Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Thucydides
Pages of History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV

Previous | Next

History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV   

with the cavalry upon the two wings. Light troops regularly armed
there were none in the army, nor had there ever been any at Athens.
Those who had joined in the invasion, though many times more
numerous than those of the enemy, had mostly followed unarmed, as part
of the levy in mass of the citizens and foreigners at Athens, and
having started first on their way home were not present in any number.
The armies being now in line and upon the point of engaging,
Hippocrates, the general, passed along the Athenian ranks, and
encouraged them as follows:
"Athenians, I shall only say a few words to you, but brave men
require no more, and they are addressed more to your understanding
than to your courage. None of you must fancy that we are going out
of our way to run this risk in the country of another. Fought in their
territory the battle will be for ours: if we conquer, the
Peloponnesians will never invade your country without the Boeotian
horse, and in one battle you will win Boeotia and in a manner free
Attica. Advance to meet them then like citizens of a country in
which you all glory as the first in Hellas, and like sons of the
fathers who beat them at Oenophyta with Myronides and thus gained
possession of Boeotia."
Hippocrates had got half through the army with his exhortation, when
the Boeotians, after a few more hasty words from Pagondas, struck up
the paean, and came against them from the hill; the Athenians
advancing to meet them, and closing at a run. The extreme wing of
neither army came into action, one like the other being stopped by the
water-courses in the way; the rest engaged with the utmost
obstinacy, shield against shield. The Boeotian left, as far as the
centre, was worsted by the Athenians. The Thespians in that part of
the field suffered most severely. The troops alongside them having
given way, they were surrounded in a narrow space and cut down
fighting hand to hand; some of the Athenians also fell into
confusion in surrounding the enemy and mistook and so killed each
other. In this part of the field the Boeotians were beaten, and
retreated upon the troops still fighting; but the right, where the
Thebans were, got the better of the Athenians and shoved them
further and further back, though gradually at first. It so happened
also that Pagondas, seeing the distress of his left, had sent two
squadrons of horse, where they could not be seen, round the hill,
and their sudden appearance struck a panic into the victorious wing of
the Athenians, who thought that it was another army coming against
them. At length in both parts of the field, disturbed by this panic,
and with their line broken by the advancing Thebans, the whole
Athenian army took to flight. Some made for Delium and the sea, some
for Oropus, others for Mount Parnes, or wherever they had hopes of
safety, pursued and cut down by the Boeotians, and in particular by
the cavalry, composed partly of Boeotians and partly of Locrians,
who had come up just as the rout began. Night however coming on to
interrupt the pursuit, the mass of the fugitives escaped more easily
than they would otherwise have done. The next day the troops at Oropus
and Delium returned home by sea, after leaving a garrison in the
latter place, which they continued to hold notwithstanding the defeat.
The Boeotians set up a trophy, took up their own dead, and
stripped those of the enemy, and leaving a guard over them retired
to Tanagra, there to take measures for attacking Delium. Meanwhile a
herald came from the Athenians to ask for the dead, but was met and
turned back by a Boeotian herald, who told him that he would effect
nothing until the return of himself the Boeotian herald, and who
then went on to the Athenians, and told them on the part of the
Boeotians that they had done wrong in transgressing the law of the
Hellenes. Of what use was the universal custom protecting the
temples in an invaded country, if the Athenians were to fortify Delium
and live there, acting exactly as if they were on unconsecrated
ground, and drawing and using for their purposes the water which they,
the Boeotians, never touched except for sacred uses? Accordingly for

Previous | Next
Site Search