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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 119

136. Thus they answered Hydarnes; and then, after they had gone up to Susa and had come into the presence of the king, first when the spearmen of the guard commanded them and endeavoured to compel them by force to do obeisance to the king by falling down before him, they said that they would not do any such deed, though they should be pushed down by them head foremost; for it was not their custom to do obeisance to a man, and it was not for this that they had come. Then when they had resisted this, next they spoke these words or words to this effect: "O king of the Medes, the Lacedemonians sent us in place of the heralds who were slain in Sparta, to pay the penalty for their lives." When they said this, Xerxes moved by a spirit of magnanimity replied that he would not be like the Lacedemonians; for they had violated the rules which prevailed among all men by slaying heralds, but he would not do that himself which he blamed them for having done, nor would he free the Lacedemonians from their guilt by slaying these in return.

137. Thus the wrath of Talthybios ceased for the time being, even though the Spartans had done no more than this and although Sperthias and Bulis returned back to Sparta; but a long time after this it was roused again during the war between the Peloponnesians and Athenians, as the Lacedemonians report. This I perceive to have been most evidently the act of the Deity: for in that the wrath of Talthybios fell upon messengers and did not cease until it had been fully satisfied, so much was but in accordance with justice; but that it happened to come upon the sons of these men who went up to the king on account of the wrath, namely upon Nicolaos the son of Bulis and Aneristos the son of Sperthias (the same who conquered the men of Halieis, who came from Tiryns, by sailing into their harbour with a merchant ship filled with fighting men),—by this it is evident to me that the matter came to pass by the act of the Deity caused by this wrath. For these men, sent by the Lacedemonians as envoys to Asia, having been betrayed by Sitalkes the son of Teres king of the Thracians and by Nymphodoros the son of Pythes a man of Abdera, were captured at Bisanthe on the Hellespont; and then having been carried away to Attica they were put to death by the Athenians, and with them also Aristeas the son of Adeimantos the Corinthian. These things happened many years after the expedition of the king; and I return now to the former narrative.

138. Now the march of the king's army was in name against Athens, but in fact it was going against all Hellas: and the Hellenes being informed of this long before were not all equally affected by it; for some of them having given earth and water to the Persian had confidence, supposing that they would suffer no hurt from the Barbarian; while others not having given were in great terror, seeing that there were not ships existing in Hellas which were capable as regards number of receiving the invader in fight, and seeing that the greater part of the States were not willing to take up the war, but adopted readily the side of the Medes.


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