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Both armies advanced to the fray in high spirits and the forces were disposed in the following manner. On the Boeotian side, the Thebans were drawn up on the right wing, the Orchomenians on the left, and the centre of the line was made up of the other Boeotians; the first line of the whole army was formed of what they called "charioteers and footmen,"1 a select group of three hundred. The Athenians were forced to engage the enemy while still marshalling their army. [2] A fierce conflict ensued and at first the Athenian cavalry, fighting brilliantly, compelled the opposing cavalry to flee; but later, after the infantry had become engaged, the Athenians who were opposed to the Thebans were overpowered and put to flight, although the remaining Athenians overcame the other Boeotians, slew great numbers of them, and pursued them for some distance. [3] But the Thebans, whose bodily strength was superior, turned back from the pursuit, and falling on the pursuing Athenians forced them to flee; and since they had won a conspicuous victory,2 they gained for themselves great fame for valour. [4] Of the Athenians some fled for refuge to Oropus and others to Delium; certain of them made for the sea and the Athenian ships; still others scattered this way and that, as chance dictated. When night fell, the Boeotian dead were not in excess of five hundred, the Athenian many times that number.3 However, if night had not intervened, most of the Athenians would have perished, for it broke the drive of the pursuers and brought safety to those in flight. [5] Even so the multitude of the slain was so great that from the proceeds of the booty the Thebans not only constructed the great colonnade in their market-place but also embellished it with bronze statues, and their temples and the colonnades in the market-place they covered with bronze by the armour from the booty which they nailed to them; furthermore, it was with this money that they instituted the festival called Delia.4 [6]

After the battle the Boeotians launched assaults upon Delium and took the place by storm5; of the garrison of Delium the larger number died fighting gallantly and two hundred were taken prisoner; the rest fled for safety to the ships and were transported with the other refugees to Attica. Thus the Athenians, who devised a plot against the Boeotians, were involved in the disaster we have described.

1 This designation is probably derived from that of an originally wealthy class who were able to provide their own chariots for warfare, like the Roman "Knights," who could furnish horses. The three hundred are what were known later as the "Sacred Band" of the Thebans which was drawn up, not as here before the whole Theban line, but many men deep on one wing (cp. Plut. Pelopidas 18 ff.). Thuc. 4.93.4 states that in this battle "the Thebans were marshalled in ranks twenty-five shields deep," a statement which cannot have been true of the whole Theban contingent.

2 Delium was the greatest battle of the Archidamian War; Socrates participated in it and his life was saved by Alcibiades (Plat. Sym. 221a-c); Socrates had saved Alcibiades at Potidaea in 432 B.C. (Plat. Sym. 220e).

3 The Athenian losses were less than a thousand in addition to light-armed troops and baggage carriers (Thuc. 4.101).

4 Held at Delium.

5 A "flame-thrower" was used in the assault upon the walls; cp. Thuc. 4.100.

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