The History of Herodotus Chapter 9
Written 440 B.C.E
Translated by George Rawlinson
Mardonius, when Alexander upon his return made known to him the answer of the Athenians, forthwith broke up from Thessaly, 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.
When the army reached Boeotia, 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."
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 However, he did not on his arrival in Attica find the Athenians in their country- they had again withdrawn, some to their ships, but the greater part to Salamis- and he only gained possession of a deserted town.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.
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 dispatched Murychides to Salamis.
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.
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 Boeotia, 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 Lacedaemon, who were to reproach the Lacedaemonians for having allowed the barbarian to advance into Attica, instead of joining them and going out to meet him in Boeotia. They were likewise to remind the Lacedaemonians of the offers by which the Persian had sought to win Athens over to his side, and to warn them, that no aid came from Sparta, the Athenians must consult for their own safety.
The truth was, the Lacedaemonians 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 Plataea, reached Lacedaemon, 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 were but now so full of fear least 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 Boeotia; 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 Boeotia is lost to us, the best place for the fight within our country, will be the plain of Thria."
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 Lacedaemonians 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 the 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.
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 Chileus, 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."
Such was the counsel which Chileus 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.
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:- "Lacedaemonians, 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 Oresteum 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 Lacedaemonian Perioeci, all picked men and fully armed, set forth from Sparta, in the company of the ambassadors.
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 Lacedaemonian 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.
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 open 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.
After he had quitted Attica and was already upon his march, news reached him that a body of a thousand Lacedaemonians, 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.)
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 Boeotarchs had sent for some of the neighbours of the Asopians; and these persons served as guides to the army, and led them first to Sphendale, and from thence to Tanagra, where Mardonius rested a night; after which, upon the morrow, he bent his course to Scolus, 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 Asopus, and stretched from Erythrae, along by Hysiae, to the territory of the Plataeans. 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, Attaginus 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.
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 Plataea.
When Mardonius formerly held his camp in Boeotia, 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!"
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.
The Lacedaemonians, 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 the 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 Erythrae in Boeotia, they learnt that the barbarians were encamped upon the Asopus; wherefore they themselves, after considering how they should act, disposed their forces opposite to the enemy upon the slopes of Mount Cithaeron.
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 Nisaean 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.
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 Olympiodorus, the son of Lampo, undertook the service.
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 Erythrae 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.
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 worse 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.
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 Boeotia resounded with the clamour, 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.
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 Plataea, as the land there seemed far more suitable for an encampment than the country about Erythrae, 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 Cithaeron, past Hysiae, to the territory of the Plataeans; 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.
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 Heraclidae 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 Achaeans and Ionians who then dwelt in the Peloponnese, we marched out to the Isthmus, and pitched our camp over against the invaders, then, as 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 Heraclidae shall return to their inheritance; if, on the other hand, he be conquered, the Heraclidae 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 Aeropus and grandson of Phegeus, 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 Lacedaemonians, 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."
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 carlier 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 Heraclidae, 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 Mycinae, 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 Thermodon, 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, Lacedaemonians, 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."
Such was the reply of the Athenians; and forthwith all the Lacedaemonian 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 Lacedaemonian 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 Potidaea in Pallene. The Arcadians of Orchomenus, in number six hundred, came next; then the Sicyonians, three thousand; then the Epidaurians, eight hundred; then the Troezenians, one thousand; then the Lepreats, two hundred; the Mycenaeans 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 Cephallenia, two hundred; the Eginetans, five hundred; the Megarians, three thousand; and the Plataeans, 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.
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 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 Lacedaemonians 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.
The Greek army, therefore, which mustered at Plataea, 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 Asopus.
The barbarians under Mardonius, when the mourning for Masistius was at an end, and they learnt that the Greeks were in the Plataean territory, moved likewise towards the river Asopus, which flows in those parts. On their arrival Mardonius marshalled them against the Greeks in the following order:- Against the Lacedaemonians 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 Lacedaemonians, 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, Potidaeans, Orchomenians, and Sicyonians; then the Bactrians, facing the Epidaurians, Troezenians, Lepreats, Tirynthians, Mycenaeans, and Phliasians; after them the Indians, facing the Hermionians, Eretrians, Styreans, and Chalcidians; then the Sacans, facing the Ambraciots, Anactorians, Leucadians, Paleans, and Eginetans; last of all, facing the Athenians, the Plataeans, and the Megarians, he placed the troops of the Boeotians, 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.
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, Paeonians, and the like; Ethiopians again, and Egyptians, both of the Hermotybian and Calascirian 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 Phalerum; 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.
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 Iamidae, but had been admitted among their own citizens by the Lacedaemonians. 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 Lacedaemonians perceived that the combats of which the oracle spoke were not combats in the games, but battles: 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."
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.
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 Plataea; the second, that near Tegea, against the Tegeans and the Argives; the third, that at Dipaeeis, 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.
The Spartans had now brought Tisamenus with them to the Plataean 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 Asopus.
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 Hegesistratus, 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 Hegesistratus, 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,- Hegesistratus, 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 Lacedaemonians 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. Hegesistratus, having thus escaped the Lacedaemonians, took refuge in Tegea; for the Tegeans at that time were ill friends with the Lacedaemonians. When his wound was healed, he procured himself a wooden foot, and became an open enemy to Sparta. At the 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 Plataea. At present he was serving Mardonius on the Asopus, having been hired at no inconsiderable price; and here he offered sacrifice with a right good will, in part from his hatred of the Lacedaemonians, in part for lucre's sake.
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 Cithaeron, telling him how supplies of men kept flocking in day after day, and assuring him that he might cut off large numbers.
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 Cithaeron which opens out upon Plataea, a pass called by the Boeotians the "Three Heads," 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.
After this they waited again for two days more, neither army wishing to begin the fight. The barbarians indeed advanced as far as the Asopus, 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.
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 Plataea- 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 Hegesistratus 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."
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.
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:-