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Now Aristophanes the Boeotian wrote, that Herodotus demanded money of the Thebans but received none, and that going about to discourse and reason with the young men, he was prohibited by the magistrates through their clownishness and hatred of learning; of which there is no other argument. But Herodotus bears witness to Aristophanes, whilst he charges the Thebans with some things falsely, with others ignorantly, and with others as hating them and having a quarrel with them. For he affirms that the Thessalians at first upon necessity inclined to the Persians,1 in which he says the truth; and prophesying of the other Grecians that they would betray the Lacedaemonians, he added, that they would not do it willingly, but upon necessity, one city being taken after another. But he does not allow the Thebans the same plea of necessity, although they sent to Tempe five hundred men under the command of Mnamias, and to Thermopylae as many as Leonidas desired, who also alone with the Thespians stood by him, the rest leaving him after he was surrounded. But when the barbarian, having possessed himself of the avenues, was got into their confines, and Demaratus the Spartan, favoring in right of hospitality Attaginus, the chief of the oligarchy, had so wrought that he became the King's friend and familiar, whilst the other Greeks were in their ships, and none came on by [p. 352] land; then at last being forsaken did they accept conditions of peace, to which they were compelled by great necessity. For they had neither the sea and ships at hand, as had the Athenians; nor did they dwell far off, as the Spartans, who inhabited the most remote parts of Greece; but were not above a day and half's journey from the Persian army, whom they had already with the Spartans and Thespians alone resisted at the entrance of the straits, and were defeated.

But this writer is so equitable, that having said, ‘The Lacedaemonians, being alone and deserted by their allies, would perhaps have made a composition with Xerxes,’ he yet abuses the Thebans, who were driven to the same act by the same necessity. But when he could not wholly obliterate this most great and glorious act of the Thebans, yet went he about to deface it with a most vile imputation and suspicion, writing thus: ‘The confederates who had been sent returned back, obeying the commands of Leonidas; there remained only with the Lacedaemonians the Thespians and the Thebans: of these, the Thebans stayed against their wills, for Leonidas retained them as hostages; but the Thespians most willingly, as they said they would never depart from Leonidas and those that were with him.’ 2 Does he not here manifestly discover himself to have a peculiar pique and hatred against the Thebans, by the impulse of which he not only falsely and unjustly calumniated the city, but did not so much as take care to render his contradiction probable, or to conceal, at least from a few men, his being conscious of having knowingly contradicted himself? For having before said that Leonidas, perceiving his confederates not to be in good heart nor prepared to undergo danger, wished them to depart, he a little after adds that the Thebans were against their wills detained by him; whereas, if he had believed them inclined to the Persians, he should have driven them away though [p. 353] they had been willing to tarry. For if he thought that those who were not brisk would be useless, to what purpose was it to mix among his soldiers those that were suspected? Nor was the king of the Spartans and general of all Greece so senseless as to think that four hundred armed Thebans could be detained as hostages by his three hundred, especially the enemy being both in his front and rear. For though at first he might have taken them along with him as hostages; it is certainly probable that at last, having no regard for him, they would have gone away from him, and that Leonidas would have more feared his being encompassed by them than by the enemy. Furthermore, would not Leonidas have been ridiculous, to have sent away the other Greeks, as if by staying they should soon after have died, and to have detained the Thebans, that being himself about to die, he might keep them for the Greeks? For if he had indeed carried them along with him for hostages, or rather for slaves, he should not have kept them with those that were at the point of perishing, but have delivered them to the Greeks that went away. There remained but one cause that might be alleged for Leonidas's unwillingness to let them go, to wit, that they might die with him; and this our historian himself has taken away, writing thus of Leonidas's ambition: ‘Leonidas considering these things, and desirous that this glory might redound to the Spartans alone, sent away his confederates rather for this than because they differed in their opinions.’ 3 For it had certainly been the height of folly to keep his enemies against their wills, to be partakers of that glory from which he drove away his confederates. But it is manifest from the effects, that Leonidas suspected not the Thebans of insincerity, but esteemed them to be his steadfast friends. For he marched with his army into Thebes, and at his request obtained that which was never [p. 354] granted to any other, to sleep within the temple of Hercules; and the next morning he related to the Thebans the vision that had appeared to him. For he imagined that he saw the most illustrious and greatest cities of Greece irregularly tost and floating up and down on a very stormy and tempestuous sea; that Thebes, being carried above all the rest, was lifted up on high to heaven, and suddenly after disappeared. And this indeed had a resemblance of those things which long after befell that city.

1 Herod. VII. 172

2 Herod. VII. 222.

3 Herod. VII. 220.

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