Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 3/Chapter 2

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1Such were the exploits of Dercylidas: nine cities taken in eight days. Two considerations now began to occupy his mind: how was he to avoid falling into the fatal error of Thibron and becoming a burthen to his allies, whilst wintering in a friendly country? how, again, was he to prevent Pharnabazus from overriding the Hellenic states in pure contempt with his cavalry? Accordingly he sent to Pharnabazus and put it to him point-blank: Which will you have, peace or war? Whereupon Pharnabazus, who could not but perceive that the whole Aeolid had now been converted practically into a fortified base of operations, which threatened his own homestead of Phrygia, chose peace.

2This being so, Dercylidas advanced into Bithynian Thrace, and there spent the winter; nor did Pharnabazus exhibit a shadow of annoyance, since the Bithynians were perpetually at war with himself. For the most part, Dercylidas continued to harry[1] Bithynia in perfect security, and found provisions without stint. Presently he was joined from the other side of the straits by some Odrysian allies sent by Seuthes;[2] they numbered two hundred horse and three hundred peltasts. These fellows pitched upon a site a little more than a couple of miles[3] from the Hellenic force, where they entrenched themselves; then having got from Dercylidas some heavy infantry soldiers to act as guards of their encampment, they devoted themselves to plundering, and succeeded in capturing an ample store of slaves and other wealth. 3Presently their camp was full of prisoners, when one morning the Bithynians, having ascertained the actual numbers of the marauding parties as well as of the Hellenes left as guards behind, collected in large masses of light troops and cavalry, and attacked the garrison, who were not more than two hundred strong. As soon as they came close enough, they began discharging spears and other missiles on the little body, who on their side continued to be wounded and shot down, but were quite unable to retaliate, cooped up as they were within a palisading barely six feet high, until in desperation they tore down their defences with their own hands, and dashed at the enemy. 4These had nothing to do but to draw back from the point of egress, and being light troops easily escaped beyond the grasp of heavy-armed men, while ever and again, from one point of vantage or another, they poured their shower of javelins, and at every sally laid many a brave man low, till at length, like sheep penned in a fold, the defenders were shot down almost to a man. A remnant, it is true, did escape, consisting of some fifteen who, seeing the turn affairs were taking, had already made off in the middle of the fighting. Slipping through their assailants' fingers,[4] to the small concern of the Bithynians, they reached the main Hellenic camp in safety. 5The Bithynians, satisfied with their achievement, part of which consisted in cutting down the tent guards of the Odrysian Thracians and recovering all their prisoners, made off without delay; so that by the time the Hellenes got wind of the affair and rallied to the rescue, they found nothing left in the camp save only the stripped corpses of the slain. When the Odrysians themselves returned, they fell to burying their own dead, quaffing copious draughts of wine in their honour and holding horse-races; but for the future they deemed it advisable to camp along with the Hellenes. Thus they harried and burned Bithynia the winter through.

6With the commencement of spring Dercylidas turned his back upon the Bithynians and came to Lampsacus. Whilst at this place envoys reached him from the home authorities. These were Aracus, Naubates, and Antisthenes. They were sent to inquire generally into the condition of affairs in Asia, and to inform Dercylidas of the extension of his office for another year. They had been further commissioned by the ephors to summon a meeting of the soldiers and inform them that the ephors held them to blame for their former doings, though for their present avoidance of evil conduct they must needs praise them; and for the future they must understand that while no repetition of misdoing would be tolerated, all just and upright dealing by the allies would receive its meed of praise. 7The soldiers were therefore summoned, and the envoys delivered their message, to which the leader of the Cyreians answered: "Nay, men of Lacedaemon, listen; we are the same to-day as we were last year; only our general of to-day is different from our general in the past. If to-day we have avoided our offence of yesterday, the cause is not far to seek; you may discover it for youselves."

8Aracus and the other envoys shared the hospitality of Dercylidas's tent, and one of the party chanced to mention how they had left an embassy from the men of Chersonese in Lacedaemon. According to their statement, he added, it was impossible for them to till their land nowadays, so perpetually were they robbed and plundered by the Thracians; whereas the peninsula needed only to be walled across from sea to sea, and there would be abundance of good land to cultivate-- enough for themselves and as many others from Lacedaemon as cared to come. "So that it would not surprise us," continued the envoys, "if a Lacedaemonian were actually sent out from Sparta with a force to carry out the project." 9Dercylidas kept his ears open but his counsel close, and so sent forward the commissioners to Ephesus.[5] It pleased him to picture their progress through the Hellenic cities, and the spectacle of peace and prosperity which would everywhere greet their eyes. When he knew that his stay was to be prolonged, he sent again to Pharnabazus and offered him once more as an alternative either the prolongation of the winter truce or war. And once again Pharnabazus chose truce. It was thus that Dercylidas was able to leave the cities in the neighbourhood of the satrap[6] in peace and friendship. Crossing the Hellespont himself he brought his army into Europe, and marching through Thrace, which was also friendly, was entertained by Seuthes,[7] and so reached the Chersonese.

10This district, he soon discovered, not only contained something like a dozen cities,[8] but was singularly fertile. The soil was of the best, but ruined by the ravages of the Thracians, precisely as he had been told. Accordingly, having measured and found the breadth of the isthmus barely four miles,[9] he no longer hesitated. Having offered sacrifice, he commenced his line of wall, distributing the area to the soldiers in detachments, and promising to award them prizes for their industry--a first prize for the section first completed, and the rest as each detachment of workers might deserve. By this means the whole wall begun in spring was finished before autumn. Within these lines he established eleven cities, with numerous harbours, abundance of good arable land, and plenty of land under plantation, besides magnificent grazing grounds for sheep and cattle of every kind.

11Having finished the work, he crossed back again into Asia, and on a tour of inspection, found the cities for the most part in a thriving condition; but when he came to Atarneus he discovered that certain exiles from Chios had got possession of the stronghold, which served them as a convenient base for pillaging and plundering Ionia; and this, in fact, was their means of livelihood. Being further informed of the large supplies of grain which they had inside, he proceeded to draw entrenchments around the place with a view to a regular investment, and by this means he reduced it in eight months. Then having appointed Draco of Pellene[10] commandant, he stocked the fortress with an abundance of provisions of all sorts, to serve him as a halting-place when he chanced to pass that way, and so withdrew to Ephesus, which is three days' journey from Sardis.

12Up to this date peace had been maintained between Tissaphernes and Dercylidas, as also between the Hellenes and the barbarians in those parts. But the time came when an embassy arrived at Lacedaemon from the Ionic cities, protesting that Tissaphernes might, if he chose, leave the Hellenic cities independent. "Our idea," they added, "is, that if Caria, the home of Tissaphernes, felt the pinch of war, the satrap would very soon agree to grant us independence." The ephors, on hearing this, sent a despatch to Dercylidas, and bade him cross the frontier with his army into Caria, whilst Pharax the admiral coasted round with the fleet. These orders were carried out. 13Meanwhile a visitor had reached Tissaphernes. This was not less a person than Pharnabazus. His coming was partly owing to the fact that Tissaphernes had been appointed general-in-chief, and party in order to testify his readiness to make common cause with his brother satrap in fighting and expelling the Hellenes from the king's territory; for if his heart was stirred by jealousy on account of the generalship bestowed upon his rival, he was not the less aggrieved at finding himself robbed of the Aeolid. Tissaphernes, lending willing ears to the proposal, had answered: "First cross over with me in Caria, and then we will take counsel on these matters." 14But being arrived in Caria, they determined to establish garrisons of some strength in the various fortresses, and so crossed back again into Ionia.

Hearing that the satraps had recrossed the Maeander, Dercylidas grew apprehensive for the district which lay there unprotected. "If Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus," he said to Pharax, "chose to make a descent, they could harry the country right and left." In this mind he followed suit, and recrossed the frontier too. And now as they marched on, preserving no sort of battle order--on the supposition that the enemy had got far ahead of them into the district of Ephesus--suddenly they caught sight of his scouts perched on some monumental structures facing them. 15To send up scouts into similar edifices and towers on their own side was the work of a few moments, and before them lay revealed the long lines of troops drawn up just where their road lay. These were the Carians, with their white shields, and the whole Persian troops there present, with all the Hellenic contingents belonging to either satrap. Besides these there was a great cloud of cavalry: on the right wing the squadrons of Tissaphernes, and on the left those of Pharnabazus.

16Seeing how matters lay, Dercylidas ordered the generals of brigade and captains to form into line as quickly as possible, eight deep, placing the light infantry on the fringe of battle, with the cavalry--such cavalry, that is, and of such numerical strength, as he chanced to have. Meanwhile, as general, he sacrificed.[11]17During this interval the troops from Peloponnese kept quiet in preparation as for battle. Not so the troops from Priene and Achilleum, from the islands and the Ionic cities, some of whom left their arms in the corn, which stood thick and deep in the plain of the Maeander, and took to their heels; while those who remained at their posts gave evident signs that their steadiness would not last. 18Pharnabazus, it was reported, had given orders to engage; but Tissaphernes, who recalled his experience of his own exploits with the Cyreian army, and assumed that all other Hellenes were of similar mettle, had no desire to engage, but sent to Dercylidas saying, he should be glad to meet him in conference. So Dercylidas, attended by the pick of his troops, horse and foot, in personal attendance on himself,[12] went forward to meet the envoys. He told them that for his own part he had made his preparations to engage, as they themselves might see, but still, if the satraps were minded to meet in conference, he had nothing to say against it--"Only, in that case, there must be mutual exchange of hostages and other pledges."

19When this proposal had been agreed to and carried out, the two armies retired for the night--the Asiatics to Tralles in Caria, the Hellenes to Leucophrys, where was a temple[13] of Artemis of great sanctity, and a sandy-bottomed lake more than a furlong in extent, fed by a spring of ever-flowing water fit for drinking and warm. For the moment so much was effected. On the next day they met at the place appointed, and it was agreed that they should mutually ascertain the terms on which either party was willing to make peace. 20On his side, Dercylidas insisted that the king should grant independence to the Hellenic cities; while Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus demanded the evacuation of the country by the Hellenic army, and the withdrawal of the Lacedaemonian governors from the cities. After this interchange of ideas a truce was entered into, so as to allow time for the reports of the proceedings to be sent by Dercylidas to Lacedaemon, and by Tissaphernes to the king.


21Whilst such was the conduct of affairs in Asia under the guidance of Dercylidas, the Lacedaemonians at home were at the same time no less busily employed with other matters. They cherished a long-standing embitterment against the Eleians, the grounds of which were that the Eleians had once[14] contracted an alliance with the Athenians, Argives, and Mantineans; moreover, on pretence of a sentence registered against the Lacedaemonians, they had excluded them from the horse-race and gymnastic contests. Nor was that the sum of their offending. They had taken and scourged Lichas,[15] under the following circumstances:--Being a Spartan, he had formally consigned his chariot to the Thebans, and when the Thebans were proclaimed victors he stepped forward to crown his charioteer; whereupon, in spite of his grey hairs, the Eleians put those indignities upon him and expelled him from the festival. 22Again, at a date subsequent to that occurrence, Agis being sent to offer sacrifice to Olympian Zeus in accordance with the bidding of an oracle, the Eleians would not suffer him to offer prayer for victory in war, asserting that the ancient law and custom[16] forbade Hellenes to consult the god for war with Hellenes; and Agis was forced to go away without offering the sacrifice.

23In consequence of all these annoyances the ephors and the Assembly determined "to bring the men of Elis to their senses." Thereupon they sent an embassy to that state, announcing that the authorities of Lacedaemon deemed it just and right that they should leave the country[17] townships in the territory of Elis free and independent. This the Eleians flatly refused to do. The cities in question were theirs by right of war. Thereupon the ephors called out the ban. The leader of the expedition was Agis. He invaded Elis through Achaia[18] by the Larisus; 24but the army had hardly set foot on the enemy's soil and the work of devastation begun, when an earthquake took place, and Agis, taking this as a sign from Heaven, marched back again out of the country and disbanded his army. Thereat the men of Elis were much more emboldened, and sent embassies to various cities which they knew to be hostile to the Lacedaemonians.

25The year had not completed its revolution[19] ere the ephors again called out the ban against Elis, and the invading host of Agis was this time swelled by the rest of the allies, including the Athenians; the Boeotians and Corinthians alone excepted. The Spartan king now entered through Aulon,[20] and the men of Lepreum[21] at once revolted from the Eleians and gave in their adhesion to the Spartan, and simultaneously with these the Macistians and their next-door neighbours the Epitalians. As he crossed the river further adhesions followed, on the part of the Letrinians, the Amphidolians, and the Marganians.

26Upon this he pushed on into Olympian territory and did sacrifice to Olympian Zeus. There was no attempt to stay his proceedings now. After sacrifice he marched against the capital,[22] devastating and burning the country as he went. Multitudes of cattle, multitudes of slaves, were the fruits of conquest yielded, insomuch that the fame thereof spread, and many more Arcadians and Achaeans flocked to join the standard of the invader and to share in the plunder. In fact, the expedition became one enormous foray. Here was the chance to fill all the granaries of Peloponnese with corn. 27When he had reached the capital, the beautiful suburbs and gymnasia became a spoil to the troops; but the city itself, though it lay open before him a defenceless and unwalled town, he kept aloof from. He would not, rather than could not, take it. Such was the explanation given. Thus the country was a prey to devastation, and the invaders massed round Cyllene.

Then the friends of a certain Xenias--a man of whom it was said that he might measure the silver coin, inherited from his father, by the bushel--wishing to be the leading instrument in bringing over the state to Lacedaemon, rushed out of the house, sword in hand, and began a work of butchery. Amongst other victims they killed a man who strongly resembled the leader of the democratic party, Thrasydaeus.[23] Everyone believed it was really Thrasydaeus who was slain. The popular party were panic-stricken, and stirred neither hand nor foot. 28On their side, the cut-throats poured their armed bands into the market-place. But Thrasydaeus was laid asleep the while where the fumes of wine had overpowered him. When the people came to discover that their hero was not dead, they crowded round his house this side and that,[24] like a swarm of bees clinging to their leader; 29and as soon as Thrasydaeus had put himself in the van, with the people at his back, a battle was fought, and the people won. And those who had laid their hands to deeds of butchery went as exiles to the Lacedaemonians.

After a while Agis himself retired, recrossing the Alpheus; but he was careful to leave a garrison in Epitalium near that river, with Lysippus as governor, and the exiles from Elis along with him. Having done so, he disbanded his army and returned home himself.

B.C. 400-399 (?).[25]30During the rest of the summer and the ensuing winter the territory of the Eleians was ravaged and ransacked by Lysippus and his troops, until Thrasydaeus, the following summer, sent to Lacedaemon and agreed to dismantle the walls of Phea and Cyllene, and to grant autonomy to the Triphylian townships[26]--together with Phrixa and Epitalium, the Letrinians, Amphidolians, and Marganians; and besides these to the Acroreians and to Lasion, a place claimed by the Arcadians. With regard to Epeium, a town midway between Heraea and Macistus, the Eleians claimed the right to keep it, on the plea that they had purchased the whole district from its then owners, for thirty talents,[27] which sum they had actually paid. 31But the Lacedaemonians, acting on the principle "that a purchase which forcibly deprives the weaker party of his possession is no more justifiable than a seizure by violence," compelled them to emancipate Epeium also. From the presidency of the temple of Olympian Zeus, however, they did not oust them; not that it belonged to Elis of ancient right, but because the rival claimants,[28] it was felt, were "villagers," hardly equal to the exercise of the presidency. After these concessions, peace and alliance between the Eleians and the Lacedaemonians were established, and the war between Elis and Sparta ceased.

  1. {Pheson kai agon}, i.e. "there was plenty of live stock to lift and chattels to make away with."
  2. For Seuthes see "Anab." VII. i. 5; and below, IV. viii. 26.
  3. Lit. "twenty stades."
  4. Or, "slipping through the enemy's fingers, who took no heed of them, they," etc.
  5. See Grote, "H. G." ix. 301.
  6. Or, reading after Cobet, {tas peri ekeina poleis}--"the cities of that neighbourhood."
  7. See "Anab." VII. vii. 51.
  8. Lit. "eleven or twelve cities." For the natural productivity, see "Anab." V. vi. 25.
  9. Lit. "thirty-seven stades." Mod. Gallipoli. See Herod. vi. 36; Plut. "Pericl." xix.
  10. Cf. Isocr. "Panegyr." 70; Jebb. "Att. Or." ii. p. 161. Of Pellene (or Pellana) in Laconia, not Pellene in Achaia? though that is the opinion of Grote and Thirlwall.
  11. I.e. according to custom on the eve of battle. See "Pol. Lac." xiii. 8.
  12. Lit. "they were splendid fellows to look at." See "Anab." II. iii. 3.
  13. Lately unearthed. See "Class. Rev." v. 8, p. 391.
  14. In 421 B.C. (see Thuc. v. 31); for the second charge, see Thuc. v. 49 foll.
  15. See "Mem." I. ii. 61; Thuc. v. 50; and Jowett, note ad loc. vol. ii. p. 314.
  16. See Grote, "H. G." ix. 311 note.
  17. Lit. "perioecid."
  18. From the north. The Larisus is the frontier stream between Achaia and Elis. See Strabo, viii. 387.
  19. Al. "on the coming round of the next year." See Jowett (note to Thuc. i. 31), vol. ii. p. 33.
  20. On the south. For the history, see Busolt, "Die Laked." pp. 146-200. "The river" is the Alpheus.
  21. See below, VI. v. 11; Paus. IV. xv. 8.
  22. I.e. Elis, of which Cyllene is the port town. For the wealth of the district, see Polyb. iv. 73; and below, VII. iv. 33.
  23. See Paus. III. viii. 4. He was a friend of Lysias ("Vit. X. Orat. 835).
  24. The house was filled to overflowing by the clustering close- packed crowd.
  25. Grote ("H. G." ix. 316) discusses the date of this war between Elis and Sparta, which he thinks, reaches over three different years, 402-400 B.C. But Curtius (vol. iv. Eng. tr. p. 196) disagrees: "The Eleian war must have occurred in 401-400 B.C., and Grote rightly conjectures that the Eleians were anxious to bring it to a close before the celebration of the festival. But he errs in extending its duration over three years." See Diod. xiv. 17. 24; Paus. III. viii. 2 foll.
  26. Grote remarks: "There is something perplexing in Xenophon's description of the Triphylian townships which the Eleians surrendered" ("H. G." ix. 315). I adopt Grote's emend. {kai Phrixan}. See Busolt, op. cit. p. 176.
  27. = 7,312 pounds: 10 shillings.
  28. I.e. the men of the Pisatid. See below, VII. iv. 28; Busolt, op. cit. p 156.