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Polyaenus Strategems

Polyaenus Strategems

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Published by: kickerofelves on May 13, 2011
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Polyaenus: Stratagems
- BOOK 1, Chapters 1-26
 Adapted from the translation by R.Shepherd (1793). See key to translationsfor an explanation of the format.
 CONTENTS: 1Dionysus; 2 Pan; 3Heracles; 4Theseus; 5Demophon; 6 Cresphontes; 7 Cypselus; 8Elnes; 9Temenus ; 10 Procles; 11Acuēs; 12Thessalus; 13Menelaus; 14Cleomenes ; 15Polydorus; 16Lycurgus ; 17 Tyrtaeus; 18Codrus; 19Melanthus; 20Solon; 21 Peisistratus; 22 Aristogeiton; 23Polycrates; 24Histiaeus; 25Pittacus ; 26Bias; →Following Chapters (27-49)  [Preface] The gods, your own virtue, and the Roman bravery, that have always before crowned withvictory the arms of your sacred majesties, Antoninus and Verus, will also now attend with success theexpedition which you have undertaken against Persia and the Parthians. I, who am by birth aMacedonian, and have therefore, as it were, a national right to victory over the Persians, havedetermined not to be entirely useless to you in the present circumstances; and if my constitution wereas robust and hale as it used to be, you should not lack in me convincing proof of the a Macedonianspirit. Nor, advanced as I am in years, can I bear to be left behind without some efforts of service.Accept therefore, illustrious chiefs, in a collection of stratagems employed by the most distinguishedgenerals, this small aid to military science; which, by exhibiting as in a picture the bravery andexperience of former commanders, their conduct and operations, and the various successes that theyachieved, may in some instances possibly be of service to yourselves, yourpolemarchs
, your generals,the commanders of troops of ten thousand, or one thousand, or six hundred men, and whoever you maythink fit to invest with military command.Bravery conquers by means of the sword; but superior generalship prevails by skill and stratagem; andthe highest level of generalship is displayed in those victories that are obtained with the least danger. Itis the most infallible evidence of military ability, in the heat of conflict to hit upon an expedient thatwill decide the contest in your favour without waiting for the outcome of a regular battle. I have alwaysconceived this to be a favourite sentiment of Homer; for what else can he mean by those frequentexpressions, "either by artifice or by valour" [Od_9'406 ], except that we should first employ stratagems and devices against the enemy, and that if these fail, valour and the strongest arm mustprevail.If we admit the authority of Homer, Sisyphus the son of Aeolus was the first of the Greeks whoemployed stratagems in war [Il_6'153 ]: With happy skill in war's devices blest,Those realms did Sisyphus possess.The second man who was famous for those tactics, according the same authority, was Autolycus theson of Hermes [Od_19'394]:Going to Parnassus, home of Autolycus and his sons -Autolycus who was his mother's excellent father;
He outdid all men in stealing and in oaths,And the divine Hermes granted him . . .Nor do I believe that the fabulous account of Proteus [Od_4'455-458], his transformation into animalsand trees, signifies anything else than the variety of artifices he practised against the enemy.As to Odysseus, we know that he particularly valued himself upon his stratagems and devices [Od_9'19-20]:I am Odysseus, Laertes' son, and in skill to frameDeceptive wiles, as far as heaven, unrivalled is my fame.The Greek heroes attributed the final victory to him [ Od_22'230]: Your schemes, your plans effected Ilium's fall,And hurled destruction on Priamus' wall.And others confirmed that Troy was captured [? Od_3'130]:By Odysseus' advice and tales,And by his sagacious skill.Homer frequently records the various stratagems that he employed against the enemy. He representshim, "with self-inflicted wounds deformed" [Od_4'244], deserting to the enemy. The wooden horse,"which Epeius built by the instruction of Athene" [Od_8'493 ], was his device. Also
the wine
the firebrand
, and
the ram
, may properly be called stratagems, which he employed against the Cyclops.In the same class were the stopping of the ears of his crew with wax, and the lashing of himself to themast, in order to prevent the baneful influence of the [Sirens'] music. And what will you say of thebeggar's purse, and the deceptions imposed on Eumaeus and Penelope [Od_19'203 ]: His was the art instruction to detail,And facts inculcate, under fiction's veil.To box with Irus, to remove from the smoke the arms of the drunken young men, and to fix the bow atthe door - were they not all military stratagems? But enough of these, and other examples of a similarkind, provided by Homer.How do the tragedians represent the stratagem which Odysseus used against Palamedes? TheAchaeans, in solemn judgement, decided in favour of Odysseus, who had secretly left the barbariangold in the other's tent; and thus, overcome by artifice and manoeuvre, the accomplished general wasfalsely convicted of treason. This is what is portrayed in the plays of the tragedians.But in the following collection of stratagems I have followed the faithful records of history. I haverelated them succinctly, and arranged them under [the name of] each general. The whole is comprisedin eight books, which contain nine hundred stratagems, beginning with Dionysus.[1]
In order to gain admittance into the cities during his Indian expedition, Dionysus dressed his troops inwhite linen and deer skins, instead of gleaming armour. Their spears were adorned with ivy, and thepoints of the spears were hidden under athyrsus. His orders were given by cymbals and drums, insteadof trumpets; and intoxicating his enemies with wine, he engaged them in dancing and Bacchic orgies.Such were the stratagems which that general practised in his conquest of India, and the rest of Asia.2 Dionysus, finding his army unable to bear the excessive heat of the Indian climate, occupied a three-peaked mountain; one of peaks of which is called Corasibiē, another Condasbe, and the third he calledMerus ["thigh"] in commemoration of his birth. The mountain contains a variety of fountains, aboundsin wild beasts, produces plenty of fruit, and the air is cooled by continual snow. His army, from theirposition here, used suddenly to show themselves to the barbarians in the plains; and showering down
on them large flights of arrows from the those high and craggy precipices, obtained easy conquests.3 After Dionysus had subdued the Indians, he formed an alliance with them and the Amazons, andtook them into his service. When he penetrated into Bactria, whose boundary is the river Saranges, hefound that the Bactrians had possessed themselves of the mountains above the river, in order to disputehis passage. Encamping therefore on the river side, opposite the enemy, he ordered the Amazons andthe Bacchants to ford it; expecting that the Bactrians, in contempt of the women, would quit their postson the mountains, and attack them; which they accordingly did. The women retreated, and werepursued by the enemy to the opposite bank. Then Dionysus at the head of his troops furiously attackedthe Bactrians, and as they were surprised and impeded by the water, defeated them with great slaughter,and crossed the river himself without any further danger.[2]
Pan, a general of Dionysus, was the first who created a regular system for the marshalling of an army.He invented thephalanx, and arrranged it with a right and left wing; from which he is usuallyrepresented with horns. Victory always belonged to the strongest sword, until he pointed the way toconquest by artifice and manoeuvre.2 While he was in a wooded hollow, Dionysus was informed by his scouts that an immense army ofthe enemy was encamped a little above him. This was alarming news; but he was soon relieved of hisworries by Pan, who ordered the whole army, in the silence of the night and on a given signal, to giveout a loud shout. The surrounding rocks, and the hollows of the forest re-echoed the sound, andimposed on the enemy a fear that his forces were infinitely more numerous than they were; seized byanxiety, they abandoned their camp and fled. From the circumstances of this stratagem, the nymphEcho has been supposed by the poets to be the mistress of Pan; and hence also all pointless andimaginary fears are called panics.[3]
Heracles was determined to remove the race of Centaurs from Pelion, but he was inclined to act on thedefensive, rather than commence hostilities. He resided for a short time with Pholus, and opened a jarof fragrant wine, which he and his companions secretly watched. The neighbouring Centaurs, alluredby the smell, flocked together to the cave of Pholus, and seized the wine. Then Heracles, to punish thecrimes of these thieves and robbers, attacked and slew them. [
see also:
 Diodorus, 4.12'3]2 To avoid encountering the superior strength of the Erymanthian boar, Heracles had recourse toartifice. As the beast lay in a valley, which was full of snow, he annoyed him with stones from above.The boar at length roused himself in anger, and with great violence sprang forward, but sank into thesnow. While he was thus entangled in the snow, and unable to exert himself, he became an easy preyfor his assailant.3 In his expedition against Troy, Heracles advanced to give the enemy battle as soon as he landed; andat the same time he ordered the pilots to put back a little to sea. The Trojan infantry soon gave way,while their cavalry pushed to the sea, in order to possess themselves of the ships; but they were not ableto capture the ships, because they were floating a little off from the land. Heracles came in pursuit ifthem, and thus hemmed in by the enemy on one side and the sea on the other, they fell an easy victimto the conquerors.4 In India Heracles adopted a daughter, whom he called Pandaeē. To her he allotted the southern partof India which is situated by the sea, dividing it into three hundred and sixty-five cantons. He imposedon these cantons a daily tax; and he ordered each canton in turn, on their stated day, to pay the royalstipend. So that if any of them refused the tax, the queen might depend on the others, because they were

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