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Night battles were rare in ancient warfare (cf. Thuc. vii. 44, the attack on Epipolae); this one is not the ‘eclipse battle’ (v. i.).

This date is one of the few definite points in the history of the period; it is fixed as May 28, 585, by the astronomers; the other eclipse of the period, that on Sept. 30, 610, was only partial in Asia Minor. The later date (585) is given by Plin. (N. H. ii. 53) and (approximately) by the ancient chronologers, Eusebius and Jerome. It suits also the circumstances:

(1) The fall of Nineveh c. 606 had enabled Cyaxares to extend his power north-west, and so brought him into contact with Lydia.

(2) Labynetus (i.e. Nebuchadnezzar) did not begin his reign till 604.

It used to be argued (e.g. by Stein) that H., because Cyaxares was conqueror of the Scyths, had wrongly introduced him here, and that Astyages began to reign in 594 B.C. But the revised Median chronology (App. III, § 6) makes all the dates nine years later, and so the account in H. becomes possible.

Thales is the Merlin or Michael Scott of Greek sixth-century tradition. It has been maintained that this prediction is impossible, in view of what we know of his scientific theories; Stein thinks that he can only have explained the phenomenon afterwards. But H., who rejects the story as to his engineering (75. 6), accepts this one. Thales' prediction may have been based on Chaldean calculations (cf. Burnet, Early Gk. Phil. 35). (See Note E, p. 450.)

συμβιβάσαντες. No doubt the mediating princes were glad to limit the dangerous growth of Cyaxares' power.

Syennesis (like ‘Pharaoh’) is a title (probably Semitic) borne by the native rulers of Cilicia (v. 118. 2; vii. 98); they seem to have submitted voluntarily to Cyrus, and so were allowed to retain their kingdom (cf. App. VI, § 7); they were dependent or independent as the central power was strong or weak (ix. 107 n.). The dynasty disappears at the beginning of the fourth century. For Labynetus cf. App. II, § 5.

ἐπαλλαγήν. We know of no Median queen in Lydia; the ‘mutual’ element may have been furnished by Nebuchadnezzar's marriage with a Median princess (c. 185 n.).

ἀναγκαίης = necessitudo; ancient diplomacy believed as firmly as modern in marriage alliances, and with as little reason.

For the resemblance cf. 35. 2 (purification) and App. I, § 5.

ὁμοχροίη, ‘the outer skin’; cf. the proverb for superficiality, οὐδὲ ἅπτεται τῆς ὁμοχροίας (Plat. (?) Axio. 369 D). For the blood covenant cf. iii. 8. 1 n.

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  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.44
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.53
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