
181. Those were the coastal tribes. Inland tribes follow a wild-beast tract from Egyptian Thebes all the way to Gibraltar. Every 10 days of travel is a hill with a spring. The Ammonians live far from Thebes & have a temple to Jupiter. These springs are cool in the day time & not at night – called the “Fountain of the Sun”.
182. 10 days from the Ammonians is another salt spring. The Augila live here. The Nasamonians come here to pick dates.
183. 10 days from the Augila is another spring with palm trees lived in by the Garamantians, who cover salt with mold & sow their crops. It’s 30 days to the Lotusphagi from here. Here the oxen walk backwards because their horns would get stuck in the ground if they walked forwards. The Garantians use 4 horse chariots to chase Troglodyte Ethiopians. They eat lizards, snakes & other reptiles. Their language sounds like screeching bats.
184. 10 days away is another salt hill & spring where the Atarantians live. The people in this tribe have no names of their own. They often curse at the sun for being so hot. 10 days from them is Mt. Atlas, known as the Pillars of Heaven by the locals named Atlantes. They don’t eat living things or have any dreams.
185. This ridge continues to the Pillars of Hercules. Along the ridge, it never rains. The salt is either white or purple. South of the ridge is a desert with no water, animals, rain, trees or moisture.
186. These wandering tribes of Libya drink milk & eat their livestock. But they never eat beef. They believe that it is in honor of Isis, an Egyptian goddess in the form of a cow. Barcaeans also don’t eat pork.
187. West of Lake Tritônis, the people aren’t nomadic. Wandering Libyans burn the veins on the tops of children’s heads or at the temples to prevent diseases later in life. If the burns are too bad, they sprinkle goat piss on the child to soothe the wounds.
188. Libyans follow sacrificing rites. They cut off the victim’s ear & throw it over their house. Then they snap its neck. This is a sacrifice to the Sun & Moon. Those near Tritônis also worship Triton, Neptune & Minerva.
189. Minerva’s dress & aegis come from Libyan women, except for the leather, the fringes & the snake decorations, they are dressed the same. The women wear hairless goat skins, colored with vermillion. “Aegis” means “goat harness”. The Libyan women cry sweetly during rites. Greeks got the 4 horse chariot from Libyans.
190. The Libyans bury their dead like the Greeks, except the Nasamonians, who bury them sitting up.
191. West of the Triton River, there are Libyans who farm & live in houses, named Maxyans. Their hair is long on the right side of their heads & they shave themselves on the left side. They smear red paint on their bodies & are descended from Trojans. Further west is full of wild animals. The land is hilly with trees & animals – snakes, lions, elephants & horned asses (Rhinoceroses?). There are also wild men & women.
192. There are animals that don’t need to drink – Oryxes, foxes, hyenas, porcupines, wild sheep, jackals, panthers, land-crocodiles, ostriches & snakes. There are 3 types of mice – 2 footed mice, hill mice & urchins. Weasels are also in the area.
193. Near the Maxyans are the Zavecians whose wives drive the chariots to battle.
194. They’re near the Gyzantians who eat a lot of honey, paint themselves red & eat monkeys.
195. Of their coast is an island, Cyraunis, 200 furlongs long. They have vines & olives. The island even has a lake where maidens collect gold dust by dredging the pitch with feathers. They take the pitch & put it into jars.
196. The Carthaginians saw there’s a country beyond Gibraltar where they go to drop off their wares on a beach & the locals leave out how much money they are willing to pay next to them & send a smoke signal. If the Carthaginians are happy with the amount they take it & leave. Their dealings with these people have always been fair if really strange.
197. Of Libya, there are 4 nations. 2 are indigenous – Libya & Ethiopia. 2 aren’t – Phoenicians & Greeks.
198. Libya’s soil is nowhere near as good as that in Asia & Europe, except Cinyps which is excellent for cereal crops. The soil is actually black. The soil is also good in the land of the Euesperites.
199. The land near Cyrêné has 3 seasons. In the first, the crops ripen on the coast & are ready to harvest. In the second, once the coastal area’s harvest is done, the middle tract’s crops are ripe & ready for harvest. Once the 1st area’s harvest has been eaten up, the 3rd season kicks in to where the crops on the hill are ready to harvest. This is 8 months of the year.
200. When the Persian sent help to Pheretima & reached Barca, they laid siege to it & called for those who had killed Arcesilaüs. Since all of these people were participants, they refused. The Persians were there for 9 months. They dug tunnels & tried all kinds of assaults. The Carcaeans were able to stop the diggers & beat back the Persians.
201. After a while, there was a lot of death on both sides. Persian army leader, Amasis, came up with a plan. He dug trench & laid out light wooden planks over it & covered it with dirt to make it look normal. He called the Barcaeans to discuss things. Terms were agreed upon & Barcaeans swore as long as the ground beneath them was firm, the promise stood. The people of Barca paid a fee to Persia & they would be left alone. Barca opened its gates & allowed the Persians to come in. The Persians pulled up the planks & the oath was no longer valid.
202. The Barcaeans most guilty were given to Pheretima & crucified. She cut off their wives’ breasts & nailed them to the city walls. The rest of the people were given to Persia as slaves.
203. On their way home with their slaves, the Persians passed through Cyrêné, who let them pass through the city because the Oracle told them to. The Persian admiral wanted to take the city but the general, Amasis, told them they were told only to take the Greek city of Barca. Once out of the town, they regretted not taking Cyrêné & wanted to go back to take it. The Cyraean army was ready & the Persians ran off. The Persians apologied & asked for provisions. The Cyraeans gave them food. The Persians who were slow in marching to Egypt were killed by the Libyans.
204. The Persians got as far as Euesperides & carried the Barcaeans to Darius as slaves. They were put in a village in Bactria, which was later renamed “Barca”.
205. Pheretima went back to Egypt after exacting revenge on Barca. Later, she was eaten alive by worms.