[9.41] For ten days nothing was done more than this; but on the eleventh day from the time when the two hosts first took station, one over against the other, near Plataea - the number of the Greeks being now much greater than it was at the first, and Mardonius being impatient of the delay - there was a conference held between Mardonius, son of Gobryas, and Artabazus, son of Pharnaces, a man who was esteemed by Xerxes more than almost any of the Persians. At this consultation the following were the opinions delivered:- Artabazus thought it would be best for them to break up from their quarters as soon as possible, and withdraw the whole army to the fortified town of Thebes, where they had abundant stores of corn for themselves, and of fodder for the sumpter-beasts. There, he said, they had only to sit quiet, and the war might be brought to an end on this wise:- Coined gold was plentiful in the camp, and uncoined gold too; they had silver moreover in great abundance, and drinking-cups. Let them not spare to take of these, and distribute them among the Greeks, especially among the leaders in the several cities; 'twould not be long before the Greeks gave up their liberty, without risking another battle for it. Thus the opinion of Artabazus agreed with that of the Thebans; for he too had more foresight than some. Mardonius, on the other hand, expressed himself with more fierceness and obstinacy, and was utterly disinclined to yield. "Their army," he said, "was vastly superior to that of the Greeks; and they had best engage at once, and not wait till greater numbers were gathered against them. As for Hegesistratus and his victims, they should let them pass unheeded, not seeking to force them to be favourable, but, according to the old Persian custom, hasting to join battle."
[9.42] When Mardonius had thus declared his sentiments, no one ventured to say him nay; and accordingly his opinion prevailed, for it was to him, and not to Artabazus, that the king had given the command of the army.
Mardonius now sent for the captains of the squadrons, and the leaders of the Greeks in his service, and questioned them:- "Did they know of any prophecy which said that the Persians were to be destroyed in Greece?" All were silent; some because they did not know the prophecies, but others, who knew them full well, because they did not think it safe to speak out. So Mardonius, when none answered, said, "Since ye know of no such oracle, or do not dare to speak of it, I, who know it well, will myself declare it to you. There is an oracle which says that the Persians shall come into Greece, sack the temple at Delphi, and when they have so done, perish one and all. Now we, as we are aware of the prediction, will neither go against the temple nor make any attempt to sack it: we therefore shall not perish for this trespass. Rejoice then thus far, all ye who are well-wishers to the Persians, and doubt not we shall get the better of the Greeks." When he had so spoken, he further ordered them to prepare themselves, and to put all in readiness for a battle upon the morrow.
[9.43] As for the oracle of which Mardonius spoke, and which he referred to the Persians, it did not, I am well assured, mean them, but the Illyrians and the Enchelean host. There are, however, some verses of Bacis which did speak of this battle:-
By Thermodon's stream, and the grass-clad hanks of Asopus,
See where gather the Grecians, and hark to the foreigners' war-shout -
There in death shall lie, ere fate or Lachesis doomed him,
Many a bow-bearing Mede, when the day of calamity cometh.
These verses, and some others like them which Musaeus wrote, referred, I well know, to the Persians. The river Thermodon flows between Tanagra and Glisas.
[9.44] After Mardonius had put his question about the prophecies, and spoken the above words of encouragement, night drew on apace, and on both sides the watches were set. As soon then as there was silence throughout the camp, - the night being now well advanced, and the men seeming to be in their deepest sleep, - Alexander, the son of Amyntas, king and leader of the Macedonians, rode up on horseback to the Athenian outposts, and desired to speak with the generals. Hereupon, while the greater part continued on guard, some of the watch ran to the chiefs, and told them, "There had come a horseman from the Median camp who would not say a word, except that he wished to speak with the generals, of whom he mentioned the names."
[9.45] They at once, hearing this, made haste to the outpost, where they found Alexander, who addressed them as follows:-
"Men of Athens, that which I am about to say I trust to your honour; and I charge you to keep it secret from all excepting Pausanias, if you would not bring me to destruction. Had I not greatly at heart the common welfare of Greece, I should not have come to tell you; but I am myself a Greek by descent, and I would not willingly see Greece exchange freedom for slavery. Know then that Mardonius and his army cannot obtain favourable omens; had it not been for this, they would have fought with you long ago. Now, however, they have determined to let the victims pass unheeded, and, as soon as day dawns, to engage in battle. Mardonius, I imagine, is afraid that, if he delays, you will increase in number. Make ready then to receive him. Should he however still defer the combat, do you abide where you are; for his provisions will not hold out many more days. If ye prosper in this war, forget not to do something for my freedom; consider the risk I have run, out of zeal for the Greek cause, to acquaint you with what Mardonius intends, and to save you from being surprised by the barbarians. I am Alexander of Macedon."
As soon as he had said this, Alexander rode back to the camp, and returned to the station assigned him.
[9.46] Meanwhile the Athenian generals hastened to the right wing, and told Pausanias all that they had learnt from Alexander. Hereupon Pausanias, who no sooner heard the intention of the Persians than he was struck with fear, addressed the generals, and said, -
"Since the battle is to come with to-morrow's dawn, it were well that you Athenians should stand opposed to the Persians, and we Spartans to the Boeotians and the other Greeks; for ye know the Medes and their manner of fight, since ye have already fought with them once at Marathon, but we are quite ignorant and without any experience of their warfare. While, however, there is not a Spartan here present who has ever fought against a Mede, of the Boeotians and Thessalians we have had experience. Take then your arms, and march over to our post upon the right, while we supply your place in the left wing."
Hereto the Athenians replied - "We, too, long ago, when we saw that the Persians were drawn up to face you, were minded to suggest to you the very course which you have now been the first to bring forward. We feared, however, that perhaps our words might not be pleasing to you. But, as you have now spoken of these things yourselves, we gladly give our consent, and are ready to do as ye have said."
[9.47] Both sides agreeing hereto, at the dawn of day the Spartans and Athenians changed places. But the movement was perceived by the Boeotians, and they gave notice of it to Mardonius; who at once, on hearing what had been done, made a change in the disposition of his own forces, and brought the Persians to face the Lacedaemonians. Then Pausanias, finding that his design was discovered, led back his Spartans to the right wing; and Mardonius, seeing this, replaced his Persians upon the left of his army.
[9.48] When the troops again occupied their former posts, Mardonius sent a herald to the Spartans, who spoke as follows:-
"Lacedaemonians, in these parts the men say that you are the bravest of mankind, and admire you because you never turn your backs in flight nor quit your ranks, but always stand firm, and either die at your posts or else destroy your adversaries. But in all this which they say concerning you there is not one word of truth; for now have we seen you, before battle was joined or our two hosts had come to blows, flying and leaving your posts, wishing the Athenians to make the first trial of our arms, and taking your own station against our slaves. Surely these are not the deeds of brave men. Much do we find ourselves deceived in you; for we believed the reports of you that reached our ears, and expected that you would send a herald with a challenge to us, proposing to fight by yourselves against our division of native Persians. We for our part were ready to have agreed to this; but ye have made us no such offer - nay! ye seem rather to shrink from meeting us. However, as no challenge of this kind comes from you to us, lo! we send a challenge to you. Why should not you on the part of the Greeks, as you are thought to be the bravest of all, and we on the part of the barbarians, fight a battle with equal numbers on both sides? Then, if it seems good to the others to fight likewise, let them engage afterwards - but if not, - if they are content that we should fight on behalf of all, let us so do - and whichever side wins the battle, let them win it for their whole army."
[9.49] When the herald had thus spoken, he waited a while, but, as no one made him any answer, he went back, and told Mardonius what had happened. Mardonius was full of joy thereat, and so puffed up by the empty victory, that he at once gave orders to his horse to charge the Greek line. Then the horsemen drew near, and with their javelins and their arrows - for though horsemen they used the bow - sorely distressed the Greek troops, which could not bring them to close combat. The fountain of Gargaphia, whence the whole Greek army drew its water, they at this time choked up and spoiled. The Lacedaemonians were the only troops who had their station near this fountain; the other Greeks were more or less distant from it, according to their place in the line; they however were not far from the Asopus. Still, as the Persian horse with their missile weapons did not allow them to approach, and so they could not get their water from the river, these Greeks, no less than the Lacedaemonians, resorted at this time to the fountain.
[9.50] When the fountain was choked, the Grecian captains, seeing that the army had no longer a water-place, and observing moreover that the cavalry greatly harassed them, held a meeting on these and other matters at the headquarters of Pausanias upon the right. For besides the above-named difficulties, which were great enough, other circumstances added to their distress. All the provisions that they had brought with them were gone; and the attendants who had been sent to fetch supplies from the Peloponnese, were prevented from returning to camp by the Persian horse, which had now closed the passage.
[9.51] The captains therefore held a council, whereat it was agreed, that if the Persians did not give battle that day, the Greeks should move to the Island - a tract of ground which lies in front of Plataea, at the distance of ten furlongs from the Asopus and fount Gargaphia, where the army was encamped at that time. This tract was a sort of island in the continent: for there is a river which, dividing near its source, runs down from Mount Cithaeron into the plain below in two streams, flowing in channels about three furlongs apart, which after a while unite and become one. The name of this river is Oeroe, and the dwellers in those parts call it, the daughter of the Asopus. This was the place to which the Greeks resolved to remove; and they chose it, first because they would there have no lack of water, and secondly, because the horse could not harass them as when it was drawn up right in their front. They thought it best to begin their march at the second watch of the night, lest the Persians should see them as they left their station, and should follow and harass them with their cavalry. It was agreed likewise, that after they had reached the place, which the Asopus-born Oeroe surrounds, as it flows down from Cithaeron, they should despatch, the very same night, one half of their army towards that mountain-range, to relieve those whom they had sent to procure provisions, and who were now blocked up in that region.
[9.52] Having made these resolves, they continued during that whole day to suffer beyond measure from the attacks of the enemy's horse. At length when towards dusk the attacks of the horse ceased, and, night having closed in, the hour arrived at which the army was to commence its retreat, the greater number struck their tents and began the march towards the rear. They were not minded, however, to make for the place agreed upon; but in their anxiety to escape from the Persian horse, no sooner had they begun to move than they fled straight to Plataea; where they took post at the temple of Juno, which lies outside the city, at the distance of about twenty furlongs from Gargaphia; and here they pitched their camp in front of the sacred building.
[9.53] As soon as Pausanias saw a portion of the troops in motion, he issued orders to the Lacedaemonians to strike their tents and follow those who had been the first to depart, supposing that they were on their march to the place agreed upon. All the captains but one were ready to obey his orders: Amompharetus, however, the son of Poliadas, who was leader of the Pitanate cohort, refused to move, saying, "He for one would not fly from the strangers, or of his own will bring disgrace upon Sparta." It had happened that he was absent from the former conference of the captains; and so what was now taking place astonished him. Pausanias and Euryanax thought it a monstrous thing that Amompharetus would not hearken to them; but considered that it would be yet more monstrous, if, when he was so minded, they were to leave the Pitanates to their fate; seeing that, if they forsook them to keep their agreement with the other Greeks, Amompharetus and those with him might perish. On this account, therefore, they kept the Lacedaemonian force in its place, and made every endeavour to persuade Amompharetus that he was wrong to act as he was doing.
[9.54] While the Spartans were engaged in these efforts to turn Amompharetus - the only man unwilling to retreat either in their own army or in that of the Tegeans - the Athenians on their side did as follows. Knowing that it was the Spartan temper to say one thing and no another, they remained quiet in their station until the army began to retreat, when they despatched a horseman to see whether the Spartans really meant to set forth, or whether after all they had no intention of moving. The horseman was also to ask Pausanias what he wished the Athenians to do.
[9.55] The herald on his arrival found the Lacedaemonians drawn up in their old position, and their leaders quarrelling with one another. Pausanias and Euryanax had gone on urging Amompharetus not to endanger the lives of his men by staying behind while the others drew off, but without succeeding in persuading him; until at last the dispute had waxed hot between them just at the moment when the Athenian herald arrived. At this point Amompharetus, who was still disputing, took up with both his hands a vast rock, and placed it at the feet of Pausanias, saying - "With this pebble I give my vote not to run away from the strangers." (By "strangers" he meant barbarians.) Pausanias, in reply, called him a fool and a madman, and, turning to the Athenian herald, who had made the inquiries with which he was charged, bade him tell his countrymen how he was occupied, and ask them to approach nearer, and retreat or not according to the movements of the Spartans.
[9.56] So the herald went back to the Athenians; and the Spartans continued to dispute till morning began to dawn upon them. Then Pausanias, who as yet had not moved, gave the signal for retreat - expecting (and rightly, as the event proved) that Amompharetus, when he saw the rest of the Lacedaemonians in motion, would be unwilling to be left behind. No sooner was the signal given, than all the army except the Pitanates began their march, and retreated along the line of the hills; the Tegeans accompanying them. The Athenians likewise set off in good order, but proceeded by a different way from the Lacedaemonians. For while the latter clung to the hilly ground and the skirts of Mount Cithaeron, on account of the fear which they entertained of the enemy's horse, the former betook themselves to the low country and marched through the plain.
[9.57] As for Amompharetus, at first he did not believe that Pausanias would really dare to leave him behind; he therefore remained firm in his resolve to keep his men at their post; when, however, Pausanias and his troops were now some way off, Amompharetus, thinking himself forsaken in good earnest, ordered his band to take their arms, and led them at a walk towards the main army. Now the army was waiting for them at a distance of about ten furlongs, having halted upon the river Moloeis at a place called Argiopius, where stands a temple dedicated to Eleusinian Ceres. They had stopped here, that, in case Amompharetus and his band should refuse to quit the spot where they were drawn up, and should really not stir from it, they might have it in their power to move back and lend them assistance. Amompharetus, however, and his companions rejoined the main body; and at the same time the whole mass of the barbarian cavalry arrived and began to press hard upon them. The horsemen had followed their usual practice and ridden up to the Greek camp, when they discovered that the place where the Greeks had been posted hitherto was deserted. Hereupon they pushed forward without stopping, and, as soon as they overtook the enemy, pressed heavily on them.
[9.58] Mardonius, when he heard that the Greeks had retired under cover of the night, and beheld the place, where they had been stationed, empty, called to him Thorax of Larissa, and his brethren, Eurypylus and Thrasideius, and said:-
"O sons of Aleuas! what will ye say now, when ye see yonder place empty? Why, you, who dwell in their neighbourhood, told me the Lacedaemonians never fled from battle, but were brave beyond all the rest of mankind. Lately, however, you yourselves beheld them change their place in the line; and here, as all may see, they have run away during the night. Verily, when their turn came to fight with those who are of a truth the bravest warriors in all the world, they showed plainly enough that they are men of no worth, who have distinguished themselves among Greeks - men likewise of no worth at all. However, I can readily excuse you, who, knowing nothing of the Persians, praised these men from your acquaintance with certain exploits of theirs; but I marvel all the more at Artabazus, that he should have been afraid of the Lacedaemonians, and have therefore given us so dastardly a counsel, - bidding us, as did, break up our camp, and remove to Thebes, and there allow ourselves to be besieged by the Greeks - advice whereof I shall take care to inform the king. But of this hereafter. Now we must not allow them to escape us, but must pursue after them till we overtake them; and then we must exact vengeance for all the wrongs which have been suffered at their hands by the Persians."
[9.59] When he had so spoken, he crossed the Asopus, and led the Persians forward at a run directly upon the track of the Greeks, whom he believed to be in actual flight. He could not see the Athenians; for, as they had taken the way of the plain, they were hidden from his sight by the hills; he therefore led on his troops against the Lacedaemonians and the Tegeans only. When the commanders of the other divisions of the barbarians saw the Persians pursuing the Greeks so hastily, they all forthwith seized their standards, and hurried after at their best speed in great disorder and disarray. On they went with loud shouts and in a wild rout, thinking to swallow up the runaways.
[9.60] Meanwhile Pausanias had sent a horseman to the Athenians, at the time when the cavalry first fell upon him, with this message:-
"Men of Athens! now that the great struggle has come, which is to decide the freedom or the slavery of Greece, we twain, Lacedaemonians and Athenians, are deserted by all the other allies, who have fled away from us during the past night. Nevertheless, we are resolved what to do - we must endeavour, as best we may, to defend ourselves and to succour one another. Now, had the horse fallen upon you first, we ourselves with the Tegeans (who remain faithful to the Greek cause) would have been bound to render you assistance against them. As, however, the entire body has advanced upon us, 'tis your place to come to our aid, sore pressed as we are by the enemy. Should you yourselves be so straitened that you cannot come, at least send us your archers, and be sure you will earn our gratitude. We acknowledge that throughout this whole war there has been no zeal to be compared to yours - we therefore doubt not that you will do us this service."