This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Μαρδόνιος δέ had no mind to stay in Attica once he was assured that the Peloponnesians would cross the Isthmos; that assurance can hardly have been conveyed to him by the Argives, unless, indeed, the Spartans had taken them into the seeret; he convinced himself, perhaps, by becoming aware of movements from the Isthmos (cp. c. 14 infra), perhaps by pourparlers with the Athenians, perhaps by information obtained through Greeks in his camp, that a large force was under arms; and he apparently retired in hopes that the Greeks would follow him into Boiotia, where the ground was more favourable to cavalry, his base nearer, and an attack on the Greeks, as they emerged from the passes into the plain, feasible. He may, not to say must, have made sure of their debouching by the pass of Dryoskephalai.
πρὶν ... ἢ πυθέσθαι ἀνεκώχευε: πρὶν ἤ with infin. just below again, as in c. 68 infra; without ἤ 8. 144 supra, c. 101 infra. ἀνακωχεύειν is used trans. 7. 36 supra (of ropes), 6. 116 (of ships); here apparently intransitively: ‘stayed, held his hand,’ or possibly ‘refrained from acts of hostility’ = ‘observed an armistice’; cp. Thuc. 1. 40. 4 “Κορινθίοις μέν γε ἔνσπονδοί ἐστε, Κερκυραίοις δὲ οὗδὲ δἰ ἀνοκωχῆς πώποτ᾽ ἐγένεσθε”, 5. 32. 7 Κορινθίοις δὲ ἀνοκωχὴ ἄσπονδος ἦν πρὸς Ἀθηναίους, 5. 25. 3 μετ᾽ ἀνοκωχῆς οὐ βεβαίου ἔβλαπτον ἀλλήλους τὰ μάλιστα.
εἰδέναι ... ὁκοῖόν τι ποιήσουσι: the normal prose construction; cp. c. 11 supra. τὸ παρ᾽ Ἀθηναίων: ellipse; cp. c. 7 supra.
οὔτε ἐπήμαινε οὔτε ἐσίνετο: the former word is poetical, the latter prosaic.
πάντα λόγον: cp. c. 9 supra. πρὶν ἢ ... ἐσβαλεῖν looks like an approximately precise date. Hdt. seems to assume that the wall was undefended, the Isthmos ungarrisoned—that is incredible. If Mardonios retired before Pausanias reached the Isthmos, it was perhaps inferred that he retired because he had heard that Pausanias was on the march, and so, again, that the Argives must have told him.
ὑπεξεχώρεε: sc. αὐτοῖς: he went out of Attica to avoid them; cp. Plato, Phaid. 103 D προσιόντος τοῦ θερμοῦ ἢ ὑπεκχωρήσειν αὐτῷ ἢ ἀπολεῖσθαι (sc. τὴν χιόνα). ἐμπρήσας τε ... καὶ ... πάντα κτλ., ‘but not until he had fired Athens, and thrown down and demolished (συγχώσας, cp. 7. 225) every morsel whether of the (city) walls, the (private) houses, or the (holy) temples, which was still standing upright’—i.e. plainly after the previous demolition by Xerxes, 8. 50-53 supra; for ὀρθόν cp. Thuc. 5. 42. 2. Hdt. says nothing of any rebuilding in the meanwhile. τῶν τειχέων might be taken to support the view that Athens was a walled town in 480 B.C. (cp. E. Gardner, Ancient Athens (1902) pp. 46 ff., who does not, however, cite this instance); but of course it only proves at most that Hdt. thought so; nor does it even prove that, for ‘the walls’ here might be those of the Akropolis; or even if the city-walls, would not prove that the circuit was complete in 480 B.C. or that a siege of Athens was a military possibility; cp. further Appendix VI. § 1. Rawlinson well remarks that this account of the destruction of Athens by Mardonios is exaggerated; Thuc 1. 89. 3 leaves some of the houses (οἰκίαι） standing, and even portions of the citywall (τοῦ περιβόλου βραχέα). Pausanias (1. 18. 1, 20. 2) mentions temples older than the Persian war. Col. Leake (Athens and the Demi, i. 12) points out the great difficulties of such total destruction as Hdt. asserts. More recent excavations have shown that even on the Akropolis a good deal was left standing when the Persians departed. Mardonios had neither time nor zeal for such wholesale annihilation; it was only a ‘Restoration’ that could make away with the past so utterly! Cp. 8. 50-53 supra.
τῶνδε εἵνεκεν. Hdt. surpasses himself, and gives the miliary reasons for the evacuation of Attica with the precision of a professor of the SachKritik! The reasons are three in number, and admit of development. (i.) The Persian's strength lay in his cavalry; Boiotia was better adapted than Attica to cavalry operations (Hdt. says nothing of a great superiority in infantry). (ii.) Attica was difficult to evacnate in case of defeat. The point is not fully or very clearly put; but at any rate Mardonios is not counting on success as a foregone conclusion. (iii.) He wished to be nearer his base in Thebes. The reason is not quite clearly put; speaking generally it is better to fight in your enemy's than in your friend's territory. Mardonios, however, was thinking of his commissariat, and also perhaps of the loyalty, or potential disloyalty, of Greece in his rear; in case of defeat a position north of Kithairon was better from this point of view. Artabazos might never have effected his masterly retreat (c. 89 infra） if the great battle had been fought on the Thriasian or even on the Athenian plain The argument as a whole was purely strategic, and Hdt. does well not to ascribe to Mardonios the policy of limiting the Persian frontier of the Hellenic satrapy in posse to the KithaironParnes line (pace G. B. Grundy, Great Persian War, p. 450). ἦν: the tense carries back to the historic situation.
εἴ τε νικῷτο ... οὐκ ἦν, ‘should he be defeated ... there was no . .’ The construction is irregular but clear, and even more forcible than stricter grammar would have been. ἀπάλλαξις is very rare; Hdt. uses ἀπαλλαγή in 7. 207, 8. 39, 118 supra, ‘(means of) getting away.’ ὅτι μὴ κατὰ στεινόν, except by a strait, a narrow pass. There are really three passes from Attica into Boiotia: (1) Dekeleia-Oropos, (2) Phyle-Panakton, (3) Eleusis-Eleutherai-Erythrai. Taking in the whole Boiotian frontier from sea to sea, two further passes may be added: (4) the direct road or route from Megara to Plataia, and (5) the route round the end of Kithairon via Aigosthena-Kreusis. Cp. Grundy, G. P. W. pp. 445 ff., and 8. 113. 2 supra. The route by Eleutherai has a fork, the left prong of which goes to Plataia, so that from the Boiotian side the number of apparent passes would be raised to six. This fact is of importance on the battle-field of Plataia; but, if defeated in the Thriasian plain, the invaders could not use (3) at all, and if defeated east of Aigaleos could only use (1). In any case (2) was very difficult; cp. Xenoph. Mem. 3. 5. 25 ὅτι πρόκειται τῆς χώρας ἡμῶν ὄρη μεγάλα, καθήκοντα ἐπὶ τὴν Βοιωτίαν, δἰ ὧν εἰς τὴν χώραν εἴσοδοι στεναί τε καὶ προσάντεις εἰσί, καὶ ὅτι μέση διέζωσται ὄρεσιν ἐρυμνοῖς.
ἀνθρώπους, not even ἄνδρας.
ἱππασίμῳ refers merely to the space for evolutions (not to the grass for fodder); cp. 2. 108.
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.