The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome



In Scythia—The Burning of Sardis—Destruction of the Fleet—Second Expedition Against Greece—Marathon—The Persians Return to Asia—Death of Darius

DARIUS having put down all these aspirants to the throne, determined to extend his conquests and enlarge his dominions. In the vision of the eighth chapter of Daniel, the ram representing Media and Persia, was pushing westward, northward, and southward. Cyrus had carried their arms westward to the AEgean Sea, and Cambyses southward to Ethiopia. Now Darius fulfills the other specification and carries the boundaries of the empire yet farther westward, and also northward. GEP 74.1

2. Controlling already all the East to the borders of India,—for “of the greater part of Asia Darius was the discoverer”—(Herodotus), 1—and there not being any room for conquest toward the south, only the west and the north remained open. Accordingly, Darius, in 516 B. C., gathered “the whole force of his empire,” both army and navy, for the purpose of invading Scythia. The army, led by Darius himself, marched through Asia Minor to the shore of the Bosporus, about half-way between the Black Sea and the point where Constantinople now lies. There his navy met him. A bridge of boats was made across the Bosporus, upon which the army crossed. After the army had crossed, the “fleet was sent forward into the Euxine [Black Sea] to the mouth of the Danube, with orders to sail up the river two days’ journey above the point where its channel begins to divide, and to throw a bridge of boats over it.” GEP 74.2

3. Darius, from the western shore of the Bosporus, continued “his march through Thrace, receiving the submission of the various Thracian tribes in his way, and subduing others—especially the Getae north of Mt. Haemus [the Balkans], who were compelled to increase still further the numbers of his army. On arriving at the Danube, he found the bridge finished and prepared for his passage by the Ionians.” Upon this second bridge of boats “he crossed this greatest of all earthly rivers [for so the Danube was imagined to be in the fifth century before Christ], and directed his march into Scythia.”—Grote. 2 GEP 74.3

4. The Scythians being a people without cities, or even houses, and not caring to engage in a pitched battle, Darius was obliged to spend the period of his invasion (more than two months) in marching through the country. (515 B. C.) Herodotus says that he marched to the east as far as the river Tanais (the Don), and then turned northward and westward; but finally becoming weary of chasing the phantom army of the Scythians, he turned from everything, and made his way as fast as possible again to the Danube, where he had left his navy and the bridge of boats. The Scythians perceiving this, started also to the Danube, and being perfectly acquainted with the country, arrived there a considerable time before Darius. GEP 75.1

5. As the naval forces were all Greeks, the Scythians tried hard to persuade the commanders who were in charge of the fleet to break up the bridge of boats and sail away, leaving Darius to perish. The Greeks, however, remained loyal to Darius. However, in order to make a show of complying with the wish of the Scythians, and also to prevent them from forcing a passage over the bridge, the Greeks did break up the bridge for a considerable distance from the northern shore, pretending thus to have turned against Darius and to wish his destruction. They succeeded in ridding themselves entirely of the Scythians by inviting them to do their part against Darius by marching back inland to meet him. The Scythians did so; but, taking a wrong route, missed him. Darius, therefore, reached the Danube in-safety, but only to find, as he supposed, the bridge gone. “It was night when they arrived, and their terror, when they found the bridge broken up, was great; for they thought that perhaps the Ionians had deserted them.” GEP 75.2

6. However, they thought of trying the expedient of calling across the water, in the hope that the voice might reach, perhaps, some remnant of their supposedly vanished navy. “Now there was in the army of Darius a certain man, an Egyptian, who had a louder voice than any other man in the world. This person was bid by Darius to stand at the water’s edge, and call Histaeus the Milesian. The fellow did as he was bid; and Histaeus, hearing him at the very first summons, brought the fleet to assist in conveying the army across, and once more made good the bridge. GEP 75.3

7. “By these means the Persians escaped from Scythia, while the Scyths sought for them in vain, again missing their track. And hence the Scythians are accustomed to say of the Ionians, by way of reproach, that, if they be looked upon as freemen, they are the basest and most dastardly of all mankind; but if they be considered as under servitude, they are the faithfulest of slaves, and the most fondly attached to their lords. Darius, having passed through Thrace, reached Sestos in the Chersonese, whence he crossed by the help of his fleet into Asia, leaving a Persian, named Megabazus, commander on the European side.” Herodotus. 3 GEP 76.1

8. “The Persians left behind by King Darius in Europe, who had Megabazus for their general, reduced, before any other Hellespontine State, the people of Perinthus, who had no mind to become subjects of the king.” But “the Perinthians, after a brave struggle for freedom, were overcome by numbers, and yielded to Megabazus and his Persians. After Perinthus had been brought under, Megabazus led his host through Thrace, subduing to the dominion of the king all the towns and all the nations of those parts. For the king’s command to him was that he should conquer Thrace.”—Herodotus. 4 GEP 76.2

9. Megabazus, having accomplished the conquest of all Thrace, “sent into Macedonia an embassy of Persians, choosing for the purpose the seven men of most note in all the army after himself. These persons were to go to Amyntas, and require him to give earth and water to Darius” as tokens of their submission to the power of Persia. The Macedonians gave the required tokens; but at a feast which was given in their honor, the Persians acted so offensively that they were all murdered. GEP 76.3

10. “Not very long afterward the Persians made strict search for their lost embassy; but Alexander [the son of Amyntas], with much wisdom, hushed up the business, bribing those sent on the errand, partly with money, and partly with the gift of his own sister Gygaea, whom he gave in marriage to Bubares, a Persian, the chief leader of the expedition which came in search of the lost men.” But the Macedonian king having given to the Persians earth and water, the tokens of submission, Macedonia was held as a province of the Persian Empire. GEP 77.1

11. After this there was a revolt of the Ionians, or Greeks of Asia Minor, 500-495 B. C., in which they were joined by their brethren of the islands along the coast, and with which the States of Greece itself, especially Eretria and Athens, so much sympathized as to be drawn into it. The Athenians and Ionians captured and burned Sardis, the capital of Lydia. Darius “no sooner understood what had happened, than, laying aside all thought concerning the Ionians, who would, he was sure, pay dear for their rebellion, he asked ‘who the Athenians were,’ and, being informed, called for his bow, and placing an arrow on the string, shot upward into the sky, saying, as he let fly the shaft, ‘Grant me, Jupiter, to revenge myself on the Athenians!’ After this speech, he bade one of his servants every day, when his dinner was spread, three times repeat these words to him, ‘Master, remember the Athenians.’”—Herodotus. 5 GEP 77.2

12. The Ionians did indeed pay dear for their rebellion. First their fleet was completely defeated and scattered by the Persians, then Miletus, their principal city, was besieged and taken, and all its people were reduced to slavery. “The naval armament of the Persians wintered at Miletus, and in the following year proceeded to attack the islands along the coast, Chios, Lesbos, and Tenedos, which were reduced without difficulty. Whenever they became masters of an island, the barbarians, in every single instance, netted the inhabitants. Now the mode in which they practise this netting is the following: Men join hands, so as to form a line across from the north coast to the south, and then march through the island from end to end and hunt out the inhabitants. In like manner the Persians took also the Ionian towns on the mainland, not, however, netting the inhabitants, as it was not possible. GEP 77.3

13. “And now their generals made good all the threats wherewith they had menaced the Ionians before the battle. For no sooner did they get possession of the towns than they chose out the best favored of the boys and made them eunuchs, while the most beautiful girls they tore from their homes and sent as presents to the king, at the same time burning the cities themselves, with the temples. Thus were the Ionians for the third time reduced to slavery: once by the Lydians, and the second, and now a third time, by the Persians. GEP 78.1

14. “The sea force, after quitting Ionia, proceeded to the Hellespont, and took all the towns which lie on the left shore as one sails into the straits. For the cities on the right bank had already been reduced by the land force of the Persians.”—Herodotus. 6 GEP 78.2

15. Having thus wreaked his vengeance on the Ionians, Darius was now ready to start an expedition to punish Athens. Accordingly he made great preparations, and “the next spring Darius superseded all the other generals, and sent down Mardonius, the son of Gobryas, to the coast, and with him a vast body of men, some fit for sea, others for land service. Mardonius was a youth at this time, and had only lately married Artazostra, the king’s daughter. When Mardonius, accompanied by this numerous host, reached Cilicia, he took ship, and proceeded alongshore with his fleet, while the land army marched under other leaders toward the Hellespont. In the course of his voyage along the coast of Asia he came to Ionia; and here ... Mardonius put down all the despots throughout Ionia, and in lieu of them established democracies. Having so done, he hastened to the Hellespont; and when a vast multitude of ships had been brought together, and likewise a powerful land force, he conveyed his troops across the strait by means of his vessels, and proceeded through Europe against Eretria and Athens. GEP 78.3

16. “At least these towns served as a pretext for the expedition, the real purpose of which was to subjugate as great a number as possible of the Grecian cities; and this became plain when the Thasians, who did not even lift a hand in their defense, were reduced by the sea force, while the land army added the Macedonians to the former slaves of the king. All the tribes on the hither side of Macedonia had been reduced previously. From Thasos the fleet stood across to the mainland, and sailed alongshore to Acanthus, whence an attempt was made to double Mount Athos. But here a violent north wind sprang up, against which nothing could contend, and handled a large number of the ships with much rudeness, shattering them and driving them aground upon Athos. ‘Tis said the number of the ships destroyed was a little short of three hundred, and the men who perished were more than twenty thousand. For the sea about Athos abounds in monsters beyond all others, and so a portion were seized and devoured by these animals, while others were dashed violently against the rocks; some, who did not know how to swim, were engulfed, and some died of the cold. GEP 78.4

17. “While thus it fared with the fleet, on land Mardonius and his army were attacked in their camp during the night by the Brygi, a tribe of Thracians and here vast numbers of the Persians were slain, and even Mardonius himself received a wound. The Brygi, nevertheless, did not succeed in maintaining their own freedom; for Mardonius would not leave the country till he had subdued them and made them subjects of Persia. Still, though he brought them under the yoke, the blow which his land force had received at their hands and the great damage done to his fleet off Athos, induced him to set out upon his retreat; and so this armament, having failed disgracefully, returned to Asia.”—Herodotus. 7 GEP 79.1

18. The next year, 490 B. C., Darius, in order to discover whether the Greeks “were inclined to resist him in arms or prepared to make their submission,” “sent out heralds in divers directions round about Greece, with orders to demand everywhere earth and water for the king. At the same time he send other heralds to the various seaport towns which paid him tribute, and required them to provide a number of ships of war and horse-transports. These towns accordingly began their preparations, and the heralds who had been sent into Greece obtained what the king had bid them ask from a large number of the States upon the mainland, and likewise from all the islanders whom they visited. Among these last were included the Eginetans, who, equally with the rest, consented to give earth and water to the Persian king. GEP 79.2

19. “When the Athenians heard what the Eginetans had done, believing that it was from enmity to themselves that they had given consent, and that the Eginetans intended to join the Persian in his attack upon Athens, they straightway took the matter in hand. In good truth it greatly rejoiced them to have so fair a pretext, and accordingly they sent frequent embassies to Sparta, and made it a charge against the Eginetans that their conduct in this matter proved them to be traitors to Greece.” 8 The Eginetans resented this interference on the part of Athens, which brought on war between them; and while the “war raged between the Eginetans and Athenians,” “the Persian pursued his own design, from day to day exhorted by his servant to ‘remember the Athenians,’ and likewise urged continually by the Pisistratidae, who were ever accusing their countrymen.” 9 GEP 80.1

20. “Moreover it pleased him well to have a pretext for carrying war into Greece, and so he might reduce all those who had refused to give him earth and water. As for Mardonius, since his expedition had succeeded so ill, Darius took the command of the troops from him, and appointed other generals in his stead, who were to lead the host against Eretria and Athens; to wit, Datis, who was by descent a Mede, and Artaphernes, the son of Artaphernes, his own nephew. These men received orders to carry Athens and Eretria away captive, and to bring the prisoners into his presence. GEP 80.2

21. “So the new commanders took their departure from the court and went down to Cilicia, to the Aleian Plain, having with them a numerous and well-appointed land army. Encamping here, they were joined by the sea force which had been required of the several States, and at the same time by the horse-transports which Darius had, the year before, commanded his tributaries to make ready. Aboard these the horses were embarked, and the troops were received by the ships of war; after which the whole fleet, amounting in all to six hundred triremes, 10 made sail for Ionia. Thence, instead of proceeding with a straight course along the shore to the Hellespont and to Thrace, they loosed from Samos and voyaged across the Icarian Sea through the midst of the islands; mainly, as I believe, because they feared the danger of doubling Mount Athos, where the year before they had suffered so grievously on their passage. GEP 80.3

22. “When the Persians, therefore, approaching from the Icarian Sea, cast anchor at Naxos, which, recollecting what there befell them formerly, they had determined to attack before any other State, the Naxians, instead of encountering them, took to flight, and hurried off to the hills. The Persians, however, succeeded in laying hands on some, and them they carried away captive, while at the same time they burnt all the temples, together with the town. This done, they left Naxos, and sailed away to the other islands. While the Persians were thus employed, the Delians likewise quitted Delos, and took-refuge in Tenos. And now the expedition drew near, when Datis sailed forward in advance of the other ships, which he commanded, instead of anchoring at Delos, to rendezvous at Rhenea, over against Delos, while he himself proceeded to discover whither the Delians had fled.... GEP 81.1

23. “After this he sailed with his whole host against Eretria, taking with him both Ionians and AEolians. When he was departed, Delos (as the Delians told me) was shaken by an earthquake, the first and last shock that has been felt to this day. And truly this was a prodigy whereby the god warned men of the evils that were coming upon them. For in the three following generations of Darius the son of Hystaspes, Xerxes the son of Darius, and Artaxerxes the son of Xerxes, more woes befell Greece than in the twenty generations preceding Darius,—woes caused in part by the Persians, but in part arising from the contentions among their own chief men respecting the supreme power.... GEP 81.2

24. “Meanwhile the Eretrians, understanding that the Persian armament was coming against them, besought the Athenians for assistance. Nor did the Athenians refuse their aid, but assigned to them as auxiliaries the four thousand landholders to whom they had allotted the estates of the Chalcidean Hippobatae. At Eretria, however, things were in no healthy state; for though they had called in the aid of the Athenians, yet they were not agreed among themselves how they should act; some of them being minded to leave the city and to take refuge in the heights of Euboea, while others, who looked to receiving a reward from the Persians, were making ready to betray their country. So when these things came to the ears of AEschines, the son of Nothon, one of the first men in Eretria, he made known the whole state of affairs to the Athenians who were already arrived, and besought them to return home to their own land, and not perish with his countrymen. And the Athenians hearkened to his counsel, and crossing over to Oropus, in this way escaped the danger. GEP 82.1

25. “The Persian fleet now drew near and anchored at Tamynae, Choereae, and AEgilia, three places in the territory of Eretria. Once masters of these posts, they proceeded forthwith to disembark their horses, and made ready to attack the enemy. But the Eretrians were not minded to sally forth and offer battle; their only care, after it had been resolved not to quit the city, was, if possible, to defend their walls. And now the fortress was assaulted in good earnest, and for six days there fell on both sides vast numbers, but on the seventh day Euphorbus, the son of Alcimachus, and Philagrus, the son of Cyneas, who were both citizens of good repute, betrayed the place to the Persians. These were no sooner entered within the walls than they plundered and burnt all the temples that there were in the town, in revenge for the burning of their own temples at Sardis; moreover, they did according to the orders of Darius, and carried away captive all the inhabitants. GEP 82.2

26.“The Persians, having thus brought Eretria into subjection after waiting a few days, made sail for Attica, greatly straitening the Athenians as they approached, and thinking to deal with them as they had dealt with the people of Eretria. And because there was no place in all Attica so convenient for their horse as Marathon, and it lay moreover quite close to Eretria, therefore Hippias, the son of Pisistratus, conducted them thither. When intelligence of this reached the Athenians, they likewise marched their troops to Marathon, and there stood on the defensive, having at their head ten generals, of whom one was Miltiades.—Herodotus. 11 GEP 82.3

27. “The barbarians were conducted to Marathon by Hippias, the son of Pisistratus.” “He landed the prisoners taken from Eretria upon the island that is called AEgilia, belonging to the Styreans, after which he brought the fleet to anchor off Marathon, and marshaled the bands of the barbarians as they disembarked.” GEP 83.1

28. “The Athenians were drawn up in order of battle in a sacred close belonging to Hercules, when they were joined by the Plataeans, who came in full force to their aid. The Athenian generals were divided in their opinions; and some advised not to risk a battle, because they were too few to engage such a host as that of the Medes; while others were for fighting at once, and among these last was Miltiades. He, therefore, seeing that opinions were thus divided, and that the less worthy counsel appeared likely to prevail, resolved to go to the polemarch, and have a conference with him. For the man on whom the lot fell to be polemarch at Athens was entitled to give his vote with the ten generals, since anciently the Athenians allowed him an equal right of voting with them. The polemarch at this juncture was Callimachus of Aphidnae; to him therefore Miltiades went.” GEP 83.2

29. Miltiades succeeded in gaining Callimachus, and “the addition of the polemarch’s vote caused the decision to be in favor of fighting. Hereupon all those generals who had been desirous of hazarding a battle, when their turn came to command the army, gave up their right to Miltiades. He, however, though he accepted their offers, nevertheless waited, and would not fight, until his own day of command arrived in due course. GEP 83.3

30. “Then at length, when his own turn was come, the Athenian battle was set in array, and this was the order of it. Callimachus the polemarch led the right wing, for it was at that time a rule with the Athenians to give the right wing to the polemarch. After this followed the tribes, according as they were numbered, in an unbroken line; while last of all came the Plataeans, forming the left wing. And ever since that day it has been a custom with the Athenians, in the sacrifices and assemblies held each fifth year at Athens, for the Athenian herald to implore the blessing of the gods on the Plataeans conjointly with the Athenians. Now as they marshaled the host upon the field of Marathon, in order that the Athenian front might be of equal length with the Median, the ranks of the center were diminished, and it became the weakest part of the line, while the wings were both made strong with a depth of many ranks. GEP 83.4

31. “So when the battle was set in array, and the victims showed themselves favorable, instantly the Athenians, so soon as they were let go, charged the barbarians at a run. Now the distance between the two armies was little short of eight furlongs. The Persians, therefore, when they saw the Greeks coming on at speed, made ready to receive them, although it seemed to them that the Athenians were bereft of their senses, and bent upon their own destruction; for they saw a mere handful of men coming on at a run without either horsemen or archers. 12 Such was the opinion of the barbarians; but the Athenians in close array fell upon them, and fought in a manner worthy of being recorded. They were the first of the Greeks, so far as I know, who introduced the custom of charging the enemy at a run, and they were likewise the first who dared to look upon the Median garb, and to face men clad in that fashion. Until this time the very name of the Medes had been a terror to the Greeks to hear. GEP 84.1

32. “The two armies fought together on the plain of Marathon for a length of time; and in the mid battle, where the Persians themselves and the Sacae had their place, the barbarians were victorious, and broke and pursued the Greeks into the inner country; but on the two wings the Athenians and the Plataeans defeated the enemy. Having so done, they suffered the routed barbarians to fly at their ease, and joining the two wings in one, fell upon those who had broken their own center, and fought and conquered them. These likewise fled, and now the Athenians hung upon the runaways and cut them down, chasing them all the way to the shore, on reaching which they laid hold of the ships and called aloud for fire. GEP 84.2

33. “It was in the struggle here that Callimachus the polemarch, after greatly distinguishing himself, lost his life; Stesilaus too, the son of Thrasilaus, one of the generals, was slain; and Cynaegirus, the son of Euphorion, having seized on a vessel of the enemy’s by the ornament at the stern, had his hand cut off by the blow of an ax, and so perished; as likewise did many other Athenians of note and name. GEP 85.1

34. “The Athenians secured in this way seven of the vessels, while with the remainder the barbarians pushed off, and taking aboard their Eretrian prisoners from the island where they had left them, doubled cape Sunium, hoping to reach Athens before the return of the Athenians. The Alcmaeonidae were accused by their countrymen of suggesting this course to them; they had, it was said, an understanding with the Persians, and made a signal to them, by raising a shield, after they were embarked in their ships. The Persians accordingly sailed round Sunium. But the Athenians with all possible speed marched away to the defense of their city, and succeeded in reaching Athens before the appearance of the barbarians, 13 and as their camp at Marathon had been pitched in a precinct of Hercules, so now they encamped in another precinct of the same god at Cynosarges. The barbarian fleet arrived, and lay to off Phalerum, which was at that time the haven of Athens; but after resting awhile upon their oars, they departed and sailed away to Asia. GEP 85.2

35. “There fell in this battle of Marathon, on the side of the barbarians, about six thousand and four hundred men; on that of the Athenians, one hundred and ninety-two. Such was the number of the slain on the one side and the other.” 14 GEP 85.3

36. “Now when the tidings of the battle that had been fought at Marathon reached the ears of Darius, the son of Hystaspes, his anger against the Athenians, which had been already roused by their attack upon Sardis, waxed still fiercer, and he became more than ever eager to lead an army against Greece. Instantly he sent off messengers to make proclamation through the several States, that fresh levies were to be raised, and these at an increased rate; while ships, horses, provisions, and transports were likewise to be furnished. So the men published his commands; and now all Asia was in commotion by the space of three years, while everywhere, as Greece was to be attacked, the best and bravest were enrolled for the service, and had to make their preparations accordingly. GEP 85.4

37. “After this, in the fourth year, 486 B. C., the Egyptians whom Cambyses had enslaved, revolted from the Persians; whereupon Darius was more hot for war than ever, and earnestly desired to march an army against both adversaries. Now, as he was about to lead forth his levies against Egypt and Athens, a fierce contention for the sovereign power arose among his sons; since the law of the Persians was that a king must not go out with his army, until he has appointed one to succeed him upon the throne. Darius, before he obtained the kingdom, had had three sons born to him from his former wife, who was a daughter of Gobryas; while, since he began to reign, Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, had borne him four. Artabazanes was the eldest of the first family, and Xerxes of the second. These two, therefore, being the sons of different mothers, were now at variance. Artabazanes claimed the crown as the eldest of all the children, because it was an established custom all over the world for the eldest to have the pre-eminence; while Xerxes, on the other hand, urged that he was sprung from Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, and that it was Cyrus who had won the Persians their freedom. GEP 86.1

38. “Before Darius had pronounced on the matter, it happened that Demaratus, the son of Ariston, who had been deprived of his crown at Sparta, and had afterward, of his own accord, gone into banishment, came up to Susa, and there heard of the quarrel of the princes. Hereupon, as report says, he went to Xerxes, and advised him, in addition to all that he had urged before, to plead that at the time when he was born Darius was already king, and bore rule over the Persians; but when Artabazanes came into the world, he [Darius] was a mere private person. It would therefore be neither right nor seemly that the crown should go to another in preference to himself. ‘For at Sparta,’ said Demaratus, by way of suggestion, ‘the law is that, if a king has sons before he comes to the throne, and another son is born to him afterward, the child so born is heir to his father’s kingdom.’ Xerxes followed this counsel, and Darius, persuaded that he had justice on his side, appointed him his successor. For my own part, I believe that, even without this, the crown would have gone to Xerxes; for Atossa was all-powerful. GEP 86.2

39. “Darius, when he had thus appointed Xerxes his heir, was minded to lead forth his armies; but he was prevented by death while his preparations were still proceeding. He died in the year following the revolt of Egypt, and the matters here related [485 B. C.], after having reigned in all six and thirty years, leaving the revolted Egyptians and the Athenians alike unpunished. At his death the kingdom passed to his son, Xerxes.”—Herodotus. 15 GEP 87.1