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The Story of Greece by  Mary Macgregor


 

 

DARIUS REWARDS HISTIAEUS

[121] MEANWHILE a band of Scythians had reached the banks of the Danube. The Ionians had already loosed some of the boats on the farther side, that the enemy might think that the bridge was useless. And they, seeing this, and thinking that it would be impossible for Darius to cross the river, turned back to meet him.

But that same night, after a terrible march, the great king reached the river unnoticed by the Scythians. He saw at once that there were no boats on his side of the river. Had the Ionians gone home and left him to fall into the hands of his enemy?

Then he bade one of his men who was noted for the strength of his voice to call aloud for Histiaeus of Miletus. No sooner was this done than an answering shout was heard, and Histiaeus sent in haste to restore the bridge of boats. When the boats were secure, Darius with his weary army crossed to the other side, and was greeted with every token of loyalty by the Greeks.

The king was grateful to Histiaeus when he heard that it was he who had persuaded the other tyrants to await his return, after the sixty days had passed, and he bade him ask for whatever he wished.

Now the tyrant longed to build a strong city far from the control of the Persian power. So he asked for land in the country called Thrace, which stretches north of Macedon to the river Danube, and Darius granted his request.

But Megabazus, the general of the great king, did not [122] trust Histiaeus, and when he came to Sardis, where the king's court was, he said to Darius, "O king, what hast thou done? Thou hast given to a Greek who is wise and crafty a city in Thrace, where there is much timber for building ships and blades for oars, and mines of silver, and round it there are many people, both Greek and barbarian, who will take him for a chief and do his will by night and by day. See then that he make not war against thee in time to come."

Darius feared lest Megabazus was right, and he determined to send for Histiaeus and keep him at his own court. Yet as Megabazus might have made a mistake, the message the king sent to the Greek was a kind one.

"O Histiaeus," said the king, "I have pondered it well, and I find none who is better minded to me and to my kingdom than thou art. This I know, for I have learnt it, not by words but in deed. And now I purpose to do great things. Come therefore to me in any wise, that I may entrust them to thee.

These words pleased Histiaeus. It seemed to him that the great king was treating him even as one of his counsellors. But when he reached the king's court and was told what the commands of Darius were, he was not so well content.

"O Histiaeus," said the king, "there is nothing more precious than a wise and kind friend, and I knew that this thou art to me. So now thou must leave Miletus and the new city which thou has built, and come with me to my court at Susa."

The Greek found it hard to hide his anger and disappointment. Rather would he be tyrant at Miletus, or ruler in his new city, than a favoured courtier at Susa.

Aristagoras, the brother-in-law of Histiaeus, was now made tyrant of Miletus, while Darius appointed his own brother Artaphernes to be ruler of Sardis.


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