Part 5 out of 11
Only the types in things that once were ye.
Whether ye rest upon some bosky knoll,
Your feet by ancient myrtles beautified,
Or seem, like fabled dragons, to unroll
Your swarthy grandeurs down a bleak hill-side,
Still on your savage features is a spell
That makes ye half divine, ineffable.
With joy upon your height I stand alone,
As on a precipice, or lie within
Your shadow wide, or leap from stone to stone,
Pointing my steps with careful discipline,
And think of those grand limbs whose nerve could bear
These masses to their places in mid-air:
Of Anakim, and Titans, and of days
Saturnian, when the spirit of man was knit
So close to Nature that his best essays
At Art were but in all to follow it,
In all--dimension, dignity, degree;
And thus these mighty things were made to be.
It was in the erection of the temples of the gods, however, that
Grecian architecture had its ornamental origin, and also made
its most rapid progress. The primeval altar, differing but little
from a common hearth, was supplanted by the wooden habitation
of the god, and the latter in turn gave way to the temple of
stone. Then rapidly rose the three famed orders of architecture
--the Doric, the Ionic, and the Corinthian--the first solemn,
massive, and imposing, while the others exhibit, in their ornamental
features, a gradual advance to perfection.
And nobly plain, the manly Doric rose;
The Ionic then, with decent matron grace,
Her airy pillar heaved; luxuriant last,
The rich Corinthian spread her wanton wreath.
Passing over the earlier structures devoted to purposes of worship,
we find at the beginning of the sixth century several magnificent
temples in course of erection. Among these the most celebrated
were the Temple of He'ra (Juno), at Samos, and the Temple of
Ar'temis (Diana), at Ephesus. The order of architecture adopted
in the first was Doric, and in the second Ionic. Both were built
of white marble. The former was 346 feet in length and 189 feet
in breadth; while the latter was 425 feet long and 220 feet broad.
Its columns were 127 in number, and 60 feet in height; and the
blocks of marble composing the architrave, or chief beams resting
immediately on the columns, were 30 feet in length.
CHER'SIPHRON, AND THE TEMPLE OF DIANA.
The great Temple of Diana was commenced under the supervision
of Chersiphron, an architect of Crete, but it occupied over two
hundred years in building. It is related of Chersiphron that,
having erected the jambs of the great door to the temple, he
failed, after repeated efforts, continued for many days, to bring
the massive lintel to its place in line with the jambs. He finally
sank down in despair, and fell asleep. In his dreams he saw the
divine form of the goddess, who assured him that those who labored
for the gods should not go unrewarded. On awaking he beheld the
massive lintel in its proper place, laid there by the hand of the
goddess herself. An American sculptor and poet relates the incident,
and gives its moral in the following poem:
When to the utmost we have tasked our powers,
And Nem'esis still frowns and shakes her head;
When, wearied out and baffled, we confess
Our utter weakness, and the tired hand drops,
And Hope flees from us, and in blank despair
We sink to earth, the face, so stern before,
August will smile--the hand before withdrawn
Reach out the help we vainly pleaded for,
Take up our task, and in a moment do
What all our strength was powerless to achieve.
Unless the gods smile, human toil is vain.
The crowning blessing of all work is drawn
Not from ourselves, but from the powers above.
And this none better knew than Chersiphron,
When on the plains of Ephesus he reared
The splendid temple built to Artemis.
With patient labor he had placed at last
The solid jambs on either side the door,
And now for many a weary day he strove
With many a plan and many a fresh device,
Still seeking and still failing, on the jambs
Level to lay the lintel's massive weight:
Still it defied him; and, worn out at last,
Along the steps he laid him down at night.
Sleep would not come. With dull distracting pain
The problem hunted through his feverish thoughts,
Till in his dark despair he longed for death,
And threatened his own life with his own hand.
Peace came at last upon him, and he slept;
And in his sleep, before his dreaming eyes
He saw the form divine of Artemis:
O'er him she bent and smiled, and softly said,
"Live, Chersiphron! Who labor for the gods
The gods reward. Behold, your work is done!"
Then, like a mist that melts into the sky,
She vanished; and awaking, he beheld,
Laid by her hand above the entrance-door,
The ponderous lintel level on the jambs.
--W. W. STORY.
Another celebrated temple of this period was that of Delphi,
which was rebuilt, after its destruction by fire in 548 B.C.,
at a cost equivalent to more than half a million of dollars.
It was in the Doric style, and was faced with Parian marble.
About the same time the Temple of Olympian Jove was commenced
or restored at Athens by Pisistratus. All the temples mentioned
have nearly disappeared. That of Diana, at Ephesus, was burned
by Heros'tratus, in order to immortalize his name, on the night
that Alexander the Great was born (356 B.C.). It was subsequently
rebuilt with greater magnificence, and enriched by the genius of
Sco'pas, Praxit'eles, Parrha'sius, Apel'les, and other celebrated
sculptors and painters. A few of its columns support the dome
of the Church of St. Sophia at Constantinople, two of its pillars
are in the great church at Pi'sa, and recent excavations have
brought to light portions of its foundation. Other temples, however,
erected as far back as the fourth and fifth centuries, have more
successfully resisted the ravages of time. Among these are the
six, of the Doric order, whose ruins appear at Selinus, in Sicily;
while at P�stum, in Southern Italy, are the celebrated ruins of
two temples, which, with the exception of the temple of Corinth,
are the most massive examples of Doric architecture extant. "It
was in the larger of these two temples," says a visitor, "during
the moonlight of a troubled sky, that we experienced the emotions
of the awful and sublime, such as impress a testimony, never to
be forgotten, of the power of art over the affections."
There, down Salerno's bay,
In deserts far away,
Over whose solitudes
The dread malaria broods,
No labor tills the land--
Only the fierce brigand,
Or shepherd, wan and lean,
O'er the wide plains is seen.
Yet there, a lovely dream,
There Grecian temples gleam,
Whose form and mellowed tone
Rival the Parthenon.
The Sybarite no more
Comes hither to adore,
With perfumed offering,
The ocean god and king.
The deity is fled
Long-since, but, in his stead,
The smiling sea is seen,
The Doric shafts between;
And round the time-worn base
Climb vines of tender grace,
And P�stum's roses still
The air with fragrance fill.
--CHRISTOPHER P. CRANCH.
* * * * *
Like architecture, sculpture, or, more properly speaking, statuary,
owed its origin to religion, and was introduced into Greece from
Egypt. With the Egyptians the art never advanced beyond the types
established at its birth; but the Greeks, led on, as a recent
writer well says, "by an intuitive sense of beauty which was with
them almost a religious principle, aimed at an ideal perfection,
and, by making Nature in her most perfect forms their model,
acquired a facility and a power of representing every class of
form unattained by any other people, and which have rendered the
terms Greek and perfection, with reference to art, almost
synonymous." The first specimens of Greek sculpture were rough,
unhewn wooden representations of the gods. These were followed,
a little later, by wooden images having some resemblance to life,
and clothed and decorated with ornaments of various kinds. While
this branch of the art long remained in a rude state, sculptured
figures on architectural monuments were executed in a superior
style as early as the age of Homer.
Long before the period of authentic history, other materials
than wood were used in making statues; and as early as 700 B.C.
a statue was executed of Zeus, or Jupiter, in bronze. The art
of soldering metals is attributed to Glaucus of Chios, about
690 B.C.; while to Rhoe'cus and his son Theodo'rus, of Samos,
is ascribed the invention of modeling and casting figures of
bronze in a mould. The use of marble, also, for statues, was
introduced in the early part of the sixth century by Dipoe'nus
and Scyl'lis of Crete, who are the first artists celebrated for
works in this material. But, while these improvements were
important, they did not necessarily involve any change in style;
and it was the removal of the restraints imposed by religion and
hereditary cultivation that laid the foundation for the rapid
progress of the art and its subsequent perfection. These changes,
and the results produced by them, are well summed up in the
following extract from THIRLWALL:
"The principal cause of the progress of sculpture was the
enlargement which it experienced in the range of its subjects,
and the consequent multiplicity of its productions. As long as
statues were confined to the interior of the temples, and no
more were seen in each sanctuary than the idol of its worship,
there was little room and motive for innovation; and, on the
other hand, there were strong inducements for adhering to the
practice of antiquity. But, insensibly, piety or ostentation
began to fill the temples with groups of gods and heroes, strangers
to the place, and guests of the power who was properly invoked
there. The deep recesses of their pediments were peopled with
colossal forms, exhibiting some legendary scene appropriate to
the place or the occasion of the building. The custom of honoring
the victors at the public games with a statue--an honor afterward
extended to other distinguished persons--contributed, perhaps,
still more to the same effect; for, whatever restraints may have
been imposed on the artists in the representation of sacred subjects,
either by usage or by a religious scruple, these were removed when
the artists were employed in exhibiting the images of mere mortals.
As the field of the art was widened to embrace new objects, the
number of masters increased; they were no longer limited, where
this had before been the case, to families or guilds; their
industry was sharpened by a more active competition and by richer
rewards. As the study of nature became more earnest, the sense
of beauty grew quicker and steadier; and so rapid was the march
of the art, that the last vestiges of the arbitrary forms which
had been hallowed by time or religion had not yet everywhere
disappeared when the final union of truth and beauty, which we
sometimes endeavor to express by the term ideal, was accomplished
in the school of Phid'ias." [Footnote: Thirlwall's "History of
Greece," vol. i., p. 206.]
We cannot attempt to give here the names of the masters of
sculpture who flourished prior to 500 B.C., or trace the still
extant remains of their genius; but their works were numerous,
and the beauty and grandeur of many of them caused them to be
highly valued in all succeeding ages. In fact, before the Persian
wars had commenced, the branch of sculpture termed statuary had
attained nearly the summit of its perfection.
THE PERSIAN WARS.
Returning now to the political and military history of Greece,
we find that, about the year 550 B.C., the independence of the
Grecian colonies on the coast of Asia Minor was crushed by
Croe'sus, King of Lydia, who conquered their territories. Thus
the Asiatic Greeks became subject to a barbarian power; but
Croesus ruled them with great mildness, leaving their political
institutions undisturbed, and requiring of them little more than
the payment of a moderate tribute. A few years later they
experienced a change of masters, and, together with Lydia, fell
by conquest under the dominion of Persia, of which Cyrus the
elder was then king. Under Darius Hystas'pes, the second king
after Cyrus, the Persian empire attained its greatest extent--
embracing, in Asia, all that at a later period was contained
in Persia proper and Turkey; in Africa taking in Egypt as far
as Nubia, and the coast of the Mediterranean as far as Barca;
thus stretching from the �gean Sea to the Indus, and from the
plains of Tartary to the cataracts of the Nile. Such was the
empire against whose united strength a few Grecian communities
were soon to contend for the preservation of their very name
* * * * *
I. THE IONIC REVOLT.
Like the Lydians, the Persians ruled the Greek colonies with a
degree of moderation, and permitted them to retain their own
form of government by paying tribute; yet the Greeks seized
every opportunity to deliver themselves from this species of
thraldom, and in 502 B.C. an insurrection broke out in one of
the Ionian states, which soon assumed a formidable character.
Before the Persians could collect sufficient forces to quell
the revolt, the Ionians sought the aid of their Grecian countrymen,
making application first to Sparta, but in vain, and then to
Athens and the islands of the �gean Sea. The Athenians, regarding
Darius as an avowed enemy, gladly took part with the Ionians,
and, in connection with Euboe'a, furnished them a fleet of
twenty-five vessels. The allied Grecians, though at first
successful, were defeated near Ephesus with great loss. Their
commanders then quarreled, and the Athenians sailed for home,
leaving the Asiatic Greeks (divided among themselves) to contend
alone against the whole power of Persia. Still, the revolt
attained to considerable proportions, and was protracted during
a period of six years. It was terminated by the capture of Miletus,
the capital of the Ionian Confederacy, in 495 B.C. The inhabitants
of this city who escaped the sword were carried into captivity
by the conquerors, and the subjugation of Ionia was complete.
The principal achievement of the allied Grecians during this
war was the burning of Sardis, the capital of the old Lydian
monarchy. When Darius was informed of it he burst into a paroxysm
of rage, directing his wrath chiefly against the Athenians and
Euboeans who had dared to invade his dominions. "The Athenians!"
he exclaimed, "who are they?" Upon being told, he took his bow
and shot an arrow high into the air, saying, "Grant me, Jove,
to take vengeance upon the Athenians." He also charged one of
his attendants to call aloud to him thrice every day at dinner,
"Sire, remember the Athenians!" As soon, therefore, as Darius
had satisfied his vengeance against the Greek cities and islands
of Asia, he turned his attention to the Athenians and Euboeans,
in pursuance of his vow. He meditated, however, nothing less
than the conquest of all Greece; but the Persian fleet that was
to aid in carrying out his plans was checked in its progress,
off Mount Athos, by a storm so violent that it is said to have
destroyed three hundred vessels and over twenty thousand lives;
and his son-in-law, Mardo'nius, who had entered Thrace and Macedon
at the head of a large army, abruptly terminated his campaign and
recrossed the Hellespont to Asia.
* * * * *
II. THE FIRST PERSIAN WAR.
Darius, having renewed his preparations for the conquest of Greece,
sent heralds through the Grecian cities, demanding earth and
water as tokens of submission. Some of the smaller states,
intimidated by his power, submitted; but Athens and Sparta
haughtily rejected the demands of the Eastern monarch, and put
his heralds to death with cruel mockery, throwing one into a
pit and another into a well, and bidding them take thence their
earth and water.
In the spring of 490 B.C. a Persian fleet of six hundred ships,
conveying an army of 120,000 men, and guided by the aged tyrant
Hippias, directed its course toward the shores of Greece. Several
islands of the �gean submitted without a struggle. Euboea was
severely punished; and with but little opposition the Persian
host landed and advanced to the plains of Marathon, within twenty
miles of Athens. The Athenians called on the Plat�ans and the
Spartans for aid, and the former sent their entire force of one
thousand men; but the Spartans refused to give the much-needed
help, because it lacked a few days of the full moon, and it was
contrary to their religious customs to begin a march during this
interval. Meantime the Athenians had marched to Marathon, and
were encamped on the hills that surrounded the plain. Their army
numbered ten thousand men, and was commanded by Callim'achus, the
Pol'emarch or third Archon, and ten generals, among whom were
Milti'ades, Themis'tocles, and Aristi'des, who subsequently
acquired immortal fame. Five of the ten generals were afraid to
hazard a battle without the aid of the Spartans; but the arguments
of Miltiades finally prevailed upon Callimachus to give his casting
vote in favor of immediate action. Although the ten generals were
to command the whole army successively, each for one day, it was
agreed to invest Miltiades with the command at once, and intrust
to his military skill the fortunes of Athens. He immediately drew
up the little army in order of battle.
THE BATTLE OF MARATHON.
The Persians were extended in a line across the middle of the
plain, having their best troops in the center, while their fleet
was ranged behind them along the beach. The Athenians were drawn
up in a line opposite, but having their main strength in the
extreme wings of their army. Miltiades quickly advanced his
force across the mile of plain that separated it from the foe,
and fell upon the immense army of the Persians. As he had foreseen,
the center of his line was soon broken, while the extremities of
the enemy's line, made up of motley and undisciplined bands of
all nations, were routed and driven toward the shore, and into
the adjoining morasses. Miltiades now hastily concentrated his
two wings and directed their united force against the Persian
center, which, deeming itself victorious, was taken completely
by surprise. The Persians, defeated, fled in disorder to their
ships, but many perished in the marshes; the shore was strewn
with their dead, and seven of their ships were destroyed. Their
loss was six thousand four hundred; that of the Athenians, not
including the Plat�ans, only one hundred and ninety two. Such,
in brief, was the famous battle of Marathon. The Persians were
strong in the terror of their name, and in the renown of their
conquests; and it required a most heroic resolution in the Athenians
to face a danger that they had not yet learned to despise.
LEGENDS OF THE BATTLE.
The victory at Marathon was viewed by the people as a deliverance
by the gods themselves. It is fabled that before the battle the
voice of the god Pan was heard in the mountains, uttering warnings
and threatenings to the Persians, and inspiring the Greeks with
courage. Hence the wonderful legends of the battle, in which
Theseus, Hercules, and other local heroes are represented as
engaging in the combat, and dealing death among the flying
barbarians. In the following lines MRS. HEMANS has embraced the
description which the Greeks gave of the appearance and deeds of
Theseus on that occasion:
There was one, a leader crowned,
And armed for Greece that day;
But the falchions made no sound
On his gleaming war array.
In the battle's front he stood,
With his tall and shadowy crest;
But the arrows drew no blood,
Though their path was through his vest.
His sword was seen to flash
Where the boldest deeds were done;
But it smote without a clash;
The stroke was heard by none!
His voice was not of those
Who swelled the rolling blast,
And his steps fell hushed like snows--
'Twas the shade of Theseus passed!
Far sweeping through the foe
With a fiery charge he bore;
And the Mede left many a bow
On the sounding ocean-shore.
And the foaming waves grew red,
And the sails were crowded fast,
When the sons of Asia fled,
As the shade of Theseus passed!
When banners caught the breeze,
When helms in sunlight shone,
When masts were on the seas,
And spears on Marathon.
It is said that to this day the peasant believes the field of
Marathon to be haunted with spectral warriors, whose shouts are
heard at midnight, borne on the wind, and rising above the din
of battle. Viewed in the light of such legends, the following
poem on Marathon, by PROFESSOR BLACKIE, is full of interest and
From Pentel'icus' pine-clad height
[Footnote: Pentelicus overhangs the south side of the plain of
A voice of warning came,
That shook the silent autumn night
With fear to Media's name.
[Footnote: After the absorption of the Median kingdom into that
of Persia, the terms Mede and Persian were interchangeably used,
with little distinction.]
Pan, from his Marathonian cave,
[Footnote: Pan was said to have a famous cave near Marathon. For
the somewhat prominent part which Pan played in the great Persian
war, see Herodotus, vi. p.105.]
Sent screams of midnight terror.
And darkling horror curled the wave
On the broad sea's moonlit mirror.
Woe, Persia, woe! thou liest low--low!
Let the golden palaces groan!
Ye mothers weep for sons that shall sleep
In gore on Marathon.
Where Indus and Hydaspes roll,
Where treeless deserts glow,
Where Scythians roam beneath the pole,
O'er hills of hardened snow,
The great Darius rules: and now,
Thou little Greece, to thee
He comes: thou thin-soiled Athens, how
Shalt thou dare to be free?
There is a God that wields the rod
Above: by him alone
The Greek shall be free, when the Mede shall flee
In shame from Marathon.
He comes; and o'er the bright �gean,
Where his masted army came,
The subject isles uplift the p�an
Of glory to his name.
Strong Naxos, strong Ere'tria yield;
His captains near the shore
Of Marathon's fair and fateful field,
Where a tyrant marched before.
And a traitor guide, the sea beside,
Now marks the land for his own,
Where the marshes red shall soon be the bed
Of the Mede in Marathon.
Who shall number the host of the Mede?
Their high-tiered galleys ride,
Like locust-bands with darkening speed,
Across the groaning tide.
Who shall tell the many hoofed tramp
That shakes the dusty plain?
Where the pride of his horse is the strength of his camp,
Shall the Mede forget to gain?
O fair is the pride of the cohorts that ride,
To the eye of the morning shown!
But a god in the sky hath doomed them to lie
In dust on Marathon.
Dauntless, beside the sounding sea,
The Athenian men reveal
Their steady strength. That they are free
They know; and inly feel
Their high election, on that day,
In foremost fight to stand,
And dash the enslaving yoke away
From all the Grecian land.
Their praise shall sound the world around,
Who shook the Persian throne,
When the shout of the free travelled over the sea
From famous Marathon.
From dark Cith�'ron's sacred slope
The small Plat�an band
Bring hearts that swell with patriot hope,
To wield a common brand
With Theseus' sons, at danger's gates,
While spellbound Sparta stands,
And for the pale moon's changes waits
With stiff and stolid hands;
And hath no share in the glory rare,
That Athens shall make her own,
When the long-haired Mede with fearful speed
Falls back from Marathon.
"On, sons of the Greeks!" the war-cry rolls;
"The land that gave you birth,
Your wives, and all the dearest souls
That circle round each hearth;
The shrines upon a thousand hills,
The memory of your sires,
Nerve now with brass your resolute wills,
And fan your valorous fires!"
And on like a wave came the rush of the brave--
"Ye sons of the Greeks, on, on!"
And the Mede stepped back from the eager attack
Of the Greek in Marathon.
Hear'st thou the rattling of spears on the right?
Seest thou the gleam in the sky?
The gods come to aid the Greeks in the fight,
And the favoring heroes are nigh.
The lion's hide I see in the sky,
And the knotted club so fell,
And kingly Theseus's conquering eye,
And Maca'ria, nymph of the well.
[Footnote: The nymph Macaria, daughter of Hercules, was said
to have a fountain on the field of Marathon. There is a well
near the north end of the plain, where the fountain is supposed
to have been.]
Purely, purely, the fount did flow,
When the morn's first radiance shone;
But eve shall know the crimson flow
Of its wave, by Marathon.
On, son of Cimon, bravely on!
[Footnote: Milti'ades, the general in command, whose father's
name was Cimon.]
And Aristides the just!
Your names have made the field your own,
Your foes are in the dust!
The Lydian satrap spurs his steed,
The Persian's bow is broken:
His purple pales; the vanquished Mede
Beholds the angry token
Of thundering Jove, who rules above;
And the bubbling marshes moan
[Footnote: There are two extensive marshes on the plain of
Marathon, one at each extremity. The Persians were driven back
into the marsh at the north end.]
With the trampled dead that have found their bed
In gore, at Marathon.
The ships have sailed from Marathon
On swift disaster's wings;
And an evil dream hath fetched a groan
From the heart of the king of kings.
An eagle he saw, in the shades of night,
With a dove that bloodily strove;
And the weak hath vanquished the strong in fight,
The eagle hath fled from the dove.
[Footnote: Reference is here made to A-tos'sa's dream, as
given by �schylus in his tragedy of The Persians.]
Great Jove, that reigns in the starry plains,
To the heart of the king hath shown
That the boastful parade of his pride was laid
In dust at Marathon.
But through Pentelicus' winding vales
The hymn triumphal runs,
And high-shrined Athens proudly hails
Her free-returning sons.
And Pallas, from her ancient rock,
[Footnote: Pallas, or Minerva.]
With her shield's refulgent round,
Blazes; her frequent worshippers flock,
And high the p�ans sound,
How in deathless glory the famous story
Shall on the winds be blown,
That the long-haired Mede was driven with speed
By the Greeks, from Marathon.
And Greece shall be a hallowed name,
While the sun shall climb the pole,
And Marathon fan strong freedom's flame
In many a pilgrim soul.
And o'er that mound where heroes sleep,
[Footnote: This famous mound is still to be seen on the
By the waste and reedy shore,
Full many a patriot eye shall weep,
Till Time shall be no more.
And the bard shall brim with a holier hymn,
When he stands by that mound alone,
And feel no shrine on earth more divine
Than the dust of Marathon.
THE DEATH OF MILTIADES.
Soon after the Persian defeat, Miltiades, who at first received
all the honors that a grateful people could bestow, met a fate
that casts a melancholy gloom over his history, and that has
often been cited in proof of the assertion that "republics are
fickle and ungrateful." History shows, however, that the Athenians
were not greatly in the wrong in their treatment of Miltiades. He
obtained of them the command of an expedition whose destination
was known to himself alone; assuring them of the honorableness
and the success of the enterprise. But much treasure was spent,
many lives were lost, and through the seeming treachery of
Miltiades the expedition terminated in disaster and disgrace.
It was found, upon investigation, that the motive of the expedition
was private resentment against a prominent citizen of Paros.
Miltiades was therefore condemned to death; but gratitude for
his previous valuable services mitigated the penalty to a fine
of fifty talents. His death occurred soon after, from a wound
that he received in a fall while at Paros, and the fine was paid
by his son Cimon.
As GROTE well observes, "The fate of Miltiades, so far from
illustrating either the fickleness or the ingratitude of his
countrymen, attests their just appreciation of deserts. It also
illustrates another moral of no small importance to the right
comprehension of Grecian affairs; it teaches us the painful lesson
how perfectly maddening were the effects of a copious draught of
glory on the temperament of an enterprising and ambitious Greek.
There can be no doubt that the rapid transition, in the course
of about one week, from Athenian terror before the battle to
Athenian exultation after it, must have produced demonstrations
toward Miltiades such as were never paid to any other man in the
whole history of the commonwealth. Such unmeasured admiration
unseated his rational judgment, so that his mind became abandoned
to the reckless impulses of insolence, antipathy, and rapacity--
that distempered state for which (according to Grecian morality)
the retributive Nemesis was ever on the watch, and which, in his
case, she visited with a judgment startling in its rapidity, as
well as terrible in its amount." [Footnote: "History of Greece,"
But, as GILLIES remarks, "The glory of Miltiades survived him.
At the distance of half a century, when the battle of Marathon
was painted by order of the state, it was ordered that the figure
of Miltiades be placed in the foreground, animating the troops
to victory--a reward which, during the virtuous simplicity of
the ancient commonwealth, conferred more real honor than all
that magnificent profusion of crowns and statues which, in the
later times of the republic, were rather extorted by general
fees than bestowed by public admiration." [See Oration of
�sehines, pp. 424-426.]
ARISTI'DES AND THEMIS'TOCLES.
After the death of Miltiades, Themistocles and Aristides became
the most prominent men among the Athenians. The former, a most
able statesman, but influenced by ambitious motives, aimed to
make Athens great and powerful that he himself might rise to
greater eminence; while the later was a pure patriot, wholly
destitute of selfish ambition, and knew no cause but that of
justice and the public welfare. The poet THOMSON thus
Then Aristides lifts his honest front;
Spotless of heart, to whom the unflattering voice
Of Freedom gave the name of Just.
In pure majestic poverty revered;
Who, e'en his glory to his country's weal
Submitting, swelled a haughty rival's fame.
But the very integrity of Aristides made for him secret enemies,
who, although they charged him with no crimes, were yet able to
procure his banishment by the process of ostracism, in which his
great rival, Themistocles, took a leading part. This kind of
condemnation was not inflicted as a punishment, but as a
precautionary measure against a degree of personal popularity
that might be deemed dangerous to the public welfare. The process
was as follows: In an assembly of the people each man was at
liberty to write on a shell the name of the person whom he wished
to have banished, and if six thousand votes or more were recorded,
that person against whom the greatest number of votes had been
given was banished for ten years, but with leave to enjoy his
estate, and return after that period. PLUTARCH relates the
following incident connected with the banishment of Aristides:
"An illiterate burgher coming to Aristides, whom he took for
some ordinary person, and giving him his shell, desired him to
write 'Aristides' upon it. The good man, surprised at the
adventure, asked him 'Whether Aristides had ever injured him?'
'No,' said he, 'nor do I even know him; but it vexes me to hear
him everywhere called the Just.' Aristides made no answer, but
took the shell, and, having written his own name upon it,
returned it to the man. When he quitted Athens, he lifted up
his hands toward heaven, and, agreeably to his character, made
a prayer, very different from that of Achilles; namely, 'that
the people of Athens might never see the day which should force
them to remember Aristides.'"
But it was, perhaps, fortunate for the liberties of Greece that
Themistocles, instead of Aristides, was left in full power at
Athens. "The peculiar faculty of his mind," says THIRLWALL, "which
Thucydides contemplated with admiration, was the quickness with
which it seized every object that came in its way, perceived the
course of action required by new situations and sudden junctures,
and penetrated into remote consequences. Such were the abilities
which were most needed at this period for the service of Athens."
Soon after the battle of Marathon a war had broken out between
Athens and �gina, which still continued, and which gave
Themistocles an opportunity to exercise his powers of ready
invention and prompt execution. �gina was one of the wealthiest
of the Grecian islands, and possessed the most powerful navy in
all Greece. Themistocles soon saw that to successfully cope with
this formidable rival, as well as rise to a higher rank among the
Grecian states, Athens must become a great maritime power. He
therefore obtained the consent of the Athenians to devote a large
surplus then in the public treasury, but which belonged to
individual citizens, to the building of a hundred galleys; and,
by this sacrifice of individual emolument to the general good,
the Athenian navy was increased to two hundred ships. But the
foresight of Themistocles extended still farther, and it was no
less his design, in making Athens a first-class maritime power,
to protect her against Persia, which, as he well knew, was preparing
for another and still more formidable attack on Greece.
* * * * *
III. THE SECOND' PERSIAN INVASION.
For three years subsequent to the battle of Marathon Darius made
great preparations for a second invasion of Greece, intending
to lead his forces in person; but death put an end to his plans.
Xerxes, his son and successor, was urged by many advisers to
carry out his father's intentions. His uncle Artaba'nus alone
endeavored to divert him from the enterprise; but Xerxes, having
spent four years in collecting a large fleet and a vast body of
troops from all quarters of his extensive dominions, set out from
Sardis with great ostentation, in the spring of the year 480, to
avenge the disgrace of Marathon. HERODOTUS relates that, on
reaching Aby'dos, on the Hellespont, Xerxes reviewed his vast
host, and wept when he thought of the shortness of human life,
and considered that of all his immense host not one man would
be alive when a hundred years had passed away. The historian's
account is as follows:
Xerxes at Abydos.
"Arrived here, Xerxes wished to look upon his host; so, as there
was a throne of white marble upon a hill near the city, which
they of Abydos had prepared beforehand, by the king's bidding,
for his especial use, Xerxes took his seat on it, and, gazing
thence upon the shore below, beheld at one view all his land
forces and all his ships. As he looked and saw the whole Hellespont
covered with the vessels of his fleet, and all the shore and
every plain about Abydos as full as could be of men, Xerxes
congratulated himself on his good-fortune; but, after a little
while, he wept. Then Artabanus, the king's uncle (the same who
at the first so freely spake his mind to the king, and advised
him not to lead his army against Greece), when he heard that
Xerxes was in tears, went to him, and said:
"'How different, sire, is what thou art now doing from what thou
didst a little while ago! Then thou didst congratulate thyself,
and now, behold! thou weepest.'
"'There came upon me,' replied he, 'a sudden pity when I thought
of the shortness of man's life, and considered that of all this
host, so numerous as it is, not one will be alive when a hundred
years are gone by.'
"'And yet there are sadder things in life than that,' returned
the other. 'Short. as our time is, there is no man, whether it
be here among this multitude or elsewhere, who is so happy as
not to have felt the wish--I will not say once, but full many
a time--that he were dead rather than alive. Calamities fall
upon us, sicknesses vex and harass us, and make life, short though
it be, to appear long. So death, through the wretchedness of
our life, is a most sweet refuge to our race; and God, who gives
us the tastes we enjoy of pleasant times, is seen, in his very
gift, to be envious.'"
--Trans. by RAWLINSON.
Much that is told about Xerxes--how he cut off Mount Athos from
the main-land by a canal; how he made a bridge of boats across
the Hellespont, where it is three miles wide, and ordered the
waters to be scourged because they destroyed the bridge; how he
constructed new bridges, over which his vast army crossed the
Hellespont as along a royal road; and how his army drank a whole
river dry--all of which is gravely related by Herodotus as fact,
is discredited by the Latin poet JUVENAL, who attributes these
stories to the imaginations of "browsy poets."
Old Greece a tale of Athos would make out,
Cut from the continent and sailed about;
Seas bid with navies, chariots passing o'er
The channel on a bridge from shore to shore;
Rivers, whose depths no sharp beholder sees,
Drunk, at an army's dinner, to the lees;
With a long legend of romantic things,
Which, in his cups, the browsy poet sings.
--Tenth Satire. Trans. by DRYDEN.
That Xerxes bridged the Hellespont, however, in the manner related
by Herodotus, is an accepted fact of history. As MILTON says,
Xerxes, the liberty of Greece to yoke,
From Susa, his Memnonian palace high,
Came to the sea, and over Hellespont
Bridging his way, Europe with Asia joined.
He crossed to Ses'tus, a city of Thrace, and entered Europe at
the head of an army the greatest the world has ever seen, and
whose numbers have been estimated at over two millions of
fighting men. Having marched along the coast through Thrace and
Macedonia, this immense force passed through Thessaly, and
arrived, without opposition, at the Pass of Thermop'yl�, a narrow
defile on the western shore of the gulf that lies between Thessaly
and Euboea, and almost the only road by which Greece proper, or
ancient Greece, could be entered on the north-east by way of
Thessaly. In the mean time the Greeks had not been idle. The
winter before Xerxes left Asia a general congress of the Grecian
states was held at the isthmus of Corinth, at which the differences
between Athens and �gina were first settled, and then a vigorous
effort was made by Athens and Sparta to unite the states and
cities in one great league against the power of Persia. But,
notwithstanding the common danger, only a few of the states
responded to the call, and the only people north and east of the
isthmus who joined the league were the Athenians, Phocians,
Plat�ans, and Thespians. The command of both the land and naval
forces was relinquished by Athens to the Spartans; and it was
resolved to make the first stand against Persia at the Pass of
THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYL�.
When the Persian monarch reached Thermopyl�, he found a body of
but eight thousand men, commanded by the Spartan king Leonidas,
prepared to dispute his passage. A herald was sent to the Greeks
commanding them to lay down their arms; but Leonidas replied,
with true Spartan brevity, "Come and take them!" When it was
remarked that the Persians were so numerous that their darts
would darken the sun, "Then," replied Dien'eces, a Spartan, "we
shall fight in the shade." Trained from youth to the endurance of
all hardships, and forbidden by their laws ever to flee from an
enemy, the sons of Sparta were indeed formidable antagonists for
the Persians to encounter.
Stern were her sons. Upon Euro'tas' bank,
Where black Ta-yg'etus o'er cliff and peak
Waves his dark pines, and spreads his glistening snows,
On five low hills their city rose: no walls,
No ramparts closed it round; its battlements
And towers of strength were men--high-minded men,
Who heard the cry of danger with more joy
Than softer natures listen to the voice
Of pleasure; who, with unremitting toil
In chase, in battle, or athletic course,
To fierceness steeled their native hardihood;
Who sunk in death as tranquil as in sleep,
And, hemmed by hostile myriads, never turned
To flight, but closer drew before their breasts
The massy buckler, firmer fixed the foot,
Bit the writhed lip, and, where they struggled, fell.
Xerxes, astonished that the Greeks did not disperse at the sight
of his vast army, waited four days, and then ordered a body of
his troops to attack them, and lead them captive before him; but
the barbarians fell in heaps in the very presence of the king,
and blocked the narrow pass with their dead. Xerxes now thought
the contest worthy of the superior prowess of his own guards,
the ten thousand Immortals. These were led up as to a certain
victory; but the Greeks stood their ground as before. The combat
lasted a whole day, and the slaughter of the enemy was terrible.
Another day of combat followed, with like results, and the
confidence of the Persian monarch was changed into despondence
While in the uncertainty caused by these repeated failures to
force a passage, Xerxes learned, from a Greek traitor, of a
secret path over the mountains, by which he was able to throw
a force of twenty thousand men into the rear of the brave
defenders of the pass. Leonidas, seeing that his post was no
longer tenable, now dismissed all his allies that desired to
retire, and retained only three hundred fellow-Spartans, with
some Thespians and Thebans--in all about one thousand men. He
would have saved two of his kinsmen, by sending them with messages
to Sparta; but the one said he had come to bear arms, not to
carry letters, and the other that his deeds would tell all that
Sparta desired to know. Leonidas did not wait for an attack, but
sallying forth from the pass, and falling suddenly upon the
Persians, he penetrated to the very center of their host, where
the battle raged furiously, and two of the brothers of Xerxes
were slain. Then the surviving Greeks, with the exception of
the Thebans, fell back within the pass and took their final stand
upon a hillock, where they fought with the valor of desperation
until every man was slain. The Thebans, however, who from the first
had been distrusted by Leonidas, threw down their arms early in
the fight, and begged for quarter.
The conflict itself, and the glory of the struggle on the part
of the Spartans, have been favorite themes with the poets of
succeeding ages. The following description is by HAYGARTH:
Long and doubtful was the fight;
Day after day the hostile army poured
Its choicest warriors, but in vain; they fell,
Or fled inglorious. Foul treachery
At last prevailed; a steep and dangerous path,
Known only to the wandering mountaineers,
By difficult ascent led to the rear
Of the heroic Greeks. The morning dawned,
And the brave chieftain, when he raised his head
From the cold rock on which he rested, viewed
Banner and helmet, and the waving fire
From lance and buckler, glancing high amidst
Each pointed cliff and copse which stretch along
Yon mountain's bosom. Then he saw his fate;
But saw it with an unaverted eye:
Around his spear he called his countrymen,
And with a smile that o'er his rugged cheek
Pass'd transient, like the momentary flash
Streaking a thunder-cloud--"But we will die"
(He cried) "like Grecians; we will leave our sons
A bright example. Let each warrior bind
Firmly his mail, and grasp his lance, and scowl
From underneath his helm a frown of death
Upon his shrinking foe; then let him fix
His firm, unbending knee, and where he fights
There fall." They heard, and, on their shields
Clashing the war-song with a noble rage,
Rushed headlong in the conflict of the fight,
And died, as they had lived, triumphantly.
The Greek historian Diodorus, followed by the biographer Plutarch
and the Latin historian Justin, states that Leonidas made the
attack on the Persian camp during the night, and in the darkness
and in the confusion of the struggle nearly penetrated to the
royal tent of Xerxes. On this basis of supposed facts the poet
CROLY wrote his stirring poem descriptive of the conflict; but
the statement of Diodorus, which is irreconcilable with Herodotus,
is generally discredited by modern writers.
Monuments to the memory of the Greeks who fell were erected on
the battle-ground, and many were the epitaphs written to
commemorate the heroism of the famous three hundred; but the
oldest, best, and most celebrated of these is the inscription
that was placed on their altar-tomb, written by the poet
SIMON'IDES, of Ce'os. It consists of only two lines in the
Original Greek. [Footnote: The following is the original Greek
of the epitaph: O xeiu hangeddeiy Dakedaimouiois hoti taede
keimetha, tois keiuoy hraemasi peithomeuoi.] All Greece for
centuries had them by heart; but in the lapse of time she forgot
them, and then, in the language of "Christopher North," "Greece
was living Greece no more." There have been no less than three
Latin and eighteen English versions of this epitaph; and herewith
we give three of the latter:
Go, stranger, and to La�-e-d�'mon tell
That here, obedient to her laws, we fell.
Stranger, to Sparta say that here we rest
In death, obedient to her high behest.
Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.
Another inscription, said to have been written by Simonides for
the tombs of the heroes of Thermopyl�, is as follows:
Happy they, the chosen brave,
Whom Destiny, whom Valor led
To their consecrated grave
'Mid Thessalia's mountains dread.
Their sepulchre's a holy shrine,
Their epitaph, the engraven line
Recording former deeds divine;
And Pity's melancholy wail
Is changed to hymns of praise that load the evening gale.
Entombed in noble deed's they're laid--
Nor silent rust, nor Time's inexorable hour,
Shall e'er have power
To rend that shroud which veils their hallowed shade.
Hellas mourns the dead
Sunk in their narrow grave;
But thou, dark Sparta's chief, whose bosom bled
First in the battle's wave,
Bear witness that they fell as best beseems the brave.
Leonidas himself fell in the plain, and his body was carried
into the defile by his followers. He was buried at the north
entrance to the pass, and over his grave was erected a mound,
on which was placed the figure of a lion sculptured in stone.
The sculptured lion marked the grave of the hero down to the time
On Phocis' shores the cavern's gloom
Imbrowns yon solitary tomb:
There, in the sad and silent grave
Repose the ashes of the brave
Who, when the Persian from afar
On Hellas poured the stream of war,
At Freedom's call, with martial pride,
For his loved country fought and died.
Seek'st thou the place where, 'midst the dead
The hero of the battle bled?
Yon sculptured lion, frowning near,
Points out Leonidas's bier.
The poet BYRON, who was peculiarly the friend of Greece, and an
earnest admirer of both the genius and the heroic deeds of her
sons, has written the following lines commemorating the glory of
those who fell at Thermopyl�:
They fell devoted, but undying;
The very gale their names seemed sighing:
The waters murmured of their name;
The woods were peopled with their fame;
The silent pillar, lone and gray,
Claimed kindred with their sacred clay:
Their spirits wrapped the dusky mountain,
Their memory sparkled o'er the fountain;
The meanest rill, the mightiest river
Rolled mingling with their fame forever.
THE ABANDONMENT OF ATHENS.
While fighting was in progress at Thermopyl�, a Greek fleet,
under the command of the Spartan Eurybi'ades, that had been sent
to guard the Euboean Sea, encountered the Persian ships at
Artemis'ium. In several engagements that occurred, the Athenian
vessels, commanded by Themistocles, were especially distinguished;
and although the contests with the enemy were not decisive, yet,
says PLUTARCH, "they were of great advantage to the Greeks, who
learned by experience that neither the number of ships, nor the
beauty and splendor of their ornaments, nor the vaunting shouts
and songs of the Persians, were anything dreadful to men who know
how to fight hand-to-hand, and are determined to behave gallantly.
These things they were taught to despise when they came to close
action and grappled with the foe. Hence in this respect, and for
this reason, Pindar's sentiments appear just, when he says of the
fight at Artemisium,
"'Twas then that Athens the foundation laid
Of Liberty's fair structure.'"
Although the Greeks were virtually the victors in these engagements,
at least one-half of their vessels were disabled; and, hearing
of the defeat of Leonidas at Thermopyl�, they resolved to retreat.
Having sailed through the Euboean Sea, the fleet kept on its way
until it reached the Island of Salamis, in the Saron'ic Gulf.
Here Themistocles learned that no friendly force was guarding
the frontier of Attica, although the Peloponnesian states had
promised to send an army into Boeotia; and he saw that there was
nothing to prevent the Persians from marching on Athens. He
therefore advised the Athenians to abandon the city to the mercy
of the Persians, and commit their safety and their hopes of victory
to the navy. The advice was adopted, though not without a hard
struggle; and those of the inhabitants who were able to bear arms
retired to the Island of Salamis, while the old and infirm, the
women and children, found shelter in a city of Argolis.
THE BATTLE OF SALAMIS.
Xerxes pursued his march through Greece unopposed except by
Thespi� and Plat�a, which towns he reduced, and spread desolation
over Attica until he arrived at the foot of the Cecropian hill,
which he found guarded by a handful of desperate citizens who
refused to surrender. But the brave defenders were soon put to
the sword, and Athens was plundered and then burned to the ground.
About this time the Persian fleet arrived in the Bay of Phale'rum,
and Xerxes immediately dispatched it to block up that of the
Greeks in the narrow strait of Salamis. Eurybiades, the Spartan,
who still commanded the Grecian fleet, was urged by Themistocles,
and also by Aristides, who had been recalled from exile, to hazard
an engagement at once in the narrow strait, where the superior
numbers of the Persians would be of little avail. The Peloponnesian
commanders, however, wished to move the fleet to the Isthmus of
Corinth, where it would have the aid of the land forces. At last
the counsel of Themistocles prevailed, and the Greeks made the
attack. The engagement was a courageous and persistent one on
both sides, but the Greeks came off victorious. Xerxes had caused
a royal throne to be erected on one of the neighboring heights,
where, surrounded by his army, he might witness the naval conflict
in which he was so confident of victory. But he had the misfortune
to see his magnificent navy almost utterly annihilated. Among
the slain was the brother of Xerxes, who commanded the navy, and
many other Persians of the highest rank.
A king sate on the rocky brow
Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis;
And ships, by thousands, lay below,
And men in nations--all were his!
He counted them at break of day--
And when the sun set, where were they?
Anxious now for his own personal safety, the Persian monarch's
whole care centered on securing his retreat by land. He passed
rapidly into Thessaly, and, after a march of forty-five days,
reached the shores of the Hellespont to find his bridges washed
But how returned he? Say; this soul of fire,
This proud barbarian, whose impatient ire
Chastised the winds that disobeyed his nod
With stripes ne'er suffered by the �olian god--
But how returned he? say; his navy lost,
In a small bark he fled the hostile coast,
And, urged by terror, drove his laboring prore
Through floating carcasses and fields of gore.
So Xerxes sped; so sped the conquering race:
They catch at glory, and they clasp disgrace.
--JUVENAL, Satire X. Trans. by GIFFORD.
The ignominious retreat of Xerxes was in marked contrast to the
pomp and magnificence of his advance into Greece. Death from
famine and distress spread its ravages among his troops, and
the remnant that returned with him to Asia was but "a wreck, or
fragment, rather than a part of his huge host."
O'er Hellespont and Athos' marble head,
More than a god he came, less than a man he fled.
--LUIGI ALAMANNI. Trans. by AUBREY DE VERE.
A Celebrated Description of the Battle.
Among the Athenians who nobly fought at Marathon, and who also
took part in the battle of Salamis, was the tragedian �schylus;
and so much did he distinguish himself in the capacity of soldier,
that, in the picture which the Athenians caused to be painted
representing the former battle, the figure of �schylus held so
prominent a place as to be at once recognized, even by a casual
observer. Eight years after the latter battle �schylus composed
his tragedy of The Persians, which portrays, in vivid colors,
the defeat of Xerxes, and gives a fuller, and, indeed, better
account of that memorable sea-fight than is found even in the
pages of Herodotus.
Says MITFORD, "It is matter of regret, not indeed that �schylus
was a poet; but that prose-writing was yet in his age so little
common that his poetical sketch of this great transaction is
the most authoritative, the clearest, and the most consistent
of any that has passed to posterity." In the famous tragedy of
�schylus the account of the destruction of the Persian fleet is
supposed to be given by a Persian messenger, escaped from the
fight, to Atos'sa, the mother of Xerxes. The scene is laid at
Susa, the Persian capital, near the tomb of Darius. The whole
drama may be considered as a proud triumphal song in favor of
Atossa, appearing with her attendants, and anxious for news of
her son, first inquires in what clime are the towers of Athens--
the conquest of which her son had willed--and what mighty armies,
what arms, and what treasures the Athenians boast, and what mighty
monarch rules over them; and is told, to her surprise, that instead
of the strong bow, like the Persians, they have stout spears
and massy bucklers; and although their rich earth is a copious
fount of silver, yet the people, "slaves to no lord, own no kingly
power." Then enters the messenger, who exclaims:
Woe to the towns of Asia's peopled realms!
Woe to the land of Persia, once the port
Of boundless wealth! All, at a blow, has perished!
Ah me! How sad his task who brings ill tidings!
But, to my tale of woe--I needs must tell it.
Persians--the whole barbaric host has fallen!
At this astounding news the chorus breaks out in, concert:
Oh horror, horror, what a train of ills!
Alas! Is Hellas then unscathed? And has
Our arrowy tempest spent its force in vain?
Raise the funereal cry--with dismal notes
Wailing the wretched Persians. Oh, how ill
They planned their measures! All their army perished!
Then the messenger exclaims:
I speak not from report; but these mine eyes
Beheld the ruin which my tongue would utter.
In heaps the unhappy dead lie on the strand
Of Salamis, and all the neighboring shores.
Oh, Salamis--how hateful is thy name!
Oh, how my heart groans but to think of Athens!
Atossa at length finds words to say:
Astonished with these ills, my voice thus long
Hath wanted utterance: griefs like these exceed
The power of speech or question: yet e'en such,
Inflicted by the gods, must mortal man,
Constrained by loud necessity endure.
But tell me all: without distraction, tell me
All this calamity, though many a groan
Burst from thy laboring heart. Who is not fallen?
What leader must we wail? What sceptred chief,
Dying, hath left his troops without a lord?
The messenger tells her that Xerxes himself lives, and still
beholds the light, and then gives her a general summary of the
disasters that befell the Persians, the names of the chiefs that
were slain, the numbers of the horsemen, and the spearmen, and
the seamen that lay "slaughtered on the rocks," "buried in the
waters," or "mouldering on the dreary shore." At the request of
Atossa he then proceeds to give the following more detailed
account, which, as we have said, is the best history that we
have of this memorable naval conflict:
Our evil genius, lady, or some god
Hostile to Persia, led to every ill.
Forth from the troops of Athens came a Greek,
And thus addressed thy son, the imperial Xerxes:
"Soon as the shades of night descend, the Grecians
Shall quit their station: rushing to their oars,
They mean to separate, and in secret flight
Seek safety." At these words the royal chief,
Little dreaming of the wiles of Greece,
And gods averse, to all the naval leaders
Gave his high charge: "Soon as yon sun shall cease
To dart his radiant beams, and dark'ning night
Ascends the temple of the sky, arrange
In three divisions your well-ordered ships,
And guard each pass, each outlet of the seas:
Others enring around this rocky isle
Of Salamis. Should Greece escape her fate,
And work her way by secret flight, your heads
Shall answer the neglect." This harsh command
He gave, exulting in his mind, nor knew
What Fate designed. With martial discipline
And prompt obedience, snatching a repast,
Each manner fixed well his ready oar.
Soon as the golden sun was set, and night
Advanced, each, trained to ply the dashing oar,
Assumed his seat; in arms each warrior stood,
Troop cheering troop through all the ships of war.
Each to the appointed station steers his course,
And through the night his naval force each chief
Fix'd to secure the passes. Night advanced,
But not by secret flight did Greece attempt
To escape. The morn, all beauteous to behold,
Drawn by white steeds, bounds o'er the enlighten'd earth:
At once from every Greek, with glad acclaim,
Burst forth the song of war, whose lofty notes
The echo of the island rocks returned,
Spreading dismay through Persia's host, thus fallen
From their high hopes; no flight this solemn strain
Portended, but deliberate valor bent
On daring battle; while the trumpet's sound
Kindled the flames of war. But when their oars
(The p�an ended) with impetuous force
Dash'd the surrounding surges, instant all
Rush'd on in view; in orderly array
The squadron of the right first led, behind
Rode their whole fleet; and now distinct was heard
From every part this voice of exhortation:
"Advance, ye sons of Greece, from thraldom save
Your country--save your wives, your children save,
The temples of your gods, the sacred tomb
Where rest your honor'd ancestors; this day
The common cause of all demands your valor."
Meantime from Persia's hosts the deep'ning shout
Answer'd their shout; no time for cold delay;
But ship 'gainst ship its brazen beak impell'd.
First to the charge a Grecian galley rush'd;
Ill the Phoenician bore the rough attack--
Its sculptured prow all shatter'd. Each advanced,
Daring an opposite. The deep array
Of Persia at the first sustain'd the encounter;
But their throng'd numbers, in the narrow seas
Confined, want room for action; and deprived
Of mutual aid, beaks clash with beaks, and each
Breaks all the other's oars: with skill disposed,
The Grecian navy circled them around
In fierce assault; and, rushing from its height,
The inverted vessel sinks.
The sea no more
Wears its accustomed aspect, with foul wrecks
And blood disfigured; floating carcasses
Roll on the rocky shores; the poor remains
Of the barbaric armament to flight
Ply every oar inglorious: onward rush
The Greeks amid the ruins of the fleet,
As through a shoal of fish caught in the net,
Spreading destruction; the wide ocean o'er
Wailings are heard, and loud laments, till night,
With darkness on her brow, brought grateful truce.
Should I recount each circumstance of woe,
Ten times on my unfinished tale the sun
Would set; for be assured that not one day
Could close the ruin of so vast a host.
After some farther account, by the messenger, of the magnitude
of the ruin that had overwhelmed the Persian host, the mother
of Xerxes thus apostrophizes and laments that "invidious fortune"
which had pulled down this ruin on her son's devoted head:
Invidious fortune, how thy baleful power
Hath sunk the hopes of Persia! Bitter fruit
My son hath tasted from his purposed vengeance
On Athens, famed for arms; the fatal field
Of Marathon, red with barbaric blood,
Sufficed not: that defeat he thought to avenge,
And pulled this hideous ruin on his head!
Ah me! what sorrows for our ruined host
Oppress my soul! Ye visions of the night,
Haunting my dreams, how plainly did you show
These ills! You set them in too fair a light.
In the Epode, or closing portion of the tragedy, the following
"Lament" may be considered as expressing the feelings with which
the Persians bewailed this defeat, with reference to its effects
upon Persian authority over the Asiatic nations:
With sacred awe
The Persian law
No more shall Asia's realm revere:
To their lord's hand,
At his command,
No more the exacted tribute bear.
Who now falls prostrate at the monarch's throne?
His regal greatness is no more.
Now no restraint the wanton tongue shall own,
Free from the golden curb of power;
For on the rocks, washed by the beating flood,
His awe-commanding nobles lie in blood.
Among the modern poems on Xerxes and the battle of Salamis, is
one by the Scotch poet and translator, JOHN STUART BLACKIE, from
which we take the following extracts:
Seest thou where, sublimely seated on a silver-footed throne,
With a high tiara crested, belted with a jewelled zone,
Sits the king of kings, and, looking from the rocky mountain-side,
Scans, with masted armies studded far, the fair Saronic tide?
Looks he not with high hope beaming? looks he not with pride elate?
Seems he not a god? The words he speaks are big with instant fate.
He hath come from far Euphrates, and from Tigris' rushing tide,
To subdue the strength of Athens, to chastise the Spartan's pride;
He hath come with countless armies, gathered slowly from afar,
From the plain, and from the mountain, marshalled ranks of
From the land and from the ocean, that the burdened billows groan,
That the air is black with banners, which great Xerxes calls his
Soothly he hath nobly ridden o'er the fair fields, o'er the waste,
As the earth might bear the burden, with a weighty-footed haste;
He hath cut in twain the mountain, he hath bridged the rolling
He hath lashed the flood of Hel'le, bound the billow with a
And the rivers shrink before him, and the sheeted lakes are dry,
From his burden-bearing oxen, and his hordes of cavalry;
And the gates of Greece stand open; Ossa and Olympus fail;
And the mountain-girt �mo'nia spreads the river and the gale.
Stood nor man nor god before him; he hath scoured the Attic land,
Chased the valiant sons of Athens to a barren island's strand;
He hath hedged them round with triremes, lines on lines of
He hath doomed the prey for capture; he hath spread his
And he sits sublimely seated on a throne with pride elate,
To behold the victim fall beneath the sudden swooping Fate.
Then follows an account of the nations which formed the Persian
hosts, their arrangement to entrap the Greeks, who were thought
to be meditating flight, the patriotic enthusiasm of the latter,
the naval battle which followed, and the disastrous defeat of
the Persians, the poem closing with the following satirical address
Wake thee! wake thee! blinded Xerxes! God hath found thee
out at last;
Snaps thy pride beneath his judgment, as the tree before the
Haste thee! haste thee! speed thy couriers--Persian couriers
To declare thy stranded navy, that by cruel death unsightly
Dimmed thy glory. Hie thee! hie thee! hence, even by what
way thou camest,
Dwarfed to whoso saw thee mightiest, and where thou wert
Frost and fire shall league together, angry heaven to earth
Strong Poseidon with his trident break thy impious-vaunted
Where thou passed, with mouths uncounted, eating up the
With few men a boat shall ferry Xerxes to the Asian strand.
Haste thee! haste thee! they are waiting by the palace gates
By the golden gates of Susa eager mourners wait for thee.
Haste thee! where the guardian elders wait, a hoary-bearded
They shall see their king, but never see the sons they loved,
Where thy weeping mother waits thee, Queen Atossa waits to see
Dire fulfilment of her troublous, vision-haunted sleep in thee.
She hath dreamt, and she shall see it, how an eagle, cowed with
Gave his kingly crest to pluck before a puny falcon's claw.
Haste thee! where the mighty shade of great Darius through
Rises dread, to teach thee wisdom, couldst thou learn it, from
There begin the sad rehearsal, and, while streaming tears are
To the thousand tongues that ask thee, tell the myriads of thy
THE BATTLE OF PLAT�'A.
When Xerxes returned to his own dominions he left his general,
Mardo'nius, with three hundred thousand men, to complete, if
possible, the conquest of Greece. Mardonius passed the winter
in Thessaly, but in the following summer his army was totally
defeated, and himself slain, in the battle of Plat�a. Two hundred
thousand Persians fell here, and only a small remnant escaped
across the Hellespont. We extract from BULWER'S Athens the
following eloquent description of this battle, both for the sake
of its beauty and to show the effect of the religion of the Greeks
upon the military character of the people. Mardonius had advanced
to the neighbor-hood of Plat�a, when he encountered that part
of the Grecian army composed mostly of Spartans and Laced�monians,
commanded by Pausa'nias, and numbering about fifty thousand men.
The Athenians had previously fallen back to a more secure position,
where the entire army had been ordered to concentrate; and
Pausanias had but just commenced the retrograde movement when
the Persians made their appearance.
BULWER says: "As the troops of Mardonius advanced, the rest of
the Persian armament, deeming the task was now not to fight but
to pursue, raised their standards and poured forward tumultuously,
without discipline or order. Pausanias, pressed by the Persian
line, lost no time in sending to the Athenians for succor. But
when the latter were on their march with the required aid, they
were suddenly intercepted by the Greeks in the Persian service,
and cut off from the rescue of the Spartans.
"The Spartans beheld themselves thus unsupported with considerable
alarm. Committing himself to the gods, Pausanias ordained a
solemn sacrifice, his whole army awaiting the result, while the
shafts of the Persians poured on them near and fast. But the
entrails presented discouraging omens, and the sacrifice was again
renewed. Meanwhile the Spartans evinced their characteristic
fortitude and discipline--not one man stirring from the ranks
until the auguries should assume a more favoring aspect; all
harassed, and some wounded by the Persian arrows, they yet, seeking
protection only beneath their broad bucklers, waited with a stern
patience the time of their leader and of Heaven. Then fell
Callic'rates, the stateliest and strongest soldier in the whole
army, lamenting not death, but that his sword was as yet undrawn
against the invader.
"And still sacrifice after sacrifice seemed to forbid the battle,
when Pausanias, lifting his eyes, that streamed with tears, to
the Temple of Juno, that stood hard by, supplicated the goddess
that, if the fates forbade the Greeks to conquer, they might at
least fall like warriors; and, while uttering this prayer, the
tokens waited for became suddenly visible in the victims, and
the augurs announced the promise of coming victory. Therewith
the order of battle ran instantly through the army, and, to use
the poetical comparison of Plutarch, the Spartan phalanx suddenly
stood forth in its strength like some fierce animal, erecting
its bristles, and preparing its vengeance for the foe. The ground,
broken into many steep and precipitous ridges, and intersected
by the Aso'pus, whose sluggish stream winds over a broad and
rushy bed, was unfavorable to the movements of cavalry, and the
Persian foot advanced therefore on the Greeks.
"Drawn up in their massive phalanx, the Laced�monians presented
an almost impenetrable body--sweeping slowly on, compact and
serried--while the hot and undisciplined valor of the Persians,
more fortunate in the skirmish than the battle, broke itself
in a thousand waves upon that moving rock. Pouring on in small
numbers at a time, they fell fast round the progress of the Greeks
--their armor slight against the strong pikes of Sparta--their
courage without skill, their numbers without discipline; still
they fought gallantly, even when on the ground seizing the pikes
with their naked hands, and, with the wonderful agility that
still characterizes the Oriental swordsmen, springing to their
feet and regaining their arms when seemingly overcome, wresting
away their enemies' shields, and grappling with them desperately
hand to hand.
"Foremost of a band of a thousand chosen Persians, conspicuous
by his white charger, and still more by his daring valor, rode
Mardonius, directing the attack--fiercer wherever his armor blazed.
Inspired by his presence the Persians fought worthily of their
warlike fame, and, even in falling, thinned the Spartan ranks.
At length the rash but gallant leader of the Asiatic armies
received a mortal wound--his skull was crushed in by a stone
from the hand of a Spartan. His chosen band, the boast of the
army, fell fighting around him, but his death was the general
signal of defeat and flight. Encumbered by their long robes, and
pressed by the relentless conquerors, the Persians fled in disorder
toward their camp, which was secured by wooden intrenchments, by
gates, and towers, and walls. Here, fortifying themselves as they
best might, they contended successfully, and with advantage,
against the Laced�monians, who were ill skilled in assault and
"Meanwhile the Athenians gained the victory on the plains over
the Greek allies of Mardonius, and now joined the Spartans at
the camp. The Athenians are said to have been better skilled in
the art of siege than the Spartans; yet at that time their
experience could scarcely have been greater. The Athenians were
at all times, however, of a more impetuous temper; and the men
who had 'run to the charge' at Marathon were not to be baffled
by the desperate remnant of their ancient foe. They scaled the
walls; they effected a breach through which the Tege'ans were
the first to rush; the Greeks poured fast and fierce into the
camp. Appalled, dismayed, stupefied by the suddenness and greatness
of their loss, the Persians no longer sustained their fame; they
dispersed in all directions, falling, as they fled, with a
prodigious slaughter, so that out of that mighty armament scarce
three thousand effected an escape."
But the final overthrow of the Persian hosts on the battle-field
of Plat�a has an importance far greater than that of the
deliverance of the Greeks from immediate danger. Perhaps no other
event in ancient history has been so momentous in its consequences;
for what would have been the condition of Greece had she then
become a province of the Persian empire? The greatness which she
subsequently attained, and the glory and renown with which she
has filled the earth, would never have had an existence. Little
Greece sat at the gates of a continent, and denied an entrance to
the gorgeous barbarism of Asia. She determined that Europe should
not be Asiatic; that civilization should not sink into the abyss
of unmitigated despotism. She turned the tide of Persian
encroachment back across the Hellespont, and Alexander only
followed the refluent wave to the Indus.
"'Twas then," as SOUTHEY says,
Of unborn ages hung upon the fray:
T'was at Plat�a, in that awful hour
When Greece united smote the Persian's power.
For, had the Persian triumphed, then the spring
Of knowledge from that living source had ceased;
All would have fallen before the barbarous king--
Art, Science, Freedom: the despotic East,
Setting her mark upon the race subdued,
Had stamped them in the mould of sensual servitude."
Furthermore, on this subject we subjoin the following reflections
from the author previously quoted:
"When the deluge of the Persian arms rolled back to its Eastern
bed, and the world was once more comparatively at rest, the
continent of Greece rose visibly and majestically above the rest
of the civilized earth. Afar in the Latian plains the infant
state of Rome was silently and obscurely struggling into strength
against the neighboring and petty states in which the old Etrurian
civilization was rapidly passing into decay. The genius of Gaul
and Germany, yet unredeemed from barbarism, lay scarce known,
save where colonized by Greeks, in the gloom of its woods and
"The ambition of Persia, still the great monarchy of the world,
was permanently checked and crippled; the strength of generations
had been wasted, and the immense extent of the empire only served
yet more to sustain the general peace, from the exhaustion of
its forces. The defeat of Xerxes paralyzed the East. Thus Greece
was left secure, and at liberty to enjoy the tranquillity it had
acquired, and to direct to the arts of peace the novel and amazing
energies which had been prompted by the dangers and exalted by
the victories of war."
On the very day of the battle of Plat�a the remains of the Persian
fleet which had escaped at Salamis, and which had been drawn
up on shore at Myc'a-le, on the coast of Ionia, were burned by
the Grecians; and Tigra'nes, the Persian commander of the land
forces, and forty thousand of his men, were slain. This was the
first signal blow struck by the Greek at the power of Persia on
the continent. "Lingering at Sardis," says BULWER, "Xerxes beheld
the scanty and exhausted remnants of his mighty force, the fugitives
of the fatal days of Mycale and Plat�a. The army over which he
had wept in the zenith of his power had fulfilled the prediction
of his tears; and the armed might of Media and Egypt, of Lydia
and Assyria, was now no more!"
In one of the comedies of the Greek poet ARISTOPH'ANES, entitled
The Wasps, which is designed principally to satirize the passion
of the Athenians for the excitement of the law courts, there
occurs the following episode, that has for its basis the activity
of the Athenians at the battle of Plat�a. We learn from this
episode that the appellation, the "Attic Wasp," had its origin
in the venomous persistence with which the Athenians, swarming
like wasps, stung the Persians in their retreat, after the defeat
of Mardonius. Occurring in a popular satirical comedy, it also
shows how readily any allusion to the famous victories of Greece
could be made to do service on popular occasions--an allusion
that the dramatist knew would awaken in the popular heart great
admiration for him and his work:
With torch and brand the Persian horde swept on from east to
To storm the hives that we had stored, and smoke us from our
Then we laid our hand to spear and targe, and met him on his
Shoulder to shoulder, close we stood, and bit our lips for wrath.
So fast and thick the arrows flew, that none might see the
But the gods were on our side that day, and we bore them back
High o'er our heads, an omen good, we saw the owlet wheel,
And the Persian trousers in their backs felt the good Attic
Still as they fled we followed close, a swarm of vengeful foes,
And stung them where we chanced to light, on cheek, and lip,
So to this day, barbarians say, when whispered far or near,
More than all else the ATTIC WASP is still a name of fear.
--Trans. by W. LUCAS COLLINS.
THE RISE AND GROWTH OF THE ATHENIAN EMPIRE.
I. THE DISGRACE AND DEATH OF THEMISTOCLES.
Six years after the battle of Plat�a the career of Xerxes was
terminated by assassination, and his son, Artaxerxes Longim'anus,
succeeded to the throne. In the mean time Athens had been rebuilt
and fortified by Themistocles, and the Pir�us (the port of Athens)
enclosed within a wall as large in extent as that of Athens, but
of greater height and thickness. But Themistocles, by his selfish
and arbitrary use of power, provoked the enmity of a large body
of his countrymen; and although he was acquitted of the charge
of treasonable inclinations toward Persia, popular feeling soon
after became so strong against him that he was condemned to exile
by the same process of ostracism that he had directed against
Aristides, and he retired to Argos (471 B.C.) Some time before
this a Grecian force, composed of Athenians under Aristides,
and Cimon the son of Miltiades, and Spartans under Pausanias
the victor of Plat�a, waged a successful war upon the Persian
dependencies of the �gean, and the coasts of Asia Minor. The
Ionian cities were aided in a successful revolt, and Cyprus and
Byzantium--the latter now Constantinople--fell into the hands
of the Grecians. Pausanias, who was at the head of the whole
armament, now began to show signs of treasonable conduct, which
was more fully unfolded by a communication that he addressed
to the Persian court, seeking the daughter of Xerxes in marriage,
and promising to bring Sparta and the whole of Greece under
When news of the treason of Pausanias reached Sparta, he was
immediately recalled, and, though no definite proof was at first
furnished against him, his guilt was subsequently established,
and he perished from starvation in the Temple of Minerva, whither
he had fled for refuge, and where he was immured by the eph'ors.
The fate of Pausanias involved that of Themistocles. In searching
for farther traces of the former's plot some correspondence was
discovered that furnished sufficient evidence of the complicity
of Themistocles in the crime, and he was immediately accused by
the Spartans, who insisted upon his being punished. The Athenians
sent ambassadors to arrest him and bring him to Athens; but
Themistocles fled from Argos, and finally sought refuge at the
court of Persia. He died at Magne'sia, in Asia Minor, which had
been appointed his place of residence by Artaxerxes, and a splendid
monument was raised to his memory; but in the time of the Roman
empire a tomb was pointed out by the sea-side, within the port
of Pir�us, which was generally believed to contain his remains,
and of which the comic poet PLATO thus wrote:
By the sea's margin, on the watery strand,
Thy monument, Themistocles, shall stand.
By this directed to thy native shore,
The merchant shall convey his freighted store;
And when our fleets are summoned to the fight
Athens shall conquer with thy tomb in sight.
--Trans. by CUMBERLAND.
Although "the genius of Themistocles did not secure him from
the seductions of avarice and pride, which led him to sacrifice
both his honor and his country for the tinsel of Eastern pomp,"
yet, as THIRLWALL says, "No Greek had then rendered services
such as those of Themistocles to the common country; and no
Athenian, except Solon, had conferred equal benefits on Athens.
He had first delivered her from the most imminent danger, and
then raised her to the pre-eminence on which she now stood. He
might claim her greatness; and even her being, as his work."
The following tribute to his memory is from the pen of TULLIUS
GEM'INUS, a Latin poet:
Greece be thy monument; around her throw
The broken trophies of the Persian fleet;
Inscribe the gods that led the insulting foe,
And mighty Xerxes, at the tablet's feet.
There lay Themistocles; to spread his fame
A lasting column Salamis shall be;
Raise not, weak man, to that immortal name
The little records of mortality.
--Trans. by MERIVALE.
* * * * *
II. THE RISE AND FALL OF CIMON.
Foremost among the rivals of Themistocles in ability and influence,
was Cimon, the son of Miltiades. In his youth he was inordinately
fond of pleasure, and revealed none of those characteristics for
which he subsequently became distinguished. But his friends
encouraged him to follow in his father's footsteps, and Aristides
soon discovered in him a capacity and disposition that he could
use to advantage in his own antagonism to Themistocles. To Aristides,
therefore, Cimon was largely indebted for his influence and success,
as well as for his mild temper and gentle manners.
Reared by his care, of softer ray appears
Cimon, sweet-souled; whose genius, rising strong,
Shook off the load of young debauch; abroad
The scourge of Persian pride, at home the friend
Of every worth and every splendid art;
Modest and simple in the pomp of wealth.
On the banishment of Themistocles Aristides became the undisputed
leader of the aristocratical party at Athens, and on his death,
four years subsequently, Cimon succeeded him. The later was already
distinguished for his military successes, and was undoubtedly
the greatest commander of his time. He continued the successful
war against Persia for many years, and among his notable victories
was one obtained on both sea and land, in Pamphyl'ia, in Asia
Minor, and called
THE BATTLE OF EURYM'EDON.
After dispersing a fleet of two hundred ships Cimon landed his
troops, flushed with victory, and completely routed a large Persian
army. The poet SIMONIDES praises this double victory in the
Ne'er since that olden time, when Asia stood
First torn from Europe by the ocean flood,
Since horrid Mars first poured on either shore
The storm of battle and its wild uproar,
Hath man by land and sea such glory won
As by the mighty deed this day was done.
By land, the Medes in myriads press the ground;
By sea, a hundred Tyrian ships are drowned,
With all their martial host; while Asia stands
Deep groaning by, and wrings her helpless hands.
--Trans. by MERIVALE.
The same poet pays the following tribute to the Greeks who fell
in this conflict:
These, by the streams of famed Eurymedon,
There, envied youth's short brilliant race have run:
In swift-winged ships, and on the embattled field,
Alike they forced the Median bows to yield,
Breaking their foremost ranks. Now here they lie,
Their names inscribed on rolls of victory.
--Trans. by MERIVALE.
On the recall of Pausanias from Asia Minor Sparta lost, and Athens
acquired, the command in the war against Persia. Athens was now
rapidly approaching the summit of her military renown. The war
with Persia did not prevent her from extending her possessions
in Greece by force of arms; and island after island of the �gean
yielded to her sway, while her colonies peopled the winding shores
of Thrace and Macedon. The other states and cities of Greece could
not behold her rapid, and apparently permanent, growth in power
without great dissatisfaction and anxiety. When the Persian war
was at its height, a sense of common danger had caused many of
them to seek an alliance with Athens, the result of what is known
as the Confederacy of Delos; but, now that the danger was virtually
passed, long existing jealousies broke out, which led to political
dissensions, and, finally, to the civil wars that caused the ruin
of the Grecian republics. Sparta, especially, had long viewed
with indignation the growing resources of Athens and was preparing
to check them by an invasion of Attica, when sudden and complicated
disasters forced her to abandon her designs, and turn her attention
to her own dominions. In 464 B.C. the city was visited by an
earthquake that laid it in ruins and buried not less than twenty
thousand of its chosen citizens; and this calamity was immediately
followed by a general revolt of the Helots. BULWER'S description
of this terrible earthquake, and of the memorable conduct of the
Laconian government in opposing, under such trying circumstances,
the dreadful revolt that occurred, has been greatly admired for
its eloquence and its strict adherence to facts.
The Earthquake at Sparta and the Revolt of the Helots.
"An earthquake, unprecedented in its violence, occurred in Sparta.
In many places throughout Laconia the rocky soil was rent asunder.
From Mount Ta-yg'e-tus, which overhung the city, and on which
the women of Laced�mon 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 disaster
from 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, impoverished, 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 the Helots were
ready for revolt; and the death of that 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--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 leveled
Sparta rent their 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 succor, 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.
"Fortunately for Sparta, the danger was not altogether unforeseen.
After the confusion and the horror of the earthquake, and while
the people, dispersed, were seeking to save their effects,
Archida'mus, who, four years before, had succeeded to the throne
of Laced�mon, 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 valor. This they fortified, and, occupying also the
neighboring lands, declared open war upon their lords." [Footnote:
"Athens: Its Rise and Fall," pp. 176, 177.]
"The incident here related of the King of Sparta," says ALISON,
"amid the yawning of the earthquake and the ruin of his capital,
sounding the trumpets to arms, and the Laced�monians assembling
in disciplined array around him, is one of the sublimest recorded
in history. We need not wonder that a people capable of such
conduct in such a moment, and trained by discipline and habit to
such docility in danger, should subsequently acquire and maintain
supreme dominion in Greece." The general insurrection of the Helots
is known in history as the THIRD MESSENIAN WAR. After two or three
years had passed in vain attempts to capture Ithome, the Spartans
were obliged to call for aid on the Athenians, with whom they were
still in avowed alliance. The friends of Pericles, the rival of
Cimon and the leader of the democratic party at Athens, opposed
granting the desired relief; but Cimon, after some difficulty,
persuaded his countrymen to assist the Laced�monians, and he
himself marched with four thousand men to Ithome. The aid of the
Athenians was solicited on account of their acknowledged skill
in capturing fortified places; but as Cimon did not succeed in
taking Ithome, the Spartans became suspicious of his designs,
and summarily sent him back to Athens.
* * * * *
III. THE ACCESSION OF PERICLES TO POWER.
The ill success of the expedition of Cimon gave Pericles the
opportunity to place himself and the popular party in power at
Athens; for the constitutional reforms that had been gradually
weakening the power of the aristocracy were now made available
to sweep it almost entirely away. The following extract from
BULWER'S Athens briefly yet fully tells what was accomplished
in this direction:
"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; and it was also Clisthenes,
in all probability, who weakened the more illicit and oppressive
influences of wealth by establishing the ballot of secret suffrage,
instead of the open voting which was common in the time of Solon.
The Areop'agus was designed by Solon as the aristocratic balance
to the popular assembly. This constitutional bulwark of the
aristocratic party of Athens became more and more invidious to
the people, and when Cimon resisted every innovation on that
assembly he only insured his own destruction, while he expedited
the policy he denounced. Ephial'tes, the friend and spokesman of
Pericles, directed all the force of the popular opinion against
this venerable senate; and at length, though not openly assisted
by Pericles, who took no prominent part in the contention, that
influential statesman succeeded in crippling its functions and
limiting its authority."
With regard to the nature of the constitutional changes effected,
the same writer adds: "It appears to me most probable that the
Areopagus retained the right of adjudging cases of homicide, 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; that its irresponsible character was abolished,
and that it was henceforth rendered accountable to the people."
The struggle between the contending parties was long and bitter,
and the fall of Cimon was one of the necessary consequences of
the political change. Charged, among other things, with too great
friendship for Sparta, he was driven into exile. Pericles now
persuaded the Athenians to renounce the alliance with Sparta, and
he increased the power of Athens by alliances with Argos and other
cities. He also continued the construction of the long walls from
Athens to the Pir�us and Phalerum--a project that Themistocles
had advised and that Cimon had commenced.
The long existing jealousy of Sparta at last broke out in open
hostilities. While the siege of Ithome was in progress, Sparta,
still powerful in her alliances, sent her allied forces into
Boeotia to counteract the growing influence of the Athenians in
that quarter. The indignant Athenians, led by Pericles, marched
out to meet them, but were worsted in the battle of Tan'agra.
Before this conflict began, Cimon, the banished commander,
appeared in the Athenian camp and begged permission to enter
the ranks against the enemy. His request being refused, he left
his armor with his friends, of whom there were one hundred among
the Athenians, with the charge to refute, by their valor, the
accusation that he and they were the friends of Sparta. Everyone
of the one hundred fell in the conflict. About two months after,
in the early part of the year 456 B.C., the Athenians wiped off
the stain of their defeat at Tanagra by a victory over the combined
Theban and Boeotian forces, then in alliance with Sparta; whereby
the authority and influence of Sparta were again confined to
The Athenians were now masters of Greece, from the Gulf of Corinth
to the Pass of Thermopyl�, and in the following year they sent an
expedition round the Peloponnesus, which captured, among other
cities, Naupactus, on the Corinthian Gulf. The third and last
Messenian war had just been concluded by the surrender of Ithome,
on terms which permitted the Messenians and their families to
retire from the Peloponnesus, and they joined the colony which
Athens planted at Naupactus. But the successes of Athens in Greece
were counterbalanced, in the same year, by reverses in Egypt, where
the Athenians were fighting Persia in aid of In'arus, a Libyan
prince. These, with some other minor disasters, and the state of
bitter feeling that existed between the two parties at Athens,
induced Pericles to recall Cimon from exile and put him in
command of an expedition against Cyprus and Egypt. In 449, however,
Cimon was taken ill, and he died in the harbor of Ci'tium, to which
place he was laying siege.
Before the death of Cimon, and through his intervention, a five
years' truce had been concluded with Sparta, and soon after his
death peace was made with Persia. From this time the empire of
Athens began to decline. In the year 447 B.C. a revolt in Boeotia
resulted in the overthrow of Athenian supremacy there, while the
expulsion of the Athenians from Pho'cis and Lo'cris, and the
revolt of Euboea and Megara, followed soon after. The revolt of
Euboea was soon quelled, but this was the only success that Athens