Book VII of Histories

  • 57

  • Herodotus

    When all had passed over and they were ready for the road, a great portent appeared among them, whereof Xerxes took no account, though it was easy of interpretation:

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  • a mare gave birth to a hare.

  • The meaning of it was easy to guess, being this:

  • Xerxes was to march his army to Hellas with great pomp and pride, but to come back to the same place fleeing for his life.

  • There was another portent, that was shown to him at Sardis:

  • a mule gave birth to a mule, that had double privy parts, both male and female, the male above the other.

  • But of neither sign did he take any account, and journeyed on, his land army with him.

  • 58

  • Herodotus

    His navy sailed out of the Hellespont and coasted along by the land, contrariwise to the land army;

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  • for the ships voyaged westwards, laying their course for the headland of Sarpedon, whither Xerxes had bidden them come and there await him;

  • but the army of the mainland travelled towards the east and the sunrise through the Chersonese, with the tomb of Athamas' daughter Helle on its right and the town of Cardia on its left, and marching through the midst of a town called Agora.

  • Thence turning the head of the Black Bay (as it is called) and crossing the Black River, which could not hold its own then against the army, but fell short of its needs — crossing this river, which gives its name to the bay, they went westwards, past the Aeolian town of Aenus and the marsh of Stentor, till they came to Doriscus.

  • 59

  • Herodotus

    The territory of Doriscus is in Thrace, a wide plain by the sea, and through it flows a great river, the Hebrus;

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  • here had been built that royal fortress which is called Doriscus, and a Persian guard had been posted there by Darius ever since the time of his march against Scythia.

  • It seemed therefore to Xerxes to be a fit place for him to array and number his host, and he did so.

  • All the fleet, being now arrived at Doriscus, was brought by its captains at Xerxes' command to the beach near Doriscus, where stands the Samothracian town of Sane, and Zone;

  • at the end thereof is Serreum, a headland of some name.

  • This country was in former days possessed by the Cicones.