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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 139

196. The fleet of the Barbarians then, except the fifteen ships of which I said that Sandokes was in command, had arrived at Aphetai; and Xerxes meanwhile with the land-army, having marched through Thessalia and Achaia, had already entered the land of the Malians two days before, 200 after having held in Thessaly a contest for his own horses, making trial also of the Thessalian cavalry, because he was informed that it was the best of all among the Hellenes; and in this trial the horses of Hellas were far surpassed by the others. Now of the rivers in Thessalia the Onochonos alone failed to suffice by its stream for the drinking of the army; but of the rivers which flow in Achaia even that which is the largest of them, namely Epidanos, even this, I say, held out but barely.

197. When Xerxes had reached Alos of Achaia, the guides who gave him information of the way, wishing to inform him fully of everything, reported to him a legend of the place, the things, namely, which have to do with the temple of Zeus Laphystios; 201 how Athamas the son of Aiolos contrived death for Phrixos, having taken counsel with Ino, and after this how by command of an oracle the Achaians propose to his descendants the following tasks to be performed:—whosoever is the eldest of this race, on him they lay an injunction that he is forbidden to enter the City Hall, 202 and they themselves keep watch; now the City Hall is called by the Achaians the "Hall of the People"; 203 and if he enter it, it may not be that he shall come forth until he is about to be sacrificed. They related moreover in addition to this, that many of these who were about to be sacrificed had before now run away and departed to another land, because they were afraid; and if afterwards in course of time they returned to their own land and were caught, they were placed 204 in the City Hall: and they told how the man is sacrificed all thickly covered with wreaths, and with what form of procession he is brought forth to the sacrifice. This is done to the descendants of Kytissoros the son of Phrixos, because, when the Achaians were making of Athamas the son of Aiolos a victim to purge the sins of the land according to the command of an oracle, and were just about to sacrifice him, this Kytissoros coming from Aia of the Colchians rescued him; and having done so he brought the wrath of the gods upon his own descendants. Having heard these things, Xerxes, when he came to the sacred grove, both abstained from entering it himself, and gave the command to his whole army to so likewise; and he paid reverence both to the house and to the sacred enclosure of the descendants of Athamas.

198. These then are the things which happened in Thessalia and in Achaia; and from these regions he proceeded to the Malian land, going along by a gulf of the sea, in which there is an ebb and flow of the tide every day. Round about this gulf there is a level space, which in parts is broad but in other parts very narrow; and mountains lofty and inaccessible surrounding this place enclose the whole land of Malis and are called the rocks of Trachis. The first city upon this gulf as one goes from Achaia is Antikyra, by which the river Spercheios flowing from the land of the Enianians 205 runs out into the sea. At a distance of twenty furlongs 206 or thereabouts from this river there is another, of which the name is Dyras; this is said to have appeared that it might bring assistance to Heracles when he was burning: then again at a distance of twenty furlongs from this there is another river called Melas.


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