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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 183

101. Hearing this Xerxes was rejoiced and delighted so far as he might be after his misfortunes, 65 and to Mardonios he said that when he had taken counsel he would reply and say which of these two things he would do. So when he was taking counsel with those of the Persians who were called to be his advisers, 66 it seemed good to him to send for Artemisia also to give him counsel, because at the former time she alone had showed herself to have perception of that which ought to be done. So when Artemisia had come, Xerxes removed from him all the rest, both the Persian councillors and also the spearmen of the guard and spoke to her thus: "Mardonios bids me stay here and make an attempt on the Peloponnese, saying that the Persians and the land-army are not guilty of any share in my calamity, and that they would gladly give me proof of this. He bids me therefore either do this or, if not, he desires himself to choose thirty myriads from the army and to deliver over to me Hellas reduced to subjection; and he bids me withdraw with the rest of the army to my own abode. Do thou therefore, as thou didst well advise about the sea-fight which was fought, urging that we should not bring it on, so also now advise me which of these things I shall do, that I may succeed in determining well."

102. He thus consulted her, and she spoke these words: "O king, it is hard for me to succeed in saying the best things when one asks me for counsel; yet it seems good to me at the present that thou shouldest retire back and leave Mardonios here, if he desires it and undertakes to do this, together with those whom he desires to have: for on the one hand if he subdue those whom he says that he desires to subdue, and if those matters succeed well which he has in mind when he thus speaks, the deed will after all be thine, master, seeing that thy slaves achieved it: and on the other hand if the opposite shall come to pass of that which Mardonios intends, it will be no great misfortune, seeing that thou wilt thyself remain safe, and also the power in those parts 67 which concerns thy house: 68 for if thou shalt remain safe with thy house, many contests many times over repeated will the Hellenes have to pass through for their own existence. 69 Of Mardonios however, if he suffer any disaster, no account will be made; and if the Hellenes conquer they gain a victory which is no victory, having destroyed one who is but thy slave. Thou however wilt retire having done that for which thou didst make thy march, that is to say, having delivered Athens to the fire."

103. With this advice Xerxes was greatly delighted, since she succeeded in saying that very thing which he himself was meaning to do: for not even if all the men and all the women in the world had been counselling him to remain, would he have done so, as I think, so much had he been struck with terror. He commended Artemisia therefore and sent her away to conduct his sons to Ephesos, for there were certain bastard sons of his which accompanied him.


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