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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 59

66. At last, as there was contention about those matters, the Spartans resolved to ask the Oracle at Delphi whether Demaratos was the son of Ariston. The question then having been referred by the arrangement of Cleomenes to the Pythian prophetess, thereupon Cleomenes gained over to his side Cobon the son of Aristophantos, who had most power among the Delphians, and Cobin persuaded Perialla the prophetess of the Oracle 53 to say that which Cleomenes desired to have said. Thus the Pythian prophetess, when those who were sent to consult the god asked her their question, gave decision that Demaratos was not the son of Ariston. Afterwards however these things became known, and both Cobon went into exile from Delphi and Perialla the prophetess of the Oracle was removed from her office.

67. With regard to the deposing of Demaratos from the kingdom it happened thus: but Demaratos became an exile from Sparta to the Medes on account of a reproach which here follows:—After he had been deposed from the kingdom Demaratos was holding a public office to which he had been elected. Now it was the time of the Gymnopaidiai; and as Demaratos was a spectator of them, Leotychides, who had now become king himself instead of Demaratos, sent his attendant and asked Demaratos in mockery and insult what kind of a thing it was to be a magistrate after having been king; and he vexed at the question made answer and said that he himself had now had experience of both, but Leotychides had not; this question however, he said, would be the beginning either of countless evil or countless good fortune for the Lacedemonians. Having thus said, he veiled his head and went forth out of the theatre to his own house; and forthwith he made preparations and sacrificed an ox to Zeus, and after having sacrificed he called his mother..

68. Then when his mother had come, he put into her hands some of the inner parts 54 of the victim, and besought her, saying as follows: "Mother, I beseech thee, appealing to the other gods and above all to this Zeus the guardian of the household, 55 to tell me the truth, who is really and truly my father. For Leotychides spoke in his contention with me, saying that thou didst come to Ariston with child by thy former husband; and others besides, reporting that which is doubtless an idle tale, 56 say that thou didst go in to one of the servants, namely the keeper of the asses, and that I am his son. I therefore entreat thee by the gods to tell me the truth; for if thou hast done any of these things which are reported, thou hast not done them alone, but with many other women; and the report is commonly believed in Sparta that there was not in Ariston seed which should beget children; for if so, then his former wives also would have borne children.".

69. Thus he spoke, and she made answer as follows: "My son, since thou dost beseech me with entreaties to speak the truth, the whole truth shall be told to thee. When Ariston had brought me into his house, on the third night 57 there came to me an apparition in the likeness of Ariston, and having lain with me it put upon me the garlands which it had on; and the apparition straitway departed, and after this Ariston came; and when he saw me with garlands, he asked who it was who had given me them; and I said that he had given them, but he did not admit it; and I began to take oath of it, saying that he did not well to deny it, for he had come (I said) a short time before and had lain with me and given me the garlands. Then Ariston, seeing that I made oath of it, perceived that the matter was of the gods; and first the garlands were found to be from the hero-temple which stands by the outer door of the house, which they call the temple of Astrabacos, 58 and secondly the diviners gave answer that it was this same hero. Thus, my son, thou hast all, as much as thou desirest to learn; for either thou art begotten of this hero and the hero Astrabacos is thy father, or Ariston is thy father, for on that night I conceived thee: but as to that wherein thy foes most take hold of thee, saying that Ariston himself, when thy birth was announced to him, in the hearing of many declared that thou wert not his son, because the time, the ten months namely, had not yet been fulfilled, in ignorance of such matters he cast forth that saying; for women bring forth children both at the ninth month and also at the seventh, and not all after they have completed ten months; and I bore thee, my son, at the seventh month: and Ariston himself also perceived after no long time that he had uttered this saying in folly. Do not thou then accept any other reports about thy begetting, for thou hast heard in all the full truth; but to Leotychides and to those who report these things may their wives bear children by keepers of asses!"


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