The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 18

58. Now these Phenicians who came with Cadmos, of whom were the Gephyraians, brought in among the Hellenes many arts when they settled in this land of Boeotia, and especially letters, which did not exist, as it appears to me, among the Hellenes before this time; and at first they brought in those which are used by the Phenician race generally, but afterwards, as time went on, they changed with their speech the form of the letters also. During this time the Ionians were the race of Hellenes who dwelt near them in most of the places where they were; and these, having received letters by instruction of the Phenicians, changed their form slightly and so made use of them, and in doing so they declared them to be called "phenicians," as was just, seeing that the Phenicians had introduced them into Hellas. Also the Ionians from ancient time call paper "skins," because formerly, paper being scarce, they used skins of goat and sheep; nay, even in my own time many of the Barbarians write on such skins..

59. I myself too once saw Cadmeian characters in the temple of Ismenian Apollo at Thebes of the Boeotians, engraved on certain 4901 tripods, and in most respects resembling the Ionic letters: one of these tripods has the inscription,

 "Me Amphitryon offered from land Teleboian returning:" 50

this inscription would be of an age contemporary with Laïos the son of Labdacos, the son of Polydoros, the son of Cadmos..

60. Another tripod says thus in hexameter rhythm:

 "Me did Scaios offer to thee, far-darting Apollo,
  Victor in contest of boxing, a gift most fair in thine honour:"

now Scaios would be the son of Hippocoön (at least if it were really he who offered it, and not another with the same name as the son of Hippocoön), being of an age contemporary with OEdipus the son of Laïos: 61, and the third tripod, also in hexameter rhythm, says:

 "Me Laodamas offered to thee, fair-aiming Apollo,
  He, of his wealth, 51 being king, as a gift most fair in thine honor:"

now it was in the reign of this very Laodamas the son of Eteocles that the Cadmeians were driven out by the Argives and turned to go to the Enchelians; and the Gephyraians being then left behind were afterwards forced by the Boeotians to retire to Athens. Moreover they have temples established in Athens, in which the other Athenians have no part, and besides others which are different from the rest, there is especially a temple of Demeter Achaia and a celebration of her mysteries.

62. I have told now of the vision of a dream seen by Hipparchos, and also whence the Gephrynians were descended, of which race were the murderers of Hipparchos; and in addition to this I must resume and continue the story which I was about to tell at first, how the Athenians were freed from despots. When Hippias was despot and was dealing harshly with the Athenians because of the death of Hipparchos, the Alcmaionidai, who were of Athenian race and were fugitives from the sons of Peisistratos, 52 as they did not succeed in their attempt made together with the other Athenian exiles to return by force, but met with great disaster when they attempted to return and set Athens free, after they had fortified Leipsydrion which is above Paionia,—these Alomaionidai after that, still devising every means against the sons of Peisistratos, accepted the contract to build and complete the temple at Delphi, that namely which now exists but then did not as yet: and being wealthy and men of repute already from ancient time, they completed the temple in a manner more beautiful than the plan required, and especially in this respect, that having agreed to make the temple of common limestone, 53 they built the front parts of it in Parian marble.