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The History of Herodotus, parallel English/Greek, tr. G. C. Macaulay, [1890], at

Herodotus Book 7: Polymnia [220]

220. However it is reported also that Leonidas himself sent them away, having a care that they might not perish, but thinking that it was not seemly for himself and for the Spartans who were present to leave the post to which they had come at first to keep guard there. I am inclined rather to be of this latter opinion, namely that because Leonidas perceived that the allies were out of heart and did not desire to face the danger with him to the end, he ordered them to depart, but held that for himself to go away was not honourable, whereas if he remained, a great fame of him would be left behind, and the prosperity of Sparta would not be blotted out: for an oracle had been given by the Pythian prophetess to the Spartans, when they consulted about this war at the time when it was being first set on foot, to the effect that either Lacedemon must be destroyed by the Barbarians, or their king must lose his life. This reply the prophetess gave them in hexameter verses, and it ran thus:

"But as for you, ye men who in wide-spaced Sparta inhabit,
Either your glorious city is sacked by the children of Perses,
Or, if it be not so, then a king of the stock Heracleian
Dead shall be mourned for by all in the boundaries of broad Lacedemon.
Him nor the might of bulls nor the raging of lions shall hinder;
For he hath might as of Zeus; and I say he shall not be restrained,
Till one of the other of these he have utterly torn and divided."

I am of opinion that Leonidas considering these things and desiring to lay up for himself glory above all the other Spartans, dismissed the allies, rather than that those who departed did so in such disorderly fashion, because they were divided in opinion.

220. [1] λέγεται δὲ καὶ ὡς αὐτός σφεας ἀπέπεμψε Λεωνίδης, μὴ ἀπόλωνται κηδόμενος· αὐτῷ δὲ καὶ Σπαρτιητέων τοῖσι παρεοῦσι οὐκ ἔχειν εὐπρεπέως ἐκλιπεῖν τὴν τάξιν ἐς τὴν ἦλθον φυλάξοντες ἀρχήν. [2] ταύτῃ καὶ μᾶλλον τὴν γνώμην πλεῖστος εἰμί, Λεωνίδην, ἐπείτε ᾔσθετο τοὺς συμμάχους ἐόντας ἀπροθύμους καὶ οὐκ ἐθέλοντας συνδιακινδυνεύειν, κελεῦσαι σφέας ἀπαλλάσσεσθαι, αὐτῷ δὲ ἀπιέναι οὐ καλῶς ἔχειν· μένοντι δὲ αὐτοῦ κλέος μέγα ἐλείπετο, καὶ ἡ Σπάρτης εὐδαιμονίη οὐκ ἐξηλείφετο. [3] ἐκέχρηστο γὰρ ὑπὸ τῆς Πυθίης τοῖσι Σπαρτιήτῃσι χρεωμένοισι περὶ τοῦ πολέμου τούτου αὐτίκα κατ᾽ ἀρχὰς ἐγειρομένου, ἢ Λακεδαίμονα ἀνάστατον γενέσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν βαρβάρων ἢ τὴν βασιλέα σφέων ἀπολέσθαι. ταῦτα δέ σφι ἐν ἔπεσι ἑξαμέτροισι χρᾷ λέγοντα ὧδε·

     [4] ὑμῖν δ᾽, ὦ Σπάρτης οἰκήτορες εὐρυχόροιο,
     ἢ μέγα ἄστυ ἐρικυδὲς ὑπ᾽ ἀνδράσι Περσεΐδῃσι
     πέρθεται, ἢ τὸ μὲν οὐχί, ἀφ᾽ Ἡρακλέους δὲ γενέθλης
     πενθήσει βασιλῆ φθίμενον Λακεδαίμονος οὖρος.
     οὐ γὰρ τὸν ταύρων σχήσει μένος οὐδὲ λεόντων
     ἀντιβίην· Ζηνὸς γὰρ ἔχει μένος· οὐδέ ἑ φημί
     σχήσεσθαι, πρὶν τῶνδ᾽ ἕτερον διὰ πάντα δάσηται.

ταῦτά τε δὴ ἐπιλεγόμενον Λεωνίδην, καὶ βουλόμενον κλέος καταθέσθαι μούνων Σπαρτιητέων, ἀποπέμψαι τοὺς συμμάχους μᾶλλον ἢ γνώμῃ διενειχθέντας οὕτω ἀκόσμως οἴχεσθαι τοὺς οἰχομένους.

221. Of this the following has been to my mind a proof as convincing as any other, namely that Leonidas is known to have endeavoured to dismiss the soothsayer also who accompanied this army, Megistias the Acarnanian, who was said to be descended from Melampus, that he might not perish with them after he had declared from the victims that which was about to come to pass for them. He however when he was bidden to go would not himself depart, but sent away his son who was with him in the army, besides whom he had no other child.

221. [1] μαρτύριον δέ μοι καὶ τόδε οὐκ ἐλάχιστον τούτου πέρι γέγονε, ὅτι καὶ τὸν μάντιν ὃς εἵπετο τῇ στρατιῇ ταύτῃ, Μεγιστίην τὸν Ἀκαρνῆνα, λεγόμενον εἶναι τὰ ἀνέκαθεν ἀπὸ Μελάμποδος, τοῦτον εἴπαντα ἐκ τῶν ἱρῶν τὰ μέλλοντά σφι ἐκβαίνειν, φανερός ἐστι Λεωνίδης ἀποπέμπων, ἵνα μὴ συναπόληταί σφι. ὁ δὲ ἀποπεμπόμενος αὐτὸς μὲν οὐκ ἀπέλιπε, τὸν δὲ παῖδα συστρατευόμενον, ἐόντα οἱ μουνογενέα, ἀπέπεμψε.

222. The allies then who were dismissed departed and went away, obeying the word of Leonidas, and only the Thespians and the Thebans remained behind with the Lacedemonians. Of these the Thebans stayed against their will and not because they desired it, for Leonidas kept them, counting them as hostages; but the Thespians very willingly, for they said that they would not depart and leave Leonidas and those with him, but they stayed behind and died with them. The commander of these was Demophilos the son of Diadromes.

222. [1] οἱ μέν νυν σύμμαχοι οἱ ἀποπεμπόμενοι οἴχοντό τε ἀπιόντες καὶ ἐπείθοντο Λεωνίδῃ, Θεσπιέες δὲ καὶ Θηβαῖοι κατέμειναν μοῦνοι παρὰ Λακεδαιμονίοισι. τούτων δὲ Θηβαῖοι μὲν ἀέκοντες ἔμενον καὶ οὐ βουλόμενοι· κατεῖχε γὰρ σφέας Λεωνίδης ἐν ὁμήρων λόγῳ ποιεύμενος· Θεσπιέες δὲ ἑκόντες μάλιστα, οἳ οὐκ ἔφασαν ἀπολιπόντες Λεωνίδην καὶ τοὺς μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἀπαλλάξεσθαι, ἀλλὰ καταμείναντες συναπέθανον. ἐστρατήγεε δὲ αὐτῶν Δημόφιλος Διαδρόμεω.

223. Xerxes meanwhile, having made libations at sunrise, stayed for some time, until about the hour when the market fills, and then made an advance upon them; for thus it had been enjoined by Epialtes, seeing that the descent of the mountain is shorter and the space to be passed over much less than the going round and the ascent. The Barbarians accordingly with Xerxes were advancing to the attack; and the Hellenes with Leonidas, feeling that they were going forth to death, now advanced out much further than at first into the broader part of the defile; for when the fence of the wall was being guarded, they on the former days fought retiring before the enemy into the narrow part of the pass; but now they engaged with them outside the narrows, and very many of the Barbarians fell: for behind them the leaders of the divisions with scourges in their hands were striking each man, ever urging them on to the front. Many of them then were driven into the sea and perished, and many more still were trodden down while yet alive by one another, and there was no reckoning of the number that perished: for knowing the death which was about to come upon them by reason of those who were going round the mountain, they displayed upon the Barbarians all the strength which they had, to its greatest extent, disregarding danger and acting as if possessed by a spirit of recklessness. 223. [1] Ξέρξης δὲ ἐπεὶ ἡλίου ἀνατείλαντος σπονδὰς ἐποιήσατο, ἐπισχὼν χρόνον ἐς ἀγορῆς κου μάλιστα πληθώρην πρόσοδον ἐποιέετο· καὶ γὰρ ἐπέσταλτο ἐξ Ἐπιάλτεω οὕτω· ἀπὸ γὰρ τοῦ ὄρεος ἡ κατάβασις συντομωτέρη τε ἐστὶ καὶ βραχύτερος ὁ χῶρος πολλὸν ἤ περ ἡ περίοδός τε καὶ ἀνάβασις. [2] οἵ τε δὴ βάρβαροι οἱ ἀμφὶ Ξέρξην προσήισαν, καὶ οἱ ἀμφὶ Λεωνίδην Ἕλληνες, ὡς τὴν ἐπὶ θανάτῳ ἔξοδον ποιεύμενοι, ἤδη πολλῶ μᾶλλον ἢ κατ᾽ ἀρχὰς ἐπεξήισαν ἐς τὸ εὐρύτερον τοῦ αὐχένος. τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἔρυμα τοῦ τείχεος ἐφυλάσσετο, οἳ δὲ ἀνὰ τὰς προτέρας ἡμέρας ὑπεξιόντες ἐς τὰ στεινόπορα ἐμάχοντο. [3] τότε δὲ συμμίσγοντες ἔξω τῶν στεινῶν ἔπιπτον πλήθεϊ πολλοὶ τῶν βαρβάρων· ὄπισθε γὰρ οἱ ἡγεμόνες τῶν τελέων ἔχοντες μάστιγας ἐρράπιζον πάντα ἄνδρα, αἰεὶ ἐς τὸ πρόσω ἐποτρύνοντες. πολλοὶ μὲν δὴ ἐσέπιπτον αὐτῶν ἐς τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ διεφθείροντο, πολλῷ δ᾽ ἔτι πλεῦνες κατεπατέοντο ζωοὶ ὑπ᾽ ἀλλήλων· ἦν δὲ λόγος οὐδεὶς τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου. [4] ἅτε γὰρ ἐπιστάμενοι τὸν μέλλοντα σφίσι ἔσεσθαι θάνατον ἐκ τῶν περιιόντων τὸ ὄρος, ἀπεδείκνυντο ῥώμης ὅσον εἶχον μέγιστον ἐς τοὺς βαρβάρους, παραχρεώμενοί τε καὶ ἀτέοντες.

224. Now by this time the spears of the greater number of them were broken, so it chanced, in this combat, and they were slaying the Persians with their swords; and in this fighting fell Leonidas, having proved himself a very good man, and others also of the Spartans with him, men of note, of whose names I was informed as of men who had proved themselves worthy, and indeed I was told also the names of all the three hundred. Moreover of the Persians there fell here, besides many others of note, especially two sons of Dareios, Abrocomes and Hyperanthes, born to Dareios of Phratagune the daughter of Artanes: now Artanes was the brother of king Dareios and the son of Hystaspes, the son of Arsames; and he in giving his daughter in marriage to Dareios gave also with her all his substance, because she was his only child. 224. [1] δόρατα μέν νυν τοῖσι πλέοσι αὐτῶν τηνικαῦτα ἤδη ἐτύγχανε κατεηγότα, οἳ δὲ τοῖσι ξίφεσι διεργάζοντο τοὺς Πέρσας. καὶ Λεωνίδης τε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ πόνῳ πίπτει ἀνὴρ γενόμενος ἄριστος καὶ ἕτεροι μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ ὀνομαστοὶ Σπαρτιητέων, τῶν ἐγὼ ὡς ἀνδρῶν ἀξίων γενομένων ἐπυθόμην τὰ οὐνόματα, ἐπυθόμην δὲ καὶ ἁπάντων τῶν τριηκοσίων. [2] καὶ δὴ Περσέων πίπτουσι ἐνθαῦτα ἄλλοι τε πολλοὶ καὶ ὀνομαστοί, ἐν δὲ δὴ καὶ Δαρείου δύο παῖδες Ἀβροκόμης τε καὶ Ὑπεράνθης, ἐκ τῆς Ἀρτάνεω θυγατρὸς Φραταγούνης γεγονότες Δαρείῳ. ὁ δὲ Ἀρτάνης Δαρείου μὲν τοῦ βασιλέος ἦν ἀδελφεός, Ὑστάσπεος δὲ τοῦ Ἀρσάμεος παῖς· ὃς καὶ ἐκδιδοὺς τὴν θυγατέρα Δαρείῳ τὸν οἶκον πάντα τὸν ἑωυτοῦ ἐπέδωκε, ὡς μούνης οἱ ἐούσης ταύτης τέκνου.

225. Two brothers of Xerxes, I say, fell here fighting; and meanwhile over the body of Leonidas there arose a great struggle between the Persians and the Lacedemonians, until the Hellenes by valour dragged this away from the enemy and turned their opponents to flight four times. This conflict continued until those who had gone with Epialtes came up; and when the Hellenes learnt that these had come, from that moment the nature of the combat was changed; for they retired backwards to the narrow part of the way, and having passed by the wall they went and placed themselves upon the hillock, all in a body together except only the Thebans: now this hillock is in the entrance, where now the stone lion is placed for Leonidas. On this spot while defending themselves with daggers, that is those who still had them left, and also with hands and with teeth, they were overwhelmed by the missiles of the Barbarians, some of these having followed directly after them and destroyed the fence of the wall, while others had come round and stood about them on all sides.

225. [1] Ξέρξεώ τε δὴ δύο ἀδελφεοὶ ἐνθαῦτα πίπτουσι μαχόμενοι, καὶ ὑπὲρ τοῦ νεκροῦ τοῦ Λεωνίδεω Περσέων τε καὶ Λακεδαιμονίων ὠθισμὸς ἐγίνετο πολλός, ἐς ὃ τοῦτόν τε ἀρετῇ οἱ Ἕλληνες ὑπεξείρυσαν καὶ ἐτρέψαντο τοὺς ἐναντίους τετράκις. τοῦτο δὲ συνεστήκεε μέχρι οὗ οἱ σὺν Ἐπιάλτῃ παρεγένοντο. [2] ὡς δὲ τούτους ἥκειν ἐπύθοντο οἱ Ἕλληνες, ἐνθεῦτεν ἤδη ἑτεροιοῦτο τὸ νεῖκος· ἔς τε γὰρ τὸ στεινὸν τῆς ὁδοῦ ἀνεχώρεον ὀπίσω, καὶ παραμειψάμενοι τὸ τεῖχος ἐλθόντες ἵζοντο ἐπὶ τὸν κολωνὸν πάντες ἁλέες οἱ ἄλλοι πλὴν Θηβαίων. ὁ δὲ κολωνὸς ἐστὶ ἐν τῇ ἐσόδῳ, ὅκου νῦν ὁ λίθινος λέων ἕστηκε ἐπὶ Λεωνίδῃ. [3] ἐν τούτῳ σφέας τῷ χώρῳ ἀλεξομένους μαχαίρῃσι, τοῖσι αὐτῶν ἐτύγχανον ἔτι περιεοῦσαι, καὶ χερσὶ καὶ στόμασι κατέχωσαν οἱ βάρβαροι βάλλοντες, οἳ μὲν ἐξ ἐναντίης ἐπισπόμενοι καὶ τὸ ἔρυμα τοῦ τείχεος συγχώσαντες, οἳ δὲ περιελθόντες πάντοθεν περισταδόν.

226. Such were the proofs of valour given by the Lacedemonians and Thespians; yet the Spartan Dienekes is said to have proved himself the best man of all, the same who, as they report, uttered this saying before they engaged battle with the Medes:--being informed by one of the men of Trachis that when the Barbarians discharged their arrows they obscured the light of the sun by the multitude of the arrows, so great was the number of their host, he was not dismayed by this, but making small account of the number of the Medes, he said that their guest from Trachis brought them very good news, for if the Medes obscured the light of the sun, the battle against them would be in the shade and not in the sun. 226. [1] Λακεδαιμονίων δὲ καὶ Θεσπιέων τοιούτων γενομένων ὅμως λέγεται ἀνὴρ ἄριστος γενέσθαι Σπαρτιήτης Διηνέκης· τὸν τόδε φασὶ εἰπεῖν τὸ ἔπος πρὶν ἢ συμμῖξαι σφέας τοῖσι Μήδοισι, πυθόμενον πρός τευ τῶν Τρηχινίων ὡς ἐπεὰν οἱ βάρβαροι ἀπίωσι τὰ τοξεύματα, τὸν ἥλιον ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθεος τῶν ὀιστῶν ἀποκρύπτουσι· τοσοῦτο πλῆθος αὐτῶν εἶναι. [2] τὸν δὲ οὐκ ἐκπλαγέντα τούτοισι εἰπεῖν ἐν ἀλογίῃ ποιεύμενον τὸ Μήδων πλῆθος, ὡς πάντα σφι ἀγαθὰ ὁ Τρηχίνιος ξεῖνος ἀγγέλλοι, εἰ ἀποκρυπτόντων τῶν Μήδων τὸν ἥλιον ὑπὸ σκιῇ ἔσοιτο πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἡ μάχη καὶ οὐκ ἐν ἡλίῳ. ταῦτα μὲν καὶ ἄλλα τοιουτότροπα ἔπεα φασὶ Διηνέκεα τὸν Λακεδαιμόνιον λιπέσθαι μνημόσυνα·

227. This and other sayings of this kind they report that Dienekes the Lacedemonian left as memorials of himself; and after him the bravest they say of the Lacedemonians were two brothers Alpheos and Maron, sons of Orsiphantos. Of the Thespians the man who gained most honour was named Dithyrambos son of Harmatides.

227. [1] μετὰ δὲ τοῦτον ἀριστεῦσαι λέγονται Λακεδαιμόνιοι δύο ἀδελφεοί, Ἀλφεός τε καὶ Μάρων Ὀρσιφάντου παῖδες. Θεσπιέων δὲ εὐδοκίμεε μάλιστα τῷ οὔνομα ἦν Διθύραμβος Ἁρματίδεω.

228. The men were buried were they fell; and for these, as well as for those who were slain before being sent away by Leonidas, there is an inscription which runs thus:

"Here once, facing in fight three hundred myriads of foemen,
Thousands four did contend, men of the Peloponnese."

This is the inscription for the whole body; and for the Spartans separately there is this:

"Stranger, report this word, we pray, to the Spartans, that lying
Here in this spot we remain, faithfully keeping their laws."

This, I say, for the Lacedemonians; and for the soothsayer as follows:

"This is the tomb of Megistias renowned, whom the Median foemen,
Where Sperchios doth flow, slew when they forded the stream;
Soothsayer he, who then knowing clearly the fates that were coming,
Did not endure in the fray Sparta's good leaders to leave."

The Amphictyons it was who honoured them with inscriptions and memorial pillars, excepting only in the case of the inscription to the soothsayer; but that of the soothsayer Megistias was inscribed by Simonides the son of Leoprepes on account of guest-friendship.

228. [1] θαφθεῖσι δέ σφι αὐτοῦ ταύτῃ τῇ περ ἔπεσον, καὶ τοῖσι πρότερον τελευτήσασι ἢ ὑπὸ Λεωνίδεω ἀποπεμφθέντας οἴχεσθαι, ἐπιγέγραπται γράμματα λέγοντα τάδε·

     μυριάσιν ποτὲ τῇδε τριηκοσίαις ἐμάχοντο
     ἐκ Πελοποννάσου χιλιάδες τέτορες.

[2] ταῦτα μὲν δὴ τοῖσι πᾶσι ἐπιγέγραπται, τοῖσι δὲ Σπαρτιήτῃσι ἰδίῃ·

     ὦ ξεῖν᾽, ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
     κείμεθα τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.

[3] Λακεδαιμονίοισι μὲν δὴ τοῦτο, τῷ δὲ μάντι τόδε·

     μνῆμα τόδε κλεινοῖο Μεγιστία, ὅν ποτε Μῆδοι
          Σπερχειὸν ποταμὸν κτεῖναν ἀμειψάμενοι,
     μάντιος, ὃς τότε κῆρας ἐπερχομένας σάφα εἰδώς
          οὐκ ἔτλη Σπάρτης ἡγεμόνα προλιπεῖν.

[4] ἐπιγράμμασι μέν νυν καὶ στήλῃσι, ἔξω ἢ τὸ τοῦ μάντιος ἐπίγραμμα, Ἀμφικτύονες εἰσὶ σφέας οἱ ἐπικοσμήσαντες· τὸ δὲ τοῦ μάντιος Μεγιστίεω Σιμωνίδης ὁ Λεωπρέπεος ἐστὶ κατὰ ξεινίην ὁ ἐπιγράψας. 

229. Two of these three hundred, it is said, namely Eurystos and Aristodemos, who, if they had made agreement with one another, might either have come safe home to Sparta together (seeing that they had been dismissed from the camp by Leonidas and were lying at Alpenoi with disease of the eyes, suffering extremely), or again, if they had not wished to return home, they might have been slain together with the rest,--when they might, I say, have done either one of these two things, would not agree together; but the two being divided in opinion, Eurystos, it is said, when he was informed that the Persians had gone round, asked for his arms and having put them on ordered his Helot to lead him to those who were fighting; and after he had led him thither, the man who had led him ran away and departed, but Eurystos plunged into the thick of the fighting, and so lost his life: but Aristodemos was left behind fainting. Now if either Aristodemos had been ill alone, and so had returned home to Sparta, or the men had both of them come back together, I do not suppose that the Spartans would have displayed any anger against them; but in this case, as the one of them had lost his life and the other, clinging to an excuse which the first also might have used, had not been willing to die, it necessarily happened that the Spartans had great indignation against Aristodemos. 229. [1] δύο δὲ τούτων τῶν τριηκοσίων λέγεται Εὔρυτόν τε καὶ Ἀριστόδημον, παρεὸν αὐτοῖσι ἀμφοτέροισι κοινῷ λόγῳ χρησαμένοισι ἢ ἀποσωθῆναι ὁμοῦ ἐς Σπάρτην, ὡς μεμετιμένοι γε ἦσαν ἐκ τοῦ στρατοπέδου ὑπὸ Λεωνίδεω καὶ κατεκέατο ἐν Ἀλπηνοῖσι ὀφθαλμιῶντες ἐς τὸ ἔσχατον, ἢ εἴ γε μὴ ἐβούλοντο νοστῆσαι, ἀποθανεῖν ἅμα τοῖσι ἄλλοισι, παρεόν σφι τούτων τὰ ἕτερα ποιέειν οὐκ ἐθελῆσαι ὁμοφρονέειν, ἀλλὰ γνώμῃ διενειχθέντας Εὔρυτον μέν, πυθόμενον τῶν Περσέων τὴν περίοδον, αἰτήσαντά τε τὰ ὅπλα καὶ ἐνδύντα ἄγειν ἑωυτὸν κελεῦσαι τὸν εἵλωτα ἐς τοὺς μαχομένους, ὅκως δὲ αὐτὸν ἤγαγε, τὸν μὲν ἀγαγόντα οἴχεσθαι φεύγοντα, τὸν δὲ ἐσπεσόντα ἐς τὸν ὅμιλον διαφθαρῆναι, Ἀριστόδημον δὲ λιποψυχέοντα λειφθῆναι. [2] εἰ μέν νυν ἢ μοῦνον Ἀριστόδημον ἀλγήσαντα ἀπονοστῆσαι ἐς Σπάρτην ἢ καὶ ὁμοῦ σφεων ἀμφοτέρων τὴν κομιδὴν γενέσθαι, δοκέειν ἐμοί, οὐκ ἄν σφι Σπαρτιήτας μῆνιν οὐδεμίαν προσθέσθαι· νυνὶ δὲ τοῦ μὲν αὐτῶν ἀπολομένου, τοῦ δὲ τῆς μὲν αὐτῆς ἐχομένου προφάσιος οὐκ ἐθελήσαντος δὲ ἀποθνήσκειν, ἀναγκαίως σφι ἔχειν μηνῖσαι μεγάλως Ἀριστοδήμῳ.

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