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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 220

70. These then perished thus ingloriously; 75 and meanwhile the Persians and the rest of the throng, having fled for refuge to the palisade, succeeded in getting up to the towers before the Lacedemonians came; and having got up they strengthened the wall of defence as best they could. Then when the Lacedemonians 76 came up to attack it, there began between them a vigorous 77 fight for the wall: for so long as the Athenians were away, they defended themselves and had much the advantage over the Lacedemonians, since these did not understand the art of fighting against walls; but when the Athenians came up to help them, then there was a fierce fight for the wall, lasting for a long time, and at length by valour and endurance the Athenians mounted up on the wall and made a breach in it, through which the Hellenes poured in. Now the Tegeans were the first who entered the wall, and these were they who plundered the tent of Mardonios, taking, besides the other things which were in it, also the manger of his horse, which was all of bronze and a sight worth seeing. This manger of Mardonios was dedicated by the Tegeans as an offering in the temple of Athene Alea, 78 but all the other things which they took, they brought to the common stock of the Hellenes. The Barbarians however, after the wall had been captured, no longer formed themselves into any close body, nor did any of them think of making resistance, but they were utterly at a loss, 79 as you might expect from men who were in a panic with many myriads of them shut up together in a small space: and the Hellenes were able to slaughter them so that out of an army of thirty myriads, 80 if those four be subtracted which Artabazos took with him in his flight, of the remainder not three thousand men survived. Of the Lacedemonians from Sparta there were slain in the battle ninety-one in all, of the Tegeans sixteen, and of the Athenians two-and-fifty.

71. Among the Barbarians those who proved themselves the best men were, of those on foot the Persians, and of the cavalry the Sacans, and for a single man Mardonios it is said was the best. Of the Hellenes, though both the Tegeans and the Athenians proved themselves good men, yet the Lacedemonians surpassed them in valour. Of this I have no other proof (for all these were victorious over their opposites), but only this, that they fought against the strongest part of the enemy's force and overcame it. And the man who proved himself in my opinion by much the best was that Aristodemos who, having come back safe from Thermopylai alone of the three hundred, had reproach and dishonour attached to him. After him the best were Poseidonios and Philokyon and Amompharetos the Spartan. 81 However, when there came to be conversation as to which of them had proved himself the best, the Spartans who were present gave it as their opinion that Aristodemos had evidently wished to be slain in consequence of the charge which lay against him, and so, being as it were in a frenzy and leaving his place in the ranks, he had displayed great deeds, whereas Poseidonios had proved himself a good man although he did not desire to be slain; and so far he was the better man of the two. This however they perhaps said from ill-will; and all these whose names I mentioned among the men who were killed in this battle, were specially honoured, except Aristodemos; but Aristodemos, since he desired to be slain on account of the before-mentioned charge, was not honoured.


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