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Position of Sparta and Disposition of Troops

These then are the features of the country in question.
The position of Sparta and the neighbouring heights.
Sparta, as a whole, is in the shape of a circle; and is situated on level ground, broken at certain points by irregularities and hills. The river Eurotas flows past it on the east, and for the greater part of the year is too large to be forded; and the hills on which the Menelaïum stands are on the other side of the river, to the south-east of the town, rugged and difficult of access and exceedingly lofty; they exactly command the space between the town and the Eurotas, which flows at the very foot of the hill, the whole valley being at this point no more than a stade and a half wide.
The dispositions of Lycurgus.
Through this Philip was obliged to pass on his return march, with the city, and the Lacedaemonians ready and drawn up for battle, on his left hand, and on his right the river, and the division of Lycurgus posted upon the hills. In addition to these arrangements the Lacedaemonians had had recourse to the following device: They had dammed up the river above the town, and turned the stream upon the space between the town and the hills; with the result that the ground became so wet that men could not keep their feet, to say nothing of horses. The only course, therefore, left to the king was to lead his men close under the skirts of the hills, thus presenting to the attack of the enemy a long line of march, in which it was difficult for one part to relieve another.

Philip perceived these difficulties, and after consultation

Philip succeeds in baffling Lycurgus.
with his friends decided that the matter of most urgent necessity was to dislodge the division of Lycurgus, first of all, from the position near the Menelaïum. He took therefore his mercenaries, peltasts, and Illyrians, and advanced across the river in the direction of the hills. Perceiving Philip's design, Lycurgus began getting his men ready, and exhorted them to face the battle, and at the same time displayed the signal to the forces in the town: whereupon those whose duty it was immediately led out the troops from the town, as had been arranged, and drew them up outside the wall, with the cavalry on their right wing.

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 33-34, commentary, 34.28
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 33-34, commentary, 34.39
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SPARTA
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