Plutarch's Lives, Volume II
by Aubrey Stewart & George Long
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Late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge



Formerly Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge






[Reprinted from Stereotype plates.]





I. Cato the elder, speaking to some persons who were praising a man of reckless daring and audacity in war, observed that there is a difference between a man's setting a high value on courage, and setting a low value on his own life—and rightly. For a daring soldier in the army of Antigonus, but of broken and ill health, being asked by the king the reason of his paleness, confessed that he was suffering from some secret disorder. When then the king, anxious for him, charged his physicians to use the greatest care in their treatment, if a cure were possible, at length this brave fellow, being restored to health, was no longer fond of peril and furious in battle, so that Antigonus reproved him, and expressed surprise at the change. The man made no secret of his reason, but answered: "My, king, you have made me less warlike by freeing me from those miseries on account of which I used to hold my life cheap." And the Sybarite seems to have spoken to the same effect about the Spartans, when he said that "they do no great thing by dying in the wars in order to escape from such labours and such a mode of life as theirs." However, no wonder if the Sybarites, effete with luxurious debauchery, thought men mad who despised death for love of honour and noble emulation; whereas the Lacedaemonians were enabled by their valour both to live and to die with pleasure, as the elegy shows, which runs thus:

"'Twas not that life or death itself was good, That these heroic spirits shed their blood: This was their aim, and this their latest cry, 'Let us preserve our honour, live or die.'"

For neither is avoidance of death blameable, if a man does not cling to his life from dishonourable motives; nor is exposure to peril honourable, if it springs from carelessness of life. For this reason Homer always brings the most daring and warlike heroes into battle well and beautifully armed, and the Greek lawgivers punish the man who throws away his shield, but not him who throws away his sword or spear, showing that it is each man's duty to take more care that he does not receive hurt himself, than to hurt the enemy, especially if he be the chief of an army or city.

II. For if, as Iphikrates defined it, the light troops resemble the hands, the cavalry the feet, the main body the breast and trunk, and the general the head, then it would appear that he, if he runs into danger and shows personal daring, risks not only his own life, but that of all those whose safety depends upon him; and vice versa. Wherefore Kallikratidas, although otherwise a great man, yet did not make a good answer to the soothsayer; for when he begged him to beware of death, which was presaged by the sacrifices, he replied that Sparta had more men besides himself. No doubt, in fighting either by sea or land[1] Kallikratidas only counted for one, but as a general, he combined in his own person the strength of all the rest, so that he by whose death so many perished, was indeed more than one. A better answer was that of old Antigonus, who, as he was about to begin a sea-fight off Andros, some one having said that the enemy's fleet was the more numerous, asked, "And for how many do you count me?"—setting a high value, as is due, upon a skilful and brave leader, whose first duty is to keep safe him who preserves all the rest.

So Timotheus said well, when Chares was displaying to the Athenians the wounds on his body, and his shield pierced by a dart. "Now I," said he, "when I was besieging Samos, was quite ashamed if an arrow fell near me, thinking that I was exposing myself more boyishly than was fitting for the general and leader of so important a force." In cases where the personal risk of the general is of great moment to his army, then he must fight and expose himself without stint, and disregard those who say that a general should die of old age, or at any rate, when an old man. But where the gain is small in case of success, while failure ruins everything, no one demands that the work of the common soldier be performed at the risk of the general's life.

These prefatory remarks occurred to me in writing the Lives of Pelopidas and Marcellus, great men who fell in a manner scarce worthy of themselves: for being both of them most stout in battle, and having each illustrated his country by splendid campaigns, against, too, the most terrible antagonists—the one, as we read, having routed Hannibal, who before was invincible, and the other having in a pitched battle conquered the Lacedaemonians, the ruling state by sea and land—yet they without any consideration endangered themselves and flung away their lives just at the time when there was special need for such men to live and command. And on this account I have drawn a parallel between their lives, tracing out the points of resemblance between them.

III. The family of Pelopidas, the son of Hippokles, was an honourable one at Thebes, as likewise was that of Epameinondas. Bred in great affluence, and having early succeeded to a splendid inheritance, he showed eagerness to relieve the deserving poor, that he might prove that he had become the master, not the servant of his riches. In most cases, Aristotle observes, men either do not use their wealth through narrow-mindedness, or else abuse it through extravagance, and the one class are always the slaves of their pleasures, the other of their gains.

Now, while all other persons gratefully made use of Pelopidas's liberality and kindness, Epameinondas alone could not be induced to share his wealth; he thereupon shared the other's poverty, priding himself on simplicity of dress and plainness of food, endurance of fatigue, and thoroughness in the performance of military service; like Kapaneus, in Euripides, who "had plenty of wealth, but was far from proud on account of his wealth," for he felt ashamed to be seen using more bodily luxuries than the poorest Theban citizen. Epameinondas, whose poverty was hereditary, made it lighter and more easily borne by the practice of philosophy, and by choosing from the beginning a single life; while Pelopidas made a brilliant marriage and had children born to him, yet, in spite of this, diminished his fortune by disregard of money-making and by giving up all his time to the service of his country. And when his friends blamed him, and said that he was treating lightly a necessary of life, the possession of money, "Necessary, indeed," he answered, "for Nikodemus here," pointing to a man who was a cripple and blind.

IV. They were both alike in nobleness of spirit, save that Pelopidas took more pleasure in bodily exercise, and Epameinondas in learning, and that the one in his leisure time frequented the palaestra and the hunting field, while the other would listen to and discuss philosophy. And though they have both many titles to glory, yet judicious persons think nothing so much to their credit as that their friendship should have remained from beginning to end unimpaired through so many important crises, campaigns, and administrations. For any one who considers the administrations of Aristeides and Themistokles, and Kimon and Perikles, and Nikias and Alkibiades, how full they were of mutual enmity, distrust, and jealousy, and then contrasts them with the kindness and respect shown by Pelopidas to Epameinondas, will pronounce with truth these men to have really been colleagues in government and war rather than those who were constantly struggling to get the better of one another instead of the enemy. The true cause of this was their virtue, guided by which they sought no glory or gain for themselves from their deeds, from which envious rivalry always results, but both, inflamed by a noble desire to see their country reach its climax of power and renown in their own time, used one another's successes for this purpose as if they were their own. Not but what most people think that their closest friendship arose from the campaign of Mantinea, which they made with a contingent sent from Thebes to serve with the Lacedaemonians, who were then their friends and allies. Stationed together in the ranks,[2] and fighting against the Arcadians, when the wing of the Lacedaemonian army in which they were gave way, and many took to flight, they closed up together and beat off their assailants. Pelopidas, having received seven wounds in front, fell down upon a heap of slain, friends and enemies together; but Epameinondas, though he thought him desperately[3] hurt, ran forward and stood in defence of his body and arms, risking his life alone against a multitude, determined to die rather than leave Pelopidas lying there. He too was in evil plight, with a spear wound in the breast, and a sword-cut on the arm, when Agesipolis, the Spartan king, came to the rescue from the other wing, and most unexpectedly saved the lives of both.

V. After this, the Spartans behaved towards Thebes outwardly as friends and allies, but really viewed with suspicion the spirit and strength of that state. They especially disliked the club presided over by Ismenias and Androkleides, of which Pelopidas was a member, as being of democratic and revolutionary principles. Consequently Archias and Leontidas[4] and Philippus, men of the aristocratic party, wealthy and unscrupulous, persuaded Phoebidas, a Laconian who was passing through the town with an armed force, to seize the Kadmeia[5] by surprise, and, banishing the party that opposed them, establish an aristocratic oligarchy which would be subservient to Sparta.

He was persuaded to do this, and attacked the unsuspecting Thebans during the feast of Thesmophoria. When he gained possession of the height, Ismenias was seized and conveyed to Lacedaemon, and there not long afterwards made away with. Pelopidas, Pherenikus, and Androkleides, with many others, went into exile and were outlawed by proclamation. Epameinondas stayed at home disregarded, not being thought to be a man of action, because of his philosophical habits, nor a man of any power, because of his poverty.

VI. When the Lacedaemonians removed Phoebidas from his command and fined him a hundred thousand drachmas, but nevertheless held the Kadmeia with a garrison, all the other Greeks wondered at their inconsistency, in punishing the doer but approving of the deed; but the Thebans, who had lost their old constitution and were now held in bondage by the party of Archias and Leontidas, had lost all hope of release from their tyrants, who they perceived were merely acting as a guard to the Spartan supremacy in Greece, and therefore could not be put a stop to, unless their enterprise by sea and land could also be checked. However, Leontidas and his party, learning that the exiles were living at Athens, and were popular with the people there, and respected by the upper classes, began to plot against them, and by sending thither men who were unknown to the exiles, they killed Androkleides by stratagem, but failed with the others. There came also despatches from Lacedaemon to the Athenians, ordering them not to take them in nor to meddle in the matter, but to banish the exiles, on the ground that they had been proclaimed to be public enemies by their allies. But the Athenians, who besides their natural and innate kindness were returning a debt of gratitude to the Thebans, who had been main instruments in the re-establishment of their government, and had decreed that if an Athenian should march in arms against the tyrants through Boeotia, no Boeotian should see or hear him, did the Theban exiles no harm.

VII. Now Pelopidas, although one of the youngest of the exiles, yet used to encourage each of them separately, and would make speeches to them all, pointing out that it was both dishonourable and wicked for them to endure to see their country enslaved and garrisoned by foreigners, and, caring only to save their own lives, to shelter themselves behind decrees of the Athenians, and to pay servile court to the orators who had influence with the people. Rather was it, he urged, their duty to run the greatest risk, taking pattern by the courage and patriotism of Thrasybulus, so that, as he once, starting from Thebes, drove out the thirty tyrants from Athens, they also in their turn, starting from Athens, might set Thebes free. When then he prevailed with these arguments, they sent secretly to Thebes to communicate their determination to such of their friends as were left there. They agreed, and Charon, who was the leading man among them, offered his house for their reception, and Phillidas proceeded to act as secretary to the polemarchs, Archias and Philippus. Epameinondas had long been instilling feelings of patriotism into the youth of Thebes; for in the gymnasia he would bid them lay hold of the Lacedaemonians and wrestle with them, and then seeing them pluming themselves on their success, he would upbraid them, telling them that they ought rather to feel ashamed at being, through their own cowardice, in bondage to men whom they so greatly excelled in strength.

VIII. When a day was fixed on for the attempt, the exiles determined that Pherenikus, with the main body, should remain in the Thriasian[6] plain, while a few of the youngest men ran the risk of entering the city; and if anything were to befall these men, the others would take care that neither their parents nor their children should want for necessaries. First Pelopidas volunteered for the attempt, then Mellon and Damokleides and Theopompus, men of the first families, faithful friends to one another, and ever rivals in glory and bravery. Having made up a party of twelve in all, and embraced those who were to stay, and sent a messenger before them to Charon, they set out, dressed in short cloaks, with hounds and carrying stakes for hunting nets, so that no one whom they met on the road might suspect them, but that they might seem to be merely ranging about the country and hunting. When their messenger reached Charon, and told him that they were on their way, Charon did not, even now that the danger was close to him, falter in his determination, but acted like an honourable man, and received them into his house. But one Hipposthenides, not a bad man, but one who loved his country and favoured the exiles, yet proved wanting in that audacity which this emergency, a hazardous one indeed, and the attempt they had in hand, required.

Apparently the importance of the issue with which he was dealing turned him dizzy; he with difficulty grasped the idea that, trusting in the desperate hopes of exiles, these men were in some fashion about to attempt to overthrow the Lacedaemonian government in Thebes, and the power of Sparta. He went quietly home, and sent one of his friends to Mellon and Pelopidas, bidding them put off their design for the present, to go back to Athens, and await a better opportunity. Chlidon was the name of the messenger, and he hurriedly went to his own house, and, leading out his horse, asked for his bridle. His wife was at her wit's end, as she had it not to give him, but she said that she had lent it to a neighbour. Hereupon there was a quarrel, and words of ill omen were used, for his wife said that she wished it might be a bad journey for him, and for those that sent him; so that Chlidon, having wasted a great part of the day in this squabble, and also drawing a bad augury from what had happened, gave up his journey altogether, and betook himself to something else. So near was this greatest and most glorious of his adventures of missing its opportunity at its very outset.

IX. Now Pelopidas and his party changed their clothes with country people, and separating, came into the city by different ways while it was still daylight. There was a strong wind, and the weather was snowy, so that they were the less noticed, as most people had betaken themselves to their houses on account of the storm; but those who were in the plot met them as they entered, and brought them to Charon's house. With the exiles, they amounted to forty-eight in all.

As to their oppressors, Phillidas the secretary, who had been working with the exiles and knew all their plans, having long before invited Archias and his friends to a wine party to meet certain courtesans, intended to endeavour to hand them over to their assailants in as enervated and intoxicated a condition as possible. However before they were very far gone in liquor a rumour was brought to their ears, which, although true, was without confirmation and very vague, to the effect that the exiles were concealed in the city. Though Phillidas endeavoured to change the subject, still Archias sent one of his servants to Charon, ordering him to come instantly. Now it was evening, and Pelopidas and his party were preparing themselves, in the house, and had already got their corslets on, and had girt on their swords. Suddenly, a knock was heard at the door. One of them ran out, and hearing the servant say that Charon had been sent for by the polemarchs, he in great trepidation brought the news to the rest. At once it occurred to all that the plot had been betrayed, and that they all were lost, without even having done anything worthy of their courage. Yet they agreed that Charon should comply with the summons and that he should unsuspiciously present himself before the Spartan chiefs. He was a man of courage, and slow to lose heart, but now he was panic-stricken and terrified lest when so many brave citizens lost their lives, some suspicion of treachery might rest on himself. So, just when he was going, he brought his son from the women's apartments, a boy still, but in beauty and strength surpassing all of his own age, and handed him over to Pelopidas's party, bidding them treat him as an enemy and show no mercy, if they should find him guilty of any deceit or treachery. Many of them shed tears at the feeling shown by Charon, and his noble spirit, and all felt shame, that he should think any of them so base and so affected by their present danger, as to suspect him or even to blame him, and they begged him not to mix up his son with them, but put him out of the way of the coming stroke, that he might be saved and escape from the tyrants, and some day return and avenge his father and his friends. But Charon refused to take away his son, for what life, he asked, or what place of safety could be more honourable to him than an easy death with his father and so many friends? After praying and embracing them all, and bidding them be of good cheer, he went away, taking great pains to adopt a look and tone of voice as different as possible to that of a conspirator.

X. When he came to the door, Archias and Philippus met him and said, "Charon, I have heard that some people have come here, and are concealed in the city, and that some of the citizens are in league with them." Charon was at first disconcerted, but then enquired who these persons might be, and who they were that gave them shelter. Seeing then that Archias knew nothing for certain, he perceived that the news did not come from any one who knew the truth. "Take care," said he, "that this be not a mere idle rumour that is alarming you. However, I will make due enquiries; for we ought not to disregard anything." Phillidas, who was present, expressed his approval of this, and carrying Archias back again plied him with liquor, prolonging his debauch by holding out the expectation of the women.

Now when Charon returned to his house, he found the conspirators there prepared to fight, not expecting to survive or to win the day, but to die gloriously and kill as many of their enemies as possible. He told Pelopidas's party the truth, and made up some story about Archias to satisfy the others. This storm was just blown over when Fortune sent a second upon them. A messenger came from Athens, from Archias the hierophant[7] to his namesake Archias the Spartan, whose guest and friend he was, bearing a letter which contained no vague and conjectural suspicion, but a detailed account of all that was being done, as was afterwards discovered. Now the messenger, when brought before Archias who was drunk, gave him the letter, and said, "He who sent you this letter bade you read it instantly, for he said it was written about most serious matters." Archias laughing, said, "Serious matters to-morrow." He took the letter and placed it under the pillow on which he rested, and again listened to Phillidas about what they were talking of before. This story, handed down in the form of a proverb, is current among the Greeks even now.

XI. As the hour for the attempt seemed now to have arrived, they sallied forth, in two bodies: the one, under Pelopidas and Damokleides, to attack Leontidas and Hypates, who lived near one another, while the other, under Charon and Mellon, went to Archias and Philippus, with women's gowns over their steel corslets, and their faces concealed by thick wreaths of fir and pine wood; and so when first they entered the door of the dining-room they caused great applause and disturbance, as the guests imagined that the long-expected ladies had at length come. They looked carefully round the party, and having ascertained who each of the guests were, they drew their swords, and made for Archias and Philippus. When they thus betrayed themselves, Phillidas persuaded some few of the guests to remain quiet, but the rest, who rose and tried to assist the polemarchs, were easily disposed of on account of their drunken condition.

The task of Pelopidas and his party was a harder one; for they went to attack Leontidas, a sober and brave man, and, finding his house shut up, for he was already asleep, they knocked for some time without rousing any one. At length the servant heard them and came and drew back the bolt of the door; then, as soon as the leaves of the door yielded they burst in in a body, and upsetting the servant made for the bedchamber. Leontidas, guessing from the noise and confusion what was going on, started up and seized his dagger, but he forgot to put out the light, and make the men fall upon each other in the darkness. In full view of them, in a blaze of light, he met them at his chamber door, and with a blow of his dagger struck down Kephisodorus, the first man who entered. As he fell dead Leontidas grappled with the next, Pelopidas. The struggle was a fierce one and rendered difficult by the narrow passage and the corpse of Kephisodorus lying in it, but at length Pelopidas gained the upper hand, and having despatched him, immediately went with his party to attack Hypates. And in the same way they broke into his house, but he heard them sooner, and fled away to the neighbours, but was pursued and slain.

XII. Having accomplished this, and joined Mellon's party, they sent word to the remaining exiles in Attica, and called together the citizens to complete their deliverance, and as they came, gave them arms, taking down the trophies which hung in the public colonnades, and breaking into the workshops of spear-makers and sword-cutlers. And Epameinondas and Gorgidas, with their party, came to help them, armed; for they had collected together no small number of the younger men and the strongest of the elder ones. By this time the whole city was roused, and there was great confusion, lights flitting about, and people running to one another's houses, but the people had not yet assembled, but being alarmed at what had happened, and knowing nothing for certain, they waited for daylight. And here the generals of the Lacedaemonian garrison seem to have missed an opportunity in not at once sallying out and attacking them, for the garrison itself consisted of 1500 men, and many people kept running to them for refuge from the city; however, alarmed at the shouts and fires and mass of people assembling from all parts, they remained quiet, holding the Kadmeia only. At daybreak arrived the exiles from Attica, fully armed, and the public assembly met. Epameinondas and Gorgidas led forward the band of Pelopidas, surrounded by the priests, who crowned them with wreaths, and called upon the citizens to fight for their country and their gods. The whole assembly, with shouts and applause, rose at the sight, and received them as their benefactors and saviours.

XIII. After this, Pelopidas, who was chosen Boeotarch,[8] with Mellon and Charon as colleagues, at once blockaded the citadel, and made assaults upon it on all sides, being eager to drive out the Lacedaemonians and recover the Kadmeia before an army should come upon them from Sparta. And so little time had he to spare, that the garrison, when going home after their capitulation, met at Megara Kleombrotus, marching with a great force against Thebes. Of the three men who had been governors of Thebes, the Spartans condemned two, Herippidas and Arkissus, to death, and the third, Lysanorides, was heavily fined and banished.

This adventure was called by the Greeks the "sister" of that of Thrasybulus, as it resembled it in the bravery and personal risk of its chief actors, and was, like the other, favoured by fortune. It is difficult to mention any other persons, who with fewer numbers and scantier means than these, conquered men more numerous and powerful than themselves, by sheer daring and ability, or who conferred greater blessings on their own countries; and that which made this more remarkable was the change which it effected. The war which destroyed the prestige of Sparta, and put an end to her empire by sea and land, began in that night, in which Pelopidas, without having made himself master of any fort, stronghold, or citadel, but merely coming to a private house with eleven others, loosed and broke to pieces, if we may use a true metaphor, the chains of Lacedaemonian supremacy, which seemed fixed and immovable.

XIV. Now when a great Lacedaemonian army invaded Boeotia, the Athenians manifested great alarm. They repudiated their alliance with the Thebans, and impeached those who had shown Boeotian sympathies; some of these men were put to death, others fined and banished. The case of the Thebans seemed desperate, as no one offered to help them; but Pelopidas, who with Gorgidas was Boeotarch, contrived to alienate the Athenians from Sparta by the following plot. Sphodrias, a Spartan, of great renown in the wars, but somewhat flighty and prone to wild enterprises and reckless ambition, had been left near Thespiae with an army, to receive and assist those Thebans[9] who were now sent into exile because they favoured the Lacedaemonians. Pelopidas sent secretly to this man a merchant, a friend of his own, who gave him a bribe, and also made proposals which fascinated him more than the money, that he should attempt some enterprise on a great scale, and surprise Peiraeus by a sudden attack when the Athenians were off their guard: for the Lacedaemonians would be better pleased with the capture of Athens than with anything else, and the Thebans would not assist them, for they were at variance with them and regarded them as traitors. At length Sphodrias was prevailed upon to agree to this, and, with his soldiery, invaded Attica by night. He got as far as Eleusis, but there the soldiers lost heart, and the attempt was detected. So, having involved the Spartans in a war of no slight importance, he retired to Thespiae.

XV. Upon this the Athenians again most eagerly allied themselves with the Thebans, and, aspiring to supremacy at sea, sent embassies round to the other maritime states, and brought over to their own side those who were willing to revolt from the Spartans. Meanwhile the Thebans, alone in their country of Boeotia, constantly skirmishing with the Lacedaemonians, and not fighting any great battles with them, but organising themselves with the greatest care and discipline, began to pluck up spirit, gaining skill from practice, and becoming confident from the result of these encounters. This was why they say that Antalkidas the Spartan, when King Agesilaus was being carried home wounded from Boeotia, said to him, "Indeed, you are receiving nice lessons from the Thebans, now that you have taught them how to fight against their will." But their real teacher was not Agesilaus, but those who, seizing fit opportunities, and with due management, skilfully used to let them loose upon their enemies, as men train young mastiffs, and then when they had tasted victory and self-confidence brought them safely back. Of these leaders Pelopidas received the chief credit. From the year in which he was first elected general they never ceased to re-elect him, and he was always either in command of the Sacred Band or most commonly acting as Boeotarch until his death. There took place also about Plataea and Thespiae defeats and routs of the Lacedaemonians, in which Phoebidas, who seized the Kadmeia, perished; and Pelopidas routed a number of them near Tanagra, and slew Panthoides the governor. Still, although these skirmishes raised the spirits and confidence of the victors, yet they did not cast down the pride of the vanquished; for they were not regular battles, but the Thebans won their successes by well-timed charges and harassing the enemy by alternate retreat and advance.

However, the affair at Tegyra, which in a manner was preliminary to that at Leuktra, won Pelopidas a great reputation; for there was no question of any other general having assisted in the design of the battle, nor of the enemy being thoroughly routed. The city of Orchomenus had taken the Spartan side, and had received two moras[10] of Spartan troops for its protection. He always had his eye upon this place, and watched his opportunity. Hearing that the garrison had made an expedition into Lokris, he marched, hoping to catch Orchomenus defenceless, taking with him the Sacred Band and a few cavalry. When he came to the city he found that the garrison had been relieved by fresh troops from Sparta, and so he led off his men homewards through Tegyra, the only way that he could, by a circuitous route at the foot of the mountains; for the river Melas, which from its very source spreads into morasses and quagmires, made the direct way impassable.

Near the marshes stands a temple of Apollo of Tegyra and an oracle, which is now forsaken; it has not been long so, but flourished up to the Persian War, when Echekrates was priest. There the myths say that the god was born; and the neighbouring mountain is called Delos, and there the overflowings of the river Melas cease, while behind the temple there flow two springs remarkable for the sweetness, coldness, and volume of their waters, which we up to this day call, the one "The Palm," and the other "The Olive," as though the goddess had not been delivered between two trees, but two fountains. Indeed, close by is the Ptouem, whence they say that she was driven in terror by the sudden apparition of a wild boar, and with regard to the legends of Tityos and Pytho, the localities are in like manner associated with the birth of the god. I omit the greater part of these proofs, for our ancestral religion tells us that this god is not to be ranked among those divinities who were born as men, like Herakles and Dionysus, and by their merits were translated from this earthly and suffering body, but he is one of the eternal ones who know no birth, if one may form any conjecture upon such matters from the writings of our wisest and most ancient writers.

XVII. At Tegyra, then, Pelopidas and the Thebans retiring from Orchomenus met the Lacedaemonians marching back from Lokris, in the opposite direction. When they were first descried coming out from the narrow gorges of the hills, some one ran to Pelopidas, and cried out, "We have fallen into the midst of the enemy!" "Why so," asked he, "more than they into the midst of us?" He at once ordered his cavalry to the front to charge the enemy first, and closed up his infantry, three hundred in number, into a compact body, trusting that wherever he attacked the enemy he should break through, although they outnumbered him. They consisted of two moras of Lacedaemonians: now Ephorus says that a mora consists of 500 men, but Kallisthenes says 700, and some other authorities, and amongst them Polybius, put it at 900.

Gorgoleon and Theopompus, the polemarchs in command of the Spartans, moved confidently to the attack of the Thebans; and the onset was directed on both sides, with great fury, specially at the persons of the leaders. The two polemarchs dashed against Pelopidas, and both fell; then the slaughter of their immediate followers produced a panic in the whole force, and it gave way to the Thebans, opening a lane through the centre as if for them to pass through. But when Pelopidas led his men into the passage thus offered, and assailed those who stood their ground, passing through it with great slaughter, then all fled in hopeless rout.

The pursuit was not pressed far, for the Thebans feared the vicinity of Orchomenus and of the Spartan reinforcement there; but as far as winning the victory, and forcing their way through the beaten enemy, they were completely successful; so after setting up a trophy and spoiling the dead they returned home in high spirits. For in all the wars which had previously taken place, both with Greeks and barbarians, it never before had happened that Lacedaemonians should be conquered by an inferior force, nor yet even when the numbers on each side were equal. Wherefore they were invincible in their own estimation, and established an ascendant over the minds of their opponents, for they were wont to engage with men who did not themselves think that with equal force they could be a match for the same number of Spartans. But this battle first proved to the rest of Greece that it is not only the Eurotas, and the country between Babuke and Knacion[11] that nurtures brave and warlike men, but that wherever the youth of a nation fears disgrace and is willing to risk life for honour, and shrinks from shame more than from danger, these form the troops most terrible to their foes.

XVIII. The Sacred Band, they say, was first formed by Gorgidas, of 300 picked men, whom the city drilled and lodged in the Kadmeia when on service, wherefore they were called the "city" regiment; for people then generally called the citadel the "city." Some say that this force was composed of intimate friends, and indeed there is current a saying of Pammenes, that Homer's Nestor is not a good general when he bids the Greeks assemble by their tribes and clans:

"That tribe to tribe, and clan to clan give aid,"

whereas he ought to have placed side by side men who loved each other, for men care little in time of danger for men of the same tribe or clan, whereas the bond of affection is one that cannot be broken, as men will stand fast in battle from the strength of their affection for others, and from feeling shame at showing themselves cowards before them. Nor is this to be wondered at, seeing that men stand more in awe of the objects of their love when they are absent than they do of others when present, as was the case with that man who begged and entreated one of the enemy to stab him in the breast as he lay wounded, "in order," said he, "that my friend may not see me lying dead with a wound in the back, and be ashamed of me." And Iolaus, the favourite of Herakles, is said to have taken part in his labours and to have accompanied him; and Aristotle says that even in his own time lovers would make their vows at the tomb of Iolaus.

It is probable, therefore, that the Sacred Band was so named, because Plato also speaks of a lover as a friend inspired from Heaven. Up to the battle of Chaeronea it is said to have continued invincible, and when Philip stood after the battle viewing the slain, in that part of the field where the Three Hundred lay dead in their armour, heaped upon one another, having met the spears of his phalanx face to face, he wondered at the sight, and learning that it was the Band of Lovers, burst into tears, and said, "Perish those who suspect those men of doing or enduring anything base."

XIX. As to these intimacies between friends, it was not, as the poets say, the disaster of Laius which first introduced the custom into Thebes, but their lawgivers, wishing to soften and improve the natural violence and ferocity of their passions, used music largely in their education, both in sport and earnest, giving the flute especial honour, and by mixing the youth together in the palaestra, produced many glorious examples of mutual affection. Rightly too did they establish in their city that goddess who is said to be the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, Harmonia; since, wherever warlike power is duly blended with eloquence and refinement, there all things tend to the formation of a harmonious and perfect commonwealth.

Now, as to the Sacred Band, Gorgidas originally placed them in the first rank, and so spread them all along the first line of battle, and did not by this means render their valour so conspicuous, nor did he use them in a mass for any attack, but their courage was weakened by so large an infusion of inferior soldiery; but Pelopidas, after the splendid display of their valour under his own eye at Tegyra, never separated or scattered them, but would stand the brunt of battle, using them as one body. For as horses driven in a chariot go faster than those going loose, not because they more easily cleave the air when galloping in a solid body, but because their rivalry and racing with one another kindles, their spirit, so he imagined that brave men, inciting each other to an emulation in adventure, would prove most useful and forward when acting in one body.

XX. When the Lacedaemonians made peace with all the other Greeks and attacked the Thebans alone, and Kleombrotus, their king, invaded Boeotia with ten thousand hoplites and a thousand cavalry, the danger was not that they should be reduced to their former condition, but absolute destruction plainly threatened their city, and such terror prevailed as never before had been in Boeotia. Pelopidas, when leaving his house, as his wife wept at parting with him and begged him to be careful of his life, answered, "My dear, this is very good advice for private soldiers, but we who are commanders must think about saving the lives of others." When he reached the camp, he found the Boeotarchs differing in opinion, and he at once gave his voice for the plan of Epameinondas, who voted for battle. He was not named Boeotarch, but he was in command of the Sacred Band, and enjoyed great confidence, as was only just a man should who had given such proofs of patriotism.

When, then, they had determined to face the enemy, and taken up a position at Leuktra opposite to the Spartan army, Pelopidas saw a vision in his sleep which greatly disturbed him. In the plain of Leuktra there are the tombs of the daughters of Skedasus, whom they call Leuktridae because of the place of their burial; for there it was that they were buried after they had been violated by some Spartan strangers. When this base and impious deed was done, their father, as he could get no satisfaction from the Lacedaemonians, invoked curses upon the Spartan race, and slew himself at the tombs of his daughters. Oracles and legends always had warned the Spartans to beware of the vengeance of Leuktra, though most of them did not understand it, and were not clear as to the place, since a small sea-side town in Laconia is also called Leuktron, and there is a place of the same name near Megalopolis in Arcadia, and, also, this crime was committed a long time before the battle.

XXI. So now Pelopidas, when asleep in the camp, seemed to see the maidens weeping over their tombs and invoking curses on the Spartans, and Skedasus, who bade him sacrifice a red virgin to the maidens, if he wished to conquer his enemies. And as this command seemed to him shocking and impious, he started up and consulted the prophets and the generals. Some of them forbade him to neglect or disobey the warning, quoting the famous old instances of Menaekeus the son of Kreon and Makaria the daughter of Herakles, and, in later times, Pherekydes the philosopher, who was killed by the Lacedaemonians, and whose skin, according to some oracle, is still kept by their kings, and Leonidas, who following the oracle did in some sort offer himself as a victim on behalf of Greece; and futhermore they spoke of those persons whom Themistokles sacrificed to Dionysus before the sea-fight at Salamis. All these are verified by the success which followed them. And again, Agesilaus when starting from the same place that Agamemnon did to fight the same enemies, was asked by the god, during a vision at Aulis, to give him his daughter as a sacrifice; but he did not give her, but by his softheartedness ruined the expedition, which ingloriously failed. Others spoke on the other side, urging that so barbarous and impious a sacrifice could not be pleasing to any of the powers above, for, they said, it is not the Typhons and giants of legend that rule in heaven, but the father of all gods and men. To believe that there are deities that delight in the blood and slaughter of mankind is probably a foolish fancy; but if there be such, it is our duty to disregard them and treat them as powerless, for these strange and shocking desires can only take their origin and exist in feeble and depraved minds.

XXII. While the chiefs of the army were engaged in this discussion, and Pelopidas especially was at a loss what to do, a filly escaped from some horses at pasture, and running through the ranks stopped opposite them. They admired her coat shining with the brightest red, and the mettled courage of her neigh, but Theokritus the prophet, comprehending what was meant, called to Pelopidas: "Happy man! Here is your victim; let us not expect any other virgin, but take the gift the gods provide you." Hereupon they caught the filly and led it to the tombs of the maidens. Here, after prayer, they hung garlands on the tombs, and made the sacrifice with joy, explaining to the whole army the vision of Pelopidas and their reasons for the sacrifice.

XXIII. In the battle, Epameinondas brought his main body slantingly towards the left, in order that the Spartan right might be drawn as far as possible away from the other Greeks, and that by falling violently on Kleombrotus with his whole force on that wing, he might overpower and crush him. The enemy, perceiving what was being done, began to alter their own formation, extending their right, with the intention of outflanking and enveloping Epameinondas. At this moment Pelopidas charged with the Three Hundred in serried ranks. He caught the Lacedaemonians in a moment of confusion, when they were not standing ready to make an attack, for Kleombrotus had not time either to extend his right, or to bring the troops back again and close up the ranks. Yet the Spartans, skilled as they were to the highest pitch in war, had been specially educated and practised in changing their formation without disorder or confusion; each man used any other as his right-hand or rear-rank man, and wherever danger threatened they would meet it, forming and fighting simultaneously. But now, when the main Theban phalanx under Epameinondas, projecting before all the rest of the line, bore down upon them, and when Pelopidas, by a charge of inconceivable speed and daring was already amongst their ranks, their spirit and discipline was so shaken that the rout and slaughter of the Spartans was such as had never been before. In this victory and success as much glory belonged to Pelopidas, though not one of the generals, and only in command of a few men, as to Epameinondas, who was Boeotarch and leader of the whole force.

XXIV. In the invasion of Peloponnesus they were both Boeotarchs, and they brought over to their side most of the nations there, for they detached from the Lacedaemonian alliance Elis, Argos, the whole of Arcadia, and most part of Laconia itself. It was mid-winter, a few days only remained of the last month, and with the new year the law was that the commands should be delivered up and new generals chosen. Death was the penalty in case of disobedience, and all the other Boeotarchs, fearing this law and wishing to avoid the severe weather, wished to withdraw the army homewards, but Pelopidas first, supported by Epameinondas, encouraged his fellow citizens, and crossed the Eurotas. He took many of their towns and wasted all their country up to the sea-coast, with an army of 70,000 Greeks, of whom the Thebans formed less than a twelfth part. But the great reputation which these men enjoyed made the rest follow them without any formal vote or decree to do so; for the first and most fundamental law is that which makes men in need of help follow him who can save them; and even if, like men sailing on a calm sea or anchored close to port, they sometimes murmur at and brave their pilot, yet in time of danger and storm they look up to him and place all their hopes in him, so the Argives and Eleans and Arcadians would at the council-board dispute the Theban claims to supremacy, but in war and at critical moments they of their own accord obeyed the Theban generals. In this campaign, Arcadia was consolidated into one state; they also separated Messenia, which had been annexed by the Spartans, and bringing back the Messenian exiles established them in the old capital, Ithome. On their homeward march through Kenchreae they gained a victory over the Athenians, who attempted to harass them and hinder their march through the narrow isthmus of Corinth.

XXV. After these exploits all men were full of admiration and wonder at their courage and success, but at home the envious feelings of their countrymen and political opponents, which grew along with the growth of their renown, prepared a most scurvy reception for them. On their return they were both tried for their lives, on the ground that whereas the law is that during the first month of the year, which they call Boukation, the Boeotarchs must lay down their office, they had held it for four additional months, during which they had been settling the affairs of Messenia, Laconia, and Arcadia. Pelopidas was tried first, and so incurred the greater danger, but both were acquitted.

Epameinondas, who thought that true courage and magnanimity was best shown by forbearance in political strife, bore this contemptible attack with patience, but Pelopidas, who was of a hotter temper, and whose friends encouraged him to revenge, chose this for its opportunity. Menekleides the orator had been one of the conspirators who came with Pelopidas and Mellon to Charon's house. As, after the revolution, he did not obtain equal rights with the rest, being a man of great ability in speaking, but reckless and ill-conditioned, he took to using his powers to slander and assail the men in power, and was not silenced even by the result of that trial. He got Epameinondas turned out of his office of Boeotarch, and for a long time succeeded in lessening his influence in the state; but Pelopidas he could not misrepresent to the people, so he endeavoured to make a quarrel between him and Charon. He used the usual method of detractors, who if they themselves be inferior to the object of their spite, try at any rate to prove that he is inferior to some one else; and having the ear of the people, he was ever singing the praises of Charon, and uttering panegyrics on his skill and his success. He endeavoured to set up a memorial of the cavalry battle at Plataea, before the battle of Leuktra, in which the Thebans under Charon were victorious, in the following manner. Androkydes of Kyzikus had been entrusted by the state with the task of painting a picture of some other battle, and had been engaged on it at Thebes. When the war broke out, this picture, nearly completed, was left in the hands of the Thebans; and Menekleides persuaded them to put it up publicly and to write on it the name of Charon, in order to throw the glory of Pelopidas and Epameinondas into the shade; a silly exhibition of ill-feeling indeed, to compare one poor skirmish, in which Gerandas, an obscure Spartan, and some forty men fell, with the great and important services of the others.

Pelopidas indicted this proposal as illegal, arguing that it was not the custom of the Thebans to show honour to individuals, but to keep alive the name of a victory for the glory of the country at large. He bestowed unmeasured praise upon Charon throughout the trial, and proved Menekleides to be a malignant slanderer. He was fined a large sum, and not being able to pay it, subsequently endeavoured to bring about a revolution in the state; by which one gains some insight into his character.

XXVI. Alexander, the tyrant of Pherae, was at this time at open war with many states of Thessaly, and threatened the independence of all. Ambassadors from these states were sent to Thebes, begging for a military force and a general to be despatched to their assistance. Pelopidas, since Epameinondas was busy settling the affairs of Peloponnesus, offered himself to the Thessalians, as he could not bear that his talents and skill should lie idle, and he thought that where Epameinondas was, no second general could be needed. So he marched with a sufficient army into Thessaly, took Larissa, and, when Alexander begged for terms of peace, endeavoured to convert him into a mild and law-abiding ruler. But he, a wild, desperate, cruel barbarian, when he was accused of insolent and grasping practices, and Pelopidas used harsh and angry language, went off in a rage, with his body-guard. Pelopidas, having relieved the Thessalians from fear of the tyrant, and reconciled them one to another, proceeded to Macedonia. Here Ptolemy was at war with Alexander the king of Macedonia, and each of them had sent for him to act as arbitrator and judge between them, thinking that he would right whichever of them should prove to have been wronged. He came, and settled their dispute, and after bringing back the exiled party, took Philip, the king's brother, and thirty other sons of the noblest families as hostages, and kept them at Thebes, to show the Greeks how far the Theban policy extended, merely through its reputation for power and for justice.

This was that Philip who afterwards endeavoured to enslave Greece; at that time he was but a lad, and lived in the house of Pammenes. On this account he was thought to be an imitator of Epameinondas, and perhaps he did take to heart that great man's energy in war, which was one of his virtues, but as to the spirit of self-restraint, justice, magnanimity and mildness, which formed the true greatness of his character, of this Philip neither by nature or education had the least idea.

XXVII. After these events, the Thessalians again complained of Alexander of Pherae for attacking their cities, and Pelopidas and Ismenias were sent as ambassadors to them. Pelopidas, however, brought no army with him, as no war was expected, and was forced to make use of the native Thessalians in this emergency. As affairs in Macedonia had again fallen into disorder (for Ptolemy had assassinated the king, and was in possession of the sovereignty, while the friends of the deceased invited Pelopidas to interfere), he wished to do something; and having no troops of his own, he hired some local mercenaries and marched off at once against Ptolemy. When they drew near to each other, Ptolemy by bribes induced the mercenaries to desert to himself, but, fearing the mere name and prestige of Pelopidas, he went out to him as though he were the more powerful of the two, and after greeting him and begging him to be his friend, he agreed to hold the kingdom in trust for the brothers of the deceased king, and to form a defensive and offensive alliance with Thebes. For the fulfilment of these conditions he gave as hostages his own son Philoxenus and fifty of his companions, whom Pelopidas sent to Thebes, but as he was angry at the desertion of his mercenaries, and learned that their property, wives and children were for the most part placed in Pharsalus, so that by capturing that place he could make them pay the penalty of their crime, he got together a force of Thessalians and came to Pharsalus. When he was just arrived, Alexander the tyrant appeared with his army. Pelopidas and his friends supposed that he had come to establish his innocence, and went to meet him, knowing him to be profligate and bloodthirsty, yet fearing no harm, because of the name of Thebes and their own personal prestige. But he, when he saw them approaching him unarmed and alone, at once secured them and took Pharsalus, striking fear and terror into all his subjects; for they expected that after an act of such daring lawlessness he would spare no one, but treat them as one who had made up his mind to lose his own life.

XXVIII. The Thebans when they heard of this were greatly moved, and at once despatched an army to the rescue, but on account of some quarrel with Epameinondas they appointed others to the command. The tyrant took Pelopidas to Pherae, and at first allowed any who chose to converse with him, supposing that he would be cast down and humbled by his misfortunes; but when the people of Pherae came to lament over him, Pelopidas bade them be of good courage, as now if ever the tyrant would have to pay the penalty of his crimes: and he sent a message to the tyrant himself, saving that he was a strange man, to torture and murder his wretched and innocent citizens every day, and to spare him, who he knew would be sure to wreak vengeance on him if he should escape. The tyrant, admiring his spirit and fearlessness, said, "What! does Pelopidas wish to die?" The other, hearing of this answered, "Yes, that you may become even more hateful to heaven than you are now, and so may die sooner."

Hereupon he prevented the people from having access to him, but Thebe, the daughter of Jason, and Alexander's wife, having heard from the guards of Pelopidas of his daring and nobleness, desired to see the man and converse with him. When she was come she did not, woman-like, at once perceive the greatness of his mind in the position in which he was, but judging from his short-cut hair, his dress and his food, that he was treated ill and not as became such a man, she wept. Pelopidas, not knowing at first who she was, was surprised at this, but, when he knew her, addressed her by her father's name, for he was a companion and friend of Jason. When she said, "I pity your wife," "So do I pity you," answered he, "that without being a prisoner you stay with Alexander." This speech somehow touched the lady, for she was grieved at the ferocity and licentiousness of the tyrant, who, besides his other atrocities, had debauched her youngest brother. She constantly visited Pelopidas, and, talking to him of her sufferings, became filled with courage, and with hatred of Alexander.

XXIX. The Theban generals invaded Thessaly, but through incompetence or misfortune effected nothing, and had to retreat in disgrace. The state fined them ten thousand drachmas, but sent Epameinondas with the army. There was at once a great fluttering of hope among the cities of Thessaly at the reputation of that general, and the cause of the tyrant tottered to its fall, such fear fell upon his officers and friends, and such a longing to subvert his government upon his subjects, who viewed the future with hope, as now they expected to see the tyrant meet with his deserts. However, Epameinondas, disregarding his own glory in comparison with the safety of Pelopidas, and fearing that if Alexander were driven to despair by seeing his kingdom falling to pieces, he might turn upon him like a wild beast, conducted the war remissly. By degrees and after slow preparation he surrounded the tyrant and confined him to one spot, so as to be able to check any attack that he might venture on, and yet not to excite his savage and ferocious nature; for he had heard of his cruelty and disregard of what is right, and how he would bury men alive, and dress them in the skins of wild boars and bears and then set dogs at them and hunt them with spears, making this his sport, and how he surrounded two peaceful cities, Meliboea and Skottusa, with his body-guard when the inhabitants were at their public assembly, and slew them all from the youth upwards, and how he had consecrated and crowned the spear with which he killed his uncle Polyphron, and used to address prayers to it and call it the Slayer. Once when he saw a tragedian performing Euripides' tragedy, the 'Troades,' he went suddenly out of the theatre, and sent a message to him to be of good courage, and not act worse for this, for he had not left the house because he disliked his acting, but because he felt ashamed that the citizens should see him weeping at the woes of Hekuba and Andromache, though he never had pitied any of the people whom he had put to death himself. But he, terrified by the prestige and reputation of Epameinondas for strategy,

"Let fall his feathers like a craven cock,"

and quickly sent an embassy to him to make peace. Epameinondas scorned to make a treaty of peace and friendship between the Thebans and such a man, but agreed to an armistice for thirty days, and taking Pelopidas and Ismenias returned home.

XXX. When the Thebans heard that ambassadors were being sent from Athens and Sparta to the Great King to make an alliance with him, they also sent Pelopidas, a step most advantageous to his reputation. As he went on his journey through the Persian provinces he excited the greatest admiration, for the fame of his victories over the Lacedaemonians had spread trumpet-tongued through Asia, and from the time of his first success at Leuktra it had begun to reach far and wide, some new exploit being ever added to it, till it reached to the furthest peoples. Next, when he reached the court, he was an object of wonder and interest to the satraps, generals, and officers there. "This is the man," they said, "who destroyed the Lacedaemonian dominion over sea and land, and who reduced to the little state at the foot of Taygetus by the Eurotas, that Sparta which a little while before went to war under Agesilaus with the Great King himself about Susa and Ecbatana." At this Artaxerxes himself was pleased, and admired Pelopidas and showed him great honour, as he wished it to appear that he was courted and sought after by the most powerful Greeks. After an interview, in which he found that he spoke with sounder sense than the Athenians, and greater simplicity than the Spartans, he esteemed him still more, and after the fashion of monarchs, did not conceal his regard, but let the other ambassadors see plainly that he was highest in favour. Of all the Greeks he showed Antalkidas the greatest honour, when he took off his own wreath of flowers at table and dipping it in scent, gave it him to put on. He attempted no such refinements with Pelopidas, but gave him presents, more splendid and valuable than was customary, and assented to his proposals that all Greek states should be independent, that Messenia should be reconstituted, and that the Thebans should be accounted the king's old friends.

With these answers, and none of the presents except such as were pledges of friendship and good will, he returned, to the great discredit of the other ambassadors. The Athenians condemned and executed Timagoras, and if it was for the amount of presents which he received, rightly enough; for he not only took silver and gold, but a costly bed and slaves to make it, as if Greeks did not know how, and also eighty cows and their herdsmen, on the pretence of wanting cow's milk for some weakness that he suffered from; and at last he went down to the sea-coast carried in a palanquin, and four talents were given by the king to his bearers—still, it does not seem to have been his venality which especially disgusted the Athenians. At any rate, Epikrates, called the "Bearded," once brought a motion before the assembly that instead of electing nine archons yearly they should send nine poor citizens as ambassadors to the Great King, that they might be enriched by him, at which there was great laughter. But it was because of the success of the Thebans that they were so vexed, not reflecting on the power of Pelopidas's name, and how far it outweighed all their rhetoric in the estimation of one who always inclined to the stronger side.

XXXI. On his return, Pelopidas was welcomed with no little gratitude because he had re-established Messenia, and obtained freedom for all other Greeks. But Alexander of Pherae had relapsed into his old courses, and had ravaged the territory of many cities of Thessaly. The Phthiot Achaeans and Magnetes formed a league to oppose him, and hearing of Pelopidas's return, these cities sent to Thebes begging for a force to help them and for him as its general. The Thebans willingly decreed this, but when all was ready and the general was about to march, the sun was eclipsed and darkness fell upon the city. Pelopidas, seeing that all men were disheartened at this, thought that it was useless to force frightened men full of presage of evil, to march with him, nor did he like to risk the lives of six thousand citizens, but he offered his own services to the Thessalians, and took with him three hundred horsemen, volunteers and men of other states. With this force he started, though forbidden by the prophets and against the will of his fellow citizens, who all held that a great portent had been shown in heaven about some celebrated man. However, he was all the fiercer against Alexander, remembering his own sufferings, and hoping from his conversations with Thebe, that by this time his own family would have turned against him. He was also much encouraged by the glory of the action, that, at a time when the Lacedaemonians were sending out generals and governors to help Dionysius the Sicilian tyrant, and when the Athenians had Alexander in their pay, and had even set up a bronze statue of him as a public benefactor, he might show the Greeks that it was the Thebans alone who took up arms in defence of the oppressed, and who put an end to the violent and illegal rule of despots in Greece.

XXXII. When he had come to Pharsalus and collected his army there, he marched straight to attack Alexander. But he, seeing that Pelopidas's force of Thebans was small, while he had more than double his numbers of Thessalian hoplites, met him near the shrine of Thetis. When some one said to Pelopidas that the tyrant was coming on with a great force, he answered. "So much the better, for we shall conquer more."

Between the two armies, near the place called Kynoskephalae, or the Dog's Heads, were some high and isolated hills. Each party tried to occupy these with their infantry, but Pelopidas, knowing his cavalry to be numerous and good, sent it to charge that of the enemy. The enemy's horse was routed, and pursued over the plain, but meanwhile Alexander had secured the hills, and when the Thessalian infantry came afterwards, and tried to force their way up the hill into that strong position, he was able to cut down the foremost, while the rest suffered from his missiles and could do nothing. Pelopidas now recalled the cavalry, and sent it to attack the enemy's position in flank, while he himself took his shield and ran to join the infantry in their fight on the hill. Pushing his way through their ranks till he reached the front he infused such strength and ardour into them, that the enemy thought that they attacked with new bodies as well as new spirit. They repulsed one or two assaults, but seeing that the infantry resolutely came on, and also that the cavalry had returned from its pursuit and was threatening their flank, they made an orderly retreat. Pelopidas, when he gained the height, saw below him the whole of the enemy not yet beaten, but confused and shaken. He stood still and looked around him, seeking Alexander himself. When he saw him, on the right, rallying and encouraging his mercenaries, he could no longer restrain his rage, but kindling at the sight, and, reckless of his own person and of his duties as a general, rushed far beyond the rest, shouting and challenging the tyrant to fight. He would not await the attack, but took refuge in the ranks of his body-guard. Pelopidas attacked these troops and cut them down, wounding several mortally, but they from a distance struck him through his armour with their spears, till the Thessalians in great anxiety charged down the hill to the rescue. But he had by this time fallen.

The cavalry now charged and routed the whole body, and pursuing them to a great distance, strewed the country with corpses, for they cut down more than three thousand of them.

XXXIII. It was no wonder that the Thebans who were there grieved at the death of Pelopidas, and called him their father, their saviour, their teacher in all that was best and noblest; but the Thessalians and their allies, who decreed greater honours than had ever been shown to any brave man, proved their gratitude to him, even more by their sorrow. It is said that the men who were at the fight did not lay aside their armour, nor unbridle their horses, nor even bind up their wounds, when they heard of his death, but warm as they were from victory, in their arms, flocked round the corpse, piling up near it, as a trophy, the arms of their slain enemies. They cut off the manes of their horses, and their own hair, and many went off to their tents, lit no fire, and ate no supper, but there was such silence and despondency in the whole camp as would have befitted men who had been defeated and enslaved by the tyrant, not who had just won a great and glorious victory over him.

As soon as the sad news reached the cities of Thessaly, the chief men, youths, children and priests came forth in procession to receive his body, and carried trophies and wreaths and golden armour in its honour. When the body was about to be brought home, the chiefs of the Thessalians begged the Thebans to allow them to bury him, and one of them spoke as follows: "Allies, we beg of you a favour which will prove to be an honour and a comfort to us in this our great misfortune. We Thessalians shall never again escort Pelopidas, nor render him the honours which he deserved; but if we may have his body to touch, and ourselves adorn it and bury it, we shall then be able to show you that we Thessalians truly feel this misfortune more than even you Thebans. For you have only lost a good general, while we have lost that, and our liberty too, since how can we ever have the heart to ask you for another general, after not giving you your Pelopidas back."

This proposal the Thebans agreed to.

XXXIV. No funeral was more splendid than this, not indeed in the estimation of those who think that splendour lies in ivory and gold and purple, as Philistius celebrates and praises the funeral of Dionysius, where his tyranny concluded like the pompous finale of some great tragedy. Alexander the Great, when Hephaestion died, not only cut off the manes of the horses and mules, but actually took down the battlements from the walls, that cities might seem in mourning, presenting a shorn and woeful look in contrast to their former appearance.

But these were the commands of tyrants; they were done under compulsion, and caused a feeling of dislike to the person honoured, and of absolute hatred against those who enforced them, but showed no gratitude or desire to honour the dead. They were mere displays of barbaric pride and boastful extravagance, which wastes its superfluity on vain and useless objects; whereas, here was a private citizen who died in a foreign land, without his wife, his children or his friends, and, without any one asking for it or compelling them to it, he was escorted to his grave, buried and crowned with garlands by so many provinces and cities, vying with one another in showing him honour, that he seems to have enjoyed the most blessed fate possible. For as AEsop says, the death of the fortunate is not grievous, but blessed, since it secures their felicity, and puts it out of Fortune's power. That Spartan spoke well, who, when Diagoras, the Olympic victor, was looking at his sons being in their turn crowned as victors at Olympia, with his grandchildren about him, embraced him and said, "Die, Diagoras; for you cannot rise to Olympus and be a god there." Yet I do not suppose that any one would compare all the Olympian and Pythian prizes together with one of Pelopidas's achievements, of which he performed many, and lived the most part of his life esteemed and looked up to, and at last, in his thirteenth Boeotarchy, when fighting gloriously against a tyrant, he died in defence of the liberties of Thessaly.

XXXV. His death caused great sorrow to his allies, but likewise benefited them; for the Thebans as soon as they heard of the death of Pelopidas did not delay for a moment to avenge his fall, but hastily marched with an army of seven thousand hoplites and seven hundred cavalry, under Malkitus and Diogeiton, against Alexander. Finding that he was weakened and shorn of much of his power, they compelled him to restore to the Thessalians their cities, which he held, to liberate the Achaeans in Magnesia and Phthiotis, to withdraw his garrisons from those countries, and to swear to the Thebans, that he would attack, and assist them to attack, any enemy they might choose.

The Thebans were satisfied with these terms; but I will now recount how, shortly afterwards, Heaven exacted retribution from him for the death of Pelopidas. Thebe his wife, as we have said before, had been taught by Pelopidas not to fear the outward pomp and body-guard of the tyrant, since she was within all his defences. She, dreading his suspicious nature, and hating his cruelty, made a plot with her three brothers, Tisiphonus, Pytholaus, and Lykophron, which she carried out in the following manner. The night patrol of the guard watched in the house, but their bedchamber was upstairs, and before the door there was a dog chained as a guard, very savage with every one except themselves and one of their servants who fed it. Now when Thebe determined to make the attempt, she got her brothers concealed near at hand during the day in one of the rooms, and when she came, as usual, alone to Alexander's chamber, she found him asleep. In a little time she came out again, and ordered the servant to take away the dog, as the despot wished to sleep undisturbed. Fearing that the stairs would make a noise when the young men mounted, she covered them with wool, and then brought up her brothers, with their swords drawn. Leaving them outside she herself went in, and taking down the sword that hung over his head, showed it to them as a proof that he was in their power and asleep. The young men now were terrified, and hesitated to act; but she reproached them bitterly, and swore that she would herself awaken Alexander and tell him the whole plot. Between shame and terror she got them in and placed them round the bed, herself holding the light. One of them seized his feet, another held his head back by the hair, and the third despatched him with a stab of his sword, a death, perhaps, easier than he deserved. He was the first, or perhaps the only despot ever assassinated by his own wife. His body after death was dragged about and trodden under foot by the people of Pherae, a recompense which his villanies deserved.


[Footnote 1: Kallikratidas, the Lacedaemonian admiral, was defeated and slain by the Athenians at the battle of Arginusae, B.C. 406.]

[Footnote 2: No one seems able to identify this battle. See Grote's History, Part II., ch. lxxvii., note, s.v. Epameinondas.]

[Footnote 3: See Life of Titus Flamininus, p. 175, note.]

[Footnote 4: More usually spelt 'Leontiades.']

[Footnote 5: Kadmeia, the Acropolis of Thebes, a fortress on a lofty rock overhanging the town.]

[Footnote 6: In Attica.]

[Footnote 7: The chief priest who presided at the Eleusinian mysteries.]

[Footnote 8: The office of Boeotarch is described at length in Smith's 'Dictionary of Antiquities.' They seem properly to have been the military leaders of the confederacy of the whole of the cities of Boeotia.]

[Footnote 9: This was the case in all Greek towns, namely, there were two parties, aristocratic and democratic. The democracy being now in the ascendant in Thebes, the party which favoured the Spartans, the most aristocratic state in Greece, had gone into exile.]

[Footnote 10: For the number of men in a "mora," see p. 16.]

[Footnote 11: See vol. i. Life of Lykurgus, ch. vi.]


I. Poseidonius tells us that Marcus Claudius, who was five times consul of the Roman people, was the son of Marcus, and was the first of his family to receive the name of Marcellus, which means warlike. Indeed, by his experience he became a thorough soldier; his body was strong, and his arm powerful. He was fond of war, and bore himself with a lordly arrogance in battle, though otherwise he was of a quiet and amiable disposition, fond of Greek culture and literature, to the extent of respecting and admiring those who knew it, though he from his want of leisure could not make such progress as he wished. For the Roman chiefs of that period were, if any men ever were, condemned, in the words of Homer,

"From youth to age, disastrous wars to wage."[12]

In their youth they fought the Carthaginians on the Sicilian coast; in middle age they fought the Gauls in defence of Italy itself; when advanced in years they again contended with Hannibal and the Carthaginians, not, as common men do, obtaining any relief from constant service because of their old age, but ever urged by their courage and nobility of soul to accept the command in new campaigns.

II. Marcellus was practised in all forms of battle, but was especially skilful in single combat, so that he never declined any man's challenge, and slew all who challenged him. In Sicily he saved the life of his brother Otacilius when in great peril, by holding his shield over him and killing his assailants. For this conduct, young as he was, he received crowns[13] and rewards from the generals, and as he grew in reputation was elected curule aedile by the people, and augur by the priests. This is a kind of priestly office, to which the law especially assigns the observance of auguries drawn from the flight of birds. During his tenure of the office of aedile, he was obliged, much against his will, to commence a law-suit. He had a son of his own name, in the bloom of youth, of great beauty, and equally with it admired by his countrymen for his modesty and education. Capitolinus, Marcellus's colleague, a licentious and reckless man, made disgraceful proposals to this lad. He first repelled his attacks alone, but on a second attempt told his father, and Marcellus, being much enraged, summoned the man before the Senate. He attempted many quibbles and subterfuges, and appealed to the tribunes of the people to support him, but as they refused his application he betook himself to pleading denial of the charge. There being no witnesses of what he had said, the Senate decided to send for the boy, and when they saw how he blushed and wept with a modesty mingled with unquenchable rage, they, without requiring any other proof, found Capitolinus guilty, and condemned him to pay a fine, with which Marcellus had silver libation vessels made, and consecrated them to the gods.

III. After twenty-two years the first Punic War came to an end, and the Romans turned their attention to Gaulish troubles. The Insubrians, a Celtic tribe dwelling in Italy at the foot of the Alps, powerful by themselves, were collecting other forces, and enrolling all those Gauls who fought for hire, called Gaesatae.

It was a wonderful and fortunate circumstance that this Celtic war did not break out at the same time as that with Carthage, but that the Gauls, like the gladiator who waits to fight with the survivor of a pair of combatants, had remained quiet during the whole of that war, and now stepped forward and challenged the victors when they were at leisure. Yet the war caused much terror, because it would take place on their own frontier against their neighbour states, and because of the ancient reputation of the Gauls, whom the Romans seem to fear more than any other nation. They once lost their city at their hands, and afterwards passed a law that the priests should be exempt from all military service, except in case of another war with Gaul. Their alarm was shown both by their preparations (for it is said that never before or since were there so many thousand Romans under arms), and by their extraordinary sacrifices. For though they never observe the barbarous ceremonies of foreigners, but as far as possible are humane and like the Greeks in their religion, on the outbreak of this war they were compelled to follow certain prophecies in the Sibylline books, and bury alive two Greeks, a man and a woman, and likewise two Gauls, in the place called the Cattle Market: and in accordance with these prophecies they still up to this day in the month of November perform religious mysteries, which may not be seen or spoken of by either Greeks or Gauls.

IV. At the beginning of the war the Romans were some times victorious and sometimes defeated, without coming to any decisive action, until the consulate of Flaminius and Furius, who led a great army against the Insubrians. Then the river that passes through Picenum ran blood, and it was said that three moons were seen at the city of Ariminum, and the augurs, who watch the omens at the consular elections, declared that the appointment of these consuls was wrong and of evil omen for the people. Hereupon the Senate immediately sent despatches to the camp recalling the consuls, that they might as soon as possible return and lay down their office and so undertake nothing as consuls against the enemy. Flaminius, when he received these despatches, did not open them before he had routed the barbarians in battle and overrun their country. So when he returned to Rome loaded with spoil, the people did not go out to meet him, but, because he had not at once obeyed his orders, and had treated them with insolent contempt, very nearly refused him his triumph, and after the triumph reduced him to a private station, forcing both him and his colleague to give up their office. So much regard had the Romans for religion, that they would not on occasions of the greatest good fortune overlook any neglect of the prophecies and customs of their ancestors, holding it more important for the safety of the state that their generals should reverence the gods than that they should conquer the enemy.

V. As an example of this, Tiberius Sempronius, a man second to no one in Rome for courage and virtue, named as his successors when consul Scipio Nasica and Caius Marcius, and when they were actually in possession of their provinces and armies he happened to consult a book of sacred ritual, and found in it an old custom which he did not know before. It was to this effect. When a consul has hired a house or tent outside the city to watch the flight of birds, if he be obliged before any certain omen appears, to return to the city for what cause soever, he must give up the place which he hired and take another, and make his observation over again from the beginning. This, it seems, Tiberius did not know, and it was after using the same place twice that he named these men consuls. Afterwards, having discovered his error, he laid the matter before the Senate; and that body did not despise this apparently slight irregularity, but sent despatches to the men, who at once left their provinces, returned to Rome, and resigned their office. Now this happened in later times; but in the very times of which we write two men of the best family were deprived of the priesthood: Cornelius Cethegus, because he handled the entrails improperly at a sacrifice, and Quintus Sulpicius, because when he was sacrificing, the crested hat which he wore as flamen, fell off his head. And because, when Minucius the dictator was appointing Caius Flaminius his master of the knights, the mouse which is called the coffin-mouse was heard to squeak, they turned them out of their office, and elected others. But, though so elaborately careful in trifles, they never admitted any superstitious observance, and neither altered nor added anything to their ancestral ritual.

VI. When Flaminius and his colleague had resigned their offices, Marcellus was designated consul by the interreges.[14] On entering upon his office he nominated Cnaeus Cornelius as his colleague. It was said that the Gauls were offering terms of reconciliation, and that the Senate wished for peace with them, but that Marcellus raised the spirit of the people and excited them to continue the war. But still a peace was concluded; and it seems to have been the Gaesatae who renewed the war, by crossing the Alps and stirring up the Insubrians. Thirty thousand in number, they joined that tribe, which was many times larger, and in high spirits at once attacked Acerrae, a city beyond the river Po. From that place Britomartus with ten thousand Gaesatae proceeded to plunder the country near the Po.

Marcellus hearing this left his colleague before Acerrae with the infantry, heavy baggage, and one-third of the cavalry, and himself, with the rest of the cavalry and about six hundred of the most active foot soldiers, marched night and day till he fell in with the ten thousand Gaesatae at Clastidium, a Gaulish village which not long before had been subject to the Romans. There was no time for rest or refreshment; for his arrival was at once perceived by the enemy, and his force despised, as he had so little infantry with him, for the Celts thought nothing of his cavalry. Admirable horsemen and proud of their superior skill, they also had greatly the advantage of Marcellus in numbers, and at once, their king riding foremost, charged the Romans with great impetuosity and terrible threats, expecting to sweep them away. Marcellus, fearing that they might surround and outflank his small body, spread out his cavalry, thinning and widening his line, until he presented a front nearly equal to that of the enemy. He was now advancing to the charge, when his horse, scared at the terrible display of the enemy, turned short round, and forcibly carried him back. Marcellus, fearing that this might cause superstitious terror to the Romans, hastily wheeled his horse round on the bridle hand, and having again directed him against the enemy, paid his adorations to the sun, as though he had made this circle not by chance, but of set purpose; for the Romans have this custom, of turning round to worship the gods, and so he, as he was on the point of joining battle, vowed that he would consecrate the finest of the enemies' arms to Jupiter Feretrius.

VII. At this moment the king of the Gauls, seeing him, and conjecturing from his dress that he was the Roman leader, rode out far beyond the rest, and made directly for him, defiantly shouting a challenge, and brandishing his spear. He was a man distinguished from the rest of the Gauls by his tall stature and his complete armour, which glittered like the lightning with gold and silver and all kinds of gay devices with which it was incrusted. Marcellus, as he looked along the enemy's line, thought that these were the finest arms, and were those about which he had made his vow to Jupiter Feretrius. He rushed upon the Gaul, pierced his breastplate with his spear, and by the impetus of his horse bore him to the ground alive, and with a second and third thrust killed him at once. Leaping from his horse and seizing the armour of the dead man, he said, looking up to heaven, "Jupiter Feretrius, thou that seest the great deeds of generals and captains in war, I call thee to witness that I am the third Roman general that has slain the enemy's general and king, by killing this man here with my own hand: and having killed him I consecrate to thee the first and fairest of the spoils. But do thou grant us like good fortune in the rest of this war."

Hereupon the Roman cavalry charged, not against cavalry by itself, but they fought against infantry and cavalry mixed together, and won a victory of an unparalleled and wonderful kind; for never before or since that day did such a body of horsemen rout such numbers of horse and foot.

Having slain the greater part of them, and collected their arms and stores, he returned to his colleague, who was with difficulty holding his own against the Celts before the walls of the largest and most populous of Gaulish cities. It is called Mediolanum, and is regarded by the Cisalpine Gauls as their metropolis: consequently they fought vigorously in its defence, and more besieged Cornelius than were besieged by him. But when Marcellus arrived, the Gaesatae, as soon as they heard of the defeat and death of their king, went home. Mediolanum fell, and the Celts of their own accord surrendered the other cities, and threw themselves upon the mercy of the Romans. They received moderate terms of peace.

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