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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 124

"Thou to thy neighbours a foe, by the gods immortal beloved, Keep thou thy spear 135 within bounds, and sit well-guarded behind it: Guard well the head, and the head shall preserve the limbs and the body."

Thus, they say, the Pythian prophetess had replied to them before this; and afterwards when the messengers of the Hellenes came, as I said, to Argos, they entered the Council-chamber and spoke that which had been enjoined to them; and to that which was said the Council replied that the Argives were ready to do as they were requested, on condition that they got peace made with the Lacedemonians for thirty years and that they had half the leadership of the whole confederacy: and yet by strict right (they said) the whole leadership fell to their share, but nevertheless it was sufficient for them to have half.

149. Thus they report that the Council made answer, although the oracle forbade them to make the alliance with the Hellenes; and they were anxious, they say, that a truce from hostilities for thirty years should be made, although they feared the oracle, in order, as they allege, that their sons might grow to manhood in these years; whereas if a truce did not exist, they had fear that, supposing another disaster should come upon them in fighting against the Persian in addition to that which had befallen them already, they might be for all future time subject to the Lacedemonians. To that which was spoken by the Council those of the envoys who were of Sparta replied, that as to the truce they would refer the matter to their public assembly, 136 but as to the leadership they had themselves been commissioned to make reply, and did in fact say this, namely that they had two kings, while the Argives had one; and it was not possible to remove either of the two who were of Sparta from the leadership, but there was nothing to prevent the Argive king from having an equal vote with each of their two. Then, say the Argives, they could not endure the grasping selfishness of the Spartans, but chose to be ruled by the Barbarians rather than to yield at all to the Lacedemonians; and they gave notice to the envoys to depart out of the territory of the Argives before sunset, or, if not, they would be dealt with as enemies.

150. The Argives themselves report so much about these matters: but there is another story reported in Hellas to the effect that Xerxes sent a herald to Argos before he set forth to make an expedition against Hellas, and this herald, they say, when he had come, spoke as follows: "Men of Argos, king Xerxes says to you these things:—We hold that Perses, from whom we are descended, was the son of Perseus, the son of Danae, and was born of the daughter of Kepheus, Andromeda; and according to this it would seem that we are descended from you. It is not fitting then that we should go forth on an expedition against those from whom we trace our descent, nor that ye should set yourselves in opposition to us by rendering assistance to others; but it is fitting that ye keep still and remain by yourselves: for if things happen according to my mind, I shall not esteem any people to be of greater consequence than you." Having heard this the Argives, it is said, considered it a great matter; and therefore at first they made no offer of help nor did they ask for any share; but afterwards, when the Hellenes tried to get them on their side, then, since they knew well that the Lacedemonians would not give them a share in the command, they asked for this merely in order that they might have a pretext for remaining still.


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