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After the conquest of Egypt, intending now to take in hand the expedition against Athens, Xerxes held a special assembly of the noblest among the Persians, so he could learn their opinions and declare his will before them all. When they were assembled, Xerxes spoke to them as follows:
It is my intent to bridge the Hellespont and lead my army through Europe to Hellas, so I may punish the Athenians for what they have done to the Persians and to my father. You saw that Darius my father was set on making an expedition against these men. But he is dead, and it was not granted him to punish them. On his behalf and that of all the Persians, I will never rest until I have taken Athens and burnt it, for the unprovoked wrong that its people did to my father and me. First they came to Sardis with our slave Aristagoras the Milesian and burnt the groves and the temples; next, how they dealt with us when we landed on their shores, when Datis and Artaphrenes were our generals, I suppose you all know.
What have we to fear from them? Have they a massive population or abundance of wealth? Their manner of fighting we know, and we know how weak their power is; we have conquered and hold their sons, those who dwell in our land and are called Ionians and Aeolians and Dorians. I myself have made trial of these men, when by your father's command I marched against them. I marched as far as Macedonia and almost to Athens itself, yet none came out to meet me in battle.
If an army must by all means be sent against these Greeks, hear me now: let the king himself remain in the Persian land, and let us two stake our children's lives upon it; you lead out the army, choosing whatever men you wish and taking as great an army as you desire. If the king's fortunes fare as you say, let my sons be slain, and myself with them; but if it turns out as I foretell, let your sons be so treated, and you likewise, if you return. But if you are unwilling to submit to this and will at all hazards lead your army overseas to Hellas, then I think that those left behind in this place will hear that Mardonius has done great harm to Persia, and has been torn apart by dogs and birds in the land of Athens or of Lacedaemon, if not even before that on the way there; and that you have learned what kind of men you persuade the king to attack.”
After he arrived in Sardis, he first sent heralds to Hellas to demand earth and water and to command the preparation of meals for the king. He sent demands for earth everywhere except to Athens and Lacedaemon. The reason for his sending for earth and water the second time was this: he fully believed that whoever had not previously given it to Darius' messengers would now be compelled to give by fear; so he sent out of desire to know this for certain.
Such was their armor. The Cyprians furnished a hundred and fifty ships; for their equipment, their princes wore turbans wrapped around their heads, and the people wore tunics, but in all else they were like the Greeks. These are their tribes:That is, the entire population contains everywhere these component parts; they are not locally separate. some are from Salamis and Athens, some from Arcadia, some from Cythnus, some from Phoenice, and some from Ethiopia, as the Cyprians themselves say.
The islanders provided seventeen ships and were armed like Greeks; they were also of Pelasgian stock, which was later called Ionian for the same reason as were the Ionians of the twelve cities,For the twelve cities, see Hdt. 1.142. who came from Athens. The Aeolians furnished sixty ships and were equipped like Greeks; formerly they were called Pelasgian, as the Greek story goes. Of the people of the Hellespont, the people of Abydos had been charged by the king to remain at home and guard the bridges; the rest of the people from Pontus who came with the army furnished a hundred ships and were equipped like Greeks. They were settlers from the Ionians and Dorians.
To Athens and Sparta Xerxes sent no heralds to demand earth, and this he did for the following reason. When Darius had previously sent men with this same purpose, those who made the request were cast at the one city into the PitInto which criminals condemned to death were thrown. and at the other into a well, and bidden to obtain their earth and water for the king from these locations. What calamity befell the Athenians for dealing in this way with the heralds I cannot say, save that their land and their city were laid waste. I think, however, that there was another reason for this, and not the aforesaid.Possibly the burning of the temple at Sardis (Hdt. 5.102).