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Polyaenus: Stratagems

    - BOOK 1, Chapters 27-49

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


CONTENTS:   ← Previous Chapters (1-26) ; 27 Gelon ; 28 Theron ; 29 Hieron ; 30 Themistocles ; 31 Aristeides ; 32 Leonidas ; 33 Leotychides ; 34 Cimon ; 35 Myronides ; 36 Pericles ; 37 Cleon ; 38 Brasidas 39 Nicias ; 40 Alcibiades ; 41 Archidamus ; 42 Gylippus ; 43 Hermocrates ; 44 Eteonicus ; 45 Lysander ; 46 Agis ; 47 Thrasyllus ; 48 Conon ; 49 Xenophon


[27]   Gelon.

Gelon of Syracuse, the son of Deinomenes, was appointed commander in the war against Himilco the Carthaginian. When he had defeated the enemy by his gallant conduct, he went into the assembly and gave an account of his achievements as general: the expenses of the war, the times, arms, horses and ships. After great praise had been bestowed on him for all of this, he removed his armour, and advanced unarmed into the midst of them. "Thus unarmed," he said, "I present myself to you, so that, if I have ever injured or oppressed any individual amongst you, I may now feel the just resentment of your weapons." He was answered by the applause of all present, who acclaimed him as the most gallant, the best of all generals. To this he replied, "Then for the future, always take care to choose a similar leader." But they answered, "We do not have any other such leader." He was therefore elected general for a second time; which paved the way for him to become tyrant of the Syracusans. [see also: Diodorus, 11.26'5]

2   When Himilco, king of Carthage, invaded Sicily, Gelon, who was then the tyrant of the Sicilians, marched against him, but did not venture to risk a battle. Instead he put his own clothes on Pediarchus, who was commander of the archers, and very much resembled him in appearance, and ordered Pediarchus to march out of the camp in order to attend a sacrifice on the altars. The band of archers followed him, dressed in white clothes, and carrying myrtle branches in their hands, but with bows secretly concealed under them. They had been ordered to use the bows against Himilco, as soon as they saw him advancing to sacrifice in a similar manner. When Himilco, not suspecting any trickery, came forward to make a sacrifice, a shower of arrows suddenly cut him down, while he was performing the ceremonies and offering libations. [see also: Diodorus, 11.22'1]

3   In order to overthrow the state of Megara, Gelon invited over to Sicily any of the Dorians who were willing to emigrate. At the same time, he imposed an enormous fine on Diognetus, the ruler of Megara. When Diognetus attempted to raise the money for the fine from his citizens, they refused and joined the colonists at Syracuse, submitting to the power of Gelon.

[28]   Theron.

Theron, in a battle against the Carthaginians, put the enemy to flight. But the Sicilians immediately fell to plundering the tents in the enemy's camp, and while they were thus distracted, they were overwhelmed by the Iberians, who had come to the assistance of the Carthaginians. Theron, perceiving the carnage that was likely to follow, dispatched a body of men to wheel behind the camp and set fire to the farthest tents. The enemy, who had lost their tents and now saw the camp on fire, hurried back to their ships; but the Sicilians pursued them closely, and killed most of them before they could board the ships.

2   Theron, the son of Miltiades.

The inhabitants of Selinus had been defeated by the Carthaginians, and the battlefield was covered with their dead. The enemy pursued them so closely, that they did not dare to return to bury the dead, but they were appalled to leave them neglected and unburied. In this emergency, Theron promised that, if they would provide him with three hundred servants who could cut wood, he would march out with them, burn the dead and erect a tomb for them. "If we fail in our attempt," he continued, "and fall victim to the enemy, the city will not suffer much from the death of one citizen, and three hundred slaves." The inhabitants of Selinus agreed to his proposal, and allowed him to choose the slaves whom he wanted. Accordingly, he chose those whom he judged to be to most active and sturdy, and led them forth, armed with bill-hooks, hatchets, and axes, under pretence of cutting wood for the funeral pyre. But after they had advanced a little distance from the city, Theron persuaded them to revolt against their masters, and late in the evening marched them back to the city. When they made themselves known to the guards, they were readily admitted, but as soon as they had entered, he cut down the guards. Then, having slain in their beds those citizens who were most likely to thwart his designs, he seized the city and made himself tyrant of Selinus.

[29]   Hieron.

When the enemy prepared to dispute his passage over a river, Hieron posted his hoplites at the place where he intended to ford it; and ordered the cavalry and light infantry to advance further up, under pretence of crossing it at another point. When the enemy observed this, they similarly marched their troops further up, in order to thwart his supposed intention. Meanwhile Hieron effected a crossing with his hoplites, easily overwhelming the small force which the enemy had left to oppose them. As soon as he had crossed to the other side, he raised a signal to the cavalry and light infantry, who immediately returned and crossed the river at the first point, where Hieron and his hoplites were able to repel the enemy's attacks.

2   Whenever Hieron, during his wars with the Italians, took any prisoners who were particularly eminent or wealthy, he would not permit them to be immediately ransomed, but always retained them for some time with him, treating them politely and with every mark of honour. Afterwards, when he had received a ransom, he would courteously dismiss them. As a result of these clear signs of favour, they were suspected from that time onwards of secretly supporting the cause of Hieron.

[30]   Themistocles.

The Athenians were disheartened by receiving the following oracle:
  Salamis divine, you will cause the death of many women's children.
But Themistocles cleverly interpreted it as referring to their enemies. "The oracle," he said, "could never refer to Salamis as divine, if it were to prove the cause of destruction to the youth of Greece." This explanation revived the courage and resolution of the Athenians, and their victory proved its veracity. [see also: Herodotus, 7.142-143]

2   The people were convinced by Themistocles' explanation of another, equally obscure oracle:
  Zeus will give a wall of wood to Tritogeneia.
When most of the Athenians thought they had been instructed to fortify their towers, Themistocles told them to man their triremes. "For these," he said, "O Athenians, are your wooden walls." His words had their effect. The Athenians embarked, engaged with the enemy, and overcame them. [see also: Herodotus, 7.141]

3   While the fleet was stationed near Salamis, the Greeks were almost unanimous in favour of retreating, but Themistocles urged them to stay and risk a battle in the narrow seas. As he was unable to convince them, he secretly sent Sicinnus, a eunuch who was tutor to his sons, by night to inform the king that the Greek intended to withdraw; "but", he added, "you should pre-empt them by forcing a battle." The king followed the eunuch's advice, and attacked the Greek fleet; but the narrowness of the strait rendered the vast number of his ships a hindrance, rather than a help to him. Thus by a clever stratagem of their commander, the Greeks obtained a victory, even against their own inclinations. [see also: Herodotus, 8.75]

4   The Greeks, after their victory at Salamis, decided to sail to the Hellespont, in order to destroy the bridge, and cut off the king's retreat. Themistocles opposed this plan, saying that if the king was prevented from retreating, he would be forced to renew the battle; and despair is often found to effect what courage has failed to achieve. Therefore he sent Arsaces, another eunuch, to inform the king that unless he retreated quickly, he would find that the bridge over the Hellespont had been demolished. Alarmed at this information, the king promptly marched to the Hellespont, and crossed the bridge before the Greeks could carry out their plan. In this way Themistocles allowed the Greeks to enjoy their victory, without risking a second battle. [see also: Herodotus, 8.110]

5   When the Athenians first began to fortify their city with walls, the Laconians were greatly annoyed, but Themistocles found a means to deceive them by a clever stratagem. He was sent as an envoy to Sparta, and there he confidently denied that the walls were being constructed. "But," he added, "if you are not convinced by my words, send your best men to find out the truth, and in the meantime keep me here as your prisoner." The Spartans agreed to do this; but Themistocles secretly sent a messenger to the Athenians, with strict instructions to detain any investigators who came to Athens, while the walls were being constructed; and after that, not to allow them to depart until the Spartans had released him. Accordingly, the walls were completed; Themistocles then returned home, the investigators were released, and Athens was fortified, against the will of the Lacedaemonians. [see also: Plutarch, Them_19]

6   During the war against the Aeginetans, Themistocles opposed the plan of the Athenians to distribute amongst themselves a hundred talents, which was the produce of their silver mines; he proposed that they should give a talent to each of a hundred of the wealthiest citizens. If the people were satisfied with the way that the money was spent, then it should be reckoned as coming out of the public account; but if not, then the contributions should be returned to the city. This proposal was accepted; and the hundred citizens without delay each fitted out a splendid trireme. The Athenians found themselves suddenly furnished with a powerful fleet, which they employed not only against the Aeginetans, but also against the Persians. [see also: Aristotle, AthPol_22'7]

7   When the Ionians fought under Xerxes in alliance with the Persians, Themistocles instructed the Greeks to have this inscription placed on the (?) sides of their ships: "O impious Ionians, thus to fight against your fathers!" This message caused the king to distrust the loyalty of the Ionians. [see also: Herodotus, 8.22]

8   Themistocles, when he was escaping from the resentment of the Athenians, embarked for Ionia, without making himself known to the master of the ship. But the vessel was forced by a storm to Naxos, which was at that time being attacked by the Athenians. Themistocles in alarm went to the master, and revealed who he was. At the same time, he threatened that, if the master allowed him to be captured, he would accuse him to the Athenians of having been bribed to transport him to Ionia. For the common safety of both of them, he therefore proposed that no-one should be permitted to set foot on shore. Terrified by these menaces, the master insisted that everyone remained on board; and put out again to sea as quickly as was possible. [see also: Thucydides, 1.137]

[31]   Aristeides.

Aristeides and Themistocles, who were inveterate enemies, were at the head of opposing factions in the state; but when the Persians marched against the Athenians, they went out of the city together, and grasping each other's hand, announced, "Here we leave our former disputes, and lay aside our mutual animosity, until we have put an end to the war in which we are engaged against Persia." After this solemn declaration, loosing their hands, they filled up the ditch nearby, as if they had buried their enmity there; and they continued to co-operate throughout the whole course of the war. This harmony in the conduct of the generals did great damage to the enemy, and secured the victory for themselves.

[32]   Leonidas.

Leonidas fought the Persian army at Thermopylae, where the narrowness of the pass made the great superiority of the enemy's forces of little use to them. [see also: Diodorus, 11.6'4]

2   Shortly before a battle, Leonidas noticed that the clouds looked thick and lowering. He turned about to his officers, and told them not to be surprised at the thunder and lightning, which he observed from the appearance of the sky must be expected very soon. The army of Leonidas, thus forewarned of the phenomenon before it occurred, advanced confidently to battle. But the enemy, terrified and dispirited by the menaces of the elements, were easily defeated.

3   Leonidas, who had made a raid into the enemy's territory, dispatched small groups in different directions, with orders, upon a given signal, to fell trees and set fire to the villages. At sight of this, those who were in the city imagined that the enemy's forces were much more numerous than they really were, and did not venture out to confront them, but allowed them to carry off the spoil unmolested.

[33]   Leotychides.

In a naval battle near Mycale, Leotychides observed that the Greeks were alarmed at the great superiority of the enemy's forces. He devised the following means of detaching the Ionians from their support of the Medes; which he knew they did more through fear, than inclination. He pretended that a dispatch had arrived, with information of a victory obtained by the Greeks over the Persians at Plataea. Encouraged by this news, the Ionians joined the Greeks; and fortune afterwards gave the sanction of truth to this stratagem, because the Greeks did indeed win a victory at Plataea. [see also: Diodorus, 11.35'2]

[34]   Cimon.

After Cimon had defeated the king's satraps at the river Eurymedon, he manned the many ships, which he had captured, with Greeks who were dressed in the style of Medes, and sent them to Cyprus. The Cyprians, deceived by the barbarian clothes, readily received the fleet as friends and allies. But no sooner were they safe on shore, than they revealed very plainly that they were Greeks; and made themselves masters of the island, more by the sudden consternation into which the Cyprians were thrown, than by the force which was employed against them. [see also: Diodorus, 11.61'7]

2   Cimon, having carried off many captives from Sestus and Byzantium, was, at the request of the allies, appointed to distribute them. He assigned the captives, stripped of their possessions, to be one part of the spoils; the other was made up of trousers, cloaks, bracelets and other such things. The allies then chose to take the ornaments, and the Athenians contented themselves with the naked captives. Cimon was ridiculed for having made, as was thought, so unequal a division, and allowing the allies to choose much the better portion. Shortly afterwards, the friends and relations of the captives arrived from Lydia and Phrygia, and redeemed them for very large ransoms. The foresight of Cimon, and the advantageous arrangement he had made, then became clear; and Athenians returned the ridicule upon the allies. [see also: Plutarch, Cim_9]

[35]   Myronides.

The Athenian and Theban armies confronted each other. Myronides, the Athenian general, ordered his men, as soon as the signal for battle was given, to begin the charge from the left. After he had led them for a short time in the charge, he suddenly advanced to the right wing, calling out, "We are victorious in the left." When they heard the word "victorious", the Athenian took fresh courage, and charged the enemy with redoubled fury. The Thebans, on the other hand, were dismayed by the news of their defeat, and abandoned the battlefield to the enemy. [see also: Frontinus, Str_2.4'11]

2   When Myronides was leading the Athenians against Thebes, and was about to advance to battle, he ordered them to ground their arms, and look at the country around them. When they had done so, he said, "Observe what a wide plain this is; and what a large number of cavalry the enemy have in it. If we run away, the cavalry will undoubtedly overtake us; but if we stand like men, there are the fairest hopes of victory." By these words, he convinced them of the necessity of holding their ground; and advanced as far as the territories of Phocis and Locris. [see also: Frontinus, Str_4.7'21]

[36]   Pericles.

The Lacedaemonians were ravaging Attica. In order to divert their operations, by carrying the war into their own country, Pericles fitted out some Athenian triremes with orders to lay waste the coast of Laconia; and thus he retaliated for the injuries the Athenians had sustained, by committing greater damage upon the enemy. [see also: Thucydides, 1.143]

2   Archidamus, who had formerly been a friend and acquaintance of Pericles, invaded Attica. Pericles, who was very rich and had large estates, suspected that on account of their former friendship, Archidamus might not allow his property to be ravaged in the same way as the rest. In order to avoid the suspicion of the Athenians, before the devastation began, he went into the assembly and publicly donated all his possessions to the city. [see also: Thucydides, 2.13]

[37]   Cleon.

By means of a lucky discovery, Cleon betrayed Sestus to the Abydenes without risking a battle. Theodorus, a friend of his, who was commander of the watch in the city, was having an affair with a woman in the suburbs. Theodorus observed that a narrow aqueduct passed through the walls. By removing a stone, he made a hole through which he went to visit his mistress; and on his return, he replaced the stone in its usual position, and continued his affair in secret. Once, when wine and mirth had loosed his tongue, he revealed his intrigue to his friend Cleon. Cleon immediately informed the Abydenes; and on a dark night, when Theodorus had removed the stone and was dallying with his mistress, he brought in some of the enemy through the aqueduct. These, after they had slain the watch, opened the gates to the rest of the enemy, who easily made themselves masters of Sestus.

[38]   Brasidas.

When Amphipolis, which was under Athenian protection, had been betrayed to Brasidas, he ordered the gates to be shut. Then he threw the keys over the wall, so that, not being able to open the gates again to the enemy that besieged the place, they would be forced to rely on a vigorous defence.

2   Brasidas was attacked near Amphipolis, and hemmed in on a rough craggy hill. To prevent his escape, the enemy raised a high wall of stone round the hill. The Laconians urged their general to lead them out to battle, and not to let them be cooped up until they perished from famine. But Brasidas ignored their protests, and told them that he knew best what was the proper time for battle. When the enemy had extended their wall round most of the hill, and only one place was left open, like a pass into a spacious lawn, he gave orders for battle, saying that this was the time for them to show their bravery. By a vigorous sally, they forced a passage through, with great slaughter of the enemy and little loss to themselves. The narrowness of the entrance was of no inconvenience to the small number of their forces, while the wall secured them from an attack on their rear. Thus the enemy's numbers were rendered useless, and the Laconians effected a safe retreat. [see also: Frontinus, Str_1.5'23]

3   When Brasidas had advanced secretly to Amphipolis and found everything there in confusion, he judged it sensible not to risk a battle with enemy forces who would be inflamed by despair. He issued a proclamation, promising safety to the Athenians, if they would agree to a truce with him and then retreat with their own property. And to the citizens of Amphipolis he made another proposal, that they could retain their freedom, if they entered into a strict alliance with the Lacedaemonians. The terms of the proclamations were accepted by the Athenians, who withdrew their forces; the citizens of Amphipolis willingly became allies of the Lacedaemonians, and Brasidas gained control of their city. [see also: Thucydides, 4.105]

4   When Brasidas intended to sail to Scione by night, he ordered a trireme to be manned, and sail before him, while he followed in a light vessel; so that if the trireme was attacked by a larger vessel, the light vessel could come to its assistance; but if it was attacked by another trireme, Brasidas could sail on and arrive safely at Scione. [see also: Thucydides, 4.120]

5   When the enemy were harassing on the Lacedaemonians' rear in a narrow defile, Brasidas ordered his men to cut down large quantities of wood as they marched, and to pile it in heaps. Then he set the wood on fire, so that the flames spread far around; thus he secured his rear, and effected a safe retreat.

[39]   Nicias.

Nicias sailed by night to the mountain Solyges, which is in the territory of Corinth. There he landed his Athenian forces, and a thousand other troops, and posted them in ambush in different places. Then he returned to Athens, and the next morning as soon as it was light he set sail openly for Corinth. The Corinthians promptly advanced to oppose him, and to dispute his landing; but the Athenians suddenly arose from their ambush, and totally defeated the enemy. [see also: Thucydides, 4.42-44]

2   While the Athenians were encamped by the Olympieium, Nicias ordered his men to fix wooden spikes by night in the level ground, which extended in front of the camp. On the next day Ecphantus, the Syracusan commander, attacked with his cavalry, but he was entirely routed, as the spikes stuck into the horses' hooves with every step that they advanced. Many of them, who were unable to make good their retreat, were cut down by the peltasts, who had been provided with hard stiff shoes for that purpose.

3   Nicias was left to defend a town with a few men, while the main body of the army was at Thapsus. The Syracusans seized possession of the outworks, where a great quantity of wood was deposited. Nicias, finding himself unable to defend the town any longer, set fire to the wood, which continued to burn fiercely and repelled the enemy, until the army returned from Thapsus and relieved him. [see also: Plutarch, Nic_18]

4   Nicias, when he was being closely pursued by Gylippus and very near to being captured, sent a herald to him with a proposal to surrender on whatever conditions he might offer; and at the time same he asked for someone to be sent to ratify the truce. Gylippus, who believed the herald, stopped the pursuit and encamped where he was, while he sent back the herald, and with him one who was assigned to conclude the treaty. But in the meantime Nicias seized a more advantageous position, and continued the war, after securing his retreat through the pretence of the herald. [see also: Thucydides, 7.83]

[40]   Alcibiades.

To test the loyalty of his friends, Alcibiades used the following stratagem. In a dark corner of his house he shut up a statue of a man, which he revealed separately to his friends, pretending that it was a person whom he had murdered, and begged their assistance in trying to conceal the fact. They all excused themselves from any involvement in an affair of that nature, except Callias, the son of Hipponicus, who readily offered to take the pretended corpse, and hide it so that it would not be discovered. Thus Alcibiades discovered that Callias was a faithful friend; and ever afterwards he held him in the first place in his affections.

2   When Alcibiades sailed against a foreign city, he landed his forces in the enemy's territory by night, and awaited their attack on the next day; but he found that they were not inclined to venture out of the city and hazard a battle. Therefore he planted some men in ambush; and, after burning his tents, weighed anchor and sailed away. As soon as the inhabitants of the city saw him embark, they confidently opened their gates, and in little groups straggled up and down the countryside. But then the men in ambush, sallying out against them, took many prisoners and a considerable amount of booty. Alcibiades immediately appeared on the coast again, and taking on board both the spoil and the captors, sailed away from there. [see also: Frontinus, Str_3.11'3]

3   While the Lacedaemonians were besieging Athens, Alcibiades wanted to encourage the guards of the Peiraeus and the long walls to be vigilant. He announced that three times every night he would hold out a torch from the acropolis, and that if any of the guards failed to respond by holding up their torch at the same time, they would be punished for neglect of duty. The stratagem had the desired effect; for all the guards took care to remain prepared, to respond to their general's signal. [see also: Frontinus, Str_3.12'1]

4   In the expedition against Sicily, Alcibiades landed at Corcyra, and because his army was numerous, he divided it into three parts, so that supplies could be provided more easily. He advanced to Catane, but found that the inhabitants were determined not to admit him. Therefore he sent an envoy to them, requesting that he should be permitted to enter their city alone, to communicate some proposals to them. After they agreed to this, he left orders with his officers, that they should vigorously attack the city's weakest gates, while the citizens were gathered in the assembly. Accordingly, the citizens of Catane found that the Athenians had gained possession of their city, while Alcibiades was still addressing them. [see also: Thucydides, 6.51]

5   After Alcibiades gained possession of Catane, he found a loyal assistant in one of the citizens, who was also well known at Syracuse. Alcibiades sent him to Syracuse, on pretence of coming from the Syracusans' allies at Catane, who were known to them by name. He brought information that the Athenians spent their time at Catane in pleasure, and used to leave their camp casually, without their weapons; therefore if the Syracusans could surprise the camp early in the morning, they would find it easy to capture the other Athenians, who were unarmed and indulging themselves in the city. The Syracusan generals were convinced by the message; they advanced with their whole army to Catane, and encamped by the river Symaethus. As soon as Alcibiades perceived that they were advancing, he manned his triremes as quickly as possible, and sailed directly to Syracuse; because the city had been left empty of defenders, he was able to demolish the fortifications alongside it. [see also: Thucydides, 6.64]

6   When Alcibiades was ordered to return from Sicily to stand trial, on charges of defacing the statues of Hermes and of profaning the mysteries, he hired a merchant-ship and sailed to Lacedaemon. There he advised the Spartans to send aid immediately to Syracuse, and to fortify Deceleia against the Athenians. If they followed this advice, the Athenians would receive produce neither from the soil nor from their silver mines; and also the islanders were likely to come out in revolt, when they saw them thus under siege. When it turned out as he predicted, the Athenians voted for him to be recalled from exile.

7   While the Athenians were fighting against the Syracusans, Alcibiades noticed that there was a great quantity of dry fern between the two armies. When a brisk wind was blowing from behind the Athenians, and towards the enemy's faces, he ordered the fern to be set on fire. The wind drove the smoke into the enemy's eyes, and as a result they were completely routed.

8   When Alcibiades was trying to escape from Tiribazus, there was only way by which he could secure his retreat, while the enemy hung upon his rear, but did not risk a general engagement. Alcibiades encamped in a place which was well covered with wood; he ordered a quantity of timber to be cut down, and piled in different heaps. In the middle of the night he set fire to the wood, and secretly left his camp. The barbarians, seeing the fire, never suspected that the Greeks had decamped; and when Tiribazus did discover the stratagem, he found that his progress was so impeded by the fire, that he had to desist from pursuing them.

9   Alcibiades secretly sent Theramenes and Thrasybulus with a large squadron to Cyzicus, in order to cut off the enemy's retreat to the city, while he himself advanced with a few triremes to offer them battle. Mindarus, despising his little fleet, immediately prepared for battle. No sooner had they drawn close, than Alcibiades' ships pretended to turn to flight, and Mindarus' ships, as if they already had the victory, eagerly pursued them. But Alcibiades, as soon as he was approaching the squadron under the command of Theramenes and Thrasybulus, hoisted the signal and turned around to face the enemy. Mindarus then attempted to sail away towards the city; but he was prevented by the intervention of Theramenes. Cut off from that route of escape, Mindarus directed his course to Cleri, a point in the territory of Cyzicus; but there also he was prevented from landing by the army of Pharnabazus. Meanwhile Alcibiades closely pursued him, and broke his ships by ramming them with his beaks, or hauled them off with grappling-irons, while they were attempting to land. Any of the enemy who managed to reach land were cut to pieces by Pharnabazus. The death of Mindarus finally completed a brilliant and glorious victory for Alcibiades. [see also: Diodorus, 13.50]

[41]   Archidamus.

On the night before a battle, in which Archidamus was about to command the Spartan army against the Arcadians, in order to raise the spirits of the Spartans, he had an altar secretly erected, adorned with two suits of shining armour; and he ordered two horses to be led around it. In the morning, the captains and officers, seeing the new suits of armour and the marks of two horses' feet, and an altar raised as it were of its own accord, were convinced that the Dioscuri had come to fight alongside them. The soldiers, because they were thus filled with courage and inspired by their belief in assistance from the gods, fought bravely and defeated the Arcadians. [see also: Frontinus, Str_1.11'9]

2   While Archidamus was besieging Corinth, disputes broke out between the rich and the poor within the city; one party wanted to deliver up the city to the enemy, while the other wanted to establish an oligarchy. When Archidamus heard of these divisions, he slackened the siege; he no longer brought his machines up to the walls, he no longer extended ditches around the city, and he ceased from levelling the ground. The rich men were convinced by this that the other party had already arranged to betray the city to him; therefore they decided to pre-empt them, and sent envoys who promised to surrender the city to Archidamus, on condition that he guaranteed their personal safety.

3   There was a violent earthquake at Lacedaemon, after which only five houses were left standing. Archidamus saw that the men were wholly occupied in saving their possessions, and was afraid that they themselves would be trapped and buried in the buildings. Therefore he ordered the trumpet to sound an alarm; at this, the Laconians, imagining that an enemy was advancing against them, assembled around him. In this way, even when their houses collapsed, the men themselves were kept safe. [see also: Plutarch, Cim_16]

4   When he was about to be utterly defeated by the Arcadians, Archidamus, who was weak and disabled by his wounds, sent to ask for a truce, so that they could bury their dead, before the rest of his army was destroyed. [see also: Xenophon, Hell_7.4'25]

5   Archidamus marched his army at night to Caryae, by a long difficult route, rough and craggy, and lacking in water. He tried, as much as possible, to keep up the spirits of his men, although they were harassed by a tiring and laborious march, and continually encouraged them to persevere. By this forced march, they surprised the enemy; and because they were unprepared for so sudden an attack, entirely defeated them, and plundered the city. Afterwards, when they were celebrating their victory in the captured town, Archidamus asked them, at what particular time the city appeared to them to be captured. Some answered, when they began the close attack; others, when they came within reach of their javelins. "Neither," replied Archidamus, "but when we continued our march along that tedious dry road; for perseverance and resolution eventually conquer everything."

[42]   Gylippus.

Gylippus, wishing to be invested with the chief command of the Syracusan army, invited the other generals to a council of war. There he communicated to them a plan for gaining possession of a hill which lay between the city and the Athenian camp. After they had confirmed that they agreed with this plan, he dispatched a deserter to inform the Athenians of his intentions; they took advantage of this information, and themselves immediately took possession of the hill. Gylippus pretended great indignation at this, as if his plan had been revealed to the enemy by one of the other generals. To prevent any such unwanted disclosures in future, the Syracusan leaders entrusted to Gylippus the sole management of the war.

2   In order to recover the hill, which the Athenians had occupied, Gylippus selected twenty out of a great number of triremes, which he manned and kept in readiness. As soon as he had a full complement for the rest of the fleet, he ordered these ships to put out to sea early the next morning. The enemy no sooner perceived them under sail, than they also embarked, and advanced to give them battle. But while they were edging off, and the Athenians were briskly pursuing them, Gylippus also, having manned the rest of the fleet, put out to sea. Because the Athenians were distracted by the naval action, the few troops that they had left behind were easily dislodged by Gylippus' infantry, who afterwards occupied the position. [see also: Thucydides, 7.22]

[43]   Hermocrates.

When an insurrection took place at Syracuse, and a great band of slaves was gathered together, Hermocrates sent an envoy to their leader Sosistratus. The envoy was Daïmachus, a captain of cavalry and formerly a friend and particular acquaintance of Sosistratus. He told Sosistratus from the generals, that because of their great regard for the bravery which he had shown, they had agreed to give the men their freedom, furnish them with arms, and grant them military rations; and that they also admitted him to the rank of general, and requested that he would forthwith come and join them in their deliberations on public business. Relying on the friendship of Daïmachus, Sosistratus went to meet the generals, with twenty of his best and ablest men; but they were immediately seized, and thrown into chains. Meanwhile Hermocrates marched out with six thousand picked men, and having captured the rest of the slaves, he promised them on oath, that they should receive no ill treatment from him, provided that they would return to their respective masters; to which they all agreed, except three hundred, who deserted to the Athenians.

2   The Athenians, having been defeated in a final naval battle off Sicily, resolved to withdraw their forces during the night, while the Syracusans were overcome by wine and sleep after celebrating their victories with a sacrifice. Hermocrates suspected their intentions, but did not want to hazard a battle with troops as drowsy and inebriated as his were. He dispatched a deserter, who told Nicias that his friends, who were always keen to pass him crucial information, informed him that if he attempted to make his retreat during the night, he would inevitably fall into the enemy's ambush. Nicias was convinced by the message, and remained in his camp until the next day. The next morning, Hermocrates ordered the Syracusans to arms; by that time they were well refreshed and had slept off the effects of the evening's wine. He occupied positions at the crossings and bridges over the rivers, and defeated the Athenians with great slaughter. [see also: Thucydides, 7.73]

[44]   Eteonicus.

While Conon the Athenian was besieging Eteonicus the Laconian at Mytilene, a light-horseman arrived with news that Callicratidas, the Spartan admiral, had been defeated at Arginusae. Eteonicus commanded the messenger to leave the city secretly by night, and to return the next day, crowned with a wreath and singing a paean. Eteonicus then offered a sacrifice for the news of the victory, while Conon and the Attic army, struck with consternation, raised the siege. Eteonicus, exerting himself with renewed vigour, sent the fleet away to Chios, and marched the army to Methymna, a city which was then in alliance with the Lacedaemonians. [see also: Xenophon, Hell_1.6'36]

[45]   Lysander.

Lysander, who had promised his Milesian friends that he would put the people under their control, went to Miletus for that purpose. In his public speeches, he severely reprimanded the plotters, but promised the citizens that he would strive to secure their liberty, and to protect them in it. The people, not doubting his sincerity, readily accepted his offers, and put themselves under his protection. Then, at a given signal, his friends fell upon the unsuspecting citizens, who were unprepared for such an attack; and after the leaders of the opposition had been slain, they established themselves as rulers of Miletus. [see also: Plutarch, Lys_8]

2   At Aegospotami the Athenians several times put out to sea, and bearing down upon the enemy offered them battle, which Lysander the Laconian always declined; whereupon they returned to their camp, exulting in their success and singing paeans. Lysander at last sent two triremes to observe them; and their captains, as soon as they observed the enemy landing, hoisted a brazen shield as a signal to Lysander, who immediately advanced with the rest of the fleet. The Laconians rowed across as fast as possible, and reached the Athenians just after their forces had been landed. Some of the Athenians had gone to rest, while others were employed, some on one task and some on another. Then the Lacedaemonians suddenly attacked them, and as a regular force against a confused rabble, obtained an easy victory. They captured the whole fleet, both men and triremes, except only the Paralus, which escaped to carry the news of the defeat to Athens. [see also: Plutarch, Lys_11]

3   Lysander used to say, that boys were to be cheated with dice, but an enemy with oaths. [see also: Plutarch, Lys_8]

4   After Lysander had seized control of Thasos, knowing that many of the citizens, who supported the Athenians, had concealed themselves through fear of the Laconian, he assembled the Thasians in the temple of Heracles. There, in a gracious and conciliating speech, he indicated to them how readily he forgave all those who might have concealed themselves as a result of this revolution in the state; and hoped that they would dismiss all fear of his resentment. The Thasians trusted in the assurance he gave them, in so sacred a place as the temple, and that too in the city of his ancestor Heracles. Those, who had before concealed themselves, began to venture out and appear in public. But Lysander, after forbearing two or three days to take any notice of them, so that they might become less cautious, suddenly ordered them to be seized and executed. [see also: Nepos, 6'2]

5   When the Lacedaemonians and their allies were debating, whether they should entirely destroy the city of Athens, Lysander urged many arguments against doing so. He particularly emphasised that Thebes, which was a neighbouring state, would thereby be rendered more powerful, and a more formidable enemy to Sparta. Whereas, if they could preserve the loyalty of Athens, under the government of tyrants, they might watch over the actions of the Thebans from nearby, and keep them from growing too great. Lysander's advice was approved, and they were prevailed upon to give up the plan of destroying Athens.

[46]   Agis.

In a war with the Peloponnesians, the Lacedaemonians suffered from great scarcity of provisions. Agis gave orders that the oxen should be kept from feeding for one whole day; and to conceal from the enemy their distress, he sent some deserters to inform them, that the next day large reinforcements were expected in the Laconian camp. Throughout the day the mouths of the cattle were kept muzzled; and they were loosed as soon as night came on. The hungry oxen, when they thus set free and turned loose into the pastures, leaped about and bellowed, raising a terrible noise, which the cavities between the hills increased yet more. Agis ordered the soldiers at the same time to spread around, and kindle several fires. The Peloponnesians, alarmed at the bellowing of the oxen and the shouting, as well as by the fires that they observed, assumed that the enemy had been strongly reinforced. They immediately struck camp, and fled away.

[47]   Thrasyllus.

To conceal from the enemy the number of his ships, Thrasyllus ordered the pilots to link them together in pairs, unfurling the sails of only one of each pair. By this stratagem, his fleet appeared to the enemy to be only half of its real size.

2   Thrasyllus, who was vigorously besieging Byzantium, struck Anaxilas and the other Byzantine generals with such terror, lest their city should be captured by storm, that they agreed to surrender the city within a fixed time, and gave hostages for the observance of these terms. Thrasyllus accordingly raised the siege, and sailed off with his army for Ionia; but then he returned secretly by night, and seized control of the city of the Byzantines while they were off their guard. [see also: Diodorus, 13.66-67]

[48]   Conon.

Conon, who was in danger of being abandoned by his allies, dispatched a deserter to the enemy, with information of their intended retreat, of the time when they intended to depart, and of their route. The enemy took measures accordingly, and placed an ambush to intercept them. Conon then told the allied army that he had received intelligence, that an ambush had been planted to intercept them; but he was happy to be able to inform them, so that they might be on their guard, and thus make their retreat more safely. The allies took his advice, and discovered the ambush; then, won over by his generosity, they returned to the camp, and remained with him until he had put a successful end to the war.

2   Conon was confronted by Callicratidas, with a fleet twice the size of his, and pursued almost to Mytilene; but when Conon observed that the Lacedaemonian ships were widely separated in the pursuit, he hoisted the purple flag, which was a signal for battle to the other commanders. His ships immediately stood to, and forming a line, furiously attacked the Lacedaemonian fleet. The enemy were thrown into confusion by this sudden about-turn, and most of their ships were either damaged or sunk. Thus Conon obtained a complete victory. [see also: Diodorus, 13.77]

3   When Agesilaus was ravaging Asia, Conon, who had been sent to assist Pharnabazus, advised the Persian to distribute his gold amongst the demagogues of the Greek cities. "Once they have received this," he said, "they will at your request persuade their states, not only to make peace with you, but also to take up arms against the Lacedaemonians." Pharnabazus followed this advice, and as a result the Corinthian war soon broke out, which forced the Spartans to recall Agesilaus from Asia. [see also: Diodorus, 14.81-83]

4   Conon, when he was blocked up in Mytilene by the Lacedaemonians, wished to inform the Athenians of the situation, but realised that it was difficult to do so without being intercepted. Therefore he manned two of his swiftest sailing ships with able seamen, and after providing them with everything necessary, he ordered them to lie still until evening. As soon as day closed, he observed that the guards were straggling around the shore, and employed in various tasks: some dressing their wounds, some piling up wood, and others lighting fires. Then he ordered the ships to set sail, and to steer on different courses, so that if one was captured, the other might escape. The ships both arrived safely, because the enemy were too preoccupied to pursue them in time. [see also: Xenophon, Hell_1.6'20]

5   Just before a naval battle, Conon, who had been informed by a deserter that a picked detachment of the enemy's fleet intended, as their principal aim, to capture the ship in which he sailed, fitted out a trireme exactly like his own, and dressed the captain in an admiral's uniform. He ordered the ship to take its position on the right wing, and also commanded that the whole fleet should receive their signals from it. When the enemy observed this, they formed a line of their best ships, and immediately advanced against the supposed flagship. But Conon, vigorously attacking them with the rest of his fleet, sank some of the ships, and put the rest to flight.

[49]   Xenophon.

Xenophon, in the famous retreat of the ten thousand men from Persia, when he found that Tisaphernes' cavalry were continually attacking his baggage, advised that their wagons, along with all that was not absolutely necessary either for war or for the transport of their supplies, should be left behind. Otherwise the Greek would lose all chance of retreating safely, by sacrificing their lives in defence of their property. [see also: Xenophon, Anab_3.2'27]

2   As the enemy kept on harassing his rear, Xenophon formed his little army into two lines, placing his baggage in a hollow square in the middle. In this formation, he proceeded on his march; and his rear was protected by the cavalry, slingers and peltasts, who repelled the frequent attacks of the barbarians. [see also: Xenophon, Anab_3.3'16-19]

3   Xenophon observed that the barbarians had occupied a narrow defile, through which he had to march. Looking around from a high mountain with a wide view of the countryside, he spotted a hill, that was accessible, but defended by a group of the enemy. He took a detachment, which he judged sufficient for the purpose, and led them towards the hill. After dislodging the forces who were posted there, he showed himself to the enemy below. When they saw the advantageous position of the Greeks, they took to flight; and thus provided a safe way through for the Greek army. [see also: Xenophon, Anab_3.4'37-49]

4   The barbarian cavalry were drawn up on the other side of a river, which Xenophon needed to cross, and were ready to resist his passage over it. Xenophon selected a thousand men, whom he sent to ford the river a little upstream, while he himself, to distract the attention of the enemy, made a feint as if to cross it directly opposite their forces. When the detachment reached the opposite side of the river, they attacked the enemy from above and inflicted many casualties, so that Xenophon was able to cross over safely with the remaining part of his army. [see also: Xenophon, Anab_4.3'20-21]


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