Early Greek Steganography

In my last post I promised a bit of history behind steganography and its recorded use by the Greek historian Herodotus.  Here is the first-hand account of one of the uses:

“For Histiaeus, when he was anxious to give Aristagoras orders to revolt, could find but one safe way, as the roads were guarded, of making his wishes known; which was by taking the trustiest of his slaves, shaving all the hair from off his head, and then pricking letters upon the skin, and waiting till the hair grew again. Thus accordingly he did; and as soon as ever the hair was grown, he dispatched the man to Miletus, giving him no other message than this- “When thou art come to Miletus, bid Aristagoras shave thy head, and look thereon.”  Now the marks on the head, as I have already mentioned, were a command to revolt. All this Histiaeus did because it irked him greatly to be kept as Susa, and because he had strong hopes that, if troubles broke out, he would be sent down to the coast to quell them, whereas, if Miletus made no movement, he did not see a chance of his ever returning thither.  Such, then, were the views which led Histiaeus to dispatch his messenger; and it so chanced that all these several motives to revolt were brought to bear upon Aristagoras at one and the same time.”   (Herodotus)

We do know from his writings “The Histories” which I quoted from above, that Herodotus was born in what is now known as Bodrum, in southwestern Turkey. Here is a modern statue of Herodotus in Bodrum, with some good background history on him.  (Lendering)



Herodotus. (n.d.). The History Of Herodotus. Retrieved 26 2011, Dec, from Classics.MIT.Edu: http://classics.mit.edu/Herodotus/history.html

Lendering, J. (n.d.). Herodotus of Halicarnassus. Retrieved Dec 27, 2011, from http://www.Livius.Org: http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodotus/herodotus03.html


One comment on “Early Greek Steganography

  1. Dayna says:

    wow that was very informing thanks

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