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While Darius was making preparationsThe date of Darius' expedition is uncertain. Grote thinks it probable that it took place before 514 B.C. against the Scythians, and sending messengers to direct some to furnish infantry and some to furnish ships, and others again to bridge the Thracian Bosporus, Artabanus, son of Hystaspes and Darius' brother, by no means wanted him to make an expedition against the Scythians, telling him how hard that people were to deal with. But when, for all his good advice, he could not deter the king, Artabanus ceased to advise, and Darius, all his preparations made, led his army from Susa.
But Darius, when he came to that place in his march from Susa where the Bosporus was bridged in the territory of Calchedon, went aboard ship and sailed to the Dark RocksRocks (the “Wandering” or “Clashing” Rocks of Greek legend) off the northern end of the Bosporus. (as they are called), which the Greeks say formerly moved; there, he sat on a headland and viewed the Pontus, a marvellous sight. Fo
les. His estimates for the Propontis and Hellespont are also in excess, though not by much; the Bosporus is a little longer than he says, but its breadth is correctly given.
The channel at the entrance of this sea is four stades across; the narrow neck of the channel, called Bosporus, across which the bridge was thrown, is about one hundred and twenty stades long. The Bosporus reaches as far as toBosporus reaches as far as to the Propontis;
and the Propontis is five hundred stades wide and one thousand four hundred long; its outlet is the Hellespont, which is no wider than seven stades and four hundred long. The Hellesp
These measurements have been made in this way: a ship will generally accomplish seventy thousand orguiae The Greek o)rguia/ was the length of the outstretched arms, about six feet. in a long day's voyage, and sixty thousand by night. This being granted, seeing that from the Pontus' mouth to the Phasis (which is the greatest length of the sea) it is a voyage of nine days and eight nights, the length of it will be one million one hundred and ten thousand orguiai, which make eleven thousand stades. From the Sindic region to Themiscura on the Thermodon river (the greatest width of the Pontus) it is a voyage of three days and two nights; that is, of three hundred and thirty thousand orguiai, or three thousand three hundred stades. Thus have I measured the Pontus and the Bosporus and Hellespont, and they are as I have said. Furthermore, a lake is seen issuing into the Pontus and not much smaller than the sea itself; it is called the Maeetian lake, and the mother of the Pontus.
After having viewed the Pontus, Darius sailed back to the bridge, whose architect was Mandrocles of Samos; and when he had viewed the Bosporus also, he set up two pillars of white marble by it, engraving on the one in Assyrian and on the other in Greek characters the names of all the nations that were in his army: all the nations subject to him. The full census of these, over and above the fleet, was seven hundred thousand men, including horsemen, and the number of ships assembled was six hundr assembled was six hundred. These pillars were afterward carried by the Byzantines into their city and there used to build the altar of OrthosianA deity worshipped especially at Sparta; the meaning of the epithet is uncertain. Artemis, except for one column covered with Assyrian writing that was left beside the temple of Dionysus at Byzantium. Now if my reckoning is correct, the place where king Darius bridged the Bosporus was midway between Byzantium and the temple at the entrance of the sea.
Darius, after rewarding Mandrocles, crossed over to Europe; he had told the Ionians to sail into the Pontus as far as the Ister river, and when they got to the Ister, to wait there for him, bridging the river meanwhile; for the fleet was led by Ionians and Aeolians and men of the Hellespont. So the fleet passed between the Dark Rocks and sailed straight for the Ister and, after a two days' voyage up the river from the sea, set about bridging the narrow channel of the river where its various mouths separate. But Darius, passing over the Bosporus on the floating bridge of ships, journeyed through Thrace to the sources of the Tearus river, where he camped for three days.
The kings of the aforesaid nations having gathered, then, the Scythian messengers came and laid everything before them, explaining how the Persian, now that the whole of the other continent was subject to him, had crossed over to their continent by a bridge thrown across the neck of the Bosporus, and how having crossed it and subjugated the Thracians he was now bridging the Ister, so as to make that whole region subject to him like the others. “By no means stand aside and let us be destroyed,” they said; “rather, let us unite and oppose this invader. If you will not, then we shall either be driven out of our country or stay and make terms. For what is to become of us if you will not help us? And afterward it will not be easy for you, either; for the Persian has come to attack you no less than us, and when he has subjugated us he will not be content to leave you alone. We will give you a convincing proof of what we say: if indeed the Persian were marching against us alone, wanting ven<
It is from no wisdom of my own that I thus conjecture; it is because I know what disaster once almost overtook us, when your father, making a highway over the Thracian Bosporus and bridging the river Ister, crossed over to attack the Scythians. At that time the Scythians used every means of entreating the Ionians, who had been charged to guard the bridges of the Ister, to destroy the way of passage.Cp. Hdt. 4.136 ff. If Histiaeus the tyrant of Miletus had consented to the opinion of the other tyrants instead of opposing it, the power of Persia would have perished. Yet it is dreadful even in the telling, that one man should hold in his hand all the king's fortunes.