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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 204

16. While the Barbarians were engaged upon this work, Attaginos the son of Phyrnon, a Theban, having made magnificent preparations invited to an entertainment Mardonios himself and fifty of the Persians who were of most account; and these being invited came; and the dinner was given at Thebes. Now this which follows I heard from Thersander, an Orchomenian and a man of very high repute in Orchomenos. This Thersander said that he too was invited by Attaginos to this dinner, and there were invited also fifty men of the Thebans, and their host did not place them to recline 17 separately each nation by themselves, but a Persian and a Theban upon every couch. Then when dinner was over, as they were drinking pledges to one another, 18 the Persian who shared a couch with him speaking in the Hellenic tongue asked him of what place he was, and he answered that he was of Orchomenos. The other said: "Since now thou hast become my table-companion and the sharer of my libation, I desire to leave behind with thee a memorial of my opinion, in order that thou thyself also mayest know beforehand and be able to take such counsels for thyself as may be profitable. Dost thou see these Persians who are feasting here, and the army which we left behind encamped upon the river? Of all these, when a little time has gone by, thou shalt see but very few surviving." While the Persian said these words he shed many tears, as Thersander reported; and he marvelling at his speech said to him: "Surely then it is right to tell Mardonios and to those of the Persians who after him are held in regard." He upon this said: "Friend, that which is destined to come from God, it is impossible for a man to avert; for no man is willing to follow counsel, even when one speaks that which is reasonable. And these things which I say many of us Persians know well; yet we go with the rest being bound in the bonds of necessity: and the most hateful grief of all human griefs is this, to have knowledge of the truth but no power over the event." 19 These things I heard from Thersander of Orchomenos, and in addition to them this also, namely that he told them to various persons forthwith, before the battle took place at Plataia.

17. Mardonios then being encamped in Boeotia, the rest of the Hellenes who lived in these parts and took the side of the Medes were all supplying troops and had joined in the invasion of Attica, but the Phokians alone had not joined in the invasion,—the Phokians, I say, for these too were now actively 20 taking the side of the Medes, not of their own will however, but by compulsion. Not many days however after the arrival of Mardonios at Thebes, there came of them a thousand hoplites, and their leader was Harmokydes, the man who was of most repute among their citizens. When these too came to Thebes, Mardonios sent horsemen and bade the Phokians take up their position by themselves in the plain. After they had so done, forthwith the whole cavalry appeared; and upon this there went a rumour 21 through the army of Hellenes which was with the Medes that the cavalry was about to shoot them down with javelins, and this same report went through the Phokians themselves also. Then their commander Harmokydes exhorted them, speaking as follows: "Phokians, it is manifest that these men are meaning to deliver us to a death which we may plainly foresee, 22 because we have been falsely accused by the Thessalians, as I conjecture: now therefore it is right that every one of you prove himself a good man; for it is better to bring our lives to an end doing deeds of valour and defending ourselves, than to be destroyed by a dishonourable death offering ourselves for the slaughter. Let each man of them learn that they are Barbarians and that we, against whom they contrived murder, are Hellenes.".


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