Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 6/Chapter 4

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

1In consequence of the peace the Athenians proceeded to withdraw their garrisons from the different sates, and sent to recall Iphicrates with his fleet; besides which they forced him to restore eveything captured subsequently to the late solemn undertaking at Lacedaemon. 2The Lacedaemonians acted differently. Although they withdrew their governors and garrisons from the other states, in Phocis they did not do so. Here Cleombrotus was quartered with his army, and had sent to ask directions from the home authorities. A speaker, Prothous, maintained that their business was to disband the army in accordance with their oaths, and then to send round invitations to the states to contribute what each felt individually disposed, and lay such sum in the temple of Apollo; after which, if any attempt to hinder the independence of the states on any side were manifested, it would be time enough then again to invite all who cared to protect the principle of autonomy to march against its opponents. "In this way," he added, "I think the goodwill of heaven will be secured, and the states will suffer least annoyance." 3But the Assembly, on hearing these views, agreed that this man was talking nonsense. Puppets in the hands of fate![1] An unseen power, it would seem, was already driving them onwards; so they sent instructions to Cleombrotus not to disband the army, but to march straight against the Thebans if they refused to recognise the autonomy of the states. [Cleombrotus, it is understood, had, on hearing the news of the establishment of peace, sent to the ephorate to ask for guidance; and then they sent him the above instructions, bidding him under the circumstances named to march upon Thebes.[2]]

The Spartan king soon perceived that, so far from leaving the Boeotian states their autonomy, the Thebans were not even preparing to disband their army, clearly in view of a general engagement; he therefore felt justified in marching his troops into Boeotia. The point of ingress which he adopted was not that which the Thebans anticipated from Phocis, and where they were keeping guard at a defile; but, marching through Thisbae by a mountainous and unsuspected route, he arrived before Creusis, taking that fortress and capturing twelve Theban war- vessels besides. 4After this achievement he advanced from the seaboard and encamped in Leuctra on Thespian territory. The Thebans encamped in a rising ground immediately opposite at no great distance, and were supported by no allies except the Boeotians.

5At this juncture the friends of Cleombrotus came to him and urged upon him strong reasons for delivering battle. "If you let the Thebans escape without a battle," they said, "you will run great risks of suffering the extreme penalty at the hands of the state. People will call to mind against you the time when you reached Cynoscephelae and did not ravage a square foot of Theban territory; and again, a subsequent expedition when you were driven back foiled in your attempt to make an entry into the enemy's country--while Agesilaus on each occasion found his entry by Mount Cithaeron. If then you have any care for yourself, or any attachment to your fatherland, march you against the enemy." That was what his friends urged. As to his opponents, what they said was, "Now our fine friend will show whether he really is so concerned on behalf of the Thebans as he is said to be."

6Cleombrotus, with these words ringing in his ears, felt driven[3] to join battle. On their side the leaders of Thebes calculated that, if they did not fight, their provincial cities[4] would hold aloof from them and Thebes itself would be besieged; while, if the commonalty of Thebes failed to get supplies, there was every prospect that the city itself would turn against them; and, seeing that many of them had already tasted the bitterness of exile, they came to the conclusion that it was better for them to die on the field of battle than to renew that experience. 7Besides this they were somewhat encouraged by the recital of an oracle which predicted that the Lacedaemonians would be defeated on the spot where the monument of the maidens stood, who, as the story goes, being violated by certain Lacedaemonians, had slain themselves.[5] This sepulchral monument the Thebans decked with ornaments before the battle. Furthermore, tidings were brought them from the city that all the temples had opened of their own accord; and the priestesses asserted that the gods revealed victory. Again, from the Heracleion men said that the arms had disappeared, as though Heracles himself had sallied forth to battle. It is true that another interpretation[6] of these marvels made them out to be one and all the artifices of the leaders of Thebes. 8However this may be, everything in the battle turned out adverse to the Lacedaemonians; while fortune herself lent aid to the Thebans and crowned their efforts with success. Cleombrotus held his last council "whether to fight or not," after the morning meal. In the heat of noon a little goes a long way; and the people said that it took a somewhat provocative effect on their spirits.[7]

9Both sides were now arming, and there was the unmistakeable signs of approaching battle, when, as the first incident, there issued from the Boeotian lines a long train bent on departure--these were the furnishers of the market, a detachment of baggage bearers, and in general such people as had no inclination to join in the fight. These were met on their retreat and attacked by the mercenary troops under Hiero, who got round them by a circular movement.[8] The mercenaries were supported by the Phocian light infantry and some squadrons of Heracleot and Phliasian cavalry, who fell upon the retiring train and turned them back, pursuing them and driving them into the camp of the Boeotians. The immediate effect was to make the Boeotian portion of the army more numerous and closer packed than before. 10The next feature of the combat was that in consequence of the flat space of plain[9] between the opposing armies, the Lacedaemonians posted their cavalry in front of their squares of infantry, and the Thebans followed suit. Only there was this difference--the Theban cavalry was in a high state of training and efficiency, owing to their war with the Orchomenians and again their war with Thespiae, whilst the cavalry of the Lacedaemonians was at its worst at this period.[10] 11The horses were reared and kept by the wealthiest members of the state; but whenever the ban was called out, an appointed trooper appeared who took the horse with any sort of arms which might be presented to him, and set off on the expedition at a moment's notice. Moreover, these troopers were the least able-bodied of the men: raw recruits set simply astride their horses, and devoid of soldierly ambition. 12Such was the cavalry of either antagonist.

The heavy infantry of the Lacedaemonians, it is said, advanced by sections three files abreast,[11] allowing a total depth to the whole line of not more than twelve. The Thebans were formed in close order of not less than fifty shields deep, calculating that victory gained over the king's division of the army implied the easy conquest of the rest.

13Cleombrotus had hardly begun to lead his division against the foe when, before in fact the troops with him were aware of his advance, the cavalry had already come into collision, and that of the Lacedaemonians was speedily worsted. In their flight they became involved with their own heavy infantry; and to make matters worse, the Theban regiments were already attacking vigorously. Still strong evidence exists for supposing that Cleombrotus and his division were, in the first instance, victorious in the battle, if we consider the fact that they could never have picked him up and brought him back alive unless his vanguard had been masters of the situation for the moment.

14When, however, Deinon the polemarch and Sphodrias, a member of the king's council, with his son Cleonymus,[12] had fallen, then it was that the cavalry and the polemarch's adjutants,[13] as they are called, with the rest, under pressure of the mass against them, began retreating; and the left wing of the Lacedaemonians, seeing the right borne down in this way, also swerved. Still, in spite of the numbers slain, and broken as they were, as soon as they had crossed the trench which protected their camp in front, they grounded arms on the spot[14] whence they had rushed to battle. This camp, it must be borne in mind, did not lie at all on the level, but was pitched on a somewhat steep incline. At this juncture there were some of the Lacedaemonians who, looking upon such a disaster as intolerable, maintained that they ought to prevent the enemy from erecting a trophy, and try to recover the dead not under a flag of truce but by another battle. 15The polemarchs, however, seeing that nearly a thousand men of the total Lacedaemonian troops were slain; seeing also that of the seven hundred Spartans themselves who were on the field something like four hundred lay dead;[15] aware, further, of the despondency which reigned among the allies, and the general disinclination on their parts to fight longer (a frame of mind not far removed in some instances from positive satisfaction at what had taken place)--under the circumstances, I say, the polemarchs called a council of the ablest representatives of the shattered army[16] and deliberated as to what should be done. Finally the unanimous opinion was to pick up the dead under a flag of truce, and they sent a herald to treat for terms. The Thebans after that set up a trophy and gave back the bodies under a truce.

16After these events, a messenger was despatched to Lacedaemon with news of the calamity. He reached his destination on the last day of the gymnopaediae,[17] just when the chorus of grown men had entered the theatre. The ephors heard the mournful tidings not without grief and pain, as needs they must, I take it; but for all that they did not dismiss the chorus, but allowed the contest to run out its natural course. What they did was to deliver the names of those who had fallen to their friends and families, with a word of warning to the women not to make any loud lamentations but to bear their sorrow in silence; and the next day it was a striking spectacle to see those who had relations among the slain moving to and fro in public with bright and radiant looks, whilst of those whose friends were reported to be living barely a man was to be seen, and these flitted by with lowered heads and scowling brows, as if in humiliation.

17After this the ephors proceeded to call out the ban, including the forty-years-service men of the two remaining regiments;[18] and they proceeded further to despatch the reserves of the same age belonging to the six regiments already on foreign service. Hitherto the Phocian campaign had only drawn upon the thirty-five-years-service list. Besides these they now ordered out on active service the troops retained at the beginning of the campaign in attendance on the magistrates at the government offices. 18Agesilaus being still disabled by his infirmity, the city imposed the duty of command upon his son Archidamus. The new general found eager co-operators in the men of Tegea. The friends of Stasippus at this date were still living,[19] and they were stanch in their Lacedaemonian proclivities, and wielded considerable power in their state. Not less stoutly did the Mantineans from their villages under their aristocratic form of government flock to the Spartan standard. Besides Tegea and Mantinea, the Corinthians and Sicyonians, the Phliasians and Achaeans were equally enthusiastic to joining the campaign, whilst other states sent out soldiers. Then came the fitting out and manning of ships of war on the part of the Lacedaemonians themselves and of the Corinthians, whilst the Sicyonians were requested to furnish a supply of vessels on board of which it was proposed to transport the army across the gulf. 19And so, finally, Archidamus was able to offer the sacrifices usual at the moment of crossing the frontier. But to return to Thebes.

Immediately after the battle the Thebans sent a messenger to Athens wearing a chaplet. Whilst insisting on the magnitude of the victory they at the same time called upon the Athenians to send them aid, for now the opportunity had come to wreak vengeance on the Lacedaemonians for all the evil they had done to Athens. 20As it chanced, the senate of the Athenians was holding a session on the Acropolis. As soon as the news was reported, the annoyance caused by its announcement was unmistakeable. They neither invited the herald to accept of hospitality nor sent back one word in reply to the request for assistance. And so the herald turned his back on Athens and departed.

But there was Jason still to look to, and he was their ally. To him then the Thebans sent, and earnestly besought his aid, their thoughts running on the possible turn which events might take. 21Jason on his side at once proceeded to man a fleet, with the apparent intention of sending assistance by sea, besides which he got together his foreign brigade and his own cavalry; and although the Phocians and he were implacable enemies,[20] he marched through their territory to Boeotia. Appearing like a vision to many of the states before his approach was even announced--at any rate before levies could be mustered from a dozen different points--he had stolen a march upon them and was a long way ahead, giving proof that expedition is sometimes a better tool to work with than sheer force.

22When he arrived in Boeotia the Thebans urged upon him that now was the right moment to attack the Lacedaemonians: he with his foreign brigade from the upper ground, they face to face in front; but Jason dissuaded them from their intention. He reminded them that after a noble achievement won it was not worth their while to play for so high a stake, involving a still greater achievement or else the loss of victory already gained. 23"Do you not see," he urged, "that your success followed close on the heels of necessity? You ought then to reflect that the Lacedaemonians in their distress, with a choice between life and death, will fight it out with reckless desperation. Providence, as it seems, ofttimes delights to make the little ones great and the great ones small."[21]

24By such arguments he diverted the Thebans from the desperate adventure. But for the Lacedaemonians also he had words of advice, insisting on the difference between an army defeated and an army flushed with victory. "If you are minded," he said, "to forget this disaster, my advice to you is to take time to recover breath and recruit your energies. When you have grown stronger then give battle to these unconquered veterans.[22] At present," he continued, "you know without my telling you that among your own allies there are some who are already discussing terms of friendship with your foes. My advice is this: by all means endeavour to obtain a truce. This," he added, "is my own ambition: I want to save you, on the ground of my father's friendship with yourselves, and as being myself your representative."[23] 25Such was the tenor of his speech, but the secret of action was perhaps to be found in a desire to make these mutual antagonists put their dependence on himself alone. Whatever his motive, the Lacedaemonians took his advice, and commissioned him to procure a truce.

As soon as the news arrived that the terms were arranged, the polemarchs passed an order round: the troops were to take their evening meal, get their kit together, and be ready to set off that night, so as to scale the passes of Cithaeron by next morning. After supper, before the hour of sleep, the order to march was given, and with the generals at their head the troops advanced as the shades of evening fell, along the road to Creusis, trusting rather to the chance of their escaping notice, than to the truce itself. 26It was weary marching in the dead of night, making their retreat in fear, and along a difficult road, until they fell in with Archidamus's army of relief. At this point, then, Archidamus waited till all the allies had arrived, and so led the whole of the united armies back to Corinth, from which point he dismissed the allies and led his fellow-citizens home.

27Jason took his departure from Boeotia through Phocis, where he captured the suburbs of Hyampolis[24] and ravaged the country districts, putting many to the sword. Content with this, he traversed the rest of Phocis without meddling or making. Arrived at Heraclea,[25] he knocked down the fortress of the Heracleots, showing that he was not troubled by any apprehension lest when the pass was thrown open somebody or other might march against his own power at some future date. Rather was he haunted by the notion that some one or other might one day seize Heraclea, which commanded the pass, and bar his passage into Hellas--should Hellas ever be his goal.[26] 28At the moment of his return to Thessaly he had reached the zenith of his greatness. He was the lawfully constituted Prince[27] of Thessaly, and he had under him a large mercenary force of infantry and cavalry, and all in the highest perfection of training. For this twofold reason he might claim the title great. But he was still greater as the head of a vast alliance. Those who were prepared to fight his battles were numerous, and he might still count upon the help of many more eager to do so; but I call Jason greatest among his contemporaries, because not one among them could afford to look down upon him.[28]

B.C. 370. 29The Pythian games were now approaching, and an order went round the cities from Jason to make preparation for the solemn sacrifice of oxen, sheep and goats, and swine. It was reported that although the requisitions upon the several cities were moderate, the number of beeves did not fall short of a thousand, while the rest of the sacrificial beasts exceeded ten times that number. He issued a proclamation also to this effect: a golden wreath of victory should be given to whichever city could produce the best-bred bull to head the procession in honour of the god. 30And lastly there was an order issued to all the Thessalians to be ready for a campaign at the date of the Pythian games. His intention, as people said, was to act as manager of the solemn assembly and games in person. What the thought was that passed through his mind with reference to the sacred money, remains to this day uncertain; only, a tale is rife to the effect that in answer to the inquiry of the Delphians, "What ought we to do, if he takes any of the treasures of the god?" the god made answer, "He would see to that himself." 31This great man, his brain teeming with vast designs of this high sort, came now to his end. He had ordered a military inspection. The cavalry of the Pheraeans were to pass muster before him. He was already seated, delivering answers to all petitioners, when seven striplings approached, quarrelling, as it seemed, about some matter. Suddenly by these seven the Prince was despatched; his throat gashed, his body gored with wounds. 32Stoutly his guard rushed to the rescue with their long spears, and one of the seven, while still in the act of aiming a blow at Jason, was thrust through with a lance and died; a second, in the act of mounting his horse, was caught, and dropped dead, the recipient of many wounds. The rest leaped on the horses which they had ready waiting and escaped. To whatever city of Hellas they came honours were almost universally accorded them. The whole incident proves clearly that the Hellenes stood in much alarm of Jason. They looked upon him as a tyrant in embryo.

33So Jason was dead; and his brothers Polydorus and Polyphron were appointed princes[29] in his place. But of these twain, as they journeyed together to Larissa, Polydorus was slain in the night, as he slept, by his brother Polyphron, it was thought; since a death so sudden, without obvious cause, could hardly be otherwise accounted for.

34Polyphron governed for a year, and by the year's end he had refashioned his princedom into the likeness of a tyranny. In Pharsalus he put to death Polydamas[30] and eight other of the best citizens; and from Larissa he drove many into exile. 35But while he was thus employed, he, in his turn, was done to death by Alexander, who slew him to avenge Polydorus and to destroy the tyranny. This man now assumed the reins of office, and had no sooner done so than he showed himself a harsh prince to the Thessalians: harsh too and hostile to the Thebans and Athenians,[31] and an unprincipled freebooter everywhere by land and by sea. But if that was his character, he too was doomed to perish shortly. The perpetrators of the deed were his wife's brothers.[32] The counsellor of it and the inspiring soul was the wife herself. 36She it was who reported to them that Alexander had designs against them; who hid them within the house a whole day; who welcomed home her husband deep in his cups and laid him to rest, and then while the lamp still burned brought out the prince's sword. It was she also who, perceiving her brothers shrank bank, fearing to go in and attack Alexander, said to them, "If you do not be quick and do the deed, I will wake him up!" After they had gone in, she, too, it was who caught and pulled to the door, clinging fast to the knocker till the breath was out of her husband's body.[33] Her fierce hatred against the man is variously explained. 37By some it was said to date from the day when Alexander, having imprisoned his own favourite--who was a fair young stripling--when his wife supplicated him to release the boy, brought him forth and stabbed him in the throat. Others say it originated through his sending to Thebes and seeking the hand of the wife of Jason in marriage, because his own wife bore him no children. These are the various causes assigned to explain the treason of his wife against him. Of the brothers who executed it, the eldest, Tisiphonus, in virtue of his seniority accepted, and up to the date of this history[34] succeeded in holding, the government.

  1. See Grote, "H. G." x. 237: "The miso-Theban impulse now drove them on with a fury which overcame all other thoughts . . . a misguiding inspiration sent by the gods--like that of the Homeric Ate."
  2. This passage reads like an earlier version for which the above was substituted by the author.
  3. Or, "was provoked."
  4. Lit. "perioecid." See Thuc. iv. 76, Arnold's note, and "Hell." V. iv. 46, 63.
  5. See Diod. xv. 54; Paus. IX. xiii. 3; Plut. "Pelop." xx.
  6. Or, "it is true that some people made out these marvels."
  7. Or, "they were somewhat excited by it."
  8. Or, "surrounded them."
  9. See Rustow and Kochly, op. cit. p. 173.
  10. See "Hipparch." ix. 4; also "Cyrop." VIII. viii.
  11. It would appear that the "enomoty" (section) numbered thirty-six files. See "Pol. Lac." xi. 4; xiii. 4. For further details as to the tactical order of the Thebans, see Diod. xv. 55; Plut. "Pelop." xxiii.
  12. See above, V. iv. 33.
  13. {sumphoreis}. For the readings of this corrupt passage see Otto Keller.
  14. Or, "in orderly way." See Curt. "H. G." iv. 400.
  15. See "Ages." ii. 24.
  16. {tous epikairiotatous}. See above, III. iii. 10; "Cyrop." VII. iv. 4; VIII. iv. 32, vi. 2.
  17. The festival was celebrated annually about midsummer. See Herod. vi. 67; Thuc. v. 82, and Arnold's note; Pollux. iv. 105; Athen. xiv. 30, xv. 22; Muller, "Dorians," ii. 389.
  18. I.e. every one up to fifty-eight years of age.
  19. See below, VI. v. 9.
  20. Or, "though the Phocians maintained a war 'a outrance' with him."
  21. Cf. "Anab." III. ii. 10.
  22. Or, "the invincibles."
  23. Lit. "your proxenos."
  24. An ancient town in Phocis (see Hom. "Il." ii. 521) on the road leading from Orchomenus to Opus, and commanding a pass from Locris into Phocis and Boeotia. See Herod. viii. 28; Paus. ix. 35, S. 5; Strab. ix. 424; "Dict. of Geog." s.v.
  25. Or, "Heracleia Trachinia," a fortress city founded (as a colony) by the Lacedaemonians in B.C. 426, to command the approach to Thermopylae from Thessaly, and to protect the Trachinians and the neighbouring Dorians from the Oetean mountaineers. See "Dict. of Geog." "Trachis"; Thuc. iii. 92, 93, v. 51, 52; Diod. xii. 59.
  26. B.C. 370. The following sections 28-37 form an episode concerning Thessalian affairs between B.C. 370 and B.C. 359.
  27. Lit. "Tagos."
  28. For a similar verbal climax see below, VI. v. 47.
  29. Lit. "Tagoi."
  30. See above, VI. i. 2 foll.
  31. See Dem. "c. Aristocr." 120; Diod. xv. 60 foll.
  32. B.C. 359 or 358.
  33. The woman's name was Thebe. See Diod. xvi. 14; Cicero, "de Inven." II. xlix. 144; "de Div." I. xxv. 52; "de Off." II. vii. 25; Ovid, "Ibis," iii. 21 foll.
  34. Or, "portion of my work;" lit. "argument," {logos}. See {Kuprianos, Peri ton 'Ell}: p. 111.