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Confusion and Terror in Greece

As these measures came all at once, the dismay caused by the hardship of each individually prevented people from attending to or grasping the general question; or they must have foreseen that they were all being led on to secure the certain destruction of their wives and children. But, as though caught in the rush of some winter torrent and carried on by its irresistible violence, they followed the infatuation and madness of their leader.
The Eleians and Messenians do not move.
The Eleians and Messenians indeed did not stir, in terror of the Roman fleet; for nothing could have saved them if the storm had burst when it was originally intended.
Dismay at Patrae.
The people of Patrae, and of the towns which were leagued with it, had a short time before suffered disasters in Phocis;1 and their case was much the most pitiable one of all the Peloponnesian cities: for some of them sought a voluntary death; others fled from their towns through deserted parts of the country, with no definite aim in their wanderings, from the panic prevailing in the towns. Some arrested and delivered each other to the enemy, as having been hostile to Rome; others hurried to give information and bring accusations, although no one asked for any such service as yet; while others went to meet the Romans with suppliant branches, confessing their treason, and asking what penance they were to pay, although as yet no one was asking for any account of such things.
The distracted state of Greece.
The whole country seemed to be under an evil spell: everywhere people were throwing themselves down wells or over precipices; and so dreadful was the state of things, that as the proverb has it "even an enemy would have pitied" the disaster of Greece. For in times past the Greeks had met with reverses or indeed complete disaster, either from internal dissensions or from treacherous attacks of despots; but in the present instance it was from the folly of their leaders and their own unwisdom that they experienced the grievous misfortunes which befell them.
Thebes abandoned.
The Thebans also, abandoning their city en masse, left it entirely empty; and among the rest Pytheas retired to the Peloponnese, with his wife and children, and there wandered about the country.2 . . .

He came upon the enemy much to his surprise. But to my mind the proverb, "the reckonings of the foolish are foolishness" applies to him. And naturally to such men things clear as day come as a surprise. . . .

He was even forming plans for getting back home, acting very like a man who, not having learnt to swim and being about to plunge into the sea, should not consider the question of taking the plunge; but, having taken it, should begin to consider how he is to swim to land. . . .

Having secured Boeotia, Metellus advanced to Megara, where the Achaean Alcamenes had been posted by Diaeus with five thousand men. Alcamenes hastily evacuated Megara and rejoined Diaeus at Corinth, the latter having meanwhile been reelected Strategus. Pausanias, 7, 15, 10.

1 In the battle with Metellus at Scarphea.

2 Pausanias on the contrary says that Pytheas was caught in Boeotia and condemned by Metellus (7, 15, 10).

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.15.10
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