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For a discussion of the numbers of Xerxes' army and fleet cf. App. XIX. 2 f. Here we may remark that the moment chosen by H. for his enumeration is appropriate. The great host had now gathered to itself contingents from Europe, and had not yet suffered loss either in storm or battle. The separation of the description of the forces (ch. 61-99) from the estimate of their number indicates that H. found no numbers in the official Persian lists (cf. ch. 60. 1, 61. 1 n.). For the number of the triremes he relied on tradition (ch. 89), as also for that of the Asiatic land forces (ch. 60), but the enormously exaggerated numbers of the forces from Europe rest on mere conjecture (185. 1 and 2); the over-estimate of the crews of the smaller vessels (184. 3) is a rough guess from the supposed number of such vessels, and the addition to the armed force of an equal number of attendants (ch. 186) is a purely gratuitous assumption. H. is clearly dominated by the popular belief (c. 228. 1) that Xerxes led three million warriors against Greece. He makes no allowance for losses through sickness or desertion on the march.

After πλῆθος ἦν (sc. τοῦ στρατοῦ, ix. 96. 2) the numbers would naturally be given in the nominative, but the words τὸν μὲν . . . ὅμιλον, &c., which repeat the idea, are put in the accusative as though dependent on the verb of the parenthetic clause ὡς . . . εὑρίσκω. For similar usages cf. i. 65. 4; 134. 1.

τὸν μέν, answered by τοῦ δὲ πεζοῦ (§ 4), gives the division into land and sea forces. The latter are then subdivided into native contingents (§ 1) and Persian marines (§ 2).

ἀρχαῖον (cf. iv. 99. 2): the original native crew in contrast to the added Persian Epibatae.

διηκοσίους: 200 was the regular complement of a Greek trireme (viii. 17; Xen. Hell. i. 5. 3-7).

ἐπιχωρίων ἐπιβατέων. The most conspicuous instance is furnished by the Egyptians (ix. 32), but in most cases there would be native leaders and their body-guards aboard (ch. 98). They are not separately reckoned since they are included in the crew of 200. Since the primitive method of fighting at sea was by boarding (cf. ix. 98. 2; viii. 90. 2; and especially Thuc. i. 49), every trireme carried a large number of marines, each Chian ship at Lade 40 (vi. 15. 1), each trireme here 30 Persians, Medes, or Sacae (the best troops in the army, cf. viii. 113. 2), besides the native levies, though, if we may believe Plutarch (Them. 14), the Athenians at Salamis had only 14 hoplites and 4 archers on each ship. Later sea captains aimed at sinking the enemy by ramming, after disordering them by the διέκπλους (vi. 12 n.). Accordingly the Athenians in the Peloponnesian war reduced the number of Epibatae on each ship to 10 (Thuc. ii. 92 compared with ii. 102; iii. 91 with iii. 95; iv. 76 with iv. 101).

ποιήσας, ‘putting them at’ (cf. § 4, and ch. 186. 2).

τι πλέον = plus minus, i. e. on the average.

πρότερον: cf. 97 ad fin. The three thousand vessels there mentioned included, besides penteconters, thirty-oared galleys, light boats, and horse transports; now though a crew of eighty may be a reasonable assumption for a penteconter, counting in officers, sailors, and marines, it is far too large a number for the smaller galleys and boats.

ἐμπλέειν and ἐνεῖναι are used of the crew, especially of the rowers in the hold of the ship; ἐπιπλέειν and ἐπεῖναι of the marines on deck; cf. viii. 119.

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  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.49
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.92
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 1.5.3
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