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After this the Lacedaemonians, upon hearing1 from the Corinthian exiles that the people in the city had all their cattle in Piraeum2 and there kept them safe, and that many were being maintained from this supply, made another expedition to the territory of Corinth, Agesilaus being in command this time also. And first he came to the Isthmus3; for it was the month during which the Isthmian games are celebrated, and the Argives chanced at the time to be offering the sacrifice there to Poseidon, as though Argos were Corinth. But when they learned that Agesilaus was approaching, they left behind both the victims that had been offered and the breakfast that was being made ready and retired to the city in very great fear, along the road leading to Cenchreae. [2] Agesilaus, however, did not pursue them, even though he saw them, but encamping in the sacred precinct offered sacrifice himself to the god and waited until the Corinthian exiles had conducted4 the sacrifice and the games in honour of Poseidon. But when Agesilaus had left the Isthmus, the Argives celebrated the Isthmian games all over again. In that year, accordingly, in some of the contests individual competitors were beaten twice, while in others the same competitors were twice proclaimed victors. [3]

On the fourth day Agesilaus led his army against Piraeum. But seeing that it was guarded by many, he withdrew after breakfast in the direction of the capital, as though the city were going to be betrayed to him; so that the Corinthians, in fear that the city was to be betrayed by some one, summoned Iphicrates with the greater part of his peltasts. Agesilaus, however, upon perceiving that they had passed by during the night, turned about, and at daybreak proceeded to lead his army to Piraeum. And he himself advanced by way of the hot springs5, but he sent one regiment up the heights to proceed along the topmost ridge. On that night, accordingly, he was in camp at the hot springs, while the regiment bivouacked, holding possession of the heights. [4] It was then that Agesilaus won credit by a trifling but timely expedient. For since no one among those who carried provisions for the regiment had brought fire, and it was cold, not only because they were at a high altitude, but also because there had been rain and hail towards evening—and besides, they had gone up in light clothing suitable to the summer season—and they were shivering and, in the darkness, had no heart for their dinner, Agesilaus sent up not less than ten men carrying fire in earthen pots. And when these men had climbed up by one way and another and many large fires had been6 made, since there was a great deal of fuel at hand, all the soldiers anointed themselves and many of them only then began their dinner. It was on this night also that the temple of Poseidon7 was seen burning; but no one knows by whom it was set on fire. [5] Now when the people in Piraeum perceived that the heights were occupied, they gave no further thought to defending themselves, but fled for refuge to the Heraeum,8 men and women, slaves and freemen, and the greater part of the cattle. And Agesilaus with the army proceeded along the sea shore; while the regiment, descending at the same time from the heights, captured Oenoe,9 the stronghold which had been fortified in Piraeum, and took possession of all that was within it, and in fact all the soldiers on that day possessed themselves of provisions in abundance from the farms. Meanwhile those who had taken refuge in the Heraeum came out, with the purpose of leaving it to Agesilaus to decide as he chose in regard to them. He decided to deliver over to the exiles all those who had a part in the massacre,10 and that all else should be sold. [6] Thereupon the prisoners came forth from the Heraeum, a very great number of them, together with their property; and many embassies from various states presented themselves, while from the Boeotians in particular ambassadors had come to ask what they should do in order to obtain peace. Agesilaus, however, in a very lofty way affected not even to see these ambassadors, although Pharax, diplomatic agent for the Thebans at Lacedaemon, was standing beside them for the purpose of presenting them to him; but sitting in the circular structure11 near the lake,12 he occupied himself in watching the great quantity of13 prisoners and property that was being brought out. And some Lacedaemonians from the camp followed with their spears to guard the prisoners, and were much regarded by the bystanders; for somehow men who are fortunate and victorious seem ever to be a noteworthy spectacle. [7] But while Agesilaus was still sitting there in the attitude of a man who exulted in what had been accomplished, a horseman rode up, his horse sweating profusely. And being asked by many people what news he brought, he made no reply to anyone, but when he was near Agesilaus, he leaped down from his horse, ran up to him, and with a very gloomy face told him of the disaster14 to the regiment stationed in Lechaeum. When Agesilaus heard this, he immediately leaped up from his seat, seized his spear, and ordered the herald to summon the commanders of regiments and of fifties and the leaders of the allies. [8] When they came running together, he told the rest of them to follow along as quickly as possible after swallowing what they could—for they had not yet breakfasted—while he himself with his tent companions15 went on ahead breakfastless And the spearmen of his body-guard, fully armed, accompanied him with all speed, he leading the way and his tent companions following after him. But when he had already passed the hot springs and come to the plain of Lechaeum, three horsemen rode up and reported that the bodies of the dead had been recovered. When he heard this, he gave the order to ground arms, and after resting the army for a short time, led it back again to the Heraeum; and on the following day he exposed the prisoners and16 captured property for sale. [9]

The ambassadors of the Boeotians were now summoned and asked for what purpose they had come. They made no further mention of peace, but said that if there were nothing to hinder, they desired to pass into the city to join their own soldiers. And Agesilaus said with a laugh, “On the contrary, I know that you are not desirous of seeing your soldiers, but of beholding the good fortune of your friends, that you may see how great it has been. Wait, therefore,” he said, “for I will conduct you myself, and by being with me you will find out better what manner of thing it is that has happened.” [10] And he did not belie his words, but on the next day, after offering sacrifice, he led his army to the city. He did not throw down the trophy, but by cutting down and burning any fruit-tree that was still left, he showed that no one wanted to come out against him. When he had done this, he encamped near Lechaeum; as for the ambassadors of the Thebans, although he did not let them go into the city, yet he sent them home by sea to Creusis.17 Now inasmuch as such a calamity had been unusual with the Lacedaemonians, there was great mourning throughout the Laconian army, except among those whose sons, fathers, or brothers had fallen where they stood; they, however, went about like victors, with shining countenances and full of exultation in their own misfortune. [11]

Now it was in the following way that the disaster to the regiment happened. The Amyclaeans invariably go back home to the festival of the Hyacinthia for the paean to Apollo, whether they chance to be on a campaign or away from home for any other reason.18 Accordingly Agesilaus had on this occasion left behind at Lechaeum all the Amyclaeans in the army. Now the polemarch in command of the garrison there detailed the garrison troops of the allies to guard the wall, and himself with the regiment of hoplites and the regiment of horsemen conducted the Amyclaeans along past the city of the Corinthians. [12] And when they were distant from Sicyon about twenty or thirty stadia, the polemarch with the hoplites, who were about six hundred in number, set out to return to Lechaeum, and ordered the commander of horse to follow after him with the regiment of horsemen after they had escorted the Amyclaeans as far as they themselves directed. Now they were by no means unaware that there were many peltasts and many hoplites in Corinth; but on account of their previous successes they contemptuously thought that no one would attack them. [13] But those in the city of the Corinthians, both Callias, the son of Hipponicus, commander of the Athenian hoplites, and Iphicrates, leader of the peltasts, when they descried the Lacedaemonians and saw that they were not only few in number, but also unaccompanied by either peltasts or cavalry, thought that it was safe to attack them with their force of peltasts. For if they should proceed along the road, they could be attacked with javelins on their unprotected side and destroyed; and if they should undertake to pursue, they with their peltasts, the nimblest of all troops, could easily escape the hoplites. [14] Having come to this conclusion, they led forth their troops. And Callias formed his hoplites in line of battle not far from the city, while Iphicrates with his peltasts attacked the Lacedaemonian regiment. Now when the Lacedaemonians19 were being attacked with javelins, and several men had been wounded and several others slain, they directed the shield-bearers20 to take up these wounded men and carry them back to Lechaeum; and these were the only men in the regiment who were really saved.21 Then the polemarch ordered the first ten year-classes22 to drive off their assailants. [15] But when they pursued, they caught no one, since they were hoplites pursuing peltasts at the distance of a javelin's cast; for Iphicrates had given orders to the peltasts to retire before the hoplites got near them; and further, when the Lacedaemonians were retiring from the pursuit, being scattered because each man had pursued as swiftly as he could, the troops of Iphicrates turned about, and not only did those in front again hurl javelins upon the Lacedaemonians, but also others on the flank, running along to reach their unprotected side. Indeed, at the very first pursuit the peltasts shot down nine or ten of them. And as soon as this happened, they began to press the attack much more boldly. [16] Then, as the Lacedaemonians continued to suffer losses, the polemarch again ordered the first fifteen year-classes to pursue. But when these fell back, even more of them were shot down than at the first retirement. And now that the best men had already been killed, the horsemen joined them, and with the horsemen they again undertook a pursuit. But when the peltasts turned to flight, at that moment the horsemen managed their attack badly; for they did not chase the enemy until they had killed some of them, but both in the pursuit and in the turning backward kept an23 even front with the hoplites. And what with striving and suffering in this way again and again, the Lacedaemonians themselves kept continually becoming fewer and fainter of heart, while their enemies were becoming bolder, and those who attacked them continually more numerous. [17] Therefore in desperation they gathered together on a small hill, distant from the sea about two stadia, and from Lechaeum about sixteen or seventeen stadia. And the men in Lechaeum, upon perceiving them, embarked in small boats and coasted along until they came opposite the hill. Then the troops, being now desperate, because they were suffering and being slain, while unable to inflict any harm themselves, and, besides this, seeing the Athenian hoplites also coming against them, took to flight. And some of them plunged into the sea, and some few made their escape with the horsemen to Lechaeum. But in all the battles and in the flight about two hundred and fifty of them were killed. [18] Thus it was that these events took place.

After this Agesilaus departed with the defeated regiment, and left another behind him in Lechaeum. And as he passed along homeward, he led his troops into the cities as late in the day as he could and set out again in the morning as early as he could. When he approached Mantinea,24 by leaving Orchomenus before dawn he passed by that city while it was still dark: so hard, he thought, would the soldiers find it to see the Mantineans rejoicing at their misfortune. [19] After this, Iphicrates was very successful in his other undertakings also. For although garrisons had been stationed in Sidus and Crommyon by Praxitas when he captured these strongholds, and in Oenoe25 by Agesilaus at the time when Piraeum was taken, Iphicrates captured all these places. In Lechaeum, however, the Lacedaemonians and their allies maintained their garrison. And the Corinthian exiles, no longer proceeding by land from Sicyon past Corinth, on account of the disaster to the regiment, but sailing along the coast to Lechaeum and sallying forth from there, caused annoyance to the people in the city even as they suffered annoyance themselves.

1 390 B.C.

2 A mountainous peninsula of considerable extent on the north-western side of the isthmus of Corinth (see note 2, below). At its western extremity was the Heraeum, or temple of Hera (see 5, below), near which was a small lake (6). In the north-eastern part of the peninsula was the fortress of Oenoe (5).

3 The term was used by the Greeks, not (as in the preceding note) of the entire neck of land connecting Peloponnesus with northern Greece, but only of its narrowest part, some three or four miles north-east of the city of Corinth Toward the eastern side of this Isthmus proper was the famous sanctuary of Poseidon where, every two years, the Isthmian games were celebrated.

4 390 B.C.

5 Situated near the shore on the road leading from the Isthmus to Piraeum.

6 390 B.C.

7 See note 2, p. 323.

8 See note 1, p. 323.

9 See note 1, p. 323.

10 c.p. 4.4.2

11 The reference is uncertain.

12 See note 1, p. 323

13 390 B.C.

14 Described in 11-17, below.

15 The tent companions of a Spartan king were the six polemarchs, or commanders of regiments, and three other Spartiatae. Xen. de Rep. Lac. xiii. 1.

16 390 B.C.

17 A Boeotian port on the Corinthian Gulf.

18 390 B.C.

19 390 B.C.

20 Slaves who carried the shields of the hoplites.

21 i.e., saved both in life and in honour.

22 See note on II. iv. 32.

23 390 B.C.

24 Cp. iv. 17.

25 390 B.C.

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  • Cross-references to this page (9):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DAMO´SIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HELO´TES
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HOSPI´TIUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HYACI´NTHIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), ISTHMIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PAEAN
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PERIOECI
    • Smith's Bio, Iphi'crates
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