PSOFIS (Ancient city) ACHAIA
I heard in Psophis a statement about one Aglaus, a Psophidian contemporary with Croesus the Lydian. The statement was that the whole of his life was happy, but I could not believe it. The truth is that one man may receive fewer ills than his contemporaries, just as one ship may be less tossed by storms than another ship. But we shall not be able to find a man never touched by misfortune or a ship never met by an unfavorable breeze. For Homer too says in his poetry that by the side of Zeus is set a jar of good things, and another jar of evil things, taught by the god at Delphi, who once declared that Homer himself was both unhappy and blessed, being destined by birth to both states alike.
Men Whom The Gods Have Pronounced To Be The Most Happy
In reference to this point, two oracles of Delphi may come under our consideration, which would appear to have been pronounced as though in order to chastise the vanity of man. These oracles were the following: by the first, Pedius was pronounced to be the most happy of men, who had just before fallen in defence of his country. On the second occasion, when it had been consulted by Gyges, at that time the most powerful king in the world, it declared that Aglaiis of Psophis was a more happy man than himself. This Aglaiis was an old man, who lived in a poor petty nook of Arcadia, and cultivated a small farm, though quite sufficient for the supply of his yearly wants; he had never so much as left it, and, as was quite evident from his mode of living, his desires being of the most limited kind, he had experienced but an extremely small share of the miseries of life.
Aglaus (Aglaos), a poor citizen of Psophis in Arcadia, whom the Delphic oracle pronounced to be happier than Gyges, king of Lydia, on account of his contentedness, when the king asked the oracle, if any man was happier than he. (Val. Max. vii. 1.2; Plin. H. N. vii. 47.) Pausanias (viii. 24.7) places Aglaus in the time of Croesus.
Philip Captures Psophis
The sight of these things caused Philip much anxious thought. Sometimes he was for giving up his plan of attacking and besieging the place: at others the excellence of its situation made him eager to accomplish this. For just as it was then a source of danger to the Achaeans and Arcadians, and a safe place of arms for the Eleans; so would it on the other hand, if captured, become a source of safety to the Arcadians, and a most convenient base of operations for the allies against the Eleans. These considerations finally decided him to make the attempt: and he therefore issued orders to the Macedonians to get their breakfasts at daybreak, and be ready for service with all preparations completed. Everything being done as he ordered, the king led his army over the bridge across the Erymanthus; and no one having offered him resistance, owing to the unexpectedness of the movement, he arrived under the walls of the town in gallant style and with formidable show. Euripidas and the garrison were overpowered with astonishment; because they had felt certain that the enemy would not venture on an assault, or try to carry a town of such strength; and that a siege could not last long either, owing to the severity of the season. This calculation of chances made them begin to entertain suspicions of each other, from a misgiving that Philip must have established a secret intrigue with some persons in the town against it. But finding that nothing of the sort existed among themselves, the greater number hurried to the walls to defend them, while the mercenary Elean soldiers sallied out of a gate in the upper part of the town to attack the enemy. The king stationed his men who had ladders at three different spots, and divided the other Macedonians among these three parties; this being arranged, he gave the signal by the sound of trumpet, and began the assault on the walls at once. At first the garrison offered a spirited resistance and hurled many of the enemy from their ladders; but when the supply of weapons inside the town, as well as other necessary materials, began to run short,--as was to be expected from the hasty nature of the preparations for defence,--and the Macedonians showed no sign of terror, the next man filling up the place of each who was hurled from the scaling-ladder, the garrison at length turned to flight, and made their escape one and all into the citadel. In the king's army the Macedonians then made good their footing on the wall, while the Cretans went against the party of mercenaries who had sallied from the upper gate, and forced them to throw away their shields and fly in disorder. Following the fugitives with slaughter, they forced their way along with them through the gate: so that the town was captured at all points at once. The Psophidians with their wives and children retreated into the citadel, and Euripidas with them, as well as all the soldiers who had escaped destruction.
The People of Psophis Surrender
Having thus carried the place, the Macedonians at once plundered all the furniture of the houses; and then, setting up their quarters in the houses, took regular possession of the town. But the people who had taken refuge in a body in the citadel, having no provisions with them, and well foreseeing what must happen, made up their minds to give themselves up to Philip. They accordingly sent a herald to the king; and having received a safe-conduct for an embassy, they despatched their magistrates and Euripidas with them on this mission, who made terms with the king by which the lives and liberties of all who were on the citadel, whether citizens or foreigners, were secured. The ambassadors then returned whence they came, carrying an order to the people to remain where they were until the army had marched out, for fear any of the soldiers should disobey orders and plunder them. A fall of snow however compelled the king to remain where he was for some days; in the course of which he summoned a meeting of such Achaeans as were in the army, and after pointing out to them the strength and excellent position of the town for the purposes of the present war, he spoke also of his own friendly disposition towards their nation: and ended by saying, "We hereby yield up and present this town to the Achaeans; for it is our purpose to show them all the favour in our power, and to omit nothing that may testify to our zeal." After receiving the thanks of Aratus and the meeting, Philip dismissed the assembly, and getting his army in motion, marched towards Lasion. The Psophidians descending from the citadel received back the possession of the town, each man recovering his own house; while Euripidas departed to Corinth, and thence to Aetolia. Those of the Achaean magistrates who were present put Prolaus of Sicyon in command of the citadel, with an adequate garrison; and Pythias of Pallene in command of the town. Such was the end of the incident of Psophis.
This extract is from: Histories. Polybius. Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (1889). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.
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