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This was the fourth time that Dorians had come into Attica. They had come twice as invaders in war and twice as helpers of the Athenian people. The first time was when they planted a settlement at MegaraThere is a clear tradition that this happened soon after the Dorian invasion of the Peloponnese.(this expedition may rightly be said to have been in the reign of Codrus), the second and third when they set out from Sparta to drive out the sons of Pisistratus, and the fourth was now, when Cleomenes broke in as far as Eleusis with his following of Peloponnesians. This was accordingly the fourth Dorian invasion of Athens.
“It is in your hands to save Hellas, if you will obey me and remain here to fight, and not obey the words of these others and move your ships back to the Isthmus. Compare each plan after you have heard. If you join battle at the Isthmus, you will fight in the open sea where it is least to our advantage, since our ships are heavier and fewer in number. You will also lose Salamis and Megara and Aegina, even if we succeed in all else. Their land army will accompany their fleet, and so you will lead them to the Peloponnese and risk all Hellas.
If what I expect happens and we win the victory with our ships, you will not have the barbarians upon you at the Isthmus. They will advance no further than Attica and depart in no order, and we shall gain an advantage by the survival of Megara, Aegina, and Salamis, where it is prophesied that we will prevail against our enemies. Men usually succeed when they have reasonable plans. If their plans are unreasonable, the god does not wish to assent to human intentions.”
The Lacedaemonians were at this time celebrating the festival of Hyacinthus,A festival said to be of pre-Dorian origin, commemorating the killing of Hyacinthus by Apollo. and their chief concern was to give the god his due; moreover, the wall which they were building on the Isthmus was by now getting its battlements. When the Athenian envoys arrived in Lacedaemon, bringing with them envoys from Megara and Plataea, they came before the ephors and said:
So Mardonius drew his men off, and when he had now set forth on his road there came a message that in addition to the others, an advance guard of a thousand Lacedaemonians had arrived at Megara. When he heard this, he deliberated how he might first make an end of these. He accordingly turned about and led his army against Megara, his cavalry going first and overrunning the lands of that city. That was the westernmost place in Europe which this Persian army reached. So Mardonius drew his men off, and when he had now set forth on his road there came a message that in addition to the others, an advance guard of a thousand Lacedaemonians had arrived at Megara. When he heard this, he deliberated how he might first make an end of these. He accordingly turned about and led his army against Megara, his cavalry going first and overrunning the lands of that city. That was the westernmost place in Europe which this Persian army reached.
Now it chanced that the Megarians were posted in that part of the field which was most open to attack, and here the horsemen found the readiest approach. Therefore, being hard-pressed by the charges, the Megarians sent a herald to the generals of the Greeks, who came to them and spoke as follows : “From the men of Megara to their allies: we cannot alone withstand the Persian cavalry (although we have till now held our ground with patience and valor, despite the fact that we were hard-pressed) in the position to which we were first appointed. Know that now we will abandon our post, unless you send others to take our place there.” This the herald reported, and Pausanias inquired among the Greeks if any would offer to go to that place and relieve the Megarians by holding the post. All the others did not want to, but the Athenians took it upon themselves, that is three hundred picked men of Athens, whose captain was Olympiodorus son of Lampo