Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Siege of Samos

Previously in Herodotus

53. When however, as time went on, Periander had passed his prime and perceived within himself that he was no longer able to overlook and manage the government of the State, he sent to Corcyra and summoned Lycophron to come back and take the supreme power; for in the elder of his sons he did not see the required capacity, but perceived clearly that he was of wits too dull. Lycophron however did not deign even to give an answer to the bearer of his message. Then Periander, clinging still in affection to the youth, sent to him next his own daughter, the sister of Lycophron, supposing that he would yield to her persuasion more than to that of others; and she arrived there and spoke to him thus: "Boy, dost thou desire that both the despotism should fall to others, and also the substance of thy father, carried off as plunder, rather than that thou shouldest return back and possess them? Come back to thy home: cease to torment thyself. Pride is a mischievous possession. Heal not evil with evil. Many prefer that which is reasonable to that which is strictly just; and many ere now in seeking the things of their mother have lost the things of their father. Despotism is an insecure thing, and many desire it: moreover he is now an old man and past his prime. Give not thy good things unto others." She thus said to him the most persuasive things, having been before instructed by her father: but he in answer said, that he would never come to Corinth so long as he heard that his father was yet alive. When she had reported this, Periander the third time sent an envoy, and said that he desired himself to come to Corcyra, exhorting Lycophron at the same time to come back to Corinth and to be his successor on the throne. The son having agreed to return on these terms, Periander was preparing to sail to Corcyra and his son to Corinth; but the Corcyreans, having learnt all that had taken place, put the young man to death, in order that Periander might not come to their land. For this cause it was that Periander took vengeance on those of Corcyra.

54. The Lacedemonians then had come with a great armament and were besieging Samos; and having made an attack upon the wall, they occupied the tower which stands by the sea in the suburb of the city, but afterwards when Polycrates came up to the rescue with a large body they were driven away from it. Meanwhile by the upper tower which is upon the ridge of the mountain there had come out to the fight the foreign mercenaries and many of the Samians themselves, and these stood their ground against the Lacedemonians for a short while and then began to fly backwards; and the Lacedemonians followed and were slaying them.

55. Now if the Lacedemonians there present had all been equal on that day to Archias and Lycopas, Samos would have been captured; for Archias and Lycopas alone rushed within the wall together with the flying Samians, and being shut off from retreat were slain within the city of the Samians. I myself moreover had converse in Pitane (for to that deme he belonged) with the third in descent from this Archias, another Archias the son of Samios the son of Archias, who honoured the Samians of all strangers most; and not only so, but he said that his own father had been called Samios because /his/ father Archias had died by a glorious death in Samos; and he said that he honoured Samians because his grandfather had been granted a public funeral by the Samians.

56. The Lacedemonians then, when they had been besieging Samos for forty days and their affairs made no progress, set forth to return to Peloponnesus. But according to the less credible account which has been put abroad of these matters Polycrates struck in lead a quantity of a certain native coin, and having gilded the coins over, gave them to the Lacedemonians, and they received them and upon that set forth to depart. This was the first expedition which the Lacedemonians (being Dorians) made into Asia.

57. Those of the Samians who had made the expedition against Polycrates themselves also sailed away, when the Lacedemonians were about to desert them, and came to Siphnos: for they were in want of money, and the people of Siphnos were then at their greatest height of prosperity and possessed wealth more than all the other islanders, since they had in their island mines of gold and silver, so that there is a treasury dedicated at Delphi with the tithe of the money which came in from these mines, and furnished in a manner equal to the wealthiest of these treasuries: and the people used to divide among themselves the money which came in from the mines every year. So when they were establishing the treasury, they consulted the Oracle as to whether their present prosperity was capable of remaining with them for a long time, and the Pythian prophetess gave them this reply:
But when with white shall be shining the hall of the city in Siphnos,
And when the market is white of brow, one wary is needed
Then, to beware of an army of wood and a red-coloured herald.
Now just at that time the market-place and city hall of the Siphnians had been decorated with Parian marble.

- Herodotus, Book III

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

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