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Polyaenus: Stratagems

    - BOOK 6

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


CONTENTS:   1 Jason ; 2 Alexander of Pherae ; 3 Athenocles ; 4 Philopoemen ; 5 Aratus ; 6 Pyrrhus ; 7 Apollodorus ; 8 Aegyptus ; 9 Leucon ; 10 Alexander, general of the guards ; 11 Aristeides of Elea ; 12 Alexander, son of Lysimachus ; 13 The Amphictyons ; 14 The Samnites ; 15 The Campanians ; 16 The Carthaginians ; 17 The Ambraciots ; 18 The Phocians ; 19 The Plataeans ; 20 The Corcyraeans ; 21 The Egestaeans ; 22 The Locrians ; 23 The Corinthians ; 24 The Lampsacenians ; 25 The Chalcedonians ; 26 The Aetolians ; 27 The Lacedaemonians ; 28 The Messenians ; 29 The Iberians ; 30 The Heracleians ; 31 The Argives ; 32 The Chians ; 33 The Ambraciots ; 34 The Buchetians ; 35 The Samians ; 36 The Eleans ; 37 The Parians ; 38 Hannibal ; 39 The Thessalians ; 40 Masinissa ; 41 Hamilcar ; 42 Hasdrubal ; 43 Nasamon ; 44 The priest ; 45 Syloson ; 46 Alexander the Thessalian ; 47 Thrasybulus ; 48 Mentor ; 49 Anaxagoras ; 50 Pindarus ; 51 Theron ; 52 Sisyphus ; 53 Hagnon ; 54 Amphiretus


[Preface] To your most sacred majesties, Antoninus and Verus, I also address this sixth book of Stratagems; and I most ardently hope hereafter to employ myself in handing down to posterity those excellent stratagems which you yourselves have practiced in your wars, which have been a uniform series of successes. For superior as you are to ancient generals in power and fortune, far more do you excel them in experience and abilities; by which you have so successfully terminated foreign wars with many barbarous nations, and in concert with your father you have formed plans for the permanent management of the conquered Moors, the subjugated Britons, and the humbled Getae. The Persians and the Parthians now call down the thunder of your war upon them. Go then, and under the the favour of the immortal gods, display your wisdom in forming plans, and your fortitude in the execution of them. I shall be happy to employ myself in a full and accurate relation of those exploits, which posterity will receive with admiration. In the mean time, I will add more achievements of ancient heroes, to those that I have already offered to you.

[1]   Jason.

Jason, having formed a plan to attack a city in Thessaly, without communicating his plan to his army, ordered them to be reviewed, and to receive their pay. As soon as they came to the ground, in arms, and in good spirits, messengers suddenly arrived with intelligence, that the enemy had invaded their territories, and were just as far distant, as the city which he had it in mind to attack. The army, equipped for battle, urged him to make no delay, but to lead them immediately against the enemy. He availed himself of their request, marched against the city, surprised it, and took it, while the victors and the vanquished were equally unaware of his intentions.

2   Jason the Thessalian was being pressed by his men for their pay, and he did not have the money to discharge the arrears. He ran hastily into his mother's apartments, as if to escape the violence of the soldiers, and two or three of them at the same time rushed in with him. His mother, who was exceedingly rich, composed all their differences, and paid the arrears.

3   Jason lacked money to pay his troops after a war, which he had concluded with success. He told his mother, that in the course of the war he had received manifest assistance from the Dioscuri, and that he had vowed that, if he was successful, he would celebrate a magnificent sacrifice in honour of them; to which he had invited his generals, commanders, captains, and all the officers in the army. Believing this, she sent him cups, bowls, tables, and the whole collection of table plate that she had, in gold and silver. As soon as he received it, he sold it all, and paid his mercenaries.

4   Jason had taken a city, that was very rich, and full of elegant and valuable commodities. He sent a messenger to his mother, asking her to send all the servants she had about her, who were versed in works of elegance and embroidery, to choose for her such articles as they thought most magnificent, and most suitable for her to receive. She therefore ordered all, whose taste she most relied upon, to go upon this errand; but Jason kept them imprisoned, until she purchased their ransom at great expense.

5   Jason, with one of his brothers, went to his mother, who was entertaining herself with her servants in the room, where the needlework and embroidery were done. He pretended to have business of importance, on which to consult her, and ask the servants to withdraw. The guards accordingly conducted them out of the room; and after a long conversation, Jason laughed, and told his mother, that if she wanted her servants back again, she would have to send for them, and ransom them.

6   Jason had a brother, whose name was Meriones. Meriones was exceedingly wealthy, but very mean, and not at all disposed to supply his pressing needs. When a son was born to Jason, he invited the Thessalian chiefs to an entertainment on the occasion, when a name was to be given to the child; and he particularly invited his brother, whom he wished to take a principal part in the ceremony. While Meriones was thus engaged, Jason pretended to go out hunting; but instead of that, he went to Pagasae, the place where his brother resided. Surrounding his house with a troop of armed men, he bound up the servants, and took away twenty talents of silver. He then returned in high spirits to the entertainment, where he desired his brother to preside over the proceedings, and also begged him to give a name to the child. Meriones, who at that moment was informed that his house had been plundered, gave the child the name of Porthaon, or the plunderer.

7   Jason, accompanied by his brother Polydorus, went to take possession of a city, and to sell the confiscated property in it. At bathing time, he advised his brother, in order to improve the circulation of his blood, to rub his body well, and use the strigil freely, as he did. As he endeavoured to do this, Jason remarked to him, that the ring which he wore on his finger was hindering him. He advised him to pull the ring off, and put it aside, until he was dressed again. Polydorus accordingly handed the ring, to someone who was standing nearby, to hold for him. But that man, as he had been instructed by Jason, took it directly to Polydorus' wife, and asked her for ten talents of gold, producing her husband's ring as proof of his commission for that purpose. This convinced her, and she immediately gave the money to the messenger, and as soon as he brought it to Jason, he gave up the strigil, and told his brother that it was time to get dressed.

[2]   Alexander of Pherae.

While Leosthenes lay before Panormus, Alexander did not dare to risk a general action with the whole Athenian fleet, but sent a messenger to the garrison by night (?) on a light boat. He directed them, if the enemy detached any ships from their station, to let him know of it, by lighting an additional beacon on the tower facing the garrison in Magnesia; and the men in Magnesia would then light a beacon towards Pagasae. Leosthenes, according to his plans, dispatched a ship to Samos, another to Thasos, and a third to the Hellespont. The besieged garrison informed Alexander of this by the signals which had been agreed; and he immediately attacked the Athenian fleet while it was thus weakened, and defeated them. [see also: Diodorus, 15.95]

2   Alexander, after the battle of Peparethus, dispatched some vessels immediately to the market in the Peiraeus, in the hope of catching the Athenians relaxed and off their guard, in consequence of their recent victory. He ordered his men to seize all the money they found on the tables. The Athenians, supposing them to be friends, never attempted to prevent them landing. But as soon as they had landed, they went on the attack, and with drawn swords immediately secured possession of the money tables. While the Athenians fled into the city, to give information to the generals of what had happened at the Peiraeus, they possessed themselves of the money, and retreated to their ships.

[3]   Athenocles.

When Athenocles was closely besieged, as protection against the battering ram and other siege machines, the he contrived to run bars of lead along the sides of the fortress, which broke the violence of the blows, and damaged the enemy's machines. Against this device, the besiegers sent forward another machine, which dislodged the mass of lead in such a direction, that its fall hurt no-one who was under it. Then, under cover of the testudo, they advanced again to the attack, and shook the walls. Nevertheless, the men inside the fortress continued to exert themselves vigorously. Through brazen pipes they poured molten lead from the walls, which split up the testudo. But the enemy contrived, from the siege works which they had erected, to largely counteract the effect of the lead, by pouring on it a quantity of vinegar, which soon extinguished the lead, as well as other combustibles which were thrown from the walls. For nothing is more effective than vinegar in extinguishing fire; nor can anything be secured against fire in a better way, than by rubbing it over with vinegar; the fire no sooner touches the liquid, than it is extinguished. They also hung sponges filled with water around it. And some covered their machines with sand and dirt, as protection against the molten lead.

[4]   Philopoemen.

Philopoemen thought it was not the part of a good general, to always lead the phalanx; but he used to ride through the ranks, and be sometimes in the van, sometimes in the centre, and sometimes in the rear. By his means, he saw everything, and was always at hand to correct whatever he saw that was wrong in any part of the army.

2   When Philopoemen was defeated by the Lacedaemonians, and was pursued by them to the river Eurotas, as soon as he crossed the river, he ordered the cavalry to unbridle their horses, and give them water. The Lacedaemonians, from the confidence which he displayed, supposed that an ambush had been planted, and did not venture to cross the river, but gave up the pursuit.

3   Instead of the small shield and short spear, Philopoemen introduced into the Achaean army the use of the sarissa and large shield, and also the helmet, coat of mail, and greaves. Instead of skirmishing with javelins, as light armed troops, he made them stand firm and close in battle. Likewise, he discouraged all elegance in dress, and the luxuries of the table. He observed that military men ought to forsake everything, that was not absolutely necessary. By these means Philopoemen reformed his army; and no general of his age led braver, or more hardy, troops into battle.

[5]   Aratus.

Aratus used the following stratagem to make himself master of Acrocorinth, which Antigonus held with a garrison, under the command the Persaeus the philosopher and Archelaus, general of the forces. There were at Corinth four brothers, who were Syrians by birth; one of them was Diocles, who belonged to the garrison that defended the fortress. The other three had been involved in robbing the royal treasury, and had sold the gold to Aesias, a money-changer at Sicyon, who was employed by Aratus in money matters. Erginus, who was one of the brothers, was frequently at this money-changer's house, and a constant guest at his entertainments. When the discussion one day turned to Acrocorinth, he remarked that he had discovered a cleft in the precipices, on which it was built; and a hollow way ran obliquely through the cleft, extending to the walls themselves. When Aesias mentioned this to Aratus, he tried by every means to cultivate Erginus' acquaintance, and promised to pay him seven talents, if he should become master of Acrocorinth. Erginus accepted the proposal, and with his brothers undertook to put Aratus in possession of it. Preparations were accordingly made for the attack. Aratus posted his army nearby, and ordered them to rest on their weapons. From there he took with him four hundred picked men, with whom he entered the cleft by night, and continued on his way until he reached the walls; he placed ladders on the walls, and immediately climbed them. As soon as those inside the fortress became aware of the assault, a desperate fight started. The moon sometimes gave a momentary light, and then, in passing under a cloud, withdrew it again, and left the combatants to fight on in the dark. Aratus' troops gained the victory; and as soon as day broke, they opened the gates to the rest of the army. Aratus took Archelaus prisoner, but afterwards freed him, and gave him leave to depart to whatever place he chose. Theophrastus, who refused to leave the place, was killed; and Persaeus the philosopher, seeing the fort captured, escaped to Cenchreae, from where he made his way to Antigonus.

[6]   Pyrrhus.

Pyrrhus, after he had been defeated by the Romans, and had lost his elephants, sent an embassy to Antigonus, asking for his assistance. When this request was refused, he directed his ambassadors everywhere to say the opposite: that Antigonus had agreed to assist him with a powerful force. And thus he held together the Tarentines, the Sicilians, and some of the Italian states, who would otherwise have deserted him, by the hope that Antigonus would become their ally.

2   Pyrrhus, having undertaken an expedition into the Peloponnese, received with great respect the embassies, which the Spartans sent to treat in Arcadia; and he promised to send his sons to Sparta, to be instructed according to the rules of Lycurgus. While the ambassadors, as a result of these statements, were extolling the friendly and peaceable nature of Pyrrhus, he arrived at Sparta with a powerful army. And when they accused him of acting contrary to his statements, he replied with a smile: "When you Spartans have decided on a war, it is your habit not to inform your enemy of it. Therefore do not complain of unfair treatment, if I have used a Spartan stratagem against the Spartans."

3   Before Pyrrhus engaged in a war, he always tried to bring the enemy to terms; by making clear to that otherwise there would the terrible consequences, by trying to convince them where their own interests lay, by demonstrating to them the miseries that must come with the war, and by urging every just and reasonable argument against it.

[7]   Apollodorus.

When Apollodorus of Cassandreia was charged with plotting to deprive the people of their liberty, he appeared in black, with his wife and daughters dressed in the same manner. In this fashion, he surrendered himself to his judges, to dispose of him as they pleased; but, seeing him so humiliated, they were touched with compassion, and acquitted him. Not long afterwards, Apollodorus pursued his schemes with more success, and seized power. The first act of his tyranny was directed against the judges, who had acquitted him. He punished them with the greatest cruelty, as if he owed his life not their humanity, but to his own conduct.

2   Apollodorus, when he was a private citizen at Cassandreia, was so careful in his words and actions, that he was considered the greatest patriot who ever lived. He signed the decree for the removal of the tyrant Lachares from Cassandreia, because Lachares was a friend and ally of king Antiochus, and suspected of intending to betray the people to him. And when Theodotus proposed that he should have a bodyguard, he himself was the first to oppose the motion. He also established the Eurydicaea, a feast in commemoration of Eurydice, who had restored liberty to the citizens of Cassandreia. He obtained the freedom of the city for the soldiers, who had refused to defend the fortress against the people, and he allotted them settlements in Pallene, so that they might remain there, as guardians of the public liberty. And at all public meetings he was continually denouncing despotism, as the most dreadful of all things which could happen to a people. By these devices he deceived the people so effectively, that at the very time when he had formed a plot to seize the sovereignty of the state, he was supposed to be the most determined foe of tyranny. He had gained the support of a gang of slaves and workmen, whom he summoned to a private meeting. There he killed a youth, whose name was Callimeles, and gave the body to the cook Leontomenes, who served up his entrails for them to eat. They all shared in this meal, and drank his blood mixed with wine, uniting themselves in a horrid conspiracy by these savage mysteries. With the assistance of these associates, he seized power, and became the most cruel and bloody tyrant, that ever afflicted not only Greece, but any barbarian nation.

[8]   Aegyptus.

Aegyptus was dispatched by Mausolus to Miletus, to assist a group there, who had promised to betray the city to him. When Aegyptus arrived, he found that the conspiracy had been detected, and that he was in danger of being arrested. He made his escape to his ship, but saw that some men were on guard to prevent the vessel from putting to sea. Then he sent a pilot on shore, to pretend to search for Aegyptus, and to ask everyone whom he met, to help find him, and send him down to the ship, which was ready to sail. The men, who had been dispatched to prevent the vessel from sailing, when they heard that Aegyptus was not on board, left the harbour, and ran in different directions around the city in search of Aegyptus. But as soon as the pilot returned to the ship, he slipped his cable, and got off safely to sea.

[9]   Leucon.

Leucon, when his treasury was very low, issued a proclamation for a new coinage; and ordered everyone to bring in their money, and to receive the same in value struck in the new coinage. The new coins were then struck, and each piece of money bore a value double to what it possessed before. One half he kept for himself, and every individual received the same value that he gave in.

2   When Leucon received information of a conspiracy being formed against his government by a strong group of the citizens, and among them his own friends, he assembled the merchants. He borrowed from them whatever sums they could afford, upon the pretence that, if he paid a stipulated sum, the names of the conspirators would be revealed to him. When they had readily supplied him with what he wanted, he took them into his palace. He told them, that there really was a conspiracy formed against him, and that he depended on them to be his guards, because if his government did not survive, the money that they had lent him would be lost. The merchants therefore armed themselves, and some attended him as his bodyguards, while some were posted to defend the palace. By the assistance of these men, and his particular friends, he caught and killed all who had been involved in the conspiracy; and when his government was thus secured, he repaid the money.

3   In a war against the inhabitants of Heracleia, Leucon observed that some of his officers appeared likely to revolt. He ordered them to be seized; and told them, that some disagreeable accusations had been made against them, but that for his part he had no doubt of their loyalty. However, in case by the chance of war the victory should go to his enemies, in order that the accusations against them should not appear to be corroborated by such an event, he ordered them for the time being to leave their posts, which would be assigned to others. And, as if out of regard of them, he promoted their particular friends to be magistrates and officials in the villages. As soon as the war was finished, he observed that it was right to make some inquiry into the accusations, that had been indirectly made against them; so that the doubt, which he might have seemed to have cast on their loyalty, should be shown to be unreasonable. As soon as they appeared in court, accompanied by their friends, he surrounded the place with an armed force, and ordered everyone of them to be put to death.

4   The inhabitants of Heracleia made war on Leucon, and advanced against him with a great fleet. They landed opposite him, and carried out various raids. Leucon observed that his troops did not show courage against the enemy; they were reluctant to fight, and easily routed. He drew up his army to oppose the invaders, but altered the arrangement of it; he posted his hoplites in the first line, and in their rear the Scythians, who had express orders, that if the hoplites gave way, they should strike them down with their javelins. The severity of these orders made his army more resolute, and put an end to the ravages of the enemy.

[10]   Alexander, general of the guards

Alexander, who commanded the guards, that garrisoned the town and forts of Aeolis, exhibited games to the people, for which he hired from Ionia the most celebrated wrestlers, the musicians Thersander and Philoxenus, and the actors Callipides and Nicostratus. The eminence of the performers drew a large number of people from all the neighbouring cities. When the theatre was quite crowded, Alexander surrounded it with his own troops, and the barbarians who were in his pay; and he seized all the spectators with their wives and children. By this act, he intended no more than to raise money from them, which he did by the ransom which he demanded. Then he gave up his command to Thibron, and left the country.

[11]   Aristeides of Elea

When Dionysius was besieging Caulonia, Aristeides of Elea sailed with twelve ships to relieve it, and Dionysius advanced against him with fifteen ships. Aristeides retreated to avoid this superior force, and, as the night came on, he ordered torches to be lighted. He removed these torches by degrees, and instead he lit others, which he floated upon large corks. Dionysius was distracted by the lighted corks, and directed his course so as to keep them in view, expecting to bring the enemy to battle in the morning. Meanwhile Aristeides tacked about, and steered for Caulonia.

[12]   Alexander, son of Lysimachus

Alexander, the son of Lysimachus and Amastris, formed a plot to make himself master of Cotiaeum, a fortress in Phrygia. To that end, he secretly placed his army in a hollow way near the fortress. He disguised himself in simple Phrygian clothes, with a cap on his head, and took with him two youths with bundles of wood on their shoulders and swords concealed under their arms. In this way he passed through the gates, unsuspected by the guards, and entered the city. Then he laid aside his disguise, and showed himself publicly to the citizens. He shook then by the hand, and assured them, that he had come to protect and save the state. Believing this assurance, they threw open their gates as if they were completely safe. Then the forces which he had concealed rushed in, according to their instructions, and captured Cotiaeum.

[13]   The Amphictyons.

The Amphictyons, when they were besieging Cyrrha, discovered an aqueduct, which supplied the city with water. On the advice of Eurylochus, they poisoned the water with hellebore, which they procured in great quantity from Anticyra. The inhabitants of Cyrrha, who made constant use of the water, were seized by a violent sickness, and were unable to continue fighting. Under these circumstances, the Amphictyons easily defeated them, and made themselves masters of the place. [see also: Frontinus, Str.3.7.6]

[14]   The Samnites.

The Samnites entered into a treaty of peace with their enemies, which was endorsed by mutual oaths; on condition that the enemy could take from the whole circuit of the Samnite walls, one single row of stones. The Samnites were exceedingly well satisfied with the terms, until they saw the enemy pick out the lowest row, which in effect demolished their walls, and left their city defenceless.

[15]   The Campanians.

The Campanians made a treaty with their enemies, on condition that they should deliver up to them half of their weapons. As a result of this, they cut their weapons in two; they kept one half, and they returned the other half to the owners of them.

[16]   The Carthaginians.

When the Carthaginians were blocked up by Dionysius in a spot, where they had no supply of water, they dispatched an embassy to him with proposals for peace. He agreed to this, on condition that they should evacuate Sicily, and reimburse him for the expenses of the recent war. The Carthaginian deputies agreed to the terms, but as they were not empowered to conclude the treaty without the authority of the admiral, they asked for leave to shift their camp to the place where the admiral lay; then the treaty, cleared of all obstacles, could be ratified. Dionysius, against the advice of Leptines, agreed to their request. As soon as they had changed the site of their camp, the Carthaginians sent back the ambassadors of Dionysius, and refused to conclude the treaty. [see also: Diodorus, 15.16]

2   When the Carthaginians had invaded Sicily, in order to be supplied with provisions and naval stores from Africa in the speediest manner, they made two water-clocks of exactly the same design, and drew round each of them an equal number of circles. One one of those circles was engraved "Need ships of war", on another "Need transport ships", "Need gold", on another "Machines", on another again "Corn", on another "Cattle", "Weapons", "Infantry" and "Cavalry". The circles were all filled up in this manner, and one of the water-clocks was kept by the forces in Sicily, while they sent the other to Carthage. They directed the Carthaginians, when they saw the second torch raised, to send the items described in the second circle; when the third torch was raised, to send what was in the third circle; and so on. By this means they received a steady supply of whatever they wanted. [see also: Polybius, 10.44]

3   The Carthaginians fitted out a fleet for an expedition against Sicily, which consisted of triremes and transport ships. Dionysius received intelligence of this, and set out to oppose them with a numerous fleet. As soon as the Carthaginians found the enemy, they drew up their transport ships fully-manned in a circle, with a space between each ship sufficient for the easy passage of a ship of war; and in the middle of the circle they placed their triremes. In this formation, while the transport ships prevented the enemy from breaking in upon them in line of battle, the triremes could briskly push out between them and attack the enemy vessels singly. They sank many of them, and so crippled the rest, that they could no longer continue the battle.

4 In their war with Hieron, the Carthaginians sailed by night to Messene, and anchored not far from the city, behind a headland. In the harbour the enemy had a number of ships of war, as well as transport ships, and at the mouth of it were stationed guard ships. The Carthaginian admiral ordered the captain of one of the swiftest triremes to pass the mouth of the harbour; and if the enemy pursued him, to stand out to sea, and to draw them as far out as possible after him. Accordingly, as soon as he was detected by the guard ships, who supposed him to have been sent to look into the harbour, they slipped their anchors and gave chase with all the speed they could make. The Carthaginians, when they saw the guard ships out at sea, and a sufficient distance away for their purpose, immediately sailed into the harbour. They cut loose several of the transport ships, and carried them off.

5   The Carthaginians found that the Romans had a much greater force in Sicily than themselves, and sought to divide it up. For that purpose, some of the citizens joined in a pretended conspiracy, and proposed to betray Lipara, an island next to Sicily, to the Roman general Cn.Cornelius. Cornelius accepted their proposal, and ordered half of his fleet to sail to Lipara, with a military force on board. The Carthaginians then put to sea; they advanced slowly toward the Roman fleet, and dispatched an embassy to the Roman general, imploring him to grant them a peace. When the ambassadors were admitted to see Cornelius, they asked him to go on board the ship of the Carthaginian admiral, who was at that time exceedingly ill; in order to conclude the treaty in person with them in the clearest and most unequivocal terms. The Roman agreed, and the Africans no sooner saw the enemy's general in their power, than they attacked the Romans in full force, and obtained an easy victory.

[17]   The Ambraciots

The Romans, after losing great numbers in the siege of Ambracia, decided to surprise the place by undermining the walls. They had made some progress before the Ambraciots discovered their operations. But when the quantity of earth which was thrown up made their intentions obvious, the defenders made an equal effort to stop them by countermining. They dug a deep ditch at the end of the enemy's works; and placed thin plates of brass in it, in such a way that, whenever the Romans fell into the ditch, the noise was heard by the sentinel. The defenders then entered the ditch, armed with a long spear, which they call sarissa, and engaged with the enemy. However, these subterranean conflicts, in a narrow dark passage, gave no great advantage to the Ambraciots; and they had recourse to another stratagem. They constructed a pot with a mouth as wide as the entrance to the ditch; and perforated the bottom, introducing into it an iron pipe, which they filled with small feathers. They set the feathers on fire, and stopped up the mouth of the pipe with sawdust; the fire was supplied from a brass container, which was fitted to it for that purpose. The enemy's mine works were thus filled with a constant succession of smoke and unbearable stench, which forced them to abandon their excavations.

[18]   The Phocians.

When the Phocians were hemmed in at Parnassus, they took advantage of a moonlit night, and poured down upon the enemy, spurred on by desperation, with their weapons gleaming. They struck the Thessalians with such a panic, that some supposed them to be a supernatural appearance, and others thought they were a new force coming to the aid of the Phocians. The Thessalians made such a poor resistance, that they suffered a complete defeat; and four thousand of them were left dead on the spot. [see also: Herodotus, 8.27]

2   As soon as it was known in the city, that the Thessalians had invaded Phocis, the Phocians dug a deep trench in front of the most accessible part of the walls. They threw pieces of broken pots and vases into the trench, and spread a covering of earth over them. When the enemy's cavalry advanced onto it, the earth gave way, and most of the horsemen, as well as their horses, were killed. [see also: Herodotus, 8.28]

[19]   The Plataeans.

The Plataeans had some Theban prisoners in their power. When the Thebans invaded their territory, they send an envoy to them, declaring that if they did not evacuate the country, they would put all the prisoners to death. [The Thebans yielded to their threat, and left their territory], but nevertheless the Plataeans killed their prisoners. [see also: Thucydides, 2.5]

2   When the Plataeans were besieged by the Lacedaemonians, they sallied out in the night and attacked the Spartan camp. The Lacedaemonians raised the "hostile" torch, to bring the Thebans to their assistance. But the Plataeans in the city raised the "friendly" torch, so that the Thebans, confused by the conflicting lights, might postpone marching to the assistance of the Lacedaemonians, until they received a clearer indication that they needed it. [see also: Thucydides, 3.22]

3   The Plataeans were closely besieged by the Lacedaemonians and Thebans, and were at at a loss how to inform the Athenians of their situation. A body of two hundred men offered themselves for that service; they were determined, if they were detected by the enemy, to either fall in the attempt, or cut their way through them. A dark and stormy night was chosen for the venture, when the rest of the citizens mounted the walls and attacked the enemy's siege works. While the attention of the besiegers was attracted to the quarter, where the attack was being made, the two hundred men mounted the walls on the opposite side, and were let down by ladders, without being observed. Instead of taking the direct road to Athens, by which the enemy would be sure to pursue them, if they discovered their attempt, they took the road to Thebes. And that is what happened; the Lacedaemonians went in pursuit across Cithaeron, while the Plataeans, after turning a little off the road to Thebes, reached Hysiae; from there they escaped safely to Athens. [see also: Thucydides, 3.24]

[20]   The Corcyraeans.

The Athenians marched out against the Corcyraean exiles, who had established themselves on mount Istone. The exiles considered it hopeless to offer any resistance; they delivered up their weapons, and surrendered themselves to the discretion of the Athenians. The Athenians accepted their submission, and granted them a truce, on condition that any attempt to escape should be regarded as a breach of the truce. The Corcyraeans, who were apprehensive that the Athenians would treat the exiles too humanely, secretly advised them to make their escape to Argos. They provided them with a boat for that purpose, in order to encourage them to infringe the truce that had been granted to them. When the exiles tried to escape, the Athenians delivered them up to the Corcyraeans as truce-breakers; and they put every one of them to death. [see also: Thucydides, 4.46]

[21]   The Egestaeans.

The Egestaeans requested the assistance of the Athenians, and promised to give them large subsidies. The Athenians dispatched ambassadors to them, to see what prospect there was of the subsidies being paid. In the mean time, the Egestaeans borrowed from the neighbouring cities gold and silver, in whatever shape and quantity they could obtain it; with which they magnificently decorated the temples of their gods, and their private houses. When the ambassadors reported back at Athens what a profusion of weath they had seen, assistance was immediately sent to them. [see also: Thucydides, 6.46]

[22]   The Locrians.

The Italian Locrians entered into a treaty with the Sicilians, which they confirmed by an oath. Under their garments they carried heads of garlic on their shoulders, and in their shoes they put earth under their feet. Then they swore that their state would remain faithful to the terms of the treaty, as long as they trod the earth that they walked on, or carried their heads on their shoulders. The next day, after throwing away their garlic, and the earth from their shoes, they made a general massacre of the Sicilians, who were thrown off their guard, believing that they were protected by the oath which the Locrians had taken. [see also: Polybius, 12.6]

[23]   The Corinthians.

The Corinthians had promised assistance to the Syracusans against the Athenians, and received information that the Athenians had anchored near Naupactus with twenty ships, in order to keep watch on the ships that passed by. The Corinthians equipped twenty five triremes, with orders to sail to Panormus in Achaea, and show themselves to the Athenian fleet. And while that squadron distracted the enemy, a number of Corinthian transport ships, with men and military stores on board, sailed from the Peloponnese to the assistance of the Syracusans, and arrived safely at Syracuse. [see also: Thucydides, 7.17]

[24]   The Lampsacenians.

The Lampsacenians and the Parians, who had a dispute about the boundaries of their respective territories, agreed each to dispatch a certain number of persons from one city to the other at an early hour of the morning; and wherever the two groups met, that spot should be the common boundary between their territories. The Lampsacenians persuaded the fishermen, who were employed along the road where the Parians were due to travel, to cook some fish on that morning, and make libations of wine, as a sacrifice to Poseidon; and then they should ask the Parians, as they passed by, to share with them in the sacrifice, in honour of the god. The Parians agreed, but one mouthful of fish, and one glass of wine, induced them to take a second, and so on; until so much time was lost, that the Lampsacenians arrived first at the Hermaeum, which is seventy stades from Parium, and two hundred from Lampsacus. By this trick, the Lampsacenians gained a large territory from the Parians, and the Hermaeum was established as the boundary between the two states.

[25]   The Chalcedonians.

The Chalcedonians and Byzantines, who were at war with each other, agreed on a truce of five days, while a congress of each state was summoned to discuss the conditions of peace. Three days were spent in fruitless negotiations. On the fourth, the Chalcedonians pretended that important business obliged them to return home. After receiving permission to do this, they spent the night in equipping their ships, and the next day they attacked the Byzantines, who were completely unprepared for hostilities to be restarted, because the period of the truce had not yet expired.


* * *

( At this point, there is a gap in the manuscripts. Some of the missing stratagems, which are translated here, are preserved in the "Excerpta Polyaeni". )

[27]   The Lacedaemonians.

The Athenian and Lacedaemonian fleets were stationed opposite each other in Asia, and their moorings were in sight of each other. They used to set out to sea at the same time, and later they would both sail away and disembark their crews. On a moonless night, the Laconians ordered their crews to embark in silence, and then when it was daytime they openly put their peltasts on board, and remained in their ships without moving. When the Athenians saw this, they did the same. As soon as it was time for breakfast, the Laconians disembarked their peltasts, who prepared some food. Similarly, the Athenians disembarked their peltasts, and were busy about their breakfast. At that moment, the crews of the Laconian ships went into action, and sailed against their enemies' empty ships. They destroyed most of the Athenian ships, while their crews were still at breakfast.

2   When the Phigalians were besieged by the Lacedaemonians, they sent a messenger to summon assistance from the Argives. After capturing the messenger, the Laconians changed their appearance to look like Argives, and marched along the road that led from Argos. When the Phigalians saw them, they thought that their allies had arrived, and opened their gates to let them in.

[36]   The Eleans.

The Eleans suspected that Xenias, the leader of their city, was a secret supporter of the Arcadians, but they had no form proof of it. Some of his political opponents persuaded a Laconian, who was living in the city, to claim an Arcadian boy as his slave. When the case went for judgement before the magistrates, they majority judged in favour of the Laconian, but Xenias took the side of the Arcadian. Because they could not agree, the case went to the public assembly, and there again Xenias spoke in favour of the Arcadian. The people were convinced that this was clear evidence that Xenias supported the Arcadians, and they sentenced him to death.

[38]   Hannibal.

The Numidians brought to Hannibal the body of (?) Gracchus ["Flavius" in the manuscripts], who had been killed in battle, and they suggested that he should maltreat the body. Hannibal did not permit this; he said that the man had been a good general, and, after giving him an appropriate funeral, he sent his remains to Rome. As a result, Hannibal earned the goodwill of the Romans.

2   Hannibal persuaded his soldiers that men who died bravely in battle would come back to life soon afterwards. Once, when a good soldier had died bravely, he found another man with an identical appearance, and persuaded him to say, that he was the same man who had recently died.

3   When Hannibal drew up his army, he placed his best troops on either side of of the main body of infantry, and his weakest troops in the centre, in front of the rest of the infantry. He gave instructions, that when the enemy pushed back the men in the centre and tried to pursue them, the wings of the army should move inwards. As a result, the enemy were surrounded, and fifty thousand of them were killed in the battle.

4   When Hannibal led out his army at Cannae, where the plain was sandy, he placed them with the wind blowing from behind them. The Romans could not bear the sand, which was blown into their eyes, and they were routed.

5   Hannibal defeated the Romans in Campania by the following stratagem. During a storm, he gave these instructions to his army: when he gave the signal for fighting, they should rest and sleep, but when he gave the signal for retiring, they should leave [their camp] at about the second watch [of the night]. When he gave the signal for fighting, the Romans were alarmed, and stood ready for battle. A long time later, Hannibal gave the signal for retiring. The Romans, who were worn out by standing in the storm and by lack of sleep, returned [to their camp] and fell asleep. Then Hannibal attacked them, and killed them all.

6   When Hannibal was near Casilinum on a stormy night, he split his army into several divisions, and led them out to battle. He gave instructions, that when he first gave the signal for fighting, the first division should attack the enemy; but when the trumpeters gave the signal for retiring, the first division should retreat and the second division should move to the attack; and so on with the third and fourth divisions. And by this stratagem he defeated the enemy.

7   Hannibal ambushed Flaccus, a Roman general, near Herdonea, and killed him along with all his army, by using a man from Herdonea, who pretended to desert to the Romans. When he went over to the Romans, this man persuaded Flaccus to advance to Herdonea, by telling him that the most eminent men in the city wanted him to come to their assistance, because they could not bear the way in which they were oppressed by the Carthaginians.

8   Hannibal was trapped by the Romans in a narrow valley, and they guarded the entrance to it. He gathered some cattle, and sent them towards the entrance, with blazing torches fixed to their horns. This startled the Roman guards, who fled away; and Hannibal escaped without loss.

9   When Hannibal wanted to retreat, he left his cavalry behind, so that the Roman general might see them and not notice his departure. The cavalry could easily ride off later on.

10   Hannibal was unable to capture a Roman city, which was situated by the sea. He sent some ships towards it, on which he placed Roman flags. When the citizens saw the flags, they came out of the city, as if to welcome the Romans, but they fell into an ambush, and were killed.

[41]   Hamilcar.

Hamilcar noticed that a Greek tactician, whom he kept as an adviser, was disclosing all his plans to Agathocles. Therefore, he announced that he intended to send his fleet to capture the Olympium, near Syracuse. The tactician secretly passed on this information to Agathocles; but Hamilcar ordered his sailors, after sailing for part of the night, to turn round and return as quickly as possible. Agathocles was fooled into sending a force to Syracuse, to defend the Olympium. He led the rest of his army by night against Hamilcar, who he expected to be left with only a small force. But Hamilcar, after disembarking a large number of troops from the ships, with a loud yell attacked the enemy, and killed seven thousand of Agathocles' soldiers

2   Hamilcar, who was in command of a squadron of Carthaginian ships, gave the appearance when he sailed away that he was leading his ships backwards. But in the night he turned round and disembarked his troops. Four thousand of the enemy were slaughtered as they woke from their sleep, and the rest ran hastily out to battle. After capturing many prisoners, Hamilcar sailed off again.

* * *

[45]   Syloson.

Syloson, the son of Calliteles, who was highly esteemed by the Samians, was appointed to be their general in a war against the Aeolians. During the preparations for war, they neglected to hold the festival in honour of Hera, which should have been celebrated in the temple of the goddess, a short distance from the city. But Syloson observed, that it was the duty of a general not to neglect the honour of the gods; if he forfeited their assistance, he would lose his best ally, but if had their assistance, he would meet his enemies with greater confidence. The Samians applauded the piety and true courage which he displayed. They immediately prepared for the celebration of the festival, and assembled at the temple of Hera. Syloson entered the city by night; he sent into it the sailors from the ships, and seized control of Samos.

[46]   Alexander the Thessalian.

Alexander the Thessalian, before a naval battle, placed a number of expert marksmen on the decks. He provided them with a quantity of stones and javelins, and ordered them to harass the enemy with a volley of them, whenever they should come within distance. The missiles fell like a shower on the sailors, and injured many of them so badly, that they were unable to carry on the fight.

[47]   Thrasybulus.

Halyattes had blockaded Miletus, and he expected to make himself master of the city by reducing the people to starvation. He dispatched a herald to conclude a truce with Thrasybulus, the tyrant of Miletus, while he built the temple of Athene Assesia. Thrasybulus immediately ordered the citizens to bring into the market all the corn which they had, and to entertain each other in great banquets. When the herald described the abundance of food which he had seen, Halyattes raised the siege, supposing from this report that the Milesians had ample provisions. [see also: Herodotus, 1.21]

[48]   Mentor.

When Mentor captured Hermaeus, he wrote letters in his name to all the cities that were under Hermaeus' authority. He ordered them to receive as their governor the person, to whom he had entrusted the delivery of the respective letters; and he sealed the letters with Hermaeus' seal. The people recognised the seal, and in obedience to the instructions of the letters, they surrendered each of their cities into the hands of Mentor's officers.

[49]   Anaxagoras.

Philoxenus, who governed Ionia for Alexander, demanded that the Ephesians should hand over Anaxagoras, Codrus, and Diodorus, the sons of Echeanax, because they had killed Hegesias, the tyrant of Ephesus. When the people did not comply with his demand, he entered the town with a body of troops. He seized the three brothers, threw them into chains, and imprisoned them in the citadel of Sardis. After a long and harsh imprisonment, they freed themselves from their chains with a file, which had been smuggled in to them by a friend. They dressed themselves in slaves' clothes, and escaped from the prison by night in the guise of servants. Then they cut their clothes into long strips, which they used instead of ropes, to let themselves down from the walls. Diodorus unfortunately fell down from the top of the walls, and injured himself. He was obliged to lie where he fell, until he was picked up by the Lydians, who sent him to Alexander, to be punished according to his wishes. After Alexander died at Babylon, he was sent to Perdiccas at Ephesus, to stand trial there. But in the meantime, Anaxagoras and Codrus, who had made a successful escape, arrived at Athens. When they heard of Alexander's death, they returned to Ephesus, and set their brother free.

[50]   Pindarus.

When Croesus the Lydian was besieging Ephesus, the tower, which was called the traitor, fell down; and this made the capture of the place inevitable. But Pindarus, who was the tyrant of the city, persuaded the Ephesians to run a rope around the walls and gates, and to fasten it to the pillars of the temple of Artemis; and thereby to consecrate the whole city to the goddess. Croesus spared the city in honour of the goddess, because it had been placed under her immediate protection. He granted the Ephesians their freedom, and made an alliance with them.

[51]   Theron.

Theron kept some men of Acragas in his pay, who were ready to obey his orders on all occasions. When he lacked the means to pay them, he seized a sum of money that had been raised for the erection of a temple to Athene, by using the following trick. He observed to the citizens that the work was progressing slowly, and suggested that the building work should be contracted out for a certain sum, and that a time should be stipulated for the completion of the work. They agreed to let out the work, and placed the money which had been raised for the purpose in the hands of Gorgus, Theron's son. As soon as the money had passed into Theron's hands, instead of hiring architects, stone-cutters, and other workmen, he employed the people's money against themselves. He paid his men, formed them into a bodyguard, and with their assistance he seized control of the government of Acragas.

[52]   Sisyphus.

Sisyphus, who suspected that Autolycus was frequently stealing his cattle, fitted them with lead shoes, and on the shoes he inscribed these words: "Autolycus is a thief." Autolycus, as was his habit, stole the cattle in the night. The next morning, Sisyphus traced them to the pastures of Autolycus; and showed the neighbouring farmers the footsteps of the cattle, which proved that Autolycus was indeed a thief.

[53]   Hagnon.

Hagnon formed a plan to plant an Attic colony at that part of the river Strymon, which is called Nine-Ways (Ennea Hodoi). But this oracle appeared to warn against the attempt:
  " Athenians, why of late attempt to raise
  The structure proud, and colonise Nine-Ways?
  Vain the attempt, unauthorised by Heaven;
  Dire the decree, that rigid Fate has given
  Against the deed; till from the silent tomb
  At Troy the carcass of old Rhesus come
  To join its parent soil. Then, then proceed;
  And Fate shall render it a glorious deed. "
As as result of this message from the god, Hagnon dispatched some men to Troy, to open up the grave of Rhesus by night, and carry away his bones. They wrapped his bones up in a purple robe, and brought them to the river Strymon. However the barbarians, who inhabited the country, would not permit him to cross the river. Hagnon, who was not able to force his way across the river, concluded a truce with them for three days. They retired to their own homes, and left him in peace, for the time stipulated between them. In the night he crossed the Strymon with his army. He carried with him the bones of Rhesus, which he buried by the side of the river; and there he defended himself with a ditch and palisades. He rested during the day, and worked on the fortifications every night; and within three nights, his defence works were completed. When the barbarians returned, and found what he had been doing during their absence, they accused him of infringing the truce. "I am certainly not guilty of that," replied Hagnon. "The truce was to remain inactive for three days, which I observed religiously. The defence works, which you see, were erected in the intervening nights." This was the origin of the city, which Hagnon built on the Nine-Ways, and he called it Amphipolis. [see also: Thucydides, 4.102]

[54]   Amphiretus.

Amphiretus of Acanthus was captured by pirates, and carried to Lemnos. There the pirates kept him under close guard, because they expected to be paid a considerable sum for his ransom. Amphiretus took little to eat, but he drank vermillion mixed with salt water. This coloured his stools in such a way, that his captors believed that he was suffering a haemorrhage. They were afraid that his death would rob them of the expected ransom, and they released him from imprisonment, in the hope that exercise might restore him to health. But as soon as Amphiretus was set free, he made his escape by night. He boarded a fishing-boat, and arrived safely at Acanthus.


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