Part 2 out of 5
"And what," said Cleonice, blushing deeply, and with tears in her
eyes, "what result can come from such a love? You may not wed with
the stranger. And yet, Pausanias, yet you know that all other love
dishonours the virgin even of Byzantium. You are silent; you turn
away. Ah, do not let them wrong you. My father fears your power. If
you love me you are powerless; your power has passed to me. Is it not
so? I, a weak girl, can rule, command, irritate, mock you, if I will.
You may fly me, but not control."
"Do not tempt me too far, Cleonice," said the Spartan, with a faint
"Nay, I will be merciful henceforth, and you, Pausanias, come here
no more. Awake to the true sense of what is due to your divine
ancestry--your great name. Is it not told of you that, after the
fall of Mardonius, you nobly dismissed to her country, unscathed and
honoured, the captive Coan lady? Will you reverse at Byzantium
the fame acquired at Plataea? Pausanias, spare us; appeal not to my
father's fear, still less to his love of gold."
"I cannot, I cannot fly thee," said the Spartan, with great emotion.
"You know not how stormy, how inexorable are the passions which
burst forth after a whole youth of restraint. When nature breaks the
barriers, she rushes headlong on her course. I am no gentle wooer;
where in Sparta should I learn the art? But, if I love thee not as
these mincing Ionians, who come with offerings of flowers and song,
I do love thee with all that fervour of which the old Dorian legends
tell. I could brave, like the Thracian, the dark gates of Hades, were
thy embrace my reward. Command me as thou wilt--make me thy slave in
all things, even as Hercules was to Omphale; but tell me only that I
may win thy love at last. Fear not. Why fear me? in my wildest moments
a look from thee can control me. I ask but love for love. Without thy
love thy beauty were valueless. Bid me not despair."
Cleonice turned pale, and the large tears that had gathered in her
eyes fell slowly down her cheeks; but she did not withdraw her hand
from his clasp, or avert her countenance from his eyes.
"I do not fear thee," said she, in a very low voice. "I told my father
so; but--but--" (and here she drew back her hand and averted her
face), "I fear myself."
"Ah, no, no," cried the delighted Spartan, detaining her, "do not fear
to trust to thine own heart. Talk not of dishonour. There are"
(and here the Spartan drew himself up, and his voice took a deeper
swell)--"there are those on earth who hold themselves above the
miserable judgments of the vulgar herd--who can emancipate themselves
from those galling chains of custom and of country which helotize
affection, genius, nature herself. What is dishonour here may be glory
elsewhere; and this hand, outstretched towards a mightier sceptre than
Greek ever wielded yet, may dispense, not shame and sorrow, but glory
and golden affluence to those I love."
"You amaze me, Pausanias. _Now_ I fear you. What mean these mysterious
boasts? Have you the dark ambition to restore in your own person that
race of tyrants whom your country hath helped to sweep away? Can you
hope to change the laws of Sparta, and reign there, your will the
"Cleonice, we touch upon matters that should not disturb the ears of
women. Forgive me if I have been roused from myself."
"At Miletus--so have I heard my mother say--there were women worthy to
be the confidants of men."
"But they were women who loved. Cleonice, I should rejoice in an hour
when I might pour every thought into thy bosom."
At this moment there was heard on the strand below a single note from
the Mothon's instrument, low, but prolonged; it ceased, and was again
renewed. The royal conspirator started and breathed hard.
"It is the signal," he muttered; "they wait me. Cleonice," he said
aloud, and with much earnestness in his voice, "I had hoped, ere we
parted, to have drawn from your lips those assurances which would give
me energy for the present and hope in the future. Ah, turn not from me
because my speech is plain and my manner rugged. What, Cleonice, what
if I could defy the laws of Sparta; what if, instead of that gloomy
soil, I could bear thee to lands where heaven and man alike smile
benignant on love? Might I not hope then?"
"Do nothing to sully your fame."
"Is it, then, dear to thee?"
"It is a part of thee," said Cleonice falteringly; and as if she had
said too much, she covered her face with her hands.
Emboldened by this emotion, the Spartan gave way to his passion and
his joy. He clasped her in his arms--his first embrace--and kissed,
with wild fervour, the crimsoned forehead, the veiling hands. Then,
as he tore himself away, he cast his right arm aloft.
"O Hercules!" he cried, in solemn and kindling adjuration, "my
ancestor and my divine guardian, it was not by confining thy labours
to one spot of earth, that thou wert borne from thy throne of fire to
the seats of the Gods. Like thee I will spread the influence of my
arms to nations whoso glory shall be my name; and as thy sons, my
fathers, expelled from Sparta, returned thither with sword and spear
to defeat usurpers and to found the long dynasty of the Heracleids,
even so may it be mine to visit that dread abode of torturers and
spies, and to build up in the halls of the Atridae a power worthier of
the lineage of the demigod. Again the signal! Fear not, Cleonice, I
will not tarnish my fame, but I will exchange the envy of abhorring
rivals for the obedience of a world. One kiss more! Farewell!"
Ere Cleonice recovered herself, Pausanias was gone, his wild and
uncomprehended boasts still ringing in her ear. She sighed heavily,
and turned towards the opening that admitted to the terraces. There
she stood watching for the parting of her lover's boat. It was
midnight; the air, laden with the perfumes of a thousand fragrant
shrubs and flowers that bloom along that coast in the rich luxuriance
of nature, was hushed and breathless. In its stillness every sound was
audible, the rustling of a leaf, the ripple of a wave. She heard the
murmur of whispered voices below, and in a few moments she recognised,
emerging from the foliage, the form of Pausanias; but he was not
alone. Who were his companions? In the deep lustre of that shining and
splendid atmosphere she could see sufficient of the outline of their
figures to observe that they were not dressed in the Grecian garb;
their long robes betrayed the Persian.
They seemed conversing familiarly and eagerly as they passed along the
smooth sands, till a curve in the wooded shore hid them from her view.
"Why do I love him so," said the girl mechanically, "and yet wrestle
against that love? Dark forebodings tell me that Aphrodite smiles not
on our vows. Woe is me! What be the end?"
 "The Byzantine dialect was in the time of Philip, as we know from
the decree in Demosthenes, rich in Dorisms."--Mueller on the Doric
 Fighting-cocks were fed with garlic, to make them more fierce.
The learned reader will remember how Theorus advised Dicaeopolis to
keep clear of the Thracians with garlic in their mouths.--See the
Acharnians of Aristoph.
 Garlands were twined round the neck, or placed upon the bosom
(Greek: upothumiades). See the quotations from Alcaeus, Sappho, and
Anacreon in Athenaeus, book xiii. c. 17.
 So said Thucydides of the Spartans, many years afterwards. "They
give evidence of honour among themselves, but with respect to others,
they consider honourable whatever pleases them, and just whatever is
to their advantage."--See Thucyd. lib. v.
 Herod, ix.
On quitting Cleonice, Pausanias hastily traversed the long passage
that communicated with a square peristyle or colonnade, which again
led, on the one hand, to the more public parts of the villa, and,
on the other, through a small door left ajar, conducted by a back
entrance, to the garden and the sea-shore. Pursuing the latter path,
the Spartan bounded down the descent and came upon an opening in the
foliage, in which Lysander was seated beside the boat that had been
drawn partially on the strand.
"Alone? Where is Alcman?"
"Yonder; you heard his signal?"
"I heard it."
"Pausanias, they who seek you are Persians. Beware!"
"Of what? murder? I am warned."
"Murder to your good name. There are no arms against appearances."
"But I may trust thee?" said the Regent, quickly, "and of Alcman's
faith I am convinced."
"Why trust to any man what it were wisdom to reveal to the whole
Grecian Council? To parley secretly with the foe is half a treason to
"Lysander," replied Pausanias, coldly, "you have much to learn before
you can be wholly Spartan. Tarry here yet awhile."
"What shall I do with this boy?" muttered the conspirator as he strode
on. "I know that he will not betray me, yet can I hope for his aid? I
love him so well that I would fain he shared my fortunes. Perhaps by
little and little I may lead him on. Meanwhile, his race and his name
are so well accredited in Sparta, his father himself an Ephor, that
his presence allays suspicion. Well, here are my Persians."
A little apart from the Mothon, who, resting his cithara on a fragment
of rock, appeared to be absorbed in reflection, stood the men of the
East. There were two of them; one of tall stature and noble presence,
in the prime of life; the other more advanced in years, of a coarser
make, a yet darker complexion, and of a sullen and gloomy countenance.
They were not dressed alike; the taller, a Persian of pure blood, wore
a short tunic that reached only to the knees: and the dress fitted to
his shape without a single fold. On his round cap or bonnet glittered
a string of those rare pearls, especially and immemorially prized in
the East, which formed the favourite and characteristic ornament of
the illustrious tribe of the Pasargadae. The other, who was a Mede,
differed scarcely in his dress from Pausanias himself, except that he
was profusely covered with ornaments; his arms were decorated with
bracelets, he wore earrings, and a broad collar of unpolished stones
in a kind of filagree was suspended from his throat. Behind the
Orientals stood Gongylus, leaning both hands on his staff, and
watching the approach of Pausanias with the same icy smile and
glittering eye with which he listened to the passionate invectives
or flattered the dark ambition of the Spartan. The Orientals saluted
Pausanias with a lofty gravity, and Gongylus drawing near, said: "Son
of Cleombrotus, the illustrious Ariamanes, kinsman to Xerxes, and of
the House of the Achaemenids, is so far versed in the Grecian tongue
that I need not proffer my offices as interpreter. In Datis, the Mede,
brother to the most renowned of the Magi, you behold a warrior worthy
to assist the arms even of Pausanias."
"I greet ye in our Spartan phrase, 'The beautiful to the good,'" said
Pausanias, regarding the Barbarians with an earnest gaze. "And I
requested Gongylus to lead ye hither in order that I might confer with
ye more at ease, than in the confinement to which I regret ye are
still sentenced. Not in prisons should be held the conversations of
"I know," said Ariamanes (the statelier of the Barbarians), in the
Greek tongue, which he spoke intelligibly indeed, but with slowness
and hesitation, "I know that I am with that hero who refused to
dishonour the corpse of Mardonius, and even though a captive I
converse without shame with my victor."
"Rested it with me alone, your captivity should cease," replied
Pausanias. "War, that has made me acquainted with the valour of the
Persians, has also enlightened me as to their character. Your king has
ever been humane to such of the Greeks as have sought a refuge near
his throne. I would but imitate his clemency."
"Had the great Darius less esteemed the Greeks he would never have
invaded Greece. From the wanderers whom misfortune drove to his
realms, he learned to wonder at the arts, the genius, the energies of
the people of Hellas. He desired less to win their territories than
to gain such subjects. Too vast, alas, was the work he bequeathed to
"He should not have trusted to force alone," returned Pausanias.
"Greece may be won, but by the arts of her sons, not by the arms
of the stranger. A Greek only can subdue Greece. By such profound
knowledge of the factions, the interests, the envies and the
jealousies of each, state as a Greek alone can possess, the mistaken
chain that binds them might be easily severed; some bought, some
intimidated, and the few that hold out subdued amidst the apathy of
"You speak wisely, right hand of Hellas," answered the Persian, who
had listened to these remarks with deep attention. "Yet had we in our
armies your countryman, the brave Demaratus."
"But, if I have heard rightly, ye too often disdained his counsel.
Had he been listened to there had been neither a Salamis nor a
Plataea. Yet Demaratus himself had been too long a stranger to
Greece, and he knew little of any state save that of Sparta. Lives he
"Surely yes, in honour and renown; little less than the son of Darius
"And what reward would Xerxes bestow on one of greater influence
than Demaratus; on one who has hitherto conquered every foe, and now
beholds before him the conquest of Greece herself?"
"If such a man were found," answered the Persian, "let his thought
run loose, let his imagination rove, let him seek only how to find a
fitting estimate of the gratitude of the king and the vastness of the
Pausanias shaded his brow with his hand, and mused a few moments; then
lifting his eyes to the Persian's watchful but composed countenance,
he said, with a slight smile--
"Hard is it, O Persian, when the choice is actually before him, for a
man to renounce his country. There have been hours within this very
day when my desires swept afar from Sparta, from all Hellas, and
rested on the tranquil pomp of Oriental Satrapies. But now, rude and
stern parent though Sparta be to me, I feel still that I am her son;
and, while we speak, a throne in stormy Hellas seems the fitting
object of a Greek's ambition. In a word, then, I would rise, and yet
raise my country. I would have at my will a force that may suffice to
overthrow in Sparta its grim and unnatural laws, to found amidst its
rocks that single throne which the son of a demigod should ascend.
From that throne I would spread my empire over the whole of Greece,
Corinth and Athens being my tributaries. So that, though men now,
and posterity here-after, may say, 'Pausanias overthrew the Spartan
government,' they shall add, 'but Pausanias annexed to the Spartan
sceptre the realm of Greece. Pausanias was a tyrant, but not a
traitor.' How, O Persian, can these designs accord with the policy of
the Persian king?"
"Not without the authority of my master can I answer thee," replied
Ariamanes, "so that my answer may be as the king's signet to his
decree. But so much at least I say: that it is not the custom of the
Persians to interfere with the institutions of those states with which
they are connected. Thou desirest to make a monarchy of Greece, with
Sparta for its head. Be it so; the king my master will aid thee so to
scheme and so to reign, provided thou dost but concede to him a
vase of the water from thy fountains, a fragment of earth from thy
"In other words," said Pausanias thoughtfully, but with a slight
colour on his brow, "if I hold my dominions tributary to the king?"
"The dominions that by the king's aid thou wilt have conquered. Is
that a hard law?"
"To a Greek and a Spartan the very mimicry of allegiance to the
foreigner is hard."
The Persian smiled. "Yet, if I understand thee aright, O Chief, even
kings in Sparta are but subjects to their people. Slave to a crowd at
home, or tributary to a throne abroad; slave every hour, or tributary
for earth and water once a year, which is the freer lot?"
"Thou canst not understand our Grecian notions," replied Pausanias,
"nor have I leisure to explain them. But though I may subdue Sparta to
myself as to its native sovereign, I will not, even by a type, subdue
the land of the Heracleid to the Barbarian."
Ariamanes looked grave; the difficulty raised was serious. And here
the craft of Gongylus interposed.
"This may be adjusted, Ariamanes, as befits both parties. Let
Pausanias rule in Sparta as he lists, and Sparta stand free of
tribute. But for all other states and cities that Pausanias, aided by
the great king, shall conquer, let the vase be filled, and the earth
be Grecian. Let him but render tribute for those lands which the
Persians submit to his sceptre. So shall the pride of the Spartan be
appeased, and the claims of the king be satisfied."
"Shall it be so?" said Pausanias.
"Instruct me so to propose to my master, and I will do my best to
content him with the exception to the wonted rights of the Persian
diadem. And then," continued Ariamanes, "then, Pausanias, Conqueror
of Mardonius, Captain at Plataea, thou art indeed a man with whom the
lord of Asia may treat as an equal. Greeks before thee have offered
to render Greece to the king my master; but they were exiles and
fugitives, they had nothing to risk or lose; thou hast fame, and
command, and power, and riches, and all----"
"But for a throne," interrupted Gongylus.
"It does not matter what may be my motives," returned the Spartan
gloomily, "and were I to tell them, you might not comprehend. But so
much by way of explanation. You too have held command?"
"If you knew that, when power became to you so sweet that it was as
necessary to life itself as food and drink, it would then be snatched
from you for ever, and you would serve as a soldier in the very ranks
you had commanded as a leader; if you knew that no matter what your
services, your superiority, your desires, this shameful fall was
inexorably doomed, might you not see humiliation in power itself,
obscurity in renown, gloom in the present, despair in the future? And
would it not seem to you nobler even to desert the camp than to sink
into a subaltern?"
"Such a prospect has in our country made out of good subjects fierce
rebels," observed the Persian.
"Ay, ay, I doubt it not," said Pausanias, laughing bitterly. "Well,
then, such will be my lot, if I pluck not out a fairer one from the
Fatal Urn. As Regent of Sparta, while my nephew is beardless, I am
general of her armies, and I have the sway and functions of her king.
When he arrives at the customary age, I am a subject, a citizen, a
nothing, a miserable fool of memories gnawing my heart away amidst
joyless customs and stern austerities, with the recollection of the
glories of Plataea and the delights of Byzantium. Persian, I am filled
from the crown to the sole with the desire of power, with the tastes
of pleasure. I have that within me which before my time has made
heroes and traitors, raised demigods to Heaven, or chained the lofty
Titans to the rocks of Hades. Something I may yet be; I know not what.
But as the man never returns to the boy, so never, never, never once
more, can I be again the Spartan subject. Enough; such as I am, I can
fulfil what I have said to thee. Will thy king accept me as his ally,
and ratify the terms I have proposed?"
"I feel well-nigh assured of it," answered the Persian; "for since
thou hast spoken thus boldly, I will answer thee in the same strain.
Know, then, that we of the pure race of Persia, we the sons of those
who overthrew the Mede, and extended the race of the mountain tribe,
from the Scythian to the Arab, from Egypt to Ind, we at least feel
that no sacrifice were too great to redeem the disgrace we have
suffered at the hands of thy countrymen; and the world itself were too
small an empire, too confined a breathing-place for the son of
Darius, if this nook of earth were still left without the pale of his
"This nook of earth? Ay, but Sparta itself must own no lord but me."
"It is agreed."
"If I release thee, wilt thou bear these offers to the king,
travelling day and night till thou restest at the foot of his throne?"
"I should carry tidings too grateful to suffer me to loiter by the
"And Datis, he comprehends us not; but his eyes glitter fiercely on
me. It is easy to see that thy comrade loves not the Greek."
"For that reason he will aid us well. Though but a Mede, and not
admitted to the privileges of the Pasargadae, his relationship to the
most powerful and learned of our Magi, and his own services in war,
have won him such influence with both priests and soldiers, that I
would fain have him as my companion. I will answer for his fidelity to
our joint object."
"Enough; ye are both free. Gongylus, you will now conduct our friends
to the place where the steeds await them. You will then privately
return to the citadel, and give to their pretended escape the probable
appearances we devised. Be quick, while it is yet night. One word
more. Persian, our success depends upon thy speed. It is while the
Greeks are yet at Byzantium, while I yet am in command, that we should
strike the blow. If the king consent, through Gongylus thou wilt have
means to advise me. A Persian army must march at once to the Phrygian
confines, instructed to yield command to me when the hour comes to
assume it. Delay not that aid by such vast and profitless recruits
as swelled the pomp, but embarrassed the arms, of Xerxes. Armies too
large rot by their own unwieldiness into decay. A band of 50,000,
composed solely of the Medes and Persians, will more than suffice.
With such an army, if my command be undisputed, I will win a second
Plataea, but against the Greek."
"Your suggestions shall be law. May Ormuzd favour the bold!"
"Away, Gongylus. You know the rest."
Pausanias followed with thoughtful eyes the receding forms of Gongylus
and the Barbarians.
"I have passed for ever," he muttered, "the pillars of Hercules. I
must go on or perish. If I fall, I die execrated and abhorred; if I
succeed, the sound of the choral flutes will drown the hootings. Be it
as it may, I do not and will not repent. If the wolf gnaw my entrails,
none shall hear me groan." He turned and met the eyes of Alcman, fixed
on him so intently, so exultingly, that, wondering at their strange
expression, he drew back and said haughtily, "You imitate Medusa, but
I am stone already."
"Nay," said the Mothon, in a voice of great humility, "if you are of
stone, it is like the divine one which, when borne before armies,
secures their victory. Blame me not that I gazed on you with triumph
and hope. For, while you conferred with the Persian, methought the
murmurs that reached my ear sounded thus: 'When Pausanias shall rise,
Sparta shall bend low, and the Helot shall break his chains.'"
"They do not hate me, these Helots?"
"You are the only Spartan they love."
"Were my life in danger from the Ephors--"
"The Helots would rise to a man."
"Did I plant my standard on Taygetus, though all Sparta encamped
"All the slaves would cut their way to thy side. O Pausanias, think
how much nobler it were to reign over tens of thousands who become
freemen at thy word, than to be but the equal of 10,000 tyrants."
"The Helots fight well, when well led," said Pausanias; as if to
himself. "Launch the boat."
"Pardon me, Pausanias. but is it prudent any longer to trust Lysander?
He is the pattern of the Spartan youth, and Sparta is his mistress. He
loves her too well not to blab to her every secret."
"O Sparta, Sparta, wilt thou not leave me one friend?" exclaimed
Pausanias. "No, Alcman, I will not separate myself from Lysander, till
I despair of his alliance. To your oars! be quick."
At the sound of the Mothon's tread upon the pebbles, Lysander, who had
hitherto remained motionless, reclining by the boat, rose and advanced
towards Pausanias. There was in his countenance, as the moon shining
on it cast over his statue-like features a pale and marble hue, so
much of anxiety, of affection, of fear, so much of the evident,
unmistakable solicitude of friendship, that Pausanias, who, like most
men, envied and unloved, was susceptible even of the semblance of
attachment, muttered to himself, "No, thou wilt not desert me, nor I
"My friend, my Pausanias," said Lysander, as he approached, "I have
had fears--I have seen omens. Undertake nothing, I beseech thee, which
thou hast meditated this night."
"And what hast thou seen?" said Pausanias, with a slight change of
"I was praying the Gods for thee and Sparta, when a star shot suddenly
from the heavens. Pausanias, this is the eighth year, the year in
which on moonless nights the Ephors watch the heavens."
"And if a star fall they judge their kings," interrupted Pausanias
(with a curl of his haughty lip) "to have offended the Gods, and
suspend them from their office till acquitted by an oracle at Delphi,
or a priest at Olympia. A wise superstition. But, Lysander, the night
is not moonless, and the omen is therefore nought."
Lysander shook his head mournfully, and followed his chieftain to the
boat, in gloomy silence.
 After the action at Thermopylae, Demaratus advised Xerxes to send
three hundred vessels to the Laconian coast, and seize the island of
Cythera, which commanded Sparta. "The profound experience of Demaratus
in the selfish and exclusive policy of his countrymen made him argue
that if this were done the fear of Sparta for herself would prevent
her joining the forces of the rest of Greece, and leave the latter a
more easy prey to the invader."--_Athens, its Rise and Fall_. This
advice was overruled by Achaemenes. So again, had the advice of
Artemisia, the Carian princess, been taken--to delay the naval
engagement of Salamis, and rather to sail to the Peloponnesus--the
Greeks, failing of provisions and divided among themselves, would
probably have dispersed.
At noon the next day, not only the vessels in the harbour presented
the same appearance of inactivity and desertion which had
characterised the preceding evening, but the camp itself seemed
forsaken. Pausanias had quitted his ship for the citadel, in which
he took up his lodgment when on shore: and most of the officers
and sailors of the squadron were dispersed among the taverns and
wine-shops, for which, even at that day, Byzantium was celebrated.
It was in one of the lowest and most popular of these latter resorts,
and in a large and rude chamber, or rather outhouse, separated from
the rest of the building, that a number of the Laconian Helots were
assembled. Some of these were employed as sailors, others were the
military attendants on the Regent and the Spartans who accompanied
At the time we speak of, these unhappy beings were in the full
excitement of that wild and melancholy gaiety which is almost peculiar
to slaves in their hours of recreation, and in which reaction of
wretchedness modern writers have discovered the indulgence of a native
humour. Some of them were drinking deep, wrangling, jesting, laughing
in loud discord over their cups. At another table rose the deep voice
of a singer, chanting one of those antique airs known but to these
degraded sons of the Homeric Achaean, and probably in its origin
going beyond the date of the Tale of Troy; a song of gross and rustic
buffoonery, but ever and anon charged with some image or thought
worthy of that language of the universal Muses. His companions
listened with a rude delight to the rough voice and homely sounds, and
now and then interrupted the wassailers at the other tables by cries
for silence, which none regarded. Here and there, with intense and
fierce anxiety on their faces, small groups were playing at dice; for
gambling is the passion of slaves. And many of these men, to whom
wealth could bring no comfort, had secretly amassed large hoards at
the plunder of Plataea, from which they had sold to the traders of
Aegina gold at the price of brass. The appearance of the rioters was
startling and melancholy. They were mostly stunted and undersized,
as are generally the progeny of the sons of woe; lean and gaunt with
early hardship, the spine of the back curved and bowed by habitual
degradation; but with the hard-knit sinews and prominent muscles which
are produced by labour and the mountain air; and under shaggy and
lowering brows sparkled many a fierce, perfidious, and malignant eye;
while as mirth, or gaming, or song, aroused smiles in the various
groups, the rude features spoke of passions easily released from the
sullen bondage of servitude, and revealed the nature of the animals
which thraldom had failed to tame. Here and there however were to be
seen forms, unlike the rest, of stately stature, of fair proportions,
wearing the divine lineaments of Grecian beauty. From some of these a
higher nature spoke out, not in mirth, that last mockery of supreme
woe, but in an expression of stern, grave, and disdainful melancholy;
others, on the contrary, surpassed the rest in vehemence, clamour,
and exuberant extravagance of emotion, as if their nobler physical
development only served to entitle them to that base superiority.
For health and vigour can make an aristocracy even among Helots. The
garments of these merrymakers increased the peculiar effect of their
general appearance. The Helots in military excursions naturally
relinquished the rough sheep-skin dress that characterised their
countrymen at home, the serfs of the soil. The sailors had thrown off,
for coolness, the leathern jerkins they habitually wore, and, with
their bare arms and breasts, looked as if of a race that yet shivered,
primitive and unredeemed, on the outskirts of civilization.
Strangely contrasted with their rougher comrades, were those who,
placed occasionally about the person of the Regent, were indulged with
the loose and clean robes of gay colours worn by the Asiatic slaves;
and these ever and anon glanced at their finery with an air of
conscious triumph. Altogether, it was a sight that might well have
appalled, by its solemn lessons of human change, the poet who would
have beheld in that embruted flock the descendants of the race over
whom Pelops and Atreus, and Menelaus, and Agamemnon the king of men,
had held their antique sway, and might still more have saddened the
philosopher who believed, as Menander has nobly written, 'That Nature
knows no slaves.'
Suddenly, in the midst of the confused and uproarious hubbub, the door
opened, and Alcman the Mothon entered the chamber. At this sight the
clamour ceased in an instant. The party rose, as by a general impulse,
and crowded round the new comer.
"My friends," said he, regarding them with the same calm and frigid
indifference which usually characterised his demeanour, "you do well
to make merry while you may, for something tells me it will not last
long. We shall return to Lacedaemon. You look black. So, then, is
there no delight in the thought of home?"
"_Home!_" muttered one of the Helots, and the word, sounding drearily
on his lips, was echoed by many, so that it circled like a groan.
"Yet ye have your children as much as if ye were free," said Alcman.
"And for that reason it pains us to see them play, unaware of the
future," said a Helot of better mien than his comrades.
"But do you know," returned the Mothon, gazing on the last speaker
steadily, "that for your children there may not be a future fairer
than that which your fathers knew?"
"Tush!" exclaimed one of the unhappy men, old before his time, and
of an aspect singularly sullen and ferocious. "Such have been your
half-hints and mystic prophecies for years. What good comes of them?
Was there ever an oracle for Helots?"
"There was no repute in the oracles even of Apollo," returned Alcman,
"till the Apollo-serving Dorians became conquerors. Oracles are the
children of victories."
"But there are no victories for us," said the first speaker
"Never, if ye despair," said the Mothon loftily. "What," he added
after a pause, looking round at the crowd, "what, do ye not see that
hope dawned upon us from the hour when thirty-five thousand of us were
admitted as soldiers, ay, and as conquerors, at Plataea? From that
moment we knew our strength. Listen to me. At Samos once a thousand
slaves--mark me, but a thousand,--escaped the yoke--seized on arms,
fled to the mountains (we have mountains even in Laconia), descended
from time to time to devastate the fields and to harass their
ancient lords. By habit they learned war, by desperation they grew
indomitable. What became of these slaves? were they cut off? Did they
perish by hunger, by the sword, in the dungeon or field? No; those
brave men were the founders of Ephesus."
"But the Samians were not Spartans," mumbled the old Helot.
"As ye will, as ye will," said Alcman, relapsing into his usual
coldness. "I wish you never to strike unless ye are prepared to die or
"Some of us are," said the younger Helot.
"Sacrifice a cock to the Fates, then."
"But why, think you," asked one of the Helots, "that we shall be so
soon summoned back to Laconia?"
"Because while ye are drinking and idling here--drones that ye
are--there is commotion in the Athenian bee-hive yonder. Know that
Ariamanes the Persian and Datis the Mede have escaped. The allies,
especially the Athenians, are excited and angry; and many of them are
already come in a body to Pausanias, whom they accuse of abetting the
escape of the fugitives."
"Well, and if Pausanias does not give honey in his words,--and few
flowers grow on his lips--the bees will sting, that is all. A trireme
will be despatched to Sparta with complaints. Pausanias will be
recalled--perhaps his life endangered."
"Endangered!" echoed several voices.
"Yes. What is that to you--what care you for his danger? He is a
"Ay," cried one; "but he has been kind to the Helots."
"And we have fought by his side," said another.
"And he dressed my wound with his own hand," murmured a third.
"And we have got money under him," growled a fourth.
"And more than all," said Alcman, in a loud voice, "if he lives, he
will break down the Spartan government. Ye will not let this man die?"
"Never!" exclaimed the whole assembly. Alcman gazed with a kind of
calm and strange contempt on the flashing eyes, the fiery gestures of
the throng, and then said, coldly,
"So then ye would fight for one man?"
"Ay, ay, that would we."
"But not for your own liberties, and those of your children unborn?"
There was a dead silence; but the taunt was felt, and its logic was
already at work in many of these rugged breasts.
At this moment, the door was suddenly thrown open; and a Helot, in the
dress worn by the attendants of the Regent, entered, breathless and
"Alcman! the gods be praised you are here. Pausanias commands your
presence. Lose not a moment. And you too, comrades, by Demeter, do you
mean to spend whole days at your cups? Come to the citadel; ye may be
This was spoken to such of the Helots as belonged to the train of
"Wanted--what for?" said one. "Pausanias gives us a holiday while he
employs the sleek Egyptians."
"Who that serves Pausanias ever asks that question, or can foresee
from one hour to another what he may be required to do?" returned the
self-important messenger, with great contempt.
Meanwhile the Mothon, all whose movements were peculiarly silent and
rapid, was already on his way to the citadel. The distance was not
inconsiderable, but Alcman was swift of foot. Tightening the girdle
round his waist, he swung himself, as it were, into a kind of run,
which, though not seemingly rapid, cleared the ground with a speed
almost rivalling that of the ostrich, from the length of the stride
and the extreme regularity of the pace. Such was at that day the
method by which messages were despatched from state to state,
especially in mountainous countries; and the length of way which was
performed, without stopping, by the foot-couriers might startle the
best-trained pedestrians in our times. So swiftly indeed did the
Mothon pursue his course, that just by the citadel he came up with the
Grecian captains who, before he joined the Helots, had set off for
their audience with Pausanias. There were some fourteen or fifteen
of them, and they so filled up the path, which, just there, was not
broad, that Alcman was obliged to pause as he came upon their rear.
"And whither so fast, fellow?" said Uliades the Samian, turning round
as he heard the strides of the Mothon.
"Please you, master, I am bound to the General."
"Oh, his slave! Is he going to free you?"
"I am already as free as a man who has no city can be."
"Pithy. The Spartan slaves have the dryness of their masters. How,
sirrah! do you jostle me?"
"I crave pardon. I only seek to pass."
"Never! to take precedence of a Samian. Keep back."
"I dare not."
"Nay, nay, let him pass," said the young Chian, Antagoras; "he will
get scourged if he is too late. Perhaps, like the Persians, Pausanias
wears false hair, and wishes the slave to dress it in honour of us."
"Hush!" whispered an Athenian. "Are these taunts prudent?"
Here there suddenly broke forth a loud oath from Uliades, who,
lingering a little behind the rest, had laid rough hands on the
Mothon, as the latter once more attempted to pass him. With a
dexterous and abrupt agility, Alcman had extricated himself from the
Samian's grasp, but with a force that swung the captain on his knee.
Taking advantage of the position of the foe, the Mothon darted onward,
and threading the rest of the party, disappeared through the
neighbouring gates of the citadel.
"You saw the insult?" said Uliades between his ground teeth as he
recovered himself. "The master shall answer for the slave; and to me,
too, who have forty slaves of my own at home!"
"Pooh! think no more of it," said Antagoras gaily; "the poor fellow
meant only to save his own hide."
"As if that were of any consequence! my slaves are brought up from the
cradle not to know if they have hides or not. You may pinch them by
the hour together and they don't feel you. My little ones do it, in
rainy weather, to strengthen their fingers. The Gods keep them!"
"An excellent gymnastic invention. But we are now within the citadel.
Courage! the Spartan greyhound has long teeth."
Pausanias was striding with hasty steps up and down a long and narrow
peristyle or colonnade that surrounded the apartments appropriated to
his private use, when Alcman joined him.
"Well, well," cried he, eagerly, as he saw the Mothon, "you have
mingled with the common gangs of these worshipful seamen, these new
men, these Ionians. Think you they have so far overcome their awe
of the Spartan that they would obey the mutinous commands of their
"Pausanias, the truth must be spoken--Yes!"
"Ye Gods! one would think each of these wranglers imagined he had a
whole Persian army in his boat. Why, I have seen the day when, if in
any assembly of Greeks a Spartan entered, the sight of his very hat
and walking-staff cast a terror through the whole conclave." "True,
Pausanias; but they suspect that Sparta herself will disown her
"Ah! say they so?"
"With one voice."
Pausanias paused a moment in deep and perturbed thought.
"Have they dared yet, think you, to send to Sparta?"
"I hear not; but a trireme is in readiness to sail after your
conference with the captains."
"So, Alcman, it were ruin to my schemes to be
"The hour to join the Persians on the frontier--yes."
"One word more. Have you had occasion to sound the Helots?"
"But half an hour since. They will be true to you. Lift your right
hand, and the ground where you stand will bristle with men who fear
death even less than the Spartans."
"Their aid were useless here against the whole Grecian fleet; but in
the defiles of Laconia, otherwise. I am prepared then for the worst,
Here a slave crossed from a kind of passage that led from the outer
chambers into the peristyle.
"The Grecian captains have arrived to demand audience."
"Bid them wait," cried Pausanias, passionately.
"Hist! Pausanias," whispered the Mothon. "Is it not best to soothe
them--to play with them--to cover the lion with the fox's hide?"
The Regent turned with a frown to his foster-brother, as if surprised
and irritated by his presumption in advising; and indeed of late,
since Pausanias had admitted the son of the Helot into his guilty
intrigues, Alcman had assumed a bearing and tone of equality which
Pausanias, wrapped in his dark schemes, did not always notice, but at
which from time to time he chafed angrily, yet again permitted it,
and the custom gained ground; for in guilt conventional distinctions
rapidly vanish, and mind speaks freely out to mind. The presence of
the slave, however, restrained him, and after a momentary silence his
natural acuteness, great when undisturbed by passion or pride, made
him sensible of the wisdom of Alcman's counsel.
"Hold!" he said to the slave. "Announce to the Grecian Chiefs that
Pausanias will await them forthwith. Begone. Now, Alcman, I will
talk over these gentle monitors. Not in vain have I been educated in
Sparta; yet if by chance I fail, hold thyself ready to haste to Sparta
at a minute's warning. I must forestall the foe. I have gold, gold;
and he who employs most of the yellow orators, will prevail most with
the Ephors. Give me my staff; and tarry in yon chamber to the left."
 Malacus ap. Athen. 6.
In a large hall, with a marble fountain in the middle of it, the
Greek captains awaited the coming of Pausanias. A low and muttered
conversation was carried on amongst them, in small knots and groups,
amidst which the voice of Uliades was heard the loudest. Suddenly the
hum was hushed, for footsteps were heard without. The thick curtains
that at one extreme screened the door-way were drawn aside, and,
attended by three of the Spartan knights, amongst whom was Lysander,
and by two soothsayers, who were seldom absent, in war or warlike
council, from the side of the Royal Heracleid, Pausanias slowly
entered the hall. So majestic, grave, and self-collected were the
bearing and aspect of the Spartan general, that the hereditary awe
inspired by his race was once more awakened, and the angry crowd
saluted him, silent and half-abashed. Although the strong passions,
and the daring arrogance of Pausanias, did not allow him the exercise
of that enduring, systematic, unsleeping hypocrisy which, in relations
with the foreigner, often characterised his countrymen, and which,
from its outward dignity and profound craft, exalted the vice into
genius; yet trained from earliest childhood in the arts that hide
design, that control the countenance, and convey in the fewest words
the most ambiguous meanings, the Spartan general could, for a brief
period, or for a critical purpose, command all the wiles for which the
Greek was nationally famous, and in which Thucydides believed that,
of all Greeks, the Spartan was the most skilful adept. And now, as,
uniting the courtesy of the host with the dignity of the chief, he
returned the salute of the officers, and smiled his gracious welcome,
the unwonted affability of his manner took the discontented by
surprise, and half propitiated the most indignant in his favour.
"I need not ask you, O Greeks," said he, "why ye have sought me.
Ye have learnt the escape of Ariamanes and Datis--a strange and
The captains looked round at each other in silence, till at last every
eye rested upon Cimon, whose illustrious birth, as well as his known
respect for Sparta, combined with his equally well-known dislike of
her chief, seemed to mark him, despite his youth, as the fittest
person to be speaker for the rest. Cimon, who understood the mute
appeal, and whose courage never failed his ambition, raised his head,
and, after a moment's hesitation, replied to the Spartan:
"Pausanias, you guess rightly the cause which leads us to your
presence. These prisoners were our noblest; their capture the reward
of our common valour; they were generals, moreover, of high skill and
repute. They had become experienced in our Grecian warfare, even by
their defeats. Those two men, should Xerxes again invade Greece, are
worth more to his service than half the nations whose myriads crossed
the Hellespont. But this is not all. The arms of the Barbarians we can
encounter undismayed. It is treason at home which can alone appal us."
There was a low murmur among the Ionians at these words. Pausanias,
with well-dissembled surprise on his countenance, turned his eyes from
Cimon to the murmurers, and from them again to Cimon, and repeated:
"Treason! son of Miltiades; and from whom?"
"Such is the question that we would put to thee, Pausanias--to thee,
whose eyes, as leader of our armies, are doubtless vigilant daily and
nightly over the interests of Greece."
"I am not blind," returned Pausanias, appearing unconscious of the
irony; "but I am not Argus. If thou hast discovered aught that is
hidden from me, speak boldly."
"Thou hast made Gongylus, the Eretrian, governor of Byzantium; for
what great services we know not. But he has lived much in Persia."
"For that reason, on this the frontier of her domains, he is better
enabled to penetrate her designs and counteract her ambition."
"This Gongylus," continued Cimon, "is well known to have much
frequented the Persian captives in their confinement."
"In order to learn from them what may yet be the strength of the king.
In this he had my commands."
"I question it not. But, Pausanias," continued Cimon, raising his
voice, and with energy, "had he also thy commands to leave thy galley
last night, and to return to the citadel?"
"He had. What then?"
"And on his return the Persians disappear--a singular chance, truly.
But that is not all. Last night, before he returned to the citadel,
Gongylus was perceived, alone, in a retired spot on the outskirts of
"Alone?" echoed Pausanias.
"Alone. If he had companions they were not discerned. This spot was
out of the path he should have taken. By this spot, on the soft soil,
are the marks of hoofs, and in the thicket close by were found these
witnesses," and Cimon drew from his vest a handful of the pearls, only
worn by the Eastern captives.
"There is something in this," said Xanthippus, "which requires at
least examination. May it please you, Pausanias, to summon Gongylus
A momentary shade passed over the brow of the conspirator, but the
eyes of the Greeks were on him; and to refuse were as dangerous as to
comply. He turned to one of his Spartans, and ordered him to summon
"You have spoken well, Xanthippus. This matter must be sifted."
"With that, motioning the captains to the seats that were ranged round
the walls and before a long table, he cast himself into a large chair
at the head of the table, and waited in silent anxiety the entrance of
the Eretrian. His whole trust now was in the craft and penetration of
his friend. If the courage or the cunning of Gongylus failed him--if
but a word betrayed him--Pausanias was lost. He was girt by men who
hated him; and he read in the dark fierce eyes of the Ionians--whose
pride he had so often galled, whose revenge he had so carelessly
provoked--the certainty of ruin. One hand hidden within the folds of
his robe convulsively clinched the flesh, in the stern agony of his
suspense. His calm and composed face nevertheless exhibited to the
captains no trace of fear.
The draperies were again drawn aside, and Gongylus slowly entered.
Habituated to peril of every kind from his earliest youth, the
Eretrian was quick to detect its presence. The sight of the silent
Greeks, formally seated round the hall, and watching his steps and
countenance with eyes whose jealous and vindictive meaning it required
no Oedipus to read, the grave and half-averted brow of Pausanias, and
the angry excitement that had prevailed amidst the host at the news of
the escape of the Persians--all sufficed to apprise him of the nature
of the council to which he had been summoned.
Supporting himself on his staff, and dragging his limbs tardily along,
he had leisure to examine, though with apparent indifference, the
whole group; and when, with a calm salutation, he arrested his steps
at the foot of the table immediately facing Pausanias, he darted
one glance at the Spartan so fearless, so bright, so cheering, that
Pausanias breathed hard, as if a load were thrown from his breast, and
turning easily towards Cimon, said--
"Behold your witness. Which of us shall be questioner, and which
"That matters but little," returned Cimon. "Before this audience
justice must force its way."
"It rests with you, Pausanias," said Xanthippus, "to acquaint the
governor of Byzantium with the suspicions he has excited."
"Gongylus," said Pausanias, "the captive Barbarians, Ariamanes and
Datis, were placed by me especially under thy vigilance and guard.
Thou knowest that, while (for humanity becomes the victor) I ordered
thee to vex them by no undue restraints, I nevertheless commanded thee
to consider thy life itself answerable for their durance. They have
escaped. The captains of Greece demand of thee, as I demanded--by what
means--by what connivance? Speak the truth, and deem that in falsehood
as well as in treachery, detection is easy, and death certain."
The tone of Pausanias, and his severe look, pleased and re-assured all
the Greeks, except the wiser Cimon. who, though his suspicions were a
little shaken, continued to fix his eyes rather on Pausanias than on
"Pausanias," replied Gongylus, drawing up his lean frame, as with the
dignity of conscious innocence, "that suspicion could fall upon me, I
find it difficult to suppose. Raised by thy favour to the command
of Byzantium, what have I to gain by treason or neglect? These
Persians--I knew them well. I had known them in Susa--known them
when I served Darius, being then an exile from Eretria. Ye know, my
countrymen, that when Darius invaded Greece I left his court and
armies, and sought my native land, to fall or to conquer in its cause.
Well, then, I knew these Barbarians. I sought them frequently; partly,
it may be, to return to them in their adversity the courtesies shown
me in mine. Ye are Greeks; ye will not condemn me for humanity and
gratitude. Partly with another motive. I knew that Ariamanes had the
greatest influence over Xerxes. I knew that the great king would
at any cost seek to regain the liberty of his friend. I urged upon
Ariamanes the wisdom of a peace with the Greeks even on their
own terms. I told him that when Xerxes sent to offer the ransom,
conditions of peace would avail more than sacks of gold. He listened
and approved. Did I wrong in this, Pausanias? No; for thou, whose deep
sagacity has made thee condescend even to appear half Persian, because
thou art all Greek--thou thyself didst sanction my efforts on behalf
Pausanias looked with a silent triumph round the conclave, and
Xanthippus nodded approval.
"In order to conciliate them, and with too great confidence in their
faith, I relaxed by degrees the rigour of their confinement; that was
a fault, I own it. Their apartments communicated with a court in which
I suffered them to walk at will. But I placed there two sentinels in
whom I deemed I could repose all trust--not my own countrymen--not
Eretrians--not thy Spartans or Laconians, Pausanias. No; I deemed that
if ever the jealousy (a laudable jealousy) of the Greeks should demand
an account of my faith and vigilance, my witnesses should be the
countrymen of those who have ever the most suspected me. Those
sentinels were, the one a Samian, the other a Plataean. These men
have betrayed me and Greece. Last night, on returning hither from the
vessel, I visited the Persians. They were about to retire to rest, and
I quitted them soon, suspecting nothing. This morning they had fled,
and with them their abetters, the sentinels. I hastened first to send
soldiers in search of them; and, secondly, to inform Pausanias in his
galley. If I have erred, I submit me to your punishment. Punish my
error, but acquit my honesty."
"And what," said Cimon, abruptly, "led thee far from thy path, between
the Heracleid's galley and the citadel, to the fields near the temple
of Aphrodite, between the citadel and the bay? Thy colour changes.
Mark him, Greeks. Quick; thine answer."
The countenance of Gongylus had indeed lost its colour and hardihood.
The loud tone of Cimon--the effect his confusion produced on the
Greeks, some of whom, the Ionians less self-possessed and dignified
than the rest, half rose, with fierce gestures and muttered
exclamations--served still more to embarrass and intimidate him. He
cast a hasty look on Pausanias, who averted his eyes. There was a
pause. The Spartan gave himself up for lost; but how much more was
his fear increased when Gongylus, casting an imploring gaze upon the
Greeks, said hesitatingly--
"Question me no farther. I dare not speak;" and as he spoke he pointed
"It was the dread of thy resentment, Pausanias," said Cimon coldly,
"that withheld his confession. Vouchsafe to re-assure him."
"Eretrian," said Pausanias, striking his clenched hand on the table,
"I know not what tale trembles on thy lips; but, be it what it may,
give it voice, I command thee." "Thou thyself, thou wert the cause
that led me towards the temple of Aphrodite," said Gongylus, in a low
At these words there went forth a general deep-breathed murmur. With
one accord every Greek rose to his feet. The Spartan attendants in the
rear of Pausanias drew closer to his person; but there was nothing
in their faces--yet more dark and vindictive than those of the other
Greeks--that promised protection. Pausanias alone remained seated and
unmoved. His imminent danger gave him back all his valour, all his
pride, all his passionate and profound disdain. With unbleached cheek,
with haughty eyes, he met the gaze of the assembly; and then waving
his hand as if that gesture sufficed to restrain and awe them, he
"In the name of all Greece, whose chief I yet am, whose protector I
have once been, I command ye to resume your seats, and listen to the
Eretrian. Spartans, fall back. Governor of Byzantium, pursue your
"Yes, Pausanias," resumed Gongylus, "you alone were the cause that
drew me from my rest. I would fain be silent, but----"
"Say on," cried Pausanias fiercely, and measuring the space between
himself and Gongylus, in doubt whether the Eretrian's head were within
reach of his scimitar; so at least Gongylus interpreted that freezing
look of despair and vengeance, and he drew back some paces. "I place
myself, O Greeks, under your protection; it is dangerous to reveal the
errors of the great. Know that, as Governor of Byzantium, many things
ye wot not of reach my ears. Hence, I guard against dangers while ye
sleep. Learn, then, that Pausanias is not without the weakness of his
ancestor, Alcides; he loves a maiden--a Byzantine--Cleonice, the
daughter of Diagoras."
This unexpected announcement, made in so grave a tone, provoked a
smile amongst the gay Ionians; but an exclamation of jealous anger
broke from Antagoras, and a blush partly of wounded pride, partly of
warlike shame, crimsoned the swarthy cheek of Pausanias. Cimon, who
was by no means free from the joyous infirmities of youth, relaxed his
severe brow, and said, after a short pause--
"Is it, then, among the grave duties of the Governor of Byzantium to
watch over the fair Cleonice, or to aid the suit of her illustrious
"Not so," answered Gongylus; "but the life of the Grecian general is
dear, at least, to the grateful Governor of Byzantium. Greeks, ye know
that amongst you Pausanias has many foes. Returning last night from
his presence, and passing through the thicket, I overheard voices at
hand. I caught the name of Pausanias. 'The Spartan,' said one voice,
'nightly visits the house of Diagoras. He goes usually alone. From the
height near the temple we can watch well, for the night is clear;
if he goes alone, we can intercept his way on his return.' 'To the
height!' cried the other. I thought to distinguish the voices, but the
trees hid the speakers. I followed the footsteps towards the temple,
for it behoved me to learn who thus menaced the chief of Greece. But
ye know that the wood reaches even to the sacred building, and the
steps gained the temple before I could recognize the men. I
concealed myself, as I thought, to watch; but it seems that I was
perceived, for he who saw me, and now accuses, was doubtless one of
the assassins. Happy I, if the sight of a witness scared him from the
crime. Either fearing detection, or aware that their intent that night
was frustrated--for Pausanias, visiting Cleonice earlier than his
wont, had already resought his galley--the men retreated as they
came, unseen, not unheard. I caught their receding steps through the
brushwood. Greeks, I have said. Who is my accuser? in him behold the
would-be murderer of Pausanias!"
"Liar," cried an indignant and loud voice amongst the captains, and
Antagoras stood forth from the circle.
"It is I who saw thee. Darest thou accuse Antagoras of Chios?"
"What at that hour brought Antagoras of Chios to the temple of
Aphrodite?" retorted Gongylus.
The eyes of the Greeks turned toward the young captain, and there
was confusion on his face. But recovering himself quickly, the Chian
answered, "Why should I blush to own it? Aphrodite is no dishonourable
deity to the men of the Ionian Isles. I sought the temple at that
hour, as is our wont, to make my offering, and record my prayer."
"Certainly," said Cimon. "We must own that Aphrodite is powerful at
Byzantium. Who can acquit Pausanias and blame Antagoras?"
"Pardon me--one question," said Gongylus. "Is not the female heart
which Antagoras would beseech the goddess to soften towards him that
of the Cleonice of whom we spoke? See, he denies it not. Greeks, the
Chians are warm lovers, and warm lovers are revengeful rivals."
This artful speech had its instantaneous effect amongst the younger
and more unthinking loiterers. Those who at once would have
disbelieved the imputed guilt of Antagoras upon motives merely
political, inclined to a suggestion that ascribed it to the jealousy
of a lover. And his character, ardent and fiery, rendered the
suspicion yet more plausible. Meanwhile the minds of the audience had
been craftily drawn from the grave and main object of the meeting--the
flight of the Persians--and a lighter and livelier curiosity had
supplanted the eager and dark resentment which had hitherto animated
the circle. Pausanias, with the subtle genius that belonged to him,
hastened to seize advantage of this momentary diversion in his favour,
and before the Chian could recover his consternation, both at the
charge and the evident effect it had produced upon a part of the
assembly, the Spartan stretched his hand, and spake.
"Greeks, Pausanias listens to no tale of danger to himself. Willingly
he believes that Gongylus either misinterpreted the intent of some
jealous and heated threats, or that the words he overheard were not
uttered by Antagoras. Possible is it, too, that others may have sought
the temple with less gentle desires than our Chian ally. Let this
pass. Unworthy such matters of the councils of bearded men; too much
reference has been made to those follies which our idleness has
given birth to. Let no fair Briseis renew strife amongst chiefs and
soldiers. Excuse not thyself, Antagoras; we dismiss all charge against
thee. On the other hand, Gongylus will doubtless seem to you to have
accounted for his appearance near the precincts of the temple. And
it is but a coincidence, natural enough, that the Persian prisoners
should have chosen, later in the night, the same spot for the steeds
to await them. The thickness of the wood round the temple, and the
direction of the place towards the east, points out the neighbourhood
as the very one in which the fugitives would appoint the horses. Waste
no further time, but provide at once for the pursuit. To you, Cimon,
be this care confided. Already have I despatched fifty light-armed men
on fleet Thessalian steeds. You, Cimon, increase the number of the
pursuers. The prisoners may be yet recaptured. Doth aught else remain
worthy of our ears? If so, speak; if not, depart."
"Pausanias," said Antagoras, firmly, "let Gongylus retract, or not,
his charge against me, I retain mine against Gongylus. Wholly false
is it that in word or deed I plotted violence against thee, though of
much--not as Cleonice's lover, but as Grecian captain--I have good
reason to complain. Wholly false is it that I had a comrade. I was
alone. And coming out from the temple, where I had hung my chaplet,
I perceived Gongylus clearly under the starlit skies. He stood in
listening attitude close by the sacred myrtle grove. I hastened
towards him, but methinks he saw me not; he turned slowly, penetrated
the wood, and vanished. I gained the spot on the soft sward which the
dropping boughs make ever humid. I saw the print of hoofs. Within the
thicket I found the pearls that Cimon has displayed to you. Clear,
then, is it that this man lies--clear that the Persians must have fled
already--although Gongylus declares that on his return to the citadel
he visited them in their prison. Explain this, Eretrian!"
"He who would speak false witness," answered Gongylus, with a firmness
equal to the Chian's, "can find pearls at whatsoever hour he pleases.
Greeks, this man presses me to renew the charge which Pausanias
generously sought to stifle. I have said. And I, Governor of
Byzantium, call on the Council of the Grecian Leaders to maintain my
authority, and protect their own Chief."
Then arose a vexed and perturbed murmur, most of the Ionians siding
with Antagoras, such of the allies as yet clung to the Dorian
ascendancy grouping round Gongylus. The persistence of Antagoras had
made the dilemma of no slight embarrassment to Pausanias. Something
lofty in his original nature urged him to shrink from supporting
Gongylus in an accusation which he believed untrue. On the other hand,
he could not abandon his accomplice in an effort, as dangerous as it
was crafty, to conceal their common guilt.
"Son of Miltiades," he said after a brief pause, in which his
dexterous resolution was formed, "I invoke your aid to appease a
contest in which I foresee no result but that of schism amongst
ourselves. Antagoras has no witness to support his tale, Gongylus none
to support his own. Who shall decide between conflicting testimonies
which rest but on the lips of accuser and accused? Hereafter, if the
matter be deemed sufficiently grave, let us refer the decision to the
oracle that never errs. Time and chance meanwhile may favour us in
clearing up the darkness we cannot now penetrate.
For you, Governor of Byzantium, it behoves me to say that the escape
of prisoners entrusted to your charge justifies vigilance if not
suspicion. We shall consult at our leisure whether or not that course
suffices to remove you from the government of Byzantium. Heralds,
advance; our council is dissolved."
With these words Pausanias rose, and the majesty of his bearing, with
the unwonted temper and conciliation of his language, so came in aid
of his high office, that no man ventured a dissentient murmur.
The conclave broke up, and not till its members had gained the outer
air did any signs of suspicion or dissatisfaction evince themselves;
but then, gathering in groups, the Ionians with especial jealousy
discussed what had passed, and with their native shrewdness ascribed
the moderation of Pausanias to his desire to screen Gongylus and avoid
further inquisition into the flight of the prisoners. The discontented
looked round for Cimon, but the young Athenian had hastily retired
from the throng, and, after issuing orders to pursue the fugitives,
sought Aristides in the house near the quay in which he lodged.
Cimon related to his friend what had passed at the meeting, and
terminating his recital, said:
"Thou shouldst have been with us. With thee we might have ventured
more." "And if so," returned the wise Athenian with a smile, "ye would
have prospered less Precisely because I would not commit our country
to the suspicion of fomenting intrigues and mutiny to her own
advantage, did I abstain from the assembly, well aware that Pausanias
would bring his minion harmless from the unsupported accusation of
Antagoras. Thou hast acted with cool judgment, Cimon. The Spartan is
weaving the webs of the Parcae for his own feet. Leave him to weave
on, undisturbed. The hour in which Athens shall assume the sovereignty
of the seas is drawing near. Let it come, like Jove's thunder, in a
Pausanias did not that night quit the city. After the meeting, he held
a private conference with the Spartan Equals, whom custom and the
government assigned, in appearance as his attendants, in reality as
witnesses if not spies of his conduct. Though every pure Spartan, as
compared with the subject Laconian population, was noble, the republic
acknowledged two main distinctions in class, the higher, entitled
Equals, a word which we might not inaptly and more intelligibly render
Peers; the lower, Inferiors. These distinctions, though hereditary,
were not immutable. The peer could be degraded, the inferior could
become a peer. To the royal person in war three peers were allotted.
Those assigned to Pausanias, of the tribe called the Hylleans, were
naturally of a rank and influence that constrained him to treat them
with a certain deference, which perpetually chafed his pride and
confirmed his discontent; for these three men were precisely of
the mould which at heart he most despised. Polydorus, the first in
rank--for, like Pausanias, he boasted his descent from Hercules--was
the personification of the rudeness and bigotry of a Spartan who had
never before stirred from his rocky home, and who disdained all that
he could not comprehend. Gelon, the second, passed for a very wise
man, for he seldom spoke but in monosyllables; yet, probably, his
words were as numerous as his ideas. Cleomenes, the third, was as
distasteful to the Regent from his merits as the others from their
deficiencies. He had risen from the grade of the Inferiors by his
valour; blunt, homely, frank, sincere, he never disguised his
displeasure at the manner of Pausanias, though, a true Spartan
in discipline, he never transgressed the respect which his chief
commanded in time of war.
Pausanias knew that these officers were in correspondence with Sparta,
and he now exerted all his powers to remove from their minds any
suspicion which the disappearance of the prisoners might have left in
In this interview he displayed all those great natural powers which,
rightly trained and guided, might have made him not less great in
council than in war. With masterly precision he enlarged on the
growing ambition of Athens, on the disposition in her favour evinced
by all the Ionian confederates. "Hitherto," he said truly, "Sparta has
uniformly held rank as the first state of Greece; the leadership of
the Greeks belongs to us by birth and renown. But see you not that the
war is now shifting from land to sea? Sea is not our element; it is
that of Athens, of all the Ionian race. If this continue we lose our
ascendancy, and Athens becomes the sovereign of Hellas. Beneath the
calm of Aristides I detect his deep design. In vain Cimon affects the
manner of the Spartan; at heart he is Athenian. This charge against
Gongylus is aimed at me. Grant that the plot which it conceals
succeed; grant that Sparta share the affected suspicions of the
Ionians, and recall me from Byzantium; deem you that there lives one
Spartan who could delay for a day the supremacy of Athens? Nought
save the respect the Dorian Greeks at least attach to the General
at Plataea could restrain the secret ambition of the city of the
demagogues. Deem not that I have been as rash and vain as some hold me
for the stern visage I have shown to the Ionians. Trust me that it was
necessary to awe them, with a view to maintain our majesty. For Sparta
to preserve her ascendancy, two things are needful: first, to continue
the war by land; secondly, to disgust the Ionians with their sojourn
here, send them with their ships to their own havens, and so leave
Hellas under the sole guardianship of ourselves and our Peloponnesian
allies. Therefore I say, bear with me in this double design; chide me
not if my haughty manner disperse these subtle Ionians. If I bore with
them to-day it was less from respect than, shall I say it, my fear
lest you should misinterpret me. Beware how you detail to Sparta
whatever might rouse the jealousy of her government. Trust to me,
and I will extend the dominion of Sparta till it grasp the whole
of Greece. We will depose everywhere the revolutionary Demos, and
establish our own oligarchies in every Grecian state. We will Laconize
Much of what Pausanias said was wise and profound. Such statesmanship,
narrow and congenial, but vigorous and crafty, Sparta taught in later
years to her alert politicians. And we have already seen that, despite
the dazzling prospects of Oriental dominion, he as yet had separated
himself rather from the laws than the interests of Sparta, and still
incorporated his own ambition with the extension of the sovereignty of
his country over the rest of Greece.
But the peers heard him in dull and gloomy silence; and, not till he
had paused and thrice asked for a reply, did Polydorus speak.
"You would increase the dominion of Sparta, Pausanias. Increase of
dominion is waste of life and treasure. We have few men, little gold;
Sparta is content to hold her own." "Good," said Gelon, with impassive
countenance. "What care we who leads the Greeks into blows? the fewer
blows the better. Brave men fight if they must, wise men never fight
if they can help it."
"And such is your counsel, Cleomenes?" asked Pausanias, with a
"Not from the same reasons," answered the nobler and more generous
Spartan. "I presume not to question your motives, Pausanias. I leave
you to explain them to the Ephors and the Gerusia. But since you press
me, this I say. First, all the Greeks, Ionian as well as Dorian,
fought equally against the Mede, and from the commander of the Greeks
all should receive fellowship and courtesy. Secondly, I say if Athens
is better fitted than Sparta for the maritime ascendancy, let Athens
rule, so that Hellas be saved from the Mede. Thirdly, O Pausanias, I
pray that Sparta may rest satisfied with her own institutions, and
not disturb the peace of Greece by forcing them upon other States and
thereby enslaving Hellas. What more could the Persian do? Finally,
my advice is to suspend Gongylus from his office; to conciliate the
Ionians; to remain as a Grecian armament firm and united, and so
procure, on better terms, peace with Persia. And then let each State
retire within itself, and none aspire to rule the other. A thousand
free cities are better guard against the Barbarian than a single State
made up of republics overthrown and resting its strength upon hearts
"Do you too," said Pausanias, gnawing his nether lip, "Do you too,
Polydorus; you too, Gelon, agree with Cleomenes, that, if Athens is
better fitted than Sparta for the sovereignty of the seas, we should
yield to that restless rival so perilous a power?"
"Ships cost gold," said Polydorus. "Spartans have none to spare.
Mariners require skilful captains; Spartans know nothing of the sea."
"Moreover," quoth Gelon, "the ocean is a terrible element. What can
valour do against a storm? We may lose more men by adverse weather
than a century can repair. Let who will have the seas. Sparta has her
rocks and defiles."
"Men and peers," said Pausanias, ill repressing his scorn, "ye little
dream what arms ye place in the hands of the Athenians. I have done.
Take only this prophecy. You are now the head of Greece. You surrender
your sceptre to Athens, and become a second-rate power."
"Never second rate when Greece shall demand armed men," said Cleomenes
"Armed men, armed men!" cried the more profound Pausanias. "Do you
suppose that commerce--that trade--that maritime energy--that fleets
which ransack the shores of the world, will not obtain a power greater
than mere brute-like valour? But as ye will, as ye will."
"As we speak our forefathers thought," said Gelon.
"And, Pausanias," said Cleomenes gravely, "as we speak, so think the
Pausanias fixed his dark eye on Cleomenes, and, after a brief pause,
saluted the Equals and withdrew. "Sparta," he muttered as he regained
his chamber, "Sparta, thou refusest to be great; but greatness is
necessary to thy son. Ah, their iron laws would constrain my soul! but
it shall wear them as a warrior wears his armour and adapts it to his
body. Thou shalt be queen of all Hellas despite thyself, thine Ephors,
and thy laws. Then only will I forgive thee."
Diagoras was sitting outside his door and giving various instructions
to the slaves employed on his farm, when, through an arcade thickly
covered with the vine, the light form of Antagoras came slowly in
"Hail to thee, Diagoras," said the Chian, "thou art the only wise man
I meet with. Thou art tranquil while all else are disturbed; and,
worshipping the great Mother, thou carest nought, methinks, for the
Persian who invades, or the Spartan who professes to defend."
"Tut," said Diagoras, in a whisper, "thou knowest the contrary: thou
knowest that if the Persian comes I am ruined; and, by the gods, I am
on a bed of thorns as long as the Spartan stays."
"Dismiss thy slaves," exclaimed Antagoras, in the same undertone; "I
would speak with thee on grave matters that concern us both."
After hastily finishing his instructions and dismissing his slaves,
Diagoras turned to the impatient Chian, and said:
"Now, young warrior, I am all ears for thy speech."
"Truly," said Antagoras, "if thou wert aware of what I am about to
utter, thou wouldst not have postponed consideration for thy daughter,
to thy care for a few jars of beggarly olives."
"Hem!" said Diagoras, peevishly. "Olives are not to be despised; oil
to the limbs makes them supple; to the stomach it gives gladness. Oil,
moreover, bringeth money when sold. But a daughter is the plague of
a man's life. First, one has to keep away lovers; and next to find
a husband; and when all is done, one has to put one's hand in one's
chest, and pay a tall fellow like thee for robbing one of one's own
child. That custom of dowries is abominable. In the good old times a
bridegroom, as was meet and proper, paid for his bride; now we poor
fathers pay him for taking her. Well, well, never bite thy forefinger,
and curl up thy brows. What thou hast to say, say."
"Diagoras, I know that thy heart is better than thy speech, and that,
much as thou covetest money, thou lovest thy child more. Know, then,
that Pausanias--a curse light on him!--brings shame upon Cleonice.
Know that already her name hath grown the talk of the camp. Know that
his visit to her the night before last was proclaimed in the Council
of the Captains as a theme for jest and rude laughter. By the head
of Zeus, how thinkest thou to profit by the stealthy wooings of this
black-browed Spartan? Knowest thou not that his laws forbid him to
marry Cleonice? Wouldst thou have him dishonour her? Speak out to him
as thou speakest to men, and tell him that the maidens of Byzantium
are not in the control of the General of the Greeks."
"Youth, youth," cried Diagoras, greatly agitated, "wouldst thou bring
my grey hairs to a bloody grave? wouldst thou see my daughter reft
from me by force--and--"
"How darest thou speak thus, old man?" interrupted the indignant
Chian. "If Pausanias wronged a virgin, all Hellas would rise against
"Yes, but not till the ill were done, till my throat were cut, and my
child dishonoured. Listen. At first indeed, when, as ill-luck would
have it, Pausanias, lodging a few days under my roof, saw and admired
Cleonice, I did venture to remonstrate, and how think you he took it?
'Never,' quoth he, with his stern quivering lip, 'never did conquest
forego its best right to the smiles of beauty. The legends of
Hercules, my ancestor, tell thee that to him who labours for men,
the gods grant the love of women. Fear not that I should wrong thy
daughter--to woo her is not to wrong. But close thy door on me; immure
Cleonice from my sight; and nor armed slaves, nor bolts, nor bars
shall keep love from the loved one,' Therewith he turned on his heel
and left me. But the next day came a Lydian in his train, with a
goodly pannier of rich stuffs and a short Spartan sword. On the
pannier was written '_Friendship_,' on the sword '_Wrath_,' and Alcman
gave me a scrap of parchment, whereon, with the cursed brief wit of a
Spartan, was inscribed '_Choose_!' Who could doubt which to take? who,
by the Gods, would prefer three inches of Spartan iron in his stomach
to a basketful of rich stuffs for his shoulders? Wherefore, from that
hour, Pausanias comes as he lists. But Cleonice humours him not, let
tongues wag as they may. Easier to take three cities than that child's
"Is it so indeed?" exclaimed the Chian, joyfully; "Cleonice loves him
"Laughs at him to his beard: that is, would laugh if he wore one."
"O Diagoras!" cried Antagoras, "hear me, hear me. I need not remind
thee that our families are united by the hospitable ties; that amongst
thy treasures thou wilt find the gifts of my ancestors for five
generations; that when, a year since, my affairs brought me to
Byzantium, I came to thee with the symbols of my right to claim thy
hospitable cares. On leaving thee we broke the sacred die. I have one
half, thou the other. In that visit I saw and loved Cleonice. Fain
would I have told my love, but then my father lived, and I feared lest
he should oppose my suit; therefore, as became me, I was silent. On
my return home, my fears were confirmed; my father desired that I, a
Chian, should wed a Chian. Since I have been with the fleet, news has
reached me that the urn holds my father's ashes." Here the young Chian
paused. "Alas, alas!" he murmured, smiting his breast, "and I was not
at hand to fix over thy doors the sacred branch, to give thee the
parting kiss, and receive into my lips thy latest breath. May Hermes,
O father, have led thee to pleasant groves!"
Diagoras, who had listened attentively to the young Chian, was touched
by his grief, and said pityingly:
"I know thou art a good son, and thy father was a worthy man, though
harsh. It is a comfort to think that all does not die with the dead.
His money at least survives him."
"But," resumed Antagoras, not heeding this consolation,--"but now I
am free: and ere this, so soon as my mourning garment had been lain
aside, I had asked thee to bless me with Cleonice, but that I feared
her love was gone--gone to the haughty Spartan. Thou reassurest me;
and in so doing, thou confirmest the fair omens with which Aphrodite
has received my offerings. Therefore, I speak out. No dowry ask I with
Cleonice, save such, more in name than amount, as may distinguish the
wife from the concubine, and assure her an honoured place amongst my
kinsmen. Thou knowest I am rich; thou knowest that my birth dates
from the oldest citizens of Chios. Give me thy child, and deliver her
thyself at once from the Spartan's power. Once mine, all the fleets of
Hellas are her protection, and our marriage torches are the swords of
a Grecian army. O Diagoras, I clasp thy knees; put thy right hand in
mine. Give me thy child as wife!"
The Byzantine was strongly affected. The suitor was one who, in birth
and possessions, was all that he could desire for his daughter; and at
Byzantium there did not exist that feeling against intermarriages with
the foreigner which prevailed in towns more purely Greek, though in
many of them, too, that antique prejudice had worn away. On the other
hand, by transferring to Antagoras his anxious charge, he felt that he
should take the best course to preserve it untarnished from the fierce
love of Pausanias, and there was truth in the Chian's suggestion. The
daughter of a Byzantine might be unprotected; the wife of an Ionian
captain was safe, even from the power of Pausanias. As these
reflexions occurred to him, he placed his right hand in the Chian's,
"Be it as thou wilt; I consent to betroth thee to Cleonice. Follow me;
thou art free to woo her."
So saying, he rose, and, as if in fear of his own second thoughts, he
traversed the hall with hasty strides to the interior of the mansion.
He ascended a flight of steps, and, drawing aside a curtain suspended
between two columns, Antagoras, who followed timidly behind, beheld
As was the wont in the domestic life of all Grecian states, her
handmaids were around the noble virgin. Two were engaged on
embroidery, one in spinning, a fourth was reading aloud to Cleonice,
and that at least was a rare diversion to women, for few had the
education of the fair Byzantine. Cleonice herself was half reclined
upon a bench inlaid with ivory and covered with cushions; before her
stood a small tripod table on which she leant the arm, the hand of
which supported her cheek, and she seemed listening to the lecture
of the slave with earnest and absorbed attention, so earnest, so
absorbed, that she did not for some moments perceive the entrance of
Diagoras and the Chian.
"Child," said the former--and Cleonice started to her feet, and stood
modestly before her father, her eyes downcast, her arms crossed upon
her bosom--"child, I bid thee welcome my guest-friend, Antagoras of
Chios. Slaves, ye may withdraw."
Cleonice bowed her head; and an unquiet, anxious change came over her
As soon as the slaves were gone, Diagoras resumed--
"Daughter, I present to thee a suitor for thy hand; receive him as I
have done, and he shall have my leave to carve thy name on every tree
in the garden, with the lover's epithet of 'Beautiful,' attached to
it. Antagoras, look up, then, and speak for thyself."
But Antagoras was silent; and a fear unknown to his frank hardy nature
came over him. With an arch smile, Diagoras, deeming his presence no
longer necessary or expedient, lifted the curtain, and lover and maid
were left alone.
Then, with an effort, and still with hesitating accents, the Chian
"Fair virgin,--not in the groves of Byzantium will thy name be first
written by the hand of Antagoras. In my native Chios the myrtle trees
are already eloquent of thee. Since I first saw thee, I loved. Maiden,
wilt thou be my wife?"
Thrice moved the lips of Cleonice, and thrice her voice seemed to fail
her. At length she said,--"Chian thou art a stranger, and the laws of
the Grecian cities dishonour the stranger whom the free citizen stoops
"Nay," cried Antagoras, "such cruel laws are obsolete in Chios. Nature
and custom, and love's almighty goddess, long since have set them
aside. Fear not, the haughtiest matron of my native state will not be
more honoured than the Byzantine bride of Antagoras."
"Is it in Sparta only that such laws exist?" said Cleonice, half
unconsciously, and to the sigh with which she spoke a deep blush
"Sparta!" exclaimed Antagoras, with a fierce and jealous pang--"Ah,
are thy thoughts then upon the son of Sparta? Were Pausanias a Chian,
wouldst thou turn from him scornfully as thou now dost from me?"
"Not scornfully, Antagoras," answered Cleonice (who had indeed averted
her face, at his reproachful question; but now turned it full
upon him, with an expression of sad and pathetic sweetness), "not
scornfully do I turn from thee, though with pain; for what worthier
homage canst thou render to woman, than honourable love? Gratefully do
I hearken to the suit that comes from thee; but gratitude is not the
return thou wouldst ask, Antagoras. My hand is my father's; my heart,
alas, is mine. Thou mayst claim from him the one; the other, neither
he can give, nor thou receive."
"Say not so, Cleonice," cried the Chian; "say not, that thou canst not
love me, if so I am to interpret thy words. Love brings love with the
young. How canst thou yet know thine own heart? Tarry till thou hast
listened to mine. As the fire on the altar spreads from offering to
offering, so spreads love; its flame envelops all that are near to it.
Thy heart will catch the heavenly spark from mine."
"Chian," said Cleonice, gently withdrawing the hand that he sought to
clasp, "when as my father's guest-friend thou wert a sojourner within
these walls, oft have I heard thee speak, and all thy words spoke the
thoughts of a noble soul. Were it otherwise, not thus would I now
address thee. Didst thou love gold, and wooed in me but the child of
the rich Diagoras, or wert thou one of those who would treat for
a wife, as a trader for a slave, invoking Here, but disdaining
Aphrodite, I should bow my head to my doom. But thou, Antagoras,
askest love for love; this I cannot give thee. Spare me, O generous
Chian. Let not my father enforce his right to my obedience."
"Answer me but one question," interrupted Antagoras in a low voice,
though with compressed lips: "Dost thou then love another?"
The blood mounted to the virgin's cheeks, it suffused her brow,
her neck, with burning blushes, and then receding, left her face
colourless as a statue. Then with tones low and constrained as his
own, she pressed her hand on her heart, and replied, "Thou sayest it;
I love another."
"And that other is Pausanias? Alas, thy silence, thy trembling, answer
Antagoras groaned aloud and covered his face with his hands; but after
a short pause, he exclaimed with great emotion, "No, no--say not that
thou lovest Pausanias; say not that Aphrodite hath so accurst thee:
for to love Pausanias is to love dishonour."
"Hold, Chian! Not so: for my love has no hope. Our hearts are not our
own, but our actions are."
Antagoras gazed on her with suspense and awe; for as she spoke her
slight form dilated, her lip curled, her cheek glowed again, but
with the blush less of love than of pride. In her countenance, her
attitude, there was something divine and holy, such as would have
beseemed a priestess of Diana.
"Yes," she resumed, raising her eyes, and with a still and mournful
sweetness in her upraised features. "What I love is not Pausanias, it
is the glory of which he is the symbol, it is the Greece of which he
has been the Saviour. Let him depart, as soon he must--let these eyes
behold him no more; still there exists for me all that exists now--a
name, a renown, a dream. Never for me may the nuptial hymn resound, or
the marriage torch be illumined. O goddess of the silver bow, O
chaste and venerable Artemis! receive, protect thy servant; and ye,
O funereal gods, lead me soon, lead the virgin unreluctant to the
A superstitious fear, a dread as if his earthly love would violate
something sacred, chilled the ardour of the young Chian; and for
several moments both were silent.
At length, Antagoras, kissing the hem of her robe, said,--
"Maiden of Byzantium,--like thee then, I will love, though without
hope. I will not, I dare not, profane thy presence by prayers which
pain thee, and seem to me, having heard thee, almost guilty, as
if proffered to some nymph circling in choral dance the moonlit
mountain-tops of Delos. But ere I depart, and tell thy father that my
suit is over, O place at least thy right hand in mine, and swear to
me, not the bride's vow of faith and troth, but that vow which a
virgin sister may pledge to a brother, mindful to protect and to
avenge her. Swear to me, that if this haughty Spartan, contemning
alike men, laws, and the household gods, should seek to constrain thy
purity to his will; if thou shouldst have cause to tremble at power
and force; and fierce desire should demand what gentle love would but
reverently implore,--then, Cleonice, seeing how little thy father can
defend thee, wilt thou remember Antagoras, and through him, summon
around thee all the majesty of Hellas? Grant me but this prayer, and I
leave thee, if in sorrow, yet not with terror."
"Generous and noble Chian," returned Cleonice as her tears fell upon
the hand he extended to her,--"why, why do I so ill repay thee? Thy
love is indeed that which ennobles the heart that yields it, and her
who shall one day recompense thee for the loss of me. Fear not the
power of Pausanias: dream not that I shall need a defender, while
above us reign the gods, and below us lies the grave. Yet, to appease
thee, take my right hand, and hear my oath. If the hour comes when
I have need of man's honour against man's wrong, I will call on
Antagoras as a brother."
Their hands closed in each other; and not trusting himself to speech,
Antagoras turned away his face, and left the room.
For some days, an appearance at least of harmony was restored to the
contending factions in the Byzantine camp.
Pausanias did not dismiss Gongylus from the government of the
city; but he sent one by one for the more important of the Ionian
complainants, listened to their grievances, and promised redress. He
adopted a more popular and gracious demeanour, and seemed, with a
noble grace, to submit to the policy of conciliating the allies.
But discontent arose from causes beyond his power, had he genuinely
exerted it, to remove. For it was a discontent that lay in the
hostility of race to race. Though the Spartan Equals had preached
courtesy to the Ionians, the ordinary manner of the Spartan warriors
was invariably offensive to the vain and susceptible confederates of
a more polished race. A Spartan, wherever he might be placed,
unconsciously assumed superiority. The levity of an Ionian was ever
displeasing to him. Out of the actual battle-field, they could have no
topics in common, none which did not provoke irritation and dispute.
On the other hand, most of the Ionians could ill conceal their
disaffection, mingled with something of just contempt at the notorious
and confessed incapacity of the Spartans for maritime affairs, while a
Spartan was yet the commander of the fleet. And many of them, wearied
with inaction, and anxious to return home, were willing to seize any
reasonable pretext for desertion. In this last motive lay the real
strength and safety of Pausanias. And to this end his previous policy
of arrogance was not so idle as it had seemed to the Greeks, and
appears still in the page of history. For a Spartan really anxious to
preserve the preeminence of his country, and to prevent the sceptre of
the seas passing to Athens, could have devised no plan of action more
sagacious and profound than one which would disperse the Ionians, and
the Athenians themselves, and reduce the operations of the Grecian
force to that land warfare in which the Spartan pre-eminence was
equally indisputable and undisputed. And still Pausanias, even in his
change of manner, plotted and intrigued and hoped for this end. Could
he once sever from the encampment the Athenians and the Ionian allies,
and yet remain with his own force at Byzantium until the Persian army
could collect on the Phrygian frontier, the way seemed clear to his
ambition. Under ordinary circumstances, in this object he might easily
have succeeded. But it chanced that all his schemes were met with
invincible mistrust by those in whose interest they were conceived,
and on whose co-operation they depended for success. The means adopted
by Pausanias in pursuit of his policy were too distasteful to the
national prejudices of the Spartan government, to enable him to elicit
from the national ambition of that government sufficient sympathy
with the object of it. The more he felt himself uncomprehended and
mistrusted by his countrymen, the more personal became the character,
and the more unscrupulous the course, of his ambition. Unhappily for
Pausanias moreover, the circumstances which chafed his pride, also
thwarted the satisfaction of his affections and his criminal ambition
was stimulated by that less guilty passion which shared with it the
mastery of a singularly turbulent and impetuous soul. Not his the love
of sleek, gallant, and wanton youth; it was the love of man in his
mature years, but of man to whom love till then had been unknown. In
that large and dark and stormy nature all passions once admitted took
the growth of Titans. He loved as those long lonely at heart alone can
love; he loved as love the unhappy when the unfamiliar bliss of the
sweet human emotion descends like dew upon the desert. To him Cleonice
was a creature wholly out of the range of experience. Differing in
every shade of her versatile humour from the only women he had known,
the simple, sturdy, uneducated maids and matrons of Sparta, her
softness enthralled him, her anger awed. In his dreams of future
power, of an absolute throne and unlimited dominion, Pausanias beheld
the fair Byzantine crowned by his side. Fiercely as he loved, and
little as the _sentiment_ of love mingled with his _passion_, he yet
thought not to dishonour a victim, but to elevate a bride. What though
the laws of Sparta were against such nuptials, was not the hour
approaching when these laws should be trampled under his armed heel?
Since the contract with the Persians, which Gongylus assured him
Xerxes would joyously and promptly fulfil, Pausanias already felt, in
a soul whose arrogance arose from the consciousness of powers that had
not yet found their field, as if he were not the subject of Sparta,
but her lord and king. In his interviews with Cleonice, his language
took a tone of promise and of hope that at times lulled her fears, and
communicated its sanguine colourings of the future to her own dreams.
With the elasticity of youth, her spirits rose from the solemn
despondency with which she had replied to the reproaches of Antagoras.
For though Pausanias spoke not openly of his schemes, though his
words were mysterious, and his replies to her questions ambiguous
and equivocal, still it seemed to her, seeing in him the hero of all
Hellas, so natural that he could make the laws of Sparta yield to the
weight of his authority, or relax in homage to his renown, that she
indulged the belief that his influence would set aside the iron
customs of his country. Was it too extravagant a reward to the
conqueror of the Mede to suffer him to select at least the partner of
his hearth? No, Hope was not dead in that young breast. Still might
she be the bride of him whose glory had dazzled her noble and
sensitive nature, till the faults that darkened it were lost in the
blaze. Thus insensibly to herself her tones became softer to her stern
lover, and her heart betrayed itself more in her gentle looks. Yet
again were there times when doubt and alarm returned with more than
their earlier force--times when, wrapt in his lurid and absorbing
ambition, Pausanias escaped from his usual suppressed reserve--times
when she recalled that night in which she had witnessed his interview
with the strangers of the East, and had trembled lest the altar should
be kindled upon the ruins of his fame. For Cleonice was wholly,
ardently, sublimely Greek, filled in each crevice of her soul with
its lovely poetry, its beautiful superstition, its heroic freedom. As
Greek, she had loved Pausanias, seeing in him the lofty incarnation of
Greece itself. The descendant of the demigod, the champion of
Plataea, the saviour of Hellas--theme for song till song should be no
more--these attributes were what she beheld and loved; and not to have
reigned by his side over a world would she have welcomed one object
of that evil ambition which renounced the loyalty of a Greek for the
supremacy of a king.
Meanwhile, though Antagoras had, with no mean degree of generosity,
relinquished his suit to Cleonice, he detected with a jealous
vigilance the continued visits of Pausanias, and burned with
increasing hatred against his favoured and powerful rival. Though,
in common with all the Greeks out of the Peloponnesus, he was very
imperfectly acquainted with the Spartan constitution, he could not be
blinded, like Cleonice, into the belief that a law so fundamental in
Sparta, and so general in all the primitive States of Greece, as that
which forbade intermarriage with a foreigner, could be cancelled for
the Regent of Sparta, and in favour of an obscure maiden of Byzantium.
Every visit Pausanias paid to Cleonice but served, in his eyes, as a
prelude to her ultimate dishonour. He lent himself, therefore, with
all the zeal of his vivacious and ardent character, to the design
of removing Pausanias himself from Byzantium. He plotted with the
implacable Uliades and the other Ionian captains to send to Sparta a
formal mission stating their grievances against the Regent, and urging
his recall. But the altered manner of Pausanias deprived them of their
just pretext; and the Ionians, more and more under the influence of
the Athenian chief, were disinclined to so extreme a measure without
the consent of Aristides and Cimon. These two chiefs were not passive
spectators of affairs so critical to their ambition for Athens--they
penetrated into the motives of Pausanias in the novel courtesy of
demeanour that he adopted, and they foresaw that if he could succeed
in wearing away the patience of the allies and dispersing the fleet,
yet without giving occasion for his own recall, the golden opportunity
of securing to Athens the maritime ascendancy would be lost. They
resolved, therefore, to make the occasion which the wiles of the
Regent had delayed; and towards this object Antagoras, moved by his
own jealous hate against Pausanias, worked incessantly. Fearless and
vigilant, he was ever on the watch for some new charge against the
Spartan chief ever relentless in stimulating suspicion, aggravating
discontent, inflaming the fierce, and arguing with the timid. His less
exalted station allowed him to mix more familiarly with the various
Ionian officers than would have become the high-born Cimon, and the
dignified repute of Aristides. Seeking to distract his mind from the
haunting thought of Cleonice, he flung himself with the ardour of his
Greek temperament into the social pleasures, which took a zest from
the design that he carried into them all. In the banquets, in the
sports, he was ever seeking to increase the enemies of his rival,
and where he charmed a gay companion, there he often enlisted a bold
Pausanias, the unconscious or the careless object of the Ionian's
jealous hate, could not resist the fatal charm of Cleonice's presence;
and if it sometimes exasperated the more evil elements of his nature,
at other times it so lulled them to rest, that had the Fates given him
the rightful claim to that single treasure, not one guilty thought
might have disturbed the majesty of a soul which, though undisciplined
and uncultured, owed half its turbulence and half its rebellious pride
to its baffled yearnings for human affection and natural joy. And
Cleonice, unable to shun the visits which her weak and covetous
father, despite his promised favour to the suit of Antagoras, still
encouraged; and feeling her honour, at least, if not her peace, was
secured by that ascendancy which, with each successive interview
between them, her character more and more asserted over the Spartan's
higher nature, relinquished the tormenting levity of tone whereby
she had once sought to elude his earnestness, or conceal her own
sentiments. An interest in a fate so solemn, an interest far deeper
than mere human love, stole into her heart and elevated its instincts.
She recognized the immense compassion which was due to the man so
desolate at the head of armaments, so dark in the midst of glory.
Centuries roll, customs change, but, ever since the time of the
earliest mother, woman yearns to be the soother.
It was the hour of the day when between the two principal meals of the
Greeks men surrendered themselves to idleness or pleasure; when groups
formed in the market-place, or crowded the barbers' shops to gossip
and talk of news; when the tale-teller or ballad-singer collected
round him on the quays his credulous audience; when on playgrounds
that stretched behind the taverns or without the walls the more active
youths assembled, and the quoit was hurled, or mimic battles waged
with weapons of wood, or the Dorians weaved their simple, the Ionians
their more intricate or less decorous, dances. At that hour Lysander,
wandering from the circles of his countrymen, walked musingly by the
"And why," said the voice of a person who had approached him
unperceived, "and why, O Lysander, art thou absent from thy comrades,
thou model and theme of the youths of Sparta, foremost in their manly
sports, as in their martial labours?"
Lysander turned and bowed low his graceful head, for he who accosted
him was scarcely more honoured by the Athenians, whom his birth, his
wealth, and his popular demeanour dazzled, than by the plain sons
of Sparta, who, in his simple garb, his blunt and hasty manner, his
professed admiration for all things Spartan, beheld one Athenian at
least congenial to their tastes.
"The child that misses its mother," answered Lysander," has small joy
with its playmates. And I, a Spartan, pine for Sparta."
"Truly," returned Cimon, "there must be charms in thy noble country of
which we other Greeks know but little, if amidst all the luxuries
and delights of Byzantium thou canst pine for her rugged hills. And
although, as thou knowest well, I was once a sojourner in thy city
as ambassador from my own, yet to foreigners so little of the inner
Spartan life is revealed, that I pray thee to satisfy my curiosity and
explain to me the charm that reconciles thee and thine to institutions
which seem to the Ionians at war with the pleasures and the graces of