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loose Fragments

This webpage reproduces a portion of
The Library of History

Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. IV
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1946

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. IV) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

 p115  Book XI (beginning)

On the crossing of Xerxes into Europe (chaps. 1‑4).
On the battle of Thermopylae (chaps. 5‑11).
On the naval battle which Xerxes fought against the Greeks (chaps. 12‑13).
How Themistocles outgeneralled Xerxes and the Greeks conquered the barbarians in the naval battle of Salamis (chaps. 14‑18).
How Xerxes, leaving Mardonius behind as commander, withdrew with a portion of his army to Asia (chap. 19).
How the Carthaginians with great armaments made war upon Sicily (chaps. 20‑21).
How Gelon, after outgeneralling the barbarians, slew some of them and took others captive (chaps. 22‑23).
How Gelon, when the Carthaginians sued for peace, exacted money of them and then concluded the peace (chaps. 24‑26).
Judgement passed on the Greeks who distinguished themselves in the war (chap. 27).
The battle of the Greeks against Mardonius and the Persians about Plataea and the victory of the Greeks (chaps. 27‑39).
The war which the Romans waged against the Aequi and the inhabitants of Tusculum (chap. 40).
 p117  On the construction of the Peiraeus by Themistocles (chaps. 41‑50).
On the aid which king Hiero dispatched to the Cymaeans (chap. 51).
On the war which arose between the Tarantini and the Iapyges (chap. 52).
How Thrasydaeus, the son of Theron and tyrant of the Acragantini, was defeated by the Syracusans and lost his overlord­ship (chap. 53).
How Themistocles, who had fled for safety to Xerxes and was put on trial for his life, was set at liberty (chaps. 54‑59).
How the Athenians freed the Greek cities throughout Asia (chaps. 60‑62).
On the earthquake that occurred in Laconia (chap. 63).
On the revolt of the Messenians and Helots against the Lacedaemonians (chaps. 63‑64).
How the Argives razed Mycenae to the ground and made the city desolate (chap. 65).
How the Syracusans overthrew the royal line of Gelon (chaps. 67‑68).
How Xerxes was slain by treachery and Artaxerxes became king (chap. 69).
On the revolt of the Egyptians against the Persians (chap. 71).
On the civil discords which took place among the Syracusans (chaps. 72‑73).
How the Athenians defeated in war the Aeginetans and Corinthians (chaps. 78‑79).
How the Phocians made war on the Dorians (chap. 79).
 p119  How Myronides the Athenian with a few soldiers defeated the Boeotians who far outnumbered them (chaps. 81‑82).
On the campaign of Tolmides against Cephallenia (chap. 84).
On the war in Sicily between the Egestaeans and Lilybaeans (chap. 86).
On the framing of the law of petalism by the Syracusans (chap. 87).
The campaign of Pericles against the Peloponnesus (chap. 88).
The campaign of the Syracusans against Tyrrhenia (chap. 88).
On the Palici, as they are called, in Sicily (chap. 89).
On the defeat of Ducetius and his astounding escape from death (chaps. 91‑92).

 p121  1 1 The preceding Book, which is the tenth of our narrative, closed with the events of the year just before the crossing of Xerxes into Europe and the formal deliberations which the general assembly of the Greeks held in Corinth on the alliance between Gelon and the Greeks; and in this Book we shall supply the further course of the history, beginning with the campaign of Xerxes against the Greeks, and we shall stop with the year which precedes the campaign of the Athenians against Cyprus under the leader­ship of Cimon.1

2 Calliades was archon in Athens, and the Romans made Spurius Cassius and Proculus Verginius Tricostus consuls, and the Eleians celebrated the Seventy-fifth Olympiad, that in which Astylus of Syracuse won the "stadion." It was in this year that king Xerxes made his campaign against Greece, for the following reason. 3 Mardonius the Persian was a cousin of Xerxes and related to him by marriage, and he was also greatly admired by the Persians because of his sagacity and courage. This man, being elated by pride and at the height of his physical vigour, was eager to be the leader of great armaments; consequently he persuaded Xerxes to enslave the Greeks, who had ever been enemies of the  p123 Persians. 4 And Xerxes, being won over by him and desiring to drive all the Greeks from their homes, sent an embassy to the Carthaginians to urge them to join him in the undertaking and closed an agreement with them, to the effect that he would wage war upon the Greeks who lived in Greece, while the Carthaginians should at the same time gather great armaments and subdue those Greeks who lived in Sicily and Italy. 5 In accordance, then, with their agreements, the Carthaginians, collecting a great amount of money, gathered mercenaries from both Italy and Liguria and also from Galatia and Iberia;​2 and in addition to these troops they enrolled men of their own race from the whole of Libya and of Carthage; and in the end, after spending three years in constant preparation, they assembled more than three hundred thousand foot-soldiers and two hundred war vessels.

2 1 Xerxes, vying with the zeal displayed by the Carthaginians, surpassed them in all his preparations to the degree that he excelled the Carthaginians in the multitude of peoples at his command. And he began to have ships built throughout all the territory along the sea that was subject to him, both Egypt and Phoenicia and Cyprus, Cilicia and Pamphylia and Pisidia, and also Lycia, Caria, Mysia, the Troad, and the cities on the Hellespont, and Bithynia, and Pontus. Spending a period of three years, as did the Carthaginians, on his preparations, he made ready more than twelve hundred warships. 2 He was aided in this by his father Darius, who before his death had made preparations of great armaments; for  p125 Darius, after Datis, his general, had been defeated by the Athenians at Marathon, had continued to be angry with the Athenians for having won that battle. But Darius, when already about to cross over​3 against the Greeks, was stopped in his plans by death, whereupon Xerxes, induced both by the design of his father and by the counsel of Mardonius, as we have stated, made up his mind to wage war upon the Greeks.

3 Now when all preparations for the campaign had been completed, Xerxes commanded his admirals to assemble the ships at Cymê and Phocaea, and he himself collected the foot and cavalry forces from all the satrapies and advanced from Susa. And when he had arrived at Sardis, he dispatched heralds to Greece, commanding them to go to all the states and to demand of the Greeks water and earth.​4 4 Then, dividing his army, he sent in advance a sufficient number of men both to bridge the Hellespont and to dig a canal through Athos​5 at the neck of the Cherronesus, in this way not only making the passage safe and short for his forces but also hoping by the magnitude of his exploits to strike the Greeks with terror before his arrival. Now the men who had been sent to make ready these works completed them with dispatch, because so many labourers co‑operated in the task. 5 And the Greeks, when they learned of the great size of the Persian armaments, dispatched ten thousand hoplites into Thessaly to seize the passes of Tempê; Synetus​6 commanded the Lacedaemonians and Themistocles the Athenians. These  p127 commanders dispatched ambassadors to the states and asked them to send soldiers to join in the common defence of the passes; for they eagerly desired that all the Greek states should each have a share in the defence and make common cause in the war against the Persians. 6 But since the large number of the Thessalians and other Greeks who dwelt near the passes had given the water and earth to the envoys of Xerxes when they arrived, the two generals despaired of the defence at Tempê and returned to their own soil.

3 1 And now it will be useful to distinguish those Greeks who chose the side of the barbarians, in order that, incurring our censure here, their example may, by the obloquy visited upon them, deter for the future any who may become traitors to the common freedom. 2 The Aenianians, Dolopians, Melians,​7 Perrhaebians, and Magnetans took the side of the barbarians even while the defending force was still at Tempê, and after its departure the Achaeans of Phthia, Locrians, Thessalians, and the majority of the Boeotians went over to the barbarians. 3 But the Greeks who were meeting in congress at the Isthmus​8 voted to make the Greeks who voluntarily chose the cause of the Persians pay a tithe to the gods, when they should be success­ful in the war, and to send ambassadors to those Greeks who were neutral to urge them to join in the struggle for the common freedom. 4 Of the latter, some joined the alliance without reservation, while others postponed any decision for a considerable time, clinging to their own safety alone and anxiously waiting for the outcome  p129 of the war; the Argives, however, sending ambassadors to the common congress, promised to join the alliance if the congress would give them a share in the command. 5 To them the representatives declared plainly that, if they thought it a more terrible thing to have a Greek as general than a barbarian as master, they would do well to remain neutral, but if they were ambitious to secure the leader­ship of the Greeks, they should, it was stated, first have accomplished deeds deserving of this leader­ship and then strive for such an honour. After these events, when the ambassadors sent by Xerxes came to Greece and demanded both earth and water, all​9 the states manifested in their replies the zeal they felt for the command freedom.

6 When Xerxes learned that the Hellespont had been bridged and the canal​10 had been dug through Athos, he left Sardis and made his way toward the Hellespont; and when he had arrived at Abydus, he led his army over the bridge into Europe. And as he advanced through Thrace, he added to his forces many soldiers from both the Thracians and neighbouring Greeks. 7 When he arrived at the city called Doriscus, he ordered his fleet to come there, and so both arms of his forces were gathered into one place. And he held there also the enumeration of the entire army, and the number of his land forces was over eight hundred thousand men, while the sum total of his ships of war excelled twelve hundred, of which three hundred and twenty were Greek, the Greeks  p131 providing the complement of men and the king supplying the vessels. All the remaining ships were listed as barbarian; and of these the Egyptians supplied two hundred, the Phoenicians three hundred, the Cilicians eighty, the Pamphylians forty, the Lycians the same number, also the Carians eighty, and the Cyprians one hundred and fifty. 8 Of the Greeks the Dorians who dwelt off Caria, together with the Rhodians and Coans, sent forty ships, the Ionians, together with the Chians and Samians, one hundred, the Aeolians, together with the Lesbians and Tenedans, forty, the peoples of the region of the Hellespont, together with those who dwelt along the shores of the Pontus, eighty, and the inhabitants of the islands fifty; for the king had won over to his side the islands lying within the Cyanean Rocks​11 and Triopium and Sunium. 9 Triremes made up the multitude we have listed, and the transports for the cavalry numbered eight hundred and fifty, and the triaconters three thousand. Xerxes, then, was busied with the enumeration of the armaments at Doriscus.

4 1 The Greeks who were in assembly, when word came to them that the Persian forces were near, took action to dispatch the ships of war with all speed to Artemisium in Euboea, recognizing that this place was well suited for meeting the enemy, and a considerable body of hoplites to Thermopylae to forestall them in occupying the passes at the narrowest part of the defile and to prevent the barbarians from advancing against Greece; for they were eager to throw their protection inside of Thermopylae about  p133 those who had chosen the cause of the Greeks and to do everything in their power to save the allies. 2 The leader of the entire expedition was Eurybiades the Lacedaemonian, and of the troops sent to Thermopylae the commander was Leonidas the king of the Spartans, a man who set great store by his courage and general­ship. Leonidas, when he received the appointment, announced that only one thousand men should follow him on the campaign. 3 And when the ephors said that he was leading altogether too few soldiers against a great force and ordered him to take along a larger number, he replied to them in secret, "For preventing the barbarians from getting through the passes they are few, but for the task to which they are now bound they are many." 4 Since this reply proved riddle-like and obscure, he was asked again whether he believed he was leading the soldiers to some paltry task. Whereupon he replied, "Ostensibly I am leading them to the defence of the passes, but in fact to die for the freedom of all; and so, if a thousand set forth, Sparta will be the more renowned when they have died, but if the whole body of the Lacedaemonians take the field, Lacedaemon will be utterly destroyed, for not a man of them, in order to save his life, will dare to turn in flight." 5 There were, then, of the Lacedaemonians one thousand, and with them three hundred Spartiates,​12 while the rest of the Greeks who were dispatched with them to Thermopylae were three thousand.

6 Leonidas, then, with four thousand soldiers advanced to Thermopylae. The Locrians, however, who dwelt in the neighbourhood of the passes had  p135 already given earth and water to the Persians, and had promised that they would seize the passes in advance; but when they learned that Leonidas had arrived at Thermopylae, they changed their minds and went over to the Greeks. 7 And there gathered at Thermopylae also a thousand Locrians, an equal number of Melians,​13 and almost a thousand Phocians, as well as some four hundred Thebans of the other party; for the inhabitants of Thebes were divided against each other with respect to the alliance with the Persians. Now the Greeks who were drawn up with Leonidas for battle, being as many in number as we have set forth, tarried in Thermopylae, awaiting the arrival of the Persians.

5 1 Xerxes, after having enumerated his armaments, pushed on with the entire army, and the whole fleet accompanied the land forces in their advance as far as the city of Acanthus, and from there the ships passed through the place where the canal had been cut into the other sea expeditiously and without loss. 2 But when Xerxes arrived at the Gulf of Melis,​14 he learned that the enemy had already seized the passes. Consequently, having joined to his forces the armament there, he summoned his allies from Europe, a little less than two hundred thousand men; so that he now possessed in all not less than one million soldiers exclusive of the naval contingent.​15 3 And the sum total of the masses who served on the ships of war and who transported the food and general  p137 equipment was not less than that of those we have mentioned, so that the account usually given of the multitude of the men gathered together by Xerxes need cause no amazement; for men say that the unfailing rivers ran dray because of the unending stream of the multitude, and that the seas were hidden by the sails of the ships. However this may be, the greatest forces of which any historical record has been left were those which accompanied Xerxes.

4 After the Persians had encamped on the Spercheius River, Xerxes dispatched envoys to Thermopylae to discover, among other things, how the Greeks felt about the war with him; and he commanded them to make this proclamation: "King Xerxes orders all to give up their arms, to depart unharmed to their native lands, and to be allies of the Persian; and to all Greeks who do this he will give more and better lands than they now possess." 5 But when Leonidas heard the commands of the envoys, he replied to them: "If we should be allies of the king we should be more useful if we kept our arms, and if we should have to wage war against him, we should fight the better for our freedom if we kept them; and as for the lands which he promises to give, the Greeks have learned from their fathers to gain lands, not by cowardice, but by valour."

6 1 The king, on hearing from his envoys the replies of the Greeks, sent for Demaratus, a Spartan who had been exiled from his native land and taken refuge with him, and with a scoff at the replies he asked the Laconian, "Will the Greeks flee more swiftly than my horses can run, or will they dare to face such  p139 armaments in battle?" 2 And Demaratus, we are told, replied, "You yourself are not unacquainted with the courage of the Greeks, since you use Greek forces to quell such barbarians as revolt. So do not think that those who fight better than the Persians to maintain your sovereignty, will risk their lives less bravely against the Persians to maintain their own freedom." But Xerxes with a scoff at him ordered Demaratus to stay by his side in order that he might witness the Lacedaemonians in flight.

3 Xerxes with his army came against the Greeks at Thermopylae. And he put the Medes in front of all the other peoples, either because he preferred them by reason of their courage or because he wished to destroy them in a body; for the Medes still retained a proud spirit, the supremacy which their ancestors had exercised having only recently been overthrown. 4 And he also designated together with the Medes the brothers and sons of those who had fallen at Marathon, believing that they would wreak vengeance upon the Greeks with the greatest fury. The Medes, then, having been drawn up for battle in the manner we have described, attacked the defenders of Thermopylae; but Leonidas had made careful preparation and massed the Greeks in the narrowest part of the pass.

7 1 The fight which followed was a fierce one, and since the barbarians had the king as a witness of their valour and the Greeks kept in mind their liberty and were exhorted to the fray by Leonidas, it followed that the struggle was amazing. 2 For since the men stood shoulder to shoulder in the fighting and  p141 the blows were struck in close combat, and the lines were densely packed, for a considerable time the battle was equally balanced. But since the Greeks were superior in valour and in the great size of their shields, the Medes gradually gave way; for many of them were slain and not a few wounded. The place of the Medes in the battle was taken by Cissians and Sacae, selected for their valour, who had been stationed to support them; and joining the struggle fresh as they were against men who were worn out they withstood the hazard of combat for a short while, be as they were slain and pressed upon by the soldiers of Leonidas, they gave way. 3 For the barbarians used small round or irregularly shaped shields, by which they enjoyed an advantage in open fields, since they were thus enabled to move more easily, but in narrow places they could not easily inflict wounds upon an enemy who were formed in close ranks and had their entire bodies protected by large shields, whereas they, being at a disadvantage by reason of the lightness of their protective armour, received repeated wounds.

4 At last Xerxes, seeing that the entire area about the passes was strewn with dead bodies and that the barbarians were not holding out against the valour of the Greeks, sent forward the picked Persians known as the "Immortals," who were reputed to be pre-eminent among the entire host for their deeds of courage. But when these also fled after only a brief resistance, then at last, as night fell, they ceased from battle, the barbarians having lost many dead and the Greeks a small number.

8 1 On the following day Xerxes, now that the battle had turned out contrary to his expectation,  p143 choosing from all the peoples of his army such men as were reputed to be of outstanding bravery and daring, after an earnest exhortation announced before the battle that if they should storm the approach he would give them notable gifts, but if they fled the punishment would be death. 2 These men hurled themselves upon the Greeks as one mighty mass and with great violence, but the soldiers of Leonidas closed their ranks at this time, and making their formation like a wall took up the struggle with ardour. And so far did they go in their eagerness that the lines which were wont to join in the battle by turns would not withdraw, but by their unintermitted endurance of the hardship they got the better and slew many of the picked barbarians. 3 The day long they spent in conflict, vying with one another; for the older soldiers challenged the fresh vigour of the youth, and the younger matched themselves against the experience and fame of their elders. And when finally even the picked barbarians turned in flight, the barbarians who were stationed in reserve blocked the way and would not permit the picked soldiers to flee; consequently they were compelled to turn back and renew the battle.

4 While the king was in a state of dismay, believing that no man would have the courage to go into battle again, there came to him a certain Trachinian, a native of the region, who was familiar with the mountainous area. This man was brought into the presence of Xerxes and undertook to conduct the Persians by way of a narrow and precipitous path, so that the men who accompanied would get behind the forces of Leonidas, which, being surrounded in this manner, would be easily annihilated. 5 The king was  p145 delighted, and heaping presents upon the Trachinian he dispatched twenty thousand soldiers with him under cover of night. But a certain man among the Persians named Tyrrhastiadas, a Cymaean by birth, who was honourable and upright in his ways, deserting from the camp of the Persians in the night came to Leonidas, who knew nothing of the act of the Trachinian, and informed him.

9 1 The Greeks, on hearing of this, gathered together about the middle of the night and conferred about the perils which were bearing down on them. And although some declared that they should relinquish the pass at once and make their way in safety to the allies, stating that any who remained in the place could not possibly come off with their lives, Leonidas, the king of the Lacedaemonians, being eagerly desirous to win both for himself and for the Spartans a garland of great glory, gave orders that the rest of the Greeks should all depart and win safety for themselves, in order that they might fight together with the Greeks in the battles which still remained; but as for the Lacedaemonians, he said, they must remain and not abandon the defence of the pass, for it was fitting that those who were the leaders of Hellas should gladly die striving for the meed of honour.​16 2 Immediately, then, all the rest departed, but Leonidas together with his fellow citizens performed heroic and astounding deeds; and although the Lacedaemonians were but few (he detained only the Thespiaeans) and he had all told not more than five hundred men, he was ready to meet death on behalf of Hellas.

 p147  3 After this the Persians who were led by the Trachinian, after making their way around the difficult terrain, suddenly caught Leonidas between their forces, and the Greeks, giving up any thought of their own safety and choosing renown instead, with one voice asked their commander to lead them against the enemy before the Persians should learn that their men had made their way around them. 4 And Leonidas, welcoming the eagerness of his soldiers, ordered them to prepare their breakfast quickly, since they would dine in Hades, and he himself, in accordance with the order he had given, took food, believing that by so doing he could keep his strength for a long time and endure the strain of contest. When they had hastily refreshed themselves and all were ready, he ordered the soldiers to attack the camp, slaying any who came in their way, and to strike for the very pavilion of the king.

10 1 The soldiers, then, in accordance with the orders given them, forming in a compact body fell by night upon the encampment of the Persians, Leonidas leading the attack;​17 and the barbarians, because of the unexpectedness of the attack and their ignorance of the reason for it, ran together from their tents with great tumult and in disorder, and thinking that the soldiers who had set out with the Trachinian had perished and that the entire force of the Greeks was upon them, they were struck with terror. 2 Consequently many of them were slain by the troops of Leonidas, and even more perished at the hands of their comrades, who in their ignorance took them for enemies. For the night prevented any  p149 understanding of the true state of affairs, and the confusion, extending as it did throughout the entire encampment, occasioned, we may well believe, great slaughter; since they kept killing one another, the conditions not allowing of a close scrutiny, because there was no order from a general nor any demanding of a password nor, in general, any recovery of reason. 3 Indeed, if the king had remained at the royal pavilion, he also could easily have been slain by the Greeks and the whole war would have reached a speedy conclusion; but as it was, Xerxes had rushed out to the tumult, and the Greeks broke into the pavilion and slew almost to a man all whom they caught there. 4 So long as it was night they wandered throughout the entire camp seeking Xerxes — a reasonable action; but when the day dawned and the entire state of affairs was made manifest, the Persians observing that the Greeks were few in number, viewed them with contempt; the Persians did not, however, join battle with them face to face, fearing their valour, but they formed on their flanks and rear, and shooting arrows and hurling javelins at them from every direction they slew them to a man. Now as for the soldiers of Leonidas who guarded the passes of Thermopylae, such was the end of life they met.

11 1 The merits of these men, who would not regard them with wonder? They with one accord did not desert the post to which Greece had assigned them, but gladly offered upon their own lives for the common salvation of all Greeks, and preferred to die bravely rather than to live shamefully. 2 The consternation of the Persians also, no one could doubt that they felt it. For what man among the barbarians could have conceived of that which had taken place? Who  p151 could have expected that a band of only five hundred ever had the daring to charge against the human myriads? Consequently what man of later times might not emulate the valour of those warriors who, finding themselves in the grip of an overwhelming situation, though their bodies were subdued, were not conquered in spirit? These men, therefore, alone of all of whom history records, have in defeat been accorded a greater fame than all others who have won the fairest victories. For judgement must be passed upon brave men, not by the outcome of their actions, but by their purpose; 3 in the one case Fortune is mistress, in the other it is the purpose which wins approval. What man would judge any to be braver than were those Spartans who, though not equal in number to even the thousandth part of the enemy, dared to match their valour against the unbelievable multitudes? Nor had they any hope of overcoming so many myriads, but they believed that in bravery they would surpass all men of former times, and they decided that, although the battle they had to fight was against the barbarians, yet the real contest and the award of valour they were seeking was in competition with all who had ever won admiration for their campaign. 4 Indeed they alone of those of whom we have knowledge from time immemorial chose rather to preserve the laws of their state than their own lives, not feeling aggrieved that the greatest perils threatened them, but concluding that the greatest boon for which those who practise valour should pray is the opportunity to play a part in contests of this kind. 5 And one would be justified in believing that it was these men who were more responsible for the common freedom of the Greeks  p153 than those who were victorious at a later time in the battles against Xerxes; for when the deeds of these men were called to mind, the Persians were dismayed whereas the Greeks were incited to perform similar courageous exploits.

6 And, speaking in general terms, these men alone of the Greeks down to their time passed into immortality because of their exceptional valour. Consequently not only the writers of history but also many of our poets have celebrated their brave exploits; and one of them is Simonides, the lyric poet, who composed the following encomium​18 in their praise, worthy of their valour:

Of those who perished at Thermopylae

All glorious is the fortune, fair the doom;

Their grave's an altar, ceaseless memory's theirs

Instead of lamentation, and their fate

Is chant of praise. Such winding-sheet as this

Nor mould nor all-consuming time shall waste.

This sepulchre of valiant men has taken

The fair renown of Hellas for its inmate.

And witness is Leonidas, once king

Of Sparta, who hath left behind a crown

Of valour mighty and undying fame.

12 1 Now that we have spoken at sufficient length of the valour of these men we shall resume the course of our narrative. Xerxes, now that he had gained the passes in the manner we have described and had  p155 won, as the proverb runs, a "Cadmeian victory,"​19 had destroyed only a few of the enemy, while he had lost great numbers of his own troops. And after he had become master of the passes by means of his land forces, he resolved to make trial of contest at sea. 2 At once, therefore, summoning the commander of the fleet, Megabates, he ordered him to sail against the naval force of the Greeks and to make trial, with all his fleet, of a sea-battle against them. 3 And Megabates, in accordance with the king's orders, set out from Pydnê in Macedonia with all the fleet and put in at a promontory of Magnesia which bears the name of Sepias. At this place a great wind arose and he lost more than three hundred warships and great numbers of cavalry transports and other vessels. And when the wind ceased, he weighed anchor and put in at Aphetae in Magnesia. From here he dispatched two hundred triremes, ordering the commanders to take a roundabout course and, by keeping Euboea on the right, to encircle the enemy.

4 The Greeks were stationed at Artemisium in Euboea and had in all two hundred and eighty triremes; of these ships one hundred and forty were Athenian and the remainder were furnished by the rest of the Greeks. Their admiral was Eurybiades the Spartan, and Themistocles the Athenian supervised the affairs of the fleet; for the latter, by reason of his sagacity and skill as a general, enjoyed great favour not only with the Greeks throughout the fleet but also with Eurybiades himself, and all men looked to him and harkened to him eagerly. 5 And when a  p157 meeting of the commanders of the ships was held to discuss the engagement, the rest of them all favoured waiting to receive the advance of the enemy; but Themistocles alone expressed the opposite opinion, showing them that it was to their advantage to sail against the enemy with the whole fleet in one array; for in this way, he declared, they would have the upper hand, attacking as they would with their ships in a single body an enemy whose formation was broken by disorder, as it must be, for they would be issuing out of many harbours at some distance apart. In the end the Greeks followed the opinion of meantime and sailed against the enemy with the entire fleet. 6 And since the barbarians put out from many harbours, at the outset Themistocles, engaging with the scattered Persians, sank many ships and not a few he forced to turn in flight and pursued as far as the land; but later, when the whole fleet had gathered and a fierce battle ensued, each side gained the superiority in one part of the line but neither won a complete victory, and at nightfall the engagement was broken off.

13 1 After the battle a great storm arose and destroyed many ships which were anchored outside the harbour, so that it appeared as if Providence were taking the part of the Greeks in order that, the multitude of the barbarians' ships having been lessened, the Greek force might become a match for them and strong enough to offer battle. As a result the Greeks grew ever more bold, whereas the barbarians became ever more timorous before the conflicts which faced them. Nevertheless, recovering themselves after the shipwreck, they put out with all their ships against the enemy. 2 And the Greeks, with fifty Attic triremes  p159 added to their number, took position opposed to the barbarians. The sea-battle which followed was much like the fighting at Thermopylae; for the Persians were resolved to overwhelm the Greeks and force their way through the Euripus,​20 while the Greeks, blocking the narrows, were fighting to preserve their allies in Euboea.​21 A fierce battle ensued and many ships were lost on both sides, and nightfall compelled them to return to their respective harbours. The prize of valour, we are told, in both battles was accorded to the Athenians for the Greeks and to the Sidonians for the barbarians.

3 After this the Greeks, on hearing of the course events had taken at Thermopylae and discovering that the Persians were advancing by land against Athens, became dispirited; consequently they sailed off to Salamis and awaited events there. 4 The Athenians, surveying the dangers threatening each and every inhabitant of Athens, put on boats their children and wives and every useful article they could and brought them to Salamis. 5 And the Persian admiral, no learning that the enemy had withdrawn, set sail for Euboea with his entire fleet, and taking the city of the Histiaeans by storm he plundered and ravaged their territory.

14 1 While these events were taking place, Xerxes set out from Thermopylae and advanced through the territory of the Phocians, sacking the cities and destroying  p161 all property in the countryside. Now the Phocians had chosen the cause of the Greeks, but seeing that they were unable to offer resistance, the whole populace deserted all are cities and fled for safety to the rugged regions about Mount Parnassus. 2 Then the king passed through the territory of the Dorians, doing it no harm since they were allies of the Persians. Here he left behind a portion of his army and ordered it to proceed to Delphi, to burn the precinct of Apollo and to carry off the votive offerings, while he advanced into Boeotia with the rest of the barbarians and encamped there. 3 The force that had been dispatched to sack the oracle had proceeded as far as the shrine of Athena Pronaea, but at that spot a great thunderstorm, accompanied by incessant lightning, suddenly burst from the heavens, and more than that, the storm wrenched loose huge rocks and hurled them into the host of the barbarians; the result was that large numbers of the Persians were killed and the whole force, dismayed at the intervention of the gods, fled from the region. 4 So the oracle of Delphi, with the aid of some divine Providence, escaped pillage. And the Delphians, desiring to leave to succeeding generations a deathless memorial of the appearance of the gods among men, set up beside the temple of Athena Pronaea​22 a trophy on which they inscribed the following elegiac lines:

To serve as a memorial to war,

The warder-off of men, and as a witness

To victory the Delphians set me up,

Rendering thanks to Zeus and Phoebus who

 p163  Thrust back the city-sacking ranks of Medes

And threw their guard about the bronze-crowned shrine.

5 Meanwhile Xerxes, as he passed through Boeotia, laid waste the territory of the Thespiaeans and burned Plataea which was without habitants; for the residents of these two cities had fled in a body to the Peloponnesus. After this he entered Attica and ravaged the countryside, and then he razed Athens to the ground and sent up in flames the temples of the gods. And while the king was concerned with these affairs, his fleet sailed from Euboea to Attica, having sacked on the way both Euboea and the coast of Attica.

15 1 During this time the Cercyraeans, who had fitted out sixty triremes, were waiting off the Peloponnesus, being unable, as they themselves allege, to round the promontory at Malea, but, as certain historians tell us, anxiously awaiting the turn of the war, in order that, if the Persians prevailed, they might then give them water and earth, while if the Greeks were victorious, they would get the credit of having come to their aid.​23 2 But the Athenians who were waiting in Salamis, when they saw Attica being laid waste with fire and heard that the sacred precinct of Athena​24 had been razed, were exceedingly disheartened. And likewise great fear gripped the other Greeks who, driven from every quarter, were now cooped up in the Peloponnesus alone. Consequently they thought it desirable that all who had  p165 been charged with command should meet in council and deliberate regarding the kind of place that would best serve their purpose in fighting a naval battle. 3º Many ideas of various kinds were expressed. The Peloponnesians, thinking only of their own safety, declared that the contest should be held at the Isthmus; for it had been strongly fortified with a wall, and so, if they should suffer any reverse in the battle, the defeated would be able to withdraw for refuge into the most suitable place of safety available, the Peloponnesus, whereas, if they cooped themselves up in the little island of Salamis, perils would beset them from which it would be difficult for them to be rescued. 4 But Themistocles counselled that the contest of the ships be held at Salamis, for he believed that those who had few ships to fight with would have many advantages, in the narrows of Salamis, against a vastly superior number of vessels. And speaking generally, he showed that the region about the Isthmus would be altogether unsuitable for the sea-battle; for the contest would take place on the open sea, and the Persians because of the room for manoeuvring would easily subdue the small force of ships by their vastly superior numbers. And by presenting in like fashion many other facts pertinent to the occasion he persuaded all present to cast their votes with him for the plan he recommended.

16 1 When at last a decision was reached by all to fight the sea-battle at Salamis, the Greeks set about making the preparations necessary to meet the Persians and the peril of battle. Accordingly Eurybiades, accompanied by Themistocles, undertook to encourage the crews and incite them to face the impending struggle. However, the crews would not  p167 heed them, but since they were one and all dismayed at the magnitude of the Persian forces, not a man of them paid any attention to his commander, every one being intent upon sailing from Salamis to the Peloponnesus. 2 And the army of the Greeks on land was no whit less terrified by the armament of the enemy, and not only the loss at Thermopylae of their most illustrious warriors caused them dismay, but also the disasters which were taking place in Attica before their very eyes were filling the Greeks with utter despair. 3 Meanwhile the members of the congress of the Greeks, observing the unrest of the masses and the dismay prevailing everywhere, voted to build a wall across the Isthmus. The works were completed speedily because of the enthusiasm and the multitude of those engaged in the task; but while the Peloponnesians were strengthening the wall, which extended a distance of forty stades, from Lechaeum to Cenchreae, the forces which were inactive at Salamis, together with the entire fleet, were so terror-stricken that they no longer obeyed the orders of their commanders.

17 1 Themistocles, perceiving that the admiral, Eurybiades, was unable to overcome the mood of his forces, and yet recognizing that the narrow quarters at Salamis could be a great aid in accomplishing the victory, contrived the following ruse: He induced a certain man to desert to Xerxes and to assure him that the ships at Salamis were going to slip away from that region and assemble at the Isthmus. 2 Accordingly the king, believing the man because what he reported was in itself plausible, made haste to prevent the naval forces of the Greeks from making contact with their armies on land. Therefore  p169 he at once dispatched the Egyptian fleet with orders to block the strait which separates Salamis from the territory of Megaris.​25 The main body of his ships he dispatched to Salamis, ordering it to establish contact with the enemy and by fighting there decide the issue. The triremes were drawn up by peoples one after another, in order that, speaking the same language and knowing one another, the several contingents might assist each other with alacrity. 3 When the fleet had been drawn up in this manner, the right wing was held by the Phoenicians and the left by the Greeks who were associated with the Persians.

The commanders of Ionian contingents of the Persian fleet sent a man of Samos to the Greeks to inform them of what the king had decided to do and of the disposition of his forces for battle, and to say that in the course of the battle they were going to desert from the barbarians. 4 And when the Samian had swum across without being observed and had informed Eurybiades about this plan, Themistocles, realizing that his stratagem had worked out as he had planned, was beside himself with joy and exhorted the crews to the fight; and as for the Greeks, they were emboldened by the promise of the Ionians, and although the circumstances were compelling them to fight against their own preference, they came down eagerly in a body from Salamis to the shore in preparation for the sea-battle.

18 1 When at last Eurybiades and Themistocles had completed the disposition of their forces, the left wing was held by the Athenians and Lacedaemonians, who in this way would be opposed to the ships of the Phoenicians; for the Phoenicians possessed a distinct  p171 superiority by reason of both of their great number and of the experience in seaman­ship which they inherited from their ancestors. 2 The Aeginetans and Megarians formed the right wing, since they were generally considered to be the best seamen after the Athenians and it was believed that they would show the best spirit, seeing that they alone of the Greeks would have no place of refuge in case any reverse should occur in the course of the battle. The centre was held by the rest of the Greek forces.

This, then, was the battle-order in which the Greeks sailed out, and they occupied the strait between Salamis and the Heracleium;​26 3 and the king gave order to his admiral to advance against the enemy, while he himself moved down the coast to a spot directly opposite Salamis from which he could watch the course of the battle. 4 The Persians, as they advanced, could at the outset maintain their line, since they had plenty of space; but when they came to the narrow passage, they were compelled to withdraw some ships from the line, creating in this way much disorder. 5 The admiral, who was leading the way before the line and was the first to begin the fighting, was slain after having acquitted himself valiantly. When his ship went down, disorder seized the barbarian fleet, for there were many now to give orders, but each man did not issue the same commands. Consequently they halted the advance, and holding back their ships, they began to withdraw to where there was plenty of room. 6 The Athenians, observing the disorder among the barbarians, now advanced upon the enemy, and some of their ships they struck with their rams, while from others they sheared off the rows of oars; and when the men at the oars  p173 could no longer do their work, many Persian triremes, getting sidewise to the enemy, were time and again severely damaged by the beaks of the ships. Consequently they ceased merely backing water, but turned about and fled precipitately.

19 1 While the Phoenician and Cyprian ships were being mastered by the Athenians, the vessels of the Cilicians and Pamphylians, and also of the Lycians, which followed them in line, at first were holding out stoutly, but when they saw the strongest ships taking to flight they likewise abandoned the flight. 2 On the other wing the battle was stubbornly fought and for some time the struggle was evenly balanced; but when the Athenians had pursued the Phoenicians and Cyprians to the shore and then turned back, the barbarians, being forced out of line by the returning Athenians, turned about and lost many of their ships. 3 In this manner, then, the Greeks gained the upper hand and won a most renowned naval victory over the barbarians; and in the struggle forty ships were lost by the Greeks, but more than two hundred by the Persians, not including those which were captured together with their crews.

4 The king, for whom the defeat was unexpected, put to death those Phoenicians who were chiefly responsible for beginning the flight, and threatened to visit upon the rest the punishment they deserved. And the Phoenicians, frightened by his threats, first put into port on the coast of Attica, and then, when night fell, set sail for Asia. 5 But Themistocles, who was credited for having brought about the victory, devised another stratagem no less clever than the one we have described. For, since the Greeks were afraid to battle on land against so many myriads of  p175 Persians, he greatly reduced the number of the Persian troops in the following manner: he sent to Xerxes the attendant of his own sons to inform him that the Greeks were about to sail to the bridge of boats​27 and to destroy it. 6 Accordingly the king, believing the report because it was plausible, became fearful lest he should be cut off from the route whatever he could get back to Asia, now that the Greeks controlled the sea, and decided to cross over in all possible haste from Europe into Asia, leaving Mardonius behind in Greece with picked cavalry and infantry, the total number of whom was not less than four hundred thousand.​28 Thus Themistocles by the use of two stratagems brought about signal advantages for the Greeks.

These were the events that took place in Greece at this time.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 That is, the Book covers the years 480‑451 B.C.

2 Gaul and Spain.

3 i.e. from Asia into Europe via the Northern Aegean.

4 The submission of water and earth was a token of fealty or non-resistance.

5 A Persian fleet had been wrecked off the promontory of Mt. Athos in 492 B.C.

6 Herodotus (7.173) gives the name as Euaenetus.

7 The inhabitants of Malis (also called Melis) in S. Thessaly, not of the island Melos in the southern Aegean.

8 At Corinth.

9 That is, all the states which had joined the alliance.

10 The use of this canal "is problematic; and its existence has been questioned in ancient as well as modern times, but is guaranteed by Thucydides and by vestiges still visible" (Munro in Camb. Anc. Hist. 4, p269).

11 At the entrance to the Black Sea; Triopium and Sunium are the promontories of Caria and Attica respectively.

12 Full citizens of the state of Sparta proper.

13 See note 7 on p126.

14 Diodorus, in his eagerness to recount the safe passage of the fleet through the canal, has anticipated. He now returns to the march from the European side of the Hellespont.

15 The size of Xerxes' army has been often discussed. Munro (Camb. Anc. Hist. 4, pp271 ff.) concludes that Xerxes had one hundred and eighty thousand combatants and a fleet of some seven hundred and thirty warships.

16 The heroism of the Spartans has been depreciated by Munro (Camb. Anc. Hist. 4, pp297 ff.) who thinks that Leonidas believed he had "one day more."

17 Herodotus (7.223) knows nothing of this assault by the Greeks upon the Persian camp, and it is of course altogether incredible; he says that the fighting began about the time "when the market-place is crowded," i.e. in the forenoon, on the initiative of the Persians.

18 Frag. 4 (Bergk). "Encomium" is not to be taken in the technical sense it had in the fifth century B.C. There is considerable reason to think that the following lines were part of a poem sung at the shrine of the fallen in Sparta. See C. M. Bowra in Class. Phil. 28 (1933), pp277‑281.

19 The reference is to the dearly won victory of the Thebans over the "Seven," described in Book 4.65. The phrase is defined by Diodorus himself in Book 22 frag. 6.

20 The straits between Euboea and the mainland.

21 Herodotus (8.4) says that the Euboeans asked the fleet to remain at Artemisium until they could get their families and possessions off the island.

22 This temple of Athena Pronaea ("of the fore-shrine") lay just outside the shrine of Apollo (Paus. 10.8.6).

23 Herodotus (7.168) says the same thing about the Cercyraeans, but with more bitterness. They later alleged that the etesian winds prevented their rounding Cape Malea.

24 The temenos of Athena was the entire Acropolis.

25 This closed the route by which the Greeks could move west and south to the Peloponnesus; the Persian fleet already blocked the straits to the east.

26 The Heracleium was a shrine of Heracles on the mainland where only a narrow passage separated the island from Attica (Plutarch, Themistocles, 13.1).

27 Over the Hellespont (chap. 3.6).

28 We are told in chap. 28.4 that the size of the army was "more than two hundred thousand," and in chap. 30.1 that it was "about five hundred thousand."

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