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Text #3660

Herodotus. The Histories. Series: Histories. Vol. 3
[Bk. 7 Ch. 42 pp. 357--359]

From Lydia the army1 took its course to the river Caicus and the land of Mysia, and leaving the Caicus, through Atarneus to the town of Carene, keeping the mountain of Cane on the left. Thence they journeyed over the plain of Thebe, passing the town of Adramytteum and the Pelasgian town Antandrus ; and then came into the territory of Ilium, with Ida on their left. Then this first befell them, that when they had halted for the night at the foot of Ida they were smitten by a storm of thunder and fiery winds, whereby very many there perished2.

When the army had come to the river Scamander, which was the first river after the beginning of their march from Sardis that fell short of their needs and could not suffice for the army and the cattle, — being arrived at this river, Xerxes ascended to the citadel of Priam3, having a desire to view it; and having viewed and enquired of all that was there he sacrificed a thousand kine to Athene of Ilium, and the Magians offered libations to the heroes. After their so doing,** the army was seized with a panic fear in the night**. When it was day they journeyed on thence, keeping on their left the towns of Rhoetium and Ophryneum and Dardanus, which marches with Abydos, and on their right the Teucrian Gergithae.

  1. The Persian army. [nE]

  2. Some months before the battle of Thermopylae, Xerxes left Sardis, probably at the end of March and entered the Troad bypassing Mount Ida. Green P, Les Guerres Médiques, 2012, p. 126. [nE]

  3. i.e. Troy [nE]

Text #9067

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

“Thunder and fiery winds” may describe an exploding comet/asteroid fragment similar to what was witnessed in Chelyabinsk. The panic in the night may suggest that there were additional phenomena that have either dropped out of the text or were never included. However, considering what is included in T#3663, this may be the same event. It’s not impossible that two Tunguska like events could occur in the same year, five months apart, so we leave them as separate entries for now.

Text #3663

Herodotus. The Histories. Series: Histories. Vol. 4
[Hdt. 8.34--8.53. Translated by Alfred Denis Godley. William Heinemann; G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1922. (4 Vols.) pp. 33--51]

34 Passing Parapotamii the foreigners1 came to Panopea; and there their army parted asunder into two companies. The greater and stronger part of the host marched with Xerxes himself towards Athens and broke into the territory of Orchomenus in Boeotia.[…]

35 [The other part of the army] set forth with guides for the temple at Delphi, keeping Parnassus on their right. These, too, laid waste whatsoever part of Phocis they occupied, burning the towns of the Panopeans and Daulii and Aeolidae. The purpose of their parting from the rest of the army and marching this way was, that they might plunder the temple at Delphi and lay its wealth before Xerxes ; who (as I have been told) knew of all the most notable possessions in the temple better than of what he had left in his own palace, and chiefly the offerings of Croesus son of Alyattes ; so many had ever spoken of them.

36 When the Delphians learnt all this they were sore afraid ; and in their great fear they inquired of the oracle whether they should bury the sacred treasure in the ground or convey it away to another country. But the god bade them move nothing, saying that he was able to protect his own. On that hearing, the Delphians took thought for themselves. They sent their children and women oversea to Achaia; of the men, the most went up to the peaks of Parnassus and carried their goods into the Corycian cave, and some escaped to Amphissa in Locris ; in brief, all the Delphians left the town save sixty men and the prophet.

37 Now when the foreigners drew nigh in their coming and could see the temple, the prophet, whose name was Aceratus, saw certain sacred arms, that no man might touch without sacrilege, brought out of the chamber within and laid before the shrine. So he went to tell the Delphians of this miracle ; but when the foreigners came with all speed near to the temple of Athene Pronaea, they were visited by miracles yet greater than the aforesaid. Marvellous indeed it is, that weapons of war should of their own motion appear lying outside before the shrine ; but the visitation which followed upon that was more wondrous than aught else ever seen. For when the foreigners were near in their coming to the temple of Athene Pronaea, there were they smitten by thunderbolts from heaven, and two peaks brake off from Parnassus and came rushing among them with a mighty noise and overwhelmed many of them ; and from the temple of Athene there was heard a shout and a cry of triumph.

38 All this joining together struck panic into the foreigners ; and the Delphians, perceiving that they fled, descended upon them and slew a great number. The survivors fled straight to Boeotia. Those of the foreigners who returned said (as I have been told) that they had seen other signs of heaven’s working besides the aforesaid: two men-at-arms of stature greater than human (they said) had followed hard after them, slaying and pursuing.

39 These two, say the Delphians, were the native heroes Phylacus and Autonous, whose precincts are near the temple, Phylacus’ by the road itself above the shrine of Athene Pronaea, and Autonous’ near the Castalian spring, under the Hyampean peak. The rocks that fell from Parnassus were yet to be seen in my day, lying in the precinct of Athene Pronaea, whither their descent through the foreigners’ ranks had hurled them. Such, then, was the manner of those men’s departure from the temple.[…]

50 While the Peloponnesian captains held this argument, there came a man of Athens, bringing news that the foreigner was arrived in Attica, and was wasting it all with fire. For the army which followed Xerxes through Boeotia had burnt the town of the Thespians (who had themselves left it and gone to the Peloponnese) and Plataea likewise, and was arrived at Athens, laying waste all the country round. They burnt Thespia and Plataea because they learnt from the Thebans that those towns had not taken the Persian part.


53 Those Persians who had come up first betook themselves to the gates, which they opened, and slew the suppliants ; and when they had laid all the Athenians low, they plundered the temple and burnt the whole of the acropolis.

  1. i.e. the Persians [nE]

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