History of the Peloponnesian War

Thucydides

Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.

Meanwhile the Ambraciots from the city arrived at Idomene.

Idomene consists of two lofty hills, the highest of which the troops sent on by Demosthenes succeeded in occupying after nightfall, unobserved by the Ambraciots, who had meanwhile ascended the smaller and bivouacked upon it.

After supper Demosthenes set out with the rest of the army, as soon as it was evening; himself with half his force making for the pass, and the remainder going by the Amphilochian hills.

At dawn he fell upon the Ambraciots while they were still abed, ignorant of what had passed, and fully thinking that it was their own countrymen,—

Demosthenes having purposely put the Messenians in front with orders to address them in the Doric dialect, and thus to inspire confidence in the sentinels, who would not be able to see them, as it was still night.

In this way he routed their army as soon as he attacked it, slaying most of them where they were, the rest breaking away in flight over the hills.

The roads, however, were already occupied, and while the Amphilochians knew their own country, the Ambraciots were ignorant of it and could not tell which way to turn, and had also heavy armour as against a light-armed enemy, and so fell into ravines and into the ambushes which had been set for them, and perished there.

In their manifold efforts to escape some even turned to the sea, which was not far off, and seeing the Athenian ships coasting along shore just while the action was going on, swam off to them, thinking it better in the panic they were in, to perish, if perish they must, by the hands of the Athenians, than by those of the barbarous and detested Amphilochians.

Of the large Ambraciot force destroyed in this manner, a few only reached the city in safety; while the Acarnanians, after stripping the dead and setting up a trophy, returned to Argos.