NOTES ON THE BATTLEFIELD OF PLATAIA.
Those who admire the greatness of ancient Athens cannot fail to
feel an interest in Plataia, the gallant little city which stood by the
side of Athens on the field of Marathon and Mas equally faithful in
the st ill darker hour of the Pelopoimesian war. It would be of interest
to follow at length the fortunes of Plataia. Put the aim of this paper
is more limited; its purpose is to examine the statements of ancient
writers that throw light on the topography of the battlefield, where
the victory of Salamis was made complete.
Diodoros, Strabo, Plutarch, and Pausanias have been consulted, but
the authorities by which all others have been tested are Herodotos
and Thoukydides ; for they stand nearest to the battle of Plataia, and
their works bear most clearly the marks of simple truth.
The story of the battle as told by Herodotos (ix. 15 ff.) is in brief as
follows : After Mardonios had captured Athens for
t of the ^ second time, and had flashed the news to the
Persian king by beacon-fires, he retired from Attika
through Dekeleia to Skolos in the Theban country. Pie extended his
forces along the Asopos from Erythrai, past Hvsiai, into the Plataian
territory and strengthened part of his camp by means of a wooden fort,
ten stades square. The Greek forces came to Erythrai and took their
stand on the skirts of Kithairon opposite the enemy ;
' "' 1 I"M""N ,),,, p(«rsian cavalrv harassed them. TheMega-
of the greeks. _ ...
rians, who were in a place easily accessible to cavalry,
suffered most until a volunteer band of three hundred Athenians went
to their aid. In a skirmish which followed, Masistios, the com-
mander of the Persian cavalrv, was slain, and his body was captured
by the Greeks. The Persians in their mourning shaved themselves,
their horses, and their cattle, and filled Boiotia with their lamentations.
The Greeks bore the body in triumph through their ranks, and were
encouraged to take a more convenient position for their camp, where
they would have a better water supply. They advanced along the
skirts of Kithairon, past Hysiai, into the Plataian district, and took
their stand near the spring Gargaphia and the sacred enclosure of
the hero Androkrates, their line extending over low
hills and level ground. The Lakedaimonians held
the right, and the Athenians, after a dispute with the troops from Togea,
occupied the left. The Tegeans were solaced with a position next the