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The Persian king Xerxes I, son of Darius I, encounters Pythius on his way to invade Greece c. 480 BC. Pythius entertains him and offers to provide money for the expenses of war. This Xerxes politely declines, and instead rewards Pythius' generosity by giving him 7000 gold darics in order that his fortune might be an even 4,000,000 (ch. 29).
Later Pythius, emboldened by Xerxes' gift and alarmed at an eclipse, asks Xerxes to release his eldest son from the army, in order to care for him in his old age, while letting Xerxes retain the other four. Xerxes grows angry, citing his own sacrifice of family members without exception. Since he has promised to grant the wish, however, he takes the son, cuts him in half and marches his army away between the two halves, put up on either side of the road (ch. 39).
- [G.P. Goold, ed. Herodotus, vol. 3. The Loeb Classical Library, 1922. Note to p. 351.]