Geographical sites:

  • Sardis (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #550867)
    Pleiades_icon Sardis/Hyde? settlement Description: Sardis was the capital of the Lydian Empire located in western Turkey.


Text #3658

Herodotus. The Histories. Series: Histories. Vol. 3
[Hdt. 7.37. Translated by Alfred Denis Godley. William Heinemann; G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1922. (4 Vols.) p. 351]

… [t]he army then wintered, and at the beginning of spring was ready and set forth from Sardis to march to Abydos. When they had set forth, the sun left his place in the heaven and was unseen, albeit the sky was without clouds and very clear, and the day was turned into night. When Xerxes saw and took note of that, he was moved to think upon it, and asked the Magians what the vision might signify. They declared to him, that the god was showing to the Greeks the desolation of their cities; for the sun (they said) was the prophet of the Greeks, as the moon was theirs. Xerxes rejoiced exceedingly to hear that, and kept on his march

Text #9066

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

According to Herodotus, the Persian army left Sardis during the spring of 480 and witnessed a solar eclipse. However, no solar eclipse was visible from Greece and Asia Minor in the spring of 480. The only visible eclipses were the annular eclipses on 2 October 480 and 17 February 478. So it seems that Herodotus had the sequence of events wrong. Still, he was very close considering that he was writing some 25 to 30 years (or more) after the event. See also T#9062. Obviously, Xerxes had just begun his retreat from Athens when the eclipse occurred.

Text #9062

Sacks. "Herodotus and the Dating of the Battle of Thermopylae". The Classical Quarterly. Vol. 26
[pp. 232--248]


The battle of Salamis can be dated with a high degree of certainty. Probably about the time of that battle, Cleombrotus was at the Isthmus, constructing the defences there (Hdt. 8. 71. 1). At some point while building the wall, he considered giving chase to the Persian army. When his sacrifice was answered by a solar eclipse, he took this as a bad omen and immediately returned to Lacedaemon (9. 10. 2–3). The eclipse visible to Cleombrotus could only have been that of 2 October 480. Now it is generally supposed that Cleombrotus would not have thought to abandon the construction of the wall and pursue Xerxes unless the latter had just begun his retreat from Athens. Thus, as Herodotus says that a few days after the battle of Salamis Xerxes withdrew from Attica (8. 113. 1), the battle of Salamis probably occurred before 2 October 480.

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