Literature Study GuidesHistoriesBook 6 The Persian Reconquest Of Ionia Summary

Histories | Study Guide


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Histories | Book 6, The Persian Reconquest of Ionia | Summary



Histiaeus, who was sent with an army by Darius, arrives at Sardis. There, the Persian governor and Darius's brother, Artaphernes (the Elder), confronts him as the true author of the Ionian revolt: "You made the shoe and Aristagoras put it on." Histiaeus swiftly flees, dropping his pretense of serving Darius, and becomes a pirate. The city of Miletus is at the center of the rebellion, and the Persians cannot capture it by land. The Persians induce their Phoenician allies, expert sailors, to capture the nearby island of Lade. Miletus falls and the rebellion is crushed shortly thereafter. Histiaeus himself is captured and executed. His head is sent to Darius, who is angry that Histiaeus had been executed because he had saved him by holding the Danube bridge open.

With Ionia reconquered, Herodotus turns his attention to the career of Miltiades, tyrant of the Hellespont region.


While discussing the inevitable Persian reconquest of rebellious Ionia, Herodotus deals colorfully with Histiaeus. Artaphernes's line about Histiaeus being the "shoemaker" of the rebellion shows Herodotus as a master storyteller with an ear for a biting piece of dialogue, though it is unlikely the conversation actually happened. Histiaeus's career as a pirate is probably based on fact, but it also shows how far he has fallen. Execution is a fitting punishment for a pirate at the time. But Darius is angry, and his anger at Histiaeus's death shows a noble side of the king. He had not forgotten that Histiaeus served him well, even if he had turned rebel and then criminal.

The Phoenicians are relied upon by the Persians for their sailing expertise. The Persians, having come from the steppe originally, have little skill at sea, as later events will prove. This confirms a common feeling in the ancient world—some peoples possessed skills that made them special and defined them. Herodotus makes it clear on several occasions that he understands these skills are a result of the environment in which people live. The Phoenicians, for instance, live on the coasts and on islands, as do the Athenians.

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