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Ἀθηναῖοι ... συμμαχίην. The Athenians, presumably their assembly under its democratic leader, are the first to make advances to the Great King, and to invite his intervention in Greece. Naturally they were anxious to preserve their newly won liberties and their independence against the overwhelming power of the coalition arrayed by Sparta against them. Yet it is a shock to find that the chief champion of Hellas against the Mede had first proposed an alliance with him.
τίνες ἐόντες: a regular expression for the lordly contempt felt by Persian kings and princes for small and distant tribes and cities (i. 153. 1; v. 13. 2, 105. 1). ἀπεκορύφου, ‘put the matter to them in a nutshell.’ Cf. κορυφὰ λόγων (Pind. Ol. vii. 68; Pyth. iii. 80).
ἐπὶ ... βαλόμενοι, ‘on their own responsibility, at their own risk’ (iii. 71. 5, 155. 4; v. 106. 4; viii. 109. 1). Probably the envoys knew that Cleisthenes was ready to make submission, but were afterwards disavowed when their action raised a storm at Athens. H.'s Athenian (? Alcmaeonid) informants seem guilty here of at least suppressio veri. Cleisthenes henceforth disappears from history, presumably because he fell into disgrace. He may even perhaps have been banished, though the late tradition (Aelian, V. H. xiii. 24) that he was the first man ostracized deserves no credit (cf. Ath. Pol. ch. 22). The leanings of the Alcmaeonidae to the East may be partly explained by the origin of their wealth (vi. 125), and certainly throw light on their attitude in 490 B. C. (cf. Appendix XVIII, § 6).
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