Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book II. by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Part 2 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

conquests of Cyrus--and a stranger to the blood of the great victor,
by means of superstitious accident or political intrigue, ascended the
throne of Asia, known to European history under the name of Darius.
The generals of Cyrus had reduced to the Persian yoke the Ionian
colonies; the Isle of Samos (the first of the isles subjected) was
afterward conquered by a satrap of Sardis, and Darius, who, impelled
by the ambition of his predecessors, had led with no similar success a
vast armament against the wandering Scythians, added, on his return,
Lesbos, Chios, and other isles in the Aegaean, to the new monarchy of
the world. As, in the often analogous history of Italian republics,
we find in every incursion of the German emperor that some crafty
noble of a free state joined the banner of a Frederick or a Henry in
the hope of receiving from the imperial favour the tyranny of his own
city--so there had not been wanting in the Grecian colonies men of
boldness and ambition, who flocked to the Persian standard, and, in
gratitude for their services against the Scythian, were rewarded with
the supreme government of their native cities. Thus was raised Coes,
a private citizen, to the tyranny of Mitylene--and thus Histiaeus,
already possessing, was confirmed by Darius in, that of Miletus.
Meanwhile Megabazus, a general of the Persian monarch, at the head of
an army of eighty thousand men, subdued Thrace, and made Macedonia
tributary to the Persian throne. Having now established, as he deemed
securely, the affairs of the empire in Asia Minor, Darius placed his
brother Artaphernes in the powerful satrapy of Sardis, and returned to
his capital of Susa.

XIII. To this satrap, brother of that mighty monarch, came the
ambassadors of Athens. Let us cast our eyes along the map of the
ancient world--and survey the vast circumference of the Persian realm,
stretching almost over the civilized globe. To the east no boundary
was visible before the Indus. To the north the empire extended to the
Caspian and the Euxine seas, with that steep Caucasian range, never
passed even by the most daring of the early Asiatic conquerors.
Eastward of the Caspian, the rivers of Oxus and Iaxartes divided the
subjects of the great king from the ravages of the Tartar; the Arabian
peninsula interposed its burning sands, a barrier to the south--while
the western territories of the empire, including Syria, Phoenicia, the
fertile satrapies of Asia Minor, were washed by the Mediterranean
seas. Suddenly turning from this immense empire, let us next
endeavour to discover those dominions from which the Athenian
ambassadors were deputed: far down in a remote corner of the earth we
perceive at last the scarce visible nook of Attica, with its capital
of Athens--a domain that in its extremest length measured sixty
geographical miles! We may now judge of the condescending wonder with
which the brother of Darius listened to the ambassadors of a people,
by whose glory alone his name is transmitted to posterity. Yet was
there nothing unnatural or unduly arrogant in his reply. "Send
Darius," said the satrap, affably, "earth and water (the accustomed
symbols of homage), and he will accept your alliance." The ambassadors
deliberated, and, impressed by the might of Persia, and the sense of
their own unfriended condition, they accepted the proposals.

If, fresh from our survey of the immeasurable disparity of power
between the two states, we cannot but allow the answer of the satrap
was such as might be expected, it is not without a thrill of sympathy
and admiration we learn, that no sooner had the ambassadors returned
to Athens, than they received from the handful of its citizens a
severe reprimand for their submission. Indignant at the proposal of
the satrap, that brave people recurred no more to the thought of the
alliance. In haughty patience, unassisted and alone, they awaited the
burst of the tempest which they foresaw.

XIV. Meanwhile, Cleomenes, chafed at the failure of his attempt on
the Athenian liberties, and conceiving, in the true spirit of
injustice, that he had been rather the aggrieved than the aggressor,
levied forces in different parts of the Peloponnesus, but without
divulging the object he had in view [254]. That object was twofold--
vengeance upon Athens, and the restoration of Isagoras. At length he
threw off the mask, and at the head of a considerable force seized
upon the holy city of Eleusis. Simultaneously, and in concert with
the Spartan, the Boeotians forcibly took possession of Oenoe and
Hysix--two towns on the extremity of Attica while from Chalcis (the
principal city of the Isle of Euboea which fronted the Attic coast) a
formidable band ravaged the Athenian territories. Threatened by this
threefold invasion, the measures of the Athenians were prompt and
vigorous. They left for the present unavenged the incursions of the
Boeotians and Chalcidians, and marched with all the force they could
collect against Cleomenes at Eleusis. The two armies were prepared
for battle, when a sudden revolution in the Spartan camp delivered the
Athenians from the most powerful of their foes. The Corinthians,
insnared by Cleomenes into measures, of the object of which they had
first been ignorant, abruptly retired from the field. Immediately
afterward a dissension broke out between Cleomenes and Demaratus, the
other king of Sparta, who had hitherto supported his colleague in all
his designs, and Demaratus hastily quitted Eleusis, and returned to
Lacedaemon. At this disunion between the kings of Sparta,
accompanied, as it was, by the secession of the Corinthians, the other
confederates broke up the camp, returned home, and left Cleomenes with
so scanty a force that he was compelled to forego his resentment and
his vengeance, and retreat from the sacred city. The Athenians now
turned their arms against the Chalcidians, who had retired to Euboea;
but, encountering the Boeotians, who were on their march to assist
their island ally, they engaged and defeated them with a considerable
slaughter. Flushed by their victory, the Athenians rested not upon
their arms--on the same day they crossed that narrow strait which
divided them from Euboea, and obtained a second and equally signal
victory over the Chalcidians. There they confirmed their conquest by
the establishment of four thousand colonists [255] in the fertile
meadows of Euboea, which had been dedicated by the islanders to the
pasturage of their horses. The Athenians returned in triumph to their
city. At the price of two minae each, their numerous prisoners were
ransomed, and the captive chains suspended from the walls of the
citadel. A tenth part of the general ransom was consecrated, and
applied to the purchase of a brazen chariot, placed in the entrance of
the citadel, with an inscription which dedicated it to the tutelary
goddess of Athens.

"Not from the example of the Athenians only," proceeds the father of
history, "but from universal experience, do we learn that an equal
form of government is the best. While in subjection to tyrants the
Athenians excelled in war none of their neighbours--delivered from the
oppressor, they excelled them all; an evident proof that, controlled
by one man they exerted themselves feebly, because exertion was for a
master; regaining liberty, each man was made zealous, because his zeal
was for himself, and his individual interest was the common weal."
[256] Venerable praise and accurate distinction! [257]

XV. The Boeotians, resentful of their defeat, sent to the Pythian
oracle to demand the best means of obtaining revenge. The Pythian
recommended an alliance with their nearest neighbours. The Boeotians,
who, although the inspiring Helicon hallowed their domain, were
esteemed but a dull and obtuse race, interpreted this response in
favour of the people of the rocky island of Aegina--certainly not
their nearest neighbours, if the question were to be settled by
geographers. The wealthy inhabitants of that illustrious isle, which,
rising above that part of the Aegean called Sinus Saronicus, we may
yet behold in a clear sky from the heights of Phyle,--had long
entertained a hatred against the Athenians. They willingly embraced
the proffered alliance of the Boeotians, and the two states ravaged in
concert the coast of Attica. While the Athenians were preparing to
avenge the aggression, they received a warning from the Delphic
oracle, enjoining them to refrain from all hostilities with the people
of Aegina for thirty years, at the termination of which period they
were to erect a fane to Aeacus (the son of Jupiter, from whom,
according to tradition, the island had received its name), and then
they might commence war with success. The Athenians, on hearing the
response, forestalled the time specified by the oracle by erecting at
once a temple to Aeacus in their forum. After-circumstances did not
allow them to delay to the end of thirty years the prosecution of the
war. Meanwhile the unsleeping wrath of their old enemy, Cleomenes,
demanded their full attention. In the character of that fierce and
restless Spartan, we recognise from the commencement of his career the
taint of that insanity to which he subsequently fell a victim [258].
In his earlier life, in a war with the Argives, he had burnt five
thousand fugitives by setting fire to the grove whither they had fled
--an act of flagrant impiety, no less than of ferocious cruelty,
according to the tender superstition of the Greeks. During his
occupation of Eleusis, he wantonly violated the mysterious sanctuary
of Orgas--the place above all others most consecrated to the
Eleusinian gods. His actions and enterprises were invariably
inconsistent and vague. He enters Athens to restore her liberties--
joins with Isagoras to destroy them; engages in an attempt to
revolutionize that energetic state without any adequate preparation--
seizes the citadel to-day to quit it disgracefully to-morrow; invades
Eleusis with an army he cannot keep together, and, in the ludicrous
cunning common to the insane, disguises from his allies the very enemy
against whom they are to fight, in order, as common sense might have
expected, to be deserted by them in the instant of battle. And now,
prosecuting still further the contradictory tenour of his conduct, he
who had driven Hippias from Athens persuades the Spartan assembly to
restore the very tyrant the Spartan arms had expelled. In order to
stimulate the fears of his countrymen, Cleomenes [259] asserted, that
he had discovered in the Athenian citadel certain oracular
predictions, till then unknown, foreboding to the Spartans many dark
and strange calamities from the hands of the Athenians [260]. The
astute people whom the king addressed were more moved by political
interests than religious warnings. They observed, that when oppressed
by tyranny, the Athenians had been weak and servile, but, if admitted
to the advantages of liberty, would soon grow to a power equal to
their own [261]: and in the restoration of a tyrant, their sagacity
foreboded the depression of a rival.

XVI. Hippias, who had hitherto resided with his half-brother at
Sigeum, was invited to Lacedaemon. He arrived--the Spartans assembled
the ambassadors of their various tribes--and in full council thus
spoke the policy of Sparta.

"Friends and allies, we acknowledge that we have erred; misled by
deceiving oracles, we have banished from Athens men united to us by
ancient hospitality. We restored a republican government to an
ungrateful people, who, forgetful that to us they owed their liberty,
expelled from among them our subjects and our king. Every day they
exhibit a fiercer spirit--proofs of which have been already
experienced by the Boeotians, the Chalcidians, and may speedily extend
to others, unless they take in time wise and salutary precautions. We
have erred--we are prepared to atone for our fault, and to aid you in
the chastisement of the Athenians. With this intention we have
summoned Hippias and yourselves, that by common counsel and united
arms we may restore to the son of Pisistratus the dominion and the
dignity of which we have deprived him."

The sentiments of the Spartans received but little favour in the
assembly. After a dead and chilling silence, up rose Sosicles, the
ambassador for Corinth, whose noble reply reveals to us the true cause
of the secession of the Corinthians at Eleusis.

"We may expect," said he, with indignant eloquence, "to see the earth
take the place of heaven, since you, oh Spartans, meditate the
subversion of equal laws and the restoration of tyrannical
governments--a design than which nothing can be more unjust, nothing
more wicked. If you think it well that states should be governed by
tyrants, Spartans, before you establish tyranny for others, establish
it among yourselves! You act unworthily with your allies. You, who
so carefully guard against the intrusion of tyranny in Sparta--had you
known it as we have done, you would be better sensible of the
calamities it entails: listen to some of its effects." (Here the
ambassador related at length the cruelties of Periander, the tyrant of
Corinth.) "Such," said he, in conclusion, "such is a tyrannical
government--such its effects. Great was our marvel when we learned
that it was you, oh Spartans, who had sent for Hippias,--at your
sentiments we marvel more. Oh! by the gods, the celestial guardians
of Greece, we adjure you not to build up tyrannies in our cities. If
you persevere in your purpose--if, against all justice, you attempt
the restoration of Hippias, know, at least, that the Corinthians will
never sanction your designs."

It was in vain that Hippias, despite his own ability, despite the
approval of the Spartans, endeavoured to counteract the impression of
this stern harangue,--in vain he relied on the declarations of the
oracles,--in vain appealed to the jealousy of the Corinthians, and
assured them of the ambition of Athens. The confederates with one
accord sympathized with the sentiments of Sosicles, and adjured the
Spartans to sanction no innovations prejudicial to the liberties of a
single city of Greece.

XVII. The failure of propositions so openly made is a fresh proof of
the rash and unthinking character of Cleomenes--eager as usual for
all designs, and prepared for none. The Spartans abandoned their
design, and Hippias, discomfited but not dispirited, quitted the
Lacedaemonian capital. Some of the chiefs of Thessaly, as well as the
prince of Macedon, offered him an honourable retreat in their
dominions. But it was not an asylum, it was an ally, that the
unyielding ambition of Hippias desired to secure. He regained Sigeum,
and thence, departing to Sardis, sought the assistance of the satrap,
Artaphernes. He who in prosperity was the tyrant, became, in
adversity, the traitor of his country; and the son of Pisistratus
exerted every effort of his hereditary talent of persuasion to induce
the satrap not so much to restore the usurper as to reduce the
Athenian republic to the Persian yoke [262]. The arrival and the
intrigues of this formidable guest at the court of Sardis soon reached
the ears of the vigilant Athenians; they sent to Artaphernes,
exhorting him not to place confidence in those whose offences had
banished them from Athens. "If you wish for peace," returned the
satrap, "recall Hippias." Rather than accede to this condition, that
brave people, in their petty share of the extremity of Greece, chose
to be deemed the enemies of the vast monarchy of Persia. [263]


Histiaeus, Tyrant of Miletus, removed to Persia.--The Government of
that City deputed to Aristagoras, who invades Naxos with the aid of
the Persians.--Ill Success of that Expedition.--Aristagoras resolves
upon Revolting from the Persians.--Repairs to Sparta and to Athens.--
The Athenians and Eretrians induced to assist the Ionians.--Burning of
Sardis.--The Ionian War.--The Fate of Aristagoras.--Naval Battle of
Lade.--Fall of Miletus.--Reduction of Ionia.--Miltiades.--His
Character.--Mardonius replaces Artaphernes in the Lydian Satrapy.--
Hostilities between Aegina and Athens.--Conduct of Cleomenes.--
Demaratus deposed.--Death of Cleomenes.--New Persian Expedition.

I. We have seen that Darius rewarded with a tributary command the
services of Grecian nobles during his Scythian expedition. The most
remarkable of these deputy tyrants was Histiaeus, the tyrant of
Miletus. Possessed of that dignity prior to his connexion with
Darius, he had received from the generosity of the monarch a tract of
land near the river Strymon, in Thrace, sufficing for the erection of
a city called Myrcinus. To his cousin, Aristagoras, he committed the
government of Miletus--repaired to his new possession, and employed
himself actively in the foundations of a colony which promised to be
one of the most powerful that Miletus had yet established. The site
of the infant city was selected with admirable judgment upon a
navigable river, in the vicinity of mines, and holding the key of
commercial communication between the long chain of Thracian tribes on
the one side, and the trading enterprise of Grecian cities on the
other. Histiaeus was describing the walls with which the ancient
cities were surrounded, when Megabazus, commander of the forces
intended to consummate the conquest of Thrace, had the sagacity to
warn the Persian king, then at Sardis, of the probable effects of the
regal donation. "Have you, sire, done wisely," said he, "in
permitting this able and active Greek to erect a new city in Thrace?
Know you not that that favoured land, abounding in mines of silver,
possesses, also, every advantage for the construction and equipment of
ships; wild Greeks and roving barbarians are mingled there, ripe for
enterprise--ready to execute the commands of any resolute and aspiring
leader! Fear the possibility of a civil war--prevent the chances of
the ambition of Histiaeus,--have recourse to artifice rather than to
force, get him in your power, and prevent his return to Greece."

Darius followed the advice of his general, sent for Histiaeus, loaded
him with compliments, and, pretending that he could not live without
his counsels, carried him off from his Thracian settlement to the
Persian capital of Susa. His kinsman, Aristagoras, continued to
preside over the government of Miletus, then the most haughty and
flourishing of the Ionian states; but Naxos, beneath it in power,
surpassed it in wealth; the fertile soil of that fair isle--its
numerous population--its convenient site--its abundant resources,
attracted the cupidity of Aristagoras; he took advantage of a civil
commotion, in which many of the nobles were banished by the people--
received the exiles--and, under the pretence of restoring them,
meditated the design of annexing the largest of the Cyclades to the
tyranny of Miletus.

He persuaded the traitorous nobles to suffer him to treat with
Artaphernes--successfully represented to that satrap the advantages of
annexing the gem of the Cyclades to the Persian diadem--and Darius,
listening to the advice of his delegate, sent two hundred vessels to
the invasion of Naxos (B. C. 501), under the command of his kinsman,
Megabates. A quarrel ensued, however, between the Persian general and
the governor of Miletus. Megabates, not powerful enough to crush the
tyrant, secretly informed the Naxians of the meditated attack; and,
thus prepared for the assault, they so well maintained themselves in
their city, that, after a siege of four months, the pecuniary
resources, not only of Megabates, but of Aristagoras, were exhausted,
and the invaders were compelled to retreat from the island.
Aristagoras now saw that he had fallen into the pit he had digged for
others: his treasury was drained--he had incurred heavy debts with the
Persian government, which condemned him to reimburse the whole expense
of the enterprise--he feared the resentment of Megabates and the
disappointment of Artaphernes--and he foresaw that his ill success
might be a reasonable plea for removing him from the government of
Miletus. While he himself was meditating the desperate expedient of a
revolt, a secret messenger from Histiaeus suddenly arrived at Miletus.
That wily Greek, disgusted with his magnificent captivity, had had
recourse to a singular expedient: selecting the most faithful of his
slaves, he shaved his scull, wrote certain characters on the surface,
and, when the hair was again grown, dismissed this living letter to
Aristagoras [264]. The characters commanded the deputy to commence a
revolt; for Histiaeus imagined that the quiet of Miletus was the
sentence of his exile.

II. This seasonable advice, so accordant with his own views, charmed
Aristagoras: he summoned the Milesians, and, to engage their zealous
assistance, he divested himself of the tyranny, and established a
republic. It was a mighty epoch that, for the stir of thought!--
everywhere had awakened a desire for free government and equal laws;
and Aristagoras, desirous of conciliating the rest of Ionia, assisted
her various states in the establishment of republican institutions.
Coes, the tyrant of Mitylene, perished by the hands of the people; in
the rest of Ionia, the tyrants were punished but by exile. Thus a
spark kindled the universal train already prepared in thought, and the
selfish ambition of Aristagoras forwarded the march of a revolution in
favour of liberty that embraced all the cities of Ionia. But
Aristagoras, evidently a man of a profound, though tortuous policy,
was desirous of engaging not only the colonies of Greece, but the
mother country also, in the great and perilous attempt to resist the
Persian. High above all the states of the elder Greece soared the
military fame of Sparta; and that people the scheming Milesian
resolved first to persuade to his daring project.

Trusting to no ambassador, but to his own powers of eloquence, he
arrived in person at Sparta. With a brazen chart of the world, as
then known, in his hand, he sought to inspire the ambition of
Cleomenes by pointing out the wide domains--the exhaustless treasures
of the Persian realm. He depreciated the valour of its people,
ridiculed their weapons, and urged him to the vast design of
establishing, by Spartan valour, the magnificent conquest of Asia.
The Spartans, always cold to the liberty of other states, were no less
indifferent to the glory of barren victories; and when Aristagoras too
honestly replied, in answer to a question of the king, that from the
Ionian sea to Susa, the Persian capital, was a journey of three
months, Cleomenes abruptly exclaimed, "Milesian, depart from Sparta
before sunset;--a march of three months from the sea!--the Spartans
will never listen to so frantic a proposal!" Aristagoras, not
defeated, sought a subsequent interview, in which he attempted to
bribe the king, who, more accustomed to bribe others than be bribed,
broke up the conference, and never afterward would renew it.

III. The patient and plotting Milesian departed thence to Athens
(B. C. 500): he arrived there just at the moment when the Athenian
ambassadors had returned from Sardis, charged with the haughty reply
of Artaphernes to the mission concerning Hippias. The citizens were
aroused, excited, inflamed; equally indignant at the insolence, and
fearful of the power, of the satrap. It was a favourable occasion for

To the imagination of the reader this passage in history presents a
striking picture. We may behold the great assembly of that lively,
high-souled, sensitive, and inflammable people. There is the Agora;
there the half-built temple to Aeacus;--above, the citadel, where yet
hang the chains of the captive enemy;--still linger in the ears of the
populace, already vain of their prowess, and haughty in their freedom,
the menace of the Persian--the words that threatened them with the
restoration of the exiled tyrant; and at this moment, and in this
concourse, we see the subtle Milesian, wise in the experience of
mankind, popular with all free states, from having restored freedom to
the colonies of Ionia--every advantage of foreign circumstance and
intrinsic ability in his favour,--about to address the breathless and
excited multitude. He rose: he painted, as he had done to Cleomenes,
in lively colours, the wealth of Asia, the effeminate habits of its
people--he described its armies fighting without spear or shield--he
invoked the valour of a nation already successful in war against hardy
and heroic foes--he appealed to old hereditary ties; the people of
Miletus had been an Athenian colony--should not the parent protect the
child in the greatest of all blessings--the right to liberty? Now he
entreats--now he promises,--the sympathy of the free, the enthusiasm
of the brave, are alike aroused. He succeeds: the people accede to
his views. "It is easier," says the homely Herodotus, "to gain (or
delude) a multitude than an individual; and the eloquence which had
failed with Cleomenes enlisted thirty thousand Athenians." [265]

IV. The Athenians agreed to send to the succour of their own
colonists, the Ionians, twenty vessels of war. Melanthius, a man of
amiable character and popular influence, was appointed the chief.
This was the true commencement of the great Persian war.

V. Thus successful, Aristagoras departed from Athens. Arriving at
Miletus, he endeavoured yet more to assist his design, by attempting
to arouse a certain colony in Phrygia, formed of Thracian captives
[266] taken by Megabazus, the Persian general. A great proportion of
these colonists seized the occasion to return to their native land--
baffled the pursuit of the Persian horse--reached the shore--and were
transported in Ionian vessels to their ancient home on the banks of
the Strymon. Meanwhile, the Athenian vessels arrived at Miletus,
joined by five ships, manned by Eretrians of Euboea, mindful of former
assistance from the Milesians in a war with their fellow-islanders,
the Chalcidians, nor conscious, perhaps, of the might of the enemy
they provoked.

Aristagoras remained at Miletus, and delegated to his brother the
command of the Milesian forces. The Greeks then sailed to Ephesus,
debarked at Coressus. in its vicinity, and, under the conduct of
Ephesian guides, marched along the winding valley of the Cayster--
whose rapid course, under a barbarous name, the traveller yet traces,
though the swans of the Grecian poets haunt its waves no more--passed
over the auriferous Mount of Tmolus, verdant with the vine, and
fragrant with the saffron--and arrived at the gates of the voluptuous
Sardis. They found Artaphernes unprepared for this sudden invasion--
they seized the city (B. C. 499).--the satrap and his troops retreated
to the citadel.

The houses of Sardis were chiefly built of reeds, and the same slight
and inflammable material thatched the roofs even of the few mansions
built of brick. A house was set on fire by a soldier--the flames
spread throughout the city. In the midst of the conflagration despair
gave valour to the besieged--the wrath of man was less fearful than
that of the element; the Lydians, and the Persians who were in the
garrison, rushed into the market-place, through which flowed the river
of Pactolus. There they resolved to encounter the enemy. The
invaders were seized with a sudden panic, possibly as much occasioned
by the rage of the conflagration as the desperation of the foe; and,
retiring to Mount Tmolus, took advantage of the night to retrace their
march along the valley of the Cayster.

VI. But the Ionians were not fated to return in safety: from the
borders of the river Halys a troop of Persians followed their retreat,
and overtaking them when the Ephesian territory was already gained,
defeated the Ionians with a great slaughter, amid which fell the
leader of the Eretrians.

The Athenians were naturally disappointed with the result of this
expedition. Returning home, they refused all the overtures of
Aristagoras to renew their incursions into Asia. The gallant Ionians
continued, however, the hostilities they had commenced against Darius.
They sailed to the Hellespont, and reduced Byzantium, with the
neighbouring cities. Their forces were joined by the Cyprians,
aroused against the Persian yoke by Onesilus, a bold usurper, who had
dethroned his brother, the prince of Salamis, in Cyprus; and the
conflagration of Sardis dazzling the Carians, hitherto lukewarm,
united to the Ionian cause the bulk of that hardy population. The
revolt now assumed a menacing and formidable aspect. Informed of
these events, Darius summoned Histiaeus: "The man," said he, "whom you
appointed to the government of Miletus has rebelled against me.
Assisted by the Ionians, whom I shall unquestionably chastise, he has
burnt Sardis. Had he your approbation? Without it would he have
dared such treason? Beware how you offend a second time against my
authority." Histiaeus artfully vindicated himself from the suspicions
of the king. He attributed the revolt of the Ionians to his own
absence, declared that if sent into Ionia he would soon restore its
inhabitants to their wonted submission, and even promised to render
the Island of Sardinia tributary to Persia.

VII. Deluded by these professions, Darius dismissed the tyrant of
Miletus, requiring only his return on the fulfilment of his promises.
Meanwhile, the generals of Darius pressed vigorously on the
insurgents. Against Onesilus, then engaged in reducing Amathus (the
single city in Cyprus opposed to him), Artybius, a Persian officer,
conducted a formidable fleet. The Ionians hastened to the succour of
their Cyprian ally--a battle ensued both by land and sea: in the
latter the Ionians defeated, after a severe contest, the Phoenician
auxiliaries of Persia--in the former, a treacherous desertion of some
of the Cyprian troops gave a victory to the Persian. The brave
Onesilus, who had set his fate upon the issue of the field, was among
the slain. The Persians proceeded to blockade, and ultimately to
regain, the Cyprian cities: of these, Soli, which withstood a siege of
five months, proffered the most obdurate resistance; with the
surrender of that gallant city, Cyprus once more, after a year of
liberty, was subjected to the dominion of the great king.

This success was increased by the reduction of several towns on the
Hellespont, and two signal defeats over the Carians (B. C. 498), in
the last of which, the Milesians, who had joined their ally, suffered
a prodigious loss. The Carians, however, were not subdued, and in a
subsequent engagement they effected a great slaughter among the
Persians, the glory of which was enhanced by the death of Daurises,
general of the barbarians, and son-in-law to Darius. But this action
was not sufficiently decisive to arrest the progress of the Persian
arms. Artaphernes, satrap of Sardis, and Otanes, the third general in
command, led their forces into Ionia and Aeolia:--the Ionian
Clazomenae, the Aeolian Cuma, were speedily reduced.

VIII. The capture of these places, with the general fortunes of the
war, disheartened even the patient and adventurous Aristagoras. He
could not but believe that all attempts against the crushing power of
Darius were in vain. He assembled the adherents yet faithful to his
arms, and painted to them the necessity of providing a new settlement.
Miletus was no longer secure, and the vengeance of Darius was
gathering rapidly around them. After some consultation they agreed to
repair to that town and territory in Thrace which had been given by
Darius to Histiaeus [267]. Miletus was intrusted to the charge of a
popular citizen named Pythagoras, and these hardy and restless
adventurers embarked for Thrace. Aristagoras was fortunate enough to
reach in safety the settlement which had seemed so formidable a
possession to the Persian general; but his usual scheming and bold
ambition, not contented with that domain, led him to the attack of a
town in its vicinity. The inhabitants agreed to resign it into his
hands, and, probably lulled into security by this concession, he was
suddenly, with his whole force, cut off by an incursion of the
Thracian foe. So perished (B. C. 497) the author of many subsequent
and mighty events, and who, the more we regard his craft, his courage,
his perseverance, and activity, the vastness of his ends, and the
perseverance with which he pursued them, must be regarded by the
historian as one of the most stirring and remarkable spirits of that
enterprising age.

IX. The people of Miletus had not, upon light grounds or with feeble
minds, embarked in the perilous attempt to recover their liberties.
Deep was the sentiment that inspired--solemn and stern the energy
which supported them. The Persian generals now collected in one body
their native and auxiliary force. The Cyprians, lately subdued (B. C.
496), were compelled to serve. Egypt and Cilicia swelled the
armament, and the skill of the Phoenicians rendered yet more
formidable a fleet of six hundred vessels. With this power the
barbarians advanced upon Miletus. Most, if not all, of the Ionian
states prepared themselves for the struggle--delegates met at the
Panionium--it was agreed to shun the Persians upon land--to leave to
the Milesians the defence of their city--to equip the utmost naval
force they could command--and, assembling in one fleet off the small
isle of Lade, opposite to Miletus, to hazard the battle upon the seas.
Three hundred and fifty triremes were provided, and met at the
appointed place. The discipline of the navy was not equal to the
valour of the enterprise; Dionysius, commander of the Phocaeans,
attempted, perhaps too rigorously, to enforce it;--jealousy and
disgust broke out among the troops--and the Samian leaders, whether
displeased with their allies, or tempted by the Persians, who, through
the medium of the exiled tyrants of Greece, serving with them,
maintained correspondence with the Ionians, secretly agreed to desert
in the midst of the ensuing battle. This compact made, the
Phoenicians commenced the attack, and the Ionians, unsuspicious of
treachery, met them with a contracted line. In the beginning of the
engagement, the Samians, excepting only eleven ships (whose captains
were afterward rewarded by a public column in their native market-
place), fulfilled their pledge, and sailed away to Samos. The
Lesbians, stationed next them, followed their example, and confusion
and flight became contagious. The Chians alone redeemed the character
of the allies, aided, indeed, by Dionysius the Phocaean, who, after
taking three of the enemy's ships, refused to retreat till the day was
gone, and then, sailing to Phoenicia, sunk several trading vessels,
enriched himself with their spoil, and eventually reaching Sicily,
became renowned as a pirate, formidable to the Carthaginian and
Tyrsenian families of the old Phoenician foe, but holding his Grecian
countrymen sacred from his depredations.

The Persian armament now bent all its vengeance on Miletus; they
besieged it both by land and by sea--every species of military machine
then known was directed against its walls, and, in the sixth year
after the revolt of Aristagoras, Miletus fell (B. C. 494)--Miletus,
the capital of Ionia--the mother of a hundred colonies! Pittacus,
Thales, Arctinus, were among the great names she gave to science and
to song. Worthy of her renown, she fell amid the ruins of that
freedom which she showed how nobly she could have continued to adorn
by proving how sternly she could defend. The greater part of the
citizens were slain--those who remained, with the women and the
children, were borne into slavery by the victors. Their valour and
renown touched the heart of Darius, and he established the captives in
a city by that part of the Erythraean Sea which receives the waters of
the Barbarian Tigris. Their ancient territories were portioned out
between the Persians and the Carians of Pedasa.

X. The Athenians received the news of this fatal siege with the
deepest sorrow, and Herodotus records an anecdote illustrative of the
character of that impassioned people, and interesting to the history
of their early letters. Phrynichus, a disciple of Thespis,
represented on the stage the capture of Miletus, and the whole
audience burst into tears. The art of the poet was considered
criminal in thus forcibly reminding the Athenians of a calamity which
was deemed their own: he was fined a thousand drachmae, and the
repetition of the piece forbidden--a punishment that was but a
glorious homage to the genius of the poet and the sensibility of the

After innumerable adventures, in which he exhibited considerable but
perverted abilities, Histiaeus fell into the hands of Artaphernes, and
died upon the cross. Darius rebuked the zeal of the satrap, and
lamented the death of a man, whose situation, perhaps, excused his

And now the cloud swept onward--one after one the Ionian cities were
reduced--the islands of Chios, Lesbos, Tenedos, depopulated; and all
Ionia subjugated and enslaved. The Persian fleet proceeded to subdue
all the towns and territories to the left of the Hellespont. At this
time their success in the Chersonesus drove from that troubled isthmus
a chief, whose acute and dauntless faculties made him subsequently the
scourge of Persia and the deliverer of Greece.

XI. We have seen Miltiades, nephew to the first of that name, arrive
at the Chersonesus--by a stroke of dexterous perfidy, seize the
persons of the neighbouring chieftains--attain the sovereignty of that
peninsula, and marry the daughter of a Thracian prince. In his
character was united, with much of the intellect, all the duplicity of
the Greek. During the war between Darius and the Scythians, while
affecting to follow the Persian army, he had held traitorous
intercourse with the foe. And proposed to the Grecian chiefs to
destroy the bridge of boats across the Danube confided to their
charge; so that, what with the force of the Scythians and the pressure
of famine, the army of Darius would have perished among the Scythian
wastes, and a mighty enemy have been lost to Greece--a scheme that,
but for wickedness, would have been wise. With all his wiles, and all
his dishonesty, Miltiades had the art, not only of rendering authority
firm, but popular. Driven from his state by the Scythian Nomades, he
was voluntarily recalled by the very subjects over whom he had
established an armed sovereignty--a rare occurrence in that era of
republics. Surrounded by fierce and restless foes, and exercised in
constant, if petty warfare, Miltiades had acquired as much the
experience of camps as the subtleties of Grecian diplomacy; yet, like
many of the wise of small states, he seems to have been more crafty
than rash--the first for flight wherever flight was the better policy
--but the first for battle if battle were the more prudent. He had in
him none of the inconsiderate enthusiasm of the hero--none of the
blind but noble subservience to honour. Valour seems to have been for
his profound intellect but the summation of chances, and when we
afterward find him the most daring soldier, it is only because he was
the acutest calculator.

On seeing the Phoenician fleet, raider Persia, arrive off the Isle of
Tenedos, which is opposite the Chersonesus, Miltiades resolved not to
wait the issue of a battle: as before he had fled the Scythian, so
now, without a struggle, he succumbed to the Phoenician sword. He
loaded five vessels with his property--with four he eluded the hostile
fleet--the fifth, commanded by his eldest son, was pursued and taken
[268]. In triumphant safety the chief of the Chersonesus arrived at
Athens. He arrived at that free state to lose the dignity of a
Thracian prince, and suddenly to be reminded that he was an Athenian
citizen. He was immediately prosecuted for the crime of tyranny. His
influence or his art, admiration of his genius, or compassion of his
reverses, however, procured him an acquittal. We may well suppose
that, high-born and wealthy, he lost no occasion of cementing his
popularity in his native state.

XII. Meanwhile, the Persians suspended for that year all further
hostilities against the Ionians. Artaphernes endeavoured to
conciliate the subdued colonies by useful laws, impartial taxes, and
benign recommendations to order and to peace. The next year, however,
that satrap was recalled (B. C. 492), and Mardonius, a very young
noble, the son-in-law of Darius, was appointed, at the head of a
considerable naval and military force, to the administration of the
affairs in that part of the Persian empire. Entering Ionia, he
executed a novel, a daring, but no unstatesman-like stroke of policy.
He removed all the Ionian tyrants, and everywhere restored republican
forms of government; deeming, unquestionably, that he is the securest
master of distant provinces who establishes among them the
institutions which they best love. Then proceeding to the Hellespont,
Mardonius collected his mighty fleets and powerful army, and passed
through Europe towards the avowed objects of the Persian vengeance--
the cities of Eretria and Athens.

From the time that the Athenians had assisted the forces of Miletus
and long in the destruction of Sardis, their offence had rankled in
the bosom of Darius. Like most monarchs, he viewed as more heinous
offenders the foreign abetters of rebellion, than the rebels
themselves. Religion, no doubt, conspired to augment his indignation.
In the conflagration of Sardis the temple of the great Persian deity
had perished, and the inexpiated sacrilege made a duty of revenge. So
keenly, indeed, did Darius resent the share that the remote Athenians
had taken in the destruction of his Lydian capital, that, on receiving
the intelligence, he is said to have called for his bow, and, shooting
an arrow in the air, to have prayed for vengeance against the
offenders; and three times every day, as he sat at table, his
attendants were commanded to repeat to him, "Sir, remember the

XIII. But the design of Mardonius was not only directed against the
Athenians and the state of Eretria, it extended also to the rest of
Greece: preparations so vast were not meant to be wasted upon foes
apparently insignificant, but rather to consolidate the Persian
conquests on the Asiatic coasts, and to impress on the neighbouring
continent of Europe adequate conceptions of the power of the great
king. By sea, Mardonius subdued the islanders of Thasus, wealthy in
its gold-mines; by land he added to the Persian dependances in Thrace
and Macedonia. But losses, both by storm and battle, drove him back
to Asia, and delayed for a season the deliberate and organized
invasion of Greece.

In the following year (B. C. 491), while the tributary cities
Mardonius had subdued were employed in constructing vessels of war and
transports for cavalry, ambassadors were despatched by Darius to the
various states of Greece, demanding the homage of earth and water--a
preliminary calculated to ascertain who would resist, who submit to,
his power--and certain to afford a pretext, in the one case for
empire, in the other for invasion. Many of the cities of the
continent, and all the islands visited by the ambassadors, had the
timidity to comply with the terms proposed. Sparta and Athens,
hitherto at variance, united at once in a haughty and indignant
refusal. To so great a height was the popular rage in either state
aroused by the very demand, that the Spartans threw the ambassadors
into their wells, and the Athenians, into their pit of punishment,
bidding them thence get their earth and water; a singular coincidence
of excess in the two states--to be justified by no pretence--to be
extenuated only by the reflection, that liberty ever becomes a species
of noble madness when menaced by foreign danger. [269]

XIV. With the rest of the islanders, the people of Aegina, less
resolute than their near neighbours and ancient foes, the Athenians,
acceded to the proposal of tribute. This, more than the pusillanimity
of the other states, alarmed and inflamed the Athenians; they
suspected that the aeginetans had formed some hostile alliance against
them with the Persians, and hastened to accuse them to Sparta of
betraying the liberties of Greece. Nor was there slight ground for
the suspicions of the Athenians against Aegina. The people of that
island had hereditary and bitter feuds with the Athenians, dating
almost from their independence of their parent state of Epidaurus;
mercantile jealousies were added to ancestral enmity, and the wares of
Athens were forbidden all application to sacred uses in Aegina. We
have seen the recent occasion on which Attica was invaded by these
hostile neighbours, then allied with Thebes: and at that period the
naval force of gins was such as to exceed the unconscious and untried
resources of the Athenians. The latter had thus cause at once to hate
and to dread a rival placed by nature in so immediate a vicinity to
themselves, that the submission of Aegina to the Persian seemed in
itself sufficient for the destruction of Athens.

XV. The Athenian ambassadors met with the most favourable reception
at Sparta. The sense of their common danger, and sympathy in their
mutual courage, united at once these rival states; even the rash and
hitherto unrelenting Cleomenes eagerly sought a reconciliation with
his former foe. That prince went in person to Aegina, determined to
ascertain the authors of the suspected treachery;--with that
characteristic violence which he never provided the means to support,
and which so invariably stamps this unable and headstrong Spartan, as
one who would have been a fool, if he had not been a madman--Cleomenes
endeavoured to seize the persons of the accused. He was stoutly
resisted, and disgracefully baffled, in this impotent rashness; and
his fellow-king, Demaratus, whom we remember to have suddenly deserted
Cleomenes at Eleusis, secretly connived with the Aeginetans in their
opposition to his colleague, and furnished them with an excuse, by
insinuating that Cleomenes had been corrupted by the Athenians. But
Demaratus was little aware of the dark and deadly passions which
Cleomenes combined with his constitutional insanity. Revenge made a
great component of his character, and the Grecian history records few
instances of a nature more vehemently vindictive.

There had been various rumours at Sparta respecting the legitimacy of
Demaratus. Cleomenes entered into a secret intrigue with a kinsman of
his colleague, named Leotychides, who cherished an equal hatred
against Demaratus [270]; the conditions between them were, that
Cleomenes should assist in raising Leotychides to the throne of
Demaratus, and Leotychides should assist Cleomenes in his vengeance
against Aegina. No sooner was this conspiracy agreed upon than
Leotychides propagated everywhere the report that the birth of
Demaratus was spurious. The Spartans attached the greatest value to
legitimacy,--they sent to consult the Pythian--and Cleomenes, through
the aid of Colon, a powerful citizen of Delphi, bribed the oracle to
assert the illegitimacy of his foe. Demaratus was deposed. Sinking
at once into the rank of a private citizen, he was elected to some
inferior office. His enemy, Leotychides, now upon his throne, sent
him, by way of insult, a message to demand which he preferred--his
past or his present dignity. Demaratus was stung, and answered, that
the question might fix the date of much weal or much wo to Sparta;
saying this, he veiled his head--sought his home--sacrificed to
Jupiter--and solemnly adjured his mother to enlighten him as to his
legitimacy. The parental answer was far from unequivocal, and the
matron appeared desirous of imputing the distinction of his birth to
the shade of an ancient Spartan hero, Astrobachus, rather than to the
earthly embrace of her husband. Demaratus heard, and formed his
decision: he escaped from Sparta, baffled his pursuers, and fled into
Asia, where he was honourably received and largely endowed by the
beneficent Darius.

XVI. Leotychides, elected to the regal dignity, accompanied Cleomenes
to Aegina: the people of that isle yielded to the authority they could
not effectually resist; and ten of their most affluent citizens were
surrendered as hostages to Athens. But, in the meanwhile, the
collusion of Cleomenes with the oracle was discovered--the priestess
was solemnly deposed--and Cleomenes dreaded the just indignation of
his countrymen. He fled to Thessaly, and thence passing among the
Arcadians, he endeavoured to bind that people by the darkest oaths to
take arms against his native city--so far could hatred stimulate a man
consistent only in his ruling passion of revenge. But the mighty
power of Persia now lowering over Lacedaemon, the Spartan citizens
resolved to sacrifice even justice to discretion: it was not a time to
distract their forces by new foes, and they invited Cleomenes back to
Sparta, with the offer of his former station. He returned, but his
violent career, happily for all, was now closed; his constitutional
madness, no longer confined to doubtful extravagance, burst forth into
incontrollable excess. He was put under confinement, and obtaining a
sword from a Helot, who feared to disobey his commands, he
deliberately destroyed himself--not by one wound, but slowly gashing
the flesh from his limbs until he gradually ascended to the nobler and
more mortal parts. This ferocious suicide excited universal horror,
and it was generally deemed the divine penalty of his numerous and
sacrilegious crimes: the only dispute among the Greeks was, to which
of his black offences the wrath of Heaven was the most justly due.

XVII. No sooner did the news of his suicide reach the Aeginetans than
those proud and wealthy islanders sought, by an embassy to Sparta, to
regain their hostages yet detained at Athens. With the death of
Cleomenes, the anger of Sparta against Aegina suddenly ceased--or,
rather, we must suppose that a new party, in fellowship with the
Aeginetan oligarchy, came into power. The Spartans blamed Leotychides
for his co-operation with Cleomenes; they even offered to give him up
to the Aeginetans--and it was finally agreed that he should accompany
the ambassadors of Aegina to Athens, and insist on the surrender of
the hostages. But the Athenians had now arrived at that spirit of
independence, when nor the deadly blows of Persia, nor the iron sword
of Sparta, nor the treacherous hostilities of their nearest neighbour,
could quell their courage or subdue their pride. They disregarded the
presence and the orations of Leotychides, and peremptorily refused
to surrender their hostages. Hostilities between Aegina and Athens
were immediately renewed. The Aeginetans captured (B. C. 494) the
sacred vessel then stationed at Sunium, in which several of the most
eminent Athenians were embarked for the festival of Apollo; nor could
the sanctity of the voyage preserve the captives from the ignominy of
irons. The Athenians resolved upon revenge, and a civil dissension in
Aegina placed it in their power. An Aeginetan traitor, named
Nicodromus, offered them his assistance, and, aided by the popular
party opposed to the oligarchical government, he seized the citadel.
With twenty ships from Corinth, and fifty of their own, the Athenians
invaded Aegina; but, having been delayed in making the adequate
preparations, they arrived a day later than had been stipulated.
Nicodromus fled; the oligarchy restored, took signal and barbarous
vengeance upon such of their insurgent countrymen as fell into their
hands. Meanwhile, the Athenian fleet obtained a victory at sea, and
the war still continued.

XVIII. While, seemingly unconscious of greater dangers, Athens thus
practised her rising energies against the little island of Aegina,
thrice every day the servants of the Persian king continued to
exclaim, "Sir, remember the Athenians!" [272] The traitor, Hippias,
constantly about the person of the courteous monarch, never failed to
stimulate still further his vengeance by appealing to his ambition.
At length, Darius resolved no longer to delay the accomplishment of
his designs. He recalled Mardonius, whose energy, indeed, had not
been proportioned to his powers, and appointed two other generals--
Datis, a native of the warlike Media, and Artaphernes, his own nephew,
son to the former satrap of that name. These were expressly ordered
to march at once against Eretria and Athens. And Hippias, now broken
in frame, advanced in age [273], and after an exile of twenty years,
accompanied the Persian army--sanguine of success, and grasping, at
the verge of life the shadow of his former sceptre.


The Persian Generals enter Europe.--Invasion of Naxos, Carystus,
Eretria.--The Athenians Demand the Aid of Sparta.--The Result of their
Mission and the Adventure of their Messenger.--The Persians advance to
Marathon.--The Plain Described.--Division of Opinion in the Athenian
Camp.--The Advice of Miltiades prevails.--The Dream of Hippias.--The
Battle of Marathon.

I. On the Cilician coast the Persian armament encamped--thence, in a
fleet of six hundred triremes, it sailed to Samos (B. C. 490)--passed
through the midst of the clustering Cyclades, and along that part of
the Aegaean Sea called "the Icarian," from the legendary fate of the
son of Daedalus--invaded Naxos--burnt her town and temples, and
sparing the sacred Delos, in which the Median Datis reverenced the
traditionary birthplace of two deities analogous to those most
honoured in the Persian creed [274]--awed into subjection the various
isles, until it arrived at Euboea, divided but by a strait from
Attica, and containing the city of the Eretrians. The fleet first
assailed Carystus, whose generous citizens refused both to aid against
their neighbours, and to give hostages for their conduct. Closely
besieged, and their lands wasted, they were compelled, however, to
surrender to the Persians. Thence the victorious armament passed to
Eretria. The Athenians had sent to the relief of that city the four
thousand colonists whom they had established in the island--but fear,
jealousy, division, were within the walls. Ruin seemed certain, and a
chief of the Eretrians urged the colonists to quit a city which they
were unable to save. They complied with the advice, and reached
Attica in safety. Eretria, however, withstood a siege of six days; on
the seventh the city was betrayed to the barbarians by two of that
fatal oligarchical party, who in every Grecian city seem to have
considered no enemy so detestable as the majority of their own
citizens; the place was pillaged--the temples burnt--the inhabitants
enslaved. Here the Persians rested for a few days ere they embarked
for Attica.

II. Unsupported and alone, the Athenians were not dismayed. A swift-
footed messenger was despatched to Sparta, to implore its prompt
assistance. On the day after his departure from Athens, he reached
his destination, went straight to the assembled magistrates, and thus
addressed them:

"Men of Lacedaemon, the Athenians supplicate your aid; suffer not the
most ancient of the Grecian cities to be enslaved by the barbarian.
Already Eretria is subjected to their yoke, and all Greece is
diminished by the loss of that illustrious city."

The resource the Athenians had so much right to expect failed them.
The Spartans, indeed, resolved to assist Athens, but not until
assistance would have come too late. They declared that their
religion forbade them to commence a march till the moon was at her
full, and this was only the ninth day of the month [275]. With this
unsatisfying reply, the messenger returned to Athens. But, employed
in this arduous enterprise--his imagination inflamed by the greatness
of the danger--and its workings yet more kindled by the loneliness of
his adventure and the mountain stillness of the places through which
he passed, the Athenian messenger related, on his return, a vision
less probably the creation of his invention than of his excited fancy.
Passing over the Mount Parthenius, amid whose wild recesses gloomed
the antique grove dedicated to Telephus, the son of Hercules [276],
the Athenian heard a voice call to him aloud, and started to behold
that mystic god to whom, above the rest of earth, were dedicated the
hills and woods of Arcady--the Pelasgic Pan. The god bade him "ask at
Athens why the Athenians forgot his worship--he who loved them well--
and might yet assist them at their need."

Such was the tale of the messenger. The lively credulities of the
people believed its truth, and in calmer times dedicated a temple to
the deity, venerated him with annual sacrifices, and the race of

III. While the Athenians listened to the dreams of this poetical
superstition, the mighty thousands of the Mede and Persian landed on
the Attic coast, and, conducted by Hippias among their leaders,
marched to the plain of Marathon, which the traveller still beholds
stretching wide and level, amid hills and marshes, at the distance of
only ten miles from the gates of Athens. Along the shore the plain
extends to the length of six miles--inland it exceeds two. He who
surveys it now looks over a dreary waste, whose meager and arid
herbage is relieved but by the scanty foliage of unfrequent shrubs or
pear-trees, and a few dwarf pines drooping towards the sea. Here and
there may be seen the grazing buffalo, or the peasant bending at his
plough:--a distant roof, a ruined chapel, are not sufficient evidences
of the living to interpose between the imagination of the spectator
and the dead. Such is the present Marathon--we are summoned back to
the past.

IV. It will be remembered that the Athenians were divided into ten
tribes at the instigation of Clisthenes. Each of these tribes
nominated a general; there were therefore ten leaders to the Athenian
army. Among them was Miltiades, who had succeeded in ingratiating
himself with the Athenian people, and obtained from their suffrages a
command. [277]

Aided by a thousand men from Plataea, then on terms of intimate
friendship with the Athenians, the little army marched from the city,
and advanced to the entrance of the plain of Marathon. Here they
arrayed themselves in martial order, near the temple of Hercules, to
the east of the hills that guard the upper part of the valley. Thus
encamped, and in sight of the gigantic power of the enemy, darkening
the long expanse that skirts the sea, divisions broke out among the
leaders;--some contended that a battle was by no means to be risked
with such inferior forces--others, on the contrary, were for giving
immediate battle. Of this latter advice was Miltiades--he was
supported by a man already of high repute, though now first presented
to our notice, and afterward destined to act a great and splendid part
in the drama of his times. Aristides was one of the generals of the
army [278], and strenuously co-operated with Miltiades in the policy
of immediate battle.

Despite, however, the military renown of the one, and the civil
eminence of the other, the opposite and more tame opinion seemed
likely to prevail, when Miltiades suddenly thus addressed the
Polemarch Callimachus. That magistrate, the third of the nine
archons, was held by virtue of his office equal in dignity to the
military leaders, and to him was confided the privilege of a casting

"On you, Callimachus," said the chief of the Chersonese, "on you it
rests, whether Athens shall be enslaved, or whether from age to age
your country, freed by your voice, shall retain in yours a name dearer
to her even than those of Aristogiton and Harmodius [279]. Never
since the foundation of Athens was she placed in so imminent a peril.
If she succumb to the Mede, she is rendered again to the tyranny of
Hippias--but if she conquer, she may rise to the first eminence among
the states of Greece. How this may be accomplished, and how upon your
decision rests the event, I will at once explain. The sentiments of
our leaders are divided--these are for instant engagement, those for
procrastination. Depend upon it, if we delay, some sedition, some
tumult will break out among the Athenians, and may draw a part of them
to favour the Medes; but if we engage at once, and before a single
dissension takes from us a single man, we may, if the gods give us
equal fortune, obtain the victory. Consider the alternative--our
decision depends on you."

V. The arguments of Miltiades convinced Callimachus, who knew well
the many divisions of the city, the strength which Hippias and the
Pisistratidae still probably possessed within its walls, and who could
not but allow that a superior force becomes ever more fearful the more
deliberately it is regarded. He interposed his authority. It was
decided to give battle. Each general commanded in turn his single
day. When it came to the turn of Aristides, he gave up his right to
Miltiades, showing his colleagues that it was no disgrace to submit to
the profound experience of another. The example once set was
universally followed, and Miltiades was thus left in absolute and
undivided command. But that able and keen-sighted chief, fearing
perhaps that if he took from another his day of command, jealousy
might damp the ardour of the general thus deprived, and, as it were,
degraded, waited till his own appointed day before he commenced the

VI. On the night before Hippias conducted the barbarians to the
plains of Marathon, he is said to have dreamed a dream. He thought he
was with his mother! In the fondness of human hopes he interpreted
the vision favourably, and flattered himself that he should regain his
authority, and die in his own house of old age. The morning now
arrived (B. C. 490) that was to attest the veracity of his

VII. To the left of the Athenians was a low chain of hills, clothed
with trees (and which furnished them timber to break the charge of the
Persian horse)--to their right a torrent;--their front was long, for,
to render it more imposing in extent, and to prevent being outflanked
by the Persian numbers, the centre ranks were left weak and shallow,
but on either wing the troops were drawn up more solidly and strong.
Callimachus, the polemarch, commanded the right wing--the Plataeans
formed the left. They had few, if any, horsemen or archers. The
details which we possess of their arms and military array, if not in
this, in other engagements of the same period, will complete the
picture. We may behold them clad in bright armour, well proof and
tempered, which covered breast and back--the greaves, so often
mentioned by Homer, were still retained--their helmets were wrought
and crested, the cones mostly painted in glowing colours, and the
plumage of feathers or horse-hair rich and waving, in proportion to
the rank of the wearer. Broad, sturdy, and richly ornamented were
their bucklers--the pride and darling of their arms, the loss of which
was the loss of honour; their spears were ponderous, thick, and long--
a chief mark of contradistinction from the slight shaft of Persia--
and, with their short broadsword, constituted their main weapons of
offence. No Greek army marched to battle without vows, and sacrifice,
and prayer--and now, in the stillness of the pause, the soothsayers
examined the entrails of the victims--they were propitious, and
Callimachus solemnly vowed to Diana a victim for the slaughter of
every foe. Loud broke the trumpets [280]--the standards wrought with
the sacred bird of Athens were raised on high [281];--it was the
signal of battle--and the Athenians rushed with an impetuous vehemence
upon the Persian power. "The first Greeks of whom I have heard," says
the simple Halicarnassean, "who ever ran to attack a foe--the first,
too, who ever beheld without dismay the garb and armour of the Medes;
for hitherto in Greece the very name of Mede had excited terror."

VIII. When the Persian army, with its numerous horse, animal as well
as man protected by plates of mail [283]--its expert bowmen--its lines
and deep files of turbaned soldiers, gorgeous with many a blazing
standard,--headed by leaders well hardened, despite their gay garbs
and adorned breastplates, in many a more even field;--when, I say,
this force beheld the Athenians rushing towards them, they considered
them, thus few, and destitute alike of cavalry and archers [284], as
madmen hurrying to destruction. But it was evidently not without
deliberate calculation that Miltiades had so commenced the attack.
The warlike experience of his guerilla life had taught him to know the
foe against whom he fought. To volunteer the assault was to forestall
and cripple the charge of the Persian horse--besides, the long lances,
the heavy arms, the hand-to-hand valour of the Greeks, must have been
no light encounter to the more weakly mailed and less formidably-armed
infantry of the East. Accustomed themselves to give the charge, it
was a novelty and a disadvantage to receive it. Long, fierce, and
stubborn was the battle. The centre wing of the barbarians, composed
of the Sacians and the pure Persian race, at length pressed hard upon
the shallow centre of the Greeks, drove them back into the country,
and, eager with pursuit, left their own wings to the charge of
Callimachus on the one side and the Plataean forces on the other. The
brave polemarch, after the most signal feats of valour, fell fighting
in the field; but his troops, undismayed, smote on with spear and
sword. The barbarians retreated backward to the sea, where swamps and
marshes encumbered their movements, and here (though the Athenians did
not pursue them far) the greater portion were slain, hemmed in by the
morasses, and probably ridden down by their own disordered cavalry.
Meanwhile, the two tribes that had formed the centre, one of which was
commanded by Aristides [285], retrieved themselves with a mighty
effort, and the two wings, having routed their antagonists, now
inclining towards each other, intercepted the barbarian centre, which,
thus attacked, front and rear (large trees felled and scattered over
the plain obstructing the movements of their cavalry), was defeated
with prodigious slaughter. Evening came on [286]:--confused and
disorderly, the Persians now only thought of flight: the whole army
retired to their ships, hard chased by the Grecian victors, who, amid
the carnage, fired the fleet. Cynaegirus, brother to Aeschylus, the
tragic poet (himself highly distinguished for his feats that day),
seized one of the vessels by the poop: his hand was severed by an axe;
he died gloriously of his wounds. But to none did the fortunes of
that field open a more illustrious career than to a youth of the tribe
Leontis, in whom, though probably then but a simple soldier in the
ranks, was first made manifest the nature and the genius destined to
command. The name of that youth was Themistocles [287]. Seven
vessels were captured--six thousand four hundred of the barbarians
fell in the field--the Athenians and their brave ally lost only one
hundred and ninety-two; but among them perished many of their bravest
nobles. It was a superstition not uncharacteristic of that
imaginative people, and evincing how greatly their ardour was aroused,
that many of them (according to Plutarch) fancied they beheld the
gigantic shade of their ancestral Theseus, completely armed, and
bearing down before them upon the foe.

So perished the hopes of the unfortunate Hippias; obscure and
inglorious in his last hour, the exiled prince fell confounded amid
the general slaughter. [288]

IX. Despite the capture of some vessels, and the conflagration of
others, the Persians still retained a considerable fleet, and,
succeeding in boarding their Eretrian plunder (which they had left on
the Euboean Isle), they passed thence the promontory of Sunium, with
the intention of circumventing the Athenians, and arriving at Athens
before them--a design which it was supposed they were induced to form
by the treachery of some one suspected, without sufficient proof, to
belong to the house of the Alcmaeonids, who held up a shield as a
signal to the Persians while they were under sail [289]. But the
Athenians were under a prompt and vigilant commander, and while the
barbarian fleet doubled the Cape of Sunium, they reached their city,
and effectually prevented the designs of the foe. Aristides, with the
tribe under his command, was left on the field to guard the prisoners
and the booty, and his scrupulous honesty was evinced by his jealous
care over the scattered and uncounted treasure [290]. The painter of
the nobler schools might find perhaps few subjects worthier of his art
than Aristides watching at night amid the torches of his men over the
plains of Marathon, in sight of the blue Aegean, no longer crowded
with the barbarian masts;--and the white columns of the temple of
Hercules, beside which the Athenians had pitched their camp.

The Persian fleet anchored off Phalerum, the Athenian harbour, and
remaining there, menacing but inactive, a short time, sailed back to

X. The moon had passed her full, when two thousand Spartans arrived
at Athens: the battle was over and the victory won; but so great was
their desire to see the bodies of the formidable Medes, that they
proceeded to Marathon, and, returning to Athens, swelled the triumph
of her citizens by their applause and congratulations.

XI. The marble which the Persians had brought with them, in order to
erect as a trophy of the victory they anticipated, was, at a
subsequent period, wrought by Phidias into a statue of Nemesis. A
picture of the battle, representing Miltiades in the foremost place,
and solemnly preserved in public, was deemed no inadequate reward to
that great captain; and yet, conspicuous above the level plain of
Marathon, rises a long barrow, fifteen feet in height, the supposed
sepulchre of the Athenian heroes. Still does a romantic legend, not
unfamiliar with our traditions of the north, give a supernatural
terror to the spot. Nightly along the plain are yet heard by
superstition the neighings of chargers and the rushing shadows of
spectral war [291]. And still, throughout the civilized world
(civilized how much by the arts and lore of Athens!) men of every
clime, of every political persuasion, feel as Greeks at the name of
Marathon. Later fields have presented the spectacle of an equal
valour, and almost the same disparities of slaughter; but never, in
the annals of earth, were united so closely in our applause,
admiration for the heroism of the victors, and sympathy for the
holiness of their cause. It was the first great victory of OPINION!
and its fruits were reaped, not by Athens only, but by all Greece
then, as by all time thereafter, in a mighty and imperishable
harvest,--the invisible not less than the actual force of despotism
was broken. Nor was it only that the dread which had hung upon the
Median name was dispelled--nor that free states were taught their pre-
eminence over the unwieldy empires which the Persian conquerors had
destroyed,--a greater lesson was taught to Greece, when she discovered
that the monarch of Asia could not force upon a petty state the
fashion of its government, or the selection of its rulers. The defeat
of Hippias was of no less value than that of Darius; and the same blow
which struck down the foreign invader smote also the hopes of domestic

One successful battle for liberty quickens and exalts that proud and
emulous spirit from which are called forth the civilization and the
arts that liberty should produce, more rapidly than centuries of
repose. To Athens the victory of Marathon was a second Solon.


[1] In their passage through the press I have, however, had many
opportunities to consult and refer to Mr. Thirlwall's able and careful

[2] The passage in Aristotle (Meteorol., l. I, c. 14), in which,
speaking of the ancient Hellas (the country about Dodona and the river
Achelous), the author says it was inhabited by a people (along with
the Helli, or Selli) then called Graeci, now Hellenes (tote men
Graikoi, nun de Hellaenes) is well known. The Greek chronicle on the
Arundel marbles asserts, that the Greeks were called Graeci before
they were called Hellenes; in fact, Graeci was most probably once a
name for the Pelasgi, or for a powerful, perhaps predominant, tribe of
the Pelasgi widely extended along the western coast--by them the name
was borne into Italy, and (used indiscriminately with that of Pelasgi)
gave the Latin appellation to the Hellenic or Grecian people.

[3] Modern travellers, in their eloquent lamentations over the now
niggard waters of these immortal streams, appear to forget that Strabo
expressly informs us that the Cephisus flowed in the manner of a
torrent, and failed altogether in the summer. "Much the same," he
adds, "was the Ilissus." A deficiency of water was always a principal
grievance in Attica, as we may learn from the laws of Solon relative
to wells.

[4] Platon. Timaeus. Clinton's Fasti Hellenici, vol. i., p. 5.

[5] According to some they were from India, to others from Egypt, to
others again from Phoenicia. They have been systematized into
Bactrians, and Scythians, and Philistines--into Goths, and into Celts;
and tracked by investigations as ingenious as they are futile, beyond
the banks of the Danube to their settlements in the Peloponnese. No
erudition and no speculation can, however, succeed in proving their
existence in any part of the world prior to their appearance in

[6] Sophoc. Ajax, 1251.

[7] All those words (in the Latin) which make the foundation of a
language, expressive of the wants or simple relations of life, are
almost literally Greek--such as pater, frater, aratrum, bos, ager,
etc. For the derivation of the Latin from the Aeolic dialect of
Greece, see "Scheid's Prolegomena to Lennep's Etymologicon Linguae

[8] The Leleges, Dryopes, and most of the other hordes prevalent in
Greece, with the Pelasgi, I consider, with Mr. Clinton, but as tribes
belonging to the great Pelasgic family. One tribe would evidently
become more civilized than the rest, in proportion to the social state
of the lands through which it migrated--its reception of strangers
from the more advanced East--or according as the circumstances of the
soil in which it fixed its abode stimulated it to industry, or forced
it to invention. The tradition relative to Pelasgus, that while it
asserts him to have been the first that dwelt in Arcadia, declares
also that he first taught men to build huts, wear garments of skins,
and exchange the yet less nutritious food of herbs and roots for the
sweet and palatable acorns of the "fagus," justly puzzled Pausanias.
Such traditions, if they prove any thing, which I more than doubt,
tend to prove that the tribe personified by the word "Pelasgus,"
migrated into that very Arcadia alleged to have been their aboriginal
home, and taught their own rude arts to the yet less cultivated
population they found there.

[9] See Isaiah xxiii.

[10] The received account of the agricultural skill of the Pelasgi is
tolerably well supported. Dionysius tells us that the Aboriginals
having assigned to those Pelasgi, whom the oracle sent from Dodona
into Italy, the marshy and unprofitable land called Velia, they soon
drained the fen:--their love of husbandry contributed, no doubt, to
form the peculiar character of their civilization and religion.

[11] Solinus and Pliny state that the Pelasgi first brought letters
into Italy. Long the leading race of Italy, their power declined,
according to Dionysius, two generations before the Trojan war.

[12] Paus. Arcad., c. xxxviii. In a previous chapter (II.) that
accomplished antiquary observes, that it appeared to him that Cecrops
and Lycaon (son of Pelasgus and founder of Lycosura) were
contemporaries. By the strong and exaggerating expression of
Pausanias quoted in the text, we must suppose, not that he considered
Lycosura the first town of the earth, but the first walled and
fortified city. The sons of Lycaon were great builders of cities, and
in their time rapid strides in civilization appear by tradition to
have been made in the Peloponnesus. The Pelasgic architecture is
often confounded with the Cyclopean. The Pelasgic masonry is
polygonal, each stone fitting into the other without cement; that
called the Cyclopean, and described by Pausanias, is utterly
different, being composed by immense blocks of stone, with small
pebbles inserted in the interstices. (See Gell's Topography of Rome
and its Vicinity.) By some antiquaries, who have not made the mistake
of confounding these distinct orders of architecture, the Cyclopean
has been deemed more ancient than the Pelasgic,--but this also is an
error. Lycosura was walled by the Pelasgians between four and five
centuries prior to the introduction of the Cyclopean masonry--in the
building of the city of Tiryns. Sir William Gell maintains the
possibility of tracing the walls of Lycosura near the place now called
Surias To Kastro.

[13] The expulsion of the Hyksos, which was not accomplished by one
sudden, but by repeated revolutions, caused many migrations; among
others, according to the Egyptians, that of Danaus.

[14] The Egyptian monarchs, in a later age, employed the Phoenicians
in long and adventurous maritime undertakings. At a comparatively
recent date, Neco, king of Egypt, despatched certain Phoenicians on no
less an enterprise than that of the circumnavigation of Africa.
[Herod., iv., 12. Rennell., Geog. of Herod.] That monarch was indeed
fitted for great designs. The Mediterranean and the Red Sea already
received his fleets, and he had attempted to unite them by a canal
which would have rendered Africa an island. [Herod., ii., 158, 159.
Heeren., Phoenicians, c. iii. See also Diodorus.]

[15] The general habits of a people can in no age preclude exceptions
in individuals. Indian rajahs do not usually travel, but we had an
Indian rajah for some years in the Regent's Park; the Chinese are not
in the habit of visiting England, but a short time ago some Chinese
were in London. Grant that Phoenicians had intercourse with Egypt and
with Greece, and nothing can be less improbable than that a Phoenician
vessel may have contained some Egyptian adventurers. They might
certainly be men of low rank and desperate fortunes--they might be
fugitives from the law--but they might not the less have seemed
princes and sages to a horde of Pelasgic savages.

[16] The authorities in favour of the Egyptian origin of Cecrops
are.--Diod., lib. i.; Theopomp.; Schol. Aristoph.; Plot.; Suidas.
Plato speaks of the ancient connexion between Sais and Athens. Solon
finds the names of Erechtheus and Cecrops in Egypt, according to the
same authority, I grant a doubtful one (Plat. Critias.) The best
positive authority of which I am aware in favour of the contrary
supposition that Cecrops was indigenous, is Apollodorus.

[17] To enter into all the arguments that have been urged on either
side relative to Cecrops would occupy about two hundred pages of this
work, and still leave the question in dispute. Perhaps two hundred
pages might be devoted to subjects more generally instructive.

[18] So, in the Peruvian traditions, the apparition of two persons of
majestic form and graceful garments, appearing alone and unarmed on
the margin of the Lake Titiaca, sufficed to reclaim a naked and
wretched horde from their savage life, to inculcate the elements of
the social union, and to collect a people in establishing a throne.

[19] "Like the Greeks," says Herodotus (book ii., c. 112), "the
Egyptians confine themselves to one wife." Latterly, this among the
Greeks, though a common, was not an invariable, restraint; but more on
this hereafter.

[20] Hobhouse's Travels, Letter 23.

[21] It is by no means probable that this city, despite its fortress,
was walled like Lycosura.

[22] At least Strabo assigns Boeotia to the government of Cecrops.
But I confess, that so far from his incorporating Boeotia with Attica,
I think that traditions relative to his immediate successors appear to
indicate that Attica itself continued to retain independent tribes--
soon ripening, if not already advanced, to independent states.

[23] Herod., ii., c. i.

[24] Ibid., ii., c. liii.

[25] That all the Pelasgi--scattered throughout Greece, divided among
themselves--frequently at war with each other, and certainly in no
habits of peaceful communication--each tribe of different modes of
life, and different degrees of civilization, should have concurred in
giving no names to their gods, and then have equally concurred in
receiving names from Egypt, is an assertion so preposterous, that it
carries with it its own contradiction. Many of the mistakes relative
to the Pelasgi appear to have arisen from supposing the common name
implied a common and united tribe, and not a vast and dispersed
people, subdivided into innumerable families, and diversified by
innumerable influences.

[26] The connexion of Ceres with Isis was a subsequent innovation.

[27] Orcos was the personification of an oath, or the sanctity of an

[28] Naith in the Doric dialect.

[29] If Onca, or Onga, was the name of the Phoenician goddess!--In
the "Seven against Thebes," the chorus invoke Minerva under the name
of Onca--and there can be no doubt that the Grecian Minerva is
sometimes called Onca; but it is not clear to me that the Phoenicians
had a deity of that name--nor can I agree with those who insist upon
reading Onca for Siga in Pausanias (lib. ix., chap. 12), where he says
Siga was the name of the Phoenician Minerva. The Phoenicians
evidently had a deity correspondent with the Greek Minerva; but that
it was named Onca, or Onga, is by no means satisfactorily proved; and
the Scholiast, on Pindar, derives the epithet as applies to Minerva
from a Boeotian village.

[30] De Mundo, c. 7.

[31] The Egyptians supposed three principles: 1st. One benevolent and
universal Spirit. 2d. Matter coeval with eternity. 3d. Nature
opposing the good of the universal Spirit. We find these principles
in a variety of shapes typified through their deities. Besides their
types of nature, as the Egyptians adopted hero gods, typical fables
were invented to conceal their humanity, to excuse their errors, or to
dignify their achievements.

[32] See Heeren's Political History of Greece, in which this point is
luminously argued.

[33] Besides, it is not the character of emigrants from a people
accustomed to castes, to propagate those castes superior to then own,
of which they have exported no representatives. Suppose none of that
privileged and noble order, called the priests, to have accompanied
the Egyptian migrators, those migrators would never have dreamed of
instituting that order in their new settlement any more than a colony
of the warrior caste in India would establish out of their own order a
spurious and fictitious caste of Bramins.

[34] When, in a later age, Karmath, the impostor of the East, sough
to undermine Mahometanism, his most successful policy was in declaring
its commands to be allegories.

[35] Herodotus (b. ii, c. 53) observes, that it is to Hesiod and
Homer the Greeks owe their theogony; that they gave the gods their
titles, fixed their ranks, and described their shapes. And although
this cannot be believed literally, in some respects it may
metaphorically. Doubtless the poets took their descriptions from
popular traditions; but they made those traditions immortal. Jupiter
could never become symbolical to a people who had once pictured to
themselves the nod and curls of the Jupiter of Homer.

[36] Cicero de Natura Deorum, b. ii.--Most of the philosophical
interpretations of the Greek mythology were the offspring of the
Alexandrine schools. It is to the honour of Aristarchus that he
combated a theory that very much resembles the philosophy that would
convert the youthful readers of Mother Bunch into the inventors of
allegorical morality.

[37] But the worship can be traced to a much earlier date than that
the most plausibly ascribed to the Persian Zoroaster.

[38] So Epimenides of Crete is said to have spent forty-five years in
a cavern, and Minos descends into the sacred cave of Jupiter to
receive from him the elements of law. The awe attached to woods and
caverns, it may be observed, is to be found in the Northern as well as
Eastern superstitions. And there is scarcely a nation on the earth in
which we do not find the ancient superstition has especially attached
itself to the cavern and the forest, peopling them with peculiar
demons. Darkness, silence, and solitude are priests that eternally
speak to the senses; and few of the most skeptical of us have been
lost in thick woods, or entered lonely caverns, without acknowledging
their influence upon the imagination: "Ipsa silentia," says
beautifully the elder Pliny, "ipsa silentia adoramus." The effect of
streams and fountains upon the mind seems more unusual and surprising.
Yet, to a people unacquainted with physics, waters imbued with mineral
properties, or exhaling mephitic vapours, may well appear possessed of
a something preternatural. Accordingly, at this day, among many
savage tribes we find that such springs are regarded with veneration
and awe. The people of Fiji, in the South Seas, have a well which
they imagine the passage to the next world, they even believe that you
may see in its waters the spectral images of things rolling on to
eternity. Fountains no less than groves, were objects of veneration
with our Saxon ancestors.--See Meginhard, Wilkins, etc.

[39] 2 Kings xvi., 4.

[40] Of the three graces, Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, the
Spartans originally worshipped but one--(Aglaia, splendour) under the
name of Phaenna, brightness: they rejected the other two, whose names
signify Joy and Pleasure, and adopted a substitute in one whose name
was Sound (Cletha,)--a very common substitute nowadays!

[41] The Persian creed, derived from Zoroaster, resembled the most to
that of Christianity. It inculcated the resurrection of the dead, the
universal triumph of Ormuzd, the Principle of Light--the destruction
of the reign of Ahrimanes, the Evil Principle.

[42] Wherever Egyptian, or indeed Grecian colonies migrated, nothing
was more natural than that, where they found a coincidence of scene,
they should establish a coincidence of name. In Epirus were also the
Acheron and Cocytus; and Campania contains the whole topography of the
Virgilian Hades.

[43] See sect. xxi., p. 77.

[44] Fire was everywhere in the East a sacred symbol--though it
cannot be implicitly believed that the Vulcan or Hephaistus of the
Greeks has his prototype or original in the Egyptian Phta or Phtas.
The Persian philosophy made fire a symbol of the Divine intelligence--
the Persian credulity, like the Grecian, converted the symbol into the
god (Max. Tyr., Dissert. 38; Herod., lib. 3, c. 16). The Jews
themselves connected the element with their true Deity. It is in fire
that Jehovah reveals himself. A sacred flame was burnt unceasingly in
the temples of Israel, and grave the punishment attached to the
neglect which suffered its extinction.--(Maimonides, Tract. vi.)

[45] The Anaglyph expressed the secret writings of the Egyptians,
known only to the priests. The hieroglyph was known generally to the

[46] In Gaul, Cesar finds some tribes more civilized than the rest,
cultivating the science of sacrifice, and possessed of the dark
philosophy of superstitious mysteries; but in certain other and more
uncivilized tribes only the elements and the heavenly luminaries (quos
cernunt et quorum opibus aperte juvantur) were worshipped, and the
lore of sacrifice was unstudied. With the Pelasgi as with the Gauls,
I believe that such distinctions might have been found simultaneously
in different tribes.

[47] The arrival of Ceres in Attica is referred to the time of
Pandion by Apollodorus.

[48] When Lobeck desires to fix the date of this religious union at
so recent an epoch as the time of Solon, in consequence of a solitary
passage in Herodotus, in which Solon, conversing with Croesus, speaks
of hostilities between the Athenians and Eleusinians, he seems to me
to fail in sufficient ground for the assumption. The rite might have
been instituted in consequence of a far earlier feud and league--even
that traditionally recorded in the Mythic age of Erechtheus and
Eumolpus, but could not entirely put an end to the struggles of
Eleusis for independence, or prevent the outbreak of occasional
jealousy and dissension.

[49] Kneph, the Agatho demon, or Good Spirit of Egypt, had his symbol
in the serpent. It was precisely because sacred with the rest of the
world that the serpent would be an object of abhorrence with the Jews.
But by a curious remnant of oriental superstition, the early
Christians often represented the Messiah by the serpent--and the
emblem of Satan became that of the Saviour.

[50] Lib. ii., c. 52, 4.

[51] And this opinion is confirmed by Dionysius and Strabo, who
consider the Dodona oracle originally Pelasgic.

[52] Also Pelasgic, according to Strabo.

[53] "The Americans did not long suppose the efficacy of conjuration
to be confined to one subject--they had recourse to it in every
situation of danger or distress.------From this weakness proceeded
likewise the faith of the Americans in dreams, their observation of
omens, their attention to the chirping of birds and the cries of
animals, all which they supposed to be indications of future events."
--Robertson's History of America, book iv.

Might not any one imagine that he were reading the character of the
ancient Greeks? This is not the only point of resemblance between the
Americans (when discovered by the Spaniards) and the Greeks in their
early history; but the resemblance is merely that of a civilization in
some respects equally advanced.

[54] The notion of Democritus of Abdera, respecting the origin of
dreams and divination, may not he uninteresting to the reader, partly
from something vast and terrible in the fantasy, partly as a proof of
the strange, incongruous, bewildered chaos of thought, from which at
last broke the light of the Grecian philosophy. He introduced the
hypothesis of images (eidola,), emanating as it were from external
objects, which impress our sense, and whose influence creates
sensation and thought. Dreams and divination he referred to the
impressions communicated by images of gigantic and vast stature, which
inhabited the air and encompassed the world. Yet this philosopher is
the original of Epicurus, and Epicurus is the original of the modern

[55] Isaiah lxvi. I.

[56] This Lucian acknowledges unawares, when, in deriding the popular
religion, he says that a youth who reads of the gods in Homer or
Hesiod, and finds their various immoralities so highly renowned, would
feel no little surprise when he entered the world, to discover that
these very actions of the gods were condemned and punished by mankind.

[57] Ovid. Metam., lib. ix.

[58] So the celebrated preamble to the laws for the Locrians of Italy
(which, though not written by Zaleucus, was, at all events, composed
by a Greek) declares that men must hold their souls clear from every
vice; that the gods did not accept the offerings of the wicked, but
found pleasure only in the just and beneficent actions of the good.--
See Diod. Siculus, lib. 8.

[59] A Mainote hearing the Druses praised for their valour, said,
with some philosophy, "They would fear death more if they believed in
an hereafter!"

[60] In the time of Socrates, we may suspect, from a passage in
Plato's Phaedo, that the vulgar were skeptical of the immortality of
the soul, and it may be reasonably doubted whether the views of
Socrates and his divine disciple were ever very popularly embraced.

[61] It is always by connecting the divine shape with the human that
we exalt our creations--so, in later times, the saints, the Virgin,
and the Christ, awoke the genius of Italian art.

[62] See note [54].

[63] In the later age of philosophy I shall have occasion to return to
the subject. And in the Appendix, with which I propose to complete
the work, I may indulge in some conjectures relative to the Corybantes
Curetes, Teichines, etc.

[64] Herodotus (I. vi., c. 137) speaks of a remote time when the
Athenians had no slaves. As we have the authority of Thucydides for
the superior repose which Attica enjoyed as compared with the rest of
Greece--so (her population never having been conquered) slavery in
Attica was probably of later date than elsewhere, and we may doubt
whether in that favoured land the slaves were taken from any
considerable part of the aboriginal race. I say considerable part,
for crime or debt would have reduced some to servitude. The assertion
of Herodotus that the Ionians were indigenous (and not conquerors as
Mueller pretends), is very strongly corroborated by the absence in
Attica of a class of serfs like the Penestae of Thessaly and the
Helots of Laconia. A race of conquerors would certainly have produced
a class of serfs.

[65] Or else the land (properly speaking) would remain with the
slaves, as it did with the Messenians an Helots--but certain
proportions of the produce would be the due of the conquerors.

[66] Immigration has not hitherto been duly considered as one of the
original sources of slavery.

[67] In a horde of savages never having held communication or
intercourse with other tribes, there would indeed be men who, by a
superiority of physical force, would obtain an ascendency over the
rest; but these would not bequeath to their descendants distinct
privileges. Exactly because physical power raised the father into
rank--the want of physical power would merge his children among the
herd. Strength and activity cannot be hereditary. With individuals
of a tribe as yet attaching value only to a swift foot or a strong
arm, hereditary privilege is impossible. But if one such barbarous
tribe conquer another less hardy, and inhabit the new settlement,--
then indeed commences an aristocracy--for amid communities, though not
among individuals, hereditary physical powers can obtain. One man may
not leave his muscles to his son; but one tribe of more powerful
conformation than another would generally contrive to transmit that
advantage collectively to their posterity. The sense of superiority
effected by conquest soon produces too its moral effects--elevating
the spirit of the one tribe, depressing that of the other, from
generation to generation. Those who have denied in conquest or
colonization the origin of hereditary aristocracy, appear to me to
have founded their reasonings upon the imperfectness of their
knowledge of the savage states to which they refer for illustration.

[68] Accordingly we find in the earliest records of Greek history--in
the stories of the heroic and the Homeric age--that the king possessed
but little authority except in matters of war: he was in every sense
of the word a limited monarch, and the Greeks boasted that they had
never known the unqualified despotism of the East. The more, indeed,
we descend from the patriarchal times; the more we shall find that
colonists established in their settlements those aristocratic
institutions which are the earliest barriers against despotism.
Colonies are always the first teachers of free institutions. There is
no nation probably more attached to monarchy than the English, yet I
believe that if, according to the ancient polity, the English were to
migrate into different parts, and establish, in colonizing, their own
independent forms of government; there would scarcely be a single such
colony not republican!

[69] In Attica, immigration, not conquest, must have led to the
institution of aristocracy. Thucydides observes, that owing to the
repose in Attica (the barren soil of which presented no temptation to
the conqueror), the more powerful families expelled from the other
parts of Greece, betook themselves for security and refuge to Athens.
And from some of these foreigners many of the noblest families in the
historical time traced their descent. Before the arrival of these
Grecian strangers, Phoenician or Egyptian settlers had probably
introduced an aristocratic class.

[70] Modern inquirers pretend to discover the Egyptian features in
the effigy of Minerva on the earliest Athenian coins. Even the golden
grasshopper, with which the Athenians decorated their hair, and which
was considered by their vanity as a symbol of their descent from the
soil, has been construed into an Egyptian ornament--a symbol of the
initiated.--(Horapoll. Hierogl., lib. ii., c. 55.) "They are the only
Grecian people," says Diodorus, "who swear by Isis, and their manners
are very conformable to those of the Egyptians; and so much truth was
there at one time (when what was Egyptian became the fashion) in this
remark, that they were reproached by the comic writer that their city
was Egypt and not Athens." But it is evident that all such
resemblance as could have been derived from a handful of Egyptians,
previous to the age of Theseus, was utterly obliterated before the age
of Solon. Even if we accord to the tale of Cecrops all implicit
faith, the Atticans would still remain a Pelasgic population, of which
a few early institutions--a few benefits of elementary civilization--
and, it may be, a few of the nobler families, were probably of
Egyptian origin.

[71] It has been asserted by some that there is evidence in ancient
Attica of the existence of castes similar to those in Egypt and the
farther East. But this assertion has been so ably refuted that I do
not deem it necessary to enter at much length into the discussion. It
will be sufficient to observe that the assumption is founded upon the
existence of four tribes in Attica, the names of which etymological
erudition has sought to reduce to titles denoting the different
professions of warriors, husbandmen, labourers, and (the last much
more disputable and much more disputed) priests. In the first place,
it has been cogently remarked by Mr. Clinton (F. H., vol. i., p. 54),
that this institution of castes has been very inconsistently
attributed to the Greek Ion,--not (as, if Egyptian, it would have
been) to the Egyptian Cecrops. 2dly, If rightly referred to Ion, who
did not long precede the heroic age, how comes it that in that age a
spirit the most opposite to that of castes universally prevailed--as
all the best authenticated enactments of Theseus abundantly prove?
Could institutions calculated to be the most permanent that
legislation ever effected, and which in India have resisted every
innovation of time, every revolution of war, have vanished from Attica
in the course of a few generations? 3dly, It is to be observed, that
previous to the divisions referred to Ion, we find the same number of
four tribes under wholly different names;--under Cecrops, under
Cranaus, under Ericthonius or Erectheus, they received successive
changes of appellations, none of which denoted professions, but were
moulded either from the distinctions of the land they inhabited, or
the names of deities they adored. If remodelled by Ion to correspond
with distinct professions and occupations (and where is that social
state which does not form different classes--a formation widely
opposite to that of different castes?) cultivated by the majority of
the members of each tribe, the name given to each tribe might be but a
general title by no means applicable to every individual, and
certainly not implying hereditary and indelible distinctions. 4thly,
In corroboration of this latter argument, there is not a single
evidence--a single tradition, that such divisions ever were
hereditary. 5thly, In the time of Solon and the Pisistratida we find
the four Ionic tribes unchanged, but without any features analogous to
those of the Oriental castes.--(Clinton, F. H., vol. i., p. 55.)
6thly, I shall add what I have before intimated (see note [33]), that
I do not think it the character of a people accustomed to castes to
establish castes mock and spurious in any country which a few of them
might visit or colonize. Nay, it is clearly and essentially contrary
to such a character to imagine that a handful of wandering Egyptians,
even supposing (which is absurd) that their party contained members of
each different caste observed by their countrymen, would have
incorporated with such scanty specimens of each caste any of the
barbarous natives--they would leave all the natives to a caste by
themselves. And an Egyptian hierophant would as little have thought
of associating with himself a Pelasgic priest, as a Bramin would dream
of making a Bramin caste out of a set of Christian clergymen. But if
no Egyptian hierophant accompanied the immigrators, doubly ridiculous
is it to suppose that the latter would have raised any of their own
body, to whom such a change of caste would be impious, and still less
any of the despised savages, to a rank the most honoured and the most
reverent which Egyptian notions of dignity could confer. Even the
very lowest Egyptians would not touch any thing a Grecian knife had
polluted--the very rigidity with which caste was preserved in Egypt
would forbid the propagation of castes among barbarians so much below
the very lowest caste they could introduce. So far, therefore, from
Egyptian adventurers introducing such an institution among the general
population, their own spirit of caste must rapidly have died away as
intermarriage with the natives, absence from their countrymen, and the
active life of an uncivilized home, mixed them up with the blood, the
pursuits, and the habits of their new associates. Lastly, If these
arguments (which might be easily multiplied) do not suffice, I say it
is not for me more completely to destroy, but for those of a contrary
opinion more completely to substantiate, an hypothesis so utterly at
variance with the Athenian character--the acknowledged data of
Athenian history; and which would assert the existence of institutions
the most difficult to establish;--when established, the most difficult
to modify, much more to efface.

[72] The Thessali were Pelasgic.

[73] Thucyd., lib. i.

[74] Homer--so nice a discriminator that he dwells upon the barbarous
tongue even of the Carians--never seems to intimate any distinction
between the language and race of the Pelasgi and Hellenes, yet he
wrote in an age when the struggle was still unconcluded, and when
traces of any marked difference must have been sufficiently obvious to
detect--sufficiently interesting to notice.

[75] Strabo, viii.

[76] Pausan., viii.

[77] With all my respect for the deep learning and acute ingenuity of
Mueller, it is impossible not to protest against the spirit in which
much of the History of the Dorians is conceived--a spirit than which
nothing can be more dangerous to sound historical inquiry. A vague
tradition, a doubtful line, suffice the daring author for proof of a
foreign conquest, or evidence of a religious revolution. There are
German writers who seem to imagine that the new school of history is
built on the maxim of denying what is, and explaining what is not?
Ion is never recorded as supplanting, or even succeeding, an Attic
king. He might have introduced the worship of Apollo; but, as Mr.
Clinton rightly observes, that worship never superseded the worship of
Minerva, who still remained the tutelary divinity of the city.
However vague the traditions respecting Ion, they all tend to prove an
alliance with the Athenians, viz., precisely the reverse of a conquest
of them.

[78] That connexion which existed throughout Greece, sometimes pure,
sometimes perverted, was especially and originally Doric.

[79] Prideaux on the Marbles. The Iones are included in this
confederacy; they could not, then, have taken their name from the
Hellenic Ion, for Ion was not born at the time of Amphictyon. The
name Amphictyon is, however, but a type of the thing amphictyony, or
association. Leagues of this kind were probably very common over
Greece, springing almost simultaneously out of the circumstances
common to numerous tribes, kindred with each other, yet often at
variance and feud. A common language led them to establish, by a
mutual adoption of tutelary deities, a common religious ceremony,
which remained in force after political considerations died away. I
take the Amphictyonic league to be one of the proofs of the affinity
of language between the Pelasgi and Hellenes. It was evidently made
while the Pelasgi were yet powerful and unsubdued by Hellenic
influences, and as evidently it could not have been made if the
Pelasgi and Hellenes were not perfectly intelligible to each other.
Mr. Clinton (F. H., vol. i., 66), assigns a more recent date than has
generally been received to the great Amphictyonic league, placing it
between the sixtieth and the eightieth year from the fall of Troy.
His reason for not dating it before the former year is, that until
then the Thessali (one of the twelve nations) did not occupy Thessaly.
But, it may be observed consistently with the reasonings of that great
authority, first, that the Thessali are not included in the lists of
the league given by Harpocratio and Libanius; and, secondly, that even
granting that the great Amphictyonic assembly of twelve nations did
not commence at an earlier period, yet that that more celebrated
amphictyony might have been preceded by other and less effectual
attempts at association, agreeably to the legends of the genealogy.
And this Mr. Clinton himself implies.

[80] Strabo, lib. ix.

[81] Mueller's Dorians, vol. i.

[82] Probably chosen in rotation from the different cities.

[83] Even the bieromnemons (or deputies intrusted with religious
cares) must have been as a class very inferior in ability to the
pylagorae; for the first were chosen by lot, the last by careful
selection. And thus we learn, in effect, that while the hieromnemon
had the higher grade of dignity, the pylagoras did the greater share
of business.

[84] Milton, Hist. of Eng., book i.

[85] No man of rank among the old northern pirates was deemed
honourable if not a pirate, gloriam sibi acquirens, as the Vatzdaela
hath it.

[86] Most probably more than one prince. Greece has three
well accredited pretenders to the name and attributes even of the
Grecian Hercules.

[87] Herodotus marks the difference between the Egyptian and Grecian
deity, and speaks of a temple erected by the Phoenicians to Hercules,
when they built Thasus, five hundred years before the son of
Amphitryon was known to the Greeks. The historian commends such of
the Greeks as erected two temples to the divinity of that name,
worshipping in the one as to a god, but in the other observing only
the rites as to a hero.-B. ii., c. 13, 14.

[88] Plot. in Vit. Thes.--Apollod., l. 3. This story is often
borrowed by the Spanish romance-writers, to whom Plutarch was a
copious fountain of legendary fable.

[89] Plut. in Vit. Thes.

[90] Mr. Mueller's ingenious supposition, that the tribute was in
fact a religious ceremony, and that the voyage of Theseus had
originally no other meaning than the landings at Naxos and Delos, is
certainly credible, but not a whit more so than, and certainly not so
simple as, the ancient accounts in Plutarch; as with mythological, so
with historical legends, it is better to take the plain and popular
interpretation whenever it seems conformable to the manners of the
times, than to construe the story by newly-invented allegories. It is
very singular that that is the plan which every writer on the early
chronicles of France and England would adopt,--and yet which so few
writers agree to*****[three illegible words in the print copy]*****
the obscure records of the Greeks.

[91] Plutarch cites Clidemus in support of another version of the
tale, somewhat less probable, viz., that, by the death of Minos and
his son Deucalion, Ariadne became possessed of the throne, and that
she remitted the tribute.

[92] Thucydides, b. ii., c. 15.

[93] But many Athenians preferred to a much later age the custom of
living without the walls--scattered over the country.--(Thucyd., lib.
ii., 15.) We must suppose it was with them as with the moderns--the
rich and the great generally preferred the capital, but there were
many exceptions.

[94] For other instances in which the same word is employed by Homer,
see Clinton's Fast Hell., vol. i., introduction, ix.

[95] Paus., l. i., c. 19; l. ii., c. 18.

[96] Paus., l. vii., c. 25. An oracle of Dodona had forewarned the
Athenians of the necessity of sparing the suppliants.

[97] Herod. (lib. v., 76) cites this expedition of the Dorians for
the establishment of a colony at Megara as that of their first
incursion into Attica,

[98] Suidas. One cannot but be curious as to the motives and policy
of a person, virtuous as a man, but so relentless as a lawgiver.
Although Draco was himself a noble, it is difficult to suppose that
laws so stern and impartial would not operate rather against the more
insolent and encroaching class than against the more subordinate ones.
The attempt shows a very unwholesome state of society, and went far to
produce the democratic action which Solon represented rather than

[99] Hume utters a sentiment exactly the reverse: "To expect," says
he, in his Essay on the rise of Arts and Sciences, "that the arts and
sciences should take their first rise in a monarchy, is to expect a
contradiction;" and he holds, in a subsequent part of the same essay,
that though republics originate the arts and sciences, they may be
transferred to a monarchy. Yet this sentiment is utterly at variance
with the fact; in the despotic monarchies of the East were the
elements of the arts and sciences; it was to republics they were
transferred, and republics perfected them. Hume, indeed, is often the
most incautious and uncritical of all writers. What can we think of
an author who asserts that a refined taste succeeds best in
monarchies, and then refers to the indecencies of Horace and Ovid as
an example of the reverse in a republic--as if Ovid and Horace had not
lived under a monarchy! and throughout the whole of this theory he is
as thoroughly in the wrong. By refined taste he signifies an
avoidance of immodesty of style. Beaumont and Fletcher, Rochester,
Dean Swift, wrote under monarchies--their pruriencies are not excelled
by any republican authors of ancient times. What ancient authors
equal in indelicacy the French romances from the time of the Regent of
Orleans to Louis XVI.? By all accounts, the despotism of China is the
very sink of indecencies, whether in pictures or books. Still more,
what can we think of a writer who says, that "the ancients have not
left us one piece of pleasantry that is excellent, unless one may
except the Banquet of Xenophon and the Dialogues of Lucian?" What!
has he forgotten Aristophanes? Has he forgotten Plautus! No--but
their pleasantry is not excellent to his taste; and he tacitly agrees
with Horace in censuring the "coarse railleries and cold jests" of the
Great Original of Moliere!

[100] Which forbade the concentration of power necessary to great
conquests. Phoenicia was not one state, it was a confederacy of
states; so, for the same reason, Greece, admirably calculated to
resist, was ill fitted to invade.

[101] For the dates of these migrations, see Fast. Hell., vol. i.

[102] To a much later period in the progress of this work I reserve a
somewhat elaborate view of the history of Sicily.

[103] Pausanias, in corroboration of this fact, observes, that
Periboea, the daughter of Alcathous, was sent with Theseus with
tribute into Crete.

[104] When, according to Pausanias, it changed its manners and its

[105] In length fifty-two geographical miles, and about twenty-eight
to thirty-two broad.

[106] A council of five presided over the business of the oracle,
composed of families who traced their descent from Deucalion.

[107] Great grandson to Antiochus, son of Hercules.--Pausanias, l. 2,
c. 4.

[108] But at Argos, at least, the name, though not the substance, of
the kingly government was extant as late as the Persian war.

[109] Those who meant to take part in the athletic exercises were
required to attend at Olympia thirty days previous to the games, for
preparation and practice.

[110] It would appear by some Etruscan vases found at Veii, that the
Etruscans practised all the Greek games--leaping, running, cudgel-
playing, etc., and were not restricted, as Niebuhr supposes, to boxing
and chariot-races.

[111] It however diminishes the real honour of the chariot-race, that
the owner of horses usually won by proxy.

[112] The indecorum of attending contests where the combatants were
unclothed, was a sufficient reason for the exclusion of females. The
priestess of Ceres, the mighty mother, was accustomed to regard all
such indecorums as symbolical, and had therefore refined away any
remarkable indelicacy.

[113] Plut. in Alex. When one of the combatants with the cestus
killed his antagonist by running the ends of his fingers through his
ribs, he was ignominiously expelled the stadium. The cestus itself
made of thongs of leather, was evidently meant not to increase the
severity of the blow, but for the prevention of foul play by the
antagonists laying hold of each other, or using the open hand. I
believe that the iron bands and leaden plummets were Roman inventions,
and unknown at least till the later Olympic games. Even in the
pancratium, the fiercest of all the contests--for it seems to have
united wrestling with boxing (a struggle of physical strength, without
the precise and formal laws of the boxing and wrestling matches), it
was forbidden to kill an enemy, to injure his eyes, or to use the

[114] Even to the foot-race, in which many of the competitors were of
the lowest rank, the son of Amyntas, king of Macedon, was not admitted
till he had proved an Argive descent. He was an unsuccessful

[115] Herodotus relates an anecdote, that the Eleans sent deputies to
Egypt, vaunting the glories of the Olympic games, and inquiring if the
Egyptians could suggest any improvement. The Egyptians asked if the
citizens of Elis were allowed to contend, and, on hearing that they
were, declared it was impossible they should not favour their own
countrymen, and consequently that the games must lead to injustice--a
suspicion not verified.

[116] Cic. Quaest. Tusc., II, 17.

[117] Nero (when the glory had left the spot) drove a chariot of ten
horses in Olympia, out of which he had the misfortune to tumble. He
obtained other prizes in other Grecian games, and even contended with
the heralds as a crier. The vanity of Nero was astonishing, but so
was that of most of his successors. The Roman emperors were the
sublimest coxcombs in history. In men born to stations which are
beyond ambition, all aspirations run to seed.

[118] Plut. in Sympos.

[119] It does not appear that at Elis there were any of the actual
contests in music and song which made the character of the Pythian

Book of the day: