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[395] The trumpet with its blast set all their side afire, and instantly, at the word of command, with the even stroke of foaming oars they struck the briny deep. Swiftly they all came clear into view. Their right wing, well marshalled, [400] led on in orderly advance, next their whole army pressed on against us, and at the same time a loud shout met our ears: “On, you men of Hellas! Free your native land. Free your children, your wives, the temples of your fathers' gods, [405] and the tombs of your ancestors. Now you are fighting for all you have.” Then from our side arose in response the mingled clamor of Persian speech, and straightaway the ships dashed together their bronze prows. It was a ship of Hellas [410] that began the charge and chopped off in its entirety the curved stern of a Phoenician boat. Each captain drove his ship straight against some other ship. At first the stream of the Persian army held its own. When, however, the mass of our ships had been crowded in the narrows, and none could render another aid, [415] and each crashed its bronze prow against each of its own line, they splintered their whole bank of oars. Then the Hellenic galleys, not heedless of their chance, hemmed them in and battered them on every side. The hulls of our vessels rolled over, and the sea was hidden from our sight, [420] strewn as it was with wrecks and slaughtered men. The shores and reefs were crowded with our dead, and every ship that formed a part of the barbarian fleet plied its oars in disorderly flight. But, as if our men were tuna or some haul of fish, [425] the foe kept striking and hacking them with broken oars and fragments of wrecked ships. Groans and shrieks together filled the open sea until the face of black night hid the scene. But as for the the full extent of our disasters, this, even if I had ten days in succession to do so, I could not describe to you. [430] However, you can be sure that so great a multitude of men never perished in a single day.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 879
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 8.83
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