Text #3663The Histories. Series: Histories. Vol. 4 .
[Hdt. 8.34--8.53. Translated by Alfred Denis Godley. William Heinemann; G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1922. (4 Vols.) pp. 33--51]
34 Passing Parapotamii the foreigners1 came to Panopea; and there their army parted asunder into two companies. The greater and stronger part of the host marched with Xerxes himself towards Athens and broke into the territory of Orchomenus in Boeotia.[…]
35 [The other part of the army] set forth with guides for the temple at Delphi, keeping Parnassus on their right. These, too, laid waste whatsoever part of Phocis they occupied, burning the towns of the Panopeans and Daulii and Aeolidae. The purpose of their parting from the rest of the army and marching this way was, that they might plunder the temple at Delphi and lay its wealth before Xerxes ; who (as I have been told) knew of all the most notable possessions in the temple better than of what he had left in his own palace, and chiefly the offerings of Croesus son of Alyattes ; so many had ever spoken of them.
36 When the Delphians learnt all this they were sore afraid ; and in their great fear they inquired of the oracle whether they should bury the sacred treasure in the ground or convey it away to another country. But the god bade them move nothing, saying that he was able to protect his own. On that hearing, the Delphians took thought for themselves. They sent their children and women oversea to Achaia; of the men, the most went up to the peaks of Parnassus and carried their goods into the Corycian cave, and some escaped to Amphissa in Locris ; in brief, all the Delphians left the town save sixty men and the prophet.
37 Now when the foreigners drew nigh in their coming and could see the temple, the prophet, whose name was Aceratus, saw certain sacred arms, that no man might touch without sacrilege, brought out of the chamber within and laid before the shrine. So he went to tell the Delphians of this miracle ; but when the foreigners came with all speed near to the temple of Athene Pronaea, they were visited by miracles yet greater than the aforesaid. Marvellous indeed it is, that weapons of war should of their own motion appear lying outside before the shrine ; but the visitation which followed upon that was more wondrous than aught else ever seen. For when the foreigners were near in their coming to the temple of Athene Pronaea, there were they smitten by thunderbolts from heaven, and two peaks brake off from Parnassus and came rushing among them with a mighty noise and overwhelmed many of them ; and from the temple of Athene there was heard a shout and a cry of triumph.
38 All this joining together struck panic into the foreigners ; and the Delphians, perceiving that they fled, descended upon them and slew a great number. The survivors fled straight to Boeotia. Those of the foreigners who returned said (as I have been told) that they had seen other signs of heaven’s working besides the aforesaid: two men-at-arms of stature greater than human (they said) had followed hard after them, slaying and pursuing.
39 These two, say the Delphians, were the native heroes Phylacus and Autonous, whose precincts are near the temple, Phylacus’ by the road itself above the shrine of Athene Pronaea, and Autonous’ near the Castalian spring, under the Hyampean peak. The rocks that fell from Parnassus were yet to be seen in my day, lying in the precinct of Athene Pronaea, whither their descent through the foreigners’ ranks had hurled them. Such, then, was the manner of those men’s departure from the temple.[…]
50 While the Peloponnesian captains held this argument, there came a man of Athens, bringing news that the foreigner was arrived in Attica, and was wasting it all with fire. For the army which followed Xerxes through Boeotia had burnt the town of the Thespians (who had themselves left it and gone to the Peloponnese) and Plataea likewise, and was arrived at Athens, laying waste all the country round. They burnt Thespia and Plataea because they learnt from the Thebans that those towns had not taken the Persian part.
53 Those Persians who had come up first betook themselves to the gates, which they opened, and slew the suppliants ; and when they had laid all the Athenians low, they plundered the temple and burnt the whole of the acropolis.
i.e. the Persians [nE] ↩