This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
ἐπαγγειλαμένου: the king, through his herald. On the word cp. 7. 1.
οὐδὲν ἐγίνετο πλοίων σπανιώτερον: they went across in small boats, and the supply was soon exhausted. Their own πλοῖα were still perhaps at Aphetai, and only the local stock available. Some of these might make the passage more than once; it must have been a busy scene, the straits ahve with small craft; but there is a suspicion of persiflage about Hdt.'s expression.
διεξιόντες, between the Greek on the one hand and the Persian on the other; or perhaps, more generally, passing right through the Greek dead; cp. 7. 39. (It is not clear that the 1000 were lying about, scattered where, ex hypothesi, they had fallen.)
ἠπιστέατο, ‘were firmly convinced’ —though utterly mistaken. The word with Hdt. carries no implication of scientific or accurate knowledge, but can scarcely be a mere synonym for νομίζειν. If καὶ Θεσπιέας (cp. 7. 222) be not a gloss, it is explained by the next words. Or should it follow ὀρῶντες?
ὁρῶντες καὶ τοὺς εἵλωτας. The argument is not clear, for Helots were in a sense ‘Lakedaimonians’; did the sight-seers mistake Helots for Thespians? But cp. previous note. Except for 7. 229, this is the only express indication of the presence of Helots at Thermopylai. Though the sight-seers fell into this error about the Greek dead (a strange error, with the Greeks from the king's navy among them!), they were not taken in by the (supposed) trick devised by the king, as above described, in relation to the dead bodies of his own warriors.
καὶ γὰρ δὴ καὶ γελοῖον ἦν: the comic Nemesis proceeds.
τῶν μὲν ... κείμενοι: of the Persian side a thousand were to be seen lying (about on the field, just where they had fallen?); meantime 19,000 had been collected and buried! οἳ δὲ ... τέσσερες χιλιάδες. Hdt. apparently means that the king had caused all the Greek bodies to be collected in one place. It is possible that something of the kind had been done; in any case the χωρίον, the spot where the Greek dead would be thickest piled, was no doubt the hill ou which the last stand had been made; 7. 225 ff. Around the hill might well be lying the corpses of the king's men, where they had fought and fallen. Stein thinks the object (of the king—or the story-teller?) was to make it appear that 4000 Greeks had been slain by 1000 Persians, 4 Greeks by each Persian (je vier von einem); but, really, neither Hdt., nor in the last resort Xerxes, can well have expected any one to believe that the 4000 dead Greeks had been slain wholly and solely by the dead Persians! The trick was devised, or supposed to have been devised, to exhibit the proportional losses on each side. The figure 4000 for the Greek dead comes no doubt from a misapplication of the epigram in 7. 228, which gives 4000 as the number of Peloponnesians who fought, not the number of Greeks who fell, at Thermopylai. Stein here seems to overlook ἐκ Πελοποννάσου there and makes the 4000 inelude Thebans and Thespians. 3100 Peloponnesian Hoplites are accounted for in 7. 202; but there were probably 1000 ‘Lakedaimonians’ to boot, even not including the Helots; or the 4000 might less probably be made up of 3100 + 900 Helots, 3 for each Spartiate. The actual number of Greek fighting men at Thermopylai, first and last, far exceeded 4000: albeit they may not all have been posted at Thermopylai proper, cp. l.c.
ταύτην μὲν τὴν ἡμέρην: there has been no clear indication of a change of day since the dawn of the ὑστεραίη (cp. cc. 22, 23 supra) of the battle; but it seems more natural, considering all that has taken place in the interval, to reckon ‘this day’ here as a different one, i.e. at least the ‘fifth’ day of the memorable week: τῇ ὑστεραίῃ would then be the sixth. The story and journal of the fleet is here dropped, not to be renewed till c. 66 infra.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.