Literature Study GuidesHistoriesBook 9 Foundation Of The Athenian Empire Summary

Histories | Study Guide

Herodotus

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Histories | Book 9, Foundation of the Athenian Empire | Summary

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Summary

After their victory over the Persians at Mycale, the Greeks head to the Hellespont, hoping to destroy Xerxes's bridge. They find that it has already been dismantled. The Greek armies content themselves with rooting out the last Persians and Greek collaborators in their midst. The narrative closes with an anecdote about Cyrus. Cyrus is recorded as cautioning his people against the "softness" that will follow if they expand out of their mountainous homeland into the plains.

Analysis

This is the shortest section of the text. Some historians believe this is because Herodotus died before he could finish his work, and as such it is unfinished. This is not necessarily true. The anecdote of Cyrus, and his warning to the Persians to avoid becoming "soft," acts as a sort of capstone to what has gone before. It urges the reader to read back into the text a narrative of the Persians losing their way. As their might appeared to increase, their ability to wield it effectively diminished. Perhaps Herodotus suggests that the Persians really should have beaten the Greeks, had they not forgotten what made them great. The Greeks, especially the Athenians and Spartans, have their civic virtues, their laws, and their desire for freedom to push them onward. It is the democratic Athenians with their navy and their new empire who are the true victors in the Greco-Persian Wars.

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