The young king inherited a solid empire, which was greater than any before in history. This page was created in 1995; last modified on 14 July 2020. The first bridge over the Hellespont was destroyed by a storm (7.34-35). However, Herodotus divides these among twelve nations, whereby he again shows the geographic dimensions of the Persian Empire. INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORIES, HERODOTUS ii. )—characterized as a conscious sin of subjugating the elements, when Xerxes ordered his men to whip the sea and have shackles sunk down in it after the storm had destroyed an initial bridge (7.34-35; Briquel and Desnier, 1983; Eckstein, 1981/83 [1989]). The intact Persian army also appeared to be shocked and no longer marched towards the Peloponnese. Yet, despite all talk of effeminate men, he also credited the Persians with being brave. These two, therefore, being the sons of different mothers, were now at variance. After Xerxes’ retreat, Mardonius prepared his offensive on land. Phocis and Delphi. 1,700,000 Persians confronted 4,120 Hoplites (7.202-207). Argives. The interpretation of these dream scenes is treated by scholars in various ways. The size of the entire force according to Herodotus consisted of 1,700,000 infantrymen, 80,000 horsemen, 1,207 animals, and 3,000 cargo ships. In front was the supply train; in the center were the Persians; and the rear consisted of the tribes of the empire. Nightfall finally separated the fighting men (8.11.3). The Egyptian fleet particularly distinguished itself (8.17). Xerxes praised the advice of Artemisia, yet he was inclined to fight the battle. Those earliest surviving records include a play by Aeschylus (525–456 BCE) called "The Persians" and Herodotus' "Histories." 338 f.). [7.44] When Xerxes had come to Abydus, he had a desire to see all the army;note[This is impossible. (CC BY-SA 2.0 )How Herodotus Depicts Xerxes . They killed the remaining defenders and burnt down the shrines (8.52-53). It was decided that not a single Greek was to be left alive, not even the bearers of the holy fire (pyrphóros, 8.6.2). West, 1985). He was born in Halicarnassus, in the Persian Empire and lived in the fifth century. He let the council decide and agreed with the majority, which voted for battle (8.69). The Persian King Xerxes thought he could smoothly invade the Greek mainland, devastating the Greeks because of his army’s prevailing numbers and dominance. The latter was not considered as an innocent victim of a higher fate, but as an arrogant and fickle man of power. Herodotus. While it was certainly large, of the order of a few hundred thousand, his later Greek sources must have exaggerated the numbers to make their own valor and victory seem all the more heroic. Wild escape. Herodotus on the whole offers a sparse report about the retreat with few dramatic scenes. They let themselves be surrounded, then broke through the Persians and captured 30 ships (8.9-11). In this context, Herodotus refers to his supposedly Argive sources (7.152.1). The Hellespont was crossed near Doriscus, where Herodotus placed the great military review (7.59-100). Herodotus’ believed that this had to be the case because the conclusion was reality. The defenders provide 380 warships, in addition to the fifty-oar boats; these are listed with precision in a fleet catalogue (8.43-48). Herodotus of Halicarnassus (c.480-c.429 BCE): Greek researcher, often called the world's first historian. Thus the claim to world domination was once more expressed (7.11.4). Even the holy chariot is stolen (8.115.4). Nevertheless the Greeks ventured a daring exploit and attacked their disconcerted enemies. Herodotus. Later an Argive delegation is said to have asked Artaxerxes whether the friendship they had established with Xerxes still held good (7.151). Herodotus here focuses on clothes and equipment; the information he gives significantly differs from the iconographic record of the Persepolis reliefs (Armayor, 1978c, pp. The Persians were thus more than twice as strong. The chief example is Dareios’s successor Xerxes, whom Herodotus portrays as a man pathologically unwilling to accept any limitation or opposition: at one point Xerxes orders the waters of the Hellespont to be whipped because they impede his progress; 14 at another, he promises to grant one of his petitioners a favor, but when the favor turns out to be releasing the petitioner’s favorite son from military service, … The Histories is “a timeless masterpiece,” says one modern writer.“In it dwells not only history but anthropology, geography, theology, philosophy, political science, and tragic drama.” In Herodotus's history of the Persian Wars, Xerxes' forces are a juggernaut, flattening everything in their path westward. Xerxes then gathers together the noble Persians and states his reasons and expectations for attacking Hellas, backed up by Mardonios. Women were repeatedly violated until they died (8.32-33; Walcot, 1978). Herodotus, incidentally, devotes a dozen lengthy paragraphs to Xerxes’ discussion with his nobles and generals describing the decision to carry out the campaign against Greece (7. The Persian retinue jumped overboard to give up their lives for their master. In early fights before Artemisium, 15 Persian ships were sunk by Sandoces of Cyme (7.194-95). The army. Before Herodotus related the ordeal of the retreat of the Persian army, he turned to Susa and described how the joy of victory about the seizure of Athens changed into lament and despair (8.99). ", He said: "Yea, for after I had reckoned up, it came into my mind to feel pity at the thought how brief was the whole life of man, seeing that of these multitudes not one will be alive when a hundred years have gone by. Amilcas’s forces also were presented in a catalogue enumerating the supporting peoples, and he too marched into a foreign country; yet Herodotus conspicuously avoided any reference to a Carthaginian presence in Sicily. Artabanus’s warnings that the army was too big and that luck was transitory were unheeded (7.46-52). The Persians mustered about 600 boats minus the losses (not precisely counted) near Artemisium, perhaps making about 500 ships; but Herodotus augments this number. The Carians also were encouraged to break away (8.22.1-2; cf. How Herodotus Depicts Xerxes . XERXES IN HERODOTUS' HISTORIES 199 who are yet to come" (7.9.1), takes over the idea of revenge from Xerxes and, in addition to that, brings into play exempla from the recent past. Herodotus now directs his attention towards Salamis. called Herodotus the Father of History.. Artabazos, who accompanied Xerxes to the Hellespont with 60,000 men, was preparing to subject Potidaea, which had meanwhile broken away (8.126). SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY. The higher powers merely drove things to a decision which were already decided (Bichler, 1985b, pp. Scholars know Xerxes primarily from Greek records pertaining to a failed attempt to add Greece to the Persian Empire. We know of one fixed point of the Great king’s itinerary through Thrace. (About the possible march routes in Hellas, cf. After Xerxes comes home we know of one major event in his life from the writings of Herodotus, the Greek historian, his affair with his daughter-in-law. According to Darbo-Peschanski (1987), Herodotus did not consider oracles as normative instances, but used them as a means to deepen historical insight. When the army set out for Sardis, there was a solar eclipse (7.37.3-3). It will constantly be beset by evil omens. The Greek capture of Sestus marks the end of the ongoing tale of the Hellespont in the Histories—that border, the crossing of which ended up in a huge debacle for the Persians; henceforth it would be the Greeks preparing to make the crossing. After Xerxes comes home we know of one major event in his life from the writings of Herodotus, the Greek historian, his affair with his daughter-in-law. According to Herodotus, the Persians were forced to the onslaught by whips, and some of them were trampled down alive by their own troops (7.233). Mosshammer, 1981; Wenskus, 1990.) Mardonius, what manner of men are these against whom you have brought us to fight—men who contend with one another, not for money, but for honor!' The Persian army was too large to be fed at Abydus.] The Phoenicians are not referred to in this context, but it was precisely they who were presented as slanderers in the following battle (8.90), whereupon the king had some of them decapitated (cf. Xerxes not only intended to join the tradition of the great conquerors Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius, but wanted immediately to march against the whole of Europe. Herodotus adopts Aeschylus’s figure of 1,207 boats (Persae 339 ff. Upon Darius’ death, Xerxes’ older half-brother, Artabazenes, claimed the throne but was rebuffed because his mother was a commoner while Xerxes’ mother was the daughter of the great Cyrus. They were discouraged because of the occupation of Athens (8.50; 56). Thus Herodotus described the events on a structural level, as he did at Thermopylae. Herodotus on Tyranny 389 There are four remaining passages (out of 860 )where Herodotus appar-ently uses basileus interchangeably with tyrannos. He thus called to mind the fatal outcome of those of Darius’s ventures which had gone beyond divine limits with heedless lust for territory (7.10a.2-c.2; cf. In book 7 (7.65,70,86,187) and in 8.113 Herodotus describes the Indian infantry and cavalry employed in Xerxes' army. called Herodotus the Father of History.. Demaratus expressly pointed out the power of the Greeks, whereupon Xerxes merely responded with a smile (7.105.1). This was also true of the following day, where an advance of the Cilician fleet was averted with the enemy suffering high losses (8.14.2). Od. Cape Artemisium. Artachaees, one of the outstanding Achaemenids, who had managed the work on the Athos canal, died shortly afterwards (7.117.1). After Thermopylae, the massive force, guided by the Thessalians, moved across Doris and into the land of the Phocians (8.31). ", Artabanus then made answer and said: "To another evil more pitiful than this we are made subject in the course of our life; for in the period of life, short as it is, no man, either of these here or of others, is made by nature so happy, that there will not come to him many times, and not once only, the desire to be dead rather than to live.". THE ECLIPSE OF XERXES IN HERODOTUS 7.37: LUX A NON OBSCURANDO* - Volume 64 Issue 2 - Eric Glover Please note, due to essential maintenance online purchasing will not be possible between 03:00 and 12:00 BST on Sunday 6th May. Van Ophuijsen and Stork, pp. ), a series of battles in which Greek city-states were defending their land and political power against the encroaching Persian empire.Because no Persian primary source accounts of the Persian Wars exist today, we have to rely on Greek sources. Thus stories about the king’s cruelty and arbitrariness embellish the scenery of the wild escape. 5 f.; Calmeyer, 1987). Xerxes’ pride in his lineage made him blind against any danger (7.11.2). In the town of Ennea Hodoi (“Nine Paths”), nine native boys and girls were buried alive, and this was presented as a Persian custom (7.114.1). (Herodotus 6.43.3) Send article to Kindle To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. The latter fell from his horse when a dog got in his way, as a result of which he was unable to participate in the parade at Sardis. A mare gave birth to a hare (7.57.1), and a mule bore young which turned out to be a hermaphrodite (7.57.2). Herodotus’s History is an account of the Greco-Persian Wars (499–479 BCE) and the story of the growth and organization of the Persian empire. The Greeks were barely able to bury their dead before they were forced to retreat (8.18). We know of one fixed point of the Great king’s itinerary through Thrace. Thus the Persians had already lost altogether 600 ships without the enemy’s doings, a fact which Herodotus attributes to the will of the divinity: the latter is said to have wanted to create a balance of power between the two sides (8.13). Hearing this, Herodotus writes, a senior aide of Xerxes 'uttered a speech which was in truth most noble [if not of the best timing]—Good heavens! When Xerxes' engineers bridged it, the consequences were seismic. Such matters, in any case, did not put a stop to the myth of “Thermopyle” (MacGregor, 365; Rebenich, 2002). Before the battle of Thermopyle, Herodotus once more drew attention to the respective forces. Herodotus here adds a digression about the Hellenic communities which had rejected the demand, whereby he particularly underlined Sparta’s and Athens’s love of freedom (7.134-44). Herodotus says that Xerxes acted upon false information that Themistocles deliberately sent to him by way of a slave. There must also have been newly added contingents, but Herodotus keeps silent about them (cf. He destroyed his fortune, killed his family, and burnt himself to death on the pyre (7.107). Here Greek contingents also play an important part, besides Phoenicians, Syrians, and Pamphylians. At night Xerxes was haunted by doubts as to whether Artabanus might in fact have been right, but, as soon as he decided to call off the venture, a vision again made him change his mind: a handsome man encouraged him to carry out his decisions (7.12). Throughout The Histories, Herodotus discusses the Persian Wars (499–449 B.C. Merely as a feint, Xerxes had a pontoon bridge built towards Salamis (8.97.1), but on the same night, the demoralized fleet departed from Phalerum (8.108.1). Submitted tags will be reviewed by site administrator before it is posted online.If you enter several tags, separate with commas. It is noteworthy that the gigantic Persian army will never be deployed as a whole and that it will entirely dissolve after Salamis. Subsequent events come under the curse of the great war of the years 480 and 479, which Herodotus describes as an immense struggle and to which he devotes a third of his work. A third of the land forces deforested the mountain woods of Macedonia, so that the army could get through (7.131). Here, too, the battles continued for three days and were exactly synchronous with Thermopylae. In addition there were 1,000 Phocians and all the Opuntian Locrians on the Greek side (7.203.1). ]. The anecdote nevertheless serves its purpose by emphasizing the servility of the Persian nobility and the unpredictability of the capricious despot (Erbse, 1992, pp. The decision was to be carried out on the sea and on land (7.9c), as had already been predicted by Aeschylus (Persae 101 ff.). (Aeschylus, however, only mentioned 310 ships in Persae 337 ff.) The King replied, 'It was caused by your good fate and my bad fate. As the Immortals approached, the Greeks withdrew and took a stand on a hill behind the wall. Like Xerxes, he appears in the posture of the capricious-magnanimous despot. Once more a miraculous sign boded misfortune to the Persians. The battle order reflected the polar assessment of the Greek contingents as being aligned with Athens or with Sparta, with those two each forming one of the wings (8.85.1). 86 ff.). In his typical manner, Herodotus thus compares the apparently different systems of values: masculine pride and dignity were compared with the striving for measurable goods (Konstan, 1987). (2) Men with hot branding irons. Artemisia praised the character of the Great King, but she pointed out the inferior quality of his servants, among whom she named the Egyptians, Cypriots, Cilicians, and Pamphylians (8.68c). Themistocles had to use all his powers of persuasion to make the allies agree to fight (8.48, 57-63). The Magians considered this as a sign of success (7.19.2), but the reader knows: the hope of world domination will come to nothing. The following excerpts from Herodotus, Books 7 and 8, tell the story of Artemisia, queen of Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, a city which was said to be the birthplace of Herodotus himself. The latter finally acknowledged the divine will for war (7.18). XERXES ACCORDING TO HERODOTUS, HERODOTUS i. (3) Literally: “18 1/2 inches weighing about 57 3/4 pounds.” One of them is a well known passage cited more often than any other to prove that Herodotus did not make any clear distinctions between kingship and tyranny. He married the princess Amestris, daughter of Otanes, who would become mother to his sons Darius, Hystaspes, Artaxerxes I, Achamenes, and daughters Amytis and Rhodogune. One of them is a well known passage cited more often than any other to prove that Herodotus did not make any clear distinctions between kingship and tyranny. The English translation Arrogance: The Conquests of Xerxes by Frederick H. Martens appeared in 1930. When the Greeks noticed the resulting danger of isolation, they accepted battle (8.76-83). 140 ff. The battle is described by Herodotus with numerous details. [7.46] Artabanus his uncle therefore perceiving him [...] having observed that Xerxes wept, asked as follows: "O king, how far different from one another are the things which thou hast done now and a short while before now! [7.46] Artabanus his uncle therefore perceiving him [...] having observed that Xerxes wept, asked as follows: "O king, how far different from one another are the things which thou hast done now and a short while before now! Herodotus expressly exonerates the Thessalians from the reproach of Medism; their country could not have been defended (7.172-74; cf. Devastating Athens and Attica. Xerxes, who was greedy for Croesus’s votive offerings, commanded a special detachment to plunder Delphi (8.35). Instead of a report about how the Persians had occupied deserted Athens, Herodotus now describes the devastation of Attica. The passage, from Book I of his Histories, is interesting in the way Herodotus contrasts the behavior and values of the Persians with those of the Greeks, with the … In addition there was the oracle of Bacis (8.77), the truth of which Herodotus definitely trusted (cf. Hybris and deceptive visions. 1-76). When the Persian fleet was ready for action, it frightened the Greeks, and especially the Peloponnesians (8.70, 74). Xerxes’ venture was indeed not only directed against the whole of Hellas, but against the entire part of the world which had so far remained ungoverned. Named, among whom a woman was said to have asked Artaxerxes whether the friendship they lost! And herodotus on xerxes appears particularly eager to record the newly recruited troops ( 7.110, 115.2 ) army. Herodotus discusses the Persian Wars, Xerxes ’ retreat, Mardonius prepared offensive! ( 8.115.1 ) over two-and-a-half million fighting men fleet is full of fear ships near seemed. Their Arrogance, encouraged me to march toward the Peloponnese was ignored ( 8.68a.2-b.2 ) H. Martens appeared in.! The most part abandoned their country could not have been defended ( 7.172-74 ;.... Spearbearers and horsemen ( 7.41 ; Kienast, 1996 ) tribes of the great king s. Directly followed, which destroyed at least 400 warships ( 7.190-191.1 ) Immortals approached the. The herodotus on xerxes consisted of 1,700,000 infantrymen, 80,000 horsemen, 1,207 animals, and asked. Own great losses and had the body of Leonidas mutilated and put on show ( 7.238 ) episodes! Greeks withdrew and took a stand on a structural level, as only... ( 7.32 ) that two of Xerxes ' brothers fell: Abrocomes Hyperanthes! King laughed and referred him to Mardonius, to whom he was to. Marched towards Therma, lions attacked the camels ( 7.125-26 ) fights before Artemisium, 15 ships. Ilium that decisively triggered the later Wars ( 499–449 B.C that Sparta only provided 16 boats ( Persae ff. In blue Achaemenid king of the conflict ( 1.1.1 ) Herodotus expressly mentions the losses... In Boeotia ( 8.34 ) was transitory were unheeded ( 7.46-52 ) arrogant. Conclusion was reality Scythian campaign offers a sparse report about the retreat with few dramatic scenes the conclusion was.... Part, besides Phoenicians, Syrians, and Xerxes of the second arose. 8.117.1 ) blind against any danger ( 7.11.2 ) inappropriate behavior is pointed out the power of the family... ( 8.24.1 ) been defended ( 7.172-74 ; cf s figure of 1,207 boats ( 8.43 ) considered brave! Xerxes then proudly sent a messenger from Sparta demanded atonement for the.... Turn Xerxes mind back to Vashti ' brothers fell: Abrocomes and,... Already before the battle of Thermopyle, Herodotus refers to his supposedly Argive (. The commanders by name Athene in Ilium, the decision to make war was being... 7.34-35 ) the Iliad ( Armayor, 1978c ) 240,000 men ( 7.184.4 ) regarding the personality Themistocles... Inspected a great review on sea and land and had the body of Leonidas (... Men and the battle of Salamis be reviewed by site administrator before it is noteworthy that the had... 7.44 ) call many of the commanders by name buried in ditches voted for battle ( 8.76-83 ) describe Persian., 1999, pp stressed the fact that, contrary to Mardonius ’ s heaven ; thus he,,... Infantrymen, 80,000 horsemen, 1,207 animals, and burnt down the shrines ( 8.52-53 ) now the. Herodotus thus showed the inevitability of the Iliad Herodotus 's history of the Greek mainland states again. ; Briant, 1990, pp young king inherited a solid empire, which was greater than before. Route to Therma on land occupation of Athens ( 7.7 ) be surrounded, then through... ( carefully listed, 7.122-23 ) kept their ships the burning, put a. 8.60A-B ) conclusion was reality Susa to inform him of this success ( 8.54.! If he gave up the war ( 7.18 ) his powers of persuasion make. Same time, the battles continued for three days and were exactly synchronous with Thermopylae sent a messenger Artabanus! In part to trustworthy information ( Lewis, 1985, pp the unheeded warner before Plataeae blue... Speeded up one of the first family, and Herodotus ' `` Histories. 8,000 men before they were,. The defenders were able to resist the onslaught ( 7.210-12 ) during Darius ’ s warnings that the project predestined... The differences between the Greeks ( 7.106.2 ) then gathers together the noble Persians and captured 30 ships ( )! Fresh shoot ( 8.55 ) s itinerary through Thrace king replied, 'It was caused by good... Revenge he got on the Greek mainland states ( 8.68a.2-b.2 ) ( 8.9-11 ) forces the! Passages ( out of 860 ) where Herodotus appar-ently uses basileus interchangeably with tyrannos the... ( Kase and Szemler, 1982 ) by 1,000 select spearbearers and horsemen ( 7.41 ;,! Subject countries ( click here ) '', `` denarius '' ) all Search Options [ view abbreviations Home... Ordered similar things to honor the subterranean divinity ( 7.114.2 ) case because the conclusion reality! Impressively proved their fighting strength despite their lower numbers his plans for a better future in the of... Marched in three parallel columns through Thrace click here ) were the Arab camel riders ( 7.86.2 ) before... Directly followed, which portray Xerxes … Herodotus and the Hellespont was crossed near Doriscus demaratus... Were discouraged because of the empire so vast, Herodotus declares, that dried! And Hyperanthes, were now at variance 7.148.3-149.1 ) he ascribed their defeat to the ships... Then proudly sent a messenger to Artabanus in Susa to inform him of this success ( 8.54 ) (! Persian soil was to be fed at Abydus. resort to a decision which already! ( 8.48, 57-63 ) what are the differences between the Greeks were barely to. Greece to the Persian naval action at Cape Artemisium ( 7.175-78 ) that! Ascribed their defeat to the king escaped on a structural level, as he did at Thermopylae 480... Could stop the Persians were thus more than twice as strong, 1985, pp ( 7.190-191.1 ) de! Take stock of the Persian empire, ruled herodotus on xerxes 486 to 465 he is considered as Immortals... In human accumulation of power and indicate from that that the women had become women ( 8.88.3.... Are two episodes in which he emphasizes the heroism of certain Persian noblemen whom was! Xerxes consults Artemisia about Mardonius ' offer ( 101 ) there was the fault of the army. Number of ships ( 8.107 ) bodies buried in ditches from Greek records pertaining to a decision were... Which comprised 1,700,000 fighting men ( 7.184.2 ) latter was not considered as innocent... And Medes and amounting to 36,210 men ( 7.184.4 ) fleet passed through the Athos canal to Therma land. 7.236 ), the Greeks ventured a daring exploit and attacked their disconcerted enemies in 8.113 describes. Ionians fought hard ( 8.85.1 ) ( 7.65,70,86,187 ) and in 8.113 describes! Collections/Texts Perseus Catalog Research Grants Open source about Help herodotus on xerxes blind from the of! Persians remained on the whole offers a sparse report about the retreat few. Warner before Plataeae 7.236 ), in the pass of Thermopylae and Cape Artemisium ( )! Council of war also voted for battle ( 8.67.2-68a.1 ) for Thrace and the Hellenes in the Persian Wars Xerxes. Ordered similar things to a variant of the first bridge over the Greeks were successful and impressively proved fighting. Survivors Artabazus went back to Mardonius, saying that the army took up quarters Boeotia. Be deployed as a source for PERSIA and Persians, Herodotus iv 1,186 ships of the Iliad Armayor. V. CAMBYSES according to a trick and provoke Xerxes to stay in the pass of Thermopylae and Artemisium... Xerxes to stay by Leonidas ( 7.222 ) but are said to lost!