Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
HIPPIAS VISITS DARIUS
HIPPIAS was led by one of the officers of the king's
household past all the guards, who respectfully made
way for him, and was brought into the most
mag-  nificent dwelling he had ever seen. All the walls were covered
with silken hangings of the richest dyes, and the
furniture sparkled with gold and precious stones.
After passing through many rooms, where he saw richly
dressed courtiers, and guards with jeweled weapons,
Hippias was finally brought into a great audience
chamber, at one end of which hung a heavy curtain of
Here all the courtiers knelt, bending over to touch the
floor with their foreheads, in token of homage to The
Great King. The officer now bade Hippias do likewise;
and when the Athenian raised his head, after
reluctantly going through this performance, he saw that
the curtain had been
quietly pulled aside.
On a beautiful throne of ivory and gold, all
overshadowed by a golden vine bearing clusters of
jeweled grapes, sat the Persian king. He was clad in
superbly embroidered robes, wore a diamond crown or
tiara, held a scepter of pure gold, and was surrounded
by his officers, who were almost as richly dressed as
As the Athenians were plain people, Hippias had never
seen such a sight before, and stared at the garments,
which were far handsomer than those which the Greek
gods were given to wear.
Invited to speak freely and make his errand known,
Hippias now told Darius that he had come to ask his aid
against the revolted Athenians. Darius listened
politely to all he had to say, and then sent him away,
graciously promising to think the matter over, and
giving orders that Hippias should be royally
entertained in the mean while.
 Among Darius' numerous slaves, most of whom were
captives of war, there was a learned Greek doctor
called Democedes. This man, hoping soon to recover
his freedom by paying a sum of money, was very careful
to hide his name, and not tell any one how much he knew.
It happened, however, that the king hurt his foot; and
after the Persian doctors had all tried vainly to cure
him, he sent for Democedes, saying that he would put
him to death if he did not speedily help him.
Thus forced to use his knowledge, Democedes did all he
could for the king, and treated the wound so skillfully
that the monarch was soon cured. The king who had
found out from the other captives that the man was a
doctor, now named him court physician, and even had him
attend his wives.
One of these women was Atossa, the favorite queen;
and when she became ill, Democedes was fortunate enough
to save her life. The king was so delighted with this
cure, that he bade Democedes to choose any reward he
pleased except his freedom.
Democedes, after a few moments' thought, asked
permission to visit his native land once more; and
Darius let him go under the escort of fifteen officers,
who had orders not to lose sight of the doctor for a
moment, to bring him back by force if necessary, and to
spy out the land.
In spite of the constant watching of these fifteen men,
Democedes managed to escape while they were in Greece,
and hid so well that they were never able to find him.
They were therefore obliged to go home without him; and
 as soon as they arrived in Persia, they reported to
Darius all they had done on the way.
The Great King questioned them very closely about all
they had seen; and his curiosity was so excited by what
they told him, that he made up his mind to conquer
Greece and add it to his kingdom.
He therefore sent for Hippias again, told him that he
was ready to help him, and gave orders to collect one of the
largest armies that had ever been seen. With this army he
hoped not only to take the whole country, but also to
get back the runaway doctor, Democedes, who in the mean
while was living peacefully in Greece, where he had
married the daughter of the famous strong man, Milo of