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In the meantime, immediately after the misfortune at Thermopylae, the Thessalians sent a herald to the Phocians, because they bore an old grudge against them and still more because of their latest disaster. Now a few years before the king's expedition, the Thessalians and their allies had invaded Phocis with their whole army but had been worsted and roughly handled by the Phocians. When the Phocians were besieged on Parnassus, they had with them the diviner Tellias of Elis; Tellias devised a stratagem for them: he covered six hundred of the bravest Phocians with gypsum, themselves and their armor, and led them to attack the Thessalians by night, bidding them slay whomever they should see not whitened. The Thessalian sentinels were the first to see these men and to flee for fear, supposing falsely that it was something supernatural, and after the sentinels the whole army fled as well. The Phocians made themselves masters of four thousand dead, and their shields, of which they dedicate
When they entered Phocis from Doris, they could not take the Phocians themselves, for some of the Phocians ascended to the heights of Parnassus. The peak of Parnassus called Tithorea, which rises by itself near the town Neon, has room enough for a multitude of people. It was there that they carried their goods and themselves ascended to it, but most of them made their way out of the country to the Ozolian Locrians, where the town of Amphissa lies above the Crisaean plain. The barbarians, whilParnassus called Tithorea, which rises by itself near the town Neon, has room enough for a multitude of people. It was there that they carried their goods and themselves ascended to it, but most of them made their way out of the country to the Ozolian Locrians, where the town of Amphissa lies above the Crisaean plain. The barbarians, while the Thessalians so guided their army, overran the whole of Phocis. All that came within their power they laid waste to and burnt, setting fire to towns and temples.
So this part of the barbarian army marched as I have said, and others set forth with guides for the temple at Delphi, keeping Parnassus on their right. These, too, laid waste to every part of Phocis which they occupied, burning the towns of the Panopeans and Daulii and Aeolidae. The purpose of their parting from the rest of the army and marching this way was that they might plunder the temple at Delphi and lay its wealth before Xerxes, who (as I have been told) had better knowledge of the most notable possessions in the temple than of what he had left in his own palace, chiefly the offerings of Croesus son of Alyattes; so many had always spoken of them.
When the Delphians learned all this, they were very much afraid, and in their great fear they inquired of the oracle whether they should bury the sacred treasure in the ground or take it away to another country. The god told them to move nothing, saying that he was able to protect what belonged to him. Upon hearing that, the Delphians took thought for themselves. They sent their children and women overseas to Achaia. Most of the men went up to the peaks of Parnassus and carried their goods into the Corycian cave, but some escaped to Amphissa in Locris. In short, all the Delphians left the town save sixty men and the prophet.
Now when the barbarians drew near and could see the temple, the prophet, whose name was Aceratus, saw certain sacred arms, which no man might touch without sacrilege, brought out of the chamber within and laid before the shrine. So he went to tell the Delphians of this miracle, but when the barbarians came with all speed near to the temple of Athena Pronaea, they were visited by miracles yet greater than the aforesaid. Marvellous indeed it is, that weapons of war should of their own motion appear lying outside in front of the shrine, but the visitation which followed was more wondrous than anything else ever seen. When the barbarians were near to the temple of Athena Pronaea, they were struck by thunderbolts from the sky, and two peaks broken off from Parnassus came rushing among them with a mighty noise and overwhelmed many of them. In addition to this a shout and a cry of triumph were heard from the temple of Athena.
These two, say the Delphians, were the native heroes Phylacus and Autonous, whose precincts are near the temple, Phylacus' by the road itself above the shrine of Athena Pronaea, and Autonous' near the Castalian spring, under the Hyarapean Peak. The rocks that fell from Parnassus were yet to be seen in my day, lying in the precinct of Athena Pronaea, from where their descent through the foreigners' ranks had hurled them. Such, then, was the manner of those men's departure from the temple.