Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 5/Chapter 3

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

B.C. 381. 1With the first symptoms of approaching spring the Olynthian cavalry, six hundred strong, had swooped into the territory of Apollonia--about the middle of the day--and dispersing over the district, were employed in pillaging; but as luck would have it, Derdas had arrived that day with his troopers, and was breakfasting in Apollonia. He noted the enemy's incursion, but kept quiet, biding his time; his horses were ready saddled, and his troopers armed cap-a- pied. As the Olynthians came galloping up contemptuously, not only into the suburbs, but to the very gates of the city, he seized his opportunity, and with his compact and well-ordered squadron dashed out; 2whereupon the invaders took to flight. Having once turned them, Derdas gave them no respite, pursuing and slaughtering them for ten miles or more,[1] until he had driven them for shelter within the very ramparts of Olynthus. Report said that Derdas slew something like eighty men in this affair. After this the Olynthians were more disposed to keep to their walls, contenting themselves with tilling the merest corner of their territory.

3Time advanced, and Teleutias was in conduct of another expedition against the city of Olynthus. His object was to destroy any timber[2] still left standing, or fields still cultivated in the hostile territory. This brought out the Olynthian cavalry, who, stealthily advancing, crossed the river which washes the walls of the town, and again continued their silent march right up to the adversary's camp. At sight of an audacity which nettled him, Teleutias at once ordered Tlemonidas, the officer commanding his light infantry division, to charge the assailants at the run. 4On their side the men of Olynthus, seeing the rapid approach of the light infantry, wheeled and quietly retired until they had recrossed the river, drawing the enemy on, who followed with conspicuous hardihood. Arrogating to themselves the position of pursuers towards fugitives, they did not hesitate to cross the river which stood between them and their prey. Then the Olynthian cavalry, choosing a favourable moment, when those who had crossed seemed easy to deal with, wheeled and attacked them, putting Tlemonidas himself to the sword with more than a hundred others of his company. 5Teleutias, when he saw what was happening, snatched up his arms in a fit of anger and began leading his hoplites swiftly forward, ordering at the same time his peltasts and cavalry to give chase and not to slacken. Their fate was the fate of many before and since, who, in the ardour of pursuit, have come too close to the enemy's walls and found it hard to get back again. Under a hail of missiles from the walls they were forced to retire in disorder and with the necessity of guarding themselves against the missiles. 6At this juncture the Olynthians sent out their cavalry at full gallop, backed by supports of light infantry; and finally their heavy infantry reserves poured out and fell upon the enemy's lines, now in thorough confusion. Here Teleutias fell fighting, and when that happened, without further pause the troops immediately about him swerved. Not one soul longer cared to make a stand, but the flight became general, some fleeing towards Spartolus, others in the direction of Acanthus, a third set seeking refuge within the walls of Apollonia, and the majority within those of Potidaea. As the tide of fugitives broke into several streams, so also the pursuers divided the work between them; this way and that they poured, dealing death wholesale. So perished the pith and kernel of the armament.

7Such calamities are not indeed without a moral. The lesson they are meant to teach mankind, I think, is plain. If in a general sense one ought not to punish any one, even one's own slave, in anger--since the master in his wrath may easily incur worse evil himself than he inflicts--so, in the case of antagonists in war, to attack an enemy under the influence of passion rather than of judgment is an absolute error. For wrath is but a blind impulse devoid of foresight, whereas to the penetrating eye of reason a blow parried may be better than a wound inflicted.[3]

8When the news of what had happened reached Lacedaemon it was agreed, after due deliberation, that a force should be sent, and of no trifling description, if only to quench the victors' pride, and to prevent their own achievements from becoming null and void. In this determination they sent out King Agesipolis, as general, attended, like Agesilaus[4] on his Asiatic campaign, by thirty Spartans.[5] 9Volunteers flocked to his standard. They were partly the pick and flower of the provincials,[6] partly foreigners of the class called Trophimoi,[7] or lastly, bastard sons of Spartans, comely and beautiful of limb, and well versed in the lore of Spartan chivalry. The ranks of this invading force were further swelled by volunteers from the allied states, the Thessalians notably contributing a corps of cavalry. All were animated by the desire of becoming known to Agesipolis, so that even Amyntas and Derdas in zeal of service outdid themselves. With this promise of success Agesipolis marched forward against Olynthus.

10Meanwhile the state of Phlius, complimented by Agesipolis on the amount of the funds contributed by them to his expedition and the celerity with which the money had been raised, and in full belief that while one king was in the field they were secure against the hostile attack of the other (since it was hardly to be expected that both kings should be absent from Sparta at one moment), boldly desisted from doing justice by her lately reinstated citizens. On the one hand, these exiles claimed that points in dispute should be determined before an impartial court of justice; the citizens, on the other, insisted on the claimants submitting the cases for trial in the city itself. And when the latter demurred to that solution, asking "What sort of trial that would be where the offenders were also the judges?" they appealed to deaf ears. 11Consequently the restored party appealed at Sparta, to prefer a complaint against their city. They were accompanied by other members of the community, who stated that many of the Phliasians themselves besides the appellants recognised the injustice of their treatment. The state of Phlius was indignant at this manouvre, and retaliated by imposing a fine on all who had betaken themselves to Lacedaemon without a mandate from the state. 12Those who incurred the fine hesitated to return home; they preferred to stay where they were and enforce their views: "It is quite plain now who were the perpetrators of all the violence--the very people who originally drove us into exile, and shut their gates upon Lacedaemon; the confiscators of our property one day, the ruthless opponents of its restoration the next. Who else but they have now brought it about that we should be fined for appearing at Lacedaemon? and for what purpose but to deter any one else for the future from venturing to expose the proceedings at Phlius?" Thus far the appellants. 13And in good sooth the conduct of the men of Phlius did seem to savour of insolence; so much so that the ephors called out the ban against them.

B.C. 380. Nor was Agesilaus otherwise than well satisfied with this decision, not only on the ground of old relations of friendly hospitality between his father Archidamus and the party of Podanemus, who were numbered among the restored exiles at this time, but because personally he was bound by similar ties himself towards the adherents of Procles, son of Hipponicus. 14The border sacrifices proving favourable, the march commenced at once. As he advanced, embassy after embassy met him, and would fain by presents of money avert invasion. But the king answered that the purpose of his march was not to commit wrongdoing, but to protect the victims of injustice. 15Then the petitioners offered to do anything, only they begged him to forgo invasion. Again he replied--How could he trust to their words when they had lied to him already? He must have the warrant of acts, not promises. And being asked, "What act (would satisfy him)?" he answered once more, saying, "The same which you performed aforetime, and suffered no wrong at our hands"--in other words, the surrender of the acropolis.[8] 16But to this they could not bring themselves. Whereupon he invaded the territory of Phlius, and promptly drawing lines of circumvallation, commenced the siege. Many of the Lacedaemonians objected, for the sake of a mere handful of wretched people, so to embroil themselves with a state of over five thousand men.[9] For, indeed, to leave no doubt on this score, the men of Phlius met regularly in assembly in full view of those outside. But Agesilaus was not to be beaten by this move. 17Whenever any of the townsmen came out, drawn by friendship or kinship with the exiles, in every case the king's instructions were to place the public messes[10] at the service of the visitors, and, if they were willing to go through the course of gymnastic training, to give them enough to procure necessaries. All members of these classes were, by the general's strict injunctions, further to be provided with arms, and loans were to be raised for the purpose without delay. Presently the superintendents of this branch of the service were able to turn out a detachment of over a thousand men, in the prime of bodily perfection, well disciplined and splendidly armed, so that in the end the Lacedaemonians affirmed: "Fellow- soldiers of this stamp are too good to lose." Such were the concerns of Agesilaus.

18Meanwhile Agesipolis on leaving Macedonia advanced straight upon Olynthus and took up a strategical position in front of the town. Finding that no one came out to oppose him, he occupied himself for the present with pillaging any remnant of the district till intact, and with marching into the territory allied with the enemy, where he destroyed the corn. The town of Torone he attacked and took by storm. 19But while he was so engaged, in the height of mid-summer he was attacked by a burning fever. In this condition his mind reverted to a scene once visited, the temple of Dionysus at Aphytis, and a longing for its cool and sparkling waters and embowered shades[11] seized him. To this spot accordingly he was carried, still living, but only to breathe his last outside the sacred shrine, within a week of the day on which he sickened. His body was laid in honey and conveyed home to Sparta, where he obtained royal sepulchre.

20When the news reached Agesilaus he displayed none of the satisfaction which might possibly have been expected at the removal of an antagonist. On the contrary, he wept and pined for the companionship so severed, it being the fashion at Sparta for the kings when at home to mess together and to share the same quarters. Moreover, Agesipolis was admirably suited to Agesilaus, sharing with the merriment of youth in tales of the chase and horsemanship and boyish loves;[12] while, to crown all, the touch of reverence due from younger to elder was not wanting in their common life. In place of Agesipolis, the Lacedaemonians despatched Polybiades as governor to Olynthus.

B.C. 379. 21Agesilaus had already exceeded the time during which the supplies of food in Phlius were expected to last. The difference, in fact, between self-command and mere appetite is so great that the men of Phlius had only to pass a resolution to cut down the food expenditure by one half, and by doing so were able to prolong the siege for twice the calculated period. But if the contrast between self-restraint and appetite is so great, no less startling is that between boldness and faint-heartedness. 22A Phliasian named Delphion, a real hero, it would seem, took to himself three hundred Phliasians, and not only succeeded in preventing the peace-party from carrying out their wishes, but was equal to the task of incarcerating and keeping safely under lock and key those whom he mistrusted. Nor did his ability end there. He succeeded in forcing the mob of citizens to perform garrison duty, and by vigorous patrolling kept them constant to the work. Over and over again, accompanied by his personal attendants, he would dash out of the walls and drive in the enemy's outposts, first at one point and then at another of the beleaguering circle. 23But the time eventually came when, search as they might by every means, these picked defenders[13] could find no further store of food within the walls, and they were forced to send to Agesilaus, requesting a truce for an embassy to visit Sparta, adding that they were resolved to leave it to the discretion of the authorities at Lacedaemon to do with their city what they liked. 24Agesilaus granted a pass to the embassy, but, at the same time, he was so angry at their setting his personal authority aside, that he sent to his friends at home and arranged that the fate of Phlius should be left to his discretion. Meanwhile he proceeded to tighten the cordon of investment, so as to render it impossible that a single soul inside the city should escape. In spite of this, however, Delphion, with one comrade, a branded dare-devil, who had shown great dexterity in relieving the besieging parties of their arms, escaped by night. 25Presently the deputation returned with the answer from Lacedaemon that the state simply left it entirely to the discretion of Agesilaus to decide the fate of Phlius as seemed to him best. Then Agesilaus announced his verdict. A board of one hundred--fifty taken from the restored exiles, fifty from those within the city--were in the first place to make inquisition as to who deserved to live and who to die, after which they were to lay down laws as the basis of a new constitution. Pending the carrying out of these transactions, he left a detachment of troops to garrison the place for six months, with pay for that period. After this he dismissed the allied forces, and led the state[14] division home. Thus the transactions concerning Phlius were brought to a conclusion, having occupied altogether one year and eight months.

26Meanwhile Polybiades had reduced the citizens of Olynthus to the last stage of misery through famine. Unable to supply themselves with corn from their own land, or to import it by sea, they were forced to send an embassy to Lacedaemon to sue for peace. The plenipotentiaries on their arrival accepted articles of agreement by which they bound themselves to have the same friends and the same foes as Lacedaemon, to follow her lead, and to be enrolled among her allies; and so, having taken an oath to abide by these terms, they returned home.

27On every side the affairs of Lacedaemon had signally prospered: Thebes and the rest of the Boeotian states lay absolutely at her feet; Corinth had become her most faithful ally; Argos, unable longer to avail herself of the subterfuge of a movable calendar, was humbled to the dust; Athens was isolated; and, lastly, those of her own allies who displayed a hostile feeling towards her had been punished; so that, to all outward appearance, the foundations of her empire were at length absolutely well and firmly laid.

  1. Lit. "ninety stades."
  2. I.e. fruit-trees.
  3. See, for the same sentiment, "Horsemanship," vi. 13. See also Plut. "Pel." and "Marc." (Clough, ii. p. 278).
  4. See above, "Hell." III. iv. 2.
  5. Lit. "Spartiates." The new army was sent out B.C. 380, according to Grote.
  6. Lit. "beautiful and brave of the Perioeci."
  7. Xenophon's own sons educated at Sparta would belong to this class. See Grote, "H. G." x. 91.
  8. See above, IV. iv. 15.
  9. See Grote, "H. G." x. 45, note 4; and below, V. iv. 13.
  10. See "Pol. Lac." v.
  11. Lit. "shady tabernacles."
  12. See "Ages." viii. 2.
  13. See below, "Hell." VII. i. 19.
  14. {to politokon}, the citizen army. See above, IV. iv. 19; "Pol. Lac." xi.