By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book III
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book III" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


by Edward Bulwer Lytton





     I  The Character and Popularity of Miltiades.--Naval expedition.
          --Siege of Paros.--Conduct of Miltiades.--He is Accused and
          Sentenced.--His Death.

    II  The Athenian Tragedy.--Its Origin.--Thespis.--Phrynichus.--
          Aeschylus.--Analysis of the Tragedies of Aeschylus.

   III  Aristides.--His Character and Position.--The Rise of
          Themistocles.--Aristides is Ostracised.--The Ostracism
          examined.--The Influence of Themistocles increases.--The
          Silver--mines of Laurion.--Their Product applied by
          Themistocles to the Increase of the Navy.--New Direction
          given to the National Character.

    IV  The Preparations of Darius.--Revolt of Egypt.--Dispute for
          The Succession to the Persian Throne.--Death of Darius.--
          Brief Review of the leading Events and Characteristics of
          his Reign.

     V  Xerxes conducts an Expedition into Egypt.--He finally resolves
          on the Invasion of Greece.--Vast Preparations for the
          Conquest of Europe.--Xerxes arrives at Sardis.--Despatches
          Envoys to the Greek States, demanding Tribute.--The Bridge
          of the Hellespont.--Review of the Persian Armament at
          Abydos.--Xerxes encamps at Therme.

    VI  The Conduct of the Greeks.--The Oracle relating to Salamis.--
          Art of Themistocles.--The Isthmian Congress.--Embassies to
          Argos, Crete, Corcyra, and Syracuse.--Their ill Success.--
          The Thessalians send Envoys to the Isthmus.--The Greeks
          advance to Tempe, but retreat.--The Fleet despatched to
          Artemisium, and the Pass of Thermopylae occupied.--Numbers
          of the Grecian Fleet.--Battle of Thermopylae.

   VII  The Advice of Demaratus to Xerxes.--Themistocles.--Actions off
          Artemisium.--The Greeks retreat.--The Persians invade
          Delphi, and are repulsed with great Loss.--The Athenians,
          unaided by their Allies, abandon Athens, and embark for
          Salamis.--The irresolute and selfish Policy of the
          Peloponnesians.--Dexterity and Firmness of Themistocles.--
          Battle of Salamis.--Andros and Carystus besieged by the
          Greeks.--Anecdotes of Themistocles.--Honours awarded to him
          in Sparta.--Xerxes returns to Asia.--Olynthus and Potidaea
          besieged by Artabazus.--The Athenians return Home.--The
          Ostracism of Aristides is repealed.

  VIII  Embassy of Alexander of Macedon to Athens.--The Result of his
          Proposals.--Athenians retreat to Salamis.--Mardonius
          occupies Athens.--The Athenians send Envoys to Sparta.--
          Pausanias succeeds Cleombrotus as Regent of Sparta.--Battle
          of Plataea.--Thebes besieged by the Athenians.--Battle of
          Mycale.--Siege of Sestos.--Conclusion of the Persian War.



     I  Remarks on the Effects of War.--State of Athens.--Interference
          of Sparta with respect to the Fortifications of Athens.--
          Dexterous Conduct of Themistocles.--The New Harbour of the
          Piraeus.--Proposition of the Spartans in the Amphictyonic
          Council defeated by Themistocles.--Allied Fleet at Cyprus
          and Byzantium.--Pausanias.--Alteration in his Character.--
          His ambitious Views and Treason.--The Revolt of the Ionians
          from the Spartan Command.--Pausanias recalled.--Dorcis
          replaces him.--The Athenians rise to the Head of the Ionian
          League.--Delos made the Senate and Treasury of the Allies.--
          Able and prudent Management of Aristides.--Cimon succeeds
          To the Command of the Fleet.--Character of Cimon.--Eion
          besieged.--Scyros colonized by Atticans.--Supposed Discovery
          of the Bones of Theseus.--Declining Power of Themistocles.
          --Democratic Change in the Constitution.--Themistocles
          ostracised.--Death of Aristides.

    II  Popularity and Policy of Cimon.--Naxos revolts from the
          Ionian League.--Is besieged by Cimon.--Conspiracy and
          Fate of Pausanias.--Flight and Adventures of Themistocles.
          --His Death.

   III  Reduction of Naxos.--Actions off Cyprus.--Manners of
          Cimon.--Improvements in Athens.--Colony at the Nine Ways.
          --Siege of Thasos.--Earthquake in Sparta.--Revolt of Helots,
          Occupation of Ithome, and Third Messenian War.--Rise and
          Character of Pericles.--Prosecution and Acquittal of Cimon.
          --The Athenians assist the Spartans at Ithome.--Thasos
          Surrenders.--Breach between the Athenians and Spartans.--
          Constitutional Innovations at Athens.--Ostracism of Cimon.

    IV  War between Megara and Corinth.--Megara and Pegae garrisoned
          by Athenians.--Review of Affairs at the Persian Court.--
          Accession of Artaxerxes.--Revolt of Egypt under Inarus.--
          Athenian Expedition to assist Inarus.--Aegina besieged.--The
          Corinthians defeated.--Spartan Conspiracy with the Athenian
          Oligarchy.--Battle of Tanagra.--Campaign and Successes of
          Myronides.--Plot of the Oligarchy against the Republic.--
          Recall of Cimon.--Long Walls completed.--Aegina reduced.--
          Expedition under Tolmides.--Ithome surrenders.--The
          Insurgents are settled at Naupactus.--Disastrous Termination
          of the Egyptian Expedition.--The Athenians march into
          Thessaly to restore Orestes the Tagus.--Campaign under
          Pericles.--Truce of five Years with the Peloponnesians.--
          Cimon sets sail for Cyprus.--Pretended Treaty of Peace with
          Persia.--Death of Cimon.

     V  Change of Manners in Athens.--Begun under the Pisistratidae.--
          Effects of the Persian War, and the intimate Connexion with
          Ionia.--The Hetaerae.--The Political Eminence lately
          acquired by Athens.--The Transfer of the Treasury from Delos
          to Athens.--Latent Dangers and Evils.--First, the Artificial
          Greatness of Athens not supported by Natural Strength.--
          Secondly, her pernicious Reliance on Tribute.--Thirdly,
          Deterioration of National Spirit commenced by Cimon in the
          Use of Bribes and Public Tables.--Fourthly, Defects in
          Popular Courts of Law.--Progress of General Education.--
          History.--Its Ionian Origin.--Early Historians.--Acusilaus.
          of the Life and Writings of Herodotus.--Progress of
          Philosophy since Thales.--Philosophers of the Ionian and
          Eleatic Schools.--Pythagoras.--His Philosophical Tenets and
          Political Influence.--Effect of these Philosophers on
          Athens.--School of Political Philosophy continued in Athens
          from the Time of Solon.--Anaxagoras.--Archelaus.--Philosophy
          not a thing apart from the ordinary Life of the Athenians.



     I  Thucydides chosen by the Aristocratic Party to oppose
          Pericles.--His Policy.--Munificence of Pericles.--Sacred
          War.--Battle of Coronea.--Revolt of Euboea and Megara--
          Invasion and Retreat of the Peloponnesians.--Reduction of
          Euboea.--Punishment of Histiaea.--A Thirty Years' Truce
          concluded with the Peloponnesians.--Ostracism of Thucydides.

    II  Causes of the Power of Pericles.--Judicial Courts of the
          dependant Allies transferred to Athens.--Sketch of the
          Athenian Revenues.--Public Buildings the Work of the People
          rather than of Pericles.--Vices and Greatness of Athens had
          the same Sources.--Principle of Payment characterizes the
          Policy of the Period.--It is the Policy of Civilization.--
          Colonization, Cleruchia.

   III  Revision of the Census.--Samian War.--Sketch of the Rise and
          Progress of the Athenian Comedy to the Time of Aristophanes.

    IV  The Tragedies of Sophocles.



B. C. 490--B. C. 479.


The Character and Popularity of Miltiades.--Naval Expedition.--Siege
of Paros.--Conduct of Miltiades.--He is Accused and Sentenced.--His

I.  History is rarely more than the biography of great men.  Through a
succession of individuals we trace the character and destiny of
nations.  THE PEOPLE glide away from us, a sublime but intangible
abstraction, and the voice of the mighty Agora reaches us only through
the medium of its representatives to posterity.  The more democratic
the state, the more prevalent this delegation of its history to the
few; since it is the prerogative of democracies to give the widest
competition and the keenest excitement to individual genius: and the
true spirit of democracy is dormant or defunct, when we find no one
elevated to an intellectual throne above the rest.  In regarding the
characters of men thus concentrating upon themselves our survey of a
nation, it is our duty sedulously to discriminate between their
qualities and their deeds: for it seldom happens that their renown in
life was unattended with reverses equally signal--that the popularity
of to-day was not followed by the persecution of to-morrow: and in
these vicissitudes, our justice is no less appealed to than our pity,
and we are called upon to decide, as judges, a grave and solemn cause
between the silence of a departed people, and the eloquence of
imperishable names.

We have already observed in the character of Miltiades that astute and
calculating temperament common to most men whose lot it has been to
struggle for precarious power in the midst of formidable foes.  We
have seen that his profound and scheming intellect was not accompanied
by any very rigid or high-wrought principle; and placed, as the chief
of the Chersonese had been from his youth upward, in situations of
great peril and embarrassment, aiming always at supreme power, and, in
his harassed and stormy domain, removed far from the public opinion of
the free states of Greece, it was natural that his political code
should have become tempered by a sinister ambition, and that the
citizen of Athens should be actuated by motives scarcely more
disinterested than those which animated the tyrant of the Chersonese.
The ruler of one district may be the hero, but can scarcely be the
patriot, of another.  The long influence of years and custom--the
unconscious deference to the opinion of those whom our youth has been
taught to venerate, can alone suffice to tame down an enterprising and
grasping mind to objects of public advantage, in preference to designs
for individual aggrandizement: influence of such a nature had never
operated upon the views and faculties of the hero of Marathon.
Habituated to the enjoyment of absolute command, he seemed incapable
of the duties of civil subordination; and the custom of a life urged
him onto the desire of power [1].  These features of his character
fairly considered, we shall see little to astonish us in the later
reverses of Miltiades, and find additional causes for the popular
suspicions he incurred.

II.  But after the victory of Marathon, the power of Miltiades was at
its height.  He had always possessed the affection of the Athenians,
which his manners as well as his talents contributed to obtain for
him.  Affable and courteous--none were so mean as to be excluded from
his presence; and the triumph he had just achieved so largely swelled
his popularity, that the most unhesitating confidence was placed in
all his suggestions.

In addition to the victory of Marathon, Miltiades, during his tyranny
in the Chersonese, had gratified the resentment and increased the
dominion of the Athenians.  A rude tribe, according to all authority,
of the vast and varied Pelasgic family, but essentially foreign to,
and never amalgamated with, the indigenous Pelasgians of the Athenian
soil, had in very remote times obtained a settlement in Attica.  They
had assisted the Athenians in the wall of their citadel, which
confirmed, by its characteristic masonry, the general tradition of
their Pelasgic race.  Settled afterward near Hymettus, they refused to
blend with the general population--quarrels between neighbours so near
naturally ensued--the settlers were expelled, and fixed themselves in
the Islands of Lemnos and Imbros--a piratical and savage horde.  They
kept alive their ancient grudge with the Athenians, and, in one of
their excursions, landed in Attica, and carried off some of the women
while celebrating a festival of Diana.  These captives they subjected
to their embraces, and ultimately massacred, together with the
offspring of the intercourse.  "The Lemnian Horrors" became a
proverbial phrase--the wrath of the gods manifested itself in the
curse of general sterility, and the criminal Pelasgi were commanded by
the oracle to repair the heinous injury they had inflicted on the
Athenians.  The latter were satisfied with no atonement less than that
of the surrender of the islands occupied by the offenders.  Tradition
thus reported the answer of the Pelasgi to so stern a demand--
"Whenever one of your vessels, in a single day and with a northern
wind, makes its passage to us, we will comply."

Time passed on, the injury was unatoned, the remembrance remained--
when Miltiades (then in the Chersonese) passed from Elnos in a single
day and with a north wind to the Pelasgian Islands, avenged the cause
of his countrymen, and annexed Lemnos and Imbros to the Athenian sway.
The remembrance of this exploit had from the first endeared Miltiades
to the Athenians, and, since the field of Marathon, he united in
himself the two strongest claims to popular confidence--he was the
deliverer from recent perils, and the avenger of hereditary wrongs.

The chief of the Chersonese was not slow to avail himself of the
advantage of his position.  He promised the Athenians a yet more
lucrative, if less glorious enterprise than that against the Persians,
and demanded a fleet of seventy ships, with a supply of men and money,
for an expedition from which he assured them he was certain to return
laden with spoil and treasure.  He did not specify the places against
which the expedition was to be directed; but so great was the belief
in his honesty and fortune, that the Athenians were contented to grant
his demand.  The requisite preparations made, Miltiades set sail.
Assuming the general right to punish those islands which had sided
with the Persian, he proceeded to Paros, which had contributed a
trireme to the armament of Datis.  But beneath the pretext of national
revenge, Miltiades is said to have sought the occasion to prosecute a
selfish resentment.  During his tyranny in the Chersonese, a Parian,
named Lysagoras, had sought to injure him with the Persian government,
and the chief now wreaked upon the island the retaliation due to an

Such is the account of Herodotus--an account not indeed inconsistent
with the vindictive passions still common to the inhabitants of the
western clime, but certainly scarce in keeping with the calculating
and politic character of Miltiades: for men go backward in the career
of ambition when revenging a past offence upon a foe that is no longer

Miltiades landed on the island, laid vigorous siege to the principal
city, and demanded from the inhabitants the penalty of a hundred
talents.  The besieged refused the terms, and worked day and night at
the task of strengthening the city for defence.  Nevertheless,
Miltiades succeeded in cutting off all supplies, and the city was on
the point of yielding; when suddenly the chief set fire to the
fortifications he had erected, drew off his fleet, and returned to
Athens, not only without the treasure he had promised, but with an
ignominious diminution of the glory he had already acquired.  The most
probable reason for a conduct [2] so extraordinary was, that by some
accident a grove on the continent was set on fire--the flame, visible
equally to the besiegers and the besieged, was interpreted alike by
both: each party imagined it a signal from the Persian fleet--the one
was dissuaded from yielding, and the other intimidated from
continuing the siege.  An additional reason for the retreat was a
severe wound in the leg which Miltiades had received, either in the
course of the attack, or by an accident he met with when attempting
with sacrilegious superstition to consult the infernal deities on
ground dedicated to Ceres.

III.  We may readily conceive the amazement and indignation with
which, after so many promises on the one side, and such unbounded
confidence on the other, the Athenians witnessed the return of this
fruitless expedition.  No doubt the wily and equivocal parts of the
character of Miltiades, long cast in shade by his brilliant qualities,
came now more obviously in view.  He was impeached capitally by
Xanthippus, an Athenian noble, the head of that great aristocratic
faction of the Alcmaeonids, which, inimical alike to the tyrant and
the demagogue, brooked neither a master of the state nor a hero with
the people.  Miltiades was charged with having accepted a bribe from
the Persians [3], which had induced him to quit the siege of Paros at
the moment when success was assured.

The unfortunate chief was prevented by his wound from pleading his own
cause--he was borne into the court stretched upon his couch, while his
brother, Tisagoras, conducted his defence.  Through the medium of his
advocate, Miltiades seems neither vigorously to have refuted the
accusation of treason to the state, nor satisfactorily to have
explained his motives for raising the siege.  His glory was his
defence; and the chief answer to Xanthippus was "Marathon and Lemnos."
The crime alleged against him was of a capital nature; but, despite
the rank of the accuser, and the excitement of his audience, the
people refused to pronounce sentence of death upon so illustrious a
man.  They found him guilty, it is true--but they commuted the capital
infliction to a fine of fifty talents.  Before the fine was paid,
Miltiades expired of the mortification of his wound.  The fine was
afterward paid by his son, Cimon.  Thus ended a life full of adventure
and vicissitude.

The trial of Miltiades has often been quoted in proof of the
ingratitude and fickleness of the Athenian people.  No charge was ever
more inconsiderately made.  He was accused of a capital crime, not by
the people, but by a powerful noble.  The noble demanded his death--
appears to have proved the charge--to have had the law which imposed
death wholly on his side--and "the favour of the people it was," says
Herodotus, expressly, "which saved his life." [4]  When we consider
all the circumstances of the case--the wound to the popular vanity--
the disappointment of excited expectation--the unaccountable conduct
of Miltiades himself--and then see his punishment, after a conviction
which entailed death, only in the ordinary assessment of a pecuniary
fine [5], we cannot but allow that the Athenian people (even while
vindicating the majesty of law, which in all civilized communities
must judge offences without respect to persons) were not in this
instance forgetful of the services nor harsh to the offences of their
great men.


The Athenian Tragedy.--Its Origin.--Thespis.--Phrynichus.--Aeschylus.
--Analysis of the Tragedies of Aeschylus.

I.  From the melancholy fate of Miltiades, we are now invited to a
subject no less connected with this important period in the history of
Athens.  The interval of repose which followed the battle of Marathon
allows us to pause, and notice the intellectual state to which the
Athenians had progressed since the tyranny of Pisistratus and his

We have remarked the more familiar acquaintance with the poems of
Homer which resulted from the labours and example of Pisistratus.
This event (for event it was), combined with other causes,--the
foundation of a public library, the erection of public buildings, and
the institution of public gardens--to create with apparent suddenness,
among a susceptible and lively population, a general cultivation of
taste.  The citizens were brought together in their hours of
relaxation [6], by the urbane and social manner of life, under
porticoes and in gardens, which it was the policy of a graceful and
benignant tyrant to inculcate; and the native genius, hitherto
dormant, of the quick Ionian race, once awakened to literary and
intellectual objects, created an audience even before it found
expression in a poet.  The elegant effeminacy of Hipparchus
contributed to foster the taste of the people--for the example of the
great is nowhere more potent over the multitude than in the
cultivation of the arts.  Patronage may not produce poets, but it
multiplies critics.  Anacreon and Simonides, introduced among the
Athenians by Hipparchus, and enjoying his friendship, no doubt added
largely to the influence which poetry began to assume.  The peculiar
sweetness of those poets imbued with harmonious contagion the genius
of the first of the Athenian dramatists, whose works, alas! are lost
to us, though evidence of their character is preserved.  About the
same time the Athenians must necessarily have been made more
intimately acquainted with the various wealth of the lyric poets of
Ionia and the isles.  Thus it happened that their models in poetry
were of two kinds, the epic and the lyric; and, in the natural
connexion of art, it was but the next step to accomplish a species of
poetry which should attempt to unite the two.  Happily, at this time,
Athens possessed a man of true genius, whose attention early
circumstances had directed to a rude and primitive order of histrionic
recitation:--Phrynichus, the poet, was a disciple of Thespis, the
mime: to him belongs this honour, that out of the elements of the
broadest farce he conceived the first grand combinations of the tragic

II.  From time immemorial--as far back, perhaps, as the grove
possessed an altar, and the waters supplied a reed for the pastoral
pipe--Poetry and Music had been dedicated to the worship of the gods
of Greece.  At the appointed season of festival to each several deity,
his praises were sung, his traditionary achievements were recited.
One of the divinities last introduced into Greece--the mystic and
enigmatical Dionysos, or Bacchus, received the popular and
enthusiastic adoration naturally due to the God of the Vineyard, and
the "Unbinder of galling cares."  His festival, celebrated at the most
joyous of agricultural seasons [7], was associated also with the most
exhilarating associations.  Dithyrambs, or wild and exulting songs, at
first extemporaneous, celebrated the triumphs of the god.  By degrees,
the rude hymn swelled into prepared and artful measures, performed by
a chorus that danced circling round the altar; and the dithyramb
assumed a lofty and solemn strain, adapted to the sanctity of
sacrifice and the emblematic majesty of the god.  At the same time,
another band (connected with the Phallic procession, which, however
outwardly obscene, betokened only, at its origin, the symbol of
fertility, and betrays the philosophy of some alien and eastern creed
[8]) implored in more lively and homely strains the blessing of the
prodigal and jovial deity.  These ceremonial songs received a wanton
and wild addition, as, in order, perhaps, more closely to represent
and personify the motley march of the Liber Pater, the chorus-singers
borrowed from the vine-browsing goat which they sacrificed the hides
and horns, which furnished forth the merry mimicry of the satyr and
the faun.  Under license of this disguise, the songs became more
obscene and grotesque, and the mummers vied with each other in
obtaining the applause of the rural audience by wild buffoonery and
unrestricted jest.  Whether as the prize of the winner or as the
object of sacrifice, the goat (tragos in the Greek) was a sufficiently
important personage to bestow upon the exhibition the homely name of
TRAGEDY, or GOATSONG, destined afterward to be exalted by association
with the proudest efforts of human genius.  And while the DITHYRAMB,
yet amid the Dorian tribes, retained the fire and dignity of its
hereditary character--while in Sicyon it rose in stately and mournful
measures to the memory of Adrastus, the Argive hero--while in Corinth,
under the polished rule of Periander, Arion imparted to the antique
hymn a new character and a more scientific music [9],--gradually, in
Attica, it gave way before the familiar and fantastic humours of the
satyrs, sometimes abridged to afford greater scope to their
exhibitions--sometimes contracting the contagion of their burlesque.
Still, however, the reader will observe, that the tragedy, or
goatsong, consisted of two parts--first, the exhibition of the
mummers, and, secondly, the dithyrambic chorus, moving in a circle
round the altar of Bacchus.  It appears on the whole most probable,
though it is a question of fierce dispute and great uncertainty, that
not only this festive ceremonial, but also its ancient name of
tragedy, or goatsong, had long been familiar in Attica [10], when,
about B. C. 535, during the third tyranny of Pisistratus, a skilful
and ingenious native of Icaria, an Attic village in which the
Eleutheria, or Bacchic rites, were celebrated with peculiar care,
surpassed all competitors in the exhibition of these rustic
entertainments.  He relieved the monotonous pleasantries of the
satyric chorus by introducing, usually in his own person, a histrionic
tale-teller, who, from an elevated platform, and with the lively
gesticulations common still to the popular narrators of romance on the
Mole of Naples, or in the bazars of the East, entertain the audience
with some mythological legend.  It was so clear that during this
recital the chorus remained unnecessarily idle and superfluous, that
the next improvement was as natural in itself, as it was important in
its consequences.  This was to make the chorus assist the narrator by
occasional question or remark.

The choruses themselves were improved in their professional art by
Thespis.  He invented dances, which for centuries, retained their
popularity on the stage, and is said to have given histrionic disguise
to his reciter--at first, by the application of pigments to the face;
and afterward, by the construction of a rude linen mask.

III.  These improvements, chiefly mechanical, form the boundary to the
achievements of Thespis.  He did much to create a stage--little to
create tragedy, in the proper acceptation of the word.  His
performances were still of a ludicrous and homely character, and much
more akin to the comic than the tragic.  Of that which makes the
essence of the solemn drama of Athens--its stately plot, its gigantic
images, its prodigal and sumptuous poetry, Thespis was not in any way
the inventor.  But PHRYNICHUS, the disciple of Thespis, was a poet; he
saw, though perhaps dimly and imperfectly, the new career opened to
the art, and he may be said to have breathed the immortal spirit into
the mere mechanical forms, when he introduced poetry into the bursts
of the chorus and the monologue of the actor.  Whatever else
Phrynichus effected is uncertain.  The developed plot--the
introduction of regular dialogue through the medium of a second actor
--the pomp and circumstance--the symmetry and climax of the drama--do
not appear to have appertained to his earlier efforts; and the great
artistical improvements which raised the simple incident to an
elaborate structure of depicted narrative and awful catastrophe, are
ascribed, not to Phrynichus, but Aeschylus.  If the later works of
Phrynichus betrayed these excellences, it is because Aeschylus had
then become his rival, and he caught the heavenly light from the new
star which was destined to eclipse him.  But every thing essential was
done for the Athenian tragedy when Phrynichus took it from the satyr
and placed it under the protection of the muse--when, forsaking the
humours of the rustic farce, he selected a solemn subject from the
serious legends of the most vivid of all mythologies--when he breathed
into the familiar measures of the chorus the grandeur and sweetness of
the lyric ode--when, in a word, taking nothing from Thespis but the
stage and the performers, he borrowed his tale from Homer and his
melody from Anacreon.  We must not, then, suppose, misled by the
vulgar accounts of the Athenian drama, that the contest for the goat,
and the buffooneries of Thespis, were its real origin; born of the
epic and the lyric song, Homer gave it character, and the lyrists
language.  Thespis and his predecessors only suggested the form to
which the new-born poetry should be applied.

IV.  Thus, under Phrynichus, the Thespian drama rose into poetry,
worthy to exercise its influence upon poetical emulation, when a young
man of noble family and sublime genius, rendered perhaps more
thoughtful and profound by the cultivation of a mystical philosophy
[11], which had lately emerged from the primitive schools of Ionian
wisdom, brought to the rising art the united dignity of rank,
philosophy, and genius.  Aeschylus, son of Euphorion, born at Eleusis
B. C. 525, early saturated a spirit naturally fiery and exalted with
the vivid poetry of Homer.  While yet a boy, and probably about the
time when Phrynichus first elevated the Thespian drama, he is said to
have been inspired by a dream with the ambition to excel in the
dramatic art.  But in Homer he found no visionary revelation to assure
him of those ends, august and undeveloped, which the actor and the
chorus might be made the instruments to effect.  For when the idea of
scenic representation was once familiar, the epics of Homer suggested
the true nature of the drama.  The great characteristic of that poet
is individuality.  Gods or men alike have their separate,
unmistakeable attributes and distinctions--they converse in dialogue--
they act towards an appointed end.  Bring Homer on the stage, and
introduce two actors instead of a narrator, and a drama is at once
effected.  If Phrynichus from the first borrowed his story from Homer,
Aeschylus, with more creative genius and more meditative intellect,
saw that there was even a richer mine in the vitality of the Homeric
spirit--the unity of the Homeric designs.  Nor was Homer, perhaps, his
sole though his guiding inspiration.  The noble birth of Aeschylus no
doubt gave him those advantages of general acquaintance with the
poetry of the rest of Greece, which an education formed under the
lettered dynasty of the Pisistratidae would naturally confer on the
well-born.  We have seen that the dithyramb, debased in Attica to the
Thespian chorus, was in the Dorian states already devoted to sublime
themes, and enriched by elaborate art; and Simonides, whose elegies,
peculiar for their sweetness, might have inspired the "ambrosial"
Phrynichus, perhaps gave to the stern soul of Aeschylus, as to his own
pupil Pindar, the model of a loftier music, in his dithyrambic odes.

V.  At the age of twenty-five, the son of Euphorion produced his first
tragedy.  This appears to have been exhibited in the year after the
appearance of Aristagoras at Athens,--in that very year so eventful
and important, when the Athenians lighted the flames of the Persian
war amid the blazing capital of Sardis.  He had two competitors in
Pratinas and Choerilus.  The last, indeed, preceded Phrynichus, but
merely in the burlesques of the rude Thespian stage; the example of
Phrynichus had now directed his attention to the new species of drama,
but without any remarkable talent for its cultivation.  Pratinas, the
contemporary of Aeschylus, did not long attempt to vie with his mighty
rival in his own line [12].  Recurring to the old satyr-chorus, he
reduced its unmeasured buffooneries into a regular and systematic
form; he preserved the mythological tale, and converted it into an
artistical burlesque.  This invention, delighting the multitude, as it
adapted an ancient entertainment to the new and more critical taste,
became so popular that it was usually associated with the graver
tragedy; when the last becoming a solemn and gorgeous spectacle, the
poet exhibited a trilogy (or three tragedies) to his mighty audience,
while the satyric invention of Pratinas closed the whole, and answered
the purpose of our modern farce [13].  Of this class of the Grecian
drama but one specimen remains, in the Cyclops of Euripides.  It is
probable that the birth, no less than the genius of Aeschylus, enabled
him with greater facility to make the imposing and costly additions to
the exhibition, which the nature of the poetry demanded--since, while
these improvements were rapidly proceeding, the poetical fame of
Aeschylus was still uncrowned.  Nor was it till the fifteenth year
after his first exhibition that the sublimest of the Greek poets
obtained the ivy chaplet, which had succeeded to the goat and the ox,
as the prize of the tragic contests.  In the course of a few years, a
regular stage, appropriate scenery and costume, mechanical inventions
and complicated stage machinery, gave fitting illusion to the
representation of gods and men.  To the monologue of Phrynichus,
Aeschylus added a second actor [14]; he curtailed the choruses,
connected them with the main story, and, more important than all else,
reduced to simple but systematic rules the progress and development of
a poem, which no longer had for its utmost object to please the ear or
divert the fancy, but swept on its mighty and irresistible march, to
besiege passion after passion, and spread its empire over the whole

An itinerant platform was succeeded by a regular theatre of wood--the
theatre of wood by a splendid edifice, which is said to have held no
less an audience than thirty thousand persons [15].  Theatrical
contests became a matter of national and universal interest.  These
contests occurred thrice a year, at three several festivals of Bacchus
[16].  But it was at the great Dionysia, held at the end of March and
commencement of April, that the principal tragic contests took place.
At that period, as the Athenian drama increased in celebrity, and
Athens herself in renown, the city was filled with visiters, not only
from all parts of Greece, but almost from every land in which the
Greek civilization was known.  The state took the theatre under its
protection, as a solemn and sacred institution.  So anxious were the
people to consecrate wholly to the Athenian name the glory of the
spectacle, that at the great Dionysia no foreigner, nor even any
metoecus (or alien settler), was permitted to dance in the choruses.
The chief archon presided, over the performances; to him was awarded
the selection of the candidates for the prize.  Those chosen were
allowed three actors [17] by lot and a chorus, the expense of which
was undertaken by the state, and imposed upon one of the principal
persons of each tribe, called choragus.  Thus, on one occasion,
Themistocles was the choragus to a tragedy by Phrynichus.  The immense
theatre, crowded by thousands, tier above tier, bench upon bench, was
open to the heavens, and commanded, from the sloping hill on which it
was situated, both land and sea.  The actor apostrophized no mimic
pasteboard, but the wide expanse of Nature herself--the living sun,
the mountain air, the wide and visible Aegaean.  All was proportioned
to the gigantic scale of the theatre, and the mighty range of the
audience.  The form was artificially enlarged and heightened; masks of
exquisite art and beauty brought before the audience the ideal images
of their sculptured gods and heroes, while (most probably) mechanical
inventions carried the tones of the voice throughout the various tiers
of the theatre.  The exhibitions took place in the open day, and the
limited length of the plays permitted the performance of probably no
less than ten or twelve before the setting of the sun.  The sanctity
of their origin, and the mythological nature of their stories, added
something of religious solemnity to these spectacles, which were
opened by ceremonial sacrifice.  Dramatic exhibitions, at least for a
considerable period, were not, as with us, made hackneyed by constant
repetition.  They were as rare in their recurrence as they were
imposing in their effect; nor was a drama, whether tragic or comic,
that had gained the prize, permitted a second time to be exhibited.  A
special exemption was made in favour of Aeschylus, afterward extended
to Sophocles and Euripides.  The general rule was necessarily
stimulant of renewed and unceasing exertion, and was, perhaps, the
principal cause of the almost miraculous fertility of the Athenian

VI.  On the lower benches of the semicircle sat the archons and
magistrates, the senators and priests; while apart, but in seats
equally honoured, the gaze of the audience was attracted, from time to
time, to the illustrious strangers whom the fame of their poets and
their city had brought to the Dionysia of the Athenians.  The youths
and women [18] had their separate divisions; the rest of the audience
were ranged according to their tribes, while the upper galleries were
filled by the miscellaneous and impatient populace.

In the orchestra (a space left by the semicircular benches, with wings
stretching to the right and left before the scene), a small square
platform served as the altar, to which moved the choral dances, still
retaining the attributes of their ancient sanctity.  The coryphaeus,
or leader of the chorus, took part in the dialogue as the
representative of the rest, and, occasionally, even several of the
number were excited into exclamations by the passion of the piece.
But the principal duty of the chorus was to diversify the dialogue by
hymns and dirges, to the music of flutes, while, in dances far more
artful than those now existent, they represented by their movements
the emotions that they sung [19],--thus bringing, as it were, into
harmony of action the poetry of language.  Architectural
embellishments of stone, representing a palace, with three entrances,
the centre one appropriated to royalty, the others to subordinate
rank, usually served for the scene.  But at times, when the plot
demanded a different locality, scenes painted with the utmost art and
cost were easily substituted; nor were wanting the modern contrivances
of artificial lightning and thunder--the clouds for the gods--a
variety of inventions for the sudden apparition of demon agents,
whether from above or below--and all the adventitious and effective
aid which mechanism lends to genius.

VII.  Thus summoning before us the external character of the Athenian
drama, the vast audience, the unroofed and enormous theatre, the
actors themselves enlarged by art above the ordinary proportions of
men, the solemn and sacred subjects from which its form and spirit
were derived, we turn to Aeschylus, and behold at once the fitting
creator of its grand and ideal personifications.  I have said that
Homer was his original; but a more intellectual age than that of the
Grecian epic had arrived, and with Aeschylus, philosophy passed into
poetry.  The dark doctrine of fatality imparted its stern and awful
interest to the narration of events--men were delineated, not as mere
self-acting and self-willed mortals, but as the agents of a destiny
inevitable and unseen--the gods themselves are no longer the gods of
Homer, entering into the sphere of human action for petty motives and
for individual purposes--drawing their grandeur, not from the part
they perform, but from the descriptions of the poet;--they appear now
as the oracles or the agents of fate--they are visiters from another
world, terrible and ominous from the warnings which they convey.
Homer is the creator of the material poetry, Aeschylus of the
intellectual.  The corporeal and animal sufferings of the Titan in the
epic hell become exalted by tragedy into the portrait of moral
fortitude defying physical anguish.  The Prometheus of Aeschylus is
the spirit of a god disdainfully subjected to the misfortunes of a
man.  In reading this wonderful performance, which in pure and
sustained sublimity is perhaps unrivalled in the literature of the
world, we lose sight entirely of the cheerful Hellenic worship; and
yet it is in vain that the learned attempt to trace its vague and
mysterious metaphysics to any old symbolical religion of the East.
More probably, whatever theological system it shadows forth, was
rather the gigantic conception of the poet himself, than the imperfect
revival of any forgotten creed, or the poetical disguise of any
existent philosophy.  However this be, it would certainly seem, that,
in this majestic picture of the dauntless enemy of Jupiter, punished
only for his benefits to man, and attracting all our sympathies by his
courage and his benevolence, is conveyed something of disbelief or
defiance of the creed of the populace--a suspicion from which
Aeschylus was not free in the judgment of his contemporaries, and
which is by no means inconsonant with the doctrines of Pythagoras.

VIII.  The conduct of the fable is as follows: two vast demons,
Strength and Force, accompanied by Vulcan, appear in a remote plain of
earth--an unpeopled desert.  There, on a steril and lofty rock, hard
by the sea, Prometheus is chained by Vulcan--"a reward for his
disposition to be tender to mankind."  The date of this doom is cast
far back in the earliest dawn of time, and Jupiter has but just
commenced his reign.  While Vulcan binds him, Prometheus utters no
sound--it is Vulcan, the agent of his punishment, that alone
complains.  Nor is it till the dread task is done, and the ministers
of Jupiter have retired, that "the god, unawed by the wrath of gods,"
bursts forth with his grand apostrophe--

    "Oh Air divine!  Oh ye swift-winged Winds--
     Ye sources of the Rivers, and ye Waves,
     That dimple o'er old Ocean like his smiles--
     Mother of all--oh Earth! and thou the orb,
     All-seeing, of the Sun, behold and witness
     What I, a god, from the stern gods endure.

          *     *     *     *     *     *

     When shall my doom be o'er?--Be o'er!--to me
     The Future hides no riddle--nor can wo
     Come unprepared!  It fits me then to brave
     That which must be: for what can turn aside
     The dark course of the grim Necessity?"

While thus soliloquizing, the air becomes fragrant with odours, and
faintly stirs with the rustling of approaching wings.  The Daughters
of Ocean, aroused from their grots below, are come to console the
Titan.  They utter many complaints against the dynasty of Jove.
Prometheus comforts himself by the prediction that the Olympian shall
hereafter require his services, and that, until himself released from
his bondage, he will never reveal to his tyrant the danger that
menaces his realm; for the vanquished is here described as of a
mightier race than the victor, and to him are bared the mysteries of
the future, which to Jupiter are denied.  The triumph of Jupiter is
the conquest of brute force over knowledge.

Prometheus then narrates how, by means of his counsels, Jupiter had
gained his sceptre, and the ancient Saturn and his partisans been
whelmed beneath the abyss of Tartarus--how he alone had interfered
with Jupiter to prevent the extermination of the human race (whom
alone the celestial king disregarded and condemned)--how he had
imparted to them fire, the seed of all the arts, and exchanged in
their breasts the terrible knowledge of the future for the beguiling
flatteries of hope and hence his punishment.

At this time Ocean himself appears: he endeavours unavailingly to
persuade the Titan to submission to Jupiter.  The great spirit of
Prometheus, and his consideration for others, are beautifully
individualized in his answers to his consoler, whom he warns not to
incur the wrath of the tyrant by sympathy with the afflicted.  Alone
again with the Oceanides, the latter burst forth in fresh strains of

    "The wide earth echoes wailingly,
         Stately and antique were thy fallen race,
       The wide earth waileth thee!
         Lo! from the holy Asian dwelling-place,
     Fall for a godhead's wrongs, the mortals' murmuring tears,
       They mourn within the Colchian land,
         The virgin and the warrior daughters,
       And far remote, the Scythian band,
         Around the broad Maeotian waters,
       And they who hold in Caucasus their tower,
           Arabia's martial flower
     Hoarse-clamouring 'midst sharp rows of barbed spears.

       One have I seen with equal tortures riven--
       An equal god; in adamantine chains
               Ever and evermore
       The Titan Atlas, crush'd, sustains
         The mighty mass of mighty Heaven,
       And the whirling cataracts roar,
       With a chime to the Titan's groans,
       And the depth that receives them moans;
       And from vaults that the earth are under,
       Black Hades is heard in thunder;
     While from the founts of white-waved rivers flow
     Melodious sorrows, wailing with his wo."

Prometheus, in his answer, still farther details the benefits he had
conferred on men--he arrogates to himself their elevation to intellect
and reason [20].  He proceeds darkly to dwell on the power of
Necessity, guided by "the triform fates and the unforgetful Furies,"
whom he asserts to be sovereign over Jupiter himself.  He declares
that Jupiter cannot escape his doom: "His doom," ask the daughters of
Ocean, "is it not evermore to reign?"--"That thou mayst not learn,"
replies the prophet; "and in the preservation of this secret depends
my future freedom."

The rejoinder of the chorus is singularly beautiful, and it is with a
pathos not common to Aeschylus that they contrast their present
mournful strain with that which they poured

    "What time the silence, erst was broken,
       Around the baths, and o'er the bed
     To which, won well by many a soft love-token,
     And hymn'd by all the music of delight,
       Our Ocean-sister, bright
         Hesione, was led!"

At the end of this choral song appears Io, performing her mystic
pilgrimage [21].  The utter wo and despair of Io are finely contrasted
with the stern spirit of Prometheus.  Her introduction gives rise to
those ancestral and traditionary allusions to which the Greeks were so
attached.  In prophesying her fate, Prometheus enters into much
beautiful descriptive poetry, and commemorates the lineage of the
Argive kings.  After Io's departure, Prometheus renews his defiance to
Jupiter, and his stern prophecies, that the son of Saturn shall be
"hurled from his realm, a forgotten king."  In the midst of these
weird denunciations, Mercury arrives, charged by Jupiter to learn the
nature of that danger which Prometheus predicts to him.  The Titan
bitterly and haughtily defies the threats and warnings of the herald,
and exults, that whatever be his tortures, he is at least immortal,--
to be afflicted, but not to die.  Mercury at length departs--the
menace of Jupiter is fulfilled--the punishment is consummated--and,
amid storm and earthquake, both rock and prisoner are struck by the
lightnings of the god into the deep abyss.

    "The earth is made to reel, and rumbling by,
     Bellowing it rolls, the thunder's gathering wrath!
     And the fierce fires glare livid; and along
     The rocks the eddies of the sands whirl high,
     Borne by the hurricane, and all the blasts
     Of all the winds leap forth, each hurtling each
     Met in the wildness of a ghastly war,
     The dark floods blended with the swooping heaven.
     It comes--it comes! on me it speeds--the storm,
     The rushing onslaught of the thunder-god;
     Oh, majesty of earth, my solemn mother!
     And thou that through the universal void,
     Circlest sweet light, all blessing; EARTH AND ETHER,
     YE I invoke, to know the wrongs I suffer."

IX.  Such is the conclusion of this unequalled drama, epitomized
somewhat at undue length, in order to show the reader how much the
philosophy that had awakened in the age of Solon now actuated the
creations of poetry.  Not that Aeschylus, like Euripides, deals in
didactic sentences and oracular aphorisms.  He rightly held such
pedantries of the closet foreign to the tragic genius [22].  His
philosophy is in the spirit, and not in the diction of his works--in
vast conceptions, not laconic maxims.  He does not preach, but he
inspires.  The "Prometheus" is perhaps the greatest moral poem in the
world--sternly and loftily intellectual--and, amid its darker and less
palpable allegories, presenting to us the superiority of an immortal
being to all mortal sufferings.  Regarded merely as poetry, the
conception of the Titan of Aeschylus has no parallel except in the
Fiend of Milton.  But perhaps the representation of a benevolent
spirit, afflicted, but not accursed--conquered, but not subdued by a
power, than which it is elder, and wiser, and loftier, is yet more
sublime than that of an evil demon writhing under the penance
deservedly incurred from an irresistible God.  The one is intensely
moral--at once the more moral and the more tragic, because the
sufferings are not deserved, and therefore the defiance commands our
sympathy as well as our awe; but the other is but the picture of a
righteous doom, borne by a despairing though stubborn will; it affords
no excitement to our courage, and forbids at once our admiration and
our pity.

X.  I do not propose to conduct the reader at length through the other
tragedies of Aeschylus; seven are left to us, to afford the most
striking examples which modern or ancient literature can produce of
what perhaps is the true theory of the SUBLIME, viz., the elevating
the imagination by means of the passions, for a moral end.

Nothing can be more grand and impressive than the opening of the
"Agamemnon," with the solitary watchman on the tower, who, for ten
long years, has watched nightly for the beacon-fires that are to
announce the fall of Ilion, and who now beholds them blaze at last.
The description which Clytemnestra gives of the progress of these
beacon-fires from Troy to Argos is, for its picturesque animation, one
of the most celebrated in Aeschylus.  The following lines will convey
to the general reader a very inadequate reflection, though not an
unfaithful paraphrase, of this splendid passage [23].  Clytemnestra
has announced to the chorus the capture of Troy.  The chorus, half
incredulous, demand what messenger conveyed the intelligence.
Clytemnestra replies:--

    "A gleam--a gleam--from Ida's height,
       By the fire--god sent, it came;
     From watch to watch it leap'd that light,
       As a rider rode the flame!
         It shot through the startled sky;
           And the torch of that blazing glory
         Old Lemnos caught on high,
           On its holy promontory,
         And sent it on, the jocund sign,
         To Athos, mount of Jove divine.
       Wildly the while it rose from the isle,
     So that the might of the journeying light
       Skimm'd over the back of the gleaming brine!
         Farther and faster speeds it on,
       Till the watch that keep Macistus steep--
           See it burst like a blazing sun!
             Doth Macistus sleep
             On his tower--clad steep?
       No! rapid and red doth the wild-fire sweep
         It flashes afar, on the wayward stream
         Of the wild Euripus, the rushing beam!
       It rouses the light on Messapion's height,
       And they feed its breath with the withered heath.
             But it may not stay!
             And away--away
         It bounds in its freshening might.
             Silent and soon,
             Like a broadened moon,
           It passes in sheen, Asopus green, [24]
         And bursts on Cithaeron gray.
       The warder wakes to the signal rays,
       And it swoops from the hill with a broader blaze,
         On--on the fiery glory rode--
         Thy lonely lake, Gorgopis, glowed--
         To Megara's Mount it came;
           They feed it again,
           And it streams amain
         A giant beard of flame!
       The headland cliffs that darkly down
       O'er the Saronic waters frown,
       Are pass'd with the swift one's lurid stride,
       And the huge rock glares on the glaring tide,
       With mightier march and fiercer power
       It gain'd Arachne's neighbouring tower--
       Thence on our Argive roof its rest it won,
       Of Ida's fire the long-descended son
         Bright harbinger of glory and of joy!
       So first and last with equal honour crown'd,
       In solemn feasts the race-torch circles round.
       And these my heralds! this my SIGN OF PEACE!
       Lo! while we breathe, the victor lords of Greece,
         Stalk, in stern tumult, through the halls of Troy!" [25]

In one of the earlier choruses, in which is introduced an episodical
allusion to the abduction of Helen, occurs one of those soft passages
so rare in Aeschylus, nor less exquisite than rare.  The chorus
suppose the minstrels of Menelaus thus to lament the loss of Helen:--

    "And wo the halls, and wo the chiefs,
       And wo the bridal bed!
     And we her steps--for once she loved
       The lord whose love she fled!
     Lo! where, dishonour yet unknown,
     He sits--nor deems his Helen flown,
     Tearless and voiceless on the spot;
     All desert, but he feels it not!
     Ah! soon alive, to miss and mourn
     The form beyond the ocean borne
         Shall start the lonely king!
     And thought shall fill the lost one's room,
     And darkly through the palace gloom
         Shall stalk a ghostly thing. [26]
       Her statues meet, as round they rise,
       The leaden stare of lifeless eyes.
     Where is their ancient beauty gone?--
     Why loathe his looks the breathing stone?
     Alas! the foulness of disgrace
     Hath swept the Venus from her face!
     And visions in the mournful night
     Shall dupe the heart to false delight,
         A false and melancholy;
     For naught with sadder joy is fraught,
     Than things at night by dreaming brought,
         The wish'd for and the holy.
     Swift from the solitary side,
     The vision and the blessing glide,
     Scarce welcomed ere they sweep,
       Pale, bloodless, dreams, aloft
       On wings unseen and soft,
     Lost wanderers gliding through the paths of sleep."

But the master-terror of this tragedy is in the introduction of
Cassandra, who accompanies Agamemnon, and who, in the very hour of his
return, amid the pomp and joy that welcome the "king of men," is
seized with the prophetic inspiration, and shrieks out those ominous
warnings, fated ever to be heard in vain.  It is she who recalls to
the chorus, to the shuddering audience, that it is the house of the
long-fated Atridae, to which their descendant has returned--"that
human shamble-house--that bloody floor--that dwelling, abhorred by
Heaven, privy to so many horrors against the most sacred ties;" the
doom yet hangs over the inexpiable threshold; the curse passes from
generation to generation; Agamemnon is the victim of his sires.

Recalling the inhuman banquet served by Atreus to Thyestes of his own
murdered children, she starts from the mangled spectres on the

    "See ye those infants crouching by the floor,
     Like phantom dreams, pale nurslings, that have perish'd
     By kindred hands."

Gradually her ravings become clear and clearer, until at last she
scents the "blood-dripping slaughter within;" a vapour rises to her
nostrils as from a charnel house--her own fate, which she foresees at
hand, begins to overpower her--her mood softens, and she enters the
palace, about to become her tomb, with thoughts in which frantic
terror has yielded to solemn and pathetic resignation:

    "Alas for mortals!--what their power and pride?
     A little shadow sweeps it from the earth!
     And if they suffer--why, the fatal hour
     Comes o'er the record like a moistened sponge,
     And blots it out; _methinks this latter lot
     Affects me deepest--Well! 'tis pitiful!"_ [27]

Scarcely has the prophetess withdrawn than we hear behind the scene
the groans of the murdered king, the palace behind is opened, and
Clytemnestra is standing, stern and lofty, by the dead body of her
lord.  The critics have dwelt too much on the character of
Clytemnestra--it is that of Cassandra which is the masterpiece of the

XI.  The story, which is spread throughout three plays (forming a
complete trilogy), continues in the opening of the Choephori, with
Orestes mourning over his father's tomb.  If Clytemnestra has
furnished would-be critics with a comparison with Lady Macbeth, for no
other reason than that one murdered her husband, and the other
persuaded her husband to murder somebody else, so Orestes may with
more justice be called the Hamlet of the Greeks; but though the
character itself of Orestes is not so complex and profound as that of
Hamlet, nor the play so full of philosophical beauties as the modern
tragedy, yet it has passages equally pathetic, and more sternly and
terribly sublime.  The vague horror which in the commencement of the
play prepares us for the catastrophe by the dream of Clytemnestra--how
a serpent lay in swaddling-clothes like an infant, and she placed it
in her breast, and it drew blood; the brief and solemn answer of

    "Man's visions never come to him in vain;"

the manner in which the avenging parricide interrupts the dream, so
that (as in Macbeth) the prediction inspires the deed that it
foretells; the dauntless resolution of Clytemnestra, when she hears, in
the dark sayings of her servant, that "the dead are slaying the
living" (i. e., that through the sword of Orestes Agamemnon is avenged
on Aegisthus), calls for a weapon, royal to the last, wishing only to

    "Know which shall be the victor or the vanquished--
     Since that the crisis of the present horror;"

the sudden change from fierce to tender as Orestes bursts in, and,
thinking only of her guilty lover, she shrieks forth,

    "Ah! thou art then no more, beloved Aegisthus;"

the advance of the threatening son, the soft apostrophe of the mother
as she bares her bosom--

    "Hold! and revere this breast on which so oft
     Thy young cheek nestled--cradle of thy sleep,
     And fountain of thy being;"

the recoil of Orestes--the remonstrance of Pylades--the renewed
passion of the avenger--the sudden recollection of her dream, which
the murderess scarcely utters than it seems to confirm Orestes to its
fulfilment, and he pursues and slays her by the side of the adulterer;
all these passages are full of so noble a poetry, that I do not think
the parallel situations in Hamlet equal their sustained and solemn
grandeur.  But the sublimest effort of the imagination is in the
conclusion.  While Orestes is yet justifying the deed that avenged a
father, strange and confused thoughts gradually creep over him.  No
eyes see them but his own--there they are, "the Gorgons, in vestments
of sable, their eyes dropping loathly blood!"  Slowly they multiply,
they approach, still invisible but to their prey--"the angry
hell-hounds of his mother."  He flies, the fresh blood yet dripping
from his hands.  This catastrophe--the sudden apparition of the Furies
ideally imaged forth to the parricide alone--seems to me greater in
conception than the supernatural agency in Hamlet.  The visible ghost
is less awful than the unseen Furies.

The plot is continued through the third piece of the trilogy (the
Eumenides), and out of Aeschylus himself, no existing tragedy presents
so striking an opening--one so terrible and so picturesque.  It is the
temple of Apollo at Delphi.  The priestess, after a short invocation,
enters the sacred edifice, but suddenly returns.  "A man," she says,
"is at the marble seat, a suppliant to the god--his bloody hands hold
a drawn sword and a long branch of olive.  But around the man sleep a
wondrous and ghastly troop, not of women, but of things woman-like,
yet fiendish; harpies they seem, but are not; black-robed and
wingless, and their breath is loud and baleful, and their eyes drop
venom--and their garb is neither meet for the shrines of God nor the
habitations of men.  Never have I seen (saith the Pythian) a nation
which nurtured such a race."  Cheered by Apollo, Orestes flies while
the dread sisters yet sleep; and now within the temple we behold the
Furies scattered around, and a pale and lofty shape, the ghost of
Clytemnestra, gliding on the stage, awakens the agents of her
vengeance.  They break forth as they rouse themselves, "Seize--seize--
seize."  They lament--they bemoan the departure of their victim, they
expostulate with Apollo, who expels them from his temple.  The scene
changes; Orestes is at Athens,--he pleads his cause before the temple
of Minerva.  The contest is now shared by gods; Apollo and the Furies
are the pleaders--Pallas is the umpire, the Areopagites are the
judges.  Pallas casts in her vote in favour of Orestes--the lots are
equal--he is absolved; the Furies, at first enraged, are soothed by
Minerva, and, invited to dwell in Athens, pour blessings on the land.
A sacred but joyous procession crowns the whole.  Thus the
consummation of the trilogy is cheerful, though each of the two former
pieces is tragic; and the poet artfully conduces the poem to the
honour of his native Athens and the venerable Areopagus.  Regarding
the three as one harmonious and united performance, altogether not so
long as one play of Shakspeare's, they are certainly not surpassed in
greatness of thought, in loftiness of conception, and in sustained
vigour of execution, by any poem in the compass of literature; nor,
observing their simple but compact symmetry as a whole, shall we do
right to subscribe to those who deny to Aeschylus the skill of the
artist, while they grant him the faculty of the poet.

The ingenious Schlegel attributes to these tragedies symbolical
interpretations, but to my judgment with signal ill-success.  These
four tragedies--the Prometheus, the Agamemnon, the Choephori, and the
Eumenides--are in grandeur immeasurably superior to the remaining

XII.  Of these last, the Seven against Thebes is the best.  The
subject was one peculiarly interesting to Greece; the War of the Seven
was the earliest record of a league among the Grecian princes, and of
an enterprise carried on with a regular and systematic design.  The
catastrophe of two brothers falling by each other's hand is terrible
and tragic, and among the most national of the Grecian legends.  The
fierce and martial spirit of the warrior poet runs throughout the
play; his descriptions are animated as with the zeal and passion of
battle; the chorus of Theban virgins paint in the most glowing colours
the rush of the adverse hosts--the prancing of the chargers--the sound
of their hoofs, "rumbling as a torrent lashing the side of cliffs;" we
hear the creak of the heavy cars--the shrill whiz of the javelins,
"maddening the very air"--the showers of stones crashing over the
battlements--the battering at the mighty gates--the uproar of the
city--the yells of rapine--the shrieks of infants "strangled by the
bubbling blood."  Homer himself never accumulated more striking images
of horror.  The description of Tydeus is peculiarly Homeric--

    "Three shadowy crests, the honours of his helm,
     Wave wild, and shrilly from his buckler broad
     The brazen bell rings terror.  On the shield
     He bears his haughty ensign--typed by stars
     Gleaming athwart the sky, and in the midst
     Glitters the royal Moon--the Eye of Night.
     Fierce in the glory of his arms, his voice
     Roars by the river banks; and drunk with war
     He pants, as some wild charger, when the trump
     Clangs ringing, as he rushes on the foe."

The proud, dauntless, and warlike spirit of Eteocles which is designed
and drawn with inconceivable power, is beautifully characterized in
his reply to the above description:

    "Man hath no armour, war hath no array,
     At which this heart can tremble; no device
     Nor blazonry of battle can inflict
     The wounds they menace; crests and clashing bells
     Without the spear are toothless, and the night,
     Wrought on yon buckler with the stars of heaven,
     Prophet, perchance, his doom; and if dark Death
     Close round his eyes, are but the ominous signs
     Of the black night that waits him."

The description of each warrior stationed at each gate is all in the
genius of Homer, closing as it does with that of Polynices, the
brother of the besieged hero, whom, when he hears his name, Eteocles
himself resolves to confront.  At first, indeed, the latter breaks out
into exclamations which denote the awe and struggle of the abhorrent
nature; forebodings of his own doom flit before him, he feels the
curses of his sire are ripening to their fruit, and that the last
storm is yet to break upon the house of Oedipus.  Suddenly he checks
the impulse, sensible of the presence of the chorus.  He passes on to
reason with himself, through a process of thought which Shakspeare
could not have surpassed.  He conjures up the image of that brother,
hateful and unjust from infancy to boyhood, from boyhood up to youth--
he assures himself that justice would be forsworn if this foe should
triumph--and rushes on to his dread resolve.

    "'Tis I will face this warrior; who can boast
     A right to equal mine?  Chief against chief--
     Foe against foe!--and brother against brother.
     What, ho! my greaves, my spear, my armour proof
     Against this storm of stones!  My stand is chosen."

Eteocles and his brother both perish in the unnatural strife, and the
tragedy ends with the decree of the senators to bury Eteocles with due
honours, and the bold resolution of Antigone (the sister of the dead)
to defy the ordinance which forbids a burial to Polynices--

    "For mighty is the memory of the womb
     From which alike we sprung--a wretched mother!"

The same spirit which glows through the "Seven against Thebes" is also
visible in the "Persians," which, rather picturesque than dramatic, is
tragedy brought back to the dithyrambic ode.  It portrays the defeat
of Xerxes, and contains one of the most valuable of historical
descriptions, in the lines devoted to the battle of Salamis.  The
speech of Atossa (the mother of Xerxes), in which she enumerates the
offerings to the shade of Darius, is exquisitely beautiful.

                "The charms that sooth the dead:
    White milk, and lucid honey, pure-distill'd
    By the wild bee--that craftsman of the flowers;
    The limpid droppings of the virgin fount,
    And this bright liquid from its mountain mother
    Born fresh--the joy of the time--hallowed vine;
    The pale-green olive's odorous fruit, whose leaves
    Live everlastingly--and these wreathed flowers,
    The smiling infants o' the prodigal earth."

Nor is there less poetry in the invocation of the chorus to the shade
of Darius, which slowly rises as they conclude.  But the purpose for
which the monarch returns to earth is scarcely sufficient to justify
his appearance, and does not seem to be in accordance with the power
over our awe and terror which the poet usually commands.  Darius hears
the tale of his son's defeat--warns the Persians against interfering
with the Athenians--tells the mother to comfort and console her son--
bids the chorus (who disregard his advice) give themselves to mirth,
even though in affliction, "for to the dead riches are no advantage"--
and so returns to his repose, which seems very unnecessarily

"The Suppliants," which Schlegel plausibly conjectures to have been
the intermediate piece of a trilogy, is chiefly remarkable as a proof
of the versatility of the poet.  All horror has vanished from the
scene; the language is soft when compared with the usual diction of
Aeschylus; the action is peaceful, and the plot extremely simple,
being merely the protection which the daughters of Danaus obtain at
the court of Pelasgus from the pursuit of the sons of Aegyptus.  The
heroines of the play, the Danaides, make the chorus, and this serves
to render the whole, yet more than the Persians, a lyric rather than a
tragedy.  The moral of the play is homely and primitive, and seems
confined to the inculcation of hospitality to strangers, and the
inviolable sanctity of the shrine.  I do not know any passages in "The
Suppliants" that equal in poetry the more striking verses of "The
Persians," or "The Seven against Thebes."

XIII.  Attempts have been made to convey to modern readers a more
familiar notion of Aeschylus by comparisons with modern poets.  One
critic likens him to Dante, another to Milton--but he resembles
neither.  No modern language can convey a notion of the wonderful
strength of his diction--no modern poet, of the stern sublimity of his
conceptions.  The French tragedians may give some weak reflection of
Euripides or even of Sophocles, but none have ventured upon the sacred
territory of the father of the tragic drama.  He defies all imitation.
His genius is so near the verge of bombast, that to approach his
sublime is to rush into the ridiculous. [28]

Aeschylus never once, in the plays that have come down to us,
delineates love, except by an expression or two as regards the passion
of Clytemnestra for Aegisthus [29].  It was emblematic of a new state
of society when Euripides created the Phaedra and the Medea.  His
plots are worked out by the simplest and the fewest positions.  But he
had evidently his own theory of art, and studied with care such stage
effects as appeared to him most striking and impressive.  Thus, in the
burlesque contest between Aeschylus and Euripides, in the comedy of
"The Frogs," the former is censured, not for too rude a neglect, but
for too elaborate a cultivation, of theatrical craft--such as
introducing his principal characters, his Niobe and Achilles [30],
with their faces hid, and preserving long and obstinate silence, in
order by that suspense to sharpen the expectation of the audience.
Aeschylus, in fact, contrary to the general criticism, was as earnest
and thoughtful an artist as Sophocles himself.  There was this
difference, it is true; one invented the art and the other perfected.

But the first requires as intense a study as the last; and they who
talk of the savage and untutored genius of Aeschylus, are no wiser
than the critics who applied the phrase of "native wood-notes wild" to
the consummate philosophy of "Hamlet," the anatomical correctness of
"Othello," the delicate symmetry of "The Tempest."  With respect to
the language of Aeschylus, ancient critics unite with the modern in
condemning the straining of his metaphors, and the exaggeration of his
images; yet they appear to me a necessary part of his genius, and of
the effect it produces.  But nothing can be more unsatisfactory and
inconclusive than the theory of Schlegel, that such metaphors and
images, such rugged boldness and irregular fire, are the
characteristics of a literature in its infancy.  On the contrary, as
we have already seen, Phrynichus, the predecessor of Aeschylus, was as
much characterized by sweetness and harmony, as Aeschylus by grandeur
and headlong animation.  In our own time, we have seen the cold
classic school succeeded by one full of the faults which the German,
eloquent but superficial, would ascribe to the infancy of literature.
The diction of Aeschylus was the distinction of himself, and not of
his age; if it require an apology, let us not seek it in false
pretences; if he had written after Euripides, his diction would have
been equally startling, and his metaphors equally lofty.  His genius
was one of those which, in any age, can form an era, and not that
which an era necessarily forms.  He might have enriched his music from
the strains of the Dorian lyres, but he required only one poet to have
lived before him.  The rest of the Greek dramatists required
Aeschylus--Aeschylus required only Homer.

The POET is, indeed, the creator, not of images solely, but of men--
not of one race of ideas and characters, but of a vast and
interminable posterity scattered over the earth.  The origin of what
wonderful works, in what distant regions, in what various time, may be
traced, step by step, from influence to influence, till we arrive at
Homer!  Such is the vitality of genius.  The true spiritual
transmigrator--it passes through all shapes--losing identity, but not
life--and kindred to the GREAT INTELLIGENCE, which is the soul of
matter--departing from one form only to animate another.


Aristides.--His Character and Position.--The Rise of Themistocles.--
Aristides is Ostracised.--The Ostracism examined.--The Influence of
Themistocles increases.--The Silver-mines of Laurion.--Their Product
applied by Themistocles to the Increase of the Navy.--New Direction
given to the National Character.

I.  While the progress of the drama and the genius of Aeschylus
contributed to the rising renown of Athens, there appeared on the
surface of her external affairs two rival and principal actors, of
talents and designs so opposite, that it soon became evident that the
triumph of one could be only in the defeat of the other.  Before the
battle of Marathon, Aristides had attained a very considerable
influence in Athens.  His birth was noble--his connexions wealthy--his
own fortune moderate.  He had been an early follower and admirer of
Clisthenes, the establisher of popular institutions in Athens after
the expulsion of the Pisistratidae, but he shared the predilection of
many popular chieftains, and while opposing the encroachments of a
tyranny, supported the power of an aristocracy.  The system of
Lycurgus was agreeable to his stern and inflexible temper.  His
integrity was republican--his loftiness of spirit was patrician.  He
had all the purity, the disinterestedness, and the fervour of a
patriot--he had none of the suppleness or the passion of a demagogue;
on the contrary, he seems to have felt much of that high-spirited
disdain of managing a people which is common to great minds conscious
that they are serving a people.  His manners were austere, and he
rather advised than persuaded men to his purposes.  He pursued no
tortuous policy, but marched direct to his object, fronting, and not
undermining, the obstacles in his path.  His reputation for truth and
uprightness was proverbial, and when some lines in Aeschylus were
recited on the stage, implying that "to be, and not to seem, his
wisdom was," the eyes of the spectators were fixed at once upon
Aristides.  His sternness was only for principles--he had no harshness
for men.  Priding himself on impartiality between friends and foes, he
pleaded for the very person whom the laws obliged him to prosecute;
and when once, in his capacity of arbiter between two private persons,
one of the parties said that his opponent had committed many injuries
against Aristides, he rebuked him nobly: "Tell me not," he said, "of
injuries against myself, but against thee.  It is thy cause I am
adjudging, and not my own."  It may be presumed, that with these
singular and exalted virtues, he did not seek to prevent the wounds
they inflicted upon the self-love of others, and that the qualities of
a superior mind were displayed with the bearing of a haughty spirit.
He became the champion of the aristocratic party, and before the
battle of Marathon he held the office of public treasurer.  In this
capacity Plutarch asserts that he was subjected to an accusation by
Themistocles, and even intimates that Themistocles himself had been
his predecessor in that honourable office [31].  But the youth of
Themistocles contradicts this statement; and though his restless and
ambitious temper had led him already into active life, and he might
have combined with others more influential against Aristides, it can
scarcely be supposed that, possessing no advantages of birth, he rose
into much power or distinction, till he won sudden and popular
applause by his gallantry at Marathon.

II.  Themistocles was of illegitimate birth, according to the Athenian
prejudice, since his mother was a foreigner.  His father, though
connected with the priestly and high-born house of the Lycomedae, was
not himself a Eupatrid.  The young Themistocles had many of the
qualities which the equivocal condition of illegitimacy often educes
from active and stirring minds--insolence, ostentation, the desire to
shine, and the invincible ambition to rise.  He appears, by a popular
tale, to have early associated with his superiors, and to have evinced
betimes the art and address which afterward distinguished him.  At a
meeting of all the illegitimate youths assembled at the wrestling-ring
at Cynosarges, dedicated to Hercules, he persuaded some of the young
nobles to accompany him, so as to confound as it were the distinction
between the legitimate and the baseborn.  His early disposition was
bold, restless, and impetuous.  He paid little attention to the
subtleties of schoolmen, or the refinements of the arts; but even in
boyhood devoted himself to the study of politics and the arts of
government.  He would avoid the sports and occupations of his
schoolfellows, and compose declamations, of which the subject was the
impeachment or defence of some of his young friends.  His dispositions
prophesied of his future career, and his master was wont to say, "that
he was born to be a blessing or a curse to the commonwealth."  His
strange and precocious boyhood was followed by a wild and licentious
youth.  He lived in extremes, and alternated between the loosest
pleasures [32] and the most daring ambition.  Entering prematurely
into public life, either his restless disposition or his political
principles embroiled him with men of the highest rank.  Fearless and
sanguine, he cared not whom he attacked, or what he adventured; and,
whatever his conduct before the battle of Marathon, the popular
opinions he embraced could not but bring him, after that event, in
constant opposition to Aristides, the champion of the Areopagus.

That splendid victory which gave an opening to his career sharpened
his ambition.  The loud fame of Miltiades, yet unconscious of reverse,
inspired him with a lofty envy.  He seems from that period to have
forsaken his more youthful excesses.  He abstained from his wonted
pursuits and pleasures--he indulged much in solitary and abstracted
thought--he watched whole nights.  His friends wondered at the change,
and inquired the cause.  "The trophies of Miltiades," said he, "will
not suffer me to sleep."  From these meditations, which are common to
most men in the interval between an irregular youth and an aspiring
manhood, he soon seems to have awakened with fixed objects and
expanded views.  Once emerged from the obscurity of his birth, his
success was rapid, for he possessed all the qualities which the people
demanded in a leader--not only the talents and the courage, but the
affability and the address.  He was an agreeable and boon companion--
he committed to memory the names of the humblest citizens--his
versatility enabled him to be all things to all men.  Without the
lofty spirit and beautiful mind of Pericles, without the prodigal but
effeminate graces of Alcibiades--without, indeed, any of their
Athenian poetry in his intellectual composition, he yet possessed much
of their powers of persuasion, their ready talent for business, and
their genius of intrigue.  But his mind, if coarser than that of
either of his successors, was yet perhaps more masculine and
determined; nothing diverted him from his purpose--nothing arrested
his ambition.  His ends were great, and he associated the rise of his
country with his more selfish objects, but he was unscrupulous as to
his means.  Avid of glory, he was not keenly susceptible to honour.
He seems rather not to have comprehended, than comprehending, to have
disdained the limits which principle sets to action.  Remarkably
far-sighted, he possessed, more than any of his contemporaries, the
prophetic science of affairs: patient, vigilant, and profound, he was
always energetic, because always prepared.

Such was the rival of Aristides, and such the rising leader of the
popular party at Athens.

III.  History is silent as to the part taken by Aristides in the
impeachment of Miltiades, but there is no reason to believe that he
opposed the measure of the Alcmaeonid party with which he acted, and
which seems to have obtained the ascendency after the death of
Miltiades.  In the year following the battle of Marathon, we find
Aristides in the eminent dignity of archon.  In this office he became
generally known by the title of the Just.  His influence, his official
rank, the power of the party that supported him, soon rendered him the
principal authority of Athens.  The courts of the judges were
deserted, every litigant repaired to his arbitration--his
administration of power obtained him almost the monopoly of it.
Still, however, he was vigorously opposed by Themistocles and the
popular faction led by that aspiring rival.

By degrees; various reasons, the chief of which was his own high
position, concurred to diminish the authority of Aristides; even among
his own partisans he lost ground, partly by the jealousy of the
magistrates, whose authority he had superseded--and partly, doubtless,
from a maxim more dangerous to a leader than any he can adopt, viz.,
impartiality between friends and foes in the appointment to offices.
Aristides regarded, not the political opinions, but the abstract
character or talents, of the candidates.  With Themistocles, on the
contrary, it was a favourite saying, "The gods forbid that I should be
in power, and my friends no partakers of my success."  The tendency of
the first policy is to discontent friends, while it rarely, if ever,
conciliates foes; neither is it so elevated as it may appear to the
superficial; for if we contend for the superiority of one set of
principles over another, we weaken the public virtue when we give
equal rewards to the principles we condemn as to the principles we
approve.  We make it appear as if the contest had been but a war of
names, and we disregard the harmony which ought imperishably to exist
between the opinions which the state should approve and the honours
which the state can confer.  He who is impartial as to persons must
submit to seem lukewarm as to principles.  Thus the more towering and
eminent the seeming power of Aristides, the more really hollow and
insecure were its foundations.  To his own party it was unproductive--
to the multitude it appeared unconstitutional.  The extraordinary
honours he had acquired--his monopoly of the magistrature--his
anti-popular opinions, could not but be regarded with fear by a people
so jealous of their liberties.  He seemed to their apprehensions to be
approaching gradually to the sovereignty of the state--not, indeed, by
guards and military force, but the more dangerous encroachments of
civil authority.  The moment for the attack arrived.  Themistocles
could count at last upon the chances of a critical experiment, and
Aristides was subjected to the ordeal of the ostracism.

IV.  The method of the ostracism was this:--each citizen wrote upon a
shell, or a piece of broken earthenware, the name of the person he
desired to banish.  The magistrates counted the shells, and if they
amounted to six thousand (a very considerable proportion of the free
population, and less than which rendered the ostracism invalid), they
were sorted, and the man whose name was found on the greater number of
shells was exiled for ten years, with full permission to enjoy his
estates.  The sentence was one that honoured while it afflicted, nor
did it involve any other accusation than that of being too powerful or
too ambitious for the citizen of a free state.  It is a well-known
story, that, during the process of voting, an ignorant burgher came to
Aristides, whose person he did not know, and requested him to write
down the name of Aristides.

"Has he ever injured you?" asked the great man.

"No," answered the clown, "nor do I know him even by sight; but it
vexes me to hear him everywhere called the 'Just.'"

Aristides replied not--he wrote his own name on the shell, and
returned it to the enlightened voter.  Such is a tale to which more
importance than is its due has been attached.  Yet perhaps we can give
a new reading to the honest burgher's reply, and believe that it was
not so expressive of envy at the virtue, as of fear at the reputation.
Aristides received the sentence of exile (B. C. 483) with his
accustomed dignity.  His last words on leaving his native city were
characteristic of his generous and lofty nature.  "May the Athenian
people," he said, "never know the day which shall force them to
remember Aristides!"--A wish, fortunately alike for the exile and the
people, not realized.  That day, so patriotically deprecated, soon
came, glorious equally to Athens and Aristides, and the reparation of
wrong and the triumph of liberty found a common date.

The singular institution of the ostracism is often cited in proof of
the ingratitude of a republic, and the fickleness of a people; but it
owed its origin not to republican disorders, but to despotic
encroachment--not to a people, but to a tyrant.  If we look throughout
all the Grecian states, we find that a tyranny was usually established
by some able and artful citizen, who, attaching himself either to the
aristocratic, or more frequently to the popular party, was suddenly
elevated into supreme power, with the rise of the faction he had
espoused.  Establishing his fame by popular virtues, he was enabled
often to support his throne by a moral authority--more dangerous than
the odious defence of military hirelings: hence necessarily arose
among the free states a jealousy of individuals, whose eminence became
such as to justify an undue ambition; and hence, for a long period,
while liberty was yet tender and insecure, the (almost) necessity of
the ostracism.

Aristotle, who laments and condemns the practice, yet allows that in
certain states it was absolutely requisite; he thinks the evil it is
intended to prevent "might have been provided for in the earlier
epochs of a commonwealth, by guarding against the rise of one man to a
dangerous degree of power; but where the habits and laws of a nation
are so formed as to render it impossible to prevent the rise, you must
then guard against its consequences:" and in another part of his
Politics he observes, "that even in republics, where men are regarded,
not according to their wealth, but worth--where the citizens love
liberty and have arms and valour to defend it; yet, should the
pre-eminent virtues of one man, or of one family, totally eclipse the
merit of the community at large, you have but two choices--the
ostracism or the throne."

If we lament the precaution, we ought then to acknowledge the cause.
The ostracism was the creature of the excesses of the tyrannical, and
not of the popular principle.  The bland and specious hypocrisy of
Pisistratus continued to work injury long after his death--and the
ostracism of Aristides was the necessary consequence of the seizure of
the citadel.  Such evil hath arbitrary power, that it produces
injustice in the contrary principles as a counterpart to the injustice
of its own; thus the oppression of our Catholic countrymen for
centuries resulted from the cruelties and persecutions of a papal
ascendency.  We remembered the danger, and we resorted to the rigid
precaution.  To guard against a second tyranny of opinion, we
condemned, nor perhaps without adequate cause, not one individual, but
a whole sect, to a moral ostracism.  Ancient times are not then so
opposite to the present--and the safety of the state may excuse, in a
republic as in a monarchy, a thousand acts of abstract injustice.  But
the banishment of Aristides has peculiar excuses in the critical
circumstances of the time.  The remembrance of Pisistratus was still
fresh--his son had but just perished in an attempt on his country--the
family still lived, and still menaced: the republic was yet in its
infancy--a hostile aristocracy within its walls--a powerful enemy
still formidable without.  It is a remarkable fact, that as the
republic strengthened, and as the popular power increased, the custom
of ostracism was superseded.  The democratic party was never so strong
as at the time in which it was finally abolished.  It is the
insecurity of power, whether in a people or a king, that generates
suspicion.  Habituated to liberty, a people become less rigid and more
enlightened as to its precautions.

V.  It had been a saying of Aristides, "that if the Athenians desired
their affairs to prosper, they ought to fling Themistocles and himself
into the barathrum."  But fortune was satisfied at this time with a
single victim, and reserved the other for a later sacrifice.  Relieved
from the presence of a rival who had constantly crossed and obstructed
his career, Themistocles found ample scope for his genius.  He was not
one of those who are unequal to the situation it costs them so much to
obtain.  On his entrance into public life he is said by Theophrastus
to have possessed only three talents; but the account is inconsistent
with the extravagance of his earlier career, and still more with the
expenses to which a man who attempts to lead a party is, in all
popular states, unavoidably subjected.  More probably, therefore, it
is said of him by others, that he inherited a competent patrimony, and
he did not scruple to seize upon every occasion to increase it,
whether through the open emolument or the indirect perquisites of
public office.  But, desiring wealth as a means, not an end, he
grasped with one hand to lavish with the other.  His generosity
dazzled and his manners seduced the people, yet he exercised the power
he acquired with a considerate and patriotic foresight.  From the
first retreat of the Persian armament he saw that the danger was
suspended, and not removed.  But the Athenians, who shared a common
Grecian fault, and ever thought too much of immediate, too little of
distant peril, imagined that Marathon had terminated the great contest
between Asia and Europe.  They forgot the fleets of Persia, but they
still dreaded the galleys of Aegina.  The oligarchy of that rival
state was the political enemy of the Athenian demos; the ally of the
Persian was feared by the conqueror, and every interest, military and
commercial, contributed to feed the passionate and jealous hate that
existed against a neighbour, too near to forget, too warlike to
despise.  The thoughtful and profound policy of Themistocles resolved
to work this popular sentiment to ulterior objects; and urging upon a
willing audience the necessity of making suitable preparations against
Aegina, then the mistress of the seas, he proposed to construct a
navy, fitted equally to resist the Persian and to open a new dominion
to the Athenians.

To effect this purpose he called into aid one of the most valuable
sources of her power which nature had bestowed upon Athens.

VI.  Around the country by the ancient Thoricus, on the road from the
modern Kerratia to the Cape of Sunium, heaps of scoriae indicate to
the traveller that he is in the neighbourhood of the once celebrated
silver-mines of Laurion; he passes through pines and woodlands--he
notices the indented tracks of wheels which two thousand years have
not effaced from the soil--he discovers the ancient shafts of the
mines, and pauses before the foundations of a large circular tower and
the extensive remains of the castles which fortified the neighbouring
town [33].  A little farther, and still passing among mine-banks and
hillocks of scoriae, he beholds upon Cape Colonna the fourteen
existent columns of the temple of Minerva Sunias.  In this country, to
which the old name is still attached [34], is to be found a principal
cause of the renown and the reverses of Athens--of the victory of
Salamis--of the expedition to Sicily.

It appears that the silver-mines of Laurion had been worked from a
very remote period--beyond even any traditional date.  But as it is
well and unanswerably remarked, "the scarcity of silver in the time of
Solon proves that no systematic or artificial process of mining could
at that time have been established." [35]  It was, probably, during
the energetic and politic rule of the dynasty of Pisistratus that
efficient means were adopted to derive adequate advantage from so
fertile a source of national wealth.  And when, subsequently, Athens,
profiting from the lessons of her tyrants, allowed the genius of her
free people to administer the state, fresh necessity was created for
wealth against the hostility of Sparta--fresh impetus given to general
industry and public enterprise.  Accordingly, we find that shortly
after the battle of Marathon, the yearly profits of the mines were
immense.  We learn from the researches of one of those eminent Germans
[36] who have applied so laborious a learning with so subtle an
acuteness to the elucidation of ancient history, that these mines were
always considered the property of the state; shares in them were sold
to individuals as tenants in fee farms, and these proprietors paid,
besides, an annual sum into the public treasury, amounting to the
twenty-fourth part of the produce.  The state, therefore, received a
regular revenue from the mines, derived from the purchase--moneys and
the reserved rents.  This revenue had been hitherto divided among all
the free citizens, and the sum allotted to each was by no means
inconsiderable, when Themistocles, at an early period of his career
(before even the ostracism of Aristides), had the courage to propose
that a fund thus lucrative to every individual should be appropriated
to the national purpose of enlarging the navy.  The feud still carried
on with the Aeginetans was his pretext and excuse.  But we cannot
refuse our admiration to the fervent and generous order of public
spirit existent at that time, when we find that it was a popular
leader who proposed to, and carried through, a popular assembly the
motion, that went to empoverish the men who supported his party and
adjudged his proposition.  Privileged and sectarian bodies never
willingly consent to a surrender of pecuniary benefits for a mere
public end.  But among the vices of a popular assembly, it possesses
the redeeming virtue to be generous.  Upon a grand and unconscious
principle of selfishness, a democracy rarely grudges a sacrifice
endured for the service of the state.

The money thus obtained was devoted to the augmentation of the
maritime force to two hundred triremes--an achievement that probably
exhausted the mine revenue for some years; and the custom once broken,
the produce of Laurion does not seem again to have been wasted upon
individuals.  To maintain and increase the new navy, a decree was
passed, either at that time [37], or somewhat later, which ordained
twenty triremes to be built yearly.

VII.  The construction of these vessels, the very sacrifice of the
citizens, the general interest that must have attached to an
undertaking that was at once novel in itself, and yet congenial not
more to the passions of a people, who daily saw from their own heights
the hostile rock of Aegina, "the eyesore of the Piraeus," than to the
habits of men placed in a steril land that on three sides tempted to
the sea--all combined to assist Themistocles in his master policy--a
policy which had for its design gradually to convert the Athenians
from an agricultural into a maritime people.  What was imputed to him
as a reproach became his proudest distinction, viz., that "he first
took his countrymen from the spear and shield, and sent them to the
bench and oar."


The Preparations of Darius.--Revolt of Egypt.--Dispute for the
Succession to the Persian Throne.--Death of Darius.--Brief Review of
the leading Events and Characteristics of his Reign.

I.  While, under the presiding genius of Themistocles, Athens was
silently laying the foundation of her naval greatness, and gradually
increasing in influence and renown, the Persian monarch was not
forgetful of the burning of Sardis and the defeat of Marathon.  The
armies of a despotic power are often slow to collect, and unwieldy to
unite, and Darius wasted three years in despatching emissaries to
various cities, and providing transports, horses, and forage for a new

The vastness of his preparations, though congenial to oriental
warfare, was probably proportioned to objects more great than those
which appear in the Greek historians.  There is no reason, indeed, to
suppose that he cherished the gigantic project afterward entertained
by his son--a project no less than that of adding Europe as a province
to the empire of the East.  But symptoms of that revolt in Egypt which
shortly occurred, may have rendered it advisable to collect an
imposing force upon other pretences; and without being carried away by
any frantic revenge against the remote and petty territory of Athens,
Darius could not but be sensible that the security of his Ionian,
Macedonian, and Thracian conquests, with the homage already rendered
to his sceptre by the isles of Greece, made it necessary to redeem the
disgrace of the Persian arms, and that the more insignificant the foe,
the more fatal, if unpunished, the example of resistance.  The Ionian
coasts--the entrance into Europe--were worth no inconsiderable effort,
and the more distant the provinces to be awed, the more stupendous,
according to all rules of Asiatic despotism, should appear the
resources of the sovereign.  He required an immense armament, not so
much for the sake of crushing the Athenian foe, as of exhibiting in
all its might the angry majesty of the Persian empire.

II.  But while Asia was yet astir with the martial preparations of the
great king, Egypt revolted from his sway, and, at the same time, the
peace of Darius was imbittered, and his mind engaged, by a contest
among his sons for the succession to the crown (B. C. 486).
Artabazanes, the eldest of his family, born to him by his first wife,
previous to his own elevation to the throne, founded his claim upon
the acknowledged rights of primogeniture; but Xerxes, the eldest of a
second family by Atossa, daughter of the great Cyrus, advanced, on the
other hand, a direct descent from the blood of the founder of the
Persian empire.  Atossa, who appears to have inherited something of
her father's genius, and who, at all events, exercised unbounded
influence over Darius, gave to the claim of her son a stronger support
than that which he could derive from argument or custom.  The intrigue
probably extended from the palace throughout the pure Persian race,
who could not but have looked with veneration upon a descendant of
Cyrus, nor could there have seemed a more popular method of
strengthening whatever was defective in the title of Darius to the
crown, than the transmission of his sceptre to a son, in whose person
were united the rights of the new dynasty and the sanctity of the old.
These reasonings prevailed with Darius, whose duty it was to nominate
his own successor, and Xerxes was declared his heir.  While the
contest was yet undecided, there arrived at the Persian court
Demaratus, the deposed and self-exiled king of Sparta.  He attached
himself to the cause and person of Xerxes, and is even said to have
furnished the young prince with new arguments, founded on the usages
of Sparta--an assertion not to be wholly disregarded, since Demaratus
appeared before the court in the character of a monarch, if in the
destitution of an exile, and his suggestions fell upon the ear of an
arbiter willing to seize every excuse to justify the resolution to
which he had already arrived.

This dispute terminated, Darius in person prepared to march against
the Egyptian rebels, when his death (B. C. 485) consigned to the
inexperienced hands of his heir the command of his armies and the
execution of his designs.

The long reign of Darius, extending over thirty-six years, was
memorable for vast improvements in the administrations of the empire,
nor will it, in this place, be an irrelevant digression to glance
briefly and rapidly back over some of the events and the innovations
by which it was distinguished.

III.  The conquest of Cyrus had transplanted, as the ruling people, to
the Median empire, a race of brave and hardy, but simple and
uncivilized warriors.  Cambyses, of whose character no unequivocal
evidence remains, since the ferocious and frantic crimes ascribed to
him [38] are conveyed to us through the channel of the Egyptian
priests, whom he persecuted, most probably, rather as a political
nobility than a religious caste, could but slightly have improved the
condition of the people, or the administration of the empire, since
his reign lasted but seven years and five months, during which he was
occupied with the invasion of Africa and the subjugation of Egypt.  At
the conclusion of his reign he was menaced by a singular conspiracy.
The Median magi conspired in his absence from the seat of empire to
elevate a Mede to the throne.  Cambyses, under the impulse of jealous
and superstitious fears, had lately put to death Smerdis, his brother.
The secret was kept from the multitude, and known only to a few--among
others, to the magian whom Cambyses had intrusted with the charge of
his palace at Susa, an office as important as confidential.  This man
conceived a scheme of amazing but not unparalleled boldness.  His
brother, a namesake of the murdered prince, resembled the latter also
in age and person.  This brother, the chief of the household, with the
general connivance of his sacerdotal caste, who were naturally anxious
to restore the Median dynasty, suddenly declared to be the true
Smerdis, and the impostor, admitted to possession of the palace,
asserted his claim to the sovereign power.  The consent of the magi--
the indifference of the people--the absence, not only of the king, but
of the flower of the Persian race--and, above all, the tranquil
possession of the imperial palace, conspired to favour the deceit.
[39]  Placed on the Persian throne, but concealing his person from the
eyes of the multitude in the impenetrable pomp of an Oriental
seraglio, the pseudo Smerdis had the audacity to despatch, among the
heralds that proclaimed his accession, a messenger to the Egyptian
army, demanding their allegiance.  The envoy found Cambyses at
Ecbatana in Syria.  Neither cowardice nor sloth was the fault of that
monarch; he sprang upon his horse, determined to march at once to
Susa, when the sheath fell from his sword, and he received a mortal
wound from the naked blade.  Cambyses left no offspring, and the
impostor, believed by the people to be the true son of Cyrus, issued,
from the protecting and august obscurity of his palace, popular
proclamations and beneficent edicts.  Whatever his present fraud,
whatever his previous career, this daring Mede was enabled to make his
reign beloved and respected.  After his death he was regretted by all
but the Persians, who would not have received the virtues of a god as
an excuse for the usurpation of a Mede.  Known to the vast empire only
by his munificence of spirit--by his repeal of tribute and service,
the impostor permitted none to his presence who could have detected
the secret.  He never quitted his palace--the nobles were not invited
to his banquets--the women in his seraglio were separated each from
each--and it was only in profound darkness that the partners of his
pleasures were admitted to his bed.  The imposture is said by
Herodotus to have been first discovered in the following manner:--the
magian, according to the royal custom, had appropriated to himself the
wives of Cambyses; one of these was the daughter of Otanes, a Persian
noble whom the secluded habits of the pretended king filled with
suspicion.  For some offence, the magian had been formerly deprived of
his ears by the order of Cyrus.  Otanes communicated this fact, with
his suspicions, to his daughter, and the next time she was a partaker
of the royal couch, she took the occasion of his sleep to convince
herself that the sovereign of the East was a branded and criminal
impostor.  The suspicions of Otanes verified, he entered, with six
other nobles, into a conspiracy, which mainly owed its success to the
resolution and energy of one among them, named Darius, who appears to
have held a station of but moderate importance among the royal guard,
though son of Hystaspes, governor of the province of Persis, and of
the purest and loftiest blood of Persia.  The conspirators penetrated
the palace unsuspected--put the eunuchs who encountered them to death
--and reached the chamber in which the usurper himself was seated with
his brother.  The impostors, though but imperfectly armed, defended
themselves with valour; two of the conspirators were wounded, but the
swords of the rest sufficed to consummate the work, and Darius himself
gave the death-blow to one of the brothers.

This revolution was accompanied and stained by an indiscriminate
massacre of the magi.  Nor did the Persians, who bore to that Median
tribe the usual hatred which conquerors feel to the wisest and noblest
part of the conquered race, content themselves with a short-lived and
single revenge.  The memory of the imposture and the massacre was long
perpetuated by a solemn festival, called "the slaughter of the Magi,"
or Magophonia, during which no magian was permitted to be seen abroad.

The result of this conspiracy threw into the hands of the seven nobles
the succession to the Persian throne: the election fell upon Darius,
the soul of the enterprise, and who was of that ancient and princely
house of the Achaemenids, in which the Persians recognised the family
of their ancestral kings.  But the other conspirators had not
struggled solely to exchange one despot for another.  With a new
monarchy arose a new oligarchy.  Otanes was even exempted from
allegiance to the monarch, and his posterity were distinguished by
such exclusive honours and immunities, that Herodotus calls them the
only Persian family which retained its liberty.  The other
conspirators probably made a kind of privileged council, since they
claimed the right of access at all hours, unannounced, to the presence
of the king--a privilege of the utmost value in Eastern forms of
government--and their power was rendered permanent and solid by
certain restrictions on marriage [40], which went to maintain a
constant alliance between the royal family and their own.  While the
six conspirators rose to an oligarchy, the tribe of the Pasargadae--
the noblest of those sections into which the pure Persian family was
divided--became an aristocracy to officer the army and adorn the
court.  But though the great body of the conquered Medes were kept in
subject inferiority, yet the more sternly enforced from the Persian
resentment at the late Median usurpation, Darius prudently conciliated
the most powerful of that great class of his subjects by offices of
dignity and command, and of all the tributary nations, the Medes
ranked next to the Persians.

IV.  With Darius, the Persian monarchy progressed to that great crisis
in the civilization of those states founded by conquering Nomades,
when, after rich possessions are seized, cities built, and settlements
established, the unwieldy and enormous empire is divided into
provinces, and satrap government reflects in every district the
mingled despotism and subservience, pomp and insecurity, of the
imperial court.  Darius undoubtedly took the most efficient means in
his power to cement his sway and organize his resources.  For the
better collection of tribute, twenty provinces were created, governed
by twenty satraps.  Hitherto no specific and regular tax had been
levied, but the Persian kings had been contented with reluctant
presents, or arbitrary extortions.  Darius now imposed a limited and
annual impost, amounting, according to the computation of Herodotus,
to fourteen thousand five hundred and sixty talents, collected
partially from Africa, principally from Asia [41].  The Persians, as
the conquering and privileged race, were excluded from the general
imposition, but paid their moderate contribution under the softer
title of gratuity.  The Colchians fixed their own burdens--the
Ethiopians that bordered Egypt, with the inhabitants of the sacred
town of Nyssa, rendered also tributary gratuities--while Arabia
offered the homage of her frankincense, and India [42] of her gold.
The empire of Darius was the more secure, in that it was contrary to
its constitutional spirit to innovate on the interior organization of
the distant provinces--they enjoyed their own national laws and
institutions--they even retained their monarchs--they resigned nothing
but their independence and their tribute.  The duty of the satraps was
as yet but civil and financial: they were responsible for the imposts,
they executed the royal decrees.  Their institution was outwardly
designed but for the better collection of the revenue; but when from
the ranks of the nobles Darius rose to the throne, he felt the
advantage of creating subject principalities, calculated at once to
remove and to content the more powerful and ambitious of his former
equals.  Save Darius himself, no monarch in the known world possessed
the dominion or enjoyed the splendour accorded to these imperial
viceroys.  Babylon and Assyria fell to one--Media was not sufficient
for another--nation was added to nation, and race to race, to form a
province worthy the nomination of a representative of the great king.
His pomp and state were such as befitted the viceroy over monarchs.  A
measure of silver, exceeding the Attic medimnus, was presented every
day to the satrap of Babylon [43].  Eight hundred stallions and
sixteen thousand mares were apportioned to his stables, and the tax of
four Assyrian towns was to provide for the maintenance of his Indian

But under Darius, at least, these mighty officers were curbed and kept
in awe by the periodical visits of the king himself, or his
commissioners; while a broad road, from the western coast to the
Persian capital--inns, that received the messengers, and couriers,
that transmitted the commands of the king, brought the more distant
provinces within the reach of ready intelligence and vigilant control.
These latter improvements were well calculated to quicken the stagnant
languor habitual to the overgrowth of eastern empire.  Nor was the
reign of Darius undistinguished by the cultivation of the more elegant
arts--since to that period may be referred, if not the foundation, at
least the embellishment and increase of Persepolis.  The remains of
the palace of Chil-Menar, ascribed by modern superstition to the
architecture of genii, its graceful columns, its mighty masonry, its
terrace-flights, its marble basins, its sculptured designs stamped
with the unmistakeable emblems of the magian faith, sufficiently
evince that the shepherd-soldiery of Cyrus had already learned to
appreciate and employ the most elaborate arts of the subjugated Medes.

During this epoch, too, was founded a more regular military system, by
the institution of conscriptions--while the subjection of the skilful
sailors of Phoenicia, and of the great maritime cities of Asiatic
Greece, brought to the Persian warfare the new arm of a numerous and
experienced navy.

V.  The reign of Darius is also remarkable for the influence which
Grecian strangers began to assume in the Persian court--and the fatal
and promiscuous admission of Grecian mercenaries into the Persian
service.  The manners of the Persians were naturally hospitable, and
Darius possessed not only an affable temper, but an inquisitive mind.
A Greek physician of Crotona, who succeeded in relieving the king from
the effects of a painful accident which had baffled the Egyptian
practitioners, esteemed the most skilful the court possessed,
naturally rose into an important personage.  His reputation was
increased by a more difficult cure upon the person of Atossa, the
daughter of Cyrus, who, from the arms of her brother Cambyses, and
those of the magian impostor, passed to the royal marriage-bed.  And
the physician, though desirous only of returning through some pretext
to his own country, perhaps first inflamed the Persian king with the
ill-starred wish of annexing Greece to his dominions.  He despatched a
commission with the physician himself, to report on the affairs of
Greece.  Many Hellenic adventurers were at that time scattered over
the empire, some who had served with Cambyses, others who had sided
with the Egyptians.  Their valour recommended them to a valiant
people, and their singular genius for intrigue took root in every
soil.  Syloson, a Greek of Samos, brother to Polycrates, the tyrant of
that state, who, after a career of unexampled felicity and renown,
fell a victim to the hostile treachery of Oretes, the satrap of
Sardis, induced Darius to send over Otanes at the head of a Persian
force to restore him to the principality of his murdered brother; and
when, subsequently, in his Scythian expedition, Darius was an
eyewitness of the brilliant civilization of Ionia, not only did Greece
become to him more an object of ambition, but the Greeks of his
respect.  He sought, by a munificent and wise clemency, to attach them
to his throne, and to colonize his territories with subjects valuable
alike for their constitutional courage and national intelligence.  Nor
can we wonder at the esteem which a Hippias or a Demaratus found in
the Persian councils, when, in addition to the general reputation of
Greeks, they were invested with the dignity of princely rank--for,
above all nations [44], the Persians most venerated the name and the
attributes of a king; nor could their Oriental notions have accurately
distinguished between a legitimate monarch and a Greek tyrant.

VI.  In this reign, too, as the empire was concentrated, and a
splendid court arose from the warrior camp of Cyrus and Cambyses, the
noble elements of the pure Persian character grew confounded with the
Median and Assyrian.  As the Persians retreated from the manners of a
nomad, they lost the distinction of a conquering people.  Warriors
became courtiers--the palace shrunk into the seraglio--eunuchs and
favourites, queens [45], and above all queen-mothers, rose into
pernicious and invisible influence.  And while the Greeks, in their
small states, and under their free governments, progressed to a
civilization, in which luxury only sharpened new energies and created
new arts, the gorgeous enervation of a despotism destructive to
competition, and an empire too vast for patriotism, rapidly debased
and ruined the old hardy race of Cyrus [46], perhaps equal originally
to the Greeks in mental, and in many important points far superior to
them in moral qualities.  With a religion less animated and
picturesque, but more simple and exalted, rejecting the belief that
the gods partook of a mortal nature, worshipping their GREAT ONE not
in statues or in temples, but upon the sublime altar of lofty
mountain-tops--or through those elementary agents which are the
unidolatrous representatives of his beneficence and power [47];
accustomed, in their primitive and uncorrupted state, to mild laws and
limited authority; inured from childhood to physical discipline and
moral honesty, "to draw the bow and to speak the truth," this gallant
and splendid tribe were fated to make one of the most signal proofs in
history, that neither the talents of a despot nor the original virtues
of a people can long resist the inevitable effect of vicious political
constitutions.  It was not at Marathon, nor at Salamis, nor at
Plataea, that the Persian glory fell.  It fell when the Persians
imitated the manners of the slaves they conquered.  "Most imitative of
all men," says Herodotus, "they are ever ready to adopt the manners of
the foreigners.  They take from the Medes their robe, from the
Egyptians their breastplate."  Happy, if to the robe and the
breastplate they had confined their appropriations from the nations
they despised!  Happy, if they had not imparted to their august
religion the gross adulterations of the Median magi; if they had not
exchanged their mild laws and restricted government, for the most
callous contempt of the value of life [48] and the dignity of freedom.
The whole of the pure Persian race, but especially the nobler tribe of
the Pasargadae, became raised by conquest over so vast a population,
to the natural aristocracy of the land.  But the valuable principle of
aristocratic pride, which is the safest curb to monarchic
encroachment, crumbled away in the atmosphere of a despotism, which
received its capricious checks or awful chastisement only in the dark
recesses of a harem.  Retaining to the last their disdain of all
without the Persian pale; deeming themselves still "the most excellent
of mankind;" [49] this people, the nobility of the East, with the
arrogance of the Spartan, contracting the vices of the Helot, rapidly
decayed from all their national and ancient virtues beneath that
seraglio-rule of janizaries and harlots, in which, from first to last,
have merged the melancholy destinies of Oriental despotism.

VII.  Although Darius seems rather to have possessed the ardour for
conquest than the genius for war, his reign was memorable for many
military triumphs, some cementing, others extending, the foundations
of the empire.  A formidable insurrection of Babylon, which resisted a
siege of twenty-one months, was effectually extinguished, and the new
satrap government, aided by the yearly visits of the king, appears to
have kept from all subsequent reanimation the vast remains of that
ancient empire of the Chaldaean kings.  Subsequently an expedition
along the banks of the Indus, first navigated for discovery by one of
the Greeks whom Darius took into his employ, subjected the highlands
north of the Indus, and gave that distant river as a new boundary to
the Persian realm.  More important, had the fortunes of his son been
equal to his designs, was the alarming settlement which the monarch of
Asia effected on the European continent, by establishing his
sovereignty in Thrace and Macedonia--by exacting homage from the isles
and many of the cities of Greece--by breaking up, with the crowning
fall of Miletus, the independence and rising power of those Ionian
colonies, which ought to have established on the Asiatic coasts the
permanent barrier to the irruptions of eastern conquest.  Against
these successes the loss of six thousand four hundred men at the
battle of Marathon, a less number than Darius deliberately sacrificed
in a stratagem at the siege of Babylon, would have seemed but a petty
counterbalance in the despatches of his generals, set off, as it was,
by the spoils and the captives of Euboea.  Nor were the settlements in
Thrace and Macedon, with the awe that his vast armament excited
throughout that portion of his dominions, an insufficient recompense
for the disasters of the expedition, conducted by Darius in person,
against the wandering, fierce, and barbarous Mongolian race, that,
known to us by the name of Scythians, worshipped their war-god under
the symbol of a cimeter, with libations of human blood--hideous
inhabitants of the inhospitable and barren tracts that interpose
between the Danube and the Don.

VIII.  Thus the heritage that passed from Darius to Xerxes was the
fruit of a long and, upon the whole, a wise and glorious reign.  The
new sovereign of the East did not, like his father, find a disjointed
and uncemented empire of countries rather conquered than subdued,
destitute alike of regular revenues and local governments; a wandering
camp, shifted to and fro in a wilderness of unconnected nations--
Xerxes ascended the throne amid a splendid court, with Babylon,
Ecbatana, Persepolis, and Susa for his palaces.  Submissive satraps
united the most distant provinces with the seat of empire.  The wealth
of Asia was borne in regular currents to his treasury.  Save the
revolt of the enfeebled Egyptians, and the despised victory of a
handful of men upon a petty foreland of the remote Aegaean, no cloud
rested upon the dawn of his reign.  As yet unfelt and unforeseen were
the dangers that might ultimately result from the very wisdom of
Darius in the institution of satraps, who, if not sufficiently
supported by military force, would be unable to control the motley
nations over which they presided, and, if so supported, might
themselves become, in any hour, the most formidable rebels.  To
whatever prestige he inherited from the fame of his father, the young
king added, also, a more venerable and sacred dignity in the eyes of
the Persian aristocracy, and, perhaps, throughout the whole empire,
derived, on his mother's side, from the blood of Cyrus.  Never, to all
external appearance, and, to ordinary foresight, under fairer
auspices, did a prince of the East pass from the luxury of a seraglio
to the majesty of a throne.


Xerxes Conducts an Expedition into Egypt.--He finally resolves on the
Invasion of Greece.--Vast Preparations for the Conquest of Europe.--
Xerxes Arrives at Sardis.--Despatches Envoys to the Greek States,
demanding Tribute.--The Bridge of the Hellespont.--Review of the
Persian Armament at Abydos.--Xerxes Encamps at Therme.

I.  On succeeding to the throne of the East (B. C. 485), Xerxes found
the mighty army collected by his father prepared to execute his
designs of conquest or revenge.  In the greatness of that army, in the
youth of that prince, various parties beheld the instrument of
interest or ambition.  Mardonius, warlike and enterprising, desired
the subjugation of Greece, and the command of the Persian forces.  And
to the nobles of the Pasargadae an expedition into Europe could not
but present a dazzling prospect of spoil and power--of satrapies as
yet unexhausted of treasure--of garrisons and troops remote from the
eye of the monarch, and the domination of the capital.

The persons who had most influence over Xerxes were his uncle
Artabanus, his cousin Mardonius, and a eunuch named Natacas [50].  The
intrigues of the party favourable to the invasion of Europe were
backed by the representations of the Grecian exiles.  The family and
partisans of the Pisistratidae had fixed themselves in Susa, and the
Greek subtlety and spirit of enterprise maintained and confirmed, for
that unprincipled and able faction, the credit they had already
established at the Persian court.  Onomacritus, an Athenian priest,
formerly banished by Hipparchus for forging oracular predictions, was
now reconciled to the Pisistratidae, and resident at Susa.  Presented
to the king as a soothsayer and prophet, he inflamed the ambition of
Xerxes by garbled oracles of conquest and fortune, which, this time,
it was not the interest of the Pisistratidae to expose.

About the same period the Aleuadae, those princes of Thessaly whose
policy seems ever to have been that of deadly hostility to the Grecian
republics, despatched ambassadors to Xerxes, inviting him to Greece,
and promising assistance to his arms, and allegiance to his sceptre.

II.  From these intrigues Xerxes aroused himself in the second year of
his reign, and, as the necessary commencement of more extended
designs, conducted in person an expedition against the rebellious
Egyptians.  That people had neither military skill nor constitutional
hardihood, but they were inspired with the most devoted affection for
their faith and their institutions.  This affection was to them what
the love of liberty is in others--it might be easy to conquer them, it
was almost impossible to subdue.  By a kind of fatality their history,
for centuries, was interwoven with that of Greece: their perils and
their enemies the same.  The ancient connexion which apocryphal
tradition recorded between races so opposite, seemed a typical
prophecy of that which actually existed in the historical times.  And
if formerly Greece had derived something of civilization from Egypt,
she now paid back the gift by the swords of her adventurers; and the
bravest and most loyal part of the Egyptian army was composed of
Grecian mercenaries.  At the same time Egypt shared the fate of all
nations that intrust too great a power to auxiliaries.  Greeks
defended her, but Greeks conspired against her.  The adventurers from
whom she derived a fatal strength were of a vain, wily, and irritable
temperament.  A Greek removed from the influence of Greece usually
lost all that was honest, all that was noble in the national
character; and with the most refining intellect, he united a policy
like that of the Italian in the middle ages, fierce, faithless, and
depraved.  Thus, while the Greek auxiliaries under Amasis, or rather
Psammenitus, resisted to the last the arms of Cambyses, it was by a
Greek (Phanes) that Egypt had been betrayed.  Perhaps, could we
thoroughly learn all the secret springs of the revolt of Egypt, and
the expedition of Xerxes, we might find a coincidence not of dates
alone between Grecian and Egyptian affairs.  Whether in Memphis or in
Susa, it is wonderful to see the amazing influence and ascendency
which the Hellenic intellect obtained.  It was in reality the
desperate refuse of Europe that swayed the councils, moved the armies,
and decided the fate of the mighty dynasties of the East.

III.  The arms of Xerxes were triumphant in Egypt (B. C. 484), and he
more rigorously enforced upon that ill-fated land the iron despotism
commenced by Cambyses.  Intrusting the Egyptian government to his
brother Achaemenes, the Persian king returned to Susa, and flushed
with his victory, and more and more influenced by the ambitious
counsels of Mardonius, he now fairly opened, in the full divan of his
counsellors, the vast project he had conceived.  The vanity of the
Greeks led them too credulously to suppose that the invasion of Greece
was the principal object of the great king; on the contrary, it was
the least.  He regarded Greece but as the threshold of a new quarter
of the globe.  Ignorant of the nature of the lands he designed to
subject, and credulous of all the fables which impart proverbial
magnificence to the unknown, Xerxes saw in Europe "regions not
inferior to Asia in extent, and far surpassing it in fertility."
After the conquest of Greece on either continent, the young monarch
unfolded to his counsellors his intention of overrunning the whole of
Europe, "until heaven itself should be the only limit to the Persian
realm, and the sun should shine on no country contiguous to his own."

IV.  These schemes, supported by Mardonius, were opposed only by
Artabanus; and the arguments of the latter, dictated by prudence and
experience, made considerable impression upon the king.  From that
time, however, new engines of superstitious craft and imposture were
brought to bear upon the weak mind, on whose decision now rested the
fatal war between Asia and Europe.  Visions and warnings, threats and
exhortations, haunted his pillow and disturbed his sleep, all tending
to one object, the invasion of Greece.  As we learn from Ctesias that
the eunuch Natacas was one of the parasites most influential with
Xerxes, it is probable that so important a personage in the intrigues
of a palace was, with the evident connivance of the magi, the
instrument of Mardonius.  And, indeed, from this period the politics
of Persia became more and more concentrated in the dark plots of the
seraglio.  Thus superstition, flattery, ambition, all operating upon
him, the irresolution of Xerxes vanished.  Artabanus himself affected
to be convinced of the expediency of the war; and the only object now
remaining to the king and his counsellors was to adapt the
preparations to the magnitude of the enterprise.  Four additional
years were not deemed an idle delay in collecting an army and fleet
destined to complete the conquest of the world.

"And never," says Herodotus, "was there a military expedition
comparable to this.  Hard would it be to specify one nation of Asia
which did not accompany the Persian king, or any waters, save the
great rivers, which were not exhausted by his armament."  Preparations
for an expedition of three years were made, to guard against the
calamities formerly sustained by the Persian fleet.  Had the success
of the expedition been commensurate with the grandeur of its
commencement, perhaps it would have ranked among the sublimest
conceptions of military genius.  All its schemes were of a vast and
gigantic nature.  Across the isthmus, which joins the promontory of
Athos to the Thracian continent, a canal was formed--a work of so
enormous a labour, that it seems almost to have justified the
skepticism of later writers [52], but for the concurrent testimony of
Thucydides and Lysias, Plato, Herodotus, and Strabo.

Bridges were also thrown over the river Strymon; the care of
provisions was intrusted to the Egyptians and Phoenicians, and stores
were deposited in every station that seemed the best adapted for

V.  While these preparations were carried on, the great king, at the
head of his land-forces, marched to Sardis.  Passing the river Halys,
and the frontiers of Lydia, he halted at Celaenae.  Here he was
magnificently entertained by Pythius, a Lydian, esteemed, next to the
king himself, the richest of mankind.  This wealthy subject proffered
to the young prince, in prosecution of the war, the whole of his
treasure, amounting to two thousand talents of silver, and four
millions, wanting only seven thousand, of golden staters of Darius
[53]. "My farms and my slaves," he added, "will be sufficient to
maintain me."

"My friend," said the royal guest, who possessed all the irregular
generosity of princes, "you are the first person, since I left Persia
(B. C. 480), who has treated my army with hospitality and voluntarily
offered me assistance in the war.  Accept my friendship; I receive you
as my host; retain your possessions, and permit me to supply the seven
thousand staters which are wanting to complete the four millions you
already possess."  A man who gives from the property of the public is
seldom outdone in munificence.

At length Xerxes arrived at Sardis, and thence he despatched heralds
into Greece (close of B. C. 481), demanding the tribute of earth and
water.  Athens and Sparta were the only cities not visited by his

VI.  While Xerxes rested at the Lydian city, an enterprise, scarcely
less magnificent in conception than that of the canal at Athos, was
completed at the sacred passage of the Hellespont.  Here was
constructed from the coast of Asia to that of Europe a bridge of
boats, for the convoy of the army.  Scarce was this completed when a
sudden tempest scattered the vessels, and rendered the labour vain.
The unruly passion of the high-spirited despot was popularly said to
have evinced itself at this intelligence, by commanding the Hellespont
to receive three hundred lashes and a pair of fetters--a story
recorded as a certainty by Herodotus, and more properly contemned as a
fable by modern skepticism.

A new bridge was now constructed under new artificers, whose industry
was sharpened by the fate of their unfortunate predecessors, whom
Xerxes condemned to death.  These architects completed at last two
bridges of vessels, of various kinds and sizes, secured by anchors of
great length, and thus protected from the influence of the winds that
set in from the Euxine on the one hand, and the south and southeast
winds on the other.  The elaborate description of this work given by
Herodotus proves it to have been no clumsy or unartist-like
performance.  The ships do not appear so much to have formed the
bridge, as to have served for piers to support its weight.  Rafters of
wood, rough timber, and layers of earth were placed across extended
cables, and the whole was completed by a fence on either side, that
the horses and beasts of burden might not be frightened by the sight
of the open sea.

VII.  And now the work was finished (B. C. 480), the winter was past,
and at the dawn of returning spring, Xerxes led his armament from
Sardis to Abydos.  As the multitude commenced their march, it is said
that the sun was suddenly overcast, and an abrupt and utter darkness
crept over the face of heaven.  The magi were solemnly consulted at
the omen; and they foretold, that by the retirement of the sun, the
tutelary divinity of the Greeks, was denoted the withdrawal of the
protection of Heaven from that fated nation.  The answer pleased the

On they swept--the conveyance of the baggage, and a vast promiscuous
crowd of all nations, preceding; behind, at a considerable interval,
came the flower of the Persian army--a thousand horse--a thousand
spearmen--the ten sacred steeds, called Nisaean--the car of the great
Persian god, drawn by eight snow-white horses, and in which no mortal
ever dared to seat himself.  Around the person of Xerxes were spearmen
and cavalry, whose arms glittered with gold--the ten thousand infantry
called "The Immortals," of whom nine thousand bore pomegranates of
silver at the extremity of their lances, and one thousand pomegranates
of gold.  Ten thousand horsemen followed these: and far in the rear,
the gorgeous procession closed with the mighty multitude of the
general army.

The troops marched along the banks of the Caicus--over the plains of
Thebes;--and passing Mount Ida to the left, above whose hoary crest
broke a storm of thunder and lightning, they arrived at the golden
Scamander, whose waters failed the invading thousands.  Here it is
poetically told of Xerxes, that he ascended the citadel of Priam, and
anxiously and carefully surveyed the place, while the magi of the
barbarian monarch directed libations to the manes of the Homeric

VIII.  Arrived at Abydos, the king reviewed his army.  High upon an
eminence, and on a seat of white marble, he surveyed the plains
covered with countless thousands, and the Hellespont crowded with
sails and masts.  At first, as he gazed, the lord of Persia felt all
the pride and exultation which the command over so many destinies was
calculated to inspire.  But a sad and sudden thought came over him in
the midst of his triumphs, and he burst into tears.  "I reflect," said
he to Artabanus, "on the transitory limit of human life.  I
compassionate this vast multitude--a hundred years hence, which of
them will still be a living man?"  Artabanus replied like a
philosopher, "that the shortness of life was not its greatest evil;
that misfortune and disease imbittered the possession, and that death
was often the happiest refuge of the living." [54]

At early daybreak, while the army yet waited the rising of the sun,
they burnt perfumes on the bridge, and strewed it with branches of the
triumphal myrtle.  As the sun lifted himself above the east, Xerxes
poured a libation into the sea, and addressing the rising orb,
implored prosperity to the Persian arms, until they should have
vanquished the whole of Europe, even to the remotest ends.  Then
casting the cup, with a Persian cimeter, into the sea, the signal was
given for the army to commence the march.  Seven days and seven nights
were consumed in the passage of that prodigious armament.

IX.  Thus entering Europe, Xerxes proceeded to Doriscus (a wide plain
of Thrace, commanded by a Persian garrison), where he drew up, and
regularly numbered his troops; the fleets ranged in order along the
neighbouring coast.  The whole amount of the land-force, according to
Herodotus, was 1,700,000.  Later writers have been skeptical as to
this vast number, but without sufficient grounds for their disbelief.
There were to be found the soldiery of many nations:--the Persians in
tunics and scale breastplates, the tiara helmet of the Medes, the
arrows, and the large bow which was their natural boast and weapon;
there were the Medes similarly equipped; and the Assyrians, with
barbarous helmets, linen cuirasses, and huge clubs tipped with iron;
the Bactrians with bows of reeds, and the Scythian Sacae, with their
hatchets and painted crests.  There, too, were the light-clothed
Indians, the Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdians, Gandarians, and the
Dadicae.  There were the Caspians, clad in tough hides, with bows and
cimeters; the gorgeous tunics of the Sarangae, and the loose flowing
vests (or zirae) of the Arabians.  There were seen the negroes of
Aethiopian Nubia with palm bows four cubits long, arrows pointed with
flint, and vestures won from the leopard and the lion; a barbarous
horde, who, after the wont of savages, died their bodies with gypsum
and vermilion when they went to war; while the straight-haired Asiatic
Aethiopians wore the same armour as the Indians whom they bordered.
save that their helmets were formed of the skin of the horse's head
[55], on which the mane was left in the place of plumage.  The Libyans
were among the horde, and the buskined Paphlagonians, with helms of
network; and the Cappadocian Syrians; and the Phrygians; and the
Armenians; the Lydians, equipped similarly to the Greeks; the
Strymonian Thracians, clad in tunics, below which were flowing robes
like the Arabian zirae or tartan, but of various colours, and buskins
of the skins of fawns--armed with the javelin and the dagger; the
Thracians, too, of Asia, with helmets of brass wrought with the ears
and horns of an ox; the people from the islands of the Red Sea, armed
and people like Medes; the Mares, and the Colchians, and the Moschi,
and other tribes, tedious to enumerate, swelled and diversified the
force of Xerxes.

Such were the infantry of the Persian army, forgetting not the ten
thousand chosen Persians, called the Immortal Band [56], whose armour
shone with profuse gold, and who were distinguished even in war by
luxury--carriages for their women, troops of attendants, and camels
and beasts of burden.

Besides these were the Persian cavalry; the nomad Sagartii, who
carried with them nooses, in which they sought to entangle their foe;
the Medes and the Indian horse, which last had also chariots of war
drawn by steeds or wild asses; the Bactrians and Caspians, equipped
alike; the Africans, who fought from chariots; the Paricanians; and
the Arabians with their swift dromedaries, completed the forces of the
cavalry, which amounted to eighty thousand, exclusive even of chariots
and the camels.

Nor was the naval unworthy of the land armada.  The number of the
triremes was one thousand two hundred and seven.  Of these the
Phoenicians and the Syrians of Palestine furnished three hundred, the
serving-men with breastplates of linen, javelins, bucklers without
bosses, and helmets fashioned nearly similarly to those of the Greeks;
two hundred vessels were supplied by the Egyptians, armed with huge
battle-axes, and casques of network; one hundred and fifty vessels
came from Cyprus, and one hundred from Cilicia; those who manned the
first differing in arms from the Greeks only in the adoption of the
tunic, and the Median mitres worn by the chiefs--those who manned the
last, with two spears, and tunics of wool.  The Pamphylians, clad as
the Greeks, contributed thirty vessels, and fifty also were manned by
Lycians with mantles of goat-skin and unfeathered arrows of reed.  In
thirty vessels came the Dorians of Asia; in seventy the Carians, and
in a hundred, the subjugated Ionians.  The Grecian Isles between the
Cyaneae, and the promontories of Triopium and Sunium [57], furnished
seventeen vessels, and the Aeolians sixty.  The inhabitants of the
Hellespont (those of Abydos alone excepted, who remained to defend the
bridges) combined with the people of Pontus to supply a hundred more.
In each vessel were detachments of Medes, Persians, and Saci; the best
mariners were the Phoenicians, especially those of Sidon.  The
commanders-in-chief of the sea-forces were Ariabignes (son of Darius),
Prexaspes, Megabazus (son of Megabates), and Achaemenes (brother of
Xerxes, and satrap of Egypt).

Of the infantry, the generals were Mardonius, Tritantaechmes, son of
Artabanus, and Smerdones (cousin to Xerxes), Maistes (his brother),
Gergis, and Megabazus, son of that celebrated Zopyrus, through whom
Darius possessed himself of Babylon. [58]

Harmamithres and Tithaeus, who were Medes, commanded the cavalry; a
third leader, Pharnouches, died in consequence of a fall from his
horse.  But the name of a heroine, more masculine than her colleagues,
must not be omitted: Artemisia, widow to one of the Carian kings,
furnished five ships (the best in the fleet next to those of Sidon),
which she commanded in person, celebrated alike for a dauntless
courage and a singular wisdom.

X.  Such were the forces which the great king reviewed, passing
through the land-forces in his chariot, and through the fleet in a
Sidonian vessel, beneath a golden canopy.  After his survey, the king
summoned Demaratus to his presence.

"Think you," said he, "that the Greeks will presume to resist me?"

"Sire," answered the Spartan, "your proposition of servitude will be
rejected by the Greeks; and even if the rest of them sided with you,
Lacedaemon still would give you battle; question not in what numbers;
had Sparta but a thousand men she would oppose you."

Marching onward, and forcibly enlisting, by the way, various tribes
through which he passed, exhausting many streams, and empoverishing
the population condemned to entertain his army, Xerxes arrived at
Acanthus: there he dismissed the commanders of his fleet, ordering
them to wait his orders at Therme, a small town which gave its name to
the Thermean Gulf (to which they proceeded, pressing ships and seamen
by the way), and afterward, gaining Therme himself, encamped his army
on the coast, spreading far and wide its multitudinous array from
Therme and Mygdonia to the rivers Lydias and Haliacmon.


The Conduct of the Greeks.--The Oracle relating to Salamis.--Art of
Themistocles.--The Isthmian Congress.--Embassies to Argos, Crete,
Corcyra, and Syracuse.--Their ill Success.--The Thessalians send
Envoys to the Isthmus.--The Greeks advance to Tempe, but retreat.--The
Fleet despatched to Artemisium, and the Pass of Thermopylae occupied.
--Numbers of the Grecian Fleet.--Battle of Thermopylae.

I.  The first preparations of the Persians did not produce the effect
which might have been anticipated in the Grecian states.  Far from
uniting against the common foe, they still cherished a frivolous and
unreasonable jealousy of each other.  Several readily sent the symbols
of their allegiance to the Persian, including the whole of Boeotia,
except only the Thespians and Plataeans.  The more timorous states
imagined themselves safe from the vengeance of the barbarian; the more
resolute were overwhelmed with dismay.  The renown of the Median arms
was universally acknowledged for in spite of Marathon, Greece had not
yet learned to despise the foreigner; and the enormous force of the
impending armament was accurately known from the spies and deserters
of the Grecian states, who abounded in the barbarian camp.  Even
united, the whole navy of Greece seemed insufficient to contend
against such a foe; and, divided among themselves, several of the
states were disposed rather to succumb than to resist [59].  "And
here," says the father of history, "I feel compelled to assert an
opinion, however invidious it may be to many.  If the Athenians,
terrified by the danger, had forsaken their country, or submitted to
the Persian, Xerxes would have met with no resistance by sea.  The
Lacedaemonians, deserted by their allies, would have died with honour
or yielded from necessity, and all Greece have been reduced to the
Persian yoke.  The Athenians were thus the deliverers of Greece.  They
animated the ardour of those states yet faithful to themselves; and,
next to the gods, they were the true repellers of the invader.  Even
the Delphic oracles, dark and ominous as they were, did not shake
their purpose, nor induce them to abandon Greece."  When even the
deities themselves seemed doubtful, Athens was unshaken.  The
messengers despatched by the Athenians to the Delphic oracle received
indeed an answer well calculated to appal them.

"Unhappy men," cried the priestess, "leave your houses and the
ramparts of the city, and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Fire and keen Mars, compelling the Syrian chariot, shall destroy,
towers shall be overthrown, and temples destroyed by fire.  Lo! now,
even now, they stand dropping sweat, and their house-tops black with
blood, and shaking with prophetic awe.  Depart and prepare for ill!"

II.  Cast into the deepest affliction by this response, the Athenians
yet, with the garb and symbols of suppliants, renewed their
application.  "Answer us," they said, "oh supreme God, answer us more
propitiously, or we will not depart from your sanctuary, but remain
here even until death."

The second answer seemed less severe than the first: "Minerva is
unable to appease the Olympian Jupiter.  Again, therefore, I speak,
and my words are as adamant.  All else within the bounds of Cecropia
and the bosom of the divine Cithaeron shall fall and fail you.  The
wooden wall alone Jupiter grants to Pallas, a refuge to your children
and yourselves.  Wait not for horse and foot--tarry not the march of
the mighty army--retreat, even though they close upon you.  Oh Salamis
the divine, thou shalt lose the sons of women, whether Ceres scatter
or hoard her harvest!"

III.  Writing down this reply, the messengers returned to Athens.
Many and contradictory were the attempts made to interpret the
response; some believed that by a wooden wall was meant the citadel,
formerly surrounded by a palisade of wood.  Others affirmed that the
enigmatical expression signified the fleet.  But then the concluding
words perplexed them.  For the apostrophe to Salamis appeared to
denote destruction and defeat.  At this juncture Themistocles approved
himself worthy of the position he had attained.  It is probable that
he had purchased the oracle to which he found a ready and bold
solution.  He upheld the resort to the ships, but denied that in the
apostrophe to Salamis any evil to Athens was denounced.  "Had," said
he, "the prediction of loss and slaughter referred to the Athenians,
would Salamis have been called 'divine?' would it not have been rather
called the 'wretched' if the Greeks were doomed to perish near that
isle?  The oracle threatens not the Athenians, but the enemy.  Let us
prepare then to engage the barbarian by sea.  Our ships are our wooden

This interpretation, as it was the more encouraging, so it was the
more approved.  The vessels already built from the revenues of the
mines of Laurion were now destined to the safety of Greece.

IV.  It was, however, before the arrival of the Persian envoys [60],
and when the Greeks first woke to the certainty, that the vast
preparations of Xerxes menaced Greece as the earliest victim, that a
congress, perhaps at the onset confined to the Peloponnesian states,
met at Corinth.  At the head of this confederate council necessarily
ranked Sparta, which was the master state of the Peloponnesus.  But in
policy and debate, if not in arms, she appears always to have met with
a powerful rival in Corinth, the diplomacy of whose wealthy and
liberal commonwealth often counteracted the propositions of the
Spartan delegates.  To this congress subsequently came the envoys of
all the states that refused tribute and homage to the Persian king.
The institution of this Hellenic council, which was one cause of the
salvation of Greece, is a proof of the political impotence of the old
Amphictyonic league.  The Synedrion of Corinth (or rather of that
Corinthian village that had grown up round the temple of Neptune, and
is styled the ISTHMUS by the Greek writers) was the true historical
Amphictyony of Hellas.

In the Isthmian congress the genius of Themistocles found an ampler
sphere than it had hitherto done among the noisy cabals of Athens.  Of
all the Greek delegates, that sagacious statesman was most successful
in accomplishing the primary object of the confederacy, viz., in
removing the jealousies and the dissensions that hitherto existed
among the states which composed it.  In this, perhaps the most
difficult, as the most essential, task, Themistocles was aided by a
Tegean, named Chileus, who, though he rarely appears upon the external
stage of action, seems to have been eminently skilled in the intricate
and entangled politics of the time.  Themistocles, into whose hands
the Athenian republic, at this period, confided the trust not more of
its interests than its resentments, set the example of concord; and
Athens, for a while, consented to reconciliation and amity with the
hated Aegina.  All the proceedings of this illustrious congress were
characterized by vigilant prudence and decisive energy.  As soon as
Xerxes arrived in Sardis, emissaries were despatched to watch the
movements of the Persian army, and at the same period, or rather some
time before [61], ambassadors were sent to Corcyra, Crete, Argos, and
to Syracuse, then under the dominion of Gelo.  This man, from the
station of a high-born and powerful citizen of Gela, in Sicily, had
raised himself, partly by military talents, principally by a profound
and dissimulating policy, to the tyranny of Gela and of Syracuse.  His
abilities were remarkable, his power great; nor on the Grecian
continent was there one state that could command the force and the
resources that were at the disposal of the Syracusan prince.

The spies despatched to Sardis were discovered, seized, and would have
been put to death, but for the interference of Xerxes, who dismissed
them, after directing them to be led round his army, in the hope that
their return from the terror of such a spectacle would, more than
their death, intimidate and appal their countrymen.

The mission to Argos, which, as a Peloponnesian city, was one of the
earliest applied to, was unsuccessful.  That state still suffered the
exhaustion which followed the horrible massacre perpetrated by
Cleomenes, the Spartan king, who had burnt six thousand Argives in the
precincts of the sanctuary to which they had fled.  New changes of
government had followed this fatal loss, and the servile population
had been enabled to seize the privileges of the free.  Thus, hatred to
Sparta, a weakened soldiery, an unsettled internal government, all
conspired to render Argos lukewarm to the general cause.  Yet that
state did not openly refuse the aid which it secretly resolved to
withhold.  It consented to join the common league upon two conditions;
an equal share with the Spartans in the command, and a truce of thirty
years with those crafty and merciless neighbours.  The Spartans
proposed to compromise the former condition, by allowing to the Argive
king not indeed half the command, but a voice equal to that of each of
their own kings.  To the latter condition they offered no objection.
Glad of an excuse to retaliate on the Spartans their own haughty
insolence, the Argives at once rejected the proposition, and ordered
the Spartan ambassador to quit their territories before sunset.  But
Argos, though the chief city of Argolis, had not her customary
influence over the other towns of that district, in which the
attachment to Greece was stronger than the jealous apprehensions of

The embassy to Sicily was not more successful than that to Argos.
Gelo agreed indeed to furnish the allies with a considerable force,
but only on the condition of obtaining for Sicily the supreme command,
either of the land-force claimed by Sparta, or of the naval force to
which Athens already ventured to pretend; an offer to which it was
impossible that the Greeks should accede, unless they were disposed to
surrender to the craft of an auxiliary the liberties they asserted
against the violence of a foe.  The Spartan and the Athenian
ambassadors alike, and with equal indignation, rejected the proposals
of Gelo, who, in fact, had obtained the tyranny of his native city by
first securing the command of the Gelan cavalry.  The prince of
Syracuse was little affected by the vehement scorn of the ambassadors.
"I see you are in more want of troops than commanders," said he,
wittily.  "Return, then; tell the Greeks this year will be without its
spring."  For, as the spring to the year did Gelo consider his
assistance to Greece.  From Sicily the ambassadors repaired to
Corcyra.  Here they were amused with flattering promises, but the
governors of that intriguing and factious state fitted out a fleet of
sixty vessels, stationed near Pylos, off the coast of Sparta, to wait
the issue of events assuring Xerxes, on the one hand, of their
indisposition to oppose him, and pretending afterward to the Greeks,
on the other, that the adverse winds alone prevented their taking
share in the engagement at Salamis.  The Cretans were not more
disposed to the cause than the Corcyraeans; they found an excuse in an
oracle of Delphi, and indeed that venerable shrine appears to have
been equally dissuasive of resistance to all the states that consulted
it; although the daring of the Athenians had construed the ambiguous
menace into a favourable omen.  The threats of superstition become but
incitements to courage when interpreted by the brave.

V.  And now the hostile army had crossed the Hellespont, and the
Thessalians, perceiving that they were the next objects of attack,
despatched ambassadors to the congress at the Isthmus.

Those Thessalian chiefs called the Aleuadae had, it is true, invited
Xerxes to the invasion of Greece.  But precisely because acceptable to
the chiefs, the arrival of the great king was dreaded by the people.
By the aid of the Persians, the Aleuadae trusted to extend their power
over their own country--an ambition with which it is not to be
supposed that the people they assisted to subject would sympathize.
Accordingly, while Xerxes was to the chiefs an ally, to the people he
remained a foe.

These Thessalian envoys proclaimed their willingness to assist the
confederates in the defence of their fatherland, but represented the
imminence of the danger to Thessaly, and demanded an immediate supply
of forces.  "Without this," they said, "we cannot exert ourselves for
you, and our inability to assist you will be our excuse, if we provide
for our own safety."

Aroused by these exhortations, the confederates commenced their
military movements.  A body of infantry passed the Euripus, entered
Thessaly, and encamped amid the delights of the vale of Tempe.  Here
their numbers, in all ten thousand heavy-armed troops, were joined by
the Thessalian horse.  The Spartans were led by Euaenetus.
Themistocles commanded the Athenians.  The army did not long, however,
remain in the encampment.  Alexander, the king of Macedon, sent
confidentially advising their retreat, and explaining accurately the
force of the enemy.  This advice concurred with the discovery that
there was another passage into Thessaly through the higher regions of
Macedonia, which exposed them to be taken in the rear.  And, in truth,
it was through this passage that the Persian army ultimately marched.
The Greeks, therefore, broke up the camp and returned to the Isthmus.
The Thessalians, thus abandoned, instantly treated with the invader,
and became among the stanchest allies of Xerxes.

It was now finally agreed in the Isthmian congress, that the most
advisable plan would be to defend the pass of Thermopylae, as being
both nearer and narrower than that of Thessaly.  The fleet they
resolved to send to Artemisium, on the coast of Histiaeotis, a place
sufficiently neighbouring Thermopylae to allow of easy communication.
Never, perhaps, have the Greeks shown more military skill than in the
choice of these stations.  But one pass in those mountainous districts
permitted the descent of the Persian army from Thessaly, bounded to
the west by steep and inaccessible cliffs, extending as far as Mount
Oeta; to the east by shoals and the neighbouring sea.  This defile
received its name Thermopylae, or Hot Gates, from the hot-springs
which rose near the base of the mountain.  In remote times the
pastoral Phocians had fortified the place against the incursions of
the Thessalians, and the decayed remains of the wall and gates of
their ancient garrison were still existent in the middle of the pass;
while, by marsh and morass, to render the place yet more impassable,
they had suffered the hot-springs to empty themselves along the plain,
on the Thessalian side, and the quagmire was still sodden and
unsteady.  The country on either side the Thermopylae was so
contracted, that before, near the river Phoenix, and behind, near the
village of Alpeni, was at that time space only for a single chariot.
In such a pass the numbers and the cavalry of the Mede were rendered
unavailable; while at the distance of about fifteen miles from
Thermopylae the ships of the Grecian navy rode in the narrow sea, off
the projecting shores of Euboea, equally fortunate in a station which
weakened the force of numbers and allowed the facility of retreat.

The sea-station was possessed by the allied ships.  Corinth sent
forty; Megara twenty; Aegina eighteen; Sicyon twelve; Sparta ten; the
Epidaurians contributed eight; the Eretrians seven; the Troezenians
five; the Ityraeans and the people of Ceos each two, and the Opuntian
Locrians seven vessels of fifty oars.  The total of these ships
(without reckoning those of fifty oars, supplied by the Locrians, and
two barks of the same description, which added to the quota sent by
the people of Ceos) amount to one hundred and twenty-four.  The
Athenian force alone numbered more vessels than all the other
confederates, and contributed one hundred and twenty-seven triremes,
partly manned by Plataeans, besides twenty vessels lent to the
Chalcidians, who equipped and manned them.  The Athenian fleet was
commanded by Themistocles.  The land-force at Thermopylae consisted
chiefly of Peloponnesians; its numbers were as follows:--three hundred
heavy-armed Spartans; five hundred Tegeans; five hundred Mantinaeans;
one hundred and twenty Orchomenians; one thousand from the other
states of Arcady; two hundred from Phlius; eighty from Mycenae.
Boeotia contributed seven hundred Thespians, and four hundred Thebans;
the last had been specially selected by Leonidas, the Spartan chief,
because of the general suspicion that the Thebans were attached to the
Medes, and he desired, therefore, to approve them as friends, or know
them as foes.  Although the sentiments of the Thebans were hostile,
says Herodotus, they sent the assistance required.  In addition to
these, were one thousand Phocians, and a band of the Opuntian
Locrians, unnumbered by Herodotus, but variously estimated, by
Diodorus at one thousand, and, more probably, by Pausanias at no less
than seven thousand.

The chief command was intrusted, according to the claims of Sparta, to
Leonidas, the younger brother of the frantic Cleomenes [62], by a
different mother, and his successor to the Spartan throne.

There are men whose whole life is in a single action.  Of these,
Leonidas is the most eminent.  We know little of him, until the last
few days of his career.  He seems, as it were, born but to show how
much glory belongs to a brave death.  Of his character or genius, his
general virtues and vices, his sorrows and his joys, biography can
scarcely gather even the materials for conjecture.  He passed from an
obscure existence into an everlasting name.  And history dedicates her
proudest pages to one of whom she has nothing but the epitaph to

As if to contrast the little band under the command of Leonidas,
Herodotus again enumerates the Persian force, swelled as it now was by
many contributions, forced and voluntary, since its departure from
Doriscus.  He estimates the total by sea and land, thus augmented, at
two millions six hundred and forty-one thousand six hundred and ten
fighting men, and computes the number of the menial attendants, the
motley multitude that followed the armament, at an equal number; so
that the son of Darius conducted, hitherto without disaster, to Sepias
and Thermopylae, a body of five millions two hundred and eighty-three
thousand two hundred and twenty human beings [63].  And out of this
wondrous concourse, none in majesty and grace of person, says
Herodotus, surpassed the royal leader.  But such advantages as belong
to superior stature, the kings of Persia obtained by artificial means;
and we learn from Xenophon that they wore a peculiar kind of shoe so
constructed as to increase their height.

VI.  The fleet of Xerxes, moving from Therme, obtained some partial
success at sea: ten of their vessels despatched to Sciathos, captured
a guard-ship of Troezene, and sacrificed upon the prow a Greek named
Leon; the beauty of his person obtained him that disagreeable
preference.  A vessel of Aegina fell also into their hands, the crew
of which they treated as slaves, save only one hero, Pytheas, endeared
even to the enemy by his valour; a third vessel, belonging to the
Athenians, was taken at the mouth of the Peneus; the seamen, however,
had previously debarked, and consequently escaped.  Beacons apprized
the Greek station at Artemisium of these disasters, and the fleet
retreated for a while to Chalcis, with a view of guarding the Euripus.
But a violent storm off the coast of Magnesia suddenly destroying no
less than four hundred of the barbarian vessels, with a considerable
number of men and great treasure, the Grecian navy returned to

Here they soon made a capture of fifteen of the Persian vessels,
which, taking them for friends, sailed right into the midst of them.
With this exception, the rest of the barbarian fleet arrived safely at

VII.  Meanwhile the mighty land-force of the great king, passing
through Thessaly and Achaia, arrived at last at the wide Trachinian
plains, which, stretching along the shores of Thessaly, forty miles in
circumference, and adjacent to the straits of Thermopylae, allowed
space for the encampment of his army.

The Greeks at Thermopylae beheld the approach of Xerxes with dismay;
they had anticipated considerable re-enforcements from the confederate
states, especially Sparta, which last had determined to commit all her
strength to the campaign, leaving merely a small detachment for the
defence of the capital.  But the Carneian festival in honour of the
great Dorian Apollo, at Sparta, detained the Lacedaemonians, and the
Olympic games diverted the rest of the allies, not yet expecting an
immediate battle.

The vicinity of Xerxes, the absence of the re-enforcements they
expected, produced an alarmed and anxious council; Leonidas dissuaded
the confederates from retreat, and despatched messengers to the
various states, urging the necessity of supplies, and stating the
hopelessness of opposing the Mede effectually with the present forces.

Xerxes, in the meanwhile, who had heard that an insignificant band
were assembled under a Spartan descendant of Hercules, to resist his
progress, despatched a spy to reconnoitre their number and their
movements.  The emissary was able only to inspect those without the
intrenchment, who, at that time, happened to be the Spartans; he found
that singular race engaged in gymnastic exercises, and dressing their
long hair for the festival of battle.  Although they perceived the
spy, they suffered him to gaze at his leisure, and he returned in
safety to the king.

Much astonished at the account he received, Xerxes sent for Demaratus,
and detailing to him what the messenger had seen, inquired what it
might portend, and whether this handful of men amusing themselves in
the defile could seriously mean to resist his arms.

"Sire," answered the Spartan, "it is their intention to dispute the
pass, and what your messenger has seen proves that they are preparing
accordingly.  It is the custom of the Spartans to adorn their hair on
the eve of any enterprise of danger.  You are advancing to attack the
flower of the Grecian valour."  Xerxes, still incredulous that
opposition could be seriously intended, had the courtesy to wait four
days to give the enemy leisure to retreat; in the interim he
despatched a messenger to Leonidas, demanding his arms.  "Come and
take them!" replied the Spartan.

VIII.  On the fifth day the patience of Xerxes was exhausted, and he
sent a detachment of Medes and Cissians [64] into the pass, with
orders to bring its rash and obstinate defenders alive into his
presence.  The Medes and Cissians were repulsed with considerable
loss.  "The Immortal Band" were now ordered to advance, under the
command of Hydarnes.  But even the skill and courage of that warlike
troop were equally unsuccessful; their numbers were crippled by the
narrowness of the pass, and their short weapons coped to great
disadvantage with the long spears of the Greeks.  The engagement was
renewed a second day with the like fortune; the loss of the Persians
was great, although the scanty numbers of the Spartans were also
somewhat diminished.

In the midst of the perplexity which pervaded the king's councils
after this defeat, there arrived at the Persian camp one Ephialtes, a
Malian.  Influenced by the hope of a great reward, this traitor
demanded and obtained an audience, in which he offered to conduct the
Medes through a secret path across the mountains, into the pass.  The
offer was joyfully accepted, and Hydarnes, with the forces under his
command, was despatched under the guidance of the Malian.  At the dusk
of evening the detachment left the camp, and marching all night, from
the river Asopus, between the mountains of Oeta on the right hand, and
the Trachinian ridges on the left, they found themselves at the early
dawn at the summit of the hill, on which a thousand Phocians had been
stationed to defend the pass, for it was not unknown to the Spartans.
In the silence of dawn they wound through the thick groves of oak that
clad the ascent, and concealed the glitter of their arms; but the
exceeding stillness of the air occasioned the noise they made in
trampling on the leaves [65] to reach the ears of the Phocians.  That
band sprang up from the earth on which they had slept, to the
consternation and surprise of the invaders, and precipitately betook
themselves to arms.  The Persians, though unprepared for an enemy at
this spot, drew up in battle array, and the heavy onslaught of their
arrows drove the Phocians to seek a better shelter up the mountains,
not imagining that the passage into the defile, but their own
destruction, was the object of the enterprise.  The Persians prudently
forbore pursuit, but availing themselves of the path now open to their
progress, rapidly descended the opposite side of the mountain.

IX.  Meanwhile, dark and superstitious terrors were at work in the
Grecian camp.  The preceding eve the soothsayer (Megistias) had
inspected the entrails, and foretold that death awaited the defenders
of Thermopylae in the morning; and on that fatal night a Cumaean
deserted from the Persian camp had joined Leonidas, and informed him
of the treachery of Ephialtes.  At early day their fears were
confirmed by the sentinels posted on the mountains, who fled into the
defile at the approach of the barbarians.

A hasty council was assembled; some were for remaining, some for
flight.  The council ended with the resolution of a general retreat,
probably with the assent, possibly by the instances, of Leonidas, who
was contented to possess the monopoly of glory and of death.  The laws
of the Spartans forbade them to fly from any enemy, however numerous,
and Leonidas did not venture to disobey them.  Perhaps his resolution
was strengthened by an oracle of that Delphi so peculiarly venerated
by the Dorian race, and which foretold either the fall of Sparta, or
the sacrifice of a Spartan king of the blood of Hercules.  To men
whose whole happiness was renown, life had no temptation equal to such
a death!

X.  Leonidas and his countrymen determined to keep the field.  The
Thespians alone voluntarily remained to partake his fate; but he
detained also the suspected Thebans, rather as a hostage than an
auxiliary.  The rest of the confederates precipitately departed across
the mountains to their native cities.  Leonidas would have dismissed
the prophetic soothsayer, but Megistias insisted on his right to
remain; he contented himself with sending away his only son, who had
accompanied the expedition.  Even the stern spirit of Leonidas is said
to have yielded to the voice of nature; and he ordered two of his
relations to return to Sparta to report the state of affairs.  "You
prescribe to us the duties of messengers, not of soldiers," was the
reply, as the warriors buckled on their shields, and took their posts
with the rest.

If history could penetrate from events into the hearts of the agents,
it would be interesting even to conjecture the feelings of this
devoted band, awaiting the approach of a certain death, in that
solitary defile.  Their enthusiasm, and that rigid and Spartan spirit
which had made all ties subservient to obedience to the law--all
excitement tame to that of battle--all pleasure dull to the
anticipation of glory--probably rendered the hours preceding death the
most enviable of their lives.  They might have exulted in the same
elevating fanaticism which distinguished afterward the followers of
Mahomet; and seen that opening paradise in immortality below, which
the Moslemin beheld in anticipation above.

XI.  Early on that awful morning, Xerxes offered a solemn libation to
his gods, and at the middle of the noon, when Hydarnes might be
supposed to be close upon the rear of the enemy, the barbarian troops
commenced their march.  Leonidas and his band advanced beyond their
intrenchment, into the broader part of the defile.  Before the fury of
their despair, the Persians fell in great numbers; many of them were
hurled into the sea, others trodden down and crushed by the press of
their own numbers.

When the spears of the Greeks were shivered in pieces they had
recourse to their swords, and the battle was fought hand to hand: thus
fighting, fell Leonidas, surrounded in death by many of his band, of
various distinction and renown.  Two half-brothers of Xerxes, mingling
in the foremost of the fray, contended for the body of the Spartan
king, and perished by the Grecian sword.

For a short time the Spartans repelled the Persian crowd, who, where
valour failed to urge them on, were scourged to the charge by the lash
of their leaders, and drew the body of Leonidas from the press; and
now, winding down the pass, Hydarnes and his detachment descended to
the battle.  The scene then became changed, the Spartans retired,
still undaunted, or rather made yet more desperate as death drew near,
into the narrowest of the pass, and, ranged upon an eminence of the
strait, they died--fighting, even after their weapons were broken,
with their hands and teeth--rather crushed beneath the number than
slain by the swords of the foe--"non victi sed vincendo fatigati."

XII.  Two Spartans of the three hundred, Eurytus and Aristodemus, had,
in consequence of a severe disorder in the eyes, been permitted to
sojourn at Alpeni; but Eurytus, hearing of the contest, was led by his
helot into the field, and died with his countrymen.  Aristodemus alone
remained, branded with disgrace on his return to Sparta; but
subsequently redeeming his name at the battle of Plataea. [68]

The Thebans, beholding the victory of the Persians, yielded their
arms; and, excepting a few, slain as they approached, not as foes, but
as suppliants, were pardoned by Xerxes.

The king himself came to view the dead, and especially the corpse of
Leonidas.  He ordered the head of that hero to be cut off, and his
body suspended on a cross [69], an instance of sudden passion, rather
than customary barbarity.  For of all nations the Persians most
honoured valour, even in their foes.

XIII.  The moral sense of mankind, which places the example of
self-sacrifice among the noblest lessons by which our nature can be
corrected, has justly immortalized the memory of Leonidas.  It is
impossible to question the virtue of the man, but we may fairly
dispute the wisdom of the system he adorned.  We may doubt whether, in
fact, his death served his country so much as his life would have
done.  It was the distinction of Thermopylae, that its heroes died in
obedience to the laws; it was the distinction of Marathon, that its
heroes lived to defeat the invader and preserve their country.  And in
proof of this distinction, we find afterward, at Plataea, that of all
the allied Greeks the Spartans the most feared the conquerors of
Thermopylae; the Athenians the least feared the fugitives of Marathon.

XIV.  Subsequently, on the hill to which the Spartans and Thespians
had finally retired, a lion of stone was erected by the Amphictyons,
in honour of Leonidas; and many years afterward the bones of that hero
were removed to Sparta, and yearly games, at which Spartans only were
allowed to contend, were celebrated round his tomb.  Separate
monuments to the Greeks generally, and to the three hundred who had
refused to retreat, were built also, by the Amphictyons, at
Thermopylae.  Long extant, posterity admired the inscriptions which
they bore; that of the Spartans became proverbial for its sublime

"Go, stranger," it said, "and tell the Spartans that we obeyed the
law--and lie here!"

The private friendship of Simonides the poet erected also a monument
to Megistias, the soothsayer, in which it was said truly to his

    "That the fate he foresaw he remained to brave;"

Such is the history of the battle of Thermopylae (B. C. 480). [70]


The Advice of Demaratus to Xerxes.--Themistocles.--Actions off
Artemisium.--The Greeks retreat.--The Persians invade Delphi, and are
repulsed with great Loss.--The Athenians, unaided by their Allies,
abandon Athens, and embark for Salamis.--The irresolute and selfish
Policy of the Peloponnesians.--Dexterity and Firmness of
Themistocles.--Battle of Salamis.--Andros and Carystus besieged by the
Greeks.--Anecdotes of Themistocles.--Honours awarded to him in
Sparta.--Xerxes returns to Asia.--Olynthus and Potidaea besieged by
Artabazus.--The Athenians return Home.--The Ostracism of Aristides is

I.  After the victory of Thermopylae, Demaratus advised the Persian
monarch to despatch a detachment of three hundred vessels to the
Laconian coast, and seize the Island of Cythera, of which a Spartan
once (foreseeing how easily hereafter that post might be made to
command and overawe the Laconian capital) had said, "It were better
for Sparta if it were sunk into the sea."  The profound experience of
Demaratus in the selfish and exclusive policy of his countrymen made
him argue that, if this were done, the fears of Sparta for herself
would prevent her joining the forces of the rest of Greece, and leave
the latter a more easy prey to the invader.

The advice, fortunately for the Greeks, was overruled by Achaemenes.

Meanwhile the Grecian navy, assembled off Artemisium, was agitated by
divers councils.  Beholding the vast number of barbarian ships now
collected at Aphetae, and the whole shores around swarming with
hostile troops, the Greeks debated the necessity of retreat.

The fleet was under the command of Eurybiades, the Spartan.  For
although Athens furnished a force equal to all the rest of the allies
together, and might justly, therefore, have pretended to the command,
yet the jealousy of the confederates, long accustomed to yield to the
claims of Sparta, and unwilling to acknowledge a new superiority in
another state, had induced the Athenians readily to forego their
claim.  And this especially at the instance of Themistocles.  "To
him," says Plutarch, "Greece not only owes her preservation, but the
Athenians in particular the glory of surpassing their enemies in
valour and their allies in moderation."  But if fortune gave
Eurybiades the nominal command, genius forced Themistocles into the
actual pre-eminence.  That extraordinary man was, above all, adapted
to his time; and, suited to its necessities, he commanded its fates.
His very fault in the callousness of the moral sentiment, and his
unscrupulous regard to expediency, peculiarly aided him in his
management of men.  He could appeal to the noblest passions--he could
wind himself into the most base.  Where he could not exalt he
corrupted, where he could not persuade he intimidated, where he could
not intimidate he bribed. [71]

When the intention to retreat became generally circulated, the
inhabitants of the northern coast of Euboea (off which the Athenian
navy rode) entreated Eurybiades at least to give them time to remove
their slaves and children from the vengeance of the barbarian.
Unsuccessful with him, they next sought Themistocles.  For the
consideration of thirty talents, the Athenian promised to remain at
Artemisium, and risk the event of battle.  Possessed of this sum, he
won over the sturdy Spartan by the gift of five talents, and to
Adimantus the Corinthian, the most obstinate in retreat, he privately
sent three [72].  The remainder he kept for his own uses;--
distinguished from his compeers in this--that he obtained a much
larger share of the gift than they; that they were bribed to be brave,
and that he was rewarded for bribing them.  The pure-minded statesman
of the closet cannot but feel some disdain and some regret to find,
blended together, the noblest actions and the paltriest motives.  But
whether in ancient times or in modern, the web of human affairs is
woven from a mingled yarn, and the individuals who save nations are
not always those most acceptable to the moralist.  The share of
Themistocles in this business is not, however, so much to his
discredit as to that of the Spartan Eurybiades.  We cannot but observe
that no system contrary to human nature is strong against actual
temptation.  The Spartan law interdicted the desire of riches, and the
Spartans themselves yielded far more easily to the lust of avarice
than the luxurious Athenians.  Thus a native of Zelea, a city in Asia
Minor, had sought to corrupt the Peloponnesian cities by Persian gold:
it was not the Spartans, it was the Athenians, who declared this man
infamous, and placed his life out of the pale of the Grecian law.
With a noble pride Demosthenes speaks of this decree.  "The gold," he,
says, "was brought into Peloponnesus, not to Athens.  But our
ancestors extended their care beyond their own city to the whole of
Greece." [73]  An Aristides is formed by the respect paid to
integrity, which society tries in vain--a Demaratus, an Eurybiades,
and, as we shall see, a Pausanias, by the laws which, affecting to
exclude the influence of the passions, render their temptations novel,
and their effects irresistible.

II.  The Greeks continued at Euboea; and the Persians, eager to engage
so inconsiderable an enemy, despatched two hundred chosen vessels,
with orders to make a circuitous route beyond Sciathos, and thus,
unperceived, to attack the Grecian rear, while on a concerted signal
the rest would advance upon the front.

A deserter of Scios escaped, however, from Aphetae, and informed the
Greeks of the Persian plan.  Upon this it was resolved at midnight to
advance against that part of the fleet which had been sent around
Euboea.  But as twilight approached, they appeared to have changed or
delayed this design, and proceeded at once towards the main body of
the fleet, less perhaps with the intention of giving regular battle,
than of attempting such detached skirmishes as would make experiment
of their hardihood and skill.  The Persians, amazed at the infatuation
of their opponents, drew out their fleet in order, and succeeded in
surrounding the Greek ships.

The night, however, separated the hostile forces, but not until the
Greeks had captured thirty of the barbarian vessels; the first ship
was taken by an Athenian.  The victory, however, despite this
advantage, was undecided, when the Greeks returned to Artemisium, the
Persians to Aphetae.

III.  But during the night one of those sudden and vehement storms not
unfrequent to the summers of Greece broke over the seas.  The Persians
at Aphetae heard, with a panic dismay, the continued thunder that
burst above the summit of Mount Pelion; and the bodies of the dead and
the wrecks of ships, floating round the prows, entangled their oars
amid a tempestuous and heavy sea.  But the destruction which the
Persians at Aphetae anticipated to themselves, actually came upon that
part of the barbarian fleet which had made the circuit round Euboea.
Remote from land, exposed to all the fury of the tempest, ignorant of
their course, and amid the darkness of night, they were dashed to
pieces against those fearful rocks termed "The Hollows," and not a
single galley escaped the general destruction.

Thus the fleet of the barbarians was rendered more equal to that of
the Greeks.  Re-enforced by fifty-three ships from Athens the next
day, the Greeks proceeded at evening against that part of the hostile
navy possessed by the Cilicians.  These they utterly defeated, and
returned joyfully to Artemisium.

Hitherto these skirmishes, made on the summer evenings, in order
probably to take advantage of the darkening night to break off before
any irremediable loss was sustained, seem rather to have been for the
sake of practice in the war--chivalric sorties as it were--than actual
and deliberate engagements.  But the third day, the Persians,
impatient of conquest, advanced to Artemisium.  These sea encounters
were made precisely on the same days as the conflicts at Thermopylae;
the object on each was the same--the gaining in one of the sea defile,
in the other of the land entrance into Greece.  The Euripus was the
Thermopylae of the ocean.

IV.  The Greeks remained in their station, and there met the shock;
the battle was severe and equal; the Persians fought with great valour
and firmness, and although the loss upon their side was far the
greatest, many of the Greek vessels also perished.  They separated as
by mutual consent, neither force the victor.  Of the Persian fleet the
Egyptians were the most distinguished--of the Grecian the Athenians;
and of the last none equalled in valour Clinias; his ship was manned
at his own expense.  He was the father of that Alcibiades, afterward
so famous.

While the Greeks rested at Artemisium, counting the number of their
slain, and amid the wrecks of their vessels, they learned the fate of
Leonidas. [74]  This determined their previous consultations on the
policy of retreat, and they abandoned the Euripus in steady and
marshalled order, the Corinthians first, the Athenians closing the
rear.  Thus the Persians were left masters of the sea and land
entrance into Greece.

But even in retreat, the active spirit of Themistocles was intent upon
expedients.  It was more than suspected that a considerable portion of
the Ionians now in the service of Xerxes were secretly friendly to the
Greeks.  In the swiftest of the Athenian vessels Themistocles
therefore repaired to a watering-place on the coast, and engraved upon
the rocks these words, which were read by the Ionians the next day.

"Men of Ionia, in fighting against your ancestors, and assisting to
enslave Greece, you act unworthily.  Come over to us; or if that may
not be, at least retire from the contest, and prevail on the Carians
to do the same.  If yet neither secession nor revolt be practicable,
at least when we come to action exert not yourselves against us.
Remember that we are descended from one common race, and that it was
on your behalf that we first incurred the enmity of the Persian."

A subtler intention than that which was the more obvious, was couched
beneath this exhortation.  For if it failed to seduce the Ionians, it
might yet induce Xerxes to mistrust their alliance.

When the Persians learned that the Greeks had abandoned their station,
their whole fleet took possession of the pass, possessed themselves of
the neighbouring town of Histiaea, and overrunning a part of the Isle
of Euboea, received the submission of the inhabitants.

Xerxes now had recourse to a somewhat clumsy, though a very commonly
practised artifice.  Twenty thousand of his men had fallen at
Thermopylae: of these he buried nineteen thousand, and leaving the
remainder uninterred, he invited all who desired it, by public
proclamation, to examine the scene of contest.  As a considerable
number of helots had joined their Spartan lords and perished with
them, the bodies of the slain amounted to four thousand [75], while
those of the Persians were only one thousand.  This was a practical
despotic bulletin.

V.  Of all the neighbouring district, the Phocians had alone remained
faithful to the Grecian cause: their territory was now overrun by the
Persians, at the instance of their hereditary enemies, the
Thessalians, destroying city and temple, and committing all the
horrors of violence and rapine by the way.  Arrived at Panopeae, the
bulk of the barbarian army marched through Boeotia towards Athens,
the great object of revenge, while a separate detachment was sent
to Delphi, with a view of plundering the prodigious riches
accumulated in that celebrated temple, and of which, not perhaps
uncharacteristically, Xerxes was said to be better informed than of
the treasures he had left behind in his own palace.

But the wise and crafty priesthood of Delphi had been too long
accustomed successfully to deceive mankind to lose hope or
self-possession at the approach even of so formidable a foe.  When the
dismayed citizens of Delphi ran to the oracle, demanding advice and
wishing to know what should be done with the sacred treasures, the
priestess gravely replied that "the god could take care of his own
possessions, and that the only business of the citizens was to provide
for themselves;" a priestly answer, importing that the god considered
his possessions, and not the flock, were the treasure.  The one was
sure to be defended by a divinity, the other might shift for

The citizens were not slow in adopting the advice; they immediately
removed their wives and children into Achaia--while the males and
adults fled--some to Amphissa, some amid the craggy recesses of
Parnassus, or into that vast and spacious cavern at the base of Mount
Corycus, dedicated to the Muses, and imparting to those lovely deities
the poetical epithet of Corycides.  Sixty men, with the chief priest,
were alone left to protect the sacred city.

VI.  But superstition can dispense with numbers in its agency.  Just
as the barbarians were in sight of the temple, the sacred arms,
hitherto preserved inviolable in the sanctuary, were seen by the
soothsayer to advance to the front of the temple.  And this prodigy
but heralded others more active.  As the enemy now advanced in the
stillness of the deserted city, and impressed doubtless by their own
awe (for not to a Persian army could there have seemed no veneration
due to the Temple of the Sun!) just by the shrine of Minerva Pronaea,
built out in front of the great temple, a loud peal of thunder burst
suddenly over their heads, and two enormous fragments of rock
(separated from the heights of that Parnassus amid whose recesses
mortals as well as gods lay hid) rolled down the mountain-side with a
mighty crash, and destroyed many of the Persian multitude.  At the
same time, from the temple of the warlike goddess broke forth a loud
and martial shout, as if to arms.  Confused--appalled--panic-stricken
by these supernatural prodigies--the barbarians turned to fly; while
the Delphians, already prepared and armed, rushed from cave and
mountain, and, charging in the midst of the invaders, scattered them
with great slaughter.  Those who escaped fled to the army in Boeotia.
Thus the treasures of Delphi were miraculously preserved, not only
from the plunder of the Persian, but also from the clutch of the
Delphian citizens themselves, who had been especially anxious, in the
first instance, to be permitted to deposite the treasures in a place
of safety.  Nobody knew better than the priests that treasures always
diminish when transferred from one hand to another.

VII.  The Grecian fleet anchored at Salamis by the request of the
Athenians, who were the more anxious immediately to deliberate on the
state of affairs, as the Persian army was now approaching their
borders, and they learned that the selfish warriors of the
Peloponnesus, according to their customary policy, instead of
assisting the Athenians and Greece generally, by marching towards
Boeotia, were engaged only in fortifying the isthmus or providing for
their own safety.

Unable to engage the confederates to assist them in protecting Attica,
the Athenians entreated, at least, the rest of the maritime allies to
remain at Salamis, while they themselves hastened back to Athens.

Returned home, their situation was one which their generous valour had
but little merited.  Although they had sent to Artemisium the
principal defence of the common cause, now, when the storm rolled
towards themselves, none appeared on their behalf.  They were at once
incensed and discouraged by the universal desertion. [76]  How was it
possible that, alone and unaided, they could withstand the Persian
multitude?  Could they reasonably expect the fortunes of Marathon to
be perpetually renewed?  To remain at Athens was destruction--to leave
it seemed to them a species of impiety.  Nor could they anticipate
victory with a sanguine hope, in abandoning the monuments of their
ancestors and the temples of their gods. [77]

Themistocles alone was enabled to determine the conduct of his
countrymen in this dilemma.  Inexhaustible were the resources of a
genius which ranged from the most lofty daring to the most intricate
craft.  Perceiving that the only chance of safety was in the desertion
of the city, and that the strongest obstacle to this alternative was
in the superstitious attachment to HOME ever so keenly felt by the
ancients, he had recourse, in the failure of reason, to a
counter-superstition.  In the temple of the citadel was a serpent,
dedicated to Minerva, and considered the tutelary defender of the place.
The food appropriated to the serpent was suddenly found unconsumed--the
serpent itself vanished; and, at the suggestion of Themistocles, the
priests proclaimed that the goddess had deserted the city and offered
herself to conduct them to the seas.  Then, amid the general excitement,
Themistocles reiterated his version of the Delphic oracle. Then were the
ships reinterpreted to be the wooden walls, and Salamis once more
proclaimed "the Divine."  The fervour of the people was awakened--the
persuasions of Themistocles prevailed--even the women loudly declared
their willingness to abandon Athens for the sake of the Athenians; and
it was formally decreed that the city should be left to the guardianship
of Minerva, and the citizens should save themselves, their women,
children, and slaves, as their own discretion might suggest.  Most of
them took refuge in Troezene, where they were generously supported at
the public expense--some at Aegina--others repaired to Salamis.

A moving and pathetic spectacle was that of the embarcation of the
Athenians for the Isle of Salamis.  Separated from their children,
their wives (who were sent to remoter places of safety)--abandoning
their homes and altars--the citadel of Minerva--the monuments of
Marathon--they set out for a scene of contest (B. C. 480), perilous
and precarious, and no longer on the site of their beloved and
father-land.  Their grief was heightened by the necessity of leaving
many behind, whose extreme age rendered them yet more venerable, while
it incapacitated their removal.  Even the dumb animals excited all the
fond domestic associations, running to the strand, and expressing by
their cries their regret for the hands that fed them: one of them, a
dog, that belonged to Xanthippus, father of Pericles, is said to have
followed the ships, and swam to Salamis, to die, spent with toil, upon
the sands.

VIII.  The fleet now assembled at Salamis; the Spartans contributed
only sixteen vessels, the people of Aegina thirty--swift galleys and
well equipped; the Athenians one hundred and eighty; the whole navy,
according to Herodotus, consisted of three hundred and seventy-eight
[78] ships, besides an inconsiderable number of vessels of fifty oars.

Eurybiades still retained the chief command.  A council of war was
held.  The greater number of the more influential allies were composed
of Peloponnesians, and, with the countenance of the Spartan chief, it
was proposed to retire from Salamis and fix the station in the isthmus
near the land-forces of Peloponnesus.  This was highly consonant to
the interested policy of the Peloponnesian states, and especially to
that of Sparta; Attica was considered already lost, and the fate of
that territory they were therefore indisposed to consider.  While the
debate was yet pending, a messenger arrived from Athens with the
intelligence that the barbarian, having reduced to ashes the allied
cities of Thespiae and Plataea in Boeotia, had entered Attica; and
shortly afterward they learned that (despite a desperate resistance
from the handful of Athenians who, some from poverty, some from a
superstitious prejudice in favour of the wooden wall of the citadel,
had long held out, though literally girt by fire from the burning of
their barricades) the citadel had been taken, plundered, and burnt,
and the remnant of its defenders put to the sword.

IX.  Consternation seized the council; many of the leaders broke away
hastily, went on board, hoisted their sails, and prepared to fly.
Those who remained in the council determined that an engagement at sea
could only be risked near the isthmus.  With this resolve the leaders
at night returned to their ships.

It is singular how often, in the most memorable events, the fate and
the glory of nations is decided by the soul of a single man.  When
Themistocles had retired to his vessel, he was sought by Mnesiphilus,
who is said to have exercised an early and deep influence over the
mind of Themistocles, and to have been one of those practical yet
thoughtful statesmen called into existence by the sober philosophy of
Solon [79], whose lessons on the science of government made a
groundwork for the rhetorical corruptions of the later sophists.  On
learning the determination of the council, Mnesiphilus forcibly
represented its consequences.  "If the allies," said he, "once abandon
Salamis, you have lost for ever the occasion of fighting for your
country.  The fleet will certainly separate, the various confederates
return home, and Greece will perish.  Hasten, therefore, ere yet it be
too late, and endeavour to persuade Eurybiades to change his
resolution and remain."

This advice, entirely agreeable to the views of Themistocles, excited
that chief to new exertions.  He repaired at once to Eurybiades; and,
by dint of that extraordinary mastery over the minds of others which
he possessed, he finally won over the Spartan, and, late as the hour
was, persuaded him to reassemble the different leaders.

X.  In that nocturnal council debate grew loud and warm.  When
Eurybiades had explained his change of opinion and his motives for
calling the chiefs together; Themistocles addressed the leaders at
some length and with great excitement.  It was so evidently the
interest of the Corinthians to make the scene of defence in the
vicinity of Corinth, that we cannot be surprised to find the
Corinthian leader, Adimantus, eager to interrupt the Athenian.
"Themistocles," said he, "they who at the public games rise before
their time are beaten."

"True," replied Themistocles, with admirable gentleness and temper;
"but they who are left behind are never crowned."

Pursuing the advantage which a skilful use of interruption always
gives to an orator, the Athenian turned to Eurybiades.  Artfully
suppressing his secret motive in the fear of the dispersion of the
allies, which he rightly judged would offend without convincing, he
had recourse to more popular arguments.  "Fight at the isthmus," he
said, "and you fight in the open sea, where, on account of our heavier
vessels and inferior number, you contend with every disadvantage.
Grant even success, you will yet lose, by your retreat, Salamis,
Megara, and Aegina.  You would preserve the Peloponnesus, but
remember, that by attracting thither the war, you attract not only the
naval, but also the land forces of the enemy.  Fight here, and we have
the inestimable advantage of a narrow sea--we shall preserve Salamis,
the refuge of our wives and children--we shall as effectually protect
the Peloponnesus as by repairing to the isthmus and drawing the
barbarian thither.  If we obtain the victory, the enemy will neither
advance to the isthmus nor penetrate beyond Attica.  Their retreat is

The orator was again interrupted by Adimantus with equal rudeness.
And Themistocles, who well knew how to alternate force with
moderation, and menace with persuasion, retorted with an equal
asperity, but with a singular dignity and happiness of expression.

"It becomes you," said Adimantus, scornfully, alluding to the capture
of Athens, "it becomes you to be silent, and not to advise us to
desert our country; you, who no longer have a country to defend!
Eurybiades can only be influenced by Themistocles when Themistocles
has once more a city to represent."

"Wretch!" replied Themistocles, sternly, "we have indeed left our
walls and houses--preferring freedom to those inanimate possessions--
but know that the Athenians still possess a country and a city,
greater and more formidable than yours, well provided with stores and
men, which none of the Greeks will be able to resist: our ships are
our country and our city."

"If," he added, once more addressing the Spartan chief, "if you
continue here you will demand our eternal gratitude: fly, and you are
the destroyers of Greece.  In this war the last and sole resource of
the Athenians is their fleet: reject my remonstrances, and I warn you
that at once we will take our families on board, and sail to that
Siris, on the Italian shores, which of old is said to have belonged to
us, and in which, if the oracle be trusted, we ought to found a city.
Deprived of us, you will remember my words."

XI.  The menace of Themistocles--the fear of so powerful a race,
unhoused, exasperated, and in search of a new settlement--and the yet
more immediate dread of the desertion of the flower of the navy--
finally prevailed.  Eurybiades announced his concurrence with the
views of Themistocles, and the confederates, wearied with altercation,
consented to risk the issue of events at Salamis.

XII.  Possessed of Athens, the Persian king held also his council of
war.  His fleet, sailing up the Euripus, anchored in the Attic bay of
Phalerum; his army encamped along the plains around, or within the
walls of Athens.  The losses his armament had sustained were already
repaired by new re-enforcements of Malians, Dorians, Locrians,
Bactrians, Carystians, Andrians, Tenedians, and the people of the
various isles.  "The farther," says Herodotus, "the Persians
penetrated into Greece, the greater the numbers by which they were
followed."  It may be supposed, however, that the motley contributions
of an idle and predatory multitude, or of Greeks compelled, not by
affection, but fear, ill supplied to Xerxes the devoted thousands,
many of them his own gallant Persians, who fell at Thermopylae or
perished in the Euboean seas.

XIII.  Mardonius and the leaders generally were for immediate battle.
The heroine Artemisia alone gave a more prudent counsel.  She
represented to them, that if they delayed a naval engagement or sailed
to the Peloponnesus [80], the Greeks, failing of provisions and
overruled by their fears, would be certain to disperse, to retire to
their several homes, and, thus detached, fall an easy prey to his

Although Xerxes, contrary to expectation, received the adverse opinion
of the Carian princess with compliments and praise, he yet adopted the
counsel of the majority; and, attributing the ill success at
Artemisium to his absence, resolved in person to witness the triumph
of his arms at Salamis.

The navy proceeded, in order, to that island: the land-forces on the
same night advanced to the Peloponnesus: there, under Cleombrotus,
brother to Leonidas, all the strength of the Peloponnesian
confederates was already assembled.  They had fortified the pass of
Sciron, another Thermopylae in its local character, and protected the
isthmus by a wall, at the erection of which the whole army worked
night and day; no materials sufficing for the object of defence were
disdained--wood, stones, bricks, and sand--all were pressed into
service.  Here encamped, they hoped nothing from Salamis--they
believed the last hope of Greece rested solely with themselves. [81]

XIV.  Again new agitation, fear, and dissension broke out in the
Grecian navy.  All those who were interested in the safety of the
Peloponnesus complained anew of the resolution of Eurybiades--urged
the absurdity of remaining at Salamis to contend for a territory
already conquered--and the leaders of Aegina, Megara, and Athens were
left in a minority in the council.

Thus overpowered by the Peloponnesian allies, Themistocles is said to
have bethought himself of a stratagem, not inconsonant with his
scheming and wily character.  Retiring privately from the debate, yet
unconcluded, and summoning the most confidential messenger in his
service [82], he despatched him secretly to the enemy's fleet with
this message--"The Athenian leader, really attached to the king, and
willing to see the Greeks subjugated to his power, sends me privately
to you.  Consternation has seized the Grecian navy; they are preparing
to fly; lose not the opportunity of a splendid victory.  Divided among
themselves, the Greeks are unable to resist you; and you will see, as
you advance upon them, those who favour and those who would oppose you
in hostility with each other."

The Persian admiral was sufficiently experienced in the treachery and
defection of many of the Greeks to confide in the message thus
delivered to him; but he scarcely required such intelligence to
confirm a resolution already formed.  At midnight the barbarians
passed over a large detachment to the small isle of Psyttaleia,
between Salamis and the continent, and occupying the whole narrow sea
as far as the Attic port of Munychia, under cover of the darkness
disposed their ships, so as to surround the Greeks and cut off the
possibility of retreat.

XV.  Unconscious of the motions of the enemy, disputes still prevailed
among the chiefs at Salamis, when Themistocles was summoned at night
from the council, to which he had returned after despatching his
messenger to the barbarian.  The person who thus summoned him was
Aristides.  It was the third year of his exile--which sentence was
evidently yet unrepealed--or not in that manner, at night and as a
thief, would the eminent and high-born Aristides have joined his
countrymen.  He came from Aegina in an open boat, under cover of the
night passed through the midst of the Persian ships, and arrived at
Salamis to inform the Greeks that they were already surrounded.

"At any time," said Aristides, "it would become us to forget our
private dissensions, and at this time especially; contending only who
should most serve his country.  In vain now would the Peloponnesians
advise retreat; we are encompassed, and retreat is impossible."

Themistocles welcomed the new-comer with joy, and persuaded him to
enter the council and acquaint the leaders with what he knew.  His
intelligence, received with doubt, was presently confirmed by a
trireme of Tenians, which deserted to them; and they now seriously
contemplated the inevitable resort of battle.

XVI.  At dawn all was prepared.  Assembled on the strand, Themistocles
harangued the troops; and when he had concluded, orders were given to

It was in the autumn of 480 B. C., two thousand three hundred and
sixteen years ago, that the battle of Salamis was fought.

High on a throne of precious metals, placed on one of the eminences of
Mount Aegaleos, sat, to survey the contest, the royal Xerxes.  The
rising sun beheld the shores of the Eleusinian gulf lined with his
troops to intercept the fugitives, and with a miscellaneous and motley
crowd of such as were rather spectators than sharers of the conflict.

But not as the Persian leaders had expected was the aspect of the foe;
nor did the Greeks betray the confusion or the terror ascribed to them
by the emissary of Themistocles.  As the daylight made them manifest
to the Persian, they set up the loud and martial chorus of the paean--
"the rocks of Salamis echoed back the shout"--and, to use the
expression of a soldier of that day [84], "the trumpet inflamed them
with its clangour."

As soon as the Greeks began to move, the barbarian vessels advanced
swiftly.  But Themistocles detained the ardour of the Greeks until the
time when a sharp wind usually arose in that sea, occasioning a heavy
swell in the channel, which was peculiarly prejudicial to the unwieldy
ships of the Persians; but not so to the light, low, and compact
vessels of the Greeks.  The manner of attack with the ancient navies
was to bring the prow of the vessel, which was fortified by long
projecting beaks of brass, to bear upon the sides of its antagonist,
and this, the swell of the sea causing the Persian galleys to veer
about unwieldily, the agile ships of the Greeks were well enabled to

By the time the expected wind arose, the engagement was begun.  The
Persian admiral [85] directed his manoeuvres chiefly against
Themistocles, for on him, as the most experienced and renowned of the
Grecian leaders, the eyes of the enemy were turned.  From his ship,
which was unusually lofty, as from a castle [86], he sent forth darts
and arrows, until one of the Athenian triremes, commanded by Aminias,
shot from the rest, and bore down upon him with the prow.  The ships
met, and, fastened together by their brazen beaks, which served as
grappling-irons, Ariabignes gallantly boarded the Grecian vessel, and
was instantly slain by the hostile pikes and hurled into the sea [87].
The first who took a ship was an Athenian named Lycomedes.  The
Grecians keeping to the straits, the Persians were unable to bring
their whole armament to bear at once, and could only enter the narrow
pass by detachments; the heaviness of the sea and the cumbrous size of
their tall vessels frequently occasioned more embarrassment to
themselves than the foe--driven and hustling the one against the
other.  The Athenians maintaining the right wing were opposed by the
Phoenicians; the Spartans on the left by the Ionians.  The first were
gallantly supported by the Aeginetans, who, long skilled in maritime
warfare, eclipsed even their new rivals the Athenians.  The Phoenician
line was broken.  The Greeks pursued their victory, still preserving
the steadiest discipline and the most perfect order.  The sea became
strewn and covered with the wrecks of vessels and the bodies of the
dead; while, to the left, the Ionians gave way before that part of the
allied force commanded by the Spartans, some fighting with great
valour, some favouring the Greek confederates.  Meanwhile, as the
Persians gave way, and the sea became more clear, Aristides, who had
hitherto remained on shore, landed a body of Athenians on the Isle of
Psyttaleia, and put the Persian guard there stationed to the sword.

Xerxes from the mountain, his countless thousands from the shore,
beheld, afar and impotent, the confusion, the slaughter, the defeat of
the forces on the sea.  Anxious now only for retreat, the barbarians
retreated to Phalerum; and there, intercepted by the Aeginetans, were
pressed by them in the rear; by the Athenians, led by Themistocles, in
front.  At this time the heroine Artemisia, pursued by that Aminias
whose vessel had first grappled with the Persians, and who of all the
Athenian captains was that day the most eminently distinguished, found
herself in the extremest danger.  Against that remarkable woman the
efforts of the Athenians had been especially directed: deeming it a
disgrace to them to have an enemy in a woman, they had solemnly set a
reward of great amount upon her capture.  Thus pursued, Artemisia had
recourse to a sudden and extraordinary artifice.  Falling in with a
vessel of the Persians, commanded by a Calyndian prince, with whom she
had once been embroiled, she bore down against the ship and sunk it--a
truly feminine stratagem--deceiving at once a public enemy and
gratifying a private hatred.  The Athenian, seeing the vessel he had
pursued thus attack a barbarian, conceived he had mistaken a friendly
vessel, probably a deserter from the Persians, for a foe, and
immediately sought new objects of assault.  Xerxes beheld and admired
the prowess of Artemisia, deeming, in the confusion, that it was a
hostile vessel she had sunken. [88]

XVII.  The battle lasted till the dusk of evening, when at length the
remnant of the barbarian fleet gained the port of Phalerum; and the
Greeks beheld along the Straits of Salamis no other vestige of the
enemy than the wrecks and corpses which were the evidence of his

XVIII.  When morning came, the Greeks awaited a renewal of the
engagement; for the Persian fleet were still numerous, the Persian
army yet covered the neighbouring shores, and, by a feint to conceal
his real purpose, Xerxes had ordered the Phoenician transports to be
joined together, as if to connect Salamis to the continent.  But a
mandate was already issued for the instant departure of the navy for
the Hellespont, and a few days afterward the army itself retired into

The victory of Salamis was celebrated by solemn rejoicings, in which,
principally remarkable for the beauty of his person, and his
accomplishments on the lyre and in the dance, was a youth named
Sophocles, destined afterward to share the glory of Aeschylus, who, no
less a warrior than a poet, distinguished himself in the battle, and
has bequeathed to us the most detailed and animated account we possess
of its events.

The Grecian conquerors beheld the retreat of the enemy with
indignation; they were unwilling that any of that armament which had
burnt their hearths and altars should escape their revenge; they
pursued the Persian ships as far as Andros, where, not reaching them,
they cast anchor and held a consultation.  Themistocles is said to
have proposed, but not sincerely, to sail at once to the Hellespont
and destroy the bridge of boats.  This counsel was overruled, and it
was decided not to reduce so terrible an enemy to despair:--"Rather,"
said one of the chiefs (whether Aristides or Eurybiades is differently
related), "build another bridge, that Xerxes may escape the sooner out
of Europe."

Themistocles affected to be converted to a policy which he desired
only an excuse to effect; and, in pursuance of the hint already
furnished him, is said to have sent secretly to Xerxes, informing him
that it was the intention of the allies to sail to the Hellespont and
destroy the bridge, so that, if the king consulted his safety, he
would return immediately into Asia, while Themistocles would find
pretexts to delay the pursuit of the confederates.

This artifice appears natural to the scheming character of
Themistocles; and, from concurrent testimony [89], it seems to me
undoubted that Themistocles maintained a secret correspondence with
Xerxes, and even persuaded that monarch that he was disposed to favour
him.  But it is impossible to believe, with Herodotus, that he had at
that time any real desire to conciliate the Persian, foreseeing that
he might hereafter need a refuge at the Eastern court.  Then in the
zenith of his popularity, so acute a foresight is not in man.  He was
one of those to whom the spirit of intrigue is delight in itself, and
in the present instance it was exerted for the common cause of the
Athenians, which, with all his faults, he never neglected for, but
rather incorporated with, his own.

XIX.  Diverted from the notion of pursuing the Persians, the Grecian
allies, flushed with conquest, were yet eager for enterprise.  The
isles which had leagued with the Mede were strongly obnoxious to the
confederates, and it was proposed to exact from them a fine; in
defrayal of the expenses of the war.  Siege was laid to Andros, and
those islanders were the first who resisted the demand.  Then was it
that they made that memorable answer, which may serve as a warning in
all times to the strong when pressing on the desperate.

"I bring with me," said Themistocles, "two powerful divinities--
Persuasion and Force."

"And we," answered the Andrians, "have two gods equally powerful on
our side--Poverty and Despair."

The Andrian deities eventually triumphed, and the siege was raised
without effect.  But from the Parians and Carystians, and some other
islanders, Themistocles obtained enormous sums of money unknown to his
colleagues, which, however unjustly extorted, it does not
satisfactorily appear that he applied largely to his own personal
profit, but, as is more probable, to the rebuilding of Athens.
Perhaps he thought, nor without reason, that as the Athenians had been
the principal sufferers in the war, and contributed the most largely
to its resources, so whatever fines were levied on the seceders were
due, not to the confederates generally, but the Athenians alone.  The
previous conduct of the allies, with so much difficulty preserved from
deserting Athens, merited no particular generosity, and excused
perhaps the retaliation of a selfish policy.  The payment of the fine
did not, however, preserve Carystus from attack.  After wasting its
lands, the Greeks returned to Salamis and divided the Persian spoils.
The first fruits were dedicated to the gods, and the choicest of the
booty sent to Delphi.  And here we may notice one anecdote of
Themistocles, which proves, that whatever, at times and in great
crises, was the grasping unscrupulousness of his mind, he had at least
no petty and vulgar avarice.  Seeing a number of bracelets and chains
of gold upon the bodies of the dead, he passed them by, and turning to
one of his friends, "Take these for yourself," said he, "for you are
not Themistocles." [90]

Meanness or avarice was indeed no part of the character of
Themistocles, although he has been accused of those vices, because
guilty, at times, of extortion.  He was profuse, ostentatious, and
magnificent above his contemporaries and beyond his means.  His very
vices were on a large and splendid scale; and if he had something of
the pirate in his nature, he had nothing of the miser.  When he had to
choose between two suiters for his daughter, he preferred the worthy
to the wealthy candidate--willing that she should rather marry a man
without money than money without a man. [91]

XX.  The booty divided, the allies repaired to the isthmus, according
to that beautiful ancient custom of apportioning rewards to such as
had been most distinguished.  It was in the temple of Neptune that the
leaders met.  The right of voting was confined to the several chiefs,
who were to declare whom they thought the first in merit and whom the
second.  Each leader wrote his own name a candidate for the first
rank; but a great majority of suffrages awarded the second to
Themistocles.  While, therefore, each leader had only a single
suffrage in favour of the first rank, the second rank was
unequivocally due to the Athenian.

XXI.  But even conquest had not sufficed to remove the jealousies of
the confederate leaders--they evaded the decision of a question which
could not but be propitious to the Athenians, and returned home
without having determined the point which had assembled them at the
isthmus.  But Themistocles was not of a temper to brook patiently this
fraud upon his honours.  Far from sharing the petty and miserable
envies of their chiefs, the Greeks generally were loud in praise of
his wisdom and services; and, taking advantage of their enthusiasm,
Themistocles repaired to Sparta, trusting to the generosity of the
principal rival to compensate the injustice of many.  His expectations
were not ill-founded--the customs of Sparta allowed no slight to a
Spartan, and they adjudged therefore the prize of valour to their own
Eurybiades, while they awarded that of wisdom or science to
Themistocles.  Each was equally honoured with a crown of olive.
Forgetful of all their prejudices, their envy, and their inhospitable
treatment of strangers, that nation of warriors were dazzled by the
hero whose courage assimilated to their own.  They presented him with
the stateliest chariot to be found in Sparta, and solemnly conducted
him homeward as far as Tegea, by an escort of three hundred chosen
Spartans called "The Knights"--the sole example of the Spartans
conducting any man from their city.  It is said that on his return to
Athens, Themistocles was reproached by Timodemus of Aphidna, a
Belbinite by origin [92], and an implacable public enemy, with his
visit to Sparta: "The honours awarded you," said Timodemus, "are
bestowed from respect, not to you, but to Athens."

"My friend," retorted the witty chief, "the matter stands thus.  Had I
been a Belbinite, I had not been thus distinguished at Sparta, nor
would you, although you had been born an Athenian!"

While the Greeks were thus occupied, the Persian army had retreated
with Mardonius into Thessaly.  Here that general selected and
marshalled the forces with which he intended to renew the war,
retaining in his service the celebrated Immortals.  The total,
including the cavalry, Herodotus estimates at three hundred thousand

Thus occupied, and ere Xerxes departed from Thessaly, the Spartans,
impelled by an oracle, sent a messenger to Xerxes to demand atonement
for the death of Leonidas.

"Ay," replied the king, laughing, "this man (pointing to Mardonius)
shall make you fitting retribution."

Leaving Mardonius in Thessaly, where he proposed to winter, Xerxes now
hastened home.  Sixty thousand Persians under Artabazus accompanied
the king only as far as the passage into Asia; and it was with an
inconsiderable force, which, pressed by famine, devastated the very
herbage on their way, and which a pestilence and the dysentery
diminished as it passed, that the great king crossed the Hellespont,
on which the bridge of boats had already been broken by wind and
storm.  A more abundant supply of provisions than they had yet
experienced tempted the army to excesses, to which many fell victims.
The rest arrived at Sardis with Xerxes, whence he afterward returned
to his more distant capital.

XXII.  The people of Potidaea, on the Isthmus of Pallene, and
Olynthus, inhabited by the Bottiaeans, a dubious and mongrel race,
that boasted their origin from those Athenians who, in the traditional
ages, had been sent as tributary captives to the Cretan Minos, no
sooner learned the dispersion of the fleet at Salamis, and the retreat
of the king, than they openly revolted from the barbarian.  Artabazus,
returning from the Hellespont, laid siege to Olynthus, massacred the
inhabitants, and colonized the town with Chalcidians.  He then sat
down before Potidaea; but a terrible inundation of the sea, with the
sallies of the besieged, destroyed the greater number of the
unfortunate invaders.  The remnant were conducted by Artabazus into
Thessaly, to join the army of Mardonius.  The Persian fleet,
retreating from Salamis, after passing over the king and his forces
from the Chersonese to Abydos, wintered at Cuma; and at the
commencement of the spring assembled at Samos.

Meanwhile the Athenians returned to their dismantled city, and
directed their attention to its repair and reconstruction.  It was
then, too, that in all probability the people hastened, by a formal
and solemn reversal of the sentence of ostracism, to reward the
services of Aristides, and to restore to the commonwealth the most
spotless of its citizens. [93]


Embassy of Alexander of Macedon to Athens.--The Result of his
Proposals.--Athenians retreat to Salamis.--Mardonius occupies Athens.
--The Athenians send Envoys to Sparta.--Pausanias succeeds Cleombrotus
as Regent of Sparta.--Battle of Plataea.--Thebes besieged by the
Athenians.--Battle of Mycale.--Siege of Sestos.--Conclusion of the
Persian War.

I.  The dawning spring and the formidable appearance of Mardonius,
who, with his Persian forces, diminished indeed, but still mighty,
lowered on their confines, aroused the Greeks to a sense of their
danger.  Their army was not as yet assembled, but their fleet,
consisting of one hundred and ten vessels, under the command of
Leotychides, king of Sparta, and Xanthippus of Athens, lay off Aegina.
Thus anchored, there came to the naval commanders certain Chians, who,
having been discovered in a plot against the life of Strattis, a
tyrant imposed upon Chios by the Persians, fled to Aegina.  They
declared that all Ionia was ripe for revolt, and their representations
induced the Greeks to advance as far as the sacred Delos.

Beyond they dared not venture, ignorant alike of the localities of the
country and the forces of the enemy.  Samos seemed to them no less
remote than the Pillars of Hercules, and mutual fear thus kept the
space between the Persian and the Greek fleet free from the advance of
either.  But Mardonius began slowly to stir from his winter lethargy.
Influenced, thought the Greeks, perhaps too fondly, by a Theban
oracle, the Persian general despatched to Athens no less distinguished
an ambassador than Alexander, the king of Macedon.  That prince,
connected with the Persians by alliance (for his sister had married
the Persian Bubares, son of Megabazus), was considered an envoy
calculated to conciliate the Athenians while he served their enemy.
And it was now the object of Mardonius to reconcile the foe whom he
had failed to conquer.  Aware of the Athenian valour, Mardonius
trusted that if he could detach that state from the confederacy, and
prevail on the Athenians to unite their arms to his own, the rest of
Greece would become an easy conquest.  By land he already deemed
himself secure of fortune, by sea what Grecian navy, if deprived of
the flower of its forces, could resist him?

II.  The King of Macedon arrived at Athens; but conscious of the
jealous and anxious fear which the news of an embassy from Persia
would excite among the confederates, the Athenians delayed to grant
him the demanded audience until they had time to send for and obtain
deputies from Sparta to be present at the assembly.

Alexander of Macedon then addressed the Athenians.

"Men of Athens!" said he, "Mardonius informs you, through me, of this
mandate from the king: 'Whatever injuries,' saith he, 'the Athenians
have done me, I forgive.  Restore them their country--let them even
annex to it any other territories they covet--permit them the free
enjoyment of their laws.  If they will ally with me, rebuild the
temples I have burnt.'"

Alexander then proceeded to dilate on the consequences of this
favourable mission, to represent the power of the Persian, and urge
the necessity of an alliance.  "Let my offers prevail with you," he
concluded, "for to you alone, of all the Greeks, the king extends his
forgiveness, desiring your alliance."

When Alexander had concluded, the Spartan envoys thus spoke through
their chief, addressing, not the Macedonian, but the Athenians:--"We
have been deputed by the Spartans to entreat you to adopt no measures
prejudicial to Greece, and to receive no conditions from the
barbarians.  This, most iniquitous in itself, would be, above all,
unworthy and ungraceful in you; with you rests the origin of the war
now appertaining to all Greece.  Insufferable, indeed, if the
Athenians, once the authors of liberty to many, were now the authors
of the servitude of Greece.  We commiserate your melancholy condition
--your privation for two years of the fruits of your soil, your homes
destroyed, and your fortunes ruined.  We, the Spartans, and the other
allies, will receive your women and all who may be helpless in the war
while the war shall last.  Let not the Macedonian, smoothing down the
messages of Mardonius, move you.  This becomes him; tyrant himself, he
would assist in a tyrant's work.  But you will not heed him if you are
wise, knowing that faith and truth are not in the barbarians."

III.  The answer of the Athenians to both Spartan and Persian, the
substance of which is, no doubt, faithfully preserved to us by
Herodotus, may rank among the most imperishable records of that
high-souled and generous people.

"We are not ignorant," ran the answer, dictated, and, probably,
uttered by Aristides [94], "that the power of the Mede is many times
greater than our own.  We required not that ostentatious admonition.
Yet, for the preservation of liberty, we will resist that power as we
can.  Cease to persuade us to contract alliance with the barbarian.
Bear back to Mardonius this answer from the Athenians--So long as
yonder sun," and the orator pointed to the orb [95], "holds the
courses which now it holds--so long will we abjure all amity with
Xerxes--so long, confiding in the aid of our gods and heroes, whose
shrines and altars he hath burnt, will we struggle against him in
battle and for revenge.  And thou, beware how again thou bearest such
proffers to the Athenians; nor, on the plea of benefit to us, urge us
to dishonour; for we would not--ungrateful to thee, our guest and our
friend--have any evil befall to thee from the anger of the Athenians."

"For you, Spartans! it may be consonant with human nature that you
should fear our alliance with the barbarians--yet shamefully you fear
it, knowing with what spirit we are animated and act.  Gold hath no
amount--earth hath no territory, how beautiful soever--that can tempt
the Athenians to accept conditions from the Mede for the servitude of
Greece.  Were we so inclined, many and mighty are our prohibitions;
first and chiefly, our temples burnt and overthrown, urging us not to
alliance, but to revenge.  Next, the whole race of Greece has one
consanguinity and one tongue, and common are its manners, its altars,
and its gods base indeed, if Athenians were of these the betrayers.
Lastly, learn now, if ye knew it not before, that, while one Athenian
shall survive, Athens allies herself not with Xerxes."

"We thank you for your providence of us--your offers to protect our
families--afflicted and impoverished as we are.  We will bear,
however, our misfortunes as we may--becoming no burden upon you.  Be
it your care to send your forces to the field.  Let there be no delay.
The barbarian will be on us when he learns that we have rejected his
proposals.  Before he proceed to Attica let us meet him in Boeotia."

IV.  On receiving this answer from the Athenians the Spartan
ambassadors returned home; and, shortly afterward, Mardonius, by rapid
marches, conducted his army towards Attica; fresh supplies of troops
recruiting his forces wheresoever he passed.  The Thessalian princes,
far from repenting their alliance with Mardonius, animated his ardour.

Arrived in Boeotia, the Thebans endeavoured to persuade the Persian
general to encamp in that territory, and to hazard no battle, but
rather to seek by bribes to the most powerful men in each city, to
detach the confederates from the existent alliance.  Pride, ambition,
and the desire of avenging Xerxes once more upon Athens, deterred
Mardonius from yielding to this counsel.  He marched on to Attica--he
found the territory utterly deserted.  He was informed that the
inhabitants were either at Salamis or with the fleet.  He proceeded to
Athens (B. C. 479), equally deserted, and, ten months after the first
capture by Xerxes, that city a second time was occupied by the Mede.

From Athens Mardonius despatched a Greek messenger to Salamis,
repeating the propositions of Alexander.  On hearing these offers in
council, the Athenians were animated by a species of fury.  A
counsellor named Lycidas having expressed himself in favour of the
terms, he was immediately stoned to death.  The Athenian women, roused
by a similar passion with the men, inflicted the same fate upon his
wife and children--one of those excesses of virtue which become
crimes, but for which exigency makes no despicable excuse. [96]  The
ambassador returned uninjured.

V.  The flight of the Athenians to Salamis had not been a willing
resort.  That gallant people had remained in Attica so long as they
could entertain any expectation of assistance from the Peloponnesus;
nor was it until compelled by despair at the inertness of their
allies, and the appearance of the Persians in Boeotia, that they had
removed to Salamis.

The singular and isolated policy of Sparta, which had curbed and
crippled, to an exclusive regard for Spartans, all the more generous
and daring principles of action, was never, perhaps, so odiously
displayed as in the present indifference to an ally that had so nobly
preferred the Grecian liberties to its own security.  The whole of the
Peloponnesus viewed with apathy the occupation of Attica, and the
Spartans were employed in completing the fortifications of the

The Athenians despatched messengers to Sparta, as did also Megara and
Plataea.  These ambassadors assumed a high and reproachful tone of

They represented the conduct of the Athenians in rejecting the
overtures of the barbarians--they upbraided the Spartans with perfidy
for breaking the agreement to meet the enemy in Boeotia--they declared
the resentment of the Athenians at the violation of this compact,
demanded immediate supplies, and indicated the plains near Thria, a
village in Attica, as a fitting field of battle.

The ephors heard the remonstrance, but from day to day delayed an
answer.  The Spartans, according to Herodotus, were engaged in
celebrating the solemnities in honour of Hyacinthus and Apollo; and
this ceremonial might have sufficed as a plausible cause for
procrastination, according to all the usages and formalities of
Spartan manners.  But perhaps there might be another and a graver
reason for the delayed determination of the ephors.

When the isthmian fortifications were completed, the superstition of
the regent Cleombrotus, who had superintended their construction, was
alarmed by an eclipse, and he led back to Sparta the detachment he had
commanded in that quarter.  He returned but to die; and his son
Pausanias succeeded to the regency during the continued minority of
Pleistarchus, the infant heir of Leonidas [97].  If the funeral
solemnities on the death of a regent were similar to those bestowed
upon a deceased king, we can account at once for the delay of the
ephors, since the ten days which passed without reply to the
ambassadors exactly correspond in number with the ten days dedicated
to public mourning. [98]  But whatever the cause of the Spartan delay
--and the rigid closeness of that oligarchic government kept, in yet
more important matters, its motives and its policy no less a secret to
contemporaneous nations than to modern inquirers--the delay itself
highly incensed the Athenian envoys: they even threatened to treat
with Mardonius, and abandon Sparta to her fate, and at length fixed
the day of their departure.  The ephors roused themselves.  Among the
deputies from the various states, there was then in Sparta that
Chileus of Tegea, who had been scarcely less serviceable than
Themistocles in managing the affairs of Greece in the isthmian
congress.  This able and eminent Arcadian forcibly represented to the
ephors the danger of forfeiting the Athenian alliance, and the
insufficient resistance against the Persian that the fortifications of
the isthmus would afford.  The ephors heard, and immediately acted
with the secrecy and the vigilance that belongs to oligarchies.  That
very night they privately despatched a body of five thousand Spartans
and thirty-five thousand helots (seven to each Spartan), under the
command of Pausanias.

The next morning the ephors calmly replied to the angry threats of the
Athenians, by protesting that their troops were already on the march,
and by this time in Oresteum, a town in Arcadia, about eighteen miles
distant from Sparta.  The astonished deputies [99] hastened to
overtake the Spartan force, and the ephors, as if fully to atone for
their past procrastination, gave them the escort and additional
re-enforcement of five thousand heavy-armed Laconians or Perioeci.

VI.  Mardonius soon learned from the Argives (who, not content with
refusing to join the Greek legion, had held secret communications with
the Persians) of the departure of the Spartan troops.  Hitherto he had
refrained from any outrage on the Athenian lands and city, in the hope
that Athens might yet make peace with him.  He now set fire to Athens,
razed the principal part of what yet remained of the walls and temples
[100], and deeming the soil of Attica ill adapted to his cavalry, and,
from the narrowness of its outlets, disadvantageous in case of
retreat, after a brief incursion into Megara he retired towards
Thebes, and pitched his tents on the banks of the Asopus, extending
from Erythrae to Plataea.  Here his force was swelled by such of the
Greeks as were friendly to his cause.

VII.  Meanwhile the Spartans were joined at the isthmus by the rest of
the Peloponnesian allies.  Solemn sacrifices were ordained, and the
auguries drawn from the victims being favourable, the Greek army
proceeded onward; and, joined at Eleusis by the Athenians, marched to
the foot of Cithaeron, and encamped opposite the Persians, with the
river of the Asopus between the armies.  Aristides commanded the
Athenians, at the head of eight thousand foot; and while the armies
were thus situated, a dangerous conspiracy was detected and defeated
by that able general.

The disasters of the war--the devastation of lands, the burning of
houses--had reduced the fortunes of many of the Athenian nobles.  With
their property diminished their influence.  Poverty, and discontent,
and jealousy of new families rising into repute [101], induced these
men of fallen fortunes to conspire for the abolition of the popular
government at Athens, and, failing that attempt, to betray the cause
to the enemy.

This project spread secretly through the camp, and corrupted numbers;
the danger became imminent.  On the one hand, the conspiracy was not
to be neglected; and, on the other, in such a crisis it might be
dangerous too narrowly to sift a design in which men of mark and
station were concerned.  Aristides acted with a singular prudence.  He
arrested eight of the leaders.  Of these he prosecuted only two (who
escaped during the proceedings), and, dismissing the rest, appealed to
the impending battle as the great tribunal which would acquit them of
the charge and prove their loyalty to the state. [102]

VIII.  Scarce was this conspiracy quelled than the cavalry of the
Persians commenced their operations.  At the head of that skilful and
gallant horse, for which the oriental nations are yet renowned, rode
their chief, Masistius, clad in complete armour of gold, of brass, and
of iron, and noted for the strength of his person and the splendour of
his trappings.  Placed on the rugged declivities of Cithaeron, the
Greeks were tolerably safe from the Persian cavalry, save only the
Megarians, who, to the number of three thousand, were posted along the
plain, and were on all sides charged by that agile and vapid cavalry.
Thus pressed, the Megarians sent to Pausanias for assistance.  The
Spartan beheld the air darkened with shafts and arrows, and knew that
his heavy-armed warriors were ill adapted to act against horse.  He in
vain endeavoured to arouse those about him by appeals to their honour
--all declined the succour of the Megarians--when Aristides, causing
the Athenian to eclipse the Spartan chivalry, undertook the defence.
With three hundred infantry, mixed with archers, Olympiodorus, one of
the ablest of the Athenian officers, advanced eagerly on the

Masistius himself, at the head of his troops, spurred his Nisaean
charger against the new enemy.  A sharp and obstinate conflict ensued;
when the horse of the Persian general, being wounded, threw its rider,
who could not regain his feet from the weight of his armour.  There,
as he lay on the ground, with a swarm of foes around him, the close
scales of his mail protected him from their weapons, until at length a
lance pierced the brain through an opening in his visor.  After an
obstinate conflict for his corpse, the Persians were beaten back to
the camp, where the death of one, second only to Mardonius in
authority and repute, spread universal lamentation and dismay.

The body of Masistius, which, by its vast size and beautiful
proportions, excited the admiration of the victors, remained the prize
of the Greeks; and, placed on a bier, it was borne triumphantly
through the ranks.

IX.  After this victory, Pausanias conducted his forces along the base
of Cithaeron into the neighbourhood of Plataea, which he deemed a more
convenient site for the disposition of his army and the supply of
water.  There, near the fountain of Gargaphia [103], one of the
sources of the Asopus (which splits into many rivulets, bearing a
common name), and renowned in song for the death of the fabulous
Actaeon, nor far from the shrine of an old Plataean hero
(Androcrates), the Greeks were marshalled in regular divisions, the
different nations, some on a gentle acclivity, others along the plain.

In the allotment of the several stations a dispute arose between the
Athenians and the Tegeans.  The latter claimed, from ancient and
traditionary prescription, the left wing (the right being unanimously
awarded to the Spartans), and assumed, in the course of their
argument, an insolent superiority over the Athenians.

"We came here to fight," answered the Athenians (or Aristides in their
name [104]), "and not to dispute.  But since the Tegeans proclaim
their ancient as well as their modern deeds, fit is it for us to
maintain our precedence over the Arcadians."

Touching slightly on the ancient times referred to by the Tegeans, and
quoting their former deeds, the Athenians insisted chiefly upon
Marathon; "Yet," said their orators, or orator, in conclusion, "while
we maintain our right to the disputed post, it becomes us not, at this
crisis, to altercate on the localities of the battle.  Place us, oh
Spartans! wherever seems best to you.  No matter what our station; we
will uphold our honour and your cause.  Command, then--we obey."

Hearing this generous answer, the Spartan leaders were unanimous in
favour of the Athenians; and they accordingly occupied the left wing.

X.  Thus were marshalled that confederate army, presenting the
strongest force yet opposed to the Persians, and comprising the whole
might and manhood of the free Grecian states; to the right, ten
thousand Lacedaemonians, one half, as we have seen, composed of the
Perioeci, the other moiety of the pure Spartan race--to each warrior
of the latter half were allotted seven armed helots, to each of the
heavy-armed Perioeci one serving-man.  Their whole force was,
therefore, no less than fifty thousand men.  Next to the Spartans (a
kind of compromise of their claim) were the one thousand five hundred
Tegeans; beyond these five thousand Corinthians; and to them
contiguous three hundred Potidaeans of Pallene, whom the inundation of
their seas had saved from the Persian arms.  Next in order, Orchomenus
ranged its six hundred Arcadians; Sicyon sent three thousand,
Epidaurus eight hundred, and Troezene one thousand warriors.
Neighbouring the last were two hundred Lepreatae, and by them four
hundred Myceneans and Tirynthians [105].  Stationed by the Tirynthians
came, in successive order, a thousand Phliasians, three hundred
Hermionians, six hundred Eretrians and Styreans, four hundred
Chalcidians, five hundred Ambracians, eight hundred Leucadians and
Anactorians, two hundred Paleans of Cephallenia, and five hundred only
of the islanders of Aegina.  Three thousand Megarians and six hundred
Plataeans were ranged contiguous to the Athenians, whose force of
eight thousand men, under the command of Aristides, closed the left

Thus the total of the heavy-armed soldiery was thirty-eight thousand
seven hundred.  To these were added the light-armed force of
thirty-five thousand helots and thirty-four thousand five hundred
attendants on the Laconians and other Greeks; the whole amounting to one
hundred and eight thousand two hundred men, besides one thousand eight
hundred Thespians, who, perhaps, on account of the destruction of their
city by the Persian army, were without the heavy arms of their

Such was the force--not insufficient in number, but stronger in heart,
union, the memory of past victories, and the fear of future chains--
that pitched the tent along the banks of the rivulets which confound
with the Asopus their waters and their names.

XI.  In the interim Mardonius had marched from his former post, and
lay encamped on that part of the Asopus nearest to Plataea.  His brave
Persians fronted the Lacedaemonians and Tegeans; and, in successive
order, ranged the Medes and Bactrians, the Indians and the Sacae, the
Boeotians, Locrians, Malians, Thessalians, Macedonians, and the
reluctant aid of a thousand Phocians.  But many of the latter tribe
about the fastnesses of Parnassus, openly siding with the Greeks,
harassed the barbarian outskirts: Herodotus calculates the hostile
force at three hundred and fifty thousand, fifty thousand of which
were composed of Macedonians and Greeks.  And, although the historian
has omitted to deduct from this total the loss sustained by Artabazus
at Potidaea, it is yet most probable that the barbarian nearly trebled
the Grecian army--odds less fearful than the Greeks had already met
and vanquished.

XII.  The armies thus ranged, sacrifices were offered up on both
sides.  It happened, by a singular coincidence, that to either army
was an Elean augur.  The appearance of the entrails forbade both
Persian and Greek to cross the Asopus, and ordained each to act on the

That the Persian chief should have obeyed the dictates of a Grecian
soothsayer is sufficiently probable; partly because a superstitious
people rarely despise the superstitions of another faith, principally
because a considerable part of the invading army, and that perhaps the
bravest and the most skilful, was composed of native Greeks, whose
prejudices it was politic to flatter--perilous to affront.

Eight days were consumed in inactivity, the armies confronting each
other without motion; when Mardonius, in order to cut off the new
forces which every day resorted to the Grecian camp, despatched a body
of cavalry to seize the pass of Cithaeron.  Falling in with a convoy
of five hundred beasts of burden, carrying provisions from the
Peloponnesus, the barbarians, with an inhumanity sufficient, perhaps,
to prove that the detachment was not composed of Persians, properly so
speaking, a mild though gallant people--slaughtered both man and
beast.  The provisions were brought to the Persian camp.

XIII.  During the two following days Mardonius advanced nearer to the
Asopus, and his cavalry (assisted by the Thebans, who were the right
arm of the barbarian army), in repeated skirmishes, greatly harassed
the Greeks with much daring and little injury.

At length Mardonius, either wearied of this inactivity or unable to
repress the spirit of a superior army, not accustomed to receive the
attack, resolved to reject all further compliance with the oracles of
this Elean soothsayer, and, on the following morning, to give battle
to the Greeks.  Acting against one superstition, he sagaciously,
however, sought to enlist on his behalf another; and, from the
decision of a mortal, he appealed to the ambiguous oracles of the
Delphic god, which had ever one interpretation for the enterprise and
another for the success.

XIV.  "The watches of the night were set," says Herodotus, in his
animated and graphic strain--"the night itself was far advanced--a
universal and utter stillness prevailed throughout the army, buried in
repose--when Alexander, the Macedonian prince, rode secretly from the
Persian camp, and, coming to the outposts of the Athenians, whose line
was immediately opposed to his own, demanded an audience of their
commanders.  This obtained, the Macedonian thus addressed them: 'I am
come to inform you of a secret you must impart to Pausanias alone.
From remote antiquity I am of Grecian lineage.  I am solicitous of the
safety of Greece.  Long since, but for the auguries, would Mardonius
have given battle.  Regarding these no longer, he will attack you
early on the morning.  Be prepared.  If he change his purpose, remain
as you are--he has provisions only for a few days more.  Should the
event of war prove favourable, you will but deem it fitting to make
some effort for the independence of one who exposes himself to so
great a peril for the purpose of apprizing you of the intentions of
the foe.  I am Alexander of Macedon.'"

"Thus saying, the horseman returned to the Persian camp."

"The Athenian leaders hastened to Pausanias, and informed him of what
they had heard."

The Spartan does not appear, according to the strong expressions [106]
of Herodotus, to have received the intelligence with the customary
dauntlessness of his race.  He feared the Persians, he was
unacquainted with their mode of warfare, and he proposed to the
Athenians to change posts with the Lacedaemonians; "For you," said he,
"have before contended with the Mede, and your experience of their
warfare you learned at Marathon.  We, on the other hand, have fought
against the Boeotians and Thessalians [opposed to the left wing].  Let
us then change our stations."

At first the Athenian officers were displeased at the offer, not from
terror, but from pride; and it seemed to them as if they were shifted,
like helots, from post to post at the Spartan's pleasure.  But
Aristides, whose power of persuasion consisted chiefly in appeals, not
to the baser, but the loftier passions, and who, in swaying, exalted
his countrymen--represented to them that the right wing, which the
Spartan proposed to surrender, was, in effect, the station of command.

"And are you," he said, "not pleased with the honour you obtain, nor
sensible of the advantage of contending, not against the sons of
Greece, but the barbarian invader?" [107]

These words animated those whom the Athenian addressed; they instantly
agreed to exchange posts with the Spartans, and "to fight for the
trophies of Marathon and Salamis." [108]

XV.  As, in the dead of night, the Athenians marched to their new
station, they exhorted each other to valour and to the recollection of
former victories.  But Mardonius, learning from deserters the change
of position, moved his Persians opposite the Spartans; and Pausanias
again returning to the right, Mardonius pursued a similar manoeuvre.
Thus the day was consumed without an action.  The troops having
resumed their former posts, Mardonius sent a herald to the Spartans,
chiding them for their cowardice, and proposing that an allotted
number meet equal Spartans in battle, and whoever conquered should be
deemed victors over the whole adverse army.

This challenge drew no reply from the Spartans.  And Mardonius,
construing the silence into a proof of fear, already anticipated the
victory.  His cavalry, advancing upon the Greeks, distressed them from
afar and in safety with their shafts and arrows.  They succeeded in
gaining the Gargaphian fountain, which supplied water to the Grecian
army, and choked up the stream.  Thus cut off from water, and, at the
same time, yet more inconvenienced by the want of provisions, the
convoy of which was intercepted by the Persian cavalry, the Grecian
chiefs determined to shift the ground, and occupy a space which, being
surrounded by rivulets, was termed the Island of Oeroe [109], and
afforded an ample supply of water.  This island was about a mile from
their present encampment: thence they proposed to detach half their
army to relieve a convoy of provisions encompassed in the mountains.

About four hours after sunset the army commenced its march; but when
Pausanias gave the word to his Spartans, one officer, named
Amompharetus, obstinately refused to stir.  He alleged the customs and
oaths of Sparta, and declared he would not fly from the barbarian foe,
nor connive at the dishonour of Sparta.

XVI.  Pausanias, though incensed at the obstinacy of the officer, was
unwilling to leave him and his troop to perish; and while the dispute
was still unsettled, the Athenians, suspicious of their ally, "for
they knew well it was the custom of Spartans to say one thing and to
think another," [110] despatched a horseman to Pausanias to learn the
cause of the delay.  The messenger found the soldiers in their ranks;
the leaders in violent altercation.  Pausanias was arguing with
Amompharetus, when the last, just as the Athenian approached, took up
a huge stone with both hands, and throwing it at the feet of
Pausanias, vehemently exclaimed, "With this calculus I give my
suffrage against flying from the stranger."  Pausanias, in great
perplexity, bade the Athenian report the cause of the delay, and
implore his countrymen to halt a little, that they might act in
concert.  At length, towards morning, Pausanias resolved, despite
Amompharetus, to commence his march.  All his forces proceeded along
the steep defiles at the base of Cithaeron, from fear of the Persian
cavalry; the more dauntless Athenians along the plain.  Amompharetus,
after impotent attempts to detain his men, was reluctantly compelled
to follow.

XVII.  Mardonius, beholding the vacant ground before him no longer
bristling with the Grecian ranks, loudly vented his disdain of the
cowardice of the fugitives, and instantly led his impatient army over
the Asopus in pursuit.  As yet, the Athenians, who had already passed
the plain, were concealed by the hills; and the Tegeans and
Lacedaemonians were the sole object of attack.

As the troops of Mardonius advanced, the rest of the Persian armament,
deeming the task was now not to fight but to pursue, raised their
standards and poured forward tumultuously, without discipline or

Pausanias, pressed by the Persian line, and if not of a timorous, at
least of an irresolute temper, lost no time in sending to the
Athenians for succour.  But when the latter were on their march with
the required aid, they were suddenly intercepted by the auxiliary
Greeks in the Persian service, and cut off from the rescue of the

The Spartans beheld themselves thus left unsupported with considerable
alarm.  Yet their force, including the Tegeans and helots, was
fifty-three thousand men.  Committing himself to the gods, Pausanias
ordained a solemn sacrifice, his whole army awaiting the result, while
the shafts of the Persian bowmen poured on them near and fast.  But
the entrails presented discouraging omens, and the sacrifice was again
renewed.  Meanwhile the Spartans evinced their characteristic
fortitude and discipline--not one man stirring from his ranks until
the auguries should assume a more favouring aspect; all harassed, and
some wounded, by the Persian arrows, they yet, seeking protection only
beneath their broad bucklers, waited with a stern patience the time of
their leader and of Heaven.  Then fell Callicrates, the stateliest and
strongest soldier in the whole army, lamenting, not death, but that
his sword was as yet undrawn against the invader.

XVIII.  And still sacrifice after sacrifice seemed to forbid the
battle, when Pausanias, lifting his eyes, that streamed with tears, to
the temple of Juno that stood  hard by, supplicated the tutelary
goddess of Cithaeron, that if the fates forbade the Greeks to conquer,
they might at least fall like warriors [111].  And while uttering this
prayer, the tokens waited for became suddenly visible in the victims,
and the augurs announced the promise of coming victory.

Therewith the order of battle rang instantly through the army, and, to
use the poetical comparison of Plutarch, the Spartan phalanx suddenly
stood forth in its strength, like some fierce animal--erecting its
bristles and preparing its vengeance for the foe.  The ground, broken
in many steep and precipitous ridges, and intersected by the Asopus,
whose sluggish stream [112] winds over a broad and rushy bed, was
unfavourable to the movements of cavalry, and the Persian foot
advanced therefore on the Greeks.

Drawn up in their massive phalanx, the Lacedaemonians presented an
almost impenetrable body--sweeping slowly on, compact and serried--
while the hot and undisciplined valour of the Persians, more fortunate
in the skirmish than the battle, broke itself into a thousand waves
upon that moving rock.  Pouring on in small numbers at a time, they
fell fast round the progress of the Greeks--their armour slight
against the strong pikes of Sparta--their courage without skill--their
numbers without discipline; still they fought gallantly, even when on
the ground seizing the pikes with their naked hands, and with the
wonderful agility which still characterizes the oriental swordsman,
springing to their feet and regaining their arms when seemingly
overcome--wresting away their enemies' shields, and grappling with
them desperately hand to hand.

XIX.  Foremost of a band of a thousand chosen Persians, conspicuous by
his white charger, and still more by his daring valour, rode
Mardonius, directing the attack--fiercer wherever his armour blazed.
Inspired by his presence, the Persians fought worthily of their
warlike fame, and, even in falling, thinned the Spartan ranks.  At
length the rash but gallant leader of the Asiatic armies received a
mortal wound--his scull was crushed in by a stone from the hand of a
Spartan [113].  His chosen band, the boast of the army, fell fighting
round him, but his death was the general signal of defeat and flight.
Encumbered by their long robes, and pressed by the relentless
conquerors, the Persians fled in disorder towards their camp, which
was secured by wooden intrenchments, by gates, and towers, and walls.
Here, fortifying themselves as they best might, they contended
successfully, and with advantage, against the Lacedaemonians, who were
ill skilled in assault and siege.

Meanwhile the Athenians obtained the victory on the plains over the
Greeks of Mardonius--finding their most resolute enemy in the Thebans
(three hundred of whose principal warriors fell in the field)--and now
joined the Spartans at the Persian camp.  The Athenians are said to
have been better skilled in the art of siege than the Spartans; yet at
that time their experience could scarcely have been greater.  The
Athenians were at all times, however, of a more impetuous temper; and
the men who had "run to the charge" at Marathon were not to be baffled
by the desperate remnant of their ancient foe.  They scaled the walls
--they effected a breach through which the Tegeans were the first to
rush--the Greeks poured fast and fierce into the camp.  Appalled,
dismayed, stupefied by the suddenness and greatness of their loss, the
Persians no longer sustained their fame--they dispersed themselves in
all directions, falling, as they fled, with a prodigious slaughter, so
that out of that mighty armament scarce three thousand effected an
escape.  We must except, however, the wary and distrustful Artabazus,
who, on the first tokens of defeat, had fled with the forty thousand
Parthians and Chorasmians he commanded towards Phocis, in the
intention to gain the Hellespont.  The Mantineans arrived after the
capture of the camp, too late for their share of glory; they
endeavoured to atone the loss by the pursuit of Artabazus, which was,
however, ineffectual.  The Eleans arrived after the Mantineans.  The
leaders of both these people were afterward banished.

XX.  An Aeginetan proposed to Pausanias to inflict on the corpse of
Mardonius the same insult which Xerxes had put upon the body of

The Spartan indignantly refused.  "After elevating my country to
fame," said he, "would you have me depress it to infamy by vengeance
on the body of the dead?  Leonidas and Thermopylae are sufficiently
avenged by this mighty overthrow of the living."

The body of that brave and ill-fated general, the main author of the
war, was removed the next day--by whose piety and to what sepulchre is
unknown.  The tomb of his doubtful fame is alone eternally visible
along the plains of Plataea, and above the gray front of the
imperishable Cithaeron!

XXI.  The victory won (September, B. C. 479), the conquerors were
dazzled by the gorgeous plunder which remained--tents and couches
decorated with precious metals--cups, and vessels, and sacks of gold--
and the dead themselves a booty, from the costly ornaments of their
chains and bracelets, and cimeters vainly splendid--horses, and
camels, and Persian women, and all the trappings and appliances by
which despotism made a luxury of war.

Pausanias forbade the booty to be touched [114], and directed the
helots to collect the treasure in one spot.  But those dexterous
slaves secreted many articles of value, by the purchase of which
several of the Aeginetans, whose avarice was sharpened by a life of
commerce, enriched themselves--obtaining gold at the price of brass.

Piety dedicated to the gods a tenth part of the booty--from which was
presented to the shrine of Delphi a golden tripod, resting on a
three-headed snake of brass; to the Corinthian Neptune a brazen state of
the deity, seven cubits high; and to the Jupiter of Olympia a statue of
ten cubits.  Pausanias obtained also a tenth of the produce in each
article of plunder--horses and camels, women and gold--a prize which
ruined in rewarding him.  The rest was divided among the soldiers,
according to their merit.

So much, however, was left unappropriated in the carelessness of
satiety, that, in after times, the battlefield still afforded to the
search of the Plataeans chests of silver and gold, and other

XXIL Taking possession of the tent of Mardonius, which had formerly
been that of Xerxes, Pausanias directed the oriental slaves who had
escaped the massacre to prepare a banquet after the fashion of the
Persians, and as if served to Mardonius.  Besides this gorgeous feast,
the Spartan ordered his wonted repast to be prepared; and then,
turning to the different chiefs, exclaimed--"See the folly of the
Persian, who forsook such splendour to plunder such poverty."

The story has in it something of the sublime.  But the austere Spartan
was soon corrupted by the very luxuries he affected to disdain.  It is
often that we despise to-day what we find it difficult to resist

XXIII.  The task of reward to the living completed, the Greeks
proceeded to that of honour to the dead.  In three trenches the
Lacedaemonians were interred; one contained those who belonged to a
class in Sparta called the Knights [115], of whom two hundred had
conducted Themistocles to Tegea (among these was the stubborn
Amompharetus); the second, the other Spartans; the third, the helots.
The Athenians, Tegeans, Megarians, Phliasians, each had their single
and separate places of sepulture, and, over all, barrows of earth were
raised.  Subsequently, tribes and states, that had shared indeed the
final battle or the previous skirmishes, but without the glory of a
loss of life, erected cenotaphs to imaginary dead in that illustrious
burial-field.  Among those spurious monuments was one dedicated to the
Aeginetans.  Aristodemus, the Spartan who had returned safe from
Thermopylae, fell at Plataea, the most daring of the Greeks on that
day, voluntarily redeeming a dishonoured life by a glorious death.
But to his manes alone of the Spartan dead no honours were decreed.

XXIV.  Plutarch relates that a dangerous dispute ensued between the
Spartans and Athenians as to their relative claim to the Aristeia, or
first military honours; the question was decided by awarding them to
the Plataeans--a state of which none were jealous; from a similar
motive, ordinary men are usually found possessed of the honours due to
the greatest.

More important than the Aristeia, had the spirit been properly
maintained, were certain privileges then conferred on Plataea.
Thither, in a subsequent assembly of the allies, it was proposed by
Aristides that deputies from the states of Greece should be annually
sent to sacrifice to Jupiter the Deliverer, and confer upon the
general politics of Greece.  There, every fifth year, should be
celebrated games in honour of Liberty; while the Plataeans themselves,
exempted from military service, should be deemed, so long as they
fulfilled the task thus imposed upon them, a sacred and inviolable
people.  Thus Plataea nominally became a second Elis--its battle-field
another Altis.  Aristides, at the same time, sought to enforce the
large and thoughtful policy commenced by Themistocles.  He endeavoured
to draw the jealous states of Greece into a common and perpetual
league, maintained against all invaders by a standing force of one
thousand cavalry, one hundred ships, and ten thousand heavy-armed

XXV.  An earnest and deliberate council was now held, in which it was
resolved to direct the victorious army against Thebes, and demand the
persons of those who had sided with the Mede.  Fierce as had been the
hostility of that state to the Hellenic liberties, its sin was that of
the oligarchy rather than the people.  The most eminent of these
traitors to Greece were Timagenidas and Attaginus, and the allies
resolved to destroy the city unless those chiefs were given up to

On the eleventh day from the battle they sat down before Thebes, and
on the refusal of the inhabitants to surrender the chiefs so justly
obnoxious, laid waste the Theban lands.

Whatever we may think of the conduct of Timagenidas in espousing the
cause of the invaders of Greece, we must give him the praise of a
disinterested gallantry, which will remind the reader of the siege of
Calais by Edward III., and the generosity of Eustace de St. Pierre.
He voluntarily proposed to surrender himself to the besiegers.

The offer was accepted: Timagenidas and several others were delivered
to Pausanias, removed to Corinth, and there executed--a stern but
salutary example.  Attaginus saved himself by flight.  His children,
given up to Pausanias, were immediately dismissed.  "Infants," said
the Spartan, "could not possibly have conspired against us with the

While Thebes preserved herself from destruction, Artabazus succeeded
in effecting his return to Asia, his troop greatly reduced by the
attacks of the Thracians, and the excesses of famine and fatigue.

XXVI.  On the same day as that on which the battle of Plataea crushed
the land-forces of Persia, a no less important victory was gained over
their fleet at Mycale in Ionia.

It will be remembered that Leotychides, the Spartan king, and the
Athenian Xanthippus, had conducted the Grecian navy to Delos.  There
anchored, they received a deputation from Samos, among whom was
Hegesistratus, the son of Aristagoras.  These ambassadors declared
that all the Ionians waited only the moment to revolt from the Persian
yoke, and that the signal would be found in the first active measures
of the Grecian confederates.  Leotychides, induced by these
representations, received the Samians into the general league, and set
sail to Samos.  There, drawn up in line of battle, near the temple of
Juno, they prepared to hazard an engagement.

But the Persians, on their approach, retreated to the continent, in
order to strengthen themselves with their land-forces, which, to the
amount of sixty thousand, under the command of the Persian Tigranes,
Xerxes had stationed at Mycale for the protection of Ionia.

Arrived at Mycale, they drew their ships to land, fortifying them with
strong intrenchments and barricades, and then sanguinely awaited the

The Greeks, after a short consultation, resolved upon pursuit.
Approaching the enemy's station, they beheld the sea deserted, the
ships secured by intrenchments, and long ranks of infantry ranged
along the shore.  Leotychides, by a herald, exhorted the Ionians in
the Persian service to remember their common liberties, and that on
the day of battle their watchword would be "Hebe."

The Persians, distrusting these messages, though uttered in a tongue
they understood not, and suspecting the Samians, took their arms from
the latter; and, desirous of removing the Milesians to a distance,
intrusted them with the guard of the paths to the heights of Mycale.
Using these precautions against the desertion of their allies, the
Persians prepared for battle.

The Greeks were anxious and fearful not so much for themselves as for
their countrymen in Boeotia, opposed to the mighty force of Mardonius.
But a report spreading through the camp that a complete victory had
been obtained in that territory (an artifice, most probably, of
Leotychides), animated their courage and heightened their hopes.

The Athenians, who, with the troops of Corinth, Sicyon, and Troezene,
formed half the army, advanced by the coast and along the plain--the
Lacedaemonians by the more steep and wooded courses; and while the
latter were yet on their march, the Athenians were already engaged at
the intrenchments (Battle of Mycale, September, B. C. 479).

Inspired not more by enmity than emulation, the Athenians urged each
other to desperate feats--that they, and not the Spartans, might have
the honours of the day.  They poured fiercely on--after an obstinate
and equal conflict, drove back the foe to the barricades that girt
their ships, stormed the intrenchments, carried the wall, and, rushing
in with their allies, put the barbarians to disorderly and rapid
flight.  The proper Persians, though but few in number, alone stood
their ground--and even when Tigranes himself was slain, resolutely
fought on until the Lacedaemonians entered the intrenchment, and all
who had survived the Athenian, perished by the Spartan, sword.

The disarmed Samians, as soon as the fortunes of the battle became
apparent, gave all the assistance they could render to the Greeks; the
other Ionians seized the same opportunity to revolt and turn their
arms against their allies.  In the mountain defiles the Milesians
intercepted their own fugitive allies, consigning them to the Grecian
sword, and active beyond the rest in their slaughter.  So relentless
and so faithless are men, compelled to servitude, when the occasion
summons them to be free.

XXVII.  This battle, in which the Athenians were pre-eminently
distinguished, was followed up by the conflagration of the Persian
ships and the collection of the plunder.  The Greeks then retired to
Samos.  Here deliberating, it was proposed by the Peloponnesian
leaders that Ionia should henceforth, as too dangerous and remote to
guard, be abandoned to the barbarian, and that, in recompense, the
Ionians should be put into possession of the maritime coasts of those
Grecian states which had sided with the Mede.  The Athenians resisted
so extreme a proposition, and denied the power of the Peloponnesians
to dispose of Athenian colonies.  The point was surrendered by the
Peloponnesians; the Ionians of the continent were left to make their
own terms with the barbarian, but the inhabitants of the isles which
had assisted against the Mede were received into the general
confederacy, bound by a solemn pledge never to desert it.  The fleet
then sailed to the Hellespont, with the design to destroy the bridge,
which they believed still existent.  Finding it, however, already
broken, Leotychides and the Peloponnesians returned to Greece.  The
Athenians resolved to attempt the recovery of the colony of Miltiades
in the Chersonese.  The Persians collected their whole remaining force
at the strongest hold in that peninsula--the Athenians laid siege to
it (begun in the autumn, B. C. 479, concluded in the spring, B. C.
478), and, after enduring a famine so obstinate that the cordage, or
rather straps, of their bedding were consumed for food, the Persians
evacuated the town, which the inhabitants then cheerfully surrendered.

Thus concluding their victories, the Athenians returned to Greece,
carrying with them a vast treasure, and, not the least precious
relics, the fragments and cables of the Hellespontic bridge, to be
suspended in their temples.

XXVIII.  Lingering at Sardis, Xerxes beheld the scanty and exhausted
remnants of his mighty force, the fugitives of the fatal days of
Mycale and Plataea.  The army over which he had wept in the zenith of
his power, had fulfilled the prediction of his tears: and the armed
might of Media and Egypt, of Lydia and Assyria, was now no more!

So concluded the great Persian invasion--that war the most memorable
in the history of mankind, whether from the vastness or from the
failure of its designs.  We now emerge from the poetry that belongs to
early Greece, through the mists of which the forms of men assume
proportions as gigantic as indistinct.  The enchanting Herodotus
abandons us, and we do not yet permanently acquire, in the stead of
his romantic and wild fidelity, the elaborate and sombre statesmanship
of the calm Thucydides.  Henceforth we see more of the beautiful and
the wise, less of the wonderful and vast.  What the heroic age is to
tradition, the Persian invasion is to history.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book III" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.