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PELOPIDAS. - Plutarch, Plutarch’s Lives (Dryden trans.) vol. 2 
Plutarch’s Lives. The Translation called Dryden’s. Corrected from the Greek and Revised by A.H. Clough, in 5 volumes (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1906).
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Cato Major, hearing some commend one that was rash, and inconsiderately daring in a battle, said, “There is a difference between a man’s prizing valor at a great rate, and valuing life at little;” a very just remark. Antigonus, we know, at least, had a soldier, a venturous fellow, but of wretched health and constitution; the reason of whose ill looks he took the trouble to inquire into; and, on understanding from him that it was a disease, commanded his physicians to employ their utmost skill, and if possible recover him; which brave hero, when once cured, never afterwards sought danger or showed himself venturous in battle; and, when Antigonus wondered and upbraided him with his change, made no secret of the reason, and said, “Sir, you are the cause of my cowardice, by freeing me from those miseries which made me care little for life.” With the same feeling, the Sybarite seems to have said of the Spartans, that it was no commendable thing in them to be so ready to die in the wars, since by that they were freed from such hard labor, and miserable living. In truth, the Sybarites, a soft and dissolute people, might very well imagine they hated life, because in their eager pursuit of virtue and glory, they were not afraid to die: but, in fact, the Lacedæmonians found their virtue secure them happiness alike in living or in dying; as we see in the epitaph that says: —
An endeavor to avoid death is not blamable, if we do not basely desire to live; nor a willingness to die good and virtuous, if it proceeds from a contempt of life. And therefore Homer always takes care to bring his bravest and most daring heroes well armed into battle; and the Greek lawgivers punished those that threw away their shields, but not him that lost his sword or spear; intimating that self-defence is more a man’s business than offence. This is especially true of a governor of a city, or a general; for if, as Iphicrates divides it out, the light-armed are the hands; the horse the feet; the infantry the breast; and the general the head; he, when he puts himself upon danger, not only ventures his own person, but all those whose safety depends on his; and so on the contrary. Callicratidas, therefore, though otherwise a great man, was wrong in his answer to the augur who advised him, the sacrifice being unlucky, to be careful of his life; “Sparta,” said he, “will not miss one man.” It was true, Callicratidas, when simply serving in any engagement either at sea or land, was but a single person, but as general, he united in his life the lives of all, and could hardly be called one, when his death involved the ruin of so many. The saying of old Antigonus was better, who, when he was to fight at Andros, and one told him, “The enemy’s ships are more than ours;” replied, “For how many then wilt thou reckon me?” intimating that a brave and experienced commander is to be highly valued, one of the first duties of whose office indeed it is to save him on whose safety depends that of others. And therefore I applaud Timotheus, who, when Chares showed the wounds he had received, and his shield pierced by a dart, told him, “Yet how ashamed I was, at the siege of Samos, when a dart fell near me, for exposing myself, more like a boy than like a general in command of a large army.” Indeed, where the general’s hazarding himself will go far to decide the result, there he must fight and venture his person, and not mind their maxims, who would have a general die, if not of, at least in old age; but when the advantage will be but small if he gets the better, and the loss considerable if he falls, who then would desire, at the risk of the commander’s life, a piece of success which a common soldier might obtain? This I thought fit to premise before the lives of Pelopidas and Marcellus, who were both great men, but who both fell by their own rashness. For, being gallant men, and having gained their respective countries great glory and reputation by their conduct in war against terrible enemies, the one, as history relates, overthrowing Hannibal, who was till then invincible; the other, in a set battle beating the Lacedæmonians, then supreme both at sea and land; they ventured at last too far, and were heedlessly prodigal of their lives, when there was the greatest need of men and commanders such as they. And this agreement in their characters and their deaths, is the reason why I compare their lives.
Pelopidas, the son of Hippoclus, was descended, as likewise Epaminondas was, from an honorable family in Thebes; and, being brought up to opulence, and having a fair estate left him whilst he was young, he made it his business to relieve the good and deserving amongst the poor, that he might show himself lord and not slave of his estate. For amongst men, as Aristotle observes, some are too narrow-minded to use their wealth, and some are loose and abuse it; and these live perpetual slaves to their pleasures, as the others to their gain. Others permitted themselves to be obliged by Pelopidas, and thankfully made use of his liberality and kindness; but amongst all Page 204 his friends, he could never persuade Epaminondas to be a sharer in his wealth. He, however, stepped down into his poverty, and took pleasure in the same poor attire, spare diet, unwearied endurance of hardships, and unshrinking boldness in war: like Capaneus in Euripides, who had
Abundant wealth and in that wealth no pride;
he was ashamed any one should think that he spent more upon his person than the meanest Theban. Epaminondas made his familiar and hereditary poverty more light and easy, by his philosophy and single life; but Pelopidas married a woman of good family, and had children; yet still thinking little of his private interests, and devoting all his time to the public, he ruined his estate: and, when his friends admonished and told him how necessary that money which he neglected was; “Yes,” he replied, “necessary to Nicodemus,” pointing to a blind cripple.
Both seemed equally fitted by nature for all sorts of excellence; but bodily exercises chiefly delighted Pelopidas, learning Epaminondas; and the one spent his spare hours in hunting, and the Palæstra, the other in hearing lectures or philosophizing. And, amongst a thousand points for praise in both, the judicious esteem nothing equal to that constant benevolence and friendship, which they inviolably preserved in all their expeditions, public actions, and administration of the commonwealth. For if any one looks on the administrations of Aristides and Themistocles, of Cimon and Pericles, of Nicias and Alcibiades, what confusion, what envy, what mutual jealousy appears? And if he then casts his eye on the kindness and reverence that Pelopidas showed Epaminondas, he must needs confess, that these are more truly and more justly styled colleagues in government and command than the others, who strove rather to overcome one Page 205 another, than their enemies. The true cause of this was their virtue; whence it came that they did not make their actions aim at wealth and glory, an endeavor sure to lead to bitter and contentious jealousy; but both from the beginning being inflamed with a divine desire of seeing their country glorious by their exertions, they used to that end one another’s excellences as their own. Many, indeed, think this strict and entire affection is to be dated from the battle at Mantinea, where they both fought, being part of the succors that were sent from Thebes to the Lacedæmonians, their then friends and allies. For, being placed together amongst the infantry, and engaging the Arcadians, when the Lacedæmonian wing, in which they fought, gave ground, and many fled, they closed their shields together and resisted the assailants. Pelopidas, having received seven wounds in the forepart of his body, fell upon an heap of slain friends and enemies; but Epaminondas, though he thought him past recovery, advanced to defend his arms and body, and singly fought a multitude, resolving rather to die than forsake his helpless Pelopidas. And now, he being much distressed, being wounded in the breast by a spear, and in the arm by a sword, Agesipolis, the king of the Spartans, came to his succor from the other wing, and beyond hope delivered both.
After this the Lacedæmonians pretended to be friends to Thebes, but in truth looked with jealous suspicions on the designs and power of the city, and chiefly hated the party of Ismenias and Androclides, in which Pelopidas also was an associate, as tending to liberty, and the advancement of the commonalty. Therefore Archias, Leontidas, and Philip, all rich men, and of oligarchical principles, and immoderately ambitious, urged Phœbidas the Spartan, as he was on his way past the city with a considerable force, to surprise the Cadmea, and, banishing the contrary Page 206 faction, to establish an oligarchy, and by that means subject the city to the supremacy of the Spartans. He, accepting the proposal, at the festival of Ceres unexpectedly fell on the Thebans, and made himself master of the citadel. Ismenias was taken, carried to Sparta, and in a short time murdered; but Pelopidas, Pherenicus, Androclides, and many more that fled were publicly proclaimed outlaws. Epaminondas stayed at home, being not much looked after, as one whom philosophy had made inactive, and poverty incapable.
The Lacedæmonians cashiered Phœbidas, and fined him one hundred thousand drachmas, yet still kept a garrison in the Cadmea; which made all Greece wonder at their inconsistency, since they punished the doer, but approved the deed. And though the Thebans, having lost their polity, and being enslaved by Archias and Leontidas, had no hopes to get free from this tyranny, which they saw guarded by the whole military power of the Spartans, and had no means to break the yoke, unless these could be deposed from their command of sea and land; yet Leontidas and his associates, understanding that the exiles lived at Athens in favor with the people, and with honor from all the good and virtuous, formed secret designs against their lives, and, suborning some unknown fellows, despatched Androclides, but were not successful on the rest. Letters, besides, were sent from Sparta to the Athenians, warning them neither to receive nor countenance the exiles, but expel them as declared common enemies of the confederacy. But the Athenians, from their natural hereditary inclination to be kind, and also to make a grateful return to the Thebans, who had very much assisted them in restoring their democracy, and had publicly enacted, that if any Athenian would march armed through Bœotia against the tyrants, that no Bœotian should either see or hear it, did the Thebans no harm.
The day for action being fixed, it was agreed upon by the exiles, that Pherenicus with the rest should stay in the Thriasian plain, while some few of the younger men tried the first danger, by endeavoring to get into the city; and, if they were surprised by their enemies, the others should take care to provide for their children and parents. Pelopidas first offered to undertake the business; then Melon, Damoclides, and Theopompus, men of noble families, who, in other things loving and faithful to one another, were constant rivals only in glory and courageous exploits. They were twelve in all, and having taken leave of those that stayed behind, and sent a messenger to Charon, they went forward, clad in short coats, and carrying hounds and hunting poles with them, that they might be taken for hunters beating over the fields, and prevent all suspicion in those that met them on the way. When the messenger came to Charon, and told him they were approaching, he did not change his resolution at the sight of danger, but, being a man of his word, offered them his house. But one Hipposthenidas, a man of no ill principles, a lover of his country, and a friend to the exiles, but not of as much resolution as the shortness of time and the character of the action required, being as it were dizzied at the greatness of the approaching enterprise; and beginning now for the first time to comprehend that, relying on that weak assistance which could be expected from the exiles, they were undertaking no less a task than to shake the government, and overthrow the whole power of Sparta; went privately to his house, and sent a friend to Melon and Pelopidas, desiring them to forbear for the present, to return to Athens and expect a better opportunity. The messenger’s name was Chlidon, who, going home in haste and bringing out his horse, asked for the bridle; but, his wife not knowing where it was, and, when it could not be found, telling him she had lent it to a friend, first they began to chide, then to curse one another, and his wife wished the journey might prove ill to him, and those that sent him; insomuch that Chlidon’s passion made him waste a great part of the day in this quarrelling, and then, looking on this chance as an omen, he laid aside all thoughts of his journey, and went away to some other business. So nearly had these great and glorious designs, even in their very birth, lost their opportunity.
But Pelopidas and his companions, dressing themselves like countrymen, divided, and, whilst it was yet day, entered at different quarters of the city. It was, besides, a windy day, and it now just began to snow, which contributed much to their concealment, because most people were gone in doors to avoid the weather. Those, however, that were concerned in the design, received them as they came, and conducted them to Charon’s house, where the exiles and the others made up forty-eight in number. The tyrants’ affairs stood thus: the secretary, Phillidas, as I have already observed, was an accomplice in, and privy to all the contrivance of the exiles, and he a while before had invited Archias, with others, to an entertainment on that day, to drink freely, and meet some women of the town, on purpose that when they were drunk, and given up to their pleasures, he might deliver them over to the conspirators. But before Archias was thoroughly heated, notice was given him that the exiles were privately in the town; a true report indeed, but obscure, and not well confirmed: nevertheless, though Phillidas endeavored to divert the discourse, Archias sent one of his guard to Charon, and commanded him to attend immediately. It was evening, and Pelopidas and his friends with him in the house, were putting themselves into a fit posture for action, having their breastplates on already, and their swords girt: but at the sudden knocking at the door, one stepping forth to inquire the matter, and learning from the officer that Charon was sent for by the polemarchs, returned in great confusion and acquainted those within; and all immediately conjectured that the whole plot was discovered, and they should be cut in pieces, before so much as achieving any action to do credit to their bravery; yet all agreed that Charon should obey, and attend the polemarchs, to prevent suspicion. Charon was, indeed, a man of courage and resolution in all dangers, yet in this case he was extremely concerned, lest any should suspect that he was Page 210 the traitor, and the death of so many brave citizens be laid on him. And, therefore, when he was ready to depart, he brought his son out of the women’s apartment, a little boy as yet, but one of the best looking and strongest of all those of his age, and delivered him to Pelopidas with these words: “If you find me a traitor, treat this boy as an enemy without any mercy.” The concern which Charon showed, drew tears from many; but all protested vehemently against his supposing any one of them so mean-spirited and base, at the appearance of approaching danger, as to suspect or blame him; and therefore, desired him not to involve his son, but to set him out of harm’s way; that so he, perhaps, escaping the tyrant’s power, might live to revenge the city and his friends. Charon, however, refused to remove him, and asked, “What life, what safety could be more honorable, than to die bravely with his father, and such generous companions?” Thus, imploring the protection of the gods, and saluting and encouraging them all, he departed, considering with himself, and composing his voice and countenance, that he might look as little like as possible to what in fact he really was.
When he was come to the door, Archias with Phillidas came out to him, and said, “I have heard, Charon, that there are some men just come, and lurking in the town, and that some of the citizens are resorting to them.” Charon was at first disturbed, but asking, “Who are they? and who conceals them?” and finding Archias did not thoroughly understand the matter, he concluded that none of those privy to the design had given this information, and replied, “Do not disturb yourselves for an empty rumor: I will look into it, however, for no report in such a case is to be neglected.” Phillidas, who stood by, commended him, and leading back Archias, got him deep in drink, still prolonging the entertainment with the hopes of the women’s company at last. But when Charon returned, and found the men prepared, not as if they hoped for safety and success, but to die bravely and with the slaughter of their enemies, he told Pelopidas and his friends the truth, but pretended to others in the house that Archias talked to him about something else, inventing a story for the occasion. This storm was just blowing over, when fortune brought another; for a messenger came with a letter from one Archias, the Hierophant at Athens, to his namesake Archias, who was his friend and guest. This did not merely contain a vague conjectural suspicion, but, as appeared afterwards, disclosed every particular of the design. The messenger being brought in to Archias, who was now pretty well drunk, and delivering the letter, said to him, “The writer of this desired it might be read at once; it is on urgent business.” Archias, with a smile, replied, “Urgent business to-morrow,” and so receiving the letter, he put it under his pillow, and returned to what he had been speaking of with Phillidas; and these words of his are a proverb to this day amongst the Greeks.
Now when the opportunity seemed convenient for action, they set out in two companies; Pelopidas and Damoclides with their party went against Leontidas and Hypates, that lived near together; Charon and Melon against Archias and Philip, having put on women’s apparel over their breastplates, and thick garlands of fir and pine to shade their faces; and so, as soon as they came to the door, the guests clapped and gave an huzza, supposing them to be the women they expected. But when the conspirators had looked about the room, and carefully marked all that were at the entertainment, they drew their swords, and making at Archias and Philip amongst the tables, disclosed who they were. Phillidas persuaded some few of his guests to sit still, and those that got up and endeavored to assist the polemarchs, being drunk, were easily despatched. But Pelopidas and his party met with a harder task; as they attempted Leontidas, a sober and formidable man, and when they came to his house found his doors shut, he being already gone to bed. They knocked a long time before any one would answer, but, at last, a servant that heard them, coming out and unbarring the door, as soon as the gate gave way, they rushed in, and, overturning the man, made all haste to Leontidas’s chamber. But Leontidas, guessing at the matter by the noise and running, leaped from his bed and drew his dagger, but forgot to put out the lights, and by that means make them fall foul on one another in the dark. As it was, being easily seen by reason of the light, he received them at his chamber door, and stabbed Cephisodorus, the first man that entered: on his falling, the next that he engaged was Pelopidas; and the passage being narrow and Cephisodorus’s body lying in the way, there was a fierce and dangerous conflict. At last Pelopidas prevailed, and having killed Leontidas, he and his companions went in pursuit of Hypates, and after the same manner broke into his house. He perceived the design, and fled to his neighbors; but they closely followed, and caught and killed him.
This done they joined Melon, and sent to hasten the exiles they had left in Attica: and called upon the citizens to maintain their liberty, and taking down the spoils from the porches, and breaking open all the armorers’ shops that were near, equipped those that came to their assistance. Epaminondas and Gorgidas came in already armed, with a gallant train of young men, and the best of the old. Now the city was in a great excitement and confusion, a great noise and hurry, lights set up in every house, men running here and there; however, the people did not as yet gather into a body, but, amazed at the proceedings, and not clearly understanding the matter waited for the day. And, therefore, the Spartan officers were thought to have been in fault for not falling on at once, since their garrison consisted of about fifteen hundred men, and many of the citizens ran to them; but, alarmed with the noise, the fires, and the confused running of the people, they kept quietly within the Cadmea. As soon as day appeared, the exiles from Attica came in armed, and there was a general assembly of the people. Epaminondas and Gorgidas brought forth Pelopidas and his party, encompassed by the priests, who held out garlands, and exhorted the people to fight for their country and their gods. The assembly, at their appearance, rose up in a body, and with shouts and acclamations received the men as their deliverers and benefactors.
Then Pelopidas, being chosen chief captain* of Bœotia, together with Melon and Charon, proceeded at once to blockade the citadel, and stormed it on all sides, being extremely desirous to expel the Lacedæmonians, and free the Cadmea, before an army could come from Sparta to their relief. And he just so narrowly succeeded, that they, having surrendered on terms and departed, on their way home met Cleombrotus at Megara marching towards Thebes with a considerable force. The Spartans condemned and executed Herippidas and Arcissus, two of their governors¶ at Thebes, and Lysanoridas the third being severely fined, fled Peloponnesus. This action so closely resembling that of Thrasybulus, in the courage of the actors, the danger, the encounters, and equally crowned with success, was called the sister of it by the Greeks. For we can scarcely find any other examples where so small and weak a party of men by bold courage overcame such numerous and powerful enemies, or brought greater blessings to their country by so doing. But the subsequent change of affairs made this action the more famous; for the war which forever ruined the pretensions of Sparta to command, and put an end to the supremacy she then exercised alike by sea and by land, proceeded from that night, in which Pelopidas not surprising any fort, or castle, or citadel, but coming, the twelfth man, to a private house, loosed and broke, if we may speak truth in metaphor, the chains of the Spartan sway, which before seemed of adamant and indissoluble.
But now the Lacedæmonians invading Bœotia with a great army, the Athenians, affrighted at the danger, declared themselves no allies to Thebes, and prosecuting those that stood for the Bœotian interest, executed some, and banished and fined others: and the cause of Thebes, destitute of allies, seemed in a desperate condition. But Pelopidas and Gorgidas, holding the office of captains of Bœotia, designing to breed a quarrel between the Lacedæmonians and Athenians, made this contrivance. One Sphodrias, a Spartan, a man famous indeed for courage in battle, but of no sound judgment, full of ungrounded hopes and foolish ambition, was left with an army at Thespiæ, to receive and succor the Theban renegades. To him Pelopidas and his colleagues privately sent a merchant, one of their friends, with money, and, what proved more efficient, advice, — that it more became a man of his worth to set upon some great enterprise, and that he should, making a sudden incursion on the unprotected Athenians, surprise the Piræus; since nothing could be so grateful to Sparta, as to take Athens; and the Thebans, of course, would not stir to the assistance of men whom they now hated and looked upon as traitors. Sphodrias, being at last wrought upon, marched into Attica by night with his army, and advanced as far as Eleusis; but there his soldiers’ hearts failing, after exposing his project and involving the Spartans in a dangerous war, he retreated to Thespiæ. After this, the Athenians zealously sent supplies to Thebes, and putting to sea, sailed to many places, and offered support and protection to all those of the Greeks who were willing to revolt.
The Thebans, meantime, singly, having many skirmishes with the Spartans in Bœotia, and fighting some battles, not great indeed, but important as training and instructing them, thus had their minds raised, and their bodies inured to labor, and gained both experience and courage by these frequent encounters; insomuch that we have it related that Antalcidas, the Spartan, said to Agesilaus, returning wounded from Bœotia, “Indeed, the Thebans have paid you handsomely for instructing them in the art of war, against their wills.” In real truth, however, Agesilaus was not their master in this, but those that prudently and opportunely, as men do young dogs, set them on their enemies, and brought them safely off after they had tasted the sweets of victory and resolution. Of all those leaders, Pelopidas deserves the most honor: as after they had once chosen him general, he was every year in command as long as he lived; either captain of the sacred band, or, what was most frequent, chief captain* of Bœotia. About Platæa and Thespiæ the Spartans were routed and put to flight, and Phœbidas, that surprised the Cadmea, slain; and at Tanagra a considerable force was worsted, and the leader† Panthoides killed. But these encounters, though they raised the victor’s spirits, did not thoroughly dishearten the unsuccessful; for there was no set battle, or regular fighting, but mere incursions on advantage, in which, according to occasion, they charged, retired again, or pursued. But the battle at Tegyræ, which seemed a prelude to Leuctra, won Pelopidas a great reputation; for none of the other commanders could claim any hand in the design, nor the enemies any show of victory. The city of the Orchomenians siding with the Spartans, and having received two companies* for its guard, he kept a constant eye upon it, and watched his opportunity. Hearing that the garrison had moved into Locris, and hoping to find Orchomenus defenceless, he marched with his sacred band, and some few horsemen. But when he approached the city, and found that a reinforcement of the garrison was on its march from Sparta, he made a circuit round the foot of the mountains, and retreated with his little army through Tegyræ, that being the only way he could pass. For the river Melas, almost as soon as it rises, spreads itself into marshes and navigable pools, and makes all the plain between impassable. A little below the marshes stands the temple and oracle of Apollo Tegyræus, forsaken not long before that time, having flourished till the Median wars, Echecrates then being priest. Here they profess that the god was born; the neighboring mountain is called Delos, and there the river Melas comes again into a channel; behind the temple rise two springs, admirable for the sweetness, abundance, and coolness of the streams; one they call Phœnix, the other Elæa, even to the present time, as if Lucina had not been delivered between two trees, but fountains. A place hard by, called Ptoum, is shown, where they say she was affrighted by the appearance of a boar; and the stories of the Python and Tityus are in like manner appropriated by these localities. I omit many of the points that are used as arguments. For our tradition does not rank this god amongst those that were born, and then made immortal, as Hercules and Bacchus, whom their virtue raised above a mortal and passible condition; but Apollo is one of the eternal unbegotten deities, if we may collect any certainty concerning these things, from the statements of the oldest and wisest in such subjects.
As the Thebans were retreating from Orchomenus towards Tegyræ, the Spartans, at the same time marching from Locris, met them. As soon as they came in view, advancing through the straits, one told Pelopidas, “We are fallen into our enemy’s hands;” he replied, “And why not they into ours?” and immediately commanded his horse to come up from the rear and charge, while he himself drew his infantry, being three hundred in number, into a close body, hoping by that means, at whatsoever point he made the attack, to break his way through his more numerous enemies. The Spartans had two companies, (the company consisting, as Ephorus states, of five hundred; Callisthenes says seven hundred; others, as Polybius, nine hundred;) and their leaders, Gorgoleon and Theopompus, confident of success, advanced upon the Thebans. The charge being made with much fury, chiefly where the commanders were posted, the Spartan captains that engaged Pelopidas were first killed; and those immediately around them suffering severely, the whole army was thus disheartened, and opened a lane for the Thebans, as if they desired to pass through and escape. But when Pelopidas entered, and turning against those that stood their ground, still went on with a bloody slaughter, an open flight ensued amongst the Spartans. The pursuit was carried but a little way, because they feared the neighboring Orchomenians, and the reinforcement from Lacedæmon; they had succeeded, however, in fighting a way through their enemies, and overpowering their whole force; and, therefore, erecting a trophy, and spoiling the slain, they returned home extremely encouraged with their achievements. For in all the great wars there had ever been against Greeks or barbarians, the Spartans were never before beaten by a smaller company than their own; nor, indeed, in a set battle, when their Page 218 number was equal. Hence their courage was thought irresistible, and their high repute before the battle made a conquest already of enemies, who thought themselves no match for the men of Sparta even on equal terms. But this battle first taught the other Greeks, that not only Eurotas, or the country between Babyce and Cnacion, breeds men of courage and resolution; but that where the youth are ashamed of baseness, and ready to venture in a good cause, where they fly disgrace more than danger, there, wherever it be, are found the bravest and most formidable opponents.
Gorgidas, according to some, first formed the Sacred Band of three hundred chosen men, to whom, as being a guard for the citadel, the State allowed provision, and all things necessary for exercise: and hence they were called the city band, as citadels of old were usually called cities. Others say that it was composed of young men attached to each other by personal affection, and a pleasant saying of Pammenes is current, that Homer’s Nestor was not well skilled in ordering an army, when he advised the Greeks to rank tribe and tribe, and family and family together, that
So tribe might tribe, and kinsmen kinsmen aid,
but that he should have joined lovers and their beloved. For men of the same tribe or family little value one another when dangers press; but a band cemented by friendship grounded upon love, is never to be broken, and invincible; since the lovers, ashamed to be base in sight of their beloved, and the beloved before their lovers, willingly rush into danger for the relief of one another. Nor can that be wondered at; since they have more regard for their absent lovers than for others present; as in the instance of the man, who, when his enemy was going to kill him, earnestly requested him to run him Page 219 through the breast, that his lover might not blush to see him wounded in the back. It is a tradition likewise, that Iolaüs, who assisted Hercules in his labors and fought at his side, was beloved of him; and Aristotle observes, that even in his time, lovers plighted their faith at Iolaus’s tomb. It is likely, therefore, that this band was called sacred on this account; as Plato calls a lover a divine friend. It is stated that it was never beaten till the battle at Chæronea: and when Philip, after the fight, took a view of the slain, and came to the place where the three hundred that fought his phalanx lay dead together, he wondered, and understanding that it was the band of lovers, he shed tears and said, “Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered any thing that was base.”
It was not the disaster of Laius, as the poets imagine, that first gave rise to this form of attachment amongst the Thebans, but their law-givers, designing to soften, whilst they were young, their natural fierceness, brought, for example, the pipe into great esteem, both in serious and sportive occasions, and gave great encouragement to these friendships in the Palæstra, to temper the manners and characters of the youth. With a view to this they did well, again, to make Harmony, the daughter of Mars and Venus, their tutelar deity; since, where force and courage is joined with gracefulness and winning behavior, a harmony ensues that combines all the elements of society in perfect consonance and order. — Gorgidas distributed this Sacred Band all through the front ranks of the infantry and thus made their gallantry less conspicuous; not being united in one body, but mingled with so many others of inferior resolution, they had no fair opportunity of showing what they could do. But Pelopidas, having sufficiently tried their bravery at Tegyræ, where they had fought alone, and around his own person, never afterward Page 220 divided them, but keeping them entire, and as one man, gave them the first duty in the greatest battles. For as horses run brisker in a chariot than singly, not that their joint force divides the air with greater ease, but because being matched one against the other, emulation kindles and inflames their courage; thus he thought, brave men, provoking one another to noble actions, would prove most serviceable and most resolute, where all were united together.
Now when the Lacedæmonians had made peace with the other Greeks, and united all their strength against the Thebans only, and their king, Cleombrotus, had passed the frontier with ten thousand foot and one thousand horse, and not only subjection, as heretofore, but total dispersion and annihilation threatened, and Bœotia was in a greater fear than ever, — Pelopidas, leaving his house, when his wife followed him on his way, and with tears begged him to be careful of his life, made answer, “Private men, my wife, should be advised to look to themselves, generals to save others.” And when he came to the camp, and found the chief captains* disagreeing, he, first, joined the side of Epaminondas, who advised to fight the enemy; though Pelopidas himself was not then in office as chief captain of Bœotia, but in command of the Sacred Band, and trusted as it was fit a man should be, who had given his country such proofs of his zeal for its freedom. And so, when a battle was agreed on, and they encamped in front of the Spartans at Leuctra, Pelopidas saw a vision, which much discomposed him. In that plain lie the bodies of the daughters of one Scedasus, called from the place Leuctridæ, having been buried there, after having been ravished by some Spartan strangers. When this base and lawless deed was done, and their father could get no satisfaction at Lacedæmon, with bitter imprecations on the Spartans, he killed himself at his daughters’ tombs: and, from that time, the prophecies and oracles still warned them to have a great care of the divine vengeance at Leuctra. Many, however, did not understand the meaning, being uncertain about the place, because there was a little maritime town of Laconia called Leuctron, and near Megalopolis in Arcadia a place of the same name; and the villany was committed long before this battle.
Now Pelopidas, being asleep in the camp, thought he saw the maidens weeping about their tombs, and cursing the Spartans, and Scedasus commanding, if they desired the victory, to sacrifice a virgin with chestnut hair to his daughters. Pelopidas looked on this as an harsh and impious injunction, but rose and told it to the prophets and commanders of the army, some of whom contended, that it was fit to obey, and adduced as examples from the ancients, Menœceus, son of Creon; Macaria, daughter of Hercules; and from later times, Pherecydes the philosopher, slain by the Lacedæmonians, and his skin, as the oracles advised, still kept by their kings. Leonidas, again, warned by the oracle, did as it were sacrifice himself for the good of Greece; Themistocles offered human victims to Bacchus Omestes, before the engagement at Salamis; and success showed their actions to be good. On the contrary, Agesilaus going from the same place, and against the same enemies that Agamemnon did, and, being commanded in a dream at Aulis to sacrifice his daughter, was so weak as to disobey; the consequence of which was, that his expedition was unsuccessful and inglorious. But some on the other side urged, that such a barbarous and impious oblation could not be pleasing to any Superior Beings: that typhons and giants did not preside over the world, but the general father of gods and men; that it was absurd to imagine any divinities or powers delighted in slaughter and sacrifices of men; or, if there were any such, they were to be neglected, as weak and unable to assist; such unreasonable and cruel desires could only proceed from, and live in weak and depraved minds.
The commanders thus disputing, and Pelopidas being in a great perplexity, a mare colt, breaking from the herd, ran through the camp, and when she came to the place where they were, stood still; and whilst some admired her bright chestnut color, others her mettle, or the strength and fury of her neighing, Theocritus, the augur, took thought, and cried out to Pelopidas, “O good friend! look, the sacrifice is come; expect no other virgin, but use that which the gods have sent thee.” With that they took the colt, and, leading her to the maidens’ sepulchres, with the usual solemnity and prayers, offered her with joy, and spread through the whole army the account of Pelopidas’s dream, and how they had given the required sacrifice.
In the battle, Epaminondas, bending his phalanx to the left, that, as much as possible, he might divide the right wing, composed of Spartans, from the other Greeks, and distress Cleombrotus, by a fierce charge in column on that wing, the enemies perceived the design, and began to change their order, to open and extend their right wing, and, as they far exceeded him in number, to encompass Epaminondas. But Pelopidas with the three hundred came rapidly up, before Cleombrotus could extend his line, and close up his divisions, and so fell upon the Spartans while in disorder; though the Lacedæmonians, the expertest and most practised soldiers of all mankind, used to train and accustom themselves to nothing so much as to keep themselves from confusion upon any change of position, and to follow any leader, or right hand man, and form in order, and fight on what part soever dangers press. In this battle, however, Epaminondas with his phalanx, neglecting the other Greeks, and charging them alone, and Pelopidas coming up with such incredible speed and fury, so broke their courage, and baffled their art, that there began such a flight and slaughter amongst the Spartans, as was never before known. And so Pelopidas, though in no high office, but only captain of a small band, got as much reputation by the victory, as Epaminondas, who was general and chief captain of Bœotia.
Into Peloponnesus, however, they both advanced together as colleagues in supreme command, and gained the greater part of the nations there from the Spartan confederacy; Elis, Argos, all Arcadia, and much of Laconia itself. It was the dead of winter, and but few of the last days of the month remained, and, in the beginning of the next, new officers were to succeed, and whoever failed to deliver up his charge, forfeited his head. Therefore, the other chief captains fearing the law, and to avoid the sharpness of the winter, advised a retreat. But Pelopidas joined with Epaminondas, and, encouraging his countrymen, led them against Sparta, and, passing the Eurotas, took many of the towns, and wasted the country as far as the sea. This army consisted of seventy thousand Greeks, of which number the Thebans could not make the twelfth part; but the reputation of the men made all their allies contented to follow them as leaders, though no articles to that effect had been made. For, indeed, it seems the first and paramount law, that he that wants a defender, is naturally a subject to him that is able to defend: as mariners, though in a calm or in the port they grow insolent, and brave the pilot, yet when a storm comes, and danger is at hand, they all attend, and put their hopes in him. So the Argives, Eleans, and Arcadians, in their congresses, would contend with the Thebans for superiority in command, yet in a battle, or any hazardous undertaking, of their own will followed their Theban captains. In this expedition, they united all Arcadia into one body, and, expelling the Spartans that inhabited Messenia, they called back the old Messenians, and established them in Ithome in one body; — and, returning through Cenchreæ, they dispersed the Athenians, who designed to set upon them in the straits, and hinder their march.
For these exploits, all the other Greeks loved their courage, and admired their success; but among their own citizens, envy, still increasing with their glory, prepared them no pleasing nor agreeable reception. Both were tried for their lives, because they did not deliver up their command in the first month, Bucatius, as the law required, but kept it four months longer, in which time they did these memorable actions in Messenia, Arcadia, and Laconia. Pelopidas was first tried, and therefore in greatest danger, but both were acquitted. Epaminondas bore the accusation and trial very patiently, esteeming it a great and essential part of courage and generosity, not to resent injuries in political life. But Pelopidas, being a man of a fiercer temper, and stirred on by his friends to revenge the affront, took the following occasion. Meneclidas, the orator, was one of those that had met with Melon and Pelopidas at Charon’s house; but not receiving equal honor, and being powerful in his speech, but loose in his manners, and ill natured, he abused his natural endowments, even after this trial, to accuse and calumniate his betters. He excluded Epaminondas from the chief captaincy, and for a long time kept the upper hand of him; but he was not powerful enough to bring Pelopidas out of the people’s favor, and therefore endeavored to raise a quarrel between him and Charon. And since it is some comfort to the envious, to make those men, whom themselves cannot excel, appear worse than others, he studiously enlarged upon Charon’s actions in his speeches to the people, and made panegyrics on his expeditions and victories; and, of the victory which the horsemen won at Platæa, before the battle at Leuctra, under Charon’s command, he endeavored to make the following sacred memorial. Androcydes, the Cyzicenian, had undertaken to paint a previous battle for the city, and was at work in Thebes; and when the revolt began, and the war came on, the Thebans kept the picture that was then almost finished. This picture Meneclidas persuaded them to dedicate, inscribed with Charon’s name, designing by that means to obscure the glory of Epaminondas and Pelopidas. This was a ludicrous piece of pretension; to set a single victory, where only one Gerandas, an obscure Spartan, and forty more were slain, above such numerous and important battles. This motion Pelopidas opposed, as contrary to law, alleging that it was not the custom of the Thebans to honor any single man, but to attribute the victory to their country; yet in all the contest, he extremely commended Charon, and confined himself to showing Meneclidas to be a troublesome and envious fellow, asking the Thebans, if they had done nothing that was excellent,* . . . . insomuch that Meneclidas was severely fined; and he, being unable to pay, endeavored afterwards to disturb the government. These things give us some light into Pelopidas’s life.
Now when Alexander, the tyrant of Pheræ, made open war against some of the Thessalians, and had designs against all, the cities sent an embassy to Thebes, to desire succors and a general; and Pelopidas, knowing that Epaminondas was detained by the Peloponnesian affairs, offered himself to lead the Thessalians, being unwilling to let his courage and skill lie idle, and thinking it unfit that Epaminondas should be withdrawn from his present duties. When he came into Thessaly with his army, he presently took Larissa, and endeavored to reclaim Alexander, who submitted, and bring him, from being a tyrant, to govern gently, and according to law; but finding him untractable and brutish, and hearing great complaints of his lust and cruelty, Pelopidas began to be severe, and used him roughly, insomuch that the tyrant stole away privately with his guard. But Pelopidas, leaving the Thessalians fearless of the tyrant, and friends amongst themselves, marched into Macedonia, where Ptolemy was then at war with Alexander, the king of Macedon; both parties having sent for him to hear and determine their differences, and assist the one that appeared injured. When he came, he reconciled them, called back the exiles, and, receiving for hostages Philip the king’s brother, and thirty children of the nobles, he brought them to Thebes; showing the other Greeks how wide a reputation the Thebans had gained for honesty and courage. This was that Philip who afterward endeavored to enslave the Greeks: then he was a boy, and lived with Pammenes in Thebes; and hence some conjecture, that he took Epaminondas’s actions for the rule of his own; and perhaps, indeed, he did take example from his activity and skill in war, which, however, was but a small portion of his virtues; of his temperance, justice, generosity, and mildness, in which he was truly great, Philip enjoyed no share, either by nature or imitation.
After this, upon a second complaint of the Thessalians against Alexander of Pheræ, as a disturber of the cities, Pelopidas was joined with Ismenias, in an embassy to him; but led no forces from Thebes, not expecting any war, and therefore was necessitated to make use of the Thessalians upon the emergency. At the same time, also, Macedon was in confusion again, as Ptolemy had murdered the king, and seized the government: but the king’s friends sent for Pelopidas, and he, being willing to interpose in the matter, but having no soldiers of his own, enlisted some mercenaries in the country, and with them marched against Ptolemy. When they faced one another, Ptolemy corrupted these mercenaries with a sum of money, and persuaded them to revolt to him; but yet, fearing the very name and reputation of Pelopidas, he came to him as his superior, submitted, begged his pardon, and protested that he kept the government only for the brothers of the dead king, and would prove a friend to the friends, and an enemy to the enemies of Thebes; and, to confirm this, he gave his son, Philoxenus, and fifty of his companions, for hostages. These Pelopidas sent to Thebes; but he himself, being vexed at the treachery of the mercenaries, and understanding that most of their goods, their wives and children, lay at Pharsalus, so that if he could take them, the injury would be sufficiently revenged, got together some of the Thessalians, and marched to Pharsalus. When he had just entered the city, Alexander, the tyrant, appeared before it with an army; but Pelopidas and his friends, thinking that he came to clear himself from those crimes that were laid to his charge, went to him; and though they knew very well that he was profligate and cruel, yet they imagined that the authority of Thebes, and their own dignity and reputation, would secure them from violence. But the tyrant, seeing them come unarmed and alone, seized them, and made himself master of Pharsalus. Upon this his subjects were much intimidated, thinking that after so great and so bold an iniquity, he would spare none, but behave himself toward all, and in all matters, as one despairing of his life.
The Thebans, when they heard of this, were very much enraged, and despatched an army, Epaminondas being then in disgrace, under the command of other leaders. When the tyrant brought Pelopidas to Pheræ, at first he permitted those that desired it to speak with him, imagining that this disaster would break his spirit, and make him appear contemptible. But when Pelopidas advised the complaining Pheræans to be comforted, as if the tyrant was now certain in a short time to smart for his injuries, and sent to tell him, “That it was absurd daily to torment and murder his wretched innocent subjects, and yet spare him, who, he well knew, if ever he got his liberty, would be bitterly revenged;” the tyrant, wondering at his boldness and freedom of speech, replied, “And why is Pelopidas in haste to die?” He, hearing of it, rejoined, “That you may be the sooner ruined, being then more hated by the gods than now.” From that time he forbade any to converse with him; but Thebe, the daughter of Jason and wife to Alexander, hearing from the keepers of the bravery and noble behavior of Pelopidas, had a great desire to see and speak with him. Now when she came into the prison, and, as a woman, could not at once discern his greatness in his calamity, only, judging by the meanness of his attire and general appearance, that he was used basely and not befitting a man of his reputation, she wept. Pelopidas, at first not knowing who she was, stood amazed; but when he understood, saluted her by her father’s name — Jason and he having been friends and familiars — and she saying, “I pity your wife, Sir,” he replied, “And I you, that though not in chains, can endure Alexander.” This touched the woman, who already hated Alexander for his cruelty and injustice, for his general debaucheries, and for his abuse of her youngest brother. She, therefore, often went to Pelopidas, and, speaking freely of the indignities she suffered, grew more enraged, and more exasperated against Alexander.
The Theban generals that were sent into Thessaly did nothing, but, being either unskilful or unfortunate, made a dishonorable retreat, for which the city fined each of them ten thousand drachmas, and sent Epaminondas with their forces. The Thessalians, inspirited by the fame of this general, at once began to stir, and the tyrant’s affairs were at the verge of destruction; so great was the fear that possessed his captains and his friends, and so eager the desire of his subjects to revolt, in hope of his speedy punishment. But Epaminondas, more solicitous for the safety of Pelopidas than his own glory, and fearing that if things came to extremity, Alexander would grow desperate, and, like a wild beast, turn and worry him, did not prosecute the war to the utmost; but, hovering still over him with his army, he so handled the tyrant as not to leave him any confidence, and yet not to drive him to despair and fury. He was aware of his savageness, and the little value he had for right and justice, insomuch that sometimes he buried men alive, and sometimes dressed them in bear’s and boar’s skins, and then baited them with dogs, or shot at them for his divertisement. At Melibœa and Scotussa, two cities, his allies, he called all the inhabitants to an assembly, and then surrounded them and cut them to pieces with his guards. He consecrated the spear with which he killed his uncle Polyphron, and, crowning it with garlands, sacrificed to it as a god, and called it Tychon. And once seeing a tragedian act Euripides’s Troades, he left the theatre; but sending for the actor, bade him not to be concerned at his departure, but act as he had been used to do, as it was not in contempt of him that he departed, but because he was ashamed that his citizens should see him, who never pitied any man that he murdered, weep at the sufferings of Hecuba and Andromache. This tyrant, however, alarmed at the very name, report, and appearance of an expedition under the conduct of Epaminondas, presently
Dropped like a craven cock his conquered wing,
and sent an embassy to entreat and offer satisfaction Epaminondas refused to admit such a man as an ally to the Thebans, but granted him a truce of thirty days, and, Pelopidas and Ismenias being delivered up, returned home.
Now the Thebans, understanding that the Spartans and Athenians had sent an embassy to the Persians for assistance, themselves, likewise, sent Pelopidas; an excellent design to increase his glory, no man having ever before passed through the dominions of the king with greater fame and reputation. For the glory that he won against the Spartans, did not creep slowly or obscurely; but, after the fame of the first battle at Leuctra was gone abroad, the report of new victories continually following, exceedingly increased, and spread his celebrity far and near. Whatever satraps or generals or commanders he met, he was the object of their wonder and discourse; “This is the man,” they said, “who hath beaten the Lacedæmonians from sea and land, and confined that Sparta within Taÿgetus and Eurotas, which, but a little before, under the conduct of Agesilaus, was entering upon a war with the great king about Susa and Ecbatana.” This pleased Artaxerxes, and he was the more inclined to show Pelopidas attention and honor, being desirous to seem reverenced, and attended by the greatest. But when he saw him and heard his discourse, more solid than the Athenians, and not so haughty as the Spartans, his regard was heightened, and, truly acting like a king, he openly showed the respect that he felt for him; and this the other ambassadors perceived. Of all other Greeks he had been thought to have done Antalcidas, the Spartan, the greatest honor, by sending him that garland dipped in an unguent, which he himself had worn at an entertainment. Indeed, he did not deal so delicately with Pelopidas, but, according to the custom, gave him the most splendid and Page 231 considerable presents, and granted him his desires, — that the Grecians should be free, Messenia inhabited, and the Thebans accounted the king’s hereditary friends. With these answers, but not accepting one of the presents, except what was a pledge of kindness and good-will, he returned. This behavior of Pelopidas ruined the other ambassadors: the Athenians condemned and executed their Timagoras, and, indeed, if they did it for receiving so many presents from the king, their sentence was just and good; as he not only took gold and silver, but a rich bed, and slaves to make it, as if the Greeks were unskilful in that art; besides eighty cows and herdsmen, professing he needed cow’s milk for some distemper; and, lastly, he was carried in a litter to the seaside, with a present of four talents for his attendants. But the Athenians, perhaps, were not so much irritated at his greediness for the presents. For Epicrates the baggage-carrier not only confessed to the people that he had received gifts from the king, but made a motion, that instead of nine archons, they should yearly choose nine poor citizens to be sent ambassadors to the king, and enriched by his presents, and the people only laughed at the joke. But they were vexed that the Thebans obtained their desires, never considering that Pelopidas’s fame was more powerful than all their rhetorical discourse, with a man who still inclined to the victorious in arms. This embassy, having obtained the restitution of Messenia, and the freedom of the other Greeks, got Pelopidas a great deal of good-will at his return.
At this time, Alexander the Pheræan falling back to his old nature, and having seized many of the Thessalian cities, and put garrisons upon the Achæans of Phthiotis, and the Magnesians, the cities, hearing that Pelopidas was returned, sent an embassy to Thebes, requesting succors, and him for their leader. The Thebans willingly granted Page 232 their desire; and now when all things were prepared, and the general beginning to march, the sun was eclipsed, and darkness spread over the city at noonday. Now when Pelopidas saw them startled at the prodigy, he did not think it fit to force on men who were afraid and out of heart, nor to hazard seven thousand of his citizens; and therefore with only three hundred horse volunteers, set forward himself to Thessaly, much against the will of the augurs and his fellow-citizens in general, who all imagined this marked portent to have reference to this great man. But he was heated against Alexander for the injuries he had received, and hoped likewise, from the discourse which formerly he had with Thebe, that his family by this time was divided and in disorder. But the glory of the expedition chiefly excited him; for he was extremely desirous at this time, when the Lacedæmonians were sending out military officers to assist Dionysius the Sicilian tyrant, and the Athenians took Alexander’s pay, and honored him with a brazen statue as a benefactor, that the Thebans should be seen, alone, of all the Greeks, undertaking the cause of those who were oppressed by tyrants, and destroying the violent and illegal forms of government in Greece.
When Pelopidas was come to Pharsalus, he formed an army, and presently marched against Alexander; and Alexander understanding that Pelopidas had few Thebans with him, and that his own infantry was double the number of the Thessalians, faced him at Thetidium. Some one told Pelopidas, “The tyrant meets us with a great army;” “So much the better,” he replied, “for then we shall overcome the more.” Between the two armies lay some steep high hills about Cynoscephalæ, which both parties endeavored to take by their foot. Pelopidas commanded his horse, which were good and many, to charge that of the enemies; they routed and pursued them through the plain. But Alexander, meantime, took the hills, and charging the Thessalian foot that came up later, and strove to climb the steep and craggy ascent, killed the foremost, and the others, much distressed, could do the enemies no harm. Pelopidas, observing this, sounded a retreat to his horse, and gave orders that they should charge the enemies that kept their ground; and he himself, taking his shield, quickly joined those that fought about the hills, and, advancing to the front, filled his men with such courage and alacrity, that the enemies imagined they came with other spirits and other bodies to the onset. They stood two or three charges, but finding these come on stoutly, and the horse, also, returning from the pursuit, gave ground, and retreated in order. Pelopidas now perceiving, from the rising ground, that the enemy’s army was, though not yet routed, full of disorder and confusion, stood and looked about for Alexander; and when he saw him in the right wing, encouraging and ordering his mercenaries, he could not moderate his anger, but inflamed at the sight, and blindly following his passion, regardless alike of his own life and his command, advanced far before his soldiers, crying out and challenging the tyrant who did not dare to receive him, but retreating, hid himself amongst his guard. The foremost of the mercenaries that came hand to hand were driven back by Pelopidas, and some killed; but many at a distance shot through his armor and wounded him, till the Thessalians, in anxiety for the result, ran down from the hill to his relief, but found him already slain. The horse came up, also, and routed the phalanx, and, following the pursuit a great way, filled the whole country with the slain, which were above three thousand.
No one can wonder that the Thebans then present, should show great grief at the death of Pelopidas, calling him their father, deliverer, and instructor in all that was good and commendable. But the Thessalians and the allies, out-doing in their public edicts all the just honors that could be paid to human courage, gave, in their display of feeling, yet stronger demonstrations of the kindness they had for him. It is stated, that none of the soldiers, when they heard of his death, would put off their armor, unbridle their horses, or dress their wounds, but, still hot and with their arms on, ran to the corpse, and, as if he had been yet alive and could see what they did, heaped up spoils about his body. They cut off their horses’ manes and their own hair, many kindled no fire in their tents, took no supper, and silence and sadness was spread over all the army; as if they had not gained the greatest and most glorious victory, but were overcome by the tyrant, and enslaved. As soon as it was known in the cities, the magistrates, youths, children, and priests, came out to meet the body, and brought trophies, crowns, and suits of golden armor; and, when he was to be interred, the elders of the Thessalians came and begged the Thebans, that they might give the funeral; and one of them said, “Friends, we ask a favor of you, that will prove both an honor and comfort to us in this our great misfortune. The Thessalians shall never again wait on the living Pelopidas, never give honors, of which he can be sensible, but if we may have his body, adorn his funeral, and inter him, we shall hope to show, that we esteem his death a greater loss to the Thessalians than to the Thebans. You have lost only a good general, we both a general and our liberty. For how shall we dare to desire from you another captain, since we cannot restore Pelopidas?”
The Thebans granted their request, and there was never a more splendid funeral in the opinion of those, who do not think the glory of such solemnities consists only in gold, ivory, and purple; as Philistus did, who extravagantly celebrates the funeral of Dionysius, in which his tyranny concluded like the pompous exit of some great tragedy. Alexander the Great, at the death of Hephæstion, not only cut off the manes of his horses and his mules, but took down the battlements from the city walls, that even the towns might seem mourners, and, instead of their former beauteous appearance, look bald at his funeral. But such honors, being commanded and forced from the mourners, attended with feelings of jealousy towards those who received them, and of hatred towards those who exacted them, were no testimonies of love and respect, but of the barbaric pride, luxury, and insolence of those who lavished their wealth in these vain and undesirable displays. But that a man of common rank, dying in a strange country, neither his wife, children, nor kinsmen present, none either asking or compelling it, should be attended, buried, and crowned by so many cities that strove to exceed one another in the demonstrations of their love, seems to be the sum and completion of happy fortune. For the death of happy men is not, as Æsop observes, most grievous, but most blessed, since it secures their felicity, and puts it out of fortune’s power. And that Spartan advised well, who, embracing Diagoras, that had himself been crowned in the Olympic Games, and saw his sons and grandchildren victors, said, “Die, Diagoras, for thou canst not be a god.” And yet who would compare all the victories in the Pythian and Olympian Games put together, with one of those enterprises of Pelopidas, of which he successfully performed so many? Having spent his life in brave and glorious actions, he died at last in the chief command, for the thirteenth time, of the Bœotians, fighting bravely and in the act of slaying a tyrant, in defence of the liberty of the Thessalians.
His death, as it brought grief, so likewise it produced advantage to the allies; for the Thebans, as soon as they heard of his fall, delayed not their revenge, but presently sent seven thousand foot and seven hundred horse, under the command of Malcitas and Diogiton. And they, finding Alexander weak and without forces, compelled him to restore the cities he had taken, to withdraw his garrisons from the Magnesians and Achæans of Phthiotis, and swear to assist the Thebans against whatsoever enemies they should require. This contented the Thebans, but punishment overtook the tyrant for his wickedness, and the death of Pelopidas was revenged by Heaven in the following manner. Pelopidas, as I have already mentioned, had taught his wife Thebe not to fear the outward splendor and show of the tyrant’s defences, since she was admitted within them. She, of herself, too, dreaded his inconstancy, and hated his cruelty; and, therefore, conspiring with her three brothers, Tisiphonus, Pytholaus, and Lycophron, made the following attempt upon him. All the other apartments were full of the tyrant’s night guards, but their bed-chamber was an upper room, and before the door lay a chained dog to guard it, which would fly at all but the tyrant and his wife and one servant that fed him. When Thebe, therefore, designed to kill her husband, she hid her brothers all day in a room hard by, and she, going in alone, according to her usual custom, to Alexander who was asleep already, in a little time came out again, and commanded the servant to lead away the dog, for Alexander wished to rest quietly. She covered the stairs with wool, that the young men might make no noise as they came up; and then, bringing up her brothers with their weapons, and leaving them at the chamber door, she went in, and brought away the tyrant’s sword that hung over his head, and showed it them for a confirmation that he was fast asleep. The young men appearing fearful, and unwilling to do the murder, she chid them, and angrily vowed she would wake Alexander, and discover the conspiracy; and so, with a lamp in her hand, she conducted them in, they being both ashamed and afraid, and brought them to the bed; when one of them caught him by the feet, the other pulled him backward by the hair, and the third ran him through. The death was more speedy, perhaps, than was fit; but, in that he was the first tyrant that was killed by the contrivance of his wife, and as his corpse was abused, thrown out, and trodden under foot by the Pheræans, he seems to have suffered what his villanies deserved.
They say that Marcus Claudius, who was five times consul of the Romans, was the son of Marcus; and that he was the first of his family called Marcellus; that is, martial, as Posidonius affirms. He was, indeed, by long experience skilful in the art of war, of a strong body, valiant of hand, and by natural inclination addicted to war. This high temper and heat he showed conspicuously in battle; in other respects he was modest and obliging, and so far studious of Greek learning and discipline, as to honor and admire those that excelled in it, though he did not himself attain a proficiency in them equal to his desire, by reason of his employments. For if ever there were any men, whom, as Homer says, Heaven —
certainly they were the chief Romans of that time; who in their youth had war with the Carthaginians in Sicily, in their middle age with the Gauls in the defence of Italy itself; and, at last, when now grown old, struggled again with Hannibal and the Carthaginians, and wanted in their latest years what is granted to most men, exemption from military toils; their rank and their great qualities still making them be called upon to undertake the command.
Marcellus, ignorant or unskilful of no kind of fighting, in single combat surpassed himself; he never declined a challenge, and never accepted without killing his challenger. In Sicily, he protected and saved his brother Otacilius when surrounded in battle, and slew the enemies that pressed upon him; for which act he was by the generals, while he was yet but young, presented with crowns and other honorable rewards; and, his good qualities more and more displaying themselves, he was created Curule Ædile by the people, and by the high-priests Augur; which is that priesthood to which chiefly the law assigns the observation of auguries. In his ædileship, a certain mischance brought him to the necessity of bringing an impeachment into the senate. He had a son named Marcus, of great beauty, in the flower of his age, and no less admired for the goodness of his character. This youth, Capitolinus, a bold and ill-mannered man, Marcellus’s colleague, sought to abuse. The boy at first himself repelled him; but when the other again persecuted him, told his father. Marcellus, highly indignant, accused the man in the senate: where he, having appealed to the tribunes of the people, endeavored by various shifts and exceptions to elude the impeachment; and, when the tribunes refused their protection, by flat denial rejected the charge. As there was no witness of the fact, the senate thought fit to call the youth himself before them: on witnessing whose blushes and tears, and shame mixed with the highest indignation, seeking no further evidence of the crime, they condemned Capitolinus, and set a fine upon him; of the money of which, Marcellus caused silver vessels for libation to be made, which he dedicated to the gods.
After the end of the first Punic war, which lasted one and twenty years, the seeds of Gallic tumults sprang up, and began again to trouble Rome. The Insubrians, a people inhabiting the subalpine region of Italy, strong in their own forces, raised from among the other Gauls aids of mercenary soldiers, called Gæsatæ. And it was a sort of miracle, and special good fortune for Rome, that the Gallic war was not coincident with the Punic, but that the Gauls had with fidelity stood quiet as spectators, while the Punic war continued, as though they had been under engagements to await and attack the victors, and now only were at liberty to come forward. Still the position itself, and the ancient renown of the Gauls, struck no little fear into the minds of the Romans, who were about to undertake a war so near home and upon their own borders; and regarded the Gauls, because they had once taken their city, with more apprehension than any people, as is apparent from the enactment which from that time forth provided, that the high-priests should enjoy an exemption from all military duty, except only in Gallic insurrections.
The great preparations, also, made by the Romans for war, (for it is not reported that the people of Rome ever had at one time so many legions in arms, either before or since,) and their extraordinary sacrifices, were plain arguments of their fear. For though they were most averse to barbarous and cruel rites, and entertained more than any nation the same pious and reverent sentiments of the gods with the Greeks; yet, when this war was coming upon them, they then, from some prophecies in the Sibyls’ books, put alive under ground a pair of Greeks, one male, the other female; and likewise two Gauls, one of each sex, in the market called the beast-market:* continuing even to this day to offer to these Greeks and Gauls certain secret ceremonial observances in the month of November.
In the beginning of this war, in which the Romans sometimes obtained remarkable victories, sometimes were shamefully beaten, nothing was done toward the determination of the contest, until Flaminius and Furius, being consuls, led large forces against the Insubrians. At the time of their departure, the river that runs through the country of Picenum was seen flowing with blood; there was a report, that three moons had been seen at once at Ariminum; and, in the consular assembly, the augurs declared, that the consuls had been unduly and inauspiciously created. The senate, therefore, immediately sent letters to the camp, recalling the consuls to Rome with all possible speed, and commanding them to forbear from acting against the enemies, and to abdicate the consulship on the first opportunity. These letters being brought to Flaminius, he deferred to open them till, having defeated and put to flight the enemy’s forces, he wasted and ravaged their borders. The people, therefore, did not go forth to meet him when he returned with huge spoils; nay, because he had not instantly obeyed the command in the letters, by which he was recalled, but slighted and contemned them, they were very near denying him the honor of a triumph. Nor was the triumph sooner passed than they deposed him, with his colleague, from the magistracy, and reduced them to the state of private citizens. So much were all things at Rome made to depend upon religion; they would not allow any contempt of the omens and the ancient rites, even though attended with the highest success; thinking it to be of more importance to the public safety, that the magistrates should reverence the gods, than that they should overcome their enemies. Thus Tiberius Sempronius, whom for his probity and virtue the citizens highly esteemed, created Scipio Nasica and Caius Marcius, consuls to succeed him: and when they were gone into their provinces, lit upon books concerning the religious observances, where he found something he had not known before; which was this. When the consul took his auspices, he sat without the city in a house, or tent, hired for that occasion; but, if it happened that he, for any urgent cause, returned into the city, without having yet seen any certain signs, he was obliged to leave that first building, or tent, and to seek another to repeat the survey from. Tiberius, it appears, in ignorance of this, had twice used the same building before announcing the new consuls. Now, understanding his error, he referred the matter to the senate: nor did the senate neglect this minute fault, but soon wrote expressly of it to Scipio Nasica and Caius Marcius; who, leaving their provinces and without delay returning to Rome, laid down their magistracy. This happened at a later period. About the same time, too, the priesthood was taken away from two men of very great honor, Cornelius Cethegus and Quintus Sulpicius: from the former, because he had not rightly held out the entrails of a beast slain for sacrifice; from the latter, because, while he was immolating, the tufted cap which the Flamens wear had fallen from his head. Minucius, the dictator, who had already named Caius Flaminius master of the horse, they deposed from his command, because the squeak of a mouse was heard, and put others into their places. And yet, notwithstanding, by observing so anxiously these little niceties they did not run into any superstition, because they never varied from nor exceeded the observances of their ancestors.
So soon as Flaminius with his colleague had resigned the consulat, Marcellus was declared consul by the presiding officers called Interrexes; and, entering into the magistracy, chose Cnæus Cornelius his colleague. There was a report that, the Gauls proposing a pacification, and the senate also inclining to peace, Marcellus inflamed the people to war; but a peace appears to have been agreed upon, which the Gæsatæ broke; who, passing the Alps, stirred up the Insubrians, (they being thirty thousand in number, and the Insubrians more numerous by far;) and, proud of their strength, marched directly to Acerræ, a city seated on the north of the river Po. From thence Britomartus,* king of the Gæsatæ, taking with him ten thousand soldiers, harassed the country round about News of which being brought to Marcellus, leaving his colleague at Acerræ with the foot and all the heavy arms and a third part of the horse, and carrying with him the rest of the horse and six hundred light armed foot, marching night and day without remission, he staid not till he came up to these ten thousand near a Gaulish village called Clastidium, which not long before had been reduced under the Roman jurisdiction. Nor had he time to refresh his soldiers, or to give them rest. For the barbarians, that were then present, immediately observed his approach, and contemned him, because he had very few foot with him. The Gauls were singularly skilful in horsemanship, and thought to excel in it; and as at present they also exceeded Marcellus in number, they made no account of him. They, therefore, with their king at their head, instantly charged upon him, as if they would trample him under their horses’ feet, threatening all kind of cruelties. Marcellus, because his men were few, that they might not be encompassed and charged on all sides by the enemy, extended his wings of horse, and, riding about, drew out his wings of foot in length, till he came near to the enemy. Just as he was in the act of turning round to face the enemy, it so happened that his horse, startled with their fierce look and their cries, gave back, and carried him forcibly aside. Fearing lest this accident, if converted into an omen, might discourage his soldiers, he quickly brought his horse round to confront the enemy, and made a gesture of adoration to the sun, as if he had wheeled about not by chance, but for a purpose of devotion. For it was customary to the Romans, when they offered worship to the gods, to turn round; and in this moment of meeting the enemy, he is said to have vowed the best of the arms to Jupiter Feretrius.
The king of the Gauls beholding Marcellus, and from the badges of his authority conjecturing him to be the general, advanced some way before his embattled army, and with a loud voice challenged him, and, brandishing his lance, fiercely ran in full career at him; exceeding the rest of the Gauls in stature, and with his armor, that was adorned with gold and silver and various colors, shining like lightning. These arms seeming to Marcellus, while he viewed the enemy’s army drawn up in battalia, to be the best and fairest, and thinking them to be those he had vowed to Jupiter, he instantly ran upon the king, and pierced through his breastplate with his lance; then pressing upon him with the weight of his horse, threw him to the ground, and with two or three strokes more, slew him. Immediately he leapt from his horse, laid his hand upon the dead king’s arms, and, looking up toward Heaven, thus spoke: “O Jupiter Feretrius, arbiter of the exploits of captains, and of the acts of commanders in war and battles, be thou witness that I, a general, have slain a general; I, a consul, have slain a king with my own hand, third of all the Romans; and that to thee I consecrate these first and most excellent of the spoils. Grant to us to dispatch the relics of the war, with the same course of fortune.” Then the Roman horse joining battle not only with the enemy’s horse, but also with the foot who attacked them, obtained a singular and unheard of victory. For never before or since have so few horse defeated such numerous forces of horse and foot together. The enemies being to a great number slain, and the spoils collected, he returned to his colleague, who was conducting the war, with ill success, against the enemies near the greatest and most populous of the Gallic cities, Milan. This was their capital, and, therefore, fighting valiantly in defence of it, they were were not so much besieged by Cornelius, as they besieged him. But Marcellus having returned, and the Gæsatæ retiring as soon as they were certified of the death of the king and the defeat of his army, Milan was taken. The rest of their towns, and all they had, the Gauls delivered up of their own accord to the Romans, and had peace upon equitable conditions granted to them.
Marcellus alone, by a decree of the senate, triumphed. The triumph was in magnificence, opulence, spoils, and the gigantic bodies of the captives, most remarkable. But the most grateful and most rare spectacle of all was the general himself, carrying the arms of the barbarian king to the god to whom he had vowed them. He had taken a tall and straight stock of an oak, and had lopped and formed it to a trophy. Upon this he fastened and hung round about the arms of the king, arranging all the pieces in their suitable places. The procession advancing solemnly, he, carrying this trophy, ascended the chariot; and thus, himself the fairest and most glorious triumphant image, was conveyed into the city. The army adorned with shining armor followed in order, and with verses composed for the occasion and with songs of victory celebrated the praises of Jupiter and of their general. Then entering the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, he dedicated his gift; the third, and to our memory the last, that ever did so. The first was Romulus, after having slain Acron, king of the Cæninenses: the second, Cornelius Cossus, who slew Tolumnius the Etruscan: after them Marcellus, having killed Britomartus king of the Gauls; Page 246 after Marcellus, no man. The god to whom these spoils were consecrated is called Jupiter Feretrius, from the trophy carried on the feretrum, one of the Greek words which at that time still existed in great numbers in Latin: or, as others say, it is the surname of the Thundering Jupiter, derived from ferire, to strike. Others there are who would have the name to be deduced from the strokes that are given in fight; since even now in battles, when they press upon their enemies, they constantly call out to each other, strike, in Latin, feri. Spoils in general they call Spolia, and these in particular Opima; though, indeed, they say that Numa Pompilius in his commentaries, makes mention of first, second, and third Spolia Opima; and that he prescribes that the first taken be consecrated to Jupiter Feretrius, the second to Mars, the third to Quirinus; as also that the reward of the first be three hundred asses; of the second, two hundred; of the third, one hundred. The general account, however, prevails, that those spoils only are Opima, which the general first takes in set battle, and takes from the enemy’s chief captain whom he has slain with his own hand. But of this enough. The victory and the ending of the war was so welcome to the people of Rome, that they sent to Apollo of Delphi, in testimony of their gratitude, a present of a golden cup of an hundred pound weight, and gave a great part of the spoil to their associate cities, and took care that many presents should be sent also to Hiero, king of the Syracusans, their friend and ally.
When Hannibal invaded Italy, Marcellus was despatched with a fleet into Sicily. And when the army had been defeated at Cannæ, and many thousands of them perished, and few had saved themselves by flying to Canusium, and all feared lest Hannibal, who had destroyed the strength of the Roman army, should advance at once with his victorious troops to Rome, Marcellus first sent for the protection of the city fifteen hundred soldiers, from the fleet. Then, by decree of the senate, going to Canusium, having heard that many of the soldiers had come together in that place, he led them out of the fortifications to prevent the enemy from ravaging the country. The chief Roman commanders had most of them fallen in battles; and the citizens complained, that the extreme caution of Fabius Maximus, whose integrity and wisdom gave him the highest authority, verged upon timidity and inaction. They confided in him to keep them out of danger, but could not expect that he would enable them to retaliate. Fixing, therefore, their thoughts upon Marcellus, and hoping to combine his boldness, confidence, and promptitude with Fabius’s caution and prudence, and to temper the one by the other, they sent, sometimes both with consular command, sometimes one as consul, the other as proconsul, against the enemy. Posidonius writes, that Fabius was called the buckler, Marcellus the sword of Rome. Certainly, Hannibal himself confessed that he feared Fabius as a schoolmaster, Marcellus as an adversary: the former, lest he should be hindered from doing mischief; the latter, lest he should receive harm himself.
And first, when among Hannibal’s soldiers, proud of their victory, carelessness and boldness had grown to a great height, Marcellus, attacking all their stragglers and plundering parties, cut them off, and by little and little diminished their forces. Then carrying aid to the Neapolitans and Nolans, he confirmed the minds of the former, who, indeed, were of their own accord faithful enough to the Romans; but in Nola he found a state of discord, the senate not being able to rule and keep in the common people, who were generally favorers of Hannibal. There was in the town one Bantius, a man renowned for his high birth and courage. This man, after he had fought most fiercely at Cannæ, and had killed many of the enemies, at last was found lying in a heap of dead bodies, covered with darts, and was brought to Hannibal, who so honored him, that he not only dismissed him without ransom, but also contracted friendship with him, and made him his guest. In gratitude for this great favor, he became one of the strongest of the partisans of Hannibal, and urged the people to revolt. Marcellus could not be induced to put to death a man of such eminence, and who had endured such dangers in fighting on the Roman side; but, knowing himself able, by the general kindliness of his disposition and in particular by the attractiveness of his address, to gain over a character whose passion was for honor, one day when Bantius saluted him, he asked him who he was; not that he knew him not before, but seeking an occasion of further conference. When Bantius had told who he was, Marcellus, seeming surprised with joy and wonder, replied: “Are you that Bantius, whom the Romans commend above the rest that fought at Cannæ, and praise as the one man that not only did not forsake the consul Paulus Æmilius, but received in his own body many darts thrown at him?” Bantius owning himself to be that very man, and showing his scars: “Why then,” said Marcellus, “did not you, having such proofs to show of your affection to us, come to me at my first arrival here? Do you think that we are unwilling to requite with favor those who have well deserved, and who are honored even by our enemies?” He followed up his courtesies by a present of a war-horse, and five hundred drachmas in money. From that time Bantius became the most faithful assistant and ally of Marcellus, and a most keen discoverer of those that attempted innovation and sedition.
These were many, and had entered into a conspiracy to plunder the baggage of the Romans, when they should make an irruption against the enemy. Marcellus, therefore, having marshalled his army within the city, placed the baggage near to the gates, and, by an edict, forbade the Nolans to go to the walls. Thus, outside the city, no arms could be seen; by which prudent device he allured Hannibal to move with his army in some disorder to the city, thinking that things were in a tumult there. Then Marcellus, the nearest gate being, as he had commanded, thrown open, issuing forth with the flower of his horse in front, charged the enemy. By and by the foot, sallying out of another gate, with a loud shout joined in the battle. And while Hannibal opposes part of his forces to these, the third gate also is opened, out of which the rest break forth, and on all quarters fall upon the enemies, who were dismayed at this unexpected encounter, and did but feebly resist those with whom they had been first engaged, because of their attack by these others that sallied out later. Here Hannibal’s soldiers, with much bloodshed and many wounds, were beaten back to their camp, and for the first time turned their backs to the Romans. There fell in this action, as it is related, more than five thousand of them; of the Romans, not above five hundred. Livy does not affirm, that either the victory, or the slaughter of the enemy was so great; but certain it is, that the adventure brought great glory to Marcellus, and to the Romans, after their calamities, a great revival of confidence, as they began now to entertain a hope, that the enemy with whom they contended was not invincible, but liable like themselves to defeats.
Therefore, the other consul being deceased, the people recalled Marcellus, that they might put him into his place; and, in spite of the magistrates, succeeded in postponing the election till his arrival, when he was by all the suffrages created consul. But because it happened to thunder, the augurs accounting that he was not legitimately Page 250 created, and yet not daring, for fear of the people, to declare their sentence openly, Marcellus voluntarily resigned the consulate, retaining however his command. Being created proconsul, and returning to the camp at Nola, he proceeded to harass those that followed the party of the Carthaginian; on whose coming with speed to succor them, Marcellus declined a challenge to a set battle, but when Hannibal had sent out a party to plunder, and now expected no fight, he broke out upon him with his army. He had distributed to the foot long lances, such as are commonly used in naval fights; and instructed them to throw them with great force at convenient distance against the enemies who were inexperienced in that way of darting, and used to fight with short darts hand to hand. This seems to have been the cause of the total rout and open flight of all the Carthaginians who were then engaged: there fell of them five thousand; four elephants were killed, and two taken; but, what was of greatest moment, on the third day after, more than three hundred horse, Spaniards and Numidians mixed, deserted to him, a disaster that had never to that day happened to Hannibal, who had long kept together in harmony an army of barbarians, collected out of many various and discordant nations. Marcellus and his successors in all this war made good use of the faithful service of these horsemen.
He now was a third time created consul, and sailed over into Sicily. For the success of Hannibal had excited the Carthaginians to lay claim to that whole island; chiefly because after the murder of the tyrant Hieronymus, all things had been in tumult and confusion at Syracuse. For which reason the Romans also had sent before to that city a force under the conduct of Appius, as prætor. While Marcellus was receiving that army, a number of Roman soldiers cast themselves at his feet, upon occasion of the following calamity. Of those that survived the battle at Cannæ, some had escaped by flight, and some were taken alive by the enemy; so great a multitude, that it was thought there were not remaining Romans enough to defend the walls of the city. And yet the magnanimity and constancy of the city was such, that it would not redeem the captives from Hannibal, though it might have done so for a small ransom; a decree of the senate forbade it, and chose rather to leave them to be killed by the enemy, or sold out of Italy; and commanded that all who had saved themselves by flight should be transported into Sicily, and not permitted to return into Italy, until the war with Hannibal should be ended. These, therefore, when Marcellus was arrived in Sicily, addressed themselves to him in great numbers; and casting themselves at his feet, with much lamentation and tears humbly besought him to admit them to honorable service; and promised to make it appear by their future fidelity and exertions, that that defeat had been received rather by misfortune than by cowardice Marcellus, pitying them, petitioned the senate by letters, that he might have leave at all times to recruit his legions out of them. After much debate about the thing, the senate decreed they were of opinion that the commonwealth did not require the service of cowardly soldiers; if Marcellus perhaps thought otherwise, he might make use of them, provided no one of them be honored on any occasion with a crown or military gift, as a reward of his virtue or courage. This decree stung Marcellus; and on his return to Rome, after the Sicilian war was ended, he upbraided the senate, that they had denied to him, who had so highly deserved of the republic, liberty to relieve so great a number of citizens in great calamity.
At this time Marcellus, first incensed by injuries done him by Hippocrates, commander of the Syracusans, (who, to give proof of his good affection to the Carthaginians, and to acquire the tyranny to himself, had killed a number of Romans at Leontini,) besieged and took by force the city of Leontini; yet violated none of the townsmen; only deserters, as many as he took, he subjected to the punishment of the rods and axe. But Hippocrates, sending a report to Syracuse, that Marcellus had put all the adult population to the sword, and then coming upon the Syracusans, who had risen in tumult upon that false report, made himself master of the city. Upon this Marcellus moved with his whole army to Syracuse, and, encamping near the wall, sent ambassadors into the city to relate to the Syracusans the truth of what had been done in Leontini. When these could not prevail by treaty, the whole power being now in the hands of Hippocrates, he proceeded to attack the city both by land and by sea. The land forces were conducted by Appius: Marcellus, with sixty galleys, each with five rows of oars, furnished with all sorts of arms and missiles, and a huge bridge of planks laid upon eight ships chained together, upon which was carried the engine to cast stones and darts, assaulted the walls, relying on the abundance and magnificence of his preparations, and on his own previous glory; all which, however, were, it would seem, but trifles for Archimedes and his machines.
These machines he had designed and contrived, not as matters of any importance, but as mere amusements in geometry; in compliance with king Hiero’s desire and request, some little time before, that he should reduce to practice some part of his admirable speculations in science, and by accommodating the theoretic truth to sensation and ordinary use, bring it more within the appreciation of people in general. Eudoxus and Archytas had been the first originators of this far-famed and highly prized art of mechanics, which they employed as an elegant illustration of geometrical truths, and as a means of sustaining experimentally, to the satisfaction of the senses, conclusions too intricate for proof by words and diagrams. As, for example, to solve the problem, so often required in constructing geometrical figures, given the two extreme, to find the two mean lines of a proportion, both these mathematicians had recourse to the aid of instruments, adapting to their purpose certain curves and sections of lines.* But what with Plato’s indignation at it, and his invectives against it as the mere corruption and annihilation of the one good of geometry, — which was thus shamefully turning its back upon the unembodied objects of pure intelligence to recur to sensation, and to ask help (not to be obtained without base subservience and depravation) from matter; so it was that mechanics came to be separated from geometry, and, repudiated and neglected by philosophers, took its place as a military art. Archimedes, however, in writing to king Hiero, whose friend and near relation he was, had stated, that given the force, any given weight might be moved, and even boasted, we are told, relying on the strength of demonstration, that if there were another earth, by going into it he could remove this. Hiero being struck with amazement at this, and entreating him to make good this problem by actual experiment, and show some great weight moved by a small engine, he fixed accordingly upon a ship of burden out of the king’s arsenal, which could not be drawn out of the dock without great labor and many men; and, loading her with many passengers and a full freight, sitting himself the while far off, with no great endeavor, but only holding the head of the pulley in his hand and drawing the cord by degrees, he drew the ship in a straight line, as smoothly and evenly, as if she had been in the sea. The king, astonished at this, and convinced of the power of the art, prevailed upon Archimedes to make him engines accommodated to all the purposes, offensive and defensive, of a siege. These the king himself never made use of, because he spent almost all his life in a profound quiet, and the highest affluence. But the apparatus was, in a most opportune time, ready at hand for the Syracusans, and with it also the engineer himself.
When, therefore, the Romans assaulted the walls in two places at once, fear and consternation stupefied the Syracusans, believing that nothing was able to resist that violence and those forces. But when Archimedes began to ply his engines, he at once shot against the land forces all sorts of missile weapons, and immense masses of stone that came down with incredible noise and violence, against which no man could stand; for they knocked down those upon whom they fell, in heaps, breaking all their ranks and files. In the mean time huge poles thrust out from the walls over the ships, sunk some by the great weights which they let down from on high upon them; others they lifted up into the air by an iron hand or beak like a crane’s beak, and, when they had drawn them up by the prow, and set them on end upon the poop, they plunged them to the bottom of the sea; or else the ships, drawn by engines within, and whirled about, were dashed against steep rocks that stood jutting out under the walls, with great destruction of the soldiers that were aboard them. A ship was frequently lifted up to a great height in the air (a dreadful thing to behold), and was rolled to and fro, and kept swinging, until the mariners were all thrown out, when at length it was dashed against the rocks, or let fall. At the engine that Marcellus brought upon the bridge of ships, which was called Sambuca from some resemblance it had to an instrument of music, while it was as yet approaching the wall, there was discharged a piece of a rock of ten talents’ weight, then a second and a third, which, striking upon it with immense force and with a noise like thunder, broke all its foundation to pieces, shook out all its fastenings, and completely dislodged it from the bridge. So Marcellus, doubtful what counsel to pursue, drew off his ships to a safer distance, and sounded a retreat to his forces on land. They then took a resolution of coming up under the walls, if it were possible, in the night; thinking that as Archimedes used ropes stretched at length in playing his engines, the soldiers would now be under the shot, and the darts would, for want of sufficient distance to throw them, fly over their heads without effect. But he, it appeared, had long before framed for such occasion engines accommodated to any distance, and shorter weapons; and had made numerous small openings in the walls, through which, with engines of a shorter range, unexpected blows were inflicted on the assailants. Thus, when they who thought to deceive the defenders came close up to the walls, instantly a shower of darts and other missile weapons was again cast upon them. And when stones came tumbling down perpendicularly upon their heads, and, as it were, the whole wall shot out arrows at them, they retired. And now, again, as they were going off, arrows and darts of a longer range inflicted a great slaughter among them, and their ships were driven one against another; while they themselves were not able to retaliate in any way. For Archimedes had provided and fixed most of his engines immediately under the wall; whence the Romans, seeing that infinite mischiefs overwhelmed them from no visible means, began to think they were fighting with the gods.
Yet Marcellus escaped unhurt, and, deriding his own artificers and engineers, “What,” said he, “must we give up fighting with this geometrical Briareus, who plays pitch and toss with our ships, and, with the multitude of darts which he showers at a single moment upon us, really outdoes the hundred-handed giants of mythology?” And, doubtless, the rest of the Syracusans were but the body of Archimedes’ designs, one soul moving and governing all; for, laying aside all other arms, with his alone they infested the Romans, and protected themselves. In fine, when such terror had seized upon the Romans, that, if they did but see a little rope or a piece of wood from the wall, instantly crying out, that there it was again, Archimedes was about to let fly some engine at them, they turned their backs and fled, Marcellus desisted from conflicts and assaults, putting all his hope in a long siege. Yet Archimedes possessed so high a spirit, so profound a soul, and such treasures of scientific knowledge, that though these inventions had now obtained him the renown of more than human sagacity, he yet would not deign to leave behind him any commentary or writing on such subjects; but, repudiating as sordid and ignoble the whole trade of engineering, and every sort of art that lends itself to mere use and profit, he placed his whole affection and ambition in those purer speculations where there can be no reference to the vulgar needs of life; studies, the superiority of which to all others is unquestioned, and in which the only doubt can be, whether the beauty and grandeur of the subjects examined, or the precision and cogency of the methods and means of proof, most deserve our admiration. It is not possible to find in all geometry more difficult and intricate questions, or more simple and lucid explanations. Some ascribe this to his natural genius; while others think that incredible effort and toil produced these, to all appearance, easy and unlabored results. No amount of investigation of yours would succeed in attaining the proof, and yet, once seen, you immediately believe you would have discovered it; by so smooth and so rapid a path he leads you to the conclusion required. And thus it ceases to be incredible that (as is commonly told of him), the charm of his familiar and domestic Siren made him forget his food and neglect his person, to that degree that when he was occasionally carried by absolute violence to bathe, or have his body anointed, he used to trace geometrical figures in the ashes of the fire, and diagrams in the oil on his body, being in a state of entire preoccupation, and, in the truest sense, divine possession with his love and delight in science. His discoveries were numerous and admirable; but he is said to have requested his friends and relations that when he was dead, they would place over his tomb a sphere containing a cylinder, inscribing it with the ratio which the containing solid bears to the contained.*
Such was Archimedes, who now showed himself, and, so far as lay in him, the city also, invincible. While the siege continued, Marcellus took Megara, one of the earliest founded of the Greek cities in Sicily, and capturing also the camp of Hippocrates at Acilæ, killed above eight thousand men, having attacked them whilst they were engaged in forming their fortifications. He overran a great part of Sicily; gained over many towns from the Carthaginians, and overcame all that dared to encounter him. As the siege went on, one Damippus, a Lacedæmonian, putting to sea in a ship from Syracuse, was taken. When the Syracusans much desired to redeem this man, and there were many meetings and treaties about the matter betwixt them and Marcellus, he had opportunity to notice a tower into which a body of men might be secretly introduced, as the wall near to it was not difficult to surmount, and it was itself carelessly guarded. Coming often thither, and entertaining conferences about the release of Damippus, he had pretty well calculated the height of the tower, and got ladders prepared. The Syracusans celebrated a feast to Diana; this juncture of time, when they were given up entirely to wine and sport, Marcellus laid hold of, and, before the citizens perceived it, not only possessed himself of the tower, but, before the break of day, filled the wall around with soldiers, and made his way into the Hexapylum. The Syracusans now beginning to stir, and to be alarmed at the tumult, he ordered the trumpets everywhere to sound, and thus frightened them all into flight, as if all parts of the city were already won, though the most fortified, and the fairest, and most ample quarter was still ungained. It is called Acradina, and was divided by a wall from the outer city, one part of which they call Neapolis, the other Tycha. Possessing himself of these, Marcellus, about break of day, entered through the Hexapylum, all his officers congratulating him. But looking down from the higher places upon the beautiful and spacious city below, he is said to have wept much, commiserating the calamity that hung over it, when his thoughts represented to him, how dismal and foul the face of the city would in a few hours be, when plundered and sacked by the soldiers. For among the officers of his army there was not one man that durst deny the plunder of the city to the soldiers’ demands; nay, many were instant that it should be set on fire and laid level to the ground: but this Marcellus would not listen to. Yet he granted, but with great unwillingness and reluctance, that the money and slaves should be made prey; giving orders, at the same time, that none should violate any free person, nor kill, misuse, or make a slave of any of the Syracusans. Though he had used this moderation, he still esteemed the condition of that city to be pitiable, and, even amidst the congratulations and joy, showed his strong feelings of sympathy and commiseration at seeing all the riches accumulated during a long felicity, now dissipated in an hour. For it is related, that no less prey and plunder was taken here, than afterward in Carthage. For not long after, they obtained also the plunder of the other parts of the city, which were taken by treachery; leaving nothing untouched but the king’s money, which was brought into the public treasury. But nothing afflicted Marcellus so much as the death of Archimedes; who was then, as fate would have it, intent upon working out some problem by a diagram, and having fixed his mind alike and his eyes upon the subject of his speculation, he never noticed the incursion of the Romans, nor that the city was taken. In this transport of study and contemplation, a soldier, unexpectedly coming up to him, commanded him to follow to Marcellus; which he declining to do before he had worked out his problem to a demonstration, the soldier, enraged, drew his sword and ran him through. Others write, that a Roman soldier, running upon him with a drawn sword, offered to kill him; and that Archimedes, looking back, earnestly besought him to hold his hand a little while, that he might not leave what he was then at work upon inconclusive and imperfect; but the soldier, nothing moved by his entreaty, instantly killed him. Others again relate, that as Archimedes was carrying to Marcellus mathematical instruments, dials, spheres, and angles, by which the magnitude of the sun might be measured to the sight, some soldiers seeing him, and thinking that he carried gold in a vessel, slew him. Certain it is, that his death was very afflicting to Marcellus; and that Marcellus ever after regarded him that killed him as a murderer; and that he sought for his kindred and honored them with signal favors.
Indeed, foreign nations had held the Romans to be excellent soldiers and formidable in battle; but they had hitherto given no memorable example of gentleness, or humanity, or civil virtue; and Marcellus seems first to have shown to the Greeks, that his countrymen were most illustrious for their justice. For such was his moderation to all with whom he had any thing to do, and such his benignity also to many cities and private men, that, if any thing hard or severe was decreed concerning the people of Enna, Megara, or Syracuse, the blame was thought to belong rather to those upon whom the storm fell, than to those who brought it upon them. One example of many I will commemorate. In Sicily there is a town called Engyium, not indeed great, but very ancient and ennobled by the presence of the goddesses, called the Mothers. The temple, they say, was built by the Cretans; and they show some spears and brazen helmets, inscribed with the names of Meriones, and (with the same spelling as in Latin) of Ulysses,* who consecrated them to the goddesses. This city highly favoring the party of the Carthaginians, Nicias, the most eminent of the citizens, counselled them to go over to the Romans; to that end acting freely and openly in harangues to their assemblies, arguing the imprudence and madness of the opposite course. They, fearing his power and authority, resolved to deliver him in bonds to the Carthaginians. Nicias, detecting the design, and seeing that his person was secretly kept in watch, proceeded to speak irreligiously to the vulgar of the Mothers, and showed many signs of disrespect, as if he denied and contemned the received opinion of the presence of those goddesses; his enemies the while rejoicing, that he, of his own accord, sought the destruction hanging over his head. When they were just now about to lay hands upon him, an assembly was held, and here Nicias, making a speech to the people concerning some affair then under deliberation, in the midst of his address, cast himself upon the ground; and soon after, while amazement (as usually happens on such surprising occasions) held the assembly immovable, raising and turning his head round, he began in a trembling and deep tone, but by degrees raised and sharpened his voice. When he saw the whole theatre struck with horror and silence, throwing off his mantle and rending his tunic, he leaps up half naked, and runs towards the door, crying out aloud that he was driven by the wrath of the Mothers. When no man durst, out of religious fear, lay hands upon him or stop him, but all gave way before him, he ran out of the gate, not omitting any shriek or gesture of men possessed and mad. His wife, conscious of his counterfeiting, and privy to his design, taking her children with her, first cast herself as a suppliant before the temple of the goddesses; then, pretending to seek her wandering husband, no man hindering her, went out of the town in safety; and by this means they all escaped to Marcellus at Syracuse. After many other such affronts offered him by the men of Engyium, Marcellus, having taken them all prisoners and cast them into bonds, was preparing to inflict upon them the last punishment; when Nicias, with tears in his eyes, addressed himself to him. In fine, casting himself at Marcellus’s feet, and deprecating for his citizens, he begged most earnestly their lives, chiefly those of his enemies. Marcellus, relenting, set them all at liberty, and rewarded Nicias with ample lands and rich presents. This history is recorded by Posidonius the philosopher.
Marcellus, at length recalled by the people of Rome to Page 262 the immediate war at home, to illustrate his triumph, and adorn the city, carried away with him a great number of the most beautiful ornaments of Syracuse. For, before that, Rome neither had, nor had seen, any of those fine and exquisite rarities; nor was any pleasure taken in graceful and elegant pieces of workmanship. Stuffed with barbarous arms and spoils stained with blood, and everywhere crowned with triumphal memorials and trophies, she was no pleasant or delightful spectacle for the eyes of peaceful or refined spectators: but, as Epaminondas named the fields of Bœotia the stage of Mars; and Xenophon called Ephesus the workhouse of war; so, in my judgment, may you call Rome, at that time, (to use the words of Pindar,) “the precinct of the peaceless Mars.” Whence Marcellus was more popular with the people in general, because he had adorned the city with beautiful objects that had all the charms of Grecian grace and symmetry; but Fabius Maximus, who neither touched nor brought away any thing of this kind from Tarentum, when he had taken it, was more approved of by the elder men. He carried off the money and valuables, but forbade the statues to be moved; adding, as it is commonly related, “Let us leave to the Tarentines these offended gods.” They blamed Marcellus, first, for placing the city in an invidious position, as it seemed now to celebrate victories and lead processions of triumph, not only over men, but also over the gods as captives; then, that he had diverted to idleness, and vain talk about curious arts and artificers, the common people, which, bred up in wars and agriculture, had never tasted of luxury and sloth, and, as Euripides said of Hercules, had been
Rude, unrefined, only for great things good,
so that now they misspent much of their time in examining and criticizing trifles. And yet, notwithstanding this reprimand, Marcellus made it his glory to the Greeks themselves, that he had taught his ignorant countrymen to esteem and admire the elegant and wonderful productions of Greece.
But when the envious opposed his being brought triumphant into the city, because there were some relics of the war in Sicily, and a third triumph would be looked upon with jealousy, he gave way. He triumphed upon the Alban mount, and thence entered the city in ovation, as it is called in Latin, in Greek eua; but in this ovation he was neither carried in a chariot, nor crowned with laurel, nor ushered by trumpets sounding; but went afoot with shoes on, many flutes or pipes sounding in concert, while he passed along, wearing a garland of myrtle, in a peaceable aspect, exciting rather love and respect than fear. Whence I am, by conjecture, led to think that, originally, the difference observed betwixt ovation and triumph, did not depend upon the greatness of the achievements, but the manner of performing them. For they who, having fought a set battle, and slain the enemy, returned victors, led that martial, terrible triumph, and, as the ordinary custom then was, in lustrating the army, adorned the arms and the soldiers with a great deal of laurel. But they who, without force, by colloquy, persuasion, and reasoning, had done the business, to these captains custom gave the honor of the unmilitary and festive ovation. For the pipe is the badge of peace, and myrtle the plant of Venus, who more than the rest of the gods and goddesses abhors force and war. It is called ovation, not, as most think, from the Greek euasmus, because they act it with shouting and cries of Eua: for so do they also the proper triumphs. The Greeks have wrested the word to their own language, thinking that this honor, also, must have some connection with Bacchus, who in Greek has the titles of Euius and Thriambus.* But the thing is otherwise. For it was the custom for commanders, in their triumph, to immolate an ox, but in their ovation, a sheep: hence they named it Ovation, from the Latin ovis. It is worth observing, how exactly opposite the sacrifices appointed by the Spartan legislator are, to those of the Romans. For at Lacedæmon, a captain, who had performed the work he undertook by cunning, or courteous treaty, on laying down his command immolated an ox; he that did the business by battle, offered a cock; the Lacedæmonians, though most warlike, thinking an exploit performed by reason and wisdom, to be more excellent and more congruous to man, than one effected by mere force and courage. Which of the two is to be preferred, I leave to the determination of others.
Marcellus being the fourth time consul, his enemies suborned the Syracusans to come to Rome to accuse him, and to complain that they had suffered indignities and wrongs, contrary to the conditions granted them. It happened that Marcellus was in the capitol offering sacrifice when the Syracusans petitioned the senate, yet sitting, that they might have leave to accuse him and present their grievances. Marcellus’s colleague, eager to protect him in his absence, put them out of the court. But Marcellus himself came as soon as he heard of it. And first, in his curule chair as consul, he referred to the senate the cognizance of other matters; but when these were transacted, rising from his seat, he passed as a private man into the place where the accused were wont to make their defence, and gave free liberty to the Syracusans to impeach him. But they, struck with consternation by his majesty and confidence, stood astonished, and the power of his presence now, in his robe of state, appeared far more terrible and severe than it had done when he was arrayed in armor. Yet reanimated at length by Marcellus’s rivals, they began their impeachment, and made an oration in which pleas of justice mingled with lamentation and complaint; the sum of which was, that being allies and friends of the people of Rome, they had, notwithstanding, suffered things which other commanders had abstained from inflicting upon enemies. To this Marcellus answered; that they had committed many acts of hostility against the people of Rome, and had suffered nothing but what enemies conquered and captured in war, cannot possibly be protected from suffering: that it was their own fault they had been made captives, because they refused to give ear to his frequent attempts to persuade them by gentle means: neither were they forced into war by the power of tyrants, but had rather chosen the tyrants themselves for the express object that they might make war. The orations ended, and the Syracusans, according to the custom, having retired, Marcellus left his colleague to ask the sentences, and withdrawing with the Syracusans, staid expecting at the doors of the senate-house; not in the least discomposed in spirit, either with alarm at the accusation, or by anger against the Syracusans; but with perfect calmness and serenity attending the issue of the cause. The sentences at length being all asked, and a decree of the senate made in vindication of Marcellus, the Syracusans, with tears flowing from their eyes, cast themselves at his knees, beseeching him to forgive themselves there present, and to be moved by the misery of the rest of their city, which would ever be mindful of, and grateful for, his benefits. Thus Marcellus, softened by their tears and distress, was not only reconciled to the deputies, but ever afterwards continued to find opportunity of doing kindness to the Syracusans. The liberty which he had restored to them, and their rights, laws, and goods that were left, the senate confirmed. Upon which account the Syracusans, besides other signal honors, made a law, that if Marcellus should at any time come into Sicily, or any of his posterity, the Syracusans should wear garlands and offer public sacrifice to the gods.
After this he moved against Hannibal. And whereas the other consuls and commanders, since the defeat received at Cannæ, had all made use of the same policy against Hannibal, namely, to decline coming to a battle with him; and none had had the courage to encounter him in the field, and put themselves to the decision by the sword; Marcellus entered upon the opposite course, thinking that Italy would be destroyed by the very delay by which they looked to wear out Hannibal; and that Fabius, who, adhering to his cautious policy, waited to see the war extinguished, while Rome itself meantime wasted away, (like timid physicians, who, dreading to administer remedies, stay waiting, and believe that what is the decay of the patient’s strength is the decline of the disease,) was not taking a right course to heal the sickness of his country. And first, the great cities of the Samnites, which had revolted, came into his power; in which he found a large quantity of corn and money, and three thousand of Hannibal’s soldiers, that were left for the defence. After this, the proconsul Cnæus Fulvius with eleven tribunes of the soldiers being slain in Apulia, and the greatest part of the army also at the same time cut off, he despatched letters to Rome, and bade the people be of good courage, for that he was now upon the march against Hannibal, to turn his triumph into sadness. On these letters being read, Livy writes, that the people were not only not encouraged, but more discouraged, than before. For the danger, they thought, was but the greater in proportion as Marcellus was of more value than Fulvius. He, as he had written, advancing into the territories of the Lucanians, came up to him at Numistro, and, the enemy keeping himself upon the hills, pitched his camp in a level plain, and the next day drew forth his army in order for fight. Nor did Hannibal refuse the challenge. They fought long and obstinately on both sides, victory yet seeming undecided, when, after three hours conflict, night hardly parted them. The next day, as soon as the sun was risen, Marcellus again brought forth his troops, and ranged them among the dead bodies of the slain, challenging Hannibal to solve the question by another trial. When he dislodged and drew off, Marcellus, gathering up the spoils of the enemies, and burying the bodies of his slain soldiers, closely followed him. And though Hannibal often used stratagems, and laid ambushes to entrap Marcellus, yet he could never circumvent him. By skirmishes, meantime, in all of which he was superior, Marcellus gained himself such high repute, that, when the time of the Comitia at Rome was near at hand, the senate thought fit rather to recall the other consul from Sicily, than to withdraw Marcellus from his conflict with Hannibal; and on his arrival they bid him name Quintus Fulvius dictator. For the dictator is created neither by the people, nor by the senate; but the consul or the prætor, before the popular assembly, pronounces him to be dictator, whom he himself chooses. Hence he is called dictator, dicere meaning to name. Others say, that he is named dictator, because his word is a law, and he orders what he pleases, without submitting it to the vote. For the Romans call the orders of magistrates, Edicts.
And now because Marcellus’s colleague, who was recalled from Sicily, had a mind to name another man dictator, and would not be forced to change his opinion, he sailed away by night back to Sicily. So the common people made an order, that Quintus Fulvius should be chosen dictator: and the senate, by an express, commanded Marcellus to nominate him. He obeying proclaimed him dictator according to the order of the people; but the office of proconsul was continued to himself for a year. And having arranged with Fabius Maximus, that while he besieged Tarentum, he himself would, by following Hannibal and drawing him up and down, detain him from coming to the relief of the Tarentines, he overtook him at Canusium: and as Hannibal often shifted his camp, and still declined the combat, he everywhere sought to engage him. At last pressing upon him while encamping, by light skirmishes he provoked him to a battle; but night again divided them in the very heat of the conflict. The next day Marcellus again showed himself in arms, and brought up his forces in array. Hannibal, in extreme grief, called his Carthaginians together to an harangue; and vehemently prayed them, to fight to-day worthily of all their former successes; “For you see,” said he, “how, after such great victories, we have not liberty to respire, nor to repose ourselves, though victors; unless we drive this man back.” Then the two armies joining battle, fought fiercely; when the event of an untimely movement showed Marcellus to have been guilty of an error. The right wing being hard pressed upon, he commanded one of the legions to be brought up to the front. This change disturbing the array and posture of the legions, gave the victory to the enemies; and there fell two thousand seven hundred Romans. Marcellus, after he had retreated into his camp, called his soldiers together; “I see,” said he, “many Roman arms and bodies, but I see not so much as one Roman.” To their entreaties for his pardon, he returned a refusal while they remained beaten, but promised to give it so soon as they should overcome; and he resolved to bring them into the field again the next day, that the fame of their victory might arrive at Rome before that of their flight. Dismissing the assembly, he commanded barley instead of wheat to be given to those companies that had turned their backs. These rebukes were so bitter to the soldiers, that though a great number of them were grievously wounded, yet they relate there was not one to whom the general’s oration was not more painful and smarting than his wounds.
The day breaking, a scarlet toga, the sign of instant battle, was displayed. The companies marked with ignominy, begged they might be posted in the foremost place, and obtained their request. Then the tribunes bring forth the rest of the forces, and draw them up. On news of which, “O strange!” said Hannibal, “what will you do with this man, who can bear neither good nor bad fortune? He is the only man who neither suffers us to rest when he is victor, nor rests himself when he is overcome. We shall have, it seems, perpetually to fight with him; as in good success his confidence, and in ill success his shame, still urges him to some further enterprise?” Then the armies engaged. When the fight was doubtful, Hannibal commanded the elephants to be brought into the first battalion, and to be driven upon the van of the Romans. When the beasts, trampling upon many, soon caused disorder, Flavius, a tribune of soldiers, snatching an ensign, meets them, and wounding the first elephant with the spike at the bottom of the ensign staff, puts him to flight. The beast turned round upon the next, and drove back both him and the rest that followed. Marcellus, seeing this, pours in his horse with great force upon the elephants, and upon the enemy disordered by their flight. The horse, making a fierce impression, pursued the Carthaginians home to their camp, while the elephants, wounded, and running upon their own party, caused a considerable slaughter. It is said, more than eight thousand were slain; of the Roman army three thousand, and almost all wounded. This gave Hannibal opportunity to retire in the silence of the night, and to remove to greater distance from Marcellus; who was kept from pursuing by the number of his wounded men, and removed, by gentle marches, into Campania, and spent the summer at Sinuessa, engaged in restoring them.
But as Hannibal, having disentangled himself from Marcellus, ranged with his army round about the country, and wasted Italy free from all fear, at Rome Marcellus was evil spoken of. His detractors induced Publicius Bibulus, tribune of the people, an eloquent and violent man, to undertake his accusation. He, by assiduous harangues, prevailed upon the people to withdraw from Marcellus the command of the army; “Seeing that Marcellus,” said he, “after brief exercise in the war, has withdrawn as it might be from the wrestling ground to the warm baths to refresh himself.” Marcellus, on hearing this, appointed lieutenants over his camp, and hasted to Rome to refute the charges against him: and there found ready drawn up an impeachment consisting of these calumnies. At the day prefixed, in the Flaminian circus, into which place the people had assembled themselves, Bibulus rose and accused him. Marcellus himself answered, briefly and simply: but the first and most approved men of the city spoke largely and in high terms, very freely advising the people not to show themselves worse judges than the enemy, condemning Marcellus of timidity, from whom alone of all their captains the enemy fled, and as perpetually endeavored to avoid fighting with him, as to fight with others. When they made an end of speaking, the accuser’s hope to obtain judgment so far deceived him, that Marcellus was not only absolved, but the fifth time created consul.
No sooner had he entered upon this consulate, but he suppressed a great commotion in Etruria, that had proceeded near to revolt, and visited and quieted the cities. Then, when the dedication of the temple, which he had vowed out of his Sicilian spoils to Honor and Virtue, was objected to by the priests, because they denied that one temple could be lawfully dedicated to two gods, he began to adjoin another to it, resenting the priests’ opposition, and almost converting the thing into an omen. And, truly, many other prodigies also affrighted him; some temples had been struck with lightning, and in Jupiter’s temple mice had gnawed the gold; it was reported also, that an ox had spoke, and that a boy had been born with a head like an elephant’s. All which prodigies had indeed been attended to, but due reconciliation had not been obtained from the gods. The aruspices therefore detained him at Rome, glowing and burning with desire to return to the war. For no man was ever inflamed with so great desire of any thing, as was he to fight a battle with Hannibal. It was the subject of his dreams in the night, the topic of all his consultations with his friends and familiars, nor did he present to the gods any other wish, but that he might meet Hannibal in the field. And I think, that he would most gladly have set upon him, with both armies environed within a single camp. Had he not been even loaded with honors, and had he not given proofs in many ways of his maturity of judgment and of prudence equal to that of any commander, you might have said, that he was agitated by a youthful ambition, above what became a man of that age: for he had passed the sixtieth year of his life when he began his fifth consulship.
The sacrifices having been offered, and all that belonged to the propitiation of the gods performed, according to the prescription of the diviners, he at last with his colleague went forth to carry on the war. He tried all possible means to provoke Hannibal, who at that time had a standing camp betwixt Bantia and Venusia. Hannibal declined an engagement, but having obtained intelligence that some troops were on their way to the town of Locri Epizephyrii, placing an ambush under the little hill of Petelia, he slew two thousand five hundred soldiers. This incensed Marcellus to revenge; and he therefore moved nearer Hannibal. Betwixt the two camps was a little hill, a tolerably secure post, covered with wood; it had steep descents on either side, and there were springs of water seen trickling down. This place was so fit and advantageous, that the Romans wondered that Hannibal, who had come thither before them, had not seized upon it, but had left it to the enemies. But to him the place had seemed commodious indeed for a camp, but yet more commodious for an ambuscade; and to that use he chose to put it. So in the wood and the hollows he hid a number of archers and spearmen, confident that the commodiousness of the place would allure the Romans. Nor was he deceived in his expectation. For presently in the Roman camp they talked and disputed, as if they had all been captains, how the place ought to be seized, and what great advantage they should thereby gain upon the enemies, chiefly if they transferred their camp thither, at any rate, if they strengthened the place with a fort. Marcellus resolved to go, with a few horse, to view it. Having called a diviner he proceeded to sacrifice. In the first victim the aruspex showed him the liver without a head; in the second the head appeared of unusual size, and all the other indications highly promising. When these seemed sufficient to free them from the dread of the former, the diviners declared, that they were all the more terrified by the latter: because entrails too fair and promising, when they appear after others that are maimed Page 273 and monstrous, render the change doubtful and suspicious. But
Nor fire nor brazen wall can keep out fate;
as Pindar observes. Marcellus, therefore, taking with him his colleague Crispinus, and his son, a tribune of soldiers, with two hundred and twenty horse at most, (among whom there was not one Roman, but all were Etruscans, except forty Fregellans, of whose courage and fidelity he had on all occasions received full proof,) goes to view the place. The hill was covered with woods all over; on the top of it sat a scout concealed from the sight of the enemy, but having the Roman camp exposed to his view. Upon signs received from him, the men that were placed in ambush, stirred not till Marcellus came near; and then all starting up in an instant, and encompassing him from all sides, attacked him with darts, struck about and wounded the backs of those that fled, and pressed upon those who resisted. These were the forty Fregellans. For though the Etruscans fled in the very beginning of the fight, the Fregellans formed themselves into a ring, bravely defending the consuls, till Crispinus, struck with two darts, turned his horse to fly away; and Marcellus’s side was run through with a lance with a broad head. Then the Fregellans, also, the few that remained alive, leaving the fallen consul, and rescuing young Marcellus, who also was wounded, got into the camp by flight. There were slain not much above forty; five lictors and eighteen horsemen came alive into the enemy’s hands. Crispinus also died of his wounds a few days after. Such a disaster as the loss of both consuls in a single engagement, was one that had never before befallen the Romans.
Hannibal, little valuing the other events, so soon as he was told of Marcellus’s death, immediately hasted to the hill. Viewing the body, and continuing for some time to observe its strength and shape, he allowed not a word to fall from him expressive of the least pride or arrogancy, nor did he show in his countenance any sign of gladness, as another perhaps would have done, when his fierce and troublesome enemy had been taken away; but amazed by so sudden and unexpected an end, taking off nothing but his ring, gave order to have the body properly clad and adorned, and honorably burned. The relics, put into a silver urn, with a crown of gold to cover it, he sent back to his son. But some of the Numidians setting upon those that were carrying the urn, took it from them by force, and cast away the bones; which being told to Hannibal, “It is impossible, it seems then,” he said, “to do any thing against the will of God!” He punished the Numidians; but took no further care of sending or recollecting the bones; conceiving that Marcellus so fell, and so lay unburied, by a certain fate. So Cornelius Nepos and Valerius Maximus have left upon record: but Livy and Augustus Cæsar affirm, that the urn was brought to his son, and honored with a magnificent funeral. Besides the monuments raised for him at Rome, there was dedicated to his memory at Catana in Sicily, an ample wrestling place called after him; statues and pictures, out of those he took from Syracuse, were set up in Samothrace, in the temple of the gods, named Cabiri, and in that of Minerva at Lindus, where also there was a statue of him, says Posidonius, with the following inscription: —
The writer of the inscription has added to Marcellus’s five consulates, his two proconsulates. His progeny continued in high honor even down to Marcellus, son of Octavia, sister of Augustus, whom she bore to her husband Caius Marcellus; and who died, a bridegroom, in the year of his ædileship, having not long before married Cæsar’s daughter. His mother, Octavia, dedicated the library to his honor and memory, and Cæsar, the theatre which bears his name.
[* ]Some words are probably lost here.
[* ]The Forum Boarium.
[* ]Britomartus, or Britomatus, is the Greek form of the name, given in Latin as Viridomarus.
[* ]The mesolǎbes or mesolabium, was the name by which this instrument was commonly known.
[* ]The solid content of a sphere is exactly two thirds of that of the circumscribing cylinder. Among the works still extant of Archimedes, there are two books on the sphere and cylinder. The tomb, as thus described, was found, covered with weeds, by Cicero, when serving as quæstor in Sicily.
[* ]Oulixes or Ulixes, the original Latin form, not as in proper Greek Odysseus.
[* ]The old Greek word thriambus was accordingly employed as an equivalent to the Latin triumphus, which, though a little different in sense, is always rendered by it.
Life of Pelopidas, page 204 . The verse is from the Suppliants of Euripides (861), where Adrastus describes to Theseus the chiefs who fell at Thebes.
Page 205 . — The battle at Mantinea is the first and less famous battle, fought in the period of the Peloponnesian War by the Argives and their allies against the Lacedæmonians, and described by Thucydides in his 5th book.
Page 206 , Androclides, and, page 207 , Damoclides, might be more correctly written Androclidas or Androcleidas, and Damoclidas or Damocleidas, like Meneclidas or Menecleidas, in page 225. The whole of the narrative that follows, of the way in which the plot was carried out, is ingeniously expanded so as to form the framework of Plutarch’s philosophic piece On the Genius (or daimonion) of Socrates. Caphisias, brother of Epaminondas, being at Athens shortly after as an envoy, relates it to his philosophic friends there; the interest of course being in the events, but the greater amount of space being given to the conversation that had passed on the philosophic subject, this in its turn serving to show the composure and equanimity of the noble Thebans at the time.
Page 210 . — Archias with Phillidas should be, as appears by the parallel passage in the dialogue De Genio Socratis, Archias with Philippus or Philip.
Page 218 . — The line is from Nestor’s speech, Iliad II., 363.
Page 219 . — The disaster of Laius, or, more correctly, what befell Laius, alludes to the tale of his carrying away Chrysippus, the son of Pelops by the nymph Danais, an obscure story, which is, however, mentioned elsewhere by Plutarch.
Page 220 . — Scedasus was a man who lived at Leuctra, and had daughters named Hippo and Molpia. These were violated by men of Lacedæmon, Parathemidas, Phrudarchidas, and Parthenius. The young women hung themselves, and the father, after going in vain to Sparta to seek redress, came home to Leuctra and killed himself.
Page 231 . — One Epicrates, a baggage carrier, should at any rate be Epicrates the baggage carrier (skeuophoros); perhaps Epicrates the shield carrier (sakesphoros), a name which he has in the Comic-writers (Aristophanes, Ecclesiasuzæ, 71, and Plato, Legati, fragm. 3), because of his immense shield-like beard. Epicrates was long prominent as a public speaker; he took part in the expulsion of the thirty tyrants and in all the subsequent political proceedings, and is the subject of one of the extant orations of Lysias.
Page 232 . — In the 7th line, after three hundred horse volunteers, should be added and mercenary soldiers; but the text appears to be uncertain.
Page 246 . — A golden cup of a hundred pounds weight is quite uncertain; there is no number given in the present text of Plutarch; Amyot, who translates “du poids de cent marcs,” may have had the number before him in a manuscript now lost; but litrōn, pounds, which is all there is in the Greek, is changed by some critics into lutrōn, spoils, — a golden cup from the produce of the spoils.
Page 250 . — Three hundred should probably be thirteen hundred. Livy, whom Plutarch appears to be following in the narrative, says 1272.
Page 262 . — Ephesus was the workhouse of war when Agesilaus made it his head-quarters in his Asiatic campaigns. The quotation from Pindar is from the beginning of the 2nd Pythian ode. Rude, unrefined, only for great things good, is the description of Hercules in fragment No. 1 of the Licymnius. The words are quoted elsewhere by Plutarch as applying to Cimon; see Vol. III, p. 202.
Page 273 . — The fragment from Pindar is No. 256, in Boeckh; nothing more is known of it.