Arsames; and when he gave his daughter to the king, he made him heir
likewise of all his substance; for she was his only child.
Thus two brothers of Xerxes here fought and fell. And now there
arose a fierce struggle between the Persians and the Lacedaemonians
over the body of Leonidas, in which the Greeks four times drove back
the enemy, and at last by their great bravery succeeded in bearing off
the body. This combat was scarcely ended when the Persians with
Ephialtes approached; and the Greeks, informed that they drew nigh,
made a change in the manner of their fighting. Drawing back into the
narrowest part of the pass, and retreating even behind the cross wall,
they posted themselves upon a hillock, where they stood all drawn up
together in one close body, except only the Thebans. The hillock
whereof I speak is at the entrance of the straits, where the stone
lion stands which was set up in honour of Leonidas. Here they defended
themselves to the last, such as still had swords using them, and the
others resisting with their hands and teeth; till the barbarians,
who in part had pulled down the wall and attacked them in front, in
part had gone round and now encircled them upon every side,
overwhelmed and buried the remnant which was left beneath showers of
Thus nobly did the whole body of Lacedaemonians and Thespians
behave; but nevertheless one man is said to have distinguished himself
above all the rest, to wit, Dieneces the Spartan. A speech which he
made before the Greeks engaged the Medes, remains on record. One of
the Trachinians told him, "Such was the number of the barbarians, that
when they shot forth their arrows the sun would be darkened by their
multitude." Dieneces, not at all frightened at these words, but making
light of the Median numbers, answered "Our Trachinian friend brings us
excellent tidings. If the Medes darken the sun, we shall have our
fight in the shade." Other sayings too of a like nature are reported
to have been left on record by this same person.
Next to him two brothers, Lacedaemonians, are reputed to have made
themselves conspicuous: they were named Alpheus and Maro, and were the
sons of Orsiphantus. There was also a Thespian who gained greater
glory than any of his countrymen: he was a man called Dithyrambus, the
son of Harmatidas.
The slain were buried where they fell; and in their honour, nor
less in honour of those who died before Leonidas sent the allies away,
an inscription was set up, which said:-
Here did four thousand men from Pelops' land
Against three hundred myriads bravely stand.
This was in honour of all. Another was for the Spartans alone:-
Go, stranger, and to Lacedaemon tell
That here, obeying her behests, we fell.
This was for the Lacedaemonians. The seer had the following:-
The great Megistias' tomb you here may view,
Whom slew the Medes, fresh from Spercheius' fords.
Well the wise seer the coming death foreknew,
Yet scorned he to forsake his Spartan lords.
These inscriptions, and the pillars likewise, were all set up by the
Amphictyons, except that in honour of Megistias, which was inscribed
to him (on account of their sworn friendship) by Simonides, the son of
Two of the three hundred, it is said, Aristodemus and Eurytus,
having been attacked by a disease of the eyes, had received orders
from Leonidas to quit the camp; and both lay at Alpeni in the worst
stage of the malady. These two men might, had they been so minded,
have agreed together to return alive to Sparta; or if they did not