Night came on, and the generals set out to lead their forces to the appointed encampment. The soldiers, however, showed no great eagerness to follow in close order, but when they had once abandoned their first defences, most of them hurried on toward the city of Plataea, and there tumult reigned as they scattered about and encamped in no order whatsoever. But it chanced that the Lacedaemonians were left alone behind the others, and that too against their will.
For Amompharetus, a man of a fierce and venturesome spirit, who had long been mad for battle and distressed by the many postponements and delays, now at last lost all control of himself, denounced the change of position as a runaway flight, and declared that he would not abandon his post, but stay there with his company and await the onset of Mardonius.
And when Pausanias came up and told him that their action had been formally voted by the Hellenes in council, Amompharetus picked up a great stone and threw it down at the feet of Pausanias, saying that was his personal ballot for battle, and he cared not a whit for the cowardly counsels and votes of the rest. Pausanias, perplexed at the case, sent to the Athenians, who were already moving off, begging them to wait and make the march in company with him, and then began to lead the rest of his troops toward Plataea, with the idea that he would thus force Amompharetus from his position.
At this point day overtook them, and Mardonius, who did not fail to notice that the Hellenes had abandoned their encampment, with his force in full array, bore down upon the Lacedaemonians, with great shouting and clamor on the part of the Barbarians, who felt that there would be no real battle, but that the Hellenes had only to be snatched off as they fled. And this lacked but little of coming to pass.
For Pausanias, on seeing the situation, though he did check his march and order every man to take post for battle, forgot, either in his rage at Amompharetus or his confusion at the speed of the enemy, to give the signal for battle to the confederate Hellenes. For this reason they did not come to his aid at once, nor in a body, but in small detachments and straggling, after the battle was already joined.
When Pausanias got no favorable omens from his sacrifices, he ordered his Lacedaemonians to sit quiet with their shields planted in front of them, and to await his orders, making no attempt to repulse their enemies, while he himself went to sacrificing again. By this time the horsemen were charging upon them; presently their missiles actually reached them, and many a Spartan was smitten.
And then it was that Callicrates, said to be the fairest of the Hellenes to look upon, and the tallest man in their whole army, was shot, and, dying, said he did not grieve at death, since he had left his home to die for Hellas, but at dying without striking a single blow. Their experience was indeed a terrible one, but the restraint of the men was wonderful. They did not try to repel the enemy who were attacking them, but awaited from their god and their general the favorable instant, while they endured wounds and death at their posts.
Some say that as Pausanias was sacrificing and praying, a little to one side of his line of battle, some Lydians suddenly fell upon him and rudely hurled away the sacrificial offerings; and that Pausanias and his attendants, being without weapons, smote the intruders with the sacrificial staves and goads; wherefore, to this day, in imitation of this onslaught, the ceremonies of beating the young warriors round the altar at Sparta, and of the procession of the Lydians which follows this, are duly celebrated as rites.