Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 7/Chapter 2

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B.C. 366. 1Matters had so far progressed that the Argives had already fortified the Trikaranon above the Heraion as an outpost to threaten Phlius, while the Sicyonians were engaged in fortifying Thyamia[1] on their frontier; and between the two the Phliasians were severely pinched. They began to suffer from dearth of necessaries; but, in spite of all, remained unshaken in their alliance. It is the habit of historians, I know, to record with admiration each noble achievement of the larger powers, but to me it seems a still more worthy task to bring to light the great exploits of even a little state found faithful in the performance of fair deeds.

B.C. 370-369. 2Now these Phliasians were friends of Lacedaemon while at the zenith of her power. After her disaster on the field of Leuctra, when many of the Perioeci, and the helots to a man, revolted; when, more than that, the allies, save only quite a few, forsook her;[2] and when united Hellas, so to speak, was marching on her--these Phliasians remained staunch in their allegiance; and, in spite of the hostility of the most powerful states of the Peloponnese, to wit the Arcardians and the Argives, they insisted on coming to her aid. It fell to their lot to cross into Prasiae as the rearguard of the reinforcements, which consisted of the men of Corinth, of Epidaurus and of Troezen, of Hermione, Halieis, and Sicyon and Pellene, in the days before any of these had revolted.[3] 3Not even when the commander of the foreign brigade, picking up the divisions already across, left them behind and was gone--not even so did they flinch or turn back, but hired a guide from Prasiae, and though the enemy was massed round Amyclae, slipped through his ranks, as best they could, and so reached Sparta. It was then that the Lacedaemonians, besides other honours conferred upon them, sent them an ox as a gift of hospitality.

B.C. 369. 4Later on, when the enemy had retired from Laconia, the Argives, ill brooking so much zeal for Lacedaemon on the part of Phlius, marched in full force against the little state, and fell to ravaging their territory. Even then they remained undaunted; and when the enemy turned to retire, destroying all that he could lay hands upon, out dashed the cavalry of the Phliasians and dogged his retreat. And notwithstanding that the Argive's rear consisted of the whole of his cavalry, with some companies of infantry to support them, they attacked him, sixty in number, and routed his whole rearguard. They slew, indeed, but a few of them; but, having so slain that handful, they paused and erected a trophy in full sight of the Argive army with as little concern as if they had cut down their enemies to a man.

5Once again the Lacedaemonians and their allies were guarding Oneion,[4] and the Thebans were threatening to scale the pass. The Arcadians and Eleians[5] were moving forwards through Nemea to effect a junction with the Thebans, when a hint was conveyed to them by some Phliasian exiles, "Only show yourselves before Phlius and the town is yours." An agreement was made, and in the dead of night a party consisting of the exiles themselves and others with them, about six hundred in number, planted themselves close under the walls with scaling-ladders. Presently the scouts from the Trikaranon signalled to the city that the enemy was advancing. The citizens were all attention; their eyes fixed upon their scouts. Meanwhile the traitors within were likewise signalling to those seated under lee of the walls "to scale"; 6and these, scaling up, seized the arms of the guards, which they found abandoned, and fell to pursuing the day sentinels, ten in number (one out of each squad of five being always left on day duty).[6] One of these was put to the sword as he lay asleep, and a second as he was escaping to the Heraion; but the other eight day- pickets leapt down the wall on the side towards the city, one after another. The scaling party now found themselves in undisputed possession of the citadel. 7But the shouting had reached the city below: the citizens rallied to the rescue; and the enemy began by sallying forth from the citadel, and did battle in the forefront of the gate leading down to the city. By and by, being strongly beleaguered by the ever-increasing reinforcements of the citizens, they retired, falling back upon the citadel; and the citizens along with the enemy forced their way in. The centre of the citadel was speedily deserted; for the enemy scaled the walls and towers, and showered blows and missiles upon the citizens below. These defended themselves from the ground, or pressed the encounter home by climbing the ladders which led to the walls. 8Once masters of certain towers on this side and the other of the invaders, the citizens came to close quarters with them with reckless desperation. The invaders, pushed and pommelled by dint of such audacity and hard hitting, were cooped up like sheep into narrower and narrower space. But at that critical moment the Arcadians and the Argives were circling round the city, and had begun to dig through the walls of the citadel from its upper side.[7] Of the citizens inside some were beating down their assailants on the wall;[8] others, those of them who were climbing up from outside and were still on the scaling-ladders, whilst a third set were delivering battle against those who had mounted the towers. These last had found fire in the men's quarters, and were engaged in setting the towers and all ablaze, bringing up sheaves of corn and grass--an ample harvesting, as luck would have it, garnered off the citadel itself. Thereupon the occupants of the towers, in terror of the flames, leapt down one by one, while those on the walls, under the blows of the defenders, tumbled off with similar expedition; 9and as soon as they had once begun to yield, the whole citadel, in almost less time than it takes to tell, was cleared of the enemy. In an instant out dashed the cavalry, and the enemy, seeing them, beat a hasty retreat, leaving behind scaling-ladders and dead, besides some comrades hopelessly maimed. In fact, the enemy, what between those who were slain inside and those who leapt from the walls, lost not less than eighty men. And now it was a goodly sight to see the brave men grasp one another by the hand and pledge each other on their preservation, whilst the women brought them drink and cried for joy. Not one there present but in very sooth was overcome by laughter mixed with tears.[9]

10Next year also[10] Phlius was invaded by the Argives and all the Arcadians. The reason of this perpetually-renewed attack on Phlius is not far to seek: partly it was the result of spleen, partly the little township stood midway between them, and they cherished the hope that through want of the necessaries of life they would bring it over. During this invasion the cavalry and the picked troop of the Phliasians, assisted by some Athenian knights, made another famous charge at the crossing of the river.[11] They made it so hot for the enemy that for the rest of that day he was forced to retire under the mountain ridges, and to hold aloof as if afraid to trample down the corn-crops of a friendly people on the flat below.

11Again another time[12] the Theban commander in Sicyon marched out against Phlius, taking with him the garrison under his personal command, with the Sicyonians and Pellenians (for at the date of the incident these states followed in the wake of Thebes). Euphron was there also with his mercenaries, about two thousand in number, to share the fortunes of the field. The mass of the troops began their descent on the Heraion by the Trikaranon, intending to ravage the flat bottom below. At the gate leading to Corinth the Theban general left his Sicyonians and Pellenians on the height, to prevent the Phliasians getting behind him at this point and so over the heads of his troops as they lay at the Heraion beneath.[13] 12As soon as the citizens of Phlius found that hostile troops were advancing on their corn-land, out dashed the cavalry with the chosen band of the Phliasians and gave battle, not suffering the enemy to penetrate into the plain. The best part of the day was spent in taking long shots at one another on that field; Euphron pushing his attack down to the point where cavalry could operate, the citizens retaliating as far as the Heraion. 13Presently the time to withdraw had come, and the enemy began to retire, following the circle of the Trikaranon; the short cut to reach the Pellenians being barred by the ravine which runs in front of the walls. The Phliasians escorted their retreating foes a little way up the steep, and then turning off dashed along the road beside the walls, making for the Pellenians and those with them; 14whereupon the Theban, perceiving the haste of the Phliasians, began racing with his infantry to outspeed them and bring succour to the Pellenians. The cavalry, however, arrived first and fell to attacking the Pellenians, who received and withstood the shock, and the cavalry drew back. A second time they charged, and were supported by some infantry detachments, which had now come up. It ended in a hand-to-hand fight; and eventually the enemy gave way. On the field lay dead some Sicyonians, and of the Pellenians many a good man. 15In record of the feat the Phliasians began to raise a trophy, as well they might; and loud and clear the paean rang. As to the Theban and Euphron, they and all their men stood by and stared at the proceedings, like men who had raced to see a sight. After all was over the one party retired to Sicyon and the other withdrew into their city.

16That too was another noble exploit of the Phliasians, when they took the Pellenian Proxenus prisoner and, although suffering from scarcity at the time, sent him back without a ransom. "As generous as brave," such is their well-earned title who were capable of such performance.

17The heroic resolution with which these men maintained their loyalty to their friends is manifest. When excluded from the fruits of their own soil, they contrived to live, partly by helping themselves from the enemy's territory, partly by purchasing from Corinth, though to reach that market they must run the gauntlet of a thousand risks; and having reached it their troubles began afresh. There were difficulties in providing the requisite sum, difficulties in arranging with the purveyors, and it was barely possible to find sureties for the very beasts which should carry home their marketing. 18They had reached the depth of despair, and were absolutely at a loss what to do, when they arranged with Chares to escort their convoy. Once safe inside Phlius, they begged him to help them to convey their useless and sick folk to Pellene.[14] These they left at that place; and after making purchases and packing as many beasts of burthen as they could, they set off to return in the night, not in ignorance that they would be laid in wait for by the enemy, but persuaded that the want of provisions was a worse evil than mere fighting.

19The men of Phlius pushed forward with Chares; presently they stumbled on the enemy and at once grappled to their work. Pressing hard on the foe, they called cheerily to one another, and shouted at the same time to Chares to bring up his aid. In short, the victory was theirs; and the enemy was driven off the road; and so they got themselves and their supplies safely home. The long night-watching superinduced sleep which lasted well into the next day. 20But Chares was no sooner out of bed then he was accosted by the cavalry and the pick of the heavy infantry with the following appeal: "Chares, to-day you have it in your power to perform the noblest deed of arms. The Sicyonians are fortifying an outpost on our borders, they have plenty of stone-masons but a mere handful of hoplites. We the knights of Phlius and we the flower of our infantry force will lead the way; and you shall follow after with your mercenaries. Perhaps when you appear on the scene you will find the whole thing finished, or perhaps your coming will send the enemy flying, as happened at Pellene. If you do not like the sound of these proposals, sacrifice and take counsel of the gods. Our belief is that the gods will bid you yet more emphatically than we to take this step. Only this, Chares, you must well consider, that if you do take it you will have established an outpost on the enemy's frontier; you will have saved from perdition a friendly city; you will win eternal glory in your own fatherland; and among friends and foes alike no name will be heralded with louder praise than that of Chares."

21Chares was persuaded, and proceeded to offer sacrifice. Meanwhile the Phliasian cavalry were donning their breastplates and bridling their horses, and the heavy infantry made every preparation for the march. Then they took their arms, fell into line, and tramped off to the place of sacrifice. Chares with the soothsayer stepped forward to meet them, announcing that the victims were favourable. "Only wait for us," they exclaimed; "we will sally forth with you at once." The heralds' cry "To arms!" was sounded, and with a zeal which was almost miraculous the mercenaries themselves rushed out. 22As soon as Chares began the march, the Phliasian cavalry and infantry got in front of him. At first they led off at a smart pace; presently they began to bowl[15] along more quickly, and finally the cavalry were tearing over the ground might and main, whilst the infantry, at the greatest pace compatible with keeping their ranks, tore after them; and behind them, again, came Chares zealously following up in their rear. There only remained a brief interval of daylight before the sun went down, and they came upon the enemy in the fortress, some washing, some cooking a savoury meal, others kneading their bread, others making their beds. 23These, when they saw the vehemence of the attack, at once, in utter panic, took to flight, leaving behind all their provisions for the brave fellows who took their place. They, as their reward, made a fine supper off these stores and others which had come from home, pouring out libations for their good fortune and chanting the battle-hymn; after which they posted pickets for the night and slumbered well. The messenger with the news of their success at Thyamia arrived at Corinth in the night. The citizens of that state with hearty friendship at once ordered out by herald all the oxen and beasts of burthen, which they loaded with food and brought to Phlius; and all the while the fortress was building day by day these convoys of food were duly despatched.

  1. "Thyamia is placed by Ross on the lofty hill of Spiria, the northern prolongation of Tricaranum, between the villages Stimanga and Skrapani."--"Dict. Anct. Geog." "Phlius."
  2. See above, "VI." v. 29.
  3. See "Hell." VII. i. 18.
  4. B.C. 369? al. B.C. 368. See above, "Hell." VII. i. 15; Grote, "H. G." x. 346.
  5. See above, "Hell." VII. i. 18, and below, S. 8.
  6. Or, "one member of both the squads of five was left behind"--i.e. two out of the ten could not keep up with the rest in their flight, and were taken and killed; one indeed had not started, but was killed in sleep.
  7. Or, "downwards" (L. and S.); or, "in front," "von vorn" (Buchs).
  8. Reading, {tous eti toi teikhous}. See Otto Keller for various emendations of the passage.
  9. In true Homeric fashion, as Pollux (ii. 64) observes. See Homer, "Il." vi. 484. See above, VII. i. 32; "Cyrop." VII. v. 32; "Hiero," iii. 5; "Sym." ii. 24; "Antony and Cleopatra," III. ii. 43.
  10. B.C. 368 (or 367).
  11. The Asopus.
  12. B.C. 367 (or 366).
  13. Lit. "above the Heraion" (where his main body lay).
  14. What is the date of this incident? See above, "Hell." VII. ii. 3; below VII. iv. 17.
  15. See "Anab." VII. iii. 46.