Presentation on theme: "The Persian Wars Lecturer: Wu Shiyu. When the vast empire of Persia,set itself upon the course of conquering the small independent city- states of Greece,"— Presentation transcript:
The Persian Wars Lecturer: Wu Shiyu
When the vast empire of Persia,set itself upon the course of conquering the small independent city- states of Greece, only 31 of them stood together, led by Athens and Sparta. These two great city-states would be the key of Greek resistance to Persia in that most critical single moment in the history of Greece.
Had Greece been defeated: The idea of freedom that as we know it, would have vanished from history. Our art and architecture as we understand it would not have been developed, The richness of Greek tragedy, the whole legacy of Roman empire, none of these might have come into being.
Herodotus and His History The importance of the struggle against Persia was captured in the first true work of history, Herodotus ( 希罗多德） and his Histories of Persian Wars A work written in the fifth century, a work born amid the political innovation of the Athenian democracy; the innovation of learning in the 6th century B.C.( Pythagoras, and Solon)
Herodotus and His History Herodotus (484 BC – 425 BC) has been called "The Father of History" (Cicero) and "The Father of Lies”. A political exile, who had been driven from Caria, Halicarnassus (modern day Bodrum, Turkey), in Ionia and in Asia Minor, Traveled widely and then cames to Athens, where he read his history before the Athenian audience near 445 B.C., A narration before the entire assembly of Athenian citizens, And so pleased were they with his history, that they gave them ten talents as a reward.
Herodotus (484 BC – 425 BC)
He went off to south Italy, lived out his life, but left behind the history, which was so important to the Greeks as a whole, that it was read on a regular basis, at the Olympic Games. Herodotus and His History
What Herodotus set out to do: Why do the great nations rise and fall?
Herodotus searches for moral truth, and for him that was the ultimate purpose of history, The reader will be instructed and made better, better as an individual, better as a citizen. Herodotus and His History
He believes that we could learn as much perhaps more from others than from ourselves, and that is why his history has its true protagonist, not the Greeks, but the Persians, They are the ones who were most instructive, and he doesn’t begin his history with the outbreak of the Persian Wars, he begins it much earlier, And he roams widely, through Egypt, to the culture of Babylonia, far off to the step of Russia, to Sythia, searching for lessons, yes there are a lot of anecdotes and stories,
In order to instruct, you must first entertain, and the stories of Herodotus are woven tightly, like a necklace, from the beginning to the end, bring us back to the central truth.
And for Herodotus, the ultimate truth of history, is found in the concept of Hybris, outrageous arrogance, In Athenian law, hybris is also the word to describe rape, that worst crime against the innocence. And hybris is the abuse of power, often inflicted upon the innocent, which brings in its trend consequences of destruction, for the guilty and innocent alike. Ate is another theme for Herodotus, moral blindness, and those who possessed the great power become blind to truth, they can not be instructed and so they themselves become the instrument of instruction through their fall from power.
And Herodotus introduces us to this theme in the very beginning of his history, starting the tale of Persian Wars, with Croesus, the king of Lydia. The Story of Croesus
Croesus reign from 560 to 546 B.C. King over one of the four powers of his world, Lydia, Egypt, Babylon, and to the north, what is today Iran, the kingdom of the Medes, Media. All of these were great powers, believing that they would rule the world forever, dividing the world between themselves, engaged in a balance of power. The Story of Croesus
And Croesus sat at the heart of this world, his very name would become proverbial, “ riches of Croesus”. The land of Lydia was filled with natural alloys of gold and silver, it was there where coinage was first strike. And Croesus believed, Herodotus tells us, that he is the happiest man of the world.
Croesus Receiving Tribute from a Lydian Peasant,
Herodotus starts his tale by explaining how Croesus came to be king. Five generations before Croesus, was king Candaules(Lydian name). He had a beautiful wife, and he was enormously proud of the beauty of his wife, and he never stopped talking, never stopped talking about how lovely his wife was, One day he was telling one of his bodyguard Gyges: “My wife was the most beautiful woman in the world, dadadada.”
Gyges’ eyes just for a moment glares over, he had heard the story so many times. Candaules: “You don’t believe it, do you?” Gyges: “ Yes, I do, Sire, I do believe this.” No, you don’t. And I am going to prove it to you. I want you to see my wife in the nude. Gyges, “No, I don’t want to do this, you know, off the woman’s clothes, off the shame.
“No, you gonna to see her, I gonaa worked out she won’t even know it.” “Please, Sire, do not ask me to do this.”
Nothing would turn King Candaules, so that night he arranged Gyges to stay behind the screen. His wife came into the bedroom and took off her clothes. Gyges saw it and slipped out. But the queen had caught a glimpse of him in the corner of her eye. She said nothing to her husband.
But next day she sent for Gyges. She said, “All right, I am giving you a choice, head of the bodyguards, either you kill my husband and marry me, or I will tell him you come here trying to seduce me and he will kill you. What is it going to be?” Gyges said, “don’t make it either one, Let us just forget what has happened.”
Gyges made his choice. “I go along with you and will kill your husband, and but I will become king in his place?” And so they do. Candaules was murdered by his own wife, and head of his bodyguards. And Gyges now rules the land of Lydia. And from Gyges, five generations later comes Croesus.
Candaules committed an act of Hybris. He shamed his wife. His wife had committed Hybris, she had acted in excess, don’t you see? Why didn’t she just go to her husband and say, “you should not have done that!?” She had responded in an excessive fashion. That, too, is the part of the less of Herodotus woven through history: nothing in excess, even punishment can be excessive.
Croesus now is king of Lydia. And one day comes to his court a stranger, Solon, the Athenian. An old man, presents himself at the court. King Croesus says, “I have heard of you. You are one the wisest men of Greece, I have a question for you. First of all, I would like to have you escorted around my palace on my errands.”
The vast wealth is laid out before Solon, the power admired from the mightiest men of his day, He says, when Solon comes back, “Tell me something, Athenian, who was the happiest man in the world?” Solons thinks a minute and says, “It was Tellus.” “ Who? Tellus? Who is that?” Well, he is an Athenian,. Well, so what?
Well, he was a brave man, he had sufficient money by our standard, he raised up his family, so they were all grown up, children of their own, and then he died fighting for his country, was killed in battle and got a public funeral. “All right, I will tell you, who is the second happiest?”
“Cleobis and Biton.” “Who were Cleobis and Biton?” “Well, they were two young men of Argos, and their mother was the priestess of the god Hera. And one day, she was going to give sacrifice, there were no ox to drive her wagon, so her two sons yoke themselves to the wagon, drew it into town, she offered up her sacrifice, every body crowed around and says, “how lucky you are to have these two fine, brave sons.” And she, their mother prays to the god Hera to give them the greatest gift. And that night, they went into the temple, Cleobis and Biton, the two sons, fell asleep, did not wake up.
Let’s see what had given to him: First of all, this man, Tellus, he had what he should want: a nice family, a good public reputation, and died with that reputation.
And these two young men, those whom the gods love, they take back early. They died when they were at the height of their pride and fame before life could pull them down.
While Croesus thought that Solon was the most overrated intellect he’d ever met. He dismissed him as a fool. But before the dismiss he said: What about me? Who am I? Not the happiest man?
Sire, right now, I will call you a lucky man, but have you ever thought of this? There are 365 days in the year. Each day brings something new. Right now you are just lucky, no one is happy until the end is known. Look to the end and when at the end of your days, you still enjoy this fame and reputation, then am I call you happy.
Solon went away, Croesus continued, but had a dream one night and in the dream the god sent him a message that his favorite son, the heir to the throne, would be killed by an iron weapon. (dreams) He had two sons in fact, but one wasn’t able to speak or hear, never would be suited for the kingship, but the other, was the one Croesus doted upon. And so in order to make sure the son was never killed by iron weapons, Croesus had all iron weapons removed from the boy’s room, took him out of army where he’d been a captain, and had him get married.
So this son settled down and live a quiet life where led him keep out of any military and expeditions any more. The boy grieved under this And one day a group of villagers came in and brought this message to Croesus that a savage boar was ravaging their territory and would he send hunters to kill the boar.
And the boy was there and said, let me go there, I want to go and hunt this boar. His father said, no, no, not today. And he said, what have I done to anger you, father? Why do you treat me this way? I was a soldier, now you strip me of my honor.
And his father said, it’s not that, but I had a dream. You will be killed by an iron weapon. He said, father, I appreciate that you love me so much, but let me go out, let me go out and fight this boar, because, does the boar carry a sword? Does a boar carry a spear? No, sounds good. Alright.
So, there it is, out chase the boar, and he’d got guards with him to protect him. And the boar suddenly turns its tract, and races toward the young prince. One of the guards hurls the spear and threw at the boar, misses it, kills the boy. Oh, the word is brought back to Croesus.
And maybe, Herodotus suggests, Croesus ought to have stopped right then, and reexamined. But he didn’t. He continued on, ‘cause he has more problems, political problems and a great power was arising on the border of his country to the east, the new empire of Persia.
And Croesus was concerned that, it might lead to a change in the balance of power. And so he sought to get the best information through the oracle. Greeks took oracles very seriously. These were ways with which gods made their will known.
And there were a number of them in the Greek world. And so Croesus sent off messengers to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. He gave enormous gifts to the oracle. Vast sums of money. 117 ingots of gold. Huge gold and silver mixing bowls. Is that not Hubris? But he went on his way.
He asked the god one question: Will my other son, the surviving son ever speak? And the answer came back, you will ruin the day when that son speaks. Next question: should I march against the Persian Empire? (The Empire of Persia has grown so large under a vigorous king Cyrus) And the answer came back, if you march against the Persian Empire, a great kingdom will be destroyed. Ambiguous, wouldn’t you say?
But Croesus is a prudent man, and he writes back again and says, “well how long will I be the king over Lydia? ” And the answer comes back, “until a mule sits upon the throne of Persia.” How could a mule be the king of Persia? So I am going to march against them. And off he goes, taking with him his army.
And Cyrus responds and the two meet in the eastern part of Lydia across the frontiers and it is a drawn battle. Neither side wins. And Croesus then withdraws, comes back to his capital of Sardis, and assumes the campaign is over for the year. This is thought to be the fall in the year 547. Because in those days it was very difficult to campaign during the winter, the rain made the roads impossible.
Croesus comes back, begins to look for allies among the other powers. But suddenly Cyrus moves his army out from the winter rains and appears before the gate of Sardis.
And there is nothing that Croesus can do but to fight. And most of his army has been dismissed. He brings out his cavalry and Lydian won fame through the courage of cavalry, but the army of Cyrus has with them the camels. Horses will never go up against the camels.
It goes around and so the victory is won by the Persians. Well still Croesus is safe within his city walls. He waits up the siege. But a Persian soldier going around look up at the walls, notices a Lydian standing on top of the walls whose helmet falls off and rolls down the hill. Sardis is situated on the great heights of the hill and he comes down for the helmet and could easily go up.
So that must be the path and so the Persians assault that citadel and capture it, and Sardis is in their hands. And up and down the streets of Sardis, they plunder and burn and destroy. And Croesus is running for his life, holding back the hand of the remaining son, the one who cannot speak or hear.
And Cyrus the king of Persia has given the order that his troops can kill any Lydian they want except Croesus. He wants him alive, and so they race him along, And suddenly a Persian soldier raises spear in the sky to kill him and the little boy speaks up, Remember, you will ruin the day that son speaks. And the little boy shouts, do not kill him. For this is Croesus, king of the Lydians. And so Croesus is brought before the conquering Cyrus.
And Cyrus asked him, why did you invade my country? Why did you invade my territory, ravage my lands? And Croesus said, “Well, the god told me to do this, it’s not my responsibility.” Cyrus said, “You can’t shirk you responsibility. You are going to pay for it. I am going to burn you alive.”
And so Croesus’ funeral pier is built. Croesus is on top of the funeral pier and the Persian is watching this and flames begin to go up and licks the logs and get closer and closer, closer and closer And Croesus shouts up, “What did I do to deserve this? Oh Solon, Solon, Solon!”
Croesus on the pyre
Cyrus said, “What is that? You, Lydian, what did you say? Solon, Solon, solon. What does that mean? “ Well I’d like to tell you, but I catch on fire here.” Put the fire out! But it’d gone too far. And Croesus says, “God Apollo, if anything I have ever done pleases you, put this fire out, put an end to it!”
And suddenly out of the blue sky, the rain comes down, and fire is put out. “All right, come down, talk to me, Croesus! Says Cyrus, “What is this, Solon, Solon, Solon?” “Well, Solon was a wise man who visited me and I wish he could talk with every king in the world, for he gave me such wisdom and I spurned it. He said no one is really happy until the end is known.”
“Oh, I tell you what”, says Cyrus, “You seem as though you have learned a great deal, you have learned wisdom through your defeat and suffering. Croesus, I’m not going to burn you alive. I am going to make you my honored adviser.” “ I can’t Sire, what are those men doing?” “ Haha they are burning your Sardis to the ground.” “No, king Cyrus, they are burning your city of Sardis to the ground ‘cause it is yours now. ” Oh, that is wisdom. Such a good advice deserves good return. What would you like to do?
“I tell you what I’d like to do”, says Croesus, “I would like to rise to the god of Apollo why he betrayed me.” “Do it.”
So the question went off and Apollo wrote back and said, “First of all, I did not betray you. You asked me if you should march against the Persian Empire, and I wrote back, if you did, a great kingdom will be destroyed. Your were the one who was so swollen with hybris. Thinking you are wise, when you are not wise. So you went ahead and acted. I’m going to tell you something else. You thought you could buy with money and gifts the favor of the gods. That can never be. Only one thing that is very important step of morality and ethics. Only one thing wins the favor of the gods, that is a righteous and just life, a life that is not marked by the sin of hybris. Now think, I paid you back well. Even after you have lost your kingdom through your own folly, I sent the rain and saved your life.
“Your told me I would rule until a mule sat upon the throne of Persia.” The oracle wrote back, “You didn’t follow that, either. You must pursue wisdom but within limits.”
Had Cyrus acted towards Croesus, an excessive man? No. He started to burn him alive, but then learned and practiced moderation. And for that reason, in the pages of Herodotus, Cyrus is the model of a good king. How did a mule get to be the king of Persia?
The Story of Cyrus and The Rise of Persia King Astyages was master of the Median Kingdom (Egypt, Babylon, Lydia, and Media). Media, with its capital of Botona, near the modern city of Teheran, and the Medes are direct ancestors of the Iranian people of today.
And Aystyage was a mighty ruler, but he was troubled. He had a strange dream. (His daughter Mandana urinating. Urinated so much that the entire town of Botana was filled up and the urine poured over the walls.) He called his priests, the Mejis, the learned men of Persia and they came in and said, “your daughter will give birth to a child who will overthrow the Medes and destroy them. ”
“Well, what can I do about this?” “I think what you must do is to marry her to someone who so low born that the child given birth by the two of them, would never become a ruler.” “All right, I will marry her to the Persians. These men were the most despised people in my realm, but I will find her a nice husband. So he marries her off.”
But not long after that, the King Aystyage has another dream, These great plants are growing out of his daughter. They grow and grow and circle the whole town. And he calls his mejis again. What is this? And they say, “Oh, she’s going to have a child.” “Oh, I thought you told me it would work out fine,” “Yes, sire, I think you need to have the little child put to death if it is a boy.” “Well, hard to do, but it’s for my country and I’ll do it.”
So Mandana delivered the boy child. Now, the King, calls his chief adviser, Herpagus. He said to Herpagus, “I want you to take this little child, my own grandson, and expose it, have him put to death. ”.
While Herpagus takes this little baby, crying, and looking into his eyes, and he has a little uncertainty in his mind. I mean, yes, the king has told him to do this, the king’s order must be obeyed. But, what if a few years later, the king does not have any children, any more grandchildren, then he’s going to be mad at me. So what I have to do is to find a fault guy, somebody I can blame all of this on. So he takes it to one of his shepherds, gives him the little boy, says, “Won’t you, shepherd, to take this little baby out and expose it?” But the shepherd dutifully takes it, goes out, goes home first, but does not expose the child and raised the child with his wife at their own.
Years go by, the little boy goes up to about 12 or so, thinking that he is the son of a shepherd. And one day, he is playing with some of his little friends, and he beats one savagely. The boy he beats up is a nobleman’s son, and he runs to his father, says, “Father, the shepherd’s son beats me up!” The father goes to the king and says, “King, why do you let shepherd’s son beat up the sons of noblemen?”
And the king says, “I’m going to look at this.” So he has the shepherd’s boy brought in and he says, “All right, son, now tell me something. Why did you beat up this little boy?” “We were playing king, and I was the king. He didn’t obey me, so I thrashed him.” “What an excellent answer! Turn to the side a little bit, and let me look at you.”
Oh, let me have a mirror. That’s amazing resemblance. Something is not right here. Send for Herpagus. Come here, Herpagus, now. Do you remember about 12 years ago, I gave my grandson to expose?” “Yes.” “Did you do it?” “Er, well, er, actually, I…I did not. I gave it to a shepherd to do so.” “I see, bring the shepherd to me.” The shepherd comes in, tells the whole story. “You’re not to blame, shepherd. And Herpagus, my grand---,old friend, you are not to blame, either. Wasn’t it a good thoughtful deed to allow this child to alive? Now he will be the company of my old age.”
I tell you what, don’t you have a boy about his age?” “Yes,” says Herpagus, “I do.” “Why don’t you have them come up tonight, play with my little boy, my new grandson, so to speak, and after which we’ll have a nice banquet.” “All right.”
Herpagus send his little boy out, and king Astyages takes the son of Herpagus and butchers him. Skins him, pulls out his angles, and the rest he cooks up into a stun, each does wonderful set of meat dishes. The king asks him, “How do you like this?” “It’s wonderful food.” “Well, now look what we have got for dessert.” And in brought the platter. Herpagus picks up the lid, and there’s the little boy’s head, hand. We don’t know what Herpagus said. He can’t be angry at the king, but whatever it’s done. He goes away.
Moral instruction: king Astyages has committed hybris, the son of Herpagus is the innocent victim. King Astyages goes on. And he goes nothing more to Herpagus. He leaves him in his position as grand vizir. He sends off his grandson to be raised up with mother end, the son in law in Persian.
And one day that boy has grown up into a man of 22. He wants to lead the Persians to independence. And he starts the great revolve in Persia against Median rule. Ate: moral blindness, king Astyages gave the command of none other than Herpagus. And Herpagus leads the army over the other decide of Cyrus. And now Cyrus becomes king, king over Persians and Medes,
Cyrus, to the Greeks, to the page of Herodotus, will become a marvel of a good king, with how he avoided the crime of hybris, of excessive outrageous arrogance when he attack Croesus, He will join together the people of the nearest into a unified, multicultural, diverse kingdom. His son Cambyses be a assassinated before conquering Egypt.
And then Darius, descended by a collateral branch from Cyrus, will bring the empire to the its very height, creating a centralized power, stretching from the Indus river all the way to the First Cataract of the Nile.
27 great provinces, satrapies. Its wealth was enormous 14,600 talents every year. The king himself has almost no expenses, because the provinces pay for the upkeep of the army stationed in them, and it is a superb army. Mercenary soldiers for the call of the Persians in needs. Jewish soldiers mercenary serve in the army of the Persian king. The Jews have their temple rebuilt for them, by Cyrus. It is an empire which believes and respecting local traditions, local cultures. It has a magnificent infrastructure.
Caravans travel safely from the Indus River all the way out to the Mediterranean Sea, and swift riding couriers ( 信使 ) can take a message from Sardis to one of their capitals like Babylon in a matter of two weeks, changing horses at every way stations. Their motto is that “neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night can keep couriers from their appointed routes.”
Darius believed that he has been chosen by god to rule this empire. There’s only one god, Darius believed To rebel against the power of the Darius was to rebel against god himself. And the Greek city Ionians in 498BC, rose up against Persian rule. Darius crushed them. And so as what when Athens without any provocation by Darius, set a small force to aid their brothers in Asia Minor.
Darius determined to crush Athens and he sent his mighty Armada, 26,000 men on ships to crush Athens. There’s Battle of Marathon in 490BC, the Persians suffered their first check. Darius was determined to avenge this, but before he could he died in 486, and the throne and power passed to his son, Xerxes.
And this Xerxes, who is a central figure in Herodotus story of the Persian Wars. Inherited this empire at its height.
For Herodotus, Xerxes is the prototype of the despot, of the tyrant.
Well, whenever a despot ask you what going to, you should already know and one of his advisers rises his hand, “Sire, what we need to do is to march against Athens. Nothing can stand before you, you’re the mighty as war you of your day and you’ll crush everything in your path. What I see is our expansion, first to Greece and then further to the west so that the very rays of the sun will aluminates every potion about the mighty empire in that.” which was the despot wants to hear. ”
Herodotus will give us numbers that call us to ponder, he will tell us that more than 1,700,000 infantry were there. The warship number 1,207 is actually testified by Aeschylus. 1,700,000 maybe too much for us, but other sources suggest that the infantry force of king Xerxes numbered around 500,000. So it’s the power for army that is gather there, and they spend the winter at Sardis. And here again, Herodotus’ interrupt seems narrow, gave us the story that again we might at first impression, simply want to dismiss, somehow the story teller having the way everything into his tell.
And the story of Pythius. He is the richest in the Persian empire, and he comes to Xerxes, and Xerxes says, “I’ve heard of your wealth, did you not give presents to my father?” “Yes, I gave him a wonderful gold tree.” “Well, what can I do for you?” Pythius says, “With our dully guard for every person in the prison in the empire, is the slave of the king. And even the greatest nobleman must approach the king by crawling before him”
“I would like to do something for you, what can you do for me?” “What I would like to do, Sire, is to give you all of my ready cash to you for you expedition.” “So how much money do you have?” “Oh, I have 4 million gold coins, short of only 8,000.”
And so the army is ready to march, Xerxes is in his mighty chariot, and Pythius comes and says to him, “Sire, do you remember I could ask for any favor?” “ Yes.” “ well, may I ask my favor now?” “Of course you may, what is it?” “ I have several sons. They serve in the army. What I would ask is that my oldest son be left behind and take care of my when I am old.”
And suddenly, Xerxes roars out, ‘How dare you make such a request like this? Here I am, leading the army myself, and you are asking your son to stay behind. Alright, I grant it. Let him stay behind. With a great sword, the executioner splits the son right down the middle, and one side of the body was placed at one side of the gate, and the other side, the other part of the gate, and through the sliced body of the son of Pythius, the mighty army marches out.
Now again, the lesson from Herodotus: What is it like to live under a despot, even the highest and richest man who the king might behold for favors, has no security of life or property. And Pythius is not only a symbol of what it is under a tyrant, but also hybris. Don’t you think it’s rather an excessive response? Why not just say no, the boy must march with me. Instead, he splits him apart. Morevover, has the son done anything to outrage King Xerxes? No! He is utterly innocent. This is a work of hybris.
Xerxes is marching his army along the land and keeping close contact with his fleet. He strategy is well conceived. He even dug a canal through Athos, 1.5 miles through stone, so that his fleet can stay as close to his army. He is bending nature to himself, to his will. And so Xerxes as his army reaches Hellespont, has his engineers lay a bridge over boats to cross it. One boat lashed to another, planking it down over them so the army can cross from Asia into Europe. Suddenly, a storm comes up, but he still wants to cross. Xerxes now is rolled out into the Hellespont, and lashes the waters with his whip, “You briny stream, how dare you stand before me? And he beat the water over and over and over again, and of course executed the engineers. And another bridge is laid down. And he crosses.
The superb cavalry, men and horse wrapped in armor, his immortals, ten thousand Persians carrying their spears, golden and silver pomegranate at the end, marching across, his body guards, and then the troops of the far ranging empire. His Arabs on horseback, Sythians with their bows and savage spears. Ethiopians, their bodies painted half white, half red, carrying spears all crossing in majesty. And it seems nothing can stop this expedition.
All the cities on the Greek mainland, only 31 have resisted him. All the rest have sent him the sign of submission. He sent diplomats demanding earth and water.
And he sees before him spears glittering in the sun, 7000 warriors from the Peloponnese with the core of 300 Spartans. What means this, says the Persian king. An exile from Sparta is called and Xerxes asked, “Who are these people?”
The exile says, “Sire, these are not just the bravest warriors in Greece, they are the bravest warriors in the world.” Xerxes says, “Are you telling me that 300 Spartans can resist my hundreds of thousands? Why don’t you, you are from Sparta, fight a dozen of my men and see who wins?
That’s not it, Sire, it is the fact that these men fight signally brave, but fighting together, they are invincible, for they fear only the laws of Sparta and for that they will pay any price. But Xerxes in his ate of moral blindness, will sweep on, to the battle of 300 Spartans at Thermopylae.