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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 101

54. During this day then they were making preparation to cross over; and on the next day they waited for the Sun, desiring to see him rise, and in the meantime they offered all kinds of incense upon the bridges and strewed the way with branches of myrtle. Then, as the Sun was rising, Xerxes made libation from a golden cup into the sea, and prayed to the Sun, that no accident might befall him such as should cause him to cease from subduing Europe, until he had come to its furthest limits. After having thus prayed he threw the cup into the Hellespont and with it a golden mixing-bowl and a Persian sword, which they call akinakes: but whether he cast them into the sea as an offering dedicated to the Sun, or whether he had repented of his scourging of the Hellespont and desired to present a gift to the sea as amends for this, I cannot for certain say.

55. When Xerxes had done this, they proceeded to cross over, the whole army both the footmen and the horsemen going by one bridge, namely that which was on the side of the Pontus, while the baggage-animals and the attendants went over the other, which was towards the Egean. First the ten thousand Persians led the way, all with wreaths, and after them came the mixed body of the army made up of all kinds of nations: these on that day; and on the next day, first the horsemen and those who had their spear-points turned downwards, these also wearing wreaths; and after them the sacred horses and the sacred chariot, and then Xerxes himself and the spear-bearers and the thousand horsemen; and after them the rest of the army. In the meantime the ships also put out from shore and went over to the opposite side. I have heard however another account which says that the king crossed over the very last of all.

56. When Xerxes had crossed over into Europe, he gazed upon the army crossing under the lash; and his army crossed over in seven days and seven nights, going on continuously without any pause. Then, it is said, after Xerxes had now crossed over the Hellespont, a man of that coast exclaimed: "Why, O Zeus, in the likeness of a Persian man and taking for thyself the name of Xerxes instead of Zeus, art thou proposing to lay waste Hellas, taking with thee all the nations of men? for it was possible for thee to do so even without the help of these."

57. When all had crossed over, after they had set forth on their way a great portent appeared to them, of which Xerxes made no account, although it was easy to conjecture its meaning,—a mare gave birth to a hare. Now the meaning of this was easy to conjecture in this way, namely that Xerxes was about to march an army against Hellas very proudly and magnificently, but would come back again to the place whence he came, running for his life. There happened also a portent of another kind while he was still at Sardis,—a mule brought forth young and gave birth to a mule which had organs of generation of two kinds, both those of the male and those of the female, and those of the male were above. Xerxes however made no account of either of these portents, but proceeded on his way, and with him the land-army.


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