Ancient History & Civilisation

Appendix 2

Herodotus’s Persian Muster-Lists: A Translation

The exact authenticity and validity of both these lists are controversial. But besides serving the specific function assigned them by Herodotus within his narrative, they also afford us a colourful description of the rainbow coalition formed by the peoples of the Achaemenid Persian Empire under Great King Xerxes in 480 BCE. For that reason the lists are reproduced here in full, in my own translations (which aim to reproduce accurately the technical content and flavour of the original rather than to offer elegantly polished English).

THE ARMY (7.61–88)

(61) Those serving in the army were as follows. First, the Persians – arrayed in this manner: on their heads they wore the tiara, a soft felt cap, and about their bodies an embroidered and sleeved tunic, [over which was fitted a covering] of a coat of chain mail that looked like fish-scales, and around their legs trousers [anaxurides]. They bore shields of light wickerwork, below which were slung quivers; their spears were short, but their arrows long, with reed shafts; and they had daggers hanging down from a belt beside their right thigh. As commander they acknowledged Otanes, father of Xerxes’s wife Amestris. In olden times the Persians were called ‘Cephenes’ by the Greeks, though they called themselves ‘Artaei’, as they were known also to their neighbours. But when Perseus son of Danae and of Zeus visited Cepheus son of Belus and took to wife Belus’s daughter Andromeda, he had a son whom he named Perses. And he left him behind there since Cepheus happened to have no male child of his own. It was because of Perses that the Persians acquired their name. (62) The Medes serving were equipped in the very same way. This mode of equipment was in fact originally Median and not Persian. Commanding them the Medes had Tigranes of the Achaemenid house. Of old the Medes were universally called ‘Arians’, but after Medea of Colchis arrived among the Arians from Athens, these too changed their name. This is the story the Medes tell about themselves. The Cissians who served were in all other respects equipped like the Persians but instead of felt caps they wore wound turbans. They were commanded by Anaphes son of Otanes. The Hyrcanians were armed like the Persians, and were under the command of Megapanus who later became governor of Babylon. (63) The Assyrians who served wore helmets either made of bronze or woven in a foreign style that is hard to describe, carried shields, spears and daggers (like the Egyptians), and wooden clubs studded with iron besides, and wore linen corslets. The Greeks called these ‘Syrians’, but non-Greeks knew them as ‘Assyrians’. Their commander was Otaspes son of Artachaees. (64) The Bactrians in the army wore helmets pretty much identical to those of the Medes and carried native reed bows and short spears. The Sacan Scythians wore caps [kurbasiai] that rose to a point and were set upright and stiff, and trousers, and carried locally made bows and daggers, and besides these wielded the battle-axe called sagaris. These were called ‘Amyrgian Sacae’, though they are in fact Scythians, for the Persians call all Scythians ‘Sacae’. Hystaspes son of Darius and of Atossa daughter of Cyrus commanded the Bactrians and Sacae. (65) The Indians wore clothes made of wood [‘tree-wool’, i.e. cotton] and carried reed bows and arrows of reed with iron heads. Equipped in this way, the Indians were assigned to the command of Pharnazathres son of Artabates. (66) The Arians were equipped with Median bows but in all other respects were like the Bactrians. Sisamnes son of Hydarnes commanded the Arians. The Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdians, Gandarans and Dadicans who served had the same equipment as the Bactrians. Artabazus son of Pharnaces commanded the Parthians and Chorasmians, Azanes son of Artaeus the Sogdians, and Artyphius son of Artabanus the Gandarans and Dadicans. (67) The Caspians were dressed in coats of leather and armed with local reed bows and short swords [akinakes]. They served under the command of Ariomardus brother of Artyphius. The Sarangians stood out among the rest for their brightly dyed clothes; they wore knee-length boots and carried bows and Median-style spears. The Sarangians were commanded by Pherendates son of Megabazus. The Pactyans too wore leather coats and carried local bows and short swords. They acknowledged Artayntes son of Ithamitres as their commander. (68) The Utians and Mycans and Paricanians were equipped in the same way as the Pactyans, and were commanded thus, the Utians and Mycans by Arsamenes son of Darius, the Paricanians by Siromitres son of Oeobazus. (69) The Arabians wore a loose mantle [zeira] caught up by a belt, and at their right side they carried a long, double-curved bow. The Ethiopians wore leopard-skins and lion-skins and carried bows made of strips of palm wood not less than four cubits long, and small reed arrows with points of sharp stone instead of iron (this is the stone they also use to make incised seals). They additionally carried spears, with points of sharpened antelope horn, and knobbed clubs. Half of their body was smeared with gypsum as they went into battle, half with ruddle. The Arabians and the Ethiopians who live beyond Egypt were commanded by Arsames son of Darius and of Artystonê daughter of Cyrus (her Darius loved the most of all his wives and had a statue of beaten gold sheets made of her). The Ethiopians beyond Egypt, then, and the Arabians were commanded by Arsames, but (70) the Ethiopians living in the direction of the sunrise (for two groups of Ethiopians were serving) were arrayed together with the Indians. They differed in appearance in no way from the other Ethiopian group apart from their speech and hair. Whereas the Ethiopians from the east have dead-straight hair, the hair of the Ethiopians from Libya is the thickest and curliest of all mankind. These Ethiopians from Asia were equipped for the most part like the Indians, except that they wore on their heads the skin of a horse’s forehead together with its ears and mane; they made the ears stand erect and the mane served as a crest. Instead of shields they held out in front of them the skins of cranes as a form of defence. (71) The Libyans wore leather gear and carried javelins with points hardened in the fire. They acknowledged Massages son of Oarizus as commander. (72) The Paphlagonians served with plaited helmets on their heads, small shields and moderately sized spears, light javelins and daggers; on their feet they wore native boots reaching to mid-calf. Equipped in the same way were the Ligyans, Matienians, Mariandynians and Syrians. These latter the Persians call ‘Cappadocians’. The Paphlagonians and Matienians were commanded by Dotus son of Megasidrus, the Mariandynians, Ligyans and Syrians by Gobryes son of Darius and Artystonê. (73) The Phrygians wore equipment very like the Paphlagonians’, with just small differences. According to the Macedonians, the Phrygians were called ‘Bryges’ for as long as they lived next door to the Macedonians in Europe, but when they crossed over to Asia, they changed their name at the same time as their location. The Armenians, as colonists of the Phrygians, were armed just like them. The commander of these two together was Artochmes, a son-in-law of Darius. (74) The Lydians bore arms and armour very like the Greeks’. Of old the Lydians were called ‘Meionians’ but acquired their new, present name in the time of Lydus son of Atys. The Mysians wore local helmets on their heads, and carried small shields, and javelins with points hardened in the fire. These are colonists of the Lydians, and are called ‘Olympienians’ after Mount Olympus. Of the Lydians and the Mysians the commander was Artaphrenes son of Artaphrenes, who had jointly with Datis invaded Marathon. (75) The Thracians served wearing fox-skin caps on their head and tunics about their body, with embroidered mantles thrown over them, and on their feet and lower legs they wore deerskin boots; they carried javelins, light wicker shields and small daggers. Once these had crossed over to live in Asia they were known as ‘Bithynians’, but before, as they themselves tell, they were called ‘Strymonians’, since they lived on the River Strymon. They claim they were uprooted from their original home by the Teucrians and Mysians. The Thracians of Asia were commanded by Bassaces son of Artabanus. (76) [The Pisidians?] had small raw ox-hide shields and each carried a pair of hunting spears of Lycian make, and wore on his head a helmet of bronze with a crest on top and with the ears and horns of an ox attached. For greaves they used wrap-around strips of red-coloured cloth. These people possess an oracular shrine of Ares. (77) The Meionian Cabelians, who are called ‘Lasonians’, wore the same equipment as the Cilicians – which I shall detail when I come to the Cilicians in order of array. The Milyans carried short spears and wore clothes fastened with brooches. Some of them carried Lycian bows, and wore helmets made of dog-skin on their heads. These Badres son of Hystanes commanded. (78) The Moschians wore wooden helmets on their heads, and carried shields and small spears but with long points. The Tibarenians, Macronians and Mossynoecians were equipped like the Moschians. In order of line the Moschians and Tibarenians were commanded by Ariomardus son of Darius, the Macrones and Mossynoecians by Artayctes son of Cherasmis who was governor of Sestus on the Hellespont. (79) The Marians wore on their heads local, woven helmets and carried small hide shields and javelins. The Colchians wore wooden helmets on their heads, and carried small raw ox-hide shields and short spears, as well as knives. Of the Marians and the Colchians the commander was Pharandates son of Teaspis. The Alarodians and Saspeirians served wearing the same equipment as the Colchians. These Masistius son of Siromitres commanded. (80) The island peoples from the Erythraean Sea followed, inhabiting the islands where the Great King settles those labelled the ‘Uprooted’, who had clothing, arms and armour very like those of the Medes. These islanders were commanded by Mardontes son of Bagaeus, who in the year next after this was a general at the Battle of Mycale and died therein.

(81) These were the peoples which served in the campaign by land and were arrayed in the infantry. These men whom I have mentioned were the commanders of it, and these were the men who set in order and enumerated the divisions and appointed the commanders of thousands and of tens of thousands. The commanders of ten thousand appointed the commanders of hundreds and of tens. There were others who were leaders of contingents and of peoples. These whom I have mentioned were commanders, (82) but in overall command of both them and the entire army as generalissimos were Mardonius son of Gobryas, and Tritantaechmes son of Artabanus (that Artabanus who had expressed the view that they should not conduct an expedition against Hellas) and Smerdomenes son of Otanes (both these being sons of brothers of Darius and so cousins of Xerxes), and Masistes son of Darius and Atossa and Gergis son of Ariazus and Megabyzus son of Zopyrus. (83) These were generals of the entire infantry force – apart from the Ten Thousand: of that specially selected force of Persians the general was Hydarnes son of Hydarnes. And the reason why they were called the ‘Immortals’ was as follows: if ever anyone caused the number to fall short of Ten Thousand by dying violently or from disease, another man would be chosen, so that they were never either more than or fewer than Ten Thousand. Of all the peoples [of the Empire] it was the Persians who created order to the greatest degree and who were themselves the best. They were equipped in the manner already stated, and apart from this were distinguished by the unstinted amount of gold they wore. Besides that, they took with them covered wagons and concubines, and a huge entourage of servants all elaborately accoutred. Special extra provisions for them, separate from the other soldiers’, were borne by camels and yoked beasts of burden.

(84) These peoples all serve as cavalry, but for the expedition only the following provided cavalrymen. First, the Persians, equipped in the same way as their infantry except that on their heads some of them had beaten metalwork both of bronze and of iron. (85) Then, there are nomads called ‘Sagartians’ who are Persian by ethnicity and in speech but wear equipment that is somewhere between that of the Persians and that of the Pactyans. These furnished eight thousand horse, but they are not in the habit of carrying either bronze or iron weapons apart from daggers. Instead, they use ropes of twisted leather thongs and place their faith in these as they go into battle. The manner of fighting of these men is as follows: when they engage with the enemy, they throw their ropes with nooses at the end of them; whatever they lasso, whether horse or man, they drag towards themselves, and the entangled catch is destroyed. Such is their manner of fighting, and they were arrayed alongside the Persians. (86) The Medes’ cavalrymen wore the same equipment as their infantrymen, as too did the Cissians. The Indians’ cavalrymen were equipped like their infantrymen, and they rode both racehorses and chariots pulled by horses or asses. The Bactrians and Caspians alike were equipped in the same manner as their infantry. The Libyans also – and these all drove chariots too. Likewise the [?] and Paricanians were equipped in the same manner as their infantry. The Arabians had the same equipment as their infantry, but they all rode racing camels that were no whit slower than horses. (87) These were the only peoples that served as cavalry, to a total number of eighty thousand horse, apart from the camels and the chariots. The rest of the cavalry forces were drawn up by divisions, but the Arabians were placed last and behind them so as not to frighten the horse troops, inasmuch as horses cannot endure camels. (88) The cavalry commanders were Harmamithres and Tithaeus, both sons of Datis. The third co-commander of them was Pharnouches, but he had been left behind at Sardis sick. For as they were departing from Sardis, an unwished-for disaster struck him. A dog ran under his horse’s feet as he was riding out, and the horse failed to see it in advance and was startled and reared up, throwing Pharnouches, who fell and began to vomit up blood. The disease turned into consumption. Pharnouches’s servants immediately carried out his orders and led the horse away to the place where it had thrown him down and there cut off its legs at the knees. In this way was Pharnouches deprived of his command.

THE NAVY (7.89–99)

(89) Of the trireme warships the number in total was 1,207, constituted as follows. The Phoenicians together with the Syrians of Palestine furnished 300, and the men were equipped in this manner: about their heads they wore leather caps very like the Hellenic style, they wore linen corslets, and they carried rimless shields and javelins. In ancient times these Phoenicians lived, as they themselves say, by the Erythraean Sea, but they crossed over from there and now dwell in Syria beside the sea. This part of Syria and all up to Egypt is called ‘Palestine’. The Egyptians furnished 200 ships. These men wore about their heads reticulated helmets, carried convex shields with large rims, and spears made for fighting at sea and large axes. The great majority of them wore breastplates and carried large knives. (90) Thus were these men equipped. The Cypriots, who furnished 150 ships, were equipped as follows. Their kings wound turbans around their heads, the rest wore tunics, but in other respects they were accoutred like Greeks. The peoples of Cyprus are of diverse ethnic origin: some are from [the island of] Salamis and from Athens, some are from Arcadia, some from [the island of] Cythnos, some from Phoenicia, and some from Ethiopia, as the Cypriots themselves say. The Cilicians furnished 100 ships. (91) They again wore local helmets on their heads, but for shields they carried targes of raw ox-hide and they wore woollen tunics. Each man had two javelins and a sword, the latter fashioned very like the Egyptians’ knives. Of old they were called ‘Hypachaeans’ but from the time of Cilix son of Agenor the Phoenician they have had their present name. The Pamphylians furnished 30 ships and were armed in the Greek manner. These Pamphylians are descended from those dispersed from Troy together with Amphilochus and Calchas. (92) The Lycians furnished 50 ships; they wore both breastplate and greaves and carried cornel-wood bows, featherless reed arrows, and javelins. They had goatskins hanging down around their shoulders, and on their heads wore felt caps crowned with feathers; they bore daggers and sickles. The Lycians were formerly called ‘Termilae’ as they originated from Crete, but took their present name from Lycus son of Pandion, an Athenian. (93) The Dorians from Asia, who are of Peloponnesian origin, furnished 30 ships and were accoutred in the Greek manner. The Carians furnished 70 ships, in all other respects outfitted like the Greeks but also carrying sickles and daggers. What these were formerly called has been related in the first part of my narrative [Leleges, 1.171]. (94) The Ionians furnished 100 ships, and they were accoutred as other Greeks. As long as they lived in the Peloponnese in the area now known as ‘Achaea’ and before the coming of Danaus and Xouthus, they were called ‘Coastal Pelasgians’, as the Greeks relate, but ‘Ionians’ after the time of Ion son of Xouthus. (95) The offshore islanders furnished 17, also wearing Greek armour. Originally they were Pelasgian by ethnicity but later were called ‘Ionians’ according to the same rationale, like the cities of the Ionian Dodecapolis founded from Athens. The Aeolians furnished 60 ships, and these were equipped like Greeks; anciently they were called ‘Pelasgians’, as the Greeks report. The Hellespontians, apart from the men of Abydus and the rest of the men who served from the Black Sea, furnished 100 ships and were equipped in the Greek manner. (The Abydenes had been tasked by the Great King to remain on their home soil and guard the bridges.) These are colonists of the Ionians and Dorians. (96) As marines in all the ships, there served Persians and Medes and Sacans. The best sailers among the ships were furnished by the Phoenicians and – of the Phoenicians – the Sidonians. Over these, as over those serving in the infantry, were placed local commanders for each people – since I am not compelled to do so, I make no account of these in my History. For neither were the commanders of each people men of note nor were there as many commanders appointed as there were cities. They followed moreover not in the capacity of generals but rather as slaves, like all the other combatants, since it was those who were Persians as I have already mentioned who had the absolute power of command over each of the national groups. (97) Of the fleet the following were supreme commanders: Ariabignes son of Darius and Prexaspes son of Aspathines and Megabazus son of Megabates and Achaemenes son of Darius. Specifically, Ariabignes son of Darius and of the daughter of Gobryas commanded the Ionians and Carians, Achaemenes (brother of Xerxes by both parents) the Egyptians; and the other two, the remainder. In addition, it transpired that 30-oared and 50-oared galleys and light vessels and small horse-transports had been gathered to the total number of 3,000. (98) Of those who sailed on board those of most note, after the overall commanders, were the Sidonian Tetramnestus son of Anysus, and the Tyrian Mattên son of Siromus, and the Aradian Merbalus son of Agbalus, and the Cilician Syennesis son of Oromedon, and the Lycian Cyberniscus son of Sicas, and the Cypriots Gorgus son of Chersis and Timonax son of Timagores, and the Carians Histiaeus son of Tymnes and Pigres son of Hysseldomus and Damasithymus son of Candaules. (99) Of the other divisional commanders I make no mention since I am not compelled to, with the sole exception of Artemisia, a source of greatest wonder to me as a woman campaigning against Hellas. After her husband died, she obtained the tyranny although she had a son who was a young man, and she went on the expedition impelled only by her spirit of adventure and manly courage [andreia], though there was no necessity for her to do so. Her name was Artemisia daughter of Lygdamis, and she was by birth on her father’s side Halicarnassian, on her mother’s side Cretan. She led the forces of Halicarnassus, Cos, Nisyros and Calydna, furnishing five ships. And of the entire fleet, after those of the Sidonians, she furnished the best reputed ships. Of all the allies it was she who revealed to the Great King the most shrewd counsels. Of the cities which I have stated she commanded, I declare all to be Dorian by ethnicity, the Halicarnassians originally from Troezen, the remainder from Epidaurus.

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