Herodotus book 7

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BOOK 7

‘Was there a nation in Asia that he did no take with him against Greece? Save for the great rivers, was there a stream his army drank from that was not drunk dry?’

THE INVASION OF XERXES

after the defeat at marathon, darius was determined to avenge the insult to his honour by crushing Athens.

Preparations for a second invasion began almost immediately.

would be a full scale invasion this time involving hundreds and thousands of men, a truly overwhelming force that would steamroller over any greeks that opposed him.

Herodotus tells us that through darius’ main focus was punishing Athens, his true plan was the complete conquest of Greece and its absorption into the Persian empire.

darius became distracted by a rebellion in Egypt in 486.

later the same year he died

he was succeeded by his son Xerxes (a grandson on Cyrus the great through his mother Atossa) who crushed the Egyptians the following year (485)

just before he died, darius had been considering who would succeed him to the persian throne.

darius’ eldest son was Artabazanes, but queen atossa was not his mother.

now on her third husband, she had given darius a son, xerxes.

xerxes had therefore 2 big advantages over artabazanes: 1.he was the blood grandson of cyrus. 2. his mother, atossa, seems to have been the most important of darius’ wives.

she was immensely powerful and her influence over darius appears to have been significant. 

but herodotus tells us that it was the spartan exile demaratus who came up with the clinching argument.

BOOK 7.3

when demaratus the son of ariston, arrived in susa, after being deposed as king of sparta and having gone into voluntary exile.

he went to see xerxes and advised him to point out, in addition to the arguments he was already using that darius was already on the throne of persia when he was born, whereas artabazanes was born before his father held any political office at all.

therefore it was neither reasonable nor fair that artabazanes became heir to the throne.

even in sparta if sons were born before the father came to the throne, and another was bron afterwards when he was king. then the latter son would take the crown.

xerxes made this argument to darius, and he was proclaimed as heir to the throne.

herodotus now says that even without the advice of demaratus, xerxes would have become king because of the immense power of atossa.

immediately after his account of darius’ death, herodotus tells us about Xerxe’s attitude about his fathers plans for the invasion of greece.

Mardonius was the first to try to convince him to invade greece.

BOOK 7.5-6

 Xerxes at first was not at all interested in invading greece but began his reign by building up an army for a campaign in egypt.

but mardonius had more influence on xerxes than anyone else in the country. 

‘master’ he would say ‘the athenians have done us great injury, and it

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