Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Herodotus
Pages of Urania



Previous | Next
                  

Urania   


Greeks can avoid being brought to account, alike for this and for
their former injuries; nor can they anyhow escape being thy slaves.
Thou shouldst therefore do as I have said. If, however, thy mind is
made up, and thou art resolved to retreat and lead away thy army,
listen to the counsel which, in that case, I have to offer. Make not
the Persians, O king! a laughing-stock to the Greeks. If thy affairs
have succeeded ill, it has not been by their fault; thou canst not say
that thy Persians have ever shown themselves cowards. What matters
it if Phoenicians and Egyptians, Cyprians and Cilicians, have
misbehaved?- their misconduct touches not us. Since then thy
Persians are without fault, be advised by me. Depart home, if thou art
so minded, and take with thee the bulk of thy army; but first let me
choose out 300,000 troops, and let it be my task to bring Greece
beneath thy sway."
Xerxes, when he heard these words, felt a sense of joy and
delight, like a man who is relieved from care. Answering Mardonius,
therefore, "that he would consider his counsel, and let him know which
course he might prefer," Xerxes proceeded to consult with the chief
men among the Persians; and because Artemisia on the former occasion
had shown herself the only person who knew what was best to be done,
he was pleased to summon her to advise him now. As soon as she
arrived, he put forth all the rest, both councillors and bodyguards,
and said to her:-
"Mardonius wishes me to stay and attack the Peloponnese. My
Persians, he says, and my other land forces, are not to blame for
the disasters which have befallen our arms; and of this he declares
they would very gladly give me the proof. He therefore exhorts me,
either to stay and act as I have said, or to let him choose Out
300,000 of my troops- wherewith he undertakes to reduce Greece beneath
my sway- while I myself retire with the rest of my forces, and
withdraw into my own country. Do thou, therefore, as thou didst
counsel me so wisely to decline the sea-fight, now also advise me in
this matter, and say, which course of the twain I ought to take for my
own good."
Thus did the king ask Artemisia's counsel; and the following are
the words wherewith she answered him:-
"'Tis a hard thing, O king! to give the best possible advice to
one who asks our counsel. Nevertheless, as thy affairs now stand, it
seemeth to me that thou wilt do right to return home. As for
Mardonius, if he prefers to remain, and undertakes to do as he has
said, leave him behind by all means, with the troops which he desires.
If his design succeeds, and he subdues the Greeks, as he promises,
thine is the conquest, master; for thy slaves will have accomplished
it. If, on the other hand, affairs run counter to his wishes, we can
suffer no great loss, so long as thou art safe, and thy house is in no
danger. The Greeks, too, while thou livest, and thy house
flourishes, must be prepared to fight full many a battle for their
freedom; whereas if Mardonius fall, it matters nothing- they will have
gained but a poor triumph- a victory over one of thy slaves!
Remember also, thou goest home having gained the purpose of thy
expedition; for thou hast burnt Athens!"
The advice of Artemisia pleased Xerxes well; for she had exactly
uttered his own thoughts. I, for my part, do not believe that he would
have remained had all his counsellors, both men and women, united to
urge his stay, so great was the alarm that he felt. As it was, he gave
praise to Artemisia, and entrusted certain of his children to her
care, ordering her to convey them to Ephesus; for he had been
accompanied on the expedition by some of his natural sons.
He likewise sent away at this time one of the principal of his
eunuchs, a man named Hermotimus, a Pedasian, who was bidden to take
charge of these sons. Now the Pedasians inhabit the region above
Halicarnassus; and it is related of them, that in their country the
following circumstance happens: when a mischance is about to befall
any of their neighbours within a certain time, the priestess of

Previous | Next
Site Search