Herodotus – The Histories, Book 5, “Terpischore” [97-126] – Ionian Greeks Capture Sardis

  1. The Athenians were already on the wrong side of the Persians when Aristagoras showed up, freshly dismiss from Sparta. Athens was the 2nd most powerful city. He told them of the good things in Asia & how silly the Persian way of fighting was. He also reminded them that Miletus was once an Athenian colony – Athenians ought to come to its help. He was going to say anything true or not to win them over. It seemed easier to fool many people – thousands of Athenians – than just one man – Cleomenes of Sparta. They voted him 20 ships under the command of Melanthius.
  2. Aristagoras went to Miletus & formed a plan. He mostly wanted to stick it to Darius then to free the Ionians. He sent a messenger to Phrygia, to a city of captives of Megabazus. He said: “Aristagoras tells you that you may escape. Ionia has revolted from the king. Just find a way to the coast & you’ll be free.” The Paonians were excited by this & went to the coast with their families. Only a few stayed behind. Those who left went over to Chios. When they were leaving, a troop of horsemen tried to stop them without success. They tried to ask them to come back. The travelers refused & said to Lesbos, then on to Doriscus & walked back to Paeonia.
  3. The Athenians sent 20 ships & Eritrians sent 5, to repay a debt to Miletus for their part in the war with the Chalcideans. Aristagoras assembled his allies to attack Sardis under the leadership of his brother, Charopinus, & a citizen, Hermophantus.
  4. The Ionians sailed to Ephesus. They left their ships at Coressus & marched into the country with their army along the Caÿster River & took Sardis without opposition, except the citadel, where Artaphernes holed himself up.
  5. They took the city but didn’t get to plunder it. Sardis’s houses were made of reeds & they burned up as soon as a single flame touched them. This caused such a panic with the city’s residents, that the Ionians got sacred & went back to theirships.
  6. Sardis was burned. The Persians arrived & followed the Ionians to Ephesus & defeated them, killing the Eretrian commander.
  7. The Athenians refused to help them any more. But the Ionians decided to continue fighting. They went up to the Hellespont & brought Byzantium into the fold, as well as the Carians & Caunus, especially after seeing that Sardis was burnt.
  8. Cyprus, except Amathus joined the cause. They revolted from the Medes like this… A man named Onesilus, brother to the king, Gorgus of Salamis. He had tried to convince him to revolt from Darius without luck. But now that the Ionians were in revolt, & his brother still wouldn’t turn on Darius, he took over the city & locked Gorgus out while he was out of the city on a walk. Gorgus went over to the Medes. Now that Onesilus was in charge, he encouraged all of Cyprus to revolt. Every city except Amathus did so, & he laid siege to it.
  9. Darius learned of this & Sardis, as well as the fact that Aristagoras was the one who caused all the trouble. Darius understood about Ion but he was unfamiliar with the existence of Athens. He made a servant remind him 3 times a day about Athens.
  10. He called in Histiaeus & told him what had happened. He grilled him, asking him if he had had a role or any prior notice about it. Histiaeus lied & said he knew nothing about it. He wanted to go there to settle things because they would listen to him.
  11. All of this was a trick. Darius allowed him to go as long as he came back to Susa.
  12. News came in that Onesilus was besieging Amathus. Persian commander, Artybius went over to stop it. Onesilus asked the Ionians for help. The Ionians came to help just as the Persian army was being transported to Cyprus by the Phoenicians.
  13. Cyprus rulers addressed the Ionians: It’s up to you if you fight the Persians on land or the Phoenicians at sea. You can choose which one suits you best. The Ionians chose to stay on the sea.
  14. Persians crossed the plain in front of Salamis. The armies lined up for battle.
  15. Onesilus warned his servant that Artybius’s horse would rear up to attack men on the ground. The squire said he’d take care of the horse if Onesilus took out the general.
  16. There was a battle on land & sea. The Ionians defeated the Phoenicians. Onesilus & his squire took care of Artybius & his horse.
  17. During the battle, Stesanor of Curium defected to the Persians, then the Salamian war chariots did the same. This tipped the balance in favor of the Persians. Onesilus died as did many Cyprians.
  18. Because of Onesilus’s siege on Amathus, the Amathusians cut off his head, posted it above the city walls until it hollowed out & turned into a beehive. The Oracle told them to bury it & celebrate Onesilus as a hero.
  19. When the Ionians learned the Salamians had lost, they went home. Persians besieged Cyprian towns. Soli lasted the longest – 5 months.
  20. After only a year of freedom, Cyprus was enslaved by Persia. Daurises, Darius’s son in law, attacked each city in Ionian one by one, sacking them all.
  21. Daurises attacked around the Hellespont. Learning the Carians were in league with the Ionians, he marched for them.
  22. The Carians heard that Daurises was coming for them & prepared for a battle with them. They would try to pin the Persians against the Maeander River.
  23. The Persians arrive & defeated the Carians. The Carians lost at least 10000 men while the Persians lost only 2000. Carians began to doubt the war cause.
  24. The Milesians & others came to help. This renewed the Carian cause. They fought the Persians again. They lost. Most of the casualties were Milesians.
  25. Carians knew the Persians were about to attack their cities. They laid an ambush in the middle of the night on the Persians, wiping out the entire Persian force.
  26. Hymeas, Persian commander, moved towards the Propontis & took the city, Cius. He heard that other Persian forces were moving into Caria, & he marched down to meet up with them. They did damage in the Troad but he himself died of disease.
  27. Now Artaphernes & Otanes were ordered to carry out a war with Ionian & Aeolia. They were able to revolve Clazyomenae & Cymé.
  28. As cities began to fall, Aristagoras looked for a way out. He thought fighting Darius was a lost cause. He thought about going to Sardinia or Edonia.
  29. Then it was suggest that he go to Leros. He might be able to go back to Miletus later from there.
  30. He decided to go to Myrcinus in Edonia. He put Pythagoras a the head of Miletus & sailed off to Thrace. He attacked the Thracians but died in the middle of a siege of a city there.

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