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δεξάμενος. In a double sense of ‘accepting’ the price offered and the omen; ch. 137. 5; i. 63. 1; ix. 91. 2. πέντε καὶ τεσσεράκοντα. Though the advance (ch. 57. 1) took double the time, a retreat of about 550 miles in 45 days is not so rapid as to imply disorderly flight. οὐδὲν μέρος: an obvious exaggeration, as may be seen from H.'s own statements elsewhere (ch. 130. 1). The Greeks were convinced that Xerxes started homewards with the greater part of his force ( Thuc. i. 73 “κατὰ τάχος τῷ πλέονι τοῦ στρατοῦ ἀνεχώρησεν”, cf. ch. 100. 5), only leaving Mardonius a picked force (ch. 113; Aesch. Pers. 803 “πλῆθος ἔκκριτον στρατοῦ”), and reached Asia with a mere handful of men; hence multitudes must have perished by the way. But in all probability Xerxes left Mardonius the bulk of the land force; otherwise what need was there for Artabazus with a corps from Mardonius' army to escort him (ch. 126?). And that corps, whose original strength was 60,000 (ch. 126), is estimated, even after its heavy losses in the winter campaign (ch. 127 f.), as 40,000 strong (ix. 66. 2). It would seem then that, even in Herodotus, the losses and sufferings of the retreat have been much exaggerated. Yet more incredible are the horrors in Aeschylus, the losses from hunger and thirst in Thessaly, where Mardonius wintered, and the disaster through the melting of the ice on the Strymon (Pers. 495 f.); cf. Grote iv. 489 f. From the first the contrast between the proud advance and the miserable retreat of Xerxes struck the Greek imagination, and the contrast got more and more exaggerated as time went on. Cf. Justin ii. 13 ‘ipse cum paucis Abydon contendit, ubi cum solutum pontem hibernis tempestatibus offendisset, piscatoria scapha trepidus traiecit . . . (carens) etiam omni servorum ministerio’. We may see from the scarcity of details, as well as from the suspicious character of some of those given, both in H. and Aeschylus, how slight was the knowledge the Greeks had of the retreat of Xerxes, as compared with the full account of his advance (vii. 61 n.).
Siris, on a tributary of the Strymon, in a fertile plain just northeast of Lake Cercinitis, capital of Σιριοπαίονες (v. 15. 3 n.), now Seres. For the line of march cf. vii. 121. 2 n.
νεμομένας. The subject must be τὰς ἵππους understood from ἅρμα (sup.); cf. iv. 8. 3. In describing the chariot (vii. 40. 3) H. spoke of horses, not mares. According to Strabo (329, fr. 36 f.) the Agrianes dwelt round the source of the Strymon, but they were Paeonian (cf. v. 16. 1 n.; Thuc. ii. 96).
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