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Atossa
Alas! In truth a vast sea of troubles has burst upon the Persians and the entire barbarian race. [435]

Messenger
Be assured of this, not even half of the disaster has as yet been told. A calamity so dreadful as to outweigh these ills twice over befell them.

Atossa
But what greater misfortune than this could have befallen them? Speak! What is this other disaster you say [440] came upon our force, sinking the scale to greater weight of ill?

Messenger
Those Persians who were in their life's prime, bravest in spirit, pre-eminent for noble birth, and always among the foremost in loyalty to the King himself— these have fallen ignobly by a most inglorious doom. [445]

Atossa
Ah, I am truly reduced to misery through this disaster! By what fate was it that you say they met their end?

Messenger
There is an island1lying before Salamis, a small one and dangerous anchorage for ships; its sea-washed shore is the haunt of Pan, who loves the dance. [450] There Xerxes dispatched these, his choicest troops, in order that when the Hellenic enemy, wrecked from their ships, should flee in search of safety to the island, they might slaughter their force, an easy prey, and rescue their comrades from the straits of the sea. Grievously did he misjudge the issue. For when some god [455] had given the glory to the Hellenes in the battle on the sea, on that same day, fencing their bodies in armor of bronze, they leapt from their ships and encircled the whole island, so that our men were at a loss which way to turn. Often they were struck by stones slung from their hands, [460] and arrows sped from the bow-string kept falling upon them and doing them harm. At last the Hellenes, charging with one shout, struck them and hacked to pieces the limbs of the poor wretches, until they had utterly quenched the life of all. [465] Xerxes groaned aloud when he beheld the extent of the disaster, for he occupied a seat commanding a clear view of the entire army—a lofty headland by the open sea. Tearing his robes and uttering a loud cry, he straightaway gave orders to his force on land [470] and dismissed them in disorderly flight. This, besides the one already told, is the disaster you must bewail.

1 Psyttalea.

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