during the whole of the war between them and the people of Erythrae.
It was in the twelfth year of the war that the following mischance
occurred from the firing of the harvest-fields. Scarcely had the
corn been set alight by the soldiers when a violent wind carried the
flames against the temple of Minerva Assesia, which caught fire and
was burnt to the ground. At the time no one made any account of the
circumstance; but afterwards, on the return of the army to Sardis,
Alyattes fell sick. His illness continued, whereupon, either advised
thereto by some friend, or perchance himself conceiving the idea, he
sent messengers to Delphi to inquire of the god concerning his malady.
On their arrival the Pythoness declared that no answer should be given
them until they had rebuilt the temple of Minerva, burnt by the
Lydians at Assesus in Milesia.
Thus much I know from information given me by the Delphians; the
remainder of the story the Milesians add.
The answer made by the oracle came to the ears of Periander, son
of Cypselus, who was a very close friend to Thrasybulus, tyrant of
Miletus at that period. He instantly despatched a messenger to
report the oracle to him, in order that Thrasybulus, forewarned of its
tenor, might the better adapt his measures to the posture of affairs.
Alyattes, the moment that the words of the oracle were reported to
him, sent a herald to Miletus in hopes of concluding a truce with
Thrasybulus and the Milesians for such a time as was needed to rebuild
the temple. The herald went upon his way; but meantime Thrasybulus had
been apprised of everything; and conjecturing what Alyattes would
do, he contrived this artifice. He had all the corn that was in the
city, whether belonging to himself or to private persons, brought into
the market-place, and issued an order that the Milesians should hold
themselves in readiness, and, when he gave the signal, should, one and
all, fall to drinking and revelry.
The purpose for which he gave these orders was the following. He
hoped that the Sardian herald, seeing so great store of corn upon
the ground, and all the city given up to festivity, would inform
Alyattes of it, which fell out as he anticipated. The herald
observed the whole, and when he had delivered his message, went back
to Sardis. This circumstance alone, as I gather, brought about the
peace which ensued. Alyattes, who had hoped that there was now a great
scarcity of corn in Miletus, and that the people were worn down to the
last pitch of suffering, when he heard from the herald on his return
from Miletus tidings so contrary to those he had expected, made a
treaty with the enemy by which the two nations became close friends
and allies. He then built at Assesus two temples to Minerva instead of
one, and shortly after recovered from his malady. Such were the
chief circumstances of the war which Alyattes waged with Thrasybulus
and the Milesians.
This Periander, who apprised Thrasybulus of the oracle, was son of
Cypselus, and tyrant of Corinth. In his time a very wonderful thing is
said to have happened. The Corinthians and the Lesbians agree in their
account of the matter. They relate that Arion of Methymna, who as a
player on the harp, was second to no man living at that time, and
who was, so far as we know, the first to invent the dithyrambic
measure, to give it its name, and to recite in it at Corinth, was
carried to Taenarum on the back of a dolphin.
He had lived for many years at the court of Periander, when a
longing came upon him to sail across to Italy and Sicily. Having
made rich profits in those parts, he wanted to recross the seas to
Corinth. He therefore hired a vessel, the crew of which were
Corinthians, thinking that there was no people in whom he could more
safely confide; and, going on board, he set sail from Tarentum. The
sailors, however, when they reached the open sea, formed a plot to
throw him overboard and seize upon his riches. Discovering their
design, he fell on his knees, beseeching them to spare his life, and
making them welcome to his money. But they refused; and required him
either to kill himself outright, if he wished for a grave on the dry