One of Xerxes’ boat bridges over the Hellespont (480 BC)

Ἐς ταύτην ὦν τὴν ἀκτὴν ἐξ Ἀβύδου ὁρμώμενοι ἐγεφύρουν τοῖσι προσέκειτο, τὴν μὲν λευκολίνου Φοίνικες, τὴν δ᾽ ἑτέρην τὴν βυβλίνην Αἰγύπτιοι. ἔστι δὲ ἑπτὰ στάδιοι ἐξ Ἀβύδου ἐς τὴν ἀπαντίον. καὶ δὴ ἐζευγμένου τοῦ πόρου ἐπιγενόμενος χειμὼν μέγας συνέκοψέ τε ἐκεῖνα πάντα καὶ διέλυσε. ὡς δ᾽ ἐπύθετο Ξέρξης, δεινὰ ποιεύμενος τὸν Ἑλλήσποντον ἐκέλευσε τριηκοσίας ἐπικέσθαι μάστιγι πληγὰς καὶ κατεῖναι ἐς τὸ πέλαγος πεδέων ζεῦγος. ἤδη δὲ ἤκουσα ὡς καὶ στιγέας ἅμα τούτοισι ἀπέπεμψε στίξοντας τὸν Ἑλλήσποντον. ἐνετέλλετο δὲ ὦν ῥαπίζοντας λέγειν βάρβαρά τε καὶ ἀτάσθαλα· ‘ὦ πικρὸν ὕδωρ, δεσπότης τοι δίκην ἐπιτιθεῖ τήνδε, ὅτι μιν ἠδίκησας οὐδὲν πρὸς ἐκείνου ἄδικον παθόν. καὶ βασιλεὺς μὲν Ξέρξης διαβήσεταί σε, ἤν τε σύ γε βούλῃ ἤν τε μή· σοὶ δὲ κατὰ δίκην ἄρα οὐδεὶς ἀνθρώπων θύει ὡς ἐόντι καὶ θολερῷ καὶ ἁλμυρῷ ποταμῷ.’ τήν τε δὴ θάλασσαν ἐνετέλλετο τούτοισι ζημιοῦν καὶ τῶν ἐπεστεώτων τῇ ζεύξι τοῦ Ἑλλησπόντου ἀποταμεῖν τὰς κεφαλάς.
(Herodotus, Hist. 7.34-35)

To this foreland they on whom this work was laid were making their bridges, starting from Abydos, the Phenicians constructing the one with ropes of white flax, and the Egyptians the other, which was made with papyrus rope. Now from Abydos to the opposite shore is a distance of seven furlongs. But when the strait had been bridged over, a great storm came on and dashed together all the work that had been made and broke it up. Then when Xerxes heard it he was exceedingly enraged, and bade them scourge the Hellespont with three hundred strokes of the lash and let down into the sea a pair of fetters. Nay, I have heard further that he sent branders also with them to brand the Hellespont. However this may be, he enjoined them, as they were beating, to say Barbarian and presumptuous words as follows: “Thou bitter water, thy master lays upon thee this penalty, because thou didst wrong him not having suffered any wrong from him: and Xerxes the king will pass over thee whether thou be willing or no; but with right, as it seems, no man doeth sacrifice to thee, seeing that thou art a treacherous and briny stream.” The sea he enjoined them to chastise thus, and also he bade them cut off the heads of those who were appointed to have charge over the bridging of the Hellespont. (tr. George Campbell Macaulay)

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