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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 182

99. The first message then which came to Susa, announcing that Xerxes had Athens in his possession, so greatly rejoiced the Persians who had been left behind, that they strewed all the ways with myrtle boughs and offered incense perpetually, and themselves continued in sacrifices and feasting. The second message however, which came to them after this, so greatly disturbed them that they all tore their garments and gave themselves up to crying and lamentation without stint, laying the blame upon Mardonios: and this the Persians did not so much because they were grieved about the ships, as because they feared for Xerxes himself.

100. As regards the Persians this went on for all the time which intervened, until the coming of Xerxes himself caused them to cease: and Mardonios seeing that Xerxes was greatly troubled by reason of the sea-fight, and suspecting that he was meaning to take flight from Athens, considered with regard to himself that he would have to suffer punishment for having persuaded the king to make an expedition against Hellas, and that it was better for him to run the risk of either subduing Hellas or ending his own life honourably, placing his safety in suspense for a great end, 63 though his opinion was rather that he would subdue Hellas;—he reckoned up these things, I say, and addressed his speech to the king as follows: "Master, be not thou grieved, nor feel great trouble on account of this thing which has come to pass; for it is not upon a contest of timbers that all our fortunes depend, but of men and of horses: and none of these who suppose now that all has been achieved by them will attempt to disembark from the ships and stand against thee, nor will any in this mainland do so; but those who did stand against us paid the penalty. If therefore thou thinkest this good to do, let us forthwith attempt the Peloponnese, or if thou thinkest good to hold back, we may do that. Do not despond however, for there is no way of escape for the Hellenes to avoid being thy slaves, after they have first given an account of that which they did to thee both now and at former times. Thus it were best to do; but if thou hast indeed resolved to retire thyself and to withdraw thy army, I have another counsel to offer for that case too. Do not thou, O king, let the Persians be an object of laughter to the Hellenes; for none of thy affairs have suffered by means of the Persians, nor wilt thou be able to mention any place where we proved ourselves cowards: but if Phenicians or Egyptians or Cyprians or Kilikians proved themselves cowards, the calamity which followed does not belong to the Persians in any way. Now therefore, since it is not the Persians who are guilty towards thee, follow my counsel. If thou hast determined not to remain here, retire thou to thine own abode, taking with thee the main body of the army, and it must then be for me to deliver over to thee Hellas reduced to subjection, choosing for this purpose thirty myriads 64 from the army."


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