Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

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δέσποτα, μέμνεο τῶν Ἀθηναίων
Déspota, mémneo tôn Athēnaíōn


Master, remember the Athenians

After the capture and burning of Sardis by the Athenians Darius shot an arrow into the sky and prayed to the god that they grant him revenge against the Athenians. He ordered a servant to remind him of the Athenians, three times a day, to punish the Athenians. More from wiki:

The siege of Sardis was the first major engagement of the Ionian Revolt. An allied Greek army launched an attack on the Persian satrapal capital of Sardis but were ultimately repelled by Persian forces, however most of the city was set alight during the siege.

The Ionian Revolt was triggered by the dissatisfaction of the Greek cities of Asia Minor with thec  tyrants appointed by Persia to rule them. In 499 BC, the then-tyrant of MiletusAristagoras, launched a joint expedition with the Persian satrap Artaphernes to conquer Naxos, in an attempt to bolster his position in Miletus. The mission was a debacle, and sensing his imminent removal as tyrant, Aristagoras chose to incite the whole of Ionia into rebellion against the Persian king Darius the Great. He also secured alliances with the mainland Greek cities of Athens and Eretria, convincing them the Persians would be easy to defeat.

In the spring of 498 BC, an Athenian force of twenty triremes, accompanied by five from Eretria, set sail for Ionia. They joined up with the main Ionian force near Ephesus. Declining to personally lead the force, Aristagoras appointed his brother Charopinus and another Milesian, Hermophantus, as generals.

This force was then guided by the Ephesians through the mountains to Sardis, Artaphernes’s satrapal capital. The Greeks caught the Persians unaware, and were able to capture the lower city. However, Artaphernes still held the citadel with a significant force of men. The lower city then caught on fire, Herodotus suggests accidentally, which quickly spread. The Persians in the citadel, being surrounded by a burning city, emerged into the market-place of Sardis, where they fought with the Greeks, forcing them back. The Greeks, demoralised, then retreated from the city, and began to make their way back to Ephesus.

Herodotus reports that when Darius heard of the burning of Sardis, he swore vengeance upon the Athenians (after asking who they indeed were), and tasked a servant with reminding him three times each day of his vow: “Master, remember the Athenians”.

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