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Scuola Normale Superiore


Author(s): Philip A. Stadter
Source: Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. Classe di Lettere e Filosofia, Serie III,
Vol. 22, No. 3 (1992), pp. 781-809
Published by: Scuola Normale Superiore
Stable URL:
Accessed: 24-10-2017 01:41 UTC

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Shortly after the establishment of the Athenian dem

cracy, the Spartans repented unleashing a force which
would challenge their hegemony of Greece, and determined
to restore the tyrant Hippias. Herodotus reports that at a
meeting of Sparta's allies called to confirm this decision
they did not get the support they desired (5,91-93). The
thoughts of the allies which eventually deterred the Spar
tans from restoring Hippias were expressed by the Corin
thian Socles in the form of a narrative of a segment of Co
rinth's recent past. According to Herodotus' account of this
speech (5,92) — the longest speech in the Histories — the
power of Socles' words was not in a logical analysis of the
evil of tyranny or the virtues of democracy, but in a narrati
ve of certain events in the accession and rule of Cypselus
and Periander in Corinth. The proem of the speech (5,92a)
merely expresses wonder at the Spartans' intention and
their ignorance, as people who have never experienced a ty
ranny. The peroration refers back to the narrative — « such
is absolute princely power ... and such are its deeds» — and
states the Corinthians' refusal to support the Spartan deci
sion (5,92η,4-5). The narrative itself carries the whole weight
of the Corinthian argument on tyranny. The Corinthians ex
pected the Spartans and the representatives of the other ci
ties present to abstract general truths from the narrative
and to apply them in the present circumstances1.
The speech suggests a model for responding to Herodo
tus' Histories. Herodotus narrates the course of a segment

1 Contrast the use of theoretical analysis rather than narrative in the

speech of Otanes, 3,80. The response of Artabanus to Xerxes, citing the history
of previous Persian defeats which has led him to oppose the invasion of Greece,
is an abbreviated example of Socles' technique (7,18,2).

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of Greek and Asiatic history in

contact with a powerful expan
case of Socles, Herodotus is spe
situation. His narrative can be
to recover or describe a past in
an effort to remove the extraord
audience concerning the true n
past and thus reveal the impor
derstanding the present situa
speak in a deliberative situation
explicitly toward a decision. H
posed in the years when the co
Athens for hegemony first cam
broke into all-encompassing war. Herodotus' narrative,
composed of many lesser narratives, observations, lists, and
excursuses, and aimed at a heterogenous audience, does not
drive toward such a simple decision as «we must not sup
port a tyrant». But he, like Socles, says to his audience,

if you had experience of it, as we do, you would be able to offer

better judgements about it than you do now (εΐ δέ αύτοΰ έμπειροι
έατε κατά περ ήμεΐς, είχετε άν περί αύτοϋ γνώμας άμείνονας
συμβαλέσθαι ή περ νΰν).

The account of the council at which Socles spoke is in itself

an example of Herodotus' own use of a historical narrative
in this way3.
Herodotus' narrative comments upon the present:

2 The preservation of the great deeds of the past was one object of Hero
dotus' work, clearly stated in the preamble, which I have no desire to deny. But
fame was intimately tied to the exemplum already in the epic: thus the impor
tance of Meleager's story for Achilles and of Agamemnon's for Odysseus.
3 See the analysis of the whole scene in H. Strasburger, Herodot und das
perikleische Athen, Historia, IV, 1955, 1-25 (reprinted in Herodot: Eine Auswahl
aus der neueren Forschung, ed. W. Marg, Darmstadt 1962, 574-608 and H. Stra
sburger, Studien zur alten Geschichte, Hildesheim 1982, II, 592-626) at 7-14. So
cles' speech is an excellent example of the ability of Herodotus' stories to func
tion on multiple levels. Besides the literal historical report of the speech, note:
1) the history of Periander, 2) the questioning of Spartan goals, both in 510 and
at the time of composition, 3) the importance of the Spartan decision, 4) the
growth of Athenian power and its effect on Sparta, 5) the vices of the tyrant, 6)
the theme of tyranny vs. freedom, 7) the relation of the divine to human affairs,
and 8) limit and the rise and fall of persons and cities.

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through his history [he] addresses some of the central political

concerns of his audience and his time4.

In this his stories of the past resemble the myths of the tra
gedians. Both were meant to provoke thinking about current
circumstances. The similarity is not surprising: both were
directed at the same general audience. The similarity be
tween tragedy and history is deeper than the tragic pessi
mism or elements of tragic plot structure or dialogue fre
quently found in Herodotus and Thucydides5. It lies in the
very nature of narrative, in which the story of the particular
is told to convey an understanding which is relevant to the
present. It is thus essential to explore the implications of
Herodotus' account in terms of the horizons of interest of
his contemporary audience.
Two assumptions underlie the inquiry, which there is
not space to argue here. First, the text of Herodotus which
we possess is a written document composed on the basis of
stories told or presentations given over a number of years,
from at least 440 until the 420's, in different cities and on
different occasions. On these occasions many factors would
have been fluid: the historical situation of the moment, the
city in which the presentation was being made, the perfor
mance situation (location, sponsor, motive), the size and
composition of the audience. We are not justified in speak
ing in unitary terms of Herodotus' audience as «Greeks» or
« Athenians », without a clear conception of the variety, tem
poral, spatial, social, and intellectual, within those grand ca

4 Κ. Raaflaub, Herodotus' Political Thought and the Meaning of History,

Arethusa, XX, 1987, 221-248 at 232. For the themes and motifs treated by Hero
dotus, see especially H. R. Immerwahr, Form and Thought in Herodotus, Cleve
land 1966.
5 Cf. C. Macleod, Thucydides and Tragedy, in his Collected Essays, Oxford
1983, 140-158; for Herodotus and Sophocles M. Ostwald, Herodotus and Athens,
ICS, XVI, 1991, 137-148.
6 The problem of Herodotus' first audience and readership has recently
attracted some attention: see J.A. Davison, Literature and Literacy in Ancient
Greece, Phoenix, XVI, 1962, 141-156, 219-233; L. Canfora, Il 'Ciclo' Storico, Bel
fagor, XXVI, 1971, 653-670 and Storici e società ateniese, RIL, CVII, 1973,
1136-1173; A. Momigliano, The Historians of the Classical World and their Au
diences: Some Suggestions, ASNP, S. Ill, VIII, 1978, 59-75; S. Flory, Who read

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Second, given the variety of

stories would not have met a
reasonable to expect that they n
the treatments of myth in tra
suggestive and allusive rather th
terpretations by different peop
force lies in the power of the n
dience's imagination and to prov
cepted views, rather than to pr
may reasonably be expected tha
terpretations of his stories, the
meant to convey a message so m
to reexamine the nature of human action. In this article, I
focus on certain aspects of Herodotus' account of Persian
aggression, and how they might affect his audience in the
light of the fact of the Athenian arche in the Aegean7. I delib
erately exclude other associations his audience might have
made, including those related to the other major powers of
the 430's: Sparta, Thebes, Corinth, and Corcyra.
Oriental aggression and domination pervade the Histo
ries. From the legendary past and the rapes of Io and Helen,
through Croesus, « the man that I myself know began unjust
acts against the Greeks»8, to the conquests of Cyrus, Camby
ses, Dareius, and Xerxes, Herodotus unfolds the growth of
Persian power and ambitions, until in 480 and 479 B.C. the
Greeks of Europe repulsed Xerxes' attempt at conquest. The
force of this theme of expansion and subjection provoked
the contemporary listener to compare his own experience
and knowledge of empire. What kind of signals does Hero
dotus provide which would help his listener recognize analo
gies with the Athenian arche? How might the listener per

Herodotus' Histories?, AJPh, CI, 1980, 12-28, and J. A. S. Evans, Herodotus: Ex

plorer of the Past, Princeton 1991, 89-146.
7 Herodotus' attitude toward the Athenian democracy and Pericles, once
seen as completely favorable, now is recognized as much more ambiguous. See
especially Strasburger, Herodot und das perikleische Athen (above, n. 3); C. W.
Fornara, Herodotus: an Interpretative Essay, Oxford 1971, and Raaflaub, Hero
dotus' Political Thought (above, n. 4).
8 Hdt., 1,5,3. Translations are from D. Grene, Herodotus: the History, Chi
cago - London 1987, with modifications.

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ceive past history in terms of his own world, and interpret

his own world through the past?
In Herodotus' narrative of the conquering expeditions
of Croesus and the Persians, three themes merit special at
tention for what they reveal about the role of Athens in the
Aegean in his day: 1) the crossing of boundaries between the
continents, 2) the exaction of tribute from the conquered
peoples, and 3) the enslavement of peoples, especially the Io
nian Greeks.

The boundary of Asia and Europe

Herodotus is explicit that the dividing line between Eu

rope and Asia is marked by the Hellespont and the Phasis ri
ver, but he nowhere draws a precise line through the
Aegean9. We must reconstruct his conception from the sto
ries he tells. The division in the south is clear from Herodo
tus' story of Europa (1,2): the trip from Phoenicia to Crete is
intercontinental, like all the other abductions of women in
this section, so that Crete can be considered part of
Europe10. More strange to us is the notice in book 3, that the
Spartan expedition against Polycrates of Samos was the
first Spartan expedition to Asia (3,56,2): from this we con
clude that Samos belongs to Asia. How does he assign the
other islands?
From the Athenian tribute lists we learn that the helle
notamiai divided the island cities among several districts:
the northernmost islands (Thasos and Samothrace) formed
part of the Thraceward district, Tenedos belonged to the
Hellespontine district, Icaria and Leros to the Ionian, Amor
gos, Astypalaia, Karpathos, Rhodes and the Sporades to the

9 It has never been easy to do so, whether in antiquity or modern times.

See D. M. Lewis, Sparta and Persia, Leiden 1977, esp. 152-158.
10 The notice at 4,45,5, that the Tyrian Europa «clearly was from Asia
and did not get as far as the land (γήν) which is now called by the Greeks Euro
pe, but from Phoenicia [she came] as far as Crete, then from Crete to Lycia», re
presents a different perspective. There Herodotus is arguing about the suitabi
lity of the names of the continents, rather than the divisions of the world.

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Carian11. Euboea and the Cycla

Delos, and Naxos, belonged to t
Athenians attached the Aegean
mainland naerest them, leaving
ern islands close to Attica, as a d
the mainland.
The Histories provide three indications for Herodotus'
division of the Aegean: 1) the eastern islands are treated as a
unit with the Asiatic coast, 2) the Cyclades are treated as a
separate unit, so that the attacks on Naxos indicate new
stages of Persian aggression, and 3) Delos is a threshold
point in the Aegean.
According to Herodotus, the Ionians of Chios and Sa
mos and the minor eastern islands were closely related to
the Ionians of the Asiatic coast, and met with them at Myka
le to celebrate the Panionion (1,142). Both Chios and Samos
held significant territory on the mainland. To the north the
Aeolians inhabited the islands of Lesbos and Tenedos as
well as coastal cities (1,149). Aeolians and Ionians regularly
acted in concert from the time that Ionia opposed Cyrus the
Great (1,151,3). Although the islanders initially scorned Cy
rus, considering themselves free of the problems of the
mainland and confident that the intervening sea would pro
tect them from conquest, Harpagus' easy victories over
their mainland brethern led them to surrender without a
fight (1,143,1, 169,2). .This surrender included the major
islands, Lesbos, Chios, and probably Samos12. Lesbos, Chios,

" After 438, the Cariati district was merged into the Ionian. The major
islands, Lesbos, Chios, and Samos, did not fit into the normal tribute system,
but Chios and Samos would no doubt have been included in the Ionian district
had they been tribute-paying: see R. Seager - C. Tuplin, The Freedom of the
Asiatic Greeks, JHS, C, 1980, 141-154 at 151.
12 The fact, date, and manner of Polycrates' submission is disputed, since
Herodotus is ambiguous; in any case his successor Syloson was directly depen
dent upon Darius. The story of Polycrates' accession and prosperity seems to
indicate his independence, as does the taunt that Mitrobates flings at Oroites
(3,120,3). But at 3,44 Polycrates considers it natural that Cambyses ask him for
troops for the Egyptian campaign, and Syloson's later attempt to take control
of the island without violence suggests that he thought the Samians would ac
cept a Persian decision on his behalf, if supported by a show of force. Polycra
tes may have exercised his tyranny as a Persian vassal. The tyrants of both
Chios and Samos were present on Darius' Scythian campaign and waited for
him at the Danube (4,138,2). See G. Shipley, A History of Samos 800-188 BC, Ox

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and Samos all joined the Ionian revolt, and all were reduced
by Persia after the battle of Lade13.
On the other hand, the Cyclades before the Ionian revolt
had not been subject to Dareius (5,30,6), and Herodotus does
not suggest any threat to them from the Persians. They be
came involved in Persian affairs only when Aristagoras for
his own reasons succeeded in persuading Artaphernes, the
satrap of Sardis, to attack Naxos. In his beguiling argument,
Naxos is not the completion of a series of conquests, but a
new beginning, the stepping stone to other rich islands: Par
os, Andros, and the other Cyclades, then Euboea (5,31). Nax
os, however, successfully resisted Aristagoras' scheme
Naxos appears a second time as a boundary state when
in 490 Datis decided not to attempt to sail his fleet along the
north shore of the Aegean, but to cross the sea directly. His
fleet left from Samos, passed by Icaria, and made its first
landing at Naxos, where Datis destroyed the temples and
the city (6,95-96)14. The strait between Icaria and Naxos thus
is the boundary between Persian territory and the West, and
the Persian destruction of the temples on Naxos their first
reprisal against Europe for the Athenian attack on Sardis15.
The major point in Herodotus' geography of the Aegean
is Delos. The island's location in the center of the sea per
mitted it to serve symbolically as the midpoint of the Ae
gean cities, but also as a gateway or door between East and
West, Asia and Europe16. This role is emphatically marked
at 6,97-98, immediately after Datis' attack on Naxos. Al

ford 1987, 96-97, 103-106; R. Tólle-Kastenbein, Herodot und Samos, Bochum

1976, 18; Β. M. Mitchell, Herodotus and Samos, JHS, XCV, 1975, 75-91 at
81-82; and M. White, The Duration of the Samian Tyranny, JHS, LXXIV, 1954,
13 Samos: 6,8,2; 22-26, Chios and Lesbos, 6,8,1; 31,1.
14 For new information on Datis, showing him traveling between Sardis
and Persepolis in 494, see D. M. Lewis, Datis the Mede, JHS, C, 1980, 194-195.
15 Naxos' ties with the European mainland went back at least to Peisistra
tos' time, when Lygdamis of Naxos helped Peisistratos come to power (1,61,4).
Later the tyrant conquered the island and entrusted it to Lygdamis (1,64,2).
16 Delos' central location and religious associations made it a natural as
sembly point for the maritime league against Persia. The move of the league
treasury to Athens indicated the appropriation by a European power of an al
liance which formerly could have been seen as linking East and West.

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though Datis ravaged Naxos, h

los, which was sacred to Apollo
ry. He visited the island, promi
three hundred talents of incense on the altar. These honors
to the god of Delos, in patent contrast to the treatment of
Naxos, recall other crossing offerings elsewhere, such as
Xerxes' offering to the Hellespont (7,54,2).
After Datis left Delos, Herodotus goes on to say, the
island was shaken by an earthquake. This earthquake is
closely associated in Herodotus' mind with Datis' visit, and
he comments at some length on its meaning:

This was the first and last time that Delos has been shaken down
to my day. By this marvel the god signalled to men the evils which
were coming. For in the reigns of Darius son of Hystaspes and
Xerxes son of Dareius and Artaxerxes son of Xerxes, three succes
sive generations, Greece suffered more evils than in the twenty ge
nerations preceding Dareius, some coming to it from the Persians,
some from their own leaders, as they fought for mastery (άρχή).
Thus there is nothing strange in Delos moving, although before it
had been stable. In fact, there was an oracle written about it,
which runs thus: Ί will move even Delos, though it is unmoved'.
These names in the Greek language mean: Dareius: doer, Xerxes,
warlike, Artaxerxes, very warlike. Greeks would rightly call these
kings by these names in their own language (6,98)17.

The historian doubles and redoubles the significance of the

visit of Datis to Delos, privileging the passage with special
markers: the earthquake, an authorial statement on evils,
authorial explanation of this statement, the formal naming
of the Persian kings, the reference to Persian and Greeks re
calling the preface, the reference to wars between Greek
powers, the quotation of the oracle, and the gloss on mea
nings of the kings' names.
The mention of the earthquake on Delos is of special in
terest, since the earthquake is referred to also by Thucydi
des (2,8,3). Each author states that the occasion that they
mention is unique, though neither gives a precise time for

17 For the transposition of the names of the Persian kings see Cook, n. 26

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the event. Each dates it relative to his own concerns: μετά δέ

τούτον [sc. Δάτιν] ένθεΰτεν έξαναχθέντα (Herodotus), όλίγον
πρό τούτου [the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War] (Thucy
dides). How can one earthquake be reported as «after» 490
and «shortly before» 431? Various interpretations have
been offered. How and Wells accept that the Delian tradi
tion recognized only one earthquake, argue that Thucydides
is deliberately correcting his predecessor, and propose that
both authors are mistaken, and the earthquake actually took
place ca. 460, that is, before Herodotus' visit to Delos.
Gomme on the contrary asserts that « Thucydides cannot be
referring to the same earthquake; nor, I think, is he correc
ting Herodotus»18. Recently, Rusten has presumed that He
rodotus refers to an earthquake «just before the battle of
Marathon», and that the statement of Thucydides indicates
that «after each earthquake Delian propaganda evidently
succeeded in reestablishing the legend that it was immu
ne »19. A more satisfactory solution recognizes the earthqua
ke as a historical event which has been given a symbolic
meaning in both authors, such that there is no need for an
immediate chronological tie. Both authors would then refer
to the same event, which could be made to indicate the si
gnificance either of Datis' crossing of the Aegean or of the
Peloponnesian War20. Thucydides no doubt is making an
oblique reference to Herodotus, but is (perhaps ironically)
indicating that the prodigy, previously associated with the
evils following upon the Persian invasion of Greece, should
now be reassigned to the more important (in his mind) Pelo
ponnesian War21. The actual date of the earthquake cannot

18 A Historical Commentary on, A. W. Gomme - A. Andrewes -

K. J. Dover eds., Oxford, 1956, II, 9 to Thuc., 2,8,3. His position is accepted by
S. Hornblower, A Commentary on Thucydides, Oxford 1991, I, 245, who howe
ver speaks of an «earthquake of 431 ».
19 J. Rusten, Thucydides, Book II, Cambridge 1989, 105.
20 Immerwahr, Form and Thought (above, n. 4), 254, noted the symbolic
importance of the earthquake, as part of the religious atmosphere of Herodo
tus' account of the Marathon expedition. However, it also marks the moment of
the Persian crossing into Europe.
21 Note that at 2,16, Thucydides uses άρτι to refer to the Athenian expe
rience in 479-forty-eight years before. The force of such adverbs is contextual:
in both Herodotus and Thucydides, the notion that Delos had «never» before
been moved, creates the context of an indefinitely long period, to which the ad
verbial phrases relate.

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be established between 490 and 43122. That Herodotus saw

the sign as referring far beyond Mardonius' expedition is
apparent from his listing of the three Persian kings who rei
gned from 490 to his own day. The « twenty preceding gene
rations» reach backwards to the heroic period, and proba
bly the Trojan War23. Herodotus clearly means the evils to
go well beyond the end of his own narrative, the siege of Se
stos: Artaxerxes did not start to reign until 4Ó5/46424. The
reference to « their own leaders fighting for mastery » could
be taken as referring to the conflicts between Sparta and
Athens in the 450's and 440's, but given that Herodotus el
sewhere refers to events as late as 43025, it undoubtedly in
cludes the War which began in 431, in which Sparta and
Athens had renewed and intensified their struggle for mas
tery. The passage is further strengthened by Herodotus' in
terpretations of the Persian royal names (here given in the
correct order; it is distorted in our manuscripts), which play
upon similarity in sound between Greek and Persian words
(Δαρείος - άρήιος, Ξέρξης - έρξίης, Άρτοξέρξης - κάρτα
έρξίης)26. All these indicators that Datis' visit to Delos was a
privileged event in Herodotus' narrative permitted the au
dience to recognize this event as epochal, one of the begin
nings of trouble. It is parallel to but more important than
the Athenian decision to send twenty ships to help the Io

22 A terminus post quem would be provided by Pindar F87 Bergk (33c

Snell), which terms Delos an «unmoved marvel», if it could be dated. A frag
ment from the same poem (F 88 = 33d) preserves the earliest mention of Delos'
original status as a floating island, before Leto came to it to give birth to Apol
lo and Artemis, after which four iron pillars anchored it. The legendary stabili
ty of the island rendered the earthquake especially significant.
23 The twenty generations recall the twenty generations in both lines of
the Spartan kings, going back to Heracles (7,204 and 8,131,2).
24 C.W. Fornara, Evidence for the Date of Herodotus' Publication, JHS,
XCI, 1971, 25-34 at 32-33 think 6,98 must have been written after the Archida
mian war, since Artaxerxes' death seems to be implied. Artaxerxes died winter
424/423: see N. W. Stolper, The Death of Artaxerxes I, AMI, XVI, 1983, 223 -
25 Cf. e.g. 7,137 and Thuc., 2,67.
26 Accepting the transpostion suggested by A. B. Cook, Nomen omen, CR,
XXI, 1907, 169. The word μέγας in Herodotus suggests the adverb κάρτα, or
less likely the prefix àpi-. All three names would have lost the first letter in the
transfer to Herodotus' Greek form. For such explanations of foreign words by
similar sounding ones cf. 2,2; 4,59,2 and N. Sekunda, Achaemenid Military Ter
minology, AMI, XXI, 1988, 69-77.

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nians (5,97,3)27. In both cases, the aggressors undertake ex

peditions across continental boundaries.
On the return journey after his defeat at Marathon, Da
tis stopped at Mykonos, a short distance from Delos, where,
inspired by a vision, he searched out from among the Per
sian ships a golden statue of Apollo which had been plun
dered from the sanctuary at Delium on the mainland. He im
mediately sailed to Delos and entrusted it to the Delians to
return to its sanctuary (6,118). Again Delos is a boundary
point: the god does not permit his statue to be taken beyond
that point.
According to Herodotus, the mainland Greeks also felt
that Delos was a boundary of their sphere of action. When
after the battle of Salamis the fleet began to pursue the Per
sians, they had no hesitation to sail against Andros and Par
os. But they halted at Delos. The historian reports that
beyond Delos all was frightening: they were not familiar
with the territory, and they feared that the Persian fleet was
everywhere. To them, Samos seemed as distant as the pil
lars of Heracles! (8, 132). The terror of the mainland Greeks
is obviously exaggerated, but serves to give special weight
to the critical moment when the Hellenic league passes over
to the offense, and moves from Europe to Asia, bringing the
attack to the land « which the Persians have always conside
red theirs» (9, 116, 3, cf. 1, 4, 4)28.

27 Delos had already received privileged treatment in Herodotus' nar

rative, as part of the account of the Hyperboreans in the Scythian ethnography
section of book 4 (4,33-35), which immediately preceded his sketch of the geo
graphy of Asia and Europe. The Delians said that offerings sent by the Hyper
boreans travel through the whole of Europe. The Hyperboreans pass them to
the Scythians, who pass them in turn to all the tribes going west, then south
until they reach Greek territory, then eastward to Delos (4,33,1-2). Delos, in the
center of the Aegean, here also seems to represent the edge of Europe. For an
argument that Herodotus was willing to accept the existence of the Hyperbo
reans, see J. Romm, Herodotus and Mythic Geography: the Case of the Hyperbo
reans, TAPhA, CXIX, 1989, 97-113. With the advent of the plague in 430, Delos
took on especial importance for the Athenians as the home of Apollo, the god of
both healing and sickness. Cf. Thuc., 3,104 and the note of Hornblower, Com
mentary (above, n. 18) ad loc.
28 The actuality of such fear among the Greeks has been questioned by
scholars, since they sailed on soon enough: a standard solution has been to see
this as a problem of Herodotus' sources, as T. J. Quinn does: « Herodotus' ex
planation probably reflects the irritation of the Chians and many other Ionians
who wanted a speedy response to their request to sail to Ionia itself» (Athens

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The Greeks finally decided t

couraged by a favorable sacrifi
favor. The envoy from Samos u
liberate their island was named
who leads the army». The Spar
took this name as a good omen
lead his forces to Samos. Herod
by creating a formal dialogue
Leotychidas built around the r
by adding his own comment on
interest in the name,

either because he wished to hear for

in fact by chance, since the god was

Finally, the Greek decision to

companied by a strange story,
inent position here to the impl
action of the Greeks. On Delos,
a favorable sacrifice for the de
the brief notice of the sacrific
narrative inserted by Herodotu
ther Euenos (9, 93-94). Euenos
occasion for guarding the sacre
tive city of Apollonia. One nigh
the animals while Euenos was s
condemned him to be blinded, bu
and land became sterile. Upon
Delphi, the citizens were told t
ded Euenos, 2) the wolves had
selves, 3) the gods would conti
the citizens had paid in compen
self considered fair and just, a
once Euenos had been compens
highly desirable gift. The Ap

and Samos, Lesbos and Chios 478-404 B. C

was already under Athenian influence: Peis
29 The reference to chance, συντυχίη
root of Leotychidas' name.

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mandate, determined to pay the compensation that Euenos

considered just, but tricked him by concealing from him the
fact that they were under divine compulsion to do so. They
thus succeeded in having him propose and receive as recom
pense much less than he might have asked. After they paid
him the amount requested, the gods bestowed on him in ad
dition the gift of prophecy.
The three part story of Euenos' blinding, the oracles of
Zeus and Apollo, and the restitution made by the Apollo
nians and by the gods reveals the difference between divine
and human justice30. The gods acted strangely and contrary
to human expectation in sending wolves to destroy their
own flock, but repaid Euenos generously for the suffering
that their act caused him. The Apollonians, on the other
hand, seemed to act justly, first in punishing Euenos, and
then in repaying him according to the oracles, but in fact
they tried to avoid fair payment by keeping secret the reply
of the oracles. The story is a particular instance of the
theme of violation followed by vengeance or restitution, so
fundamental to Herodotus, from the first stories of stolen
women to the punishment of Artyaktes at the end of the
book. But the particular features of the account, the role of
the gods and the deception by the Apollonians, provide a
provocative commentary to the Greek decision at Delos to
cross over into Asian territory.
The Greek invasion of Asia was taken in retaliation for
the Persian invasion of Europe. Yet in treating the origin of
the expedition Herodotus had suggested that divine will was
also behind the Persian expedition, most clearly in the
dream which appeared to Xerxes and Artabanus (7, 12-18)31.
This fact suggests a parallel between the wolves sent by the
gods against their own flock in Euenos' story and the Per
sians sent against Greece. Are the Greeks then similar to the

30 Cf. Immerwahr Form and Thought (above, n. 4), 301.

31 The whole dream sequence is mysterious: see H. R. Immerwahr, Histori
cal Action in Herodotus, TAPhA, LXXXV, 1954, 16-45 at 33-37, F. Solmsen, Two
Crucial Decisions in Herodotus, Mededelingen der koninklijke Nederlandse Aka
demie van Wetenschappen, AFD. Letterkunde, XXXVII, 6, 1974, 139-170 at
143-161; B. Shimron, Politics and Belief in Herodotus, Stuttgart 1989, 51-53. One
element is that Xerxes is driven by divine necessity as well as human desire.

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Apollonians, who rashly punish

pay him, thinking that they are
ry suggests that humans may p
in accordance with the divine j
their own goals. Herodotus' na
place calls into question the vali
to Asia32. The story is one more
in Herodotus' narrative of Delo
Asia and Europe.
Herodotus, then, divided the
the Athenian hellenotamiai did,
lespont south, keeping east of M
of Crete, to the Nile, thus mak
to Asia, the Cyclades and Euboe
represented a departure from t
tion. Hecataeus of Miletus had i
islands, including Lemnos, Lesbos, Chios, the Oinoussai
(near Chios) and Koresai (near Samos), in the section of his
Periegesis devoted to Europe33. Herodotus' revised geogra
phical conception took into account political history and
gave a greater role to Asia in the Aegean.
Throughout Herodotus' Histories crossing continental
boundaries is a major indicator and symbol of imperialist
aggression. Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius, Xerxes, had all di
splayed Persian aggression by crossing continental bounda
ries34. Now that potent symbol is invoked in the crossing of

32 According to Diodorus (11,34,3), the Greeks made a decision to liberate

the cities of Asia at the time of leaving Delos. This is not Herodotus' interpreta
tion. Cf. Seager - Tuplin, Freedom (above, n. 11).
33 FGrHist, 1 F 138, 140-143. Euboea and the island of Helena off Attica
were in the same section (F 128-130). The only Aegean island in the section on
Asia was Lade, off Miletus (F 241).
34 Respectively, the Araxes, the Nile, the Hellespont and Nile, and the
Hellespont. On significant boundaries, see D. Lateiner, The Historical Method
of Herodotus, Toronto 1989, Phoenix, suppl. 23, 127-135. The Trojan War, as
shown by the preface, was an intercontinental war, arising from intercontinen
tal injustices (1,1-4, cf. 7,20,2). Herodotus also notes in passing other «intercon
tinental» expeditions: cf. 1,6,3, 15; 1,103-106; 2,102-106, 110; 4,1; 4,11-12; 7,20,2.
On Herodotus' geography see E. H. Bunbury, A History of Ancient Geography2,
London 1883, 160-169, H. Berger, Geschichte der wissenschaftlichen Erdkunder
der Griechen2, Leipzig 1903, 77-99; J. L. Myres, Herodotus: the Father of Histo
ry, Chicago 1971, 32-43; and more recently G. Lachenaud, Connaissance du mon
de et répresentations de l'espace dans Hérodote, Hellenika, XXXII, 1980, 42-60;

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the Aegean. Herodotus informed or reminded his audience

that Athens once before had crossed this boundary in sen
ding its ships against Sardis during the Ionian revolt, and
that in 479 the Greeks repeated that action after Salamis by
pursuing the Persians beyond Delos. They would see at once
that the Athenian empire, the body of subject states created
by Athens which spanned the Aegean and controlled cities
both along the Asiatic coast and on the islands belonging to
Asia, could be seen as comparable to the Persian empire,
with its base in Asia and its holdings in Europe. In a signifi
cant way, the Athenian empire's present extent, if Herodo
tus' audience should extrapolate from his narrative, would
be seen as a violation of the natural order of things, just as
was the Persian empire's under Xerxes, and for that reason
just as likely to be temporary35.

The imposition of phoros

Every contemporary listener, when he heard the begin

ning of Herodotus' narrative, with its emphatic description
of Croesus as

the first who subjugated the Greeks to the payment of tribute, ές

φόρου άπαγωγήν36,

would immediately have thought of the Athenian phoros in

his own day. In the account of Persia which follows, Hero
dotus uncompromisingly associates phoros with empire.
Cyrus the Great continued the phoros after his defeat of

G. Arniotti, L'Europa nella polemica tra Erodoto e la scuola ionica, CISA, XII,
1986, 49-56, Romm, Herodotus and Mythic Geography (above, η. 27).
35 Herodotus' audience would also think of Athenian expeditions outside
of Europe subsequent to the Persian wars, such as the victories at the Euryme
don, the Egyptian campaign (cf. Hdt., 3,12,4; 7,7), and the suppression of the
Samian revolt.
36 Hdt., 1,6,2, repeated at 1,27,1. The importance of phoros to the kind of
conquest which Herodotus is considering explains the apparent contradiction
on the question of who first did wrong to the Greeks. For the problem, see Ero
doto: Le Storie, D. Asheri ed., Milano 1988, I, CHI and η. 1. The reference to
Croesus' alliance with Sparta in the same passage is equally important for the
reception by Herodotus' audience, but represents a different theme: cf. n. 68.

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Croesus and conquest of Ionia

nians to pay phoros after the
byses did with Libyans (3, 13,
acount of the Persian phoros o
of Persian revenues (3, 89-96)
stricts: the first district (Ioni
and the third (the Hellespon
were those inhabited by Gree
360 silver talents respectively
sely richer: Babylon contribu
dia 360 talents of gold, equiva
total Herodotus calculated at 1
ding other gifts and payment
of empire, and of power.
Phoros received from the Gre
the mark of the Athenian em
beginning of Athens' arche as
phoros, and gives refusal to p
revolts from the empire (1,96,
wealth, derived from the pho
er, and permitted her the ass
hegemony in Greece. It paid
controlled the seas and could

37 Cf. Hdt., 7,51: Cyrus made Ionia da

33 The exact nature of this list and Herodotus' source for it is uncertain:
it would seem to be an oral version of a written document, perhaps modified to
fit the interests of Herodotus or his informant (cf. D. Asheri, Erodoto: Le Sto
rie, Milano 1990, III, XXXIII-XXIV, 305-307 and D. Μ. Lewis' conclusions on
Hdt., 7,61-98, the list of the Persians forces, in Persians in Herodotus, in The
Greek Historians: Literature and History, Stanford 1985, 101-117 at 116-117).
The similar lists on Persian inscriptions were probably not lists of satrapies,
but of peoples or financial districts: see G. G. Cameron, The Persian Satrapies
and Related Matters, JNES, XXXII, 1973, 47-56. Herodotus' account is accepted
as basically sound by M. A. Dandamaev - V. B. Lukonin, The Culture and Social
Institutions of Ancient Iran, Cambridge 1989, 183-188; contrast Ο. K. Armayor,
Herodotus' Catalogues of the Persian Empire in the Light of the Monuments and
Greek Literary Tradition, TAPhA, CVIII, 1978, 1-9.
39 The 14,560 total, according to Herodotus (3,95,1) did not include the tri
bute from the later conquest of Darius in the islands and in Thrace. Gifts were
expected from Ethiopia, Colchis, and Arabia (3,97), as well as from Babylon
(1,192,1) and the plain in Asia (3,117,6). On the gift system of revenue, cf. Thuc.,
2,97,3-4 on the income of the Thracian king Sitalces, and on Persian revenues in
general Dandamaev - Lukonin The Culture and Social Institutions (above, n. 38)
177-195 and P. Briant, Rois, tributs et paysans, Paris 1982. Here the accuracy of
the figures are not of concern, but their effect on Herodotus' audience.

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mitted her to purchase grain from abroad and thus with

draw from the Peloponnesian invaders of Attica to safety be
hind the walls of Athens; and it gave the surplus to face a
long war. According to Thucydides, Pericles encouraged the
Athenians at the beginning of the war with an account of
their income: 600 talents per year from the phoros of the
empire, not to mention other revenues (2,13,3). A list of reve
nues, to Thucydides as to Herodotus, indicated strength.
Athenians and visitors to Athens had seen the yearly proces
sion at the greater Dionysia of the bearers of tribute from
the subject cities and the magnificent buildings constructed
with that money. Herodotus' audience knew by sight or re
port the magnificent, proud stone slabs recording the quota
from each state which had been dedicated to Athena. These
lists parallel, although on a much smaller scale, the Persian
tribute list reported by Herodotus. After the first few years,
the Athenian lists began to be divided into districts-island,
Ionian, Hellespontine, Thracian-just as Herodotus' account
divided the Persian empire into twenty tribute districts40.
By tying empire to phoros, Herodotus implies a parallel
between the Persian empire and the Athenian arche. This
parallel is especially cogent where the two empires overlap,
in Ionia. Herodotus emphasizes Ionian tribute at the begin
ning of his work, and at the head of the Persian tribute list.
Most significantly, he asserts the continuity of the tribute in
his own time. Immediately after the Ionian revolt had been
put down, he writes,

[Artaphernes] fixed the tribute that each area should pay. They
have continued to pay district by district, according to the assess
ment of Artaphernes, from then until my time (6,42)41.

40 Herodotus does not provide explicit indications of his attitude toward

the situation of the cities of the Delian League which supplied ships rather
than tribute. He may not have thought it different from that of the Ionian cities
under the Persians, who like the Phoenicians and other nations supplied ships
and men when requested (7,93-95). Certainly Thucydides indicates that in the
later years the ship-contributing cities, while theoretically autonomous and
free (αύτόνομοι ... καί έλεύθεροι, 3,10,5) through fear were kept as much in sub
jection as the others, as is clear from the revolts of Samos and Mytilene (cf.
especially the Mytileneans' speech at Olympia, 3,9-14).
41 The precise interpretation of this notice is disputed, since its implica

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Athens had picked up the bato

continued in subjection, ές φόρου

The enslavement of Ionia

If it subjected them through

appear as the successor to Pers
and in particular of the Ionians
rallying cry of Athens' enemie
ponnesian War was «the free
nents belonged to two classes:

those who wanted to be freed from

afraid that they might fall under it

Herodotus' history had ended wit

the Persian yoke. But to the con
had been only the beginning,
nians were soon dominated by
victory of Mykale was not jus
from Persia, but the first step i
Ionia. The first whom Herodotu
was Croesus, when he conquered the Ionians: before he
forced them to pay tribute, «all Greeks were free» (έλεύθε
ροι, 1,5,3; 1,6,3). But the injustice did not end, and freedom
was not reestablished, in 479.
What does Herodotus' narrative imply about the nature
of Athenian domination? Some hints appear in his account
of the Greek council at Samos in 479. At the battle of Myka
le, the Ionians finally joined the Greeks and opposed the

tion that the tribute paid in the mid-fifth century was exactly the same that it
was under Artaphernes contradicts our other evidence. The authors of The
Athenian Tribute List argued that the original assessment of the Delian League
was taken over by Aristides and the Athenians from the Persian assessment
(ATL 3:234 and n. 3, cf. R. Meiggs, The Athenian Empire, Oxford 1972, 61-62).
See now Η. T. Wallinga, Persian Tribute and Delian Tribute, in Le tribut dans
l'empire Perse, P. Briant - C. Herrenschmidt eds., Paris 1989, 157 - 171. Others
think Herodotus refers to tribute still paid or owed to Persia (cf. O. Murray, Ό
άρχαΐος δασμός, Historia, XV, 1966, 142-156 at 142-146). I believe that Herodo
tus is speaking of tribute in his day paid to Athens.

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Persians, «revolting for the second time» (Hdt., 9,104). Im

mediately after, a Council was held on Samos to discuss
what do to with the Ionians who for two generations had
been subject to Persia. The Spartans suggested that the only
way to preserve the Ionians from Persian rule was for them
to emigrate to Greece, taking over the lands held by those
who had gone over to Persia the year before. This Spartan
solution was meant to go to the heart of the matter: Ionians
lived in Asia, and they would always naturally be subject to
the power which ruled Asia. By moving their cities, the Io
nians would escape Asian domination, and enjoy the free
dom of Europe. The migratory solution, according to Hero
dotus, had already been proposed by Bias, many years be
fore, and had been put into practice by the Phocaeans and
Teans, when Harpagus conquered Ionia for Cyrus (1,164-168,
170)42. The Spartan solution would have freed the Ionians
permanently and permitted the continents to resume the ba
lance envisioned by the Persian explanation of their hostility
toward the Greeks (1,4,4): Europe for the Greeks, Asia for
the Persians. The Athenians, however, opposed this neat di
vision. In Herodotus' story, they blocked relocation of the
Ionians, and rejected the Peloponnesians' right to be concer
ned about Athenian colonists, reaffirming the old legends of
the foundation of the Ionian cities from Athens. Athens,
though a European power, asserted its original and exclusi
ve ties to the Ionians of Asia, its bond linking the continents.
The Athenian view carried, with important consequences.
The decision to accept the Ionians into the Hellenic league
effectively affirmed that Greeks belonged in both Europe
and Asia. But with the very affirmation, there was also a
price: the Ionians were to swear «to remain in the league,
and not to revolt» (9,106). Ionian freedom had been won by
revolting from Persia: no sooner had it been achieved than

42 Half of the Phocaeans, «in agony at the slavery of submission», migra

ted. to Corsica, and later Elea. The Teans migrated to Abdera. Cf. Ν. H. Demand,
Urban Relocation in Archaic and Classical Greece, Norman, Oklahoma, 1990,
34-44. Cf. also the Carian debate at Labraunda, 5,119,2 and the flight of some
Samians and of Dionysius of Phocaea to Sicily, 6,17,2, 22-24. Aristagoras'
thoughts of fleeing with his faction to Sardinia or Myrkinos, 5,124, are rather

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the freedom to revolt itself was to be surrendered. For an

audience in the 430s and 420s, revolt against Athenian domi
nation seemed the only path to freedom for the Greek cities
of the Delian league43. Surrendering the right to revolt was
an invitation to slavery.
Strikingly, Herodotus' narrative juxtaposes the decision
at Samos, which affirmed the unity of the Greeks, linking
them across the continents, with the destruction of the Hel
lespontine bridges44. The Greek fleet links the Greeks of Eu
rope and Asia, and assures the dissolution of the bonds
which Xerxes had attempted to establish between the two
continents. The beginnings of the Athenian empire, in the
Athenian decision to assert its hegemony in Asia, are direc
tly coupled with the failure of the Persian empire to assert
its hegemony over Europe. The transfer is made abundantly
clear in the following chapters, in which the Athenians, af
ter the withdrawal of the Spartans45, take Sestos in Asia and
avenge Protesilaus, the first Greek to land on Asian soil in
the Trojan War46.
Through his accounts of the council of Samos and the
siege of Sestos Herodotus intimated that Athens' initiatives
in 479 could be seen as the first stages of a new aggression

43 The arguments justifying the revolt of one of the most privileged al

lies/subjects of Athens are set out by Thucydides in the speech of the Mytile
neans at Olympia, 3,9-14.
44 Hdt., 9,106,4: τούτους δέ καταλαβόντες όρκίοισι έπλεον τάς γέφυρας
λύσοντες. «When they had accepted these people with oaths, they sailed to de
stroy the bridges ».
45 This withdrawal foreshadows the later Spartan retreat from Aegean af
fairs and the establishment of the Delian league, already indicated by Herodo
tus at 8,3,2.
46 Chapters 9,107-113 treat the aftermath of the Persian expedition in the
Persian court, through the figure of Xerxes' brother Macistes, who had been
present at Mycale (9,107). The Greek narrative resumes at 9,114 and continues
to 9,121 and the end of the year. On these last chapters, see J. Herington, The
Closure of Herodotus' Histories, ICS, XVI, 1991, 149-160. The references to Xan
thippus at 9,114,2 and 120,4 would have made some of the audience think of his
son Pericles, the chief figure in the Athenian democracy and spokesman for em
pire at the time the Histories were presented orally, himself mentioned only at
6,131. In describing the punishment of Artayktes, «hanging him up after nailing
him to a board», that is, apotumpanismos, Herodotus may wish to recall the
similar punishment administered by the Athenians during the Samian revolt,
«binding them to boards for ten days» before killing them (Plut., Per., 28,2). On
the punishment of Artyactes, see Lateiner, Historical Method (above, n. 34)
46-47, 132-133, 142.

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against Asia, which would involve the enslavement of Ionia.

Attentive listeners to Herodotus' stories would have noted
signs of Athenian aggression and self-interest even earlier.
Intermingled with the many stories praising Athens'
fight for freedom, and even as one aspect of those stories,
Herodotus had presented a different view of Athens, one
which emphasized its aggressive and expansionist tenden
cies. These tendencies were tightly bound to Athens' fight
for freedom. Note especially Miltiades' argument before the
battle of Marathon: «If Athens wins, it will be able to
become the first city in Greece» (6,109,3). Earlier, immedia
tely after the expulsion of the tyrants from Athens, Herodo
tus had marveled at the energy which their new-found free
dom instilled in the Athenians.

Not one but many arguments demonstrate that democracy (isego

rie - equal participation in political debate) is something signifi
cant, if before, when they were under a tyrant, the Athenians were
superior to none of their neighbors, but when free of them, they
became by far the first (5,78).

Freedom here leads to political dominance47.

Athenian democratic dynamism, resulted in their victo
ry over Euboeans and Boeotians, the war with Aegina, their
decision to aid Aristagoras' revolt in 499, and their threat to
join Persia in 479 (5,77, 82-99, 97; 9, ll)48.
Herodotus' audience were familiar with many Athenian
actions in the Aegean in the years after 479 which could con
firm Athens democratic dynamism, even though Herodotus
does not treat these events in his narrative49. Significantly,
however, Herodotus does create a tie between the battle of
Mykale and the siege of Karystos, the first Greek city attac
ked by the Athenian fleet (Thuc., 1,98,3). The best fighter of

47 Cf. Raaflaub's observations, Herodotus' Political Thought (above, n. 4)

48 Minor, but still significant incidents, are connected with the enterprise
of individual Athenians: Miltiades' attempt to extort money from Paros
(6,132-36), and Themistocles' action against Andros and other islands
49 Thucydides' Pentacontaetea lists those items which interested him
(Thuc., 1,89-117).

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the best Greek contingent at the

us, was Hermolykos son of Eutho

It happened that this Hermolykos som

a war between Athens and Karystos
the Karystian territory and lies burie

Why include this notice? Mykale

the freedom of the Ionians. This brief note reminds his au
dience that Athens moved from freeing the Ionians to ensla
ving Greek cities. It is hardly coincidence that Thucydides
records the war with Karystos as the first action taken by
the Athenians against Greeks in the process of converting
the Delian league into an empire. The progression in Thucy
dides is neat: four names represent four different stages.
Eion, Skyros, Karystos, Naxos. The conquest of a Persian
fortress in Thrace by Cimon; the reduction and enslavement
of Skyros, held by the Dolopes, a non-Greek people; the for
cible bringing to terms of Karystos, a Greek city which had
fought with the Persians at Salamis and perhaps had not
joined the league; and finally the «enslavement» of Naxos,
an allied city, which had belonged to the league but revol
ted. Many of Herodotus' audience would have known the
circumstances of the war with Karystos50 and realized,
thanks to this brief item, the relation between the Persian
defeat at Mykale and the beginning of Athenian dominance.
Mykale and Karystos are linked in Herodotus' mind, and
those of his listeners. They would have remembered other
cities and territories which attempted to revolt: Naxos, Tha
sos, Euboea, and perhaps Miletus and Erythrae51. The end
of one arche is tied to the beginning of another.
The greatest internal crisis of the Athenian empire oc
curred in 440-439, when Samos revolted. The rebel city, per

50 We know nothing more about this war than Herodotus and Thucydides
tell us in these passages. The time is uncertain, perhaps ca. 474-472.
51 Naxos and Thasos: Thuc., 1,99-101. For the revolts of Boeotia and Eu
boea in 446, see Thuc., 1, 113-114. For the possible revolts of Miletus and Eryth
rae, and other disaffection in the empire after the loss in Egypt, cf. R. Meiggs,
The Athenian Empire, Oxford 1972, 112-124. Many of the forward references in
Herodotus refer to battles between Greeks, including efforts by Athens to en
force and expand its power.

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haps the most powerful in the empire after Athens, fought

bitterly, and only fell to Pericles and the Athenian fleet after
a nine month siege. The Samians were forced to tear down
their walls and pay a heavy indemnity. There is a story that
the Athenians even tattooed the Samian prisoners with an
Athenian owl, treating them as runaway slaves (Plut., Per.,
26). This humiliation of the strongest of the Ionian islands
would have been a vivid memory throughout the Greek
world, and a potent factor in the «horizon of reception» of
Herodotus' audience52. The characterization of the Samians
as runaway slaves must have triggered especially strong
emotional feeling.
Herodotus pivots his whole treatment of freedom and
slavery on the Ionians53. The Ionians were enslaved first by
Croesus, then by Persia, and their reactions to enslavement
run as a leitmotif through the work54. Some major moments
in his narrative:
1) After Polycrates' death, Maiandrios offers the Sa
mians the gift of freedom. But the Samians begin to insult
him, and demand an accounting of money he handled under
Polycrates. Maiandrios decides that it will be safer to be a
tyrant, and the opportunity for freedom disappears
(3,142-143). Herodotus wryly comments:

And in fact, apparently they had no desire to be free (ού γάρ δή, ώς
οίκασι, έβούλοντο είναι έλεύθεροι, 3,143,2).

2) The Ionian tyrants at the Danube refuse to cut the

bridge and allow Dareius and the Persian army to be de

52 Note the joke on the Samians as being πολυγράμματος (« with many let
ters», but also «written all over») in Aristophanes' Babylonians of 426 B. C.
(Plut., Per., 26,4).
53 See Immerwahr, Form and Thought (above, n. 4), 230-233, A. Masarac
chia, Studi Erodotei, Messina 1976, 9-44.
54 Herodotus uses the term Ionian both restrictively, as opposed to Aeo
lians and Dorians, and inclusively, referring to all the Greeks of Asia Minor and
the islands. The tyrants at the Danube, e.g., are called Ionians (4, 97-98, 133-134,
136-137, 140, 142), although they included men from the Hellespont and Aeolis
(4,138, cf. 4,97, the Lesbian Coes). Cf. also 9,106. J. Hart, Herodotus and Greek
History, London - Canberra - New York 1982, 181-182 is too restrictive. Masa
racchia. Studi Erodotei, 10, η. 1 (above n. 53), and D. Gillis, Collaboration with
the Persians, Wiesbaden 1979, 4 n. 6, follow Herodotus in using «Ionians» to
mean all Asiatic Greeks.

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stroyed by the Scythians (4,136,

gusted, and Herodotus explains t

The Scythians reckon that in so fa

are the most cowardly and unman
siders them as slaves, they are of c
least likely to flee55.

3) Histiaios of Miletus instigat

not for Ionian independence, bu
Miletus. The ringleader in Ionia
personal motive56.
4) During the revolt, before th
the energetic general Dionysios
military exercises:

The situation is on a razor's edge, Ion

or slaves, and runaway slaves at that

But the Ionians, after a bit of hard work, decide that free
dom isn't worth the effort. Rowing in the hot sun seems to
them slavery already, and they prefer, as they say,

to endure a future slavery, whatever it might be, rather than the

present one (6,11-12).

55 Hdt., 4,142: τοΰτο μέν, ώς έόντας "Ιωνας έλευθέρους, κάκιστους τε και

άνανδροτάτους κρίνουσι είναι άπάντων άνθρώπων, τοΰτο δέ, ώς δούλων 'Ιώνων τόν
λόγον ποιεύμενοι, άνδράποδα φιλοδέσποτά φασι είναι καί δδρηστα μάλιστα. The
two words used here, φιλοδέσποτος and άδρηστος, are quite strong and, with
his use of dialogue, indicate the importance Herodotus gives to the occasion.
56 Herodotus' characterization of the role of Histiaios and Aristagoras
has frequently been criticized by modern historians as prejudiced or biased.
See among others M. Lang, Herodotus and the Ionian Revolt, Historia, XVII,
1968, 24-36; Κ. H. Waters, Herodotus and the Ionian Revolt, Historia, XIX,
1970, 504-508; J.A.S. Evans, Herodotus and the Ionian Revolt, Historia, XXV,
1976, 31-37; P. Tozzi, Erodoto e la responsabilità dell'inizio della rivolta ionica,
Athenaeum, LV, 1977, 127-135 and La rivolta ionica, Pisa 1978; J. Neville, Was
there an Ionian Revolt?, CQ, N.S., XXIX, 1979, 268-275; D. Lateiner, The Failu
re of the Ionian Revolt, Historia, XXXI, 1982, 129-160; and Η. T. Walunga, The
Ionian Revolt, Mnemosyne, XXXVII, 1984, 401-437. The question here, howe
ver, is the effect of Herodotus' narrative on his audience, not its truth.
57 Dionysios' words are an allusion to, II., 10,173-174, Nestor's exhorta
tion to Diomedes when things seem darkest for the Achaeans, and add epic
weight to the passage. On this speech, see L. Solmsen, Speeches in Herodotus'
Account of the Ionic Revolt, AJPh, LXIV, 1943, 194-207.

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Herodotus castigates the servile attitude and the twisted

motives of the leaders of the Ionian Revolt, denying it heroic
stature. Dionysios had said that the Ionians must fight to
prove that they were not simply runaway slaves. But Hero
dotus' account shows that they are in fact slaves, disconten
ted, but not willing to exert themselves to be free58.
5) During the Persian Wars, the Ionians refused until
the very last moment to join themselves with the European
Greeks in opposition to Xerxes. Artabanos put the case
squarely at Abydus:

For if they follow you, they must either be utter scoundrels to en

slave their motherland, or else prove themselves the justest of men
in helping her to freedom (ή γάρ σφεας, ήν έπωνται, δεν άδικωτάτους
γίνεσθαι καταδουλουμένους τήν μητρόπολιν, ή δικαιότατους
συνελευθεροϋντας, 7,51,2).

Xerxes resolutely — and rightly — rejects the advice: they

did not revolt before, nor will they now (7,52). At Salamis,
Herodotus tell us,

Only a few responded to Themistocles' urgings and held back, but

most did not.

On the contrary, the Ionians fought enthusiastically for the

Persian king. Herodotus is bitter:

I could list the names of many ship commanders who captured

Greek ships, but I will mention only two Samians, Theomestor son
of Andromas and Phylakos son of Histaios. I record these because
later as a reward for their activity there, Theomestor was set up
by the Persians as tyrant of Samos, and Phylakos was inscribed as
a benefactor of the king (what the Persians call an orosanga) and
given a large territory (8,85)59.

58 Ο. Murray (Early Greece, Brighton - Sussex - Atlantic Highlands, New

Jersey 1980, 244) argues that the Ionian revolt was treated negatively in the
Greek tradition because it was a failure, a common feature of oral tradition.
This fact partially explains Herodotus' account, but I think the contemporary
situation of Ionia was a more important factor.
59 At Artemisium some were inclined toward the Greeks, but only one
Lemnian ship deserted (8,10-11). For Themistocles' attempts at persuasion, see
8,19, 22, 85. Xerxes praised the Ionians at Salamis, even when the Phoenicians

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These passages indicate much

bias against Ionia. Aggression an
fundamental way upon the attit
pressed, upon their decision abo
When Cyrus the Great offered
being free or slave, he did not b
Rather he presented them with
parable of the difference betw
masters, a day of hard work an
The conscious nature of this decision is reiterated in Hero
dotus' very last chapter (9,122). The Ionians, in Herodotus'
mind, had not made that decision, except for those few
which had fled Ionia. Time and again, when the occasion
was offered, they had held back, and preferred the conve
nience of slavery.
It is reasonable to think that Herodotus interpreted the
Ionian revolt on the model of the Samian: leaders out for
their own ends, soldiers unwilling to fight to the death, and
a strong and determined imperial power quick to put down
rebellion. The Samian revolt, as far as we can learn from
Thucydides, supplemented by Plutarch and Diodorus60, was
hardly a glorious moment for Greek freedom. The revolt
arose because the Samians wished to war with Miletus, con
trary to Athenian policy61. The Samians received aid from
the Persian satrap of Sardis, Pissouthnes. Sparta and the Pe
loponnesian league were asked for help, but refused, a deci
sion for which the Corinthians took credit (Thuc., 1,41,2)62.
The Athenian fleet was aided by 55 ships from other Ionian
Greeks, the Chians and Lesbians. Only Byzantium revolted

at Salamis charged them with treason (8,90). For the charge, cf. Euphemus'
words at Camarina (Thuc., 6,82,4): «[The Ionians] came against their mother ci
ty, against us, and did not dare by revolt to disturb their own world (ta oikeia),
as we when we left our city. They sought slavery for themselves and to bring it
upon us as well ».
60 Thuc., 1,115,2-117,3, Diod., 12,27-28, Plut., Per., 25-28.
61 Significantly for Herodotus' theme, the war developed from a contest
between Samos and Miletus over the land of Priene on the Asiatic mainland
(Thuc., 1,115,2, Plut., Per., 25,1). Herodotus noted that Persia had attempted to
enforce the same policy (6,42,1).
62 The Corinthians wished to dominate their own allies: cf. P. A. Stadter,
The Motives for Athens' Alliance with Corcyra (Thuc. 1,44), GRBS, XXIV, 1983,

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with Samos; no other city of the empire supported them.

The Athenians appear as conquerors, crossing the sea to im
pose their will63; the Samians as irresolute and short
sighted; the Chians and Lesbians as willing slaves, the
«most fawning and least likely to flee chattels» scorned by
Herodotus' Scythians. The Peloponnesians, Sparta and Cor
inth, reveal themselves interested in no one's freedom but
their own.
Samos is the most prominent city in Herodotus' Ionian
narrative64. It is often assumed that this is the result of He
rodotus' residence on the island after his exile from Halicar
nassus65. No doubt his sojourn would have given him occa
sion to hear stories and gather information. But he also
stopped at many other cities and arguably lived longer in
both Halicarnassus and Thurii than in any other city, yet he
does not give them the same attention. Rather it was the Sa
mian revolt which led Herodotus to single out that city in
his treatment of the subjection of Ionia. He made Samos the
epitome of the Ionian experience. It was not bias that led
Herodotus to characterize the Ionians as weak, fawning, and
spineless, but anger and frustration at seeing their behavior
in his own day. His provocative narrative meant that each
member of Herodotus' audience had to reevaluate his posi
tion and that of his city with regard to Samos, and to Ionia
as a whole, as he was absorbing Herodotus' tales of the
Whatever the motivating factors for Herodotus' selec
tion of events and interpretation, the revolt of Samos must
be taken as an integral part of the reception of Herodotus'
history by his audience. It represents the continuation in
their own minds of the sequence begun in Herodotus' narra
tive, which permits his audience to imagine the Athenians as
successors to the Persian empire, and the Ionian subjects of

63 Pericles' comparison of himself with Agamemnon (Plut., Per., 28, 7)

reinforces the notion of Samos as an Asiatic power, and the war as one more
act of intercontinental warfare.
64 See H. R. Immerwahr, The Samian Stories of Herodotus, CJ, LII,
1956-1957, 312-322, Β. M. Mitchell, Herodotus and Samos, JHS, XCV, 1975,
75-91, and R. TOlle-Kastenbein, Herodotus und Samos, Bochum 1976.
65 See most recently Mitchell, Herodotus and Samos (above, n. 64), 75.

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the Athenian empire as the sam

under Dareius and Xerxes. In effect, Herodotus' narrative
implies an explanation of the succes of the Athenian arche.
The « allies », and in particular the Ionians, prefer to live in
comfortable servitude rather than to make the effort to re
sist, to work in concert, to sacrifice individual privileges
and rivalries, and so gain their freedom. This was true in
the period 550-480, and it was still true in 440-42566.

Conclusion: Herodotus and the Athenian arche

Herodotus' three themes of aggression across continen

tal boundaries, exaction of tribute, and enslavement of sub
ject peoples encouraged a contemporary audience to infer
that Athens had succeeded Persia as an imperial power and
was able to maintain its position as a result of its own dyna
mism and Ionian servility. For most of the audience, this in
terpretation would represent a criticism both of Athens and
of its subjects67. Herodotus clearly expects a hostile attitude
toward Athens in his audience, as he reveals at 7, 139, when
he defends his statement that the Athenians deserved praise
for their decision to resist the Persians, for which they
could truly be said to be the saviors of Greece. Yet I think it
is as wrong to see Herodotus as anti-Athenian as to see him
as an Athenian partisan. In the stories of abductions of wo
men which begin his book, Herodotus clearly indicates a re
ciprocal motion: first one side, then another is unjust. In re

66 For the Ionians as weak, cf. Hdt., 1,143, Thuc., 5,9,1; 6,77,1; 8,25,3. If
the Samian revolt did shape Herodotus' narrative, there is a corollary: the rela
tive absence of attention to Lesbos implies that the Mytilenean revolt had not
occured when Herodotus was forming the overall pattern and structure of his
Histories. Therefore much of the larger plan can be dated to the period 439-428
B.C. On the willingness of cities to stay in a subordinate position, «enslaved»,
because of the financial advantages, see Thuc., 1,8: «From desire for gain, the
weaker put up with slavery to the stronger, and the stronger, using their sur
plus wealth, made subjects of the weaker cities». Thucydides applies this state
ment particularly to the thalassocracy of Minos, but it fits the contemporary si
tuation as well.
67 To this extent I support the arguments of recent scholars such as Stra
sburger, Fornara, and Raaflaub who have argued that Herodotus is not pro
Athenian (cf. n. 7).

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cent history, the Persians had been wrong. In his own day,
his audience might rightly think of the Athenians. At the
same time there are many indications that Herodotus expec
ted his audience to see other analogies as well, for example,
that between the Persians and the Spartans. To explore
those analogies would be, as Herodotus might say, another
Examination of these themes also reaffirms two facts
essential to understanding Herodotus and the effect his sto
ries had on his audience. The first is that Herodotus' Histo
ries were not accounts of a past distant and dead, but the
earlier episodes in a history which was still continuing, and
whose contemporary events clarified and gave meaning to
the past, as the past gave meaning to the present. The sec
ond is that Herodotus' stories are not simple, in either the
telling or the hearing: they are complex and multivalent,
suggesting different insights and interpretations to different
people and in different circumstances. They were ideally
suited for conveying the richness of the human historical ex
perience to an audience both unified in its fundamental ex
perience of living in fifth century Greece and diverse in
wealth, political views, civic involvement, and personal and
national history.

Philip A. Stadter

68 Note what Herodotus reports, e.g., about the Spartans: they allied
themselves with Croesus (1,6,2); they subdued the Greeks of the Peloponnese in
the sixth century (1,68,6); their preemptive strike against Athens because «they
feared that the Athenians would grow in power» (Thuc., 1,88,1, cf. 1,23,6 an
118,2) is similar to Croesus' decision to make a preemptive strike against th
Persians «before they became great» (1,46,1); they, like Croesus, were encou
aged by the Delphic oracle (Thuc., 1,118,3: the parallel suggests that oracles r
quired care in interpretation, especially by an aggressor); the Spartans, th
champions of Greek freedom in 432, had once attempted to restore Hippias a
tyrant of Athens (5,91-93).

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