Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Herodotus
Pages of Melpomene

Previous | Next


then from this contest," they went on to say, "look not on tamely
while we are perishing- but make common cause with us, and together
let us meet the enemy. If ye refuse, we must yield to the pressure,
and either quit our country, or make terms with the invaders. For what
else is left for us to do, if your aid be withheld from us? The
blow, be sure, will not light on you more gently upon this account.
The Persian comes against you no less than against us: and will not be
content, after we are conquered, to leave you in peace. We can bring
strong proof of what we here advance. Had the Persian leader indeed
come to avenge the wrongs which he suffered at our hands when we
enslaved his people, and to war on us only, he would have been bound
to march straight upon Scythia, without molesting any nation by the
way. Then it would have been plain to all that Scythia alone was aimed
at. But now, what has his conduct been? From the moment of his
entrance into Europe, he has subjugated without exception every nation
that lay in his path. All the tribes of the Thracians have been
brought under his sway, and among them even our next neighbours, the
The assembled princes of the nations, after hearing all that the
Scythians had to say, deliberated. At the end opinion was divided- the
kings of the Geloni, Budini, and Sauromatae were of accord, and
pledged themselves to give assistance to the Scythians; but the
Agathyrsian and Neurian princes, together with the sovereigns of the
Androphagi, the Melanchaeni, and the Tauri, replied to their request
as follows:- "If you had not been the first to wrong the Persians, and
begin the war, we should have thought the request you make just;- we
should then have complied with your wishes, and joined our arms with
yours. Now, however, the case stands thus- you, independently of us,
invaded the land of the Persians, and so long as God gave you the
power, lorded it over them: raised up now by the same God, they are
come to do to you the like. We, on our part, did no wrong to these men
in the former war, and will not be the first to commit wrong now. If
they invade our land, and begin aggressions upon us, we will not
suffer them; but, till we see this come to pass, we will remain at
home. For we believe that the Persians are not come to attack us,
but to punish those who are guilty of first injuring them."
When this reply reached the Scythians, they resolved, as the
neighbouring nations refused their alliance, that they would not
openly venture on any pitched battle with the enemy, but would
retire before them, driving off their herds, choking up all the
wells and springs as they retreated, and leaving the whole country
bare of forage. They divided themselves into three bands, one of
which, namely, that commanded by Scopasis, it was agreed should be
joined by the Sauromatae, and if the Persians advanced in the
direction of the Tanais, should retreat along the shores of the
Palus Maeotis and make for that river; while if the Persians
retired, they should at once pursue and harass them. The two other
divisions, the principal one under the command of Idanthyrsus, and the
third, of which Taxacis was king, were to unite in one, and, joined by
the detachments of the Geloni and Budini, were, like the others, to
keep at the distance of a day's march from the Persians, falling
back as they advanced, and doing the same as the others. And first,
they were to take the direction of the nations which had refused to
join the alliance, and were to draw the war upon them: that so, if
they would not of their own free will engage in the contest, they
might by these means be forced into it. Afterwards, it was agreed that
they should retire into their own land, and, should it on deliberation
appear to them expedient, join battle with the enemy.
When these measures had been determined on, the Scythians went out
to meet the army of Darius, sending on in front as scouts the fleetest
of their horsemen. Their waggons wherein their women and their
children lived, and all their cattle, except such a number as was
wanted for food, which they kept with them, were made to precede
them in their retreat, and departed, with orders to keep marching,

Previous | Next
Site Search