When these things were reported back to the1
general assembly of the Arcadians and to the several cities, the Mantineans and such of the other Arcadians as were concerned for Peloponnesus inferred therefrom, as did likewise the Eleans and the Achaeans, that the Thebans manifestly wanted Peloponnesus to be as weak as possible so that they might as easily as possible reduce it to slavery.
“For why in the world,” they said, “do they wish us to make war unless it is in order that we may do harm to one another and consequently may both feel the need of them? Or why, when we say that we do not at present need them, are they preparing to march forth? Is it not clear that it is for the purpose of working some harm upon us that they are preparing to take the field?”
And they sent to Athens also, bidding the Athenians come to their aid, while ambassadors from the Epariti proceeded to Lacedaemon as well, to invite the help of the Lacedaemonians in case they wanted to join in checking any who might come to enslave Peloponnesus. As for the matter of the leadership, they arranged at once that each people should hold it while within its own territory.
While these things were being done, Epaminondas was on his outward march at the head of all the Boeotians, the Euboeans, and many of the Thessalians,2
who came both from Alexander3
and from his opponents. The Phocians, however, declined to join the expedition, saying that their agreement was to lend aid in case anyone went against Thebes, but that to take the field against others was not in the agreement.
Epaminondas reflected, however, that his people had supporters in Peloponnesus also — the Argives, the Messenians, and such of the Arcadians as held to their side. These were the Tegeans, the Megalopolitans, the Aseans, the Pallantians, and whatever cities were constrained to adopt this course for the reason that they were small and surrounded by these others.
Epaminondas accordingly pushed forth with speed; but when he arrived at Nemea he delayed there, hoping to catch the Athenians as they passed by, and estimating that this would be a great achievement, not only in the view of his people's allies, so as to encourage them, but also in that of their opponents, so that they would fall into despondency — in a word, that every loss the Athenians suffered was a gain for the Thebans.
And during this delay on his part all those who held the same views4
were gathering together at Mantinea. But when Epaminondas heard that the Athenians had given up the plan of proceeding by land and were preparing to go by sea, with the intention of marching through Lacedaemon to the aid of the Arcadians, under these circumstances he set forth from Nemea and arrived at Tegea.
Now I for my part could not say that his campaign proved fortunate; yet of all possible deeds of forethought and daring the man seems to me to have left not one5
undone. For, in the first place, I commend his pitching his camp within the wall of Tegea, where he was in greater safety than if he had been encamped outside, and where whatever was being done was more entirely concealed from the enemy. Furthermore, it was easier for him, being in the city, to provide himself with whatever he needed. Since the enemy, on the other hand, was encamped outside, it was possible to see whether they were doing things rightly or were making mistakes. Again, while he believed that he was stronger than his adversaries, he could never be induced to attack them when he saw that they held the advantage in position.
However, when he perceived that no city was coming over to him and that time was passing on, he decided that some action must be taken; otherwise, in place of his former fame, he must expect deep disgrace. When he became aware, therefore, that his adversaries had taken up a strong position in the neighbourhood of Mantinea and were sending after Agesilaus and all the Lacedaemonians, and learned, further, that Agesilaus had marched forth and was already at Pellene, he gave orders to his men to get their dinner and led his army straight upon Sparta.
And had not a Cretan by a kind of providential chance come and reported to Agesilaus that the army was advancing, he would have captured the city, like a nest entirely empty of its defenders. But when Agesilaus, having received word of this in time, had got back to the city ahead of the enemy, the Spartiatae posted themselves at various points and kept guard, although they were extremely few. For all their horsemen were away in Arcadia and likewise the mercenary force and three of the battalions,67
which numbered twelve.
Now when Epaminondas had arrived within the city8
of the Spartiatae, he did not attempt to enter at the point where his troops would be likely to have to fight on the ground-level and be pelted from the house-tops, nor where they would fight with no advantage over the few, although they were many; but after gaining the precise position from which he believed that he would enjoy an advantage, he undertook to descend (instead of ascending) into the city.
As for what happened thereupon, one may either hold the deity responsible, or one may say that nobody could withstand desperate men. For when Archidamus led the advance with not so much as a hundred men and, after crossing the very thing9
which seemed to present an obstacle, marched uphill against the adversary, at that moment the fire-breathers, the men who had defeated the Lacedaemonians, the men who were altogether superior in numbers and were occupying higher ground besides, did not withstand the attack of the troops under Archidamus, but gave way.
And those in the van of Epaminondas' army were slain, but when the troops from within the city, exulting in their victory, pursued farther than was fitting, they in their turn were slain; for, as it seems, the line had been drawn by the deity indicating how far victory had been granted them. Archidamus accordingly set up a trophy at the spot where he had won the victory, and gave back under a truce those of the enemy who had fallen there.
Epaminondas, on the other hand, reflecting10
that the Arcadians would be coming to Lacedaemon to bring aid, had no desire to fight against them and against all the Lacedaemonians after they had come together,11
especially since they had met with success and his men with disaster; so he marched back as rapidly as he could to Tegea, and allowed his hoplites to rest there, but sent his horsemen on to Mantinea, begging them to endure this additional effort and explaining to them that probably all the cattle of the Mantineans were outside the city and likewise all the people, particularly as it was harvest time.
They then set forth; but the Athenian horsemen, setting out from Eleusis, had taken dinner at the Isthmus and, after having passed through Cleonae also, chanced to be approaching Mantinea or to be already quartered within the wall in the houses. And when the enemy were seen riding toward the city, the Mantineans begged the Athenian horsemen to help them, if in any way they could; for outside the wall were all their cattle and the labourers, and likewise many children and older men of the free citizens. When the Athenians heard this they sallied forth to the rescue, although they were still without breakfast, they and their horses as well.
Here, again, who would not admire the valour of these men also? For although they saw that the enemy were far more numerous, and although a misfortune had befallen the horsemen at Corinth, they took no account of this, nor of the fact that they were about to fight with the Thebans and the Thessalians, who were thought to be the best of horsemen, but rather, being ashamed to be at hand and yet render no service to their allies, just as soon as they saw the12
enemy they crashed upon them, eagerly desiring to win back their ancestral repute.
And by engaging in the battle they did indeed prove the means of saving for the Mantineans everything that was outside the wall, but there fell brave men among them; and those also whom they slew were manifestly of a like sort; for neither side had any weapon so short that they did not reach one another therewith. And the Athenians did not abandon their own dead, and they gave back some of the enemy's under a truce.
As for Epaminondas, on the other hand, when he considered that within a few days it would be necessary for him to depart, because the time fixed13
for the campaign had expired, and that if he should leave behind him unprotected the people to whom he had come as an ally, they would be besieged by their adversaries, while he himself would have completely tarnished his own reputation, — for with a large force of hoplites he had been defeated at Lacedaemon by a few, and defeated likewise in a cavalry battle at Mantinea, and through his expedition to Peloponnesus had made himself the cause of the union of the Lacedaemonians, the Arcadians, the Achaeans, the Eleans, and the Athenians, — he thought for these reasons that it was not possible for him to pass by the enemy without a battle, since he reasoned that if he were victorious, he would make up for all these things, while if he were slain, he deemed that such an end would be honourable for one who was striving to leave to his fatherland dominion over Peloponnesus.
Now the fact that Epaminondas himself entertained such thoughts,14
seems to me to be in no wise remarkable, — for such thoughts are natural to ambitious men; but that he had brought his army to such a point that the troops flinched from no toil, whether by night or by day, and shrank from no peril, and although the provisions they had were scanty, were nevertheless willing to be obedient, this seems to me to be more remarkable.
For at the time when he gave them the last order to make ready, saying that there would be a battle, the horsemen eagerly whitened their helmets at his command, the hoplites of the Arcadians painted clubs15
upon their shields, as though they were Thebans, and all alike sharpened their spears and daggers and burnished their shields.
But when he had led them forth, thus made ready, it is worth while again to note what he did. In the first place, as was natural, he formed them in line of battle. And by doing this he seemed to make it clear that he was preparing for an engagement; but when his army had been drawn up as he wished it to be, he did not advance by the shortest route towards the enemy, but led the way towards the mountains which lie to the westward and over against Tegea, so that he gave the enemy the impression that he would not join battle on that day.
For as soon as he had arrived at the mountain, and when his battle line had been extended to its full length, he grounded arms at the foot of the heights, so that he seemed like one who was encamping. And by so doing he caused among most of the enemy a relaxation of their mental readiness for fighting, and likewise a relaxation of their readiness as regards their array for battle. It was not until he had moved16
along successive companius to the wing where he was stationed, and had wheeled them into line thus strengthening the mass formation of this wing,17
that he gave the order to take up arms and led the advance; and his troops followed. Now as soon as the enemy saw them unexpectedly approaching, no one among them was able to keep quiet, but some began running to their posts, others forming into line, others bridling horses, and others putting on breast-plates, while all were like men who were about to suffer, rather txan to inflict, harm.
Meanwhile Epaminondas led forward his army prow on, like a trireme, believing that if he could strike and cut through anywhere, he would destroy the entire army of his adversaries. For he was preparing to make the contest with the strongest part of his force, and the weakest part he had stationed far back, knowing that if defeated it would cause discouragement to the troops who were with him and give courage to the enemy. Again, while the enemy had formed their horsemen like a phalanx of hoplites, — six deep and without intermingled foot soldiers, —
Epaminondas on the other hand hqd made a strong column of his cavalry, also, and had mingled foot soldiers among them, believing that when he cut through the enemy's cavalry, he would have defeated the entire opposing army; for it is very hard to find men who will stand firm when they see any of their own side in flight. And in order to prevent the Athenians on the left wing from coming to the18
aid of those who were posted next to them, he stqtioned both horsemen and hoplites upon some hills over against them, desiring to create in them the fear that if they proceeded to give aid, these troops would fall upon them from behind.
Thus, then, he made his attack, and he was not disappointed of his hope; for by gaining the mastery at the point where he struck, he caused the entire army of his adversaries to flee.
When, however, he had himself fallen, those who were left proved unable to take full advantage thereafter even of the victory; but although the opposing phalanx had fled before them, their hoplites did not kill a single man or advance beyond the spot where the collision had taken place; and although the cavalry also had fled before them, their cavalry in like manner did not pursue and kill either horsemen or hoplites, but slipped back timorously, like beaten men, through the lines of the flying enemy. Furthermore, while the intermingled footmen and the peltasts, who had shared in the victory of the cavalry, did make their way like victors to the region of the enemy's left wing, most of them were there slain by the Athenians.
When these things had taken place, the opposite of what all men believed would happen was brought to pass. For since well-nigh all the people of Greece had come together and formed themselves in opposing lines, there was no one who did not suppose that if a battle were fought, those who proved victorious would be the rulers and those who were defeated would be their subjects; but the deity so ordered it that both parties set up a trophy as though victorious and neither tried to hinder those who set19
them up, that both gave back the dead under a truce as though victorious, and both received back their dead under a truce as though defeated, and that while each party claimed to be victorious,
neither was found to be any better off, as regards either additional territory, or city, or sway, than before the battle took place; but there was even more confusion and disorder in Greece after the battle than before.
Thus far be it written by me; the events after these will perhaps be the concern of another.