d. 494 BC

Histiaeus was tyrant of Miletus in the late 6th century B.C., and a minister of Darius I, who conspired to help the Ionian colonies revolt, in 499 B.C.. In 512 B.C. he accompanied Darius on his campaign to Scythia, and was left in charge of the boats. When Darius did return in the prescribed time, some of the other leaders who were guarding the boats, including Miltiades, who was at that time in service of Darius, recommending leaving. Histiaeus however, insisted that they remain, although he pretended to leave in order to deceive the Scythians. Shortly afterward Darius returned, and rewarded Histiaeus for his loyalty.

In return for his good service, Darius awarded Histiaeus a town in Thrace, which was later the site of Amphipolis. It was strategically located and had both silver mines and timber, so Megabazus, a jealous minister, connived and convinced Darius to recall him back to Susa as a personal advisor. The city of Miletus was then left in charge of his son-in-law, Aristagoras. Histiaeus however, did not like living in Susa and plotted his escape carefully. He assumed that if a revolt in Miletus broke out, Darius would send him back in order to restore order. He sent a message to Aristagoras by shaving a slave's head, tattooing a message, and waiting for the hair to grow back. The plan worked. Aristogoras, with the aid of Athens, attacked and burned Sardis, and Darius restored Histiaeus to his former position. Unfortunately, Artaphernes, a brother of Darius, got wind of the plot and Histiaeus fled, first to Chios, then Miletus, and he raised a fleet and became a pirate in the Black Sea.

The revolt was finally put down at the Battle of Lade in 494 B.C., and sometime after this Histiaeus was captured by the Persian General Harpagus. Artaphernes knew that Darius would pardon him if he allowed him to return to Susa, so he killed him and sent his head to Darius.

Key events during the life of Histiaeus:

  Appointed tyrant of the Greek town of Miletus under Darius.
512 BC
Accompanied Darius on his campaign in Scythia. Saved Darius from disastrous retreat.
511 BC
Awarded territory of Myrcinus (near Thrace), for his services.
  Aroused the jealousy of Megabyzes, and was sent to Susa to as an advisor to Darius (against his will).
499 BC
Conspired with son-in-law Aristagoras to instigate rebellion in Miletus.
497 BC
Allowed to return to Miletus to 'put down revolt.'
  Distrusted by Artaphernes, Histiaeus fled to Chios.
  Tried unsuccessfully to return to Miletus, was exiled to Lesbos, and took up piracy.
494 BC
Captured by Harpagus; crucified by Artaphernes.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Retreat from Scythia  in  Darius the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Story of Histaeus  in  Darius the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Of the Revolt of Miletus  in  The Story of the Persian War  by  Alfred J. Church
Bridge of Boats  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Sandal Sewn by Histiaeus  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor

Image Links

The Greeks Preserve the Bridge of Darius
 in Greatest Nations - Greece

Short Biography
Darius the Great With six conspirators seized the throne of Persia, primarily through craft rather than force.
Miltiades Athenian General who led Greece to great victory at the Battle of Marathon.
Aristagoras Son-in-law of Histiaeus. Led Rebellion of Greek Colonies in Asia Minor.
Artaphernes Brother of Darius, Satrap of Lydia during Ionian Rebellion. Lead Persian forces at Marathon.
Harpagus Minister of Astyages who betrayed him in favor of Cyrus.