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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 86

9. Having thus spoken he ceased; and after him Mardonios said: "Master, thou dost surpass not only all the Persians who were before thee, but also those who shall come after, since thou didst not only attain in thy words to that which is best and truest as regards other matters, but also thou wilt not permit the Ionians who dwell in Europe to make a mock of us, having no just right to do so: for a strange thing it would be if, when we have subdued and kept as our servants Sacans, Indians, Ethiopians, Assyrians, and other nations many in number and great, who have done no wrong to the Persians, because we desired to add to our dominions, we should not take vengeance on the Hellenes who committed wrong against us unprovoked. (a) Of what should we be afraid?—what gathering of numbers, or what resources of money? for their manner of fight we know, and as for their resources, we know that they are feeble; and we have moreover subdued already their sons, those I mean who are settled in our land and are called Ionians, Aiolians, and Dorians. Moreover I myself formerly made trial of marching against these men, being commanded thereto by thy father; and although I marched as far as Macedonia, and fell but little short of coming to Athens itself, no man came to oppose me in fight. (b) And yet it is true that the Hellenes make wars, but (as I am informed) very much without wise consideration, by reason of obstinacy and want of skill: for when they have proclaimed war upon one another, they find out first the fairest and smoothest place, and to this they come down and fight; so that even the victors depart from the fight with great loss, and as to the vanquished, of them I make no mention at all, for they are utterly destroyed. They ought however, being men who speak the same language, to make use of heralds and messengers and so to take up their differences and settle them in any way rather than by battles; but if they must absolutely war with one another, they ought to find out each of them that place in which they themselves are hardest to overcome, and here to make their trial. Therefore the Hellenes, since they use no good way, when I had marched as far as the land of Macedonia, did not come to the resolution of fighting with me. (c) Who then is likely to set himself against thee, O king, offering war, when thou art leading both all the multitudes of Asia and the whole number of the ships? I for my part am of opinion that the power of the Hellenes has not attained to such a pitch of boldness: but if after all I should prove to be deceived in my judgment, and they stirred up by inconsiderate folly should come to battle with us, they would learn that we are the best of all men in the matters of war. However that may be, let not anything be left untried; for nothing comes of itself, but from trial all things are wont to come to men."


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