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Interpreting Herodotus$
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Thomas Harrison and Elizabeth Irwin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198803614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198803614.001.0001

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Gifts for Cyrus, Tribute for Darius

Gifts for Cyrus, Tribute for Darius

(p.149) 7 Gifts for Cyrus, Tribute for Darius
Interpreting Herodotus

Kai Ruffing

Oxford University Press

In the introduction to the famous list of nomes Herodotus offers a rather idiosyncratic characterization of Darius I by means of calling him a huckster. Furthermore, he maintains that Cyrus II received gifts, whereas since the time of Darius the people of the Persian Empire had to pay tribute (phoros). Both issues are discussed against the background of Athenian history and political life in the fifth century BC. It is argued that Herodotus here as elsewhere in the Histories used the Persian Empire and its Kings as a mirror for the developments of his own times. In doing so he offers his opinions as to why the Persians failed in waging war against the Greeks, and consequently, the Athenians’ defeat in the war against the Spartans as well.

Keywords:   Darius I, Cyrus II, Athens, Sparta, Atheno-Peloponnesian Wars, Kleon, tribute, Athenian Empire

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