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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

William Smith, A Smaller History of Ancient Greece

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER VII

The Persian Wars. - From the Ionic Revolt to the Battle of Marathon, B.C. 500-490

ELPENOR EDITIONS IN PRINT

HOMER

PLATO

ARISTOTLE

THE GREEK OLD TESTAMENT (SEPTUAGINT)

THE NEW TESTAMENT

PLOTINUS

DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE

MAXIMUS CONFESSOR

SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN

CAVAFY

More...


Page 3

During the reign of Cambyses (B.C. 529-521), the son and successor of Cyrus, the Greek cities of Asia remained obedient to their Persian governors. It was during this reign that Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, became the master of the Grecian seas. The ambition and good fortune of this enterprising tyrant were alike remarkable. He possessed a hundred ships of war, with which he conquered several of the islands; and he aspired to nothing less than the dominion of Ionia, as well as of the islands in the AEgean. The Lacedaemonians, who had invaded the island at the invitation of the Samian exiles, for the purpose of overthrowing his government, were obliged to retire, after besieging his city in vain for forty days. Everything which he undertook seemed to prosper; but his uninterrupted good fortune at length excited the alarm of his ally Amasis, the king of Egypt. According to the tale related by Herodotus, the Egyptian king, convinced that such amazing good fortune would sooner or later incur the envy of the gods, wrote to Polycrates, advising him to throw away one of his most valuable possessions and thus inflict some injury upon himself. Thinking the advice to be good, Polycrates threw into the sea a favourite ring of matchless price and beauty; but unfortunately it was found a few days afterwards in the belly of a fine fish which a fisherman had sent him as a present. Amasis now foresaw that the ruin of Polycrates was inevitable, and sent a herald to Samos to renounce his alliance. The gloomy anticipations of the Egyptian monarch proved well founded. In the midst of all his prosperity Polycrates fell by a most ignominious fate. Oroetes, the satrap of Sardis, had for some unknown cause conceived a deadly hatred against the Samian despot. By a cunning stratagem the satrap allured him to the mainland, where he was immediately arrested and hanged upon a cross (B.C. 522).

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