« PreviousContinue »
While the barbarians were employed in this task, Attaginus, son of Phrynon, a Theban, having made great preparations, invited Mardonius himself and fifty of the most eminent Persians to an entertainment; and they, being invited, came. The feast was held at Thebes. The rest I heard from Thersander, an Orchomenian, a man of high repute at Orchomenus. Thersander said that he also was invited by Attaginus to this feast, and that fifty Thebans were also invited; and that he did not place each person on a separate couch, but a Persian and a Theban on each couch. When supper was over, and they were drinking freely, the Persian who was on the same couch, using the Grecian tongue, asked him of what country he was; he answered that he was an Orchomenian, whereupon the other said: “Since you are a partaker of the same table and of the same cups with me, I wish to leave with you a memorial of my opinion, in order that, being forewarned, you may be able to consider what is best for your own interest. Do you see these Persians feasting here, and the army that we left encamped near the river? Of all these you will see, after the lapse of a short time, only some few surviving.” As the Persian said this, he shed abundance of tears; and he himself, being astonished at his words, said to him, “Would it not be right to tell this to Mardonius, and to those Persians who are next to him in authority?” To this he answered : “My friend, that which is fated by the deity to happen it is impossible for man to avert; for no one will listen to those who say what is worthy of credit. And though many of the Persians are convinced of this, we follow, being bound by necessity. The bitterest grief to which men are liable is this, when one knows much, to have no power to act." This I heard from Thersander the Orchomenian; and this, besides, that he immediately told this to several persons before the battle was fought at Platæa.
While Mardonius encamped in Bæotia, all the rest furnished troops, and joined in the attack upon Athens, such, however, of the Greeks who, dwelling in these parts, sided with the Mede: but the Phocians only did not join in the attack; for they took part with the Mede very unwillingly and by necessity. But not many days after his arrival at Thebes a thousand of their heavy armed troops arrived ; Harmocydes, a man of high repute among the citizens, commanded them. When they also arrived at Thebes, Mardonius, having sent some horsemen, ordered them to encamp by themselves in the plain; and when they had done this, the whole cavalry came up. Upon this a rumour spread through the Grecian forces,
who were with the Medes, that they were going to despatch them with their javelins; this same rumour also spread among the Phocians themselves. Whereupon their general Harmocydes encouraged them, addressing them as follows: “O Phocians, it is plain that these men are about to deliver us up to certain death, we having been calumniated by the Thessalians, as I conjecture. Now, therefore, it is fitting that every one of you should prove himself valiant, for it is better to die doing something, and defending ourselves, than expose ourselves to be destroyed by a most disgraceful death. Let some of these men learn, then, that, being barbarians, they have plotted death against men who are Greeks.” Thus he encouraged them. But the cavalry, when they had surrounded them on all sides, rode up as if to destroy them, and brandished their javelins, as if about to hurl them; and one here and there did hurl his javelin. They, however, faced them, forming themselves into a circle, and closing their ranks as much as possible: whereupon the cavalry wheeled round and rode away. I am unable to say with certainty whether they came to destroy the Phocians at the request of the Thessalians, and when they saw them prepared to defend themselves, were afraid lest they might receive some wounds, and therefore rode off (because Mardonius had so ordered them), or whether he wished to try whether they had any courage. But when the cavalry had ridden back, Mardonius sent a herald and spoke as follows: “Be of good heart, O Phocians, for you have proved yourselves to be brave men, contrary to what I heard. Therefore sustain this war with resolution, and you shall not surpass me or the king in generosity.” Such were the events in regard to the Phocians.
The Lacedæmonians, when they arrived at the isthmus, there encamped. And the rest of the Peloponnesians, who favoured the better cause, when they heard of this, and others also who saw the Spartans marching out, thought it would be a disgrace to absent themselves from the expedition of the Lacedæmonians. Accordingly, the victims having proved favourable, they all marched out from the isthmus, and advanced to Eleusis. And having consulted the victims there also, when they were again favourable, they continued their march; and the Athenians with them, they having crossed over from Salamis and joined them at Eleusis. When they reached Erythræ in Baotia, they learned that the barbarians were encamped on the Asopus, and having thereupon consulted together, they formed themselves opposite, at the foot of Mount Cithæron. Mardonius, when the Greeks did not come down to the plain, sent against them all his cavalry, which Masistius commanded, a man highly esteemed among the Persians (and whom the Greeks call Macistius): he was mounted on a Nisæan horse, that had a golden bit, and was otherwise gorgeously caparisoned. Thereupon, when the cavalry rode up to the Greeks, they charged them in squadrons, and in charging them did them much mischief, and called them women. By chance the Megarians happened to be stationed in that part which was most exposed, and there the cavalry chiefly made their attack. When, therefore, the cavalry charged, the Megarians, being hard pressed, sent a herald to the Grecian generals; and the herald, when he came into their presence, addressed them as follows: "The Megarians say: We, O confederates, are not able alone to sustain the Persian cavalry, retaining the post in which we were originally stationed: hitherto we have held out against them by our constancy and courage, though hard pressed; but now, unless you will send some others to relieve us, know we must abandon our post.” He accordingly delivered this message. Pausanias, therefore, made trial of the Greeks, to see if any others would volunteer to go to that position, and to relieve the Megarians. When all the others refused, the Athenians undertook to do it, and of the Athenians three hundred chosen men, whom Olympiodorus, son of Lampon, commanded. These were they who undertook that service, and who were stationed in front of all the Greeks at Erythræ, having taken with them some archers. After they had fought for some time, the result of the battle was as follows: As the cavalry charged in squadrons, the horse of Masistius, being in advance of the others, was wounded in the flank by an arrow; and being in pain, he reared and threw Masistius. As he fell, the Athenians immediately attacked him: accordingly, they seized his horse and killed Masistius, as he endeavoured to defend himself, though at first they were unable to do so: for he was thus armed; underneath he had a golden cuirass covered with scales, and over the cuirass he wore a purple cloak. By striking against the cuirass they did nothing; until one of them, perceiving what was the matter, pierced him in the eye, so he fell and died. By some means this, while it was going on, escaped the notice of the other horsemen, for they neither saw him when he fell from his horse nor when he was killed; for while a retreat and wheeling round was taking place, they did not notice what had happened. But when they halted, they immediately missed him, as there was no one to marshal them. And as soon as they learned what had happened, all, cheering one another on, pushed their horses to the charge, in order to recover the body. The Athenians, seeing the cavalry no longer advancing in squadrons, but all together, called out for assistance to the rest of the army; and while the whole infantry was coming up to their aid, a sharp struggle took place for the body. Now as long as the three hundred were alone, they were much inferior, and abandoned the body; but when the multitude came up to their assistance, the cavalry no longer maintained their ground, nor did they succeed in recovering the body, but lost many others of their number, besides him; having therefore retired about two stades, they consulted about what ought to be done; and determined, as they were without a commander, to retreat to Mardonius. When the cavalry arrived at the camp, the whole army, and Mardonius most of all, mourned the loss of Masistius; cutting off their own hair, and that of their horses and beasts of burden, and giving themselves up to unbounded lamentations; for the sound reached over all Bæotia, as for the loss of a man who, next to Mardonius, was most esteemed by the Persians and the king. Thus the barbarians, according to their custom, honoured Masistius when dead.
The Greeks, when they had withstood the attack of the cavalry, and having withstood had repulsed it, were much more encouraged, and, first of all, having placed the body on a carriage, they carried it along the line; but the body was worthy of admiration, on account of his stature and beauty; for that reason they did this, and the men, leaving their ranks, came out to view Masistius. After this, they determined to go down toward Platæa, for the Platæan territory appeared to be much more convenient for them to encamp in than the Erythræan, both in other respects and as it was better supplied with water. To this country, therefore, and to the fountain Gargaphia, which is in this country, they decided that it would be best to remove, and having drawn up their line, there to encamp. Accordingly, having taken up their arms, they marched by the foot of Mount Cithæron, near Hysiæ, into the Platæan territory; and on arriving there, they formed in line, nation by nation, near the fountain of Gargaphia, and the precinct of the hero Androcrates, on slight elevations and the level plain. There in the distribution of the stations a vehement dispute arose between the Tegeans and the Athenians; for each claimed a right to occupy the other wing, alleging both their recent and former exploits. On the one hand, the Tegeans spoke thus: “We have ever been thought
1 The Lacedæmonians chose which wing they pleased.
entitled to this station by all the allies, in whatever common expeditions have been undertaken by the Peloponnesians, both anciently and recently, from the time when the Heraclidæ, after the death of Eurystheus, attempted to return to Peloponnesus. We then obtained this honour on the following occasion: when we, in conjunction with the Achæans and Ionians, who were then in Peloponnesus, having marched out to the isthmus, were posted opposite the invaders, then it is related that Hyllus made proclamation that it would be better not to run the hazard of engaging army with army; but that from the Peloponnesian camp, the man among them whom they judged to be the best should fight singly with him on certain conditions. The Peloponnesians determined that this should be done; and they took oaths on the following terms: that if Hyllus should conquer the Peloponnesian leader, the Heraclidæ should return to their paternal possessions; but if he should be conquered, the Heraclidæ should depart and lead off their army, and not seek to return into Peloponnesus during the space of a hundred years. And Echemus, son of Aeropus, son of Phegeus, who was our king and general, having volunteered, was chosen out of all the allies, and fought singly and slew Hyllus. From this exploit we obtained among the Peloponnesians of that day both other great privileges, which we continue to enjoy, and that we should always command one wing, whenever a common expedition is undertaken. With you, then, O Lacedæmonians, we do not contend, but giving you the choice of whichever wing you wish to command, we concede it to you; but we say that it belongs to us to lead the other, as in former times. And besides this exploit that has been mentioned, we are more entitled to have that station than the Athenians, for many and well-contested battles have been fought by us with you, O men of Sparta, and many with others. It is right, therefore, that we should have one wing, rather than the Athenians; for such exploits have not been achieved by them as by us, either in modern or ancient times.” Thus they spoke. To this the Athenians answered as follows: “We are aware that this assemblage was made for the purpose of fighting with the barbarians, and not for disputes; but since the Tegean has proposed to mention the former and recent actions that have been achieved by each nation in all times, it is necessary for us to make known to you whence it is our hereditary right, having ever proved ourselves valiant, to hold the first rank, rather than the Arcadians. As to the Heraclidæ, whose leader they affirm they slew at the isthmus; in the first place, these