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The History of the Peloponnesian War

Page: 161

Meanwhile Hippocrates made a levy in mass of the citizens, resident aliens, and foreigners in Athens, and arrived at his destination after the Boeotians had already come back from Siphae, and encamping his army began to fortify Delium, the sanctuary of Apollo, in the following manner. A trench was dug all round the temple and the consecrated ground, and the earth thrown up from the excavation was made to do duty as a wall, in which stakes were also planted, the vines round the sanctuary being cut down and thrown in, together with stones and bricks pulled down from the houses near; every means, in short, being used to run up the rampart. Wooden towers were also erected where they were wanted, and where there was no part of the temple buildings left standing, as on the side where the gallery once existing had fallen in. The work was begun on the third day after leaving home, and continued during the fourth, and till dinnertime on the fifth, when most of it being now finished the army removed from Delium about a mile and a quarter on its way home. From this point most of the light troops went straight on, while the heavy infantry halted and remained where they were; Hippocrates having stayed behind at Delium to arrange the posts, and to give directions for the completion of such part of the outworks as had been left unfinished.

During the days thus employed the Boeotians were mustering at Tanagra, and by the time that they had come in from all the towns, found the Athenians already on their way home. The rest of the eleven Boeotarchs were against giving battle, as the enemy was no longer in Boeotia, the Athenians being just over the Oropian border, when they halted; but Pagondas, son of Aeolidas, one of the Boeotarchs of Thebes (Arianthides, son of Lysimachidas, being the other), and then commander-in-chief, thought it best to hazard a battle. He accordingly called the men to him, company after company, to prevent their all leaving their arms at once, and urged them to attack the Athenians, and stand the issue of a battle, speaking as follows:

"Boeotians, the idea that we ought not to give battle to the Athenians, unless we came up with them in Boeotia, is one which should never have entered into the head of any of us, your generals. It was to annoy Boeotia that they crossed the frontier and built a fort in our country; and they are therefore, I imagine, our enemies wherever we may come up with them, and from wheresoever they may have come to act as enemies do. And if any one has taken up with the idea in question for reasons of safety, it is high time for him to change his mind. The party attacked, whose own country is in danger, can scarcely discuss what is prudent with the calmness of men who are in full enjoyment of what they have got, and are thinking of attacking a neighbour in order to get more. It is your national habit, in your country or out of it, to oppose the same resistance to a foreign invader; and when that invader is Athenian, and lives upon your frontier besides, it is doubly imperative to do so. As between neighbours generally, freedom means simply a determination to hold one's own; and with neighbours like these, who are trying to enslave near and far alike, there is nothing for it but to fight it out to the last. Look at the condition of the Euboeans and of most of the rest of Hellas, and be convinced that others have to fight with their neighbours for this frontier or that, but that for us conquest means one frontier for the whole country, about which no dispute can be made, for they will simply come and take by force what we have. So much more have we to fear from this neighbour than from another. Besides, people who, like the Athenians in the present instance, are tempted by pride of strength to attack their neighbours, usually march most confidently against those who keep still, and only defend themselves in their own country, but think twice before they grapple with those who meet them outside their frontier and strike the first blow if opportunity offers. The Athenians have shown us this themselves; the defeat which we inflicted upon them at Coronea, at the time when our quarrels had allowed them to occupy the country, has given great security to Boeotia until the present day. Remembering this, the old must equal their ancient exploits, and the young, the sons of the heroes of that time, must endeavour not to disgrace their native valour; and trusting in the help of the god whose temple has been sacrilegiously fortified, and in the victims which in our sacrifices have proved propitious, we must march against the enemy, and teach him that he must go and get what he wants by attacking someone who will not resist him, but that men whose glory it is to be always ready to give battle for the liberty of their own country, and never unjustly to enslave that of others, will not let him go without a struggle."


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