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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 188

116. Here also a Thracian, the king of the Bisaltians and of the Crestonian land, did a deed of surpassing horror; for he had said that he would not himself be subject to Xerxes with his own will and had gone away up to Mount Rhodope, and also he had forbidden his sons to go on the march against Hellas. They however, either because they cared not for his command, or else because a desire came upon them to see the war, went on the march with the Persian: and when they returned all unhurt, being six in number, their father plucked out their eyes for this cause.

117. They then received this reward: and as to the Persians, when passing on from Thrace they came to the passage, they crossed over the Hellespont in haste to Abydos by means of the ships, for they did not find the floating-bridges still stretched across but broken up by a storm. While staying there for a time they had distributed to them an allowance of food more abundant than they had had by the way, and from satisfying their hunger without restraint and also from the changes of water there died many of those in the army who had remained safe till then. The rest arrived with Xerxes at Sardis.

118. There is also another story reported as follows, namely that when Xerxes on his march away from Athens came to Eïon on the Strymon, from that point he did not continue further to make marches by road, but delivered his army to Hydarnes to lead back to the Hellespont, while he himself embarked in a Phenician ship and set forth for Asia; and as he sailed he was seized by a wind from the Strymon, 85 violent and raising great waves; and since he was tossed by the storm more and more, the ship being heavily laden (for there were upon the deck great numbers of Persians, those namely who went with Xerxes), the king upon that falling into fear shouted aloud and asked the pilot whether there were for them any means of safety. He said: "Master, there are none, unless some way be found of freeing ourselves of the excessive number of passengers." Then it is said that Xerxes, when he heard this, spoke thus: "Persians, now let each one of you show that he has care for the king; for my safety, as it seems, depends upon you." He, they say, thus spoke, and they made obeisance to him and leapt out into the sea; and so the ship being lightened came safe to Asia. As soon as they had landed Xerxes, they say, first presented the pilot with a wreath of gold, because he had saved the life of the king, and then cut off his head, because he had caused the death of many of the Persians.

119. This other story, I say, is reported about the return of Xerxes, but I for my part can by no means believe it, either in other respects or as regards this which is said to have happened to the Persians; for if this which I have related had in truth been said by the pilot to Xerxes, not one person's opinion in ten thousand will differ from mine that the king would have done some such thing as this, that is to say, he would have caused those who were upon the deck to go down below into the hold, seeing that they were Persians of the highest rank among the Persians; and of the rowers, who were Phenicians, he would have thrown out into the sea a number equal to the number of those. In fact however, as I have said before, he made his return to Asia together with the rest of the army by road.


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