Histiaeus, Tyrant of Miletus, removed to Persia. - The Government of that City deputed to Aristagoras, who invades Naxos with the aid of the Persians. - Ill Success of that Expedition. - Aristagoras resolves upon Revolting from the Persians. - Repairs to Sparta and to Athens. - The Athenians and Eretrians induced to assist the Ionians. - Burning of Sardis. - The Ionian War. - The Fate of Aristagoras. - Naval Battle of Lade. - Fall of Miletus. - Reduction of Ionia. - Miltiades. - His Character. - Mardonius replaces Artaphernes in the Lydian Satrapy. - Hostilities between Aegina and Athens. - Conduct of Cleomenes. - Demaratus deposed. - Death of Cleomenes. - New Persian Expedition.
I. We have seen that Darius rewarded with a tributary command the services of Grecian nobles during his Scythian expedition. The most remarkable of these deputy tyrants was Histiaeus, the tyrant of Miletus. Possessed of that dignity prior to his connexion with Darius, he had received from the generosity of the monarch a tract of land near the river Strymon, in Thrace, sufficing for the erection of a city called Myrcinus. To his cousin, Aristagoras, he committed the government of Miletus - repaired to his new possession, and employed himself actively in the foundations of a colony which promised to be one of the most powerful that Miletus had yet established. The site of the infant city was selected with admirable judgment upon a navigable river, in the vicinity of mines, and holding the key of commercial communication between the long chain of Thracian tribes on the one side, and the trading enterprise of Grecian cities on the other. Histiaeus was describing the walls with which the ancient cities were surrounded, when Megabazus, commander of the forces intended to consummate the conquest of Thrace, had the sagacity to warn the Persian king, then at Sardis, of the probable effects of the regal donation. "Have you, sire, done wisely," said he, "in permitting this able and active Greek to erect a new city in Thrace? Know you not that that favoured land, abounding in mines of silver, possesses, also, every advantage for the construction and equipment of ships; wild Greeks and roving barbarians are mingled there, ripe for enterprise - ready to execute the commands of any resolute and aspiring leader! Fear the possibility of a civil war - prevent the chances of the ambition of Histiaeus, - have recourse to artifice rather than to force, get him in your power, and prevent his return to Greece."
Darius followed the advice of his general, sent for Histiaeus, loaded him with compliments, and, pretending that he could not live without his counsels, carried him off from his Thracian settlement to the Persian capital of Susa. His kinsman, Aristagoras, continued to preside over the government of Miletus, then the most haughty and flourishing of the Ionian states; but Naxos, beneath it in power, surpassed it in wealth; the fertile soil of that fair isle - its numerous population - its convenient site - its abundant resources, attracted the cupidity of Aristagoras; he took advantage of a civil commotion, in which many of the nobles were banished by the people - received the exiles - and, under the pretence of restoring them, meditated the design of annexing the largest of the Cyclades to the tyranny of Miletus.
He persuaded the traitorous nobles to suffer him to treat with Artaphernes - successfully represented to that satrap the advantages of annexing the gem of the Cyclades to the Persian diadem - and Darius, listening to the advice of his delegate, sent two hundred vessels to the invasion of Naxos (B. C. 501), under the command of his kinsman, Megabates. A quarrel ensued, however, between the Persian general and the governor of Miletus. Megabates, not powerful enough to crush the tyrant, secretly informed the Naxians of the meditated attack; and, thus prepared for the assault, they so well maintained themselves in their city, that, after a siege of four months, the pecuniary resources, not only of Megabates, but of Aristagoras, were exhausted, and the invaders were compelled to retreat from the island. Aristagoras now saw that he had fallen into the pit he had digged for others: his treasury was drained - he had incurred heavy debts with the Persian government, which condemned him to reimburse the whole expense of the enterprise - he feared the resentment of Megabates and the disappointment of Artaphernes - and he foresaw that his ill success might be a reasonable plea for removing him from the government of Miletus. While he himself was meditating the desperate expedient of a revolt, a secret messenger from Histiaeus suddenly arrived at Miletus. That wily Greek, disgusted with his magnificent captivity, had had recourse to a singular expedient: selecting the most faithful of his slaves, he shaved his scull, wrote certain characters on the surface, and, when the hair was again grown, dismissed this living letter to Aristagoras . The characters commanded the deputy to commence a revolt; for Histiaeus imagined that the quiet of Miletus was the sentence of his exile.