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Vlacas12 t1_iuwijmi wrote

According to an unreliable narrator. The bridges were built, yes, but details like this are very likely just fiction added by Herodotus.


EndoExo t1_iuwk6n8 wrote

A lot of Herodotus is just him repeating stories he heard from random people, so it's possible this was a legend among the Greeks at the time. It the modern equivalent of your friend repeating a story he heard at the bar from a "guy who knows a guy".


HardPawns t1_iuwl53j wrote

The Greeks hated Xerxes, wouldn’t be surprised if any of them made up stories about what a complete moron and clown he was.


The_Dog_of_Sinope t1_iuxdu7r wrote

It might not be a parable about his level of clownship. It might be a warning that Xerxes would punish the oceans if they quarreled with him. Or "he will fuck you up in ways you never thought sane or rational."


matthew_iliketea_85 t1_iuz3h07 wrote

I'm only just listening to Dan Carlins hardcore history and in it he says there's reason to think because omens and favour of the gods was actually important in that era that it was done as a placating of fhe masses. Kinda like a see its not any god angry at us that destroyed our bridge but rhis river and well... Showed him, didn't we.


Lord0fHats t1_iuzii56 wrote

Most likely it's a parable about Persian impiety.

The Greeks, at least those from Greece, generally assumed the Persian elite to be unmanly and impious. The idea that Xerxes would whip the seas probably isn't intended to suggest his irrationality or craziness, but his rage and hubris.


Jokerang t1_iuwnr3w wrote

> The Greeks hated Xerxes

Not really, about 80% of the Greek speaking world sided with the Persians during the wars. It's only later that Athens made it out so that they were defending Greek freedom.


Crepuscular_Animal t1_iuwud87 wrote

Herodotus writes mostly positive things about the Persians. He says their laws are wise, and that they abhor lies and criticize Greeks for their tendency of scamming each other.


Lord0fHats t1_iuzfyib wrote

A lot of people who know of Herodotus but never read him miss this.

Herodotus came from Halicarnassus, on the Ionian coast and grew up under Persian rule. More Greeks lived in the Persian Empire than in what we now call Greece.

His account is actually pretty favorable toward the Persians in many respects. Badmouthing the Persians was an invention of latter Greeks, not Herodotus.


ShalmaneserIII t1_ivmnp88 wrote

Herodotus was born around 484 BC. During the Achaemenid dynasty, around that time, the Persian empire had 44% of the world's population.

The Greek poleis were scrappy little states on the outside of the largest empire (relatively to share of global population) the world has ever seen. It's inevitable that a lot of what they did and thought was going to be done in relation to that huge empire just to the East. "Yeah, Persia's basically what civilization is, we should acknowledge that and imitate parts of it" or "Yeah, Persia kind of sucks, look at all this bad stuff they do, we should do our own thing in contrast to them."

You see how this works nowadays, too.


dbear26 t1_iuzrfre wrote

Ever read The Persians by Aeschylus?


robi4567 t1_iv0wael wrote

Well was there a storm like that later. Maybe we are doing it wrong.


Vlacas12 t1_iuwlfrz wrote

A lot of Herodotus is simply Greek propaganda. It's not just him repeating stories, but him using specific stories (he didn't let the truth come in the way of a good story) to paint his own views in the medium, especially the construction of a Greek Identity and using other people as a "mirror" to write about the Greeks (This second part is the remarkable contribution of François Hartog’s landmark work Le Miroir d’Hérodote. Essai sur la représentation de l’autre).


LagerGuyPa t1_iuyz4f7 wrote

In my mind's eye, Herodotus is the Hunter S. Thompson of the Heleanic world.


Lord0fHats t1_iuzgda0 wrote

Per another comment;

Herodotus' account is pretty favorable toward the Persians in many respects. He sings high praises of Persian culture and art. He's not completely free of Greek biases, but he had a much more circumspect attitude on the Empire than the Athenians or the Spartans. Unsurprising since he grew up mostly under Persian rule (more Greeks lived in the Persian Empire than in what we call Greece).

Herodotus wrote narrative embellishments, but a lot of people overlook that he examined the stories he collected and cast judgements on them. Herodotus would often tell a story and then explain why he thought it was or wasn't true. People tend to only note he told the story and forget he was analyzing his sources more than they realize.

Propaganda and badmouthing the Persians wasn't quite his deal. If anything he wrote the most Persian favorable version of the history out of all the Greek writers who survived the Classical age.


Vlacas12 t1_iuztfnt wrote

Yes, but that's my second point, that he using the Persians (especially in his account of the war between the Persians and the Scythians in the second part of the Histories) as a "mirror" for the Greeks and Greek moral ideals.


modestpump t1_iuzw7h9 wrote

Herodotus was a great npc in assassins creed Odyssey


automatedalice268 t1_iuyhlwj wrote

Recent research shows that Herodotos is more accurate than once thought of. Archeologists use his work as an aide to pinpoint sites they can dig.

EDIT: I like to add that Herodotos travelled and visited many of the places he described. Including Egypt. The Egypt chapter in Histories is a very interesting source for Egyptologists and enthousiasts.


Lord0fHats t1_iuziq37 wrote

There's definitely been a pushback in academic circles in favor of Herodotus as 'more reliable' rather than less. Most of it hinges on pointing out he did engage in source criticism at several points of his work (example, the size of the Persian Army was debated by Herodotus as much as modern historians), something he wouldn't do if he were solely interested in sensationalizing events.

These scholars would argue Herodotus calling some accounts into question and not others is indicative of what he honestly thought to be true.


semiomni t1_iuxrzec wrote

And for all we know it could be a positive legend. Like it sounds super silly to us, but maybe people who would sacrifice animals for a good harvest would find this story completely reasonable.


ShalmaneserIII t1_ivmmvi8 wrote

Symbolic actions. Kind of like when women would burn their bras for feminism.


Unusual-Anteater-988 t1_iuz2pl1 wrote

>It the modern equivalent of your friend repeating a story he heard at the bar from a "guy who knows a guy".



CarelessHisser t1_iuybart wrote

Just imagine how much of ancient history is just blatant hearsay and other BS.

We've only the most vague idea wtf happened before a certain period in history. Even then, after writing became more common, we are still partially in the dark because of bias. Unbiased accounts of historical events are still a relatively new, and rare thing.

<.< Half of our understanding of human history could be lies and no one would be any the wiser.


Lord0fHats t1_iuzj7ku wrote

Quite literally, there is today a not-so-insubtantial push against over reliance of Athenian sources in Greek history. Which is inconvenient, because especially for classical and archaic Greece, nearly all our contemporary written sources are Athenian.

That said, most of it probably isn't lies. Hearsay yes. Biased yes. But even Herodotus engaged more than once in telling a story in his work and then gave a long explanation of why he didn't think it was true. The standards might have been much looser then, but there's not always an explicit reason to think ancient writers were outright lying.

They were just telling the story from their own POV, with their own sense of how the world worked and what was or wasn't true.


Echo71Niner t1_iuyjrbj wrote


interesting read here.


>his report of giant Indian ants, "midway between dogs and foxes in size", who dig up gold; or the griffins "who stand guard over gold" in the mountains beyond Scythia? These are the kind of stories that, while they add hugely to the enjoyment of reading The Histories, have resulted in a long tradition of dismissing Herodotus as gullible at best, and at worst a liar.


Blutarg t1_iuyi9lb wrote

If I were a king I could totally see myself doing this. Heck, I could see myself giving my computer a few lashes sometimes.


greybruce1980 t1_iuwoqbp wrote

Maybe? I mean, the rich and powerful are often fucking crazy because they don't have the same checks and balances of reality to contend with like you or I do.


KypDurron t1_iux7scz wrote

That's fine, but you can't say that second- or third-hand accounts from a biased source are likely to be accurate just because they fit with what you expect to hear about someone.


crossedstaves t1_iuz0g5u wrote

Herodotus wasn't really into objectivity though, he did a lot to make a very moralizing point about hubris with Xerxes.


AudibleNod t1_iuwirht wrote

This is what happens when your enemy writes your story. You end up looking like a little piss baby when you don't get your way.


AshenTao t1_iuyi1qz wrote

Wasnt there a story about a roman(?) army being ordered to attack and stab the sea as an hostile act against Poseidon as well? Been a while since I read it. In our latin classes we translated both fictive stories and real stories.


Far_Sided t1_iuymd0s wrote

Not really. Seutonius notes that when his soldiers threatened to mutiny, Caligula ordered his men to pick up the musculi. This can transalate to seashells/mussels, but was also the word for the huts they were living in.

The whole war with Poseidon (who is a GREEK god) and collecting the seashells as trophies probably comes from misunderstanding and specifically the Excellent (though wildly inaccurate) TV series I, Claudius or the book that inspired it.


r4pt0r_SPQR t1_iuzg86o wrote

Seutonius was the Roman TMZ. Dude was 90% gossip and rumor.


Far_Sided t1_iv2ro3o wrote

LOL, SO true. But at least he's A source. Sadly, we don't have Claudius' history of the Julii but we think maybe Seutonius drew from it? Some modicum of truth is better than a vacuum.


r4pt0r_SPQR t1_iv2svsu wrote

I continue to hold out hope that some of the Herculaneum scrolls can be read with future tech, and that some of them may have more lost history.


Frenk_preseren t1_iv0piel wrote

Yes, Caligula sent them to do it. He was mad and did many other mad things.


legendoflink3 t1_iuwponi wrote

This is the equivalent of people in certain States shooting at Hurricanes.


thatguy425 t1_iuyjlbm wrote

Shooting a gun is fun, hurricane would be a perfect excuse.


Vaeon t1_iuwmkki wrote

Caligula: Yes, yes...good, good!


Far_Sided t1_iuymjm2 wrote

>Not really. Seutonius notes that when his soldiers threatened to mutiny, Caligula ordered his men to pick up the musculi. This can transalate to seashells/mussels, but was also the word for the huts they were living in.
>The whole war with Poseidon (who is a GREEK god) and collecting the seashells as trophies probably comes from misunderstanding and specifically the Excellent (though wildly inaccurate) TV series I, Claudius or the book that inspired it.

Posted this above, reposting here as well.


Jugales t1_iuwi7wf wrote

I read that as 'britches' and was like "bro just get new pants"


RyokoKnight t1_iuwy5ln wrote

Very likely fictional, though the Persians did believe in nature deities and thus, if it did happen, the Persians would have been trying to punish the diety of the water/storm rather than the water itself. The Persians would have believed because Xerxes had a divine right to rule such deities of nature would have been as slaves and thus should be subservient to their "owner".

Again though the events as described are likely gross exaggerations of what occurred, if anything in fact happened at all. It is more likely the Greeks were playing up a lesser event like the Persians formally admonishing any potential diety that would stand in their way, or perhaps making the whole story up to mock a hated rival and underscore the perceived tyranny they felt kneeling to the Persians would bring.


Lord0fHats t1_iuzgx80 wrote

It's almost certainly a story he picked up somewhere. It's the kind of folk myth that still gets invented today about past wars. Herodotus traveled around to collect stories for his history and it's more likely many of the fanciful tales he tells were stories related to him by others rather than things he solely made up on his own.

Herodotus spends too much time casting judgement on some of the stories he tells, explaining which ones he thinks are true or false and why he thinks that, to be a mere fanatic for narrative.


MoPhunk60 t1_iuwonrx wrote

Obligatory, everyone should go listen to Dan Carlins Hardcore history King of Kings series.


proposlander t1_iuzjj42 wrote

This reminds me to go back and finish the series. It’s so long…


cycoivan t1_iuwt03j wrote

Do you think we're being too literal?

Xerxes said comb the desert, so we're going to comb the desert.


Sks44 t1_iuxk67q wrote

“We ain’t found shit!” -The Immortals


Natomiast t1_iuwwkqg wrote

Xerxes said comb the desert, we ask how high?


herbw t1_iv6vthd wrote

That pun doesn't work in Persian.


LawrenceMoten21 t1_iuwleja wrote

Todd, that’s good! You tell that mean ocean!


UsrnameInATrenchcoat t1_iuwv986 wrote

"You like that you filthy slut? Yeahhh you do.."

Atleast that's what I imagine


scubamaster t1_iuwsakf wrote

It’s not the lash that the sea fears. But his divine power.


KypDurron t1_iux7mlp wrote

Treating Herodotus as even semi-reliable in this is the Ancient Greek equivalent of people thinking that Sarah Palin actually said that she could see Russia from her house.


brkh47 t1_iuxlio0 wrote

Irrational rage.


BigPoppaHoyle1 t1_iuyq7an wrote

Man with a sore shoulder after whipping the sea 247 times: “This is bullshit”


Peetwilson t1_iuwo5v0 wrote

Well that's fucking stupid and Xerxes is stupid for ordering it. Take that Xerxes.


DarkestDusk t1_iuy2lza wrote

Yeah seriously, does he have ANY idea how much Hit Points(equivalent) that the Ocean has? It is literally like dust stabbing you with daggers it could hold within its own hands, imperceptible.


AnthrallicA t1_iuwq3k7 wrote

Yeah, I saw that episode of Squidbillies 😅


ridemooses t1_iuwqnbv wrote

This is some North Korea shit.


ManyConclusion t1_iuwtg3y wrote

I really respect this level of pettiness.


mcmanaman17 t1_iuxh69s wrote

Sounds like the type of gossip disgruntled soldiers would come up with while drunk on a miserable campaign.


CygnusX-1-2112b t1_iuz99hx wrote

Yep, the good old Enlisted News Network had been around since the first time a group larger than a room full of people decided they wanted to kill one another.


WhoaItsCody t1_iuy2ro6 wrote

Nero had his army attack the sea as well.


GreatEmperorAca t1_iv027m7 wrote

Did he really?


WhoaItsCody t1_iv0ww3z wrote

I remember learning about Nero in school, but our teacher was probably just telling us “crazy emperor stories.

This one specifically I’m assuming, has been attributed to more than one emperor.


PunctualPoops t1_iuyaf6c wrote

Todd, that’s good! TELL THAT MEAN OCEAN


not_that_rick t1_iuyl1be wrote

And the sea never bothered humanity ever again


tripleriser t1_iuyslsm wrote

He probably just wanted to give them a beach day without actually giving them a day off


mylifeispro1 t1_iuz2jil wrote

That just sounds like job security when you have your trip delayed but still gotta pay your workers


According-Classic658 t1_iuwtx0n wrote

The guy who built the bridge really lucked out


Foxtrone9 t1_iuy1mn9 wrote

Xerxes was enraged and had those responsible for building the bridges beheaded. Not so lucky.


herbw t1_iv6vpep wrote

Then unable to replace the bridge builders..... No wonder he lost. Stupid is as stupid does.


ash_274 t1_iuymfxm wrote

Probably had a home warranty on it that didn't include coverage for damage caused by storms


chappelld t1_iuy7zo2 wrote

King of kings? Just finished it.


Human_2468 t1_iuyiuzf wrote

I'm sure that Esther had some problems being married to him. :)


thatguy425 t1_iuyjgrw wrote

Whiplashes? Like he had the sea rear ended by an automobile?


shhr311 t1_iuze8gb wrote

This reminds me of buzz aldrin yelling at the moon on 30 rock


Kelmon80 t1_iv032yk wrote

If true, that may as well have be a well-calculates "show" for his more simple-minded subjects so he's seen as doing something about the tragedy, even if he himself may have thought it was silly.

Or he was a bit bonkers.

In any case, the relationship to gods and other spiritual entities in the ancient world tended to be more direct and transactional - maybe it was generally understood that this way, some water spirit or god was shown who's boss.


plague681 t1_iv0e4ar wrote

Plus he was a big giant androgynous weirdo with a wicked deep voice. Apparently?


Thefrugaldougal t1_iv0htqr wrote

In the Iliad, Achilles fought a river. These things mean something else to people back then.


Last_Survey_1496 t1_iv0jffd wrote

And now here we are…they’ll blame Islam, but those that know, know Iranians and Persians been having a legacy of supremacy. That’s crazy!!! 🤣


PegaLaMega t1_iv0jtox wrote

He sounds like a dumbass.


arfbrookwood t1_iv0kqf5 wrote

Bridge architects be like yeah take that


sandtymanty t1_iv0p5c4 wrote

Why was this not in the film 300?


LooksAtClouds t1_iv0xttj wrote

This is the same technique I used with my children when they tripped on a chair leg, or hit something by accident and started crying. I would address the offending chair (or whatever), shake my finger at it and tell it how bad it was, then tell it it would have to be punished and put it in the corner, or tell it it couldn't talk to anyone for the rest of the day, or whatever ridiculous "punishment" I could come up with. Always got the child laughing instead of crying.


herbw t1_iv6v4ik wrote

Thus expending energy and materials which could have injured 100's more Greeks.


antigonemerlin t1_iw1wqbn wrote

You know, this makes the prison commandant's realization make that much more sense in Lieutenant Kije, when they had to whip an invisible and formless prisoner and march him to Siberia (for context, Lieutenant Kije is a soldier created by a clerical error and used as a scapegoat).

"Oh, an affair of state" he said upon realizing why the prisoner being presented to him, well, wasn't there. Stuff like this must've happened all the time.


Cook_0612 t1_iuwps94 wrote

Seems highly apocryphal given Herodotus's other exaggerations.


KypDurron t1_iux7yb0 wrote

Ancient Greek equivalent of confusing an SNL impression with a politician's actual statements.


DreiKatzenVater t1_iuwtyna wrote

This according to a Greek writer. I’m sure they weren’t biased