Literature Study GuidesHistoriesBook 9 The Liberation Of Ionia Summary

Histories | Study Guide

Herodotus

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Histories | Book 9, The Liberation of Ionia | Summary

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Summary

During these events, the Spartan king Leotychides had a small force at Delos. Three men approach and ask Leotychides permission to use his fleet to liberate Ionia. They promise that the endeavor will be easy. Leotychides agrees after consulting the oracle and attacks Samos. The Persians, however, flee for Mycale, where they make a fort from which they refuse to emerge when Leotychides arrives. Leotychides yells a message to the Greeks in the Persian army, hoping to either convince them to defect or convince the Persians not to trust them. The ruse works, and the Persians send their Ionian subjects away before fighting the Greek army. The Greeks are once more successful in the ensuing fight. The Athenians are singled out for their valor in the fight. Very few Persians escape.

Xerxes, meanwhile, falls in love with the wife of another man. He foolishly gives the woman, Artaynte, a robe that had been given to him by his wife Amestris. Amestris is furious when she finds out and has Artaynte tortured. Artaynte's husband, understandably also angry, leaves the royal court, plotting vengeance, but Xerxes finds out and has him killed.

Analysis

The storyline of Ionia comes to a close as the triumphant Greeks finally attack and liberate the region from Persian rule. The destruction of the Persian navy means that the Persians will never again threaten Greece. As a result, the Athenians are left as the region's undisputed naval power.

The story of Xerxes's lust and the tragic fate of his mistress is a rather cruel tale. It is likely a story Herodotus had been told and serves to show the decadence of Xerxes and his court. After their dreams of conquest are dashed in Greece, the Persians turn instead to courtly squabbles and cruelties. This suggests they have gone "soft," in the language that is used by Cyrus to close the final section of the text.

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