Pausanias, Phocis


That part of Phocis which is in the neighbourhood of Tithorea and Delphi took its name in very ancient times from the Corinthian Phocus, the son of Ornytion.
But not many years afterwards all the country now called Phocis got that name, after the Aeginetans and Phocus the son of Aeacus crossed over there in their ships. Phocis is opposite the Peloponnese and near Boeotia and on the sea, and
has ports at Cirrha (near Delphi) and Anticyra : the Epicnemidian Locrians prevent their being on the sea at the Lamiac Gulf , for they dwell in that part of Phocis, as the Scarpheans north of Elatea, and north of Hyampolis and Abae the people of Opus, whose harbour is Cynus.
The most eminent public transactions of the Phocians were as follows. They took part in the war against Ilium, and fought against the Thessaliaus, (before the Persians invaded Greece), when they displayed the following prowess. At Hyampolis, at the place where they expected the Thessalians to make their attack, they buried in the earth some earthenware pots, just covering them over with soil, and awaited the attack of the Thessalian cavalry : and they not knowing of the artifice of the Phocians spurred their horses on to these pots. And some of the horses were lamed by these pots, and some of the riders were killed
others unhorsed. And when the Thessalians more angry than before with the Phocians gathered together a force from all their cities and invaded Phocis, then the Phocians (in no small alarm at the various preparations made by the Thsssalians for war, and not least at the quantity nnd quality of their cavalry), sent to Delphi to inquire how they were to escape from the coming danger :
and the answer of the oracle was, "I put together in combat a mortal and immortal, and I shall give victory to both, but the greater victory to the mortal." When the Phocians heard this they sent 300 picked men under Gelon against the enemy at nightfall, bidding them watch as stealthily as they could the movements of the Thessalians, and return to the camp by the most out-of-the-way road, and not to fight if they could help it. These picked men were all cut to pieces by the Thessalians together with their leader Gelon, being ridden down by the horses, and butchered by their riders. And their fate brought such consternation into the camp of the Phocians, that they gathered together their women and children and all their goods, their apparel and gold and silver and the statues of the gods, and made a very large funeral pile, and left thirty men in charge with strict orders if the Phocians should be defeated in the battle, to cut the throats of the women and children, and offer them as victims with all the property on the funeral pile, and set light to it, and either kill one another there, or rush on the Thessalian cavalry.
Desperate resolves such as this have ever since been called by the Greeks Phocian Resolution. And forthwith the Phocians marched forth against the Thessalians, under the command of Rhoeus of Ambrosus and Daiphantes of Hyampolis, the latter in command of the cavalry, and the former in command of the infantry. But the commander in chief was Tellias, the seer of Elis, on whom all the hopes of the Phocians for safety were placed. And when the engagement came on, then the Phocians bethought them of their resolves as to their women and children, and saw that their own safety was by no means certain, they were consequently full of desperation, and the omens of the god being auspicious, won one of the most famous victories of their time. Then the oracle which was given to the Phocians by Apollo became clear to all the Greeks, for the word given by the Thessalian commanders was Itonian Athene, and the word given by the Phocian commanders Phocus. In consequence of this victory the Phocians sent to Apollo to Delphi statues of the seer Tellias and of the other commanders in the battle, and also of the local heroes. These statues were by Aristomedon the Argive.
The Phocians also found out another contrivance as successful as their former one.
1 For when the enemy's camp was pitched at the entrance to Phocis, five hundred picked Phocians waited till the moon was at its full, and made a night attack on the Thessalians, having smeared themselves and likewise their armour with plaster so as to look white. A tremendous slaughter of the Thessalians is said to have ensued, who looked upon what they saw as a divine appearance, and not as a ruse of the enemy.

It was Tellias of Elis who contrived this trick on the Thessalians.

1 Reading twn proterwn as Siebelis suggests.

Previous - Content - Next