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The History Of Herodotus Volume 1 of 2

Page: 9

20. Thus much I know by the report of the people of Delphi; but the Milesians add to this that Periander the son of Kypselos, being a special guest-friend of Thrasybulos the then despot of Miletos, heard of the oracle which had been given to Alyattes, and sending a messenger told Thrasybulos, in order that he might have knowledge of it beforehand and take such counsel as the case required. This is the story told by the Milesians.

21. And Alyattes, when this answer was reported to him, sent a herald forthwith to Miletos, desiring to make a truce with Thrasybulos and the Milesians for so long a time as he should be building the temple. He then was being sent as envoy to Miletos; and Thrasybulos in the meantime being informed beforehand of the whole matter and knowing what Alyattes was meaning to do, contrived this device:—he gathered together in the market-place all the store of provisions which was found in the city, both his own and that which belonged to private persons; and he proclaimed to the Milesians that on a signal given by him they should all begin to drink and make merry with one another.

22. This Thrasybulos did and thus proclaimed to the end that the herald from Sardis, seeing a vast quantity of provisions carelessly piled up, and the people feasting, might report this to Alyattes: and so on fact it happened; for when the herald returned to Sardis after seeing this and delivering to Thrasybulos the charge which was given to him by the king of Lydia, the peace which was made, came about, as I am informed, merely because of this. For Alyattes, who thought that there was a great famine in Miletos and that the people had been worn down to the extreme of misery, heard from the herald, when he returned from Miletos, the opposite to that which he himself supposed. And after this the peace was made between them on condition of being guest-friends and allies to one another, and Alyattes built two temples to Athene at Assessos in place of one, and himself recovered from his sickness. With regard then to the war waged by Alyattes with the Milesians and Thrasybulos things went thus.

23. As for Periander, the man who gave information about the oracle to Thrasybulos, he was the son of Kypselos, and despot of Corinth. In his life, say the Corinthians, (and with them agree the Lesbians), there happened to him a very great marvel, namely that Arion of Methymna was carried ashore at Tainaron upon a dolphin's back. This man was a harper second to none of those who then lived, and the first, so far as we know, who composed a dithyramb, naming it so and teaching it to a chorus 17 at Corinth.

24. This Arion, they say, who for the most part of his time stayed with Periander, conceived a desire to sail to Italy 18 and Sicily; and after he had there acquired large sums of money, he wished to return again to Corinth. He set forth therefore from Taras, 19 and as he had faith in Corinthians more than in other men, he hired a ship with a crew of Corinthians. These, the story says, when out in open sea, formed a plot to cast Arion overboard and so possess his wealth; and he having obtained knowledge of this made entreaties to them, offering them his wealth and asking them to grant him his life. With this however he did not prevail upon them, but the men who were conveying him bade him either slay himself there, that he might receive burial on the land, or leap straightway into the sea. So Arion being driven to a strait entreated them that, since they were so minded, they would allow him to take his stand in full minstrel's garb upon the deck 20 of the ship and sing; and he promised to put himself to death after he had sung. They then, well pleased to think that they should hear the best of all minstrels upon earth, drew back from the stern towards the middle of the ship; and he put on the full minstrel's garb and took his lyre, and standing on the deck performed the Orthian measure. Then as the measure ended, he threw himself into the sea just as he was, in his full minstrel's garb; and they went on sailing away to Corinth, but him, they say, a dolphin supported on its back and brought him to shore at Tainaron: and when he had come to land he proceeded to Corinth with his minstrel's garb. Thither having arrived he related all that had been done; and Periander doubting of his story kept Arion in guard and would let him go nowhere, while he kept careful watch for those who had conveyed him. When these came, he called them and inquired of them if they had any report to make of Arion; and when they said that he was safe in Italy and that they had left him at Taras faring well, Arion suddenly appeared before them in the same guise as when he made his leap from the ship; and they being struck with amazement were no longer able to deny when they were questioned. This is the tale told by the Corinthians and Lesbians alike, and there is at Tainaron a votive offering of Arion of no great size, 21 namely a bronze figure of a man upon a dolphin's back.


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