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Translated into English by G. C. MACAULAY, M.A. Credits
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Book I
Page 01
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Book II
Page 10
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Book III
Book 16
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Book IV
Page 21
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Book V
Page 27
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Book VI
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Book VII
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Book IX
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The History of Herodotus: Page 25

Volume One - Book IV

128. The herald then had departed to report this to Dareios; and the kings of the Scythians, having heard mention of subjection to a master, were filled with wrath. They sent accordingly the division which was appointed to be joined with the Sauromatai, that division of which Scopasis was in command, bidding them come to speech with the Ionians, namely those who were guarding the bridge of the Ister, and meanwhile they who were left behind resolved not to lead the Persians wandering about any more, but to attack them constantly as they were getting provisions. Therefore they observed the soldiers of Dareios as they got provisions, and did that which they had determined: and the cavalry of the Scythians always routed that of the enemy, but the Persian horsemen as they fled fell back upon the men on foot, and these would come up to their assistance; and meanwhile the Scythians when they had driven in the cavalry turned back, fearing the men on foot. Also by night the Scythians used to make similar attacks: 129, and the thing which, strange to say, most helped the Persians and hindered the Scythians in their attacks upon the camp of Dareios, I will mention, namely the voice of the asses and the appearance of the mules; for Scythia produces neither ass nor mule, as I have declared before, nor is there at all in the Scythian country either ass or mule on account of the cold. The asses accordingly by riotously braying used to throw into confusion the cavalry of the Scythians; and often, as they were in the middle of riding against the Persians, when the horses heard the voice of the asses they turned back in confusion and were possessed with wonder, pricking up their ears, because they had never heard such a voice nor seen the form of the creature before.


130. So far then the Persians had the advantage for a small part of the war.[118] But the Scythians, whenever they saw that the Persians were disquieted, then in order that they might remain a longer time in Scythia and in remaining might suffer by being in want of everything, would leave some of their own cattle behind with the herdsmen, while they themselves rode out of the way to another place, and the Persians would come upon the cattle and take them, and having taken them they were elated at what they had done.

131. As this happened often, at length Dareios began to be in straits; and the kings of the Scythians perceiving this sent a herald bearing as gifts to Dareios a bird and a mouse and a frog and five arrows. The Persians accordingly asked the bearer of the gifts as to the meaning of the gifts which were offered; but he said that nothing more had been commanded to him but to give them and get away as speedily as possible; and he bade the Persians find out for themselves, if they had wisdom, that which the gifts were meant to express.

132. Having heard this the Persians took counsel with one another; and the opinion of Dareios was that the Scythians were giving to him both themselves and also earth and water, making his conjecture by this, namely that a mouse is produced in the earth and feeds on the same produce of the earth as man, and a frog in the water, while a bird has great resemblance to a horse;[119] and moreover that in giving the arrows they were delivering up their own might in battle. This was the opinion expressed by Dareios; but the opinion of Gobryas, one of the seven men who killed the Magian, was at variance with it, for he conjectured that the gifts expressed this: "Unless ye become birds and fly up into the heaven, O Persians, or become mice and sink down under the earth, or become frogs and leap into the lakes, ye shall not return back home, but shall be smitten by these arrows."

133. The Persians then, I say, were making conjecture of the gifts: and meanwhile the single division of the Scythians, that which had been appointed at first to keep guard along the Maiotian lake and then to go to the Ister and come to speech with the Ionians, when they arrived at the bridge spoke as follows: "Ionians, we have come bringing you freedom, if at least ye are willing to listen to us; for we are informed that Dareios gave you command to guard the bridge for sixty days only, and then, if he had not arrived within that time, to get you away to your own land. Now therefore, if ye do as we say, ye will be without blame from his part and without blame also from ours: stay the appointed days and then after that get you away." They then, when the Ionians had engaged themselves to do this, hastened back again by the quickest way: 134, and meanwhile, after the coming of the gifts to Dareios, the Scythians who were left had arrayed themselves against the Persians with both foot and horse, meaning to engage battle. Now when the Scythians had been placed in battle-array, a hare darted through them into the space between the two armies, and each company of them, as they saw the hare, began to run after it. When the Scythians were thus thrown into disorder and were raising loud cries, Dareios asked what was this clamour arising from the enemy; and hearing that they were running after the hare, he said to those men to whom he was wont to say things at other times: "These men have very slight regard for us, and I perceive now that Gobryas spoke rightly about the Scythian gifts. Seeing then that now I myself too think that things are so, we have need of good counsel, in order that our retreat homewards may be safely made." To this replied Gobryas and said: "O king, even by report I was almost assured of the difficulty of dealing with these men; and when I came I learnt it still more thoroughly, since I saw that they were mocking us. Now therefore my opinion is, that as soon as night comes on, we kindle the camp-fires as we are wont to do at other times also, and deceive with a false tale those of our men who are weakest to endure hardships, and tie up all the asses and get us away, before either the Scythians make for the Ister to destroy the bridge or something be resolved by the Ionians which may be our ruin."

135. Thus Gobryas advised; and after this, when night came on, Dareios acted on this opinion. Those of his men who were weakened by fatigue and whose loss was of least account, these he left behind in the camp, and the asses also tied up: and for the following reasons he left behind the asses and the weaker men of his army,--the asses in order that they might make a noise which should be heard, and the men really because of their weakness, but on a pretence stated openly that he was about to attack the Scythians with the effective part of the army, and that they meanwhile were to be defenders of the camp. Having thus instructed those who were left behind, and having kindled camp-fires, Dareios hastened by the quickest way towards the Ister: and the asses, having no longer about them the usual throng,[120] very much more for that reason caused their voice to be heard;[121] so the Scythians, hearing the asses, supposed surely that the Persians were remaining in their former place.

136. But when it was day, those who were left behind perceived that they had been betrayed by Dareios, and they held out their hands in submission to the Scythians, telling them what their case was; and the Scythians, when they heard this, joined together as quickly as possible, that is to say the two combined divisions of the Scythians and the single division, and also the Sauromatai,[122] Budinoi, and Gelonians, and began to pursue the Persians, making straight for the Ister: but as the Persian army for the most part consisted of men on foot, and was not acquainted with the roads (the roads not being marked with tracks), while the Scythian army consisted of horsemen and was acquainted with the shortest cuts along the way, they missed one another and the Scythians arrived at the bridge much before the Persians. Then having learnt that the Persians had not yet arrived, they said to the Ionians who were in the ships: "Ionians, the days of your number are past, and ye are not acting uprightly in that ye yet remain waiting: but as ye stayed before from fear, so now break up the passage as quickly as ye may, and depart free and unhurt,[123] feeling thankfulness both to the gods and to the Scythians: and him who was formerly your master we will so convince, that he shall never again march with an army upon any nation."

137. Upon this the Ionians took counsel together; and Miltiades the Athenian on the one hand, who was commander and despot of the men of the Chersonese in Hellespont, was of opinion that they should follow the advice of the Scythians and set Ionia free: but Histiaios the Milesian was of the opposite opinion to this; for he said that at the present time it was by means of Dareios that each one of them was ruling as despot over a city; and if the power of Dareios should be destroyed, neither he himself would be able to bear rule over the Milesians, nor would any other of them be able to bear rule over any other city; for each of the cities would choose to have popular rather than despotic rule. When Histiaios declared his opinion thus, forthwith all turned to this opinion, whereas at the first they were adopting that of Miltiades.

138. Now these were they who gave the vote between the two opinions, and were men of consequence in the eyes of the king,[124]--first the despots of the Hellespontians, Daphnis of Abydos, Hippoclos of Lampsacos, Herophantos of Parion, Metrodoros of Proconnesos, Aristagoras of Kyzicos, and Ariston of Byzantion, these were those from the Hellespont; and from Ionia, Strattis of Chios, Aiakes of Samos, Laodamas of Phocaia, and Histiaios of Miletos, whose opinion had been proposed in opposition to that of Miltiades; and of the Aiolians the only man of consequence there present was Aristagoras of Kyme.

139. When these adopted the opinion of Histiaios, they resolved to add to it deeds and words as follows, namely to break up that part of the bridge which was on the side towards the Scythians, to break it up, I say, for a distance equal to the range of an arrow, both in order that they might be thought to be doing something, though in fact they were doing nothing, and for fear that the Scythians might make an attempt using force and desiring to cross the Ister by the bridge: and in breaking up that part of the bridge which was towards Scythia they resolved to say that they would do all that which the Scythians desired. This they added to the opinion proposed, and then Histiaios coming forth from among them made answer to the Scythians as follows: "Scythians, ye are come bringing good news, and it is a timely haste that ye make to bring it; and ye on your part give us good guidance, while we on ours render to you suitable service. For, as ye see, we are breaking up the passage, and we shall show all zeal in our desire to be free: and while we are breaking up the bridge, it is fitting that ye should be seeking for those of whom ye speak, and when ye have found them, that ye should take vengeance on them on behalf of us as well as of yourselves in such manner as they deserve."

140. The Scythians then, believing for the second time that the Ionians were speaking the truth, turned back to make search for the Persians, but they missed altogether their line of march through the land. Of this the Scythians themselves were the cause, since they had destroyed the pastures for horses in that region and had choked up with earth the springs of water; for if they had not done this, it would have been possible for them easily, if they desired it, to discover the Persians: but as it was, by those things wherein they thought they had taken their measures best, they failed of success. The Scythians then on their part were passing through those regions of their own land where there was grass for the horses and springs of water, and were seeking for the enemy there, thinking that they too were taking a course in their retreat through such country as this; while the Persians in fact marched keeping carefully to the track which they had made before, and so they found the passage of the river, though with difficulty:[125] and as they arrived by night and found the bridge broken up, they were brought to the extreme of fear, lest the Ionians should have deserted them.

141. Now there was with Dareios an Egyptian who had a voice louder than that of any other man on earth, and this man Dareios ordered to take his stand upon the bank of the Ister and to call Histiaios of Miletos. He accordingly proceeded to do so; and Histiaios, hearing the first hail, produced all the ships to carry the army over and also put together the bridge.

142. Thus the Persians escaped, and the Scythians in their search missed the Persians the second time also: and their judgment of the Ionians is that on the one hand, if they be regarded as free men, they are the most worthless and cowardly of all men, but on the other hand, if regarded as slaves, they are the most attached to their master and the least disposed to run away of all slaves. This is the reproach which is cast against the Ionians by the Scythians.

143. Dareios then marching through Thrace arrived at Sestos in the Chersonese; and from that place, he passed over himself in his ships to Asia, but to command his army in Europe he left Megabazos a Persian, to whom Dareios once gave honour by uttering in the land of Persia[126] this saying:--Dareios was beginning to eat pomegranates, and at once when he opened the first of them, Artabanos his brother asked him of what he would desire to have as many as there were seeds in the pomegranate: and Dareios said that he would desire to have men like Megabazos as many as that in number, rather than to have Hellas subject to him. In Persia, I say, he honoured him by saying these words, and at this time he left him in command with eight myriads[127] of his army.

144. This Megabazos uttered one saying whereby he left of himself an imperishable memory with the peoples of Hellespont: for being once at Byzantion he heard that the men of Calchedon had settled in that region seventeen years before the Byzantians, and having heard it he said that those of Calchedon at that time chanced to be blind; for assuredly they would not have chosen the worse place, when they might have settled in that which was better, if they had not been blind. This Megabazos it was who was left in command at that time in the land of the Hellespontians, and he proceeded to subdue all who did not take the side of the Medes.


145. He then was doing thus; and at this very same time a great expedition was being made also against Libya, on an occasion which I shall relate when I have first related this which follows.--The children's children of those who voyaged in the Argo, having been driven forth by those Pelasgians who carried away at Brauron the women of the Athenians,--having been driven forth I say by these from Lemnos, had departed and sailed to Lacedemon, and sitting down on Mount Ta˙getos they kindled a fire. The Lacedemonians seeing this sent a messenger to inquire who they were and from whence; and they answered the question of the messenger saying that they were Minyai and children of heroes who sailed in the Argo, for[128] these, they said, had put in to Lemnos and propagated the race of which they sprang. The Lacedemonians having heard the story of the descent of the Minyai, sent a second time and asked for what purpose they had come into the country and were causing a fire to blaze. They said that they had been cast out by the Pelasgians, and were come now to the land of their fathers,[129] for most just it was that this should so be done; and they said that their request was to be permitted to dwell with these, having a share of civil rights and a portion allotted to them of the land. And the Lacedemonians were content to receive the Minyai upon the terms which they themselves desired, being most of all impelled to do this by the fact that the sons of Tyndareus were voyagers in the Argo. So having received the Minyai they gave them a share of land and distributed them in the tribes; and they forthwith made marriages, and gave in marriage to others the women whom they brought with them from Lemnos.

146. However, when no very long time had passed, the Minyai forthwith broke out into insolence, asking for a share of the royal power and also doing other impious things: therefore the Lacedemonians resolved to put them to death; and having seized them they cast them into a prison. Now the Lacedemonians put to death by night all those whom they put to death, but no man by day. When therefore they were just about to kill them, the wives of the Minyai, being native Spartans and daughters of the first citizens of Sparta, entreated to be allowed to enter the prison and come to speech every one with her own husband: and they let them pass in, not supposing that any craft would be practised by them. They however, when they had entered, delivered to their husbands all the garments which they were wearing, and themselves received those of their husbands: thus the Minyai having put on the women's clothes went forth out of prison as women, and having escaped in this manner they went again to Ta˙getos and sat down there.

147. Now at this very same time Theras the son of Autesion, the son of Tisamenos, the son of Thersander, the son of Polyneikes, was preparing to set forth from Lacedemon to found a settlement. This Theras, who was of the race of Cadmos, was mother's brother to the sons of Aristodemos, Eurysthenes and Procles; and while these sons were yet children, Theras as their guardian held the royal power in Sparta. When however his nephews were grown and had taken the power into their hands, then Theras, being grieved that he should be ruled by others after he had tasted of rule himself, said that he would not remain in Lacedemon, but would sail away to his kinsmen. Now there were in the island which is now called Thera, but formerly was called Callista, descendants of Membliaros the son of Poikiles, a Phenician: for Cadmos the son of Agenor in his search for Europa put in to land at the island which is now called Thera; and, whether it was that the country pleased him when he had put to land, or whether he chose to do so for any other reason, he left in this island, besides other Phenicians, Membliaros also, of his own kinsmen. These occupied the island called Callista for eight generations of men, before Theras came from Lacedemon.

148. To these then, I say, Theras was preparing to set forth, taking with him people from the tribes, and intending to settle together with those who have been mentioned, not with any design to drive them out, but on the contrary claiming them very strongly as kinfolk. And when the Minyai after having escaped from the prison went and sat down on Ta˙getos, Theras entreated of the Lacedemonians, as they were proposing to put them to death, that no slaughter might take place, and at the same time he engaged himself to take them forth out of the land. The Lacedemonians having agreed to this proposal, he sailed away with three thirty-oared galleys to the descendants of Membliaros, not taking with him by any means all the Minyai, but a few only; for the greater number of them turned towards the land of the Paroreatai and Caucones, and having driven these out of their country, they parted themselves into six divisions and founded in their territory the following towns,--Lepreon, Makistos, Phrixai, Pyrgos, Epion, Nudion; of these the Eleians sacked the greater number within my own lifetime. The island meanwhile got its name of Thera after Theras[130] who led the settlement.

149. And since his son said that he would not sail with him, therefore he said that he would leave him behind as a sheep among wolves; and in accordance with that saying this young man got the name of Oiolycos,[131] and it chanced that this name prevailed over his former name: then from Oiolycos was begotten Aigeus, after whom are called the Aigeidai, a powerful clan[132] in Sparta: and the men of this tribe, since their children did not live to grow up, established by the suggestion of an oracle a temple to the Avenging Deities[133] of Laīos and Œdipus, and after this the same thing was continued[134] in Thera by the descendants of these men.

150. Up to this point of the story the Lacedemonians agree in their report with the men of Thera; but in what is to come it is those of Thera alone who report that it happened as follows. Grinnos[135] the son of Aisanios, a descendant of the Theras who has been mentioned, and king of the island of Thera, came to Delphi bringing the offering of a hecatomb from his State; and there were accompanying him, besides others of the citizens, also Battos the son of Polymnestos, who was by descent of the family of Euphemos[136] of the race of the Minyai. Now when Grinnos the king of the Theraians was consulting the Oracle about other matters, the Pythian prophetess gave answer bidding him found a city in Libya; and he made reply saying: "Lord,[137] I am by this time somewhat old and heavy to stir, but do thou bid some one of these younger ones do this." As he thus said he pointed towards Battos. So far at that time: but afterwards when he had come away they were in difficulty about the saying of the Oracle, neither having any knowledge of Libya, in what part of the earth it was, nor venturing to send a colony to the unknown.

151. Then after this for seven years there was no rain in Thera, and in these years all the trees in their island were withered up excepting one: and when the Theraians consulted the Oracle, the Pythian prophetess alleged this matter of colonising Libya to be the cause. As then they had no remedy for their evil, they sent messengers to Crete, to find out whether any of the Cretans or of the sojourners in Crete had ever come to Libya. These as they wandered round about the country came also the city of Itanos, and there they met with a fisher for purple named Corobios, who said that he had been carried away by winds and had come to Libya, and in Libya to the island of Platea. This man they persuaded by payment of money and took him to Thera, and from Thera there set sail men to explore, at first not many in number; and Corobios having guided them to this same island of Platea, they left Corobios there, leaving behind with him provisions for a certain number of months, and sailed themselves as quickly as possible to make report about the island to the men of Thera.

152. Since however these stayed away longer than the time appointed, Corobios found himself destitute; and after this a ship of Samos, of which the master was Colaios, while sailing to Egypt was carried out of its course and came to this island of Platea; and the Samians hearing from Corobios the whole story left him provisions for a year. They themselves then put out to sea from the island and sailed on, endeavouring to reach Egypt but carried away continually by the East Wind; and as the wind did not cease to blow, they passed through the Pillars of Heracles and came to Tartessos, guided by divine providence. Now this trading-place was at that time untouched by any, so that when these returned back home they made profit from their cargo greater than any other Hellenes of whom we have certain knowledge, with the exception at least of Sostratos the son of Laodamas the Eginetan, for with him it is not possible for any other man to contend. And the Samians set apart six talents, the tenth part of their gains, and had a bronze vessel made like an Argolic mixing- bowl with round it heads of griffins projecting in a row; and this they dedicated as an offering in the temple of Hera, setting as supports under it three colossal statues of bronze seven cubits in height, resting upon their knees. By reason first of this deed great friendship was formed by those of Kyrene and Thera with the Samians.

153. The Theraians meanwhile, when they arrived at Thera after having left Corobios in the island, reported that they had colonised an island on the coast of Libya: and the men of Thera resolved to send one of every two brothers selected by lot and men besides taken from all the regions of the island, which are seven in number; and further that Battos should be both their leader and their king. Thus then they sent forth two fifty-oared galleys to Platea.

154. This is the report of the Theraians; and for the remainder of the account from this point onwards the Theraians are in agreement with the men of Kyrene: from this point onwards, I say, since in what concerns Battos the Kyrenians tell by no means the same tale as those of Thera; for their account is this:--There is in Crete a city called Oäxos[138] in which one Etearchos became king, who when he had a daughter, whose mother was dead, named Phronime, took to wife another woman notwithstanding. She having come in afterwards, thought fit to be a stepmother to Phronime in deed as well as in name, giving her evil treatment and devising everything possible to her hurt; and at last she brings against her a charge of lewdness and persuades her husband that the truth is so. He then being convinced by his wife, devised an unholy deed against the daughter: for there was in Oäxos one Themison, a merchant of Thera, whom Etearchos took to himself as a guest-friend and caused him to swear that he would surely serve him in whatsoever he should require: and when he had caused him to swear this, he brought and delivered to him his daughter and bade him take her away and cast her into the sea. Themison then was very greatly vexed at the deceit practised in the matter of the oath, and he dissolved his guest-friendship and did as follows, that is to say, he received the girl and sailed away, and when he got out into the open sea, to free himself from blame as regards the oath which Etearchos had made him swear, he tied her on each side with ropes and let her down into the sea, and then drew her up and came to Thera.

155. After that, Polymnestos, a man of repute among the Theraians, received Phronime from him and kept her as his concubine; and in course of time there was born to him from her a son with an impediment in his voice and lisping, to whom, as both Theraians and Kyrenians say, was given the name Battos, but I think that some other name was then given,[139] and he was named Battos instead of this after he came to Libya, taking for himself this surname from the oracle which was given to him at Delphi and from the rank which he had obtained; for the Libyans call a king /battos/: and for this reason, I think, the Pythian prophetess in her prophesying called him so, using the Libyan tongue, because she knew that he would be a king in Libya. For when he had grown to be a man, he came to Delphi to inquire about his voice; and when he asked, the prophetess thus answered him: "For a voice thou camest, O Battos, but thee lord Phœbus Apollo Sendeth as settler forth to the Libyan land sheep-abounding," just as if she should say using the Hellenic tongue, "For a voice thou camest, O king." He thus made answer: "Lord, I came to thee to inquire concerning my voice, but thou answerest me other things which are not possible, bidding me go as a settler to Libya; but with what power, or with what force of men should I go?" Thus saying he did not at all persuade her to give him any other reply; and as she was prophesying to him again the same things as before, Battos departed while she was yet speaking,[140] and went away to Thera.

156. After this there came evil fortune both to himself and to the other men of Thera;[141] and the Theraians, not understanding that which befell them, sent to Delphi to inquire about the evils which they were suffering: and the Pythian prophetess gave them reply that if they joined with Battos in founding Kyrene in Libya, they would fare the better. After this the Theraians sent Battos with two fifty-oared galleys; and these sailed to Libya, and then came away back to Thera, for they did not know what else to do: and the Theraians pelted them with missiles when they endeavoured to land, and would not allow them to put to shore, but bade them sail back again. They accordingly being compelled sailed away back, and they made a settlement in an island lying near the coast of Libya, called, as was said before, Platea. This island is said to be of the same size as the now existing city of Kyrene.

157. In this they continued to dwell two years; but as they had no prosperity, they left one of their number behind and all the rest sailed away to Delphi, and having come to the Oracle they consulted it, saying that they were dwelling in Libya and that, though they were dwelling there, they fared none the better: and the Pythian prophetess made answer to them thus: "Better than I if thou knowest the Libyan land sheep-abounding, Not having been there than I who have been, at thy wisdom I wonder." Having heard this Battos and his companions sailed away back again; for in fact the god would not let them off from the task of settlement till they had come to Libya itself: and having arrived at the island and taken up him whom they had left, they made a settlement in Libya itself at a spot opposite the island, called Aziris, which is enclosed by most fair woods on both sides and a river flows by it on one side.

158. In this spot they dwelt for six years; and in the seventh year the Libyans persuaded them to leave it, making request and saying that they would conduct them to a better region. So the Libyans led them from that place making them start towards evening; and in order that the Hellenes might not see the fairest of all the regions as they passed through it, they led them past it by night, having calculated the time of daylight: and this region is called Irasa. Then having conducted them to the so-called spring of Apollo, they said, "Hellenes, here is a fit place for you to dwell, for here the heaven is pierced with holes."

159. Now during the lifetime of the first settler Battos, who reigned forty years, and of his son Arkesilaos, who reigned sixteen years, the Kyrenians continued to dwell there with the same number as[142] when they first set forth to the colony; but in the time of the third king, called Battos the Prosperous, the Pythian prophetess gave an oracle wherein she urged the Hellenes in general to sail and join with the Kyrenians in colonising Libya. For the Kyrenians invited them, giving promise of a division of land; and the oracle which she uttered was as follows: "Who to the land much desirčd, to Libya, afterwards cometh, After the land be divided,[143] I say he shall some day repent it." Then great numbers were gathered at Kyrene, and the Libyans who dwelt round had much land cut off from their possessions; therefore they with their king whose name was Adicran, as they were not only deprived of their country but also were dealt with very insolently by the Kyrenians, sent to Egypt and delivered themselves over to Apries king of Egypt. He then having gathered a great army of Egyptians, sent it against Kyrene; and the men of Kyrene marched out to the region of Irasa and to the spring Theste,[144] and there both joined battle with the Egyptians and defeated them in the battle: for since the Egyptians had not before made trial of the Hellenes in fight and therefore despised them, they were so slaughtered that but few of them returned back to Egypt. In consequence of this and because they laid the blame of it upon Apries, the Egyptians revolted from him.




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