Lycurgus Goes Out to Resist
Leaving directions with his officers and friends as to
the coming engagement, Lycurgus himself left Sparta
occupied the ground near the Menelaïum, with as many as two
thousand men. He agreed with the officers in the town that
they should watch carefully, in order that, whenever he raised
the signal, they might lead out their troops from the town at
several points at once, and draw them up facing the Eurotas, at
the spot where it is nearest the town. Such were the measures
and designs of Lycurgus and the Lacedaemonians.
But lest ignorance of the locality should render my story
Value of local knowledge.
unintelligible and vague, I must describe its
natural features and general position: following
my practice throughout this work of drawing
out the analogies and likenesses between places which are
unknown and those already known and described. For seeing
that in war, whether by sea or land, it is the difference of
position which generally is the cause of failure; and since I
wish all to know, not so much what happened, as how it
happened, I must not pass over local description in detailing
events of any sort, least of all in such as relate to war: and I
must not shrink from using as landmarks, at one time harbours
and seas and islands, at another temples, mountains, or local
names; or, finally, variations in the aspect of the heaven, these
being of the most universal application throughout the world.
For it is thus, and thus only, that it is possible, as I have said,
to bring my readers to a conception of an unknown scene.