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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 110

101. Now when he had sailed through these and had disembarked from his ship, he sent for Demaratos the son of Ariston, who was marching with him against Hellas; and having called him he asked as follows: "Demaratos, now it is my pleasure to ask thee somewhat which I desire to know. Thou art not only a Hellene, but also, as I am informed both by thee and by the other Hellenes who come to speech with me, of a city which is neither the least nor the feeblest of Hellas. Now therefore declare to me this, namely whether the Hellenes will endure to raise hands against me: for, as I suppose, even if all the Hellenes and the remaining nations who dwell towards the West should be gathered together, they are not strong enough in fight to endure my attack, supposing them to be my enemies. 95 I desire however to be informed also of thy opinion, what thou sayest about these matters." He inquired thus, and the other made answer and said: "O king, shall I utter the truth in speaking to thee, or that which will give pleasure?" and he bade him utter the truth, saying that he should suffer nothing unpleasant in consequence of this, any more than he suffered before.

102. When Demaratos heard this, he spoke as follows: "O king, since thou biddest me by all means utter the truth, and so speak as one who shall not be afterwards convicted by thee of having spoken falsely, I say this:—with Hellas poverty is ever an inbred growth, while valour is one that has been brought in, being acquired by intelligence and the force of law; and of it Hellas makes use ever to avert from herself not only poverty but also servitude to a master. Now I commend all the Hellenes who are settled in those Dorian lands, but this which I am about to say has regard not to tall, but to the Lacedemonians alone: of these I say, first that it is not possible that they will ever accept thy terms, which carry with them servitude for Hellas; and next I say that they will stand against thee in fight, even if all the other Hellenes shall be of thy party: and as for numbers, ask now how many they are, that they are able to do this; for whether it chances that a thousand of them have come out into the field, these will fight with thee, or if there be less than this, or again if there be more."

103. Xerxes hearing this laughed, and said: "Demaratos, what a speech is this which thou hast uttered, saying that a thousand men will fight with this vast army! Come tell me this:—thou sayest that thou wert thyself king of these men; wilt thou therefore consent forthwith to fight with ten men? and yet if your State is such throughout as thou dost describe it, thou their king ought by your laws to stand in array against double as many as another man; that is to say, if each of them is a match for ten men of my army, I expect of thee that thou shouldest be a match for twenty. Thus would be confirmed the report which is made by thee: but if ye, who boast thus greatly are such men and in size so great only as the Hellenes who come commonly to speech with me, thyself included, then beware lest this which has been spoken prove but an empty vaunt. For come, let me examine it by all that is probable: how could a thousand or ten thousand or even fifty thousand, at least if they were all equally free and were not ruled by one man, stand against so great an army? since, as thou knowest, we shall be more than a thousand coming about each one of them, supposing them to be in number five thousand. If indeed they were ruled by one man after our fashion, they might perhaps from fear of him become braver than it was their nature to be, or they might go compelled by the lash to fight with greater numbers, being themselves fewer in number; but if left at liberty, they would do neither of these things: and I for my part suppose that, even if equally matched in numbers, the Hellenes would hardly dare to fight with the Persians taken alone. With us however this of which thou speakest is found in single men, 96 not indeed often, but rarely; for there are Persians of my spearmen who will consent to fight with three men of the Hellenes at once: but thou hast had no experience of these things and therefore thou speakest very much at random."


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