This cruelty, dreadful in itself, was made more dreadful by the destruction of one household.
Herodicus, a leading man among the Thessalians, had been put to death many years before; his sons-in-law also had been killed later. His daughters were left in widowhood, each having one small son.
Theoxena and Archo were the names of these women. Theoxena, though she had many suitors, disdained marriage:
Archo married a certain Poris, by far the first citizen among the Aeneans,1
and after bearing several children, all left quite small, she died in his house.
Theoxena, in order that the children of her sister might be brought up in her hands, married Poris; and as if she were the mother of them all, she devoted the same care to her own child and her sister's children.
After she received the king's proclamation about the [p. 11]
arrest of the children of the men who had been put2
to death, thinking that they would be exposed not only to the mockery of the king but even to the lust of the guards, she turned her
thoughts to a deed of horror, and dared to say that she would rather kill them all with her own hand than let them fall into the power of Philip.
Poris, hating even the thought of so dreadful a deed, said that he would take them to faithful friends in Athens and would himself be their companion in exile.
They set out from Thessalonica to Aenea to an appointed sacrifice which they make3
every year to Aeneas, their founder, with elaborate ceremony.
Having spent a day there in the ritual feasts, when all were asleep, about the third watch they went aboard a ship made ready in advance by Poris, as if to return to Thessalonica; their plan, however, was to cross to Euboea.
But strain as they might in vain against an opposing wind, day caught them near the shore, and the king's troops who were in charge of the guarding of the harbour sent an armed brig to bring back that ship, with strict orders not to return without it.
When they were now close to shore, Poris was engaged in urging on the rowers and sailors; sometimes stretching out his hands to heaven, he would pray that the gods would send help.
Meanwhile the maddened woman, turning to the crime she had long been planning, mixed the poison and displayed the steel, and placing the cup in sight and drawing the swords, she said, “Death is the one way to freedom. These are the ways to death: by whichever your mind prefers, escape the tyranny of [p. 13]
Come, my children, first you who are the4
elder, take the sword or drain the cup, if you like the slower death.” From the one side the enemy was approaching, from the other the author of death was urging them. One carried off by one death, another by another, still half-living they were thrown into the sea.
Then the woman herself, embracing her husband, the partner in her death, threw herself into the sea. The king's troops captured a ship empty of its masters.5