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

Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Complete by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Part 9 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.5 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.

But these foreign events, however important in themselves, were
trifling in comparison with a revolution which accompanied them, and
which, in suddenly raising Athens to the supreme command of allied
Greece, may be regarded at once as the author of the coming greatness
--and the subsequent reverses--of that republic.

XII. The habits of Sparta--austere, stern, unsocial--rendered her
ever more effectual in awing foes than conciliating allies; and the
manners of the soldiery were at this time not in any way redeemed or
counterbalanced by those of the chief. Since the battle of Plataea a
remarkable change was apparent in Pausanias. Glory had made him
arrogant, and sudden luxury ostentatious. He had graven on the golden
tripod, dedicated by the confederates to the Delphic god, an
inscription, claiming exclusively to himself, as the general of the
Grecian army, the conquest of the barbarians--an egotism no less at
variance with the sober pride of Sparta, than it was offensive to the
just vanity of the allies. The inscription was afterward erased by
the Spartan government, and another, citing only the names of the
confederate cities, and silent as to that of Pausanias, was
substituted in its place.

XIII. To a man of this arrogance, and of a grasping and already
successful ambition, circumstances now presented great and
irresistible temptation. Though leader of the Grecian armies, he was
but the uncle and proxy of the young Spartan king--the time must come
when his authority would cease, and the conqueror of the superb
Mardonius sink into the narrow and severe confines of a Spartan
citizen. Possessed of great talents and many eminent qualities, they
but served the more to discontent him with the limits of their
legitimate sphere and sterility of the Spartan life. And this
discontent, operating on a temper naturally haughty, evinced itself in
a manner rude, overbearing, and imperious, which the spirit of his
confederates was ill calculated to suffer or forgive.

But we can scarcely agree with the ancient historians in attributing
the ascendency of the Athenians alone, or even chiefly, to the conduct
of Pausanias. The present expedition was naval, and the greater part
of the confederates at Byzantium were maritime powers. The superior
fleet and the recent naval glories of the Athenians could not fail to
give them, at this juncture, a moral pre-eminence over the other
allies; and we shall observe that the Ionians, and those who had
lately recovered their freedom from the Persian yoke [133], were
especially desirous to exchange the Spartan for the Athenian command.
Connected with the Athenians by origin--by maritime habits--by a
kindred suavity and grace of temperament--by the constant zeal of the
Athenians for their liberties (which made, indeed, the first cause of
the Persian war)--it was natural that the Ionian Greeks should prefer
the standard of Athens to that of a Doric state; and the proposition
of the Spartans (baffled by the Athenian councils) to yield up the
Ionic settlements to the barbarians, could not but bequeath a lasting
resentment to those proud and polished colonies.

XIV. Aware of the offence he had given, and disgusted himself alike
with his allies and his country, the Spartan chief became driven by
nature and necessity to a dramatic situation, which a future Schiller
may perhaps render yet more interesting than the treason of the
gorgeous Wallenstein, to whose character that of Pausanias has been
indirectly likened [134]. The capture of Byzantium brought the
Spartan regent into contact with many captured and noble Persians
[135], among whom were some related to Xerxes himself. With these
conversing, new and dazzling views were opened to his ambition. He
could not but recall the example of Demaratus, whose exile from the
barren dignities of Sparta had procured him the luxuries and the
splendour of oriental pomp, with the delegated authority of three of
the fairest cities of Aeolia. Greater in renown than Demaratus, he
was necessarily more aspiring in his views. Accordingly, he privately
released his more exalted prisoners, pretending they had escaped, and
finally explained whatever messages he had intrusted by them to
Xerxes, in a letter to the king, confided to an Eretrian named
Gongylus, who was versed in the language and the manners of Persia,
and to whom he had already deputed the government of Byzantium. In
this letter Pausanias offered to assist the king in reducing Sparta
and the rest of Greece to the Persian yoke, demanding, in recompense,
the hand of the king's daughter, with an adequate dowry of possessions
and of power.

XV. The time had passed when a Persian monarch could deride the
loftiness of a Spartan's pretensions--Xerxes received the
communications with delight, and despatched Artabazus to succeed
Megabates in Phrygia, and to concert with the Spartan upon the means
whereby to execute their joint design [136]. But while Pausanias was
in the full flush of his dazzled and grasping hopes, his fall was at
hand. Occupied with his new projects, his natural haughtiness
increased daily. He never accosted the officers of the allies but
with abrupt and overbearing insolence; he insulted the military pride
by sentencing many of the soldiers to corporeal chastisement, or to
stand all day with an iron anchor on their shoulders [137]. He
permitted none to seek water, forage, or litter, until the Spartans
were first supplied--those who attempted it were driven away by rods.
Even Aristides, seeking to remonstrate, was repulsed rudely. "I am
not at leisure," said the Spartan, with a frown. [138]

Complaints of this treatment were despatched to Sparta, and in the
mean while the confederates, especially the officers of Chios, Samos,
and Lesbos, pressed Aristides to take on himself the general command,
and protect them from the Spartan's insolence. The Athenian artfully
replied, that he saw the necessity of the proposition, but that it
ought first to be authorized by some action which would render it
impossible to recede from the new arrangement once formed.

The hint was fiercely taken; and a Samian and a Chian officer,
resolving to push matters to the extreme, openly and boldly attacked
the galley of Pausanias himself at the head of the fleet.
Disregarding his angry menaces, now impotent, this assault was
immediately followed up by a public transfer of allegiance; and the
aggressors, quitting the Spartan, arrayed themselves under the
Athenian, banners. Whatever might have been the consequences of this
insurrection were prevented by the sudden recall of Pausanias. The
accusations against him had met a ready hearing in Sparta, and that
watchful government had already received intimation of his intrigues
with the Mede. On his arrival in Sparta, Pausanias was immediately
summoned to trial, convicted in a fine for individual and private
misdemeanours, but acquitted of the principal charge of treason with
the Persians--not so much from the deficiency as from the abundance of
proof [139]; and it was probably prudent to avoid, if possible, the
scandal which the conviction of the general might bring upon the

The Spartans sent Dorcis, with some colleagues, to replace Pausanias
in the command; but the allies were already too disgusted with the
yoke of that nation to concede it. And the Athenian ascendency was
hourly confirmed by the talents, the bearing, and the affable and
gracious manners of Aristides. With him was joined an associate of
high hereditary name and strong natural abilities, whose character it
will shortly become necessary to place in detail before the reader.
This comate was no less a person than Cimon, the son of the great

XVI. Dorcis, finding his pretensions successfully rebutted, returned
home; and the Spartans, never prone to foreign enterprise, anxious for
excuses to free themselves from prosecuting further the Persian war,
and fearful that renewed contentions might only render yet more
unpopular the Spartan name, sent forth no fresh claimants to the
command; they affected to yield that honour, with cheerful content, to
the Athenians. Thus was effected without a blow, and with the
concurrence of her most dreaded rival, that eventful revolution, which
suddenly raised Athens, so secondary a state before the Persian war,
to the supremacy over Greece. So much, when nations have an equal
glory, can the one be brought to surpass the other (B. C. 477) by the
superior wisdom of individuals. The victory of Plataea was won
principally by Sparta, then at the head of Greece. And the general
who subdued the Persians surrendered the results of his victory to the
very ally from whom the sagacious jealousy of his countrymen had
sought most carefully to exclude even the precautions of defence!

XVII. Aristides, now invested with the command of all the allies,
save those of the Peloponnesus who had returned home, strengthened the
Athenian power by every semblance of moderation.

Hitherto the Grecian confederates had sent their deputies to the
Peloponnesus. Aristides, instead of naming Athens, which might have
excited new jealousies, proposed the sacred Isle of Delos, a spot
peculiarly appropriate, since it once had been the navel of the Ionian
commerce, as the place of convocation and the common treasury: the
temple was to be the senate house. A new distribution of the taxes
levied on each state, for the maintenance of the league, was ordained.
The objects of the league were both defensive and offensive; first, to
guard the Aegaean coasts and the Grecian Isles; and, secondly, to
undertake measures for the further weakening of the Persian power.
Aristides was elected arbitrator in the relative proportions of the
general taxation. In this office, which placed the treasures of
Greece at his disposal, he acted with so disinterested a virtue, that
he did not even incur the suspicion of having enriched himself, and
with so rare a fortune that he contented all the allies. The total,
raised annually, and with the strictest impartiality, was four hundred
and sixty talents (computed at about one hundred and fifteen thousand

Greece resounded with the praises of Aristides; it was afterward
equally loud in reprobation of the avarice of the Athenians. For with
the appointment of Aristides commenced the institution of officers
styled Hellenotamiae, or treasurers of Greece; they became a permanent
magistracy--they were under the control of the Athenians; and thus
that people were made at once the generals and the treasurers of
Greece. But the Athenians, unconscious as yet of the power they had
attained--their allies yet more blind--it seemed now, that the more
the latter should confide, the more the former should forbear. So do
the most important results arise from causes uncontemplated by the
providence of statesmen, and hence do we learn a truth which should
never be forgotten--that that power is ever the most certain of
endurance and extent, the commencement of which is made popular by

XVIII. Thus, upon the decay of the Isthmian Congress, rose into
existence the great Ionian league; and thus was opened to the ambition
of Athens the splendid destiny of the empire of the Grecian seas. The
pre-eminence of Sparta passed away from her, though invisibly and
without a struggle, and, retiring within herself, she was probably
unaware of the decline of her authority; still seeing her
Peloponnesian allies gathering round her, subordinate and submissive,
and, by refusing assistance, refusing also allegiance to the new queen
of the Ionian league. His task fulfilled, Aristides probably returned
to Athens, and it was at this time and henceforth that it became his
policy to support the power of Cimon against the authority of
Themistocles [140]. To that eupatrid, joined before with himself, was
now intrusted the command of the Grecian fleet.

To great natural abilities, Cimon added every advantage of birth and
circumstance. His mother was a daughter of Olorus, a Thracian prince;
his father the great Miltiades. On the death of the latter, it is
recorded, and popularly believed, that Cimon, unable to pay the fine
to which Miltiades was adjudged, was detained in custody until a
wealthy marriage made by his sister Elpinice, to whom he was tenderly,
and ancient scandal whispered improperly, attached, released him from
confinement, and the brother-in-law paid the debt. "Thus severe and
harsh," says Nepos, "was his entrance upon manhood." [141] But it is
very doubtful whether Cimon was ever imprisoned for the state-debt
incurred by his father--and his wealth appears to have been
considerable even before he regained his patrimony in the Chersonese,
or enriched himself with the Persian spoils. [142]

In early youth, like Themistocles, his conduct had been wild and
dissolute [143]; and with his father from a child, he had acquired,
with the experience, something of the license, of camps. Like
Themistocles also, he was little skilled in the graceful
accomplishments of his countrymen; he cultivated neither the art of
music, nor the brilliancies of Attic conversation; but power and
fortune, which ever soften nature, afterward rendered his habits
intellectual and his tastes refined. He had not the smooth and artful
affability of Themistocles, but to a certain roughness of manner was
conjoined that hearty and ingenuous frankness which ever conciliates
mankind, especially in free states, and which is yet more popular when
united to rank. He had distinguished himself highly by his zeal in
the invasion of the Medes, and the desertion of Athens for Salamis;
and his valour in the seafight had confirmed the promise of his
previous ardour. Nature had gifted him with a handsome countenance
and a majestic stature, recommendations in all, but especially in
popular states--and the son of Miltiades was welcomed, not less by the
people than by the nobles, when he applied for a share in the
administration of the state. Associated with Aristides, first in the
embassy to Sparta, and subsequently in the expeditions to Cyprus and
Byzantium, he had profited by the friendship and the lessons of that
great man, to whose party he belonged, and who saw in Cimon a less
invidious opponent than himself to the policy or the ambition of

By the advice of Aristides, Cimon early sought every means to
conciliate the allies, and to pave the way to the undivided command he
afterward obtained. And it is not improbable that Themistocles might
willingly have ceded to him the lead in a foreign expedition, which
removed from the city so rising and active an opponent. The
appointment of Cimon promised to propitiate the Spartans, who ever
possessed a certain party in the aristocracy of Athens--who peculiarly
affected Cimon, and whose hardy character and oligarchical policy the
blunt genius and hereditary prejudices of that young noble were well
fitted to admire and to imitate. Cimon was, in a word, precisely the
man desired by three parties as the antagonist of Themistocles; viz.,
the Spartans, the nobles, and Aristides, himself a host. All things
conspired to raise the son of Miltiades to an eminence beyond his
years, but not his capacities.

XIX. Under Cimon the Athenians commenced their command [144], by
marching against a Thracian town called Eion, situated on the banks of
the river Strymon, and now garrisoned by a Persian noble. The town
was besieged (B. C. 476), and the inhabitants pressed by famine, when
the Persian commandant, collecting his treasure upon a pile of wood,
on which were placed his slaves, women, and children--set fire to the
pile [145]. After this suicide, seemingly not an uncommon mode of
self-slaughter in the East, the garrison surrendered, and its
defenders, as usual in such warfare, were sold for slaves.

From Eion the victorious confederates proceeded to Scyros, a small
island in the Aegean, inhabited by the Dolopians, a tribe addicted to
piratical practices, deservedly obnoxious to the traders of the
Aegean, and who already had attracted the indignation and vengeance of
the Amphictyonic assembly. The isle occupied, and the pirates
expelled, the territory was colonized by an Attic population.

An ancient tradition had, as we have seen before, honoured the soil of
Scyros with the possession of the bones of the Athenian Theseus--some
years after the conquest of the isle, in the archonship of Aphepsion
[146], or Apsephion, an oracle ordained the Athenians to search for
the remains of their national hero, and the skeleton of a man of great
stature, with a lance of brass and a sword by its side was discovered,
and immediately appropriated to Theseus. The bones were placed with
great ceremony in the galley of Cimon, who was then probably on a
visit of inspection to the new colony, and transported to Athens.
Games were instituted in honour of this event, at which were exhibited
the contests of the tragic poets; and, in the first of these,
Sophocles is said to have made his earliest appearance, and gained the
prize from Aeschylus (B. C. 469).

XXI. It is about the period of Cimon's conquest of Eion and Scyros
(B. C. 476) that we must date the declining power of Themistocles.
That remarkable man had already added, both to domestic and to Spartan
enmities, the general displeasure of the allies. After baffling the
proposition of the Spartans to banish from the Amphictyonic assembly
the states that had not joined in the anti-Persic confederacy, he had
sailed round the isles and extorted money from such as had been guilty
of Medising: the pretext might be just, but the exactions were
unpopularly levied. Nor is it improbable that the accusations against
him of enriching his own coffers as well as the public treasury had
some foundation. Profoundly disdaining money save as a means to an
end, he was little scrupulous as to the sources whence he sustained a
power which he yet applied conscientiously to patriotic purposes.
Serving his country first, he also served himself; and honest upon one
grand and systematic principle, he was often dishonest in details.

His natural temper was also ostentatious; like many who have risen
from an origin comparatively humble, he had the vanity to seek to
outshine his superiors in birth--not more by the splendour of genius
than by the magnificence of parade. At the Olympic games, the base-
born son of Neocles surpassed the pomp of the wealthy and illustrious
Cimon; his table was hospitable, and his own life soft and luxuriant
[147]; his retinue numerous beyond those of his contemporaries; and he
adopted the manners of the noble exactly in proportion as he courted
the favour of the populace. This habitual ostentation could not fail
to mingle with the political hostilities of the aristocracy the
disdainful jealousies of offended pride; for it is ever the weakness
of the high-born to forgive less easily the being excelled in genius
than the being outshone in state by those of inferior origin. The
same haughtiness which offended the nobles began also to displease the
people; the superb consciousness of his own merits wounded the vanity
of a nation which scarcely permitted its greatest men to share the
reputation it arrogated to itself. The frequent calumnies uttered
against him obliged Themistocles to refer to the actions he had
performed; and what it had been illustrious to execute, it became
disgustful to repeat. "Are you weary," said the great man, bitterly,
"to receive benefits often from the same hand?" [148] He offended the
national conceit yet more by building, in the neighbourhood of his own
residence, a temple to Diana, under the name of Aristobule, or "Diana
of the best counsel;" thereby appearing to claim to himself the merit
of giving the best counsels.

It is probable, however, that Themistocles would have conquered all
party opposition, and that his high qualities would have more than
counterbalanced his defects in the eyes of the people, if he had still
continued to lead the popular tide. But the time had come when the
demagogue was outbid by an aristocrat--when the movement he no longer
headed left him behind, and the genius of an individual could no
longer keep pace with the giant strides of an advancing people.

XXII. The victory at Salamis was followed by a democratic result.
That victory had been obtained by the seamen, who were mostly of the
lowest of the populace--the lowest of the populace began, therefore,
to claim, in political equality, the reward of military service. And
Aristotle, whose penetrating intellect could not fail to notice the
changes which an event so glorious to Greece produced in Athens, has
adduced a similar instance of change at Syracuse, when the mariners of
that state, having, at a later period, conquered the Athenians,
converted a mixed republic to a pure democracy. The destruction of
houses and property by Mardonius--the temporary desertion by the
Athenians of their native land--the common danger and the common
glory, had broken down many of the old distinctions, and the spirit of
the nation was already far more democratic than the constitution.
Hitherto, qualifications of property were demanded for the holding of
civil offices. But after the battle of Plataea, Aristides, the leader
of the aristocratic party, proposed and carried the abolition of such
qualifications, allowing to ail citizens, with or without property, a
share in the government, and ordaining that the archons should be
chosen out of the whole body; the form of investigation as to moral
character was still indispensable. This change, great as it was,
appears, like all aristocratic reforms, to have been a compromise
[149] between concession and demand. And the prudent Aristides
yielded what was inevitable, to prevent the greater danger of
resistance. It may be ever remarked, that the people value more a
concession from the aristocratic party than a boon from their own
popular leaders. The last can never equal, and the first can so
easily exceed, the public expectation.

XXIII. This decree, uniting the aristocratic with the more democratic
party, gave Aristides and his friends an unequivocal ascendency over
Themistocles, which, however, during the absence of Aristides and
Cimon, and the engrossing excitement of events abroad, was not plainly
visible for some years; and although, on his return to Athens,
Aristides himself prudently forbore taking an active part against his
ancient rival, he yet lent all the influence of his name and
friendship to the now powerful and popular Cimon. The victories, the
manners, the wealth, the birth of the son of Miltiades were supported
by his talents and his ambition. It was obvious to himself and to his
party that, were Themistocles removed, Cimon would become the first
citizen of Athens.

XXIV. Such were the causes that long secretly undermined, that at
length openly stormed, the authority of the hero of Salamis; and at
this juncture we may conclude, that the vices of his character avenged
themselves on the virtues. His duplicity and spirit of intrigue,
exercised on behalf of his country, it might be supposed, would
hereafter be excited against it. And the pride, the ambition, the
craft that had saved the people might serve to create a despot.

Themistocles was summoned to the ordeal of the ostracism and condemned
by the majority of suffrages (B. C. 471). Thus, like Aristides, not
punished for offences, but paying the honourable penalty of rising by
genius to that state of eminence which threatens danger to the
equality of republics.

He departed from Athens, and chose his refuge at Argos, whose hatred
to Sparta, his deadliest foe, promised him the securest protection.

XXV. Death soon afterward removed Aristides from all competitorship
with Cimon; according to the most probable accounts, he died at
Athens; and at the time of Plutarch his monument was still to be seen
at Phalerum. His countrymen, who, despite all plausible charges, were
never ungrateful except where their liberties appeared imperilled
(whether rightly or erroneously our documents are too scanty to
prove), erected his monument at the public charge, portioned his three
daughters, and awarded to his son Lysimachus a grant of one hundred
minae of silver, a plantation of one hundred plethra [150] of land,
and a pension of four drachmae a day (double the allowance of an
Athenian ambassador).


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

I. The military abilities and early habits of Cimon naturally
conspired with past success to direct his ambition rather to warlike
than to civil distinctions. But he was not inattentive to the arts
which were necessary in a democratic state to secure and confirm his
power. Succeeding to one, once so beloved and ever so affable as
Themistocles, he sought carefully to prevent all disadvantageous
contrast. From the spoils of Byzantium and Sestos he received a vast
addition to his hereditary fortunes. And by the distribution of his
treasures, he forestalled all envy at their amount. He threw open his
gardens to the public, whether foreigners or citizens--he maintained a
table to which men of every rank freely resorted, though probably
those only of his own tribe [151]--he was attended by a numerous
train, who were ordered to give mantles to what citizen soever--aged
and ill-clad--they encountered; and to relieve the necessitous by aims
delicately and secretly administered. By these artful devices he
rendered himself beloved, and concealed the odium of his politics
beneath the mask of his charities. For while he courted the favour,
he advanced not the wishes, of the people. He sided with the
aristocratic party, and did not conceal his attachment to the
oligarchy of Sparta. He sought to content the people with himself, in
order that he might the better prevent discontent with their position.
But it may be doubted whether Cimon did not, far more than any of his
predecessors, increase the dangers of a democracy by vulgarizing its
spirit. The system of general alms and open tables had the effect
that the abuses of the Poor Laws [152] have had with us. It
accustomed the native poor to the habits of indolent paupers, and what
at first was charity soon took the aspect of a right. Hence much of
the lazy turbulence, and much of that licentious spirit of exaction
from the wealthy, that in a succeeding age characterized the mobs of
Athens. So does that servile generosity, common to an anti-popular
party, when it affects kindness in order to prevent concession,
ultimately operate against its own secret schemes. And so much less
really dangerous is it to exalt, by constitutional enactments, the
authority of a people, than to pamper, by the electioneering
cajoleries of a selfish ambition, the prejudices which thus settle
into vices, or the momentary exigences thus fixed into permanent

II. While the arts or manners of Cimon conciliated the favour, his
integrity won the esteem, of the people. In Aristides he found the
example, not more of his aristocratic politics than of his lofty
honour. A deserter from Persia, having arrived at Athens with great
treasure, and being harassed by informers, sought the protection of
Cimon by gifts of money.

"Would you have me," said the Athenian, smiling, "your mercenary or
your friend?"

"My friend!" replied the barbarian.

"Then take back your gifts." [153]

III. In the mean while the new ascendency of Athens was already
endangered. The Carystians in the neighbouring isle of Euboea openly
defied her fleet, and many of the confederate states, seeing
themselves delivered from all immediate dread of another invasion of
the Medes, began to cease contributions both to the Athenian navy and
the common treasury. For a danger not imminent, service became
burdensome and taxation odious. And already some well-founded
jealousy of the ambition of Athens increased the reluctance to augment
her power. Naxos was the first island that revolted from the
conditions of the league, and thither Cimon, having reduced the
Carystians, led a fleet numerous and well equipped.

Whatever the secret views of Cimon for the aggrandizement of his
country, he could not but feel himself impelled by his own genius and
the popular expectation not lightly to forego that empire of the sea,
rendered to Athens by the profound policy of Themistocles and the
fortunate prudence of Aristides; and every motive of Grecian, as well
as Athenian, policy justified the subjugation of the revolters--an
evident truth in the science of state policy, but one somewhat hastily
lost sight of by those historians who, in the subsequent and unlooked-
for results, forgot the necessity of the earlier enterprise. Greece
had voluntarily intrusted to Athens the maritime command of the
confederate states. To her, Greece must consequently look for no
diminution of the national resources committed to her charge; to her,
that the conditions of the league were fulfilled, and the common
safety of Greece ensured. Commander of the forces, she was answerable
for the deserters. Nor, although Persia at present remained tranquil
and inert, could the confederates be considered safe from her revenge.
No compact of peace had been procured. The more than suspected
intrigues of Xerxes with Pausanias were sufficient proofs that the
great king did not yet despair of the conquest of Greece. And the
peril previously incurred in the want of union among the several
states was a solemn warning not to lose the advantages of that league,
so tardily and so laboriously cemented. Without great dishonour and
without great imprudence, Athens could not forego the control with
which she had been invested; if it were hers to provide the means, it
was hers to punish the defaulters; and her duty to Greece thus
decorously and justly sustained her ambition for herself.

IV. And now it is necessary to return to the fortunes of Pausanias,
involving in their fall the ruin of one of far loftier virtues and
more unequivocal renown. The recall of Pausanias, the fine inflicted
upon him, his narrow escape from a heavier sentence, did not suffice
to draw him, intoxicated as he was with his hopes and passions, from
his bold and perilous intrigues. It is not improbable that his mind
was already tainted with a certain insanity [154]. And it is a
curious physiological fact, that the unnatural constraints of Sparta,
when acting on strong passions and fervent imaginations, seem, not
unoften, to have produced a species of madness. An anecdote is
recorded [155], which, though romantic, is not perhaps wholly
fabulous, and which invests with an interest yet more dramatic the
fate of the conqueror of Plataea.

At Byzantium, runs the story, he became passionately enamoured of a
young virgin named Cleonice. Awed by his power and his sternness, the
parents yielded her to his will. The modesty of the maiden made her
stipulate that the room might be in total darkness when she stole to
his embraces. But unhappily, on entering, she stumbled against the
light, and the Spartan, asleep at the time, imagined, in the confusion
of his sudden waking, that the noise was occasioned by one of his
numerous enemies seeking his chamber with the intent to assassinate
him. Seizing the Persian cimeter [156] that lay beside him, he
plunged it in the breast of the intruder, and the object of his
passion fell dead at his feet. "From that hour," says the biographer,
"he could rest no more!" A spectre haunted his nights--the voice of
the murdered girl proclaimed doom to his ear. It is added, and, if we
extend our belief further, we must attribute the apparition to the
skill of the priests, that, still tortured by the ghost of Cleonice,
he applied to those celebrated necromancers who, at Heraclea [157],
summoned by gloomy spells the manes of the dead, and by their aid
invoked the spirit he sought to appease. The shade of Cleonice
appeared and told him, "that soon after his return to Sparta he would
be delivered from all his troubles." [158]

Such was the legend repeated, as Plutarch tells us, by many
historians; the deed itself was probable, and conscience, even without
necromancy, might supply the spectre.

V. Whether or not this story have any foundation in fact, the conduct
of Pausanias seems at least to have partaken of that inconsiderate
recklessness which, in the ancient superstition, preceded the
vengeance of the gods. After his trial he had returned to Byzantium,
without the consent of the Spartan government. Driven thence by the
resentment of the Athenians [159], he repaired, not to Sparta, but to
Colonae, in Asia Minor, and in the vicinity of the ancient Troy; and
there he renewed his negotiations with the Persian king. Acquainted
with his designs, the vigilant ephors despatched to him a herald with
the famous scytale. This was an instrument peculiar to the Spartans.
To every general or admiral, a long black staff was entrusted; the
magistrates kept another exactly similar. When they had any
communication to make, they wrote it on a roll of parchment, applied
it to their own staff, fold upon fold--then cutting it off, dismissed
it to the chief. The characters were so written that they were
confused and unintelligible until fastened to the stick, and thus
could only be construed by the person for whose eye they were
intended, and to whose care the staff was confided.

The communication Pausanias now received was indeed stern and laconic.
"Stay," it said, "behind the herald, and war is proclaimed against you
by the Spartans."

On receiving this solemn order, even the imperious spirit of Pausanias
did not venture to disobey. Like Venice, whose harsh, tortuous, but
energetic policy her oligarchy in so many respects resembled, Sparta
possessed a moral and mysterious power over the fiercest of her sons.
His fate held him in her grasp, and, confident of acquittal, instead
of flying to Persia, the regent hurried to his doom, assured that by
the help of gold he could baffle any accusation. His expectations
were so far well-founded, that, although, despite his rank as regent
of the kingdom and guardian of the king, he was thrown into prison by
the ephors, he succeeded, by his intrigues and influence, in procuring
his enlargement: and boldly challenging his accusers, he offered to
submit to trial.

The government, however, was slow to act. The proud caution of the
Spartans was ever loath to bring scandal on their home by public
proceedings against any freeborn citizen--how much more against the
uncle of their monarch and the hero of their armies! His power, his
talents, his imperious character awed alike private enmity and public
distrust. But his haughty disdain of their rigid laws, and his
continued affectation of the barbarian pomp, kept the government
vigilant; and though released from prison, the stern ephors were his
sentinels. The restless and discontented mind of the expectant son-
in-law of Xerxes could not relinquish its daring schemes. And the
regent of Sparta entered into a conspiracy, on which it were much to
be desired that our information were more diffuse.

VI. Perhaps no class of men in ancient times excite a more painful
and profound interest than the helots of Sparta. Though, as we have
before seen, we must reject all rhetorical exaggerations of the savage
cruelty to which they were subjected, we know, at least, that their
servitude was the hardest imposed by any of the Grecian states upon
their slaves [160], and that the iron soldiery of Sparta were exposed
to constant and imminent peril from their revolts--a proof that the
curse of their bondage had passed beyond the degree which subdues the
spirit to that which arouses, and that neither the habit of years, nor
the swords of the fiercest warriors, nor the spies of the keenest
government of Greece had been able utterly to extirpate from human
hearts that law of nature which, when injury passes an allotted, yet
rarely visible, extreme, converts suffering to resistance.

Scattered in large numbers throughout the rugged territories of
Laconia--separated from the presence, but not the watch, of their
master, these singular serfs never abandoned the hope of liberty.
Often pressed into battle to aid their masters, they acquired the
courage to oppose them. Fierce, sullen, and vindictive, they were as
droves of wild cattle, left to range at will, till wanted for the
burden or the knife--not difficult to butcher, but impossible to tame.

We have seen that a considerable number of these helots had fought as
light-armed troops at Plataea; and the common danger and the common
glory had united the slaves of the army with the chief. Entering into
somewhat of the desperate and revengeful ambition that, under a
similar constitution, animated Marino Faliero, Pausanias sought, by
means of the enslaved multitude, to deliver himself from the thraldom
of the oligarchy which held prince and slave alike in subjection. He
tampered with the helots, and secretly promised them the rights and
liberties of citizens of Sparta, if they would co-operate with his
projects and revolt at his command.

Slaves are never without traitors; and the ephors learned the
premeditated revolution from helots themselves. Still, slow and wary,
those subtle and haughty magistrates suspended the blow--it was not
without the fullest proof that a royal Spartan was to be condemned on
the word of helots: they continued their vigilance--they obtained the
proof they required.

VII. Argilius, a Spartan, with whom Pausanias had once formed the
vicious connexion common to the Doric tribes, and who was deep in his
confidence, was intrusted by the regent with letters to Artabazus.
Argilius called to mind that none intrusted with a similar mission had
ever returned. He broke open the seals and read what his fears
foreboded, that, on his arrival at the satrap's court, the silence of
the messenger was to be purchased by his death. He carried the packet
to the ephors. That dark and plotting council were resolved yet more
entirely to entangle their guilty victim, and out of his own mouth to
extract his secret; they therefore ordered Argilius to take refuge as
a suppliant in the sanctuary of the temple of Neptune on Mount
Taenarus. Within the sacred confines was contrived a cell, which, by
a double partition, admitted some of the ephors, who, there concealed,
might witness all that passed.

Intelligence was soon brought to Pausanias that, instead of proceeding
to Artabazus, his confidant had taken refuge as a suppliant in the
temple of Neptune. Alarmed and anxious, the regent hastened to the
sanctuary. Argilius informed him that he had read the letters, and
reproached him bitterly with his treason to himself. Pausanias,
confounded and overcome by the perils which surrounded him, confessed
his guilt, spoke unreservedly of the contents of the letter, implored
the pardon of Argilius, and promised him safety and wealth if he would
leave the sanctuary and proceed on the mission.

The ephors, from their hiding-place, heard all.

On the departure of Pausanias from the sanctuary, his doom was fixed.
But, among the more public causes of the previous delay of justice, we
must include the friendship of some of the ephors, which Pausanias had
won or purchased. It was the moment fixed for his arrest. Pausanias,
in the streets, was alone and on foot. He beheld the ephors
approaching him. A signal from one warned him of his danger. He
turned--he fled. The temple of Minerva Chalcioecus at hand proffered
a sanctuary--he gained the sacred confines, and entered a small house
hard by the temple. The ephors--the officers--the crowd pursued; they
surrounded the refuge, from which it was impious to drag the criminal.
Resolved on his death, they removed the roof--blocked up the entrances
(and if we may credit the anecdote, that violating human was
characteristic of Spartan nature, his mother, a crone of great age
[161], suggested the means of punishment, by placing, with her own
hand, a stone at the threshold)--and, setting a guard around, left the
conqueror of Mardonius to die of famine. When he was at his last
gasp, unwilling to profane the sanctuary by his actual death, they
bore him out into the open air, which he only breathed to expire
[162]. His corpse, which some of the fiercer Spartans at first
intended to cast in the place of burial for malefactors, was afterward
buried in the neighbourhood of the temple. And thus ended the glory
and the crimes--the grasping ambition and the luxurious ostentation--
of the bold Spartan who first scorned and then imitated the
effeminacies of the Persian he subdued.

VIII. Amid the documents of which the ephors possessed themselves
after the death of Pausanias was a correspondence with Themistocles,
then residing in the rival and inimical state of Argos. Yet
vindictive against that hero, the Spartan government despatched
ambassadors to Athens, accusing him of a share in the conspiracy of
Pausanias with the Medes. It seems that Themistocles did not disavow
a correspondence with Pausanias, nor affect an absolute ignorance of
his schemes; but he firmly denied by letter, his only mode of defence,
all approval and all participation of the latter. Nor is there any
proof, nor any just ground of suspicion, that he was a party to the
betrayal of Greece. It was consistent, indeed, with his astute
character, to plot, to manoeuvre, to intrigue, but for great and not
paltry ends. By possessing himself of the secret, he possessed
himself of the power of Pausanias; and that intelligence might perhaps
have enabled him to frustrate the Spartan's treason in the hour of
actual danger to Greece. It is possible that, so far as Sparta alone
was concerned, the Athenian felt little repugnance to any revolution
or any peril confined to a state whose councils it had been the object
of his life to baffle, and whose power it was the manifest interest of
his native city to impair. He might have looked with complacency on
the intrigues which the regent was carrying on against the Spartan
government, and which threatened to shake that Doric constitution to
its centre. But nothing, either in the witness of history or in the
character or conduct of a man profoundly patriotic, even in his vices,
favours the notion that he connived at the schemes which implicated,
with the Grecian, the Athenian welfare. Pausanias, far less able, was
probably his tool. By an insight into his projects, Themistocles
might have calculated on the restoration of his own power. To weaken
the Spartan influence was to weaken his own enemies at Athens; to
break up the Spartan constitution was to leave Athens herself without
a rival. And if, from the revolt of the helots, Pausanias should
proceed to an active league with the Persians, Themistocles knew
enough of Athens and of Greece to foresee that it was to the victor of
Salamis and the founder of the Grecian navy that all eyes would be
directed. Such seem the most probable views which would have been
opened to the exile by the communications of Pausanias. If so, they
were necessarily too subtle for the crowd to penetrate or understand.
The Athenians heard only the accusations of the Spartans; they saw
only the treason of Pausanias; they learned only that Themistocles had
been the correspondent of the traitor. Already suspicious of a genius
whose deep and intricate wiles they were seldom able to fathom, and
trembling at the seeming danger they had escaped, it was natural
enough that the Athenians should accede to the demands of the
ambassadors. An Athenian, joined with a Lacedaemonian troop, was
ordered to seize Themistocles wherever he should be found. Apprized
of his danger, he hastily quitted the Peloponnesus and took refuge at
Corcyra. Fear of the vengeance at once of Athens and of Sparta
induced the Corcyreans to deny the shelter he sought, but they
honourably transported him to the opposite continent. His route was
discovered--his pursuers pressed upon him. He had entered the country
of Admetus, king of the Molossians, from whose resentment he had
everything to dread. For he had persuaded the Athenians to reject the
alliance once sought by that monarch, and Admetus had vowed vengeance.

Thus situated, the fugitive formed a resolution which a great mind
only could have conceived, and which presents to us one of the most
touching pictures in ancient history. He repaired to the palace of
Admetus himself. The prince was absent. He addressed his consort,
and, advised by her, took the young child of the royal pair in his
hand, and sat down at the hearth--"THEMISTOCLES THE SUPPLIANT!" [163]
On the return of the prince he told his name, and bade him not wreak
his vengeance on an exile. "To condemn me now," he said, "would be to
take advantage of distress. Honour dictates revenge only among equals
upon equal terms. True that I opposed you once, but on a matter not
of life, but of business or of interest. Now surrender me to my
persecutors, and you deprive me of the last refuge of life itself."

IX. Admetus, much affected, bade him rise, and assured him of
protection. The pursuers arrived; but, faithful to the guest who had
sought his hearth, after a form peculiarly solemn among the
Molossians, Admetus refused to give him up, and despatched him,
guarded, to the sea-town of Pydna, over an arduous and difficult
mountain-road. The sea-town gained, he took ship, disguised and
unknown to all the passengers, in a trading vessel bound to Ionia. A
storm arose--the vessel was driven from its course, and impelled right
towards the Athenian fleet, that then under Cimon, his bitterest foe,
lay before the Isle of Naxos (B. C. 466).

Prompt and bold in his expedients, Themistocles took aside the master
of the vessel--discovered himself; threatened, if betrayed, to inform
against the master as one bribed to favour his escape; promised, if
preserved, everlasting gratitude; and urged that the preservation was
possible, if no one during the voyage were permitted, on any pretext,
to quit the vessel.

The master of the vessel was won--kept out at sea a day and a night to
windward of the fleet, and landed Themistocles in safety at Ephesus.

In the mean while the friends of Themistocles had not been inactive in
Athens. On the supposed discovery of his treason, such of his
property as could fall into the hands of the government was, as usual
in such offences, confiscated to the public use; the amount was
variously estimated at eighty and a hundred talents [164]. But the
greater part of his wealth--some from Athens, some from Argos--was
secretly conveyed to him at Ephesus [165]. One faithful friend
procured the escape of his wife and children from Athens to the court
of Admetus, for which offence of affection, a single historian,
Stesimbrotus (whose statement even the credulous Plutarch questions,
and proves to be contradictory with another assertion of the same
author), has recorded that he was condemned to death by Cimon. It is
not upon such dubious chronicles that we can suffer so great a stain
on the character of a man singularly humane. [166]

X. As we have now for ever lost sight of Themistocles on the stage of
Athenian politics, the present is the most fitting opportunity to
conclude the history of his wild and adventurous career.

Persecuted by the Spartans, abandoned by his countrymen, excluded from
the whole of Greece, no refuge remained to the man who had crushed the
power of Persia, save the Persian court. The generous and high-
spirited policy that characterized the oriental despotism towards its
foes proffered him not only a safe, but a magnificent asylum. The
Persian monarchs were ever ready to welcome the exiles of Greece, and
to conciliate those whom they had failed to conquer. It was the fate
of Themistocles to be saved by the enemies of his country. He had no
alternative. The very accusation of connivance with the Medes drove
him into their arms.

Under guidance of a Persian, Themistocles traversed the Asiatic
continent; and ere he reached Susa, contrived to have a letter, that
might prepare the way for him, delivered at the Persian court. His
letter ran somewhat thus, if we may suppose that Thucydides preserved
the import, though he undoubtedly fashioned the style. [167]

"I, Themistocles, who of all the Greeks have inflicted the severest
wounds upon your race, so long as I was called by fate to resist the
invasion of the Persians, now come to you." (He then urged, on the
other hand, the services he had rendered to Xerxes in his messages
after Salamis, relative to the breaking of the bridges, assuming a
credit to which he was by no means entitled--and insisted that his
generosity demanded a return.) "Able" (he proceeded) "to perform great
services--persecuted by the Greeks for my friendship for you--I am
near at hand. Grant me only a year's respite, that I may then apprize
you in person of the object of my journey hither."

The bold and confident tone of Themistocles struck the imagination of
the young king (Artaxerxes), and he returned a favourable reply.
Themistocles consumed the year in the perfect acquisition of the
language, and the customs and manners of the country. He then sought
and obtained an audience. [168]

Able to converse with fluency, and without the medium of an
interpreter, his natural abilities found their level. He rose to
instant favour. Never before had a stranger been so honoured. He was
admitted an easy access to the royal person--instructed in the
learning of the Magi--and when he quitted the court it was to take
possession of the government of three cities--Myus, celebrated for its
provisions; Lampsacus, for its vineyards; and Magnesia, for the
richness of the soil; so that, according to the spirit and phraseology
of oriental taxation, it was not unaptly said that they were awarded
to him for meat, wine, and bread.

XI. Thus affluent and thus honoured, Themistocles passed at Magnesia
the remainder of his days--the time and method of his death uncertain;
whether cut off by natural disease, or, as is otherwise related [169],
by a fate than which fiction itself could have invented none more
suited to the consummation of his romantic and great career. It is
said that when afterward Egypt revolted, and that revolt was aided by
the Athenians; when the Grecian navy sailed as far as Cilicia and
Cyprus; and Cimon upheld, without a rival, the new sovereignty of the
seas; when Artaxerxes resolved to oppose the growing power of a state
which, from the defensive, had risen to the offending, power;
Themistocles received a mandate to realize the vague promises he had
given, and to commence his operations against Greece (B. C. 449).
Then (if with Plutarch we accept this version of his fate), neither
resentment against the people he had deemed ungrateful, nor his
present pomp, nor the fear of life, could induce the lord of Magnesia
to dishonour his past achievements [170], and demolish his immortal
trophies. Anxious only to die worthily--since to live as became him
was no longer possible--he solemnly sacrificed to the gods--took leave
of his friends, and finished his days by poison.

His monument long existed in the forum of Magnesia; but his bones are
said by his own desire to have been borne back privately to Attica,
and have rested in the beloved land that exiled him from her bosom.
And this his last request seems touchingly to prove his loyalty to
Athens, and to proclaim his pardon of her persecution. Certain it is,
at least, that however honoured in Persia, he never perpetrated one
act against Greece; and that, if sullied by the suspicion of others,
his fame was untarnished by himself. He died, according to Plutarch,
in his sixty-fifth year, leaving many children, and transmitting his
name to a long posterity, who received from his memory the honours
they could not have acquired for themselves.

XII. The character of Themistocles has already in these pages
unfolded itself--profound, yet tortuous in policy--vast in conception
--subtle, patient, yet prompt in action; affable in manner, but
boastful, ostentatious, and disdaining to conceal his consciousness of
merit; not brilliant in accomplishment, yet master not more of the
Greek wiles than the Attic wit; sufficiently eloquent, but greater in
deeds than words, and penetrating, by an almost preternatural insight,
at once the characters of men and the sequences of events.
Incomparably the greatest of his own times, and certainly not
surpassed by those who came after him. Pisistratus, Cimon, Pericles,
Aristides himself, were of noble and privileged birth. Themistocles
was the first, and, except Demosthenes, the greatest of those who rose
from the ranks of the people, and he drew the people upward in his
rise. His fame was the creation of his genius only. "What other man"
(to paraphrase the unusual eloquence of Diodorus) "could in the same
time have placed Greece at the head of nations, Athens at the head of
Greece, himself at the head of Athens?--in the most illustrious age
the most illustrious man. Conducting to war the citizens of a state
in ruins, he defeated all the arms of Asia. He alone had the power to
unite the most discordant materials, and to render danger itself
salutary to his designs. Not more remarkable in war than peace--in
the one he saved the liberties of Greece, in the other he created the
eminence of Athens."

After him, the light of the heroic age seems to glimmer and to fade,
and even Pericles himself appears dwarfed and artificial beside that
masculine and colossal intellect which broke into fragments the might
of Persia, and baffled with a vigorous ease the gloomy sagacity of
Sparta. The statue of Themistocles, existent six hundred years after
his decease, exhibited to his countrymen an aspect as heroical as his
deeds. [171]

We return to Cimon


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

I. At the time in which Naxos refused the stipulated subsidies, and
was, in consequence, besieged by Cimon, that island was one of the
most wealthy and populous of the confederate states. For some time
the Naxians gallantly resisted the besiegers; but, at length reduced,
they were subjected to heavier conditions than those previously
imposed upon them. No conqueror contents himself with acquiring the
objects, sometimes frivolous and often just, with which he commences
hostilities. War inflames the passions, and success the ambition.
Cimon, at first anxious to secure the Grecian, was now led on to
desire the increase of the Athenian power. The Athenian fleet had
subdued Naxos, and Naxos was rendered subject to Athens. This was the
first of the free states which the growing republic submitted to her
yoke [172]. The precedent once set, as occasion tempted, the rest
shared a similar fate.

II. The reduction of Naxos was but the commencement of the victories
of Cimon. In Asia Minor there were many Grecian cities in which the
Persian ascendency had never yet been shaken. Along the Carian coast
Cimon conducted his armament, and the terror it inspired sufficed to
engage all the cities, originally Greek, to revolt from Persia; those
garrisoned by Persians he besieged and reduced. Victorious in Caria,
he passed with equal success into Lycia [173], augmenting his fleet
and forces as he swept along. But the Persians, not inactive, had now
assembled a considerable force in Pamphylia, and lay encamped on the
banks of the Eurymedon (B. C. 466), whose waters, sufficiently wide,
received their fleet. The expected re-enforcement of eighty
Phoenician vessels from Cyprus induced the Persians to delay [174]
actual hostilities. But Cimon, resolved to forestall the anticipated
junction, sailed up the river, and soon forced the barbarian fleet,
already much more numerous than his own, into active engagement. The
Persians but feebly supported the attack; driven up the river, the
crews deserted the ships, and hastened to join the army arrayed along
the coast. Of the ships thus deserted, some were destroyed; and two
hundred triremes, taken by Cimon, yet more augmented his armament.
But the Persians, now advanced to the verge of the shore, presented a
long and formidable array, and Cimon, with some anxiety, saw the
danger he incurred in landing troops already much harassed by the late
action, while a considerable proportion of the hostile forces, far
more numerous, were fresh and unfatigued. The spirit of the men, and
their elation at the late victory, bore down the fears of the general;
yet warm from the late action, he debarked his heavy-armed infantry,
and with loud shouts the Athenians rushed upon the foe. The contest
was fierce--the slaughter great. Many of the noblest Athenians fell
in the action. Victory at length declared in favour of Cimon; the
Persians were put to flight, and the Greeks remained masters of the
battle and the booty--the last considerable. Thus, on the same day,
the Athenians were victorious on both elements--an unprecedented
glory, which led the rhetorical Plutarch to declare--that Plataea and
Salamis were outshone. Posterity, more discerning, estimates glory
not by the greatness of the victory alone, but the justice of the
cause. And even a skirmish won by men struggling for liberty on their
own shores is more honoured than the proudest battle in which the
conquerors are actuated by the desire of vengeance or the lust of

III. To the trophies of this double victory were soon added those of
a third, obtained over the eighty vessels of the Phoenicians off the
coast of Cyprus. These signal achievements spread the terror of the
Athenian arms on remote as on Grecian shores. Without adopting the
exaggerated accounts of injudicious authors as to the number of ships
and prisoners [175], it seems certain, at least, that the amount of
the booty was sufficient, in some degree, to create in Athens a moral
revolution--swelling to a vast extent the fortunes of individuals, and
augmenting the general taste for pomp, for luxury, and for splendour,
which soon afterward rendered Athens the most magnificent of the
Grecian states.

The navy of Persia thus broken, her armies routed, the scene of action
transferred to her own dominions, all designs against Greece were laid
aside. Retreating, as it were, more to the centre of her vast
domains, she left the Asiatic outskirts to the solitude, rather of
exhaustion than of peace. "No troops," boasted the later
rhetoricians, "came within a day's journey, on horseback, of the
Grecian seas." From the Chelidonian isles on the Pamphylian coast, to
those [176] twin rocks at the entrance of the Euxine, between which
the sea, chafed by their rugged base, roars unappeasably through its
mists of foam, no Persian galley was descried. Whether this was the
cause of defeat or of acknowledged articles of peace, has been
disputed. But, as will be seen hereafter, of the latter all
historical evidence is wanting.

In a subsequent expedition, Cimon, sailing from Athens with a small
force, wrested the Thracian Chersonese from the Persians--an exploit
which restored to him his own patrimony.

IV. Cimon was now at the height of his fame and popularity. His
share of the booty, and the recovery of the Chersonese, rendered him
by far the wealthiest citizen of Athens; and he continued to use his
wealth to cement his power. His intercourse with other nations, his
familiarity with the oriental polish and magnificence, served to
elevate his manners from their early rudeness, and to give splendour
to his tastes. If he had spent his youth among the wild soldiers of
Miltiades, the leisure of his maturer years was cultivated by an
intercourse with sages and poets. His passion for the sex, which even
in its excesses tends to refine and to soften, made his only vice. He
was the friend of every genius and every art; and, the link between
the lavish ostentation of Themistocles and the intellectual grace of
Pericles, he conducted, as it were, the insensible transition from the
age of warlike glory to that of civil pre-eminence. He may be said to
have contributed greatly to diffuse that atmosphere of poetry and of
pleasure which even the meanest of the free Athenians afterward
delighted to respire. He led the citizens more and more from the
recesses of private life; and carried out that social policy commenced
by Pisistratus, according to which all individual habits became merged
into one animated, complex, and excited public. Thus, himself gay and
convivial, addicted to company, wine, and women, he encouraged shows
and spectacles, and invested them with new magnificence; he
embellished the city with public buildings, and was the first to erect
at Athens those long colonnades--beneath the shade of which, sheltered
from the western suns, that graceful people were accustomed to
assemble and converse. The Agora, that universal home of the
citizens, was planted by him with the oriental planes; and the groves
of Academe, the immortal haunt of Plato, were his work. That
celebrated garden, associated with the grateful and bright
remembrances of all which poetry can lend to wisdom, was, before the
time of Cimon, a waste and uncultivated spot. It was his hand that
intersected it with walks and alleys, and that poured through its
green retreats the ornamental waters so refreshing in those climes,
and not common in the dry Attic soil, which now meandered in living
streams, and now sparkled into fountains. Besides these works to
embellish, he formed others to fortify the city. He completed the
citadel, hitherto unguarded on the south side; and it was from the
barbarian spoils deposited in the treasury that the expenses of
founding the Long Walls, afterward completed, were defrayed.

V. In his conduct towards the allies, the natural urbanity of Cimon
served to conceal a policy deep-laid and grasping. The other Athenian
generals were stern and punctilious in their demands on the
confederates; they required the allotted number of men, and, in
default of the supply, increased the rigour of their exactions. Not
so Cimon--from those whom the ordinary avocations of a peaceful life
rendered averse to active service, he willingly accepted a pecuniary
substitute, equivalent to the value of those ships or soldiers they
should have furnished. These sums, devoted indeed to the general
service, were yet appropriated to the uses of the Athenian navy; thus
the states, hitherto warlike, were artfully suffered to lapse into
peaceful and luxurious pursuits; and the confederates became at once,
under the most lenient pretexts, enfeebled and impoverished by the
very means which strengthened the martial spirit and increased the
fiscal resources of the Athenians. The tributaries found too late,
when they ventured at revolt, that they had parted with the facilities
of resistance. [177]

In the mean while it was the object of Cimon to sustain the naval
ardour and discipline of the Athenians; while the oar and the sword
fell into disuse with the confederates, he kept the greater part of
the citizens in constant rotation at maritime exercise or enterprise--
until experience and increasing power with one, indolence and gradual
subjection with the other, destroying the ancient equality in arms,
made the Athenians masters and their confederates subjects. [178]

VI. According to the wise policy of the ancients, the Athenians never
neglected a suitable opportunity to colonize; thus extending their
dominion while they draughted off the excess of their population, as
well as the more enterprising spirits whom adventure tempted or
poverty aroused. The conquest of Eion had opened to the Athenians a
new prospect of aggrandizement, of which they were now prepared to
seize the advantages. Not far from Eion, and on the banks of the
Strymon, was a place called the Nine Ways, afterward Amphipolis, and
which, from its locality and maritime conveniences, seemed especially
calculated for the site of a new city. Thither ten thousand persons,
some confederates, some Athenians, had been sent to establish a
colony. The views of the Athenians were not, however, in this
enterprise, bounded to its mere legitimate advantages. About the same
time they carried on a dispute with the Thasians relative to certain
mines and places of trade on the opposite coasts of Thrace. The
dispute was one of considerable nicety. The Athenians, having
conquered Eion and the adjacent territory, claimed the possession by
right of conquest. The Thasians, on the other hand, had anciently
possessed some of the mines and the monopoly of the commerce; they had
joined in the confederacy; and, asserting that the conquest had been
made, if by Athenian arms, for the federal good, they demanded that
the ancient privileges should revert to them. The Athenian government
was not disposed to surrender a claim which proffered to avarice the
temptation of mines of gold. The Thasians renounced the confederacy,
and thus gave to the Athenians the very pretext for hostilities which
the weaker state should never permit to the more strong. While the
colony proceeded to its destination, part of the Athenian fleet, under
Cimon, sailed to Thasos--gained a victory by sea--landed on the
island--and besieged the city.

Meanwhile the new colonizers had become masters of the Nine Ways,
having dislodged the Edonian Thracians, its previous habitants. But
hostility following hostility, the colonists were eventually utterly
routed and cut off in a pitched battle at Drabescus (B. C. 465), in
Edonia, by the united forces of all the neighbouring Thracians.

VII. The siege of Thasos still continued, and the besieged took the
precaution to send to Sparta for assistance. That sullen state had
long viewed with indignation the power of Athens; her younger warriors
clamoured against the inert indifference with which a city, for ages
so inferior to Sparta, had been suffered to gain the ascendency over
Greece. In vain had Themistocles been removed; the inexhaustible
genius of the people had created a second Themistocles in Cimon. The
Lacedaemonians, glad of a pretext for quarrel, courteously received
the Thasian ambassadors, and promised to distract the Athenian forces
by an irruption into Attica. They were actively prepared in
concerting measures for this invasion, when sudden and complicated
afflictions, now to be related, forced them to abandon their designs,
and confine their attention to themselves.

VIII. An earthquake, unprecedented in its violence, occurred in
Sparta. In many places throughout Laconia the rocky soil was rent
asunder. From Mount Taygetus, which overhung the city, and on which
the women of Lacedaemon were wont to hold their bacchanalian orgies,
huge fragments rolled into the suburbs. The greater portion of the
city was absolutely overthrown; and it is said, probably with
exaggeration, that only five houses wholly escaped the shock. This
terrible calamity did not cease suddenly as it came; its concussions
were repeated; it buried alike men and treasure: could we credit
Diodorus, no less than twenty thousand persons perished in the shock.
Thus depopulated, empoverished, and distressed, the enemies whom the
cruelty of Sparta nursed within her bosom resolved to seize the moment
to execute their vengeance and consummate her destruction. Under
Pausanias we have seen before that the helots were already ripe for
revolt. The death of that fierce conspirator checked, but did not
crush, their designs of freedom. Now was the moment, when Sparta lay
in ruins--now was the moment to realize their dreams. From field to
field, from village to village, the news of the earthquake became the
watchword of revolt. Up rose the helots (B. C. 464)--they armed
themselves, they poured on--a wild, and gathering, and relentless
multitude, resolved to slay by the wrath of man all whom that of
nature had yet spared. The earthquake that levelled Sparta rent her
chains; nor did the shock create one chasm so dark and wide as that
between the master and the slave.

It is one of the sublimest and most awful spectacles in history--that
city in ruins--the earth still trembling--the grim and dauntless
soldiery collected amid piles of death and ruin; and in such a time,
and such a scene, the multitude sensible, not of danger, but of wrong,
and rising, not to succour, but to revenge: all that should have
disarmed a feebler enmity, giving fire to theirs; the dreadest
calamity their blessing--dismay their hope it was as if the Great
Mother herself had summoned her children to vindicate the long-abused,
the all inalienable heritage derived from her; and the stir of the
angry elements was but the announcement of an armed and solemn union
between nature and the oppressed.

IX. Fortunately for Sparta, the danger was not altogether unforeseen.
After the confusion and horror of the earthquake, and while the
people, dispersed, were seeking to save their effects, Archidamus,
who, four years before, had succeeded to the throne of Lacedaemon,
ordered the trumpets to sound as to arms. That wonderful superiority
of man over matter which habit and discipline can effect, and which
was ever so visible among the Spartans, constituted their safety at
that hour. Forsaking the care of their property, the Spartans seized
their arms, flocked around their king, and drew up in disciplined
array. In her most imminent crisis, Sparta was thus saved. The
helots approached, wild, disorderly, and tumultuous; they came intent
only to plunder and to slay; they expected to find scattered and
affrighted foes--they found a formidable army; their tyrants were
still their lords. They saw, paused, and fled, scattering themselves
over the country--exciting all they met to rebellion, and soon, joined
with the Messenians, kindred to them by blood and ancient
reminiscences of heroic struggles, they seized that same Ithome which
their hereditary Aristodemus had before occupied with unforgotten
valour. This they fortified; and, occupying also the neighbouring
lands, declared open war upon their lords. As the Messenians were the
more worthy enemy, so the general insurrection is known by the name of
the Third Messenian War.

X. While these events occurred in Sparta, Cimon, intrusting to others
the continued siege of Thasos, had returned to Athens [179]. He found
his popularity already shaken, and his power endangered. The
democratic party had of late regained the influence it had lost on the
exile of Themistocles. Pericles, son of Xanthippus (the accuser of
Miltiades), had, during the last six years, insensibly risen into
reputation: the house of Miltiades was fated to bow before the race of
Xanthippus, and hereditary opposition ended in the old hereditary
results. Born of one of the loftiest families of Athens,
distinguished by the fame as the fortunes of his father, who had been
linked with Aristides in command of the Athenian fleet, and in whose
name had been achieved the victory of Mycale, the young Pericles found
betimes an easy opening to his brilliant genius and his high ambition.
He had nothing to contend against but his own advantages. The beauty
of his countenance, the sweetness of his voice, and the blandness of
his address, reminded the oldest citizens of Pisistratus; and this
resemblance is said to have excited against him a popular jealousy
which he found it difficult to surmount. His youth was passed
alternately in the camp and in the schools. He is the first of the
great statesmen of his country who appears to have prepared himself
for action by study; Anaxagoras, Pythoclides, and Damon were his
tutors, and he was early eminent in all the lettered accomplishments
of his time. By degrees, accustoming the people to his appearance in
public life, he became remarkable for an elaborate and impassioned
eloquence, hitherto unknown. With his intellectual and meditative
temperament all was science; his ardour in action regulated by long
forethought, his very words by deliberate preparation. Till his time,
oratory, in its proper sense, as a study and an art, was uncultivated
in Athens. Pisistratus is said to have been naturally eloquent, and
the vigorous mind of Themistocles imparted at once persuasion and
force to his counsels. But Pericles, aware of all the advantages to
be gained by words, embellished words with every artifice that his
imagination could suggest. His speeches were often written
compositions, and the novel dazzle of their diction, and that
consecutive logic which preparation alone can impart to language,
became irresistible to a people that had itself become a Pericles.
Universal civilization, universal poetry, had rendered the audience
susceptible and fastidious; they could appreciate the ornate and
philosophical harangues of Pericles; and, the first to mirror to
themselves the intellectual improvements they had made, the first to
represent the grace and enlightenment, as Themistocles had been the
first to represent the daring and enterprise, of his time, the son of
Xanthippus began already to eclipse that very Cimon whose qualities
prepared the way for him.

XI. We must not suppose, that in the contests between the
aristocratic and popular parties, the aristocracy were always on one
side. Such a division is never to be seen in free constitutions.
There is always a sufficient party of the nobles whom conviction,
ambition, or hereditary predilections will place at the head of the
popular movement; and it is by members of the privileged order that
the order itself is weakened. Athens in this respect, therefore,
resembled England, and as now in the latter state, so then at Athens,
it was often the proudest, the wealthiest, the most high-born of the
aristocrats that gave dignity and success to the progress of
democratic opinion. There, too, the vehemence of party frequently
rendered politics an hereditary heirloom; intermarriages kept together
men of similar factions; and the memory of those who had been the
martyrs or the heroes of a cause mingled with the creed of their
descendants. Thus, it was as natural that one of the race of that
Clisthenes who had expelled the Pisistratides, and popularized the
constitution, should embrace the more liberal side, as that a Russell
should follow out in one age the principles for which his ancestor
perished in another. So do our forefathers become sponsors for
ourselves. The mother of Pericles was the descendant of Clisthenes;
and though Xanthippus himself was of the same party as Aristides, we
may doubt, by his prosecution of Miltiades as well as by his connexion
with the Alcmaeonids, whether he ever cordially co-operated with the
views and the ambition of Cimon. However this be, his brilliant son
cast himself at once into the arms of the more popular faction, and
opposed with all his energy the aristocratic predilections of Cimon.
Not yet, however, able to assume the lead to which he aspired (for it
had now become a matter of time as well as intellect to rise), he
ranged himself under Ephialtes, a personage of whom history gives us
too scanty details, although he enjoyed considerable influence,
increased by his avowed jealousy of the Spartans and his own
unimpeachable integrity.

XII. It is noticeable, that men who become the leaders of the public,
less by the spur of passion than by previous study and conscious
talent--men whom thought and letters prepare for enterprise--are
rarely eager to advance themselves too soon. Making politics a
science, they are even fastidiously alive to the qualities and the
experience demanded for great success; their very self-esteem renders
them seemingly modest; they rely upon time and upon occasion; and,
pushed forward rather by circumstance than their own exertions, it is
long before their ambition and their resources are fully developed.
Despite all his advantages, the rise of Pericles was gradual.

On the return of Cimon the popular party deemed itself sufficiently
strong to manifest its opposition. The expedition to Thasos had not
been attended with results so glorious as to satisfy a people pampered
by a series of triumphs. Cimon was deemed culpable for not having
taken advantage of the access into Macedonia, and added that country
to the Athenian empire. He was even suspected and accused of
receiving bribes from Alexander, the king of Macedon. Pericles [180]
is said to have taken at first an active part in this prosecution; but
when the cause came on, whether moved by the instances of Cimon's
sister, or made aware of the injustice of the accusation, he conducted
himself favourably towards the accused. Cimon himself treated the
charges with a calm disdain; the result was worthy of Athens and
himself. He was honourably acquitted.

XIII. Scarce was this impeachment over, when a Spartan ambassador
arrived at Athens to implore her assistance against the helots; the
request produced a vehement discussion.

Ephialtes strongly opposed the proposition to assist a city, sometimes
openly, always heartily, inimical to Athens. "Much better," he
contended, "to suffer her pride to be humbled, and her powers of
mischief to be impaired." Ever supporting and supported by the
Lacedaemonian party, whether at home or abroad, Cimon, on the other
hand, maintained the necessity of marching to the relief of Sparta.
"Do not," he said, almost sublimely--and his words are reported to
have produced a considerable impression on that susceptible assembly--
"do not suffer Greece to be mutilated, nor deprive Athens of her

The more generous and magnanimous counsel prevailed with a generous
and magnanimous people; and Cimon was sent to the aid of Sparta at the
head of a sufficient force. It may be observed, as a sign of the
political morality of the time, that the wrongs of the helots appear
to have been forgotten. But such is the curse of slavery, that it
unfits its victims to be free, except by preparations and degrees.
And civilization, humanity, and social order are often enlisted on the
wrong side, in behalf of the oppressors, from the license and
barbarity natural to the victories of the oppressed. A conflict
between the negroes and the planters in modern times may not be
unanalogous to that of the helots and Spartans; and it is often a
fatal necessity to extirpate the very men we have maddened, by our own
cruelties, to the savageness of beasts.

It would appear that, during the revolt of the helots and Messenians,
which lasted ten years, the Athenians, under Cimon, marched twice
[181] to the aid of the Spartans. In the first (B. C. 464) they
probably drove the scattered insurgents into the city of Ithome; in
the second (B. C. 461) they besieged the city. In the interval Thasos
surrendered (B. C. 463); the inhabitants were compelled to level their
walls, to give up their shipping, to pay the arrear of tribute, to
defray the impost punctually in future, and to resign all claims on
the continent and the mines.

XIV. Thus did the Athenians establish their footing on the Thracian
continent, and obtain the possession of the golden mines, which they
mistook for wealth. In the second expedition of the Athenians, the
long-cherished jealousy between themselves and the Spartans could no
longer be smothered. The former were applied to especially from their
skill in sieges, and their very science galled perhaps the pride of
the martial Spartans. While, as the true art of war was still so
little understood, that even the Athenians were unable to carry the
town by assault, and compelled to submit to the tedious operations of
a blockade, there was ample leisure for those feuds which the
uncongenial habits and long rivalry of the nations necessarily
produced. Proud of their Dorian name, the Spartans looked on the
Ionic race of Athens as aliens. Severe in their oligarchic
discipline, they regarded the Athenian Demus as innovators; and, in
the valour itself of their allies, they detected a daring and restless
energy which, if serviceable now, might easily be rendered dangerous
hereafter. They even suspected the Athenians of tampering with the
helots--led, it may be, to that distrust by the contrast, which they
were likely to misinterpret, between their own severity and the
Athenian mildness towards the servile part of their several
populations, and also by the existence of a powerful party at Athens,
which had opposed the assistance Cimon afforded. With their usual
tranquil and wary policy, the Spartan government attempted to conceal
their real fears, and simply alleging they had no further need of
their assistance, dismissed the Athenians. But that people,
constitutionally irritable, perceiving that, despite this hollow
pretext, the other allies, including the obnoxious Aeginetans, were
retained, received their dismissal as an insult. Thinking justly that
they had merited a nobler confidence from the Spartans, they gave way
to their first resentment, and disregarding the league existing yet
between themselves and Sparta against the Mede--the form of which had
survived the spirit--they entered into an alliance with the Argives,
hereditary enemies of Sparta, and in that alliance the Aleuads of
Thessaly were included.

XV. The obtaining of these decrees by the popular party was the
prelude to the fall of Cimon. The talents of that great man were far
more eminent in war than peace; and despite his real or affected
liberality of demeanour, he wanted either the faculty to suit the
time, or the art to conceal his deficiencies. Raised to eminence by
Spartan favour, he had ever too boldly and too imprudently espoused
the Spartan cause. At first, when the Athenians obtained their naval
ascendency--and it was necessary to conciliate Sparta--the partiality
with which Cimon was regarded by that state was his recommendation;
now when, no longer to be conciliated, Sparta was to be dreaded and
opposed, it became his ruin. It had long been his custom to laud the
Spartans at the expense of the Athenians, and to hold out their
manners as an example to the admiration of his countrymen. It was a
favourite mode of reproof with him--"The Spartans would not have done
this." It was even remembered against him that he had called his son
Lacedaemonius. These predilections had of late rankled in the popular
mind; and now, when the Athenian force had been contumeliously
dismissed, it was impossible to forget that Cimon had obtained the
decree of the relief, and that the mortification which resulted from
it was the effect of his counsels.

Public spirit ran high against the Spartans, and at the head of the
Spartan faction in Athens stood Cimon.

XVI. But at this time, other events, still more intimately connected
with the Athenian politics, conspired to weaken the authority of this
able general. Those constitutional reforms, which are in reality
revolutions under a milder name, were now sweeping away the last
wrecks of whatever of the old aristocratic system was still left to
the Athenian commonwealth.

We have seen that the democratic party had increased in power by the
decree of Aristides, which opened all offices to all ranks. This, as
yet, was productive less of actual than of moral effects. The liberal
opinions possessed by a part of the aristocracy, and the legitimate
influence which in all countries belongs to property and high descent
(greatest, indeed, where the countries are most free)--secured, as a
general rule, the principal situations in the state to rank and
wealth. But the moral effect of the decree was to elevate the lower
classes with a sense of their own power and dignity, and every victory
achieved over a foreign foe gave new authority to the people whose
voices elected the leader--whose right arms won the battle.

The constitution previous to Solon was an oligarchy of birth. Solon
rendered it an aristocracy of property. Clisthenes widened its basis
from property to population; as we have already seen, it was, in all
probability, Clisthenes also who weakened the more illicit and
oppressive influences of wealth, by establishing the ballot or secret
suffrage instead of the open voting, which was common in the time of
Solon. It is the necessary constitution of society, that when one
class obtains power, the ancient checks to that power require
remodelling. The Areopagus was designed by Solon as the aristocratic
balance to the popular assembly. But in all states in which the
people and the aristocracy are represented, the great blow to the
aristocratic senate is given, less by altering its own constitution
than by infusing new elements of democracy into the popular assembly.
The old boundaries are swept away, not by the levelling of the bank,
but by the swelling of the torrent. The checks upon democracy ought
to be so far concealed as to be placed in the representation of the
democracy itself; for checks upon its progress from without are but as
fortresses to be stormed; and what, when latent, was the influence of
a friend, when apparent, is the resistance of a foe.

The Areopagus, the constitutional bulwark of the aristocratic party of
Athens, became more and more invidious to the people. And now, when
Cimon resisted every innovation on that assembly, he only ensured his
own destruction, while he expedited the policy he denounced.
Ephialtes directed all the force of the popular opinion against this
venerable senate; and at length, though not openly assisted by
Pericles [182], who took no prominent part in the contention, that
influential statesman succeeded in crippling its functions and
limiting its authority.

XVII. I do not propose to plunge the reader into the voluminous and
unprofitable controversy on the exact nature of the innovations of
Ephialtes which has agitated the students of Germany. It appears to
me most probable that the Areopagus retained the right of adjudging
cases of homicide [183], and little besides of its ancient
constitutional authority, that it lost altogether its most dangerous
power in the indefinite police it had formerly exercised over the
habits and morals of the people, that any control of the finances was
wisely transferred to the popular senate [184], that its irresponsible
character was abolished, and it was henceforth rendered accountable to
the people. Such alterations were not made without exciting the deep
indignation of the aristocratic faction.

In all state reforms a great and comprehensive mind does not so much
consider whether each reform is just, as what will be the ultimate
ascendency given to particular principles. Cimon preferred to all
constitutions a limited aristocracy, and his practical experience
regarded every measure in its general tendency towards or against the
system which he honestly advocated.

XVIII. The struggle between the contending parties and principles had
commenced before Cimon's expedition to Ithome; the mortification
connected with that event, in weakening Cimon, weakened the
aristocracy itself. Still his fall was not immediate [185], nor did
it take place as a single and isolated event, but as one of the
necessary consequences of the great political change effected by
Ephialtes. All circumstances, however, conspired to place the son of
Miltiades in a situation which justified the suspicion and jealousy of
the Athenians. Of all the enemies, how powerful soever, that Athens
could provoke, none were so dangerous as Lacedaemon.

Dark, wily, and implacable, the rugged queen of the Peloponnesus
reared her youth in no other accomplishments than those of stratagem
and slaughter. Her enmity against Athens was no longer smothered.
Athens had everything to fear, not less from her influence than her
armies. It was not, indeed, so much from the unsheathed sword as from
the secret councils of Sparta that danger was to be apprehended. It
cannot be too often remembered, that among a great portion of the
Athenian aristocracy, the Spartan government maintained a considerable
and sympathetic intelligence. That government ever sought to adapt
and mould all popular constitutions to her own oligarchic model; and
where she could not openly invade, she secretly sought to undermine,
the liberties of her neighbours. Thus, in addition to all fear from
an enemy in the field, the Athenian democracy were constantly excited
to suspicion against a spy within the city: always struggling with an
aristocratic party, which aimed at regaining the power it had lost,
there was just reason to apprehend that that party would seize any
occasion to encroach upon the popular institutions; every feud with
Sparta consequently seemed to the Athenian people, nor without cause,
to subject to intrigue and conspiracy their civil freedom; and (as
always happens with foreign interference, whether latent or avowed)
exasperated whatever jealousies already existed against those for
whose political interests the interference was exerted. Bearing this
in mind, we shall see no cause to wonder at the vehement opposition to
which Cimon was now subjected. We are driven ourselves to search
deeply into the causes which led to his prosecution, as to that of
other eminent men in Athens, from want of clear and precise historical
details. Plutarch, to whom, in this instance, we are compelled
chiefly to resort, is a most equivocal authority. Like most
biographers, his care is to exalt his hero, though at the expense of
that hero's countrymen; and though an amiable writer, nor without some
semi-philosophical views in morals, his mind was singularly deficient
in grasp and in comprehension. He never penetrates the subtle causes
of effects. He surveys the past, sometimes as a scholar, sometimes as
a taleteller, sometimes even as a poet, but never as a statesman.
Thus, we learn from him little of the true reasons for the ostracism,
either of Aristides, of Themistocles, or of Cimon--points now
intricate, but which might then, alas! have been easily cleared up by
a profound inquirer, to the acquittal alike of themselves and of their
judges. To the natural deficiencies of Plutarch we must add his party
predilections. He was opposed to democratic opinions--and that
objection, slight in itself, or it might be urged against many of the
best historians and the wisest thinkers, is rendered weighty in that
he was unable to see, that in all human constitutions perfection is
impossible, that we must take the evil with the good, and that what he
imputes to one form of government is equally attributable to another.
For in what monarchy, what oligarchy, have not great men been
misunderstood, and great merits exposed to envy!

Thus, in the life of Cimon, Plutarch says that it was "on a slight
pretext" [186] that that leader of the Spartan party in Athens was
subjected to the ostracism. We have seen enough to convince us that,
whatever the pretext, the reasons, at least, were grave and solid--
that they were nothing short of Cimon's unvarying ardour for, and
constant association with, the principles and the government of that
state most inimical to Athens, and the suspicious policy of which was,
in all times--at that time especially--fraught with danger to her
power, her peace, and her institutions. Could we penetrate farther
into the politics of the period, we might justify the Athenians yet
more. Without calling into question the integrity and the patriotism
of Cimon, without supposing that he would have entered into any
intrigue against the Athenian independence of foreign powers--a
supposition his subsequent conduct effectually refutes--he might, as a
sincere and warm partisan of the nobles, and a resolute opposer of the
popular party, have sought to restore at home the aristocratic balance
of power, by whatever means his great rank, and influence, and
connexion with the Lacedaemonian party could afford him. We are told,
at least, that he not only opposed all the advances of the more
liberal party--that he not only stood resolutely by the interests and
dignities of the Areopagus, which had ceased to harmonize with the
more modern institutions, but that he expressly sought to restore
certain prerogatives which that assembly had formally lost during his
foreign expeditions, and that he earnestly endeavoured to bring back
the whole constitution to the more aristocratic government established
by Clisthenes. It is one thing to preserve, it is another to restore.
A people may be deluded under popular pretexts out of the rights they
have newly acquired, but they never submit to be openly despoiled of
them. Nor can we call that ingratitude which is but the refusal to
surrender to the merits of an individual the acquisitions of a nation.

All things considered, then, I believe, that if ever ostracism was
justifiable, it was so in the case of Cimon--nay, it was perhaps
absolutely essential to the preservation of the constitution. His
very honesty made him resolute in his attempts against that
constitution. His talents, his rank, his fame, his services, only
rendered those attempts more dangerous.

XIX. Could the reader be induced to view, with an examination equally
dispassionate, the several ostracisms of Aristides and Themistocles,
he might see equal causes of justification, both in the motives and in
the results. The first was absolutely necessary for the defeat of the
aristocratic party, and the removal of restrictions on those energies
which instantly found the most glorious vents for action; the second
was justified by a similar necessity that produced similar effects.
To impartial eyes a people may be vindicated without traducing those
whom a people are driven to oppose. In such august and complicated
trials the accuser and defendant may be both innocent.


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

I. Cimon, summoned to the ostracism, was sentenced to its appointed
term of banishment--ten years. By his removal, the situation of
Pericles became suddenly more prominent and marked, and he mingled
with greater confidence and boldness in public affairs. The vigour of
the new administration was soon manifest. Megara had hitherto been
faithful to the Lacedaemonian alliance--a dispute relative to the
settlement of frontiers broke out between that state and Corinth.
Although the Corinthian government, liberal and enlightened, was often
opposed to the Spartan oligarchy, it was still essential to the
interest of both those Peloponnesian states to maintain a firm general
alliance, and to keep the Peloponnesian confederacy as a
counterbalance to the restless ambition of the new head of the Ionian
league. Sparta could not, therefore, have been slow in preferring the
alliance of Corinth to that of Megara. On the other hand, Megara, now
possessed of a democratic constitution, had long since abandoned the
Dorian character and habits. The situation of its territories, the
nature of its institutions, alike pointed to Athens as its legitimate
ally. Thus, when the war broke out between Megara and Corinth, on the
side of the latter appeared Sparta, while Megara naturally sought the
assistance of Athens. The Athenian government eagerly availed itself
of the occasion to increase the power which Athens was now rapidly
extending over Greece. If we cast our eyes along the map of Greece,
we shall perceive that the occupation of Megara proffered peculiar
advantages. It became at once a strong and formidable fortress
against any incursions from the Peloponnesus, while its seaports of
Nisaea and Pegae opened new fields, both of ambition and of commerce,
alike on the Saronic and the Gulf of Corinth. The Athenians seized
willingly on the alliance thus offered to them, and the Megarians had
the weakness to yield both Megara and Pegae to Athenian garrisons,
while the Athenians fortified their position by long walls that united
Megara with its harbour at Nisaea.

II. A new and more vast enterprise contributed towards the stability
of the government by draining off its bolder spirits, and diverting
the popular attention from domestic to foreign affairs.

It is necessary to pass before us, in brief review, the vicissitudes
of the Persian court. In republican Greece, the history of the people
marches side by side with the biography of great men. In despotic
Persia, all history dies away in the dark recesses and sanguinary
murthers of a palace governed by eunuchs and defended but by slaves.

In the year 465 B. C. the reign of the unfortunate Xerxes drew to its
close. On his return to Susa, after the disastrous results of the
Persian invasion, he had surrendered himself to the indolent luxury of
a palace. An able and daring traitor, named Artabanus [187], but who
seems to have been a different personage from that Artabanus whose
sagacity had vainly sought to save the armies of Xerxes from the
expedition to Greece, entered into a conspiracy against the feeble
monarch. By the connivance of a eunuch, he penetrated at night the
chamber of the king--and the gloomy destinies of Xerxes were
consummated by assassination. Artabanus sought to throw the guilt
upon Darius, the eldest son of the murdered king; and Artaxerxes, the
younger brother, seems to have connived at a charge which might render
himself the lawful heir to the throne. Darius accordingly perished by
the same fate as his father. The extreme youth of Artaxerxes had
induced Artabanus to believe that but a slender and insecure life now
stood between himself and the throne; but the young prince was already
master of the royal art of dissimulation: he watched his opportunity--
and by a counter-revolution Artabanus was sacrificed to the manes of
his victims. [188]

Thus Artaxerxes obtained the undisturbed possession of the Persian
throne (B. C. 464). The new monarch appears to have derived from
nature a stronger intellect than his father. But the abuses, so rapid
and rank of growth in Eastern despotisms, which now ate away the
strength of the Persian monarchy, were already, perhaps, past the
possibility of reform. The enormous extent of the ill-regulated
empire tempted the ambition of chiefs who might have plausibly hoped,
that as the Persian masters had now degenerated to the effeminacy of
the Assyrians they had supplanted, so the enterprise of a second Cyrus
might be crowned by a similar success.

Egypt had been rather overrun by Xerxes than subdued--and the spirit
of its ancient people waited only the occasion of revolt. A Libyan
prince, of the name of Inarus, whose territories bordered Egypt,
entered that country (B. C. 460), and was hailed by the greater part
of the population as a deliverer. The recent murder of Xerxes--the
weakness of a new reign, commenced in so sanguinary a manner, appeared
to favour their desire of independence; and the African adventurer
beheld himself at the head of a considerable force. Having already
secured foreign subsidiaries, Inarus was anxious yet more to
strengthen himself abroad; and more than one ambassador was despatched
to Athens, soliciting her assistance, and proffering, in return, a
share in the government for whose establishment her arms were
solicited: a singular fatality, that the petty colony which, if we
believe tradition, had so many centuries ago settled in the then
obscure corners of Attica, should now be chosen the main auxiliary of
the parent state in her vital struggles for national independence.

III. In acceding to the propositions of Inarus, Pericles yielded to
considerations wholly contrary to his after policy, which made it a
principal object to confine the energies of Athens within the limits
of Greece. It is probable that that penetrating and scientific
statesman (if indeed he had yet attained to a position which enabled
him to follow out his own conceptions) saw that every new government
must dazzle either by great enterprises abroad or great changes at
home--and that he preferred the former. There are few sacrifices that
a wary minister, newly-established, from whom high hopes are
entertained, and who can justify the destruction of a rival party only
by the splendour of its successor--will not hazard rather than incur
the contempt which follows disappointment. He will do something that
is dangerous rather than do nothing that is brilliant.

Neither the hatred nor the fear of Persia was at an end in Athens; and
to carry war into the heart of her empire was a proposition eagerly
hailed. The more democratic and turbulent portion of the populace,
viz., the seamen, had already been disposed of in an expedition of two
hundred triremes against Cyprus. But the distant and magnificent
enterprise of Egypt--the hope of new empire--the lust of undiscovered
treasures--were more alluring than the reduction of Cyprus. That
island was abandoned, and the fleet, composed both of Athenian and
confederate ships, sailed up the Nile. Masters of that river, the
Athenians advanced to Memphis, the capital of Lower Egypt. They
stormed and took two of the divisions of that city; the third, called
the White Castle (occupied by the Medes, the Persians, and such of the
Egyptians as had not joined the revolt), resisted their assault.

IV. While thus occupied in Egypt, the Athenian arms were equally
employed in Greece. The whole forces of the commonwealth were in
demand--war on every side. The alliance with Megara not only created
an enemy in Corinth, but the Peloponnesian confederacy became involved
with the Attic: Lacedaemon herself, yet inert, but menacing; while the
neighbouring Aegina, intent and jealous, prepared for hostilities soon

The Athenians forestalled the attack--made a descent on Haliae, in
Argolis--were met by the Corinthians and Epidaurians, and the result
of battle was the victory of the latter. This defeat the Athenians
speedily retrieved at sea. Off Cecryphalea, in the Saronic gulf, they
attacked and utterly routed the Peloponnesian fleet. And now Aegina
openly declared war and joined the hostile league. An important
battle was fought by these two maritime powers with the confederates
of either side. The Athenians were victorious--took seventy ships--
and, pushing the advantage they had obtained, landed in Aegina and
besieged her city. Three hundred heavy-armed Peloponnesians were
despatched to the relief of Aegina; while the Corinthians invaded the
Megarian territory, seized the passes of Geranea, and advanced to
Megara with their allies. Never was occasion more propitious. So
large a force in Egypt, so large a force at Aegina--how was it
possible for the Athenians to march to the aid of Megara? They
appeared limited to the choice either to abandon Megara or to raise
the siege of Aegina: so reasoned the Peloponnesians. But the
advantage of a constitution widely popular is, that the whole
community become soldiers in time of need. Myronides, an Athenian of
great military genius, not unassisted by Pericles, whose splendid
qualities now daily developed themselves, was well adapted to give
direction to the enthusiasm of the people. Not a man was called from
Aegina. The whole regular force disposed of, there yet remained at
Athens those too aged and those too young for the ordinary service.
Under Myronides, boys and old men marched at once to the assistance of
their Megarian ally. A battle ensued; both sides retiring, neither
considered itself defeated. But the Corinthians retreating to
Corinth, the Athenians erected a trophy on the field. The Corinthian
government received its troops with reproaches, and, after an interval
of twelve days, the latter returned to the scene of contest, and
asserting their claim to the victory, erected a trophy of their own.
During the work the Athenians sallied from Megara, where they had
ensconced themselves, attacked and put to flight the Corinthians; and
a considerable portion of the enemy turning into ground belonging to a
private individual, became entangled in a large pit or ditch, from
which was but one outlet, viz., that by which they had entered. At
this passage the Athenians stationed their heavy-armed troops, while
the light-armed soldiers surrounded the ditch, and with the missiles
of darts and stones put the enemy to death. The rest (being the
greater part) of the Corinthian forces effected a safe but
dishonourable retreat.

V. This victory effected and Megara secured--although Aegina still
held out, and although the fate of the Egyptian expedition was still
unknown--the wonderful activity of the government commenced what even
in times of tranquillity would have been a great and arduous
achievement. To unite their city with its seaports, they set to work
at the erection of the long walls, which extended from Athens both to
Phalerus and Piraeus. Under Cimon, preparations already had been made
for the undertaking, and the spoils of Persia now provided the means
for the defence of Athens.

Meanwhile, the Spartans still continued at the siege of Ithome. We
must not imagine that all the helots had joined in the revolt. This,
indeed, would be almost to suppose the utter disorganization of the
Spartan state. The most luxurious subjects of a despotism were never
more utterly impotent in procuring for themselves the necessaries of
life, than were the hardy and abstemious freemen of the Dorian Sparta.
It was dishonour for a Spartan to till the land--to exercise a trade.
He had all the prejudices against any calling but that of arms which
characterized a noble of the middle ages.

As is ever the case in the rebellion of slaves, the rise was not
universal; a sufficient number of these wretched dependants remained
passive and inert to satisfy the ordinary wants of their masters, and
to assist in the rebuilding of the town. Still the Spartans were
greatly enfeebled, crippled, and embarrassed by the loss of the rest:
and the siege of Ithome sufficed to absorb their attention, and to
make them regard without open hostilities, if with secret enmity, the
operations of the Athenians. The Spartan alliance formally dissolved
--Megara, with its command of the Peloponnesus seized--the Doric city
of Corinth humbled and defeated--Aegina blockaded; all these--the
Athenian proceedings--the Spartans bore without any formal declaration
of war.

VI. And now, in the eighth year of the Messenian war, piety succeeded
where pride and revenge had failed, and the Spartans permitted other
objects to divide their attention with the siege of Ithome. It was
one of the finest characteristics of that singular people, their
veneration for antiquity. For the little, rocky, and obscure
territory of Doris, whence tradition derived their origin, they felt
the affection and reverence of sons. A quarrel arising between the
people of this state and the neighbouring Phocians, the latter invaded
Doris, and captured one of its three towns [189]. The Lacedaemonians
marched at once to the assistance of their reputed father-land, with
an army of no less than fifteen hundred heavy-armed Spartans and ten
thousand of their Peloponnesian allies [190], under the command of
Nicomedes, son of Cleombrotus, and guardian of their king Pleistoanax,
still a minor. They forced the Phocians to abandon the town they had
taken; and having effectually protected Doris by a treaty of peace
between the two nations, prepared to return home. But in this they
were much perplexed; the pass of Geranea was now occupied by the
Athenians: Megara, too, and Pegae were in their hands. Should they
pass by sea through the Gulf of Crissa, an Athenian squadron already
occupied that passage. Either way they were intercepted [191]. Under
all circumstances, they resolved to halt a while in Boeotia, and watch
an opportunity to effect their return. But with these ostensible
motives for that sojourn assigned by Thucydides, there was another
more deep and latent. We have had constant occasion to remark how
singularly it was the Spartan policy to plot against the constitution
of free states, and how well-founded was the Athenian jealousy of the
secret interference of the Grecian Venice.

Halting now in Boeotia, Nicomedes entered into a clandestine
communication with certain of the oligarchic party in Athens, the
object of the latter being the overthrow of the existent popular
constitution. With this object was certainly linked the recall of
Cimon, though there is no reason to believe that great general a party
in the treason. This conspiracy was one main reason of the halt in
Boeotia. Another was, probably, the conception of a great and politic
design, glanced at only by historians, but which, if successful, would
have ranked among the masterpieces of Spartan statesmanship. This
design was--while Athens was to be weakened by internal divisions, and
her national spirit effectually curbed by the creation of an
oligarchy, the tool of Sparta--to erect a new rival to Athens in the
Boeotian Thebes. It is true that this project was not, according to
Diodorus, openly apparent until after the battle of Tanagra. But such
a scheme required preparation; and the sojourn of Nicomedes in Boeotia
afforded him the occasion to foresee its possibility and prepare his
plans. Since the Persian invasion, Thebes had lost her importance,
not only throughout Greece, but throughout Boeotia, her dependant
territory. Many of the states refused to regard her as their capital,
and the Theban government desired to regain its power. Promises to
make war upon Athens rendered the Theban power auxiliary to Sparta:
the more Thebes was strengthened, the more Athens was endangered: and
Sparta, ever averse to quitting the Peloponnesus, would thus erect a
barrier to the Athenian arms on the very frontiers of Attica.

VII. While such were the designs and schemes of Nicomedes, the
conspiracy of the aristocratic party could not be so secret in Athens
but what some rumour, some suspicion, broke abroad. The people became
alarmed and incensed. They resolved to anticipate the war; and,
judging Nicomedes cut off from retreat, and embarrassed and confined
in his position, they marched against him with a thousand Argives,
with a band of Thessalian horse, and some other allied troops drawn
principally from Ionia, which, united to the whole force of the armed
population within their walls, amounted, in all, to fourteen thousand

VIII. It is recorded by Plutarch, that during their march Cimon
appeared, and sought permission to join the army. This was refused by
the senate of Five Hundred, to whom the petition was referred, not
from any injurious suspicion of Cimon, but from a natural fear that
his presence, instead of inspiring confidence, would create confusion;
and that it might be plausibly represented that he sought less to
resist the Spartans than to introduce them into Athens--a proof how
strong was the impression against him, and how extensive had been the
Spartan intrigues. Cimon retired, beseeching his friends to vindicate
themselves from the aspersions cast upon them. Placing the armour of
Cimon--a species of holy standard--in their ranks, a hundred of the
warmest supporters among his tribe advanced to battle conscious of the
trust committed to their charge.

IX. In the territory of Tanagra a severe engagement took place. On
that day Pericles himself fought in the thickest part of the battle
(B. C. 457); exposing himself to every danger, as if anxious that the
loss of Cimon should not be missed. The battle was long, obstinate,
and even: when in the midst of it, the Thessalian cavalry suddenly
deserted to the Spartans. Despite this treachery, the Athenians, well
supported by the Argives, long maintained their ground with advantage.
But when night separated the armies [192], victory remained with the
Spartans and their allies. [193]

The Athenians were not, however, much disheartened by defeat, nor did
the Spartans profit by their advantage. Anxious only for escape,
Nicomedes conducted his forces homeward, passed through Megara,
destroying the fruit-trees on his march; and, gaining the pass of
Geranea, which the Athenians had deserted to join the camp at Tanagra,
arrived at Lacedaemon.

Meanwhile the Thebans took advantage of the victory to extend their
authority, agreeably to the project conceived with Sparta. Thebes now
attempted the reduction of all the cities of Boeotia. Some submitted,
others opposed.

X. Aware of the necessity of immediate measures against a neighbour,
brave, persevering, and ambitious, the Athenian government lost no
time in recruiting its broken forces. Under Myronides, an army,
collected from the allies and dependant states, was convened to
assemble upon a certain day. Many failed the appointment, and the
general was urged to delay his march till their arrival. "It is not
the part of a general," said Myronides, sternly, "to await the
pleasure of his soldiers! By delay I read an omen of the desire of
the loiterers to avoid the enemy. Better rely upon a few faithful
than on many disaffected."

With a force comparatively small, Myronides commenced his march,
entered Boeotia sixty-two days only after the battle of Tanagra, and,
engaging the Boeotians at Oenophyta, obtained a complete and splendid
victory (B. C. 456). This battle, though Diodorus could find no
details of the action, was reckoned by Athens among the most glorious
she had ever achieved; preferred by the vain Greeks even to those of
Marathon and Plataea, inasmuch as Greek was opposed to Greek, and not
to the barbarians. Those who fell on the Athenian side were first
honoured by public burial in the Ceramichus--"As men," says Plato,
"who fought against Grecians for the liberties of Greece." Myronides
followed up his victory by levelling the walls of Tanagra. All
Boeotia, except Thebes herself, was brought into the Athenian
alliance--as democracies in the different towns, replacing the
oligarchical governments, gave the moral blow to the Spartan
ascendency. Thus, in effect, the consequences of the battle almost
deserved the eulogies bestowed upon the victory. Those consequences
were to revolutionize nearly all the states in Boeotia; and, by
calling up a democracy in each state, Athens at once changed enemies
into allies.

From Boeotia, Myronides marched to Phocis, and, pursuing the same
policy, rooted out the oligarchies, and established popular
governments. The Locrians of Opus gave a hundred of their wealthiest
citizens as hostages. Returned to Athens, Myronides was received with
public rejoicings [194], and thus closed a short but brilliant
campaign, which had not only conquered enemies, but had established
everywhere garrisons of friends.

XI. Although the banishment of Cimon had appeared to complete the
triumph of the popular party in Athens, his opinions were not banished
also. Athens, like all free states, was ever agitated by the feud of
parties, at once its danger and its strength. Parties in Athens were,
however, utterly unlike many of those that rent the peace of the
Italian republics; nor are they rightly understood in the vague
declamations of Barthelemi or Mitford; they were not only parties of
names and men--they were also parties of principles--the parties of
restriction and of advance. And thus the triumph of either was
invariably followed by the triumph of the principle it espoused.
Nobler than the bloody contests of mere faction, we do not see in
Athens the long and sweeping proscriptions, the atrocious massacres
that attended the party-strifes of ancient Rome or of modern Italy.
The ostracism, or the fine, of some obnoxious and eminent partisans,
usually contented the wrath of the victorious politicians. And in the
advance of a cause the people found the main vent for their passions.
I trust, however, that I shall not be accused of prejudice when I
state as a fact, that the popular party in Athens seems to have been
much more moderate and less unprincipled even in its excesses than its
antagonists. We never see it, like the Pisistratidae, leagued with
the Persian, nor with Isagoras, betraying Athens to the Spartan. What
the oligarchic faction did when triumphant, we see hereafter in the
establishment of the Thirty Tyrants. And compared with their
offences, the ostracism of Aristides, or the fine and banishment of
Cimon, lose all their colours of wrong.

XII. The discontented advocates for an oligarchy, who had intrigued
with Nicomedes, had been foiled in their object, partly by the conduct
of Cimon in disavowing all connexion with them, partly by the retreat
of Nicomedes himself. Still their spirit was too fierce to suffer
them to forego their schemes without a struggle, and after the battle
of Tanagra they broke out into open conspiracy against the republic.

The details of this treason are lost to us; it is one of the darkest
passages of Athenian history. From scattered and solitary references
we can learn, however, that for a time it threatened the democracy
with ruin. [195]

The victory of the Spartans at Tanagra gave strength to the Spartan
party in Athens; it also inspired with fear many of the people; it was
evidently desirable rather to effect a peace with Sparta than to
hazard a war. Who so likely to effect that peace as the banished
Cimon? Now was the time to press for his recall. Either at this
period, or shortly afterward, Ephialtes, his most vehement enemy, was
barbarously murdered--according to Aristotle, a victim to the hatred
of the nobles.

XIII. Pericles had always conducted his opposition to Cimon with
great dexterity and art; and indeed the aristocratic leaders of
contending parties are rarely so hostile to each other as their
subordinate followers suppose. In the present strife for the recall
of his rival, amid all the intrigues and conspiracies, the open
violence and the secret machination, which threatened not only the
duration of the government, but the very existence of the republic,
Pericles met the danger by proposing himself the repeal of Cimon's

Plutarch, with a childish sentimentality common to him when he means
to be singularly effective, bursts into an exclamation upon the
generosity of this step, and the candour and moderation of those
times, when resentments could be so easily laid aside. But the
profound and passionless mind of Pericles was above all the weakness
of a melodramatic generosity. And it cannot be doubted that this
measure was a compromise between the government and the more moderate
and virtuous of the aristocratic party. Perhaps it was the most
advantageous compromise Pericles was enabled to effect; for by
concession with respect to individuals, we can often prevent
concession as to things. The recall [196] of the great leader of the
anti-popular faction may have been deemed equivalent to the surrender
of many popular rights. And had we a deeper insight into the
intrigues of that day and the details of the oligarchic conspiracy, I
suspect we should find that, by recalling Cimon, Pericles saved the
constitution. [197]

XIV. The first and most popular benefit anticipated from the recall
of the son of Miltiades in a reconciliation between Sparta and Athens,
was not immediately realized further than by an armistice of four
months. [198]

About this time the long walls of the Piraeus were completed (B. C.
455), and shortly afterward Aegina yielded to the arms of the
Athenians (B. C. 455), upon terms which subjected the citizens of that
gallant and adventurous isle (whose achievements and commerce seem no
less a miracle than the greatness of Athens when we survey the limits
of their narrow and rocky domain) to the rival they had long so

Book of the day: