Now, when the message had come concerning the battle that had been fought in Marathon to King Darius, Hystaspes’ son, even previously greatly vexed at the Athenians on account of their invasion into Sardis, both, in particular, at that time far more terrible acts he was performing and more was minded to advance with an army against Greece. And immediately he was announcing out by sending messengers city by city that they should make ready a host and was imposing far more on each group than previously they had furnished, both ships and horses and food and boats; so, that being announced round, Asia was stirred up for three years, as the best were being gathered up with the intention that they would advance with an army against Greece and were preparing themselves. Then the fourth year the Egyptians made slaves by Cambyses stood apart from the Persians. Thereupon indeed even more he was minded, even against both, to advance with an army.
So, as Darius was being dispatched to Egypt and Athens, a great faction among his children came about concerning the hegemony that he had to appoint a king in accordance with the Persians’ law and thus advance with an army. For there were to Darius, even before he became king, three sons born of a previous wife, Gobryes’ daughter, and, after he had become king, of Atossa, Cyrus’ child, four others. Indeed of the earlier Artobazanes was the oldest and of those born afterwards Xerxes and, not being of the same mother, they were factious, Artobazanes because he was the oldest of all the offspring and on account of the fact that it was customarily held by all human beings that the oldest should have the rule and Xerxes with the argument that he was the child of Atossa, Cyrus’ daughter, and on account of the fact that Cyrus was the one who had acquired for the Persians freedom.
Then, while Darius was not yet showing forth for himself a judgement, at the same time as that in fact Demaretus, Ariston’s son, had gone up to Susa, bereft of his kingdom in Sparta and an imposer of exile from Lacedaemon on himself. That man, having learned by inquiry of Darius’ children’s difference, went, as the report has him, and was advising Xerxes to speak in addition to the sayings that he was speaking, that he himself was born to Darius by then when he was king and had the power over the Persians, but Artobazanes to Darius when he was still a private person; hence neither reasonable it was nor just for another to have the privilege before him, since at any rate also in Sparta, asserted Demaretus in his suggesting, it was customarily held thus, that, if some were born before their father became king and another, born late, was born afterwards to him while he was king, the one born afterwards’ succession to the kingdom came to be. So, when Xerxes had used Demaretus’ suggestion, Darius came to know that he had made a just speech and appointed him king. But, as far as it seems to me, even without that suggestion Xerxes would have been king; for Atossa had all the power.
Then, having appointed as king for the Persians Xerxes, Darius was setting off to advance with the army. But, since, after that and Egypt’s standing apart, the year later, while he was preparing himself, it had happened that Darius himself, having been king in all thirty six years, had died, in fact it came not out to be for him either the Egyptians who were standing apart or the Athenians to punish.
So, when Darius had died, the kingdom descended to the son of that one, Xerxes. Xerxes then against Greece in no way was eager in the beginning to advance with an army, but against Egypt he was engaged in the collecting of a host. So, being present and having the greatest power of the Persians with him, Mardonius, Gobryes’ son, who was cousin to Xerxes and Darius’ sister’s son, was embracing an account like that following when he was speaking: “Master, it is not reasonable for the Athenians, when they have worked out quite many evils for the Persians, not to pay the penalties for what they have done. Well, if only in the present you might do that very act you have in your hands; then, having tamed Egypt that has acted completely insolently, make an expedition against Athens, that a good account may hold you from human beings and one later guard oneself against advancing with an army against your land”. That speech for him was for vengeance and to that speech as an addition he was supplying this, that Europe was a very beautiful country and it brought forth cultivated trees of all kinds and was highest in virtue; in short, for the king alone of mortals it was worthy to possess.
That then he said, inasmuch as he was a a desirer of newer deeds and himself wished to be subordinate ruler of Greece. So in time he worked on utterly and so convinced Xerxes as for him to do that; for other matters too, since they had proven his allies, contributed to Xerxes’ being persuaded: on the one hand, having come from Thessaly from the Aleuadians, messengers were calling the king, while they were furnishing from themselves every kind of eagerness, to Greece—and those Aleuadians were Thessaly’s kings—and, on the other, those of the sons of Peisistratus who had gone up to Susa, were embracing the same speeches as those that the Aleuadians were too and indeed, in addition to that, something still more were holding out to him. With Onomacritus, then, an Athenian man, of oracles a speaker and compiler of the oracles of Mousaeus, they had gone up, after their enmity they had previously settled; for Onomacritus had been driven out by Hipparchus, Peisistratus’ son, from Athens, because he had been caught in the act by Lasus the Hermionian of interpolating into Mousaeus’ words an oracle that the islands lying off Lemnos would be made to disappear down in the sea. On account of that Hipparchus drove him out, although previously he was making use of him in the highest degree. But at that time having joined in the going up, whenever he came into the sight of the king, the sons of Peisistratus speaking about him, august speeches he recited from the oracles. If anything was in them that brought forward a fall for the barbarian, he spoke nothing of that, but he was selecting out what was of most good fortune and speaking of both the Hellespont, how it had to be bridged by a Persian man, and the drive in his expounding. That one indeed with singing oracles was going forward, and the sons of Peisistratus and the Aleuadians with showing forth for themselves opinions.
So, when Xerxes had been persuaded to advance with an army against Greece, thereupon the next year after the death of Darius first conducted an expedition against those who were standing apart. Now, having subjected those and made all Egypt far more a slave than it had been in Darius’ time, he entrusted it to Achaemenes, his own brother and Darius’ son. Now, Achaemenes, while he was the guardian of Egypt, a time thereafter Inaros, Psammetichus’ son, a Libyan man, killed.
Then Xerxes after Egypt’s capture, when he was bringing to hand for himself the expedition against Athens, held a called up gathering of the best Persians, that he might learn by inquiry their opinions and he himself say among all what he wished. Then, when they had been gathered together, Xerxes said this: “Persian men, I indeed myself will not lead in this following law among you through my establishing, but having inherited it, I will use it. For, as I have learned by inquiry from the elders, we have not at all yet kept still, since we took over this hegemony from the Medes, after Cyrus had taken down Astyages. But a god leads thus and for us ourselves when we attend to many things there is a coming together for the better. Now, the nations that Cyrus and Cambyses as well as my father Darius worked down into subjection and acquired as additions to who know well no one would speak of, but I, when I had taken over that throne, was deliberating how I would not be left behind those who had come to be previously in this honor and not acquire as an addition less power for the Persians and, in deliberating, I found in part the accruing to us of glory and of a country than that which now we possess not smaller and not poorer but more productive of all things and in part the coming about of revenge and retribution. On account of that you now I gathered together that what I have in mind to do I might communicate for myself to you. I am, after I have bridged the Hellespont, to drive an army through Europe to Greece, that I may punish the Athenians for quite all that they have done to the Persians and my father. Now, you saw Darius too was going straight to advance with an army against those men. But he has met his end and it came not out to be for him to execute punishment. I then on behalf of that one and all the other Persians will not stop myself until I should take hold of and set fire to Athens, because against me and my father they initiated doing unjust acts. First, having gone to Sardis together with Aristagores, the Milesian and our slave, they burnt down the groves and the shrines and next what kind of things they worked against us after we had stepped off onto their land, when Datis and Artaphrenes were generals, you all know, I suppose. But because of that I am ready against them to advance with an army and I find so many good things among them by reckoning: if we will subject those and the neighbors of those, who Pelops the Phrygian’s country inhabit, the Persian land we will render on Zeus’ ether bordering. For indeed not one country at least will the son look down on bordering on ours, but them all I together with you will make one country by going out and through all Europe. For I have learned by inquiry it is this way: neither a single city of men nor single nation of human beings will be left over that will be able to go into battle with us, those that I have described having been taken away below. Thus both those responsible for our disadvantage will have slavery’s yoke and those not responsible. And you me, should you do the following, would gratify: whenever to you I indicate the time at which you have to be present, eagerly every one of you must be present and, whoever is present with an army prepared most beautifully, I will give him gifts that are considered to be most honorable in our place. Now, that must be done thus, but, that I may not seem to you to have a private counsel, I put the matter in your midst and bid whoever of you wants to bring forth to light for himself an opinion”. That he said and stopped.
Then after him Mardonius said, “O master, not only are you among the Persians that have come to be the best but also among those who will be, you who in speaking all the rest have come at it most excellently and most truly and the Ionians who have settled themselves down in Europe you will not allow to laugh at us, because they are unworthy. For in fact it would be an awful matter if the Sacians, the Indians, the Ethiopians, the Assyrians and other nations, many great ones, although they committed no injustice against the Persians but because we wanted to acquire power as an addition, we have subjected as slaves and keep so, but the Greeks, although they initiated injustice, we will not punish. In fear of what? What kind of joining together of a multitude? And what kind of power of money? Of them we know the manner of fighting and we know the power is lacking in strength. Moreover, we have their children, since we have subjected them, those who, having settled themselves down in our land, are called Ionians, Aeolians and Dorians. Further, I made trial, even I myself, by driving against the men, by your father bidden, and me, in my driving up to Macedonia and falling little short of coming to Athens herself no one opposed for fighting. Yet the Greeks are wont, as I have learned by inquiry, most ill-advisedly establish wars for themselves through the agency of lack of judgement and awkwardness. For, whenever they speak forth war to each other, having found out the most beautiful spot and the most smooth, they go down to that and fight so that with great evil the winners depart and concerning those who are worsted I do not even speak to begin with, because indeed they prove completely destroyed. They had to, because they are of the same tongue, by thoroughly using heralds and messengers, restrain their differences or by everything rather than by battles; moreover, if by all means they needed to wage war against each other, they had to find out where each group was most difficult to worst and there make trial. A manner, then, not useful the Greeks thoroughly used and, when I had driven up to Macedonia, they went not to an account of that so as to fight. You then indeed who is, o king, to oppose, when you bring forth war, since you are leading both the multitude from Asia and all its ships together? As I for my part think, not up to that point of boldness have the affairs of the Greeks come, but, if after all I should be played false in judgement and those, incited by ill-advisedness, go with us into battle, they would come to learn that we are among human beings the best in the things of war. Anyhow, let nothing be untried; for nothing is of its own accord, but from trial all for human beings loves to come about”.
Mardonius smoothed so much Xerxes’ opinion and was at a stop and, all the other Persians being silent and not daring to show forth for themselves an opinion contrary to the one put forward, Artabanus, Hystaspes’ son, being Xerxes’ father’s brother, and it was this on which indeed he was relying, said this: “O king, if there are not said opinions contrary to each other, it is not possible the better in choosing to choose and rather one must use the stated one, but if there are said, it is possible, just as the pure gold alone by itself we do not distinguish, but, whenever we rub it by the side of other gold, we do distinguish the better. Now, I in fact to your father and my brother, Darius, was saying publicly that he should not advance with an army against the Scythians, men who nowhere on earth a town inhabited, but he, expecting he would subject the pastoral Scythians, both would not obey me and, after he had advanced with an army, he lost many good people in his host and went away. And you, o king, are to advance against men still far better than the Sycthians, who by sea and by land are said to be the best. So, what is awful in it, for me to you it is just to point out. You assert that, after you have bridged the Hellespont, you will drive an army through Europe to Greece. Now, suppose it happens that you are worsted either, as is most likely, by land or by sea or maybe by both; for the men are said to be valiant and it is permitted also to form an estimate, if so great a host at any rate together with Datis and Artaphrenes, when it had gone to the Attic country, the Athenians alone destroyed. Suppose, however, in both places it succeeds not for them, but if they attack with their ships and, having gained a victory in a naval battle, they sail to the Hellespont and thereafter break the bridge, that indeed, king, proves awful. Now, I by no wisdom of my own make that conjecture but by the kind of suffering that once almost befell us, when your father, having bridged the Thracian Bosporus and made a bridge over the river Danube, crossed against the Scythians. At that time the Scythians used all their devices in requesting of the Ionians to break the way across, to whom had been entrusted the guarding of the bridges of the Ister. And at that time at any rate if Histiaeus, Miletus’ tyrant, had attended to all the other tyrants’ opinion and not opposed it, the affairs of the Persians would be thoroughly worked away. And yet even in speech to hear is awful, that in just one man’s power all the king’s affair had come to be. Hence indeed want you to come to no danger like that, no necessity being, but obey me; now break up this gathering together and afterwards, whenever it seems good to you, after you have made a consideration beforehand by yourself, speak publicly what to you seems to be best. For to take counsel well I find is the greatest profit, because even if anything wants to stand in opposition, counsel has been taken no less well and there has been worsted by chance the counsel taken, but the one who has taken counsel shamefully, if fortune should attend him, has found a find and nothing less badly by him has counsel been taken. You see the living beings that project how the god hits them with his thunderbolt and allows not to make an appearance, but the small ones not at all vex him, and you see how onto the largest buildings on each and every occasion and trees like that he hurls away his missiles. For the god loves all the projects to dock. And thus also a large army by a small is destroyed after a fashion like this: whenever on them the god in his envy throws fear or a thunderbolt, then they are destroyed in a manner unworthy of themselves. For the god allows not to have a great thought another than himself. Now, for every matter to be hastened brings forth false steps, from which great penalties love to come about, but in holding off are good things, if not their seeming to be immediately but in the course of time one should find out. To you indeed that advice, o king, I give, and you, O child of Gobryes, stop speaking foolish speeches concerning the Greeks, because they are not worthy to be spoken about poorly. For in slandering the Greeks you are inciting the king himself to advance with an army and for the sake of that very thing you are exerting every kind of eagerness, Now, let it not prove thus. For slander is a most awful thing, in which those who act unjustly are two and the one who is acted against unjustly is one. For one in slandering acts unjustly by accusing one who is not present and another acts unjustly by being convinced before he should exactly come to learn completely, while indeed the one who is absent from the speech is done these injustices in it: he is slandered by the one and considered in the other’s eyes to be bad. Well, if indeed one must at any rate by all means advance with an army against those men, come, let the king himself remain in the customary haunts of the Persians and, while we both put at risk our offspring, you yourself drive an army after you have selected up the men that you wish and taken hold of however so great a host as you want. And if where you say the affairs turn out for the king, let my children be killed and in addition to them me as well, but if where I foretell, let yours suffer that and together with them you as well, if you return back. And if you are not willing to undertake that and you by all means will lead up an armed force against Greece, one will hear, I assert, of those left behind right here that Mardonius, after he had worked out a great evil for the Persians, by dogs and birds was drawn apart either surely in the land of the Athenians or you at any rate in that of the Lacedaemonians, if not after all even previously on the way, after you had come to know the kind of men against whom you had persuaded the king to advance with an army”.
Artabanus said that, and Xerxes in anger replied with this: “Artabanus, of my father you are a brother; that will deliver you from taking hold of a punishment commensurate with foolish words. In fact on you that following dishonor I impose, that you should both not join with me at any rate in advancing with an army against Greece and in this very place remain together with the women, and I in fact without you all the very things that I spoke of will make brought to completion. For may I not be of Darius, Hystaspes’ son, Arsames’ son, Ariaramnes’ son, Teispes’ son, Cyrus’ son, Cambyses’ son, Teispes’ son, Achaemenes’ son, born, if I punish not the Athenians, because I know well that, if we will maintain our quiet, those however will not, but very much they will advance with an army against our land, if one must form an estimate from what has been initiated by those, who burnt down Sardis and drove against Asia. Hence to go back out for neither group is possible; rather, to do or to suffer a contest is proposed, that either all this here under the Greeks or all that there under the Persians may come to be; for the middle course is nothing in our enmity. Hence beautiful, since we have suffered previously, our taking vengeance by now proves, that in fact that awful thing that I will suffer I may come to learn, when I have driven against those men, whom at any rate in fact Pelops the Phrygian, being my fathers’ slave, so subjected that even to this moment the human beings themselves and their land are called ones named after the one who performed their subjection”.
Those speeches over so great an extent were spoken and afterwards, it came to be the kindly time and Artabanus’ opinion was vexing Xerxes and, while at night he was giving deliberation, he was entirely finding that for him it was not advantageous to advance with an army against Greece. And, that having seemed good to him in the second instance, he fell asleep and lo, I suppose, in the night he saw a vision like this, as is said by the Persians: Xerxes thought a man, tall and good-looking, stood over him and said, “Are you indeed changing the counsel taken, o Persian, to not lead an armed force against Greece, although you have spoken publicly of the assembling for the Persians of an army? Hence neither, if you are changing the counsel taken, are you doing well nor is he who will pardon you near. Rather, just as in the day you took counsel to do, go that of the ways”. He, after he had said that, Xerxes thought, flew away.
Then, when day had shone forth, he took no account of that dream, but he, after he had assembled together among the Persians those whom he had collected together previously too, was saying to them this: “Persian men, have pardon for me in that I am taking quickly turning about counsels; for I have not yet come up to the prime things of my mind and those who exhort to do those former things no time keep them themselves away from me. Further, for me, when I had heard Artabanus’ opinion, forthwith my youth boiled over so as for me against an older man to cast away words more unseemly than I had to; however, now I make a confession and will make use of that one’s opinion. Hence, on the ground that it has seemed good to me as a change to not advance with an army against Greece, be at rest”. The Persians, when they had heard that, in a state of joy made obeisance.
Then, when it had become night, again the same dream over Xerxes, while he was asleep, stood and was saying, “ O child of Darius, and so you manifestly among the Persians have renounced the driving of an army and my words were considering of no account as if you had heard them from a no one? Now, know this well, precisely if immediately you drive not an army, this for you on the basis of it will emerge: as both great and mighty you became in a short time, so also low again with speed you will be”.
Xerxes, having become very afraid at the vision, leapt up from his bed and sent a messenger to call Artabanus. And to him, on his coming, Xerxes was saying this: “Artabanus, I in the immediate time was not of sound mind when I said to you foolish words because of useful advice; however, after not much time I changed my understanding and came to understand that that had to be done by me which you had suggested. Yet, I am not able for you that, although I want, to do; for indeed, since I have turned myself round and changed my understanding, a dream, coming constantly, makes of itself an appearance to me and in no way is joining in the praise of my doing those deeds of yours, but now in fact it made a thorough threat and was gone. Now if a god is the sender on and it is by all means in the realm of his pleasure for the driving of an army against Greece to be performed, that same dream will fly over you too and give you an injunction similarly as it did me. And I find that would prove this way, if you should take hold of all my dress and you, having put it on, after that should sit on my throne and thereafter in my bed sleep”.
Xerxes was saying that to him, but Artabanus would not obey his first bidding, inasmuch as he thought himself not worthy on the king’s throne to sit, and finally, when he was compelled, he said the following and was doing what was bid: “Equal that which follows, o king, in my opinion is judged: to think well and the speaker of useful speeches to be willing to obey; although to both these in fact you have come round, intercourses with bad men trip you up, precisely according as on the most useful of all things to human beings, the sea, blowings, they assert, of winds fall and overlook not its making use of its own nature. So, me, because I had been spoken of by you badly, pain bit not so much as, two opinions being put forward for the Persians, one increasing insolence and one stopping it utterly and saying that it is bad to teach the soul to seek for something more than what is at hand, opinions like that being put forward, in that the more perilous for yourself and the Persians you were taking up for yourself. Hence, now when you have turned yourself to the better opinion, you assert over, when you were trying to let go of the expedition against the Greeks, came constantly a dream by a god’s sending and allowed you not to abandon the expedition. But in fact that is not, o child, divine; for the visions in sleep that have roamed to human beings are like that which I will teach you, as many years than you older am I; as those, sights in dreams, are wont to have roamed most those thoughts, on which one in a day has one’s mind, and we the days before that moment that driving of the army in fact very much had in hand. But if after all that dream is not like that which I have determined and rather something that has a share of the divine, you everything, having taken hold of it at once yourself, have spoken; for let it manifestly indeed also to me, as it did in fact to you, thoroughly issue its bidding for itself. And it ought to appear to me no more with your dress than in fact with mine and, when I am taking my rest, not any more in your bed than in fact in mine, precisely if at any rate in fact actually it is willing to appear. For indeed it has not come up to so high a spot of silliness, that whatsoever indeed is that which appears over you in your sleep, so that it will think, when it sees me, it is you by taking as evidence your dress. So, whether it will consider me of no account and think me not worthy of appearing over, both if I have my dress and if yours, but will go constantly over you, that by now will have to be learned; for if indeed it will go constantly over at any rate continually, I would assert, even myself, it is divine. And if to you thus it has seemed good to come about and it’s not possible to avert it and rather I must in your bed sleep, come, that being brought to completion by me, let it appear also to me. But up to that point my opinion that is at hand I will use”.
Having said so much, Artabanus, because he expected he would show forth that Xerxes was saying nothing, was doing what was bid. So, once he had put on Xerxes’ dress and was sitting on the king’s throne, when after that he came to bed, there went to him, when he was asleep, the same dream that also went constantly to Xerxes and it stood over Artabanus and said this: “You indeed are the one who earnestly dissuades Xerxes from advancing with an army against Greece, on the ground that indeed you care about him? Well, neither in the future nor that in the present forthwith will you get off completely for trying to turn away that which must come to be and, what Xerxes must suffer, if he disobeys, to that one himself has been made clear”.
That indeed, Artabanus thought, the dream threatened and with hot irons was to burn out his eyes. And he with a loud shout sprang up and, sitting by Xerxes, when he had completely gone through his vision of the sight in his sleep in his relating, next he said to him this: “I for my part, o king, since, inasmuch as I’m a human being, I had seen by then many great affairs’ having fallen by the agency of the lesser, refused to allow you in all matters to give way to your age, because I knew that desiring many things is bad, when I remembered the expedition against the Massagetians of Cyrus, how it fared, and remembered also that against the Ethiopians of Cambyses and I was joining with Darius in advancing with an army also against the Scythians. Knowing that, I had an opinion that by not making movements you would be thought blessed in the eyes of all human beings. But since a divinity’s impulse keeps coming into being and the Greeks, as it looks like, a destruction befalls god-driven, as I, even myself, turn myself round and change for myself my opinion so indicate you to the Persians what was sent by the god, bid them make use of what was first proclaimed by you for the preparation and act so that of the god’s giving over there will be lacking your part not at all”. That said, thereupon incited by the vision, as soon as it had become day, Xerxes was giving for himself that communication to the Persians and Artabanus, who previously was the only one to earnestly withhold his urging manifestly, then in his urging on was manifest.
Then for Xerxes, minded to drive an army, after that a third vision in his sleep came about, in regard to which the Magians judged it was a portent to the whole earth and all human beings would be his slaves. And the vision was this: Xerxes thought he was crowned with an olive-tree’s bough and from the olive-tree the branches covered over the whole earth; then afterwards the crown, lying round his head, was made to vanish. So, the Magians have given a judgement that way, of the Persians who had been gathered together immediately every man, having driven away to his own rule, had every kind of eagerness because of what had been said, since each himself was wishing to take hold of the proposed gift, and Xerxes thus was conducting the army’s mustering by searching every place of the mainland.
For after Egypt’s capture for four full years he was fitting out for himself a host and the necessities for the host and the fifth year, as it was proceeding, he was driving an army with a large band of multitude. For of the expeditions that we know of quite far the greatest proved that, so as for neither that of Darius against the Scythians in comparison with that to appear as anything nor the Scythian, when the Scythians in pursuing the Cimmerians, after they had made an invasion into the Median land, had subjected and were inhabiting almost all the upper parts of Asia, for which Darius later was trying to carry out punishment, nor, in accordance with what was said, that of the sons of Atreus against Ilium nor that of the Mysians and Teucrians that had been made before the Trojan events, who, having crossed into Europe at the Bosporus, had subjected all the Thracians and had gone down to the Ionian sea and driven through what’s to the south up to the river Peneius.
All those and the other drivings of an army that had been made in addition to those were not worth this one. For what nation did Xerxes not lead out of Asia against Greece? And what water in being drunk up did not fail, except for the large rivers? For some were furnishing from themselves ships and some were appointed to the foot, to some the horse were assigned and to some horse-carrying boats, at the same time as they were advancing with the army, and to some was the furnishing of large ships for the bridges and to some of food and ships.
And on the one hand, on the ground that the first to try to sail round Athos had stumbled, the making of readiness was begun beforehand somewhere about three years back; for in Elaeous in the Chersonese triremes lay at anchor and they, setting off thence, were digging under whips, ones from all countries among the host, and came constantly in succession and also those who had settled themselves down round Athos were digging. And Boubares, Megabazus’ son, and Artachaees, Artaeus’ son, Persian men, were presiding over the work. For Athos is a large and named mountain that extends down to the sea and is settled on by human beings. And where the mountain ends on the mainland, it is peninsular and an isthmus of approximately twelve stades. And that spot’s a plain or not large hills from the sea of the Acanthians to the sea opposite Torone. And in that isthmus, at which Athos ends, is settled Sane, a Greek city, and the others, settled on outside of Sane and inside of Athos, which then the Persian was minded to make islanders instead of mainlanders, are these: Dion, Olophyxus, Acrothoum,Thyssus and Cleonae.
Those are the cities that inhabit Athos, and the barbarians were digging this way, after they had divided up the place nation by nation: having made themselves a straight line near the city of Sane, when the channel was becoming deep, some, standing the farthest down, were digging, others were giving over the heap that was being dug out on each and every occasion to those standing above on steps and they again, receiving it from them, to others, until they came to those highest, and those were performing the carrying away and the throwing away. Now, to all the others except for the Phoenicians the cliffs of the excavation by their being broken down were furnishing twice as much toil; for, inasmuch as they were using the same measures for the upper mouth and the lower, there was for them a thing like that to turn out. But the Phoenicians were showing forth wisdom in all their other works and, in particular, in that one: for having received as their share all the portion that fell to them, they were digging out the upper mouth of the channel and making it twice as large as all that the channel itself had to become and, as the work was going progressively on, they kept drawing it close on each and every occasion; indeed the work came to be down and was made completely equal to all the others’. And there is a meadow, where for them a public square was made and a place for selling and much wheat for them was coming constantly from Asia, after it had been ground.
So far as I by conjecturing for myself have found, because of pride Xerxes bade dig it, because he wished to show forth for himself power and leave for himself memorials; for, it being in his power without taking hold of any toil to drag the ships across the isthmus, he bade dig a channel for the sea in breadth so large as for two triremes to sail together while they were being rowed. Moreover, to those very same, whose was the excavation, it was assigned also the Strymon river by way of uniting to bridge.
Now, he was doing that thus, and he was preparing for himself also gear for the bridges of papyrus and out of white flax, as he had imposed its making on the Phoenicians and the Egyptians and to deposit food for the host, that the host might not hunger and not the yoke-animals, when they were being driven to Greece. Then having inquired about the places, he bade make deposits where it was most suitable various persons to various lands by bringing them by merchantmen and ferries out of Asia from every part. Hence indeed the greatest part to the so-called White Promontory in Thrace they were bringing and some were appointed to the Tyrodiza of the Perinthians, some to Doriscus, some to the Eion on the Strymon and some to Macedonia.