Herodotus – The Histories, Book 9, “Calliopé” [114-122] – Foundation of the Athenian Empire

  1. The Greeks had left Mycale for the Hellespont but winds forced them to Lectum & then on to Hellespont. When they arrived, they found the bridge had already been destroyed. The Spartans wanted to go home but the Athenians wanted to attack the Chersonese. They split up & the Athenians besieged Sesto & the Spartans went home.
  2. Sestos had the strongest fortress in the area. It seemed people from nearby cities moved there. A Persian, Oeobazus, who’d laid the bridge cables lived there. The town was well-guarded & had many Persians & their allies.
  3. The area was under Persian rule of satrap Artayctes – a nasty man who’d raided many tombs in the area to accumulate a lot of wealth. He’d convinced Xerxes to wreak havoc against the people he claimed attacked Persian territory. He took holy lands & turned them into farming lands & desecrated shrines.
  4. It was late autumn during the siege. The Athenians tried to convince their captains to go home as there was no progress. They refused until the city fell or the Athenian government recalled them.
  5. The people in the city were in a bad way. They were forced to eat parts of their beds to survive. The Persians who controlled the city ran off. The locals made signs to the Greeks that no one was in charge & it was a free city to grab. Some Greeks took the city. Some chased after the satrap & his men.
  6. Oeobazus went to Thrace where he was sacrificed to a local god. Artayctes was caught & brought back to Sestos in chains.
  7. One of Greeks was cooking a fish when it sprang back to life & flopped around. Artayactes saw this & said it was a sign from the gods. He had taken 100 talents from the Temple & he was willing to put 200 talents back into the Temple if they let him go. No one was convinced & decided to put him to death near where the bridge were. They nailed him to a board & stoned him to death.
  8. The Athenians went home with the treasures & bridge cable they dedicated in their temples.
  9. It was the grandfather of Artayctes who had told Cyrus once they had defeated Astyages & made the Persians supreme that they should go to a better land, especially now that they ruled all of Asia. Cyrus told him that soft countries give birth to soft men. No wealthy & fruitful country produced warlike men. This whole book is evidence that the Greeks showed the Persians this fact.

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