previous next
19. The battle1 took place just after the summer solstice when the moon was near the full, on the very day of a former great disaster, when three hundred men of the Fabian gens had been cut to pieces by the Tuscans. But the second defeat was so much the worse that the day on which it fell is called down to the present time ‘dies Alliensis,’ from the river.

Now concerning ‘dies nefasti,’ or unlucky days, whether we must regard some as such, or whether Heracleitus was right in rebuking Hesiod for calling some days good and some bad, in his ignorance that the nature of every day is one and the same,—this question has been fully discussed elsewhere. [2] Still, even in what I am now writing, the mention of a few examples may not be amiss. To begin with, then, it was on the fifth day of the month of Hippodromius (which the Athenians call Hecatombaeon) that the Boeotians won two illustrious victories which set the Greeks free: that at Leuctra, and that at Ceressus more than two hundred years earlier, when they conquered Lattamyas and the Thessalians. [3] Again, on the sixth day of the month of Boedromion the Greeks defeated the Persians at Marathon, on the third day at Plataea and Mycale together, and on the twenty-sixth day at Arbela. Moreover, it was about full moon of the same month that the Athenians won their sea-fight off Naxos, under the command of Chabrias, and about the twentieth, that at Salamis, as has been set forth in my treatise ‘On days.’ [4] Further, the month of Thargelion has clearly been a disastrous one for the Barbarians, for in that month the generals of the King were conquered by Alexander at the Granicus, and on the twenty-fourth of the month the Carthaginians were worsted by Timoleon off Sicily. On this day, too, of Thargelion, it appears that Ilium was taken, as Ephorus, Callisthenes, Damastes, and Phylarchus have stated. [5] Contrary-wise, the month of Metageitnion (which the Boeotians call Panemus) has not been favourable to the Greeks. On the seventh of this month they were worsted by Antipater in the battle of Crannon, and utterly undone; before this they had fought Philip unsuccessfully at Chaeroneia on that day of the month; and in the same year, and on the same day of Metageitnion, Archidamus and his army, who had crossed into Italy, were cut to pieces by the Barbarians there. [6] The Carthaginians also regard with fear the twenty-second of this month, because it has ever brought upon them the worst and greatest of their misfortunes.

I am not unaware that, at about the time when the mysteries are celebrated, Thebes was razed to the ground for the second time by Alexander, and that afterwards the Athenians were forced to receive a Macedonian garrison on the twentieth of Boedromion, the very day on which they escort the mystic Iacchus forth in procession. [7] And likewise the Romans, on the self-same day, saw their army under Caepio destroyed by the Cimbri, and later, when Lucullus was their general, conquered Tigranes and the Armenians. Both King Attalus and Pompey the Great died on their own birthdays. In short, one can adduce many cases where the same times and seasons have brought opposite fortunes upon the same men.

[8] But this day of the Allia is regarded by the Romans as one of the unluckiest, and its influence extends over two other days of each month throughout the year, since in the presence of calamity, timidity and superstition often overflow all bounds. However, this subject has been more carefully treated in my ‘Roman Questions.’ 2

1 390 B.C.

2 Morals, pp. 269 f.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Bernadotte Perrin, 1914)
hide References (6 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: