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Ἀλήιον πεδίον, said to derive its name from a town Alae (Steph. Byz.), is a rich plain, inland from Mallus, between the rivers Sarus and Pyramus (Arrian, Anab. ii. 5; Strabo 676). The name at least is Homeric; cf. Il. vi. 201 “Βελλεροφόντης . . . κὰπ πεδίον τὸ Ἀλήιον” οἶος ἀλᾶτο. The military road from the Euphrates through the Cilician gates to Tarsus, used by the younger Cyrus, traversed this plain. ἐπιταχθείς: ordered the year before (491 B. C.); cf. 48. 2. Warships for the transport of horses were a novelty at Athens in 430 B. C. (Thuc. ii. 56), so their early use by the Persians is to be noted.
ἑξακοσίῃσι. This does not include the horse transports, and since it appears to be a conventional number for a great Persian fleet (cf. App. XIX, § 2), cannot safely be used as a basis for calculating the Persian force at Marathon, though it may exclude the exaggerated totals given by late authors (cf. 117 n.). To H. the natural course is to coast round the shores of the Aegean, as did Mardonius (ch. 43) and Xerxes (Bk. VII). διὰ νήσων is the technical term for the opposite course by the open sea between the islands, i.e. the Cyclades; cf. v. 30, 31. προτέρῳ: a slip on the part of the historian, as the disaster at Athos (ch. 45, 46) took place the year before the preparations of Darius, which are just above said to be τῷ προτέρῳ ἔτεϊ.
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