The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 62

77. Being informed of this, the Argives came to the rescue towards the sea; and when they had got near Tiryns and were at the place which is called Hesipeia, 66 they encamped opposite to the Lacedemonians leaving no very wide space between the armies. There the Argives were not afraid of the open fighting, but only lest they should be conquered by craft; for to this they thought referred the oracle which the Pythian prophetess gave in common to these and to the Milesians, 67 saying as follows:

 "But when the female at length shall conquer the male in the battle,
  Conquer and drive him forth, and glory shall gain among Argives,
  Then many wives of the Argives shall tear both cheeks in their mourning;
  So that a man shall say some time, of the men that came after,
  'Quelled by the spear it perished, the three-coiled terrible serpent,'

The conjunction of all these things caused fear to the Argives, and with a view to this they resolved to make use of the enemy's herald; and having so resolved they proceeded to do as follows:—whenever the Spartan herald proclaimed anything to the Lacedemonians, the Argives also did that same thing..

78. So Cleomenes, perceiving that the Argives were doing whatever the herald of the Lacedemonians proclaimed, passed the word to the Lacedemonians that when the herald should proclaim that they were to get breakfast, then they should take up their arms and go to attack the Argives. This was carried out even so by the Lacedemonians; for as the Argives were getting breakfast according to the herald's proclamation, they attacked them; and many of them they slew, but many more yet took refuge in the sacred grove of Argos, and upon these they kept watch, sitting round about the place. Then Cleomenes did this which follows:—

79. He had with him deserters, and getting information by inquiring of these, he sent a herald and summoned forth those of the Argives who were shut up in the sanctuary, mentioning each by name; and he summoned them forth saying that he had received their ransom. Now among the Peloponnesians ransom is two pounds weight of silver 68 appointed to be paid for each prisoner. So Cleomenes summoned forth about fifty of the Argives one by one and slew them; and it chanced that the rest who were in the enclosure did not perceive that this was being done; for since the grove was thick, those within did not see how it fared with those who were without, at least until one of them climbed up a tree and saw from above that which was being done. Accordingly they then no longer came forth when they were called.

80. So Cleomenes thereupon ordered all the Helots to pile up brushwood round the sacred grove; and they obeying, he set fire to the grove. And when it was now burning, he asked one of the deserters to what god the grove was sacred, and the man replied that it was sacred to Argos. When he heard that, he groaned aloud and said, "Apollo who utterest oracles, surely thou hast greatly deceived me, saying that I should conquer Argos: I conjecture that the oracle has had its fulfilment for me already.".