These events were followed by the capture of

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These events were followed by the capture of

  1. 1. From Herodotus’ Histories, Book 3: Darius and the CloakThese events were followed by the capture of [the Greek island] Samos, which was the firstplace, either inside or outside the Greek world, to fall to Darius. During the campaign ofCambyses in Egypt, a great many Greeks visited that country for one reason or another: some, aswas to be expected, for trade, some to serve in the army, others, no doubt, out of mere curiosity,to see what they could see. Amongst the sightseers was Aeaces son Syloson, the exiled brotherof Polycrates of Samos.While he was in Egypt, Syloson had an extraordinary stroke of luck: he was hanging about thestreets of Memphis dressed in a flame-coloured cloak, when Darius, who at that time was amember of Cambyses guard [1] and not yet of any particular importance, happened to catchsight of him and, seized with a sudden longing to possess the cloak, came up to Syloson andmade him an offer for it. His extreme anxiety to get it was obvious enough to Syloson, whoreplied that he would not sell it at any price, but added that, if it was really necessary that thecloak should be his, he would give it him as a free gift. Darius thereupon thanked him and tookit. Now subsequent events showed that Syloson must have been inspired to answer as he did,though at the moment he merely thought that he had lost his precious cloak by his own stupidity.But as time went on and Darius, after the death of Cambyses and the revolt of the seven againstthe Magian, ascended the throne, things began to look very different; for Syloson now had thepleasant news that the man whose request for the flame-coloured cloak he had formerly gratifiedin Egypt, had become king of Persia. He hurried to Susa, sat down at the entrance of the royalpalace, and claimed to be included in the official list of the Kings Benefactors.[2]The sentry on guard reported his claim to Darius, who asked in surprise who the man might be.For surely, he said, as I have so recently come to the throne, there cannot be any Greek towhom I am indebted for a service. Hardly any of them have been here yet, and I certainly cannotremember owing anything to a Greek. But bring him in all the same, that I may know what hemeans by this claim.The guard escorted Syloson into the royal presence, and when the interpreters asked him who hewas and what he had done to justify the statement that he was the kings benefactor, he remindedDarius of the story of the cloak, and said that he was the man who had given it him. Sir,exclaimed Darius, you are the most generous of men; for while I was still a person of no poweror consequence you gave me a present - small indeed, but deserving then as much gratitude fromme as would the most splendid of gifts to-day. I will give you in return more silver and gold thanyou can count, that you may never regret that you once did a favor to Darius the son ofHystaspes.My lord, replied Syloson, do not give me gold or silver but recover Samos for me, my nativeisland, which now since Oroetus killed my brother Polycrates is in the hands of one of ourservants. Let Samos be your gift to me - but let no man in the island be killed or enslaved.
  2. 2. Darius consented to Sylosons request, and dispatched a force under command of Otanes, one ofthe seven, with orders to to as Syloson had asked; and Otanes, accordingly, went down to thecoast.

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