Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Remember When . . . Day Turned to Night?

Giveaway - Sarah Sundin's fantabulous A Distant Melody!


In re-reading Herodotus's History (how many of you can say you've done that? LOL.) about the Greco-Persian war, I keep stumbling upon fantastic little tidbits that I don't remember from my first read-through. Perhaps because we had to read so stinkin' much of it for each class that little details didn't really have time to stick. But wow! I'm finding some real gems for this new book!

One thing I'm still trying to figure out how to work in . . . at one point, Xerxes and his massive army are ready to finally, officially launch their campaign against Greece and cross the formidable river, Hellespont. They'd spent years first preparing and then bridging it. A storm collapsed their efforts, which led to Xerxes' infamous command to have the river lashed. They bridge it again and are finally ready to cross, when . . .

Day turns to night. Literally, according to Herodotus. Middle of the day, and POW! No clouds, no eclipse, just DARK. What do y'all make of that?

Now, the Ancient Greeks knew their astronomy--they would have known had it been a predictable phenomenon. And the Persians? They studied this stuff like nobody's business. Remember Daniel in Babylon, excelling at all their maths and sciences? Same empire.

But this . . . this defied explanation. So when Xerxes looked to his magi and said, "Yo, dudes, what's up with this?" they had no natural explanation.

"Obviously," they replied, "it's an omen."

"No, really? Brilliant, guys. Brilliant. How about telling me what it's an omen of?"

Insert the magi scratching their heads. Then one says, "Oo, oo, I know, I know! You know how Greece is represented by the day? And us, we're the night? Well obviously this is an omen of the night overtaking the day and Persia gaining a victory over Greece! Eh? Eh??"

Xerxes liked this (I mean, why wouldn't he??) but it still struck fear into a lot of the other people. See, even in 483 A.D., people knew spin when they heard it. And whether or not night was supposed to be them, it was darn scary when it overtook them twelve hours ahead of schedule.

Now, am I mixing this story with other memory, or is there some Old Testament account of something like this happening? I know there was an occasion where one of the prophets commanded the sun reverse, but was there a darkness thing? (Other than the plague?) If so, I'd love a refresher on where that is. If not . . . yeah, then I'm just confusing this one with other thoughts. =)

The real question, though, is how I can use this is my novel. Oh, the endless possibilities. Hmm . . . .


  1. I love the thought of Xerxes saying "dudes".

  2. LOL. Well, you know. Gotta liven things up for a blog post. =)

  3. I remember David (right?) in the midst of battle telling the sun to stay where it was. That's the only one coming to mind right now ... and it's basically the opposite, so...