Aeneas Tacticus 4.





4. Of Signals

1. First of all, signals should be already arranged, so that the defenders may not fail to recognize anyone who approaches. For this is what once happened. Chalcis on the Euripus was captured by an exile who started from Eretria, with the help of a friend in the city who contrived the following plan. 2. He went to the most deserted part of the city, near a gate which was not opened, and waited there with a saw or file which he kept ready day and night, until he succeeded one night in sawing through the bar unobserved and admitting soldiers at that point. 3. When about two thousand men had assembled in the market place, the alarm was sounded hastily, and many of the men of Chalcis were cut down through failing to recognize their foes: for in their panic they fell in with the enemy, each man thinking that they were his friends and that he was late in coming up. 4. In this way, most of them were destroyed, one or two at a time, and when they finally discovered the true state of affairs, the city was already in the enemy’s hands. 5. In time of war, therefore, and when the enemy are close at hand, troops sent out from the city for any object, whether by land or sea, should not be dispatched until signals have been arranged by which they can communicate with the garrison by day or night, so that when enemies appear before the walls, the defenders may know for certain whether they are friends or foes. 6. Further, when they have set out, observers should be dispatched from the city to ascertain how they are faring, in order that the garrison may allow their movements as far out as possible; for it is a great advantage to be prepared well beforehand for whatever is coming. 7. The result of neglecting these precautions will be well shown from incidents which have actually occurred – to give in passing something in the way of illustration and clear evidence.
8. Pisistratus, when general at Athens, was informed that a force coming from Megara by sea intended to attack the Athenian women by night, while they were celebrating the Thesmophoria at Eleusis. On hearing this he laid an ambush for them. 9. The force from Megara disembarked, as they thought without attracting attention, and were some way from the coast when Pisistratus burst from his ambush and overpowered them, destroying the greater number of them, and also captured their boats. 10. These he filled without delay with his own troops and, taking with him such of the women as he thought best for this purpose, put into Megara late in the evening, keeping at some distance from the city. 11. On sighting the boats, a crowd of Megarians, including all the magistrates, flocked down to meet them, seeing, as they thought, a fine cargo of female prisoners. ‹Pisistratus gave his men orders› to disembark with daggers in their hands, and to strike some of them down, but to carry off alive to the boats all the distinguished citizens they could capture. And these orders they carried out. 12. It is clear from this story that no troops should be mustered, and no expedition dispatched, without signals to ensure that the different parties are known to one another.






created 14/02/2010 - updated 04/07/2017