Euchidas of Plataea
During summer 479 B.C, at the foot of Mt Kitheron and just outside the imposing walls of the township of Plataea located in the plain, took place one of the most important and decisive battle of the Greek armies against the Persians. It was an overwhelming victory of the Greeks.
However, the Plataeans were not reassured. They believed that the presence of the “barbarians” in their land had contaminated the sacred flame burning in the altar of their town. Soon after the battle, they called their soldier runner, swift-footed Euchidas. His mission was to run to Delphi and bring back the holy fire from the altar of the Apollo temple. The exhaustion of the soldier after the battle was considerable but the mission was even more considerable and holier.
Euchidas ran immediately off. He followed a difficult course through ravines, forests, mountains and narrow paths. He reached Delphi and after the purification of his body in holy Castallia Spring took the fire from the altar of the Apollo Temple and ran back to Plataea performing a journey of 1,000 stadia in 24 hours, which is approximately 182km/113 miles.
Euchidas delivered the holy fire to the sovereigns and immediately after expired passing to eternity.
Euchidas of Plataea, as mentioned by Plutarch in the “Life of Aristides”:
The magistrates of Greece, therefore, went forthwith and compelled such as had fire to put it out;
and Euchidas, a Plataean, promising to fetch fire, with all possible speed, from the altar of the god, went to Delphi,
and having sprinkled and purified his body, crowned himself with laurel;
and taking the fire from the altar ran back to Plataea, and got back there before sunset, performing in one day a journey of a thousand furlongs;
and saluting his fellow-citizens and delivering them the fire, he immediately fell down, and in a short time after expired.
But the Plataeans, taking him up, interred him in the temple of Artemis Eucleia, setting this inscription over him: “Euchidas ran to Delphi and back again in one day.”
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