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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 92

23. These are the cities which occupy Athos: and they dug as follows, the country being divided among the Barbarians by nations for the work:—at the city of Sane they drew a straight line across the isthmus, and when the channel became deep, those who stood lowest dug, while others delivered the earth as it was dug out to other men who stood above, as upon steps, and they again to others when it was received, until they came to those that were highest; and these bore it away and cast it forth. Now the others except the Phenicians had double toil by the breaking down of the steep edges of their excavation; for since they endeavoured to make the opening at the top and that at the bottom both of the same measure, some such thing was likely to result, as they worked: but the Phenicians, who are apt to show ability in their works generally, did so in this work also; for when they had had assigned to them by lot so much as fell to their share, they proceeded to dig, making the opening of the excavation at the top twice as wide as the channel itself was to be; and as the work went forward, they kept contracting the width; so that, when they came to the bottom, their work was made of equal width with that of the others. Now there is a meadow there, in which there was made for them a market and a place for buying and selling; and great quantities of corn came for them regularly from Asia, ready ground.

24. It seems to me, making conjecture of this work, that Xerxes when he ordered this to be dug was moved by a love of magnificence and by a desire to make a display of his power and to leave a memorial behind him; for though they might have drawn the ships across the isthmus with no great labour, he bade them dig a channel for the sea of such breadth that two triremes might sail through, propelled side by side. To these same men to whom the digging had been appointed, it was appointed also to make a bridge over the river Strymon, yoking together the banks.

25. These things were being done by Xerxes thus; and meanwhile he caused ropes also to be prepared for the bridges, made of papyrus and of white flax, 26 appointing this to the Phenicians and Egyptians; and also he was making preparations to store provisions for his army on the way, that neither the army itself nor the baggage animals might suffer from scarcity, as they made their march against Hellas. Accordingly, when he had learnt by inquiry of the various places, he bade them make stores where it was most convenient, carrying supplies to different parts by merchant ships and ferry-boats from all the countries of Asia. So they conveyed the greater part of the corn 27 to the place which is called Leuke Acte in Thrace, while others conveyed stores to Tyrodiza of the Perinthians, others to Doriscos, others to Eïon on the Strymon, and others to Macedonia, the work being distributed between them.


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