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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 211

38. However the death of Hegesistratos took place later than the events at Plataia, and he was now at the Asopos, having been hired by Mardonions for no mean sum, sacrificing and displaying zeal for his cause both on account of his enmity with the Lacedemonians and on account of the gain which he got: but as the sacrifices were not favourable for a battle either for the Persians themselves or for those Hellenes who were with them (for these also had a diviner for themselves, Hippomachos a Leucadian), and as the Hellenes had men constantly flowing in and were becoming more in number, Timagenides the son of Herpys, a Theban, counselled Mardonios to set a guard on the pass of Kithairon, saying that the Hellenes were constantly flowing in every day and that he would thus cut off large numbers..

39. Eight days had now passed while they had been sitting opposite to one another, when he gave this counsel to Mardonios; and Mardonios, perceiving that the advice was good, sent the cavalry when night came on to the pass of Kithairon leading towards Plataia, which the Boeotians call the "Three Heads" 46 and the Athenians the "Oak Heads." 47 Having been thus sent, the cavalry did not come without effect, for they caught five hundred baggage-animals coming out into the plain, which were bearing provisions from Peloponnesus to the army, and also the men who accompanied the carts: and having taken this prize the Persians proceeded to slaughter them without sparing either beast or man; and when they were satiated with killing they surrounded the rest and drove them into the camp to Mardonios.

40. After this deed they spent two days more, neither side wishing to begin a battle; for the Barbarians advanced as far as the Asopos to make trial of the Hellenes, but neither side would cross the river. However the cavalry of Mardonios made attacks continually and did damage to the Hellenes; for the Thebans, being very strong on the side of the Medes, carried on the war with vigour, and always directed them up to the moment of fighting; and after this the Persians and Medes took up the work and were they who displayed valour in their turn.

41. For ten days then nothing more was done than this; but when the eleventh day had come, while they still sat opposite to one another at Plataia, the Hellenes having by this time grown much more numerous and Mardonios being greatly vexed at the delay of action, then Mardonios the son of Gobryas and Artabazos the son of Pharnakes, who was esteemed by Xerxes as few of the Persians were besides, came to speech with one another; and as they conferred, the opinions they expressed were these,—that of Artabazos, that they must put the whole army in motion as soon as possible and go to the walls of the Thebans, whither great stores of corn had been brought in for them and fodder for their beasts; and that they should settle there quietly and get their business done as follows:—they had, he said, great quantities of gold, both coined and uncoined, and also of silver and of drinking-cups; and these he advised they should send about to the Hellenes without stint, more especially to those of the Hellenes who were leaders in their several cities; and these, he said, would speedily deliver up their freedom: and he advised that they should not run the risk of a battle. His opinion then was the same as that of the Thebans, 48 for he as well as they had some true foresight: but the opinion of Mardonios was more vehement and more obstinate, and he was by no means disposed to yield; for he said that he thought their army far superior to that of the Hellenes, and he gave as his opinion that they should engage battle as quickly as possible and not allow them to assemble in still greater numbers than were already assembled; and as for the sacrifices of Hegesistratos, they should leave them alone and not endeavour to force a good sign, but follow the custom of the Persians and engage battle..


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