Herodotus – The Histories, Book 6, “Erato” [43-93] – Affairs in Greece

  1. Next year Darius sent down his new son-in-law, Mardonius, with a large army to Cilicia. He took the army & marched to the Hellespont & the navy sailed there on its own. Mardonius destroyed Ionian tyrants & replaced them with democracies. He marched on through Europe vs. Eretria & Athens.
  2. The Ionian cities were the pretext for all of this. But the real goal was to try to take over as many Greek cities as possible. The obvious example was when the Thasians were attacked by land & sea, & then made slaves. The Macedonian tribes had already been destroyed. The fleet sailed on to Acanthus & tried to pass around Mt. Athos but a violent wind storm blew so hard that most of the ships [300] & many men [20000] were destroyed/killed. Many sailors & soldiers were eaten by sea monsters, drowned or froze.
  3. On land, Mardonius & co. were attacked at night by the Brygi, a Thracian tribe, but survived. While Mardonius was determined to say until the country was subdued, hearing about the sinking of his entire fleet made him go back to Asia in disgrace.
  4. The next year, Darius got information that the Thasias were planning to revolt. He sent a messenger to them & told them to dismantle their city walls & bring their ships to Abdera. The Thasians thought their wealth was so great that they’d start building ships & invest in a better wall. They got their money from their gold mines. The money was so good that citizens didn’t have to pay land taxes.
  5. These mines were originally discovered by the Phoenicians who had colonized the island. The Thasians eventually caved to Darius’s demand to dismantle their wall & take their fleet to Abdera.
  6. Darius wanted to see what the Greeks were made of – to see if they’d resist or submit to any of his actions or demands. He sent heralds around Greece to order them to submit to him. Some places were ordered to pay tribute to him & provide a number of ships.
  7. The cities prepared for anything coming out of Persia. Some cities like Eginetans, as well as some on the mainland, caved. When the Athenians heard about the Eginetans going over to the Persians, they believed that it was out of hatred for them. This gave the Athenians a decent pretext for war with them.
  8. Cleomenes went to Egina to take those responsible for the submission to Persia. He tried to arrest them but the public resisted the effort. A man named Crius claimed that Cleomenes had been bribed by Athens to do this. It was clear because both Spartan kings hadn’t come. As Cleomenes left empty-handed, Cleomenes & Crius exchanged nasty words.
  9. Demaratus brought charges against Cleomenes at Sparta. He also was king of Sparta, but of the lower house. The higher house had more honor than the lower.
  10. The Spartans say that Arisodemus brought the Spartans to their land. He barely lived to see his children born but soon died. The Spartans decided the elder of his 2 children would be their king. But they couldn’t tell which one was which. They asked the mother & she said that she couldn’t tell them apart. But in reality, she did knew but wanted both to become kings. The Spartans checked with the Oracle as to what to do about it. She said both should be kings but the elder should have higher honors. The Spartans couldn’t figure out which was elder. One of them decided to watch the mother to see if she preferred one over the other. If she behaved randomly, she was telling the truth. If she showed a preference to one, she knew them apart. The one who was given constant preference would be considered the elder, named Eurysthenes. He was taken to the palace. The younger boy, Procles, was kept separate. The 2 brothers grew up hating each other. The hatred between the upper & lower thrones continued with their kids & their kids’ kids.
  11. The Dorian kings going back to Perseus considered themselves Greeks. But Perseus was legendary & had no mortal father. Following the line of the Danaë goes back to Egyptian.
  12. Perseus was an Assyrian who became a Greek, so his ancestors were not Greek. The Greeks say fathers of Aerisius weren’t related to Perseus, but actually Egyptian.
  13. I won’t say how the Egyptians became Dorian kings…
  14. The Spartans allowed their kings prerogatives: priesthood of Jupiter, the right of making war, privilege of marching first in an attack & last in a retreat, having a bodyguard of 100, being allowed to sacrifice as many cattle as they like, get the skins & choice cuts of meat.
  15. In peace, kings are seated first at banquets, have double portions, take lead in libations & special rights for animals at public cost, free booze, best seats at public games, appointing the Oracles. They have special judging powers.
  16. When the kings die, they are given honors. News is spread around throughout the countryside. The women go around with a drum. When those in the house heard the drum, they put on mourning clothes. The people are forced to go to the funeral where they smack their foreheads & cry. A statue is made & carried to the grave.
  17. Like the Persians, the new king forgives the citizens’ debts to the city or king, & he also sends back tributes to the provinces.
  18. Like the Egyptians, Spartan men must follow their fathers in their professions.
  19. While Cleomenes was pushing for the good of Greece, the other king, Demaratus, was bringing charges against him. Mostly out of jealousy & hatred. Cleomenes was determined to kick Demaratus off his throne. Former king, Ariston, had been married to 2 wives, neither one had kids. He got a 3rd one. His friend had a good-looking wife who used to be ugly but was fixed by her nurse. She married Ariston’s friend, Agetus when she was old enough.
  20. Ariston fell in love with her. So, he approached his friend, Agetus, to talk about exchanging something they each liked of what the other had. Ariston gave Agetus what he’d asked for. Ariston asked for Agetus’s wife, who tried to refuse but eventually relented.
  21. After less than a full term of pregnancy, she had Demaratus, one of his servants came in to tell him while he was in council with the Ephors. He counted up the months she’d been pregnant & said aloud that there was no way the kid is his because it hadn’t been long enough. Ariston backed down from what he’d said & believed he was his son.
  22. Demaratus became king after Ariston died. But it would end up that Ariston’s words would haunt his son because Demaratus had been so annoying to Cleomenes.
  23. Cleomenes approached Demaratus’s relative, Leotychides, to make a deal to make him king at Demaratus’s expense, as long as he’d help him deal with the Eginetans. Leotychides had been spurned by his betrothed in favor of Demaratus & so he hated him. Leotychides was to make the accusation that Demaratus was not Ariston’s real son by bringing for the the witnesses who’d heard what Ariston’s words about the birth.
  24. There was a ton of controversy so the Spartans consulted the Oracle. Cleomenes sent a friend to convince the priestess to give the answer he wanted. The Oracle answered Demaratus was not Ariston’s son. The friend & the priestess were eventually found out. The friend was forced to leave & the priestess was fired.
  25. Once he was kicked off the throne, Demaratus was made a magistrate. Leotychides teased & mocked him for this fall. Demaratus made a sacrifice to Jupiter & called for his mother.
  26. He asked her who his father really was.
  27. She answered that when Ariston brought her home, someone appeared to her looking like Ariston, giving her garlands & left. When Ariston came in, he asked her who gave them to her. She said he did, which he denied. Ariston suspected the supernatural. The garlands came from the hero temple of Astrabacus, whose apparition came to her. Either Demaratus was his son or Ariston’s son. Those who hated Demaratus will bring up the story of Ariston’s words. But some babies are born at full term, some early, some really early. He was born really early. He ought not listen to the haters. Leotychides will get his in the end.
  28. Demaratus went to Elis, pretending that he’d go on to Delphi. Spartans suspected he’d leave & chased him. Demaratus sped off to Zacynthus & was followed by the Spartans. The Zacynthians refused to give him up. He made his way off to Asia & went all the was to Susa where Darius gave him land & cities. He was the only Spartan king ever to win at the Olympics, where he won the 4-horse chariot race.
  29. Leotychides became king & had a son who never reached the throne. But his grandson, Archidamus did become king.
  30. Leotychides didn’t rule in Sparta to his old age but ended up being punished for what he did to Demaratus in a roundabout way.He ordered Sparta to fight Thessaly & very well might have conquered it but was bribed not to & was caught in the act. He was put on trial & banished. His house was torn down & he ran off to Tegea.
  31. But when Cleomenes took Leotychides with him to attack Egina, the locals saw both kings were there & submitted. They took the 10 richest Eginetans, including Crius & Casambus, & took them back to Athens.
  32. Later, the Spartans found out what Cleomenes did to get rid of Demaratus & he ran off to Thessaly. Then he went to Arcadia, which renewed trouble between Sparta & Arcadia. Cleomenes made the Arcadians do all sorts of wild things.
  33. When the Spartans heard that Cleomenes was running things in Arcadia, they invited him to come back. As soon as he got back, it was clear that he’d gone crazy. His relatives imprisoned him. When he had just one guard, he asked for a knife. The guard refused but finally relented after many threats. When he got a hold of the knife, he disfigured himself so badly that he died from the loss of blood from the wounds. Greeks think this was because he’d bribed the Oracle. The Athenians & Argives say it was because he had cut down the sacred Argive grove & burnt a section of the town.
  34. Once when Cleomenes consulted with the Oracle, it said he should take Argos. So, he took the army out to the River Erasinus by Argos. He made a sacrifice to it but the River God refused to betray its countrymen. He took his men down to Thyrea, sacrificed a bull & was about to go into Tirynthian territory.
  35. The Argives marched down to defend their land. They camped nearby, remembering what the Oracle had said that they’d fall to an enemy. They decided to mirror the Spartans in all their actions.
  36. Cleomenes heard about the Argives’ actions & had the soldiers prepare to attack the Argives once they’d been called to dinner. Many Argies died & the rest hid out in the grove of Argus but were completely surrounded by Spartans.
  37. Cleomenes learned the names of soldiers holed up in the grove & had them summoned, claiming that a ransom had been paid for them. The ones who came out were killed. After a while, the Argives in the grove caught on to this.
  38. Cleomenes ordered brushwood to be laid out around the grove & set on fire. He asked a deserter which was the god of the grove & the answer was Argus. He felt deceived by Apollo to do this for him without knowing it.
  39. Cleomenes sent back most of his army, keeping the best 1000 troops & went to Juno’s temple for a sacrifice. The priest wouldn’t allow foreigners to sacrifice. Cleomenes had the man whipped & he carried on with the sacrifice. Then he went back to Sparta.
  40. His enemies brought him to the Ephors with charges of being bribed & not taking the city of Argos when it could easily have been taken. He responded that as soon as he knew the grove belong to Argos, the Oracle had been fulfilled & an attempt on the city would have been off until he made a sacrifice. He did as the sacrifices told him to. He was let go for this explanation.
  41. Argos had next to men left. Slaves had to run the state until the boys were old enough. The slaves wouldn’t give power back. A battle between the Argives & the slaves occurred in Tiryns, which the slaves won. But a soothsayer encourages them to renew the attack, & a war between the 2 sides lasted for years which the Argives eventually won.
  42. The Argives say Cleomenes died because of his evil doings. Spartans say he went crazy because he drank wine that was not watered down, a habit he picked up in his time in Scythia. I think it’s because of what he did to Demaratus.
  43. When Cleomenes died, the Eginetans sent a messenger to Sparta to complain how the Eginetan hostages were being treated poorly in their imprisonment in Athens, & how Leotychides offended the people of Egina. A Spartan noble asked Eginetan messengers: What are you going to do, kidnap our king? Keep talking like that & see what happens. They answered by saying maybe he should come with them to Athens to see their men back.
  44. Leotychides got to Athens & asked for the Eginetan men held there. The Athenians made excuses not to comply, saying 2 kings had come & left the men with them, & it wouldn’t be right to give them back to just one. Leotychides said: “You can give me the hostages & be just, or keep them & be unjust. But I’ll tell you a story – 3 generations ago, there was a highly respected Spartan named Glaucus. A Milesian came to Sparta wanting to speak with him for his honesty. He noticed that Sparta was always financially & militarily secure but Ionia was always in trouble. So, he asked to leave half of his money with Glaucus. Years went by & the man’s sons came showed up to get the money. Glaucus refused saying that he didn’t remember the whole story but asked the men for 4 months to find out about it. The sons went off thinking they’d never see the money again. He went to Delphi & the Oracle told him bad things happen to people who don’t keep their word. He sent for the sons & gave them back their money… The Athenians didn’t listen to the story & sent him away.
  45. The Eginetans had never been punished for the wrongs done to Athens. But now they felt like they were being wronged & prepared for revenge. They took an Athenian ship & imprisoned the crew.
  46. The Athenians prepared to do their worst against the Eginetans. They employed a disgruntled Eginetan, Nicodromus, to help them once they began their attack on the city.
  47. The Athenians weren’t able to come on the appointed date because they had to drum up extra help from Corinth, who sold them 20 ships for 5 drachmas a piece, & then they set sail.
  48. When Nicodromus saw the Athenians weren’t coming at the agreed upon time, he ran off. Those who followed him were settled by Athens at Sunium.
  49. When the rich Eginetans defeated the commoners who were on Nicodromus’s side, they led them to their death.But the rich were committing a sacrilege that they would never be able to atone for & were driven off of the island before they could appease the goddess. They had 700 captives. One got free & ran off to the temple of Ceres, & wouldn’t let go of the door handles. They cut his hands off & they were still left attacked to the door as they hauled him off.
  50. When the Athenians showed up, the Eginetans went out to meet their 70 ships & a battle took place. The Athenians won. They called in for help from old allies of Argos & Sicyon. The Argive government refused but many volunteers went under a captain, Eurybates.
  51. The Eginetans were able to capture 4 Athenian ships & their crews.

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