Herodotus – The Histories, Book 5, “Terpischore” [29-55] – Ionian Revolt & Affairs in Greece

  1. The main Parians went to Miletus. When they saw how bad the Milesian land was but saw how well some farms ran, they wrote down the farmers’ names. When they returned to the city of Miletus & told officials what they saw. They said the rest of the people ought to follow the lead of these men.
  2. Miletus & Naxos at the base of problems of Ionia. Rich men were banished from Naxos & ran off to Miletus. Aristagoras was still being kept in Susa by Darius but was still technically ruler of Miletus. The Naxians were friends of his father-in-law, Histiaeus. Aristagoras felt like if he could restore these men, he’d able to get control in Naxos. Aristagoras told Histiaeus to speak on his behalf – “I can’t give you men to retake Naxos, especially against their will. But I will try to get you help. Artaphernes, governor of the area & Darius’s brother, is my friend. All the Asian seacoast is controlled by him. He’s got a large army & fleet.” When the Naxians heard this, they allowed Aristogoras to try to set it up. They told him to promise gifts & that they’d pay for the soldiers, hoping they’d be able to repay once in power.
  3. Aristagoras went to Sardis & told Artaphernes that Naxos was a prime piece of real estate with gold, potential slaves & is not very well defended. It could, along with other Greek Islands, easily be brought under the King’s power. It would be a good stepping stone for an attack on Euboea. It would take an army & 100 ships. Artaphernes said 100 ships wouldn’t be enough. He suggested 200. But he would have to run it by the king.
  4. When Aristagoras heard that, he was pleased & went on to Miletus. Artaphernes sent a messenger to Susa with the plans to present to the King. He got approval. The fleet & army were being prepared. The commander was Megabates, Darius’s nephew. Megabates’s daughter would later be fiancée to Pausanias, Spartan King who had eyes for conquering all of Greece.
  5. Megabates sailed off to Miletus, took on board Aristagoras, & went on to Chios & on to Naxos. They spotted a Myndian ship that was unguarded. Megabates had the captain of the ship found & thrown through the portholes of the ship. The Captain, Scylax, happened to be Aristagoras’s friend & asked for him not to be treated in such a way. Megabates refused. Aristagoras himself freed Scylax. Once this happened, Aristagoras sent a message to Naxos that Persians were coming their way.
  6. The Naxians weren’t suspecting a thing but once they got the word, they brought everyone inside the walls & assumed a defensive posture. The Persians arrived, surprised that the Naxians were ready for them. They laid siege the place for 4 months. The food within the walls was just about to run out when the Persians quit, failing the mission.
  7. Aristagoras was unable to deliver Naxos. He was responsible for paying the soldiers. He was afraid of his failures & his dispute with Megabates, & that these would lead to his removal from rule of Miletus. He was thinking of raising a revolt against the Persians. Histiaeus was all for it but the only way to orchestrate it was to take a slave, shave his head & write instructions on it & let the hair grow out. When he got to Miletus, he had his head shaved, revealing the message to revolt. Histiaeus did this because he was upset about being kept in Susa.
  8. Aristagoras had many reasons to revolt. He was already discussing it with advisors when the slave with the instructions written on his head showed up. Aristagoras’s friends were all for it, expect Hecataeus who thought a war with Persia would be unwise. Maybe being powerful at sea would be better. That way, they might be able to use a powerful fleet to get money to fund an army. The others didn’t agree & wanted an immediate revolt. One of them was to go to Myus, take the fleet’s captains & seize the vessels in the habor.
  9. Iatragoras & others were sent. Aristagoras revolted openly against Darius. In order to get the people of Miletus to join him, he promised to establish a commonwealth instead of keeping the tyranny for himself. They drove out the tyrants & gave up all the men they had captured from the Naxian fleet to their home cities.
  10. When the Mytilenaeans got Coës in their power, they had him stoned to death. The Cymaeans allowed their tyrant to go free, as did most other cities. Tyranny was over in those cities & Aristagoras sailed off to Spart to get some help.
  11. In Sparta, Cleomenes was king. His father, Anaxandridas had married his own sister’s daughter but they had never had children. The Ephors – leaders – of Sparta told him it’d be disastrous if the family died out because he didn’t have any children. They tried to get him to divorce his wife & find another but he refused.
  12. The Ephors proposed that they’d allow him a 2nd wife in a separate house so that he could have children with her. This was all against normal Spartan customs.
  13. As soon as his 2nd wife had a son, Cleomenes, the 1st wife became pregnant. This cause more problems for the Ephors who doubted she was really pregnant. So they watched her give birth to Dorieus. Later she was Leonidas & Cleombrotus. The 2nd wife never had another child.
  14. Cleomenes was said to be borderline crazy while Dorieus was the smartest of all boys of his age. Dorieus expected to succeed his father based on merit. When Anaxandridas died, Cleomenes was chosen by the Spartans to be king. Dorieus asked for a body of men to found a colony. He hadn’t asked the Oracle about what to do. He just wanted to leave Sparta. He sailed off to Libya under Theraean guidance to Cinyps. After 3 years, he was run out by Macians, Libyans & Carthaginians.
  15. Dorieus returned where he got some advice to found a colony in Sicily & call it Heraclea since Heracles himself had conquered the area. He consulted the Oracle who agreed. Dorieus went back to Libya to pick up his men & went to Sicily.
  16. Sybarites, in Italy, were about to go to war with Crotôna & the Crotoniats asked Dorieus for help. He agreed & they took Sybaris. Crotoniats say no such thing happened. No foreigner, except Callias the Elian helped them.
  17. The Sybarites say that Dorieus dedicated a temple to Minerva after taking their city. They said he died because that he didn’t completely obey the Oracle because he would’ve taken Eryx too. The Crotoniats point to the fact that no signs of Dorieus exist in Sybaris. If it were true he helped, they’d have rewarded him.
  18. Some Spartans went with Dorieus & brought troops with them, many of whom also died with him. Only Euryleon survived. He took what was left his forces to become rule of Minôa by defeating the tyrant, Peithagoras, who tried seeking refuge in the temple but was ultimately killed.
  19. Philip of Crotôna, who’d been banished from home, also died. He’d been engaged to the daughter of Têlys the Sybarite. He went to Cyrêné & met Dorieus & joined him. He was known as the handsomest Greek. He even had a hero temple over his grave & is still worshipped with sacrifices.
  20. So that’s how Dorieus died. If he’d stayed in Sparta, he would have outlived Cleomenes, who died very young, leaving behind only a daughter named Gorgo.
  21. Cleomenes was still king when Aristagoras showed up looking for helped. Aristagoras showed the Spartans a bronze table with the map of the earth engraved on it. He explained his situation & the problems of Ionian with the Persians. He wanted the best warriors to help him. The Spartans would have many spoils of war. He even encouraged future settlements in Lydia. He pointed out that Phrygia, Cappadocia, Syria, Cilicia, Armenia Matiene & Cissa were also nice. With all the wars Sparta had been fighting with its neighbors, it could help itself to the Persian Empire. Clemomenes for 3 days to think it over.
  22. After 3 days, Aristagoras returned to speak with Cleomenes, who asked him how long it took to go from the Ionian Sea to the King’s palace in Susa. Aristagoras wasn’t ready to talk about specifics. He accidentally told the truth & said that it’d take about 3 months to get there. Cleomenes told him to get lost.
  23. Aristagoras took an olive branch & went to the King’s house as a suppliant so he couldn’t be turned away. The King’s daughter, Gorgo, who was about 8 or 9, was there at the meeting. Aristagoras asked for her to be sent away while they spoke. Cleomenes refused. Aristagoras promised him 10 talents if the King granted the request. He went from 10 up to 50 talents. Gorgo told her father to leave the man because he was trying to corrupt him. Aristagoras left Sparta empty-handed.
  24. The road Aristagoras spoke of to Cleomenes going from Sardis to Susa passed through Lydia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Armenia, Matiene & Cissia to Susa. It passed through 111 military installations on the way.
  25. The distance was 13500 furlongs (1687.5 miles), taking 90 days (18.75 miles a day).
  26. When Aristagoras told Cleomenes it was 90 days he was telling the truth. But in fact, his estimation was a little off for distance because the Spartans would have to go all the way to Sardis, making the journey even longer – adding a few extra days.
  27. After Aristagoras left Sparta, he went to Athens, who had just got rid of its tyrants. We’ll have to talk about the death of Hipparchus, who’d learned of his own fate in a dream that he’d be killed by Harmodius & Aristogeiton. The Oppression of Athens continued for 4 years with nothing gained for it.

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