Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 4, 2013

Hmm, synchronicity …

The Landmark Herodotus: The HistoriesThis is one of the eeriest experiences of synchronicity that I’ve had.

I’ve been reading Bob Strassler’s  The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories for months now, idly scanning a few pages at a time in the evening while the news is on.  And lo! tonight as the 7.30 Report launched into yet another report about the present government’s impending electoral annihilation, which follows from their replacement of one leader with another because he was hard to get along with,  I read the following, written two-and-a-half thousand years ago …

After the Ionians had united their ships off Lade, they held assemblies at which I suppose other speakers addressed them, but one among them was certainly the Phocaean general Dionysios, who said, ‘Our welfare, Ionians, now balances on a razor’s edge, whether we shall be free men or slaves – runaway slaves, that is. So if you are willing to endure hardships in the present, you must set to work right now; only thus will you be able to prevail over your opponents and be free. On the other hand, if you remain feeble and undisciplined, I have every expectation that you will pay the penalty  …  So obey and entrust yourselves to me, and I promise you that as long as the gods grant equal treatment to both sides, our enemies will either not join battle with us at all, or if they do, they will suffer a decisive defeat.

Upon hearing this speech, the Ionians committed themselves to Dionysios.  And every time he led out their ships, he had them form up in column formation.  And when he trained the rowers, he had them practise the breakthrough manoeuvre of sailing through a line of the enemy’s ships, and he armed the marines who fought from the deck.  Then for the remainder of the day he would keep the ships at anchor, but he gave the Ionians work to do all day long.  For seven days they followed him and obeyed his orders, but on the eighth, the Ionians, since they were unaccustomed to such hard labour and were worn out both by their exertions and the sun, spoke to one another as follows: ‘What divine power have we offended, that we must suffer in this way?  We have lost our wits and have sailed away from our senses in committing ourselves to this Phocaean braggart.  He provides only three ships, and yet we entrust ourselves to his command!  And after he enlisted us, he has insulted us and injured us so severely that we will never recover; many of us have fallen ill, and many more are likely to do so as well.  We would be better off suffering anything rather than these evils; even to endure further slavery, whatever that may be like, would be better than to continue as we are at present. Come on, then, let’s not follow his orders any longer.’

Herodotus, The Histories, Book Six, 6.11-12, translated by Andrea L. Purvis,  in The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories Ed. Robert Strassler, Quercus Books, London, 2008, p 430-1

 They were annihilated, of course.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose …


  1. Grin!


Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: