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Headword: Χωρὶς ἱππεῖς
Adler number: chi,444
Translated headword: cavalry away!
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
When Datis[1] had invaded Attica, they say that the Ionians, after his withdrawal, climbed trees and signalled to the Athenians that the cavalry were away; and on learning that they had gone Miltiades[2] charged and so won a victory. Hence the proverb is said in reference to those breaking ranks.
Greek Original:
Χωρὶς ἱππεῖς: Δάτιδος ἐκβαλόντος εἰς τὴν Ἀττικήν, τοὺς Ἴωνας φασίν, ἀναχωρήσαντος αὐτοῦ, ἀνελθόντας ἐπὶ τὰ δένδρα σημαίνειν τοῖς Ἀθηναίοις, ὡς εἶεν χωρὶς οἱ ἱππεῖς: καὶ Μιλτιάδην συνιέντα τὴν ἀποχώρησιν αὐτῶν, συμβαλεῖν οὕτως καὶ νικῆσαι. ὅθεν καὶ τὴν παροιμίαν λεχθῆναι ἐπὶ τῶν τάξεις διαλυόντων.
Notes:
Such an episode appears neither in Herodotus 6.109 ff (web address 1) nor in any other writer on the Battle of Marathon (490 BCE), from Ephorus to Plutarch. (Adler notes that Crusius attributed it -- on no discernible basis -- to the Attidographer Demon [FGrH 327].) Hignett (below) 65-6 insists that the story is demonstrably absurd. Others, in sharp contrast, take it as one of two items of reliable evidence (the other is Nepos, Miltiades 5.3) that the Persians had re-embarked their cavalry in preparation for sailing to Athens and attacking the city before the Spartans could arrive; Miltiades got wind of this, and attacked. For this see Rhodes (below) 4.
Such a 'proverb', in any event, appears only here, i.e. not in any of the paroemiographers; and the headword phrase itself is otherwise attested only once and with a different sense (Procopius, History of the Wars of Justinian 8.13.14).
[1] cf. delta 89.
[2] cf. mu 1067, mu 1068.
References:
C. Hignett, Xerxes' Invasion of Greece (Oxford 1963)
P.J. Rhodes, 'The battle of Marathon and modern scholarship', BICS supplement 124 (2013) 3-21
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; daily life; ethics; geography; historiography; history; military affairs; proverbs; zoology
Translated by: David Whitehead on 26 November 2001@04:42:26.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 6 September 2002@04:42:53.
William Hutton (cosmetics, added link and keyword, set status) on 28 June 2003@06:35:29.
David Whitehead (expanded note; added keyword) on 28 June 2003@07:01:02.
David Whitehead (augmented notes; another keyword; raised status) on 7 February 2011@08:47:03.
David Whitehead on 13 November 2013@03:35:33.
David Whitehead (expanded note and bibliography) on 20 February 2014@04:14:41.

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