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(Concessions were made after it, however, and its longer-term consequence, the Persian Wars proper, resulted in the establishment of a strong Athenian influence in western Anatolia alongside the Persian.) Defeats lead, especially in oral traditions, to recriminations: “Charges are brought on all sides,” Herodotus says despairingly about the difficulty of finding out the truth about the crucial naval battle of Lade (495).
Herodotus himself was contemptuously hostile, regarding the revolt as the “beginning of troubles”—a phrase with a Homeric nuance—between Greeks and Persians.
But, even at this exalted moment, choice of sides, Greek or Persian, could be seen, as it was by , as having been determined either by preference for local masters or by a desire to spite an equal and rival state next door.
(He says this explicitly about Thessaly, which “Medized”—i.e., sided with the Persians—and its neighbour and enemy Phocis, which did not.) Nor is it obvious that for small Greek places the change to control by distant Persia would have made much day-to-day difference, judging from the experience of their kinsmen and counterparts in Anatolia or of the Jews (the other articulate Persian subject nation).
The Athenians, at least, were strikingly realistic and undogmatic about not demanding regimes that resembled their own democracy in more than the name.” of the Asiatic Greeks against Persia (despite the word Ionian, other Asiatic Greeks joined in, from the Dorian cities to the south and from the so-called Aeolian cities to the north, and the Carians, not Greeks in the full sense at all, fought among the bravest).
The reasons for Herodotus’ hostility have partly to do with anti-Milesian sentiment specifically in fellow-Ionian Samos, where he gathered some of his material (the Samians seem to have tried to represent the failure as due to the incompetence and ambitions of Milesian individuals), and partly with the generally Ionian character of the revolt (Herodotus’ home town of Halicarnassus was partly Dorian, partly Carian).
Perhaps the answer is to be found in the formula recorded by a later literary source, the Greek historian ), who wrote that “they gave them back their laws.” (When in 334 Alexander similarly claimed to restore to the Ionian and Aeolian cities their laws and democracies, he was largely indulging in propaganda.) Inscriptions, above all from Persian-occupied Anatolia in the 4th century, show that the cities in question held tribal meetings, enjoyed a measure of control over their own citizen intake, levied city taxes (subject to Persia’s overriding tribute demands), and did indeed operate a system of intercity arbitration.