Text #8697

Pausanias. Description of Greece. Series: Description of Greece. Vol. 4
[Paus. 10.23.2--10.23.6. Translated by J. G. Frazer. Macmillan and Co Ltd.. 1898. (6 Vols.)]


Brennus and his army were now faced by the Greeks who had mustered at Delphi, and soon portents boding no good to the barbarians were sent by the god, the clearest recorded in history. For the whole ground occupied by the Gallic army was shaken violently most of the day, with continuous thunder and lightning.

The thunder both terrified the Gauls and prevented them hearing their orders, while the bolts from heaven set on fire not only those whom they struck but also their neighbors, themselves and their armour alike. Then there were seen by them ghosts of the heroes Hyperochus, Laodocus and Pyrrhus; according to some a fourth appeared, Phylacus, a local hero of Delphi.

Among the many Phocians who were killed in the action was Aleximachus, who in this battle excelled all the other Greeks in devoting youth, physical strength, and a stout heart, to slaying the barbarians. The Phocians made a statue of Aleximachus and sent it to Delphi as an offering to Apollo.

All the day the barbarians were beset by calamities and terrors of this kind. But the night was to bring upon them experiences far more painful. For there came on a severe frost, and snow with it; and great rocks slipping from Parnassus, and crags breaking away, made the barbarians their target, the crash of which brought destruction, not on one or two at a time, but on thirty or even more, as they chanced to be gathered in groups, keeping guard or taking rest.

At sunrise the Greeks came on from Delphi, making a frontal attack with the exception of the Phocians, who, being more familiar with the district, descended through the snow down the precipitous parts of Parnassus, and surprised the Celts in their rear, shooting them down with arrows and javelins without anything to fear from the barbarians.

At the beginning of the fight the Gauls offered a spirited resistance, especially the company attached to Brennus, which was composed of the tallest and bravest of the Gauls, and that though they were shot at from all sides, and no less distressed by the frost, especially the wounded men. But when Brennus himself was wounded, he was carried fainting from the battle, and the barbarians, harassed on all sides by the Greeks, fell back reluctantly, putting to the sword those who, disabled by wounds or sickness, could not go with them.

Text #8698

Justin. Epitome of the Phillippic History of Pompeius Trogus
[Bk. 24 Ch. 8 ]


The Gauls, animated by these assertions, and disordered, at the same time, with the wine which they had drunk the day before, rushed to battle without any fear of danger. The Delphians, on the other hand, placing more confidence in the god than in their own strength, resisted the enemy with contempt, and, from the top of the hill, repelled the Gauls as they climbed up, partly with pieces of rock, and partly with their weapons. Amidst this contest between the two, the priests of all the temples, as well as the priestesses themselves, with their hair loose, and with their decorations and fillets, rushed, trembling and frantic, into the front ranks of the combatants, exclaiming that “the god was come; that they had seen him leap down into his temple through the opening roof; that, while they were all humbly imploring aid of the deity, a youth of extraordinary beauty, far above that of mortals, and two armed virgins, coming from the neighbouring temples of Diana and Minerva, met them; that they had not only perceived them with their eyes, but had heard also the sound of a bow and the rattling of arms;” and they therefore conjured them with the strongest entreaties, “not to delay, when the gods were leading them on, to spread slaughter among the enemy, and to share the victory with the powers of heaven.”

Incited by these exhortations, they all rushed eagerly to the field of battle, where they themselves also soon perceived the presence of the divinity; for a part of the mountain, broken off by an earthquake, overwhelmed a host of the Gauls, and some of the densest bodies of the enemy were scattered abroad, not without wounds, and fell to the earth. A tempest then followed, which destroyed, with hail and cold, those that were suffering from bodily injuries. The general Brennus himself, unable to endure the pain of his wounds, ended his life with his dagger. The other general, after punishing the advisers of the war, made off from Greece with all expedition, accompanied with ten thousand wounded men. But neither was fortune more favourable to those who fled; for in their terror, they passed no night under shelter, and no day without hardship and danger; and continual rains, snow congealed by the frost, famine, fatigue, and, what was the greatest evil, the constant want of sleep, consumed the wretched remains of the unfortunate army. The nations and people too, through whom they marched, pursued their stragglers, as if to spoil them. Hence it happened that, of so great an army, which a little before, presuming on its strength, contended even against the gods, not a man was left to be a memorial of its destruction.

Please view our Legal Notice before you make use of this Database.

See also our Credits page for info on data we are building upon.