The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 147

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.

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.

228. The men were buried were they fell; and for these, as well as for those who were slain before being sent away 228 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." 229

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.

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. 230 Now if either Aristodemos had been ill 231 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, 232 had not been willing to die, it necessarily happened that the Spartans had great indignation against Aristodemos.