Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Remember When . . . They Drank the Rivers Dry?

Two giveaways - Jennifer Hudson Taylor's Highland Blessings and Ginny Smith's Third Time's a Charm.

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More today from my good friend Herodotus. =) I'd been concentrating on putting words to the page for a while, but yesterday I got plenty of those down and so took up my gigantic book to read while outside with the kiddos. There were quite a few times when, just as the first time I read it, I went, "Whoa."

Scholars all agree that Xerxes rallied the largest army up to that point in history when he marched against Greece. Scholars today also say, "But surely it wasn't as big as Herodotus says it was. He just wants it to sound that way so that it's more impressive when the Greeks win." That's a reasonable argument, but . . . well, he's really specific. And since I have no better numbers, we're running with them.

Now, picture this. An army so big it takes it seven days to march past any one point. That's (according to my hubby's math last night) a line of soldiers 200 MILES long. See why I was "Whoa"ing? According to Xerxes census of his troops, the land army was 1,700,000 strong when they stepped foot in Greece. They also kept gathering forces as they went (a condition of surrender) so that their numbers kept on growing.

According to Herodotus, this huge force (plus their slaves, concubines, supply crews, and animals) drank dry nearly every river they came across. Um, yeah. I should think so.

Then there was the fleet. They had 1,207 ships. So factor in crews for them, all the special folks that go along with it, etc., and the total number of fighting men swells to 2,317,610. (See, pretty darn specific.) Factor in all those slaves and supply crews--but NOT counting the concubines they brought and the eunuchs--and Herodotus estimates that the total number of people moving en masse into Greece was . . .

5,283,220. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, I'm still totally stunned by this. There are probably more interesting things to talk about, but WOW. Am I right?

A funny note about it--Xerxes was so proud of this army (duh, right?) that when they caught spies from Athens and were ready to execute them, he stepped in and said, "No, no. Let's give them the grand tour and send them home. How else will everyone know how awesome we are? Let 'em shake in their shoes and surrender, boys, and we can all go home without lifting a finger!"

He said, similarly, about enemy supply ships they saw, "Let 'em go. They're headed where we are, right? We'll just eat their grain once we get there." I love Xerxes. =)

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I'm off to dethrone a queen.

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