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AXOS (Ancient city) KOULOUKONA
There is a town in Crete called Oaxus, of which one Etearchus became ruler. He was a widower with a daughter whose name was Phronime, and he married a second wife. When the second wife came into his house, she thought fit to be the proverbial stepmother to Phronime, ill-treating her and devising all sorts of evil against her; at last she accused the girl of lewdness, and persuaded her husband that the charge was true. So Etearchus was persuaded by his wife and contrived a great sin against his daughter. There was at Oaxus a Theraean trader, one Themison; Etearchus made this man his guest and friend, and got him to swear that he would do him whatever service he desired; then he gave the man his own daughter, telling him to take her away and throw her into the sea. But Themison was very angry at being thus tricked on his oath and renounced his friendship with Etearchus; presently, he took the girl and sailed away, and so as to fulfill the oath that he had sworn to Etearchus, when he was on the high seas he bound her with ropes and let her down into the sea and drew her up again, and presently arrived at Thera.
There Polymnestus, a notable Theraean, took Phronime and made her his concubine. In time, a son of weak and stammering speech was born to him, to whom he gave the name Battus, as the Theraeans and Cyrenaeans say; but in my opinion the boy was given some other name, and changed it to Battus on his coming to Libya, taking this new name because of the oracle given to him at Delphi and the honorable office which he received. For the Libyan word for king is "Battus", and this (I believe) is why the Pythian priestess called him so in her prophecy, using a Libyan name because she knew that he was to be king in Libya.
For when he grew to adulthood, he went to Delphi to inquire about his voice; and the priestess in answer gave him this: "Battus, you have come for a voice; but Lord Phoebus Apollo Sends you to found a city in Libya, nurse of sheep", just as if she addressed him using the Greek word for "king", "Basileus, you have come for a voice", et cetera. But he answered: "Lord, I came to you to ask about my speech; but you talk of other matters, things impossible to do; you tell me to plant a colony in Libya; where shall I get the power or strength of hand for it?" Battus spoke thus, but as the god would not give him another oracle and kept answering as before, he departed while the priestess was still speaking, and went away to Thera.
But afterward things turned out badly for Battus and the rest of the Theraeans; and when, ignorant of the cause of their misfortunes, they sent to Delphi to ask about their present ills, the priestess declared that they would fare better if they helped Battus plant a colony at Cyrene in Libya. Then the Theraeans sent Battus with two fifty-oared ships; these sailed to Libya, but, not knowing what else to do, presently returned to Thera. There, the Theraeans shot at them as they came to land and would not let the ship put in, telling them to sail back; which they did under constraint of necessity, and planted a colony on an island off the Libyan coast called (as I have said already) Platea. This island is said to be as big as the city of Cyrene is now.
Here they lived for two years; but as everything went wrong, the rest sailed to Delphi leaving one behind, and on their arrival questioned the oracle, and said that they were living in Libya, but that they were no better off for that. Then the priestess gave them this reply: "If you know Libya nurse of sheep better than I,
Though I have been there and you have not, then I am very much astonished at your knowledge". Hearing this, Battus and his men sailed back again; for the god would not let them do anything short of colonizing Libya itself; and having come to the island and taken aboard the one whom they had left there, they made a settlement at a place in Libya itself, opposite the island which was called Aziris. This is a place enclosed on both sides by the fairest of groves, with a river flowing along one side of it.
Here they dwelt for six years; but in the seventh, the Libyans got them to leave the place, saying that they would lead them to a better; and they brought the Greeks from Aziris and led them west, so calculating the hours of daylight that they led the Greeks past the fairest place in their country, called Irasa, at night, lest the Greeks see it in their journey. Then they brought the Greeks to what is called the Fountain of Apollo, and said to them: "Here, Greeks, it is suitable for you to live; for here the sky is torn".
Now in the time of Battus the founder of the colony, who ruled for forty years, and of his son Arcesilaus who ruled for sixteen, the inhabitants of Cyrene were no more in number than when they had first gone out to the colony. But in the time of the third ruler, Battus, who was called the Fortunate, the Pythian priestess warned all Greeks by an oracle to cross the sea and live in Libya with the Cyrenaeans; for the Cyrenaeans invited them, promising a distribution of land; and this was the oracle: "Whoever goes to beloved Libya after
the fields are divided, I say shall be sorry afterward".
So a great multitude gathered at Cyrene, and cut out great tracts of land from the territory of the neighboring Libyans. Robbed of their lands and treated violently by the Cyrenaeans, these then sent to Egypt together with their king, whose name was Adicran, and put their affairs in the hands of Apries, the king of that country. Apries mustered a great force of Egyptians and sent it against Cyrene; the Cyrenaeans marched out to Irasa and the Thestes spring, and there fought with the Egyptians and beat them; for the Egyptians had as yet had no experience of Greeks, and despised their enemy; as a result of which, they were so utterly destroyed that few of them returned to Egypt. Because of this misfortune, and because they blamed him for it, the Egyptians revolted from Apries.
This Battus had a son Arcesilaus; on his first coming to reign, he quarrelled with his brothers, until they left him and went away to another place in Libya, where they founded a city for themselves, which was then and is now called Barce; and while they were founding it, they persuaded the Libyans to revolt from the Cyrenaeans. Then Arcesilaus led an army into the country of the Libyans who had received his brothers and had also revolted; and they fled in fear of him to the eastern Libyans. Arcesilaus pursued them until he came in his pursuit to Leucon in Libya, where the Libyans resolved to attack him; they engaged, and so wholly overcame the Cyrenaeans that seven thousand Cyrenaean soldiers were killed there. After this disaster, Arcesilaus, being worn down and having taken a drug, was strangled by his brother Learchus; Learchus was deftly killed by Arcesilaus' wife, Eryxo.
Arcesilaus' kingship passed to his son Battus, who was lame and infirm in his feet. The Cyrenaeans, in view of the affliction that had overtaken them, sent to Delphi to ask what political arrangement would enable them to live best; the priestess told them bring a mediator from Mantinea in Arcadia. When the Cyrenaeans sent their request, the Mantineans gave them their most valued citizen, whose name was Demonax. When this man came to Cyrene and learned everything, he divided the people into three tribes; of which the Theraeans and dispossessed Libyans were one, the Peloponnesians and Cretans the second, and all the islanders the third; furthermore, he set apart certain domains and priesthoods for their king Battus, but all the rest, which had belonged to the kings, were now to be held by the people in common.
During the life of this Battus, these ordinances held good, but in the time of his son Arcesilaus much contention arose about the king's rights. Arcesilaus, son of the lame Battus and Pheretime, would not abide by the ordinances of Demonax, but demanded back the prerogatives of his forefathers, and made himself head of a faction; but he was defeated and banished to Samos, and his mother fled to Salamis in Cyprus.
This extract is from: Herodotus. The Histories (ed. A. D. Godley, 1920), Cambridge. Harvard University Press. Cited Nov 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.
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