Classical Texts Library >> Tzetzes, Chiliades >> Book 1


JOHN TZETZES was a C12th Byzantine Greek writer. His extant works cover a range of classical literary, mythological and historical subjects.



0. Book 1
1. Croesus
2. Midas
3. Gyges
4. Codrus
5. Megacles
6. Alcmaeon
7. The Boreades
8. Euphorbus
9. Narcissus
10. Nireus
11. Hyacinthus
12. Orpheus
13. Amphion
14. The Sirens
15. Marsyas
16. Terpander
17. Arion
18. Golden Lamb of Atreus
19. Bull of Minos
20. Dog of Cephalus
21. Megacles
22. Cimon
23. Aristopatira
24. Simonides
25. Stesichorus
26. Tyrtaeus
27. Hannibal
28. Bucephalus
29. Antisthenes the Sybarite
30. Croesus
31. Mandrocles
32. Xerxes














Book I by Ana Untila [ http://gr.linkedin.com/pub/ana-untila/9a/505/679 ]
Books II-IV by Gary Berkowitz
Books V-VI by Konstantinos Ramiotis
Books VII-VIII by Vasiliki Dogani [ https://www.linkedin.com/in/vaso-dogani-18295a11a ]
Books IX-X by Jonathan Alexander
Book XI by Muhammad Syarif Fadhlurrahman [ https://www.linkedin.com/in/muhammad-syarif-fadhlurrahman-8979a111b ]
Book XII-XIII by Nikolaos Giallousis
Sponsored by http://mitologia.blogs.sapo.pt/

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My dearest, you, who asked to learn precisely
The entire history through a letter of mine.
Now hear the first one, that of Croesus' story.


[1] Croesus, the son of Alyattes, was the ruler of Lydia.
He made his home and palace in Sardis, which he conquered.
From Pactolus, the river, was flowing towards him before,
Like heavy rain from Mount Tmolus, he received golden dust.
Among the other kings, he had the most gold ever seen.
He delicately lived in wealth and countless riches.
Friendly to everybody, he gave away a lot.
According to what Pindar, the son of Daiphantus, says,
The great Alcmaeon came to see him once
[10] And asked for gold; as much as he could carry.
He then took off his coat and held it in front of him
As well as his boots, the ones big-footed actors used to wear.
He then entered the treasure-houses and filled all these with gold.
He had his hair covered with gold, his teeth as well.
Alcmaeon couldn't walk, for that much the gold weighed.
Croesus burst out laughing seeing him walk and look like that
And ordered him to take twice the gold he took.
All these have been written by Pindar, the lyric poet.
Furthermore, Herodotus, the writer, the son of Oxylus,
[20] Along with him and Plutarch, wrote about this man
That sent to Delphi a thousand bricks, all made of gold
To build a golden altar in honour of Apollo.
Once, he invited Solon, the man who wrote the laws,
To spend some time with him in Sardis, at his palace.
He then showed him his treasures, boasting of them a lot,
That they can bring him joy; he was renowned for his happiness.
Then Solon the philosopher, who had written the laws,
Did not bless him for that, and Croesus asked him then:
“Do you acknowledge, Solon, anyone happier than me?”
[30] He then replied to him he heard of the commander Tellus
And of Cleobis and Biton, the two sons of Cydippe.
The first one, Tellus the commander, after winning his enemies
Was blessed by many for his brilliant victory;
He was fortunate to die in the same evening of his winning.
The children of Cydippe, who was a priestess of Hera,
Because their mother was sick, they yoked themselves like bulls
And brought their mother to the temple of Hera.
The mother then wished them the best.
Both of them died during the night, having the most beautiful end.
[40] “I call them happy, Croesus, and anyone like them
Whose lives end when a useful cause is fulfilled.
Your end is yet unknown; so I do not deem you fortunate.
No one should consider blessed a man whose end is not yet known”.
This is what Solon said, prophetically, to Croesus.
A while later Croesus lost in war against the forces
Of Cyrus the Persian, the son of Cambyses and Mandane.
During fourteen entire days he was being besieged,
And finally made a prisoner and destroyed, he was being led to fire.
“O Solon! Solon! Solon!” He, then, cried out three times.
[50] They carried him away from the fire when Cyrus heard about it.
This is what Herodotus says; while Xenophon replies
That Croesus did not suffer anything bad from Cyrus,
Contrariwise, he wondered at his great magnificence.
And he continues; when Croesus became prisoner
He said, I am happier than ever, now, at the end of life.
Xenophon has written beautifully about the battles.
He says Assyria had been neighbour to Media.
The son of the Assyrians' king
After his wedding, he went hunting in Media.
[60] Since he had many horsemen, he changed his mind over hunting;
He started to make booty over the Median mountains.
Cyrus then counselled his grandfather; they were defeated.
Since then a great war broke up between them.
After Astyages died, his son Cyaxares,
Cyrus' uncle, becomes the king of Medians,
A stupid man who only knew how to have fun and drink.
Only as a shadow and as a name was he king of these riches.
In fact Cyrus was king, he was the one to fight.
He had Medes, Persians and Susians under his power,
[70] Whose king was Abradatas, the husband of Pantheia,
And others, many, who obeyed him.
Accomplices and allies of the Assyrians came;
Artacamas, the king of the great Phrygia;
Gabaeus, ruler of the Hellespontine Phrygia;
And the king Aribaeus of the entire Cappadocia
And many other people of countless nations came,
Along with them Maragdus, the king of Arab people,
And Croesus the Lydian, about whom we are speaking.
As soon as Cyrus entered the battle, he chopped them up
[80] And left for Sardis; during the second night
He chased the Chaldeans up to their walls, which he later destroyed.
Ctesias the physician, the son of Ctesiochus,
Who had come from the city of copper Cnidus;
He was taken captive by Artaxerxes for having fought with Cyrus.
He stayed among the Persians during seventeen years
And wrote twenty three books concerning the Persian people.
He says that Astyages was slain by the king Cyrus
And the latter became the ruler of Barcanians.
Oebares, Cyrus' great commander,
[90] Told him to put wooden faces in front of the city of Sardis
Upon long poles, with clothes on them, during the night.
The Lydians would be frightened while they would take the city.
Right after captivating Croesus,
Cyrus sent Petisacas to Astyages.
When he arrived he saw Amytis with Astyages.
Amytis was Astyages' daughter.
When she saw this eunuch, the awful Petisacas,
She knew that he was plotting against Astyages.
She gouged his eyes out and stripped off his skin alive;
[100] She impaled him on a cross and left him as a feast for birds.
Now, my dearest, you have the whole story of Croesus.
Shall we now start the story of Midas as well.


Midas, the son of Gordias, was a king of the Phrygians,
He worshipped gold beyond the human nature.
According to the myths, he made a bitter wish
So everything he held would be turned into gold.
Every food he would eat, would be made out of gold,
As a consequence he dies hungry because of his golden famine.
Some others, though, have written that he didn’t die.
[110] Instead, he drove his chariot and its anchor held him, as the oracles had said.
He founded the Galatian city of Ankara across the river Halys.
This way the famine and his destiny have been avoided.
This Midas has been said to have his ears like donkey’s.
From what I’ve said, everything must be clear about Midas.

He worshipped gain and money; he was very greedy.
He made his stomach hurt by selling all the food
Just like Vespasian did with the excrement of the horses
Although, he blamed Titus a lot for this; he was his son.
He used to say to him: “Titus, my dearest son,
[120] This is the gold of excrement, try, smell its odour.”
This is how Midas was, as already mentioned before,
According to these myths created in this way.
Later he founded Ankara, a city with lots of food.
His ears were, as I said, like those donkeys have.
This means he was keen on hearing or just with very large ears
Or even that he had around him many spies.
Donkeys, Aristotle said, have very sharp hearing.
There is a Phrygian village named “donkey’s ears”.
It was inhabited by thieves. Midas had conquered it.
[130] Maybe that’s why the myth says Midas had donkey’s ears.

The Ankara mentioned above was situated in Galatia.
It’s been said it was built by Octavian, the Caesar of the Romans.
Octavian killed Deiotarus, the tetrarch of Galatia.
It was not due to the iron anchor of Midas’ chariot
That Ankara was named this way, but because it is situated
Between the Asiatic and the Pontic seas.


According to some writers Gyges was a shepherd.
While he was tending as a shepherd he found a copper horse buried into the ground.
Inside this horse there was a dead man lying down.
[140] He had a ring upon his finger.
This particular ring was taken by Gyges himself.
He found out it had the power, when turned its hoop,
To make the holder disappear and appear back again.
This way he killed Candaules and seized the power of Lydia.

Herodotus, nonetheless, does not say he was a shepherd.
He says he was the son of Dascylus, Candaules’ bodyguard.
Because Candaules loved his wife too much,
He secretly showed her nakedness to Gyges.
She knew it, but said nothing. She asked for Gyges later
[150] And asked him which one he would do:
“Will you deprive Candaules of life, or will you kill yourself?
I will not bear to have been seen by two men.”
He took away Candaules’ life, as well as his kingdom.
Gyges had with Candaules’ wife a son named Ardys.
The son of Ardys was Sadyattes, and the latter’s son was Alyattes.
Alyattes’ son was Croesus, who was defeated by Cyrus.
But I can tell your struggle and impatience
To hear the rest of the Gyges’ story.
It has been said that apart from being a shepherd, Gyges was Candaules’ commander.
[160] The kingdom was like a copper horse
The same the palace; Candaules’ wife, when he was dead,
Stood in the palace doing nothing.
Gyges took her ring and showed it to the bodyguards,
And with their help, he killed Candaules.
After returning her the ring
He made himself visible to everyone and took the kingdom.


The king of Athens, Codrus, the son of Melanthus,
Has been said to descend from Erichthonius,
Whose lineage is to be traced back to many great kings.
[170] Cecrops was the first king of Athens.
After him it was Cranaus, and the third one Amphictyon,
Whom Erichthonius deposed and kept the kingdom for himself.
He was a son of Hephaestus and Athena.
He had a son, Pandion, with Praxithea.
Pandion and Zeuxippe gave birth to Erechtheus,
As well as to Procne, Philomela and Butes.
Erechtheus has a son, Cecrops, from Praxithea.
Cecrops has Pandion from Metiaduse.
From this Pandion Aegeus was born, the father of Theseus.
[180] Acamas and Demophon were the children of Theseus.
Demophon fathered Oxyntes.
Oxyntes fathered Thymoetes, Thymoetes fathered Melanthus.
From Melanthus came Codrus and, from Codrus, Neleus and Medon.
All these mentioned above have been kings, as well as the following.
Many say this genealogy is until
Thymoetes, Melanthus does not descend from them.
When fighting in a single combat with the Boetian Xantheias
Thymoetes gave him the kingdom as a gift.
Codrus was a noble man not only concerning his generation,
[190] But he had also one of the noblest souls.
The Laconians and the Athenians had never fought before.
An oracle was given to the Laconians, that they would be defeated harshly
If one of the Athenian commanders was killed.
Codrus knew that and he dressed himself as a woodman.
He then killed a Laconian and was killed back with an axe.
As soon as the Laconians found that out, they immediately left.


There have been two Megacles of the Athenian tribe,
Both of them noble men and of a good repute.
One of them, one hundred sixty two
[200] Years ago, won three times the Olympic games.
He was the son of the noble Coesyra.
The other Megacles was a conqueror of the Pythian games.
His genealogy comes until the wealthy Alcmaeon
Who was strongly enriched, as already said, by Croesus.


Alcmaeon was one of the most noble and wealthy men,
Whose sons had killed the two sons of Pisistratus,
The two tyrants of Athens, Hipparchus and Hippias.
They freed the city; one of them was Cleisthenes.


Boreas the Thracian kidnapped Orithyia from Athens.
[210] They had two sons, Zetes and Calais, with very delicate hair.
They had even prettier hair than Absalom.
Their hair was flying, as many legend writers have said,
The longest the hair, the biggest the pride.
They are said to have sailed along with the other Argonauts
And to have driven away from Phineus the Harpies,
Who used to steal away the food from his birds’ mouth.
Along with the Harpies, it’s been said, the brothers died as well.
But I can tell the truth about their story.
This old man, Phineus, was blind due to his old age.
[220] Eraseia and Harpyreia were his two daughters.
They lived a very libertine and lazy life.
All their life was wasted.
They abandoned themselves into poverty and fatal famine.
Zetes and Calais snatched them away,
They somehow disappeared from those places ever since.
All myths about them started there.
Apollonius has talked about their story.


According to Homer, Euphorbus was the son of Phrontis and Panthous.
But according to Orpheus, he was son of Abarbarea and Boucolides.
[230] He had the loveliest locks among the curly-haired.
He fought besides the Trojans for the sake of Helen.
He had a lot of gold bound into his braid of hair
And many other ornaments around his head.


Narcissus, the Laconian, was a young hunter who loved everything beautiful.
Once, during the summer, he got thirsty after hunting.
He leaned upon the water and saw himself in the bloom of youth.
He fell in love with his own shadow, as if it were somebody else.
In need to keep it next to him, he faced his fluid destiny.


Nireus was a Greek commander, a really beautiful man.
[240] He was the most handsome man among the Greeks after Achilles.


Hyacinth was a beautiful young man, the brother of Cynortus.
His father was Amyclus and Diomedes his mother,
People from the noble fatherland of the Laconian Amiclaeans.
Apollo and Zephyrus fought for the young boy’s love.
Once when Apollo pitched the quoit with Hyacinth,
Zephyrus blows the quoit boisterously and ruins it.
The beautiful young man was struck from the top of the mountain with terror.
From the earth, then, sprang up a flower of the same name instead of Hyacinth.
The earth felt pity for him, just like for the beauty of Narcissus.
[250] But the Narcissus’ story is known to everybody,
That falling into the water the young man died of drowning.
As a consolation for the loss, their beauty has been exalted.
Many say he fell into the water because of his desire.
It is clear where it comes from, the name of the plants and the trees
Even of the stars and of all their similar.
All the next generations of humans, due to the desire for these two young men,
Named the things mentioned above after them.
Moreover, it’s been said, the rival lovers of Hyacinth
Who were fighting for him and admiring the young man’s beauty,
[260] Was the sun, happy to turn towards the young man
And the blow of the winds were truly charmed by him.
The sun then pitched the quoit with the young man
When the wind turned its way and blew the quoit up there.
He did just like Zephyrus, for envying the Sun,
He deprived Hyacinth of life and of the shiny light bringer.
This story wrote Nicander in his Theriaca.

To ask me to write to you about the sayings of the wise men,
It is inopportune, weird and of the most mischievous things.
You don’t want to hear of this as a work of Tzetzes,
[270] Who has been more than delightful to his benefactors,
But as a marvellous person who has absorbed so many books.
I have experienced this before; somebody else was thankless.
Well, just your name has been enough for me to write this down.
Everything I’ve written above is being held in my memory.
You’ve seen now, quite precisely, how I do know every book
And how I can be ready to tell all that by heart.
There is nobody else that God has ever made
With better memory than that of Tzetzes, in this life.
That’s why I’m thankful towards Him who gave me such a gift.
[280] Although I live a simple life, I descended from the best;
Whether I do want it or not, one of my ancestors is Aeschylus.
I lead the way of all the nonsense in people’s lives,
This is the reason I have chosen a retired life.
If there is someone else claiming to have such a memory,
Because I cannot make any reference to anyone,
Please, let him come in front of us; we won’t avoid the fight,
Although we’ve had decided to lead our life at home,
Just like the Scyrites Achilles, the disciple of Chiron,
Not like Konnas who lived on the streets and in front of hotels.
[290] You know now our nature and our state of mind.
I’ve learned to interpret all the books of former writers
Even if they’re full of dust, in the shadows or forgotten.
As Solomon has said, we wail for everything humans have made.
I’ve seen the beauty of our world and the delights of life
Under the sun; all this is vanity.
But, oh! I have to learn all useful things from wise men.
Prepare your ears so you can listen to what I have to say.
I do not have a heart of iron; I am compassionate.

In his book Theriaca, Nicander says about Hyacinth.
[300] “Beautiful Hyacinth was lamented a lot,
He was lamented by Phoebus, who accidentally killed
The young boy by hitting him in front of Amyclaean river,
In the prime of Hyacinth’ youth, when a quoit fell onto his head;
He fell upon a rock and his head was smashed into pieces”.


Orpheus was a Thracian, his home was the Odrysian city of Bisaltia.
Menippe, daughter of Thamyris, was his mother and Oeagrus his father,
Or, according to many others, his mother was Calliope.
He has been said to attract the prey and stones with his music.
The poet Simonides has written the following about this.
[310] “Countless birds were flying upon his head,
Even the fish were coming out of the blue water
To hear his beautiful songs.” This is what has been said about this story.
To precise, though, every man is being attracted by the music.
The gardeners, the workers with stones as well as the cattlemen
Have abandoned their work in order to follow Orpheus.


Amphion sings to the lyre; he along with Zethus
Were sons of Zeus, as Homer says; their mother Antiope.
According, though, to other writers and to Antiochus,
They were sons of Theobus and the same Antiope.
[320] They were given birth by a virgin and were immediately sent away,
But when they grew up enough, they undertook the kingdom.
They honoured their father’s name and built the city of Thebes.
It has been said Amphion was gifted with the lyre
To be able to drag the stones for building with his songs.
This proved to be true; Amphion was singing to his lyre
While the workers were building the walls of the city.
The same walls Alexander will later destroy
With lamenting songs, as Callisthenes says.
While Ismenias was singing, Thebes was being conquered.


[330] About the Sirens, Homer, Lycophron, Euripides
And many others have said that they attract people with their music.
They destroy everything with their songs, fulfilling every desire.
Odysseus managed to escape from them, they say.
He shut the ears of his companions with wax
And tied himself upon the ropes and suffered while hearing.
They say they’re daughters of creatures that have the shape of birds.
Leucosia, Ligeia and Parthenope.
They were daughters of the river Achelous and Terpsichore
Or Melpomene. Many other names are given to them.
[340] Their story has been said so many times by many.
Many have said they are rocks
Which produce the sound of songs when being hit by the waves.
Plutarch, the younger, has said they were prostitutes.
The others have claimed they conquer people through pleasure,
Those who do not shut their companions’ ears with wax
They will have to close their five senses against them,
They will have their mind raised up; as I am telling you
Whether their mother is Terpsichore or Melpomene
(They can be prostitutes and deceive through pleasure at the same time.)
[350] I’m saying also they’re daughters of Achelous and they can fly.
As it is unstable and fleeting the desire of a prostitute,
So their delight is brief and runs away.


Marsyas was a Phrygian philosopher; he was the first to play the flute.
He even rebelled against Apollo’s flutes.
He lost the contest and was turned into a wineskin hanged from a pine.
Even the river was flowing with the fury of a flute-player.
This has been stated by Julian’s works
And by Procopius from Caesarea and many others,
And before them Nicander had said the following about him.
[360] “The pine was divided into pieces many times by the tears
Of Marsyas, where Phoebus had hanged his body.
The tree had mourned his fatal destiny, holding his body.
The whole area still resounds with that echo.”
Some others say he found the flute of Athena.
She was then accused by the poor satyr Marsyas:
“Indeed, it does not suit you; let go of the flute,
Take the arms and start fighting”
She bent herself over the water, she saw her cheeks
Exalted and, finally, gave this art to Marsyas.
[370] He was the son of Hyagnis and teacher of Olympus.
He used to win when challenging the best.
Such a singing contest has been stated by Simonides:
“He had put a dazzling piece of gold around his head
And a boisterous opening on the back side of his helmet.”
I shall support the story about Athena and not Apollo.
She was extraordinarily witty and a good flute-player.
Her cheeks were, though, extremely swollen, dishonouring her face.
That’s why it is more fitting for men to play the flute.
Then, the mentioned above, philosopher Marsyas
[380] Was boasting in front of her; he even got delirious;
He was drowned into the river; then hanged upon a pine.
He was seen under the sun as if he had committed suicide.
Also, because the Sun was fond in music, too,
Another version says, he hanged Marsyas for defying him.


Terpander was a citharist from the family of Methymnaeans.
Once, they had rebelled against the Lacedaemonians.
An oracle had prophesied they would make peace together
Only if Terpander from Methymne played his cithara to them.
Terpander, then, played his guitar so skilfully
[390] That they made peace immediately, as Diodorus says,
Due to his singing harmony. Their relationship had changed
And got there all together, exchanging greetings with tears.


Arion was also from Methymne playing the cithara, as well,
During the times of Croesus and of Periander.
He went to Italy and, specifically, to Sicily.
He won a lot of things. On a boat to Corinth
He embarked, leaving Taranto, as he wanted to return home.
The sailors wanted to take all his money.
He asked, then, to play them music with his melodious guitar,
[400] A song before his death; he took his cithara immediately
(There were seven melodies that one could play with his cithara).
He stood and started to play beautifully the first one;
A dolphin, being enchanted, came out of the water, and when Arion fell into the sea
He was dragged by the dolphin and was brought to Cape Tenaro.
When he arrived in Corinth, he told this to Periander.
He didn’t believe him, though, and put the man in prison.
Later, the sailors came and Periander asked them what happened.
He sentenced them to death as it is proper for murderers.
The writer Herodotus has written down this story,
[410] Along with him Oppian, but his story is more precise.
His story, which is widely known, my child, here follows:
Being in danger, Arion played his music straight up.
Some pirates, who were Phoenician men, upon a boat of dolphin shape
Felt pity for him and left him on the coast of Cape Tenaro.


Atreus was a brother of Thyestes and of many others.
All of them were children of Pelops and Hippodamia.
Chrysippus was their stepbrother, whose mother was Axioche.
They were jealous of him because their father honoured him too much.
Following Hippodamia’s will, Atreus and Thyestes
[420] Drowned him into a well. When Pelops found this out
He dismissed all his children.
An oracle had said Laius would abduct Chrysippus.
After leaving the sons settled in different places. Atreus and Thyestes
Settled down in Triphylia of the Peloponnese.
Both of them demanded the kingdom for themselves.
Atreus was to have it by law since he was the firstborn.
Thyestes, though, was claiming it too, ignoring all the laws.
As time passed by, it was decided it would become king
The one who would bring the right sign in front of the judges.
[430] Atreus had nurtured a golden lamb.
Simonides has said the lamb was purple.
Atreus was about to show the lamb to the judges.
(Which, according to Euripides, was Hermes’ advice,
Who wanted to revenge the descendants of Pelops
For Pelops had unfairly killed Myrtilus, Hermes’ son.
Apollonius says Atreus wanted to make a sacrifice
To Artemis of the most beautiful animal of his herd.
As soon as the lamb was born, he killed it and hid it away
Very carefully into boxes, so it could serve him as a sign.)
[440] Atreus was about to show this sign to the judges.
Thyestes, though, had spied on him and deprived his brother of his wedding-bed
And took the lamb from Atreus’ wife, Aerope.
He showed it in front of the judges and declared himself the ruler.
The Sun could not stand the unfortunate things that happened
So he drove his chariot from the west to the east,
And along with him went the Pleiades as well.
Atreus found out he had been deceived by his wife Aerope.
He made a dinner of the three children Thyestes had with a Naiad,
Aglaus, Orchomenus and Calaeus, after killing them.
[450] He showed him afterwards their legs and arms and drove him away from the country.
The Sun returned after the disgusting dinner.
The other son of Thyestes, Aegisthus, was living in the mountains, taking care of goats.
Thyestes had this son with his daughter Pelopia or Mnesiphane.
Aegisthus returns from the mountain and kills Atreus
And takes back the kingdom that was rightfully his father’s.
He sends Atreus’ sons, Agamemnon and Menelaus,
To Polypheides, the king of Sicyon, to raise them.
He sends them, on his turn, to the Aetolian Oeneas.
After a short time they are brought to Tyndareus.
[460] They managed to make Thyestes seek refuge in Hera’s temple
And afterwards to go and live in Cythereia.
They got connected by marriage with Tyndareus’ daughters.
Agamemnon married Clytemnestra
After killing her husband Tantalus, the son of Thyestes,
And their newborn child; Menelaus married Helen.
Concerning what happened to the Sun,
I think it has not been stated enough.
The wool of sheep had turned into gold,
Rheginus and Isigonus have written about these facts.
[470] Hermes knew well the stars and Artemis the moon.
What happened then was not seen as a good omen.
Myrtilus, the son of Hermes, was transformed into a star.


Minos was a son of Asterion Zeus.
Since the beginning of the world kings were called Zeus as well.
Just like the star of Zeus, which came quickly when he was born
To foretell he would have a destiny of a lion.
It appears only in front of kings who wear a crown.
After the death of the king Asterion,
Minos was not permitted to rule Crete after him
[480] Because, they say, the kingdom must be given by the gods.
A strange sign from the sea would be revealed to him.
Minos promised that, whatever it was, it would be sacrificed to Poseidon.
Then a beautiful bull appeared from the sea
And he was given immediately the kingdom of the Cretans.
He sacrificed to Poseidon another bull
That he asked to be brought from his herd.
That bull was said to have laid with his wife Pasiphae
Even though she was involved in intercourse with Daedalus artificial inventions,
She gave birth to Minotaur, a beast half man and half bull.
[490] Daedalus was a son of Eupalamus and Alcippe.
He was a craftsman and sculptor in Attica.
He threw from Attica’s citadel
The son of his sister Perdix, whose name was Attalus.
He was being a disciple alongside his uncle Daedalus.
He was the first to make an artificial serpent’s jaw
Which could catch a small piece of wood. When his uncle saw that,
Being envious of the child’s genius, he killed him.
He went to Minos. There, with the slave Naucrate
He had a son, Icarus. Minos detained them
[500] For having helped his adulterer wife.
He was about to kill them, that’s why he imprisoned them.
They escaped from the prison
Having put wings upon them, they flew through air.
Icarus fell into the sea when he left.
The Icarian Sea, where he fell, was named after him.
Daedalus was saved in Caminus of Sicily.
In Sicily came Minos looking for him.
Minos was killed by the daughters of Cocalus;
By pouring upon him boiling waters he immediately froze.
[510] Now, I should say about the bull and the involved intercourse,
About the Minotaur and the wings made by Daedalus
And how, they say, Daedalus’ sculptures could move.
As Euripides has said in his play Hecuba:
“I wish I could speak through my arms,
Through my hands and my hair and my walking
And through Daedalus’ crafting or some God’s”
And Plato, the master of comedy, has said:
“Every sculpture made by Daedalus must be seen
To move; that is a wise man”.
[520] Minos, who was not permitted to be the ruler before,
Having consulted the seers, spoke to the Cretans.
He would be revealed a sign from the sea.
Commander Taurus showed up with his merchant ships
And Minos took the kingdom as if it were a god’s will.
It was this Taurus, the commander, not the bull,
With whom Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, committed adultery
In cooperation with Daedalus, who helped her
To be closed in the most guarded rooms,
The so-called wooden bull of Daedalus,
[530] Where she had a baby; since the child had two fathers,
Minos and Taurus, he was called Minotaur.
Daedalus knew the ships of those merchants were so quick as if they had feathers.
He left with them to Sicily.
Icarus was plundered and drowned during a shipwreck.
Daedalus was saved in the house of Cocalus.
The things crafted by Daedalus were believed to move because of this:
Many years before Daedalus, the statues
Were made without arms, legs or eyes.
Daedalus was the first one to make them with arms and legs
[540] As well as with fingers, eyelids and everything else.
That’s why they say his statues were capable of moving.


Procris, the daughter of Erechtheus and Praxithea,
Was the wife of Cephalus, Deioneus’ son.
She was bribed with a golden crown to lie down with Pteleon.
She fled to Minos after Cephalus discovered her.
Minos had secret intercourse with her
And gave her as a gift a sharp javelin and a fast-running dog.
This dog could quickly catch any fast beast.
She took these presents and returned to Cephalus.
[550] He received the gifts and went hunting.
Believing it was a wild beast, he killed her with a javelin.
Judged by the Areopagus, he went into exile.
At that time there was a Teumessian Fox
That was bringing disaster to the children of Thebes.
Cephalus sends his dog to hunt the fox.
Zeus, by transforming the roads into stones, made the dog win.
This story has been written by Apollodorus.
While the wise Palaephatus, a really intelligent man,
Says a slightly different story.
[560] He says there was a commander named Alopekos
Who was fighting against the Thebans along with other rebels,
Whom Cephalus killed having been called from Athens.
I, too, agree with this version of the story, which is the most known.
Minos was involved in a secret intercourse with Procris
And after that, he sent her upon fast ships
Along with commander Cynas and many gifts for Cephalus.
Cephalus then sent this Cynas to Alopekos
To fight him as an enemy. They fought upon their horses
Until they destroyed each other.
[570] Alopekos escaped with his ships
And Cynas was chased until the cliffs beside the sea,
Where his ships were, and left this life.


The claiming Megacles was son of Coesyra,
The most noble among all women under the sun.
He was the third one in the horse contest in Olympia.
Olympia was a place next to Triphylia
Where the river Alpheus is still flowing.
Heracles had been forced by Olympian Zeus
To fight and win the beasts of Augeas.
[580] He was honoured with a young branch of a wild olive tree.
This contest continued to take place every fifty months.


Cimon, according to some writers, was son of Miltiades,
According to some others, though, he was son of Tisagoras.
He had a son with Isodice named Callias.
Cimon had a sister, whose name was Elpinice,
As Ptolemy had later his sister Berenice,
And before them Zeus had Hera, and now it’s a custom to the Persians.
Callias had to pay fifty talents
As Cimon, his father, did not pay them
[590] During his shameful wedding with his sister.
Those who have written about this are too many for me to count them.
For they are infinite, those who wrote about this,
The comic writers, the rhetoricians, Diodorus and many others.


Aristopatira was a daughter of Diagoras of Rhodes.
Diagoras along with his sons and daughters,
Being all together seven, in just one day
Won in boxing and wrestling in the Olympic Games.
He won the men’s, his sons the teenagers’
And his children the other kids’; everyone got involved.
[600] They passed in front of the spectators being glorified for their victory,
Damagetos, Dorieus along with Acusilaus,
Euclon and Pisirrothius along with Lelegetes.
They even had monuments built for them in Olympia.
During that Olympiad
Aristopatira came to watch the games.
There was a law that forbade women
From showing up and watching the Olympic Games.
The Hellanodices didn’t allow her to enter and she replied to them:
“Why don’t you let me watch the game?
[610] I am not like the other women.
You see, all seven of the winners,
That won here today, are relatives of mine.
Diagoras is my father, and the other three are my brothers;
The children are my brothers’ sons,
Euclon and Pisirrothius along with Lelegetes.”
They then gave in to her words
And let her immediately enter and watch the games.
This story has been written by Pindar, the son of Daiphantus.


There was one Simonides from Samos, son of Amorgus.
[620] This Simonides, though, is son of Leoprepes from Ceos.
He was poor but delightful, he always won in contests
Just like Konnas, the flute-player, was an Olympian winner.
Aristophanes has written in his comedies about Simonides’ poverty.
Aristides has written about the man’s gratitude.
The majority say, he once found an unburied dead body
And honoured him with funeral rites; he saw the dead man in his sleep
Who told him “don’t sail, don’t follow the sailors”
So he refused to leave with them.
All the others were dispersed into a shipwreck.
[630] Simonides wrote a thankful epigram
Upon the dead man’s tomb.
“Here lies the saviour of Simonides from Ceos,
Who, even from the world of the dead, took care of the living.”
This Simonides died in Sicily.
Upon his tomb, there is the following epigram:
“Oh, Simonides, you who have fifty six victories
And tripods. You have fallen in the Sicilian plain.
The memory of Ceos misses you. You have become the praise
Of the witty soul of the Greeks.”


[640] Stesichorus was a lyric poet and his daughters as well.
His homeland was Himera, a city of Sicily.
He was contemporaneous with Abaris and Pythagoras.
He was opposed to Astypalean Phalaris.
Phalaris was husband of Erythea and father of Paurolas,
He was, also, the son of Leodamas and king of Agrigento.
This Phalaris killed Perillos, a coppersmith
From Attica; he burnt him into a bull made of bronze.
Perillos had manufactured this bull by himself,
He made small tubes into the bull’s nostrils.
[650] He even made a door on one side of the bull.
He gave this bull to Phalaris as a gift.
Phalaris welcomed this man with other gifts
And ordered this device to be devoted to the gods.
Then, the coppersmith that made him such a gift
Told him about the savage characteristics of the device:
“If you ever want, Phalaris, to punish anyone of your people,
You throw him inside this bull and set fire below it.
His groaning will look like the bull is groaning,
And you’ll feel pleasure when you’ll hear the sound through the bull’s nostrils as if it were a flute.”
[660] Phalaris heard about this and felt disgusted by him
He said: “Bring it Perillos, you show it to us first,
You imitate the flute, present us your creation.”
While he was trying to imitate the sound of flute,
Phalaris closed the bull’s door and set it on fire.
Because he didn’t want to defile the work of bronze with the man’s death
He pulled him out half dead and threw him off the cliff.
Lucian the Syrian has written about this bull,
As well as Diodorus and Pindar and many others.
I have written to you this story
[670] Based on the wise Phalaris’ letters.
Stesichorus was opposed to this Phalaris,
I think, because of this: he had imprisoned Conon and Dropidas,
When he was going to Peloponnese passing through Pachynus.
Phalaris killed Conon right away
While he let go of Dropidas, sending him back home.
Stesichorus was a beloved friend of Dropidas,
For whom he paid ransom to the people of Tauromenium
One hundred talents; twelve years later,
When Stesichorus died, his daughters continued to write.
[680] Stesichorus’ daughters made hymns about Phalaris
And so that debt was over.
Here follows a song of Stesichorus:
“Oh Pallas, destroyer of cities, war-sustaining, pure creator,
Daughter of the Great Zeus, young maiden, unseen virgin.”
Similar is a song of Archilochus of Paros
With which he had won having sung it at the Olympic games,
Singing only with his mouth for his tripe was cut.
They say even Pindar used to admire him.
Now hear this song of Archilochus:
[690] “Hurrah! Be glad, you, triumphant king Heracles,
Along with Iolaus, both of you true warriors.”


Tyrtaeus was a Laconian commander and a great poet,
The songs he wrote were encouraging for war.
These songs were sung by the Laconians when they were joining war
They were performing the war dance according to Lycurgus’ laws.
Dion Chrysostom wrote about this, too.
“You, sons of glorious fathers of Sparta, who raises great men,
You hold the shield with your left hand and use the spear with courage,
Do not spare lives; it is not proper for Spartans.”


[700] Hannibal, according to Diodorus and Dion
As well as according to Dionysius from Halicarnassus,
Was a commander of Sicily, the son of Hamilcar.
Hamilcar had conquered the entire Iberia
And the Iberians had plotted against him and killed him.
He, then, commanded all his army to leave
And join his sons and die for them.
He would have avoided the plague if he had left with the others.
His son Hannibal was only fifteen years old
And the other, Hasdrubal, only twelve; he went upon the hill,
[710] His head was seen by the Iberians.
All of them attacked him
The ones who left were lucky to be saved.
When he made sure his army was safe, he went back
And started to counter attack the Iberians.
The Iberians encircled him and fought him hard,
He let go of his weakened horse
And fell into the waters of the river Ebro.
He was hit by a javelin.
He was found neither drowned nor dead by the Iberians.
[720] Such was his strength; he was dragged by the waters.
Hannibal was a descendant of such a hero.
Along with his brother-in-law, he marshalled against Iberia
And plundered it entirely, to avenge his father’s death.
Meanwhile, the Ausonian Romans
Defeated in battle many times the Sicilians.
They made a strict law for themselves
Never to fall under their sword.
When Hannibal was twenty five years old,
Apart from the senators and the aristocrats,
[730] He caught the brightest and the smartest of the young men
About one hundred or maybe more; by plundering Iberia
He made a living and increased his army with young men.
Such a number was able to win hundreds of men.
He managed to run thousands and millions of men.
His army became huge and one of the most dreadful
The soldiers had followed him without money or gifts.
Such news travelled quickly to the Romans.
All of them were formed in order for the infantry and navy.
There must have been seventy seven thousands.
[740] He went to get ready the Sicilians, just like one rubs a pine.
The Sicilians begged Hannibal to stop
And not to utterly destroy the lands of Sicily.
He heard them talk and brag about themselves.
He did not sit and wait for the attack of the Romans.
He left alone from Sicily going forward to Italy
Going from above, passing through the Alps.
They were hard to pass through, but Hannibal cut into pieces the rocks
And six months later he confronted the Roman armies.
He killed many of them during a lot of battles.
[750] His brother Hasdrubal, who had stayed back to wait,
He too walked through the Alps.
It took him fifteen days to come next to Hannibal.
He brought with him a great army. When the Romans found out,
They attacked him secretly and managed to take him down.
They brought his head and threw it to Hannibal.
He lamented, as it was proper, his beloved brother
And later he marshalled against the Romans in Cannes.
The commanders of the Romans were Paullus and Terentius.
Cannes was a plain in Argyrippe.
[760] Argyrippe was a city built by Diomedes.
The city’s name means “a horse from Argos” in the language of the Greeks.
These plains used to be inhibited by the Daunians
And later by the Iapygians, and after them by the Salantians.
And nowadays we say the Calabrians live there.
They have been the borders between the Calabrians and the Longobards.
That dreadful war took place there.
When that terrible war broke out
A fearful earthquake happened; it set apart the mountains.
A storm took place where rocks were falling from the sky.
[770] The soldiers did not stop fighting but fearlessly continued.
At the end many men of the Romans fell down.
Then, the commander Hannibal sent back to Sicily
The rings of the Roman commanders and of the other glorious men
Which were worth many medimoi and choenixes.
The first and noble women of the Romans,
They run lamenting to the temples in Rome
And cut their hair as it was proper when grieving.
Later they were mixed with the slaves and the barbarians
Since the land of the Romans was deprived of men.
[780] They were afraid their roots would be vanished.
Then Rome itself had lost all of its men
Its gates were wide open, the people stood on the street
Ten were sitting before the gates,
They were lamenting for the disaster the poor city had suffered.
They were watching for the remaining people, so nobody would leave the city.
While such a misfortune was upon the great Rome
Hannibal neglected to destroy it completely.
He was so keen on victories and drinking and having good time
That he did not take notice of the Romans that gathered around Rome.
[790] Then, he left for the third time to marshal against Rome.
Suddenly, while the weather was nice, a terrifying hail started
And the darkness it produced changed Hannibal’s march.
Hannibal, then, was envied by the Sicilians.
While he was in need of food, they refused to supply him.
The one who earlier courageously won was now defeated by hunger.
He was also chased by the Roman Scipio
And he was actually to blame for the disaster of the Sicilians.
He died by taking poison somewhere in Bithynia
Near a village known by the name Libyssa.
[800] He expected to find death in Libyssa, his homeland.
There used to be an oracle about Hannibal’s death.
“The soil of Libyssa would cover Hannibal’s body.”
The later emperor of the Romans, Severus,
Who was a descendant of the Libyans, he put upon this man’s
Tomb a white piece of marble to honour the commander Hannibal.


You already know Bucephalus’ story
For he was a furious horse; he devoured men.
He only listened to Alexander the Macedonian.
He earned the name Bucephalus as following:
[810] He had a head of a bull marked on his thigh,
Not because he had a head of bull.


So wonderful were the clothes of Antisthenes;
They were purple, made of lilies, equal of fifteen meters.
Persian and Susian animals and gods were painted upon them.
They were embroidered with pearls and valuable stones.
Antisthenes had a glove on his left hand
Upon which he had painted Sybaris, his homeland.
Dionysus, who ruled Sybaris formerly,
For one hundred and twenty talents,
[820] He sold it to the Carthaginians; I think Plutarch has written about this.


When Croesus was about to pass through the sea water,
Thales dug a semicircle, crescent-shaped ditch
And changed the flowing of those waters.
He made this way the possibility to pass the impassable waters.
Herodotus reminds us this story.


Mandrocles the Samian was an architect.
When Darius was about to march against the Scythians,
He made a bridge of ships in the Hellespont of Bosporus.
It was dedicated to Damalis or to the temple of Hera.
[830] Darius disembarked to Europe many soldiers.
Herodotus has mentioned this story as well.
There are two Bosporus, and now learn where they are.
The Scythian Kimmerius, from which flows Maeotis Lake.
This lake is getting mingled with the Black Sea.
The other Bosporus is our Thracian, the Hellespont,
We have the custom to call it this way.
Now hear where does it come from and how long it is.
It comes from the strait of Abydos
And until the bridge of Blachernae it is known as Hellespont,
[840] It also includes the Bebrycian Sea
And the Thracian Heraclea, formerly known as Perinthus.
About this two parts of Bosporus
And the sea map of Hellespont no one has written,
As far as I know, among the many historians.
Well, you should know that Tzetzes has told only the truth so far,
He has been the most accurate of all the known historians;
He has written about everything up to the modern times.


Now hear how Xerxes, the Persian, campaigned against the whole Greece.
The former tyrant Hippias, the son of Pisistratus,
[850] For being exiled by the Athenians, he went to beg Darius
And managed to convince him to campaign against Athens.
This story has been reported by the Panathenaic of Aristides.
According to Herodotus, though, it was Aristagoras
Who convinced the Athenians to march against Sardis.
At the beginning, Darius sent Mardonius to confront them;
But he suffered shipwreck around Athos and lost thousands of men.
Darius, then, removed him from this duty.
He even asked the Athenians for money, land and water;
But they pushed the ambassadors into a very deep ditch.
[860] Then Darius sent Datis and Artaphernes,
His nephew, along with six hundred ships.
They conquered Naxos and Eretria, cities of Euboea.
Datis made a sacrifice to Apollo in Delos,
He offered them three hundred talents.
They had their army encamped in the region of Marathon.
Hippias the tyrant was accompanying them.
They were defeated by Miltiades and Stesileus
As well as by Callimachus and Cynegeirus.
Some of them managed to go back and tell the news to Darius.
[870] He boiled with anger for three entire years;
He prepared constantly his navy and gathered a large army,
So he could easily campaign against Greece.
But suddenly, on the fourth year, Darius passed away.
Xerxes, his son, succeeded him and ruled the whole empire.
He realized the implacable war against Greece.
His navy was full of strong ships;
They were two thousand and two hundred seven.
Many were the non-soldiers who carried along the arms;
They were so many, probably five hundred.
[880] To feed his entire army on a daily basis
He needed four hundred talents; and that was just the basics.
So Xerxes was urging to attack Greece,
He even wanted to break into pieces the elements of nature.
He tried to imitate his father Darius in everything.
Just like when Darius wanted to attack the Scythians
And march his army on foot to Europe above Damalites Bosporus,
Upon the bridge Mandrocles the Samian had built;
The same way Xerxes had people to make a bridge upon Abydos.
The bridge he had thrown from Sestus to Abydos collapsed,
[890] He even whipped the sea two hundred times.
He put two pairs of iron chain, as if tied by the feet
The sea was; he wanted it to be his slave.
He ordered now two bridges instead of one.
On both their sides there were heavy burdens
And anchors to support them so they would remain still;
From the bottom of the one side to the other
They tied horrible ropes above the heavy burdens,
From the one side of the row of the ships and the other from the stern.
The rope was really large and weighed around three talents.
[900] They were stretched tight from the bottom on both sides,
They nailed wooden trunks, the same used in stands for horses.
This way they fortified the ground; the ropes
On both sides they then made totally stable
So nobody would fall into the water from the sides.
As the two bridges were linked to each other
The trunks were dig deep into the ground of the bottom sea,
This way it was made a way of land; after doing this
Sweet bay and myrtle were sprinkled upon it.
This way the sea was turned into land with bridges,
[910] As Xerxes was imitating his own father, Darius.
He made a sea out of Mount Athos by digging a deep canal,
So through that trench two triremes could pass.
Over there Mardonius was shipwrecked earlier,
Where 20.000 soldiers were destroyed by the waves.
In the trench of Athos, which we call now “Holy Mountain”,
Thousands of soldiers came from Heleos
With their commander, the terrible satrap Bubares.
Along with them the great Artachaeus came.
When all of them arrived, somewhere near Hellespont
[920] A throne made of stone was built so Xerxes could supervise.
When all this work was announced,
Armies came from Lydia prepared to start the march.
In Celaenae of Phrygia, Xerxes with his army was being received
By Pythius the Lydian, the same one who earlier
Had given to Darius a vine and a golden oriental plane.
The same way this time he made a gift to Xerxes,
Two thousand talents made of pure silver;
And of the golden coins that had Darius’ face on them,
He gave him around four hundred.
[930] Xerxes did not receive the gift, but he appreciated the gesture.
He left for Hellespont and the great bridges.
Wherever the army’s horses bended over to drink,
In the Maeander or Scamander, the rivers dried up.
The same happened later with the river Peneus in Thessalia
As well as the river Illisus in Athens. But these would happen later.
When Xerxes himself arrived in Hellespont,
He sat upon that high throne;
He saw the soldiers that were more than the flowers and the leaves;
They were almost as many as the grains of sand in the sea.
[940] Firstly, he blessed himself for having such a good luck,
But then he thought of the shortness of the peoples’ lives
And suddenly his eyes got full of tears.
His uncle Artabanus learned this and talked to him:
“There is no reason to shed tears for the short lives of people,
You should know, my king, our short lives
Seem very large to many, if they are full of suffering,
So they wish a shorter life would be a blessing for them.”
Such was the advice Artabanus gave to Xerxes.
They marched towards the bridges
[950] And the army continued without being stopped
During seven days and nights.
Finally, Xerxes crossed over the bridge upon a chariot
Having an escort of ten thousand chosen men.
What else should I mention and describe you with details?
He drove his entire army to Europe;
Every river was dried up; every tree was devoured;
Even the sun itself was hidden by the Persian arrows;
The earth and the sea were shuddered and the whole nature of trees.
The commander Leonidas along with three hundred men,
[960] He stood against that huge army near the temple of Artemis.
He killed many of the great barbarian soldiers,
Among them the two beloved brothers of the Persian king,
Even the king himself he managed to bring down of his horse.
The soldiers fought bravely hand-to-hand.
Only when they came very close to the barbarian soldiers,
They were betrayed by some local man.
Or, according to Diodorus Siculus,
The commander Leonidas along with his men
Were being attacked by the barbarians during the night
[970] And up until the sunrise, all of them were destroyed.
Or they fell in battle being encircled by the barbarians.
That was the first attack of Xerxes with the Persians.
They were defeated, though, during the Battle of Salamis
Two hundred and seventy ships
Xerxes had, along with two thousand trading vessels,
The two hundred and seven were the fastest of them.
His fleet entered the battle
While Xerxes went upon the Aegaleo Mountain,
Which is situated exactly in front of Salamis.
[980] He sat upon his golden throne and watched the battle.
He had secretaries with him to write down what would happen.
They gave him a bad omen about the occurring sea-fight.
They were destroyed completely by the fleet of the Athenians.
Their infantry could not join them because of the great storm.
They had won earlier some old men Athenians,
Whom they had burnt alive and put them upon woods
Upon the Athenian wall, being deceived by the omens.
Xerxes, then, left to find and join his infantry
While the Athenians were chasing him;
[990] Even the other Greeks that were helping the Athenians had won much courage.
When he heard they were about to destroy the bridges, too,
He left Mardonius to be the commander of the battle
Along with the Persian Masistius, the one with the golden corselet;
He immediately left with a part of his army,
But many of them died during their way back, either of hunger or of devastation.
He embarked on a Phoenician ship in the Gulf of Strymon
Along with the best Persians; then another storm started
So Xerxes ordered them to abandon the ship
(Which immediately happened as the obeyed the order,
[1000] So the ship could be lighter and the king could be saved).
[1] Barely passes into Asia, with innumerable misfortunes;
But the Athenians kill those with Mardonius,
Even Masistius himself, who I also recently said
Donned himself in a golden corselet covered with scales,
On account of which even a rather mighty battle broke for the Greeks.
But Xerxes, ruined after such a defeat,
Having love for the wife of Masistius himself,
Was living with this woman, and rejoiced with her in the city of Sardis,
Inasmuch as he set up trophies both radiant and great,
[10] And utterly destroyed every delightful youth of Persia,
As even up to this time now many of the defeated do.
Finally, going to his fatherland of Persia,
He announces the suffering of the entirely destructive misfortune.
Aeschylus and Herodotus, Lysias, Aristides,
Diodorus and Plutarch say these things, along with others.