The contest thus begun in two places, the Lacedaemonians were first to repulse the Persians. Mardonius was slain by a man of Sparta named Arimnestus, who crushed his head with a stone, even as was foretold him by the oracle in the shrine of Amphiaraus. Thither he had sent a Lydian man, and a Carian besides to the oracle of Trophonius.1
This latter the prophet actually addressed in the Carian tongue;
but the Lydian, on lying down in the precinct of Amphiaraus, dreamed that an attendant of the god stood by his side and bade him be gone, and on his refusal, hurled a great stone upon his head, insomuch that he died from the blow (so ran the man's dream). These things are so reported. Furthermore, the Lacedaemonians shut the flying Persians up in their wooden stockade.
Shortly after this it was that the Athenians routed the Thebans, after slaying three hundred, their most eminent leaders, in the actual battle.
After the rout was effected, and more might have been slain, there came a messenger to the Athenians, telling them that the Barbarian force was shut up and besieged in their stockade. So they suffered the Hellenes in front of them to make good their escape, while they themselves marched to the stockade. They brought welcome aid to the Lacedaemonians, who were altogether inexperienced and helpless in storming walled places, and captured the camp with great slaughter of the enemy.
Out of three hundred thousand, only forty thousand, it is said, made their escape with Artabazus. Of those who contended in behalf of Hellas, there fell in all one thousand three hundred and sixty. Of these, fifty-two were Athenians, all of the Aeantid tribe, according to Cleidemus, which made the bravest contest
(for which reason the Aeantids used to sacrifice regularly to the Sphragitic nymphs the sacrifice ordained by the Pythian oracle for the victory, receiving the expenses therefor from the public funds); ninety-one were Lacedaemonians, and sixteen were men of Tegea.
Astonishing, therefore, is the statement of Herodotus,2
where he says that these one hundred and fifty nine represented the only Hellenes who engaged the enemy, and that not one of the rest did so. Surely the total number of those who fell, as well as the monuments erected over them, testifies that the success was a common one.
Besides, had the men of three cities only made the contest, while the rest sat idly by, the altar would not have been inscribed as it was:—
Here did the Hellenes, flushed with a victory granted by Ares
Over the routed Persians, together, for Hellas delivered,
Build them an altar of Zeus, Zeus as Deliverer known.
This battle was fought on the fourth of the month Boedromion, as the Athenians reckon time; but according to the Boeotian calendar, on the twenty-seventh of the month Panemus,3
the day when, down to the present time, the Hellenic council assembles in Plataea, and the Plataeans sacrifice to Zeus the Deliverer for the victory. We must not wonder at the apparent discrepancy between these dates, since, even now that astronomy is a more exact science, different peoples have different beginnings and endings for their months.