Promachon

athena

Θηβαίων τοίνυν διὰ τοῦτο ἐκπεφευγότων ἐπὶ τὰς Ἀθήνας ἐχώρει, ῥᾷστα τὴν πόλιν οἰόμενος ἑλεῖν διὰ τὸ μέγεθος παρὰ τῶν ἔνδον φυλαχθῆναι οὐ δυναμένην, καὶ προσἐτι τοῦ Πειραιῶς ἐχομένου σπάνει τῶν ἐπιτηδείων μετ’ οὐ πολὺ τοὺς πολιορκουμένους ἐνδώσειν. ἀλλ’ ὁ μὲν Ἀλλάριχος ἐν ταύταις ἦν ταῖς ἐλπίσιν, ἔμελλε δὲ ἡ τῆς πόλεως ἀρχαιότης καὶ ἐν οὕτω δυσσεβέσι καιροῖς θείαν τινὰ πρόνοιαν ὑπὲρ ἑαυτῆς ἐπισπᾶσθαι καὶ μένειν ἀπόρθητος. ἄξιον δὲ μηδὲ τὴν αἰτίαν δι’ ἣν ἡ πόλις περιεσώθη, θεοπρεπῆ τινὰ οὖσαν καὶ εἰς εὐσέβειαν τοὺς ἀκούοντας ἐπικαλουμένην , σιωπῇ διελθεῖν. ἐπιὼν Ἀλλάριχος πανστρατιᾷ τῇ πόλει τὸ μὲν τεῖχος ἑώρα περινοστοῦσαν τὴν πρόμαχον Ἀθηνᾶν, ὡς ἔστιν αὐτὴν ὁρᾶν ἐν τοῖς ἀγάλμασιν , ὡπλισμένην καὶ οἷον τοῖς ἐπιοῦσιν ἀνθίστασθαι μέλλουσαν, τοῖς δὲ τείχεσι προεστῶτα τὸν Ἀχιλλέα τὸν ἥρω τοιοῦτον οἷον αὐτὸν τοῖς Τρωσίν ἔδειξεν Ὅμηρος, ὅτε κατ’ ὀργὴν τῷ θανάτῳ τοῦ Πατρόκλου τιμωρῶν ἐπολέμει.
(Zosimus, Historia Nova 5.5.8-5.6.1)

The Thebans thus escaped and he went on to Athens, expecting that he would easily take that city because it was too vast to be defended by its inhabitants, and also that the besieged would soon surrender because, moreover, the Piraeus was short of provisions. These were Alaric’s hopes, but this ancient city won some divine protection for itself despite contemporary impiety and thus escaped destruction. And I should not pass over in silence the reason for the city’s miraculous preservation, because it will excite piety in all who hear of it. When Alaric and his whole army came to the city, he saw the tutelary goddess Athena walking about the wall, looking just like her statue, armed and ready to resist attack, while leading their forces he saw the hero Achilles, just as Homer described him at Troy when in his wrath he fought to avenge the death of Patroclus. (tr. Ronald T. Ridley)

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