Chronology impinges on this scenario. Firstly, if Cyaxares led the Median forces in the "Battle of the Eclipse" sufficient time had to have elapsed for his death and funeral and for the elevation of his son Astyages to the throne. Other possibilities exist, including the possibility that Herodotus was in error in relating that Cyaxares himself took part in the battle.

Then there is the thorny problem of Labynetus of Babylon. Labynetus is usually taken to be a Greek rendition of the name of Nabonidas, King of Babylon. The difficulty here has long been realised (e.g. Drews 1969, Cargil 1977, Beaulieu 1989). Nabonidas does not accede to the throne until c 556. This raises several possibilities: 1. Nabonidas was acting as the representative of the Babylonian King; 2. Herodotus named the wrong king; 3. the peace treaty was not in fact signed until after the accession of Nabonidas; 4. the whole account is fiction, or at least so hopelessly muddled that nothing of worth can be wrung from it. There is no escaping the conclusion that Herodotus probably conflated events. Cobbe has shown that there was a later ancient tradition of second Medio-Lydian war (Cobbe 1967). It may also be possible that the idea of a second war arose because of the internal difficulties of the Herodotean account and perhaps the irreconcilability of other ancient traditions that are now lost to us. What may and may not have been conflated it is not possible to disentangle: two wars, two peace treaties, numerous traditions and sources?

What then survives from this critical but not unsympathetic examination of Herodotus’ account of the "Battle of the Eclipse"? There was a war in progress in May 585, perhaps already in its sixth year. Some time after 585 there was a peace treaty that fixed the border at the Halys and there were one royal marriages. An unknown period of time and an unknown number of events took place between the eclipse and the treaty, events that may have included a second war.

There has been a long season of taking Herodotus to task, with the result that much of his reputation is in tatters. Some of the critical deconstruction has been warranted; some has been very negative. Much of the best, and some of the not so best, criticism has come from attempts to study Near Eastern Ancient History in its own right and not as an adjunct of the Classical World seen from the perspective of Greek civilisation. Such revisionist history is to be applauded, but the baby should not be thrown out with the bath water. There are passages in Herodotus where he is imparting information that is demonstrably correct and remarkably accurate, as French has admirably demonstrated for the course of the Achaemenid Royal Road (French 1997). One casualty of over-zealous reassessment has been the Median Empire. If Thales was a red herring and the rest of the account given by Herodotus was based on fable rather than on factual history, the Medes and their Empire could be consigned to the dustbin not of history but of historiography. That there was a Median Empire, just as there was a Lydian Empire, can hardly be doubted, nor is the testimony of Herodotus to be lightly discarded (Huxley 1997/98, 11; Muscarella 1994; Pritchett 1993, 231-35). One powerful argument against the reality of a Median Empire as portrayed by Herodotus has been the failure of archaeology to provide material evidence that could in any way be associated with a Median presence in Anatolia. Emphatic archaeological evidence is, however, there. It was recognised as such by Przeworski as early as 1929, but attracted only scant attention (Summers and Summers 1998).

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