Sack of Ilion to Seven Sages Seven Wonders of the World to Spartan Cipher Rod Sparti to Syrinx 2

Seven Wonders of the World to Spartan Cipher Rod

Seven Wonders of the World

Seven monumental structures that came to be collectively known as The Seven Wonders of the World.

The Wonders were named by Phylo of Byzantium circa 225 BCE:

  1. The Pyramids of Egypt, which are at least 1,500 years older than the other Wonders and are the only ancient Wonders to still exist;
  2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, also called the Gardens of Samyrnus;
  3. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus which was built in 356 BCE and finally destroyed in 401 CE;
  4. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia which was built circa 345 BCE as the center piece for the Temple of Zeus;
  5. The Mausoleum of Halikarnassus (Halicarnassus) which was completed in 353 BCE by Artemisia as a tomb for her husband, Mausolus; his name has become synonymous with burial vaults;
  6. The Colossus of Rhodes which was built as a tribute to Helios (the Sun) in 249 BCE and was destroyed by an earthquake in 224 BCE; and
  7. The Pharos (i.e. lighthouse) of Alexandria, constructed on an island off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt, the lighthouse dates from the third century BCE and was in use for approximately 900 years until it was toppled by an earthquake in 641 CE.

The goddess, Aidos.

In the poem, Works and Days, Hesiod warns his brother, Perses, that in the fifth generation of mortal men (the Age of Iron) Aidos and Nemesis (Indignation) will leave the earth and there will be no defense against evil; she is also referred to as Modesty and Respect.

Shield of Herakles

A 480 line poem attributed to the seventh century BCE poet, Hesiod, and considered part of The Catalogue of Women.

The setting of the poem is a sacred grove of the god, Apollon, and is the story of Herakles (Heracles) and Iolaos facing Ares (god of War) and his son Kyknos (Cycnus) in deadly combat.

As you can surmise from the title, the poem is primarily a description of Herakles’ shield which was crafted by the god Hephaistos (Hephaestus); the shield is virtually alive with animated scenes depicting gods, goddesses, heroes and mortals in all types of situations ranging from simple daily activities to murderous atrocities.

The Shield of Herakles can be found as part of the Richmond Lattimore book, Hesiod, which includes Works of Days, Theogony and The Shield of Herakles, ISBN 0472081616 (paper bound) or 0472439030 (clothbound); you can also find this book at most libraries or you can order it from the Book Shop on this site which is linked to


An Asian maiden who gained the gift of prophecy and long life from Apollon; the term Sibyl (a female seer or prophet) comes from the name Sibylla.


An island in the Mediterranean Sea separated from the southwestern tip of Italy by the Strait of Messina.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea with an area of 9,924 square miles (25,703 square kilometers); known in ancient times as Sikilia; located in such a strategic position, Sicily was a very desirable area for colonies and settlements.

A brief outline of its history could begin circa 800 BCE when an Indo-European group known as the Sicani or Siculi settled the island; circa 735 BCE the Greeks founded their first colonies on the island and gradually established towns and settlements in Messana (modern Messina), Katane (Catania), Gela, Selinus (Selinunte), Akragas (Agrigento) and, the most important Greek colony, Syracuse.

Circa 550 BCE the Carthaginians established colonies on Sicily and a longstanding animosity between the Greeks and Carthaginians developed; the island was essentially divided in half with the Carthaginians on the west and the Greeks on the east; this division lasted until the Romans eclipsed both the Greeks and the Carthaginians and declared the island as their first province (circa 241 BCE).


An ancient Phoenician city located approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of modern Beirut, Lebanon.

The archeological evidence suggests that the city was inhabited as early as 4000 BCE but came into historical significance circa 1200 BCE and reached its peak during the rule of the Persian Empire (550-330 BCE); the city was located on a promontory overlooking the sea; a small offshore island provided a shelter from the sea and created a natural harbor which made the city desirable to all powers wishing to control the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East.

The Persians made good use of the city’s resources: primarily its glass, purple dye and the skill of its sailors; circa 351 BCE, the city resisted the domination of the Persian Empire and, as a result, the city was destroyed and most of its inhabitants were killed.

In 333 BCE, when Alexander the Great marched into Sidon, the city was too weak to defend itself and fell easily to the Greeks; the city prospered in relative peace under Greek and then Roman rule but was again cast into a period of turmoil when the Moslems conquered the city in 636 CE.


The eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet; upper case: Σ; lower case: σ; sigma used as the final letter of a word: ς.


The son of the nymph, Oinoie, and Thoas; he was born on an island that was named after his mother, Oinoie, but the name was changed to Sikinos after his birth.

His name may also be rendered as Sikinus or Sicinus.


An ancient city in southern Greece northwest of the city of Korinth (Corinth).


Any of a group of forest Spirits similar to satyrs; named after Silenus.


A forest Spirit who is sometimes referred to as the oldest satyr and the foster father, teacher and companion of Dionysus; often represented as a drunken old man with the legs and ears of a horse.


A river god; one of the many sons of Tethys and Okeanos (Ocean).

Zeus gave the Rivers, Apollon and the Okeanids the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.


Simonides of Keos (Ceos); (456?-468 BCE) The Greek poet who immortalized himself by writing a short poem to the fallen Spartan soldiers after the battle of Thermopylae.

There are numerous versions of his tribute to the seer Megistias which was written on the wall at Thermopylae and all of them are a tribute to the timeless potential of poetry to convey, with few words, what history must take volumes to relate.

I will not provide a translation of this epigram because of copyright problems; but as an exercise in learning the difficulties in translating Greek into English, I suggest that you look at as many translations of Histories by Herodotus (book 7, chapter 228) as you can find and observe the many and varied ways different translators render the epigram; this will give you an idea of the way the Greek language has been used and abused over the centuries.

Sinope (1)

A Greek city on the southern central coast of the Euxine (Black Sea) named after the maiden, Sinope.

Sinope (2)

The daughter of the river Asopos and the sister of Antiope; she was a clever maiden who attracted the amorous attention of Zeus.

When Zeus promised Sinope anything she might want, she said that she desired virginity; Zeus honored his promise and when Apollon also sought her as a lover, he too was forced to honor the promise made by Zeus.


A Greek island in the southwestern Aegean Sea in the Kyklades (Cyclades) Group with an area of 28 square miles (73 square kilometers); noted for its gold and silver mines.


Sea nymphs who are part woman and part bird and inhabit the island of Anthemoessa; the children of the Muse, Terpsikhore (Terpsichore) and the river, Akhelous (Achelous).

The Sirens lure mariners with their seductive singing to the rocky shore and the heedless sailors die in their wrecked ships; Kirke (Circe) warned Odysseus about the destructive lure of the Sirens so that when he came near the island of the Sirens, he had his sailors put wax in their ears so that they could not hear the enchanted singing but he had himself lashed to the mast and heard the Siren song.

The Argonauts passed the island of the Sirens several generations before Odysseus; the master musician, Orpheus, played his lyre for the sailors and all but one was able to resist the Siren song; the Argonaut, Boutes, jumped into the water and swam towards Anthemoessa but before he could reach the deadly shore he was plucked from the water by Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and deposited safely in the Libyan desert.

Sirius (1)

The faithful dog of Ikarius (Icarius) which was placed in the sky as the Dog Star; located in the constellation Canis Major; the brightest star in the sky; the name literally means, Scorcher; its rising coincides with the hottest part of the year, i.e. late August; 8.7 light years from earth.

Sirius (2)

The dog of the hunter Orion.


A son of Aiolos (Aeolus) and the ruler of the city of Korinth (Corinth) who was noted for his cleverness.

Sisyphus was the grandson of the founder of the Greeks, Hellen; his siblings were: Alkyone (Alcyone), Athamas, Kretheus (Cretheus) Perieres and Salmoneus; Sisyphus was the father of Glaukos (Glaucus) and the grandfather of Bellerophontes (Bellerophon).

There are several interesting stories regarding Sisyphus which have earned him the reputation of a rogue and a scoundrel:

  1. When another rogue, Autolykos (Autolycus), tried to steal and disguise Sisyphus’ cattle, the clever Sisyphus was able to identify his herd because he had marked his cattle on the under-side of their hoofs;
  2. When Thanatos (Death) came to claim the life of Sisyphus, the undaunted king captured Thanatos and kept him in chains until Ares (god of War) forced Sisyphus to release him; while Thanatos was in chains, all death stopped on the earth and chaos prevailed;
  3. When Zeus stole Aegina, the daughter of the river Asopos (Asopus), Sisyphus knew who had perpetrated the crime but would not tell Asopos until the mighty river supplied a spring on the top of the Akrokorinth (Acrocorinth); Zeus did not take kindly to having his infidelities exposed and, for this and other blunders, when Sisyphus was finally taken to the Underworld, he was punished by being compelled to roll a stone to the top of a slope where it always escaped him and would roll down the slope again; Sisyphus would begin the task again and thus continue forever.
  • Iliad, book 6, lines 153-4
  • Odyssey, book 11, line 593-600
  • Descriptions of Greece, book 2 iv 1
  • Catalogues of Women, fragments 3 and 7
  • Skamandrios

    The son of Hektor (Hector) and Andromakhe (Andromache).

    Skamandrios was only an infant when Troy was plundered and he was thrown from the walls of Troy by Neoptolemus, the son of Akhilleus (Achilles); he was called Skamandrios (Scamander) by Hektor but everyone else called him Astyanax.

    His name may also be rendered as Skamandrius or Scamandrius.


    A river god; one of the many sons of Tethys and Okeanos (Ocean).

    The river he lords over is sometimes called the Skamandros (Scamander) which is the ancient name for the river Kucukmenderes in Asia Minor which flows across the Trojan plain into the Dardanelles; 60 miles (97 kilometers) in length.

    Zeus gave the Rivers, Apollon and the Okeanids the special obligation of having the young in their keeping.


    From the Greek word Skepikoi; one who thinks or examines.

    Skiron (1)

    The name of the North-West wind; the name literally means, the wind which blows from Skironian Rocks which were located on the Isthmus of Korinth (Corinth).

    There are two types of winds:

    1. The divinely created winds, i.e. Boreas (North Wind), Notos (South Wind), Zephyros (West Wind) and the Etesian winds, and
    2. The ill-favored winds that were created by the monster, Typhoeus, when Zeus imprisoned him under the earth.

    The divinely created winds nourish and bless the earth but the winds of Typhoeus are wild and destructive; Skiron is one of the winds of Typhoeus.

  • Theogony, lines 869-880
  • Skiron (2)

    The robber who was killed by Theseus.

    When Theseus came to the coastal city of Megara, he met the semi-divine man, Skiron, who would force travelers to wash his feet and then kick them from a cliff into the sea to be eaten by a giant sea-turtle which waited on the rocky shore; Theseus threw Skiron to his death from the cliff.


    A Greek island in the western Aegean Sea; one of the large islands of the Northern Sporades group; Skopelos is located near the eastern coast of mainland Greece and north of the large island of Euboea.


    A Greek sculptor and architect; fl. fourth century BCE.


    The monster that attacked Odysseus as he sailed through the Strait of Messina on his way home after the sack of the city of Troy.

    Skylla is a hideous beast and, according to the Argonautika, the daughter of Phorkys (Phorcys) and Hekate (Hecate); Skylla has twelve legs and six heads and swoops down on passing ships or sea creatures from the rock she inhabits; according to the Great Eoiae, Skylla was the daughter of Hekate and Phoebus.

    For more detailed information on Skylla I suggest that you consult the Immortals section of this site.


    A cup with a deep bowl, flat base and two horizontal handles near the rim.


    A Greek island in the western Aegean Sea; the largest island of the Northern Sporades group of islands.

    Skyros is located near the eastern coast of mainland Greece and northeast of the large island of Euboea; 81 square miles (210 square kilometers) in area.

    Approximate east longitude 24.55 and north latitude 38.88.


    The ancient name for the area northwest of the Euxine (Black Sea) on the lower courses of the Borysthenes (Dnieper) River.

    The earliest accounts we have about the Skythians are from the historian Herodotus and he freely admits that he had never been to Skythia and that his source of information had, likewise, never been there; with this in mind, Herodotus reported that Skythia was reputed to be the home of the Amazons and a variety of nomadic people; Herodotus described the inhabitants as only slightly civilized and resistant to any form of foreign influence; he also states that the Skythians were like the majority of Greeks in that they despised menial labor and preferred the art of war to any trade or profession.

    It’s interesting to note that Herodotus says the Skythians worshiped the same gods and goddesses that the Greeks but then goes on to say that the Skythian gods had different names; the primary deities were: Histia (Hestia) (Tabiti), Zeus (Papaeus, i.e. Great Father) and Gaia (Api); I assume that Herodotus meant that the Skythian gods had similar attributes and for that reason he recognized them to be the same gods and goddesses.

    In 634 BCE the Skythians invaded the heart of the Median Empire in western-central Asia and defeated the Median king, Kyaxares (Cyaxares); they marched south through Syria and were ready to enter Egypt but the Egyptians were able to negotiate a truce before the Skythians could crossover into Africa; despite their military prowess, the Skythians were brutal and inefficient administrators; they ruled western-central Asia for twenty-eight years before Kyaxares and the Medes were able to drive them back to their homeland near the Euxine.


    Androktasias; Slaughters or Manslaughters; the children of Eris (Discord).


    Hypnos; one of the many children of Nyx (Night).

    For more detailed information on Hypnos I suggest that you consult the Immortals section of this site.

    Smerdis (1)

    There were two men named Smerdis who played a major role in the continuation of the Persian Empire circa 522 BCE; the two men are called Smerdis and false-Smerdis.

    Smerdis was the son of Kyrus (Cyrus) the Great and Kassandane (Cassandane); his older brother, Kambyses (Cambyses), ascended to the throne after the death of his father and established himself as a harsh and arrogant monarch; his blasphemy and cruelty bordered on madness.

    Smerdis accompanied Kambyses to Egypt and assisted his brother in the subjugation of that country; when Kambyses sent spies to Ethiopia in preparation for an invasion, the Ethiopians were unimpressed with the Persian representatives and gave them a bow to take back to Kambyses with the warning that until the Persians could string the bow, they were no match for the Ethiopian army; the only Persian who could string the mighty bow was Smerdis; Kambyses was furious and sent Smerdis back to Persia.

    Shortly afterwards, Kambyses had a dream in which he saw Smerdis sitting on the throne of Persia with his head reaching towards the heavens; Kambyses believed that the dream meant that Smerdis was plotting to steal the throne from him, so he dispatched one of his most trusted men, Prexaspes, to secretly murder Smerdis.

    The plan worked too well; since only Kambyses and Prexaspes knew that Smerdis was dead it was relatively easy for a Mede named Smerdis to take the throne and, by keeping himself secluded in the palace, he was able to rule the Persian Empire in Kambyses’ absence; when Kambyses heard the news that a false-Smerdis was on the throne, he set out for his capital, Susa, but while he was traveling through Syria he accidentally wounded himself with his own sword and became deathly ill; while on his death-bed, Kambyses assembled the highest ranking Persians of his army and told them that he had ordered the murder of his brother, Smerdis, and that a false-Smerdis had assumed the throne and must be deposed at all costs.

    The Persians, who were accustomed to Kambyses’ madness, simply refused to believe him and accepted the false-Smerdis as their new king; Smerdis and Kambyses, the only sons of Kyrus the Great, left no children to inherit their kingdom.

    Smerdis (2)

    The usurper of the throne of the Persian Empire.

    When the second king of the Persian Empire, Kambyses (Cambyses), murdered his brother, Smerdis, the Mede that Kambyses had left in charge of his household devised an ingenious plan whereby the Medes could reclaim the empire that the Persians had stolen from them one generation earlier.

    A Mede named Patizeithes had a brother named Smerdis who not only bore the same name as Kambyses’ brother but was also physically similar to him, with one exception: the Median Smerdis had no ears; Kambyses had inflicted a punishment on the Mede that required that his ears be lopped off; the two Medes were able to perpetuate the charade by keeping the false-Smerdis hidden in the palace and never allowing high ranking Persians or his wives to see him.

    In order to provoke Kambyses and establish his power, Patizeithes sent heralds throughout the empire proclaiming that Smerdis was now king of the Persians; Kambyses heard the news as he was traveling through Syria on his way back to his capitol of Susa; he had committed many atrocious acts as king and he knew that the Persian aristocracy, the army and the common people would support a revolt that would remove him from power; he also knew that his brother was dead and therefore could not be on the throne; after considering the facts, he correctly perceived the truth of the matter, i.e. the Smerdis on the throne was the brother of his steward, Patizeithes, and that the Medes were now in control of his empire.

    As Kambyses was preparing to take his army to Susa, he accidentally wounded himself with his sword and, within days, the wound became infected and his death was eminent; he called the highest ranking Persians of his army to his side and told them the truth; he told them how he had sent Prexaspes to secretly murder his brother, Smerdis, and that a Mede, a false-Smerdis, had assumed the throne; he urged them to use any means necessary to depose the false-Smerdis and place a Persian on the throne.

    The Persians who heard the story of the false-Smerdis simply did not believe it; Kambyses had been such a cruel and manipulative man that they assumed this was his final death-bed act of spite and disruption; after Kambyses died, Prexaspes, to protect himself from reprisals, denied any knowledge of the murder of Smerdis; the army and almost all of the Persian people believed that the false-Smerdis was the rightful heir to the empire and they did not question his authority or identity.

    In the first few months of his reign, false-Smerdis proclaimed that his subjects would be exempt from tribute (taxes) and that mandatory military service would be curtailed for three years; he established himself as a magnanimous sovereign quite opposite from the oppressive domination that Kambyses had instituted; however, a few Persians devised a way to verify his true identity; they persuaded one of his many wives to secretly feel his head and to see if he had ears; the true Smerdis had ears and the false-Smerdis did not; while false-Smerdis was asleep, she felt his head and found that he had no ears; she told her father of this revelation and he and six others began plotting to kill the false-Smerdis and reclaim the throne for a Persian ruler.

    False-Smerdis and his brother, Patizeithes, devised their own way of securing the throne and removing any opposition to their false claim to the throne; they called upon the murderer of the true-Smerdis, Prexaspes, to publicly proclaim that the false-Smerdis was in fact the true-Smerdis; they offered him riches and position if he would commit this one final act of betrayal of his nation and his people; Prexaspes agreed to the lie but, as he was addressing the Persian citizens from the palace balcony, he had a change of heart and told the truth; he admitted that he had killed the true-Smerdis and that false-Smerdis and his brother were trying to reclaim the throne for the Medes; at that point, Prexaspes threw himself from the balcony and died honorably.

    Seizing the moment, the Persians who were plotting to assassinate false-Smerdis and Patizeithes burst into the palace and fulfilled their mission; they killed false-Smerdis and Patizeithes, cut off their heads and ran through the streets with their trophies proclaiming their successful revolution; the other Persians took up the cause and began slaughtering every Mede they encountered; the seven perpetrators of the coup chose one of their members, Darius, to be the next king of the Persian Empire; the year was 521 BCE; false-Smerdis ruled for seven months.

    Smyrna (1)

    The mother of Adonis and daughter of the mythical king of the island of Cyprus, Kinyras (Cinyras); usually called Zmyrna.

    Zmyrna was the mother of Adonis by the unnatural union with her father; she had dishonored Aphrodite (goddess of Love) and the angry goddess had her revenge by causing Zmyrna’s father to seduce her; Adonis was the result of that union; when Kinyras came to his senses he intended to kill Zmyrna but the Immortals intervened and turned the disgraced girl into a myrrh tree.

    Her name may also be rendered as Myrrha.

    Smyrna (2)

    An ancient Greek city located on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Izmir approximately 40 miles (64 kilometers) due west of the Lydian capital of Sardis; Smyrna is now known as the Turkish city of Izmir.


    In relation to columns, the underside of an architectural feature, as in a cornice.


    (469-399 BCE) The famous Athenian philosopher who was executed for his aggressive style of confrontational argument.

    Sokrates used questions to elicit admissions or lead students and opponents to conclusions that they might not otherwise endorse; he was unjustly ridiculed and satirically characterized as an uncouth and generally annoying person; comic writers, such as Aristophanes, portrayed Sokrates as a blithering intellectual with no regard for his actions or ideas; Aristophanes may have contributed to the notion that Sokrates had corrupted the religion and morals of the youth of Athens because he was condemned to death for such misconceptions; Sokrates wrote nothing and our knowledge and understanding of this great man is only preserved by such writers as Plato and Xenophon.


    (circa 638-558 BCE) The Athenian statesman who introduced the idea of a just constitution that recognized the necessity of including all classes of citizens in the government.

    His most liberating innovation was the return of all mortgaged land to the debtors and freeing of people who had been sold into slavery or exiled because of debt; Solon lived to see his constitution abolished by the tyrant Pisistratus.

    The four classes under Solon’s constitution were:

    1. Pentakosiomedimnoi (the owners of large, productive tracts of land);
    2. Ippeis (named for their social class as horsemen or charioteers);
    3. Zeygitai (named for their social class as ox drivers); and
    4. Thetes (the lowest of the four classes of Athenian citizens, literally they were hired farm workers and served as lightly-armed soldiers and common seaman).

    Solon was always honored by his inclusion as one of the Seven Sages.


    The fierce fighters that Bellerophontes (Bellerophon) was obliged to fight for the lord of Lykia (Lycia), Iobates; Bellerophontes’ son, Isandros was later killed by Ares (god of War) in close battle with the Solymoi.

    Sophist (1)

    Originally Sophists were noted as teachers and scholars; they earned their living by teaching and were regarded as honorable men; by the fifth century BCE the term Sophist became a derogatory designation for men who argued for the sake of argument and were more concerned with winning arguments than seeking truth or knowledge.

    Sophist (2)

    A dialogue by Plato denouncing the Sophists as false teachers and men of dishonor.

    Sophokles (1)

    (496-406 BCE) An Athenian playwright who has the rare honor to have been loved and appreciated in his own time and down through the ages until the present day.

    He was a man of wealth, physical beauty and commanding personality; his extant plays include: The Theban Plays (Oedipus Tyrannus, Antigone and Oedipus at Colonus), Elektra (Electra), Aias (Ajax), Trakhiniae (Trachiniae) and Philoktetes (Philoctetes); he was a renowned citizen of the city of Athens but seemed to have no political ambitions; he had two sons: Iophon and Agathon.

    Sophokles (2)

    The son of Agathon and the grandson of the Athenian playwright by the same name, Sophokles; after his grandfather’s death, he produced his grandfather’s play, Oedipus at Colonus (circa 401 BCE).

    Sophokles (3)

    One of the Thirty Tyrants elected to rule the city of Athens after the end of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE).

    Having lost the war to the Spartans, the citizens of Athens elected thirty men to lead the new post-war government; these men became known as the Thirty Tyrants; the short lived government they comprised was an oligarchy.

    The tyrants immediately began to prosecute Athenians who had been Spartan informers and collaborators during the long, hard war; the punishment of the guilty seemed appropriate to the common citizens and aristocrats alike but it soon became clear that the executions and banishments were going beyond the bounds of necessity or prudence; open hostilities soon developed between members of the Thirty and their authority and rule came to an end after one year.

    Southern Sporades

    An island group which includes the Dodekanese (Dodecanese), and located off the southwestern coast of Asia Minor.


    The foster-mother of Kyrus (Cyrus) the Great.

    Spako is the Median name for Kyno (Cyno); her name played an important part in the legend that made Kyrus such a powerful and charismatic leader because kyno and spax mean female dog in Greek and Median respectively; she was the wife of the cowherd, Mitradates, who raised Kyrus as her son.

    The story begins with the Median king, Astyages and his daughter, Mandane; Astyages wanted his daughter’s infant son murdered and gave the foul task to one of his trusted kinsmen, Harpagus; when Harpagus gave thought to the matter he decided to keep his hands clean and give the dirty deed to someone of lower rank; he ordered a herdsman named Mitradates to take the baby into the wilderness and leave it to the beasts and elements.

    Mitradates took the baby back to his home and found that his wife, Kyno, had just given birth but that her baby had been born dead; Kyno persuaded Mitradates to spare the life of the king’s grandson and to present their dead baby to Harpagus and declare that the evil deed had been done; Harpagus believed Mitradates’ story and gave the matter no more thought.

    Mitradates and Kyno raised the child as their own and all went well until the young boy had a dispute with his playmates; a group of boys were playing a game and Mandane’s son was chosen to play the role of the king; when one of the boys disobeyed a “royal” command, the “king” ordered that he be beaten; the boy who had been punished took offense at such base treatment because his family was of noble birth and a mere herdsman’s son had ordered him beaten; the boy’s father took the insulting matter to king Astyages for justice.

    Astyages called Mitradates and his “son” to stand trial but when Astyages saw the family resemblance of the boy to his daughter and to himself he realized that Mandane’s son was still alive; Astyages demanded the truth from Mitradates and he soon understood the entire sequence of events; the young boy was taken from Mitradates and Kyno and given to his natural mother and father, Mandane and Kambyses; the boy was named Kyrus and as he grew to manhood he was the best and brightest of his peers.

    Kyrus united the Persians and led a successful revolt against king Astyages; in order to add an element of divine intervention to the life of Kyrus, his mother and father told a slightly augmented version of his early life; they claimed that he had been left in the wilderness as Astyages had ordered and that he had been nursed by a female dog, i.e., a kyno, until he was old enough to take revenge on his grandfather, Astyages, and end the rule of the Medes.


    The son of queen Tomyris of the nation of the Massagetae.

    When the Persians faced the Massagetae in battle, circa 529 BCE, the Persian king, Kyrus the Great, captured Spargapises and, using him as a hostage, tried to force queen Tomyris to surrender; Spargapises persuaded Kyrus to free him from his bonds and managed to escape; the Massagetae army defeated the Persians and killed Kyrus.


    Sparta was an ancient city in southern Greece on the Peloponnesian Peninsula and the primary city of the district of Lakonia (Laconia); located by the river Eurotas and originally settled by the Dorians.

    After the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE), Sparta was the undisputed dominant power of the Greek mainland, Ionia and Asia Minor; the people of Sparta were very proud and the city was known as the “city with invisible walls” because they sincerely believed that if they could not defend their city with the strength of their army, and not stone walls, they did not deserve to be free.

    The city was never adorned with elaborate temples or impressive architecture because the people and government believed in simplicity and practicality rather than superficial displays of wealth and culture; even today, we use the term Spartan to denote something that is very basic, that is, no frills or ornaments.

    As if he was speaking directly to us in the twenty-first century, the historian, Thukydides (Thucydides) in his History of the Peloponnesian War (Introduction, section 10), stated that if Sparta was deserted and all that remained was the temples and the foundations of buildings, it would be difficult to imagine the power and influence the city once wielded. He also said that if the city of Athens was viewed in the same way, it would appear twice as powerful as it had once been.

    There are several references in Greek literature that exemplify the Spartan ideals:

    1. The historian Herodotus (Histories, book 7, chapters 133-137) relates the story of how the Persian king, Darius, had sent ambassadors to Sparta and Athens to demand earth and water as a symbolic tribute and submission to the Persian king; the Athenians threw the Persian heralds into The Pit, which was the punishment meted out to criminals; the heralds received similar treatment in Sparta.

      A group of enraged Spartans threw the Persian heralds into a well and told them that they could get all the earth and water they wanted at the bottom of the well; the Athenians thought no more of the matter because they soundly defeated the Persians at the battle of Marathon; the Spartans, however, became more and more distressed at their rash behavior; their sacrifices in a shrine of Talthybius, which pertained to heralds, were repeatedly unfavorable.

      Ten years later, the city fathers asked for volunteers to go to the new Persian invader, Xerxes, to confess the disgraceful crime against the heralds and offer themselves for execution; two men of property and of high birth volunteered (Sperthias and Bulis) and surrendered themselves to Xerxes; the new Persian king surprised everyone, including his generals and advisors, by not executing the Spartan volunteers; instead, he took the Spartans on a tour of his assembled army and navy and let them return to Sparta unharmed; the purpose of this maneuver was to allow the Spartans to marvel at his strength and be cowed into submission rather than fight a pointless war; he seriously misjudged the Spartans because they would never surrender without a fight and any fight they entered would end either when they were victorious or when there were no Spartans left to fight.

    2. Another example of Spartan idealism can also be taken from Herodotus (Histories, book 3, chapter 46):

      The people of the island of Samos were being oppressed by an unfit ruler named Polykrates (Polycrates) so they sent an emissary to Sparta to ask for assistance; the emissary from Samos gave a long and detailed plea for assistance to the Spartan ephors and was astonished to be told that he should come back the next day and restate his appeal; the emissary was advised that the Spartans were not like the Athenians and that he should simplify his request if he expected any help; the following day when the emissary addressed the ephors, he held up an empty grain sack and said simply, “The sack is empty,” one of the ephors replied, “We can see that it’s a sack, there was no need to say that.”

    3. As an example of Spartan dominance after the Peloponnesian War, Xenophon relates an interesting story in Anabasis (book 7, chapter 1) where six thousand battle-hardened mercenary soldiers were confronted by a few red-cloaked Spartan officers and told that they could not stay in the city of Byzantium; the weary and hungry mercenaries obeyed the Spartans even though they could have easily pushed them aside but they knew that such an act would never be forgotten or forgiven by the Spartans; the mercenaries were angry but they complied with the Spartan demand and left the city without delay; the Spartans were the masters of all Greece and their authority was questioned only by fools.

    The Spartans, like all Greek nations, were fiercely independent and this tendency was probably the cause of their eventual decline and subjugation; by circa 300 BCE, the Spartans had been effectively surrounded by unsympathetic hostile forces and they were effectively cut off from their sources of slaves and commerce.

    The loss of Spartan independence did not come with one fatal attack or incident but with the slow decline of their influence throughout the Aegean area and, more importantly, on the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

    After 200 BCE, the Spartans were quickly reduced to a minor Greek influence and finally, in 146 BCE, they become subjects of the Roman Empire.

    The name is also spelled as Lakedaimon or Lacedaimon.

    Spartan Cipher Rod

    A method was needed to insure the security and privacy of messages and the Spartan Cipher Rod was a simple solution to this problem.

    A strip of paper or cloth was wrapped in a spiral around a round wooden rod and a message was written on the paper and then the paper was unwrapped and dispatched to the intended receiver; when the unwrapped paper was viewed, the message was incomprehensible but when the intended receiver re-wrapped the paper around a wooden rod of the same diameter the message became clear.

    Seven Wonders of the World to Spartan Cipher Rod

    Sack of Ilion to Seven Sages Seven Wonders of the World to Spartan Cipher Rod Sparti to Syrinx 2


    Home • Essays • People, Places & Things • The Immortals
    Greek Myths Bookshop • Fun Fact Quiz • Search/Browse • Links • About