Plutarch account of the first "Marathon" (Read 72 times)

    I was reading with interest the topic "In an attempt to set the record straight..." and looked up a translation of Plutarch's account. I wished to share this, but for some reason I don't seem able to add a reply to the original topic, so I'll just start a new topic!


    "The work appears in pp489‑527 of Vol. IV of the Loeb Classical Library's edition of the Moralia, first published in 1936. The Greek text and the English translation (by F. C. Babbitt) are now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright expired in 1964 and was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been that year or the year before."


    "Again, the news of the battle of Marathon Thersippus of Eroeadae brought back, as Heracleides Ponticus relates; but most historians declare that it was Eucles who ran in full armour, hot from the battle, and, bursting in at the doors of the first men of the State, could only say, "Hail! we are victorious!" and straightway expired. Yet this man came as a self-sent messenger regarding a battle in which he himself had fought; but suppose that some goatherd or shepherd upon a hill or a height had been a distant spectator of the contest and had looked down upon that great event, too great for any tongue to tell, and had come to the city as a messenger, a man who had not felt a wound nor shed a drop of blood, and yet had insisted that he have such honours as Cynegeirus received, or Callimachus, or Polyzelus, because, forsooth, he had reported their deeds of valour, their wounds and death; would he not have been thought of surpassing impudence? Why, as we are told, the Spartans merely sent meat from the public commons to the man who brought glad tidings of the victory in Mantineia which Thucydides​ describes! And indeed the compilers of histories are, as it were, reporters of great exploits who are gifted with the faculty of felicitous speech, and achieve success in their writing through the beauty and force of their narration; and to them those who first encountered and recorded the events are indebted for a pleasing retelling of them. We may be sure that such writers are lauded also merely through being remembered and read because of the men who won success; for the words do not create the deeds, but because of the deeds they are also deemed worthy of being read."

    "My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” 


    Professional Noob

      Thanks, Altair5!  That's really an interesting story and a good point about bringing good news vs being the one who caused the good news to be.

      Roads were made for journeys...


        Thanks, but put me in the camp that is very skeptical that the original "Marathon run" ever happened, certainly not by Pheidippides, and likely not by anyone. To honor the actual history, we should all be running Spartathlons.


        Very strange to me to see that other thread now, having run 4 Spartathlons, and having joined RA two years after that post. No surprise, Trent says everything I'd have said. Except I didn't know it then.



            spammer spamming

              your story is interesting

                spam account