live in weak and depraved minds.
The commanders thus disputing, and Pelopidas being in a great perplexity, a mare colt, breaking from the herd, ran through the camp, and when she came to the place where they were, stood still; and whilst some admired her bright chestnut color, others her mettle, or the strength and fury of her neighing, Theocritus, the augur, took thought, and cried out to Pelopidas, “O good friend! look, the sacrifice is come; expect no other virgin, but use that which the gods have sent thee.” With that they took the colt, and, leading her to the maidens’ sepulchres, with the usual solemnity and prayers, offered her with joy, and spread through the whole army the account of Pelopidas’s dream, and how they had given the required sacrifice.
In the battle, Epaminondas, bending his phalanx to the left, that, as much as possible, he might divide the right wing, composed of Spartans, from the other Greeks, and distress Cleombrotus, by a fierce charge in column on that wing, the enemies perceived the design, and began to change their order, to open and extend their right wing, and, as they far exceeded him in number, to encompass Epaminondas. But Pelopidas with the three hundred came rapidly up, before Cleombrotus could extend his line, and close up his divisions, and so fell upon the Spartans while in disorder; though the Lacedaemonians, the expertest and most practiced soldiers of all mankind, used to train and accustom themselves to nothing so much as to keep themselves from confusion upon any change of position, and to follow any leader, or right hand man, and form in order, and fight on what part soever dangers press. In this battle, however, Epaminondas with his phalanx, neglecting the other Greeks, and charging them alone, and Pelopidas coming up with such incredible speed and fury, so broke their courage, and baffled their art, that there began such a flight and slaughter amongst the Spartans, as was never before known. And so Pelopidas, though in no high office, but only captain of a small band, got as much reputation by the victory, as Epaminondas, who was general and chief captain of Boeotia.
Into Peloponnesus, however, they both advanced together as colleagues in supreme command, and gained the greater part of the nations there from the Spartan confederacy; Elis, Argo, all Arcadia, and much of Laconia itself. It was the dead of winter, and but few of the last days of the month remained, and, in the beginning of the next, new officers were to succeed, and whoever failed to deliver up his charge, forfeited his head. Therefore, the other chief captains fearing the law, and to avoid the sharpness of the winter, advised a retreat. But Pelopidas joined with Epaminondas, and, encouraging his countrymen, led them against Sparta, and, passing the Eurotas, took many of the towns, and wasted the country as far as the sea. This army consisted of seventy thousand Greeks, of which number the Thebans could not make the twelfth part; but the reputation of the men made all their allies contented to follow them as leaders, though no articles to that effect had been made. For, indeed, it seems the first and paramount law, that he that wants a defender, is naturally a subject to him that is able to defend: as mariners, though in a calm or in the port they grow insolent, and brave the pilot, yet when a storm comes, and danger is at hand, they all attend, and put their hopes in him. So the Argives, Eleans, and Arcadians, in their congresses, would contend with the Thebans for superiority in command, yet in a battle, or any hazardous undertaking, of their own will followed their Theban captains. In this expedition, they united all Arcadia into one body, and, expelling the Spartans that inhabited Messenia, they called back the old Messenians, and established them in Ithome in one body; — and, returning through Cenchreae, they dispersed the Athenians, who designed to set upon them in the straits, and hinder their march.
For these exploits, all the other Greeks loved their courage, and admired their success; but among their own citizens, envy, still increasing with their glory, prepared them no pleasing nor agreeable reception. Both were tried for their lives, because they did not deliver up their command in the first month, Bucatius, as the law required, but kept it four months longer, in which time they did these memorable actions in Messenia, Arcadia, and Laconia. Pelopidas was first tried, and therefore in greatest danger, but both were acquitted. Epaminondas bore the accusation and trial very patiently, esteeming it a great and essential part of courage and generosity, not to resent injuries in political life. But Pelopidas, being a man of a fiercer temper, and stirred on by his friends to revenge the affront, took the following occasion. Meneclidas, the orator, was one of those that had met with Melon and Pelopidas at Charon’s house; but not receiving equal honor, and being powerful in his speech, but loose in his manners, and ill-natured, he abused his natural endowments, even after this trial, to accuse and calumniate his betters. He excluded Epaminondas from the chief captaincy, and for a long time kept the upper hand of him; but he was not powerful enough to bring Pelopidas out of the people’s favor, and therefore endeavored to raise a quarrel between him and Charon. And since it is some comfort to the envious, to make those men, whom themselves cannot excel, appear worse than others, he studiously enlarged upon Charon’s actions in his speeches to the people, and made panegyrics on his expeditions and victories; and, of the victory which the horsemen won at Plataea, before the battle at Leuctra, under Charon’s command, he endeavored to make the following sacred memorial. Androcydes, the Cyzicenian, had undertaken to paint a previous battle for the city, and was at work in Thebes; and when the revolt began, and the war came on, the Thebans kept the picture that was then almost finished. This picture Meneclidas persuaded them to dedicate, inscribed with Charon’s name, designing by that means to obscure the glory of Epaminondas and Pelopidas. This was a ludicrous piece of pretension; to set a single victory, where only one Gerandas, an obscure Spartan, and forty more were slain, above such numerous and important battles. This motion Pelopidas opposed, as contrary to law, alleging that it was not the custom of the Thebans to honor any single man, but to attribute the victory to their country; yet in all the contest, he extremely commended Charon, and confined himself to showing Meneclidas to be a troublesome and envious fellow, asking the Thebans, if they had done nothing that was excellent, …. insomuch that Meneclidas was severely fined; and he, being unable to pay, endeavored afterwards to disturb the government. These things give us some light into Pelopidas’s life.
Now when Alexander, the tyrant of Pherae, made open war against some of the Thessalians, and had designs against all, the cities sent an embassy to Thebes, to desire succors and a general; and Pelopidas, knowing that Epaminondas was detained by the Peloponnesian affairs, offered himself to lead the Thessalians, being unwilling to let his courage and skill lie idle, and thinking it unfit that Epaminondas should be withdrawn from his present duties. When he came into Thessaly with his army, he presently took Larissa, and endeavored to reclaim Alexander, who submitted, and bring him, from being a tyrant, to govern gently, and according to law; but finding him untractable and brutish, and hearing great complaints of his lust and cruelty, Pelopidas began to be severe, and used him roughly, insomuch that the tyrant stole away privately with his guard. But Pelopidas, leaving the Thessalians fearless of the tyrant, and friends amongst themselves, marched into Macedonia, where Ptolemy was then at war with Alexander, the king of Macedon; both parties having sent for him to hear and determine their differences, and assist the one that appeared injured. When he came, he reconciled them, called back the exiles, and, receiving for hostages Philip the king’s brother, and thirty children of the nobles, he brought them to Thebes; showing the other Greeks how wide a reputation the Thebans had gained for honesty and courage. This was that Philip who afterward endeavored to enslave the Greeks: then he was a boy, and lived with Pammenes in Thebes; and hence some conjecture, that he took Epaminondas’s actions for the rule of his own; and perhaps, indeed, he did take example from his activity and skill in war, which, however, was but a small portion of his virtues; of his temperance, justice, generosity, and mildness, in which he was truly great, Philip enjoyed no share, either by nature or imitation.
After this, upon a second complaint of the Thessalians against Alexander of Pherae, as a disturber of the cities, Pelopidas was joined with Ismenias, in an embassy to him; but led no forces from Thebes, not expecting any war, and therefore was necessitated to make use of the Thessalians upon the emergency. At the same time, also, Macedon was in confusion again, as Ptolemy had murdered the king, and seized the government: but the king’s friends sent for Pelopidas, and he, being willing to interpose in the matter, but having no soldiers of his own, enlisted some mercenaries in the country, and with them marched against Ptolemy. When they faced one another, Ptolemy corrupted these mercenaries with a sum of money, and persuaded them to revolt to him; but yet, fearing the very name and reputation of Pelopidas, he came to him as his superior, submitted, begged his pardon, and protested that he kept the government only for the brothers of the dead king, and would prove a friend to the friends, and an enemy to the enemies of Thebes; and, to confirm this, he gave his son, Philoxenus, and fifty of his companions, for hostages. These Pelopidas sent to Thebes; but he himself, being vexed at the treachery of the mercenaries, and understanding that most of their goods, their wives and children, lay at Pharsalus, so that if he could take them, the injury would be sufficiently revenged, got together some of the Thessalians, and marched to Pharsalus. When he had just entered the city, Alexander, the tyrant, appeared before it with an army; but Pelopidas and his friends, thinking that he came to clear himself from those crimes that were laid to his charge, went to him; and though they knew very well that he was profligate and cruel, yet they imagined that the authority of Thebes, and their own dignity and reputation, would secure them from violence. But the tyrant, seeing them come unarmed and alone, seized them, and made himself master of Pharsalus. Upon this his subjects were much intimidated, thinking that after so great and so bold an iniquity, he would spare none, but behave himself toward all, and in all matters, as one despairing of his life. The Thebans, when they heard of this, were very much enraged, and dispatched an army, Epaminondas being then in disgrace, under the command of other leaders. When the tyrant brought Pelopidas to Pherae, at first he permitted those that desired it to speak with him, imagining that this disaster would break his spirit, and make him appear contemptible. But when Pelopidas advised the complaining Pheraeans to be comforted, as if the tyrant was now certain in a short time to smart for his injuries, and sent to tell him, “That it was absurd daily to torment and murder his wretched innocent subjects, and yet spare him, who, he well knew, if ever he got his liberty, would be bitterly revenged;” the tyrant, wondering at his boldness and freedom of speech, replied, “And why is Pelopidas in haste to die?” He, hearing of it, rejoined, “That you may be the sooner ruined, being then more hated by the gods than now.” From that time he forbade any to converse with him; but Thebe, the daughter of Jason and wife to Alexander, hearing from the keepers of the bravery and noble behavior of Pelopidas, had a great desire to see and speak with him. Now when she came into the prison, and, as a woman, could not at once discern his greatness in his calamity, only, judging by the meanness of his attire and general appearance, that he was used basely and not befitting a man of his reputation, she wept. Pelopidas, at first not knowing who she was, stood amazed; but when he understood, saluted her by her father’s name — Jason and he having been friends and familiars — and she saying, “I pity your wife, Sir,” he replied, “And I you, that though not in chains, can endure Alexander.” This touched the woman, who already hated Alexander for his cruelty and injustice, for his general debaucheries, and for his abuse of her youngest brother. She, therefore, often went to Pelopidas, and, speaking freely of the indignities she suffered, grew more enraged, and more exasperated against Alexander.
The Theban generals that were sent into Thessaly did nothing, but, being either unskillful or unfortunate, made a dishonorable retreat, for which the city fined each of them ten thousand drachmas, and sent Epaminondas with their forces. The Thessalians, inspirited by the fame of this general, at once began to stir, and the tyrant’s affairs were at the verge of destruction; so great was the fear that possessed his captains and his friends, and so eager the desire of his subjects to revolt, in hope of his speedy punishment. But Epaminondas, more solicitous for the safety of Pelopidas than his own glory, and fearing that if things came to extremity, Alexander would grow desperate, and, like a wild beast, turn and worry him, did not prosecute the war to the utmost; but, hovering still over him with his army, he so handled the tyrant as not to leave him any confidence, and yet not to drive him to despair and fury. He was aware of his savageness, and the little value he had for right and justice, insomuch that sometimes he buried men alive, and sometimes dressed them in bear’s and boar’s skins, and then baited them with dogs, or shot at them for his divertisement. At Meliboea and Scotussa, two cities, his allies, he called all the inhabitants to an assembly, and then surrounded them and cut them to pieces with his guards. He consecrated the spear with which he killed his uncle Polyphron, and, crowning it with garlands, sacrificed to it as a god, and called it Tychon. And once seeing a tragedian act Euripides’s Troades, he left the theater; but sending for the actor, bade him not to be concerned at his departure, but act as he had been used to do, as it was not in contempt of him that he departed, but because he was ashamed that his citizens should see him, who never pitied any man that he murdered, weep at the sufferings of Hecuba and Andromache. This tyrant, however, alarmed at the very name, report, and appearance of an expedition under the conduct of Epaminondas, presently
Dropped like a craven cock his conquered wing,
and sent an embassy to entreat and offer satisfaction. Epaminondas refused to admit such a man as an ally to the Thebans, but granted him a truce of thirty days, and, Pelopidas and Ismenias being delivered up, returned home.
Now the Thebans, understanding that the Spartans and Athenians had sent an embassy to the Persians for assistance, themselves, likewise, sent Pelopidas; an excellent design to increase his glory, no man having ever before passed through the dominions of the king with greater fame and reputation. For the glory that he won against the Spartans, did not creep slowly or obscurely; but, after the fame of the first battle at Leuctra was gone abroad, the report of new victories continually following, exceedingly increased, and spread his celebrity far and near. Whatever satraps or generals or commanders he met, he was the object of their wonder and discourse; “This is the man,” they said, “who hath beaten the Lacedaemonians from sea and land, and confined that Sparta within Taygetus and Eurotas, which, but a little before, under the conduct of Agesilaus, was entering upon a war with the great king about Susa and Ecbatana.” This pleased Artaxerxes, and he was the more inclined to show Pelopidas attention and honor, being desirous to seem reverenced, and attended by the greatest. But when he saw him and heard his discourse, more solid than the Athenians, and not so haughty as the Spartans, his regard was heightened, and, truly acting like a king, he openly showed the respect that he felt for him; and this the other ambassadors perceived. Of all other Greeks he had been thought to have done Antalcidas, the Spartan, the greatest honor, by sending him that garland dipped in an unguent, which he himself had worn at an entertainment. Indeed, he did not deal so delicately with Pelopidas, but, according to the custom, gave him the most splendid and considerable presents, and granted him his desires, that the Grecians should be free, Messenia inhabited, and the Thebans accounted the king’s hereditary friends. With these answers, but not accepting one of the presents, except what was a pledge of kindness and good-will, he returned. This behavior of Pelopidas ruined the other ambassadors: the Athenians condemned and executed their Timagoras, and, indeed, if they did it for receiving so many presents from the king, their sentence was just and good; as he not only took gold and silver, but a rich bed, and slaves to make it, as if the Greeks were unskillful in that art; besides eighty cows and herdsmen, professing he needed cow’s milk for some distemper; and, lastly, he was carried in a litter to the seaside, with a present of four talents for his attendants. But the Athenians, perhaps, were not so much irritated at his greediness for the presents. For Epicrates the baggage-carrier not only confessed to the people that he had received gifts from the king, but made a motion, that instead of nine archons, they should yearly choose nine poor citizens to be sent ambassadors to the king, and enriched by his presents, and the people only laughed at the joke. But they were vexed that the Thebans obtained their desires, never considering that Pelopidas’s fame was more powerful than all their rhetorical discourse, with a man who still inclined to the victorious in arms. This embassy, having obtained the restitution of Messenia, and the freedom of the other Greeks, got Pelopidas a great deal of good-will at his return.
At this time, Alexander the Pheraean falling back to his old nature, and having seized many of the Thessalian cities, and put garrisons upon the Achaeans of Phthiotis, and the Magnesians, the cities, hearing that Pelopidas was returned, sent an embassy to Thebes, requesting succors, and him for their leader. The Thebans willingly granted their desire; and now when all things were prepared, and the general beginning to march, the sun was eclipsed, and darkness spread over the city at noonday. Now when Pelopidas saw them startled at the prodigy, he did not think it fit to force on men who were afraid and out of heart, nor to hazard seven thousand of his citizens; and therefore with only three hundred horse volunteers, set forward himself to Thessaly, much against the will of the augurs and his fellow-citizens in general, who all imagined this marked portent to have reference to this great man. But he was heated against Alexander for the injuries he had received, and hoped likewise, from the discourse which formerly he had with Thebe, that his family by this time was divided and in disorder. But the glory of the expedition chiefly excited him; for he was extremely desirous at this time, when the Lacedaemonians were sending out military officers to assist Dionysius the Sicilian tyrant, and the Athenians took Alexander’s pay, and honored him with a brazen statue as a benefactor, that the Thebans should be seen, alone, of all the Greeks, undertaking the cause of those who were oppressed by tyrants, and destroying the violent and illegal forms of government in Greece.
When Pelopidas was come to Pharsalus, he formed an army, and presently marched against Alexander; and Alexander understanding that Pelopidas had few Thebans with him, and that his own infantry was double the number of the Thessalians, faced him at Thetidium. Some one told Pelopidas, “The tyrant meets us with a great army;” “So much the better,” he replied, “for then we shall overcome the more.” Between the two armies lay some steep high hills about Cynoscephalae, which both parties endeavored to take by their foot. Pelopidas commanded his horse, which were good and many, to charge that of the enemies; they routed and pursued them through the plain. But Alexander, meantime, took the hills, and charging the Thessalian foot that came up later, and strove to climb the steep and craggy ascent, killed the foremost, and the others, much distressed, could do the enemies no harm. Pelopidas, observing this, sounded a retreat to his horse, and gave orders that they should charge the enemies that kept their ground; and he himself, taking his shield, quickly joined those that fought about the hills, and, advancing to the front, filled his men with such courage and alacrity, that the enemies imagined they came with other spirits and other bodies to the onset. They stood two or three charges, but finding these come on stoutly, and the horse, also, returning from the pursuit, gave ground, and retreated in order. Pelopidas now perceiving, from the rising ground, that the enemy’s army was, though not yet routed, full of disorder and confusion, stood and looked about for Alexander; and when he saw him in the right wing, encouraging and ordering his mercenaries, he could not moderate his anger, but inflamed at the sight, and blindly following his passion, regardless alike of his own life and his command, advanced far before his soldiers, crying out and challenging the tyrant who did not dare to receive him, but retreating, hid himself amongst his guard. The foremost of the mercenaries that came hand to hand were driven back by Pelopidas, and some killed; but many at a distance shot through his armor and wounded him, till the Thessalians, in anxiety for the result, ran down from the hill to his relief, but found him already slain. The horse came up, also, and routed the phalanx, and, following the pursuit a great way, filled the whole country with the slain, which were above three thousand.
No one can wonder that the Thebans then present, should show great grief at the death of Pelopidas, calling him their father, deliverer, and instructor in all that was good and commendable. But the Thessalians and the allies out-doing in their public edicts all the just honors that could be paid to human courage, gave, in their display of feeling, yet stronger demonstrations of the kindness they had for him. It is stated, that none of the soldiers, when they heard of his death, would put off their armor, unbridle their horses, or dress their wounds, but, still hot and with their arms on, ran to the corpse, and, as if he had been yet alive and could see what they did, heaped up spoils about his body. They cut off their horses’ manes and their own hair, many kindled no fire in their tents, took no supper, and silence and sadness was spread over all the army; as if they had not gained the greatest and most glorious victory, but were overcome by the tyrant, and enslaved. As soon as it was known in the cities, the magistrates, youths, children, and priests, came out to meet the body, and brought trophies, crowns, and suits of golden armor; and, when he was to be interred, the elders of the Thessalians came and begged the Thebans, that they might give the funeral; and one of them said, “Friends, we ask a favor of you, that will prove both an honor and comfort to us in this our great misfortune. The Thessalians shall never again wait on the living Pelopidas, never give honors, of which he can be sensible, but if we may have his body, adorn his funeral, and inter him, we shall hope to show that we esteem his death a greater loss to the Thessalians than to the Thebans. You have lost only a good general, we both a general and our liberty. For how shall we dare to desire from you another captain, since we cannot restore Pelopidas?”
The Thebans granted their request, and there was never a more splendid funeral in the opinion of those, who do not think the glory of such solemnities consists only in gold, ivory, and purple; as Philistus did, who extravagantly celebrates the funeral of Dionysius, in which his tyranny concluded like the pompous exit of some great tragedy. Alexander the Great, at the death of Hephaestion, not only cut off the manes of his horses and his mules, but took down the battlements from the city walls, that even the towns might seem mourners, and, instead of their former beauteous appearance, look bald at his funeral. But such honors, being commanded and forced from the mourners, attended with feelings of jealousy towards those who received them, and of hatred towards those who exacted them, were no testimonies of love and respect, but of the barbaric pride, luxury, and insolence of those who lavished their wealth in these vain and undesirable displays. But that a man of common rank, dying in a strange country, neither his wife, children, nor kinsmen present, none either asking or compelling it, should be attended, buried, and crowned by so many cities that strove to exceed one another in the demonstrations of their love, seems to be the sum and completion of happy fortune. For the death of happy men is not, as Aesop observes, most grievous, but most blessed, since it secures their felicity, and puts it out of fortune’s power. And that Spartan advised well, who, embracing Diagoras, that had himself been crowned in the Olympic Games, and saw his sons and grandchildren victors, said, “Die, Diagoras, for thou canst not be a god.” And yet who would compare all the victories in the Pythian and Olympian Games put together, with one of those enterprises of Pelopidas, of which he successfully performed so many? Having spent his life in brave and glorious actions, he died at last in the chief command, for the thirteenth time, of the Boeotians, fighting bravely and in the act of slaying a tyrant, in defense of the liberty of the Thessalians.
His death, as it brought grief, so likewise it produced advantage to the allies; for the Thebans, as soon as they heard of his fall, delayed not their revenge, but presently sent seven thousand foot and seven hundred horse, under the command of Malcitas and Diogiton. And they, finding Alexander weak and without forces, compelled him to restore the cities he had taken, to withdraw his garrisons from the Magnesians and Achaeans of Phthiotis, and swear to assist the Thebans against whatsoever enemies they should require. This contented the Thebans, but punishment overtook the tyrant for his wickedness, and the death of Pelopidas was revenged by Heaven in the following manner. Pelopidas, as I have already mentioned, had taught his wife Thebe not to fear the outward splendor and show of the tyrant’s defenses, since she was admitted within them. She, of herself, too, dreaded his inconstancy, and hated his cruelty; and, therefore, conspiring with her three brothers, Tisiphonus, Pytholaus, and Lycophron, made the following attempt upon him. All the other apartments were full of the tyrant’s night guards, but their bed-chamber was an upper room, and before the door lay a chained dog to guard it, which would fly at all but the tyrant and his wife and one servant that fed him. When Thebe, therefore, designed to kill her husband, she hid her brothers all day in a room hard by, and she, going in alone, according to her usual custom, to Alexander who was asleep already, in a little time came out again, and commanded the servant to lead away the dog, for Alexander wished to rest quietly. She covered the stairs with wool, that the young men might make no noise as they came up; and then, bringing up her brothers with their weapons, and leaving them at the chamber door, she went in, and brought away the tyrant’s sword that hung over his head and showed it them for a confirmation that he was fast asleep. The young men appearing fearful, and unwilling to do the murder, she chid them, and angrily vowed she would wake Alexander, and discover the conspiracy; and so, with a lamp in her hand, she conducted them in, they being both ashamed and afraid, and brought them to the bed; when one of them caught him by the feet, the other pulled him backward by the hair, and the third ran him through. The death was more speedy, perhaps, than was fit; but, in that he was the first tyrant that was killed by the contrivance of his wife, and as his corpse was abused, thrown out, and trodden under foot by the Pheraeans, he seems to have suffered what his villainies deserved.
They say that Marcus Claudius, who was five times consul of the Romans, was the son of Marcus; and that he was the first of his family called Marcellus; that is, martial, as Posidonius affirms. He was, indeed, by long experience skillful in the art of war, of a strong body, valiant of hand, and by natural inclination addicted to war. This high temper and heat he showed conspicuously in battle; in other respects he was modest and obliging, and so far studious of Greek learning and discipline, as to honor and admire those that excelled in it, though he did not himself attain a proficiency in them equal to his desire, by reason of his employments. For if ever there were any men, whom, as Homer says, Heaven,
From their first youth unto their utmost age Appointed the laborious wars to wage,
certainly they were the chief Romans of that time; who in their youth had war with the Carthaginians in Sicily, in their middle age with the Gauls in the defense of Italy itself; and, at last, when now grown old, struggled again with Hannibal and the Carthaginians, and wanted in their latest years what is granted to most men, exemption from military toils; their rank and their great qualities still making them be called upon to undertake the command.
Marcellus, ignorant or unskillful of no kind of fighting, in single combat surpassed himself; he never declined a challenge, and never accepted without killing his challenger. In Sicily, he protected and saved his brother Otacilius when surrounded in battle, and slew the enemies that pressed upon him; for which act he was by the generals, while he was yet but young, presented with crowns and other honorable rewards; and, his good qualities more and more displaying themselves, he was created Curule Aedile by the people, and by the high-priests Augur; which is that priesthood to which chiefly the law assigns the observation of auguries. In his aedileship, a certain mischance brought him to the necessity of bringing an impeachment into the senate. He had a son named Marcus, of great beauty, in the flower of his age, and no less admired for the goodness of his character. This youth, Capitolinus, a bold and ill-mannered man, Marcellus’s colleague, sought to abuse. The boy at first himself repelled him; but when the other again persecuted him, told his father. Marcellus, highly indignant, accused the man in the senate, where he, having appealed to the tribunes of the people, endeavored by various shifts and exceptions to elude the impeachment; and, when the tribunes refused their protection, by flat denial rejected the charge. As there was no witness of the fact, the senate thought fit to call the youth himself before them; on witnessing whose blushes and tears, and shame mixed with the highest indignation, seeking no further evidence of the crime, they condemned Capitolinus, and set a fine upon him; of the money of which, Marcellus caused silver vessels for libation to be made, which he dedicated to the gods.
After the end of the first Punic war, which lasted one and twenty years, the seeds of Gallic tumults sprang up, and began again to trouble Rome. The Insubrians, a people inhabiting the subalpine region of Italy, strong in their own forces, raised from among the other Gauls aids of mercenary soldiers, called Gaesatae. And it was a sort of miracle, and special good fortune for Rome, that the Gallic war was not coincident with the Punic, but that the Gauls had with fidelity stood quiet as spectators, while the Punic war continued, as though they had been under engagements to await and attack the victors, and now only were at liberty to come forward. Still the position itself, and the ancient renown of the Gauls, struck no little fear into the minds of the Romans, who were about to undertake a war so near home and upon their own borders; and regarded the Gauls, because they had once taken their city, with more apprehension than any people, as is apparent from the enactment which from that time forth provided, that the high-priests should enjoy an exemption from all military duty, except only in Gallic insurrections.
The great preparations, also, made by the Romans for war, (for it is not reported that the people of Rome ever had at one time so many legions in arms, either before or since,) and their extraordinary sacrifices, were plain arguments of their fear. For though they were most averse to barbarous and cruel rites, and entertained more than any nation the same pious and reverent sentiments of the gods with the Greeks; yet, when this war was coming upon them, they then, from some prophecies in the Sibyls’ books, put alive under ground a pair of Greeks, one male, the other female; and likewise two Gauls, one of each sex, in the market called the beast-market: continuing even to this day to offer to these Greeks and Gauls certain secret ceremonial observances in the month of November.
In the beginning of this war, in which the Romans sometimes obtained remarkable victories, sometimes were shamefully beaten, nothing was done toward the determination of the contest, until Flaminius and Furius, being consuls, led large forces against the Insubrians. At the time of their departure, the river that runs through the country of Picenum was seen flowing with blood; there was a report, that three moons had been seen at once at Ariminum; and, in the consular assembly, the augurs declared, that the consuls had been unduly and inauspiciously created. The senate, therefore, immediately sent letters to the camp, recalling the consuls to Rome with all possible speed, and commanding them to forbear from acting against the enemies, and to abdicate the consulship on the first opportunity. These letters being brought to Flaminius, he deferred to open them till, having defeated and put to flight the enemy’s forces, he wasted and ravaged their borders. The people, therefore, did not go forth to meet him when he returned with huge spoils; nay, because he had not instantly obeyed the command in the letters, by which he was recalled, but slighted and contemned them, they were very near denying him the honor of a triumph. Nor was the triumph sooner passed than they deposed him, with his colleague, from the magistracy, and reduced them to the state of private citizens. So much were all things at Rome made to depend upon religion; they would not allow any contempt of the omens and the ancient rites, even though attended with the highest success; thinking it to be of more importance to the public safety, that the magistrates should reverence the gods, than that they should overcome their enemies. Thus Tiberius Sempronius, whom for his probity and virtue the citizens highly esteemed, created Scipio Nasica and Caius Marcius, consuls to succeed him: and when they were gone into their provinces, lit upon books concerning the religious observances, where he found something he had not known before; which was this. When the consul took his auspices, he sat without the city in a house, or tent, hired for that occasion; but, if it happened that he, for any urgent cause, returned into the city, without having yet seen any certain signs, he was obliged to leave that first building, or tent, and to seek another to repeat the survey from. Tiberius, it appears, in ignorance of this, had twice used the same building before announcing the new consuls. Now, understanding his error, he referred the matter to the senate: nor did the senate neglect this minute fault, but soon wrote expressly of it to Scipio Nasica and Caius Marcius; who, leaving their provinces and without delay returning to Rome, laid down their magistracy. This happened at a later period. About the same time, too, the priesthood was taken away from two men of very great honor, Cornelius Cethegus and Quintus Sulpicius: from the former, because he had not rightly held out the entrails of a beast slain for sacrifice; from the latter, because, while he was immolating, the tufted cap which the Flamens wear had fallen from his head. Minucius, the dictator, who had already named Caius Flaminius master of the horse, they deposed from his command, because the squeak of a mouse was heard, and put others into their places. And yet, notwithstanding, by observing so anxiously these little niceties they did not run into any superstition, because they never varied from nor exceeded the observances of their ancestors.
So soon as Flaminius with his colleague had resigned the consulate, Marcellus was declared consul by the presiding officers called Interrexes; and, entering into the magistracy, chose Cnaeus Cornelius his colleague. There was a report that, the Gauls proposing a pacification, and the senate also inclining to peace, Marcellus inflamed the people to war; but a peace appears to have been agreed upon, which the Gaesatae broke; who, passing the Alps, stirred up the Insubrians, (they being thirty thousand in number, and the Insubrians more numerous by far) and, proud of their strength, marched directly to Acerrae, a city seated on the north of the river Po. From thence Britomartus, king of the Gaesatae, taking with him ten thousand soldiers, harassed the country round about. News of which being brought to Marcellus, leaving his colleague at Acerrae with the foot and all the heavy arms and a third part of the horse, and carrying with him the rest of the horse and six hundred light armed foot, marching night and day without remission, he staid not till he came up to these ten thousand near a Gaulish village called Clastidium, which not long before had been reduced under the Roman jurisdiction. Nor had he time to refresh his soldiers, or to give them rest. For the barbarians, that were then present, immediately observed his approach, and contemned him, because he had very few foot with him. The Gauls were singularly skillful in horsemanship, and thought to excel in it; and as at present they also exceeded Marcellus in number, they made no account of him. They, therefore, with their king at their head, instantly charged upon him, as if they would trample him under their horses’ feet, threatening all kind of cruelties. Marcellus, because his men were few, that they might not be encompassed and charged on all sides by the enemy, extended his wings of horse, and, riding about, drew out his wings of foot in length, till he came near to the enemy. Just as he was in the act of turning round to face the enemy, it so happened that his horse, startled with their fierce look and their cries, gave back, and carried him forcibly aside. Fearing lest this accident, if converted into an omen, might discourage his soldiers, he quickly brought his horse round to confront the enemy, and made a gesture of adoration to the sun, as if he had wheeled about not by chance, but for a purpose of devotion. For it was customary to the Romans, when they offered worship to the gods, to turn round; and in this moment of meeting the enemy, he is said to have vowed the best of the arms to Jupiter Feretrius.
The king of the Gauls beholding Marcellus, and from the badges of his authority conjecturing him to be the general, advanced some way before his embattled army, and with a loud voice challenged him, and, brandishing his lance, fiercely ran in full career at him; exceeding the rest of the Gauls in stature, and with his armor, that was adorned with gold and silver and various colors, shining like lightning. These arms seeming to Marcellus, while he viewed the enemy’s army drawn up in battalia, to be the best and fairest, and thinking them to be those he had vowed to Jupiter, he instantly ran upon the king, and pierced through his breastplate with his lance; then pressing upon him with the weight of his horse, threw him to the ground, and with two or three strokes more, slew him. Immediately he leapt from his horse, laid his hand upon the dead king’s arms, and, looking up toward Heaven, thus spoke: “O Jupiter Feretrius, arbiter of the exploits of captains, and of the acts of commanders in war and battles, be thou witness that I, a general, have slain a general; I, a consul, have slain a king with my own hand, third of all the Romans; and that to thee I consecrate these first and most excellent of the spoils. Grant to us to dispatch the relics of the war, with the same course of fortune.” Then the Roman horse joining battle not only with the enemy’s horse, but also with the foot who attacked them, obtained a singular and unheard of victory. For never before or since have so few horse defeated such numerous forces of horse and foot together. The enemies being to a great number slain, and the spoils collected, he returned to his colleague, who was conducting the war, with ill success, against the enemies near the greatest and most populous of the Gallic cities, Milan. This was their capital, and, therefore, fighting valiantly in defense of it, they were not so much besieged by Cornelius, as they besieged him. But Marcellus having returned, and the Gaesatae retiring as soon as they were certified of the death of the king and the defeat of his army, Milan was taken. The rest of their towns, and all they had, the Gauls delivered up of their own accord to the Romans, and had peace upon equitable conditions granted to them.
Marcellus alone, by a decree of the senate, triumphed. The triumph was in magnificence, opulence, spoils, and the gigantic bodies of the captives, most remarkable. But the most grateful and most rare spectacle of all was the general himself, carrying the arms of the barbarian king to the god to whom he had vowed them. He had taken a tall and straight stock of an oak, and had lopped and formed it to a trophy. Upon this he fastened and hung round about the arms of the king, arranging all the pieces in their suitable places. The procession advancing solemnly, he, carrying this trophy, ascended the chariot; and thus, himself the fairest and most glorious triumphant image, was conveyed into the city. The army adorned with shining armor followed in order, and with verses composed for the occasion and with songs of victory celebrated the praises of Jupiter and of their general. Then entering the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, he dedicated his gift; the third, and to our memory the last, that ever did so. The first was Romulus, after having slain Acron, king of the Caeninenses: the second, Cornelius Cossus, who slew Tolumnius the Etruscan: after them Marcellus, having killed Britomartus king of the Gauls; after Marcellus, no man. The god to whom these spoils were consecrated is called Jupiter Feretrius, from the trophy carried on the feretrum, one of the Greek words which at that time still existed in great numbers in Latin: or, as others say, it is the surname of the Thundering Jupiter, derived from ferire, to strike. Others there are who would have the name to be deduced from the strokes that are given in fight; since even now in battles, when they press upon their enemies, they constantly call out to each other, strike, in Latin, feri. Spoils in general they call Spolia, and these in particular Opima; though, indeed, they say that Numa Pompilius in his commentaries, makes mention of first, second, and third Spolia Opima; and that he prescribes that the first taken be consecrated to Jupiter Feretrius, the second to Mars, the third to Quirinus; as also that the reward of the first be three hundred asses; of the second, two hundred; of the third, one hundred. The general account, however, prevails, that those spoils only are Opima, which the general first takes in set battle, and takes from the enemy’s chief captain whom he has slain with his own hand. But of this enough. The victory and the ending of the war was so welcome to the people of Rome, that they sent to Apollo of Delphi, in testimony of their gratitude, a present of a golden cup of a hundred pound weight, and gave a great part of the spoil to their associate cities, and took care that many presents should be sent also to Hiero, king of the Syracusans, their friend and ally.
When Hannibal invaded Italy, Marcellus was dispatched with a fleet into Sicily. And when the army had been defeated at Cannae, and many thousands of them perished, and few had saved themselves by flying to Canusium, and all feared lest Hannibal, who had destroyed the strength of the Roman army, should advance at once with his victorious troops to Rome, Marcellus first sent for the protection of the city fifteen hundred solders, from the fleet. Then, by decree of the senate, going to Canusium, having heard that many of the soldiers had come together in that place, he led them out of the fortifications to prevent the enemy from ravaging the country. The chief Roman commanders had most of them fallen in battles; and the citizens complained, that the extreme caution of Fabius Maximus, whose integrity and wisdom gave him the highest authority, verged upon timidity and inaction. They confided in him to keep them out of danger, but could not expect that he would enable them to retaliate. Fixing, therefore, their thoughts upon Marcellus, and hoping to combine his boldness, confidence, and promptitude with Fabius’s caution and prudence, and to temper the one by the other, they sent, sometimes both with consular command, sometimes one as consul, the other as proconsul, against the enemy. Posidonius writes, that Fabius was called the buckler, Marcellus the sword of Rome. Certainly, Hannibal himself confessed that he feared Fabius as a schoolmaster, Marcellus as an adversary: the former, lest he should be hindered from doing mischief; the latter, lest he should receive harm himself.
And first, when among Hannibal’s soldiers, proud of their victory, carelessness and boldness had grown to a great height, Marcellus, attacking all their stragglers and plundering parties, cut them off, and by little and little diminished their forces. Then carrying aid to the Neapolitans and Nolans, he confirmed the minds of the former, who, indeed, were of their own accord faithful enough to the Romans; but in Nola he found a state of discord, the senate not being able to rule and keep in the common people, who were generally favorers of Hannibal. There was in the town one Bantius, a man renowned for his high birth and courage. This man, after he had fought most fiercely at Cannae, and had killed many of the enemies, at last was found lying in a heap of dead bodies, covered with darts, and was brought to Hannibal, who so honored him, that he not only dismissed him without ransom, but also contracted friendship with him, and made him his guest. In gratitude for this great favor, he became one of the strongest of the partisans of Hannibal, and urged the people to revolt. Marcellus could not be induced to put to death a man of such eminence, and who had endured such dangers in fighting on the Roman side; but, knowing himself able, by the general kindliness of his disposition and in particular by the attractiveness of his address, to gain over a character whose passion was for honor, one day when Bantius saluted him, he asked him who he was; not that he knew him not before, but seeking an occasion of further conference. When Bantius had told who he was, Marcellus, seeming surprised with joy and wonder, replied: “Are you that Bantius, whom the Romans commend above the rest that fought at Cannae, and praise as the one man that not only did not forsake the consul Paulus Aemilius, but received in his own body many darts thrown at him?” Bantius owning himself to be that very man, and showing his scars: “Why then,” said Marcellus, “did not you, having such proofs to show of your affection to us, come to me at my first arrival here? Do you think that we are unwilling to requite with favor those who have well deserved, and who are honored even by our enemies?” He followed up his courtesies by a present of a war-horse, and five hundred drachmas in money. From that time Bantius became the most faithful assistant and ally of Marcellus, and a most keen discoverer of those that attempted innovation and sedition.
These were many, and had entered into a conspiracy to plunder the baggage of the Romans, when they should make an irruption against the enemy. Marcellus, therefore, having marshaled his army within the city, placed the baggage near to the gates, and, by an edict, forbade the Nolans to go to the walls. Thus, outside the city, no arms could be seen; by which prudent device he allured Hannibal to move with his army in some disorder to the city, thinking that things were in a tumult there. Then Marcellus, the nearest gate being, as he had commanded, thrown open, issuing forth with the flower of his horse in front, charged the enemy. By and by the foot, sallying out of another gate, with a loud shout joined in the battle. And while Hannibal opposes part of his forces to these, the third gate also is opened, out of which the rest break forth, and on all quarters fall upon the enemies, who were dismayed at this unexpected encounter, and did but feebly resist those with whom they had been first engaged, because of their attack by these others that sallied out later. Here Hannibal’s soldiers, with much bloodshed and many wounds, were beaten back to their camp, and for the first time turned their backs to the Romans. There fell in this action, as it is related, more than five thousand of them; of the Romans, not above five hundred. Livy does not affirm, that either the victory, or the slaughter of the enemy was so great; but certain it is, that the adventure brought great glory to Marcellus, and to the Romans, after their calamities, a great revival of confidence, as they began now to entertain a hope, that the enemy with whom they contended was not invincible, but liable like themselves to defeats.
Therefore, the other consul being deceased, the people recalled Marcellus, that they might put him into his place; and, in spite of the magistrates, succeeded in postponing the election till his arrival, when he was by all the suffrages created consul. But because it happened to thunder, the augurs accounting that he was not legitimately created, and yet not daring, for fear of the people, to declare their sentence openly, Marcellus voluntarily resigned the consulate, retaining however his command. Being created proconsul, and returning to the camp at Nola, he proceeded to harass those that followed the party of the Carthaginian; on whose coming with speed to succor them, Marcellus declined a challenge to a set battle, but when Hannibal had sent out a party to plunder, and now expected no fight, he broke out upon him with his army. He had distributed to the foot long lances, such as are commonly used in naval fights; and instructed them to throw them with great force at convenient distance against the enemies who were inexperienced in that way of darting, and used to fight with short darts hand to hand. This seems to have been the cause of the total rout and open flight of all the Carthaginians who were then engaged: there fell of them five thousand; four elephants were killed, and two taken; but, what was of greatest moment, on the third day after, more than three hundred horse, Spaniards and Numidians mixed, deserted to him, a disaster that had never to that day happened to Hannibal, who had long kept together in harmony an army of barbarians, collected out of many various and discordant nations. Marcellus and his successors in all this war made good use of the faithful service of these horsemen.
He now was a third time created consul, and sailed over into Sicily. For the success of Hannibal had excited the Carthaginians to lay claim to that whole island; chiefly because after the murder of the tyrant Hieronymus, all things had been in tumult and confusion at Syracuse. For which reason the Romans also had sent before to that city a force under the conduct of Appius, as praetor. While Marcellus was receiving that army, a number of Roman soldiers cast themselves at his feet, upon occasion of the following calamity. Of those that survived the battle at Cannae, some had escaped by flight, and some were taken alive by the enemy; so great a multitude, that it was thought there were not remaining Romans enough to defend the walls of the city. And yet the magnanimity and constancy of the city was such, that it would not redeem the captives from Hannibal, though it might have done so for a small ransom; a decree of the senate forbade it, and chose rather to leave them to be killed by the enemy, or sold out of Italy; and commanded that all who had saved themselves by flight should be transported into Sicily, and not permitted to return into Italy, until the war with Hannibal should be ended. These, therefore, when Marcellus was arrived in Sicily, addressed themselves to him in great numbers; and casting themselves at his feet, with much lamentation and tears humbly besought him to admit them to honorable service; and promised to make it appear by their future fidelity and exertions, that that defeat had been received rather by misfortune than by cowardice. Marcellus, pitying them, petitioned the senate by letters, that he might have leave at all times to recruit his legions out of them. After much debate about the thing, the senate decreed they were of opinion that the commonwealth did not require the service of cowardly soldiers; if Marcellus perhaps thought otherwise, he might make use of them, provided no one of them be honored on any occasion with a crown or military gift, as a reward of his virtue or courage. This decree stung Marcellus; and on his return to Rome, after the Sicilian war was ended, he upbraided the senate, that they had denied to him, who had so highly deserved of the republic, liberty to relieve so great a number of citizens in great calamity.
At this time Marcellus, first incensed by injures done him by Hippocrates, commander of the Syracusans, (who, to give proof of his good affection to the Carthaginians, and to acquire the tyranny to himself, had killed a number of Romans at Leontini,) besieged and took by force the city of Leontini; yet violated none of the townsmen; only deserters, as many as he took, he subjected to the punishment of the rods and axe. But Hippocrates, sending a report to Syracuse, that Marcellus had put all the adult population to the sword, and then coming upon the Syracusans, who had risen in tumult upon that false report, made himself master of the city. Upon this Marcellus moved with his whole army to Syracuse, and, encamping near the wall, sent ambassadors into the city to relate to the Syracusans the truth of what had been done in Leontini. When these could not prevail by treaty, the whole power being now in the hands of Hippocrates, he proceeded to attack the city both by land and by sea. The land forces were conducted by Appius Marcellus, with sixty galleys, each with five rows of oars, furnished with all sorts of arms and missiles, and a huge bridge of planks laid upon eight ships chained together, upon which was carried the engine to cast stones and darts, assaulted the walls, relying on the abundance and magnificence of his preparations, and on his own previous glory; all which, however, were, it would seem, but trifles for Archimedes and his machines.
These machines he had designed and contrived, not as matters of any importance, but as mere amusements in geometry; in compliance with king Hiero’s desire and request, some little time before, that he should reduce to practice some part of his admirable speculations in science, and by accommodating the theoretic truth to sensation and ordinary use, bring it more within the appreciation of people in general. Eudoxus and Archytas had been the first originators of this far-famed and highly prized art of mechanics, which they employed as an elegant illustration of geometrical truths, and as a means of sustaining experimentally, to the satisfaction of the senses, conclusions too intricate for proof by words and diagrams. As, for example, to solve the problem, so often required in constructing geometrical figures, given the two extreme, to find the two mean lines of a proportion, both these mathematicians had recourse to the aid of instruments, adapting to their purpose certain curves and sections of lines. But what with Plato’s indignation at it, and his invectives against it as the mere corruption and annihilation of the one good of geometry, — which was thus shamefully turning its back upon the unembodied objects of pure intelligence to recur to sensation, and to ask help (not to be obtained without base subservience and depravation) from matter; so it was that mechanics came to be separated from geometry, and, repudiated and neglected by philosophers, took its place as a military art. Archimedes, however, in writing to king Hiero, whose friend and near relation he was, had stated, that given the force, any given weight might be moved, and even boasted, we are told, relying on the strength of demonstration, that if there were another earth, by going into it he could remove this. Hiero being struck with amazement at this, and entreating him to make good this problem by actual experiment, and show some great weight moved by a small engine, he fixed accordingly upon a ship of burden out of the king’s arsenal, which could not be drawn out of the dock without great labor and many men; and, loading her with many passengers and a full freight, sitting himself the while far off, with no great endeavor, but only holding the head of the pulley in his hand and drawing the cord by degrees, he drew the ship in a straight line, as smoothly and evenly, as if she had been in the sea. The king, astonished at this, and convinced of the power of the art, prevailed upon Archimedes to make him engines accommodated to all the purposes, offensive and defensive, of a siege. These the king himself never made use of, because he spent almost all his life in a profound quiet, and the highest affluence. But the apparatus was, in a most opportune time, ready at hand for the Syracusans, and with it also the engineer himself.
When, therefore, the Romans assaulted the walls in two places at once, fear and consternation stupefied the Syracusans, believing that nothing was able to resist that violence and those forces. But when Archimedes began to ply his engines, he at once shot against the land forces all sorts of missile weapons, and immense masses of stone that came down with incredible noise and violence, against which no man could stand; for they knocked down those upon whom they fell, in heaps, breaking all their ranks and files. In the meantime huge poles thrust out from the walls over the ships, sunk some by the great weights which they let down from on high upon them; others they lifted up into the air by an iron hand or beak like a crane’s beak, and, when they had drawn them up by the prow, and set them on end upon the poop, they plunged them to the bottom of the sea; or else the ships, drawn by engines within, and whirled about, were dashed against steep rocks that stood jutting out under the walls, with great destruction of the soldiers that were aboard them. A ship was frequently lifted up to a great height in the air (a dreadful thing to behold), and was rolled to and fro, and kept swinging, until the mariners were all thrown out, when at length it was dashed against the rocks, or let fall. At the engine that Marcellus brought upon the bridge of ships, which was called Sambuca from some resemblance it had to an instrument of music, while it was as yet approaching the wall, there was discharged a piece of a rock of ten talents’ weight, then a second and a third, which, striking upon it with immense force and with a noise like thunder, broke all its foundation to pieces, shook out all its fastenings, and completely dislodged it from the bridge. So Marcellus, doubtful what counsel to pursue, drew off his ships to a safer distance, and sounded a retreat to his forces on land. They then took a resolution of coming up under the walls, if it were possible, in the night; thinking that as Archimedes used ropes stretched at length in playing his engines, the soldiers would now be under the shot, and the darts would, for want of sufficient distance to throw them, fly over their heads without effect. But he, it appeared, had long before framed for such occasion engines accommodated to any distance, and shorter weapons; and had made numerous small openings in the walls, through which, with engines of a shorter range, unexpected blows were inflicted on the assailants. Thus, when they who thought to deceive the defenders came close up to the walls, instantly a shower of darts and other missile weapons was again cast upon them. And when stones came tumbling down perpendicularly upon their heads, and, as it were, the whole wall shot out arrows at them, they retired. And now, again, as they were going off, arrows and darts of a longer range indicted a great slaughter among them, and their ships were driven one against another; while they themselves were not able to retaliate in any way. For Archimedes had provided and fixed most of his engines immediately under the wall; whence the Romans, seeing that infinite mischiefs overwhelmed them from no visible means, began to think they were fighting with the gods.
Yet Marcellus escaped unhurt, and, deriding his own artificers and engineers, “What,” said he, “must we give up fighting with this geometrical Briareus, who plays pitch and toss with our ships, and, with the multitude of darts which he showers at a single moment upon us, really outdoes the hundred-handed giants of mythology?” And, doubtless, the rest of the Syracusans were but the body of Archimedes’ designs, one soul moving and governing all; for, laying aside all other arms, with his alone they infested the Romans, and protected themselves. In fine, when such terror had seized upon the Romans, that, if they did but see a little rope or a piece of wood from the wall, instantly crying out, that there it was again, Archimedes was about to let fly some engine at them, they turned their backs and fled, Marcellus desisted from conflicts and assaults, putting all his hope in a long siege. Yet Archimedes possessed so high a spirit, so profound a soul, and such treasures of scientific knowledge, that though these inventions had now obtained him the renown of more than human sagacity, he yet would not deign to leave behind him any commentary or writing on such subjects; but, repudiating as sordid and ignoble the whole trade of engineering, and every sort of art that lends itself to mere use and profit, he placed his whole affection and ambition in those purer speculations where there can be no reference to the vulgar needs of life; studies, the superiority of which to all others is unquestioned, and in which the only doubt can be, whether the beauty and grandeur of the subjects examined, or the precision and cogency of the methods and means of proof, most deserve our admiration. It is not possible to find in all geometry more difficult and intricate questions, or more simple and lucid explanations. Some ascribe this to his natural genius; while others think that incredible effort and toil produced these, to all appearance, easy and unlabored results. No amount of investigation of yours would succeed in attaining the proof, and yet, once seen, you immediately believe you would have discovered it; by so smooth and so rapid a path he leads you to the conclusion required. And thus it ceases to be incredible that (as is commonly told of him), the charm of his familiar and domestic Siren made him forget his food and neglect his person, to that degree that when he was occasionally carried by absolute violence to bathe, or have his body anointed, he used to trace geometrical figures in the ashes of the fire, and diagrams in the oil on his body, being in a state of entire preoccupation, and, in the truest sense, divine possession with his love and delight in science. His discoveries were numerous and admirable; but he is said to have requested his friends and relations that when he was dead, they would place over his tomb a sphere containing a cylinder, inscribing it with the ratio which the containing solid bears to the contained.
Such was Archimedes, who now showed himself, and, so far as lay in him, the city also, invincible. While the siege continued, Marcellus took Megara, one of the earliest founded of the Greek cities in Sicily, and capturing also the camp of Hippocrates at Acilae, killed above eight thousand men, having attacked them whilst they were engaged in forming their fortifications. He overran a great part of Sicily; gained over many towns from the Carthaginians, and overcame all that dared to encounter him. As the siege went on, one Damippus, a Lacedaemonian, putting to sea in a ship from Syracuse, was taken. When the Syracusans much desired to redeem this man, and there were many meetings and treaties about the matter betwixt them and Marcellus, he had opportunity to notice a tower into which a body of men might be secretly introduced, as the wall near to it was not difficult to surmount, and it was itself carelessly guarded. Coming often thither, and entertaining conferences about the release of Damippus, he had pretty well calculated the height of the tower, and got ladders prepared. The Syracusans celebrated a feast to Diana; this juncture of time, when they were given up entirely to wine and sport, Marcellus laid hold of, and, before the citizens perceived it, not only possessed himself of the tower, but, before the break of day, filled the wall around with soldiers, and made his way into the Hexapylum. The Syracusans now beginning to stir, and to be alarmed at the tumult, he ordered the trumpets everywhere to sound, and thus frightened them all into flight, as if all parts of the city were already won, though the most fortified, and the fairest, and most ample quarter was still ungained. It is called Acradina, and was divided by a wall from the outer city, one part of which they call Neapolis, the other Tycha. Possessing himself of these, Marcellus, about break of day, entered through the Hexapylum, all his officers congratulating him. But looking down from the higher places upon the beautiful and spacious city below, he is said to have wept much, commiserating the calamity that hung over it, when his thoughts represented to him, how dismal and foul the face of the city would in a few hours be, when plundered and sacked by the soldiers. For among the officers of his army there was not one man that durst deny the plunder of the city to the soldiers’ demands; nay, many were instant that it should be set on fire and laid level to the ground: but this Marcellus would not listen to. Yet he granted, but with great unwillingness and reluctance, that the money and slaves should be made prey; giving orders, at the same time, that none should violate any free person, nor kill, misuse, or make a slave of any of the Syracusans. Though he had used this moderation, he still esteemed the condition of that city to be pitiable, and, even amidst the congratulations and joy, showed his strong feelings of sympathy and commiseration at seeing all the riches accumulated during a long felicity, now dissipated in an hour. For it is related, that no less prey and plunder was taken here, than afterward in Carthage. For not long after, they obtained also the plunder of the other parts of the city, which were taken by treachery; leaving nothing untouched but the king’s money, which was brought into the public treasury. But nothing afflicted Marcellus so much as the death of Archimedes; who was then, as fate would have it, intent upon working out some problem by a diagram, and having fixed his mind alike and his eyes upon the subject of his speculation, he never noticed the incursion of the Romans, nor that the city was taken. In this transport of study and contemplation, a soldier, unexpectedly coming up to him, commanded him to follow to Marcellus; which he declining to do before he had worked out his problem to a demonstration, the soldier, enraged, drew his sword and ran him through. Others write, that a Roman soldier, running upon him with a drawn sword, offered to kill him; and that Archimedes, looking back, earnestly besought him to hold his hand a little while, that he might not leave what he was then at work upon inconclusive and imperfect; but the soldier, nothing moved by his entreaty, instantly killed him. Others again relate, that as Archimedes was carrying to Marcellus mathematical instruments, dials, spheres, and angles, by which the magnitude of the sun might be measured to the sight, some soldiers seeing him, and thinking that he carried gold in a vessel, slew him. Certain it is, that his death was very afflicting to Marcellus; and that Marcellus ever after regarded him that killed him as a murderer; and that he sought for his kindred and honored them with signal favors.
Indeed, foreign nations had held the Romans to be excellent soldiers and formidable in battle; but they had hitherto given no memorable example of gentleness, or humanity, or civil virtue; and Marcellus seems first to have shown to the Greeks, that his countrymen were most illustrious for their justice. For such was his moderation to all with whom he had anything to do, and such his benignity also to many cities and private men, that, if anything hard or severe was decreed concerning the people of Enna, Megara, or Syracuse, the blame was thought to belong rather to those upon whom the storm fell, than to those who brought it upon them. One example of many I will commemorate. In Sicily there is a town called Engyium, not indeed great, but very ancient and ennobled by the presence of the goddesses, called the Mothers. The temple, they say, was built by the Cretans; and they show some spears and brazen helmets, inscribed with the names of Meriones, and (with the same spelling as in Latin) of Ulysses, who consecrated them to the goddesses. This city highly favoring the party of the Carthaginians, Nicias, the most eminent of the citizens, counseled them to go over to the Romans; to that end acting freely and openly in harangues to their assemblies, arguing the imprudence and madness of the opposite course. They, fearing his power and authority, resolved to deliver him in bonds to the Carthaginians. Nicias, detecting the design, and seeing that his person was secretly kept in watch, proceeded to speak irreligiously to the vulgar of the Mothers, and showed many signs of disrespect, as if he denied and contemned the received opinion of the presence of those goddesses; his enemies the while rejoicing, that he, of his own accord, sought the destruction hanging over his head. When they were just now about to lay hands upon him, an assembly was held, and here Nicias, making a speech to the people concerning some affair then under deliberation, in the midst of his address, cast himself upon the ground; and soon after, while amazement (as usually happens on such surprising occasions) held the assembly immovable, raising and turning his head round, he began in a trembling and deep tone, but by degrees raised and sharpened his voice. When he saw the whole theater struck with horror and silence, throwing off his mantle and rending his tunic, he leaps up half naked, and runs towards the door, crying out aloud that he was driven by the wrath of the Mothers. When no man durst, out of religious fear, lay hands upon him or stop him, but all gave way before him, he ran out of the gate, not omitting any shriek or gesture of men possessed and mad. His wife, conscious of his counterfeiting, and privy to his design, taking her children with her, first cast herself as a suppliant before the temple of the goddesses; then, pretending to seek her wandering husband, no man hindering her, went out of the town in safety; and by this means they all escaped to Marcellus at Syracuse. After many other such affronts offered him by the men of Engyium, Marcellus, having taken them all prisoners and cast them into bonds, was preparing to inflict upon them the last punishment; when Nicias, with tears in his eyes, addressed himself to him. In fine, casting himself at Marcellus’s feet, and deprecating for his citizens, he begged most earnestly their lives, chiefly those of his enemies. Marcellus, relenting, set them all at liberty, and rewarded Nicias with ample lands and rich presents. This history is recorded by Posidonius the philosopher.
Marcellus, at length recalled by the people of Rome to the immediate war at home, to illustrate his triumph, and adorn the city, carried away with him a great number of the most beautiful ornaments of Syracuse. For, before that, Rome neither had, nor had seen, any of those fine and exquisite rarities; nor was any pleasure taken in graceful and elegant pieces of workmanship. Stuffed with barbarous arms and spoils stained with blood, and everywhere crowned with triumphal memorials and trophies, she was no pleasant or delightful spectacle for the eyes of peaceful or refined spectators: but, as Epaminondas named the fields of Boeotia the stage of Mars; and Xenophon called Ephesus the workhouse of war; so, in my judgment, may you call Rome, at that time, (to use the words of Pindar,) “the precinct of the peaceless Mars.” Whence Marcellus was more popular with the people in general, because he had adorned the city with beautiful objects that had all the charms of Grecian grace and symmetry; but Fabius Maximus, who neither touched nor brought away anything of this kind from Tarentum, when he had taken it, was more approved of by the elder men. He carried off the money and valuables, but forbade the statues to be moved; adding, as it is commonly related, “Let us leave to the Tarentines these offended gods.” They blamed Marcellus, first, for placing the city in an invidious position, as it seemed now to celebrate victories and lead processions of triumph, not only over men, but also over the gods as captives; then, that he had diverted to idleness, and vain talk about curious arts and artificers, the common people, which, bred up in wars and agriculture, had never tasted of luxury and sloth, and, as Euripides said of Hercules, had been
Rude, unrefined, only for great things good,
so that now they misspent much of their time in examining and criticizing trifles. And yet, notwithstanding this reprimand, Marcellus made it his glory to the Greeks themselves, that he had taught his ignorant countrymen to esteem and admire the elegant and wonderful productions of Greece.
But when the envious opposed his being brought triumphant into the city, because there were some relics of the war in Sicily, and a third triumph would be looked upon with jealousy, he gave way. He triumphed upon the Alban mount, and thence entered the city in ovation, as it is called in Latin, in Greek eua; but in this ovation he was neither carried in a chariot, nor crowned with laurel, nor ushered by trumpets sounding; but went afoot with shoes on, many flutes or pipes sounding in concert, while he passed along, wearing a garland of myrtle, in a peaceable aspect, exciting rather love and respect than fear. Whence I am, by conjecture, led to think that, originally, the difference observed betwixt ovation and triumph, did not depend upon the greatness of the achievements, but the manner of performing them. For they who, having fought a set battle, and slain the enemy, returned victors, led that martial, terrible triumph, and, as the ordinary custom then was, in lustrating the army, adorned the arms and the soldiers with a great deal of laurel. But they who, without force, by colloquy, persuasion, and reasoning, had done the business, to these captains custom gave the honor of the unmilitary and festive ovation. For the pipe is the badge of peace, and myrtle the plant of Venus, who more than the rest of the gods and goddesses abhors force and war. It is called ovation, not, as most think, from the Greek euasmus, because they act it with shouting and cries of Eau: for so do they also the proper triumphs. The Greeks have wrested the word to their own language, thinking that this honor, also, must have some connection with Bacchus, who in Greek has the titles of Euius and Thriambus. But the thing is otherwise. For it was the custom for commanders, in their triumph, to immolate an ox, but in their ovation, a sheep: hence they named it Ovation, from the Latin ovis. It is worth observing, how exactly opposite the sacrifices appointed by the Spartan legislator are, to those of the Romans. For at Lacedaemon, a captain, who had performed the work he undertook by cunning, or courteous treaty, on laying down his command immolated an ox; he that did the business by battle, offered a cock; the Lacedaemonians, though most warlike, thinking an exploit performed by reason and wisdom, to be more excellent and more congruous to man, than one effected by mere force and courage. Which of the two is to be preferred, I leave to the determination of others.
Marcellus being the fourth time consul, his enemies suborned the Syracusans to come to Rome to accuse him, and to complain that they had suffered indignities and wrongs, contrary to the conditions granted them. It happened that Marcellus was in the capitol offering sacrifice when the Syracusans petitioned the senate, yet sitting, that they might have leave to accuse him and present their grievances. Marcellus’s colleague, eager to protect him in his absence, put them out of the court. But Marcellus himself came as soon as he heard of it. And first, in his curule chair as consul, he referred to the senate the cognizance of other matters; but when these were transacted, rising from his seat, he passed as a private man into the place where the accused were wont to make their defense, and gave free liberty to the Syracusans to impeach him. But they, struck with consternation by his majesty and confidence, stood astonished, and the power of his presence now, in his robe of state, appeared far more terrible and severe than it had done when he was arrayed in armor. Yet reanimated at length by Marcellus’s rivals, they began their impeachment, and made an oration in which pleas of justice mingled with lamentation and complaint; the sum of which was, that being allies and friends of the people of Rome, they had, notwithstanding, suffered things which other commanders had abstained from inflicting upon enemies. To this Marcellus answered; that they had committed many acts of hostility against the people of Rome, and had suffered nothing but what enemies conquered and captured in war cannot possibly be protected from suffering: that it was their own fault they had been made captives, because they refused to give ear to his frequent attempts to persuade them by gentle means: neither were they forced into war by the power of tyrants, but had rather chosen the tyrants themselves for the express object that they might make war. The orations ended, and the Syracusans, according to the custom, having retired, Marcellus left his colleague to ask the sentences, and withdrawing with the Syracusans, staid expecting at the doors of the senate-house; not in the least discomposed in spirit, either with alarm at the accusation, or by anger against the Syracusans; but with perfect calmness and serenity attending the issue of the cause. The sentences at length being all asked, and a decree of the senate made in vindication of Marcellus, the Syracusans, with tears flowing from their eyes, cast themselves at his knees, beseeching him to forgive themselves there present, and to be moved by the misery of the rest of their city, which would ever be mindful of, and grateful for, his benefits. Thus Marcellus, softened by their tears and distress, was not only reconciled to the deputies, but ever afterwards continued to find opportunity of doing kindness to the Syracusans. The liberty which he had restored to them, and their rights, laws, and goods that were left, the senate confirmed. Upon which account the Syracusans, besides other signal honors, made a law, that if Marcellus should at anytime come into Sicily, or any of his posterity, the Syracusans should wear garlands and offer public sacrifice to the gods.
After this he moved against Hannibal. And whereas the other consuls and commanders, since the defeat received at Cannae, had all made use of the same policy against Hannibal, namely, to decline coming to a battle with him; and none had had the courage to encounter him in the field, and put themselves to the decision by the sword; Marcellus entered upon the opposite course, thinking that Italy would be destroyed by the very delay by which they looked to wear out Hannibal; and that Fabius, who, adhering to his cautious policy, waited to see the war extinguished, while Rome itself meantime wasted away, (like timid physicians, who, dreading to administer remedies, stay waiting, and believe that what is the decay of the patient’s strength is the decline of the disease,) was not taking a right course to heal the sickness of his country. And first, the great cities of the Samnites, which had revolted, came into his power; in which he found a large quantity of corn and money, and three thousand of Hannibal’s soldiers, that were left for the defense. After this, the proconsul Cnaeus Fulvius with eleven tribunes of the soldiers being slain in Apulia, and the greatest part of the army also at the same time cut off, he dispatched letters to Rome, and bade the people be of good courage, for that he was now upon the march against Hannibal, to turn his triumph into sadness. On these letters being read, Livy writes, that the people were not only not encouraged, but more discouraged, than before. For the danger, they thought, was but the greater in proportion as Marcellus was of more value than Fulvius. He, as he had written, advancing into the territories of the Lucanians, came up to him at Numistro, and, the enemy keeping himself upon the hills, pitched his camp in a level plain, and the next day drew forth his army in order for fight. Nor did Hannibal refuse the challenge. They fought long and obstinately on both sides, victory yet seeming undecided, when, after three hours conflict, night hardly parted them. The next day, as soon as the sun was risen, Marcellus again brought forth his troops, and ranged them among the dead bodies of the slain, challenging Hannibal to solve the question by another trial. When he dislodged and drew off, Marcellus, gathering up the spoils of the enemies, and burying the bodies of his slain soldiers, closely followed him. And though Hannibal often used stratagems, and laid ambushes to entrap Marcellus, yet he could never circumvent him. By skirmishes, meantime, in all of which he was superior, Marcellus gained himself such high repute, that, when the time of the Comitia at Rome was near at hand, the senate thought fit rather to recall the other consul from Sicily, than to withdraw Marcellus from his conflict with Hannibal; and on his arrival they bid him name Quintus Fulvius dictator. For the dictator is created neither by the people, nor by the senate; but the consul or the praetor, before the popular assembly, pronounces him to be dictator, whom he himself chooses. Hence he is called dictator, dicere meaning to name. Others say, that he is named dictator, because his word is a law, and he orders what he pleases, without submitting it to the vote. For the Romans call the orders of magistrates, Edicts.
And now because Marcellus’s colleague, who was recalled from Sicily, had a mind to name another man dictator, and would not be forced to change his opinion, he sailed away by night back to Sicily. So the common people made an order, that Quintus Fulvius should be chosen dictator: and the senate, by an express, commanded Marcellus to nominate him. He obeying proclaimed him dictator according to the order of the people; but the office of proconsul was continued to himself for a year. And having arranged with Fabius Maximus, that while he besieged Tarentum, he himself would, by following Hannibal and drawing him up and down, detain him from coming to the relief of the Tarentines, he overtook him at Canusium: and as Hannibal often shifted his camp, and still declined the combat, he everywhere sought to engage him. At last pressing upon him while encamping, by light skirmishes he provoked him to a battle; but night again divided them in the very heat of the conflict. The next day Marcellus again showed himself in arms, and brought up his forces in array. Hannibal, in extreme grief, called his Carthaginians together to an harangue; and vehemently prayed them, to fight today worthily of all their former successes; “For you see,” said he, “how, after such great victories, we have not liberty to respire, nor to repose ourselves, though victors; unless we drive this man back.” Then the two armies joining battle, fought fiercely; when the event of an untimely movement showed Marcellus to have been guilty of an error. The right wing being hard pressed upon, he commanded one of the legions to be brought up to the front. This change disturbing the array and posture of the legions, gave the victory to the enemies; and there fell two thousand seven hundred Romans. Marcellus, after he had retreated into his camp, called his soldiers together; “I see,” said he, “many Roman arms and bodies, but I see not so much as one Roman.” To their entreaties for his pardon, he returned a refusal while they remained beaten, but promised to give it so soon as they should overcome; and he resolved to bring them into the field again the next day, that the fame of their victory might arrive at Rome before that of their flight. Dismissing the assembly, he commanded barley instead of wheat to be given to those companies that had turned their backs. These rebukes were so bitter to the soldiers, that though a great number of them were grievously wounded, yet they relate there was not one to whom the general’s oration was not more painful and smarting than his wounds.
The day breaking, a scarlet toga, the sign of instant battle, was displayed. The companies marked with ignominy, begged they might be posted in the foremost place, and obtained their request. Then the tribunes bring forth the rest of the forces, and draw them up. On news of which, “O strange!” said Hannibal, “what will you do with this man, who can bear neither good nor bad fortune? He is the only man who neither suffers us to rest when he is victor, nor rests himself when he is overcome. We shall have, it seems, perpetually to fight with him; as in good success his confidence, and in ill success his shame, still urges him to some further enterprise?” Then the armies engaged. When the fight was doubtful, Hannibal commanded the elephants to be brought into the first battalion, and to be driven upon the van of the Romans. When the beasts, trampling upon many, soon caused disorder, Flavius, a tribune of soldiers, snatching an ensign, meets them, and wounding the first elephant with the spike at the bottom of the ensign staff, puts him to flight. The beast turned round upon the next, and drove back both him and the rest that followed. Marcellus, seeing this, pours in his horse with great force upon the elephants, and upon the enemy disordered by their flight. The horse, making a fierce impression, pursued the Carthaginians home to their camp, while the elephants, wounded, and running upon their own party, caused a considerable slaughter. It is said, more than eight thousand were slain; of the Roman army three thousand, and almost all wounded. This gave Hannibal opportunity to retire in the silence of the night, and to remove to greater distance from Marcellus; who was kept from pursuing by the number of his wounded men, and removed, by gentle marches, into Campania, and spent the summer at Sinuessa, engaged in restoring them.
But as Hannibal, having disentangled himself from Marcellus, ranged with his army round about the country, and wasted Italy free from all fear, at Rome Marcellus was evil spoken of. His detractors induced Publicius Bibulus, tribune of the people, an eloquent and violent man, to undertake his accusation. He, by assiduous harangues, prevailed upon the people to withdraw from Marcellus the command of the army; “Seeing that Marcellus,” said he, “after brief exercise in the war, has withdrawn as it might be from the wrestling ground to the warm baths to refresh himself.” Marcellus, on hearing this, appointed lieutenants over his camp, and hasted to Rome to refute the charges against him: and there found ready drawn up an impeachment consisting of these calumnies. At the day prefixed, in the Flaminian circus, into which place the people had assembled themselves, Bibulus rose and accused him. Marcellus himself answered, briefly and simply: but the first and most approved men of the city spoke largely and in high terms, very freely advising the people not to show themselves worse judges than the enemy, condemning Marcellus of timidity, from whom alone of all their captains the enemy fled, and as perpetually endeavored to avoid fighting with him, as to fight with others. When they made an end of speaking, the accuser’s hope to obtain judgment so far deceived him, that Marcellus was not only absolved, but the fifth time created consul.
No sooner had he entered upon this consulate, but he suppressed a great commotion in Etruria, that had proceeded near to revolt, and visited and quieted the cities. Then, when the dedication of the temple, which he had vowed out of his Sicilian spoils to Honor and Virtue, was objected to by the priests, because they denied that one temple could be lawfully dedicated to two gods, he began to adjoin another to it, resenting the priests’ opposition, and almost converting the thing into an omen. And, truly, many other prodigies also affrighted him; some temples had been struck with lightning, and in Jupiter’s temple mice had gnawed the gold; it was reported also, that an ox had spoke, and that a boy had been born with a head like an elephant’s. All which prodigies had indeed been attended to, but due reconciliation had not been obtained from the gods. The aruspices therefore detained him at Rome, glowing and burning with desire to return to the war. For no man was ever inflamed with so great desire of any thing, as was he to fight a battle with Hannibal. It was the subject of his dreams in the night, the topic of all his consultations with his friends and familiars, nor did he present to the gods any other wish, but that he might meet Hannibal in the field. And I think, that he would most gladly have set upon him, with both armies environed within a single camp. Had he not been even loaded with honors, and had he not given proofs in many ways of his maturity of judgment and of prudence equal to that of any commander, you might have said, that he was agitated by a youthful ambition, above what became a man of that age: for he had passed the sixtieth year of his life when he began his fifth consulship.
The sacrifices having been offered, and all that belonged to the propitiation of the gods performed, according to the prescription of the diviners, he at last with his colleague went forth to carry on the war. He tried all possible means to provoke Hannibal, who at that time had a standing camp betwixt Bantia and Venusia. Hannibal declined an engagement, but having obtained intelligence that some troops were on their way to the town of Locri Epizephyrii, placing an ambush under the little hill of Petelia, he slew two thousand five hundred soldiers. This incensed Marcellus to revenge; and he therefore moved nearer Hannibal. Betwixt the two camps was a little hill, a tolerably secure post, covered with wood; it had steep descents on either side, and there were springs of water seen trickling down. This place was so fit and advantageous, that the Romans wondered that Hannibal, who had come thither before them, had not seized upon it, but had left it to the enemies. But to him the place had seemed commodious indeed for a camp, but yet more commodious for an ambuscade; and to that use he chose to put it. So in the wood and the hollows he hid a number of archers and spearmen, confident that the commodiousness of the place would allure the Romans. Nor was he deceived in his expectation. For presently in the Roman camp they talked and disputed, as if they had all been captains, how the place ought to be seized, and what great advantage they should thereby gain upon the enemies, chiefly if they transferred their camp thither, at any rate, if they strengthened the place with a fort. Marcellus resolved to go, with a few horse, to view it. Having called a diviner he proceeded to sacrifice. In the first victim the aruspex showed him the liver without a head; in the second the head appeared of unusual size, and all the other indications highly promising. When these seemed sufficient to free them from the dread of the former, the diviners declared, that they were all the more terrified by the latter: because entrails too fair and promising, when they appear after others that are maimed and monstrous, render the change doubtful and suspicious But
Nor fire nor brazen wall can keep out fate;
as Pindar observes. Marcellus, therefore, taking with him his colleague Crispinus, and his son, a tribune of soldiers, with two hundred and twenty horse at most, (among whom there was not one Roman, but all were Etruscans, except forty Fregellans, of whose courage and fidelity he had on all occasions received full proof,) goes to view the place. The hill was covered with woods all over; on the top of it sat a scout concealed from the sight of the enemy, but having the Roman camp exposed to his view. Upon signs received from him, the men that were placed in ambush, stirred not till Marcellus came near; and then all starting up in an instant, and encompassing him from all sides, attacked him with darts, struck about and wounded the backs of those that fled, and pressed upon those who resisted. These were the forty Fregellans. For though the Etruscans fled in the very beginning of the fight, the Fregellans formed themselves into a ring, bravely defending the consuls, till Crispinus, struck with two darts, turned his horse to fly away; and Marcellus’s side was run through with a lance with a broad head. Then the Fregellans, also, the few that remained alive, leaving the fallen consul, and rescuing young Marcellus, who also was wounded, got into the camp by flight. There were slain not much above forty; five lictors and eighteen horsemen came alive into the enemy’s hands. Crispinus also died of his wounds a few days after. Such a disaster as the loss of both consuls in a single engagement, was one that had never before befallen the Romans.
Hannibal, little valuing the other events, so soon as he was told of Marcellus’s death, immediately hasted to the hilt. Viewing the body, and continuing for some time to observe its strength and shape, he allowed not a word to fall from him expressive of the least pride or arrogancy, nor did he show in his countenance any sign of gladness, as another perhaps would have done, when his fierce and troublesome enemy had been taken away; but amazed by so sudden and unexpected an end, taking off nothing but his ring, gave order to have the body properly clad and adorned, and honorably burned. The relics, put into a silver urn, with a crown of gold to cover it, he sent back to his son. But some of the Numidians setting upon those that were carrying the urn, took it from them by force, and cast away the bones; which being told to Hannibal, “It is impossible, it seems then,” he said, “to do anything against the will of God!” He punished the Numidians; but took no further care of sending or recollecting the bones; conceiving that Marcellus so fell, and so lay unburied, by a certain fate. So Cornelius Nepos and Valerius Maximus have left upon record: but Livy and Augustus Caesar affirm, that the urn was brought to his son, and honored with a magnificent funeral. Besides the monuments raised for him at Rome, there was dedicated to his memory at Catana in Sicily, an ample wrestling place called after him; statues and pictures, out of those he took from Syracuse, were set up in Samothrace, in the temple of the gods, named Cabiri, and in that of Minerva at Lindus, where also there was a statue of him, says Posidonius, with the following inscription:
This was, O stranger, once Rome’s star divine, Claudius Marcellus of an ancient line;
To fight her wars seven times her consul made, Low in the dust her enemies he laid.
The writer of the inscription has added to Marcellus’s five consulates, his two proconsulates. His progeny continued in high honor even down to Marcellus, son of Octavia, sister of Augustus, whom she bore to her husband Caius Marcellus; and who died, a bridegroom, in the year of his aedileship, having not long before married Caesar’s daughter. His mother, Octavia, dedicated the library to his honor and memory, and Caesar, the theater which bears his name.
COMPARISION OF PELOPIDAS WITH MARCELLUS
These are the memorable things I have found in historians, concerning Marcellus and Pelopidas. Betwixt which two great men, though in natural character and manners they nearly resembled each other, because both were valiant and diligent, daring and high-spirited, there was yet some diversity in the one point, that Marcellus in many cities which he reduced under his power, committed great slaughter; but Epaminondas and Pelopidas never after any victory put men to death, or reduced citizens to slavery. And we are told, too, that the Thebans would not, had these been present, have taken the measures they did, against the Orchomenians. Marcellus’s exploits against the Gauls are admirable and ample; when, accompanied by a few horse, he defeated and put to fight a vast number of horse and foot together, (an action you cannot easily in historians find to have been done by any other captain,) and took their king prisoner. To which honor Pelopidas aspired, but did not attain; he was killed by the tyrant in the attempt. But to these you may perhaps oppose those two most glorious battles at Leuctra and Tegyrae; and we have no statement of any achievement of Marcellus, by stealth or ambuscade, such as were those of Pelopidas, when he returned from exile, and killed the tyrants at Thebes; which, indeed, may claim to be called the first in rank of all achievements ever performed by secrecy and cunning. Hannibal was, indeed, a most formidable enemy for the Romans but so for that matter were the Lacedaemonians for the Thebans. And that these were, in the fights of Leuctra and Tegyrae, beaten and put to fight by Pelopidas, is confessed; whereas, Polybius writes, that Hannibal was never so much as once vanquished by Marcellus, but remained invincible in all encounters, till Scipio came. I myself, indeed, have followed rather Livy, Caesar, Cornelius Nepos, and, among the Greeks, king Juba, in stating that the troops of Hannibal were in some encounters routed and put to flight by Marcellus; but certainly these defeats conduced little to the sum of the war. It would seem as if they had been merely feints of some sort on the part of the Carthaginian. What was indeed truly and really admirable was, that the Romans, after the defeat of so many armies, the slaughter of so many captains, and, in fine, the confusion of almost the whole Roman empire, still showed a courage equal to their losses, and were as willing as their enemies to engage in new battles. And Marcellus was the one man who overcame the great and inveterate fear and dread, and revived, raised, and confirmed the spirits of the soldiers to that degree of emulation and bravery, that would not let them easily yield the victory, but made them contend for it to the last. For the same men, whom continual defeats had accustomed to think themselves happy, if they could but save themselves by running from Hannibal, were by him taught to esteem it base and ignominious to return safe but unsuccessful; to be ashamed to confess that they had yielded one step in the terrors of the fight; and to grieve to extremity if they were not victorious.
In short, as Pelopidas was never overcome in any battle, where himself was present and commanded in chief, and as Marcellus gained more victories than any of his contemporaries, truly he that could not be easily overcome, considering his many successes, may fairly be compared with him who was undefeated. Marcellus took Syracuse; whereas Pelopidas was frustrated of his hope of capturing Sparta. But in my judgment, it was more difficult to advance his standard even to the walls of Sparta, and to be the first of mortals that ever passed the river Eurotas in arms, than it was to reduce Sicily; unless, indeed, we say that that adventure is with more of right to be attributed to Epaminondas, as was also the Leuctrian battle; whereas Marcellus’s renown, and the glory of his brave actions came entire and undiminished to him alone. For he alone took Syracuse; and without his colleague’s help defeated the Gauls, and, when all others declined, alone, without one companion, ventured to engage with Hannibal; and changing the aspect of the war first showed the example of daring to attack him.
I cannot commend the death of either of these great men; the suddenness and strangeness of their ends gives me a feeling rather of pain and distress. Hannibal has my admiration, who, in so many severe conflicts, more than can be reckoned in one day, never received so much as one wound. I honor Chrysantes also, (in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia,) who, having raised his sword in the act of striking his enemy, so soon as a retreat was sounded, left him, and retired sedately and modestly. Yet the anger which provoked Pelopidas to pursue revenge in the heat of fight, may excuse him.
The first thing for a captain is to gain Safe victory; the next to be with honor slain,
as Euripides says. For then he cannot be said to suffer death; it is rather to be called an action. The very object, too, of Pelopidas’s victory, which consisted in the slaughter of the tyrant, presenting itself to his eyes, did not wholly carry him away unadvisedly: he could not easily expect again to have another equally glorious occasion for the exercise of his courage, in a noble and honorable cause. But Marcellus, when it made little to his advantage, and when no such violent ardor as present danger naturally calls out transported him to passion, throwing himself into danger, fell into an unexplored ambush; he, namely, who had borne five consulates, led three triumphs, won the spoils and glories of kings and victories, to act the part of a mere scout or sentinel, and to expose all his achievements to be trod under foot by the mercenary Spaniards and Numidians, who sold themselves and their lives to the Carthaginians; so that even they themselves felt unworthy, and almost grudged themselves the unhoped for success of having cut off, among a few Fregellan scouts, the most valiant, the most potent, and most renowned of the Romans. Let no man think that we have thus spoken out of a design to accuse these noble men; it is merely an expression of frank indignation in their own behalf, at seeing them thus wasting all their other virtues upon that of bravery, and throwing away their lives, as if the loss would be only felt by themselves, and not by their country, allies, and friends.
After Pelopidas’s death, his friends, for whom he died, made a funeral for him; the enemies, by whom he had been killed, made one for Marcellus. A noble and happy lot indeed the former, yet there is something higher and greater in the admiration rendered by enemies to the virtue that had been their own obstacle, than in the grateful acknowledgments of friends. Since, in the one case, it is virtue alone that challenges itself the honor; while, in the other, it may be rather men’s personal profit and advantage that is the real origin of what they do.
Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, was of the tribe Antiochis, and township of Alopece. As to his wealth, statements differ; some say he passed his life in extreme poverty, and left behind him two daughters whose indigence long kept them unmarried: but Demetrius, the Phalerian, in opposition to this general report, professes in his Socrates, to know a farm at Phalerum going by Aristides’s name, where he was interred; and, as marks of his opulence, adduces first, the office of archon eponymus, which he obtained by the lot of the bean; which was confined to the highest assessed families, called the Pentacosiomedimni; second, the ostracism, which was not usually inflicted on the poorer citizens, but on those of great houses, whose elation exposed them to envy; third and last, that he left certain tripods in the temple of Bacchus, offerings for his victory in conducting the representation of dramatic performances, which were even in our age still to be seen, retaining this inscription upon them, “The tribe Antiochis obtained the victory: Aristides defrayed the charges: Archestratus’s play was acted.” But this argument, though in appearance the strongest, is of the least moment of any. For Epaminondas, who all the world knows was educated, and lived his whole life, in much poverty, and also Plato, the philosopher, exhibited magnificent shows, the one an entertainment of flute-players the other of dithyrambic singers; Dion, the Syracusan, supplying the expenses of the latter, and Pelopidas those of Epaminondas. For good men do not allow themselves in any inveterate and irreconcilable hostility to receiving presents from their friends, but while looking upon those that are accepted to be hoarded up and with avaricious intentions, as sordid and mean, they do not refuse such as, apart from all profit, gratify the pure love of honor and magnificence. Panaetius, again, shows that Demetrius was deceived concerning the tripod by an identity of name. For, from the Persian war to the end of the Peloponnesian, there are upon record only two of the name of Aristides, who defrayed the expense of representing plays and gained the prize neither of which was the same with the son of Lysimachus; but the father of the one was Xenophilus, and the other lived at a much later time, as the way of writing, which is that in use since the time of Euclides, and the addition of the name of Archestratus prove, a name which, in the time of the Persian war, no writer mentions, but which several, during the Peloponnesian war, record as that of a dramatic poet. The argument of Panaetius requires to be more closely considered. But as for the ostracism, everyone was liable to it, whom his reputation, birth, or eloquence raised above the common level; insomuch that even Damon, preceptor to Pericles, was thus banished, because he seemed a man of more than ordinary sense. And, moreover, Idomeneus says, that Aristides was not made archon by the lot of the bean, but the free election of the people. And if he held the office after the battle of Plataea, as Demetrius himself has written, it is very probable that his great reputation and success in the war, made him be preferred for his virtue to an office which others received in consideration of their wealth. But Demetrius manifestly is eager not only to exempt Aristides but Socrates likewise, from poverty, as from a great evil; telling us that the latter had not only a house of his own, but also seventy minae put out at interest with Crito.
Aristides being the friend and supporter of that Clisthenes, who settled the government after the expulsion of the tyrants, and emulating and admiring Lycurgus the Lacedaemonian above all politicians, adhered to the aristocratical principles of government; and had Themistocles, son to Neocles, his adversary on the side of the populace. Some say that, being boys and bred up together from their infancy, they were always at variance with each other in all their words and actions as well serious as playful, and that in this their early contention they soon made proof of their natural inclinations; the one being ready, adventurous, and subtle, engaging readily and eagerly in everything; the other of a staid and settled temper, intent on the exercise of justice, not admitting any degree of falsity, indecorum, or trickery, no, not so much as at his play. Ariston of Chios says the first origin of the enmity which rose to so great a height, was a love affair; they were rivals for the affection of the beautiful Stesilaus of Ceos, and were passionate beyond all moderation, and did not lay aside their animosity when the beauty that had excited it passed away; but, as if it had only exercised them in it, immediately carried their heats and differences into public business.
Themistocles, therefore, joining an association of partisans, fortified himself with considerable strength; insomuch that when some one told him that were he impartial, he would make a good magistrate; “I wish,” replied he, “I may never sit on that tribunal where my friends shall not plead a greater privilege than strangers.” But Aristides walked, so to say, alone on his own path in politics, being unwilling, in the first place, to go along with his associates in ill doing, or to cause them vexation by not gratifying their wishes; and, secondly, observing that many were encouraged by the support they had in their friends to act injuriously, he was cautious; being of opinion that the integrity of his words and actions was the only right security for a good citizen.
However, Themistocles making many dangerous alterations, and withstanding and interrupting him in the whole series of his actions, Aristides also was necessitated to set himself against all Themistocles did, partly in self-defense, and partly to impede his power from still increasing by the favor of the multitude; esteeming it better to let slip some public conveniences, rather than that he by prevailing should become powerful in all things. In fine, when he once had opposed Themistocles in some measures that were expedient, and had got the better of him, he could not refrain from saying, when he left the assembly, that unless they sent Themistocles and himself to the barathrum, there could be no safety for Athens. Another time, when urging some proposal upon the people, though there were much opposition and stirring against it, he yet was gaining the day; but just as the president of the assembly was about to put it to the vote, perceiving by what had been said in debate the inexpediency of his advice, he let it fall. Also he often brought in his bills by other persons, lest Themistocles, through party spirit against him, should be any hindrance to the good of the public.
In all the vicissitudes of public affairs, the constancy he showed was admirable, not being elated with honors, and demeaning himself tranquilly and sedately in adversity; holding the opinion that he ought to offer himself to the service of his country without mercenary news and irrespectively of any reward, not only of riches, but even of glory itself. Hence it came, probably, that at the recital of these verses of Aeschylus in the theater, relating to Amphiaraus,
For not at seeming just, but being so He aims; and from his depth of soil below, Harvests of wise and prudent counsels grow,
the eyes of all the spectators turned on Aristides, as if this virtue, in an especial manner, belonged to him.
He was a most determined champion for justice, not only against feelings of friendship and favor, but wrath and malice. Thus it is reported of him that when prosecuting the law against one who was his enemy, on the judges after accusation refusing to hear the criminal, and proceeding immediately to pass sentence upon him, he rose in haste from his seat and joined in petition with him for a hearing, and that he might enjoy the privilege of the law. Another time, when judging between two private persons, on the one declaring his adversary had very much injured Aristides; “Tell me rather, good friend,” he said, “what wrong he has done you: for it is your cause, not my own, which I now sit judge of.” Being chosen to the charge of the public revenue, he made it appear that not only those of his time, but the preceding officers, had alienated much treasure, and especially Themistocles:–
Well known he was an able man to be,
But with his fingers apt to be too flee.
Therefore, Themistocles associating several persons against Aristides, and impeaching him when he gave in his accounts, caused him to be condemned of robbing the public; so Idomeneus states; but the best and chiefest men of the city much resenting it, he was not only exempted from the fine imposed upon him, but likewise again called to the same employment. Pretending now to repent him of his former practice, and carrying himself with more remissness, he became acceptable to such as pillaged the treasury, by not detecting or calling them to an exact account. So that those who had their fill of the public money began highly to applaud Aristides, and sued to the people, making interest to have him once more chosen treasurer. But when they were upon the point of election, he reproved the Athenians. “When I discharged my office well and faithfully,” said he, “I was insulted and abused; but now that I have allowed the public thieves in a variety of malpractices, I am considered an admirable patriot. I am more ashamed, therefore, of this present honor than of the former sentence; and I commiserate your condition, with whom it is more praiseworthy to oblige ill men than to conserve the revenue of the public.” Saying thus, and proceeding to expose the thefts that had been committed, he stopped the mouths of those who cried him up and vouched for him, but gained real and true commendation from the best men.
When Datis, being sent by Darius under pretense of punishing the Athenians for their burning of Sardis, but in reality to reduce the Greeks under his dominion, landed at Marathon and laid waste the country, among the ten commanders appointed by the Athenians for the war, Militiades was of the greatest name; but the second place, both for reputation and power, was possessed by Aristides: and when his opinion to join battle was added to that of Miltiades, it did much to incline the balance. Every leader by his day having the command in chief when it came to Aristides’ turn, he delivered it into the hands of Miltiades, showing his fellow officers, that it is not dishonorable to obey and follow wise and able men, but, on the contrary, noble and prudent. So appeasing their rivalry, and bringing them to acquiesce in one and the best advice, he confirmed Miltiades in the strength of an undivided and unmolested authority. For now everyone, yielding his day of command, looked for orders only to him. During the fight the main body of the Athenians being the hardest put to it, the barbarians, for a long time, making opposition there against the tribes Leontis and Antiochis, Themistocles and Aristides being ranged together, fought valiantly; the one being of the tribe Leontis, the other of the Antiochis. But after they had beaten the barbarians back to their ships, and perceived that they sailed not for the isles, but were driven in by the force of sea and wind towards the country of Attica; fearing lest they should take the city, unprovided of defense, they hurried away thither with nine tribes, and reached it the same day. Aristides, being left with his tribe at Marathon to guard the plunder and prisoners, did not disappoint the opinion they had of him. Amidst the profusion of gold and silver, all sorts of apparel, and other property, more than can be mentioned, that were in the tents and the vessels which they had taken, he neither felt the desire to meddle with anything himself, nor suffered others to do it; unless it might be some who took away anything unknown to him; as Callias, the torchbearer, did. One of the barbarians, it seems, prostrated himself before this man, supposing him to be a king by his hair and fillet; and, when he had so done, taking him by the hand, showed him a great quantity of gold hid in a ditch. But Callias, most cruel and impious of men, took away the treasure, but slew the man, lest he should tell of him. Hence, they say, the comic poets gave his family the name of Laccopluti, or enriched by the ditch, alluding to the place where Callias found the gold. Aristides, immediately after this, was archon; although Demetrius, the Phalerian, says he held the office a little before he died, after the battle of Plataea. But in the records of the successors of Xanthippides, in whose year Mardonius was overthrown at Plataea, amongst very many there mentioned, there is not so much as one of the same name as Aristides: while immediately after Phaenippus, during whose term of office they obtained the victory of Marathon, Aristides is registered.
Of all his virtues, the common people were most affected with his justice, because of its continual and common use; and thus, although of mean fortune and ordinary birth, he possessed himself of the most kingly and divine appellation of Just; which kings, however, and tyrants have never sought after; but have taken delight to be surnamed besiegers of cities, thunderers, conquerors, or eagles again, and hawks ; affecting, it seems, the reputation which proceeds from power and violence, rather than that of virtue. Although the divinity, to whom they desire to compare and assimilate themselves, excels, it is supposed, in three things, immortality, power, and virtue; of which three, the noblest and divinest is virtue. For the elements and vacuum have an everlasting existence; earthquakes, thunders, storms, and torrents have great power; but in justice and equity nothing participates except by means of reason and the knowledge of that which is divine. And thus, taking the three varieties of feeling commonly entertained towards the deity, the sense of his happiness, fear, and honor of him, people would seem to think him blest and happy for his exemption from death and corruption, to fear and dread him for his power and dominion, but to love, honor, and adore him for his justice. Yet though thus disposed, they covet that immortality which our nature is not capable of, and that power the greatest part of which is at the disposal of fortune; but give virtue, the only divine good really in our reach, the last place, most unwisely; since justice makes the life of such as are in prosperity, power, and authority the life of a god, and injustice turns it to that of a beast.
Aristides, therefore, had at first the fortune to be beloved for this surname, but at length envied. Especially when Themistocles spread a rumor amongst the people, that, by determining and judging all matters privately, he had destroyed the courts of judicature, and was secretly making way for a monarchy in his own person, without the assistance of guards. Moreover, the spirit of the people, now grown high, and confident with their late victory, naturally entertained feelings of dislike to all of more than common fame and reputation. Coming together, therefore, from all parts into the city, they banished Aristides by the ostracism, giving their jealousy of his reputation the name of fear of tyranny. For ostracism was not the punishment of any criminal act, but was speciously said to be the mere depression and humiliation of excessive greatness and power; and was in fact a gentle relief and mitigation of envious feeling, which was thus allowed to vent itself in inflicting no intolerable injury, only a ten years’ banishment. But after it came to be exercised upon base and villainous fellows, they desisted from it; Hyperbolus, being the last whom they banished by the ostracism.
The cause of Hyperbolus’s banishment is said to have been this. Alcibiades and Nicias, men that bore the greatest sway in the city, were of different factions. As the people, therefore, were about to vote the ostracism, and obviously to decree it against one of them, consulting together and uniting their parties, they contrived the banishment of Hyperbolus. Upon which the people, being offended, as if some contempt or affront was put upon the thing, left off and quite abolished it. It was performed, to be short, in this manner. Every one taking an ostracon, a sherd, that is, or piece of earthenware, wrote upon it the citizen’s name he would have banished, and carried it to a certain part of the market-place surrounded with wooden rails. First, the magistrates numbered all the sherds in gross (for if there were less than six thousand, the ostracism was imperfect); then, laying every name by itself, they pronounced him whose name was written by the larger number, banished for ten years, with the enjoyment of his estate. As, therefore, they were writing the names on the sherds, it is reported that an illiterate clownish fellow, giving Aristides his sherd, supposing him a common citizen, begged him to write Aristides upon it; and he being surprised and asking if Aristides had ever done him any injury, “None at all,” said he, “neither know I the man; but I am tired of hearing him everywhere called the Just.” Aristides, hearing this, is said to have made no reply, but returned the sherd with his own name inscribed. At his departure from the city, lifting up his hands to heaven, he made a prayer, (the reverse, it would seem, of that of Achilles,) that the Athenians might never have any occasion which should constrain them to remember Aristides.
Nevertheless, three years after, when Xerxes marched through Thessaly and Boeotia into the country of Attica, repealing the law, they decreed the return of the banished: chiefly fearing Aristides, lest, joining himself to the enemy, he should corrupt and bring over many of his fellow-citizens to the party of the barbarians; much mistaking the man, who, already before the decree, was exerting himself to excite and encourage the Greeks to the defense of their liberty. And afterwards, when Themistocles was general with absolute power, he assisted him in all ways both in action and counsel; rendering, in consideration of the common security, the greatest enemy he had the most glorious of men. For when Eurybiades was deliberating to desert the isle of Salamis, and the gallies of the barbarians putting out by night to sea surrounded and beset the narrow passage and islands, and nobody was aware how they were environed, Aristides, with great hazard, sailed from Aegina through the enemy’s fleet; and coming by night to Themistocles’s tent, and calling him out by himself; “If we have any discretion,” said he, “Themistocles, laying aside at this time our vain and childish contention, let us enter upon a safe and honorable dispute, vying with each other for the preservation of Greece; you in the ruling and commanding, I in the subservient and advising part; even, indeed, as I now understand you to be alone adhering to the best advice, in counseling without any delay to engage in the straits. And in this, though our own party oppose, the enemy seems to assist you. For the sea behind, and all around us, is covered with their fleet; so that we are under a necessity of approving ourselves men of courage, and fighting, whether we will or no; for there is no room left us for flight.” To which Themistocles answered, “I would not willingly, Aristides, be overcome by you on this occasion; and shall endeavor, in emulation of this good beginning, to outdo it in my actions.” Also relating to him the stratagem he had framed against the barbarians, he entreated him to persuade Eurybiades and show him how it was impossible they should save themselves without an engagement; as he was the more likely to be believed. Whence, in the council of war, Cleocritus, the Corinthian, telling Themistocles that Aristides did not like his advice, as he was present and said nothing, Aristides answered, That he should not have held his peace if Themistocles had not been giving the best advice; and that he was now silent not out of any good-will to the person, but in approbation of his counsel.
Thus the Greek captains were employed. But Aristides perceiving Psyttalea, a small island that lies within the straits over against Salamis, to be filled by a body of the enemy, put aboard his small boats the most forward and courageous of his countrymen, and went ashore upon it; and, joining battle with the barbarians, slew them all, except such more remarkable persons as were taken alive. Amongst these were three children of Sandauce, the king’s sister, whom he immediately sent away to Themistocles, and it is stated that in accordance with a certain oracle, they were, by the command of Euphrantides, the seer, sacrificed to Bacchus, called Omestes, or the devourer. But Aristides, placing armed men all around the island, lay in wait for such as were cast upon it, to the intent that none of his friends should perish, nor any of his enemies escape. For the closest engagement of the ships, and the main fury of the whole battle, seems to have been about this place; for which reason a trophy was erected in Psyttalea.
After the fight, Themistocles, to sound Aristides, told him they had performed a good piece of service, but there was a better yet to be done, the keeping Asia in Europe, by sailing forthwith to the Hellespont, and cutting in sunder the bridge. But Aristides, with an exclamation, bid him think no more of it, but deliberate and find out means for removing the Mede, as quickly as possible, out of Greece; lest being enclosed, through want of means to escape, necessity should compel him to force his way with so great an army. So Themistocles once more dispatched Arnaces, the eunuch, his prisoner, giving him in command privately to advertise the king that he had diverted the Greeks from their intention of setting sail for the bridges, out of the desire he felt to preserve him.
Xerxes, being much terrified with this, immediately hasted to the Hellespont. But Mardonius was left with the most serviceable part of the army, about three hundred thousand men, and was a formidable enemy, confident in his infantry, and writing messages of defiance to the Greeks: “You have overcome by sea men accustomed to fight on land, and unskilled at the oar; but there lies now the open country of Thessaly; and the plains of Boeotia offer a broad and worthy field for brave men, either horse or foot, to contend in.” But he sent privately to the Athenians, both by letter and word of mouth from the king, promising to rebuild their city, to give them a vast sum of money, and constitute them lords of all Greece on condition they were not engaged in the war. The Lacedaemonians, receiving news of this, and fearing, dispatched an embassy to the Athenians, entreating that they would send their wives and children to Sparta, and receive support from them for their superannuated. For, being despoiled both of their city and country, the people were suffering extreme distress. Having given audience to the ambassadors, they returned an answer, upon the motion of Aristides, worthy of the highest admiration; declaring, that they forgave their enemies if they thought all things purchasable by wealth, than which they knew nothing of greater value; but that they felt offended at the Lacedaemonians, for looking only to their present poverty and exigence, without any remembrance of their valor and magnanimity, offering them their victuals, to fight in the cause of Greece. Aristides, making this proposal and bringing back the ambassadors into the assembly, charged them to tell the Lacedaemonians that all the treasure on the earth or under it, was of less value with the people of Athens, than the liberty of Greece. And, showing the sun to those who came from Mardonius, “as long as that retains the same course, so long,” said he, “shall the citizens of Athens wage war with the Persians for the country which has been wasted, and the temples that have been profaned and burnt by them.” Moreover, he proposed a decree, that the priests should anathematize him who sent any herald to the Medes, or deserted the alliance of Greece.
When Mardonius made a second incursion into the country of Attica, the people passed over again into the isle of Salamis. Aristides, being sent to Lacedaemon, reproved them for their delay and neglect in abandoning Athens once more to the barbarians; and demanded their assistance for that part of Greece, which was not yet lost. The Ephori, hearing this, made show of sporting all day, and of carelessly keeping holy day, (for they were then celebrating the Hyacinthian festival,) but in the night, selecting five thousand Spartans, each of whom was attended by seven Helots, they sent them forth unknown to those from Athens. And when Aristides again reprehended them, they told him in derision that he either doted or dreamed, for the army was already at Oresteum, in their march towards the strangers; as they called the Persians. Aristides answered that they jested unseasonably, deluding their friends, instead of their enemies. Thus says Idomeneus. But in the decree of Aristides, not himself, but Cimon, Xanthippus, and Myronides are appointed ambassadors.
Being chosen general for the war, he repaired to Plattea, with eight thousand Athenians, where Pausanias, generalissimo of all Greece, joined him with the Spartans; and the forces of the other Greeks came in to them. The whole encampment of the barbarians extended all along the bank of the river Asopus, their numbers being so great, there was no enclosing them all, but their baggage and most valuable things were surrounded with a square bulwark, each side of which was the length of ten furlongs.