Text #3723

Xenophon. Hellenica. Vol. 1
[Xen. Hell. 4.7.4--4.7.7. Translated by Carleton L. Brownson. William Heinemann. 1918. (2 Vols.) pp. 349--351]

Now while he1 was at dinner in the land of the Argives, on the first evening of his stay there, and when the after-dinner libations had just been made, the god (i.e Poseidon) sent an earthquake ; and all the Lacedaemonians, those in the royal tent taking the lead, struck up the paean to Poseidon; and the rest of the soldiers expected to retire from the country, because Agis likewise, on an occasion when an earthquake took place, had withdrawn his army from Elis.

But Agesipolis said that if the god had sent an earthquake when he was about to invade, he should have thought that he was forbidding the invasion ; but since he sent it after he had invaded, he believed that he was urging him on ; accordingly, on the next day, after offering sacrifices to Poseidon, he again led on his forces, advancing far into the country. […]

After this, while Agesipolis was encamping near the enclosed space, a thunderbolt fell into his camp ; and some men were killed by being struck, others by the shock. After this, desiring to fortify a garrison post at the entrance to the Argive country which leads past Mount Celusa, he offered sacrifice; and the livers of the victims were found to be lacking a lobe. When this happened, he led his army away and disbanded it, having inflicted very great harm upon the Argives because he had invaded their land unexpectedly.

  1. Agesipolis. [nE]

Text #8654

Pausanias. Description of Greece. Series: Description of Greece. Vol. 2
[Paus. 3.5.8--3.5.9. Translated by W. H. S. Jones. Harvard University Press. 1918. (6 Vols.) p. 33]


Then there was an earthquake, but not even so would Agesipolis consent to take away his forces. And yet more than any other Greeks were the Lacedaemonians (in this respect like the Athenians) frightened by signs from heaven.

By the time that he was encamping under the wall of Argos, the earthquakes were still occurring, some of the troops had actually been killed by lightning, and some moreover had been driven out of then senses by the thunder. In this circumstance he reluctantly withdrew from Argive territory, and began another campaign, attacking Olynthus.

Text #9112

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Considering what Xenophon wrote: “a thunderbolt fell into his camp ; and some men were killed by being struck, others by the shock.”, one might question Pausanius’ use of the term “lightning”, though of course, that could simply be the word chosen by the translator. It seems that the ancients made a distinction between lightning and falling fire or fireballs which may have been something like mini-Tunguska objects.

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