Literature Study GuidesHistoriesBook 5 The Persian Conquest Of Thrace Summary

Histories | Study Guide

Herodotus

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Histories | Book 5, The Persian Conquest of Thrace | Summary

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Summary

Megabazus, who had been left in command of the Persian army on the Hellespont, is ordered to conquer Thrace. Herodotus proceeds to describe Thrace. He considers it to be the most populous region of the world, save India. The Thracians marry multiple wives and sell their own children. Megabazus's campaigns are successful and, on Darius's orders, he removes several tribes from the region and transports them to Persia. Megabazus moves on to Macedonia. The Persians demand that the Macedonians submit by requesting a tribute of earth and water. The Macedonians do not refuse initially, but they subsequently murder the Persian envoys.

Histiaeus, who had kept the bridge open for Darius in Scythia, is awarded a position as one of Darius's personal advisors.

Analysis

Megabazus had been left behind by Darius as the latter retreated from Scythia. Darius may have suffered a defeat against the Scythians, but this is far from the end of his ambitions, and the resources of the Persian Empire are mighty. Megabazus's conquest of Thrace and parts of Macedonia is a prelude to the wars against the Greeks. They live in neighboring territories and share some cultural and economic contact. This shows the Persians are determined to dominate Greece and the rest of the world.

The practice of removing people from one place and transporting them elsewhere is one that was used in the ancient world for a number of reasons. One reason was to prevent revolts from starting, another was to acquire slave labor. The Babylonian captivity of the Jews was an earlier example.

The subplot with Histiaeus continues to develop. For his good service on the Danube, he receives a position as one of Darius's personal advisors. It should be understood that Histiaeus's new job was both a blessing and a curse. He had the king's ear, but Darius did this to keep a potential enemy (Histiaeus was a leader of troublesome Ionia) close at hand and out of mischief.

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