Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 6/Chapter 1

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B.C. 374. 1The Athenians and Lacedaemonians were thus engaged. But to return to the Thebans. After the subjugation of the cities in Boeotia, they extended the area of aggression and marched into Phocis. The Phocians, on their side, sent an embassy to Lacedaemon, and pleaded that without assistance from that power they must inevitably yield to Thebes. The Lacedaemonians in response conveyed by sea into the territory of Phocis their king Cleombrotus, at the head of four regiments and the contingents of the allies.

2About the same time Polydamus of Pharsalus arrived from Thessaly to address the general assembly[1] of Lacedaemon. He was a man of high repute throughout the whole of Thessaly, while in his native city he was regarded as so true a gentleman that the faction-ridden Pharsalians were content to entrust the citadel to his keeping, and to allow their revenues to pass through his hands. It was his privilege to disburse the money needed for sacred rites or other expenditure, within the limits of their written law and constitution. 3Out of these moneys this faithful steward of the state was able to garrison and guard in safety for the citizens their capital. Every year he rendered an account of his administration in general. If there was a deficit he made it up out of his own pocket, and when the revenues expanded he paid himself back. For the rest, his hospitality to foreigners and his magnificence were on a true Thessalian scale. Such was the style and character of the man who now arrived in Lacedaemon and spoke as follows:

4"Men of Lacedaemon, it is in my capacity as 'proxenos' and 'benefactor' (titles borne by my ancestry from time immemorial) that I claim, or rather am bound, in case of any difficulty to come to you, and, in case of any complication dangerous to your interests in Thessaly, to give you warning. The name of Jason, I feel sure, is not unknown to Lacedaemonian ears. His power as a prince is sufficiently large, and his fame widespread. It is of Jason I have to speak. Under cover of a treaty of peace he has lately conferred with me, and this is the substance of what he urged: 6'Polydamas,' he said, 'if I chose I could lay your city at my feet, even against its will, as the following considerations will prove to you. See,' he went on, 'the majority and the most important of the states of Thessaly are my allies. I subdued them in campaigns in which you took their side in opposition to myself. Again, you do not need to be told that I have six thousand mercenaries who are a match in themselves, I take it, for any single state. It is not the mere numbers on which I insist. No doubt as large an army could be raised in other quarters; but these citizen armies have this defect--they include men who are already advanced in years, with others whose beards are scarcely grown. Again, it is only a fraction of the citizens who attend to bodily training in a state, whereas with me no one takes mercenary service who is not as capable of endurance as myself.'

6"And here, Lacedaemonians, I must tell you what is the bare truth. This Jason is a man stout of limb and robust of body, with an insatiable appetite for toil. Equally true is it that he tests the mettle of those with him day by day. He is always at their head, whether on a field-day under arms, or in the gymnasium, or on some military expedition. The weak members of the corps he weeds out, but those whom he sees bear themselves stout-heartedly in the face of war, like true lovers of danger and of toil, he honours with double, treble, and quadruple pay, or with other gifts. On the bed of sickness they will not lack attendance, nor honour in their graves. Thus every foreigner in his service knows that his valour in war may obtain for him a livelihood--a life replete at once with honour and abundance.[2]

7"Then with some parade he pointed out to me what I knew before, that the Maracians, and the Dolopians, and Alcetas the hyparch[3] in Epirus, were already subject to his sway; 'so that I may fairly ask you, Polydamas,' he proceeded, 'what I have to apprehend that I should not look on your future subjugation as mere child's play. Perhaps some one who did not know me, and what manner of man I am, might put it to me: "Well! Jason, if all you say be true, why do you hesitate? why do you not march at once against Pharsalia?" For the good reason, I reply, that it suits me better to win you voluntarily than to annex you against your wills. Since, if you are forced, you will always be planning all the mischief you can against me, and I on my side shall be striving to diminish your power; whereas if you throw in your lot with mine trustfully and willingly, it is certain we shall do what we can to help each other. 8I see and know, Polydamas, that your country fixes her eyes on one man only, and that is yourself: what I guarantee you, therefore, is that, if you will dispose her lovingly to myself, I on my side will raise you up to be the greatest man in Hellas next to me. Listen, while I tell you what it is in which I offer you the second prize. Listen, and accept nothing which does not approve itself as true to your own reasoning. First, is it not plain to us both, that with the adhesion of Pharsalus and the swarm of pettier states dependent on yourselves, I shall with infinite ease become Tagos[4] of all the Thessalians; and then the corollary--Thessaly so united-- sixteen thousand cavalry and more than ten thousand heavy infantry leap into life. 9Indeed, when I contemplate the physique and proud carriage of these men, I cannot but persuade myself that, with proper handling, there is not a nation or tribe of men to which Thessalians would deign to yield submission. Look at the broad expanse of Thessaly and consider: when once a Tagos is established here, all the tribes in a circle round will lie stilled in subjection; and almost every member of each of these tribes is an archer born, so that in the light infantry division of the service our power must needs excel. 10Furthermore, the Boeotians and all the rest of the world in arms against Lacedaemon are my allies; they clamour to follow my banner, if only I will free them from Sparta's yoke. So again the Athenians, I make sure, will do all they can to gain our alliance; but with them I do not think we will make friends, for my persuasion is that empire by sea will be even easier to acquire than empire by land; 11and to show you the justice of this reasoning I would have you weigh the following considerations. With Macedonia, which is the timber-yard[5] of the Athenian navy, in our hands we shall be able to construct a far larger fleet than theirs. That stands to reason. And as to men, which will be the better able to man vessels, think you--Athens, or ourselves with our stalwart and numerous Penestae?[6] Which will better support mariners--a nation which, like our own, out of her abundance exports her corn to foreign parts, or Athens, which, but for foreign purchases, has not enough to support herself? 12And so as to wealth in general it is only natural, is it not, that we, who do not look to a string of little islands for supplies, but gather the fruits of continental peoples, should find our resources more copious? As soon as the scattered powers of Thessaly are gathered into a principality, all the tribes around, I repeat, will become our tributaries. I need not tell you that the king of Persia reaps the fruits, not of islands, but of a continent, and he is the wealthiest of men! But the reduction of Persia will be still more practicable, I imagine, than that of Hellas, for there the men, save one, are better versed in slavery than in prowess. Nor have I forgotten, during the advance of Cyrus, and afterwards under Agesilaus, how scant the force was before which the Persian quailed.'

13"Such, Lacedaemonians, were the glowing arguments of Jason. In answer I told him that what he urged was well worth weighing, but that we, the friends of Lacedaemon, should so, without a quarrel, desert her and rush into the arms of her opponents, seemed to me sheer madness. Whereat he praised me, and said that now must he needs cling all the closer to me if that were my disposition, and so charged me to come to you and tell you the plain truth, which is, that he is minded to march against Pharsalus if we will not hearken to him. Accordingly he bade me demand assistance from you; 'and if they suffer you,'[7] he added, 'so to work upon them that they will send you a force sufficient to do battle with me, it is well: we will abide by war's arbitrament, nor quarrel with the consequence; but if in your eyes that aid is insufficient, look to yourself. How shall you longer be held blameless before that fatherland which honours you and in which you fare so well?'[8]

14"These are the matters," Polydamas continued, "which have brought me to Lacedaemon. I have told you the whole story; it is based partly on what I see to be the case, and partly on what I have heard from yonder man. My firm belief is, men of Lacedaemon, that if you are likely to despatch a force sufficient, not in my eyes only, but in the eyes of all the rest of Thessaly, to cope with Jason in war, the states will revolt from him, for they are all in alarm as to the future development of the man's power; but if you think a company of newly- enfranchised slaves and any amateur general will suffice, I advise you to rest in peace. 15You may take my word for it, you will have a great power to contend against, and a man who is so prudent a general that, in all he essays to do, be it an affair of secrecy, or speed, or force, he is wont to hit the mark of his endeavours: one who is skilled, should occasion serve, to make the night of equal service to him with the day;[9] or, if speed be needful, will labour on while breakfasting or taking an evening meal. And as for repose, he thinks that the time for it has come when the goal is reached or the business on hand accomplished. And to this same practice he has habituated those about him. Right well he knows how to reward the expectations of his soldiers, when by the extra toil which makes the difference they have achieved success; so that in his school all have laid to heart that maxim, 'Pain first and pleasure after.'[10] 16And in regard to pleasure of the senses, of all men I know, he is the most continent; so that these also are powerless to make him idle at the expense of duty. You must consider the matter then and tell me, as befits you, what you can and will do."

17Such were the representations of Polydamas. The Lacedaemonians, for the time being, deferred their answer; but after calculating the next day and the day following how many divisions[11] they had on foreign service, and how many ships on the coast of Laconia to deal with the foreign squadron of the Athenians, and taking also into account the war with their neighbours, they gave their answer to Polydamas: "For the present they would not be able to send him sufficient aid: under the circumstances they advised him to go back and make the best settlement he could of his own affairs and those of his city." 18He, thanking the Lacedaemonians for their straightforwardness, withdrew.

The citadel of Pharsalus he begged Jason not to force him to give up: his desire was to preserve it for those who had entrusted it to his safe keeping; his own sons Jason was free to take as hostages, and he would do his best to procure for him the voluntary adhesion of his city by persuasion, and in every way to further his appointment as Tagos of Thessaly. Accordingly, after interchange of solemn assurances between the pair, the Pharsalians were let alone and in peace, and ere long Jason was, by general consent, appointed Tagos of all the Thessalians. 19Once fairly vested with that authority, he drew up a list of the cavalry and heavy infantry which the several states were capable of furnishing as their quota, with the result that his cavalry, inclusive of allies, numbered more than eight thousand, while his infantry force was computed at not less than twenty thousand; and his light troops would have been a match for those of the whole world --the mere enumeration of their cities would be a labour in itself.[12] His next act was a summons to all the dwellers round[13] to pay tribute exactly the amount imposed in the days of Scopas.[14] And here in this state of accomplishment we may leave these matters. I return to the point reached when this digression into the affairs of Jason began.

  1. {pros to koinon}, "h.e. vel ad ad senatum vel ad ephoros vel ad concionem."--Sturz, "Lex. Xen." s.v.
  2. Or, "a life satisfying at once to soul and body."
  3. Or, "his underlord in Epirus." By hyparch, I suppose, is implied that Alcetas regarded Jason as his suzerain. Diodorus (xv. 13, 36) speaks of him as "king" of the Molossians.
  4. Or, "Prince," and below, "Thessaly so converted into a Principality." "The Tagos of Thessaly was not a King, because his office was not hereditary or even permanent; neither was he exactly a Tyrant, because his office had some sort of legal sanction. But he came much nearer to the character either of a King or of a Tyrant than to that of a Federal President like the General of the Achaians. . . . Jason of Pherai acts throughout like a King, and his will seems at least as uncontrolled as that of his brother sovereign beyond the Kambunian hills. Even Jason seems to have been looked upon as a Tyrant (see below, 'Hell.' VI. iv. 32); possibly, like the Athenian Demos, he himself did not refuse the name" (cf. Arist. "Pol." iii. 4, 9).--Freeman, "Hist. Fed. Gov." "No True Federation in Thessaly," iv. pp. 152 foll.
  5. See above, and Hicks, 74.
  6. Or, "peasantry."
  7. Or, reading {theoi}, after Cobet; translate "if providentially they should send you."
  8. Reading {kai e su pratteis}, after Cobet. The chief MSS. give {ouk ede anegkletos an dikaios eies en te patridi e se tima kai su prattois ta kratista}, which might be rendered either, "and how be doing best for yourself?" [lit. "and you would not be doing best for yourself," {ouk an} carried on from previous clause], or (taking {prattois} as pure optative), "may you be guided to adopt the course best for yourself!" "may the best fortune attend you! Farewell." See Otto Keller, op. cit. ad loc. for various emendations.
  9. See "Cyrop." III. i. 19.
  10. For this sentiment, see "Mem." II. i. 20 et passim.
  11. Lit. "morai."
  12. See "Cyrop." I. i. 5.
  13. Lit. perioeci.
  14. It is conjectured that the Scopadae ruled at Pherae and Cranusa in the earlier half of the fifth century B.C.; see, for the change of dynasty, what is said of Lycophron of Pherae in "Hell." II. iii. 4. There was a famous Scopas, son of Creon, to whom Simonides addressed his poem--
    {Andr' agathon men alatheos genesthai
    khalepon khersin te kai posi kai noo tetragonon, aneu psogou tetugmenon.}
    a sentiment criticised by Plato, "Protag." 359 A. "Now Simonides says to Scopas, the son of Creon, the Thessalian: 'Hardly on the one hand can a man become truly good; built four-square in hands and feet and mind, a work without a flaw.'
    Do you know the poem?"--Jowett, "Plat." i. 153. But whether this Scopas is the Scopas of our text and a hero of Jason's is not clear.