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The barbarians, when the wind ceased and the waves no longer ran high, put to sea and coasted along the mainland; they sailed around the headland of Magnesia and sailed straight into the gulf which stretches toward Pagasae. There is a place on this gulf in Magnesia, where, it is said, Heracles was sent for water and was left behind by Jason and his comrades of the Argo, when they were sailing to Aea in Colchis for the fleece; their purpose was to draw water from there and then to put out to sea. This is the reason why that place has been called Aphetae.More probably, the name (from a)fi/hmi, to send off or launch) gave rise to the legend. Here Xerxes' men made their anchorage.
So the foreign fleet, of which, with the exception of fifteen ships Sandoces was captain, came to Aphetae. Xerxes and his land army marched through Thessaly and Achaea, and it was three days since he had entered Malis. In Thessaly he held a race for his own cavalry; this was also a test of the Thessalian horsemen, whom he had heard were the best in Hellas. The Greek horses were far outpaced in this contest. Of the Thessalian rivers, the Onochonus was the only one which could not provide enough water for his army to drink. In Achaea, however, even the greatest river there, the Apidanus,The Apidanus and Enipeus unite; the whole stream, a tributary of the Peneus, is sometimes called Apidanus and sometimes Enipeus. gave out, remaining but a sorry trickle.
But now, the Greeks who had at last come to Artemisium saw a multitude of ships launched at Aphetae and forces everywhere, and contrary to all expectation, the barbarian was shown to be in much different shape than they had supposed. They accordingly lost heart and began to deliberate about flight from Artemisium homewards into Hellas. Then the Euboeans, noticing that they were making such plans, entreated Eurybiades to wait a little while, till they themselves had removed their children and households. When they could not prevail with him, they tried another way and gave Themistocles, the Athenian admiral, a bribe of thirty talents on the condition that the Greek fleet should remain there and fight, when they fought, to defend Euboea.
So the Greeks remained in Euboea and fought there; this came about as I will now reveal. Having arrived at Aphetae in the early part of the afternoon, the barbarians saw for themselves the few Greek ships that they had already heard were stationed off Artemisium, and they were eager to attack so that they might take them. They were not prepared to make a head-on attack since they feared that the Greeks would see them coming and turn to flee with night close upon them as they fled; it was their belief that the Greeks would save themselves by flight, and they did not want even so much as a firebearer to be saved.
Taking these things into consideration, they devised the following plan; separating two hundred ships from the whole number, they sent them to cruise outside Sciathus so that the enemies might not see them sailing round Euboea and by way of Caphereus round Geraestus to the Euripus so that they might catch the Greeks between them, the one part holding that course and barring the retreat, and they themselves attacking in front. Upon making these plans they sent the appointed ships on their way, intending not to make an attack upon the Greeks either on that day or before the signal should be seen, whereby the ships that sailed round were to declare their coming. So they sent those ships to sail round, and set about counting the rest at Aphetae.
Now when they were engaged in this count, there was in the fleet one Scyllias, a man of Scione; he was the best diver of the time, and in the shipwreck at Pelion he had saved for the Persians much of their possessions and gotten much for himself in addition; this Scyllias had before now, it would seem, intended to desert to the Greeks, but he never had had so fair an occasion as now. By what means he did at last make his way to the Greeks, I cannot with exactness say. If the story is true, it is marvellous indeed, for it is said that he dove into the sea at Aphetae and never rose to the surface till he came to Artemisium, thus passing underneath the sea for about eighty furlongs. There are many tales about this man, some similar to lies and some true, but as regards the present business it is my opinion that he came to Artemisium in a boat. After arriving, he straightway told the admirals the story of the shipwreck, and of the ships that had been sent round Euboea.
But the Greeks, when the signal was given them, first drew the sterns of their ships together, their prows turned towards the foreigners; then at the second signal they put their hands to the work, despite the fact that they were hemmed in within a narrow space and were fighting face-to-face. There they took thirty of the foreigners ships as well as the brother of Gorgus king of Salamis, Philaon son of Chersis, a man of note in the fleet. The first Greek to take an enemy ship was an Athenian, Lycomedes, son of Aeschraeus, and he it was who received the prize for valor. They fought that sea-fight with doubtful issue, and nightfall ended the battle; the Greeks sailed back to Artemisium, and the barbarians to Aphetae, after faring far below their hopes in the fight. In that battle Antidorus of Lemnos, the only one of the Greeks siding with the Persian, deserted to the Greeks, and for that the Athenians gave him land in Salamis.
When darkness came on, the season being then midsummer, there was abundance of rain all through the night and violent thunderings from Pelion. The dead and the wrecks were driven towards Aphetae, where they were entangled with the ships' prows and jumbled the blades of the oars. The ships crews who were there were dismayed by the noise of this, and considering their present bad state, expected utter destruction; for before they had recovered from the shipwreck and the storm off Pelion, they next endured a stubborn sea-fight, and after the sea-fight, rushing rain and mighty torrents pouring seaward and violent thunderings.