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While these events were taking place, Xerxes set out from Thermopylae and advanced through the territory of the Phocians, sacking the cities and destroying all property in the countryside. Now the Phocians had chosen the cause of the Greeks, but seeing that they were unable to offer resistance, the whole populace deserted all their cities and fled for safety to the rugged regions about Mount Parnassus. [2] Then the king passed through the territory of the Dorians, doing it no harm since they were allies of the Persians. Here he left behind a portion of his army and ordered it to proceed to Delphi, to burn the precinct of Apollo and to carry off the votive offerings, while he advanced into Boeotia with the rest of the barbarians and encamped there. [3] The force that had been dispatched to sack the oracle had proceeded as far as the shrine of Athena Pronaea, but at that spot a great thunderstorm, accompanied by incessant lightning, suddenly burst from the heavens, and more than that, the storm wrenched loose huge rocks and hurled them into the host of the barbarians; the result was that large numbers of the Persians were killed and the whole force, dismayed at the intervention of the gods, fled from the region. [4] So the oracle of Delphi, with the aid of some divine Providence, escaped pillage. And the Delphians, desiring to leave to succeeding generations a deathless memorial of the appearance of the gods among men, set up beside the temple of Athena Pronaea1 a trophy on which they inscribed the following elegiac lines:“ To serve as a memorial to war,
The warder-off of men, and as a witness
To victory the Delphians set me up,
Rendering thanks to Zeus and Phoebus who
Thrust back the city-sacking ranks of Medes
And threw their guard about the bronze-crowned shrine.
” [5]

Meanwhile Xerxes, as he passed through Boeotia, laid waste the territory of the Thespiaeans and burned Plataea which was without habitants; for the residents of these two cities had fled in a body into the Peloponnesus. After this he entered Attica and ravaged the countryside, and then he razed Athens to the ground and sent up in flames the temples of the gods. And while the king was concerned with these affairs, his fleet sailed from Euboea to Attica, having sacked on the way both Euboea and the coast of Attica.

1 This temple of Athena Pronaea ("of the fore-shrine") lay just outside the shrine of Apollo (Paus. 10.8.6).

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