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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 207

26. Then in the arranging of the several posts there arose a contention of much argument 2501 between the Tegeans and the Athenians; for they each claimed to occupy the other wing of the army 26 themselves, alleging deeds both new and old. The Tegeans on the one hand said as follows: "We have been always judged worthy of this post by the whole body of allies in all the common expeditions which the Peloponnesians have made before this, whether in old times or but lately, ever since that time when the sons of Heracles endeavoured after the death of Eurystheus to return to the Peloponnese. This honour we gained at that time by reason of the following event:—When with the Achaians and the Ionians who were then in Peloponnesus we had come out to the Isthmus to give assistance and were encamped opposite those who desired to return, then it is said that Hyllos made a speech saying that it was not right that the one army should risk its safety by engaging battle with the other, and urging that that man of the army of the Peloponnesians whom they should judge to be the best of them should fight in single combat with himself on terms concerted between them. The Peloponnesians then resolved that this should be done; and they made oath with one another on this condition,—that if Hyllos should conquer the leader of the Peloponnesians, then the sons of Heracles should return to their father's heritage; but he should be conquered, then on the other hand the sons of Heracles should depart and lead away their army, and not within a hundred years attempt to return to the Peloponnese. There was selected then of all the allies, he himself making a voluntary offer, Echemos the son of Aëropos, the son of Phegeus, 27 who was our commander and king: and he fought a single combat and slew Hyllos. By reason of this deed we obtained among the Peloponnesians of that time, besides many other great privileges which we still possess, this also of always leading the other wing of the army, when a common expedition is made. To you, Lacedemonians, we make no opposition, but we give you freedom of choice, and allow you to command whichever wing ye desire; but of the other we say that it belongs to us to be the leaders as in former time: and apart from this deed which has been related, we are more worthy than the Athenians to have this post; for in many glorious contests have we contended against you, O Spartans, and in many also against others. Therefore it is just that we have the other wing rather than the Athenians; for they have not achieved deeds such as ours, either new or old.".

27. Thus they spoke, and the Athenians replied as follows: "Though we know that this gathering was assembled for battle with the Barbarian and not for speech, yet since the Tegean has proposed to us as a task to speak of things both old and new, the deeds of merit namely which by each of our two nations have been achieved in all time, it is necessary for us to point out to you whence it comes that to us, who have been brave men always, it belongs as a heritage rather than to the Arcadians to have the chief place. First as to the sons of Heracles, whose leader they say that they slew at the Isthmus, these in the former time, when they were driven away by all the Hellenes to whom they came flying from slavery under those of Mykene, we alone received; and joining with them we subdued the insolence of Eurystheus, having conquered in fight those who then dwelt in Peloponnesus. Again when the Argives who with Polyneikes marched against Thebes, had been slain and were lying unburied, we declare that we marched an army against the Cadmeians and recovered the dead bodies and gave them burial in our own land at Eleusis. We have moreover another glorious deed performed against the Amazons who invaded once the Attic land, coming from the river Thermodon: and in the toils of Troy we were not inferior to any. But it is of no profit to make mention of these things; for on the one hand, though we were brave men in those times, we might now have become worthless, and on the other hand even though we were then worthless, yet now we might be better. Let it suffice therefore about ancient deeds; but if by us no other deed has been displayed (as many there have been and glorious, not less than by any other people of the Hellenes), yet even by reason of the deed wrought at Marathon alone we are worthy to have this privilege and others besides this, seeing that we alone of all the Hellenes fought in single combat with the Persian, and having undertaken so great a deed we overcame and conquered six-and-forty nations. 28 Are we not worthy then to have this post by reason of that deed alone? However, since at such a time as this it is not fitting to contend for post, we are ready to follow your saying, O Lacedemonians, as to where ye think it most convenient that we should stand and opposite to whom; for wheresoever we are posted, we shall endeavour to be brave men. Prescribe to us therefore and we shall obey." They made answer thus; and the whole body of the Lacedemonians shouted aloud that the Athenians were more worthy to occupy the wing than the Arcadians. Thus the Athenians obtained the wing, and overcame the Tegeans.


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