History of Ancient Greece
History of Ancient Greece
Please read following paragraphs to answer two questions.
Here is an abridged excerpt (from Perseus) of Herodotus’ story (3.122-25) about the demise of Polycrates. Read the section over and complete the exercise below. This will give you some practice in synthesizing and analyzing a passage from a primary source, which is also the objective of your essay assignment.
“The governor of Sardis [capital of Lydia] appointed by Cyrus [the Persian King] was Oroetes, a Persian. This man had an impious desire; for although he had not been injured or spoken badly of by Polycrates of Samos, and had in fact never even seen him before, he desired to seize and kill him, for the following reason, most people say…
… Polycrates was the first of the Greeks whom we know to aim at the mastery of the sea, leaving out of account Minos of Cnossus and any others who before him may have ruled the sea; of what may be called the human race Polycrates was the first, and he had great hope of ruling Ionia and the Islands.
Learning then that he had this intention, Oroetes sent him this message: “Oroetes addresses Polycrates as follows: I find that you aim at great things, but that you have not sufficient money for your purpose. Do then as I direct, and you will succeed yourself and will save me. King Cambyses [son of Cyrus] aims at my death; of this I have clear intelligence.
Now if you will transport me and my money, you may take some yourself and let me keep the rest; thus you shall have wealth enough to rule all Hellas. If you mistrust what I tell you about the money, send someone who is most trusted by you and I will prove it to him.”
Hearing this, Polycrates was pleased and willing; and since he had a great desire for money he first sent one of his townsmen, Maeandrius, son of Maeandrius, to have a look; this man was his scribe; it was he who not long afterwards dedicated in the Heraeum all the splendid furnishings of the men’s apartment in Polycrates’ house.
When Oroetes heard that an inspection was imminent, he filled eight chests with stones, leaving only a very shallow space at the top; then he laid gold on top of the stones, locked the chests, and kept them ready. Maeandrius came and saw, and brought word back to his master…
[despite the warnings of his friends, and of his daughter, Polycrates set off in search of the gold]
… But no sooner had Polycrates come to Magnesia than he was horribly murdered in a way unworthy of him and of his aims; for, except for the sovereigns of Syracuse, no sovereign of Greek race is fit to be compared with Polycrates for magnificence.
Having killed him in some way not fit to be told, Oroetes then crucified him; as for those who had accompanied him, he let the Samians go, telling them to thank him that they were free; those who were not Samians, or were servants of Polycrates’ followers, he kept for slaves.”
1,Identify the intentions of Oroetes.
2,Analyze the ethical themes of the story. How does the story illustrate the Greek precept of “Nothing in excess”?
Please do not use other resource. There is only one it might help which is “S.B. Pomeroy, S.M. Burstein, W. Donlan and J. Tolbert Roberts, 2008. Ancient Greece. A Political, Social and Cultural History. New York: OUP.”