The World of Christian Cameron

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Son of Molpagoras, nephew of Histiaeus. Aristagoras led Miletus while Histiaeus was a virtual prisoner of the Great King Darius at Susa. Aristagoras seems to have initiated the Ionian Revolt—and later to have regretted it.

It is possible to imagine Aristagoras as the heroic leader of a national insurgency; but if so, he was not particularly effective and fairly venal. Judging only by his actions, he appears to have been the man I portray him as.

“Much of the information on Aristagoras and his actions is based upon the writings of the ancient historian Herodotus. While Herodotus in many ways reflects some of the best of ancient historiography, nonetheless, some scholars have been increasingly critical of his value as a historical source, especially in regards to the Ionian Revolt. As Mabel Lang notes (Mabel Lang, “Herodotus and the Ionian Revolt,” Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 17, no. 1 (1968): 24), one of the problems with uncovering historical veracity in Herodotus’s account is “that the failure of the revolt not only gave prominence to every aspect and event which would explain, justify or anticipate the disastrous results but also cast into the shade any intentions which deserved a better fate and any temporary successes during the course of the war.”

Moreover, Oswyn Murray (Oswyn Murray, “The Ionian Revolt,” Cambridge Ancient History IV, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 470.) argues that much of Herodotus’s discussion of the Revolt is dependent on Ionian oral tradition, which is perhaps suspect because of their defeat. As proof of this unreliability, Murray contends that the Ionian Revolt was not motivated by desires to end tyranny, as Herodotus suggests, but rather it was motivated by the economic consequences of Persian expansion. Despite these potential limitations, some recent scholars have attempted to rehabilitate Herodotus as a source for information on the Ionian Revolt.” (Wikipedia, Aristagoras)

I chose to use Herodotus and to try and build my novel on his perceptions of the Ionian Revolt. To my reading, even Herodotus is suspicious of the Ionians desire to “throw off Persian chains” at least until the counter-insurgency operations and mass enslavements after Lade.