Weekly Journal Entry Update Five

This past week I have much more positive vibes than I did last week. Not because my work load has changed or anything of that sort but I think that maybe the little bit of sun gave me some motivation to tackle my studies.

That being said…this week I decided to do the same as I usually do to study but I tried a different space. I ventured to 8th street and realized that there are a few places with big windows to study at.

I think having a change of scenario made me more willing to fulling engage in my work.

After I finished my D.C. frolicking, I settled in and started to make an attempt at disecting the text.

As always, I used outside resources such Google (my favorite for the words I just can’t seem to comprehend), summaries, Youtube (not as helpful this time) and discussed with a few of my friends who have a passion for Greek Literature.

I find it much easier to understand and relate to the text when it can be put into “now” terms. I believe I mentioned before how much more I would enjoy this if it we were using “today’s language” but that may just be because it would be easier to understand.

Moving on…


First take aways:

  • I got a little confused at first because Herodotus was revisiting the story from Book Two about Cambyses’ journey to Egypt


  • Cambyses essentially lost all of his marbles and sense after that journey
  • He started off with success when he conquers Egypt he also conquered Psammentius [Amasis’ son]

I had to go back and remind myself who exactly Psammentius was

  • Pssamentius was conquered due to his fathers decision to send off a daughter for marriage

Pssamentius is a King.

  • Cambyses starts his crazy behavior shortly after when he tries to make an attack on Ethiopia

Herodotus goes into great detail describing what he knows about the customs of the country

  • Cambyses attack against Ethiopia failed which seems to have sparked more of his craziness
  • He began his execution spree

Thoughts so far…

  • I still can not get used to the fact that these people had so much power.
  • What would happen if people acted this way today?
  • What if people were this crazy? (well some are…)
  • Can you imagine having the ability to just say “Ah..I’m pissed, so I’m going to kill …”??

Notes continued

  • Cambyses first victim is
  • goes mad, kills his brother Smerdis and his sister-wife, has epilepsy, slays Prexaspes’ son, tries to kill Croesus, opens tombs
  • His first victim is the sacred Apis bull which he kills by hurting him in the thigh

Poor bull!

  • Cambyses’ next victim is his own brother…

If he killed his own brother I can only imagine how easy it was for him to kill Apis.

  • Apparently the reason that Smerdis [Cambyses’ brother] was killed was because he felt that he was trying to take the throne away from him
  • Cambyses’ ordered an agent by the name of Prexaspes to kill Smerdis

I believe that the wife was killed as well but am unsure of this…

revisited question ^ — according to a couple of summaries she was also killed, they refer to her as the “sister-wife”

  • The next victim of Cambyses’ nonsense is the son of Prexaspes

I believe that I also saw that he killed 12 men… “noblemen”

  • He made an attempt at killing Croesus
  • He questioned Prexaspes about if he actually buried Smerdis or not (v.s. eating him?)
  • Polycrates of Samos joined forces with Amasis [from Egypt] but are then attacked by the Lacedaemonians

I think that this is where the alliance with Cambyses began.

  • Polycrates sends off unknowns to go and assist Cambyses but instead they got away with escaping to Lacedaemonia which is where they pleaded to the taciturn Spartans for help


  • Why were people who weren’t known trusted to go help in the first place?

Notes continued

  • Sparta goes on to send an expedition against Samos which the Corinthians agree to join due to a past beef between the two parties that developed when they rescued Corcyren boys who were in the process of being sent to Persia for the removal of their testicles by Periander of Corinth


  • Why in the FREAK is this even a thing?!
  • I know that the rulers are supposed to be ‘tough’ and ‘cold hearted’ in order to lead but some of the actions are just disrespectful and unfathomable!

Notes continued

  • Periander is the second tyrant of Corinth
  • Periander takes over power and kills wife and exiles Lycophron, his son.
  • Lycophron is later killed by Corcyreans [people of Corcyra?]
  • Magis plans his plot against Cambyses using a fake Smerdis

The fake Smerdis also went by the name of Gaumata.

  • this fake prince Smerdis is played by a Magian

Magians were a median tribe — known for religious rituals and traditions


  • The measures that these rulers go to is incredible.
  • It makes me question how they even thought of these things. We thinking of impersonating people or using fakes as a way to manipulate now but how did they come up with this stuff before things like movies and stories came out?
  • What made them go, “I know just the thing to get them…”?

Notes continued

  • Patizeithes (his brother) suggest that this “Smerdis” claims himself as King…so he does
  • They easily got the Persians behind them by bribing them with taxes
  • Cambyses hears about this so called Smerdis and in a panic tries to rush back to Persia
  • When he was doing so, he hurt himself with his own sword while trying to get onto the saddle
  • His wound was in his thigh right where he wounded the Apis bull earlier

How ironic.

  • Shortly after, Cambyses dies
  • “Smerdis” is later exposed for his true self when it is discovered because he has no ears.
  • Otanes (secret agent Prexaspes son), Gobryes, Intaphrenes, Hydarnes, Megabyzus, Darius and Aspathines are assembled to take action
  • Before they get a chance to do so, Prexaspes tells the truth about everything regarding Smerdis

He knows a lot since he was Cambyses’ secret agent

  • He then commits suicide


  • Because of guilt?

Notes continued

  • The city begins to get frantic but the 7 men realize that this is the big chance that they have been waiting for

A little unclear on this moment ^

  • Otanes (secret agent Prexaspes son), Gobryes, Intaphrenes, Hydarnes, Megabyzus, Darius and Aspathines get together to kill the two Magians

Which two Magians…?

  • Darius kills the magis and Smerdis
  • There is a debate between the seven about the future of the Persian empire [democracy versus a tyranny] and what exactly should be done and decide to choose Darius as king
  • They choose Darius because his horse neighed first


  • Imagine this being a casual conversation… “Democracy or tyranny? Which one are we feeling guys?”
  • They discussed that whose ever horse neighed first in the morning would become King so Darius had his horse mate with another horse and when they passed the horses in the morning, Darius’ horse neighs (apparently because he thinks of his previous night activities) ….weird

Notes continued

  • With this new decision, the country is split into twenty seperate districts that are called satrapies
  • Herodotus mentions some things that he knows about the country such as Indians eat their dead and “gold-digging” ants that he thinks live there
  • Herodotus also goes into the story regarding the Persians recapturing city of Babylon.

City is recgonized as rebellious.

  • Zopyrus (son of the Megabyzus the “conspirator”)cuts off his ears and nose and puts the blame on and Darius, claiming that he was being punished by him and that he wants to help the Babylonians.

The chopping and screwing of limbs should not be so common and nonchalant…

  • They believed him and decide entrust their army to him, but he opens the gates and lets the Persians in.
  • The details of Polycrates of Samos undeniable happiness and luck is told

Catching a fish that happens to have swallowed the ring that he threw into the sea…crazy.

  • Amaris (an ally) believes that it’s too good to be true and luck like that is something that will come back to him from the gods who are apparently envious of happiness from human.

Karma is a bi…?

  • This is why the alliance was ended
  • There is an attack formed against Polycrates by Spartans and Corinthians
  • Cambyses is sick
  • “The Persian satrap of Lydia decides to terminate the rule of Polycrates: he is too powerful a neighbor.”

What is a satrap?

  • They make a promise involving money which baits the tyrant of Samos to the continent which is where he is killed
  • Samos is then occupied by the Persians
  • Oroetes of Sardis (a Persian) kills Polycrates and is then later ordered by Darius to kill him
  • Greek doctor Democedes heals Darius’ twisted ankle
  • Atossa is Darius’ wife and she tries to persuade Darius to attack Greece.


  • Darius sends a spy mission to Greece and Democedes escapes.
  • Darius then orders an attack against Samos and Charilaus fights back leading to the murder of citizens (by Otanes)
  • Maeandrius of Samos begs Sparta for help but has no luck
  • Babylon then revolts
  • Zopyrus tries to be the hero and decised to sacrifice himself and mutilate himself


  • Because of Zopryus’ actions, Darius is able to recapture


  • This may have been my favorite so far, not necessarily because I comprehended the text any better but because it engaged me more. I am not sure if it was the series of events of it I just found the right mindset to read this text in.