Polyaenus: Stratagems

    - BOOK 1, Chapters 1-26

Adapted from the translation by R.Shepherd (1793). See key to translations for an explanation of the format.

CONTENTS:   1 Dionysus ; 2 Pan ; 3 Heracles ; 4 Theseus ; 5 Demophon ; 6 Cresphontes ; 7 Cypselus ; 8 Elnes ; 9 Temenus ; 10 Procles ; 11 Acuēs ; 12 Thessalus ; 13 Menelaus ; 14 Cleomenes ; 15 Polydorus ; 16 Lycurgus ; 17 Tyrtaeus ; 18 Codrus ; 19 Melanthus ; 20 Solon ; 21 Peisistratus ; 22 Aristogeiton ; 23 Polycrates ; 24 Histiaeus ; 25 Pittacus ; 26 Bias ; → Following Chapters (27-49)

[Preface]   The gods, your own virtue, and the Roman bravery, that have always before crowned with victory the arms of your sacred majesties, Antoninus and Verus, will also now attend with success the expedition which you have undertaken against Persia and the Parthians. I, who am by birth a Macedonian, and have therefore, as it were, a national right to victory over the Persians, have determined not to be entirely useless to you in the present circumstances; and if my constitution were as robust and hale as it used to be, you should not lack in me convincing proof of the a Macedonian spirit. Nor, advanced as I am in years, can I bear to be left behind without some efforts of service. Accept therefore, illustrious chiefs, in a collection of stratagems employed by the most distinguished generals, this small aid to military science; which, by exhibiting as in a picture the bravery and experience of former commanders, their conduct and operations, and the various successes that they achieved, may in some instances possibly be of service to yourselves, your polemarchs, your generals, the commanders of troops of ten thousand, or one thousand, or six hundred men, and whoever you may think fit to invest with military command.

Bravery conquers by means of the sword; but superior generalship prevails by skill and stratagem; and the highest level of generalship is displayed in those victories that are obtained with the least danger. It is the most infallible evidence of military ability, in the heat of conflict to hit upon an expedient that will decide the contest in your favour without waiting for the outcome of a regular battle. I have always conceived this to be a favourite sentiment of Homer; for what else can he mean by those frequent expressions, "either by artifice or by valour" [ Od_9'406 ], except that we should first employ stratagems and devices against the enemy, and that if these fail, valour and the strongest arm must prevail.

If we admit the authority of Homer, Sisyphus the son of Aeolus was the first of the Greeks who employed stratagems in war [ Il_6'153 ]:
  With happy skill in war's devices blest,
  Those realms did Sisyphus possess.

The second man who was famous for those tactics, according the same authority, was Autolycus the son of Hermes [ Od_19'394 ]:
  Going to Parnassus, home of Autolycus and his sons -
  Autolycus who was his mother's excellent father;
  He outdid all men in stealing and in oaths,
  And the divine Hermes granted him . . .

Nor do I believe that the fabulous account of Proteus [ Od_4'455-458 ], his transformation into animals and trees, signifies anything else than the variety of artifices he practised against the enemy.

As to Odysseus, we know that he particularly valued himself upon his stratagems and devices [ Od_9'19-20 ]:
  I am Odysseus, Laertes' son, and in skill to frame
  Deceptive wiles, as far as heaven, unrivalled is my fame.

The Greek heroes attributed the final victory to him [ Od_22'230 ]:
  Your schemes, your plans effected Ilium's fall,
  And hurled destruction on Priamus' wall.

And others confirmed that Troy was captured [ ? Od_3'130 ]:
  By Odysseus' advice and tales,
  And by his sagacious skill.

Homer frequently records the various stratagems that he employed against the enemy. He represents him, "with self-inflicted wounds deformed" [ Od_4'244 ], deserting to the enemy. The wooden horse, "which Epeius built by the instruction of Athene" [ Od_8'493 ], was his device. Also nobody, the wine, the firebrand, and the ram, may properly be called stratagems, which he employed against the Cyclops. In the same class were the stopping of the ears of his crew with wax, and the lashing of himself to the mast, in order to prevent the baneful influence of the [Sirens'] music. And what will you say of the beggar's purse, and the deceptions imposed on Eumaeus and Penelope [ Od_19'203 ]:
  His was the art instruction to detail,
  And facts inculcate, under fiction's veil.

To box with Irus, to remove from the smoke the arms of the drunken young men, and to fix the bow at the door - were they not all military stratagems? But enough of these, and other examples of a similar kind, provided by Homer.

How do the tragedians represent the stratagem which Odysseus used against Palamedes? The Achaeans, in solemn judgement, decided in favour of Odysseus, who had secretly left the barbarian gold in the other's tent; and thus, overcome by artifice and manoeuvre, the accomplished general was falsely convicted of treason. This is what is portrayed in the plays of the tragedians.

But in the following collection of stratagems I have followed the faithful records of history. I have related them succinctly, and arranged them under [the name of] each general. The whole is comprised in eight books, which contain nine hundred stratagems, beginning with Dionysus.

[1]   Dionysus.

In order to gain admittance into the cities during his Indian expedition, Dionysus dressed his troops in white linen and deer skins, instead of gleaming armour. Their spears were adorned with ivy, and the points of the spears were hidden under a thyrsus. His orders were given by cymbals and drums, instead of trumpets; and intoxicating his enemies with wine, he engaged them in dancing and Bacchic orgies. Such were the stratagems which that general practised in his conquest of India, and the rest of Asia.

2   Dionysus, finding his army unable to bear the excessive heat of the Indian climate, occupied a three-peaked mountain; one of peaks of which is called Corasibiē, another Condasbe, and the third he called Merus ["thigh"] in commemoration of his birth. The mountain contains a variety of fountains, abounds in wild beasts, produces plenty of fruit, and the air is cooled by continual snow. His army, from their position here, used suddenly to show themselves to the barbarians in the plains; and showering down on them large flights of arrows from the those high and craggy precipices, obtained easy conquests.

3   After Dionysus had subdued the Indians, he formed an alliance with them and the Amazons, and took them into his service. When he penetrated into Bactria, whose boundary is the river Saranges, he found that the Bactrians had possessed themselves of the mountains above the river, in order to dispute his passage. Encamping therefore on the river side, opposite the enemy, he ordered the Amazons and the Bacchants to ford it; expecting that the Bactrians, in contempt of the women, would quit their posts on the mountains, and attack them; which they accordingly did. The women retreated, and were pursued by the enemy to the opposite bank. Then Dionysus at the head of his troops furiously attacked the Bactrians, and as they were surprised and impeded by the water, defeated them with great slaughter, and crossed the river himself without any further danger.

[2]   Pan.

Pan, a general of Dionysus, was the first who created a regular system for the marshalling of an army. He invented the phalanx, and arrranged it with a right and left wing; from which he is usually represented with horns. Victory always belonged to the strongest sword, until he pointed the way to conquest by artifice and manoeuvre.

2   While he was in a wooded hollow, Dionysus was informed by his scouts that an immense army of the enemy was encamped a little above him. This was alarming news; but he was soon relieved of his worries by Pan, who ordered the whole army, in the silence of the night and on a given signal, to give out a loud shout. The surrounding rocks, and the hollows of the forest re-echoed the sound, and imposed on the enemy a fear that his forces were infinitely more numerous than they were; seized by anxiety, they abandoned their camp and fled. From the circumstances of this stratagem, the nymph Echo has been supposed by the poets to be the mistress of Pan; and hence also all pointless and imaginary fears are called panics.

[3]   Heracles.

Heracles was determined to remove the race of Centaurs from Pelion, but he was inclined to act on the defensive, rather than commence hostilities. He resided for a short time with Pholus, and opened a jar of fragrant wine, which he and his companions secretly watched. The neighbouring Centaurs, allured by the smell, flocked together to the cave of Pholus, and seized the wine. Then Heracles, to punish the crimes of these thieves and robbers, attacked and slew them. [see also: Diodorus, 4.12'3]

2   To avoid encountering the superior strength of the Erymanthian boar, Heracles had recourse to artifice. As the beast lay in a valley, which was full of snow, he annoyed him with stones from above. The boar at length roused himself in anger, and with great violence sprang forward, but sank into the snow. While he was thus entangled in the snow, and unable to exert himself, he became an easy prey for his assailant.

3   In his expedition against Troy, Heracles advanced to give the enemy battle as soon as he landed; and at the same time he ordered the pilots to put back a little to sea. The Trojan infantry soon gave way, while their cavalry pushed to the sea, in order to possess themselves of the ships; but they were not able to capture the ships, because they were floating a little off from the land. Heracles came in pursuit if them, and thus hemmed in by the enemy on one side and the sea on the other, they fell an easy victim to the conquerors.

4   In India Heracles adopted a daughter, whom he called Pandaeē. To her he allotted the southern part of India which is situated by the sea, dividing it into three hundred and sixty-five cantons. He imposed on these cantons a daily tax; and he ordered each canton in turn, on their stated day, to pay the royal stipend. So that if any of them refused the tax, the queen might depend on the others, because they were obliged to make up the loss, to help her in enforcing the due payment of it.

5   When Heracles went to war against the Minyans, whose cavalry were formidable within the Minyan plain, he did not think it safe to hazard a battle immediately, but diverted the course of the river Cephisus. This river flows by the two mountains Parnassus and Hedylium, and directs its course through the middle of Boeotia; but before it reaches the sea, it discharges its stream into a large subterranean chasm, and disappears. Heracles filled this chasm with great stones, and diverted the river into the plain where the Minyan cavalry was stationed. The plain soon became a lake, and the Minyan cavalry were rendered useless. After he had conquered the Minyans, Heracles opened the chasm again, and the Cephisus returned to its formal channel.

[4]   Theseus.

Theseus, in his battles, always used to have the fore-part of his head shaved, so that the enemy should not have the opportunity of seizing him by the hair. His example was afterwards followed by all the Greeks; and from him, that sort of hair-cut was called theseis. But those who were particularly distinguished for this imitation of Theseus were the Abantes, whom Homer describes as follows [ Il_2'542 ]:
  Their foreheads bare,
  Down their broad shoulders flowed a length of hair. [see also: Plutarch, Thes_5]

[5]   Demophon.

Diomedes committed the palladium into the care of Demophon. When Agamemnon demanded to take it, Demophon gave the real one to Buzyges, an Athenian, to carry to Athens; but kept a counterfeit one, made exactly like the original palladium, in his tent. When Agamemnon, at the head of a large body of troops, came to seize it by force, Demophon drew out his forces, and for some time sustained a sharp conflict with him; so that he might the more easily induce him to believe, that it could be no other than the original, for which he would have fought so resolutely. After many had been wounded on both sides, Demophon's men retreated, leaving the unsuspecting victor triumphantly to bear away the counterfeit palladium .

[6]   Cresphontes.

Cresphontes, Temenus and the sons of Aristodemus agreed to share amongst themselves the government of the Peloponnese, and decided to divide the country into three parts: Argos, Sparta and Messene. While they were deliberating how to assign the property to each of themselves, Cresphontes, who had fixed his mind upon Messene, suggested that he whose lot was drawn first, should have Sparta; the second, Argos; and that Messene should be the portion of the third. His advice was followed, and they cast lots; which they did by each throwing a white stone into a pitcher of water. But instead of a stone, Cresphontes moulded a piece of clay, which he made into the resemblance of a stone. When he threw it into the water, it was immediately dissolved. After the other two stones coming out assigned Argos to Temenus, and Sparta to the sons of Aristodemus, Messene was assigned to Cresphontes, as if purely by fortune.

[7]   Cypselus.

In the reign of Cypselus, the Heracleidae made an expedition against the Arcadians; but an oracle warned them that, if they received presents of hospitality from the Arcadians, they should immediately conclude a peace with them. Cypselus therefore, in the harvest season, ordered the farmers, after they had reaped the corn, to leave it by the highway, as a grateful present to the soldiers of the Heracleidae, who readily availed themselves of it. Cypselus afterwards went out to meet them, and offered them gifts of hospitality; but they declined to accept the gifts, remembering the oracle. "Why do you refuse?" replied Cypselus. "Your army, in taking our corn, has already received our presents of hospitality." By this device of Cypselus, the Heracleidae were induced to make peace, and they entered into an alliance with the Arcadians.

[8]   Elnes.

When the Lacedaemonians were ravaging Tegea, Elnes, the king of Arcadia, selected the most able and vigorous of his troops, and posted them on a height above the enemy, with orders to attack them from there in the middle of the night. He stationed the old men and boys as guards before the city; and commanded them, at the time he intended to attack, to kindle a large fire. While the enemy, distracted by the sight of the fire, were all looking in that direction, the men ran down from the height to attack them, and killed most of them; many of the survivors were taken as prisoners. Thus was accomplished the prediction of the oracle:
  I give you to Tegea to advance,
  And there in fatal steps to lead the dance.

[9]   Temenus.

Temenus and the rest of the Heracleidae, who intended to make an expedition against Rhium, dispatched some Locrian rebels, with instructions to inform the Peloponnesians that the Heracleidae had a fleet at Naupactus; and that although they were pretending to be sailing to Rhium, their real intention was to make a descent on the Isthmus. The Peloponnesians believed this message, and marched their forces to the Isthmus; and by this means, they gave Temenus an opportunity to capture Rheium without opposition.

[10]   Procles.

While the Heracleidae, Procles and Temenus, were at war with the Eurystheidae, who were then in possession of Sparta, they were suddenly attacked by the enemy, as they were sacrificing to Athene for a safe passage over the mountains. Procles was not disconcerted, but ordered the flutes to lead the army forwards. The hoplites, who were inspired by the beat and the harmony of the music, preserved their ranks intact, and eventually defeated the enemy. From this experience of the influence of music, the Laconians were taught to keep flutes in their army; who, advancing before them into battle, would always sound the charge. And I know that the oracle had promised victory to the Laconians, so long as they continued to use flutes in their army, and did not fight against those who kept flutes. The battle of Leuctra confirmed this prediction; for there the Laconians, without the music of flutes, fought against the Thebans, who always used flutes in battle; so that the god seemed to have foretold directly that the Thebans would defeat the Laconians.

[11]   Acuēs.

When the Spartans entered Tegea, which was betrayed to them in the night, Acuēs ordered his men to slay anyone who asked for a watchword. Therefore the Arcadians asked no questions; but the Lacedaemonians, not being able to discern their friends in the dark of night, were obliged to ask anyone whom they met, whether they were friend or foe. In this way they revealed their identity, and were instantly killed by the Arcadians.

[12]   Thessalus.

When the Boeotians of Arne made war against the Thessalians, Thessalus used a clever stratagem to reduce them to terms of peace, without hazarding a battle. Waiting for a dark and moonless night, he dispersed his men throughout the fields. He ordered them to light torches and lamps, and post themselves in different places on the tops of hills, sometimes raising their lights above their heads, then lowering them again; so as to produce a confusing and strange spectacle. The Boeotians, when they saw the surrounding flames, supposed themselves to be involved in a blaze of lightning; they were thrown in consternation, and pleaded for peace with the Thessalians.

[13]   Menelaus.

While Menelaus was returning with Helene from Egypt, he was forced to put in at Rhodes. When Polyxo, who was then mourning the death of her husband Tlepolemus at Troy, heard of their arrival, she resolved to avenge his death on Helene and Menelaus. At the head of as many Rhodians as she could muster, both men and women, armed with fire and stones, she advanced to the ships. Menelaus, because the wind did not permit him to put out to sea, concealed the queen under deck; and at the same time, he dressed one of the most beautiful of her attendants in her royal robes and diadem. The Rhodians, assuming that she was Helene, threw fire and stones at the unfortunate attendant. Then, satisfied that (as they thought) that they had gained revenge for Tlepolemus through the death of Helene, they returned home; leaving Menelaus and Helene at leisure to continue the rest of their journey.

[14]   Cleomenes.

In a war between the Lacedaemonians and the Argives, the two armies were encamped facing each other. Cleomenes, the king of the Lacedaemonians, noticed that every command in his army was betrayed to the enemy, who acted accordingly. When he ordered his men to arms, the enemy armed also; if he marched out, they were ready to form up against him; when he ordered his men to rest, they did likewise. Therefore he gave out secret instructions that, whenever he next gave public orders to take a meal, his troops should arm for battle. His public orders were as usual transmitted to the unsuspecting Argives; and when Cleomenes advanced in arms to attack them, they were easily overwhelmed, being unarmed and unprepared to oppose him. [see also: Herodotus, 6.77-78]

[15]   Polydorus.

The Lacedaemonians had been at war with the Messenians for twenty years, when Polydorus pretended that there was a dispute between him and Theopompus, the king of the other house. He sent a deserter to the enemy's camp, with information that the kings were at variance, and had divided their forces. The Messenians, upon receiving this report, observed the movements of the enemy with particular attention. And Theopompus, in accordance with information they had received, decamped and concealed his army at a little distance from the spot; there he remained in readiness to act, whenever the occasion might require. The Messenians, seeing this movement, and despising the small size of Polydorus' army, sallied out of the city and gave him battle. Theopompus, upon a signal given by his scouts, advanced from his hiding place and made himself master of the empty abandoned town; then he fell upon the Messenians in the rear, while Polydorus attacked them in front, and gained a complete victory.

[16]   Lycurgus.

The method Lycurgus used to impose his laws upon the Lacedaemonians was, on enacting any new law, to go to off to Delphi; there he enquired of the oracle, whether it would be advantageous to the state to accept the law, or. The prophetess, persuaded by the eloquence of a bribe, always confirmed that it was right to accept it. Thus, through a fear of offending the god, the Lacedaemonians religiously observed those laws, as if they were divine oracles.

2   One command of Lycurgus, sanctioned by the oracle, was this: "O Laconians, do not be too frequently engaged in war; lest by that means you also teach your enemies to be good soldiers."

3   Another of his instructions was, always to give quarter to those who fled; lest otherwise the enemy should judge it safer to hazard their lives in a brave resistance, than to yield and run away. [see also: Plutarch, Lyc_22'5]

[17]   Tyrtaeus.

Before a battle with the Messenians, the Lacedaemonians determined either to conquer or to die; and so that, if they died, they might easily be recognised amongst the bodies by their friends, they engraved their names on their shields, which were fastened to their left arms. In order to take advantage of this resolution, by making the Messenians aware of it, Tyrtaeus gave secret orders that the Helots should be offered frequent opportunities of deserting. As soon as the Helots realised that they were being less strictly guarded, many of them deserted to the enemy, whom they informed of the extent of the Laconians' desperation. The Messenians were intimidated by these reports, and after a weak resistance yielded a complete victory to the Lacedaemonians. [see also: Diodorus, 8.27'2]

[18]   Codrus.

In a war between the Athenians and the Peloponnesians, the oracle declared that victory would go to the Athenians, if their king fell by the hands of a Peloponnesian. The enemy, informed of the oracle, gave a public order to every soldier in their army, to abstain from attacking the person of Codrus, who was at that time the king of the Athenians. But Codrus disguised himself in the clothes of a wood-cutter, and at evening time he went forward from the trenches to hew some wood; and there he happened to meet some Peloponnesians, who were out on a similar errand. Codrus deliberately quarrelled with them, and wounded some of them with his axe, until out of exasperation they fell upon him with their axes, and slew him. Then they returned to their camp, elated by the achievement of what they thought was a noble exploit. The Athenians, when they saw that the oracle had been fulfilled, delayed no further but advanced to battle with new courage and resolution. Beforehand they dispatched a herald into the enemy's camp, to request the body of their dead king. When the Peloponnesians realised what had happened, they immediately abandoned their camp and fled. The Athenians afterwards paid divine honours to Codrus, who had purchased so complete a victory by his voluntary death.

[19]   Melanthus.

In a war between the Athenians and Boeotians, for the possession of Melaenae, which was a tract of land on the border between Attica and Boeotia, the oracle declared:
  Black [Melas] bringing death to yellow [Xanthus]
  Shall obtain Melaenae.
Which came to pass as follows. Melanthus, general of the Athenians, and Xanthus, general of the Boeotians, agreed to decide the victory by single combat. As soon as they were engaged, Melanthus called out, "Thus to bring a second against a single man is unfair!", whereupon Xanthus turned round to see who this second person was. Melanthus seized his opportunity, and ran through his unguarded opponent with his spear. The victorious Athenians, in commemoration of this successful stratagem, instituted an annual festival, which they call Apaturia ["cheat" = ἀπατάω].   [see also: Frontinus, Str_2.5'41]

[20]   Solon.

The Athenians, worn out by a long war in which they had been engaged against the Megarians for the island of Salamis, enacted a law, that imposed a penalty of death on anyone who asserted that the city ought to attempt to recover the island. Solon, undaunted by the severity of the punishment, devised a means to circumvent the law. He pretended madness, and, running into the assembly, repeated an elegy which he had composed for the occasion. This martial poem so aroused the Athenians to war that, inspired by Ares and the Muses, they advanced to battle, signing hymns and shouting. They entirely defeated the Megarians, and regained possession of Salamis. Solon was held in universal admiration, because he had repealed a law by madness, and won a battle by the power of music. [see also: Plutarch, Sol_8'1]

2   In the course of the war between Athens and Megara for the possession of Salamis, Solon sailed to Colias, where he found the women performing a sacrifice to Demeter. He immediately dispatched someone to Megara who, pretending to be a deserter, advised them to sail with all speed to Colias, where they could easily seize the Athenian women. The Megarians instantly manned their ships, and put to sea. Meanwhile, Solon ordered the women to leave; and he sent some beardless youths, dressed in women's clothes with garlands on their heads, but secretly armed with daggers, to play and dance by the sea-shore. Deceived by the appearance of the youths in their women's clothes, the Megarians landed and attempted to seize them, as if they were defenceless women. But the youths drew their swords, and proved by the slaughter of their enemies that they were really men. Then they embarked on the ships, and took possession of Salamis. [see also: Plutarch, Sol_8'2]

[21]   Peisistratus.

Peisistratus, in an expedition from Euboea against Pallenis in Attica, fell in with a body of the enemy, whom he defeated and slew. When he advanced farther, he met the remaining part of their army. He ordered his men not to attack, but to crown themselves with garlands, so as to suggest to them that he had already made a truce with the first group that he had met. Convinced by this, the enemy formed an alliance with Peisistratus and admitted him into the city. Peisistratus mounted his chariot, with a tall beautiful woman called Phyē by his side, who was clad in the armour of Pallas. When they saw them, the Athenians were convinced that Athene was his protectress and guide; and by this means he established himself as tyrant of Athens. [see also: Herodotus, 1.60-62]

2   When he intended to disarm the Athenians, Peisistratus commanded them all to appear at the Anaceium, in arms. When they were assembled, he stepped forth, as if to address them, but he began in so low a tone of voice, that, not being able to hear him, the people asked him to go to the Propylaeum, where they might all hear him more distinctly. And even then he did not raise his voice enough to be heard distinctly, so that the people were straining to listen to him. Meanwhile his associates went about and secretly carried off all the arms, putting them in the temple of Agraulus. The Athenians, when they found themselves left defenceless, realised too late that Peisistratus' weak voice was only a stratagem to deprive them of their arms.

3   Megacles, who was magistrate on behalf of the rich, and Peisistratus, who was magistrate on behalf of the lower orders, were in dispute with each other. After insulting and menacing Megacles at a public assembly, Peisistratus suddenly went away; and after slightly wounding himself, went into the agora the next day, and revealed his wounds to the Athenians. The people were fired with anger and resentment on seeing what he had suffered in their defence, and assigned him a bodyguard of three hundred men. By means of these guards, who always used to appear armed with clubs, Peisistratus became tyrant of Athens, and left his sons as tyrants after his death. [see also: Plutarch, Sol_30]

[22]   Aristogeiton.

Aristogeiton, when he was put to torture to force him to name his associates, revealed none of them, but instead he named all the friends of Hippias. And when they had all been put to death by order of Hippias, Aristogeiton taunted him for being duped into punishing his own friends. [see also: Diodorus, 10.17'2]

[23]   Polycrates.

When Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos, infested the Greek seas, he made no distinction in his depredations between the friends and foes. He observed that, if his friends demanded back whatever of their property he had seized, he would have the opportunity of obliging them by returning it to them; and thus bind them even more closely to his cause. But if he took nothing from them, then he would have nothing with which to oblige them. [see also: Diodorus, 10.16'1]

2   When the Samians offered a public sacrifice in the temple of Hera, they were attended by a procession of men in arms, and a great quantity of weapons was collected for the occasion. Polycrates gave the conduct of the procession to his brothers, Syloson and Pantognostus. As soon as the sacrifice started, most of the men deposited their weapons on the altar, and addressed themselves to prayer. But the companions of Syloson and Pantagnostus, who were still armed, upon a given signal attacked the others, and each killed those standing by them. Meanwhile Polycrates, at the head of his supporters, occupied the most advantageous places in the city, where he was joined by his brothers and their party, who had promptly forced their way to him from the temple. With these men he fortified and defended himself in the citadel called Astypalaea; until, after receiving reinforcements from Lygdamis, the tyrant of Naxos, he established himself as tyrant of the Samians.

[24]   Histiaeus.

While Histiaeus of Miletus was residing at the court of King Dareius in Persia, he formed a plan to incite the Ionians to revolt; but he was at a loss as to how to transmit a letter safely, when all the roads were controlled by the king's guards. He shaved off the head of one of his servants, and inscribed on it the brief message: "Histiaeus to Aristagoras, call for the revolt of Ionia." As soon as the servant's hair had grown again, he sent him off to Aristagoras. By this means, he passed by the guards without suspicion; and when he reached the coast, he asked to be shaved, and then showed the marks on his head to Aristagoras, who acted as the message instructed, and caused the revolt of Ionia. [see also: Herodotus, 5.35]

[25]   Pittacus.

Pittacus and Phrynon agreed to settle the dispute about the ownership of Sigeium by single combat. In appearance, they both went out to fight with equal weapons; but Pittacus had secretly concealed a net under his shield. He cast the net over Phrynon, and then he easily dragged down his entangled opponent and killed him. It was afterwards wittily remarked that he had captured Sigeium for the Lesbians with a linen net. This stratagem of Pittacus gave rise to the use of nets in duels between gladiators. [see also: Diogenes Laertius, 1.74]

[26]   Bias.

Croesus, the king of Lydia, intended to attack the islands, but was deterred from this plan by Bias of Priene. Bias told the king that the islanders had bought up a great number of horses, so that they might be able to bring a formidable force of cavalry against him. "By Zeus," said the king, "I wish that I could catch those islanders on the continent." "True," said Bias, "and what do you think they could wish for more, than to catch Croesus upon the seas?" This reply of Bias had the effect of dissuading the king from his intended expedition. [see also: Diodorus, 9.25'1]

Following Chapters (27-49)

Attalus' home page   |   14.03.14   |   Any comments?