The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
Herodotus, The History [431 BC]
The History of Herodotus, 4 vols. trans. George Rawlinson (New York: Tandy-Thomas Co., 1909).
Part of: The History, 4 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Table of Contents
THE HISTORY OF HERODOTUS
[Back to Table of Contents]
BOOK VII PART II
THE Greeks who were well affected to the Grecian cause, having assembled in one place, and there consulted together, and interchanged pledges with each other, agreed that, before any other step was taken, the feuds and enmities which existed between the different nations should first of all be appeased. Many such there were; but one was of more importance than the rest, namely, the war which was still going on between the Athenians and the Eginetans. When this business was concluded, understanding that Xerxes had reached Sardis with his army, they resolved to despatch spies into Asia to take note of the King’s affairs. At the same time they determined to send ambassadors to the Argives, and conclude a league with them against the Persians; while they likewise despatched messengers to Gelo, the son of Deinomenes, in Sicily, to the people of Corcyra, and to those of Crete, exhorting them to send help to Greece. Their wish was to unite, if possible, the entire Greek name in one, and so to bring all to join in the same plan of defence, inasmuch as the approaching dangers threatened all alike. Now the power of Gelo was said to be very great, far greater than that of any single Grecian people.
146. So when these resolutions had been agreed upon, and the quarrels between the states made up, first of all they sent into Asia three men as spies. These men reached Sardis, and took note of the King’s forces, but, being discovered, were examined by order of the generals who commanded the land army, and, having been condemned to suffer death, were led out to execution. Xerxes, however, when the news reached him, disapproving the sentence of the generals, sent some of his body-guard with instructions, if they found the spies still alive, to bring them into his presence. The messengers found the spies alive, and brought them before the King, who, when he heard the purpose for which they had come, gave orders to his guards to take them round the camp, and show them all the footmen and all the horse, letting them gaze at everything to their hearts’ content; then, when they were satisfied, to send them away unharmed to whatever country they desired.
147. For these orders Xerxes gave afterwards the following reasons. “Had the spies been put to death,” he said, “the Greeks would have continued ignorant of the vastness of his army, which surpassed the common report of it; while he would have done them a very small injury by killing three of their men. On the other hand, by the return of the spies to Greece, his power would become known; and the Greeks,” he expected, “would make surrender of their freedom before he began his march, by which means his troops would be saved all the trouble of an expedition.” This reasoning was like to that which he used upon another occasion. While he was staying at Abydos, he saw some corn-ships, which were passing through the Hellespont from the Euxine,* on their way to Egina and the Peloponnese. His attendants, hearing that they were the enemy’s, were ready to capture them, and looked to see when Xerxes would give the signal. He, however, merely asked, “Whither the ships were bound?” and when they answered, “For thy foes, master, with corn on board,”—“We too are bound thither,” he rejoined, “laden, among other things, with corn. What harm is it, if they carry our provisions for us?”
So the spies, when they had seen everything, were dismissed, and came back to Europe.
148. The Greeks who had banded themselves together against the Persian king, after despatching the spies into Asia, sent next ambassadors to Argos. The account which the Argives give of their own proceedings is the following. They say that they had information from the very first of the preparations which the barbarians were making against Greece. So, as they expected that the Greeks would come upon them for aid against the assailant, they sent envoys to Delphi to inquire of the god, what it would be best for them to do in the matter. They had lost, not long before, six thousand citizens, who had been slain by the Lacedæmonians under Cleomenes, the son of Anaxandridas; which was the reason why they now sent to Delphi. When the Pythoness heard their question, she replied:
This prophecy had been given them some time before the envoys came; but still, when they afterwards arrived, it was permitted them to enter the council-house, and there deliver their message. And this answer was returned to their demands: “Argos is ready to do as ye require, if the Lacedæmonians will first make a truce for thirty years, and will further divide with Argos the leadership of the allied army. Although in strict right the whole command should be hers, she will be content to have the leadership divided equally.”
149. Such, they say, was the reply made by the council, in spite of the oracle which forbade them to enter into a league with the Greeks. For, while not without fear of disobeying the oracle, they were greatly desirous of obtaining a thirty years’ truce, to give time for their sons to grow to man’s estate. They reflected, that if no such truce were concluded, and it should be their lot to suffer a second calamity at the hands of the Persians, it was likely they would fall hopelessly under the power of Sparta. But to the demands of the Argive council the Lacedæmonian envoys made answer: “They would bring before the people the question of concluding a truce. With regard to the leadership, they had received orders what to say, and the reply was, that Sparta had two kings, Argos but one—it was not possible that either of the two Spartans should be stripped of his dignity—but they did not oppose the Argive king having one vote like each of them.” The Argives say, that they could not brook this arrogance on the part of Sparta, and rather than yield one jot to it, they preferred to be under the rule of the barbarians. So they told the envoys to be gone, before sunset, from their territory, or they should be treated as enemies.
150. Such is the account which is given of these matters by the Argives themselves. There is another story, which is told generally through Greece, of a different tenor. Xerxes, it is said, before he set forth on his expedition against Greece, sent a herald to Argos, who on his arrival spoke as follows:
“Men of Argos, King Xerxes speaks thus to you. We Persians deem that the Perses from whom we descend was the child of Perseus, the son of Danaë, and of Andromeda, the daughter of Cepheus. Hereby it would seem that we come of your stock and lineage. So then it neither befits us to make war upon those from whom we spring; nor can it be right for you to fight, on behalf of others, against us. Your place is to keep quiet and hold yourselves aloof. Only let matters proceed as I wish, and there is no people whom I shall have in higher esteem than you.”
This address, says the story, was highly valued by the Argives, who therefore at the first neither gave a promise to the Greeks nor yet put forward a demand. Afterwards, however, when the Greeks called upon them to give their aid, they made the claim which has been mentioned, because they knew well that the Lacedæmonians would never yield it, and so they would have a pretext for taking no part in the war.
151. Some of the Greeks say that this account agrees remarkably with what happened many years afterwards. Callias, the son of Hipponicus, and certain others with him, had gone up to Susa, the city of Memnon, as ambassadors of the Athenians, upon a business quite distinct from this. While they were there, it happened that the Argives likewise sent ambassadors to Susa, to ask Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, “if the friendship which they had formed with his father still continued, or if he looked upon them as his enemies?”—to which King Artaxerxes replied, “Most certainly it continues; and there is no city which I reckon more my friend than Argos.”
152. For my own part I cannot positively say whether Xerxes did send the herald to Argos or not; nor whether Argive ambassadors at Susa did really put this question to Artaxerxes about the friendship between them and him; neither do I deliver any opinion hereupon other than that of the Argives themselves. This, however, I know—that if every nation were to bring all its evil deeds to a given place, in order to make an exchange with some other nation, when they had all looked carefully at their neighbours’ faults, they would be truly glad to carry their own back again. So, after all, the conduct of the Argives was not perhaps more disgraceful than that of others. For myself, my duty is to report all that is said; but I am not obliged to believe it all alike—a remark which may be understood to apply to my whole History. Some even go so far as to say that the Argives first invited the Persians to invade Greece, because of their ill success in the war with Lacedæmon, since they preferred anything to the smart of their actual sufferings. Thus much concerning the Argives.
153. Other ambassadors, among whom was Syagrus from Lacedæmon, were sent by the allies into Sicily, with instructions to confer with Gelo.
The ancestor of this Gelo, who first settled at Gela, was a native of the Isle of Telos, which lies off Triopium. When Gela was colonised by Antiphêmus and the Lindians of Rhodes, he likewise took part in the expedition. In course of time his descendants became the high-priests of the gods who dwell below—an office which they held continually, from the time that Têlines, one of Gelo’s ancestors, obtained it in the way which I will now mention. Certain citizens of Gela, worsted in a sedition, had found a refuge at Mactôrium, a town situated on the heights above Gela. Têlines reinstated these men, without any human help, solely by means of the sacred rites of these deities. From whom he received them, or how he himself acquired them, I cannot say; but certain it is, that relying on their power he brought the exiles back. For this his reward was to be, the office of high-priest of those gods for himself and his seed for ever. It surprises me especially that such a feat should have been performed by Têlines; for I have always looked upon acts of this nature as beyond the abilities of common men, and only to be achieved by such as are of a bold and manly spirit; whereas Têlines is said by those who dwell about Sicily to have been a softhearted and womanish person. He however obtained this office in the manner above described.
154. Afterwards, on the death of Cleander, the son of Pantares, who was slain by Sabyllus, a citizen of Gela, after he had held the tyranny for seven years, Hippocrates, Cleander’s brother, mounted the throne. During his reign, Gelo, a descendant of the high-priest Têlines, served with many others—of whom Ænesidêmus, son of Pataïcus, was one—in the king’s body-guard. Within a little time his merit caused him to be raised to the command of all the horse. For when Hippocrates laid siege to Callipolis, and afterwards to Naxos, to Zanclé, to Leontini, and moreover to Syracuse, and many cities of the barbarians, Gelo in every war distinguished himself above all the combatants. Of the various cities above named, there was none but Syracuse which was not reduced to slavery. The Syracusans were saved from this fate, after they had suffered defeat on the river Elôrus, by the Corinthians and Corcyræans, who made peace between them and Hippocrates, on condition of their ceding Camarina to him; for that city anciently belonged to Syracuse.
155. When, however, Hippocrates, after a reign of the same length as that of Cleander his brother, perished near the city Hybla, as he was warring with the native Sicilians, then Gelo, pretending to espouse the cause of the two sons of Hippocrates, Eucleides and Cleander, defeated the citizens who were seeking to recover their freedom, and having so done, set aside the children, and himself took the kingly power. After this piece of good fortune, Gelo likewise became master of Syracuse, in the following manner. The Syracusan land-holders, as they were called, had been driven from their city by the common people assisted by their own slaves, the Cyllyrians, and had fled to Casmenæ. Gelo brought them back to Syracuse, and so got possession of the town; for the people surrendered themselves, and gave up their city on his approach.
156. Being now master of Syracuse, Gelo cared less to govern Gela, which he therefore entrusted to his brother Hiero, while he strengthened the defences of his new city, which indeed was now all in all to him. And Syracuse sprang up rapidly to power and became a flourishing place. For Gelo razed Camarina to the ground, and brought all the inhabitants to Syracuse, and made them citizens; he also brought thither more than half the citizens of Gela, and gave them the same rights as the Camarinæans. So likewise with the Megarians of Sicily—after besieging their town and forcing them to surrender, he took the rich men, who, having made the war, looked now for nothing less than death at his hands, and carrying them to Syracuse, established them there as citizens: while the common people, who, as they had not taken any share in the struggle, felt secure that no harm would be done to them, he carried likewise to Syracuse, where he sold them all as slaves to be conveyed abroad. He did the like also by the Eubœans of Sicily, making the same difference. His conduct towards both nations arose from his belief, that a “people” was a most unpleasant companion. In this way Gelo became a great king.
157. When the Greek envoys reached Syracuse, and were admitted to an audience, they spoke as follows:
“We have been sent hither by the Lacedæmonians and Athenians, with their respective allies, to ask thee to join us against the barbarian. Doubtless thou hast heard of his invasion, and art aware that a Persian is about to throw a bridge over the Hellespont, and, bringing with him out of Asia all the forces of the East, to carry war into Greece,—professing indeed that he only seeks to attack Athens, but really bent on bringing all the Greeks into subjection. Do thou therefore, we beseech thee, aid those who would maintain the freedom of Greece, and thyself assist to free her; since the power which thou wieldest is great, and thy portion in Greece, as lord of Sicily, is no small one. For if all Greece join together in one, there will be a mighty host collected, and we shall be a match for our assailants; but if some turn traitors, and others refuse their aid, and only a small part of the whole body remains sound, then there is reason to fear that all Greece may perish. For do not thou cherish a hope that the Persian, when he has conquered our country, will be content and not advance against thee. Rather take thy measures beforehand; and consider that thou defendest thyself when thou givest aid to us. Wise counsels, be sure, for the most part have prosperous issues.”
158. Thus spake the envoys; and Gelo replied with vehemence:
“Greeks, ye have had the face to come here with selfish words, and exhort me to join in league with you against the barbarian. Yet when I erewhile asked you to join with me in fighting barbarians, what time the quarrel broke out between me and Carthage; and when I earnestly besought you to revenge on the men of Egesta their murder of Dorieus, the son of Anaxandridas, promising to assist you in setting free the trading-place, from which you receive great profits and advantages, you neither came hither to give me succour, nor yet to revenge Dorieus; but, for any efforts on your part to hinder it, these countries might at this time have been entirely under the barbarians. Now, however, that matters have prospered and gone well with me, while the danger has shifted its ground and at present threatens yourselves, lo! you call Gelo to mind. But though ye slighted me then, I will not imitate you now: I am ready to give you aid, and to furnish as my contribution two hundred triremes, twenty thousand men-at-arms, two thousand cavalry, and an equal number of archers, slingers, and light horsemen, together with corn for the whole Grecian army so long as the war shall last. These services, however, I promise on one condition—that ye appoint me chief captain and commander of the Grecian forces during the war with the barbarian. Unless ye agree to this, I will neither send succours, nor come myself.”
159. Syagrus, when he heard these words, was unable to contain himself, and exclaimed:
“Surely a groan would burst from Pelops’ son, Agamemnon, did he hear that her leadership was snatched from Sparta by Gelo and the men of Syracuse. Speak then no more of any such condition, as that we should yield thee the chief command; but if thou art minded to come to the aid of Greece, prepare to serve under Lacedæmonian generals. Wilt thou not serve under a leader?—then, prithee, withhold thy succours.”
160. Hereupon Gelo, seeing the indignation which showed itself in the words of Syagrus, delivered to the envoys his final offer: “Spartan stranger,” he said, “reproaches cast forth against a man are wont to provoke him to anger; but the insults which thou hast uttered in thy speech shall not persuade me to outstep good breeding in my answer. Surely if you maintain so stoutly your right to the command, it is reasonable that I should be still more stiff in maintaining mine, forasmuch as I am at the head of a far larger fleet and army. Since, however, the claim which I have put forward is so displeasing to you, I will yield, and be content with less. Take, if it please you, the command of the land-force, and I will be admiral of the fleet; or assume, if you prefer it, the command by sea, and I will be leader upon the land. Unless you are satisfied with these terms, you must return home by yourselves, and lose this great alliance.” Such was the offer which Gelo made.
161. Hereat broke in the Athenian envoy, before the Spartan could answer, and thus addressed Gelo:
“King of the Syracusans! Greece sent us here to thee to ask for an army, and not to ask for a general. Thou, however, dost not promise to send us any army at all, if thou art not made leader of the Greeks; and this command is what alone thou sticklest for. Now when thy request was to have the whole command, we were content to keep silence; for well we knew that we might trust the Spartan envoy to make answer for us both. But since, after failing in thy claim to lead the whole armament, thou hast now put forward a request to have the command of the fleet, know that, even should the Spartan envoy consent to this, we will not consent. The command by sea, if the Lacedæmonians do not wish for it, belongs to us. While they like to keep this command, we shall raise no dispute; but we will not yield our right to it in favour of any one else. Where would be the advantage of our having raised up a naval force greater than that of any other Greek people, if nevertheless we should suffer Syracusans to take the command away from us?—from us, I say, who are Athenians, the most ancient nation in Greece, the only Greeks who have never changed their abode—the people who are said by the poet Homer to have sent to Troy the man best able of all the Greeks to array and marshal an army—so that we may be allowed to boast somewhat.”
162. Gelo replied: “Athenian stranger, ye have, it seems, no lack of commanders; but ye are likely to lack men to receive their orders. As ye are resolved to yield nothing and claim everything, ye had best make haste back to Greece, and say, that the spring of her year is lost to her.” The meaning of this expression was the following: as the spring is manifestly the finest season of the year, so (he meant to say) were his troops the finest of the Greek army—Greece, therefore, deprived of his alliance, would be like a year with the spring taken from it.
163. Then the Greek envoys, without having any further dealings with Gelo, sailed away home. And Gelo, who feared that the Greeks would be too weak to withstand the barbarians, and yet could not anyhow bring himself to go to the Peloponnese, and there, though king of Sicily, serve under the Lacedæmonians, left off altogether to contemplate that course of action, and betook himself to quite a different plan. As soon as ever tidings reached him of the passage of the Hellespont by the Persians, he sent off three penteconters, under the command of Cadmus, the son of Scythas, a native of Cos; who was to go to Delphi, taking with him a large sum of money and a stock of friendly words: there he was to watch the war, and see what turn it would take: if the barbarians prevailed, he was to give Xerxes the treasure, and with it earth and water for the lands which Gelo ruled—if the Greeks won the day, he was to convey the treasure back.
164. This Cadmus had at an earlier time received from his father the kingly power at Cos in a right good condition, and had of his own free will and without the approach of any danger, from pure love of justice, given up his power into the hands of the people at large, and departed to Sicily; where he assisted in the Samian seizure and settlement of Zanclé, or Messana, as it was afterwards called. Upon this occasion Gelo chose him to send into Greece, because he was acquainted with the proofs of honesty which he had given. And now he added to his former honourable deeds an action which is not the least of his merits. With a vast sum entrusted to him and completely in his power, so that he might have kept it for his own use if he had liked, he did not touch it; but when the Greeks gained the sea-fight and Xerxes fled away with his army, he brought the whole treasure back with him to Sicily.
165. They, however, who dwell in Sicily, say that Gelo, though he knew that he must serve under the Lacedæmonians, would nevertheless have come to the aid of the Greeks, had not it been for Têrillus, the son of Crinippus, king of Himera; who, driven from his city by Thero, the son of Ænesidêmus, king of Agrigentum, brought into Sicily at this very time an army of three hundred thousand men, Phœnicians, Libyans, Iberians, Ligurians, Helisycians, Sardinians, and Corsicans,1 under the command of Hamilcar the son of Hanno, king of the Carthaginians. Têrillus prevailed upon Hamilcar, partly as his sworn friend, but more through the zealous aid of Anaxilaüs the son of Cretines, king of Rhegium; who, by giving his own sons to Hamilcar as hostages, induced him to make the expedition. Anaxilaüs herein served his own father-in-law; for he was married to a daughter of Têrillus, by name Cydippé. So, as Gelo could not give the Greeks any aid, he sent (they say) the sum of money to Delphi.
166. They say too, that the victory of Gelo and Thero in Sicily over Hamilcar the Carthaginian, fell out upon the very day that the Greeks defeated the Persians at Salamis. Hamilcar, who was a Carthaginian on his father’s side only, but on his mother’s a Syracusan, and who had been raised by his merit to the throne of Carthage, after the battle and the defeat, as I am informed, disappeared from sight: Gelo made the strictest search for him, but he could not be found anywhere, either dead or alive.
167. The Carthaginians, who take probability for their guide, give the following account of this matter: Hamilcar, they say, during all the time that the battle raged between the Greeks and the barbarians, which was from early dawn till evening, remained in the camp, sacrificing and seeking favourable omens, while he burned on a huge pyre the entire bodies of the victims which he offered. Here, as he poured libations upon the sacrifices, he saw the rout of his army; whereupon he cast himself headlong into the flames, and so was consumed and disappeared. But whether Hamilcar’s disappearance happened, as the Phœnicians tell us, in this way, or, as the Syracusans maintain, in some other, certain it is that the Carthaginians offer him sacrifice, and in all their colonies have monuments erected to his honour, as well as one, which is the grandest of all, at Carthage. Thus much concerning the affairs of Sicily.
168. As for the Corcyræans, whom the envoys that visited Sicily took in their way, and to whom they delivered the same message as to Gelo,—their answers and actions were the following. With great readiness they promised to come and give their help to the Greeks; declaring that “the ruin of Greece was a thing which they could not tamely stand by to see; for should she fall, they must the very next day submit to slavery; so that they were bound to assist her to the very uttermost of their power.” But notwithstanding that they answered so smoothly, yet when the time came for the succours to be sent, they were of quite a different mind; and though they manned sixty ships, it was long ere they put to sea with them; and when they had so done, they went no further than the Peloponnese, where they lay to with their fleet, off the Lacedæmonian coast, about Pylos and Tænarum,—like Gelo, watching to see what turn the war would take. For they despaired altogether of the Greeks gaining the day, and expected that the Persians would win a great battle, and then be masters of the whole of Greece. They therefore acted as I have said, in order that they might be able to address Xerxes in words like these: “O King! though the Greeks sought to obtain our aid in their war with thee, and though we had a force of no small size, and could have furnished a greater number of ships than any Greek state except Athens, yet we refused, since we would not fight against thee, nor do aught to cause thee annoyance.” The Corcyræans hoped that a speech like this would gain them better treatment from the Persians than the rest of the Greeks; and it would have done so, in my judgment. At the same time, they had an excuse ready to give their countrymen, which they used when the time came. Reproached by them for sending no succours, they replied, “that they had fitted out a fleet of sixty triremes, but that the Etesian winds did not allow them to double Cape Malea, and this hindered them from reaching Salamis—it was not from any bad motive that they had missed the sea-fight.” In this way the Corcyræans eluded the reproaches of the Greeks.
169. The Cretans, when the envoys sent to ask aid from them came and made their request, acted as follows. They despatched messengers in the name of their state to Delphi, and asked the god, whether it would make for their welfare if they should lend succour to Greece. “Fools!” replied the Pythoness, “do ye not still complain of the woes which the assisting of Menelaüs cost you at the hands of angry Minos? How wroth was he, when, in spite of their having lent you no aid towards avenging his death at Camicus, you helped them to avenge the carrying off by a barbarian of a woman from Sparta!” When this answer was brought from Delphi to the Cretans, they thought no more of assisting the Greeks.
170. Minos, according to tradition, went to Sicania, or Sicily, as it is now called, in search of Dædalus, and there perished by a violent death. After a while the Cretans, warned by some god or other, made a great expedition into Sicania, all except the Polichnites and the Præsians, and besieged Camicus (which in my time belonged to Agrigentum) by the space of five years. At last, however, failing in their efforts to take the place, and unable to carry on the siege any longer from the pressure of hunger, they departed and went their way. Voyaging homewards they had reached Iapygia, when a furious storm arose and threw them upon the coast. All their vessels were broken in pieces; and so, as they saw no means of returning to Crete, they founded the town of Hyria, where they took up their abode, changing their name from Cretans to Messapian Iapygians, and at the same time becoming inhabitants of the mainland instead of islanders. From Hyria they afterwards founded those other towns which the Tarentines at a much later period endeavoured to take, but could not, being defeated signally. Indeed so dreadful a slaughter of Greeks never happened at any other time, so far as my knowledge extends: nor was it only the Tarentines who suffered: but the men of Rhegium too, who had been forced to go to the aid of the Tarentines by Micythus the son of Chœrus, lost here three thousand of their citizens; while the number of the Tarentines who fell was beyond all count. This Micythus had been a household slave of Anaxilaüs, and was by him left in charge of Rhegium: he is the same man who was afterwards forced to leave Rhegium, when he settled at Tegea in Arcadia, from which place he made many offerings of statues to the shrine at Olympia.
171. This account of the Rhegians and the Tarentines is a digression from the story which I was relating. To return—the Præsians say that men of various nations now flocked to Crete, which was stript of its inhabitants; but none came in such numbers as the Grecians. Three generations after the death of Minos the Trojan war took place; and the Cretans were not the least distinguished among the helpers of Menelaüs. But on this account, when they came back from Troy, famine and pestilence fell upon them, and destroyed both the men and the cattle. Crete was a second time stript of its inhabitants, a remnant only being left; who form, together with fresh settlers, the third “Cretan” people by whom the island has been inhabited. These were the events of which the Pythoness now reminded the men of Crete; and thereby she prevented them from giving the Greeks aid, though they wished to have gone to their assistance.
172. The Thessalians did not embrace the cause of the Medes until they were forced to do so; for they gave plain proof that the intrigues of the Aleuadæ were not at all to their liking. No sooner did they hear that the Persian was about to cross over into Europe than they despatched envoys to the Greeks who were met to consult together at the Isthmus, whither all the states which were well inclined to the Grecian cause had sent their delegates. These envoys on their arrival thus addressed their countrymen:
“Men of Greece, it behoves you to guard the pass of Olympus; for thus will Thessaly be placed in safety, as well as the rest of Greece. We for our parts are quite ready to take our share in this work; but you must likewise send us a strong force: otherwise we give you fair warning that we shall make terms with the Persians. For we ought not to be left, exposed as we are in front of all the rest of Greece, to die in your defence alone and unassisted. If however you do not choose to send us aid, you cannot force us to resist the enemy; for there is no force so strong as inability. We shall therefore do our best to secure our own safety.”
Such was the declaration of the Thessalians.
173. Hereupon the Greeks determined to send a body of foot to Thessaly by sea, which should defend the pass of Olympus. Accordingly a force was collected, which passed up the Euripus, and disembarking at Alus, on the coast of Achæa, left the ships there, and marched by land into Thessaly. Here they occupied the defile of Tempé; which leads from lower Macedonia into Thessaly along the course of the Peneus, having the range of Olympus on the one hand and Ossa upon the other. In this place the Greek force that had been collected, amounting to about 10,000 heavy-armed men, pitched their camp; and here they were joined by the Thessalian cavalry. The commanders were, on the part of the Lacedæmonians, Evænetus, the son of Carênus, who had been chosen out of the Polemarchs, but did not belong to the blood royal; and on the part of the Athenians, Themistocles, the son of Neocles. They did not however maintain their station for more than a few days; since envoys came from Alexander, the son of Amyntas, the Macedonian, and counselled them to decamp from Tempé, telling them that if they remained in the pass they would be trodden under foot by the invading army, whose numbers they recounted, and likewise the multitude of their ships. So when the envoys thus counselled them, and the counsel seemed to be good, and the Macedonian who sent it friendly, they did even as he advised. In my opinion what chiefly wrought on them was the fear that the Persians might enter by another pass, whereof they now heard, which led from Upper Macedonia into Thessaly through the territory of the Perrhæbi, and by the town of Gonnus,—the pass by which soon afterwards the army of Xerxes actually made its entrance. The Greeks therefore went back to their ships and sailed away to the Isthmus.
174. Such were the circumstances of the expedition into Thessaly; they took place when the king was at Abydos, preparing to pass from Asia into Europe. The Thessalians, when their allies forsook them, no longer wavered, but warmly espoused the side of the Medes; and afterwards, in the course of the war, they were of the very greatest service to Xerxes.
175. The Greeks, on their return to the Isthmus, took counsel together concerning the words of Alexander, and considered where they should fix the war, and what places they should occupy. The opinion which prevailed was, that they should guard the pass of Thermopylæ; since it was narrower than the Thessalian defile, and at the same time nearer to them. Of the pathway, by which the Greeks who fell at Thermopylæ were intercepted, they had no knowledge, until on their arrival at Thermopylæ it was discovered to them by the Trachinians. This pass then it was determined that they should guard, in order to prevent the barbarians from penetrating into Greece through it; and at the same time it was resolved that the fleet should proceed to Artemisium, in the region of Histiæôtis; for, as those places are near to one another, it would be easy for the fleet and army to hold communication. The two places may be thus described.
176. Artemisium is where the sea of Thrace contracts into a narrow channel, running between the isle of Sciathus and the mainland of Magnesia. When this narrow strait is passed you come to the line of coast called Artemisium; which is a portion of Eubœa, and contains a temple of Artemis (Diana). As for the entrance into Greece by Trachis, it is, at its narrowest point, about fifty feet wide. This however is not the place where the passage is most contracted; for it is still narrower a little above and a little below Thermopylæ. At Alpêni, which is lower down than that place, it is only wide enough for a single carriage; and up above, at the river Phœnix, near the town called Anthêla, it is the same. West of Thermopylæ2 rises a lofty and precipitous hill, impossible to climb, which runs up into the chain of Œta; while to the east the road is shut in by the sea and by marshes. In this place are the warm springs, which the natives call “The Cauldrons;” and above them stands an altar sacred to Hercules. A wall had once been carried across the opening; and in this there had of old times been a gateway. These works were made by the Phocians, through fear of the Thessalians, at the time when the latter came from Thesprôtia to establish themselves in the land of Æolis, which they still occupy. As the Thessalians strove to reduce Phocis, the Phocians raised the wall to protect themselves, and likewise turned the hot springs upon the pass, that so the ground might be broken up by water-courses, using thus all possible means to hinder the Thessalians from invading their country. The old wall had been built in very remote times; and the greater part of it had gone to decay through age. Now, however, the Greeks resolved to repair its breaches, and here make their stand against the Barbarian. At this point there is a village very nigh the road, Alpêni by name, from which the Greeks reckoned on getting corn for their troops.
177. These places, therefore, seemed to the Greeks fit for their purpose. Weighing well all that was likely to happen, and considering that in this region the barbarians could make no use of their vast numbers, nor of their cavalry, they resolved to await here the invader of Greece. And when news reached them of the Persians being in Pieria, straightway they broke up from the Isthmus, and proceeded, some on foot to Thermopylæ, others by sea to Artemisium.
178. The Greeks now made all speed to reach the two stations; and about the same time the Delphians, alarmed both for themselves and for their country, consulted the god, and received for answer a command to “pray to the winds; for the winds would do Greece good service.” So when this answer was given them, forthwith the Delphians sent word of the prophecy to those Greeks who were zealous for freedom, and, cheering them thereby amid the fears which they entertained with respect to the Barbarian, earned their everlasting gratitude. This done, they raised an altar to the winds at Thyia (where Thyia, the daughter of Cephissus, from whom the region takes its name, has a precinct), and worshipped them with sacrifices. And even to the present day the Delphians sacrifice to the winds, because of this oracle.
179. The fleet of Xerxes now departed from Therma; and ten of the swiftest sailing ships ventured to stretch across direct for Sciathus, at which place there were upon the lookout three vessels belonging to the Greeks, one a ship of Trœzen, another of Egina, and the third from Athens. These vessels no sooner saw from a distance the barbarians approaching than they all hurriedly took to flight.
180. The barbarians at once pursued, and the Trœzenian ship, which was commanded by Prexînus, fell into their hands. Hereupon the Persians took the handsomest of the men-at-arms, and drew him to the prow of the vessel, where they sacrificed him;3 for they thought the man a good omen to their cause, seeing that he was at once so beautiful, and likewise the first captive they had made. The man who was slain in this way was called Leo; and it may be that the name he bore helped him to his fate in some measure.
181. The Eginetan trireme, under its captain, Asônides, gave the Persians no little trouble, one of the men-at-arms, Pythes, the son of Ischenoüs, distinguishing himself beyond all the others who fought on that day. After the ship was taken this man continued to resist, and did not cease fighting till he fell quite covered with wounds. The Persians who served as men-at-arms in the squadron, finding that he was not dead, but still breathed, and being very anxious to save his life, since he had behaved so valiantly, dressed his wounds with myrrh, and bound them up with bandages of cotton. Then, when they were returned to their own station, they displayed their prisoner admiringly to the whole host, and behaved towards him with much kindness; but all the rest of the ship’s crew were treated merely as slaves.
182. Thus did the Persians succeed in taking two of the vessels. The third, a trireme commanded by Phormus of Athens, took to flight and ran aground at the mouth of the river Peneus. The barbarians got possession of the bark, but not of the men. For the Athenians had no sooner run their vessel aground than they leapt out, and made their way through Thessaly back to Athens.
When the Greeks stationed at Artemisium learnt what had happened by fire-signals from Sciathus, so terrified were they, that, quitting their anchorage-ground at Artemisium, and leaving scouts to watch the foe on the highlands of Eubœa, they removed to Chalcis, intending to guard the Euripus.
183. Meantime three of the ten vessels sent forward by the barbarians, advanced as far as the sunken rock between Sciathus and Magnesia, which is called “The Ant,” and there set up a stone pillar which they had brought with them for that purpose. After this, their course being now clear, the barbarians set sail with all their ships from Therma, eleven days from the time that the king quitted the town. The rock, which lay directly in their course, had been made known to them by Pammon of Scyros. A day’s voyage without a stop brought them to Sepias in Magnesia, and to the strip of coast which lies between the town of Casthanæa and the promontory of Sepias.
184. As far as this point then, and on land as far as Thermopylæ, the armament of Xerxes had been free from mischance; and the numbers were still, according to my reckoning, of the following amount. First there was the ancient complement of the twelve hundred and seven vessels which came with the king from Asia—the contingents of the nations severally—amounting, if we allow each ship a crew of two hundred men, to 241,400. Each of these vessels had on board, besides native soldiers, thirty fighting men, who were either Persians, Medes, or Sacans; which gives an addition of 36,210. To these two numbers I shall further add the crews of the penteconters; which may be reckoned, one with another, at fourscore men each. Of such vessels there were (as I said before) three thousand; and the men on board them accordingly would be 240,000. This was the sea force brought by the king from Asia; and it amounted in all to 517,610 men. The number of the foot soldiers was 1,700,000; that of the horsemen 80,000; to which must be added the Arabs who rode on camels, and the Libyans who fought in chariots, whom I reckon at 20,000. The whole number, therefore, of the land and sea forces added together amounts to 2,317,610 men. Such was the force brought from Asia, without including the camp followers, or taking any account of the provision-ships and the men whom they had on board.
185. To the amount thus reached we have still to add the forces gathered in Europe, concerning which I can only speak from conjecture. The Greeks dwelling in Thrace, and in the islands off the coast of Thrace, furnished to the fleet one hundred and twenty ships; the crews of which would amount to 24,000 men. Besides these, footmen were furnished by the Thracians, the Pæonians, the Eordians, the Bottiæans, by the Chalcidean tribes, by the Brygians, the Pierians, the Macedonians, the Perrhæbians, the Enianians, the Dolopians, the Magnesians, the Achæans, and by all the dwellers upon the Thracian sea-board; and the forces of these nations amounted, I believe, to three hundred thousand men. These numbers, added to those of the force which came out of Asia, make the sum of the fighting men 2,641,610.
186. Such then being the number of the fighting men, it is my belief that the attendants who followed the camp, together with the crews of the corn-barks, and of the other craft accompanying the army, made up an amount rather above than below that of the fighting men. However, I will not reckon them as either fewer or more, but take them at an equal number. We have therefore to add to the sum already reached an exactly equal amount. This will give 5,283,220 as the whole number of men brought by Xerxes, the son of Darius, as far as Sepias and Thermopylæ.4
187. Such then was the amount of the entire host of Xerxes. As for the number of the women who ground the corn, of the concubines, and the eunuchs, no one can give any sure account of it; nor can the baggage horses and other sumpter-beasts, nor the Indian hounds which followed the army, be calculated, by reason of their multitude. Hence I am not at all surprised that the water of the rivers was found too scant for the army in some instances; rather it is a marvel to me how the provisions did not fail, when the numbers were so great.5 For I find on calculation that if each man consumed no more than a chœnix of corn a day, there must have been used daily by the army 110,340 medimni, and this without counting what was eaten by the women, the eunuchs, the sumpter-beasts, and the hounds. Among all this multitude of men there was not one who, for beauty and stature, deserved more than Xerxes himself to wield so vast a power.
188. The fleet then, as I said, on leaving Therma, sailed to the Magnesian territory, and there occupied the strip of coast between the city of Casthanæa and Cape Sepias. The ships of the first row were moored to the land, while the remainder swung at anchor further off. The beach extended but a very little way, so that they had to anchor off the shore, row upon row, eight deep. In this manner they passed the night. But at dawn of day calm and stillness gave place to a raging sea and a violent storm, which fell upon them with a strong gale from the east—a wind which the people in those parts call Hellespontias. Such of them as perceived the wind rising, and were so moored as to allow of it, forestalled the tempest by dragging their ships up on the beach, and in this way, saved both themselves and their vessels. But the ships which the storm caught out at sea were driven ashore, some of them near the place called Ipni, or “The Ovens,” at the foot of Pelion; others on the strand itself; others again about Cape Sepias; while a portion were dashed to pieces near the cities of Melibœa and Casthanæa. There was no resisting the tempest.
189. It is said that the Athenians had called upon Boreas to aid the Greeks, on account of a fresh oracle which had reached them, commanding them to “seek help from their son-in-law.” For Boreas, according to the tradition of the Greeks, took to wife a woman of Attica, viz., Orithyia, the daughter of Erechtheus. So the Athenians, as the tale goes, considering that this marriage made Boreas their son-in-law, and perceiving, while they lay with their ships at Chalcis of Eubœa, that the wind was rising, or, it may be, even before it freshened, offered sacrifice both to Boreas and likewise to Orithyia, entreating them to come to their aid and to destroy the ships of the barbarians, as they did once before off Mount Athos. Whether it was owing to this that Boreas fell with violence on the barbarians at their anchorage, I cannot say; but the Athenians declared that they had received aid from Boreas before, and that it was he who now caused all these disasters. They therefore, on their return home, built a temple to this god on the banks of the Illissus.
190. Such as put the loss of the Persian fleet in this storm at the lowest, say that four hundred of their ships were destroyed, that a countless multitude of men were slain, and a vast treasure engulfed. Ameinocles, the son of Crêtines, a Magnesian, who farmed land near Cape Sepias, found the wreck of these vessels a source of great pain to him; many were the gold and silver drinking cups, cast up long afterwards by the surf, which he gathered; while treasure-boxes too, which had belonged to the Persians, and golden articles of all kinds and beyond count, came into his possession. Ameinocles grew to be a man of great wealth in this way; but in other respects things did not go over well with him: he too, like other men, had his own grief—the calamity of losing his offspring.
191. As for the number of the provision craft and other merchant ships which perished, it was beyond count. Indeed, such was the loss, that the commanders of the sea force, fearing lest in their shattered condition the Thessalians should venture on an attack, raised a lofty barricade around their station out of the wreck of the vessels cast ashore. The storm lasted three days. At length the Magians, by offering victims to the Winds, and charming them with the help of conjurers, while at the same time they sacrificed to Thetis and the Nereids, succeeded in laying the storm four days after it first began; or perhaps it ceased of itself. The reason of their offering sacrifice to Thetis was this: they were told by the Ionians that here was the place whence Peleus carried her off, and that the whole promontory was sacred to her and to her sister Nereids. So the storm lulled upon the fourth day.
192. The scouts left by the Greeks about the highlands of Eubœa hastened down from their stations on the day following that whereon the storm began, and acquainted their countrymen with all that had befallen the Persian fleet. These no sooner heard what had happened than straightway they returned thanks to Neptune the Saviour, and poured libations in his honour; after which they hastened back with all speed to Artemisium, expecting to find a very few ships left to oppose them, and arriving there for the second time, took up their station on that strip of coast: nor from that day to the present have they ceased to address Neptune by the name then given him, of “Saviour.”
193. The barbarians, when the wind lulled and the sea grew smooth, drew their ships down to the water, and proceeded to coast along the mainland. Having then rounded the extreme point of Magnesia, they sailed straight into the bay that runs up to Pagasæ. There is a place in this bay, belonging to Magnesia, where Hercules is said to have been put ashore to fetch water by Jason and his companions; who then deserted him and went on their way to Æa in Colchis, on board the ship Argo, in quest of the golden fleece. From the circumstance that they intended, after watering their vessel at this place, to quit the shore and launch forth into the deep, it received the name of Aphetæ. Here then it was that the fleet of Xerxes came to an anchor.
194. Fifteen ships, which had lagged greatly behind the rest, happening to catch sight of the Greek fleet at Artemisium, mistook it for their own, and sailing down into the midst of it, fell into the hands of the enemy. The commander of this squadron was Sandôces, the son of Thamasius, governor of Cymé, in Æolis. He was of the number of the royal judges, and had been crucified by Darius some time before on the charge of taking a bribe to determine a cause wrongly; but while he yet hung on the cross, Darius bethought him that the good deeds of Sandôces towards the king’s house were more numerous than his evil deeds; and so, confessing that he had acted with more haste than wisdom, he ordered him to be taken down and set at large. Thus Sandôces escaped destruction at the hands of Darius, and was alive at this time; but he was not fated to come off so cheaply from his second peril; for as soon as the Greeks saw the ships making towards them, they guessed their mistake, and putting to sea, took them without difficulty.
195. Aridôlis, tyrant of Alabanda in Caria, was on board one of the ships, and was made prisoner; as also was the Paphian general, Penthylus, the son of Demonoüs, who was on board another. This person had brought with him twelve ships from Paphos, and after losing eleven in the storm off Sepias, was taken in the remaining one as he sailed toward Artemisium. The Greeks, after questioning their prisoners as much as they wished concerning the forces of Xerxes, sent them away in chains to the Isthmus of Corinth.
196. The sea force of the barbarians, with the exception of the fifteen ships commanded (as I said) by Sandôces, came safe to Aphetæ. Xerxes meanwhile, with the land army, had proceeded through Thessaly and Achæa, and three days earlier had entered the territory of the Malians. In Thessaly he matched his own horses against the Thessalian, which he heard were the best in Greece; but the Greek coursers were left far behind in the race. All the rivers in this region had water enough to supply his army, except only the Onochônus; but in Achæa, the largest of the streams, the Apidanus, barely held out.
197. On his arrival at Alus in Achæa, his guides, wishing to inform him of everything, told him the tale known to the dwellers in those parts concerning the temple of the Laphystian Jupiter—how that Athamas, the son of Æolus, took counsel with Ino and plotted the death of Phrixus; and how that afterwards the Achæans, warned by an oracle, laid a forfeit upon his posterity, forbidding the eldest of the race ever to enter into the court-house (which they call the people’s house), and keeping watch themselves to see the law obeyed. If one comes within the doors, he can never go out again except to be sacrificed. Further, they told him, how that many persons, when on the point of being slain, are seized with such fear that they flee away and take refuge in some other country; and that these, if they come back long afterwards, and are found to be the persons who entered the court-house, are led forth covered with chaplets, and in a grand procession, and are sacrificed. This forfeit is paid by the descendants of Cytissorus, the son of Phrixus, because, when the Achæans, in obedience to an oracle, made Athamas, the son of Æolus, their sin-offering, and were about to slay him, Cytissorus came from Æa in Colchis and rescued Athamas; by which deed he brought the anger of the god upon his own posterity. Xerxes, therefore, having heard this story, when he reached the grove of the god, avoided it, and commanded his army to do the like. He also paid the same respect to the house and precinct of the descendants of Athamas.
198. Such were the doings of Xerxes in Thessaly and in Achæa. From hence he passed on into Malis, along the shores of a bay, in which there is an ebb and flow of the tide daily. By the side of this bay lies a piece of flat land, in one part broad, but in another very narrow indeed, around which runs a range of lofty hills, impossible to climb, enclosing all Malis within them, and called the Trachinian cliffs. The first city upon the bay, as you come from Achæa, is Anticyra, near which the river Spercheius, flowing down from the country of the Enianians, empties itself into the sea. About twenty furlongs from this stream there is a second river, called the Dyras, which is said to have appeared first to help Hercules when he was burning. Again, at the distance of twenty furlongs, there is a stream called the Melas, near which, within about five furlongs, stands the city of Trachis.
199. At the point where this city is built, the plain between the hills and the sea is broader than at any other, for it there measures 22,000 plethra. South of Trachis there is a cleft in the mountain-range which shuts in the territory of Trachinia; and the river Asôpus issuing from this cleft flows for a while along the foot of the hills.
200. Further to the south, another river, called the Phœnix, which has no great body of water, flows from the same hills, and falls into the Asôpus. Here is the narrowest place of all; for in this part there is only a causeway wide enough for a single carriage. From the river Phœnix to Thermopylæ is a distance of fifteen furlongs; and in this space is situate the village called Anthêla, which the river Asôpus passes ere it reaches the sea. The space about Anthêla is of some width, and contains a temple of Amphictyonian Ceres, as well as the seats of the Amphictyonic deputies, and a temple of Amphictyon himself.
201. King Xerxes pitched his camp in the region of Malis called Trachinia, while on their side the Greeks occupied the straits. These straits the Greeks in general call Thermopylæ (the Hot Gates); but the natives, and those who dwell in the neighbourhood, call them Pylæ (the Gates). Here then the two armies took their stand; the one master of all the region lying north of Trachis, the other of the country extending southward of that place to the verge of the continent.
202. The Greeks who at this spot awaited the coming of Xerxes were the following: From Sparta, three hundred men-at-arms: from Arcadia, a thousand Tegeans and Mantineans, five hundred of each people; a hundred and twenty Orchomenians, from the Arcadian Orchomenus; and a thousand from other cities: from Corinth, four hundred men: from Phlius, two hundred: and from Mycenæ eighty. Such was the number from the Peloponnese. There were also present, from Bœotia, seven hundred Thespians and four hundred Thebans.
203. Besides these troops, the Locrians of Opus and the Phocians had obeyed the call of their countrymen, and sent, the former all the force they had, the latter a thousand men. For envoys had gone from the Greeks at Thermopylæ among the Locrians and Phocians, to call on them for assistance, and to say: “They were themselves but the vanguard of the host, sent to precede the main body, which might every day be expected to follow them. The sea was in good keeping, watched by the Athenians, the Eginetans, and the rest of the fleet. There was no cause why they should fear; for after all the invader was not a god but a man; and there never had been, and never would be, a man who was not liable to misfortunes from the very day of his birth, and those misfortunes greater in proportion to his own greatness. The assailant therefore, being only a mortal, must needs fall from his glory.” Thus urged, the Locrians and the Phocians had come with their troops to Trachis.
204. The various nations had each captains of their own under whom they served; but the one to whom all especially looked up, and who had the command of the entire force, was the Lacedæmonian, Leonidas. Now Leonidas was the son of Anaxandridas, who was the son of Leo, who was the son of Eurycratidas, who was the son of Anaxander, who was the son of Eurycrates, who was the son of Polydôrus, who was the son of Alcamenes, who was the son of Têlecles, who was the son of Archelaüs, who was the son of Agesilaüs, who was the son of Doryssus, who was the son of Labôtas, who was the son of Echestratus, who was the son of Agis, who was the son of Eurysthenes, who was the son of Aristodêmus, who was the son of Aristomachus, who was the son of Cleodæus, who was the son of Hyllus, who was the son of Hercules.6
Leonidas had come to be king of Sparta quite unexpectedly.
205. Having two elder brothers, Cleomenes and Dorieus, he had no thought of ever mounting the throne. However, when Cleomenes died without male offspring, as Dorieus was likewise deceased, having perished in Sicily, the crown fell to Leonidas, who was older than Cleombrotus, the youngest of the sons of Anaxandridas, and, moreover, was married to the daughter of Cleomenes. He had now come to Thermopylæ, accompanied by the three hundred men which the law assigned him, whom he had himself chosen from among the citizens, and who were all of them fathers with sons living. On his way he had taken the troops from Thebes, whose number I have already mentioned, and who were under the command of Leontiades the son of Eurymachus. The reason why he made a point of taking troops from Thebes, and Thebes only, was, that the Thebans were strongly suspected of being well inclined to the Medes. Leonidas therefore called on them to come with him to the war, wishing to see whether they would comply with his demand, or openly refuse, and disclaim the Greek alliance. They, however, though their wishes leant the other way, nevertheless sent the men.
206. The force with Leonidas was sent forward by the Spartans in advance of their main body, that the sight of them might encourage the allies to fight, and hinder them from going over to the Medes, as it was likely they might have done had they seen that Sparta was backward. They intended presently, when they had celebrated the Carneian festival, which was what now kept them at home, to leave a garrison in Sparta, and hasten in full force to join the army. The rest of the allies also intended to act similarly; for it happened that the Olympic festival fell exactly at this same period.7 None of them looked to see the contest at Thermopylæ decided so speedily; wherefore they were content to send forward a mere advanced guard. Such accordingly were the intentions of the allies.
207. The Greek forces at Thermopylæ, when the Persian army drew near to the entrance of the pass, were seized with fear; and a council was held to consider about a retreat. It was the wish of the Peloponnesians generally that the army should fall back upon the Peloponnese, and there guard the Isthmus. But Leonidas, who saw with what indignation the Phocians and Locrians heard of this plan, gave his voice for remaining where they were, while they sent envoys to the several cities to ask for help, since they were too few to make a stand against an army like that of the Medes.
208. While this debate was going on, Xerxes sent a mounted spy to observe the Greeks, and note how many they were, and see what they were doing. He had heard, before he came out of Thessaly, that a few men were assembled at this place, and that at their head were certain Lacedæmonians, under Leonidas, a descendant of Hercules. The horseman rode up to the camp, and looked about him, but did not see the whole army; for such as were on the further side of the wall (which had been rebuilt and was now carefully guarded) it was not possible for him to behold; but he observed those on the outside, who were encamped in front of the rampart. It chanced that at this time the Lacedæmonians held the outer guard, and were seen by the spy, some of them engaged in gymnastic exercises, others combing their long hair. At this the spy greatly marvelled, but he counted their number, and when he had taken accurate note of everything, he rode back quietly; for no one pursued after him, nor paid any heed to his visit. So he returned, and told Xerxes all that he had seen.
209. Upon this, Xerxes, who had no means of surmising the truth—namely, that the Spartans were preparing to do or die manfully—but thought it laughable that they should be engaged in such employments, sent and called to his presence Demaratus the son of Ariston, who still remained with the army. When he appeared, Xerxes told him all that he had heard, and questioned him concerning the news, since he was anxious to understand the meaning of such behaviour on the part of the Spartans. Then Demaratus said:
“I spake to thee, O King! concerning these men long since, when we had but just begun our march upon Greece; thou, however, didst only laugh at my words, when I told thee of all this, which I saw would come to pass. Earnestly do I struggle at all times to speak truth to thee, sire; and now listen to it once more. These men have come to dispute the pass with us; and it is for this that they are now making ready. ’Tis their custom, when they are about to hazard their lives, to adorn their heads with care.8 Be assured, however, that if thou canst subdue the men who are here and the Lacedæmonians who remain in Sparta, there is no other nation in all the world which will venture to lift a hand in their defence. Thou hast now to deal with the first kingdom and town in Greece, and with the bravest men.”
Then Xerxes, to whom what Demaratus said seemed altogether to surpass belief, asked further, “how it was possible for so small an army to contend with his?”
“O King!” Demaratus answered, “let me be treated as a liar, if matters fall not out as I say.”
210. But Xerxes was not persuaded any the more. Four whole days he suffered to go by, expecting that the Greeks would run away. When, however, he found on the fifth that they were not gone, thinking that their firm stand was mere impudence and recklessness, he grew wroth, and sent against them the Medes and Cissians, with orders to take them alive and bring them into his presence. Then the Medes rushed forward and charged the Greeks, but fell in vast numbers: others however took the places of the slain, and would not be beaten off, though they suffered terrible losses. In this way it became clear to all, and especially to the King, that though he had plenty of combatants, he had but very few warriors. The struggle, however, continued during the whole day.
211. Then the Medes, having met so rough a reception, withdrew from the fight; and their place was taken by the band of Persians under Hydarnes, whom the King called his “Immortals:” they, it was thought, would soon finish the business. But when they joined battle with the Greeks, ’twas with no better success than the Median detachment—things went much as before—the two armies fighting in a narrow space, and the barbarians using shorter spears than the Greeks, and having no advantage from their numbers. The Lacedæmonians fought in a way worthy of note, and showed themselves far more skilful in fight than their adversaries, often turning their backs, and making as though they were all flying away, on which the barbarians would rush after them with much noise and shouting, when the Spartans at their approach would wheel round and face their pursuers, in this way destroying vast numbers of the enemy. Some Spartans likewise fell in these encounters, but only a very few. At last the Persians, finding that all their efforts to gain the pass availed nothing, and that, whether they attacked by divisions or in any other way, it was to no purpose, withdrew to their own quarters.
212. During these assaults, it is said that Xerxes, who was watching the battle, thrice leaped from the throne on which he sate, in terror for his army.
Next day the combat was renewed, but with no better success on the part of the barbarians. The Greeks were so few that the barbarians hoped to find them disabled, by reason of their wounds, from offering any further resistance; and so they once more attacked them. But the Greeks were drawn up in detachments according to their cities, and bore the brunt of the battle in turns,—all except the Phocians, who had been stationed on the mountain to guard the pathway. So, when the Persians found no difference between that day and the preceding, they again retired to their quarters.
213. Now, as the King was in a great strait, and knew not how he should deal with the emergency, Ephialtes, the son of Eurydêmus, a man of Malis, came to him and was admitted to a conference. Stirred by the hope of receiving a rich reward at the King’s hands, he had come to tell him of the pathway which led across the mountain to Thermopylæ; by which disclosure he brought destruction on the band of Greeks who had there withstood the barbarians. This Ephialtes afterwards, from fear of the Lacedæmonians, fled into Thessaly; and during his exile, in an assembly of the Amphictyons held at Pylæ, a price was set upon his head by the Pylagoræ. When some time had gone by, he returned from exile, and went to Anticyra, where he was slain by Athênades, a native of Trachis. Athênades did not slay him for his treachery, but for another reason, which I shall mention in a later part of my History: yet still the Lacedæmonians honoured him none the less. Thus then did Ephialtes perish a long time afterwards.
214. Besides this there is another story told, which I do not at all believe—to wit, that Onêtas the son of Phanagoras, a native of Carystus, and Corydallus, a man of Anticyra, were the persons who spoke on this matter to the King, and took the Persians across the mountain. One may guess which story is true, from the fact that the deputies of the Greeks, the Pylagoræ, who must have had the best means of ascertaining the truth, did not offer the reward for the heads of Onêtas and Corydallus, but for that of Ephialtes of Trachis; and again from the flight of Ephialtes, which we know to have been on this account. Onêtas, I allow, although he was not a Malian, might have been acquainted with the path, if he had lived much in that part of the country; but as Ephialtes was the person who actually led the Persians round the mountain by the pathway, I leave his name on record as that of the man who did the deed.
215. Great was the joy of Xerxes on this occasion; and as he approved highly of the enterprise which Ephialtes undertook to accomplish, he forthwith sent upon the errand Hydarnes, and the Persians under him. The troops left the camp about the time of the lighting of the lamps. The pathway along which they went was first discovered by the Malians of these parts, who soon afterwards led the Thessalians by it to attack the Phocians, at the time when the Phocians fortified the pass with a wall, and so put themselves under covert from danger. And ever since, the path has always been put to an ill use by the Malians.
216. The course which it takes is the following: Beginning at the Asôpus, where that stream flows through the cleft in the hills, it runs along the ridge of the mountain (which is called, like the pathway over it, Anopæ), and ends at the city of Alpênus—the first Locrian town as you come from Malis—by the stone called Melampygus and the seats of the Cercopians.9 Here it is as narrow as at any other point.
217. The Persians took this path, and, crossing the Asôpus, continued their march through the whole of the night, having the mountains of Œta on their right hand, and on their left those of Trachis. At dawn of day they found themselves close to the summit. Now the hill was guarded, as I have already said, by a thousand Phocian men-at-arms, who were placed there to defend the pathway, and at the same time to secure their own country. They had been given the guard of the mountain path, while the other Greeks defended the pass below, because they had volunteered for the service, and had pledged themselves to Leonidas to maintain the post.
218. The ascent of the Persians became known to the Phocians in the following manner: During all the time that they were making their way up, the Greeks remained unconscious of it, inasmuch as the whole mountain was covered with groves of oak; but it happened that the air was very still, and the leaves which the Persians stirred with their feet made, as it was likely they would, a loud rustling, whereupon the Phocians jumped up and flew to seize their arms. In a moment the barbarians came in sight, and, perceiving men arming themselves, were greatly amazed; for they had fallen in with an enemy when they expected no opposition. Hydarnes, alarmed at the sight, and fearing lest the Phocians might be Lacedæmonians, inquired of Ephialtes to what nation those troops belonged. Ephialtes told him the exact truth, whereupon he arrayed his Persians for battle. The Phocians, galled by the showers of arrows to which they were exposed, and imagining themselves the special object of the Persian attack, fled hastily to the crest of the mountain, and there made ready to meet death; but while their mistake continued, the Persians, with Ephialtes and Hydarnes, not thinking it worth their while to delay on account of Phocians, passed on and descended the mountain with all possible speed.
219. The Greeks at Thermopylæ received the first warning of the destruction which the dawn would bring on them from the seer Megistias, who read their fate in the victims as he was sacrificing. After this deserters came in, and brought the news that the Persians were marching round by the hills: it was still night when these men arrived. Last of all, the scouts came running down from the heights, and brought in the same accounts, when the day was just beginning to break. Then the Greeks held a council to consider what they should do, and here opinions were divided: some were strong against quitting their post, while others contended to the contrary. So when the council had broken up, part of the troops departed and went their ways homeward to their several states; part however resolved to remain, and to stand by Leonidas to the last.
220. It is said that Leonidas himself sent away the troops who departed, because he tendered their safety, but thought it unseemly that either he or his Spartans should quit the post which they had been especially sent to guard. For my own part, I incline to think that Leonidas gave the order, because he perceived the allies to be out of heart and unwilling to encounter the danger to which his own mind was made up. He therefore commanded them to retreat, but said that he himself could not draw back with honour; knowing that, if he stayed, glory awaited him, and that Sparta in that case would not lose her prosperity. For when the Spartans, at the very beginning of the war, sent to consult the oracle concerning it, the answer which they received from the Pythoness was, “that either Sparta must be overthrown by the barbarians, or one of her kings must perish.” The prophecy was delivered in hexameter verse, and ran thus:
The remembrance of this answer, I think, and the wish to secure the whole glory for the Spartans, caused Leonidas to send the allies away. This is more likely than that they quarrelled with him, and took their departure in such unruly fashion.
221. To me it seems no small argument in favour of this view, that the seer also accompanied the army, Megistias, the Acarnanian,—said to have been of the blood of Melampus, and the same who was led by the appearance of the victims to warn the Greeks of the danger which threatened them,—received orders to retire (as it is certain he did) from Leonidas, that he might escape the coming destruction. Megistias, however, though bidden to depart, refused, and stayed with the army; but he had an only son present with the expedition, whom he now sent away.
222. So the allies, when Leonidas ordered them to retire, obeyed him and forthwith departed. Only the Thespians and the Thebans remained with the Spartans; and of these the Thebans were kept back by Leonidas as hostages, very much against their will. The Thespians, on the contrary, stayed entirely of their own accord, refusing to retreat, and declaring that they would not forsake Leonidas and his followers. So they abode with the Spartans, and died with them. Their leader was Demophilus, the son of Diadromes.
223. At sunrise Xerxes made libations, after which he waited until the time when the forum is wont to fill, and then began his advance. Ephialtes had instructed him thus, as the descent of the mountain is much quicker, and the distance much shorter, than the way round the hills, and the ascent. So the barbarians under Xerxes began to draw nigh; and the Greeks under Leonidas, as they now went forth determined to die, advanced much further than on previous days, until they reached the more open portion of the pass. Hitherto they had held their station within the wall, and from this had gone forth to fight at the point where the pass was the narrowest. Now they joined battle beyond the defile, and carried slaughter among the barbarians, who fell in heaps. Behind them the captains of the squadrons, armed with whips, urged their men forward with continual blows. Many were thrust into the sea, and there perished; a still greater number were trampled to death by their own soldiers; no one heeded the dying. For the Greeks, reckless of their own safety and desperate, since they knew that, as the mountain had been crossed, their destruction was nigh at hand, exerted themselves with the most furious valour against the barbarians.
224. By this time the spears of the greater number were all shivered, and with their swords they hewed down the ranks of the Persians; and here, as they strove, Leonidas fell fighting bravely, together with many other famous Spartans, whose names I have taken care to learn on account of their great worthiness, as indeed I have those of all the three hundred. There fell too at the same time very many famous Persians: among them, two sons of Darius, Abrocomes and Hyperanthes, his children by Phrataguné, the daughter of Artanes. Artanes was brother of King Darius, being a son of Hystaspes, the son of Arsames; and when he gave his daughter to the King, he made him heir likewise of all his substance; for she was his only child.
225. Thus two brothers of Xerxes here fought and fell. And now there arose a fierce struggle between the Persians and the Lacedæmonians over the body of Leonidas, in which the Greeks four times drove back the enemy, and at last by their great bravery succeeded in bearing off the body. This combat was scarcely ended when the Persians with Ephialtes approached; and the Greeks, informed that they drew nigh, made a change in the manner of their fighting. Drawing back into the narrowest part of the pass, and retreating even behind the cross wall, they posted themselves upon a hillock, where they stood all drawn up together in one close body, except only the Thebans. The hillock whereof I speak is at the entrance of the straits, where the stone lion stands which was set up in honour of Leonidas. Here they defended themselves to the last, such as still had swords using them, and the others resisting with their hands and teeth; till the barbarians, who in part had pulled down the wall and attacked them in front, in part had gone round and now encircled them upon every side, overwhelmed and buried the remnant which was left beneath showers of missile weapons.
226. Thus nobly did the whole body of Lacedæmonians and Thespians behave; but nevertheless one man is said to have distinguished himself above all the rest, to wit, Diêneces the Spartan. A speech which he made before the Greeks engaged the Medes, remains on record. One of the Trachinians told him, “Such was the number of the barbarians, that when they shot forth their arrows the sun would be darkened by their multitude.” Diêneces, not at all frightened at these words, but making light of the Median numbers, answered, “Our Trachinian friend brings us excellent tidings. If the Medes darken the sun, we shall have our fight in the shade.” Other sayings too of a like nature are reported to have been left on record by this same person.
227. Next to him two brothers, Lacedæmonians, are reputed to have made themselves conspicuous: they were named Alpheus and Maro, and were the sons of Orsiphantus. There was also a Thespian who gained greater glory than any of his countrymen: he was a man called Dithyrambus, the son of Harmatidas.
228. The slain were buried where they fell; and in their honour, nor less in honour of those who died before Leonidas sent the allies away, an inscription was set up, which said:
This was in honour of all. Another was for the Spartans alone:
This was for the Lacedæmonians. The seer had the following:
These inscriptions, and the pillars likewise, were all set up by the Amphictyons, except that in honour of Megistias, which was inscribed to him (on account of their sworn friendship) by Simônides, the son of Leôprepes.1
229. Two of the three hundred, it is said, Aristodêmus and Eurytus, having been attacked by a disease of the eyes, had received orders from Leonidas to quit the camp; and both lay at Alpêni in the worst stage of the malady. These two men might, had they been so minded, have agreed together to return alive to Sparta; or if they did not like to return, they might have gone both to the field and fallen with their countrymen. But at this time, when either way was open to them, unhappily they could not agree, but took contrary courses. Eurytus no sooner heard that the Persians had come round the mountain, than straightway he called for his armour, and having buckled it on, bade his Helot lead him to the place where his friends were fighting. The Helot did so, and then turned and fled; but Eurytus plunged into the thick of the battle, and so perished. Aristodêmus, on the other hand, was faint of heart, and remained at Alpêni. It is my belief that if Aristodêmus only had been sick and returned, or if both had come back together, the Spartans would have been content and felt no anger; but when there were two men with the very same excuse, and one of them was chary of his life, while the other freely gave it, they could not but be very wroth with the former.
230. This is the account which some give of the escape of Aristodêmus. Others say, that he, with another, had been sent on a message from the army, and, having it in his power to return in time for the battle, purposely loitered on the road, and so survived his comrades; while his fellow-messenger came back in time, and fell in the battle.
231. When Aristodêmus returned to Lacedæmon, reproach and disgrace awaited him; disgrace, inasmuch as no Spartan would give him a light to kindle his fire, or so much as address a word to him; and reproach, since all spoke of him as “the craven.” However, he wiped away all his shame afterwards at the battle of Platæa.
232. Another of the three hundred is likewise said to have survived the battle, a man named Pantites, whom Leonidas had sent on an embassy into Thessaly. He, they say, on his return to Sparta, found himself in such disesteem that he hanged himself.
233. The Thebans under the command of Leontiades remained with the Greeks, and fought against the barbarians, only so long as necessity compelled them. No sooner did they see victory inclining to the Persians, and the Greeks under Leonidas hurrying with all speed towards the hillock, than they moved away from their companions, and with hands upraised advanced towards the barbarians, exclaiming, as was indeed most true,—“that they for their part wished well to the Medes, and had been among the first to give earth and water to the King; force alone had brought them to Thermopylæ; and so they must not be blamed for the slaughter which had befallen the King’s army.” These words, the truth of which was attested by the Thessalians, sufficed to obtain the Thebans the grant of their lives. However, their good fortune was not without some drawback; for several of them were slain by the barbarians on their first approach; and the rest, who were the greater number, had the royal mark branded upon their bodies by the command of Xerxes,—Leontiades, their captain, being the first to suffer. (This man’s son, Eurymachus, was afterwards slain by the Platæans, when he came with a band of 400 Thebans, and seized their city.)
234. Thus fought the Greeks at Thermopylæ. And Xerxes, after the fight was over, called for Demaratus to question him; and began as follows:
“Demaratus, thou art a worthy man; thy true-speaking proves it. All has happened as thou didst forewarn. Now then, tell me, how many Lacedæmonians are there left, and of those left how many are such brave warriors as these? Or are they all alike?”
“O King!” replied the other, “the whole number of the Lacedæmonians is very great; and many are the cities which they inhabit. But I will tell thee what thou really wishest to learn. There is a town of Lacedæmon, called Sparta, which contains within it about eight thousand full-grown men. They are, one and all, equal to those who have fought here. The other Lacedæmonians are brave men, but not such warriors as these.”
“Tell me now, Demaratus,” rejoined Xerxes, “how we may with least trouble subdue these men. Thou must know all the paths of their counsels, as thou wert once their king.”
235. Then Demaratus answered: “O King! since thou askest my advice so earnestly, it is fitting that I should inform thee what I consider to be the best course. Detach three hundred vessels from the body of thy fleet, and send them to attack the shores of Laconia. There is an island called Cythera in those parts, not far from the coast, concerning which Chilon, one of our wisest men, made the remark, that Sparta would gain if it were sunk to the bottom of the sea—so constantly did he expect that it would give occasion to some project like that which I now recommend to thee. I mean not to say that he had a foreknowledge of thy attack upon Greece; but in truth he feared all armaments. Send thy ships then to this island, and thence affright the Spartans. If once they have a war of their own close to their doors, fear not their giving any help to the rest of the Greeks while thy land force is engaged in conquering them. In this way may all Greece be subdued; and then Sparta, left to herself, will be powerless. But if thou wilt not take this advice, I will tell thee what thou mayest look to see. When thou comest to the Peloponnese, thou wilt find a narrow neck of land, where all the Peloponnesians who are leagued against thee will be gathered together; and there thou wilt have to fight bloodier battles than any which thou hast yet witnessed. If, however, thou wilt follow my plan, the Isthmus and the cities of Peloponnese will yield to thee without a battle.”
236. Achæmenes, who was present, now took the word, and spoke—he was brother to Xerxes, and, having the command of the fleet, feared lest Xerxes might be prevailed upon to do as Demaratus advised:
“I perceive, O King” (he said), “that thou art listening to the words of a man who is envious of thy good fortune, and seeks to betray thy cause. This is indeed the common temper of the Grecian people—they envy good fortune, and hate power greater than their own. If in this posture of our affairs, after we have lost four hundred vessels by shipwreck, three hundred more be sent away to make a voyage round the Peloponnese, our enemies will become a match for us. But let us keep our whole fleet in one body, and it will be dangerous for them to venture on an attack, as they will certainly be no match for us then. Besides, while our sea and land forces advance together, the fleet and army can each help the other; but if they be parted, no aid will come either from thee to the fleet, or from the fleet to thee. Only order thy own matters well, and trouble not thyself to inquire concerning the enemy,—where they will fight, or what they will do, or how many they are. Surely they can manage their own concerns without us, as we can ours without them. If the Lacedæmonians come out against the Persians to battle, they will scarce repair the disaster which has befallen them now.”
237. Xerxes replied: “Achæmenes, thy counsel pleases me well, and I will do as thou sayest. But Demaratus advised what he thought best—only his judgment was not so good as thine. Never will I believe that he does not wish well to my cause; for that is disproved both by his former counsels, and also by the circumstances of the case. A citizen does indeed envy any fellow-citizen who is more lucky than himself, and often hates him secretly; if such a man be called on for counsel, he will not give his best thoughts, unless indeed he be a man of very exalted virtue; and such are but rarely found. But a friend of another country delights in the good fortune of his foreign bond-friend, and will give him, when asked, the best advice in his power. Therefore I warn all men to abstain henceforth from speaking ill of Demaratus, who is my bond-friend.”
238. When Xerxes had thus spoken, he proceeded to pass through the slain; and finding the body of Leonidas, whom he knew to have been the Lacedæmonian king and captain, he ordered that the head should be struck off, and the trunk fastened to a cross.2 This proves to me most clearly, what is plain also in many other ways,—namely, that King Xerxes was more angry with Leonidas, while he was still in life, than with any other mortal. Certes, he would not else have used his body so shamefully. For the Persians are wont to honour those who show themselves valiant in fight more highly than any nation that I know. They, however, to whom the orders were given, did according to the commands of the King.
239. I return now to a point in my History, which at the time I left incomplete. The Lacedæmonians were the first of the Greeks to hear of the King’s design against their country; and it was at this time that they sent to consult the Delphic oracle, and received the answer of which I spoke a while ago. The discovery was made to them in a very strange way. Demaratus, the son of Ariston, after he took refuge with the Medes, was not, in my judgment, which is supported by probability, a well-wisher to the Lacedæmonians. It may be questioned, therefore, whether he did what I am about to mention from good-will or from insolent triumph. It happened that he was at Susa at the time when Xerxes determined to lead his army into Greece; and in this way becoming acquainted with his design, he resolved to send tidings of it to Sparta. So as there was no other way of effecting his purpose, since the danger of being discovered was great, Demaratus framed the following contrivance. He took a pair of tablets, and, clearing the wax away from them, wrote what the king was purposing to do upon the wood whereof the tablets were made; having done this, he spread the wax once more over the writing, and so sent it. By these means, the guards placed to watch the roads, observing nothing but a blank tablet, were sure to give no trouble to the bearer. When the tablet reached Lacedæmon, there was no one, I understand, who could find out the secret, till Gorgo, the daughter of Cleomenes and wife of Leonidas, discovered it, and told the others. “If they would scrape the wax off the tablet,” she said, “they would be sure to find the writing upon the wood.” The Lacedæmonians took her advice, found the writing, and read it; after which they sent it round to the other Greeks. Such then is the account which is given of this matter.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE Greeks engaged in the sea-service were the following. The Athenians furnished a hundred and twenty-seven vessels to the fleet, which were manned in part by the Platæans, who, though unskilled in such matters, were led by their active and daring spirit to undertake this duty; the Corinthians furnished a contingent of forty vessels; the Megarians sent twenty; the Chalcideans also manned twenty, which had been furnished to them by the Athenians; the Eginetans came with eighteen; the Sicyonians with twelve; the Lacedæmonians with ten; the Epidaurians with eight; the Eretrians with seven; the Trœzenians with five; the Styreans with two; and the Cêans with two triremes and two penteconters. Last of all, the Locrians of Opus came in aid with a squadron of seven penteconters.
2. Such were the nations which furnished vessels to the fleet now at Artemisium; and in mentioning them I have given the number of ships furnished by each. The total number of the ships thus brought together, without counting the penteconters, was two hundred and seventy-one; and the captain, who had the chief command over the whole fleet, was Eurybiades, the son of Eurycleides. He was furnished by Sparta, since the allies had said that, “if a Lacedæmonian did not take the command, they would break up the fleet, for never would they serve under the Athenians.”
3. From the first, even earlier than the time when the embassy went to Sicily to solicit alliance, there had been a talk of intrusting the Athenians with the command at sea; but the allies were averse to the plan, wherefore the Athenians did not press it; for there was nothing they had so much at heart as the salvation of Greece, and they knew that, if they quarrelled among themselves about the command, Greece would be brought to ruin.1 Herein they judged rightly; for internal strife is a thing as much worse than war carried on by a united people, as war itself is worse than peace. The Athenians therefore, being so persuaded, did not push their claims, but waived them, so long as they were in such great need of aid from the other Greeks. And they afterwards showed their motive; for at the time when the Persians had been driven from Greece, and were now threatened by the Greeks in their own country, they took occasion of the insolence of Pausanias to deprive the Lacedæmonians of their leadership. This, however, happened afterwards.
4. At the present time the Greeks, on their arrival at Artemisium, when they saw the number of the ships which lay at anchor near Aphetæ, and the abundance of troops everywhere, feeling disappointed that matters had gone with the barbarians so far otherwise than they had expected, and full of alarm at what they saw, began to speak of drawing back from Artemisium towards the inner parts of their country. So when the Eubœans heard what was in debate, they went to Eurybiades, and besought him to wait a few days, while they removed their children and their slaves to a place of safety. But, as they found that they prevailed nothing, they left him and went to Themistocles, the Athenian commander, to whom they gave a bribe of thirty talents, on his promise that the fleet should remain and risk a battle in defence of Eubœa.
5. And Themistocles succeeded in detaining the fleet in the way which I will now relate. He made over to Eurybiades five talents out of the thirty paid him, which he gave as if they came from himself; and having in this way gained over the admiral, he addressed himself to Adeimantus, the son of Ocytus, the Corinthian leader, who was the only remonstrant now, and who still threatened to sail away from Artemisium and not wait for the other captains. Addressing himself to this man, Themistocles said with an oath, “Thou forsake us? By no means! I will pay thee better for remaining than the Mede would for leaving thy friends”—and straightway he sent on board the ship of Adeimantus a present of three talents of silver. So these two captains were won by gifts, and came over to the views of Themistocles, who was thereby enabled to gratify the wishes of the Eubœans. He likewise made his own gain on the occasion; for he kept the rest of the money, and no one knew of it. The commanders who took the gifts thought that the sums were furnished by Athens, and had been sent to be used in this way.
6. Thus it came to pass that the Greeks stayed at Eubœa and there gave battle to the enemy.
Now the battle was on this wise. The barbarians reached Aphetæ early in the afternoon, and then saw (as they had previously heard reported) that a fleet of Greek ships, weak in number, lay at Artemisium. At once they were eager to engage, fearing that the Greeks would fly, and hoping to capture them before they should get away. They did not however think it wise to make straight for the Greek station, lest the enemy should see them as they bore down, and betake themselves to flight immediately; in which case night might close in before they came up with the fugitives, and so they might get clean off and make their escape from them; whereas the Persians were minded not to let a single soul slip through their hands.
7. They therefore contrived a plan, which was the following: They detached two hundred of their ships from the rest, and—to prevent the enemy from seeing them start—sent them round outside the island of Sciathos, to make the circuit of Eubœa by Caphareus and Geræstus, and so to reach the Euripus. By this plan they thought to enclose the Greeks on every side; for the ships detached would block up the only way by which they could retreat, while the others would press upon them in front. With these designs therefore they despatched the two hundred ships, while they themselves waited,—since they did not mean to attack the Greeks upon that day, or until they knew, by signal, of the arrival of the detachment which had been ordered to sail round Eubœa. Meanwhile they made a muster of the other ships at Aphetæ.
8. Now the Persians had with them a man named Scyllias, a native of Sciôné, who was the most expert diver of his day. At the time of the shipwreck off Mount Pelion he had recovered for the Persians a great part of what they lost; and at the same time he had taken care to obtain for himself a good share of the treasure. He had for some time been wishing to go over to the Greeks; but no good opportunity had offered till now, when the Persians were making the muster of their ships. In what way he contrived to reach the Greeks I am not able to say for certain: I marvel much if the tale that is commonly told be true. ’Tis said he dived into the sea at Aphetæ, and did not once come to the surface till he reached Artemisium, a distance of nearly eighty furlongs. Now many things are related of this man which are plainly false; but some of the stories seem to be true. My own opinion is that on this occasion he made the passage to Artemisium in a boat.
However this might be, Scyllias no sooner reached Artemisium than he gave the Greek captains a full account of the damage done by the storm, and likewise told them of the ships sent to make the circuit of Eubœa.
9. So the Greeks on receiving these tidings held a council, whereat, after much debate, it was resolved that they should stay quiet for the present where they were, and remain at their moorings, but that after midnight they should put out to sea, and encounter the ships which were on their way round the island. Later in the day, when they found that no one meddled with them, they formed a new plan, which was to wait till near evening, and then sail out against the main body of the barbarians, for the purpose of trying their mode of fight and skill in manœuvring.
10. When the Persian commanders and crews saw the Greeks thus boldly sailing towards them with their few ships, they thought them possessed with madness, and went out to meet them, expecting (as indeed seemed likely enough) that they would take all their vessels with the greatest ease. The Greek ships were so few, and their own so far outnumbered them, and sailed so much better, that they resolved, seeing their advantage, to encompass their foe on every side. And now such of the Ionians as wished well to the Grecian cause and served in the Persian fleet unwillingly, seeing their countrymen surrounded, were solely distressed; for they felt sure that not one of them would ever make his escape, so poor an opinion had they of the strength of the Greeks. On the other hand, such as saw with pleasure the attack on Greece, now vied eagerly with each other which should be the first to make prize of an Athenian ship, and thereby to secure himself a rich reward from the king. For through both the hosts none were so much accounted of as the Athenians.
11. The Greeks, at a signal, brought the sterns of their ships together into a small compass, and turned their prows on every side towards the barbarians; after which, at a second signal, although inclosed within a narrow space, and closely pressed upon by the foe, yet they fell bravely to work, and captured thirty ships of the barbarians, at the same time taking prisoner Philaon, the son of Chersis, and brother of Gorgus king of Salamis, a man of much repute in the fleet. The first who made prize of a ship of the enemy was Lycomêdes the son of Æschreas, an Athenian, who was afterwards adjudged the meed of valour. Victory however was still doubtful when night came on, and put a stop to the combat. The Greeks sailed back to Artemisium; and the barbarians returned to Aphetæ, much surprised at the result, which was far other than they had looked for. In this battle only one of the Greeks who fought on the side of the king deserted and joined his countrymen. This was Antidôrus of Lemnos, whom the Athenians rewarded for his desertion by the present of a piece of land in Salamis.
12. Evening had barely closed in when a heavy rain—it was about midsummer2 —began to fall, which continued the whole night, with terrible thunderings and lightnings from Mount Pelion: the bodies of the slain and the broken pieces of the damaged ships were drifted in the direction of Aphetæ, and floated about the prows of the vessels there, disturbing the action of the oars. The barbarians, hearing the storm, were greatly dismayed, expecting certainly to perish, as they had fallen into such a multitude of misfortunes. For before they were well recovered from the tempest and the wreck of their vessels off Mount Pelion, they had been surprised by a sea-fight which had taxed all their strength, and now the sea-fight was scarcely over when they were exposed to floods of rain, and the rush of swollen streams into the sea, and violent thunderings.
13. If, however, they who lay at Aphetæ passed a comfortless night, far worse were the sufferings of those who had been sent to make the circuit of Eubœa; inasmuch as the storm fell on them out at sea, whereby the issue was indeed calamitous. They were sailing along near the Hollows of Eubœa, when the wind began to rise and the rain to pour: overpowered by the force of the gale, and driven they knew not whither, at the last they fell upon rocks,—Heaven so contriving, in order that the Persian fleet might not greatly exceed the Greek, but be brought nearly to its level. This squadron, therefore, was entirely lost about the Hollows of Eubœa.
14. The barbarians at Aphetæ were glad when day dawned, and remained in quiet at their station, content if they might enjoy a little peace after so many sufferings. Meanwhile there came to the aid of the Greeks a reinforcement of fifty-three ships from Attica. Their arrival, and the news (which reached Artemisium about the same time) of the complete destruction by the storm of the ships sent to sail round Eubœa, greatly cheered the spirits of the Greek sailors. So they waited again till the same hour as the day before, and, once more putting out to sea, attacked the enemy. This time they fell in with some Cilician vessels, which they sank; when night came on, and they withdrew to Artemisium.
15. The third day was now come, and the captains of the barbarians, ashamed that so small a number of ships should harass their fleet, and afraid of the anger of Xerxes, instead of waiting for the others to begin the battle, weighed anchor themselves, and advanced against the Greeks about the hour of noon, with shouts encouraging one another. Now it happened that these sea-fights took place on the very same days with the combats at Thermopylæ; and as the aim of the struggle was in the one case to maintain the pass, so in the other it was to defend the Euripus. While the Greeks, therefore, exhorted one another not to let the barbarians burst in upon Greece, these latter shouted to their fellows to destroy the Grecian fleet, and get possession of the channel.
16. And now the fleet of Xerxes advanced in good order to the attack, while the Greeks on their side remained quite motionless at Artemisium. The Persians therefore spread themselves, and came forward in a half-moon, seeking to encircle the Greeks on all sides, and thereby prevent them from escaping. The Greeks, when they saw this, sailed out to meet their assailants; and the battle forthwith began. In this engagement the two fleets contended with no clear advantage to either,—for the armament of Xerxes injured itself by its own greatness, the vessels falling into disorder, and ofttimes running foul of one another; yet still they did not give way, but made a stout fight, since the crews felt it would indeed be a disgrace to turn and fly from a fleet so inferior in number. The Greeks therefore suffered much, both in ships and men; but the barbarians experienced a far larger loss of each. So the fleets separated after such a combat as I have described.
17. On the side of Xerxes the Egyptians distinguished themselves above all the combatants;3 for besides performing many other noble deeds, they took five vessels from the Greeks with their crews on board. On the side of the Greeks the Athenians bore off the meed of valour; and among them the most distinguished was Clinias, the son of Alcibiades, who served at his own charge with two hundred men, on board a vessel which he had himself furnished.
18. The two fleets, on separating, hastened very gladly to their anchorage-grounds. The Greeks, indeed, when the battle was over, became masters of the bodies of the slain and the wrecks of the vessels; but they had been so roughly handled, especially the Athenians, one-half of whose vessels had suffered damage, that they determined to break up from their station, and withdraw to the inner parts of their country.
19. Then Themistocles, who thought that if the Ionian and Carian ships could be detached from the barbarian fleet, the Greeks might be well able to defeat the rest, called the captains together. They met upon the sea-shore, where the Eubœans were now assembling their flocks and herds; and here Themistocles told them he thought that he knew of a plan whereby he could detach from the king those who were of most worth among his allies. This was all that he disclosed to them of his plan at that time. Meanwhile, looking to the circumstances in which they were, he advised them to slaughter as many of the Eubœan cattle as they liked—for it was better (he said) that their own troops should enjoy them than the enemy—and to give orders to their men to kindle the fires as usual. With regard to the retreat, he said that he would take upon himself to watch the proper moment, and would manage matters so that they should return to Greece without loss. These words pleased the captains; so they had the fires lighted, and began the slaughter of the cattle.
20. The Eubœans, until now, had made light of the oracle of Bacis, as though it had been void of all significancy, and had neither removed their goods from the island, nor yet taken them into their strong places; as they would most certainly have done if they had believed that war was approaching. By this neglect they had brought their affairs into the very greatest danger. Now the oracle of which I speak ran as follows:
So, as the Eubœans had paid no regard to this oracle when the evils approached and impended, now that they had arrived, the worst was likely to befall them.
21. While the Greeks were employed in the way described above, the scout who had been on the watch at Trachis arrived at Artemisium. For the Greeks had employed two watchers—Polyas, a native of Anticyra, had been stationed off Artemisium, with a row-boat at his command ready to sail at any moment, his orders being that, if an engagement took place by sea, he should convey the news at once to the Greeks at Thermopylæ; and in like manner Abrônychus, the son of Lysicles, an Athenian, had been stationed with a triaconter near Leonidas, to be ready, in case of disaster befalling the land force, to carry tidings of it to Artemisium. It was this Abrônychus who now arrived with news of what had befallen Leonidas and those who were with him. When the Greeks heard the tidings they no longer delayed retreat, but withdrew in the order wherein they had been stationed, the Corinthians leading, and the Athenians sailing last of all.
22. And now Themistocles chose out the swiftest sailers from among the Athenian vessels, and, proceeding to the various watering-places along the coast, cut inscriptions on the rocks, which were read by the Ionians the day following, on their arrival at Artemisium. The inscriptions ran thus: “Men of Ionia, ye do wrong to fight against your own fathers, and to give your help to enslave Greece. We beseech you therefore to come over, if possible, to our side: if you cannot do this, then, we pray you, stand aloof from the contest yourselves, and persuade the Carians to do the like. If neither of these things be possible, and you are hindered, by a force too strong to resist, from venturing upon desertion, at least when we come to blows fight backwardly, remembering that you are sprung from us, and that it was through you we first provoked the hatred of the barbarian.” Themistocles, in putting up these inscriptions, looked, I believe, to two chances—either Xerxes would not discover them, in which case they might bring over the Ionians to the side of the Greeks: or they would be reported to him, and made a ground of accusation against the Ionians, who would thereupon be distrusted, and would not be allowed to take part in the sea-fights.
23. Shortly after the cutting of the inscriptions, a man of Histiæa went in a merchant-ship to Aphetæ, and told the Persians that the Greeks had fled from Artemisium. Disbelieving his report, the Persians kept the man a prisoner, while they sent some of their fastest vessels to see what had happened. These brought back word how matters stood; whereupon at sunrise the whole fleet advanced together in a body, and sailed to Artemisium, where they remained till midday; after which they went on to Histiæa. That city fell into their hands immediately; and they shortly overran the various villages upon the coast in the district of Hellopia, which was part of the Histiæan territory.
24. It was while they were at this station that a herald reached them from Xerxes, whom he had sent after making the following dispositions with respect to the bodies of those who fell at Thermopylæ. Of the twenty thousand who had been slain on the Persian side, he left one thousand upon the field, while he buried the rest in trenches; and these he carefully filled up with earth, and hid with foliage, that the sailors might not see any signs of them. The herald, on reaching Histiæa, caused the whole force to be collected together, and spake thus to them:
“Comrades, King Xerxes gives permission to all who please, to quit their posts, and see how he fights with the senseless men who think to overthrow his armies.”
25. No sooner had these words been uttered, than it became difficult to get a boat, so great was the number of those who desired to see the sight. Such as went crossed the strait, and passing among the heaps of dead, in this way viewed the spectacle. Many Helots were included in the slain, but every one imagined that the bodies were all either Lacedæmonians or Thespians. However, no one was deceived by what Xerxes had done with his own dead. It was indeed most truly a laughable device—on the one side a thousand men were seen lying about the field, on the other four thousand crowded together into one spot. This day then was given up to sight-seeing; on the next the seamen embarked on board their ships and sailed back to Histiæa, while Xerxes and his army proceeded upon their march.
26. There came now a few deserters from Arcadia to join the Persians—poor men who had nothing to live on, and were in want of employment. The Persians brought them into the king’s presence, and there inquired of them, by a man who acted as their spokesman, “what the Greeks were doing?” The Arcadians answered: “They are holding the Olympic games, seeing the athletic sports and the chariot-races.” “And what,” said the man, “is the prize for which they contend?” “An olive-wreath,” returned the others, “which is given to the man who wins.” On hearing this, Tritantæchmes, the son of Artabanus, uttered a speech which was in truth most noble, but which caused him to be taxed with cowardice by King Xerxes. Hearing the men say that the prize was not money but a wreath of olive, he could not forbear from exclaiming before them all: “Good heavens! Mardonius, what manner of men are these against whom thou hast brought us to fight?—men who contend with one another, not for money, but for honour!”
27. A little before this, and just after the blow had been struck at Thermopylæ, a herald was sent into Phôcis by the Thessalians, who had always been on bad terms with the Phocians, and especially since their last overthrow. For it was not many years previous to this invasion of Greece by the king, that the Thessalians, with their allies, entered Phôcis in full force, but were defeated by the Phocians in an engagement wherein they were very roughly handled. The Phocians, who had with them as soothsayer Tellias of Elis, were blocked up in the mountain of Parnassus, when the following stratagem was contrived for them by their Elean ally. He took six hundred of their bravest men, and whitened their bodies and their arms with chalk; then instructing them to slay every one whom they should meet that was not whitened like themselves, he made a night attack upon the Thessalians. No sooner did the Thessalian sentries, who were the first to see them, behold this strange sight, than, imagining it to be a prodigy, they were all filled with affright. From the sentries the alarm spread to the army, which was seized with such a panic that the Phocians killed four thousand of them, and became masters of their dead bodies and shields. Of the shields one-half were sent as an offering to the temple at Abæ, the other half were deposited at Delphi; while from the tenth part of the booty gained in the battle, were made the gigantic figures which stand round the tripod in front of the Delphic shrine, and likewise the figures of the same size and character at Abæ.
28. Besides this slaughter of the Thessalian foot when it was blockading them, the Phocians had dealt a blow to their horse upon its invading their territory, from which they had never recovered. There is a pass near the city of Hyampolis, where the Phocians, having dug a broad trench, filled up the void with empty wine-jars, after which they covered the place with mould, so that the ground all looked alike, and then awaited the coming of the Thessalians. These, thinking to destroy the Phocians at one sweep, rushed rapidly forward, and became entangled in the wine-jars, which broke the legs of their horses.
29. The Thessalians had therefore a double cause of quarrel with the Phocians, when they despatched the herald above mentioned, who thus delivered his message:
“At length acknowledge, ye men of Phôcis, that ye may not think to match with us. In times past, when it pleased us to hold with the Greeks, we had alway the vantage over you; and now our influence is such with the Barbarian, that, if we choose it, you will lose your country, and (what is even worse) you will be sold as slaves. However, though we can now do with you exactly as we like, we are willing to forget our wrongs. Quit them with a payment of fifty talents of silver,4 and we undertake to ward off the evils which threaten your country.”
30. Such was the message which the Thessalians sent. The Phocians were the only people in these parts who had not espoused the cause of the Medes; and it is my deliberate opinion that the motive which swayed them was none other—neither more nor less—than their hatred of the Thessalians: for had the Thessalians declared in favour of the Greeks, I believe that the men of Phôcis would have joined the Median side. As it was, when the message arrived, the Phocians made answer that “they would not pay anything—it was open to them, equally with the Thessalians, to make common cause with the Medes, if they only chose so to do—but they would never of their own free will become traitors to Greece.”
31. On the return of this answer, the Thessalians, full of wrath against the Phocians, offered themselves as guides to the barbarian army, and led them forth from Trachinia into Dôris. In this place there is a narrow tongue of Dorian territory, not more than thirty furlongs across, interposed between Malis and Phôcis; it is the tract in ancient times called Dryopis; and the land, of which it is a part, is the mother-country of the Dorians in the Peloponnese. This territory the barbarians did not plunder, for the inhabitants had espoused their side; and besides, the Thessalians wished that they should be spared.
32. From Dôris they marched forward into Phôcis; but here the inhabitants did not fall into their power: for some of them had taken refuge in the high grounds of Parnassus—one summit of which, called Tithorea, standing quite by itself, not far from the city of Neon, is well fitted to give shelter to a large body of men, and had now received a number of the Phocians with their moveables; while the greater portion had fled to the country of the Ozolian Locrians, and placed their goods in the city called Amphissa, which lies above the Crissæan plain. The land of Phôcis, however, was entirely overrun, for the Thessalians led the Persian army through the whole of it; and wherever they went, the country was wasted with fire and sword, the cities and even the temples being wilfully set alight by the troops.
33. The march of the army lay along the valley of the Cephissus; and here they ravaged far and wide, burning the towns of Drymus, Charadra, Erôchus, Tethrônium, Amphicæa, Neon, Pedieis, Triteis, Elateia, Hyampolis, Parapotamii, and Abæ. At the last-named place there was a temple of Apollo, very rich, and adorned with a vast number of treasures and offerings. There was likewise an oracle there in those days, as indeed there is at the present time. This temple the Persians plundered and burnt; and here they captured a number of the Phocians before they could reach the hills, and caused the death of some of their women by ill-usage.
34. After passing Parapotamii, the barbarians marched to Panopeis; and now the army separated into two bodies, whereof one, which was the more numerous and the stronger of the two, marched, under Xerxes himself, towards Athens, entering Bœotia by the country of the Orchomenians. The Bœotians had one and all embraced the cause of the Medes; and their towns were in the possession of Macedonian garrisons, whom Alexander had sent there, to make it manifest to Xerxes that the Bœotians were on the Median side. Such then was the road followed by one division of the barbarians.
35. The other division took guides, and proceeded towards the temple of Delphi, keeping Mount Parnassus on their right hand. They too laid waste such parts of Phôcis as they passed through, burning the city of the Panopeans, together with those of the Daulians and of the Æolidæ. This body had been detached from the rest of the army, and made to march in this direction, for the purpose of plundering the Delphian temple and conveying to King Xerxes the riches which were there laid up. For Xerxes, as I am informed, was better acquainted with what there was worthy of note at Delphi, than even with what he had left in his own house; so many of those about him were continually describing the treasures—more especially the offerings made by Crœsus, the son of Alyattes.
36. Now when the Delphians heard what danger they were in, great fear fell on them. In their terror they consulted the oracle concerning the holy treasures, and inquired if they should bury them in the ground, or carry them away to some other country. The god, in reply, bade them leave the treasures untouched—“He was able,” he said, “without help to protect his own.” So the Delphians, when they received this answer, began to think about saving themselves. And first of all they sent their women and children across the gulf into Achæa; after which the greater number of them climbed up into the tops of Parnassus,5 and placed their goods for safety in the Corycian cave; while some effected their escape to Amphissa in Locris. In this way all the Delphians quitted the city, except sixty men, and the Prophet.
37. When the barbarian assailants drew near and were in sight of the place, the Prophet, who was named Acêratus, beheld, in front of the temple, a portion of the sacred armour, which it was not lawful for any mortal hand to touch, lying upon the ground, removed from the inner shrine where it was wont to hang. Then went he and told the prodigy to the Delphians who had remained behind. Meanwhile the enemy pressed forward briskly, and had reached the shrine of Minerva Pronaia, when they were overtaken by other prodigies still more wonderful than the first. Truly it was marvel enough, when warlike harness was seen lying outside the temple, removed there by no power but its own; what followed, however, exceeded in strangeness all prodigies that had ever before been seen. The barbarians had just reached in their advance the chapel of Minerva Pronaia, when a storm of thunder burst suddenly over their heads—at the same time two crags split off from Mount Parnassus, and rolled down upon them with a loud noise, crushing vast numbers beneath their weight—while from the temple of Minerva there went up the war-cry and the shout of victory.
38. All these things together struck terror into the barbarians, who forthwith turned and fled. The Delphians, seeing this, came down from their hiding-places, and smote them with a great slaughter, from which such as escaped fled straight into Bœotia. These men, on their return, declared (as I am told) that besides the marvels mentioned above, they witnessed also other supernatural sights. Two armed warriors, they said, of a stature more than human, pursued after their flying ranks, pressing them close and slaying them.
39. These men, the Delphians maintain, were two Heroes belonging to the place—by name Phylacus and Autonoüs—each of whom has a sacred precinct near the temple; one, that of Phylacus, hard by the road which runs above the temple of Pronaia; the other, that of Autonoüs, near the Castalian spring, at the foot of the peak called Hyampeia. The blocks of stone which fell from Parnassus might still be seen in my day; they lay in the precinct of Pronaia, where they stopped, after rolling through the host of the barbarians. Thus was this body of men forced to retire from the temple.6
40. Meanwhile, the Grecian fleet, which had left Artemisium, proceeded to Salamis, at the request of the Athenians, and there cast anchor. The Athenians had begged them to take up this position, in order that they might convey their women and children out of Attica, and further might deliberate upon the course which it now behoved them to follow. Disappointed in the hopes which they had previously entertained, they were about to hold a council concerning the present posture of their affairs. For they had looked to see the Peloponnesians drawn up in full force to resist the enemy in Bœotia, but found nothing of what they had expected—nay, they learnt that the Greeks of those parts, only concerning themselves about their own safety, were building a wall across the Isthmus, and intended to guard the Peloponnese, and let the rest of Greece take its chance. These tidings caused them to make the request whereof I spoke, that the combined fleet should anchor at Salamis.
41. So while the rest of the fleet lay to off this island, the Athenians cast anchor along their own coast. Immediately upon their arrival, proclamation was made, that every Athenian should save his children and household as he best could; whereupon some sent their families to Egina, some to Salamis, but the greater number to Trœzen. This removal was made with all possible haste, partly from a desire to obey the advice of the oracle, but still more for another reason. The Athenians say that they have in their Acropolis a huge serpent, which lives in the temple, and is the guardian of the whole place. Nor do they only say this, but, as if the serpent really dwelt there, every month they lay out its food, which consists of a honey-cake. Up to this time the honey-cake had always been consumed; but now it remained untouched. So the priestess told the people what had happened; whereupon they left Athens the more readily, since they believed that the goddess had already abandoned the citadel. As soon as all was removed, the Athenians sailed back to their station.
42. And now, the remainder of the Grecian sea-force, hearing that the fleet which had been at Artemisium, was come to Salamis, joined it at that island from Trœzen—orders having been issued previously that the ships should muster at Pôgon, the port of the Trœzenians. The vessels collected were many more in number than those which had fought at Artemisium, and were furnished by more cities. The admiral was the same who had commanded before, to wit, Eurybiades, the son of Eurycleides, who was a Spartan, but not of the family of the kings: the city, however, which sent by far the greatest number of ships, and the best sailers, was Athens.
43. Now these were the nations who composed the Grecian fleet. From the Peloponnese, the following—the Lacedæmonians with sixteen ships; the Corinthians with the same number as at Artemisium; the Sicyonians with fifteen; the Epidaurians with ten; the Trœzenians with five; and the Hermionians with three. These were Dorians and Macedonians all of them (except those from Hermioné), and had emigrated last from Erineus, Pindus, and Dryopis. The Hermionians were Dryopians, of the race which Hercules and the Malians drove out of the land now called Dôris. Such were the Peloponnesian nations.
44. From the mainland of Greece beyond the Peloponnese, came the Athenians with a hundred and eighty ships, a greater number than that furnished by any other people; and these were now manned wholly by themselves; for the Platæans did not serve aboard the Athenian ships at Salamis, owing to the following reason. When the Greeks, on their withdrawal from Artemisium, arrived off Chalcis, the Platæans disembarked upon the opposite shore of Bœotia, and set to work to remove their households, whereby it happened that they were left behind. (The Athenians, when the region which is now called Greece was held by the Pelasgi, were Pelasgians, and bore the name of Cranaans; but under their king Cecrops, they were called Cecropidæ; when Erechtheus got the sovereignty, they changed their name to Athenians; and when Ion, the son of Xuthus, became their general, they were named after him Ionians.)
45. The Megarians served with the same number of ships as at Artemisium; the Ambraciots came with seven; the Leucadians (who were Dorians from Corinth) with three.
46. Of the islanders, the Eginetans furnished thirty ships—they had a larger number equipped; but some were kept back to guard their own coasts, and only thirty, which however were their best sailers, took part in the fight at Salamis. (The Eginetans are Dorians from Epidaurus; their island was called formerly Œnôné.) The Chalcideans came next in order; they furnished the twenty ships with which they had served at Artemisium. The Eretrians likewise furnished their seven. These races are Ionians. Cêos gave its old number—the Ceans are Ionians from Attica. Naxos furnished four: this detachment, like those from the other islands, had been sent by the citizens at home to join the Medes; but they made light of the orders given them, and joined the Greeks, at the instigation of Democritus, a citizen of good report, who was at that time captain of a trireme. The Naxians are Ionians, of the Athenian stock. The Styreans served with the same ships as before; the Cythnians contributed one, and likewise a penteconter—these two nations are Dryopians: the Seriphians, Siphnians, and Melians, also served; they were the only islanders who had not given earth and water to the Barbarian.
47. All these nations dwelt inside the river Acheron and the country inhabited by the Thesprotians; for that people borders on the Ambraciots and Leucadians, who are the most remote of all those by whom the fleet was furnished. From the countries beyond, there was only one people which gave help to the Greeks in their danger. This was the people of Crotôna, who contributed a single ship, under the command of Phayllus, a man who had thrice carried off the prize at the Pythian games. The Crotoniats are, by descent, Achæans.
48. Most of the allies came with triremes; but the Melians, Siphnians, and Seriphians, brought penteconters. The Melians, who draw their race from Lacedæmon, furnished two; the Siphnians and Seriphians, who are Ionians of the Athenian stock, one each. The whole number of the ships, without counting the penteconters, was three hundred and seventy-eight.
49. When the captains from these various nations were come together at Salamis, a council of war was summoned; and Eurybiades proposed that any one who liked to advise, should say which place seemed to him the fittest, among those still in the possession of the Greeks, to be the scene of a naval combat. Attica, he said, was not to be thought of now; but he desired their counsel as to the remainder. The speakers mostly advised, that the fleet should sail away to the Isthmus, and there give battle in defence of the Peloponnese; and they urged as a reason for this, that if they were worsted in a sea-fight at Salamis, they would be shut up in an island, where they could get no help; but if they were beaten near the Isthmus, they could escape to their homes.
50. As the captains from the Peloponnese were thus advising, there came an Athenian to the camp, who brought word that the barbarians had entered Attica, and were ravaging and burning everything. For the division of the army under Xerxes was just arrived at Athens from its march through Bœotia, where it had burnt Thespiæ and Platæa—both which cities were forsaken by their inhabitants, who had fled to the Peloponnese—and now it was laying waste all the possessions of the Athenians. Thespiæ and Platæa had been burnt by the Persians, because they knew from the Thebans that neither of those cities had espoused their side.
51. Since the passage of the Hellespont and the commencement of the march upon Greece, a space of four months had gone by; one, while the army made the crossing, and delayed about the region of the Hellespont; and three while they proceeded thence to Attica, which they entered in the archonship of Calliades. They found the city forsaken; a few people only remained in the temple, either keepers of the treasures, or men of the poorer sort. These persons, having fortified the citadel7 with planks and boards, held out against the enemy. It was in some measure their poverty which had prevented them from seeking shelter in Salamis; but there was likewise another reason which in part induced them to remain. They imagined themselves to have discovered the true meaning of the oracle uttered by the Pythoness, which promised that “the wooden wall” should never be taken—the wooden wall, they thought, did not mean the ships, but the place where they had taken refuge.
52. The Persians encamped upon the hill over against the citadel, which is called Mars’ Hill by the Athenians,8 and began the siege of the place, attacking the Greeks with arrows whereto pieces of lighted tow were attached, which they shot at the barricade. And now those who were within the citadel found themselves in a most woeful case; for their wooden rampart betrayed them; still, however, they continued to resist. It was in vain that the Pisistratidæ came to them and offered terms of surrender—they stoutly refused all parley, and among their other modes of defence, rolled down huge masses of stone upon the barbarians as they were mounting up to the gates: so that Xerxes was for a long time very greatly perplexed, and could not contrive any way to take them.
53. At last, however, in the midst of these many difficulties, the barbarians made discovery of an access. For verily the oracle had spoken truth; and it was fated that the whole mainland of Attica should fall beneath the sway of the Persians. Right in front of the citadel, but behind the gates and the common ascent—where no watch was kept, and no one would have thought it possible that any foot of man could climb—a few soldiers mounted from the sanctuary of Aglaurus, Cecrops’ daughter, notwithstanding the steepness of the precipice. As soon as the Athenians saw them upon the summit, some threw themselves headlong from the wall, and so perished; while others fled for refuge to the inner part of the temple. The Persians rushed to the gates and opened them, after which they massacred the suppliants. When all were slain, they plundered the temple, and fired every part of the citadel.
54. Xerxes, thus completely master of Athens, despatched a horseman to Susa, with a message to Artabanus, informing him of his success hitherto. The day after, he collected together all the Athenian exiles who had come into Greece in his train, and bade them go up into the citadel, and there offer sacrifice after their own fashion. I know not whether he had had a dream which made him give this order, or whether he felt some remorse on account of having set the temple on fire. However this may have been, the exiles were not slow to obey the command given them.
55. I will now explain why I have made mention of this circumstance: there is a temple of Erechtheus the Earthborn, as he is called, in this citadel, containing within it an olive-tree and a sea. The tale goes among the Athenians that they were placed there as witnesses by Neptune and Minerva, when they had their contention about the country. Now this olive-tree had been burnt with the rest of the temple when the barbarians took the place. But when the Athenians, whom the King had commanded to offer sacrifice, went up into the temple for the purpose, they found a fresh shoot, as much as a cubit in length, thrown out from the old trunk. Such at least was the account which these persons gave.
56. Meanwhile, at Salamis, the Greeks no sooner heard what had befallen the Athenian citadel, than they fell into such alarm that some of the captains did not even wait for the council to come to a vote, but embarked hastily on board their vessels, and hoisted sail as though they would take to flight immediately. The rest, who stayed at the council board, came to a vote that the fleet should give battle at the Isthmus. Night now drew on; and the captains, dispersing from the meeting, proceeded on board their respective ships.
57. Themistocles, as he entered his own vessel, was met by Mnesiphilus, an Athenian, who asked him what the council had resolved to do. On learning that the resolve was to stand away for the Isthmus, and there give battle on behalf of the Peloponnese, Mnesiphilus exclaimed:
“If these men sail away from Salamis, thou wilt have no fight at all for the one fatherland; for they will all scatter themselves to their own homes; and neither Eurybiades nor any one else will be able to hinder them, nor to stop the breaking up of the armament. Thus will Greece be brought to ruin through evil counsels. But haste thee now; and, if there be any possible way, seek to unsettle these resolves—mayhap thou mightest persuade Eurybiades to change his mind, and continue here.”
58. The suggestion greatly pleased Themistocles; and without answering a word, he went straight to the vessel of Eurybiades. Arrived there, he let him know that he wanted to speak with him on a matter touching the public service. So Eurybiades bade him come on board, and say whatever he wished. Then Themistocles, seating himself at his side, went over all the arguments which he had heard from Mnesiphilus, pretending as if they were his own, and added to them many new ones besides; until at last he persuaded Eurybiades, by his importunity, to quit his ship and again collect the captains to council.
59. As soon as they were come, and before Eurybiades had opened to them his purpose in assembling them together, Themistocles, as men are wont to do when they are very anxious, spoke much to divers of them; whereupon the Corinthian captain, Adeimantus, the son of Ocytus, observed: “Themistocles, at the games they who start too soon are scourged.” “True,” rejoined the other in his excuse; “but they who wait too late are not crowned.”
60. Thus he gave the Corinthian at this time a mild answer; and towards Eurybiades himself he did not now use any of those arguments which he had urged before, or say aught of the allies betaking themselves to flight if once they broke up from Salamis; it would have been ungraceful for him, when the confederates were present, to make accusation against any: but he had recourse to quite a new sort of reasoning, and addressed him as follows:
“With thee it rests, O Eurybiades! to save Greece, if thou wilt only hearken unto me, and give the enemy battle here, rather than yield to the advice of those among us who would have the fleet withdrawn to the Isthmus. Hear now, I beseech thee, and judge between the two courses. At the Isthmus thou wilt fight in an open sea, which is greatly to our disadvantage, since our ships are heavier and fewer in number than the enemy’s; and further, thou wilt in any case lose Salamis, Megara, and Egina, even if all the rest goes well with us. The land and sea force of the Persians will advance together; and thy retreat will but draw them towards the Peloponnese, and so bring all Greece into peril. If, on the other hand, thou doest as I advise, these are the advantages which thou wilt so secure: in the first place, as we shall fight in a narrow sea with few ships against many, if the war follows the common course, we shall gain a great victory; for to fight in a narrow space is favourable to us—in an open sea, to them. Again, Salamis will in this case be preserved, where we have placed our wives and children. Nay, that very point by which ye set most store, is secured as much by this course as by the other; for whether we fight here or at the Isthmus, we shall equally give battle in defence of the Peloponnese. Assuredly ye will not do wisely to draw the Persians upon that region. For if things turn out as I anticipate, and we beat them by sea, then we shall have kept your Isthmus free from the barbarians, and they will have advanced no further than Attica, but from thence have fled back in disorder; and we shall, moreover, have saved Megara, Egina, and Salamis itself, where an oracle has said that we are to overcome our enemies. When men counsel reasonably, reasonable success ensues; but when in their counsels they reject reason, God does not choose to follow the wanderings of human fancies.”
61. When Themistocles had thus spoken, Adeimantus the Corinthian again attacked him, and bade him be silent, since he was a man without a city; at the same time he called on Eurybiades not to put the question at the instance of one who had no country, and urged that Themistocles should show of what state he was envoy, before he gave his voice with the rest. This reproach he made, because the city of Athens had been taken, and was in the hands of the barbarians. Hereupon Themistocles spake many bitter things against Adeimantus and the Corinthians generally; and for proof that he had a country, reminded the captains, that with two hundred ships at his command, all fully manned for battle, he had both city and territory as good as theirs; since there was no Grecian state which could resist his men if they were to make a descent.
62. After this declaration, he turned to Eurybiades, and addressing him with still greater warmth and earnestness: “If thou wilt stay here,” he said, “and behave like a brave man, all will be well—if not, thou wilt bring Greece to ruin. For the whole fortune of the war depends on our ships. Be thou persuaded by my words. If not, we will take our families on board, and go, just as we are, to Siris in Italy, which is ours from of old, and which the prophecies declare we are to colonise some day or other. You then, when you have lost allies like us, will hereafter call to mind what I have now said.”
63. At these words of Themistocles, Eurybiades changed his determination; principally, as I believe, because he feared that if he withdrew the fleet to the Isthmus, the Athenians would sail away, and knew that without the Athenians, the rest of their ships could be no match for the fleet of the enemy. He therefore decided to remain, and give battle at Salamis.
64. And now, the different chiefs, notwithstanding their skirmish of words, on learning the decision of Eurybiades, at once made ready for the fight. Morning broke; and, just as the sun rose, the shock of an earthquake was felt both on shore and at sea: whereupon the Greeks resolved to approach the gods with prayer, and likewise to send and invite the Æacids to their aid. And this they did, with as much speed as they had resolved on it. Prayers were offered to all the gods; and Telamon and Ajax were invoked at once from Salamis, while a ship was sent to Egina to fetch Æacus himself, and the other Æacids.
65. The following is a tale which was told by Dicæus, the son of Theocydes, an Athenian, who was at this time an exile, and had gained a good report among the Medes. He declared, that after the army of Xerxes had, in the absence of the Athenians, wasted Attica, he chanced to be with Demaratus the Lacedæmonian in the Thriasian plain, and that while there, he saw a cloud of dust advancing from Eleusis, such as a host of thirty thousand men might raise. As he and his companion were wondering who the men, from whom the dust arose, could possibly be, a sound of voices reached his ear, and he thought that he recognised the mystic hymn to Bacchus. Now Demaratus was unacquainted with the rites of Eleusis, and so he inquired of Dicæus what the voices were saying. Dicæus made answer: “O Demaratus! beyond a doubt some mighty calamity is about to befall the King’s army! For it is manifest, inasmuch as Attica is deserted by its inhabitants, that the sound which we have heard is an unearthly one, and is now upon its way from Eleusis to aid the Athenians and their confederates. If it descends upon the Peloponnese, danger will threaten the King himself and his land army—if it moves towards the ships at Salamis, ’twill go hard but the King’s fleet there suffers destruction. Every year the Athenians celebrate this feast to the Mother and the Daughter, and all who wish, whether they be Athenians or any other Greeks, are initiated. The sound thou hearest is the Bacchic song, which is wont to be sung at that festival.” “Hush now,” rejoined the other; “and see thou tell no man of this matter. For if thy words be brought to the King’s ears, thou wilt assuredly lose thy head because of them; neither I nor any man living can then save thee. Hold thy peace therefore. The gods will see to the King’s army.” Thus Demaratus counselled him; and they looked, and saw the dust, from which the sound arose, become a cloud, and the cloud rise up into the air and sail away to Salamis, making for the station of the Grecian fleet. Then they knew that it was the fleet of Xerxes which would suffer destruction. Such was the tale told by Dicæus the son of Theocydes; and he appealed for its truth to Demaratus and other eye-witnesses.
66. The men belonging to the fleet of Xerxes, after they had seen the Spartan dead at Thermopylæ, and crossed the channel from Trachis to Histiæa, waited there by the space of three days, and then sailing down through the Euripus, in three more came to Phalêrum. In my judgment, the Persian forces both by land and sea, when they invaded Attica, were not less numerous than they had been on their arrival at Sêpias and Thermopylæ. For against the Persian loss in the storm and at Thermopylæ, and again in the sea-fights off Artemisium, I set the various nations which had since joined the King—as the Malians, the Dorians, the Locrians, and the Bœotians—each serving in full force in his army except the last, who did not number in their ranks either the Thespians or the Platæans; and together with these, the Carystians, the Andrians, the Tenians, and the other people of the islands, who all fought on this side except the five states already mentioned. For as the Persians penetrated further into Greece, they were joined continually by fresh nations.
67. Reinforced by the contingents of all these various states, except Paros, the barbarians reached Athens. As for the Parians, they tarried at Cythnus, waiting to see how the war would go. The rest of the sea forces came safe to Phalêrum; where they were visited by Xerxes, who had conceived a desire to go aboard and learn the wishes of the fleet. So he came and sate in a seat of honour; and the sovereigns of the nations, and the captains of the ships, were sent for, to appear before him, and as they arrived took their seats according to the rank assigned them by the King. In the first seat sate the King of Sidon; after him, the King of Tyre; then the rest in their order. When the whole had taken their places, one after another, and were set down in orderly array, Xerxes, to try them, sent Mardonius and questioned each, whether a sea-fight should be risked or no.
68. Mardonius accordingly went round the entire assemblage, beginning with the Sidonian monarch, and asked this question; to which all gave the same answer, advising to engage the Greeks, except only Artemisia, who spake as follows:
“Say to the King, Mardonius, that these are my words to him: I was not the least brave of those who fought at Eubœa, nor were my achievements there among the meanest; it is my right, therefore, O my lord, to tell thee plainly what I think to be most for thy advantage now. This then is my advice. Spare thy ships, and do not risk a battle; for these people are as much superior to thy people in seamanship, as men to women. What so great need is there for thee to incur hazard at sea? Art thou not master of Athens, for which thou didst undertake thy expedition? Is not Greece subject to thee? Not a soul now resists thy advance. They who once resisted, were handled even as they deserved. (§ 2.) Now learn how I expect that affairs will go with thy adversaries. If thou art not over-hasty to engage with them by sea, but wilt keep thy fleet near the land, then, whether thou abidest as thou art, or marchest forward towards the Peloponnese, thou wilt easily accomplish all for which thou art come hither. The Greeks cannot hold out against thee very long; thou wilt soon part them asunder, and scatter them to their several homes. In the island where they lie, I hear they have no food in store; nor is it likely, if thy land force begins its march towards the Peloponnese, that they will remain quietly where they are—at least such as come from that region. Of a surety they will not greatly trouble themselves to give battle on behalf of the Athenians. (§ 3.) On the other hand, if thou art hasty to fight, I tremble lest the defeat of thy sea force bring harm likewise to thy land army. This too, thou shouldst remember, O King; good masters are apt to have bad servants, and bad masters good ones. Now, as thou art the best of men, thy servants must needs be a sorry set. These Egyptians, Cyprians, Cilicians, and Pamphylians, who are counted in the number of thy subject-allies, of how little service are they to thee!”
69. As Artemisia spake, they who wished her well were greatly troubled concerning her words, thinking that she would suffer some hurt at the King’s hands, because she exhorted him not to risk a battle; they, on the other hand, who disliked and envied her, favoured as she was by the King above all the rest of the allies, rejoiced at her declaration, expecting that her life would be the forfeit. But Xerxes, when the words of the several speakers were reported to him, was pleased beyond all others with the reply of Artemisia; and whereas, even before this, he had always esteemed her much, he now praised her more than ever. Nevertheless, he gave orders that the advice of the greater number should be followed; for he thought that at Eubœa the fleet had not done its best, because he himself was not there to see—whereas this time he resolved that he would be an eye-witness of the combat.
70. Orders were now given to stand out to sea; and the ships proceeded towards Salamis, and took up the stations to which they were directed, without let or hindrance from the enemy. The day, however, was too far spent for them to begin the battle, since night already approached: so they prepared to engage upon the morrow. The Greeks, meanwhile, were in great distress and alarm; more especially those of the Peloponnese, who were troubled that they had been kept at Salamis to fight on behalf of the Athenian territory, and feared that, if they should suffer defeat, they would be pent up and besieged in an island, while their own country was left unprotected.
71. The same night the land army of the barbarians began its march towards the Peloponnese, where, however, all that was possible had been done to prevent the enemy from forcing an entrance by land. As soon as ever news reached the Peloponnese of the death of Leonidas and his companions at Thermopylæ, the inhabitants flocked together from the various cities, and encamped at the Isthmus, under the command of Cleombrotus, son of Anaxandridas, and brother of Leonidas. Here their first care was to block up the Scironian Way; after which it was determined in council to build a wall across the Isthmus.9 As the number assembled amounted to many tens of thousands, and there was not one who did not give himself to the work, it was soon finished. Stones, bricks, timber, baskets filled full of sand, were used in the building; and not a moment was lost by those who gave their aid; for they laboured without ceasing either by night or day.
72. Now the nations who gave their aid, and who had flocked in full force to the Isthmus, were the following: the Lacedæmonians, all the tribes of the Arcadians, the Eleans, the Corinthians, the Sicyonians, the Epidaurians, the Phliasians, the Trœzenians, and the Hermionians. These all gave their aid, being greatly alarmed at the danger which threatened Greece. But the other inhabitants of the Peloponnese took no part in the matter; though the Olympic and Carneian festivals were now over.
73. Seven nations inhabit the Peloponnese. Two of them are aboriginal, and still continue in the regions where they dwelt at the first—to wit, the Arcadians and the Cynurians. A third, that of the Achæans, has never left the Peloponnese, but has been dislodged from its own proper country, and inhabits a district which once belonged to others. The remaining nations, four out of the seven, are all immigrants—namely, the Dorians, the Ætolians, the Dryopians, and the Lemnians. To the Dorians belong several very famous cities; to the Ætolians one only, that is, Elis; to the Dryopians, Hermioné and that Asiné, which lies over against Cardamylé in Laconia; to the Lemnians, all the towns of the Paroreats. The aboriginal Cynurians alone seem to be Ionians; even they, however, have, in course of time, grown to be Dorians, under the government of the Argives, whose Orneats and vassals they were. All the cities of these seven nations, except those mentioned above, stood aloof from the war; and by so doing, if I may speak freely, they in fact took part with the Medes.
74. So the Greeks at the Isthmus toiled unceasingly, as though in the greatest peril; since they never imagined that any great success would be gained by the fleet. The Greeks at Salamis, on the other hand, when they heard what the rest were about, felt greatly alarmed; but their fear was not so much for themselves as for the Peloponnese. At first they conversed together in low tones, each man with his fellow, secretly, and marvelled at the folly shown by Eurybiades; but presently the smothered feeling broke out, and another assembly was held; whereat the old subjects provoked much talk from the speakers, one side maintaining that it was best to sail to the Peloponnese and risk battle for that, instead of abiding at Salamis and fighting for a land already taken by the enemy; while the other, which consisted of the Athenians, Eginetans, and Megarians, was urgent to remain and have the battle fought where they were.
75. Then Themistocles, when he saw that the Peloponnesians would carry the vote against him, went out secretly from the council, and, instructing a certain man what he should say, sent him on board a merchant ship to the fleet of the Medes. The man’s name was Sicinnus; he was one of Themistocles’ household slaves, and acted as tutor to his sons; in after times, when the Thespians were admitting persons to citizenship, Themistocles made him a Thespian, and a rich man to boot. The ship brought Sicinnus to the Persian fleet, and there he delivered his message to the leaders in these words:
“The Athenian commander has sent me to you privily, without the knowledge of the other Greeks. He is a well-wisher to the King’s cause, and would rather success should attend on you than on his countrymen; wherefore he bids me tell you that fear has seized the Greeks and they are meditating a hasty flight. Now then it is open to you to achieve the best work that ever ye wrought, if only ye will hinder their escaping. They no longer agree among themselves, so that they will not now make any resistance—nay, ’tis likely ye may see a fight already begun between such as favour and such as oppose your cause.” The messenger, when he had thus expressed himself, departed and was seen no more.
76. Then the captains, believing all that the messenger had said, proceeded to land a large body of Persian troops on the islet of Psyttaleia, which lies between Salamis and the mainland; after which, about the hour of midnight, they advanced their western wing towards Salamis, so as to inclose the Greeks. At the same time the force stationed about Ceos and Cynosura moved forward, and filled the whole strait as far as Munychia with their ships. This advance was made to prevent the Greeks from escaping by flight, and to block them up in Salamis, where it was thought that vengeance might be taken upon them for the battle fought near Artemisium. The Persian troops were landed on the islet of Psyttaleia, because, as soon as the battle began, the men and wrecks were likely to be drifted thither, as the isle lay in the very path of the coming fight,—and they would thus be able to save their own men and destroy those of the enemy. All these movements were made in silence, that the Greeks might have no knowledge of them; and they occupied the whole night, so that the men had no time to get their sleep.
77. I cannot say that there is no truth in prophecies, or feel inclined to call in question those which speak with clearness, when I think of the following:
When I look to this, and perceive how clearly Bacis spoke I neither venture myself to say anything against prophecies, nor do I approve of others impugning them.
78. Meanwhile, among the captains at Salamis, the strife of words grew fierce. As yet they did not know that they were encompassed, but imagined that the barbarians remained in the same places where they had seen them the day before.
79. In the midst of their contention, Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, who had crossed from Egina, arrived at Salamis. He was an Athenian, and had been ostracised by the commonalty; yet I believe from what I have heard concerning his character, that there was not in all Athens a man so worthy or so just as he. He now came to the council, and, standing outside, called for Themistocles. Now Themistocles was not his friend, but his most determined enemy. However, under the pressure of the great dangers impending, Aristides forgot their feud, and called Themistocles out of the council, since he wished to confer with him. He had heard before his arrival of the impatience of the Peloponnesians to withdraw the fleet to the Isthmus. As soon therefore as Themistocles came forth, Aristides addressed him in these words:
“Our rivalry at all times, and especially at the present season, ought to be a struggle, which of us shall most advantage our country. Let me then say to thee, that so far as regards the departure of the Peloponnesians from this place, much talk and little will be found precisely alike. I have seen with my own eyes that which I now report: that, however much the Corinthians or Eurybiades himself may wish it, they cannot now retreat; for we are enclosed on every side by the enemy. Go in to them, and make this known.”
80. “Thy advice is excellent,” answered the other; “and thy tidings are also good. That which I earnestly desire to happen, thine eyes have beheld accomplished. Know that what the Medes have now done was at my instance; for it was necessary, as our men would not fight here of their own free will, to make them fight whether they would or no. But come now, as thou hast brought the good news, go in and tell it. For if I speak to them, they will think it a feigned tale, and will not believe that the barbarians have inclosed us around. Therefore do thou go to them, and inform them how matters stand. If they believe thee, ’twill be for the best; but if otherwise, it will not harm. For it is impossible that they should now flee away, if we are indeed shut in on all sides, as thou sayest.”
81. Then Aristides entered the assembly, and spoke to the captains: he had come, he told them, from Egina, and had but barely escaped the blockading vessels—the Greek fleet was entirely inclosed by the ships of Xerxes—and he advised them to get themselves in readiness to resist the foe. Having said so much, he withdrew. And now another contest arose; for the greater part of the captains would not believe the tidings.
82. But while they still doubted, a Tenian trireme, commanded by Panætius, the son of Sôsimenes, deserted from the Persians and joined the Greeks, bringing full intelligence. For this reason the Tenians were inscribed upon the tripod at Delphi among those who overthrew the barbarians. With this ship, which deserted to their side at Salamis, and the Lemnian vessel which came over before at Artemisium, the Greek fleet was brought to the full number of 380 ships; otherwise it fell short by two of that amount.
83. The Greeks now, not doubting what the Tenians told them, made ready for the coming fight. At the dawn of day, all the men-at-arms were assembled together, and speeches were made to them, of which the best was that of Themistocles; who throughout contrasted what was noble with what was base, and bade them, in all that came within the range of man’s nature and constitution, always to make choice of the nobler part. Having thus wound up his discourse, he told them to go at once on board their ships, which they accordingly did; and about this time the trireme, that had been sent to Egina for the Æacidæ, returned; whereupon the Greeks put to sea with all their fleet.
84. The fleet had scarce left the land when they were attacked by the barbarians. At once most of the Greeks began to back water, and were about touching the shore, when Ameinias of Pallêné, one of the Athenian captains, darted forth in front of the line, and charged a ship of the enemy. The two vessels became entangled, and could not separate, whereupon the rest of the fleet came up to help Ameinias, and engaged with the Persians. Such is the account which the Athenians give of the way in which the battle began; but the Eginetans maintain that the vessel which had been to Egina for the Æacidæ, was the one that brought on the fight. It is also reported that a phantom in the form of a woman appeared to the Greeks, and, in a voice that was heard from end to end of the fleet, cheered them on to the fight; first, however, rebuking them, and saying: “Strange men, how long are ye going to back water?”
85. Against the Athenians, who held the western extremity of the line toward Eleusis, were placed the Phœnicians; against the Lacedæmonians, whose station was eastward towards the Piræus, the Ionians. Of these last a few only followed the advice of Themistocles, to fight backwardly; the greater number did far otherwise. I could mention here the names of many trierarchs who took vessels from the Greeks, but I shall pass over all excepting Theomêstor, the son of Androdamas, and Phylacus, the son of Histiæus, both Samians. I show this preference to them, inasmuch as for this service Theomêstor was made tyrant of Samos by the Persians, while Phylacus was enrolled among the King’s benefactors, and presented with a large estate in land. In the Persian tongue the King’s benefactors are called Orosangs.
86. Far the greater number of the Persian ships engaged in this battle were disabled—either by the Athenians or by the Eginetans. For as the Greeks fought in order and kept their line, while the barbarians were in confusion and had no plan in anything that they did, the issue of the battle could scarce be other than it was. Yet the Persians fought far more bravely here than at Eubœa, and indeed surpassed themselves; each did his utmost through fear of Xerxes, for each thought that the King’s eye was upon himself.
87. What part the several nations, whether Greek or barabian, took in the combat, I am not able to say for certain; Artemisia, however, I know, distinguished herself in such a way as raised her even higher than she stood before in the esteem of the King. For after confusion had spread throughout the whole of the King’s fleet, and her ship was closely pursued by an Athenian trireme, she, having no way to fly, since in front of her were a number of friendly vessels, and she was nearest of all the Persians to the enemy, resolved on a measure which in fact proved her safety. Pressed by the Athenian pursuer, she bore straight against one of the ships of her own party, a Calyndian, which had Damasithymus, the Calyndian king, himself on board. I cannot say whether she had had any quarrel with the man while the fleet was at the Hellespont, or no—neither can I decide whether she of set purpose attacked his vessel, or whether it merely chanced that the Calyndian ship came in her way—but certain it is, that she bore down upon his vessel and sank it, and that thereby she had the good fortune to procure herself a double advantage. For the commander of the Athenian trireme, when he saw her bear down on one of the enemy’s fleet, thought immediately that her vessel was a Greek, or else had deserted from the Persians, and was now fighting on the Greek side; he therefore gave up the chase, and turned away to attack others.
88. Thus in the first place she saved her life by the action, and was enabled to get clear off from the battle; while further, it fell out that in the very act of doing the King an injury she raised herself to a greater height than ever in his esteem. For as Xerxes beheld the fight, he remarked (it is said) the destruction of the vessel, whereupon the bystanders observed to him: “Seest thou, master, how well Artemisia fights, and how she has just sunk a ship of the enemy?” Then Xerxes asked if it were really Artemisia’s doing; and they answered, “Certainly; for they knew her ensign:” while all made sure that the sunken vessel belonged to the opposite side. Everything, it is said, conspired to prosper the queen—it was especially fortunate for her that not one of those on board the Calyndian ship survived to become her accuser. Xerxes, they say, in reply to the remarks made to him, observed: “My men have behaved like women, my women like men!”
89. There fell in this combat Ariabignes, one of the chief commanders of the fleet, who was the son of Darius and brother of Xerxes; and with him perished a vast number of men of high repute, Persians, Medes, and allies. Of the Greeks there died only a few; for, as they were able to swim, all those that were not slain outright by the enemy escaped from the sinking vessels and swam across to Salamis. But on the side of the barbarians more perished by drowning than in any other way, since they did not know how to swim. The great destruction took place when the ships which had been first engaged began to fly; for they who were stationed in the rear, anxious to display their valour before the eyes of the King, made every effort to force their way to the front, and thus became entangled with such of their own vessels as were retreating.
90. In this confusion the following event occurred: Certain Phœnicians belonging to the ships which had thus perished made their appearance before the King, and laid the blame of their loss on the Ionians, declaring that they were traitors, and had wilfully destroyed the vessels. But the upshot of this complaint was, that the Ionian captains escaped the death which threatened them, while their Phœnician accusers received death as their reward. For it happened that, exactly as they spoke, a Samothracian vessel bore down on an Athenian and sank it, but was attacked and crippled immediately by one of the Eginetan squadron. Now the Samothracians were expert with the javelin, and aimed their weapons so well, that they cleared the deck of the vessel which had disabled their own, after which they sprang on board, and took it. This saved the Ionians. Xerxes, when he saw the exploit, turned fiercely on the Phœnicians—(he was ready, in his extreme vexation, to find fault with any one)—and ordered their heads to be cut off, to prevent them, he said, from casting the blame of their own misconduct upon braver men. During the whole time of the battle Xerxes sate at the base of the hill called Ægaleôs,1 over against Salamis; and whenever he saw any of his own captains perform any worthy exploit he inquired concerning him; and the man’s name was taken down by his scribes, together with the names of his father and his city. Ariaramnes too, a Persian, who was a friend of the Ionians, and present at the time whereof I speak, had a share in bringing about the punishment of the Phœnicians.
91. When the rout of the barbarians began, and they sought to make their escape to Phalêrum, the Eginetans, awaiting them in the channel, performed exploits worthy to be recorded. Through the whole of the confused struggle the Athenians employed themselves in destroying such ships as either made resistance or fled to shore, while the Eginetans dealt with those which endeavoured to escape down the strait; so that the Persian vessels were no sooner clear of the Athenians than forthwith they fell into the hands of the Eginetan squadron.
92. It chanced here that there was a meeting between the ship of Themistocles, which was hasting in pursuit of the enemy, and that of Polycritus, son of Crius the Eginetan, which had just charged a Sidonian trireme. The Sidonian vessel was the same that captured the Eginetan guard-ship off Sciathus, which had Pytheas, the son of Ischenoüs, on board—that Pytheas, I mean, who fell covered with wounds, and whom the Sidonians kept on board their ship, from admiration of his gallantry. This man afterwards returned in safety to Egina; for when the Sidonian vessel with its Persian crew fell into the hands of the Greeks, he was still found on board. Polycritus no sooner saw the Athenian trireme than, knowing at once whose vessel it was, as he observed that it bore the ensign of the admiral, he shouted to Themistocles jeeringly, and asked him, in a tone of reproach, if the Eginetans did not show themselves rare friends to the Medes. At the same time, while he thus reproached Themistocles, Polycritus bore straight down on the Sidonian. Such of the barbarian vessels as escaped from the battle fled to Phalêrum, and there sheltered themselves under the protection of the land army.
93. The Greeks who gained the greatest glory of all in the sea-fight off Salamis were the Eginetans, and after them the Athenians. The individuals of most distinction were Polycritus the Eginetan, and two Athenians, Eumenes of Anagyrus, and Ameinias of Pallêné; the latter of whom had pressed Artemisia so hard. And assuredly, if he had known that the vessel carried Artemisia on board, he would never have given over the chase till he had either succeeded in taking her, or else been taken himself. For the Athenian captains had received special orders touching the queen; and moreover, a reward of ten thousand drachmas had been proclaimed for any one who should make her prisoner; since there was great indignation felt that a woman should appear in arms against Athens. However, as I said before, she escaped; and so did some others whose ships survived the engagement; and these were all now assembled at the port of Phalêrum.
94. The Athenians say that Adeimantus, the Corinthian commander, at the moment when the two fleets joined battle, was seized with fear, and being beyond measure alarmed, spread his sails, and hasted to fly away; on which the other Corinthians, seeing their leader’s ship in full flight, sailed off likewise. They had reached in their flight that part of the coast of Salamis where stands the temple of Minerva Sciras, when they met a light bark, a very strange apparition: it was never discovered that any one had sent it to them; and till it appeared they were altogether ignorant how the battle was going. That there was something beyond nature in the matter they judged from this—that when the men in the bark drew near to their ships, they addressed them, saying: “Adeimantus, while thou playest the traitor’s part, by withdrawing all these ships, and flying away from the fight, the Greeks whom thou hast deserted are defeating their foes as completely as they ever wished in their prayers.” Adeimantus, however, would not believe what the men said; whereupon they told him, “he might take them with him as hostages, and put them to death if he did not find the Greeks winning.” Then Adeimantus put about, both he and those who were with him; and they rejoined the fleet when the victory was already gained. Such is the tale which the Athenians tell concerning them of Corinth; these latter, however, do not allow its truth. On the contrary, they declare that they were among those who distinguished themselves most in the fight. And the rest of Greece bears witness in their favour.
95. In the midst of the confusion Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, the Athenian, of whom I lately spoke as a man of the greatest excellence, performed the following service. He took a number of the Athenian heavy-armed troops, who had previously been stationed along the shore of Salamis, and, landing with them on the islet of Psytalleia, slew all the Persians by whom it was occupied.
96. As soon as the sea-fight was ended, the Greeks drew together to Salamis all the wrecks that were to be found in that quarter, and prepared themselves for another engagement, supposing that the King would renew the fight with the vessels which still remained to him. Many of the wrecks had been carried away by a westerly wind to the coast of Attica, where they were thrown upon the strip of shore called Côlias. Thus not only were the prophecies of Bacis and Musæus concerning this battle fulfilled completely, but likewise, by the place to which the wrecks were drifted, the prediction of Lysistratus, an Athenian soothsayer, uttered many years before these events, and quite forgotten at the time by all the Greeks, was fully accomplished. The words were:
“Then shall the sight of the oars fill Colian dames with amazement.”
Now this must have happened as soon as the King was departed.
97. Xerxes, when he saw the extent of his loss, began to be afraid lest the Greeks might be counselled by the Ionians, or without their advice might determine to sail straight to the Hellespont and break down the bridges there; in which case he would be blocked up in Europe, and run great risk of perishing. He therefore made up his mind to fly; but as he wished to hide his purpose alike from the Greeks and from his own people, he set to work to carry a mound across the channel to Salamis,2 and at the same time began fastening a number of Phœnician merchant ships together, to serve at once for a bridge and a wall. He likewise made many warlike preparations, as if he were about to engage the Greeks once more at sea. Now, when these things were seen, all grew fully persuaded that the King was bent on remaining, and intended to push the war in good earnest. Mardonius, however, was in no respect deceived; for long acquaintance enabled him to read all the King’s thoughts. Meanwhile, Xerxes, though engaged in this way, sent off a messenger to carry intelligence of his misfortune to Persia.
98. Nothing mortal travels so fast as these Persian messengers. The entire plan is a Persian invention; and this is the method of it. Along the whole line of road there are men (they say) stationed with horses, in number equal to the number of days which the journey takes, allowing a man and horse to each day; and these men will not be hindered from accomplishing at their best speed the distance which they have to go, either by snow, or rain, or heat, or by the darkness of night. The first rider delivers his despatch to the second, and the second passes it to the third; and so it is borne from hand to hand along the whole line, like the light in the torch-race, which the Greeks celebrate to Vulcan. The Persians give the riding post in this manner, the name of “Angarum.”
99. At Susa, on the arrival of the first message, which said that Xerxes was master of Athens, such was the delight of the Persians who remained behind, that they forthwith strewed all the streets with myrtle boughs, and burnt incense, and fell to feasting and merriment. In like manner, when the second message reached them, so sore was their dismay, that they all with one accord rent their garments, and cried aloud, and wept and wailed without stint. They laid the blame of the disaster on Mardonius; and their grief on the occasion was less on account of the damage done to their ships, than owing to the alarm which they felt about the safety of the King. Hence their trouble did not cease till Xerxes himself, by his arrival, put an end to their fears.
100. And now Mardonius, perceiving that Xerxes took the defeat of his fleet greatly to heart, and suspecting that he had made up his mind to leave Athens and fly away, began to think of the likelihood of his being visited with punishment for having persuaded the King to undertake the war. He therefore considered that it would be the best thing for him to adventure further, and either become the conqueror of Greece—which was the result he rather expected—or else die gloriously after aspiring to a noble achievement. So with these thoughts in his mind, he said one day to the King:
“Do not grieve, master, or take so greatly to heart thy late loss. Our hopes hang not altogether on the fate of a few planks, but on our brave steeds and horsemen. These fellows, whom thou imaginest to have quite conquered us, will not venture—no, not one of them—to come ashore and contend with our land army; nor will the Greeks who are upon the mainland fight our troops; such as did so, have received their punishment. If thou pleasest, we may at once attack the Peloponnese; if thou wouldst rather wait a while, that too is in our power. Only be not disheartened. For it is not possible that the Greeks can avoid being brought to account, alike for this and for their former injuries; nor can they anyhow escape being thy slaves. Thou shouldst therefore do as I have said. If, however, thy mind is made up, and thou art resolved to retreat and lead away thy army, listen to the counsel which, in that case, I have to offer. Make not the Persians, O King! a laughing-stock to the Greeks. If thy affairs have succeeded ill, it has not been by their fault; thou canst not say that thy Persians have ever shown themselves cowards. What matters it if Phœnicians and Egyptians, Cyprians and Cilicians, have misbehaved?—their misconduct touches us not. Since then thy Persians are without fault, be advised by me. Depart home, if thou art so minded, and take with thee the bulk of thy army; but first let me choose out 300,000 troops, and let it be my task to bring Greece beneath thy sway.”
101. Xerxes, when he heard these words, felt a sense of joy and delight, like a man who is relieved from care. Answering Mardonius, therefore, “that he would consider his counsel, and let him know which course he might prefer,” Xerxes proceeded to consult with the chief men among the Persians; and because Artemisia on the former occasion had shown herself the only person who knew what was best to be done, he was pleased to summon her to advise him now. As soon as she arrived, he put forth all the rest, both councillors and body-guards, and said to her:
“Mardonius wishes me to stay and attack the Peloponnese. My Persians, he says, and my other land forces, are not to blame for the disasters which have befallen our arms; and of this he declares they would very gladly give me the proof. He therefore exhorts me, either to stay and act as I have said, or to let him choose out 300,000 of my troops—wherewith he undertakes to reduce Greece beneath my sway—while I myself retire with the rest of my forces, and withdraw into my own country. Do thou, therefore, as thou didst counsel me so wisely to declare the sea-fight, now also advise me in this matter, and say, which course of the twain I ought to take for my own good.”
102. Thus did the King ask Artemisia’s counsel; and the following are the words wherewith she answered him:
“ ’Tis a hard thing, O King! to give the best possible advice to one who asks our counsel. Nevertheless, as thy affairs now stand, it seemeth to me that thou wilt do right to return home. As for Mardonius, if he prefers to remain, and undertakes to do as he has said, leave him behind by all means, with the troops which he desires. If his design succeeds, and he subdues the Greeks, as he promises, thine is the conquest, master; for thy slaves will have accomplished it. If, on the other hand, affairs run counter to his wishes, we can suffer no great loss, so long as thou art safe, and thy house is in no danger. The Greeks, too, while thou livest, and thy house flourishes, must be prepared to fight full many a battle for their freedom; whereas if Mardonius fall, it matters nothing—they will have gained but a poor triumph—a victory over one of thy slaves! Remember also, thou goest home having gained the purpose of thy expedition; for thou hast burnt Athens!”
103. The advice of Artemisia pleased Xerxes well; for she had exactly uttered his own thoughts. I, for my part, do not believe that he would have remained, had all his counsellors, both men and women, united to urge his stay, so great was the alarm that he felt. As it was, he gave praise to Artemisia, and entrusted certain of his children to her care, ordering her to convey them to Ephesus; for he had been accompanied on the expedition by some of his natural sons.
104. He likewise sent away at this time one of the principal of his eunuchs, a man named Hermotimus, a Pedasian, who was bidden to take charge of these sons. Now the Pedasians inhabit the region above Halicarnassus; and it is related of them, that in their country the following circumstance happens: When a mischance is about to befall any of their neighbours within a certain time, the priestess of Minerva in their city grows a long beard. This has already taken place on two occasions.
105. The Hermotimus of whom I spoke above was, as I said, a Pedasian; and he, of all men whom we know, took the most cruel vengeance on the person who had done him an injury. He had been made a prisoner of war, and when his captors sold him, he was bought by a certain Panionius, a native of Chios, who made his living by a most nefarious traffic. Whenever he could get any boys of unusual beauty, he made them eunuchs, and carrying them to Sardis or Ephesus, sold them for large sums of money. For the barbarians value eunuchs more than others, since they regard them as more trustworthy. Many were the slaves that Panionius, who made his living by the practice, had thus treated; and among them was this Hermotimus of whom I have here made mention. However, he was not without his share of good fortune; for after a while he was sent from Sardis, together with other gifts, as a present to the King. Nor was it long before he came to be esteemed by Xerxes more highly than all his eunuchs.
106. When the King was on his way to Athens with the Persian army, and abode for a time at Sardis, Hermotimus happened to make a journey upon business into Mysia; and there, in a district which is called Atarneus, but belongs to Chios, he chanced to fall in with Panionius. Recognising him at once, he entered into a long and friendly talk with him, wherein he counted up the numerous blessings he enjoyed through his means, and promised him all manner of favours in return, if he would bring his household to Sardis and live there. Panionius was overjoyed, and, accepting the offer made him, came presently, and brought with him his wife and children. Then Hermotimus, when he had got Panionius and all his family into his power, addressed him in these words:
“Thou man, who gettest a living by viler deeds than any one else in the whole world, what wrong to thee or thine had I or any of mine done, that thou shouldst have made me the nothing that I now am? Ah! surely thou thoughtest that the gods took no note of thy crimes. But they in their justice have delivered thee, the doer of unrighteousness, into my hands; and now thou canst not complain of the vengeance which I am resolved to take on thee.”
After these reproaches, Hermotimus commanded the four sons of Panionius to be brought, and forced the father to make them eunuchs with his own hand. Unable to resist, he did as Hermotimus required; and then his sons were made to treat him in the self-same way. So in this way there came to Panionius requital at the hands of Hermotimus.
107. Xerxes, after charging Artemisia to convey his sons safe to Ephesus, sent for Mardonius, and bade him choose from all his army such men as he wished, and see that he made his achievements answer to his promises. During this day he did no more; but no sooner was night come, than he issued his orders, and at once the captains of the ships left Phalêrum, and bore away for the Hellespont, each making all the speed he could, and hasting to guard the bridges against the King’s return. On their way, as they sailed by Zôster, where certain narrow points of land project into the sea, they took the cliffs for vessels, and fled far away in alarm. Discovering their mistake, however, after a time, they joined company once more, and proceeded upon their voyage.
108. Next day the Greeks, seeing the land force of the barbarians encamped in the same place, thought that their ships must still be lying at Phalêrum; and, expecting another attack from that quarter, made preparations to defend themselves. Soon however news came that the ships were all departed and gone away; whereupon it was instantly resolved to make sail in pursuit. They went as far as Andros; but, seeing nothing of the Persian fleet, they stopped at that place, and held a council of war. At this council Themistocles advised that the Greeks should follow on through the islands, still pressing the pursuit, and making all haste to the Hellespont, there to break down the bridges. Eurybiades, however, delivered a contrary opinion. “If,” he said, “the Greeks should break down the bridges, it would be the worst thing that could possibly happen for Greece. The Persian, supposing that his retreat were cut off, and he compelled to remain in Europe, would be sure never to give them any peace. Inaction on his part would ruin all his affairs, and leave him no chance of ever getting back to Asia—nay, would even cause his army to perish by famine: whereas, if he bestirred himself, and acted vigorously, it was likely that the whole of Europe would in course of time become subject to him; since, by degrees, the various towns and tribes would either fall before his arms, or else agree to terms of submission; and in this way, his troops would find food sufficient for them, since each year the Greek harvest would be theirs. As it was, the Persian, because he had lost the sea-fight, intended evidently to remain no longer in Europe. The Greeks ought to let him depart; and when he was gone from among them, and had returned into his own country, then would be the time for them to contend with him for the possession of that.”
The other captains of the Peloponnese declared themselves of the same mind.
109. Whereupon Themistocles, finding that the majority was against him, and that he could not persuade them to push on to the Hellespont, changed round, and addressing himself to the Athenians, who of all the allies were the most nettled at the enemy’s escape, and who eagerly desired, if the other Greeks would not stir, to sail on by themselves to the Hellespont and break the bridges, spake as follows:
“I have often myself witnessed occasions, and I have heard of many more from others, where men who had been conquered by an enemy, having been driven quite to desperation, have renewed the fight, and retrieved their former disasters. We have now had the great good luck to save both ourselves and all Greece by the repulse of this vast cloud of men; let us then be content and not press them too hard, now that they have begun to fly. Be sure we have not done this by our own might. It is the work of gods and heroes, who were jealous that one man should be king at once of Europe and of Asia—more especially a man like this, unholy and presumptuous—a man who esteems alike things sacred and things profane; who has cast down and burnt the very images of the gods themselves; who even caused the sea to be scourged with rods and commanded fetters to be thrown into it. At present all is well with us—let us then abide in Greece, and look to ourselves and to our families. The Barbarian is clean gone—we have driven him off—let each now repair his own house, and sow his land diligently. In the spring we will take ship and sail to the Hellespont and to Ionia!”
All this Themistocles said in the hope of establishing a claim upon the King; for he wanted to have a safe retreat in case any mischance should befall him at Athens3 —which indeed came to pass afterwards.
110. At present, however, he dissembled; and the Athenians were persuaded by his words. For they were ready now to do whatever he advised; since they had always esteemed him a wise man, and he had lately proved himself most truly wise and well-judging. Accordingly, they came into his views; whereupon he lost no time in sending messengers, on board a light bark, to the King, choosing for this purpose men whom he could trust to keep his instructions secret, even although they should be put to every kind of torture. Among them was the houseslave Sicinnus, the same whom he had made use of previously. When the men reached Attica, all the others stayed with the boat; but Sicinnus went up to the King, and spake to him as follows:
“I am sent to thee by Themistocles, the son of Neocles, who is the leader of the Athenians, and the wisest and bravest man of all the allies, to bear thee this message: ‘Themistocles the Athenian, anxious to render thee a service, has restrained the Greeks, who were impatient to pursue thy ships, and to break up the bridges at the Hellespont. Now, therefore, return home at thy leisure.’ ”
The messengers, when they had performed their errand, sailed back to the fleet.
111. And the Greeks, having resolved that they would neither proceed further in pursuit of the barbarians, nor push forward to the Hellespont and destroy the passage, laid siege to Andros, intending to take the town by storm. For Themistocles had required the Andrians to pay down a sum of money; and they had refused, being the first of all the islanders who did so. To his declaration, “that the money must needs be paid, as the Athenians had brought with them two mighty gods—Persuasion and Necessity,” they made reply, that “Athens might well be a great and glorious city, since she was blest with such excellent gods; but they were wretchedly poor, stinted for land, and cursed with two unprofitable gods, who always dwelt with them and would never quit their island—to wit, Poverty and Helplessness. These were the gods of the Andrians, and therefore they would not pay the money. For the power of Athens could not possibly be stronger than their inability.” This reply, coupled with the refusal to pay the sum required, caused their city to be besieged by the Greeks.
112. Meanwhile Themistocles, who never ceased his pursuit of gain, sent threatening messages to the other islanders with demands for different sums, employing the same messengers and the same words as he had used towards the Andrians. “If,” he said, “they did not send him the amount required, he would bring the Greek fleet upon them, and besiege them till he took their cities.” By these means he collected large sums from the Carystians and the Parians, who, when they heard that Andros was already besieged, and that Themistocles was the best esteemed of all the captains, sent the money through fear. Whether any of the other islanders did the like, I cannot say for certain; but I think some did besides those I have mentioned. However, the Carystians, though they complied, were not spared any the more; but Themistocles was softened by the Parians’ gift, and therefore they received no visit from the army. In this way it was that Themistocles, during his stay at Andros, obtained money from the islanders, unbeknown to the other captains.
113. King Xerxes and his army waited but a few days after the sea-fight, and then withdrew into Bœotia by the road which they had followed on their advance. It was the wish of Mardonius to escort the King a part of the way; and as the time of year was no longer suitable for carrying on war, he thought it best to winter in Thessaly, and wait for the spring before he attempted the Peloponnese. After the army was come into Thessaly, Mardonius made choice of the troops that were to stay with him; and, first of all, he took the whole body called the “Immortals,” except only their leader, Hydarnes, who refused to quit the person of the King. Next, he chose the Persians who wore breastplates, and the thousand picked horse; likewise the Medes, the Sacans, the Bactrians, and the Indians, foot and horse equally. These nations he took entire: from the rest of the allies he culled a few men, taking either such as were remarkable for their appearance, or else such as had performed, to his knowledge, some valiant deed. The Persians furnished him with the greatest number of troops, men who were adorned with chains and armlets. Next to them were the Medes, who in number equalled the Persians, but in valour fell short of them. The whole army, reckoning the horsemen with the rest, amounted to 300,000 men.
114. At the time when Mardonius was making choice of his troops, and Xerxes still continued in Thessaly, the Lacedæmonians received a message from the Delphic oracle, bidding them seek satisfaction at the hands of Xerxes for the death of Leonidas, and take whatever he chose to give them. So the Spartans sent a herald with all speed into Thessaly, who arrived while the entire Persian army was still there. This man, being brought before the King, spake as follows:
“King of the Medes, the Lacedæmonians and the Heracleids of Sparta require of thee the satisfaction due for bloodshed, because thou slewest their king, who fell fighting for Greece.”
Xerxes laughed, and for a long time spake not a word. At last, however, he pointed to Mardonius, who was standing by him, and said: “Mardonius here shall give them the satisfaction they deserve to get.” And the herald accepted the answer, and forthwith went his way.
115. Xerxes, after this, left Mardonius in Thessaly, and marched away himself, at his best speed, toward the Hellespont. In five and forty days he reached the place of passage, where he arrived with scarce a fraction, so to speak, of his former army.4 All along their line of march, in every country where they chanced to be, his soldiers seized and devoured whatever corn they could find belonging to the inhabitants; while, if no corn was to be found, they gathered the grass that grew in the fields, and stripped the trees, whether cultivated or wild, alike of their bark and of their leaves, and so fed themselves. They left nothing anywhere, so hard were they pressed by hunger. Plague too and dysentery attacked the troops while still upon their march, and greatly thinned their ranks. Many died; others fell sick and were left behind in the different cities that lay upon the route, the inhabitants being strictly charged by Xerxes to tend and feed them. Of these some remained in Thessaly, others in Siris of Pæonia, others again in Macedon. Here Xerxes, on his march into Greece, had left the sacred car and steeds of Jove; which upon his return he was unable to recover; for the Pæonians had disposed of them to the Thracians, and, when Xerxes demanded them back, they said that the Thracian tribes who dwelt about the sources of the Strymon had stolen the mares as they pastured.
116. Here too a Thracian chieftain, king of the Bisaltians and of Crestonia, did a deed which went beyond nature. He had refused to become the willing slave of Xerxes, and had fled before him into the heights of Rhodopé, at the same time forbidding his sons to take part in the expedition against Greece. But they, either because they cared little for his orders, or because they wished greatly to see the war, joined the army of Xerxes. At this time they had all returned home to him—the number of the men was six—quite safe and sound. But their father took them, and punished their offence by plucking out their eyes from the sockets. Such was the treatment which those men received.
117. The Persians, having journeyed through Thrace and reached the passage, entered their ships hastily and crossed the Hellespont to Abydos. The bridges were not found stretched across the strait; since a storm had broken and dispersed them. At Abydos the troops halted, and, obtaining more abundant provision than they had yet got upon their march, they fed without stint; from which cause, added to the change in their water, great numbers of those who had hitherto escaped perished. The remainder, together with Xerxes himself, came safe to Sardis.
118. There is likewise another account given of the return of the King. It is said that when Xerxes on his way from Athens arrived at Eïon upon the Strymon, he gave up travelling by land, and, intrusting Hydarnes with the conduct of his forces to the Hellespont, embarked himself on board a Phœnician ship, and so crossed into Asia. On his voyage the ship was assailed by a strong wind blowing from the mouth of the Strymon, which caused the sea to run high. As the storm increased, and the ship laboured heavily, because of the number of the Persians who had come in the King’s train, and who now crowded the deck, Xerxes was seized with fear, and called out to the helmsman in a loud voice, asking him, if there were any means whereby they might escape the danger. “No means, master,” the helmsman answered, “unless we could be quit of these too numerous passengers.” Xerxes, they say, on hearing this, addressed the Persians as follows: “Men of Persia,” he said, “now is the time for you to show what love ye bear your king. My safety, as it seems, depends wholly upon you.” So spake the King; and the Persians instantly made obeisance, and then leapt over into the sea. Thus was the ship lightened, and Xerxes got safe to Asia. As soon as he had reached the shore, he sent for the helmsman, and gave him a golden crown because he had preserved the life of the King,—but because he had caused the death of a number of Persians, he ordered his head to be struck from his shoulders.
119. Such is the other account which is given of the return of Xerxes; but to me it seems quite unworthy of belief, alike in other respects, and in what relates to the Persians. For had the helmsman made any such speech to Xerxes, I suppose there is not one man in ten thousand who will doubt that this is the course which the King would have followed: He would have made the men upon the ship’s deck, who were not only Persians, but Persians of the very highest rank, quit their place and go down below; and would have cast into the sea an equal number of the rowers, who were Phœnicians. But the truth is, that the King, as I have already said, returned into Asia by the same road as the rest of the army.
120. I will add a strong proof of this. It is certain that Xerxes on his way back from Greece passed through Abdêra, where he made a contract of friendship with the inhabitants, and presented them with a golden scymitar, and a tiara broidered with gold. The Abderites declare—but I put no faith in this part of their story—that from the time of the King’s leaving Athens, he never once loosed his girdle till he came to their city, since it was not till then that he felt himself in safety. Now Abdêra is nearer to the Hellespont than Eïon and the Strymon, where Xerxes, according to the other tale, took ship.
121. Meanwhile the Greeks, finding that they could not capture Andros, sailed away to Carystus, and wasted the lands of the Carystians, after which they returned to Salamis. Arrived here, they proceeded, before entering on any other matter, to make choice of the first-fruits which should be set apart as offerings to the gods. These consisted of divers gifts; among them were three Phœnician triremes, one of which was dedicated at the Isthmus, where it continued to my day; another at Sunium; and the third, at Salamis itself, which was devoted to Ajax. This done, they made a division of the booty, and sent away the first-fruits to Delphi. Thereof was made the statue, holding in its hand the beak of a ship, which is twelve cubits high, and which stands in the same place with the golden one of Alexander the Macedonian.
122. After the first-fruits had been sent to Delphi, the Greeks made inquiry of the god, in the name of their whole body, if he had received his full share of the spoils and was satisfied therewith. The god made answer, that all the other Greeks had paid him his full due, except only the Eginetans; on them he had still a claim for the prize of valour which they had gained at Salamis. So the Eginetans, when they heard this, dedicated the three golden stars which stand on the top of a bronze mast in the corner near the bowl offered by Crœsus.
123. When the spoils had been divided, the Greeks sailed to the Isthmus, where a prize of valour was to be awarded to the man who, of all the Greeks, had shown the most merit during the war. When the chiefs were all come, they met at the altar of Neptune, and took the ballots wherewith they were to give their votes for the first and for the second in merit. Then each man gave himself the first vote, since each considered that he was himself the worthiest; but the second votes were given chiefly to Themistocles. In this way, while the others received but one vote apiece, Themistocles had for the second prize a large majority of the suffrages.
124. Envy, however, hindered the chiefs from coming to a decision, and they all sailed away to their homes without making any award. Nevertheless Themistocles was regarded everywhere as by far the wisest man of all the Greeks; and the whole country rang with his fame. As the chiefs who fought at Salamis, notwithstanding that he was really entitled to the prize, had withheld his honour from him, he went without delay to Lacedæmon, in the hope that he would be honoured there. And the Lacedæmonians received him handsomely, and paid him great respect. The prize of valour, indeed, which was a crown of olive, they gave to Eurybiades; but Themistocles was given a crown of olive too, as the prize of wisdom and dexterity. He was likewise presented with the most beautiful chariot that could be found in Sparta; and after receiving abundant praises, was, upon his departure, escorted as far as the borders of Tegea, by the three hundred picked Spartans, who are called the Knights. Never was it known, either before or since, that the Spartans escorted a man out of their city.
125. On the return of Themistocles to Athens, Timodêmus of Aphidnæ, who was one of his enemies, but otherwise a man of no repute, became so maddened with envy that he openly railed against him, and, reproaching him with his journey to Sparta, said: “ ’Twas not his own merit that had won him honour from the men of Lacedæmon, but the fame of Athens, his country.” Then Themistocles, seeing that Timodêmus repeated this phrase unceasingly, replied:
“Thus stands the case, friend. I had never got this honour from the Spartans, had I been a Belbinite—nor thou, hadst thou been an Athenian!”
126. Artabazus, the son of Pharnaces, a man whom the Persians had always held in much esteem, but who, after the affair of Platæa, rose still higher in their opinion, escorted King Xerxes as far as the strait, with sixty thousand of the chosen troops of Mardonius. When the King was safe in Asia, Artabazus set out upon his return; and on arriving near Pallêné, and finding that Mardonius had gone into winter-quarters in Thessaly and Macedonia, and was in no hurry for him to join the camp, he thought it his bounden duty, as the Potidæans had just revolted, to occupy himself in reducing them to slavery. For as soon as the King had passed beyond their territory, and the Persian fleet had made its hasty flight from Salamis, the Potidæans revolted from the barbarians openly; as likewise did all the other inhabitants of that peninsula.
127. Artabazus, therefore, laid siege to Potidæa; and having a suspicion that the Olynthians were likely to revolt shortly, he besieged their city also. Now Olynthus was at that time held by the Bottiæans, who had been driven from the parts about the Thermaic Gulf by the Macedonians. Artabazus took the city, and, having so done, led out all the inhabitants to a marsh in the neighbourhood, and there slew them. After this he delivered the place into the hands of the people called Chalcideans, having first appointed Critobûlus of Torôné to be governor. Such was the way in which the Chalcideans got Olynthus.
128. When this town had fallen, Artabazus pressed the siege of Potidæa all the more unremittingly; and was pushing his operations with vigour, when Timoxenus, captain of the Scionæans, entered into a plot to betray the town to him. How the matter was managed at first, I cannot pretend to say, for no account has come down to us: but at the last this is what happened. Whenever Timoxenus wished to send a letter to Artabazus, or Artabazus to send one to Timoxenus, the letter was written on a strip of paper, and rolled round the notched end of an arrow-shaft; the feathers were then put on over the paper, and the arrow thus prepared was shot to some place agreed upon. But after a while the plot of Timoxenus to betray Potidæa was discovered in this way. Artabazus, on one occasion, shot off his arrow, intending to send it to the accustomed place, but, missing his mark, hit one of the Potidæans in the shoulder. A crowd gathered about the wounded man, as commonly happens in war; and when the arrow was pulled out, they noticed the paper, and straightway carried it to the captains who were present from the various cities of the peninsula. The captains read the letter, and, finding who the traitor was, nevertheless resolved, out of regard for the city of Sciôné, that as they did not wish the Scionæans to be thenceforth branded with the name of traitors, they would not bring against him any charge of treachery. Such accordingly was the mode in which this plot was discovered.
129. After Artabazus had continued the siege by the space of three months, it happened that there was an unusual ebb of the tide, which lasted a long while. So when the barbarians saw that what had been sea was now no more than a swamp, they determined to push across it into Pallêné. And now the troops had already made good two-fifths of their passage, and three-fifths still remained before they could reach Pallêné, when the tide came in with a very high flood, higher than had ever been seen before, as the inhabitants of those parts declare, though high floods are by no means uncommon. All who were not able to swim perished immediately; the rest were slain by the Potidæans, who bore down upon them in their sailing vessels. The Potidæans say that what caused this swell and flood, and so brought about the disaster of the Persians which ensued therefrom, was the profanation, by the very men now destroyed in the sea, of the temple and image of Neptune, situated in their suburb. And in this they seem to me to say well. Artabazus afterwards led away the remainder of his army, and joined Mardonius in Thessaly. Thus fared it with the Persians who escorted the King to the strait.
130. As for that part of the fleet of Xerxes which had survived the battle, when it had made good its escape from Salamis to the coast of Asia, and conveyed the King with his army across the strait from the Chersonese to Abydos, it passed the winter at Cymé. On the first approach of spring there was an early muster of the ships at Samos, where some of them indeed had remained throughout the winter. Most of the men-at-arms who served on board were Persians, or else Medes; and the command of the fleet had been taken by Mardontes, the son of Bagæus, and Artayntes, the son of Artachæus; while there was likewise a third commander, Ithamitres, the nephew of Artayntes, whom his uncle had advanced to the post. Further west than Samos, however, they did not venture to proceed; for they remembered what a defeat they had suffered, and there was no one to compel them to approach any nearer to Greece. They therefore remained at Samos, and kept watch over Ionia, to hinder it from breaking into revolt. The whole number of their ships, including those furnished by the Ionians, was three hundred. It did not enter into their thoughts that the Greeks would proceed against Ionia; on the contrary, they supposed that the defence of their own country would content them, more especially as they had not pursued the Persian fleet when it fled from Salamis, but had so readily given up the chase. They despaired, however, altogether of gaining any success by sea themselves, though by land they thought that Mardonius was quite sure of victory. So they remained at Samos, and took counsel together, if by any means they might harass the enemy, at the same time that they waited eagerly to hear how matters would proceed with Mardonius.
131. The approach of spring, and the knowledge that Mardonius was in Thessaly, roused the Greeks from inaction. Their land force indeed was not yet come together; but the fleet, consisting of one hundred and ten ships, proceeded to Egina, under the command of Leotychides. This Leotychides, who was both general and admiral, was the son of Menares, the son of Agesilaüs, the son of Hippocratides, the son of Leotychides, the son of Anaxilaüs, the son of Archidamus, the son of Anaxandrides, the son of Theopompus, the son of Nicander, the son of Charillus, the son of Eunomus, the son of Polydectes, the son of Prytanis, the son of Euryphon, the son of Procles, the son of Aristodêmus, the son of Aristomachus, the son of Cleodæus, the son of Hyllus, the son of Hercules. He belonged to the younger branch of the royal house. All his ancestors, except the two next in the above list to himself, had been kings of Sparta. The Athenian vessels were commanded by Xanthippus, the son of Ariphron.5
132. When the whole fleet was collected together at Egina, ambassadors from Ionia arrived at the Greek station; they had but just come from paying a visit to Sparta, where they had been intreating the Lacedæmonians to undertake the deliverance of their native land. One of these ambassadors was Herodotus, the son of Basileides. Originally they were seven in number; and the whole seven had conspired to slay Strattis, the tyrant of Chios; one, however, of those engaged in the plot betrayed the enterprise; and the conspiracy being in this way discovered, Herodotus, and the remaining five, quitted Chios, and went straight to Sparta, whence they had now proceeded to Egina, their object being to beseech the Greeks that they would pass over to Ionia. It was not however without difficulty that they were induced to advance even so far as Delos. All beyond that seemed to the Greeks full of danger; the places were quite unknown to them, and to their fancy swarmed with Persian troops; as for Samos, it appeared to them as far off as the Pillars of Hercules. Thus it came to pass, that at the very same time the barbarians were hindered by their fears from venturing any further west than Samos, and the prayers of the Chians failed to induce the Greeks to advance any further east than Delos. Terror guarded the mid region.
133. The Greek fleet was now on its way to Delos; but Mardonius still abode in his winter-quarters in Thessaly. When he was about to leave them, he despatched a man named Mys, an Europian by birth, to go and consult the different oracles, giving him orders to put questions everywhere to all the oracles whereof he found it possible to make trial. What it was that he wanted to know, when he gave Mys these orders, I am not able to say, for no account has reached me of the matter; but for my own part, I suppose that he sent to inquire concerning the business which he had in hand, and not for any other purpose.
134. Mys, it is certain, went to Lebadeia, and, by the payment of a sum of money, induced one of the inhabitants to go down to Trophônius; he likewise visited Abæ of the Phocians, and there consulted the god; while at Thebes, to which place he went first of all, he not only got access to Apollo Ismenius (of whom inquiry is made by means of victims, according to the custom practised also at Olympia), but likewise prevailed on a man, who was not a Theban but a foreigner, to pass the night in the temple of Amphiaraüs. No Theban can lawfully consult this oracle, for the following reason: Amphiaraüs by an oracle gave the Thebans their choice, to have him for their prophet or for their helper in war; he bade them elect between the two, and forego either one or the other; so they chose rather to have him for their helper. On this account it is unlawful for a Theban to sleep in his temple.
135. One thing which the Thebans declare to have happened at this time is to me very surprising. Mys, the Europian, they say, after he had gone about to all the oracles, came at last to the sacred precinct of Apollo Ptôüs. The place itself bears the name of Ptôüm; it is in the country of the Thebans, and is situate on the mountain side overlooking Lake Copaïs, only a very little way from the town called Acræphia. Here Mys arrived, and entered the temple, followed by three Theban citizens—picked men whom the state had appointed to take down whatever answer the god might give. No sooner was he entered than the prophet delivered him an oracle, but in a foreign tongue; so that his Theban attendants were astonished, hearing a strange language when they expected Greek, and did not know what to do. Mys, however, the Europian, snatched from their hands the tablet which they had brought with them, and wrote down what the prophet uttered. The reply, he told them, was in the Carian dialect. After this, Mys departed and returned to Thessaly.
136. Mardonius, when he had read the answers given by the oracles, sent next an envoy to Athens. This was Alexander, the son of Amyntas, a Macedonian, of whom he made choice for two reasons. Alexander was connected with the Persians by family ties; for Gygæa, who was the daughter of Amyntas, and sister to Alexander himself, was married to Bubares, a Persian, and by him had a son, to wit, Amyntas of Asia; who was named after his mother’s father, and enjoyed the revenues of Alabanda, a large city of Phrygia, which had been assigned him by the King. Alexander was likewise (and of this too Mardonius was well aware), both by services which he had rendered, and by formal compact of friendship, connected with Athens. Mardonius therefore thought that, by sending him, he would be most likely to gain over the Athenians to the Persian side. He had heard that they were a numerous and a warlike people, and he knew that the disasters which had befallen the Persians by sea were mainly their work; he therefore expected that, if he could form alliance with them, he would easily get the mastery of the sea (as indeed he would have done, beyond a doubt), while by land he believed that he was already greatly superior; and so he thought by this alliance to make sure of overcoming the Greeks. Perhaps too the oracles leant this way, and counselled him to make Athens his friend: so that it may have been in obedience to them that he sent the embassy.
137. This Alexander was descended in the seventh degree from Perdiccas, who obtained the sovereignty over the Macedonians in the way which I will now relate. Three brothers, descendants of Têmenus, fled from Argos to the Illyrians; their names were Gauanes, Aëropus, and Perdiccas. From Illyria they went across to Upper Macedonia, where they came to a certain town called Lebæa. There they hired themselves out to serve the king in different employs; one tended the horses; another looked after the cows; while Perdiccas, who was the youngest, took charge of the smaller cattle. In those early times poverty was not confined to the people: kings themselves were poor, and so here it was the king’s wife who cooked the victuals. Now, whenever she baked the bread, she always observed that the loaf of the labouring boy Perdiccas swelled to double its natural size. So the queen, finding this never fail, spoke of it to her husband. Directly that it came to his ears, the thought struck him that it was a miracle, and boded something of no small moment. He therefore sent for the three labourers, and told them to begone out of his dominions. They answered, “they had a right to their wages; if he would pay them what was due, they were quite willing to go.” Now it happened that the sun was shining down the chimney into the room where they were; and the king, hearing them talk of wages, lost his wits, and said, “There are the wages which you deserve; take that—I give it you!” and pointed, as he spoke, to the sunshine. The two elder brothers, Gauanes and Aëropus, stood aghast at the reply, and did nothing; but the boy, who had a knife in his hand, made a mark with it round the sunshine on the floor of the room, and said, “O King! we accept your payment.” Then he received the light of the sun three times into his bosom, and so went away; and his brothers went with him.
138. When they were gone, one of those who sat by told the king what the youngest of the three had done, and hinted that he must have had some meaning in accepting the wages given. Then the king, when he heard what had happened, was angry, and sent horsemen after the youths to slay them. Now there is a river in Macedonia to which the descendants of these Argives offer sacrifice as their saviour. This stream swelled so much, as soon as the sons of Têmenus were safe across, that the horsemen found it impossible to follow. So the brothers escaped into another part of Macedonia, and took up their abode near the place called “the Gardens of Midas, son of Gordias.” In these gardens there are roses which grow of themselves, so sweet that no others can come near them, and with blossoms that have as many as sixty petals apiece. It was here, according to the Macedonians, that Silenus was made a prisoner. Above the garden stands a mountain called Bermius, which is so cold that none can reach the top. Here the brothers made their abode; and from this place by degrees they conquered all Macedonia.
139. From the Perdiccas of whom we have here spoken, Alexander was descended in the following way: Alexander was the son of Amyntas, Amyntas of Alcetas; the father of Alcetas was Aëropus; of Aëropus, Philip; of Philip, Argæus; of Argæus, Perdiccas, the first sovereign.6 Such was the descent of Alexander.
140. (§ 1.) When Alexander reached Athens as the ambassador of Mardonius, he spoke as follows:
“O men of Athens, these be the words of Mardonius. ‘The King has sent a message to me, saying, “All the trespasses which the Athenians have committed against me I freely forgive. Now then, Mardonius, thus shalt thou act towards them. Restore to them their territory; and let them choose for themselves whatever land they like besides, and let them dwell therein as a free people. Build up likewise all their temples which I burned, if on these terms they will consent to enter into a league with me.” Such are the orders which I have received, and which I must needs obey, unless there be a hindrance on your part. And now I say unto you,—why are ye so mad as to levy war against the King, whom ye cannot possibly overcome, or even resist for ever? Ye have seen the multitude and the bravery of the host of Xerxes; ye know also how large a power remains with me in your land; suppose then ye should get the better of us, and defeat this army—a thing whereof ye will not, if ye be wise, entertain the least hope—what follows even then but a contest with a still greater force? Do not, because you would fain match yourselves with the King, consent to lose your country and live in constant danger of your lives. Rather agree to make peace; which ye can now do without any tarnish to your honour, since the King invites you to it. Continue free, and make an alliance with us, without fraud or deceit.’
(§ 2.) “These are the words, O Athenians! which Mardonius has bid me speak to you. For my own part, I will say nothing of the good will I bear your nation, since ye have not now for the first time to become acquainted with it. But I will add my intreaties also, and beseech you to give ear to Mardonius; for I see clearly that it is impossible for you to go on for ever contending against Xerxes. If that had appeared to me possible, I would not now have come hither the bearer of such a message. But the King’s power surpasses that of man, and his arm reaches far. If then ye do not hasten to conclude a peace, when such fair terms are offered you, I tremble to think of what you will have to endure—you, who of all the allies lie most directly in the path of danger, whose land will always be the chief battle-ground of the contending powers, and who will therefore constantly have to suffer alone. Hearken then, I pray you, to Mardonius! Surely it is no small matter that the Great King chooses you out from all the rest of the Greeks, to offer you forgiveness of the wrongs you have done him, and to propose himself as your friend and ally!”
141. Such were the words of Alexander. Now the Lacedæmonians, when tidings reached them that Alexander was gone to Athens to bring about a league between the Athenians and the barbarians, and when at the same time they called to mind the prophecies which declared that the Dorian race should one day be driven from the Peloponnese by the Medes and the Athenians, were exceedingly afraid lest the Athenians might consent to the alliance with Persia. They therefore lost no time in sending envoys to Athens; and it so happened that these envoys were given their audience at the same time with Alexander: for the Athenians had waited and made delays, because they felt sure that the Lacedæmonians would hear that an ambassador was come to them from the Persians, and as soon as they heard it would with all speed send an embassy. They contrived matters therefore of set purpose, so that the Lacedæmonians might hear them deliver their sentiments on the occasion.
142. As soon as Alexander had finished speaking, the ambassadors from Sparta took the word and said:
“We are sent here by the Lacedæmonians to entreat of you that ye will not do a new thing in Greece, nor agree to the terms which are offered you by the Barbarian. Such conduct on the part of any of the Greeks were alike unjust and dishonourable; but in you ’twould be worse than in others, for divers reasons. ’Twas by you that this war was kindled at the first among us—our wishes were in no way considered; the contest began by your seeking to extend your empire—now the fate of Greece is involved in it. Besides, it were surely an intolerable thing that the Athenians, who have always hitherto been known as a nation to which many men owed their freedom, should now become the means of bringing all other Greeks into slavery. We feel, however, for the heavy calamities which press on you—the loss of your harvest these two years, and the ruin in which your homes have lain for so long a time. We offer you, therefore, on the part of the Lacedæmonians and the allies, sustenance for your women and for the unwarlike portion of your households, so long as the war endures. Be ye not seduced by Alexander the Macedonian, who softens down the rough words of Mardonius. He does as is natural for him to do—a tyrant himself, he helps forward a tyrant’s cause.7 But ye, Athenians, should do differently, at least if ye be truly wise; for ye should know that with barbarians there is neither faith nor truth.”
143. Thus spake the envoys. After which the Athenians returned this answer to Alexander:
“We know, as well as thou dost, that the power of the Mede is many times greater than our own: we did not need to have that cast in our teeth. Nevertheless, we cling so to freedom that we shall offer what resistance we may. Seek not to persuade us into making terms with the barbarian—say what thou wilt, thou wilt never gain our assent. Return rather at once, and tell Mardonius that our answer to him is this: ‘So long as the sun keeps his present course, we will never join alliance with Xerxes. Nay, we shall oppose him unceasingly, trusting in the aid of those gods and heroes whom he has lightly esteemed, whose houses and whose images he has burnt with fire.’ And come not thou again to us with words like these; nor, thinking to do us a service, persuade us to unholy actions. Thou art the guest and friend of our nation—we would not that thou shouldst receive hurt at our hands.”
144. Such was the answer which the Athenians gave to Alexander. To the Spartan envoys they said:
“ ’Twas natural no doubt that the Lacedæmonians should be afraid we might make terms with the Barbarian; but nevertheless ’twas a base fear in men who knew so well of what temper and spirit we are. Not all the gold that the whole earth contains—not the fairest and most fertile of all lands—would bribe us to take part with the Medes and help them to enslave our countrymen. Even could we anyhow have brought ourselves to such a thing, there are many very powerful motives which would now make it impossible. The first and chief of these is the burning and destruction of our temples and the images of our gods, which forces us to make no terms with their destroyer, but rather to pursue him with our resentment to the uttermost. Again, there is our common brotherhood with the Greeks: our common language, the altars and the sacrifices of which we all partake, the common character which we bear—did the Athenians betray all these, of a truth it would not be well. Know then now, if ye have not known it before, that while one Athenian remains alive, we will never join alliance with Xerxes. We thank you, however, for your forethought on our behalf, and for your wish to give our families sustenance, now that ruin has fallen on us—the kindness is complete on your part; but for ourselves, we will endure as we may, and not be burdensome to you. Such then is our resolve. Be it your care with all speed to lead out your troops; for if we surmise aright, the Barbarian will not wait long ere he invade our territory, but will set out so soon as he learns our answer to be, that we will do none of those things which he requires of us. Now then is the time for us, before he enters Attica, to go forth ourselves into Bœotia, and give him battle.”
When the Athenians had thus spoken, the ambassadors from Sparta departed, and returned back to their own country.[Back to Table of Contents]
MARDONIUS, when Alexander upon his return made known to him the answer of the Athenians, forthwith broke up from Thessaly,1 and led his army with all speed against Athens; forcing the several nations through whose land he passed to furnish him with additional troops. The chief men of Thessaly, far from repenting of the part which they had taken in the war hitherto, urged on the Persians to the attack more earnestly than ever. Thorax of Larissa in particular, who had helped to escort Xerxes on his flight to Asia, now openly encouraged Mardonius in his march upon Greece.
2. When the army reached Bœotia, the Thebans sought to induce Mardonius to make a halt: “He would not,” they told him, “find anywhere a more convenient place in which to pitch his camp; and their advice to him was, that he should go no further, but fix himself there, and thence take measures to subdue all Greece without striking a blow. If the Greeks, who had held together hitherto, still continued united among themselves, it would be difficult for the whole world to overcome them by force of arms. But if thou wilt do as we advise,” they went on to say, “thou mayest easily obtain the direction of all their counsels. Send presents to the men of most weight in the several states, and by so doing thou wilt sow division among them. After that, it will be a light task, with the help of such as side with thee, to bring under all thy adversaries.”
3. Such was the advice of the Thebans: but Mardonius did not follow it. A strong desire of taking Athens a second time possessed him, in part arising from his inborn stubbornness, in part from a wish to inform the King at Sardis, by fire-signals along the islands, that he was master of the place. However, he did not on his arrival in Attica find the Athenians in their country—they had again withdrawn, some to their ships, but the greater part to Salamis—and he only gained possession of a deserted town. It was ten months after the taking of the city by the King that Mardonius came against it for the second time.
4. Mardonius, being now in Athens, sent an envoy to Salamis, one Murychides, a Hellespontine Greek, to offer the Athenians once more the same terms which had been conveyed to them by Alexander. The reason for his sending a second time, though he knew beforehand their unfriendly feelings towards him, was,—that he hoped, when they saw the whole land of Attica conquered and in his power, their stubbornness would begin to give way. On this account, therefore, he despatched Murychides to Salamis.
5. Now, when Murychides came before the council, and delivered his message, one of the councillors, named Lycidas, gave it as his opinion—“that the best course would be, to admit the proposals brought by Murychides, and lay them before the assembly of the people.” This he stated to be his opinion, perhaps because he had been bribed by Mardonius, or it may be because that course really appeared to him the most expedient. However, the Athenians—both those in the council, and those who stood without, when they heard of the advice—were full of wrath, and forthwith surrounded Lycidas, and stoned him to death. As for Murychides, the Hellespontine Greek, him they sent away unharmed. Now there was a stir in the island about Lycidas, and the Athenian women learnt what had happened. Then each exhorted her fellow, and one brought another to take part in the deed; and they all flocked of their own accord to the house of Lycidas, and stoned to death his wife and his children.
6. The circumstances under which the Athenians had sought refuge in Salamis were the following. So long as any hope remained that a Peloponnesian army would come to give them aid, they abode still in Attica; but when it appeared that the allies were slack and slow to move, while the invader was reported to be pressing forward, and to have already entered Bœotia, then they proceeded to remove their goods and chattels from the mainland, and themselves again crossed the strait to Salamis. At the same time they sent ambassadors to Lacedæmon, who were to reproach the Lacedæmonians for having allowed the Barbarian to advance into Attica, instead of joining them and going out to meet him in Bœotia. They were likewise to remind the Lacedæmonians of the offers by which the Persian had sought to win Athens over to his side, and to warn them that, if no aid came from Sparta, the Athenians must consult for their own safety.
7. The truth was, the Lacedæmonians were keeping holiday at that time; for it was the feast of the Hyacinthia, and they thought nothing of so much moment as to perform the service of the god. They were also engaged in building their wall across the Isthmus, which was now so far advanced that the battlements had begun to be placed upon it.
When the envoys of the Athenians, accompanied by ambassadors from Megara and Platæa, reached Lacedæmon, they came before the Ephors, and spoke as follows:
“The Athenians have sent us to you to say,—the King of the Medes offers to give us back our country, and wishes to conclude an alliance with us on fair and equal terms, without fraud or deceit. He is willing likewise to bestow on us another country besides our own, and bids us choose any land that we like. But we, because we reverenced Hellenic Jupiter, and thought it a shameful act to betray Greece, instead of consenting to these terms, refused them; notwithstanding that we have been wronged and deserted by the other Greeks, and are fully aware that it is far more for our advantage to make peace with the Persian than to prolong the war with him. Still we shall not, of our own free will, consent to any terms of peace. Thus do we, in all our dealings with the Greeks, avoid what is base and counterfeit; while contrariwise, ye, who but now were so full of fear lest we should make terms with the enemy, having learnt of what temper we are, and assured yourselves that we shall not prove traitors to our country—having brought moreover your wall across the Isthmus to an advanced state—cease altogether to have any care for us. Ye covenanted with us to go out and meet the Persian in Bœotia; but when the time came, ye were false to your word, and looked on while the barbarian host advanced into Attica. At this time therefore the Athenians are angered with you; and justly,—for ye have not done what was right. They bid you, however, make haste to send forth your army, that we may even yet meet Mardonius in Attica. Now that Bœotia is lost to us, the best place for the fight within our country, will be the plain of Thria.”
8. The Ephors, when they had heard this speech, delayed their answer till the morrow; and when the morrow came, till the day following. And thus they acted for ten days, continually putting off the ambassadors from one day to the next. Meanwhile the Peloponnesians generally were labouring with great zeal at the wall, and the work nearly approached completion. I can give no other reason for the conduct of the Lacedæmonians in showing themselves so anxious, at the time when Alexander came, that the Athenians should not join the Medes, and now being quite careless about it, except that at that former time the wall across the Isthmus was not complete, and they worked at it in great fear of the Persians, whereas now the bulwark had been raised, and so they imagined that they had no further need of the Athenians.
9. At last the ambassadors got an answer, and the troops marched forth from Sparta, under the following circumstances. The last audience had been fixed for the ambassadors, when, the very day before it was to be given, a certain Tegean, named Chileüs, a man who had more influence at Sparta than any other foreigner, learning from the Ephors exactly what the Athenians had said, addressed these words to them: “The case stands thus, O ye Ephors! If the Athenians are not our friends, but league themselves with the barbarians, however strong our wall across the Isthmus may be, there will be doors enough, and wide enough open too, by which the Persian may gain entrance to the Peloponnese. Grant their request then, before they make any fresh resolve, which may bring Greece to ruin.”
10. Such was the counsel which Chileüs gave: and the Ephors, taking the advice into consideration, determined forthwith, without speaking a word to the ambassadors from the three cities, to despatch to the Isthmus a body of five thousand Spartans; and accordingly they sent them forth the same night, appointing to each Spartan a retinue of seven Helots, and giving the command of the expedition to Pausanias, the son of Cleombrotus. The chief power belonged of right at this time to Pleistarchus, the son of Leonidas; but as he was still a child, Pausanias, his cousin, was regent in his room. For the father of Pausanias, Cleombrotus, the son of Anaxandridas, no longer lived; he had died a short time after bringing back from the Isthmus the troops who had been employed in building the wall. A prodigy had caused him to bring his army home; for while he was offering sacrifice to know if he should march out against the Persian, the sun was suddenly darkened in mid sky. Pausanias took with him, as joint-leader of the army, Euryanax, the son of Dorieus, a member of his own family.
11. The army accordingly had marched out from Sparta with Pausanias; while the ambassadors, when day came, appeared before the Ephors, knowing nothing of the march of the troops, and purposing themselves to leave Sparta forthwith, and return each man to his own country. They therefore addressed the Ephors in these words: “Lacedæmonians, as you do not stir from home, but keep the Hyacinthian festival, and amuse yourselves, deserting the cause of your confederates, the Athenians, whom your behaviour wrongs, and who have no other allies, will make such terms with the Persians as they shall find possible. Now when terms are once made, it is plain that, having become the King’s allies, we shall march with the barbarians whithersoever they choose to lead. Then at length you will perceive what the consequences will be to yourselves.” When the envoys had spoken, the Ephors declared to them with an oath: “Our troops must be at Orestêum by this time, on their march against the strangers.” (The Spartans say “strangers” for “barbarians.”) At this the ambassadors, quite ignorant of what had happened, questioned them concerning their meaning; and when, by much questioning, they had discovered the truth, they were greatly astonished thereat, and forthwith set off, at their best speed, to overtake the Spartan army. At the same time a body of five thousand Lacedæmonian Periœci,2 all picked men and fully armed, set forth from Sparta, in the company of the ambassadors.
12. So these troops marched in haste towards the Isthmus. Meanwhile the Argives, who had promised Mardonius that they would stop the Spartans from crossing their borders, as soon as they learnt that Pausanias with his army had started from Sparta, took the swiftest courier they could find, and sent him off to Attica. The message which he delivered, on his arrival at Athens, was the following: “Mardonius,” he said, “the Argives have sent me to tell thee that the Lacedæmonian youth are gone forth from their city, and that the Argives are too weak to hinder them. Take good heed therefore to thyself at this time.” After thus speaking, without a word more, he returned home.
13. When Mardonius learnt that the Spartans were on their march, he no longer cared to remain in Attica. Hitherto he had kept quiet, wishing to see what the Athenians would do, and had neither ravaged their territory, nor done it any the least harm; for till now he had cherished the hope that the Athenians would come to terms with him. As however he found that his persuasions were of no avail, and as their whole policy was now clear to him, he determined to withdraw from Attica before Pausanias with his army reached the Isthmus; first, however, he resolved to burn Athens, and to cast down and level with the ground whatever remained standing of the walls, temples, and other buildings. His reason for retreating was, that Attica was not a country where horse could act with advantage; and further, that if he suffered defeat in a battle, no way of escape was opened to him, except through defiles, where a handful of troops might stop all his army. So he determined to withdraw to Thebes, and give the Greeks battle in the neighbourhood of a friendly city, and on ground well suited for cavalry.
14. After he had quitted Attica, and was already upon his march, news reached him that a body of a thousand Lacedæmonians, distinct from the army of Pausanias, and sent on in advance, had arrived in the Megarid. When he heard it, wishing, if possible, to destroy this detachment first, Mardonius considered with himself how he might compass their ruin. With a sudden change of march he made for Megara, while the horse, pushing on in advance, entered and ravaged the Megarid. (Here was the furthest point in Europe towards the setting sun to which this Persian army ever penetrated.)
15. After this, Mardonius received another message, whereby he learnt that the forces of the Greeks were collected together at the Isthmus; which tidings caused him to draw back, and leave Attica by the way of Deceleia. The Bœotarchs had sent for some of the neighbours of the Asopians; and these persons served as guides to the army, and led them first to Sphendalé, and from thence to Tanagra, where Mardonius rested a night; after which, upon the morrow, he bent his course to Scôlus, which brought him into the territory of the Thebans. And now, although the Thebans had espoused the cause of the Medes, yet Mardonius cut down all the trees in these parts; not however from any enmity towards the Thebans, but on account of his own urgent needs; for he wanted a rampart to protect his army from attack, and he likewise desired to have a place of refuge, whither his troops might flee, in case the battle should go contrary to his wishes. His army at this time lay on the Asôpus, and stretched from Erythræ, along by Hysiæ, to the territory of the Platæans. The wall however was not made to extend so far, but formed a square of about ten furlongs each way.
While the barbarians were employed in this work, a certain citizen of Thebes, Attagînus by name, the son of Phrynon, having made great preparations, gave a banquet, and invited Mardonius thereto, together with fifty of the noblest Persians. Now the banquet was held at Thebes; and all the guests who were invited came to it.
16. What follows was recounted to me by Thersander, a native of Orchomenus, a man of the first rank in that city. Thersander told me, that he was himself among those invited to the feast, and that besides the Persians fifty Thebans were asked; and the two nations were not arranged separately, but a Persian and a Theban were set side by side upon each couch. After the feast was ended, and the drinking had begun, the Persian who shared Thersander’s couch addressed him in the Greek tongue, and inquired of him, from what city he came. He answered, that he was of Orchomenus; whereupon the other said:
“Since thou hast eaten with me at one table, and poured libation from one cup, I would fain leave with thee a memorial of the belief I hold—the rather that thou mayest have timely warning thyself, and so be able to provide for thy own safety. Seest thou these Persians here feasting, and the army which we left encamped yonder by the river-side? Yet a little while, and of all this number thou wilt behold but a few surviving!”
As he spake, the Persian let fall a flood of tears; whereon Thersander, who was astonished at his words, replied: “Surely thou shouldest say all this to Mardonius, and the Persians who are next him in honour”—but the other rejoined—“Dear friend, it is not possible for man to avert that which God has decreed shall happen. No one believes warnings, however true. Many of us Persians know our danger, but we are constrained by necessity to do as our leader bids us. Verily ’tis the sorest of all human ills, to abound in knowledge and yet have no power over action.” All this I heard myself from Thersander the Orchomenian; who told me further, that he mentioned what had happened to divers persons, before the battle was fought at Platæa.
17. When Mardonius formerly held his camp in Bœotia, all the Greeks of those parts who were friendly to the Medes sent troops to join his army, and these troops accompanied him in his attack upon Athens. The Phocians alone abstained, and took no part in the invasion; for, though they had espoused the Median cause warmly, it was very much against their will, and only because they were compelled so to do. However, a few days after the arrival of the Persian army at Thebes, a thousand of their heavy-armed soldiers came up, under the command of Harmocydes, one of their most distinguished citizens. No sooner had these troops reached Thebes, than some horsemen came to them from Mardonius, with orders that they should take up a position upon the plain, away from the rest of the army. The Phocians did so, and forthwith the entire Persian cavalry drew nigh to them: whereupon there went a rumour through the whole of the Greek force encamped with the Medes, that Mardonius was about to destroy the Phocians with missiles. The same conviction ran through the Phocian troops themselves; and Harmocydes, their leader, addressed them thus with words of encouragement: “Phocians,” said he, “ ’tis plain that these men have resolved beforehand to take our lives, because of the accusations of the Thessalians, as I imagine. Now, then, is the time for you all to show yourselves brave men. ’Tis better to die fighting and defending our lives, than tamely to allow them to slay us in this shameful fashion. Let them learn that they are barbarians, and that the men whose death they have plotted are Greeks!”
18. Thus spake Harmocydes; and the Persian horse, having encircled the Phocians, charged towards them, as if about to deal out death, with bows bent, and arrows ready to be let fly; nay, here and there some did even discharge their weapons. But the Phocians stood firm, keeping close one to another, and serrying their ranks as much as possible: whereupon the horse suddenly wheeled round, and rode off. I cannot say with certainty whether they came, at the prayer of the Thessalians, to destroy the Phocians, but seeing them prepared to stand on their defence, and fearing to suffer damage at their hands, on that account beat a retreat, having orders from Mardonius so to act; or whether his sole intent was to try the temper of the Phocians, and see whether they had any courage or no. However this may have been, when the horsemen retired, Mardonius sent a herald to the Phocians, saying: “Fear not, Phocians—ye have shown yourselves valiant men—much unlike the report I had heard of you. Now therefore be forward in the coming war. Ye will not readily outdo either the King or myself in services.” Thus ended the affair of the Phocians.
19. The Lacedæmonians, when they reached the Isthmus, pitched their camp there; and the other Peloponnesians who had embraced the good side, hearing or else seeing that they were upon the march, thought it not right to remain behind when the Spartans were going forth to war. So the Peloponnesians went out in one body from the Isthmus, the victims being favourable for setting forth; and marched as far as Eleusis, where again they offered sacrifices, and, finding the omens still encouraging, advanced further. At Eleusis they were joined by the Athenians, who had come across from Salamis, and now accompanied the main army. On reaching Erythræ in Bœotia, they learnt that the barbarians were encamped upon the Asôpus; wherefore they themselves, after considering how they should act, disposed their forces opposite to the enemy upon the slopes of Mount Cithæron.
20. Mardonius, when he saw that the Greeks would not come down into the plain, sent all his cavalry, under Masistius (or Macistius, as the Greeks call him), to attack them where they were. Now Masistius was a man of much repute among the Persians, and rode a Nisæan charger with a golden bit, and otherwise magnificently caparisoned. So the horse advanced against the Greeks, and made attacks upon them in divisions, doing them great damage at each charge, and insulting them by calling them women.
21. It chanced that the Megarians were drawn up in the position most open to attack, and where the ground offered the best approach to the cavalry. Finding themselves therefore hard pressed by the assaults upon their ranks, they sent a herald to the Greek leaders, who came and said to them, “This is the message of the Megarians—We cannot, brothers-in-arms, continue to resist the Persian horse in that post which we have occupied from the first, if we are left without succours. Hitherto, although hard pressed, we have held out against them firmly and courageously. Now, however, if you do not send others to take our place, we warn you that we shall quit our post.” Such were the words of the herald. Pausanias, when he heard them, inquired among his troops if there were any who would volunteer to take the post, and so relieve the Megarians. Of the rest none were willing to go, whereupon the Athenians offered themselves; and a body of picked men, three hundred in number, commanded by Olympiodôrus, the son of Lampo, undertook the service.
22. Selecting, to accompany them, the whole body of archers, these men relieved the Megarians, and occupied a post which all the other Greeks collected at Erythræ had shrunk from holding. After the struggle had continued for a while, it came to an end on this wise. As the barbarians continued charging in divisions, the horse of Masistius, which was in front of the others, received an arrow in his flank, the pain of which caused him to rear and throw his rider. Immediately the Athenians rushed upon Masistius as he lay, caught his horse, and when he himself made resistance, slew him. At first, however, they were not able to take his life; for his armour hindered them. He had on a breastplate formed of golden scales, with a scarlet tunic covering it. Thus the blows, all falling upon his breastplate, took no effect, till one of the soldiers, perceiving the reason, drove his weapon into his eye, and so slew him. All this took place without any of the other horsemen seeing it: they had neither observed their leader fall from his horse, nor beheld him slain; for he fell as they wheeled round and prepared for another charge, so that they were quite ignorant of what had happened. When, however, they halted, and found that there was no one to marshal their line, Masistius was missed; and instantly his soldiers, understanding what must have befallen him, with loud cheers charged the enemy in one mass, hoping to recover the dead body.
23. So when the Athenians saw that, instead of coming up in squadrons, the whole mass of the horse was about to charge them at once, they called out to the other troops to make haste to their aid. While the rest of the infantry, however, was moving to their assistance, the contest waxed fierce about the dead body of Masistius. The three hundred, so long as they fought by themselves, had greatly the worst of the encounter, and were forced to retire and yield up the body to the enemy; but when the other troops approached, the Persian horse could no longer hold their ground, but fled without carrying off the body, having incurred in the attempt a further loss of several of their number. They therefore retired about two furlongs, and consulted with each other what was best to be done. Being without a leader, it seemed to them the fittest course to return to Mardonius.
24. When the horse reached the camp, Mardonius and all the Persian army made great lamentation for Masistius. They shaved off all the hair from their own heads, and cut the manes from their war-horses and their sumpter-beasts, while they vented their grief in such loud cries that all Bœotia resounded with the clamour,3 because they had lost the man who, next to Mardonius, was held in the greatest esteem, both by the King and by the Persians generally. So the Barbarians, after their own fashion, paid honours to the dead Masistius.
25. The Greeks, on the other hand, were greatly emboldened by what had happened, seeing that they had not only stood their ground against the attacks of the horse, but had even compelled them to beat a retreat. They therefore placed the dead body of Masistius upon a cart, and paraded it along the ranks of the army. Now the body was a sight which well deserved to be gazed upon, being remarkable both for stature and for beauty; and it was to stop the soldiers from leaving their ranks to look at it, that they resolved to carry it round. After this the Greeks determined to quit the high ground and go nearer Platæa, as the land there seemed far more suitable for an encampment than the country about Erythræ, particularly because it was better supplied with water. To this place therefore, and more especially to a spring-head which was called Gargaphia, they considered that it would be best for them to remove, after which they might once more encamp in their order. So they took their arms, and proceeded along the slopes of Cithæron, past Hysiæ, to the territory of the Platæans; and here they drew themselves up, nation by nation, close by the fountain Gargaphia, and the sacred precinct of the Hero Androcrates, partly along some hillocks of no great height, and partly upon the level of the plain.
26. Here, in the marshalling of the nations, a fierce battle of words arose between the Athenians and the Tegeans, both of whom claimed to have one of the wings assigned to them. On each side were brought forward the deeds which they had done, whether in earlier or in later times; and first the Tegeans urged their claim as follows:
“This post has been always considered our right, and not the right of any of the other allies, in all the expeditions which have been entered into conjointly by the Peloponnesians, both anciently and in later times. Ever since the Heraclidæ made their attempt, after the death of Eurystheus, to return by force of arms into the Peloponnese, this custom has been observed. It was then that the right became ours, and this was the way in which we gained it: When, in company with the Achæans and Ionians who then dwelt in the Peloponnese, we marched out to the Isthmus, and pitched our camp over against the invaders, then the tale goes that Hyllus made proclamation, saying: ‘It needs not to imperil two armies in a general battle; rather let one be chosen from the Peloponnesian ranks, whomsoever they deem the bravest, and let him engage with me in single combat, on such terms as shall be agreed upon.’ The saying pleased the Peloponnesians, and oaths were sworn to the effect following: ‘If Hyllus conquer the Peloponnesian champion, the Heraclidæ shall return to their inheritance; if, on the other hand, he be conquered, the Heraclidæ shall withdraw, lead back their army, and engage for the next hundred years to make no further endeavours to force their return.’ Hereupon Echemus, the son of Aëropus and grandson of Phêgeus, who was our leader and king, offered himself, and was preferred before all his brothers-in-arms as champion, engaged in single combat with Hyllus, and slew him upon the spot. For this exploit we were rewarded by the Peloponnesians of that day with many goodly privileges, which we have ever since enjoyed; and, among the rest, we obtained the right of holding the leading post in one wing, whenever a joint expedition goes forth beyond our borders. With you then, O Lacedæmonians, we do not claim to compete; choose you which wing ye please; we yield and grant you the preference: but we maintain that the command of the other wing belongs of right to us, now no less than formerly. Moreover, set aside this exploit which we have related, and still our title to the chief post is better than that of the Athenians: witness the many glorious fights in which we have been engaged against yourselves, O Spartans! as well as those which we have maintained with others. We have therefore more right to this place than they; for they have performed no exploits to be compared to ours, whether we look to earlier or to later times.”
27. Thus spake the Tegeans; and the Athenians made reply as follows: “We are not ignorant that our forces were gathered here, not for the purpose of speech-making, but for battle against the Barbarian. Yet as the Tegeans have been pleased to bring into debate the exploits performed by our two nations, alike in earlier and in later times, we have no choice but to set before you the grounds on which we claim it as our heritage, deserved by our unchanging bravery, to be preferred above Arcadians. In the first place, then, those very Heraclidæ, whose leader they boast to have slain at the Isthmus, and whom the other Greeks would not receive when they asked a refuge from the bondage wherewith they were threatened by the people of Mycênæ, were given a shelter by us; and we brought down the insolence of Eurystheus, and helped to gain the victory over those who were at that time lords of the Peloponnese. Again, when the Argives led their troops with Polynices against Thebes, and were slain and refused burial, it is our boast that we went out against the Cadmeians, recovered the bodies, and buried them at Eleusis, in our own territory. Another noble deed of ours was that against the Amazons, when they came from their seats upon the Thermôdon, and poured their hosts into Attica; and in the Trojan war too, we were not a whit behind any of the Greeks. But what boots it to speak of these ancient matters? A nation which was brave in those days might have grown cowardly since, and a nation of cowards then might now be valiant. Enough therefore of our ancient achievements. Had we performed no other exploit than that at Marathon—though in truth we have performed exploits as many and as noble as any of the Greeks—yet had we performed no other, we should deserve this privilege, and many a one beside. There we stood alone, and singly fought with the Persians; nay, and venturing on so dangerous a cast, we overcame the enemy, and conquered on that day forty and six nations! Does not this one achievement suffice to make good our title to the post we claim? Nevertheless, Lacedæmonians, as to strive concerning place at such a time as this is not right, we are ready to do as ye command, and to take our station at whatever part of the line, and face whatever nation, ye think most expedient. Wheresoever ye place us, ’twill be our endeavour to behave as brave men. Only declare your will, and we shall at once obey you.”
28. Such was the reply of the Athenians; and forthwith all the Lacedæmonian troops cried out with one voice, that the Athenians were worthier to have the left wing than the Arcadians. In this way were the Tegeans overcome; and the post was assigned to the Athenians.
When this matter had been arranged, the Greek army, which was in part composed of those who came at the first, in part of such as had flocked in from day to day, drew up in the following order: Ten thousand Lacedæmonian troops held the right wing, five thousand of whom were Spartans; and these five thousand were attended by a body of thirty-five thousand Helots, who were only lightly armed—seven Helots to each Spartan. The place next to themselves the Spartans gave to the Tegeans, on account of their courage and of the esteem in which they held them. They were all fully armed, and numbered fifteen hundred men. Next in order came the Corinthians, five thousand strong; and with them Pausanias had placed, at their request, the band of three hundred which had come from Potidæa in Pallêné. The Arcadians of Orchomenus, in number six hundred, came next; then the Sicyonians, three thousand; then the Epidaurians, eight hundred; then the Trœzenians, one thousand; then the Lepreats, two hundred; the Mycenæans and Tirynthians, four hundred; the Phliasians, one thousand; the Hermionians, three hundred; the Eretrians and Styreans, six hundred; the Chalcideans, four hundred; and the Ambraciots, five hundred. After these came the Leucadians and Anactorians, who numbered eight hundred; the Paleans of Cephallênia, two hundred; the Eginetans, five hundred; the Megarians, three thousand; and the Platæans, six hundred. Last of all, but first at their extremity of the line, were the Athenians, who, to the number of eight thousand, occupied the left wing, under the command of Aristides, the son of Lysimachus.
29. All these, except the Helots—seven of whom, as I said, attended each Spartan—were heavy-armed troops; and they amounted to thirty-eight thousand seven hundred men. This was the number of Hoplites, or heavy-armed soldiers, which was brought together against the Barbarian. The light-armed troops consisted of the thirty-five thousand ranged with the Spartans, seven in attendance upon each, who were all well equipped for war; and of thirty-four thousand five hundred others, belonging to the Lacedæmonians and the rest of the Greeks, at the rate (nearly) of one light to one heavy-armed. Thus the entire number of the light-armed was sixty-nine thousand five hundred.
30. The Greek army, therefore, which mustered at Platæa, counting light-armed as well as heavy-armed, was but eighteen hundred men short of one hundred and ten thousand; and this amount was exactly made up by the Thespians who were present in the camp; for eighteen hundred Thespians, being the whole number left, were likewise with the army; but these men were without arms. Such was the array of the Greek troops when they took post on the Asôpus.
31. The barbarians under Mardonius, when the mourning for Masistius was at an end, and they learnt that the Greeks were in the Platæan territory, moved likewise towards the river Asôpus, which flows in those parts. On their arrival Mardonius marshalled them against the Greeks in the following order: Against the Lacedæmonians he posted his Persians; and as the Persians were far more numerous, he drew them up with their ranks deeper than common, and also extended their front so that part faced the Tegeans; and here he took care to choose out the best troops to face the Lacdæmonians, whilst against the Tegeans he arrayed those on whom he could not so much depend. This was done at the suggestion and by the advice of the Thebans. Next to the Persians he placed the Medes, facing the Corinthians, Potidæans, Orchomenians, and Sicyonians; then the Bactrians, facing the Epidaurians, Trœzenians, Lepreats, Tirynthians, Mycenæans, and Phliasians; after them the Indians, facing the Hermionians, Eretrians, Styreans, and Chalcideans; then the Sacans, facing the Ambraciots, Anactorians, Leucadians, Paleans, and Eginetans; last of all, facing the Athenians, the Platæans, and the Megarians, he placed the troops of the Bœotians, Locrians, Malians, and Thessalians, and also the thousand Phocians. The whole nation of the Phocians had not joined the Medes; on the contrary, there were some who had gathered themselves into bands about Parnassus, and made expeditions from thence, whereby they distressed Mardonius and the Greeks who sided with him, and so did good service to the Grecian cause. Besides those mentioned above, Mardonius likewise arrayed against the Athenians the Macedonians and the tribes dwelling about Thessaly.
32. I have named here the greatest of the nations which were marshalled by Mardonius on this occasion, to wit, all those of most renown and account. Mixed with these, however, were men of divers other peoples, as Phrygians, Thracians, Mysians, Pæonians, and the like; Ethiopians, again, and Egyptians, both of the Hermotybian and Calasirian races, whose weapon is the sword, and who are the only fighting men in that country. These persons had formerly served on board the fleet of Xerxes, but Mardonius disembarked them before he left Phalêrum; in the land force which Xerxes brought to Athens there were no Egyptians. The number of the barbarians, as I have already mentioned, was three hundred thousand; that of the Greeks who had made alliance with Mardonius is known to none; for they were never counted: I should guess that they mustered near fifty thousand strong. The troops thus marshalled were all foot soldiers. As for the horse, it was drawn up by itself.
33. When the marshalling of Mardonius’ troops by nations and by maniples was ended, the two armies proceeded on the next day to offer sacrifice. The Grecian sacrifice was offered by Tisamenus, the son of Antiochus, who accompanied the army as soothsayer: he was an Elean, and belonged to the Clytiad branch of the Iamidæ, but had been admitted among their own citizens by the Lacedæmonians. Now his admission among them was on this wise: Tisamenus had gone to Delphi to consult the god concerning his lack of offspring, when it was declared to him by the Pythoness that he would win five very glorious combats. Misunderstanding the oracle, and imagining that he was to win combats in the games, Tisamenus at once applied himself to the practice of gymnastics. He trained himself for the Pentathlum, and, on contending at Olympia, came within a little of winning it; for he was successful in everything except the wrestling-match, which was carried off by Hieronymus the Andrian. Hereon the Lacedæmonians perceived that the combats of which the oracle spoke were not combats in the games, but battle: they therefore sought to induce Tisamenus to hire out his services to them, in order that they might join him with their Heracleid kings in the conduct of their wars. He, however, when he saw that they set great store by his friendship, forthwith raised his price, and told them, “if they would receive him among their citizens, and give him equal rights with the rest, he was willing to do as they desired, but on no other terms would they ever gain his consent.” The Spartans, when they heard this, at first thought it monstrous, and ceased to implore his aid. Afterwards, however, when the fearful danger of the Persian war hung over their heads, they sent for him and agreed to his terms; but Tisamenus now, perceiving them so changed, declared, “He could no longer be content with what he had asked before: they must likewise make his brother Hagias, a Spartan, with the same rights as himself.”
34. In acting thus he did but follow the example once set by Melampus, at least if kingship may be compared with citizenship. For when the women of Argos were seized with madness, and the Argives would have hired Melampus to come from Pylos and heal them of their disease, he demanded as his reward one-half of the kingdom; but as the Argives disdained to stoop to this, they left him and went their way. Afterwards, however, when many more of their women were seized, they brought themselves to agree to his terms; and accordingly they went again to him, and said they were content to give what he required. Hereon Melampus, seeing them so changed, raised his demand, and told them, “Except they would give his brother Bias one-third of the kingdom likewise, he would not do as they wished.” So, as the Argives were in a strait, they consented even to this.
35. In like manner the Spartans, as they were in great need of Tisamenus, yielded everything: and Tisamenus the Elean, having in this way become a Spartan citizen, afterwards, in the capacity of soothsayer, helped the Spartans to gain five very glorious combats. He and his brother were the only men whom the Spartans ever admitted to citizenship. The five combats were these following: The first was the combat at Platæa; the second, that near Tegea, against the Tegeans and the Argives; the third, that at Dipæeis, against all the Arcadians, excepting those of Mantinea; the fourth, that at the Isthmus, against the Messenians; and the fifth, that at Tanagra, against the Athenians and the Argives. The battle here fought was the last of all the five.
36. The Spartans had now brought Tisamenus with them to the Platæan territory, where he acted as soothsayer for the Greeks. He found the victims favourable, if the Greeks stood on the defensive, but not if they began the battle or crossed the river Asôpus.
37. With Mardonius also, who was very eager to begin the battle, the victims were not favourable for so doing; but he likewise found them bode him well if he was content to stand on his defence. He too had made use of the Grecian rites; for Hêgêsistratus, an Elean, and the most renowned of the Telliads, was his soothsayer. This man had once been taken captive by the Spartans, who, considering that he had done them many grievous injuries, laid him in bonds, with the intent to put him to death. Thereupon Hêgêsistratus, finding himself in so sore a case, since not only was his life in danger, but he knew that he would have to suffer torments of many kinds before his death,—Hêgêsistratus, I say, did a deed for which no words suffice. He had been set with one foot in the stocks, which were of wood but bound with iron bands; and in this condition received from without an iron implement, wherewith he contrived to accomplish the most courageous deed upon record. Calculating how much of his foot he would be able to draw through the hole, he cut off the front portion with his own hand; and then, as he was guarded by watchmen, forced a way through the wall of his prison, and made his escape to Tegea, travelling during the night, but in the daytime stealing into the woods, and staying there. In this way, though the Lacedæmonians went out in full force to search for him, he nevertheless escaped, and arrived the third evening at Tegea. So the Spartans were amazed at the man’s endurance, when they saw on the ground the piece which he had cut off his foot, and yet for all their seeking could not find him anywhere. Hêgêsistratus, having thus escaped the Lacedæmonians, took refuge in Tegea; for the Tegeans at that time were ill friends with the Lacedæmonians. When his wound was healed, he procured himself a wooden foot, and became an open enemy to Sparta. At last, however, this enmity brought him to trouble; for the Spartans took him captive as he was exercising his office in Zacynthus, and forthwith put him to death. But these things happened some while after the fight at Platæa. At present he was serving Mardonius on the Asôpus, having been hired at no inconsiderable price; and here he offered sacrifice with a right good will, in part from his hatred of the Lacedæmonians, in part for lucre’s sake.
38. So when the victims did not allow either the Persians or their Greek allies to begin the battle—these Greeks had their own soothsayer in the person of Hippomachus, a Leucadian—and when soldiers continued to pour into the opposite camp, and the numbers on the Greek side to increase continually, Timagenidas, the son of Herpys, a Theban, advised Mardonius to keep a watch on the passes of Cithæron, telling him how supplies of men kept flocking in day after day, and assuring him that he might cut off large numbers.
39. It was eight days after the two armies first encamped opposite to one another when this advice was given by Timagenidas. Mardonius, seeing it to be good, as soon as evening came, sent his cavalry to that pass of Mount Cithæron which opens out upon Platæa, a pass called by the Bœotians the “Three Heads,” but called the “Oak-Heads” by the Athenians. The horse sent on this errand did not make the movement in vain. They came upon a body of five hundred sumpter-beasts which were just entering the plain, bringing provisions to the Greek camp from the Peloponnese, with a number of men driving them. Seeing this prey in their power, the Persians set upon them and slaughtered them, sparing none, neither man nor beast; till at last, when they had had enough of slaying, they secured such as were left, and bore them off to the camp to Mardonius.
40. After this they waited again for two days more, neither army wishing to begin the fight. The barbarians indeed advanced as far as the Asôpus, and endeavoured to tempt the Greeks to cross; but neither side actually passed the stream. Still the cavalry of Mardonius harassed and annoyed the Greeks incessantly; for the Thebans, who were zealous in the cause of the Medes, pressed the war forward with all eagerness, and often led the charge till the lines met, when the Medes and Persians took their place, and displayed, many of them, uncommon valour.
41. For ten days nothing was done more than this; but on the eleventh day from the time when the two hosts first took station, one over against the other, near Platæa—the number of the Greeks being now much greater than it was at the first, and Mardonius being impatient of the delay—there was a conference held between Mardonius, son of Gobryas, and Artabazus, son of Pharnaces, a man who was esteemed by Xerxes more than almost any of the Persians. At this consultation the following were the opinions delivered: Artabazus thought it would be best for them to break up from their quarters as soon as possible, and withdraw the whole army to the fortified town of Thebes, where they had abundant stores of corn for themselves and of fodder for the sumpter-beasts. There, he said, they had only to sit quiet, and the war might be brought to an end on this wise: Coined gold was plentiful in the camp, and uncoined gold too; they had silver moreover in great abundance, and drinking-cups. Let them not spare to take of these, and distribute them among the Greeks, especially among the leaders in the several cities; ’twould not be long before the Greeks gave up their liberty, without risking another battle for it. Thus the opinion of Artabazus agreed with that of the Thebans; for he too had more foresight than some. Mardonius, on the other hand, expressed himself with more fierceness and obstinacy, and was utterly disinclined to yield. “Their army,” he said, “was vastly superior to that of the Greeks; and they had best engage at once, and not wait till greater numbers were gathered against them. As for Hêgêsistratus and his victims, they should let them pass unheeded, not seeking to force them to be favourable, but, according to the old Persian custom, hasting to join battle.”
42. When Mardonius had thus declared his sentiments, no one ventured to say him nay; and accordingly his opinion prevailed, for it was to him, and not to Artabazus, that the King had given the command of the army.
Mardonius now sent for the captains of the squadrons, and the leaders of the Greeks in his service, and questioned them: “Did they know of any prophecy which said that the Persians were to be destroyed in Greece?” All were silent; some because they did not know the prophecies, but others, who knew them full well, because they did not think it safe to speak out. So Mardonius, when none answered, said, “Since ye know of no such oracle, or do not dare to speak of it, I, who know it well, will myself declare it to you. There is an oracle which says that the Persians shall come into Greece, sack the temple at Delphi, and when they have so done, perish one and all. Now we, as we are aware of the prediction, will neither go against the temple nor make any attempt to sack it: we therefore shall not perish for this trespass. Rejoice then thus far, all ye who are well-wishers to the Persians, and doubt not we shall get the better of the Greeks.” When he had so spoken, he further ordered them to prepare themselves, and to put all in readiness for a battle upon the morrow.
43. As for the oracle of which Mardonius spoke, and which he referred to the Persians, it did not, I am well assured, mean them, but the Illyrians and the Enchelean host. There are, however, some verses of Bacis which did speak of this battle:
These verses and some others like them which Musæus wrote, referred, I well know, to the Persians. The river Thermôdon flows between Tanagra and Glisas.
44. After Mardonius had put his question about the prophecies, and spoken the above words of encouragement, night drew on apace, and on both sides the watches were set. As soon then as there was silence throughout the camp,—the night being now well advanced, and the men seeming to be in their deepest sleep,—Alexander, the son of Amyntas, king and leader of the Macedonians, rode up on horseback to the Athenian outposts, and desired to speak with the generals. Hereupon, while the greater part continued on guard, some of the watch ran to the chiefs and told them, “There had come a horseman from the Median camp, who would not say a word, except that he wished to speak with the generals, of whom he mentioned the names.”
45. They at once, hearing this, made haste to the outpost, where they found Alexander, who addressed them as follows:
“Men of Athens, that which I am about to say I trust to your honour; and I charge you to keep it secret from all excepting Pausanias, if you would not bring me to destruction. Had I not greatly at heart the common welfare of Greece, I should not have come to tell you: but I am myself a Greek by descent, and I would not willingly see Greece exchange freedom for slavery. Know then that Mardonius and his army cannot obtain favourable omens; had it not been for this, they would have fought with you long ago. Now, however, they have determined to let the victims pass unheeded, and, as soon as day dawns, to engage in battle. Mardonius, I imagine, is afraid that, if he delays, you will increase in number. Make ready then to receive him. Should he however still defer the combat, do you abide where you are: for his provisions will not hold out many more days.4 If ye prosper in this war, forget not to do something for my freedom; consider the risk I have run, out of zeal for the Greek cause, to acquaint you with what Mardonius intends, and to save you from being surprised by the barbarians. I am Alexander of Macedon.”
As soon as he had said this, Alexander rode back to the camp, and returned to the station assigned him.
46. Meanwhile the Athenian generals hastened to the right wing, and told Pausanias all that they had learnt from Alexander, Hereupon Pausanias, who no sooner heard the intention of the Persians than he was struck with fear, addressed the generals, and said:
“Since the battle is to come with to-morrow’s dawn, it were well that you Athenians should stand opposed to the Persians, and we Spartans to the Bœotians and the other Greeks; for ye know the Medes and their manner of fight, since ye have already fought with them once at Marathon, but we are quite ignorant and without any experience of their welfare. While, however, there is not a Spartan here present who has ever fought against a Mede, of the Bœotians and Thessalians we have had experience. Take then your arms, and march over to our post upon the right, while we supply your place in the left wing.”
Hereto the Athenians replied: “We, too, long ago, when we saw that the Persians were drawn up to face you, were minded to suggest to you the very course which you have now been the first to bring forward. We feared, however, that perhaps our words might not be pleasing to you. But, as you have now spoken of these things yourselves, we gladly give our consent, and are ready to do as ye have said.”
47. Both sides agreeing hereto, at the dawn of day the Spartans and Athenians changed places. But the movement was perceived by the Bœotians, and they gave notice of it to Mardonius; who at once, on hearing what had been done, made a change in the disposition of his own forces, and brought the Persians to face the Lacedæmonians. Then Pausanias, finding that his design was discovered, led back his Spartans to the right wing; and Mardonius, seeing this, replaced his Persians upon the left of his army.
48. When the troops again occupied their former posts, Mardonius sent a herald to the Spartans, who spoke as follows:
“Lacedæmonians, in these parts the men say that you are the bravest of mankind, and admire you because you never turn your backs in flight nor quit your ranks, but always stand firm, and either die at your posts or else destroy your adversaries. But in all this which they say concerning you there is not one word of truth; for now have we seen you, before battle was joined or our two hosts had come to blows, flying and leaving your posts, wishing the Athenians to make the first trial of our arms, and taking your own station against our slaves. Surely these are not the deeds of brave men. Much do we find ourselves deceived in you; for we believed the reports of you that reached our ears, and expected that you would send a herald with a challenge to us, proposing to fight by yourselves against our division of native Persians. We for our part were ready to have agreed to this; but ye have made us no such offer—nay! ye seem rather to shrink from meeting us. However, as no challenge of this kind comes from you to us, lo! we send a challenge to you. Why should not you on the part of the Greeks, as you are thought to be the bravest of all, and we on the part of the barbarians, fight a battle with equal numbers on both sides? Then, if it seems good to the others to fight likewise, let them engage afterwards—but if not,—if they are content that we should fight on behalf of all, let us so do—and whichever side wins the battle, let them win it for their whole army.”
49. When the herald had thus spoken, he waited a while, but, as no one made him any answer, he went back, and told Mardonius what had happened. Mardonius was full of joy thereat, and so puffed up by the empty victory, that he at once gave orders to his horse to charge the Greek line. Then the horsemen drew near, and with their javelins and their arrows—for though horsemen they used the bow—sorely distressed the Greek troops, which could not bring them to close combat. The fountain of Gargaphia, whence the whole Greek army drew its water, they at this time choked up and spoiled. The Lacedæmonians were the only troops who had their station near this fountain; the other Greeks were more or less distant from it, according to their place in the line; they however were not far from the Asôpus. Still, as the Persian horse with their missile weapons did not allow them to approach, and so they could not get their water from the river, these Greeks, no less than the Lacedæmonians, resorted at this time to the fountain.
50. When the fountain was choked, the Grecian captains, seeing that the army had no longer a watering-place, and observing moreover that the cavalry greatly harassed them, held a meeting on these and other matters at the head-quarters of Pausanias upon the right. For besides the above-named difficulties, which were great enough, other circumstances added to their distress. All the provisions that they had brought with them were gone; and the attendants who had been sent to fetch supplies from the Peloponnese, were prevented from returning to camp by the Persian horse, which had now closed the passage.
51. The captains therefore held a council, whereat it was agreed, that if the Persians did not give battle that day, the Greeks should move to the Island—a tract of ground which lies in front of Platæa, at the distance of ten furlongs from the Asôpus and fount Gargaphia, where the army was encamped at that time. This tract was a sort of island in the continent: for there is a river which, dividing near its source, runs down from Mount Cithæron into the plain below in two streams, flowing in channels about three furlongs apart, which after a while unite and become one. The name of this river is Oëroë, and the dwellers in those parts call it the daughter of the Asôpus. This was the place to which the Greeks resolved to remove; and they chose it, first because they would there have no lack of water, and secondly, because the horse could not harass them as when it was drawn up right in their front. They thought it best to begin their march at the second watch of the night, lest the Persians should see them as they left their station, and should follow and harass them with their cavalry. It was agreed likewise, that after they had reached the place, which the Asôpus-born Oëroë surrounds, as it flows down from Cithæron, they should despatch, the very same night, one-half of their army towards that mountain-range, to relieve those whom they had sent to procure provisions, and who were now blocked up in that region.
52. Having made these resolves, they continued during that whole day to suffer beyond measure from the attacks of the enemy’s horse. At length, when towards dusk the attacks of the horse ceased, and, night having closed in, the hour arrived at which the army was to commence its retreat, the greater number struck their tents and began the march towards the rear. They were not minded, however, to make for the place agreed upon; but in their anxiety to escape from the Persian horse, no sooner had they begun to move than they fled straight to Platæa, where they took post at the temple of Juno, which lies outside the city, at the distance of about twenty furlongs from Gargaphia; and here they pitched their camp in front of the sacred building.
53. As soon as Pausanias saw a portion of the troops in motion, he issued orders to the Lacedæmonians to strike their tents and follow those who had been the first to depart, supposing that they were on their march to the place agreed upon. All the captains but one were ready to obey his orders: Amompharetus, however, the son of Poliadas, who was leader of the Pitanate cohort, refused to move, saying, “He for one would not fly from the strangers, or of his own will bring disgrace upon Sparta.” It had happened that he was absent from the former conference of the captains; and so what was now taking place astonished him. Pausanias and Euryanax thought it a monstrous thing that Amompharetus would not hearken to them; but considered that it would be yet more monstrous, if, when he was so minded, they were to leave the Pitanates to their fate; seeing that, if they forsook them to keep their agreement with the other Greeks, Amompharetus and those with him might perish. On this account, therefore, they kept the Lacedæmonian force in its place, and made every endeavour to persuade Amompharetus that he was wrong to act as he was doing.
54. While the Spartans were engaged in these efforts to turn Amompharetus—the only man unwilling to retreat either in their own army or in that of the Tegeans—the Athenians on their side did as follows. Knowing that it was the Spartan temper to say one thing and do another, they remained quiet in their station until the army began to retreat, when they despatched a horseman to see whether the Spartans really meant to set forth, or whether after all they had no intention of moving. The horseman was also to ask Pausanias, what he wished the Athenians to do.
55. The herald on his arrival found the Lacedæmonians drawn up in their old position, and their leaders quarrelling with one another. Pausanias and Euryanax had gone on urging Amompharetus not to endanger the lives of his men by staying behind while the others drew off, but without succeeding in persuading him; until at last the dispute had waxed hot between them just at the moment when the Athenian herald arrived. At this point Amompharetus, who was still disputing, took up with both his hands a vast rock, and placed it at the feet of Pausanias, saying: “With this pebble I give my vote not to run away from the strangers.” (By “strangers” he meant barbarians.) Pausanias, in reply, called him a fool and a madman, and turning to the Athenian herald, who had made the inquiries with which he was charged, bade him tell his countrymen how he was occupied, and ask them to approach nearer, and retreat or not according to the movements of the Spartans.
56. So the herald went back to the Athenians; and the Spartans continued to dispute till morning began to dawn upon them. Then Pausanias, who as yet had not moved, gave the signal for retreat—expecting (and rightly, as the event proved) that Amompharetus, when he saw the rest of the Lacedæmonians in motion, would be unwilling to be left behind. No sooner was the signal given, than all the army except the Pitanates began their march, and retreated along the line of the hills; the Tegeans accompanying them. The Athenians likewise set off in good order, but proceeded by a different way from the Lacedæmonians. For while the latter clung to the hilly ground and the skirts of Mount Cithæron, on account of the fear which they entertained of the enemy’s horse, the former betook themselves to the low country and marched through the plain.
57. As for Amompharetus, at first he did not believe that Pausanias would really dare to leave him behind; he therefore remained firm in his resolve to keep his men at their post; when, however, Pausanias and his troops were now some way off, Amompharetus, thinking himself forsaken in good earnest, ordered his band to take their arms, and led them at a walk towards the main army. Now the army was waiting for them at a distance of about ten furlongs, having halted upon the river Moloeis at a place called Argiopius, where stands a temple dedicated to Eleusinian Ceres. They had stopped here, that, in case Amompharetus and his band should refuse to quit the spot where they were drawn up, and should really not stir from it, they might have it in their power to move back and lend them assistance. Amompharetus, however, and his companions rejoined the main body; and at the same time the whole mass of the barbarian cavalry arrived and began to press hard upon them. The horsemen had followed their usual practice and ridden up to the Greek camp, when they discovered that the place where the Greeks had been posted hitherto was deserted. Hereupon they pushed forward without stopping, and, as soon as they overtook the enemy, pressed heavily on them.
58. Mardonius, when he heard that the Greeks had retired under cover of the night, and beheld the place, where they had been stationed, empty, called to him Thorax of Larissa, and his brethren, Eurypylus and Thrasideius, and said:
“O, sons of Aleuas! what will ye say now, when ye see yonder place empty? Why, you, who dwell in their neighbourhood, told me the Lacedæmonians never fled from battle, but were brave beyond all the rest of mankind. Lately, however, you yourselves beheld them change their place in the line; and here, as all may see, they have run away during the night. Verily, when their turn came to fight with those who are of a truth the bravest warriors in all the world, they showed plainly enough that they are men of no worth, who have distinguished themselves among Greeks—men likewise of no worth at all. However, I can readily excuse you, who, knowing nothing of the Persians, praised these men from your acquaintance with certain exploits of theirs; but I marvel all the more at Artabazus, that he should have been afraid of the Lacedæmonians, and have therefore given us so dastardly a counsel,—bidding us, as he did, break up our camp, and remove to Thebes, and there allow ourselves to be besieged by the Greeks—advice whereof I shall take care to inform the King. But of this hereafter. Now we must not allow them to escape us, but must pursue after them till we overtake them; and then we must exact vengeance for all the wrongs which have been suffered at their hands by the Persians.”
59. When he had so spoken, he crossed the Asôpus, and led the Persians forward at a run directly upon the track of the Greeks, whom he believed to be in actual flight. He could not see the Athenians; for, as they had taken the way of the plain, they were hidden from his sight by the hills; he therefore led on his troops against the Lacedæmonians and the Tegeans only. When the commanders of the other divisions of the barbarians saw the Persians pursuing the Greeks so hastily, they all forthwith seized their standards, and hurried after at their best speed in great disorder and disarray.5 On they went with loud shouts and in a wild rout, thinking to swallow up the runaways.
60. Meanwhile Pausanias had sent a horseman to the Athenians, at the time when the cavalry first fell upon him, with this message:
“Men of Athens! now that the great struggle has come, which is to decide the freedom or the slavery of Greece, we twain, Lacedæmonians and Athenians, are deserted by all the other allies, who have fled away from us during the past night. Nevertheless, we are resolved what to do—we must endeavour, as best we may, to defend ourselves and to succour one another. Now, had the horse fallen upon you first, we ourselves with the Tegeans (who remained faithful to the Greek cause) would have been bound to render you assistance against them. As, however, the entire body has advanced upon us, ’tis your place to come to our aid, sore pressed as we are by the enemy. Should you yourselves be so straitened that you cannot come, at least send us your archers, and be sure you will earn our gratitude. We acknowledge that throughout this whole war there has been no zeal to be compared to yours—we therefore doubt not that you will do us this service.”
61. The Athenians, as soon as they received this message, were anxious to go to the aid of the Spartans, and to help them to the uttermost of their power; but, as they were upon the march, the Greeks on the King’s side, whose place in the line had been opposite theirs, fell upon them, and so harassed them by their attacks that it was not possible for them to give the succour they desired. Accordingly the Lacedæmonians, and the Tegeans—whom nothing could induce to quit their side—were left alone to resist the Persians. Including the light-armed, the number of the former was 50,000; while that of the Tegeans was 3000. Now, therefore, as they were about to engage with Mardonius and the troops under him, they made ready to offer sacrifice. The victims, however, for some time were not favourable; and during the delay, many fell on the Spartan side, and a still greater number were wounded. For the Persians had made a rampart of their wicker shields, and shot from behind them such clouds of arrows, that the Spartans were sorely distressed. The victims continued unpropitious; till at last Pausanias raised his eye to the Heræum of the Platæans, and calling the goddess to his aid, besought her not to disappoint the hopes of the Greeks.
62. As he offered his prayer, the Tegeans, advancing before the rest, rushed forward against the enemy; and the Lacedæmonians, who had obtained favourable omens the moment that Pausanias prayed, at length, after their long delay, advanced to the attack; while the Persians, on their side, left shooting, and prepared to meet them. And first the combat was at the wicker shields. Afterwards, when these were swept down, a fierce contest took place by the side of the temple of Ceres, which lasted long, and ended in a hand-to-hand struggle. The barbarians many times seized hold of the Greek spears and brake them; for in boldness and warlike spirit the Persians were not a whit inferior to the Greeks; but they were without bucklers,6 untrained, and far below the enemy in respect of skill in arms. Sometimes singly, sometimes in bodies of ten, now fewer and now more in number, they dashed forward upon the Spartan ranks, and so perished.
63. The fight went most against the Greeks, where Mardonius, mounted upon a white horse, and surrounded by the bravest of all the Persians, the thousand picked men, fought in person. So long as Mardonius was alive, this body resisted all attacks, and, while they defended their own lives, struck down no small number of Spartans; but after Mardonius fell, and the troops with him, which were the main strength of the army, perished, the remainder yielded to the Lacedæmonians, and took to flight. Their light clothing, and want of bucklers, were of the greatest hurt to them: for they had to contend against men heavily armed, while they themselves were without any such defence.
64. Then was the warning of the oracle fulfilled; and the vengeance which was due to the Spartans for the slaughter of Leonidas was paid them by Mardonius—then too did Pausanias, the son of Cleombrotus, and grandson of Anaxandridas (I omit to recount his other ancestors, since they are the same with those of Leonidas), win a victory exceeding in glory all those to which our knowledge extends. Mardonius was slain by Aeimnêstus, a man famous in Sparta—the same who in the Messenian war, which came after the struggle against the Medes, fought a battle near Stenyclêrus with but three hundred men against the whole force of the Messenians, and himself perished, and the three hundred with him.
65. The Persians, as soon as they were put to flight by the Lacedæmonians, ran hastily away, without preserving any order, and took refuge in their own camp, within the wooden defence which they had raised in the Theban territory. It is a marvel to me how it came to pass, that although the battle was fought quite close to the grove of Ceres, yet not a single Persian appears to have died on the sacred soil, nor even to have set foot upon it, while round about the precinct, in the unconsecrated ground, great numbers perished. I imagine—if it is lawful, in matters which concern the gods, to imagine anything—that the goddess herself kept them out, because they had burnt her dwelling at Eleusis. Such, then, was the issue of this battle.
66. Artabazus, the son of Pharnaces, who had disapproved from the first of the King’s leaving Mardonius behind him, and had made great endeavours, but all in vain, to dissuade Mardonius from risking a battle, when he found that the latter was bent on acting otherwise than he wished, did as follows. He had a force under his orders which was far from inconsiderable, amounting, as it did, to near forty thousand men. Being well aware, therefore, how the battle was likely to go, as soon as the two armies began to fight, he led his soldiers forward in an orderly array, bidding them one and all proceed at the same pace, and follow him with such celerity as they should observe him to use. Having issued these commands, he pretended to lead them to the battle. But when, advancing before his army, he saw that the Persians were already in flight, instead of keeping the same order, he wheeled his troops suddenly round, and beat a retreat; nor did he even seek shelter within the palisade or behind the walls of Thebes, but hurried on into Phocis, wishing to make his way to the Hellespont with all possible speed. Such accordingly was the course which these Persians took.
67. As for the Greeks upon the King’s side, while most of them played the coward purposely, the Bœotians, on the contrary, had a long struggle with the Athenians. Those of the Thebans who were attached to the Medes, displayed especially no little zeal; far from playing the coward, they fought with such fury that three hundred of the best and bravest among them were slain by the Athenians in this passage of arms. But at last they too were routed, and fled away—not, however, in the same direction as the Persians and the crowd of allies, who, having taken no part in the battle, ran off without striking a blow—but to the city of Thebes.
68. To me it shows very clearly how completely the rest of the barbarians were dependent upon the Persian troops, that here they all fled at once, without ever coming to blows with the enemy, merely because they saw the Persians running away. And so it came to pass that the whole army took to flight, except only the horse, both Persian and Bœotian. These did good service to the flying foot-men, by advancing close to the enemy, and separating between the Greeks and their own fugitives.
69. The victors, however, pressed on, pursuing and slaying the remnant of the King’s army.
Meantime, while the flight continued, tidings reached the Greeks who were drawn up round the Heræum, and so were absent from the battle, that the fight was begun, and that Pausanias was gaining the victory. Hearing this, they rushed forward without any order, the Corinthians taking the upper road across the skirts of Cithæron and the hills, which led straight to the temple of Ceres; while the Megarians and Phliasians followed the level route through the plain. These last had almost reached the enemy, when the Theban horse espied them, and, observing their disarray, despatched against them the squadron of which Asôpodôrus, the son of Timander, was captain. Asôpodôrus charged them with such effect that he left six hundred of their number dead upon the plain, and, pursuing the rest, compelled them to seek shelter in Cithæron. So these men perished without honour.
70. The Persians, and the multitude with them, who fled to the wooden fortress, were able to ascend into the towers before the Lacedæmonians came up. Thus placed, they proceeded to strengthen the defences as well as they could; and when the Lacedæmonians arrived, a sharp fight took place at the rampart. So long as the Athenians were away, the barbarians kept off their assailants, and had much the best of the combat, since the Lacedæmonians were unskilled in the attack of walled places:7 but on the arrival of the Athenians, a more violent assault was made, and the wall was for a long time attacked with fury. In the end the valour of the Athenians and their perseverance prevailed—they gained the top of the wall, and, breaking a breach through it, enabled the Greeks to pour in. The first to enter here were the Tegeans, and they it was who plundered the tent of Mardonius; where among other booty they found the manger from which his horses ate, all made of solid brass, and well worth looking at. This manger was given by the Tegeans to the temple of Minerva Alea, while the remainder of their booty was brought into the common stock of the Greeks. As soon as the wall was broken down, the barbarians no longer kept together in any array, nor was there one among them who thought of making further resistance—in good truth they were all half dead with fright, huddled as so many thousands were into so narrow and confined a space. With such tameness did they submit to be slaughtered by the Greeks, that of the 300,000 men who composed the army—omitting the 40,000 by whom Artabazus was accompanied in his flight—no more than 3000 outlived the battle. Of the Lacedæmonians from Sparta there perished in this combat ninety-one; of the Tegeans, sixteen; of the Athenians, fifty-two.
71. On the side of the barbarians, the greatest courage was manifested, among the foot-soldiers, by the Persians; among the horse, by the Sacæ; while Mardonius himself, as a man, bore off the palm from the rest. Among the Greeks, the Athenians and the Tegeans fought well; but the prowess shown by the Lacedæmonians was beyond either. Of this I have but one proof to offer—since all the three nations overthrew the force opposed to them—and that is, that the Lacedæmonians fought and conquered the best troops. The bravest man by far on that day was, in my judgment, Aristodêmus—the same who alone escaped from the slaughter of the three hundred at Thermopylæ, and who on that account had endured disgrace and reproach: next to him were Posidônius, Philocyon, and Amompharetus the Spartan. The Spartans, however, who took part in the fight, when the question of “who had distinguished himself most,” came to be talked over among them, decided: “that Aristodêmus, who, on account of the blame which attached to him, had manifestly courted death, and had therefore left his place in the line and behaved like a madman, had done of a truth very notable deeds; but that Posidônius, who, with no such desire to lose his life, had quitted himself no less gallantly, was by so much a braver man than he.” Perchance, however, it was envy that made them speak after this sort. Of those whom I have named above as slain in this battle, all, save and except Aristodêmus, received public honours: Aristodêmus alone had no honours, because he courted death for the reason which I have mentioned.
72. These then were the most distinguished of those who fought at Platæa. As for Callicrates,—the most beautiful man, not among the Spartans only, but in the whole Greek camp,—he was not killed in the battle; for it was while Pausanias was still consulting the victims, that as he sat in his proper place in the line, an arrow struck him on the side. While his comrades advanced to the fight, he was borne out of the ranks, very loath to die, as he showed by the words which he addressed to Arimnestus, one of the Platæans: “I grieve,” said he, “not because I have to die for my country, but because I have not lifted my arm against the enemy, nor done any deed worthy of me, much as I have desired to achieve something.”
73. The Athenian who is said to have distinguished himself the most was Sôphanes, the son of Eutychides, of the Deceleian canton. The men of this canton, once upon a time, did a deed, which (as the Athenians themselves confess) has ever since been serviceable to them. When the Tyndaridæ, in days of yore, invaded Attica with a mighty army to recover Helen, and, not being able to find out whither she had been carried, desolated the cantons,—at this time, they say, the Deceleians (or Decelus himself, according to some), displeased at the rudeness of Theseus, and fearing that the whole territory would suffer, discovered everything to the enemy, and even showed them the way to Aphidnæ, which Titacus, a native of the place, betrayed into their hands. As a reward for this action, Sparta has always, from that time to the present, allowed the Deceleians to be free from all dues, and to have seats of honour at their festivals; and hence too, in the war which took place many years after these events between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, the Lacedæmonians, while they laid waste all the rest of Attica, spared the lands of the Deceleians.
74. Of this canton was Sôphanes, the Athenian who most distinguished himself in the battle. Two stories are told concerning him: according to the one, he wore an iron anchor, fastened to the belt which secured his breastplate by a brazen chain; and this, when he came near the enemy, he threw out; to the intent that, when they made their charge, it might be impossible for him to be driven from his post: as soon, however, as the enemy fled, his wont was to take up his anchor and join the pursuit. Such, then, is one of the said stories. The other, which is contradictory to the first, relates that Sôphanes, instead of having an iron anchor fastened to his breastplate, bore the device of an anchor upon his shield, which he never allowed to rest, but made to run round continually.
75. Another glorious deed was likewise performed by this same Sôphanes. At the time when the Athenians were laying siege to Egina, he took up the challenge of Eurybates the Argive, a winner of the Pentathlum, and slew him. The fate of Sôphanes in after times was the following: he was leader of an Athenian army in conjunction with Leagrus, the son of Glaucon, and in a battle with the Edonians near Datum, about the gold-mines there, he was slain, after displaying uncommon bravery.
76. As soon as the Greeks at Platæa had overthrown the barbarians, a woman came over to them from the enemy. She was one of the concubines of Pharandates, the son of Teäspes, a Persian; and when she heard that the Persians were all slain, and that the Greeks had carried the day, forthwith she adorned herself and her maids with many golden ornaments, and with the bravest of the apparel that she had brought with her, and, alighting from her litter, came forward to the Lacedæmonians, ere the work of slaughter was well over. When she saw that all the orders were given by Pausanias, with whose name and country she was well acquainted, as she had oftentimes heard tell of them, she knew who he must be; wherefore she embraced his knees, and said:
“O, King of Sparta! save thy suppliant from the slavery that awaits the captive. Already I am beholden to thee for one service—the slaughter of these men, wretches who had no regard either for gods or angels. I am by birth a Coan, the daughter of Hêgêtoridas, son of Antagoras. The Persian seized me by force in Cos, and kept me against my will.”
“Lady,” answered Pausanias, “fear nothing: as a suppliant thou art safe—and still more, if thou hast spoken truth, and Hêgêtoridas of Cos is thy father—for he is bound to me by closer ties of friendship than any other man in those regions.”
When he had thus spoken, Pausanias placed the woman in the charge of some of the Ephors who were present,8 and afterwards sent her to Egina, whither she had a desire to go.
77. About the time of this woman’s coming, the Mantineans arrived upon the field, and found that all was over, and that it was too late to take any part in the battle. Greatly distressed thereat, they declared themselves to deserve a fine, as laggarts; after which, learning that a portion of the Medes had fled away under Artabazus, they were anxious to go after them as far as Thessaly. The Lacedæmonians, however, would not suffer the pursuit; so they returned again to their own land, and sent the leaders of their army into banishment. Soon after the Mantineans, the Eleans likewise arrived, and showed the same sorrow: after which they too returned home, and banished their leaders. But enough concerning these nations.
78. There was a man at Platæa among the troops of the Eginetans, whose name was Lampon; he was the son of Pytheas, and a person of the first rank among his countrymen. Now this Lampon went about this same time to Pausanias, and counselled him to do a deed of exceeding wickedness. “Son of Cleombrotus,” he said very earnestly, “what thou hast already done is passing great and glorious. By the favour of Heaven thou hast saved Greece, and gained a renown beyond all the Greeks of whom we have any knowledge. Now then so finish thy work, that thine own fame may be increased thereby, and that henceforth barbarians may fear to commit outrages on the Grecians. When Leonidas was slain at Thermopylæ, Xerxes and Mardonius commanded that he should be beheaded and crucified. Do thou the like at this time by Mardonius, and thou wilt have glory in Sparta, and likewise through the whole of Greece. For, by hanging him upon a cross, thou wilt avenge Leonidas, who was thy father’s brother.”
79. Thus spake Lampon, thinking to please Pausanias; but Pausanias answered him: “My Eginetan friend, for thy foresight and thy friendliness I am much beholden to thee: but the counsel which thou hast offered is not good. First hast thou lifted me up to the skies, by thy praise of my country and my achievement; and then thou hast cast me down to the ground, by bidding me maltreat the dead, and saying that thus I shall raise myself in men’s esteem. Such doings befit barbarians rather than Greeks; and even in barbarians we detest them. On such terms, then, I could not wish to please the Eginetans, nor those who think as they think—enough for me to gain the approval of my own countrymen, by righteous deeds as well as by righteous words. Leonidas, whom thou wouldst have me avenge, is, I maintain, abundantly avenged already. Surely the countless lives here taken are enough to avenge not him only, but all those who fell at Thermopylæ. Come not thou before me again with such a speech, nor with such counsel; and thank my forbearance that thou art not now punished.” Then Lampon, having received this answer, departed, and went his way.
80. After this Pausanias caused proclamation to be made, that no one should lay hands on the booty, but that the Helots should collect it, and bring it all to one place. So the Helots went and spread themselves through the camp, wherein were found many tents richly adorned with furniture of gold and silver, many couches covered with plates of the same, and many golden bowls, goblets, and other drinking-vessels. On the carriages were bags containing silver and golden kettles; and the bodies of the slain furnished bracelets and chains, and scymitars with golden ornaments—not to mention embroidered apparel, of which no one made any account. The Helots at this time stole many things of much value, which they sold in after times to the Eginetans; however, they brought in likewise no small quantity, chiefly such things as it was not possible for them to hide. And this was the beginning of the great wealth of the Eginetans, who bought the gold of the Helots as if it had been mere brass.
81. When all the booty had been brought together, a tenth of the whole was set apart for the Delphian god; and hence was made the golden tripod which stands on the bronze serpent with the three heads, quite close to the altar. Portions were also set apart for the gods of Olympia, and of the Isthmus; from which were made in the one case, a bronze Jupiter ten cubits high; and in the other, a bronze Neptune of seven cubits. After this, the rest of the spoil was divided among the soldiers, each of whom received less or more according to his deserts; and in this way was a distribution made of the Persian concubines, of the gold, the silver, the beasts of burthen, and all the other valuables. What special gifts were presented to those who had most distinguished themselves in the battle, I do not find mentioned by any one;9 but I should suppose that they must have had some gifts beyond the others. As for Pausanias, the portion which was set apart for him consisted of ten specimens of each kind of thing—women, horses, talents, camels, or whatever else there was in the spoil.
82. It is said that the following circumstance happened likewise at this time. Xerxes, when he fled away out of Greece, left his war-tent with Mardonius: when Pausanias, therefore, saw the tent with its adornments of gold and silver, and its hangings of divers colours, he gave commandment to the bakers and the cooks to make him ready a banquet in such fashion as was their wont for Mardonius. Then they made ready as they were bidden; and Pausanias, beholding the couches of gold and silver daintily decked out with their rich covertures, and the tables of gold and silver laid, and the feast itself prepared with all magnificence, was astonished at the good things which were set before him, and, being in a pleasant mood, gave commandment to his own followers to make ready a Spartan supper. When the suppers were both served, and it was apparent how vast a difference lay between the two, Pausanias laughed, and sent his servants to call to him the Greek generals. On their coming, he pointed to the two boards, and said:
“I sent for you, O Greeks, to show you the folly of this Median captain, who, when he enjoyed such fare as this, must needs come here to rob us of our penury.”
Such, it is said, were the words of Pausanias to the Grecian generals.
83. During many years afterwards, the Platæans used often to find upon the field of battle concealed treasures of gold, and silver, and other valuables. More recently they likewise made discovery of the following: the flesh having all fallen away from the bodies of the dead, and their bones having been gathered together into one place, the Platæans found a skull without any seam, made entirely of a single bone; likewise a jaw, both the upper bone and the under, wherein all the teeth, front and back, were joined together and made of one bone; also, the skeleton of a man not less than five cubits in height.1
84. The body of Mardonius disappeared the day after the battle; but who it was that stole it away I cannot say with certainty. I have heard tell of a number of persons, and those too of many different nations, who are said to have given him burial; and I know that many have received large sums on this score from Artontes, the son of Mardonius: but I cannot discover with any certainty which of them it was who really took the body away, and buried it. Among others, Dionysophanes, an Ephesian, is rumoured to have been the actual person.
85. The Greeks, after sharing the booty upon the field of Platæa, proceeded to bury their own dead, each nation apart from the rest. The Lacedæmonians made three graves; in one they buried their youths, among whom were Posidônius, Amompharetus, Philocyon, and Callicrates;—in another, the rest of the Spartans; and in the third, the Helots. Such was their mode of burial. The Tegeans buried all their dead in a single grave; as likewise did the Athenians theirs, and the Megarians and Phliasians those who were slain by the horse. These graves, then, had bodies buried in them: as for the other tombs which are to be seen at Platæa, they were raised, as I understand, by the Greeks whose troops took no part in the battle; and who, being ashamed of themselves, erected empty barrows upon the field, to obtain credit with those who should come after them. Among others, the Eginetans have a grave there, which goes by their name; but which, as I learn, was made ten years later by Cleades, the son of Autodicus, a Platæan, at the request of the Eginetans, whose agent he was.
86. After the Greeks had buried their dead at Platæa, they presently held a council, whereat it was resolved to make war upon Thebes, and to require that those who had joined the Medes should be delivered into their hands. Two men, who had been the chief leaders on the occasion, were especially named—to wit, Timagenidas and Attagînus. If the Thebans should refuse to give these men up, it was determined to lay siege to their city, and never stir from before it till it should surrender. After this resolve, the army marched upon Thebes; and having demanded the men, and been refused, began the siege, laying waste the country all around, and making assaults upon the wall in divers places.
87. When twenty days were gone by, and the violence of the Greeks did not slacken, Timagenidas thus bespake his countrymen:
“Ye men of Thebes, since the Greeks have so decreed, that they will never desist from the siege till either they take Thebes or we are delivered to them, we would not that the land of Bœotia should suffer any longer on our behalf. If it be money that they in truth desire, and their demand of us be no more than a pretext, let money from the treasury of the state be given them; for the state, and not we alone, embraced the cause of the Medes. If, however, they really want our persons, and on that account press this siege, we are ready to be delivered to them and to stand our trial.”
The Thebans thought this offer very right and seasonable; wherefore they despatched a herald without any delay to Pausanias, and told him they were willing to deliver up the men.
88. As soon as an agreement had been concluded upon these terms, Attagînus made his escape from the city; his sons, however, were surrendered in his place; but Pausanias refused to hold them guilty, since children (he said) could have had no part in such an offence. The rest of those whom the Thebans gave up had expected to obtain a trial, and in that case their trust was to escape by means of bribery; but Pausanias, afraid of this, dismissed at once the whole army of allies, and took the men with him to Corinth, where he slew them all. Such were the events which happened at Platæa and at Thebes.
89. Artabazus, the son of Pharnaces, who fled away from Platæa, was soon far sped on his journey. When he reached Thessaly, the inhabitants received him hospitably, and made inquiries of him concerning the rest of the army, since they were still altogether ignorant of what had taken place at Platæa: whereupon the Persian, knowing well that, if he told them the truth, he would run great risk of perishing himself, together with his whole army—for if the facts were once blazoned abroad, all who learnt them would be sure to fall upon him—the Persian, I say, considering this, as he had before kept all secret from the Phocians, so now answered the Thessalians after the following fashion:
“I myself, Thessalians, am hastening, as ye see, into Thrace; and I am fain to use all possible despatch, as I am sent with this force on special business from the main army. Mardonius and his host are close behind me, and may be looked for shortly. When he comes, receive him as ye have received me, and show him every kindness. Be sure ye will never hereafter regret it, if ye so do.”
With these words he took his departure, and marched his troops at their best speed through Thessaly and Macedon straight upon Thrace, following the inland route, which was the shortest, and, in good truth, using all possible despatch. He himself succeeded in reaching Byzantium; but a great part of his army perished upon the road—many being cut to pieces by the Thracians, and others dying from hunger and excess of toil. From Byzantium Artabazus set sail, and crossed the strait; returning into Asia in the manner which has been here described.
90. On the same day that the blow was struck at Platæa, another defeat befell the Persians at Mycalé in Ionia. While the Greek fleet under Leotychides the Lacedæmonian was still lying inactive at Delos, there arrived at that place an embassy from Samos, consisting of three men, Lampon the son of Thrasycles, Athenagoras the son of Archestratidas, and Hêgêsistratus the son of Aristagoras. The Samians had sent them secretly, concealing their departure both from the Persians and from their own tyrant Theomestor, the son of Androdamas, whom the Persians had made ruler of Samos. When the ambassadors came before the Greek captains, Hêgêsistratus took the word, and urged them with many and various arguments, saying, “that the Ionians only needed to see them arrive in order to revolt from the Persians; and that the Persians would never abide their coming; or if they did, ’twould be to offer them the finest booty that they could anywhere expect to gain;” while at the same time he made appeal to the gods of their common worship, and besought them to deliver from bondage a Grecian race, and withal to drive back the barbarians. “This,” he said, “might very easily be done, for the Persian ships were bad sailers, and far from a match for theirs;” adding, moreover, “that if there was any suspicion lest the Samians intended to deal treacherously, they were themselves ready to become hostages, and to return on board the ships of their allies to Asia.”
91. When the Samian stranger continued importunately beseeching him, Leotychides, either because he wanted an omen, or by a mere chance, as God guided him, asked the man: “Samian stranger! prithee, tell me thy name?” “Hêgêsistratus (army-leader),” answered the other, and might have said more, but Leotychides stopped him by exclaiming: “I accept, O Samian! the omen which thy name affords. Only, before thou goest back, swear to us, thyself and thy brother-envoys, that the Samians will indeed be our warm friends and allies.”
92. No sooner had he thus spoken than he proceeded to hurry forward the business. The Samians pledged their faith upon the spot; and oaths of alliance were exchanged between them and the Greeks. This done, two of the ambassadors forthwith sailed away; as for Hêgêsistratus, Leotychides kept him to accompany his own fleet, for he considered his name to be a good omen. The Greeks abode where they were that day, and on the morrow sacrificed, and found the victims favourable. Their soothsayer was Deïphonus, the son of Evênius, a man of Apollonia—I mean the Apollonia which lies upon the Ionian Gulf.
93. A strange thing happened to this man’s father, Evênius. The Apolloniats have a flock of sheep sacred to the sun. During the daytime these sheep graze along the banks of the river which flows from Mount Lacmon through their territory and empties itself into the sea by the port of Oricus; while at night they are guarded by the richest and noblest of the citizens, who are chosen to serve the office, and who keep the watch each for one year. Now the Apolloniats set great store by these sheep, on account of an oracle which they received concerning them. The place where they are folded at night is a cavern, a long way from the town. Here it happened that Evênius, when he was chosen to keep the watch, by some accident fell asleep upon his guard; and while he slept, the cave was entered by wolves, which destroyed some sixty of the flock under his care. Evênius, when he woke and found what had occurred, kept silence about it and told no one; for he thought to buy other sheep and put them in the place of the slain. But the matter came to the ears of the Apolloniats, who forthwith brought Evênius to trial, and condemned him to lose his eyes, because he had gone to sleep upon his post. Now when Evênius, was blinded, straightway the sheep had no young, and the land ceased to bear its wonted harvests. Then the Apolloniats sent to Dodôna, and to Delphi, and asked the prophets, what had caused the woes which so afflicted them. The answer which they received was this: “The woes were come for Evênius, the guardian of the sacred sheep, whom the Apolloniats had wrongfully deprived of sight. They (the gods) had themselves sent the wolves; nor would they ever cease to exact vengeance for Evênius, till the Apolloniats made him whatever atonement he liked to ask. When this was paid, they would likewise give him a gift, which would make many men call him blessed.”
94. Such was the tenor of the prophecies. The Apolloniats kept them close, but charged some of their citizens to go and make terms with Evênius: and these men managed the business for them in the way which I will now describe. They found Evênius sitting upon a bench, and, approaching him, they sat down by his side, and began to talk: at first they spoke of quite other matters, but in the end they mentioned his misfortune, and offered him their condolence. Having thus beguiled him, at last they put the question: “What atonement would he desire, if the Apolloniats were willing to make him satisfaction for the wrong which they had done to him?” Hereupon Evênius, who had not heard of the oracle, made answer: “If I were given the lands of this man and that”—(here he named the two men whom he knew to have the finest farms in Apollonia), “and likewise the house of this other”—(and here he mentioned the house which he knew to be the handsomest in the town), “I would, when master of these, be quite content, and my wrath would cease altogether.” As soon as Evênius had thus spoken, the men who sat by him rejoined: “Evênius, the Apolloniats give thee the atonement which thou hast desired, according to the bidding of the oracles.” Then Evênius understood the whole matter, and was enraged that they had deceived him so; but the Apolloniats bought the farms from their owners, and gave Evênius what he had chosen. After this was done, straightway Evênius had the gift of prophecy, insomuch that he became a famous man in Greece.
95. Deïphonus, the son of this Evênius, had accompanied the Corinthians, and was soothsayer, as I said before, to the Greek armament. One account, however, which I have heard, declares that he was not really the son of this man, but only took the name, and then went about Greece and let out his services for hire.
96. The Greeks, as soon as the victims were favourable, put to sea, and sailed across from Delos to Samos. Arriving off Calami, a place upon the Samian coast, they brought the fleet to an anchor near the temple of Juno which stands there, and prepared to engage the Persians by sea. These latter, however, no sooner heard of the approach of the Greeks, than, dismissing the Phœnician ships, they sailed away with the remainder to the mainland. For it had been resolved in council not to risk a battle, since the Persian fleet was thought to be no match for that of the enemy. They fled, therefore, to the main, to be under the protection of their land army, which now lay at Mycalé, and consisted of the troops left behind by Xerxes to keep guard over Ionia. This was an army of sixty thousand men, under the command of Tigranes, a Persian of more than common beauty and stature. The captains resolved therefore to betake themselves to these troops for defence, to drag their ships ashore, and to build a rampart around them, which might at once protect the fleet, and serve likewise as a place of refuge for themselves.
97. Having so resolved, the commanders put out to sea; and passing the temple of the Eumenides, arrived at Gæson and Scolopoeis, which are in the territory of Mycalé. Here is a temple of Eleusinian Ceres, built by Philistus, the son of Pasicles, who came to Asia with Neileus, the son of Codrus, what time he founded Miletus. At this place they drew the ships up on the beach, and surrounded them with a rampart made of stones and trunks of trees, cutting down for this purpose all the fruit-trees which grew near, and defending the barrier by means of stakes firmly planted in the ground. Here they were prepared either to win a battle, or undergo a siege—their thoughts embracing both chances.
98. The Greeks, when they understood that the barbarians had fled to the mainland, were sorely vexed at their escape: nor could they determine at first what they should do, whether they should return home, or proceed to the Hellespont. In the end, however, they resolved to do neither, but to make sail for the continent. So they made themselves ready for a sea-fight by the preparation of boarding-bridges, and what else was necessary; provided with which they sailed to Mycalé. Now when they came to the place where the camp was, they found no one venture out to meet them, but observed the ships all dragged ashore within the barrier, and a strong land-force drawn up in battle array upon the beach; Leotychides therefore sailed along the shore in his ship, keeping as close hauled to the land as possible, and by the voice of a herald thus addressed the Ionians:
“Men of Ionia—ye who can hear me speak—do ye take heed to what I say; for the Persians will not understand a word that I utter. When we join battle with them, before aught else, remember Freedom—and next, recollect our watch-word, which is Hêbé. If there be any who hear me not, let those who hear report my words to the others.”
In all this Leotychides had the very same design which Themistocles entertained at Artemisium. Either the barbarians would not know what he had said, and the Ionians would be persuaded to revolt from them; or if his words were reported to the former, they would mistrust their Greek soldiers.
99. After Leotychides had made this address, the Greeks brought their ships to the land, and, having disembarked, arrayed themselves for the battle. When the Persians saw them marshalling their array, and bethought themselves of the advice which had been offered to the Ionians, their first act was to disarm the Samians, whom they suspected of complicity with the enemy. For it had happened lately that a number of the Athenians who lingered in Attica, having been made prisoners by the troops of Xerxes, were brought to Asia on board the barbarian fleet; and these men had been ransomed, one and all, by the Samians, who sent them back to Athens, well furnished with provisions for the way. On this account, as much as on any other, the Samians were suspected, as men who had paid the ransom of five hundred of the King’s enemies. After disarming them, the Persians next despatched the Milesians to guard the paths which lead up into the heights of Mycalé, because (they said) the Milesians were well acquainted with that region: their true object, however, was to remove them to a distance from the camp. In this way the Persians sought to secure themselves against such of the Ionians as they thought likely, if occasion offered, to make rebellion. They then joined shield to shield, and so made themselves a breastwork against the enemy.
100. The Greeks now, having finished their preparations, began to move towards the barbarians; when lo! as they advanced, a rumour flew through the host from one end to the other—that the Greeks had fought and conquered the army of Mardonius in Bœotia. At the same time a herald’s wand was observed lying upon the beach. Many things prove to me that the gods take part in the affairs of man. How else, when the battles of Mycalé and Platæa were about to happen on the selfsame day, should such a rumour have reached the Greeks in that region, greatly cheering the whole army, and making them more eager than before to risk their lives?
101. A strange coincidence too it was, that both the battles should have been fought near a precinct of Eleusinian Ceres. The fight at Platæa took place, as I said before, quite close to one of Ceres’ temples; and now the battle of Mycalé was to be fought hard by another. Rightly too did the rumour run, that the Greeks with Pausanias had gained their victory; for the fight at Platæa fell early in the day, whereas that at Mycalé was towards evening. That the two battles were really fought on the same day of the same month became apparent when inquiries were made a short time afterwards. Before the rumour reached them, the Greeks were full of fear, not so much on their own account, as for their countrymen, and for Greece herself, lest she should be worsted in her struggle with Mardonius. But when the voice fell on them their fear vanished, and they charged more vigorously and at a quicker pace. So the Greeks and the barbarians rushed with like eagerness to the fray; for the Hellespont and the Islands formed the prize for which they were about to fight.
102. The Athenians, and the force drawn up with them, who formed one-half of the army, marched along the shore, where the country was low and level; but the way for the Lacedæmonians, and the troops with them, lay across hills and a torrent-course. Hence, while the Lacedæmonians were effecting their passage round, the Athenians on the other wing had already closed with the enemy. So long as the wicker bucklers of the Persians continued standing, they made a stout defence, and had not even the worst of the battle; but when the Athenians, and the allies with them, wishing to make the victory their own, and not share it with the Lacedæmonians, cheered each other on with shouts, and attacked them with the utmost fierceness, then at last the face of things became changed. For, bursting through the line of shields, and rushing forwards in a body, the Greeks fell upon the Persians; who, though they bore the charge and for a long time maintained their ground, yet at length took refuge in their entrenchment. Here the Athenians themselves, together with those who followed them in the line of battle, the Corinthians, the Sicyonians, and the Trœzenians, pressed so closely on the steps of their flying foes, that they entered along with them into the fortress. And now, when even their fortress was taken, the barbarians no longer offered resistance, but fled hastily away, all save only the Persians. They still continued to fight in knots of a few men against the Greeks, who kept pouring into the intrenchment. And here, while two of the Persian commanders fled, two fell upon the field: Artayntes and Ithamitres, who were leaders of the fleet, escaped; Mardontes, and the commander of the land force, Tigranes, died fighting.
103. The Persians still held out, when the Lacedæmonians, and their part of the army, reached the camp, and joined in the remainder of the battle. The number of Greeks who fell in the struggle here was not small; the Sicyonians especially lost many, and, among the rest, Perilaüs their general.
The Samians, who served with the Medes, and who, although disarmed, still remained in the camp, seeing from the very beginning of the fight that the victory was doubtful, did all that lay in their power to render help to the Greeks. And the other Ionians likewise, beholding their example, revolted and attacked the Persians.
104. As for the Milesians, who had been ordered, for the better security of the Persians, to guard the mountain-paths,—that, in case any accident befell them such as had now happened, they might not lack guides to conduct them into the high tracts of Mycalé,—and who had also been removed to hinder them from making an outbreak in the Persian camp; they, instead of obeying their orders, broke them in every respect. For they guided the flying Persians by wrong roads, which brought them into the presence of the enemy; and at last they set upon them with their own hands, and showed themselves the hottest of their adversaries. Ionia, therefore, on this day revolted a second time from the Persians.
105. In this battle the Greeks who behaved with the greatest bravery were the Athenians; and among them the palm was borne off by Hermolycus, the son of Euthynus, a man accomplished in the Pancratium. This Hermolycus was afterwards slain in the war between the Athenians and Carystians. He fell in the fight near Cyrnus in the Carystian territory, and was buried in the neighbourhood of Geræstus. After the Athenians, the most distinguished on the Greek side were the Corinthians, the Trœzenians, and the Sicyonians.
106. The Greeks, when they had slaughtered the greater portion of the barbarians, either in the battle or in the rout, set fire to their ships and burnt them, together with the bulwark which had been raised for their defence, first, however, removing therefrom all the booty, and carrying it down to the beach. Besides other plunder, they found here many caskets of money. When they had burnt the rampart and the vessels, the Greeks sailed away to Samos, and there took counsel together concerning the Ionians, whom they thought of removing out of Asia. Ionia they proposed to abandon to the barbarians; and their doubt was, in what part of their own possessions in Greece they should settle its inhabitants. For it seemed to them a thing impossible that they should be ever on the watch to guard and protect Ionia; and yet otherwise there could be no hope that the Ionians would escape the vengeance of the Persians. Hereupon the Peloponnesian leaders proposed, that the seaport towns of such Greeks as had sided with the Medes should be taken away from them, and made over to the Ionians. The Athenians, on the other hand, were very unwilling that any removal at all should take place, and misliked the Peloponnesians holding councils concerning their colonists. So, as they set themselves against the change, the Peloponnesians yielded with a good will.2 Hereupon the Samians, Chians, Lesbians, and other islanders, who had helped the Greeks at this time, were received into the league of the allies; and took the oaths, binding themselves to be faithful, and not desert the common cause. Then the Greeks sailed away to the Hellespont, where they meant to break down the bridges, which they supposed to be still extended across the strait.
107. The barbarians who escaped from the battle—a scanty remnant—took refuge in the heights of Mycalé, whence they made good their retreat to Sardis. During the march, Masistes, the son of Darius, who had been present at the disaster, had words with Artaÿntes, the general, on whom he showered many reproaches. He called him, among other things, “worse than a woman,” for the way in which he had exercised his command, and said there was no punishment which he did not deserve to suffer for doing the King’s house such grievous hurt. Now with the Persians there is no greater insult than to call a man “worse than a woman.” So when Artaÿntes had borne the reproaches for some while, at last he fell in a rage, and drew his scymitar upon Masistes, being fain to kill him. But a certain Halicarnassian, Zenagoras by name, the son of Praxilaüs, who stood behind Artaÿntes at the time, seeing him in the act of rushing forward, seized him suddenly round the waist, and, lifting him from his feet, dashed him down upon the ground; which gave time for the spearman who guarded Masistes to come to his aid. By his conduct here Xenagoras gained the favour, not of Masistes only, but likewise of Xerxes himself, whose brother he had preserved from death; and the King rewarded his action by setting him over the whole land of Cilicia. Except this, nothing happened upon the road; and the men continued their march and came all safe to Sardis. At Sardis they found the King, who had been there ever since he lost the seafight and fled from Athens to Asia.
108. During the time that Xerxes abode at this place, he fell in love with the wife of Masistes, who was likewise staying in the city. He therefore sent her messages, but failed to win her consent; and he could not dare to use violence, out of regard to Masistes, his brother. This the woman knew well enough, and hence it was that she had the boldness to resist him. So Xerxes, finding no other way open, devised a marriage between his own son Darius and a daughter of this woman and Masistes—thinking that he might better obtain his ends if he effected this union. Accordingly he betrothed these two persons to one another, and, after the usual ceremonies were completed, took his departure for Susa. When he was come there, and had received the woman into his palace as his son’s bride, a change came over him, and, losing all love for the wife of Masistes, he conceived a passion for his son’s bride, Masistes’ daughter. And Artaÿnta—for so was she called—very soon returned his love.
109. After a while the thing was discovered in the way which I will now relate. Amestris, the wife of Xerxes, had woven with her own hands a long robe, of many colours, and very curious, which she presented to her husband as a gift. Xerxes, who was greatly pleased with it, forthwith put it on; and went in it to visit Artaÿnta, who happened likewise on this day to please him greatly. He therefore bade her ask him whatever boon she liked, and promised that, whatever it was, he would assuredly grant her request. Then Artaÿnta, who was doomed to suffer calamity together with her whole house, said to him: “Wilt thou indeed give me whatever I like to ask?” So the King, suspecting nothing less than that her choice would fall where it did, pledged his word, and swore to her. She then, as soon as she heard his oath, asked boldly for the robe. Hereupon Xerxes tried all possible means to avoid the gift; not that he grudged to give it, but because he dreaded Amestris, who already suspected, and would now, he feared, detect his love. So he offered her cities instead, and heaps of gold, and an army which should obey no other leader. (The last of these is a thoroughly Persian gift.) But, as nothing could prevail on Artaÿnta to change her mind, at the last he gave her the robe. Then Artaÿnta was very greatly rejoiced, and she often wore the garment and was proud of it. And so it came to the ears of Amestris that the robe had been given to her.
110. Now when Amestris learnt the whole matter, she felt no anger against Artaÿnta; but, looking upon her mother, the wife of Masistes, as the cause of all the mischief, she determined to compass her death. She waited, therefore, till her husband gave the great royal banquet, a feast which takes place once every year, in celebration of the King’s birthday—“Tykta” the feast is called in the Persian tongue, which in our language may be rendered “perfect”—and this is the only day in all the year on which the king soaps his head, and distributes gifts to the Persians. Amestris waited, accordingly, for this day, and then made request of Xerxes, that he would please to give her, as her present, the wife of Masistes. But he refused; for it seemed to him shocking and monstrous to give into the power of another a woman who was not only his brother’s wife, but was likewise wholly guiltless of what had happened—the more especially as he knew well enough with what intent Amestris had preferred her request.
111. At length, however, wearied by her importunity, and constrained moreover by the law of the feast, which required that no one who asked a boon that day at the King’s board should be denied his request, he yielded, but with a very ill will, and gave the woman into her power.3 Having so done, and told Amestris she might deal with her as she chose, the King called his brother into his presence, and said:
“Masistes, thou art my brother, the son of my father Darius; and, what is more, thou art a good man. I pray thee, live no longer with the wife whom thou now hast. Behold, I will give thee instead my own daughter in marriage; take her to live with thee. But part first with the wife thou now hast—I like not that thou keep to her.”
To this Masistes, greatly astonished, answered:
“My lord and master, how strange a speech hast thou uttered! Thou biddest me put away my wife, who has borne me three goodly youths, and daughters besides, whereof thou hast taken one and espoused her to a son of thine own—thou biddest me put away this wife notwithstanding that she pleases me greatly, and marry a daughter of thine! In truth, O King! that I am accounted worthy to wed thy daughter, is an honour which I mightily esteem; but yet to do as thou sayest am I in no wise willing. I pray thee, use not force to compel me to yield to thy prayer. Be sure thy daughter will find a husband to the full as worthy as myself. Suffer me then to live on with my own wife.”
Thus did Masistes answer; and Xerxes, in wrath, replied: “I will tell thee, Masistes, what thou hast gained by these words. I will not give thee my daughter; nor shalt thou live any longer with thy own wife. So mayest thou learn, in time to come, to take what is offered thee.” Masistes, when he heard this, withdrew, only saying: “Master, thou hast not yet taken my life.”
112. While these things were passing between Xerxes and his brother Masistes, Amestris sent for the spearmen of the royal body-guard, and caused the wife of Masistes to be mutilated in a horrible fashion. Her two breasts, her nose, ears, and lips were cut off and thrown to the dogs; her tongue was torn out by the roots, and thus disfigured she was sent back to her home.
113. Masistes, who knew nothing of what had happened, but was fearful that some calamity had befallen him, ran hastily to his house. There, finding his wife so savagely used, he forthwith took counsel with his sons, and, accompanied by them and certain others also, set forth on his way to Bactria, intending to stir up revolt in that province, and hoping to do great hurt to Xerxes: all which, I believe, he would have accomplished, if he had once reached the Bactrian and Sacan people; for he was greatly beloved by them both, and was moreover satrap of Bactria. But Xerxes, hearing of his designs, sent an armed force upon his track, and slew him while he was still upon the road, with his sons and his whole army. Such is the tale of King Xerxes’ love and of the death of his brother Masistes.
114. Meanwhile the Greeks, who had left Mycalé, and sailed for the Hellespont, were forced by contrary winds to anchor near Lectum; from which place they afterwards sailed on to Abydos. On arriving here, they discovered that the bridges, which they had thought to find standing, and which had been the chief cause of their proceeding to the Hellespont, were already broken up and destroyed. Upon this discovery, Leotychides, and the Peloponnesians under him, were anxious to sail back to Greece; but the Athenians, with Xanthippus their captain, thought good to remain, and resolved to make an attempt upon the Chersonese. So, while the Peloponnesians sailed away to their homes, the Athenians crossed over from Abydos to the Chersonese,4 and there laid siege to Sestos.
115. Now, as Sestos was the strongest fortress in all that region, the rumour had no sooner gone forth that the Greeks were arrived at the Hellespont, than great numbers flocked thither from all towns in the neighbourhood. Among the rest there came a certain Œobazus, a Persian, from the city of Cardia, where he had laid up the shore-cables which had been used in the construction of the bridges. The town was guarded by its own Æolian inhabitants, but contained also some Persians, and a great multitude of their allies.
116. The whole district was under the rule of Artayctes, one of the King’s satraps; who was a Persian, but a wicked and cruel man. At the time when Xerxes was marching against Athens, he had craftily possessed himself of the treasures belonging to Protesilaüs, the son of Iphiclus, which were at Elæûs in the Chersonese. For at this place is the tomb of Protesilaüs, surrounded by a sacred precinct; and here there was great store of wealth, vases of gold and silver, works in brass, garments, and other offerings, all which Artaÿctes made his prey, having got the King’s consent by thus cunningly addressing him:
“Master, there is in this region the house of a Greek, who, when he attacked thy territory, met his due reward, and perished. Give me his house, I pray thee, that hereafter men may fear to carry arms against thy land.”
By these words he easily persuaded Xerxes to give him the man’s house; for there was no suspicion of his design in the King’s mind. And he could say in a certain sense that Protesilaüs had borne arms against the land of the King; because the Persians consider all Asia to belong to them, and to their King for the time being. So when Xerxes allowed his request, he brought all the treasures from Elæûs to Sestos, and made the sacred land into cornfields and pasture grounds; nay, more, whenever he paid a visit to Elæûs, he polluted the shrine itself by vile uses. It was this Artayctes who was now besieged by the Athenians—and he was but ill prepared for defence; since the Greeks had fallen upon him quite unawares, nor had he in the least expected their coming.
117. When it was now late in the autumn, and the siege still continued, the Athenians began to murmur that they were kept abroad so long; and, seeing that they were not able to take the place, besought their captains to lead them back to their own country. But the captains refused to move, till either the city had fallen, or the Athenian people ordered them to return home. So the soldiers patiently bore up against their sufferings.
118. Meanwhile those within the walls were reduced to the last straits, and forced even to boil the very thongs of their beds for food. At last, when these too failed them, Artayctes and Œobazus, with the native Persians, fled away from the place by night, having let themselves down from the wall at the back of the town, where the blockading force was scantiest. As soon as day dawned, they of the Chersonese made signals to the Greeks from the walls, and let them know what had happened, at the same time throwing open the gates of their city. Hereupon, while some of the Greeks entered the town, others, and those the more numerous body, set out in pursuit of the enemy.
119. Œobazus fled into Thrace; but there the Apsinthian Thracians seized him, and offered him, after their wonted fashion, to Pleistôrus, one of the gods of their country. His companions they likewise put to death, but in a different manner. As for Artayctes and the troops with him, who had been the last to leave the town, they were overtaken by the Greeks, nor far from Ægos-potami, and defended themselves stoutly for a time, but were at last either killed or taken prisoners. Those whom they made prisoners the Greeks bound with chains, and brought with them to Sestos. Artayctes and his son were among the number.
120. Now the Chersonesites relate that the following prodigy befell one of the Greeks who guarded the captives. He was broiling upon a fire some salted fish, when of a sudden they began to leap and quiver, as if they had been only just caught. Hereat, the rest of the guards hurried round to look, and were greatly amazed at the sight. Artaÿctes, however, beholding the prodigy, called the man to him, and said:
“Fear not, Athenian stranger, because of this marvel. It has not appeared on thy account, but on mine. Protesilaüs of Elæûs has sent it to show me, that albeit he is dead and embalmed with salt, he has power from the gods to chastise his injurer. Now then I would fain acquit my debt to him thus. For the riches which I took from his temple, I will fix my fine at one hundred talents—while for myself and this boy of mine, I will give the Athenians two hundred talents, on condition that they will spare our lives.”
Such were the promises of Artaÿctes; but they failed to persuade Xanthippus. For the men of Elæûs, who wished to avenge Protesilaüs, entreated that he might be put to death; and Xanthippus himself was of the same mind. So they led Artaÿctes to the tongue of land where the bridges of Xerxes had been fixed—or, according to others, to the knoll above the town of Madytus; and, having nailed him to a board, they left him hanging thereupon. As for the son of Artaÿctes, him they stoned to death before his eyes.
121. This done, they sailed back to Greece, carrying with them, besides other treasures, the shore cables from the bridges of Xerxes, which they wished to dedicate in their temples. And this was all that took place that year.
122. It was the grandfather of this Artaÿctes, one Artembares by name, who suggested to the Persians a proposal which they readily embraced, and thus urged upon Cyrus: “Since Jove,” they said, “has overthrown Astyages, and given the rule to the Persians, and to thee chiefly, O Cyrus! come now, let us quit this land wherein we dwell—for it is a scant land and a rugged—and let us choose ourselves some other better country. Many such lie around us, some nearer, some further off: if we take one of these, men will admire us far more than they do now. Who that had the power would not so act? And when shall we have a fairer time than now, when we are lords of so many nations, and rule all Asia?” Then Cyrus, who did not greatly esteem the counsel, told them: “they might do so, if they liked—but he warned them not to expect in that case to continue rulers, but to prepare for being ruled by others—soft countries gave birth to soft men—there was no region which produced very delightful fruits, and at the same time men of a warlike spirit.” So the Persians departed with altered minds, confessing that Cyrus was wiser than they; and chose rather to dwell in a churlish land, and exercise lordship, than to cultivate plains, and be the slaves of others.5
[* ]The corn-growing countries upon the Black Sea, in ancient as in modern times, supplied the commercial nations with their chief article of food. That Xerxes was not altogether devoid of magnanimity is plain from these anecdotes as well as from his conduct towards the heralds Sperthias and Bulis.
[1 ]This is the first instance of the mixed mercenary armies of Carthage, by which her conquests were ordinarily effected. As her own Phœnician population was small, it was her policy to spare it, and to hire soldiers from the countries to which she had the readiest access. The native African races always furnished her with the greatest number of troops; after them she drew her supplies from the various maritime nations bordering upon the western Mediterranean. It is instructive to find no mention of Celts in this place. If we cannot say with Niebuhr that the Celts had not yet reached the sea—and the mention of Narbonne by Hecatæus as “a Celtic harbour and trading-place,” disproves this assertion—yet still we may be quite sure that hitherto they occupied no considerable extent of coast—a view which Hecatæus, who assigns Marseilles to Liguria, decidedly confirms. The south of France, excepting a small corner near the Pyrenees, was now Liguria—a country which extended to the Arno. Spain was of course, as always to the Greeks, Iberia. The only people here named, who cause a difficulty, are the Helisyci. Niebuhr conjectures them to be the Volscians, which is possible etymologically, and agreeable to their position in the list of Herodotus; but it must not be forgotten that Hecatæus spoke of the Helisyci as a Ligurian tribe.
[2 ]Herodotus supposes the general bearing of the coast at this point to have been north and south, as it is generally on this side of Greece, whereas in reality the coast runs from west to east. This is a strange mistake for one who had visited the spot. The mountain-range is in fact south, and the sea north of the pass.
[3 ]The custom of sacrificing their first prisoner is ascribed by Procopius to the Thulitæ or Scandinavians. The Germans made their first captive contend with a champion of their own race, and took the result as an omen of success or failure.
[4 ]It can scarcely be doubted that this amount is considerably beyond the truth. It would have been the object of the several officers of Xerxes to exaggerate the numbers under their command, for their own credit in having brought so many men into the field; and Xerxes himself might have been content to have such exaggerations made, both as adding to his glory and as tending to alarm the Greeks. After the failure of the expedition it was equally an object with the Greeks to magnify its greatness, since they thus increased the merit of their own success. Still, portions of the details of the estimate seem to be altogether trustworthy; and it is possible to point out the chief places where exaggeration has crept in.
[5 ]With respect to the mode in which the immense host was actually supplied, we must bear in mind: 1. That Asiatics are accustomed to live upon a very scanty diet. 2. That commissariat preparations on the largest scale had been made for several years. Magazines of stores had been laid up on the line of march and the natives had been stimulated to prepare supplies of food of all kinds. 3. That a vast number of transports laden with corn accompanied the host along shore. And 4. That notwithstanding all these precautions, the expedition did suffer from want.
[6 ]This was the accepted genealogy and succession of the Spartan kings of the elder house, and may be confirmed from many sources. The line from Eurysthenes to Alcamenes is found in Diodorus, who professes to give from Apollodorus the exact number of years that each king reigned. Pausanias has the entire list from Aristodemus to Anaxandridas, but without any chronology. It is plain, however, that he would not have agreed with the numbers of Diodorus. Müller thinks that the names of the kings and the years of their reigns were preserved at Sparta in public registers from very early times.
[7 ]The Olympic festival was celebrated at the time of the first full moon after the summer solstice. It therefore ordinarily preceded the Spartan Carneia, falling in the latter end of June or in July. The Greeks would be very unwilling to give up, without absolute necessity, their attendance upon the great games “connected with so many purposes of pleasure, business, and religion.”
[8 ]The Spartan custom of wearing the hair long has been already noticed. The particular attention bestowed on its adornment in times of imminent danger is witnessed to by Plutarch and by Xenophon. The same military coxcombry was shown in the bright polish of their armour at such seasons, in the garlands wherewith on entering battle they adorned their brows, and in the scarlet dresses which they wore.
[9 ]The Cercopians in the legend of Hercules are humorous thieves, who alternately amuse and annoy him. Hercules, annoyed at the insults offered to him by the Cercopians, binds two of them to a pole in the manner represented on the bas-relief of Selinus, and marches off with his prize. Happily for the offenders, the hinder parts of Hercules had become tanned by continued labours and exposure to the atmosphere, which reminded them of an old prophecy, warning them to beware of a person of this complexion, and the coincidence caused them to burst out into an immoderate fit of laughter. This surprised Hercules, who inquired the reason, and was himself so diverted by it, that he set both his prisoners at liberty.
[1 ]Simonides was the poet laureate of the time. All three inscriptions are ascribed to him by other writers. He appears also to have written one of his lyric pieces on the same subject. “Simonides, the son of Leoprepes,” is identical with the “Simonides the Cean.”
[2 ]The body of the younger Cyrus was similarly treated by Artaxerxes, as was that of Crassus by the general of Hyrodes, the Parthian king. Cambyses had set the example of ill-treating the body of a dead enemy. According to Aristides of Miletus, Xerxes had Leonidas’ heart cut out, and found it covered with hair! Bones, considered to be those of Leonidas, were afterwards brought to Sparta by Pausanias, the son of Plistoanax, and were deposited in a tomb opposite the theatre. Games and funeral orations, held annually at the sepulchre, preserved the memory of the hero.
[1 ]Athens prudently waived her claim, as to insist on it might have caused the withdrawal of the Dorian forces, which amounted to 113 triremes, or nearly one-half of the fleet. Even with this concession she found it difficult enough to retain them.
[2 ]From this passage, and from the fact mentioned above, that the engagements at Thermopylæ and Artemisium coincided with the time of the Olympic games, we may be justified in fixing the battles to the latter part of June or the beginning of July.
[3 ]The Egyptians seem to have had ships and commerce at a very early time. Herodotus asserts that the Egyptian soldiers at Platæa had previously served on board the Persian fleet. The notion of the Egyptian prejudice against the sea is repeated without considering that it is mentioned in connection with their hatred of Typhon; and that it was merely because the sea was considered injurious, as the Nile was beneficial to Egypt; which last, according to one interpretation of that fabulous history, was Osiris. But this did not prevent their using the sea for the purposes of conquest and commerce.
[4 ]Rather more than $60,000 of our money.
[5 ]The two peaks rising immediately above Delphi, which render its site conspicuous at a distance, but which are of far lower elevation than the real summit, are probably intended. One of these, the eastern, was the Hyampeia mentioned below; the other, which is separated from it by a ravine, was called Nauplia. From these peaks Parnassus obtained its epithet of “biceps.”
[6 ]It is difficult to say how much of this account is, so far as the facts go, true—how much is exaggeration. We may, however, readily conceive that the priests arranged a plan of defence both on this occasion, and on the subsequent attacks of the Gauls, 279, in which they aimed at inspiring their assailants with superstitious fear, and their own side with religious trust and confidence. The fragments of rock may have been carefully prepared beforehand, and have been precipitated by the hands of those who are said to have taken refuge in the peaks—a mode of defence constantly practised by the inhabitants of mountainous countries. The sound which they made in falling may have been taken for thunder. The prodigy of the armour would require nothing but the hands of a single priest, and would be intended to indicate that the god was going out to the battle. The war-cry from Minerva’s temple might be the voice of another priest, and would have been at once the signal and encouragement of an attack.
[7 ]The Athenian citadel, or Acropolis, is almost too well known to need description. It is an oblong craggy hill, rising abruptly from the plain on three sides, and on the fourth, which is towards the west, sloping steeply down to the base of a second hill (that of Areopagus), which is one of group of rocky elevations lying west and southwest of the citadel, in the line between it and the Piræus. The summit of the Acropolis is said to be 400 feet above the level of the plain. It is a platform, about 1000 feet long by 500 broad. The only practicable access was at the western extremity. It was here that the few Athenians who remained in the town had hastily raised their wooden defences.
[8 ]Mars’ Hill, the seat of the celebrated court of the Areopagus, made still more famous by the preaching of St. Paul, is one of the features of Athenian topography which cannot be mistaken. It is the only hill that approaches near to the Acropolis, from the western extremity of which it is separated by a hollow of but a few yards in width. Here the Amazons were fabled to have taken up their position when they attacked the fortress of Theseus. Various accounts were given of the origin of the name. The most probable is that Mars was worshipped there from very early times. A temple of Mars stood to a late date on the southern side of the hill.
[9 ]The Isthmus is about four miles across at its narrowest point, and nearly five where the wall was built. Traces of the wall are still found. After the Persian war it was allowed to fall into decay, but was renewed again upon the Gallic invasion ( 279), when the Peloponnesians took no part in the stand made at Thermopylæ. The Venetians in the fifteenth century restored it once more, and in the seventeenth it formed for some time the boundary between their dominions and those of the Turks.
[1 ]The throne of Xerxes, which had silver feet, was preserved for many years in the Acropolis at Athens, having been left behind on his retreat. The gilded parasol which sheltered him from the sun seems not to have been captured.
[2 ]In this way Alexander afterwards succeeded in reducing Tyre, though the Tyrians were masters of the sea. The island Tyre, however, lay within half a mile of the mainland; while Salamis is nearly a mile from the shore. Also, the channel in the former case was at most three fathoms in depth, while at Salamis the depth of the strait reaches four fathoms at the point where it is shallowest.
[3 ]According to Thucydides, Themistocles did actually claim credit with the Persians for preventing the destruction of the bridge; but it is difficult to imagine him looking forward at this time to such a contingency as exile. Still, as Mr. Grote observes, “long-sighted cunning” was one of the leading traits of his character; and “a clever man, tainted with such constant guilt, might naturally calculate on being one day detected and punished.”
[4 ]The well-known description in Æschylus, while it confirms the account here given of the Persian retreat in many respects, exceeds it in certain strikingly poetic particulars. According to the tragedian, besides the deaths from starvation there were many from thirst, and some from mere gasping for breath! The great loss was at the Strymon, which, in the night of the day when the Persian army arrived upon its banks, was frozen over by an unseasonable frost, so firmly and hardly that the Persians commenced crossing upon the ice. When the sun’s rays grew hot, the ice melted, and the greater portion of the army perished in the stream.
[5 ]That Xanthippus had succeeded Themistocles in the command of the fleet, does not imply that the latter had ceased to be a Strategus. There is no reason to suppose, as Diodorus does, that Themistocles was in any disgrace. The feeling probably was that he could not be spared on distant service. He therefore remained at Athens to give his countrymen the benefit of his counsels.
[6 ]This was the accepted genealogy. It is found complete in Eusebius. These writers pretend to give the exact number of years which each king reigned. The result of their calculations is to place the accession of Perdiccas in the latter part of the eighth century (about 730). No dependence, however, can be placed on this date, nor can real Macedonian history be considered to commence any earlier than the reign of Amyntas.
[7 ]Alexander was not a tyrant in any proper acceptation of the word. He had not acquired his power unconstitutionally, neither did he exercise it cruelly. He was a king as truly as Xerxes or Leonidas; and so other Greek writers name the various monarchs of his house; but the Lacedæmonians are made, with dramatic propriety, to use, in their eagerness to disparage, a term not strictly applicable.
[1 ]Mardonius wintered his army in Thessaly and Macedonia. The difficulty of procuring supplies, after the exhaustion caused by the presence of the immense host of Xerxes, made it necessary to fall back upon those rich and fertile countries, the chief granaries of Greece. The same cause compelled the wide dispersion of his troops, indicated by their occupation of both regions. Perhaps it was with a view of facilitating the finding of food that Artabazus was permitted to winter in the neighbourhood of Potidæa and Olynthus. It must be borne in mind that the loss of the battle of Salamis had transferred to the Greeks the command of the sea, and that no supplies could any longer be drawn from Asia Minor, Syria, or Egypt.
[2 ]The entire force which Sparta furnished on this occasion amounted, according to our author, to 50,000 men. Of these, 5,000 were actual Spartans, an unexampled number. As the entire body of adult citizens certainly did not exceed, and probably fell short of 8,000, the levy may be regarded as an instance of the proportion of two-thirds of the whole effective strength, which we know to have been required of the subject allies in some cases. To these were added 5,000 Lacedæmonians, each with a single attendant helot, and 35,000 helots in attendance upon the 5,000 Spartans. Sparta never made an effort at all comparable to this, either before or afterwards.
[3 ]Such free indulgence of grief is characteristic of the Oriental temper, and goes far to justify Æschylus in the representations which have been so much criticised in the Persæ. Herodotus often notes this trait of character. The mode of mourning, by shaving the head, was common to many nations. Probably the earliest instance on record is that of Job. It was universal through Greece, and extended to the Thessalians and Macedonians.
[4 ]It seems very unlikely that this could be true. Herodotus had spoken above of the “abundant stores of corn and fodder,” which were laid up at Thebes. And it is evident from their whole story that the commissariat of the Persians was excellently managed.
[5 ]It is curious that Plutarch, while following in most points the very expressions of Herodotus, should reverse this statement, and declare that the Persians advanced in good order. If his text is sound, we must suppose that he thought it would detract too much from the credit of the Spartans to allow the disarray of the enemy.
[6 ]The wicker shields (λέῤῥα) of the Persians were useless for close combat, and they seem to have been destroyed in the first attack of the Greeks. The Persians were then exposed without bucklers, and with no defence but the breastplate, or coat of scale armour, to the spears of their adversaries. Perhaps some were even without this protection.
[7 ]The inability to conduct sieges is one of the most striking features of the Spartan military character. Müller ascribes it to a contempt for the system of warfare wherein sieges are of much account. But was it not rather the consequence of a general unaptness for the mechanical arts? Sieges cannot but be of account in war, and the Spartan inability told greatly against them at various periods in their history.
[8 ]This presence of Ephors in the camp is very remarkable. Hitherto the kings, notwithstanding the gradual encroachment of the Ephors upon their authority, had at least been uncontrolled in the camp and on foreign expeditions. Now this last privilege begins to suffer invasion.
[9 ]This is one of the very few passages of his History in which Herodotus seems to imply that he consulted authors in compiling it. For the most part he derives his materials from personal observation and inquiry.
[1 ]This last marvel will not be doubted in modern times. The others are defended to some extent both by science and authority. Among persons said to have had their teeth in a single piece are Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, and a son of Prusias, king of Bithynia.
[2 ]According to Diodorus, the Athenians in the first instance agreed with the Spartans; and the Asiatic Greeks likewise consenting were about to embark for Europe. Butthe Athenians suddenly changed their mind, fearing lest upon the new colonisation Athens should lose her rights of “mother-city.” The account of Herodotus is far more probable. That a mode of proceeding, familiar to the Greeks from the practice of the Oriental nations, should have been momentarily entertained is likely enough, but that it should have been on the point of execution is scarcely credible. An internecine war, too, must have arisen in Greece, if an attempt had been made to dispossess the medizing states of their seaport towns. The project, therefore, if seriously entertained at all, would be sure to be abandoned almost as soon as contemplated. It may be doubted whether Athens had as yet the feeling ascribed to her in either author. Even Herodotus sometimes colours events with the feelings with which they came to be regarded in later times.
[3 ]Few readers can fail to be struck by the resemblance between this scene and that described by St. Matthew, ch. xiv. 6-9, and St. Mark vi. 21-26. In the East kings celebrated their birthdays by holding feasts and granting graces from very early times.
[4 ]The Athenians had a sort of claim to the proprietorship of the Chersonese, grounded on the dominion of the family of Miltiades. It was a valuable possession, very fertile and suited for all crops. It was also very important to the Athenians to open the strait as soon as possible, since Athens depended greatly on the corn-trade from the Euxine. Hence the fall of Sestos was rapidly followed by the siege of Byzantium ( 477, probably).
[5 ]At the end of his great work Rawlinson says that the History of Herodotus, “though not finished throughout, is concluded.” This is the case both historically and artistically. Historically, the action ends with the victorious return of the Athenian fleet from the cruise in which they had destroyed the last remnant of the invading host, and recovered the key of their continent, which was still held, after all his defeats, by the invader. Artistically,—by this last chapter—the end is brought back into a connection with the beginning—the tail of the snake is curved round into his mouth; while at the same time the key-note of the whole narrative is struck, its moral suggested—that victory is to the hardy dwellers in rough and mountainous countries, defeat to the soft inhabitants of fertile plains, who lay aside old warlike habits and sink into sloth and luxury.