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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 95

36. Thus then the men did, to whom this ungracious office belonged; and meanwhile other chief-constructors proceeded to make the bridges; and thus they made them:—They put together fifty-oared galleys and triremes, three hundred and sixty to be under the bridge towards the Euxine Sea, and three hundred and fourteen to be under the other, the vessels lying in the direction of the stream of the Hellespont (though crosswise in respect to the Pontus), to support the tension of the ropes. 34 They placed them together thus, and let down very large anchors, those on the one side 35 towards the Pontus because of the winds which blow from within outwards, and on the other side, towards the West and the Egean, because of the South-East 36 and South Winds. They left also an opening for a passage through, so that any who wished might be able to sail into the Pontus with small vessels, 37 and also from the Pontus outwards. Having thus done, they proceeded to stretch tight the ropes, straining them with wooden windlasses, not now appointing the two kinds of rope to be used apart from one another, but assigning to each bridge two ropes of white flax and four of the papyrus ropes. The thickness and beauty of make was the same for both, but the flaxen ropes were heavier in proportion, 38 and of this rope a cubit weighed one talent. When the passage was bridged over, they sawed up logs of wood, and making them equal in length to the breadth of the bridge they laid them above the stretched ropes, and having set them thus in order they again fastened them above. 39 When this was done, they carried on brushwood, and having set the brushwood also in place, they carried on to it earth; and when they had stamped down the earth firmly, they built a barrier along on each side, so that the baggage-animals and horses might not be frightened by looking out over the sea.

37. When the construction of the bridges had been finished, and the works about Athos, both the embankments about the mouths of the channel, which were made because of the breaking of the sea upon the beach, that the mouths of it might not be filled up, and the channel itself, were reported to be fully completed, then, after they had passed the winter at Sardis, the army set forth from thence fully equipped, at the beginning of spring, to march to Abydos; and when it had just set forth, the Sun left his place in the heaven and was invisible, though there was no gathering of clouds and the sky was perfectly clear; and instead of day it became night. When Xerxes saw and perceived this, it became a matter of concern to him; and he asked the Magians what the appearance meant to portend. These declared that the god was foreshowing to the Hellenes a leaving 40 of their cities, saying that the Sun was the foreshower of events for the Hellenes, but the Moon for the Persians. Having been thus informed, Xerxes proceeded on the march with very great joy.


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