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

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III. But during the night one of those sudden and vehement storms not
unfrequent to the summers of Greece broke over the seas. The Persians
at Aphetae heard, with a panic dismay, the continued thunder that
burst above the summit of Mount Pelion; and the bodies of the dead and
the wrecks of ships, floating round the prows, entangled their oars
amid a tempestuous and heavy sea. But the destruction which the
Persians at Aphetae anticipated to themselves, actually came upon that
part of the barbarian fleet which had made the circuit round Euboea.
Remote from land, exposed to all the fury of the tempest, ignorant of
their course, and amid the darkness of night, they were dashed to
pieces against those fearful rocks termed "The Hollows," and not a
single galley escaped the general destruction.

Thus the fleet of the barbarians was rendered more equal to that of
the Greeks. Re-enforced by fifty-three ships from Athens the next
day, the Greeks proceeded at evening against that part of the hostile
navy possessed by the Cilicians. These they utterly defeated, and
returned joyfully to Artemisium.

Hitherto these skirmishes, made on the summer evenings, in order
probably to take advantage of the darkening night to break off before
any irremediable loss was sustained, seem rather to have been for the
sake of practice in the war--chivalric sorties as it were--than actual
and deliberate engagements. But the third day, the Persians,
impatient of conquest, advanced to Artemisium. These sea encounters
were made precisely on the same days as the conflicts at Thermopylae;
the object on each was the same--the gaining in one of the sea defile,
in the other of the land entrance into Greece. The Euripus was the
Thermopylae of the ocean.

IV. The Greeks remained in their station, and there met the shock;
the battle was severe and equal; the Persians fought with great valour
and firmness, and although the loss upon their side was far the
greatest, many of the Greek vessels also perished. They separated as
by mutual consent, neither force the victor. Of the Persian fleet the
Egyptians were the most distinguished--of the Grecian the Athenians;
and of the last none equalled in valour Clinias; his ship was manned
at his own expense. He was the father of that Alcibiades, afterward
so famous.

While the Greeks rested at Artemisium, counting the number of their
slain, and amid the wrecks of their vessels, they learned the fate of
Leonidas. [74] This determined their previous consultations on the
policy of retreat, and they abandoned the Euripus in steady and
marshalled order, the Corinthians first, the Athenians closing the
rear. Thus the Persians were left masters of the sea and land
entrance into Greece.

But even in retreat, the active spirit of Themistocles was intent upon
expedients. It was more than suspected that a considerable portion of
the Ionians now in the service of Xerxes were secretly friendly to the
Greeks. In the swiftest of the Athenian vessels Themistocles
therefore repaired to a watering-place on the coast, and engraved upon
the rocks these words, which were read by the Ionians the next day.

"Men of Ionia, in fighting against your ancestors, and assisting to
enslave Greece, you act unworthily. Come over to us; or if that may
not be, at least retire from the contest, and prevail on the Carians
to do the same. If yet neither secession nor revolt be practicable,
at least when we come to action exert not yourselves against us.
Remember that we are descended from one common race, and that it was
on your behalf that we first incurred the enmity of the Persian."

A subtler intention than that which was the more obvious, was couched
beneath this exhortation. For if it failed to seduce the Ionians, it
might yet induce Xerxes to mistrust their alliance.

When the Persians learned that the Greeks had abandoned their station,
their whole fleet took possession of the pass, possessed themselves of
the neighbouring town of Histiaea, and overrunning a part of the Isle
of Euboea, received the submission of the inhabitants.

Xerxes now had recourse to a somewhat clumsy, though a very commonly
practised artifice. Twenty thousand of his men had fallen at
Thermopylae: of these he buried nineteen thousand, and leaving the
remainder uninterred, he invited all who desired it, by public
proclamation, to examine the scene of contest. As a considerable
number of helots had joined their Spartan lords and perished with
them, the bodies of the slain amounted to four thousand [75], while
those of the Persians were only one thousand. This was a practical
despotic bulletin.

V. Of all the neighbouring district, the Phocians had alone remained
faithful to the Grecian cause: their territory was now overrun by the
Persians, at the instance of their hereditary enemies, the
Thessalians, destroying city and temple, and committing all the
horrors of violence and rapine by the way. Arrived at Panopeae, the
bulk of the barbarian army marched through Boeotia towards Athens,
the great object of revenge, while a separate detachment was sent
to Delphi, with a view of plundering the prodigious riches
accumulated in that celebrated temple, and of which, not perhaps
uncharacteristically, Xerxes was said to be better informed than of
the treasures he had left behind in his own palace.

But the wise and crafty priesthood of Delphi had been too long
accustomed successfully to deceive mankind to lose hope or self-
possession at the approach even of so formidable a foe. When the
dismayed citizens of Delphi ran to the oracle, demanding advice and
wishing to know what should be done with the sacred treasures, the
priestess gravely replied that "the god could take care of his own
possessions, and that the only business of the citizens was to provide
for themselves;" a priestly answer, importing that the god considered
his possessions, and not the flock, were the treasure. The one was
sure to be defended by a divinity, the other might shift for

The citizens were not slow in adopting the advice; they immediately
removed their wives and children into Achaia--while the males and
adults fled--some to Amphissa, some amid the craggy recesses of
Parnassus, or into that vast and spacious cavern at the base of Mount
Corycus, dedicated to the Muses, and imparting to those lovely deities
the poetical epithet of Corycides. Sixty men, with the chief priest,
were alone left to protect the sacred city.

VI. But superstition can dispense with numbers in its agency. Just
as the barbarians were in sight of the temple, the sacred arms,
hitherto preserved inviolable in the sanctuary, were seen by the
soothsayer to advance to the front of the temple. And this prodigy
but heralded others more active. As the enemy now advanced in the
stillness of the deserted city, and impressed doubtless by their own
awe (for not to a Persian army could there have seemed no veneration
due to the Temple of the Sun!) just by the shrine of Minerva Pronaea,
built out in front of the great temple, a loud peal of thunder burst
suddenly over their heads, and two enormous fragments of rock
(separated from the heights of that Parnassus amid whose recesses
mortals as well as gods lay hid) rolled down the mountain-side with a
mighty crash, and destroyed many of the Persian multitude. At the
same time, from the temple of the warlike goddess broke forth a loud
and martial shout, as if to arms. Confused--appalled--panic-stricken
by these supernatural prodigies--the barbarians turned to fly; while
the Delphians, already prepared and armed, rushed from cave and
mountain, and, charging in the midst of the invaders, scattered them
with great slaughter. Those who escaped fled to the army in Boeotia.
Thus the treasures of Delphi were miraculously preserved, not only
from the plunder of the Persian, but also from the clutch of the
Delphian citizens themselves, who had been especially anxious, in the
first instance, to be permitted to deposite the treasures in a place
of safety. Nobody knew better than the priests that treasures always
diminish when transferred from one hand to another.

VII. The Grecian fleet anchored at Salamis by the request of the
Athenians, who were the more anxious immediately to deliberate on the
state of affairs, as the Persian army was now approaching their
borders, and they learned that the selfish warriors of the
Peloponnesus, according to their customary policy, instead of
assisting the Athenians and Greece generally, by marching towards
Boeotia, were engaged only in fortifying the isthmus or providing for
their own safety.

Unable to engage the confederates to assist them in protecting Attica,
the Athenians entreated, at least, the rest of the maritime allies to
remain at Salamis, while they themselves hastened back to Athens.

Returned home, their situation was one which their generous valour had
but little merited. Although they had sent to Artemisium the
principal defence of the common cause, now, when the storm rolled
towards themselves, none appeared on their behalf. They were at once
incensed and discouraged by the universal desertion. [76] How was it
possible that, alone and unaided, they could withstand the Persian
multitude? Could they reasonably expect the fortunes of Marathon to
be perpetually renewed? To remain at Athens was destruction--to leave
it seemed to them a species of impiety. Nor could they anticipate
victory with a sanguine hope, in abandoning the monuments of their
ancestors and the temples of their gods. [77]

Themistocles alone was enabled to determine the conduct of his
countrymen in this dilemma. Inexhaustible were the resources of a
genius which ranged from the most lofty daring to the most intricate
craft. Perceiving that the only chance of safety was in the desertion
of the city, and that the strongest obstacle to this alternative was
in the superstitious attachment to HOME ever so keenly felt by the
ancients, he had recourse, in the failure of reason, to a counter-
superstition. In the temple of the citadel was a serpent, dedicated
to Minerva, and considered the tutelary defender of the place. The
food appropriated to the serpent was suddenly found unconsumed--the
serpent itself vanished; and, at the suggestion of Themistocles, the
priests proclaimed that the goddess had deserted the city and offered
herself to conduct them to the seas. Then, amid the general
excitement, Themistocles reiterated his version of the Delphic oracle.
Then were the ships reinterpreted to be the wooden walls, and Salamis
once more proclaimed "the Divine." The fervour of the people was
awakened--the persuasions of Themistocles prevailed--even the women
loudly declared their willingness to abandon Athens for the sake of
the Athenians; and it was formally decreed that the city should be
left to the guardianship of Minerva, and the citizens should save
themselves, their women, children, and slaves, as their own discretion
might suggest. Most of them took refuge in Troezene, where they were
generously supported at the public expense--some at Aegina--others
repaired to Salamis.

A moving and pathetic spectacle was that of the embarcation of the
Athenians for the Isle of Salamis. Separated from their children,
their wives (who were sent to remoter places of safety)--abandoning
their homes and altars--the citadel of Minerva--the monuments of
Marathon--they set out for a scene of contest (B. C. 480), perilous
and precarious, and no longer on the site of their beloved and father-
land. Their grief was heightened by the necessity of leaving many
behind, whose extreme age rendered them yet more venerable, while it
incapacitated their removal. Even the dumb animals excited all the
fond domestic associations, running to the strand, and expressing by
their cries their regret for the hands that fed them: one of them, a
dog, that belonged to Xanthippus, father of Pericles, is said to have
followed the ships, and swam to Salamis, to die, spent with toil, upon
the sands.

VIII. The fleet now assembled at Salamis; the Spartans contributed
only sixteen vessels, the people of Aegina thirty--swift galleys and
well equipped; the Athenians one hundred and eighty; the whole navy,
according to Herodotus, consisted of three hundred and seventy-eight
[78] ships, besides an inconsiderable number of vessels of fifty oars.

Eurybiades still retained the chief command. A council of war was
held. The greater number of the more influential allies were composed
of Peloponnesians, and, with the countenance of the Spartan chief, it
was proposed to retire from Salamis and fix the station in the isthmus
near the land-forces of Peloponnesus. This was highly consonant to
the interested policy of the Peloponnesian states, and especially to
that of Sparta; Attica was considered already lost, and the fate of
that territory they were therefore indisposed to consider. While the
debate was yet pending, a messenger arrived from Athens with the
intelligence that the barbarian, having reduced to ashes the allied
cities of Thespiae and Plataea in Boeotia, had entered Attica; and
shortly afterward they learned that (despite a desperate resistance
from the handful of Athenians who, some from poverty, some from a
superstitious prejudice in favour of the wooden wall of the citadel,
had long held out, though literally girt by fire from the burning of
their barricades) the citadel had been taken, plundered, and burnt,
and the remnant of its defenders put to the sword.

IX. Consternation seized the council; many of the leaders broke away
hastily, went on board, hoisted their sails, and prepared to fly.
Those who remained in the council determined that an engagement at sea
could only be risked near the isthmus. With this resolve the leaders
at night returned to their ships.

It is singular how often, in the most memorable events, the fate and
the glory of nations is decided by the soul of a single man. When
Themistocles had retired to his vessel, he was sought by Mnesiphilus,
who is said to have exercised an early and deep influence over the
mind of Themistocles, and to have been one of those practical yet
thoughtful statesmen called into existence by the sober philosophy of
Solon [79], whose lessons on the science of government made a
groundwork for the rhetorical corruptions of the later sophists. On
learning the determination of the council, Mnesiphilus forcibly
represented its consequences. "If the allies," said he, "once abandon
Salamis, you have lost for ever the occasion of fighting for your
country. The fleet will certainly separate, the various confederates
return home, and Greece will perish. Hasten, therefore, ere yet it be
too late, and endeavour to persuade Eurybiades to change his
resolution and remain."

This advice, entirely agreeable to the views of Themistocles, excited
that chief to new exertions. He repaired at once to Eurybiades; and,
by dint of that extraordinary mastery over the minds of others which
he possessed, he finally won over the Spartan, and, late as the hour
was, persuaded him to reassemble the different leaders.

X. In that nocturnal council debate grew loud and warm. When
Eurybiades had explained his change of opinion and his motives for
calling the chiefs together; Themistocles addressed the leaders at
some length and with great excitement. It was so evidently the
interest of the Corinthians to make the scene of defence in the
vicinity of Corinth, that we cannot be surprised to find the
Corinthian leader, Adimantus, eager to interrupt the Athenian.
"Themistocles," said he, "they who at the public games rise before
their time are beaten."

"True," replied Themistocles, with admirable gentleness and temper;
"but they who are left behind are never crowned."

Pursuing the advantage which a skilful use of interruption always
gives to an orator, the Athenian turned to Eurybiades. Artfully
suppressing his secret motive in the fear of the dispersion of the
allies, which he rightly judged would offend without convincing, he
had recourse to more popular arguments. "Fight at the isthmus," he
said, "and you fight in the open sea, where, on account of our heavier
vessels and inferior number, you contend with every disadvantage.
Grant even success, you will yet lose, by your retreat, Salamis,
Megara, and Aegina. You would preserve the Peloponnesus, but
remember, that by attracting thither the war, you attract not only the
naval, but also the land forces of the enemy. Fight here, and we have
the inestimable advantage of a narrow sea--we shall preserve Salamis,
the refuge of our wives and children--we shall as effectually protect
the Peloponnesus as by repairing to the isthmus and drawing the
barbarian thither. If we obtain the victory, the enemy will neither
advance to the isthmus nor penetrate beyond Attica. Their retreat is

The orator was again interrupted by Adimantus with equal rudeness.
And Themistocles, who well knew how to alternate force with
moderation, and menace with persuasion, retorted with an equal
asperity, but with a singular dignity and happiness of expression.

"It becomes you," said Adimantus, scornfully, alluding to the capture
of Athens, "it becomes you to be silent, and not to advise us to
desert our country; you, who no longer have a country to defend!
Eurybiades can only be influenced by Themistocles when Themistocles
has once more a city to represent."

"Wretch!" replied Themistocles, sternly, "we have indeed left our
walls and houses--preferring freedom to those inanimate possessions--
but know that the Athenians still possess a country and a city,
greater and more formidable than yours, well provided with stores and
men, which none of the Greeks will be able to resist: our ships are
our country and our city."

"If," he added, once more addressing the Spartan chief, "if you
continue here you will demand our eternal gratitude: fly, and you are
the destroyers of Greece. In this war the last and sole resource of
the Athenians is their fleet: reject my remonstrances, and I warn you
that at once we will take our families on board, and sail to that
Siris, on the Italian shores, which of old is said to have belonged to
us, and in which, if the oracle be trusted, we ought to found a city.
Deprived of us, you will remember my words."

XI. The menace of Themistocles--the fear of so powerful a race,
unhoused, exasperated, and in search of a new settlement--and the yet
more immediate dread of the desertion of the flower of the navy--
finally prevailed. Eurybiades announced his concurrence with the
views of Themistocles, and the confederates, wearied with altercation,
consented to risk the issue of events at Salamis.

XII. Possessed of Athens, the Persian king held also his council of
war. His fleet, sailing up the Euripus, anchored in the Attic bay of
Phalerum; his army encamped along the plains around, or within the
walls of Athens. The losses his armament had sustained were already
repaired by new re-enforcements of Malians, Dorians, Locrians,
Bactrians, Carystians, Andrians, Tenedians, and the people of the
various isles. "The farther," says Herodotus, "the Persians
penetrated into Greece, the greater the numbers by which they were
followed." It may be supposed, however, that the motley contributions
of an idle and predatory multitude, or of Greeks compelled, not by
affection, but fear, ill supplied to Xerxes the devoted thousands,
many of them his own gallant Persians, who fell at Thermopylae or
perished in the Euboean seas.

XIII. Mardonius and the leaders generally were for immediate battle.
The heroine Artemisia alone gave a more prudent counsel. She
represented to them, that if they delayed a naval engagement or sailed
to the Peloponnesus [80], the Greeks, failing of provisions and
overruled by their fears, would be certain to disperse, to retire to
their several homes, and, thus detached, fall an easy prey to his

Although Xerxes, contrary to expectation, received the adverse opinion
of the Carian princess with compliments and praise, he yet adopted the
counsel of the majority; and, attributing the ill success at
Artemisium to his absence, resolved in person to witness the triumph
of his arms at Salamis.

The navy proceeded, in order, to that island: the land-forces on the
same night advanced to the Peloponnesus: there, under Cleombrotus,
brother to Leonidas, all the strength of the Peloponnesian
confederates was already assembled. They had fortified the pass of
Sciron, another Thermopylae in its local character, and protected the
isthmus by a wall, at the erection of which the whole army worked
night and day; no materials sufficing for the object of defence were
disdained--wood, stones, bricks, and sand--all were pressed into
service. Here encamped, they hoped nothing from Salamis--they
believed the last hope of Greece rested solely with themselves. [81]

XIV. Again new agitation, fear, and dissension broke out in the
Grecian navy. All those who were interested in the safety of the
Peloponnesus complained anew of the resolution of Eurybiades--urged
the absurdity of remaining at Salamis to contend for a territory
already conquered--and the leaders of Aegina, Megara, and Athens were
left in a minority in the council.

Thus overpowered by the Peloponnesian allies, Themistocles is said to
have bethought himself of a stratagem, not inconsonant with his
scheming and wily character. Retiring privately from the debate, yet
unconcluded, and summoning the most confidential messenger in his
service [82], he despatched him secretly to the enemy's fleet with
this message--"The Athenian leader, really attached to the king, and
willing to see the Greeks subjugated to his power, sends me privately
to you. Consternation has seized the Grecian navy; they are preparing
to fly; lose not the opportunity of a splendid victory. Divided among
themselves, the Greeks are unable to resist you; and you will see, as
you advance upon them, those who favour and those who would oppose you
in hostility with each other."

The Persian admiral was sufficiently experienced in the treachery and
defection of many of the Greeks to confide in the message thus
delivered to him; but he scarcely required such intelligence to
confirm a resolution already formed. At midnight the barbarians
passed over a large detachment to the small isle of Psyttaleia,
between Salamis and the continent, and occupying the whole narrow sea
as far as the Attic port of Munychia, under cover of the darkness
disposed their ships, so as to surround the Greeks and cut off the
possibility of retreat.

XV. Unconscious of the motions of the enemy, disputes still prevailed
among the chiefs at Salamis, when Themistocles was summoned at night
from the council, to which he had returned after despatching his
messenger to the barbarian. The person who thus summoned him was
Aristides. It was the third year of his exile--which sentence was
evidently yet unrepealed--or not in that manner, at night and as a
thief, would the eminent and high-born Aristides have joined his
countrymen. He came from Aegina in an open boat, under cover of the
night passed through the midst of the Persian ships, and arrived at
Salamis to inform the Greeks that they were already surrounded.

"At any time," said Aristides, "it would become us to forget our
private dissensions, and at this time especially; contending only who
should most serve his country. In vain now would the Peloponnesians
advise retreat; we are encompassed, and retreat is impossible."

Themistocles welcomed the new-comer with joy, and persuaded him to
enter the council and acquaint the leaders with what he knew. His
intelligence, received with doubt, was presently confirmed by a
trireme of Tenians, which deserted to them; and they now seriously
contemplated the inevitable resort of battle.

XVI. At dawn all was prepared. Assembled on the strand, Themistocles
harangued the troops; and when he had concluded, orders were given to

It was in the autumn of 480 B. C., two thousand three hundred and
sixteen years ago, that the battle of Salamis was fought.

High on a throne of precious metals, placed on one of the eminences of
Mount Aegaleos, sat, to survey the contest, the royal Xerxes. The
rising sun beheld the shores of the Eleusinian gulf lined with his
troops to intercept the fugitives, and with a miscellaneous and motley
crowd of such as were rather spectators than sharers of the conflict.

But not as the Persian leaders had expected was the aspect of the foe;
nor did the Greeks betray the confusion or the terror ascribed to them
by the emissary of Themistocles. As the daylight made them manifest
to the Persian, they set up the loud and martial chorus of the paean--
"the rocks of Salamis echoed back the shout"--and, to use the
expression of a soldier of that day [84], "the trumpet inflamed them
with its clangour."

As soon as the Greeks began to move, the barbarian vessels advanced
swiftly. But Themistocles detained the ardour of the Greeks until the
time when a sharp wind usually arose in that sea, occasioning a heavy
swell in the channel, which was peculiarly prejudicial to the unwieldy
ships of the Persians; but not so to the light, low, and compact
vessels of the Greeks. The manner of attack with the ancient navies
was to bring the prow of the vessel, which was fortified by long
projecting beaks of brass, to bear upon the sides of its antagonist,
and this, the swell of the sea causing the Persian galleys to veer
about unwieldily, the agile ships of the Greeks were well enabled to

By the time the expected wind arose, the engagement was begun. The
Persian admiral [85] directed his manoeuvres chiefly against
Themistocles, for on him, as the most experienced and renowned of the
Grecian leaders, the eyes of the enemy were turned. From his ship,
which was unusually lofty, as from a castle [86], he sent forth darts
and arrows, until one of the Athenian triremes, commanded by Aminias,
shot from the rest, and bore down upon him with the prow. The ships
met, and, fastened together by their brazen beaks, which served as
grappling-irons, Ariabignes gallantly boarded the Grecian vessel, and
was instantly slain by the hostile pikes and hurled into the sea [87].
The first who took a ship was an Athenian named Lycomedes. The
Grecians keeping to the straits, the Persians were unable to bring
their whole armament to bear at once, and could only enter the narrow
pass by detachments; the heaviness of the sea and the cumbrous size of
their tall vessels frequently occasioned more embarrassment to
themselves than the foe--driven and hustling the one against the
other. The Athenians maintaining the right wing were opposed by the
Phoenicians; the Spartans on the left by the Ionians. The first were
gallantly supported by the Aeginetans, who, long skilled in maritime
warfare, eclipsed even their new rivals the Athenians. The Phoenician
line was broken. The Greeks pursued their victory, still preserving
the steadiest discipline and the most perfect order. The sea became
strewn and covered with the wrecks of vessels and the bodies of the
dead; while, to the left, the Ionians gave way before that part of the
allied force commanded by the Spartans, some fighting with great
valour, some favouring the Greek confederates. Meanwhile, as the
Persians gave way, and the sea became more clear, Aristides, who had
hitherto remained on shore, landed a body of Athenians on the Isle of
Psyttaleia, and put the Persian guard there stationed to the sword.

Xerxes from the mountain, his countless thousands from the shore,
beheld, afar and impotent, the confusion, the slaughter, the defeat of
the forces on the sea. Anxious now only for retreat, the barbarians
retreated to Phalerum; and there, intercepted by the Aeginetans, were
pressed by them in the rear; by the Athenians, led by Themistocles, in
front. At this time the heroine Artemisia, pursued by that Aminias
whose vessel had first grappled with the Persians, and who of all the
Athenian captains was that day the most eminently distinguished, found
herself in the extremest danger. Against that remarkable woman the
efforts of the Athenians had been especially directed: deeming it a
disgrace to them to have an enemy in a woman, they had solemnly set a
reward of great amount upon her capture. Thus pursued, Artemisia had
recourse to a sudden and extraordinary artifice. Falling in with a
vessel of the Persians, commanded by a Calyndian prince, with whom she
had once been embroiled, she bore down against the ship and sunk it--a
truly feminine stratagem--deceiving at once a public enemy and
gratifying a private hatred. The Athenian, seeing the vessel he had
pursued thus attack a barbarian, conceived he had mistaken a friendly
vessel, probably a deserter from the Persians, for a foe, and
immediately sought new objects of assault. Xerxes beheld and admired
the prowess of Artemisia, deeming, in the confusion, that it was a
hostile vessel she had sunken. [88]

XVII. The battle lasted till the dusk of evening, when at length the
remnant of the barbarian fleet gained the port of Phalerum; and the
Greeks beheld along the Straits of Salamis no other vestige of the
enemy than the wrecks and corpses which were the evidence of his

XVIII. When morning came, the Greeks awaited a renewal of the
engagement; for the Persian fleet were still numerous, the Persian
army yet covered the neighbouring shores, and, by a feint to conceal
his real purpose, Xerxes had ordered the Phoenician transports to be
joined together, as if to connect Salamis to the continent. But a
mandate was already issued for the instant departure of the navy for
the Hellespont, and a few days afterward the army itself retired into

The victory of Salamis was celebrated by solemn rejoicings, in which,
principally remarkable for the beauty of his person, and his
accomplishments on the lyre and in the dance, was a youth named
Sophocles, destined afterward to share the glory of Aeschylus, who, no
less a warrior than a poet, distinguished himself in the battle, and
has bequeathed to us the most detailed and animated account we possess
of its events.

The Grecian conquerors beheld the retreat of the enemy with
indignation; they were unwilling that any of that armament which had
burnt their hearths and altars should escape their revenge; they
pursued the Persian ships as far as Andros, where, not reaching them,
they cast anchor and held a consultation. Themistocles is said to
have proposed, but not sincerely, to sail at once to the Hellespont
and destroy the bridge of boats. This counsel was overruled, and it
was decided not to reduce so terrible an enemy to despair:--"Rather,"
said one of the chiefs (whether Aristides or Eurybiades is differently
related), "build another bridge, that Xerxes may escape the sooner out
of Europe."

Themistocles affected to be converted to a policy which he desired
only an excuse to effect; and, in pursuance of the hint already
furnished him, is said to have sent secretly to Xerxes, informing him
that it was the intention of the allies to sail to the Hellespont and
destroy the bridge, so that, if the king consulted his safety, he
would return immediately into Asia, while Themistocles would find
pretexts to delay the pursuit of the confederates.

This artifice appears natural to the scheming character of
Themistocles; and, from concurrent testimony [89], it seems to me
undoubted that Themistocles maintained a secret correspondence with
Xerxes, and even persuaded that monarch that he was disposed to favour
him. But it is impossible to believe, with Herodotus, that he had at
that time any real desire to conciliate the Persian, foreseeing that
he might hereafter need a refuge at the Eastern court. Then in the
zenith of his popularity, so acute a foresight is not in man. He was
one of those to whom the spirit of intrigue is delight in itself, and
in the present instance it was exerted for the common cause of the
Athenians, which, with all his faults, he never neglected for, but
rather incorporated with, his own.

XIX. Diverted from the notion of pursuing the Persians, the Grecian
allies, flushed with conquest, were yet eager for enterprise. The
isles which had leagued with the Mede were strongly obnoxious to the
confederates, and it was proposed to exact from them a fine; in
defrayal of the expenses of the war. Siege was laid to Andros, and
those islanders were the first who resisted the demand. Then was it
that they made that memorable answer, which may serve as a warning in
all times to the strong when pressing on the desperate.

"I bring with me," said Themistocles, "two powerful divinities--
Persuasion and Force."

"And we," answered the Andrians, "have two gods equally powerful on
our side--Poverty and Despair."

The Andrian deities eventually triumphed, and the siege was raised
without effect. But from the Parians and Carystians, and some other
islanders, Themistocles obtained enormous sums of money unknown to his
colleagues, which, however unjustly extorted, it does not
satisfactorily appear that he applied largely to his own personal
profit, but, as is more probable, to the rebuilding of Athens.
Perhaps he thought, nor without reason, that as the Athenians had been
the principal sufferers in the war, and contributed the most largely
to its resources, so whatever fines were levied on the seceders were
due, not to the confederates generally, but the Athenians alone. The
previous conduct of the allies, with so much difficulty preserved from
deserting Athens, merited no particular generosity, and excused
perhaps the retaliation of a selfish policy. The payment of the fine
did not, however, preserve Carystus from attack. After wasting its
lands, the Greeks returned to Salamis and divided the Persian spoils.
The first fruits were dedicated to the gods, and the choicest of the
booty sent to Delphi. And here we may notice one anecdote of
Themistocles, which proves, that whatever, at times and in great
crises, was the grasping unscrupulousness of his mind, he had at least
no petty and vulgar avarice. Seeing a number of bracelets and chains
of gold upon the bodies of the dead, he passed them by, and turning to
one of his friends, "Take these for yourself," said he, "for you are
not Themistocles." [90]

Meanness or avarice was indeed no part of the character of
Themistocles, although he has been accused of those vices, because
guilty, at times, of extortion. He was profuse, ostentatious, and
magnificent above his contemporaries and beyond his means. His very
vices were on a large and splendid scale; and if he had something of
the pirate in his nature, he had nothing of the miser. When he had to
choose between two suiters for his daughter, he preferred the worthy
to the wealthy candidate--willing that she should rather marry a man
without money than money without a man. [91]

XX. The booty divided, the allies repaired to the isthmus, according
to that beautiful ancient custom of apportioning rewards to such as
had been most distinguished. It was in the temple of Neptune that the
leaders met. The right of voting was confined to the several chiefs,
who were to declare whom they thought the first in merit and whom the
second. Each leader wrote his own name a candidate for the first
rank; but a great majority of suffrages awarded the second to
Themistocles. While, therefore, each leader had only a single
suffrage in favour of the first rank, the second rank was
unequivocally due to the Athenian.

XXI. But even conquest had not sufficed to remove the jealousies of
the confederate leaders--they evaded the decision of a question which
could not but be propitious to the Athenians, and returned home
without having determined the point which had assembled them at the
isthmus. But Themistocles was not of a temper to brook patiently this
fraud upon his honours. Far from sharing the petty and miserable
envies of their chiefs, the Greeks generally were loud in praise of
his wisdom and services; and, taking advantage of their enthusiasm,
Themistocles repaired to Sparta, trusting to the generosity of the
principal rival to compensate the injustice of many. His expectations
were not ill-founded--the customs of Sparta allowed no slight to a
Spartan, and they adjudged therefore the prize of valour to their own
Eurybiades, while they awarded that of wisdom or science to
Themistocles. Each was equally honoured with a crown of olive.
Forgetful of all their prejudices, their envy, and their inhospitable
treatment of strangers, that nation of warriors were dazzled by the
hero whose courage assimilated to their own. They presented him with
the stateliest chariot to be found in Sparta, and solemnly conducted
him homeward as far as Tegea, by an escort of three hundred chosen
Spartans called "The Knights"--the sole example of the Spartans
conducting any man from their city. It is said that on his return to
Athens, Themistocles was reproached by Timodemus of Aphidna, a
Belbinite by origin [92], and an implacable public enemy, with his
visit to Sparta: "The honours awarded you," said Timodemus, "are
bestowed from respect, not to you, but to Athens."

"My friend," retorted the witty chief, "the matter stands thus. Had I
been a Belbinite, I had not been thus distinguished at Sparta, nor
would you, although you had been born an Athenian!"

While the Greeks were thus occupied, the Persian army had retreated
with Mardonius into Thessaly. Here that general selected and
marshalled the forces with which he intended to renew the war,
retaining in his service the celebrated Immortals. The total,
including the cavalry, Herodotus estimates at three hundred thousand

Thus occupied, and ere Xerxes departed from Thessaly, the Spartans,
impelled by an oracle, sent a messenger to Xerxes to demand atonement
for the death of Leonidas.

"Ay," replied the king, laughing, "this man (pointing to Mardonius)
shall make you fitting retribution."

Leaving Mardonius in Thessaly, where he proposed to winter, Xerxes now
hastened home. Sixty thousand Persians under Artabazus accompanied
the king only as far as the passage into Asia; and it was with an
inconsiderable force, which, pressed by famine, devastated the very
herbage on their way, and which a pestilence and the dysentery
diminished as it passed, that the great king crossed the Hellespont,
on which the bridge of boats had already been broken by wind and
storm. A more abundant supply of provisions than they had yet
experienced tempted the army to excesses, to which many fell victims.
The rest arrived at Sardis with Xerxes, whence he afterward returned
to his more distant capital.

XXII. The people of Potidaea, on the Isthmus of Pallene, and
Olynthus, inhabited by the Bottiaeans, a dubious and mongrel race,
that boasted their origin from those Athenians who, in the traditional
ages, had been sent as tributary captives to the Cretan Minos, no
sooner learned the dispersion of the fleet at Salamis, and the retreat
of the king, than they openly revolted from the barbarian. Artabazus,
returning from the Hellespont, laid siege to Olynthus, massacred the
inhabitants, and colonized the town with Chalcidians. He then sat
down before Potidaea; but a terrible inundation of the sea, with the
sallies of the besieged, destroyed the greater number of the
unfortunate invaders. The remnant were conducted by Artabazus into
Thessaly, to join the army of Mardonius. The Persian fleet,
retreating from Salamis, after passing over the king and his forces
from the Chersonese to Abydos, wintered at Cuma; and at the
commencement of the spring assembled at Samos.

Meanwhile the Athenians returned to their dismantled city, and
directed their attention to its repair and reconstruction. It was
then, too, that in all probability the people hastened, by a formal
and solemn reversal of the sentence of ostracism, to reward the
services of Aristides, and to restore to the commonwealth the most
spotless of its citizens. [93]


Embassy of Alexander of Macedon to Athens.--The Result of his
Proposals.--Athenians retreat to Salamis.--Mardonius occupies Athens.
--The Athenians send Envoys to Sparta.--Pausanias succeeds Cleombrotus
as Regent of Sparta.--Battle of Plataea.--Thebes besieged by the
Athenians.--Battle of Mycale.--Siege of Sestos.--Conclusion of the
Persian War.

I. The dawning spring and the formidable appearance of Mardonius,
who, with his Persian forces, diminished indeed, but still mighty,
lowered on their confines, aroused the Greeks to a sense of their
danger. Their army was not as yet assembled, but their fleet,
consisting of one hundred and ten vessels, under the command of
Leotychides, king of Sparta, and Xanthippus of Athens, lay off Aegina.
Thus anchored, there came to the naval commanders certain Chians, who,
having been discovered in a plot against the life of Strattis, a
tyrant imposed upon Chios by the Persians, fled to Aegina. They
declared that all Ionia was ripe for revolt, and their representations
induced the Greeks to advance as far as the sacred Delos.

Beyond they dared not venture, ignorant alike of the localities of the
country and the forces of the enemy. Samos seemed to them no less
remote than the Pillars of Hercules, and mutual fear thus kept the
space between the Persian and the Greek fleet free from the advance of
either. But Mardonius began slowly to stir from his winter lethargy.
Influenced, thought the Greeks, perhaps too fondly, by a Theban
oracle, the Persian general despatched to Athens no less distinguished
an ambassador than Alexander, the king of Macedon. That prince,
connected with the Persians by alliance (for his sister had married
the Persian Bubares, son of Megabazus), was considered an envoy
calculated to conciliate the Athenians while he served their enemy.
And it was now the object of Mardonius to reconcile the foe whom he
had failed to conquer. Aware of the Athenian valour, Mardonius
trusted that if he could detach that state from the confederacy, and
prevail on the Athenians to unite their arms to his own, the rest of
Greece would become an easy conquest. By land he already deemed
himself secure of fortune, by sea what Grecian navy, if deprived of
the flower of its forces, could resist him?

II. The King of Macedon arrived at Athens; but conscious of the
jealous and anxious fear which the news of an embassy from Persia
would excite among the confederates, the Athenians delayed to grant
him the demanded audience until they had time to send for and obtain
deputies from Sparta to be present at the assembly.

Alexander of Macedon then addressed the Athenians.

"Men of Athens!" said he, "Mardonius informs you, through me, of this
mandate from the king: 'Whatever injuries,' saith he, 'the Athenians
have done me, I forgive. Restore them their country--let them even
annex to it any other territories they covet--permit them the free
enjoyment of their laws. If they will ally with me, rebuild the
temples I have burnt.'"

Alexander then proceeded to dilate on the consequences of this
favourable mission, to represent the power of the Persian, and urge
the necessity of an alliance. "Let my offers prevail with you," he
concluded, "for to you alone, of all the Greeks, the king extends his
forgiveness, desiring your alliance."

When Alexander had concluded, the Spartan envoys thus spoke through
their chief, addressing, not the Macedonian, but the Athenians:--"We
have been deputed by the Spartans to entreat you to adopt no measures
prejudicial to Greece, and to receive no conditions from the
barbarians. This, most iniquitous in itself, would be, above all,
unworthy and ungraceful in you; with you rests the origin of the war
now appertaining to all Greece. Insufferable, indeed, if the
Athenians, once the authors of liberty to many, were now the authors
of the servitude of Greece. We commiserate your melancholy condition
--your privation for two years of the fruits of your soil, your homes
destroyed, and your fortunes ruined. We, the Spartans, and the other
allies, will receive your women and all who may be helpless in the war
while the war shall last. Let not the Macedonian, smoothing down the
messages of Mardonius, move you. This becomes him; tyrant himself, he
would assist in a tyrant's work. But you will not heed him if you are
wise, knowing that faith and truth are not in the barbarians."

III. The answer of the Athenians to both Spartan and Persian, the
substance of which is, no doubt, faithfully preserved to us by
Herodotus, may rank among the most imperishable records of that high-
souled and generous people.

"We are not ignorant," ran the answer, dictated, and, probably,
uttered by Aristides [94], "that the power of the Mede is many times
greater than our own. We required not that ostentatious admonition.
Yet, for the preservation of liberty, we will resist that power as we
can. Cease to persuade us to contract alliance with the barbarian.
Bear back to Mardonius this answer from the Athenians--So long as
yonder sun," and the orator pointed to the orb [95], "holds the
courses which now it holds--so long will we abjure all amity with
Xerxes--so long, confiding in the aid of our gods and heroes, whose
shrines and altars he hath burnt, will we struggle against him in
battle and for revenge. And thou, beware how again thou bearest such
proffers to the Athenians; nor, on the plea of benefit to us, urge us
to dishonour; for we would not--ungrateful to thee, our guest and our
friend--have any evil befall to thee from the anger of the Athenians."

"For you, Spartans! it may be consonant with human nature that you
should fear our alliance with the barbarians--yet shamefully you fear
it, knowing with what spirit we are animated and act. Gold hath no
amount--earth hath no territory, how beautiful soever--that can tempt
the Athenians to accept conditions from the Mede for the servitude of
Greece. Were we so inclined, many and mighty are our prohibitions;
first and chiefly, our temples burnt and overthrown, urging us not to
alliance, but to revenge. Next, the whole race of Greece has one
consanguinity and one tongue, and common are its manners, its altars,
and its gods base indeed, if Athenians were of these the betrayers.
Lastly, learn now, if ye knew it not before, that, while one Athenian
shall survive, Athens allies herself not with Xerxes."

"We thank you for your providence of us--your offers to protect our
families--afflicted and impoverished as we are. We will bear,
however, our misfortunes as we may--becoming no burden upon you. Be
it your care to send your forces to the field. Let there be no delay.
The barbarian will be on us when he learns that we have rejected his
proposals. Before he proceed to Attica let us meet him in Boeotia."

IV. On receiving this answer from the Athenians the Spartan
ambassadors returned home; and, shortly afterward, Mardonius, by rapid
marches, conducted his army towards Attica; fresh supplies of troops
recruiting his forces wheresoever he passed. The Thessalian princes,
far from repenting their alliance with Mardonius, animated his ardour.

Arrived in Boeotia, the Thebans endeavoured to persuade the Persian
general to encamp in that territory, and to hazard no battle, but
rather to seek by bribes to the most powerful men in each city, to
detach the confederates from the existent alliance. Pride, ambition,
and the desire of avenging Xerxes once more upon Athens, deterred
Mardonius from yielding to this counsel. He marched on to Attica--he
found the territory utterly deserted. He was informed that the
inhabitants were either at Salamis or with the fleet. He proceeded to
Athens (B. C. 479), equally deserted, and, ten months after the first
capture by Xerxes, that city a second time was occupied by the Mede.

From Athens Mardonius despatched a Greek messenger to Salamis,
repeating the propositions of Alexander. On hearing these offers in
council, the Athenians were animated by a species of fury. A
counsellor named Lycidas having expressed himself in favour of the
terms, he was immediately stoned to death. The Athenian women, roused
by a similar passion with the men, inflicted the same fate upon his
wife and children--one of those excesses of virtue which become
crimes, but for which exigency makes no despicable excuse. [96] The
ambassador returned uninjured.

V. The flight of the Athenians to Salamis had not been a willing
resort. That gallant people had remained in Attica so long as they
could entertain any expectation of assistance from the Peloponnesus;
nor was it until compelled by despair at the inertness of their
allies, and the appearance of the Persians in Boeotia, that they had
removed to Salamis.

The singular and isolated policy of Sparta, which had curbed and
crippled, to an exclusive regard for Spartans, all the more generous
and daring principles of action, was never, perhaps, so odiously
displayed as in the present indifference to an ally that had so nobly
preferred the Grecian liberties to its own security. The whole of the
Peloponnesus viewed with apathy the occupation of Attica, and the
Spartans were employed in completing the fortifications of the

The Athenians despatched messengers to Sparta, as did also Megara and
Plataea. These ambassadors assumed a high and reproachful tone of

They represented the conduct of the Athenians in rejecting the
overtures of the barbarians--they upbraided the Spartans with perfidy
for breaking the agreement to meet the enemy in Boeotia--they declared
the resentment of the Athenians at the violation of this compact,
demanded immediate supplies, and indicated the plains near Thria, a
village in Attica, as a fitting field of battle.

The ephors heard the remonstrance, but from day to day delayed an
answer. The Spartans, according to Herodotus, were engaged in
celebrating the solemnities in honour of Hyacinthus and Apollo; and
this ceremonial might have sufficed as a plausible cause for
procrastination, according to all the usages and formalities of
Spartan manners. But perhaps there might be another and a graver
reason for the delayed determination of the ephors.

When the isthmian fortifications were completed, the superstition of
the regent Cleombrotus, who had superintended their construction, was
alarmed by an eclipse, and he led back to Sparta the detachment he had
commanded in that quarter. He returned but to die; and his son
Pausanias succeeded to the regency during the continued minority of
Pleistarchus, the infant heir of Leonidas [97]. If the funeral
solemnities on the death of a regent were similar to those bestowed
upon a deceased king, we can account at once for the delay of the
ephors, since the ten days which passed without reply to the
ambassadors exactly correspond in number with the ten days dedicated
to public mourning. [98] But whatever the cause of the Spartan delay
--and the rigid closeness of that oligarchic government kept, in yet
more important matters, its motives and its policy no less a secret to
contemporaneous nations than to modern inquirers--the delay itself
highly incensed the Athenian envoys: they even threatened to treat
with Mardonius, and abandon Sparta to her fate, and at length fixed
the day of their departure. The ephors roused themselves. Among the
deputies from the various states, there was then in Sparta that
Chileus of Tegea, who had been scarcely less serviceable than
Themistocles in managing the affairs of Greece in the isthmian
congress. This able and eminent Arcadian forcibly represented to the
ephors the danger of forfeiting the Athenian alliance, and the
insufficient resistance against the Persian that the fortifications of
the isthmus would afford. The ephors heard, and immediately acted
with the secrecy and the vigilance that belongs to oligarchies. That
very night they privately despatched a body of five thousand Spartans
and thirty-five thousand helots (seven to each Spartan), under the
command of Pausanias.

The next morning the ephors calmly replied to the angry threats of the
Athenians, by protesting that their troops were already on the march,
and by this time in Oresteum, a town in Arcadia, about eighteen miles
distant from Sparta. The astonished deputies [99] hastened to
overtake the Spartan force, and the ephors, as if fully to atone for
their past procrastination, gave them the escort and additional
re-enforcement of five thousand heavy-armed Laconians or Perioeci.

VI. Mardonius soon learned from the Argives (who, not content with
refusing to join the Greek legion, had held secret communications with
the Persians) of the departure of the Spartan troops. Hitherto he had
refrained from any outrage on the Athenian lands and city, in the hope
that Athens might yet make peace with him. He now set fire to Athens,
razed the principal part of what yet remained of the walls and temples
[100], and deeming the soil of Attica ill adapted to his cavalry, and,
from the narrowness of its outlets, disadvantageous in case of
retreat, after a brief incursion into Megara he retired towards
Thebes, and pitched his tents on the banks of the Asopus, extending
from Erythrae to Plataea. Here his force was swelled by such of the
Greeks as were friendly to his cause.

VII. Meanwhile the Spartans were joined at the isthmus by the rest of
the Peloponnesian allies. Solemn sacrifices were ordained, and the
auguries drawn from the victims being favourable, the Greek army
proceeded onward; and, joined at Eleusis by the Athenians, marched to
the foot of Cithaeron, and encamped opposite the Persians, with the
river of the Asopus between the armies. Aristides commanded the
Athenians, at the head of eight thousand foot; and while the armies
were thus situated, a dangerous conspiracy was detected and defeated
by that able general.

The disasters of the war--the devastation of lands, the burning of
houses--had reduced the fortunes of many of the Athenian nobles. With
their property diminished their influence. Poverty, and discontent,
and jealousy of new families rising into repute [101], induced these
men of fallen fortunes to conspire for the abolition of the popular
government at Athens, and, failing that attempt, to betray the cause
to the enemy.

This project spread secretly through the camp, and corrupted numbers;
the danger became imminent. On the one hand, the conspiracy was not
to be neglected; and, on the other, in such a crisis it might be
dangerous too narrowly to sift a design in which men of mark and
station were concerned. Aristides acted with a singular prudence. He
arrested eight of the leaders. Of these he prosecuted only two (who
escaped during the proceedings), and, dismissing the rest, appealed to
the impending battle as the great tribunal which would acquit them of
the charge and prove their loyalty to the state. [102]

VIII. Scarce was this conspiracy quelled than the cavalry of the
Persians commenced their operations. At the head of that skilful and
gallant horse, for which the oriental nations are yet renowned, rode
their chief, Masistius, clad in complete armour of gold, of brass, and
of iron, and noted for the strength of his person and the splendour of
his trappings. Placed on the rugged declivities of Cithaeron, the
Greeks were tolerably safe from the Persian cavalry, save only the
Megarians, who, to the number of three thousand, were posted along the
plain, and were on all sides charged by that agile and vapid cavalry.
Thus pressed, the Megarians sent to Pausanias for assistance. The
Spartan beheld the air darkened with shafts and arrows, and knew that
his heavy-armed warriors were ill adapted to act against horse. He in
vain endeavoured to arouse those about him by appeals to their honour
--all declined the succour of the Megarians--when Aristides, causing
the Athenian to eclipse the Spartan chivalry, undertook the defence.
With three hundred infantry, mixed with archers, Olympiodorus, one of
the ablest of the Athenian officers, advanced eagerly on the

Masistius himself, at the head of his troops, spurred his Nisaean
charger against the new enemy. A sharp and obstinate conflict ensued;
when the horse of the Persian general, being wounded, threw its rider,
who could not regain his feet from the weight of his armour. There,
as he lay on the ground, with a swarm of foes around him, the close
scales of his mail protected him from their weapons, until at length a
lance pierced the brain through an opening in his visor. After an
obstinate conflict for his corpse, the Persians were beaten back to
the camp, where the death of one, second only to Mardonius in
authority and repute, spread universal lamentation and dismay.

The body of Masistius, which, by its vast size and beautiful
proportions, excited the admiration of the victors, remained the prize
of the Greeks; and, placed on a bier, it was borne triumphantly
through the ranks.

IX. After this victory, Pausanias conducted his forces along the base
of Cithaeron into the neighbourhood of Plataea, which he deemed a more
convenient site for the disposition of his army and the supply of
water. There, near the fountain of Gargaphia [103], one of the
sources of the Asopus (which splits into many rivulets, bearing a
common name), and renowned in song for the death of the fabulous
Actaeon, nor far from the shrine of an old Plataean hero
(Androcrates), the Greeks were marshalled in regular divisions, the
different nations, some on a gentle acclivity, others along the plain.

In the allotment of the several stations a dispute arose between the
Athenians and the Tegeans. The latter claimed, from ancient and
traditionary prescription, the left wing (the right being unanimously
awarded to the Spartans), and assumed, in the course of their
argument, an insolent superiority over the Athenians.

"We came here to fight," answered the Athenians (or Aristides in their
name [104]), "and not to dispute. But since the Tegeans proclaim
their ancient as well as their modern deeds, fit is it for us to
maintain our precedence over the Arcadians."

Touching slightly on the ancient times referred to by the Tegeans, and
quoting their former deeds, the Athenians insisted chiefly upon
Marathon; "Yet," said their orators, or orator, in conclusion, "while
we maintain our right to the disputed post, it becomes us not, at this
crisis, to altercate on the localities of the battle. Place us, oh
Spartans! wherever seems best to you. No matter what our station; we
will uphold our honour and your cause. Command, then--we obey."

Hearing this generous answer, the Spartan leaders were unanimous in
favour of the Athenians; and they accordingly occupied the left wing.

X. Thus were marshalled that confederate army, presenting the
strongest force yet opposed to the Persians, and comprising the whole
might and manhood of the free Grecian states; to the right, ten
thousand Lacedaemonians, one half, as we have seen, composed of the
Perioeci, the other moiety of the pure Spartan race--to each warrior
of the latter half were allotted seven armed helots, to each of the
heavy-armed Perioeci one serving-man. Their whole force was,
therefore, no less than fifty thousand men. Next to the Spartans (a
kind of compromise of their claim) were the one thousand five hundred
Tegeans; beyond these five thousand Corinthians; and to them
contiguous three hundred Potidaeans of Pallene, whom the inundation of
their seas had saved from the Persian arms. Next in order, Orchomenus
ranged its six hundred Arcadians; Sicyon sent three thousand,
Epidaurus eight hundred, and Troezene one thousand warriors.
Neighbouring the last were two hundred Lepreatae, and by them four
hundred Myceneans and Tirynthians [105]. Stationed by the Tirynthians
came, in successive order, a thousand Phliasians, three hundred
Hermionians, six hundred Eretrians and Styreans, four hundred
Chalcidians, five hundred Ambracians, eight hundred Leucadians and
Anactorians, two hundred Paleans of Cephallenia, and five hundred only
of the islanders of Aegina. Three thousand Megarians and six hundred
Plataeans were ranged contiguous to the Athenians, whose force of
eight thousand men, under the command of Aristides, closed the left

Thus the total of the heavy-armed soldiery was thirty-eight thousand
seven hundred. To these were added the light-armed force of thirty-
five thousand helots and thirty-four thousand five hundred attendants
on the Laconians and other Greeks; the whole amounting to one hundred
and eight thousand two hundred men, besides one thousand eight hundred
Thespians, who, perhaps, on account of the destruction of their city
by the Persian army, were without the heavy arms of their

Such was the force--not insufficient in number, but stronger in heart,
union, the memory of past victories, and the fear of future chains--
that pitched the tent along the banks of the rivulets which confound
with the Asopus their waters and their names.

XI. In the interim Mardonius had marched from his former post, and
lay encamped on that part of the Asopus nearest to Plataea. His brave
Persians fronted the Lacedaemonians and Tegeans; and, in successive
order, ranged the Medes and Bactrians, the Indians and the Sacae, the
Boeotians, Locrians, Malians, Thessalians, Macedonians, and the
reluctant aid of a thousand Phocians. But many of the latter tribe
about the fastnesses of Parnassus, openly siding with the Greeks,
harassed the barbarian outskirts: Herodotus calculates the hostile
force at three hundred and fifty thousand, fifty thousand of which
were composed of Macedonians and Greeks. And, although the historian
has omitted to deduct from this total the loss sustained by Artabazus
at Potidaea, it is yet most probable that the barbarian nearly trebled
the Grecian army--odds less fearful than the Greeks had already met
and vanquished.

XII. The armies thus ranged, sacrifices were offered up on both
sides. It happened, by a singular coincidence, that to either army
was an Elean augur. The appearance of the entrails forbade both
Persian and Greek to cross the Asopus, and ordained each to act on the

That the Persian chief should have obeyed the dictates of a Grecian
soothsayer is sufficiently probable; partly because a superstitious
people rarely despise the superstitions of another faith, principally
because a considerable part of the invading army, and that perhaps the
bravest and the most skilful, was composed of native Greeks, whose
prejudices it was politic to flatter--perilous to affront.

Eight days were consumed in inactivity, the armies confronting each
other without motion; when Mardonius, in order to cut off the new
forces which every day resorted to the Grecian camp, despatched a body
of cavalry to seize the pass of Cithaeron. Falling in with a convoy
of five hundred beasts of burden, carrying provisions from the
Peloponnesus, the barbarians, with an inhumanity sufficient, perhaps,
to prove that the detachment was not composed of Persians, properly so
speaking, a mild though gallant people--slaughtered both man and
beast. The provisions were brought to the Persian camp.

XIII. During the two following days Mardonius advanced nearer to the
Asopus, and his cavalry (assisted by the Thebans, who were the right
arm of the barbarian army), in repeated skirmishes, greatly harassed
the Greeks with much daring and little injury.

At length Mardonius, either wearied of this inactivity or unable to
repress the spirit of a superior army, not accustomed to receive the
attack, resolved to reject all further compliance with the oracles of
this Elean soothsayer, and, on the following morning, to give battle
to the Greeks. Acting against one superstition, he sagaciously,
however, sought to enlist on his behalf another; and, from the
decision of a mortal, he appealed to the ambiguous oracles of the
Delphic god, which had ever one interpretation for the enterprise and
another for the success.

XIV. "The watches of the night were set," says Herodotus, in his
animated and graphic strain--"the night itself was far advanced--a
universal and utter stillness prevailed throughout the army, buried in
repose--when Alexander, the Macedonian prince, rode secretly from the
Persian camp, and, coming to the outposts of the Athenians, whose line
was immediately opposed to his own, demanded an audience of their
commanders. This obtained, the Macedonian thus addressed them: "I am
come to inform you of a secret you must impart to Pausanias alone.
From remote antiquity I am of Grecian lineage. I am solicitous of the
safety of Greece. Long since, but for the auguries, would Mardonius
have given battle. Regarding these no longer, he will attack you
early on the morning. Be prepared. If he change his purpose, remain
as you are--he has provisions only for a few days more. Should the
event of war prove favourable, you will but deem it fitting to make
some effort for the independence of one who exposes himself to so
great a peril for the purpose of apprizing you of the intentions of
the foe. I am Alexander of Macedon.'"

"Thus saying, the horseman returned to the Persian camp."

"The Athenian leaders hastened to Pausanias, and informed him of what
they had heard."

The Spartan does not appear, according to the strong expressions [106]
of Herodotus, to have received the intelligence with the customary
dauntlessness of his race. He feared the Persians, he was
unacquainted with their mode of warfare, and he proposed to the
Athenians to change posts with the Lacedaemonians; "For you," said he,
"have before contended with the Mede, and your experience of their
warfare you learned at Marathon. We, on the other hand, have fought
against the Boeotians and Thessalians [opposed to the left wing]. Let
us then change our stations."

At first the Athenian officers were displeased at the offer, not from
terror, but from pride; and it seemed to them as if they were shifted,
like helots, from post to post at the Spartan's pleasure. But
Aristides, whose power of persuasion consisted chiefly in appeals, not
to the baser, but the loftier passions, and who, in swaying, exalted
his countrymen--represented to them that the right wing, which the
Spartan proposed to surrender, was, in effect, the station of command.

"And are you," he said, "not pleased with the honour you obtain, nor
sensible of the advantage of contending, not against the sons of
Greece, but the barbarian invader?" [107]

These words animated those whom the Athenian addressed; they instantly
agreed to exchange posts with the Spartans, and "to fight for the
trophies of Marathon and Salamis." [108]

XV. As, in the dead of night, the Athenians marched to their new
station, they exhorted each other to valour and to the recollection of
former victories. But Mardonius, learning from deserters the change
of position, moved his Persians opposite the Spartans; and Pausanias
again returning to the right, Mardonius pursued a similar manoeuvre.
Thus the day was consumed without an action. The troops having
resumed their former posts, Mardonius sent a herald to the Spartans,
chiding them for their cowardice, and proposing that an allotted
number meet equal Spartans in battle, and whoever conquered should be
deemed victors over the whole adverse army.

This challenge drew no reply from the Spartans. And Mardonius,
construing the silence into a proof of fear, already anticipated the
victory. His cavalry, advancing upon the Greeks, distressed them from
afar and in safety with their shafts and arrows. They succeeded in
gaining the Gargaphian fountain, which supplied water to the Grecian
army, and choked up the stream. Thus cut off from water, and, at the
same time, yet more inconvenienced by the want of provisions, the
convoy of which was intercepted by the Persian cavalry, the Grecian
chiefs determined to shift the ground, and occupy a space which, being
surrounded by rivulets, was termed the Island of Oeroe [109], and
afforded an ample supply of water. This island was about a mile from
their present encampment: thence they proposed to detach half their
army to relieve a convoy of provisions encompassed in the mountains.

About four hours after sunset the army commenced its march; but when
Pausanias gave the word to his Spartans, one officer, named
Amompharetus, obstinately refused to stir. He alleged the customs and
oaths of Sparta, and declared he would not fly from the barbarian foe,
nor connive at the dishonour of Sparta.

XVI. Pausanias, though incensed at the obstinacy of the officer, was
unwilling to leave him and his troop to perish; and while the dispute
was still unsettled, the Athenians, suspicious of their ally, "for
they knew well it was the custom of Spartans to say one thing and to
think another," [110] despatched a horseman to Pausanias to learn the
cause of the delay. The messenger found the soldiers in their ranks;
the leaders in violent altercation. Pausanias was arguing with
Amompharetus, when the last, just as the Athenian approached, took up
a huge stone with both hands, and throwing it at the feet of
Pausanias, vehemently exclaimed, "With this calculus I give my
suffrage against flying from the stranger." Pausanias, in great
perplexity, bade the Athenian report the cause of the delay, and
implore his countrymen to halt a little, that they might act in
concert. At length, towards morning, Pausanias resolved, despite
Amompharetus, to commence his march. All his forces proceeded along
the steep defiles at the base of Cithaeron, from fear of the Persian
cavalry; the more dauntless Athenians along the plain. Amompharetus,
after impotent attempts to detain his men, was reluctantly compelled
to follow.

XVII. Mardonius, beholding the vacant ground before him no longer
bristling with the Grecian ranks, loudly vented his disdain of the
cowardice of the fugitives, and instantly led his impatient army over
the Asopus in pursuit. As yet, the Athenians, who had already passed
the plain, were concealed by the hills; and the Tegeans and
Lacedaemonians were the sole object of attack.

As the troops of Mardonius advanced, the rest of the Persian armament,
deeming the task was now not to fight but to pursue, raised their
standards and poured forward tumultuously, without discipline or

Pausanias, pressed by the Persian line, and if not of a timorous, at
least of an irresolute temper, lost no time in sending to the
Athenians for succour. But when the latter were on their march with
the required aid, they were suddenly intercepted by the auxiliary
Greeks in the Persian service, and cut off from the rescue of the

The Spartans beheld themselves thus left unsupported with considerable
alarm. Yet their force, including the Tegeans and helots, was fifty-
three thousand men. Committing himself to the gods, Pausanias
ordained a solemn sacrifice, his whole army awaiting the result, while
the shafts of the Persian bowmen poured on them near and fast. But
the entrails presented discouraging omens, and the sacrifice was again
renewed. Meanwhile the Spartans evinced their characteristic
fortitude and discipline--not one man stirring from his ranks until
the auguries should assume a more favouring aspect; all harassed, and
some wounded, by the Persian arrows, they yet, seeking protection only
beneath their broad bucklers, waited with a stern patience the time of
their leader and of Heaven. Then fell Callicrates, the stateliest and
strongest soldier in the whole army, lamenting, not death, but that
his sword was as yet undrawn against the invader.

XVIII. And still sacrifice after sacrifice seemed to forbid the
battle, when Pausanias, lifting his eyes, that streamed with tears, to
the temple of Juno that stood hard by, supplicated the tutelary
goddess of Cithaeron, that if the fates forbade the Greeks to conquer,
they might at least fall like warriors [111]. And while uttering this
prayer, the tokens waited for became suddenly visible in the victims,
and the augurs announced the promise of coming victory.

Therewith the order of battle rang instantly through the army, and, to
use the poetical comparison of Plutarch, the Spartan phalanx suddenly
stood forth in its strength, like some fierce animal--erecting its
bristles and preparing its vengeance for the foe. The ground, broken
in many steep and precipitous ridges, and intersected by the Asopus,
whose sluggish stream [112] winds over a broad and rushy bed, was
unfavourable to the movements of cavalry, and the Persian foot
advanced therefore on the Greeks.

Drawn up in their massive phalanx, the Lacedaemonians presented an
almost impenetrable body--sweeping slowly on, compact and serried--
while the hot and undisciplined valour of the Persians, more fortunate
in the skirmish than the battle, broke itself into a thousand waves
upon that moving rock. Pouring on in small numbers at a time, they
fell fast round the progress of the Greeks--their armour slight
against the strong pikes of Sparta--their courage without skill--their
numbers without discipline; still they fought gallantly, even when on
the ground seizing the pikes with their naked hands, and with the
wonderful agility which still characterizes the oriental swordsman,
springing to their feet and regaining their arms when seemingly
overcome--wresting away their enemies' shields, and grappling with
them desperately hand to hand.

XIX. Foremost of a band of a thousand chosen Persians, conspicuous by
his white charger, and still more by his daring valour, rode
Mardonius, directing the attack--fiercer wherever his armour blazed.
Inspired by his presence, the Persians fought worthily of their
warlike fame, and, even in falling, thinned the Spartan ranks. At
length the rash but gallant leader of the Asiatic armies received a
mortal wound--his scull was crushed in by a stone from the hand of a
Spartan [113]. His chosen band, the boast of the army, fell fighting
round him, but his death was the general signal of defeat and flight.
Encumbered by their long robes, and pressed by the relentless
conquerors, the Persians fled in disorder towards their camp, which
was secured by wooden intrenchments, by gates, and towers, and walls.
Here, fortifying themselves as they best might, they contended
successfully, and with advantage, against the Lacedaemonians, who were
ill skilled in assault and siege.

Meanwhile the Athenians obtained the victory on the plains over the
Greeks of Mardonius--finding their most resolute enemy in the Thebans
(three hundred of whose principal warriors fell in the field)--and now
joined the Spartans at the Persian camp. The Athenians are said to
have been better skilled in the art of siege than the Spartans; yet at
that time their experience could scarcely have been greater. The
Athenians were at all times, however, of a more impetuous temper; and
the men who had "run to the charge" at Marathon were not to be baffled
by the desperate remnant of their ancient foe. They scaled the walls
--they effected a breach through which the Tegeans were the first to
rush--the Greeks poured fast and fierce into the camp. Appalled,
dismayed, stupefied by the suddenness and greatness of their loss, the
Persians no longer sustained their fame--they dispersed themselves in
all directions, falling, as they fled, with a prodigious slaughter, so
that out of that mighty armament scarce three thousand effected an
escape. We must except, however, the wary and distrustful Artabazus,
who, on the first tokens of defeat, had fled with the forty thousand
Parthians and Chorasmians he commanded towards Phocis, in the
intention to gain the Hellespont. The Mantineans arrived after the
capture of the camp, too late for their share of glory; they
endeavoured to atone the loss by the pursuit of Artabazus, which was,
however, ineffectual. The Eleans arrived after the Mantineans. The
leaders of both these people were afterward banished.

XX. An Aeginetan proposed to Pausanias to inflict on the corpse of
Mardonius the same insult which Xerxes had put upon the body of

The Spartan indignantly refused. "After elevating my country to
fame," said he, "would you have me depress it to infamy by vengeance
on the body of the dead? Leonidas and Thermopylae are sufficiently
avenged by this mighty overthrow of the living."

The body of that brave and ill-fated general, the main author of the
war, was removed the next day--by whose piety and to what sepulchre is
unknown. The tomb of his doubtful fame is alone eternally visible
along the plains of Plataea, and above the gray front of the
imperishable Cithaeron!

XXI. The victory won (September, B. C. 479), the conquerors were
dazzled by the gorgeous plunder which remained--tents and couches
decorated with precious metals--cups, and vessels, and sacks of gold--
and the dead themselves a booty, from the costly ornaments of their
chains and bracelets, and cimeters vainly splendid--horses, and
camels, and Persian women, and all the trappings and appliances by
which despotism made a luxury of war.

Pausanias forbade the booty to be touched [114], and directed the
helots to collect the treasure in one spot. But those dexterous
slaves secreted many articles of value, by the purchase of which
several of the Aeginetans, whose avarice was sharpened by a life of
commerce, enriched themselves--obtaining gold at the price of brass.

Piety dedicated to the gods a tenth part of the booty--from which was
presented to the shrine of Delphi a golden tripod, resting on a three-
headed snake of brass; to the Corinthian Neptune a brazen statue of
the deity, seven cubits high; and to the Jupiter of Olympia a statue
of ten cubits. Pausanias obtained also a tenth of the produce in each
article of plunder--horses and camels, women and gold--a prize which
ruined in rewarding him. The rest was divided among the soldiers,
according to their merit.

So much, however, was left unappropriated in the carelessness of
satiety, that, in after times, the battlefield still afforded to the
search of the Plataeans chests of silver and gold, and other

XXIL Taking possession of the tent of Mardonius, which had formerly
been that of Xerxes, Pausanias directed the oriental slaves who had
escaped the massacre to prepare a banquet after the fashion of the
Persians, and as if served to Mardonius. Besides this gorgeous feast,
the Spartan ordered his wonted repast to be prepared; and then,
turning to the different chiefs, exclaimed--"See the folly of the
Persian, who forsook such splendour to plunder such poverty."

The story has in it something of the sublime. But the austere Spartan
was soon corrupted by the very luxuries he affected to disdain. It is
often that we despise to-day what we find it difficult to resist to-

XXIII. The task of reward to the living completed, the Greeks
proceeded to that of honour to the dead. In three trenches the
Lacedaemonians were interred; one contained those who belonged to a
class in Sparta called the Knights [115], of whom two hundred had
conducted Themistocles to Tegea (among these was the stubborn
Amompharetus); the second, the other Spartans; the third, the helots.
The Athenians, Tegeans, Megarians, Phliasians, each had their single
and separate places of sepulture, and, over all, barrows of earth were
raised. Subsequently, tribes and states, that had shared indeed the
final battle or the previous skirmishes, but without the glory of a
loss of life, erected cenotaphs to imaginary dead in that illustrious
burial-field. Among those spurious monuments was one dedicated to the
Aeginetans. Aristodemus, the Spartan who had returned safe from
Thermopylae, fell at Plataea, the most daring of the Greeks on that
day, voluntarily redeeming a dishonoured life by a glorious death.
But to his manes alone of the Spartan dead no honours were decreed.

XXIV. Plutarch relates that a dangerous dispute ensued between the
Spartans and Athenians as to their relative claim to the Aristeia, or
first military honours; the question was decided by awarding them to
the Plataeans--a state of which none were jealous; from a similar
motive, ordinary men are usually found possessed of the honours due to
the greatest.

More important than the Aristeia, had the spirit been properly
maintained, were certain privileges then conferred on Plataea.
Thither, in a subsequent assembly of the allies, it was proposed by
Aristides that deputies from the states of Greece should be annually
sent to sacrifice to Jupiter the Deliverer, and confer upon the
general politics of Greece. There, every fifth year, should be
celebrated games in honour of Liberty; while the Plataeans themselves,
exempted from military service, should be deemed, so long as they
fulfilled the task thus imposed upon them, a sacred and inviolable
people. Thus Plataea nominally became a second Elis--its battle-field
another Altis. Aristides, at the same time, sought to enforce the
large and thoughtful policy commenced by Themistocles. He endeavoured
to draw the jealous states of Greece into a common and perpetual
league, maintained against all invaders by a standing force of one
thousand cavalry, one hundred ships, and ten thousand heavy-armed

XXV. An earnest and deliberate council was now held, in which it was
resolved to direct the victorious army against Thebes, and demand the
persons of those who had sided with the Mede. Fierce as had been the
hostility of that state to the Hellenic liberties, its sin was that of
the oligarchy rather than the people. The most eminent of these
traitors to Greece were Timagenidas and Attaginus, and the allies
resolved to destroy the city unless those chiefs were given up to

On the eleventh day from the battle they sat down before Thebes, and
on the refusal of the inhabitants to surrender the chiefs so justly
obnoxious, laid waste the Theban lands.

Whatever we may think of the conduct of Timagenidas in espousing the
cause of the invaders of Greece, we must give him the praise of a
disinterested gallantry, which will remind the reader of the siege of
Calais by Edward III., and the generosity of Eustace de St. Pierre.
He voluntarily proposed to surrender himself to the besiegers.

The offer was accepted: Timagenidas and several others were delivered
to Pausanias, removed to Corinth, and there executed--a stern but
salutary example. Attaginus saved himself by flight. His children,
given up to Pausanias, were immediately dismissed. "Infants," said
the Spartan, "could not possibly have conspired against us with the

While Thebes preserved herself from destruction, Artabazus succeeded
in effecting his return to Asia, his troop greatly reduced by the
attacks of the Thracians, and the excesses of famine and fatigue.

XXVI. On the same day as that on which the battle of Plataea crushed
the land-forces of Persia, a no less important victory was gained over
their fleet at Mycale in Ionia.

It will be remembered that Leotychides, the Spartan king, and the
Athenian Xanthippus, had conducted the Grecian navy to Delos. There
anchored, they received a deputation from Samos, among whom was
Hegesistratus, the son of Aristagoras. These ambassadors declared
that all the Ionians waited only the moment to revolt from the Persian
yoke, and that the signal would be found in the first active measures
of the Grecian confederates. Leotychides, induced by these
representations, received the Samians into the general league, and set
sail to Samos. There, drawn up in line of battle, near the temple of
Juno, they prepared to hazard an engagement.

But the Persians, on their approach, retreated to the continent, in
order to strengthen themselves with their land-forces, which, to the
amount of sixty thousand, under the command of the Persian Tigranes,
Xerxes had stationed at Mycale for the protection of Ionia.

Arrived at Mycale, they drew their ships to land, fortifying them with
strong intrenchments and barricades, and then sanguinely awaited the

The Greeks, after a short consultation, resolved upon pursuit.
Approaching the enemy's station, they beheld the sea deserted, the
ships secured by intrenchments, and long ranks of infantry ranged
along the shore. Leotychides, by a herald, exhorted the Ionians in
the Persian service to remember their common liberties, and that on
the day of battle their watchword would be "Hebe."

The Persians, distrusting these messages, though uttered in a tongue
they understood not, and suspecting the Samians, took their arms from
the latter; and, desirous of removing the Milesians to a distance,
intrusted them with the guard of the paths to the heights of Mycale.
Using these precautions against the desertion of their allies, the
Persians prepared for battle.

The Greeks were anxious and fearful not so much for themselves as for
their countrymen in Boeotia, opposed to the mighty force of Mardonius.
But a report spreading through the camp that a complete victory had
been obtained in that territory (an artifice, most probably, of
Leotychides), animated their courage and heightened their hopes.

The Athenians, who, with the troops of Corinth, Sicyon, and Troezene,
formed half the army, advanced by the coast and along the plain--the
Lacedaemonians by the more steep and wooded courses; and while the
latter were yet on their march, the Athenians were already engaged at
the intrenchments (Battle of Mycale, September, B. C. 479).

Inspired not more by enmity than emulation, the Athenians urged each
other to desperate feats--that they, and not the Spartans, might have
the honours of the day. They poured fiercely on--after an obstinate
and equal conflict, drove back the foe to the barricades that girt
their ships, stormed the intrenchments, carried the wall, and, rushing
in with their allies, put the barbarians to disorderly and rapid
flight. The proper Persians, though but few in number, alone stood
their ground--and even when Tigranes himself was slain, resolutely
fought on until the Lacedaemonians entered the intrenchment, and all
who had survived the Athenian, perished by the Spartan, sword.

The disarmed Samians, as soon as the fortunes of the battle became
apparent, gave all the assistance they could render to the Greeks; the
other Ionians seized the same opportunity to revolt and turn their
arms against their allies. In the mountain defiles the Milesians
intercepted their own fugitive allies, consigning them to the Grecian
sword, and active beyond the rest in their slaughter. So relentless
and so faithless are men, compelled to servitude, when the occasion
summons them to be free.

XXVII. This battle, in which the Athenians were pre-eminently
distinguished, was followed up by the conflagration of the Persian
ships and the collection of the plunder. The Greeks then retired to
Samos. Here deliberating, it was proposed by the Peloponnesian
leaders that Ionia should henceforth, as too dangerous and remote to
guard, be abandoned to the barbarian, and that, in recompense, the
Ionians should be put into possession of the maritime coasts of those
Grecian states which had sided with the Mede. The Athenians resisted
so extreme a proposition, and denied the power of the Peloponnesians
to dispose of Athenian colonies. The point was surrendered by the
Peloponnesians; the Ionians of the continent were left to make their
own terms with the barbarian, but the inhabitants of the isles which
had assisted against the Mede were received into the general
confederacy, bound by a solemn pledge never to desert it. The fleet
then sailed to the Hellespont, with the design to destroy the bridge,
which they believed still existent. Finding it, however, already
broken, Leotychides and the Peloponnesians returned to Greece. The
Athenians resolved to attempt the recovery of the colony of Miltiades
in the Chersonese. The Persians collected their whole remaining force
at the strongest hold in that peninsula--the Athenians laid siege to
it (begun in the autumn, B. C. 479, concluded in the spring, B. C.
478), and, after enduring a famine so obstinate that the cordage, or
rather straps, of their bedding were consumed for food, the Persians
evacuated the town, which the inhabitants then cheerfully surrendered.

Thus concluding their victories, the Athenians returned to Greece,
carrying with them a vast treasure, and, not the least precious
relics, the fragments and cables of the Hellespontic bridge, to be
suspended in their temples.

XXVIII. Lingering at Sardis, Xerxes beheld the scanty and exhausted
remnants of his mighty force, the fugitives of the fatal days of
Mycale and Plataea. The army over which he had wept in the zenith of
his power, had fulfilled the prediction of his tears: and the armed
might of Media and Egypt, of Lydia and Assyria, was now no more!

So concluded the great Persian invasion--that war the most memorable
in the history of mankind, whether from the vastness or from the
failure of its designs. We now emerge from the poetry that belongs to
early Greece, through the mists of which the forms of men assume
proportions as gigantic as indistinct. The enchanting Herodotus
abandons us, and we do not yet permanently acquire, in the stead of
his romantic and wild fidelity, the elaborate and sombre statesmanship
of the calm Thucydides. Henceforth we see more of the beautiful and
the wise, less of the wonderful and vast. What the heroic age is to
tradition, the Persian invasion is to history.


B. C. 479--B. C. 449.


Remarks on the Effects of War.--State of Athens.--Interference of
Sparta with respect to the Fortifications of Athens.--Dexterous
Conduct of Themistocles.--The New Harbour of the Piraeus.--Proposition
of the Spartans in the Amphictyonic Council defeated by Themistocles.
--Allied Fleet at Cyprus and Byzantium.--Pausanias.--Alteration in his
Character.--His ambitious Views and Treason.--The Revolt of the
Ionians from the Spartan Command.--Pausanias recalled.--Dorcis
replaces him.--The Athenians rise to the Head of the Ionian League.--
Delos made the Senate and Treasury of the Allies.--Able and prudent
Management of Aristides.--Cimon succeeds to the Command of the Fleet.
--Character of Cimon.--Eion besieged.--Scyros colonized by Atticans.--
Supposed Discovery of the Bones of Theseus.--Declining Power of
Themistocles.--Democratic Change in the Constitution.--Themistocles
ostracised.--Death of Aristides.

I. It is to the imperishable honour of the French philosophers of the
last century, that, above all the earlier teachers of mankind, they
advocated those profound and permanent interests of the human race
which are inseparably connected with a love of PEACE; that they
stripped the image of WAR of the delusive glory which it took, in the
primitive ages of society, from the passions of savages and the
enthusiasm of poets, and turned our contemplation from the fame of the
individual hero to the wrongs of the butchered millions. But their
zeal for that HUMANITY, which those free and bold thinkers were the
first to make the vital principle of a philosophical school, led them
into partial and hasty views, too indiscriminately embraced by their
disciples; and, in condemning the evils, they forgot the advantages of
war. The misfortunes of one generation are often necessary to the
prosperity of another. The stream of blood fertilizes the earth over
which it flows, and war has been at once the scourge and the civilizer
of the world: sometimes it enlightens the invader, sometimes the
invaded; and forces into sudden and brilliant action the arts and the
virtues that are stimulated by the invention of necessity--matured by
the energy of distress. What adversity is to individuals, war often
is to nations: uncertain in its consequences, it is true that, with
some, it subdues and crushes, but with others it braces and exalts.
Nor are the greater and more illustrious elements of character in men
or in states ever called prominently forth, without something of that
bitter and sharp experience which hardens the more robust properties
of the mind, which refines the more subtle and sagacious. Even when
these--the armed revolutions of the world--are most terrible in their
results--destroying the greatness and the liberties of one people--
they serve, sooner or later, to produce a counteracting rise and
progress in the fortunes of another; as the sea here advances, there
recedes, swallowing up the fertilities of this shore to increase the
territories of that; and fulfilling, in its awful and appalling
agency, that mandate of human destinies which ordains all things to be
changed and nothing to be destroyed. Without the invasion of Persia,
Greece might have left no annals, and the modern world might search in
vain for inspirations from the ancient.

II. When the deluge of the Persian arms rolled back to its Eastern
bed, and the world was once more comparatively at rest, the continent
of Greece rose visibly and majestically above the rest of the
civilized earth. Afar in the Latian plains, the infant state of Rome
was silently and obscurely struggling into strength against the
neighbouring and petty states in which the old Etrurian civilization
was rapidly passing to decay. The genius of Gaul and Germany, yet
unredeemed from barbarism, lay scarce known, save where colonized by
Greeks, in the gloom of its woods and wastes. The pride of Carthage
had been broken by a signal defeat in Sicily; and Gelo, the able and
astute tyrant of Syracuse, maintained in a Grecian colony the
splendour of the Grecian name.

The ambition of Persia, still the great monarchy of the world, was
permanently checked and crippled; the strength of generations had been
wasted, and the immense extent of the empire only served yet more to
sustain the general peace, from the exhaustion of its forces. The
defeat of Xerxes paralyzed the East.

Thus Greece was left secure, and at liberty to enjoy the tranquillity
it had acquired, and to direct to the arts of peace the novel and
amazing energies which had been prompted by the dangers and exalted by
the victories of war.

III. The Athenians, now returned to their city, saw before them the
arduous task of rebuilding its ruins and restoring its wasted lands.
The vicissitudes of the war had produced many silent and internal as
well as exterior changes. Many great fortunes had been broken; and
the ancient spirit of the aristocracy had received no inconsiderable
shock in the power of new families; the fame of the baseborn and
democratic Themistocles, and the victories which a whole people had
participated, broke up much of the prescriptive and venerable sanctity
attached to ancestral names and to particular families. This was
salutary to the spirit of enterprise in all classes. The ambition of
the great was excited to restore, by some active means, their broken
fortunes and decaying influence--the energies of the humbler ranks,
already aroused by their new importance, were stimulated to maintain
and to increase it. It was the very crisis in which a new direction
might be given to the habits and the character of a whole people; and
to seize all the advantages of that crisis, fate, in Themistocles, had
allotted to Athens a man whose qualities were not only pre-eminently
great in themselves, but peculiarly adapted to the circumstances of
the time. And, as I have elsewhere remarked, it is indeed the nature
and prerogative of free states to concentrate the popular will into
something of the unity of despotism, by producing, one after another,
a series of representatives of the wants and exigences of the hour--
each leading his generation, but only while he sympathizes with its
will; and either baffling or succeeded by his rivals, not in
proportion as he excels or he is outshone in genius, but as he gives
or ceases to give to the widest range of the legislative power the
most concentrated force of the executive; thus uniting the desires of
the greatest number under the administration of the narrowest possible
control; the constitution popular--the government absolute, but,

IV. In the great events of the late campaign, we have lost sight of
the hero of Salamis [116]. But the Persian war was no sooner ended
than we find Themistocles the most prominent citizen of Athens--a
sufficient proof that his popularity had not yet diminished, and that
his absence from Plataea was owing to no popular caprice or party

V. In the sweeping revenge of Mardonius, even private houses had been
destroyed, excepting those which had served as lodgments for the
Persian nobles [117]. Little of the internal city, less of the
outward walls was spared. As soon as the barbarians had quitted their
territory, the citizens flocked back with their slaves and families
from the various places of refuge; and the first care was to rebuild
the city. They were already employed upon this necessary task, when
ambassadors arrived from Sparta, whose vigilant government, ever
jealous of a rival, beheld with no unreasonable alarm the increasing
navy and the growing fame of a people hitherto undeniably inferior to
the power of Lacedaemon. And the fear that was secretly cherished by
that imperious nation was yet more anxiously nursed by the subordinate
allies [118]. Actuated by their own and the general apprehensions,
the Spartans therefore now requested the Athenians to desist from the
erection of their walls. Nor was it without a certain grace, and a
plausible excuse, that the government of a city, itself unwalled,
inveighed against the policy of walls for Athens. The Spartan
ambassadors urged that fortified towns would become strongholds to
the barbarian, should he again invade them; and the walls of Athens
might be no less useful to him than he had found the ramparts of
Thebes. The Peloponnesus, they asserted, was the legitimate retreat
and the certain resource of all; and, unwilling to appear exclusively
jealous of Athens, they requested the Athenians not only to desist
from their own fortifications, but to join with them in razing every
fortification without the limit of the Peloponnesus.

It required not a genius so penetrating as that of Themistocles to
divine at once the motive of the demand, and the danger of a
peremptory refusal. He persuaded the Athenians to reply that they
would send ambassadors to debate the affair; and dismissed the
Spartans without further explanation. Themistocles next recommended
to the senate [119] that he himself might be one of the ambassadors
sent to Sparta, and that those associated with him in the mission (for
it was not the custom of Greece to vest embassies in individuals)
should be detained at Athens until the walls were carried to a height
sufficient, at least, for ordinary defence. He urged his countrymen
to suspend for this great task the completion of all private edifices
--nay, to spare no building, private or public, from which materials
might be adequately selected. The whole population, slaves, women,
and children, were to assist in the labour.

VI. This counsel adopted, he sketched an outline of the conduct he
himself intended to pursue, and departed for Sparta. His colleagues,
no less important than Aristides, and Abronychus, a distinguished
officer in the late war, were to follow at the time agreed on.

Arrived in the Laconian capital, Themistocles demanded no public
audience, avoided all occasions of opening the questions in dispute,
and screened the policy of delay beneath the excuse that his
colleagues were not yet arrived--that he was incompetent to treat
without their counsel and concurrence--and that doubtless they would
speedily appear in Sparta.

When we consider the shortness of the distance between the states, the
communications the Spartans would receive from the neighbouring
Aeginetans, more jealous than themselves, and the astute and
proverbial sagacity of the Spartan council--it is impossible to
believe that, for so long a period as, with the greatest expedition,
must have elapsed from the departure of Themistocles to the necessary
progress in the fortifications, the ephors could have been ignorant of
the preparations at Athens or the designs of Themistocles. I fear,
therefore, that we must believe, with Theopompus [120], that
Themistocles, the most expert briber of his time, heightened that
esteem which Thucydides assures us the Spartans bore him, by private
and pecuniary negotiations with the ephors. At length, however, such
decided and unequivocal intelligence of the progress of the walls
arrived at Sparta, that the ephors could no longer feel or affect

Themistocles met the remonstrances of the Spartans by an appearance of
candour mingled with disdain. "Why," said he, "give credit to these
idle rumours? Send to Athens some messengers of your own, in whom you
can confide; let them inspect matters with their own eyes, and report
to you accordingly."

The ephors (not unreluctantly, if the assertion of Theopompus may be
credited) yielded to so plausible a suggestion, and in the mean while
the crafty Athenian despatched a secret messenger to Athens, urging
the government to detain the Spartan ambassadors with as little
semblance of design as possible, and by no means to allow their
departure until the safe return of their own mission to Sparta. For
it was by no means improbable that, without such hostages, even the
ephors, however powerful and however influenced, might not be enabled,
when the Spartans generally were made acquainted with the deceit
practised upon them, to prevent the arrest of the Athenian delegates.

At length the walls, continued night and day with incredible zeal and
toil, were sufficiently completed; and disguise, no longer possible,
was no longer useful. Themistocles demanded the audience he had
hitherto deferred, and boldly avowed that Athens was now so far
fortified as to protect its citizens. "In future," he added,
haughtily, "when Sparta or our other confederates send ambassadors to
Athens, let them address us as a people well versed in our own
interests and the interests of our common Greece. When we deserted
Athens for our ships, we required and obtained no Lacedaemonian
succours to support our native valour; in all subsequent measures, to
whom have we shown ourselves inferior, whether in the council or the
field? At present we have judged it expedient to fortify our city,
rendering it thus more secure for ourselves and our allies. Nor would
it be possible, with a strength inferior to that of any rival power,
adequately to preserve and equally to adjust the balance of the
liberties of Greece." [122]

Contending for this equality, he argued that either all the cities in
the Lacedaemonian league should be dismantled of their fortresses, or
that it should be conceded, that in erecting fortresses for herself
Athens had rightly acted.

VII. The profound and passionless policy of Sparta forbade all
outward signs of unavailing and unreasonable resentment. The
Spartans, therefore, replied with seeming courtesy, that "in their
embassy they had not sought to dictate, but to advise--that their
object was the common good;" and they accompanied their excuses with
professions of friendship for Athens, and panegyrics on the Athenian
valour in the recent war. But the anger they forbore to show only
rankled the more bitterly within. [123]

The ambassadors of either state returned home; and thus the mingled
firmness and craft of Themistocles, so well suited to the people with
whom he had to deal, preserved his country from the present jealousies
of a yet more deadly and implacable foe than the Persian king, and
laid the foundation of that claim of equality with the most eminent
state of Greece, which he hastened to strengthen and enlarge.

The ardour of the Athenians in their work of fortification had spared
no material which had the recommendation of strength. The walls
everywhere presented, and long continued to exhibit, an evidence of
the haste in which they were built. Motley and rough hewn, and
uncouthly piled, they recalled, age after age, to the traveller the
name of the ablest statesman and the most heroic days of Athens.
There, at frequent intervals, would he survey stones wrought in the
rude fashion of former times--ornaments borrowed from the antique
edifices demolished by the Mede--and frieze and column plucked from
dismantled sepulchres; so that even the dead contributed from their
tombs to the defence of Athens.

VIII. Encouraged by the new popularity and honours which followed the
success of his mission, Themistocles now began to consummate the vast
schemes he had formed, not only for the aggrandizement of his country,
but for the change in the manners of the citizens. All that is left
to us of this wonderful man proves that, if excelled by others in
austere virtue or in dazzling accomplishment, he stands unrivalled for
the profound and far-sighted nature of his policy. He seems, unlike
most of his brilliant countrymen, to have been little influenced by
the sallies of impulse or the miserable expediencies of faction--his
schemes denote a mind acting on gigantic systems; and it is
astonishing with what virtuous motives and with what prophetic art he
worked through petty and (individually considered) dishonest means to
grand and permanent results. He stands out to the gaze of time, the
model of what a great and fortunate statesman should be, so long as
mankind have evil passions as well as lofty virtues, and the state
that he seeks to serve is surrounded by powerful and restless foes,
whom it is necessary to overreach where it is dangerous to offend.

In the year previous to the Persian war, Themistocles had filled the
office of archon [124], and had already in that year planned the
construction of a harbour in the ancient deme of Piraeus [125], for
the convenience of the fleet which Athens had formed. Late events had
frustrated the continuance of the labour, and Themistocles now
resolved to renew and complete it, probably on a larger and more
elaborate scale.

The port of Phalerun had hitherto been the main harbour of Athens--one
wholly inadequate to the new navy she had acquired; another inlet,
Munychia, was yet more inconvenient. But equally at hand was the
capacious, though neglected port of Piraeus, so formed by nature as to
permit of a perfect fortification against a hostile fleet. Of
Piraeus, therefore, Themistocles now designed to construct the most
ample and the most advantageous harbour throughout all Greece. He
looked upon this task as the foundation of his favourite and most
ambitious project, viz., the securing to Athens the sovereignty of the
sea. [126]

The completion of the port--the increased navy which the construction
of the new harbour would induce--the fame already acquired by Athens
in maritime warfare, encouraging attention to naval discipline and
tactics--proffered a splendid opening to the ambition of a people at
once enterprising and commercial. Themistocles hoped that the results
of his policy would enable the Athenians to gain over their own
offspring, the Ionian colonies, and by their means to deliver from the
Persian yoke, and permanently attach to the Athenian interest, all the
Asiatic Greeks. Extending his views, he beheld the various insular
states united to Athens by a vast maritime power, severing themselves
from Lacedaemon, and following the lead of the Attican republic. He
saw his native city thus supplanting, by a naval force, the long-won
pre-eminence and iron supremacy of Sparta upon land, and so extending
her own empire, while she sapped secretly and judiciously the
authority of the most formidable of her rivals.

IX. But in the execution of these grand designs Themistocles could
not but anticipate considerable difficulties: first, in the jealousy
of the Spartans; and, secondly, in the popular and long-rooted
prejudices of the Athenians themselves. Hitherto they had discouraged
maritime affairs, and their more popular leaders had directed
attention to agricultural pursuits. We may suppose, too, that the
mountaineers, or agricultural party, not the least powerful, would
resist so great advantages to the faction of the coastmen, if
acquainted with all the results which the new policy would produce.
Nor could so experienced a leader of mankind be insensible of those
often not insalutary consequences of a free state in the changing
humours of a wide democracy--their impatience at pecuniary demands--
their quick and sometimes uncharitable apprehensions of the motives of
their advisers. On all accounts it was necessary, therefore, to act
with as much caution as the task would admit--rendering the design
invidious neither to foreign nor to domestic jealousies. Themistocles
seemed to have steered his course through every difficulty with his
usual address. Stripping the account of Diodorus [127] of its
improbable details, it appears credible at least that Themistocles
secured, in the first instance, the co-operation of Xanthippus and
Aristides, the heads of the great parties generally opposed to his
measures, and that he won the democracy to consent that the outline of
his schemes should not be submitted to the popular assembly, but to
the council of Five Hundred. It is perfectly clear, however, that, as
soon as the plan was carried into active operation, the Athenians
could not, as Diodorus would lead us to suppose, have been kept in
ignorance of its nature; and all of the tale of Diodorus to which we
can lend our belief is, that the people permitted the Five Hundred to
examine the project, and that the popular assembly ratified the
approbation of that senate without inquiring the reasons upon which it
was founded.

X. The next care of Themistocles was to anticipate the jealousy of
Sparta, and forestall her interference. According to Diodorus, he
despatched, therefore, ambassadors to Lacedaemon, representing the
advantages of forming a port which might be the common shelter of
Greece should the barbarian renew his incursions; but it is so obvious
that Themistocles could hardly disclose to Sparta the very project he
at first concealed from the Athenians, that while we may allow the
fact that Themistocles treated with the Spartans, we must give him
credit, at least, for more crafty diplomacy than that ascribed to him
by Diodorus [128]. But whatever the pretexts with which he sought to
amuse or beguile the Spartan government, they appear at least to have
been successful. And the customary indifference of the Spartans
towards maritime affairs was strengthened at this peculiar time by
engrossing anxieties as to the conduct of Pausanias. Thus
Themistocles, safe alike from foreign and from civil obstacles,
pursued with activity the execution of his schemes. The Piraeus was
fortified by walls of amazing thickness, so as to admit two carts
abreast. Within, the entire structure was composed of solid masonry,
hewn square, so that each stone fitted exactly, and was further
strengthened on the outside by cramps of iron. The walls were never
carried above half the height originally proposed. But the whole was
so arranged as to form a fortress against assault, too fondly deemed
impregnable, and to be adequately manned by the smallest possible
number of citizens; so that the main force might, in time of danger,
be spared to the fleet.

Thus Themistocles created a sea-fortress more important than the city
itself, conformably to the advice he frequently gave to the Athenians,
that, if hard pressed by land, they should retire to this arsenal, and
rely, against all hostilities, on their naval force. [129]

The new port, which soon bore the ambitious title of the Lower City,
was placed under the directions of Hippodamus, a Milesian, who,
according to Aristotle [130], was the first author who, without any
knowledge of practical affairs, wrote upon the theory of government.
Temples [131], a market-place, even a theatre, distinguished and
enriched the new town. And the population that filled it were not
long before they contracted and established a character for themselves
different in many traits and attributes from the citizens of the
ancient Athens--more bold, wayward, innovating, and tumultuous.

But if Sparta deemed it prudent, at present, to avoid a direct
assumption of influence over Athens, her scheming councils were no
less bent, though by indirect and plausible means, to the extension of
her own power. To use the simile applied to one of her own chiefs,
where the lion's skin fell short, she sought to eke it by the fox's.

At the assembly of the Amphictyons, the Lacedaemonian delegates moved
that all those states who had not joined in the anti-Persic
confederacy should be expelled the council. Under this popular and
patriotic proposition was sagaciously concealed the increase of the
Spartan authority; for had the Thessalians, Argives, and Thebans
(voices ever counter to the Lacedaemonians) been expelled the
assembly, the Lacedaemonian party would have secured the preponderance
of votes, and the absolute dictation of that ancient council. [132]

But Themistocles, who seemed endowed with a Spartan sagacity for the
foiling the Spartan interests, resisted the proposition by arguments
no less popular. He represented to the delegates that it was unjust
to punish states for the errors of their leaders--that only thirty-one
cities had contributed to the burden of the war, and many of those
inconsiderable--that it was equally dangerous and absurd to exclude
from the general Grecian councils the great proportion of the Grecian

The arguments of Themistocles prevailed, but his success stimulated
yet more sharply against him the rancour of the Lacedaemonians; and,
unable to resist him abroad, they thenceforth resolved to undermine
his authority at home.

XI. While, his danger invisible, Themistocles was increasing with his
own power that of the state, the allies were bent on new enterprises
and continued retribution. From Persia, now humbled and exhausted, it
was the moment to wrest the Grecian towns, whether in Europe or in
Asia, over which she yet arrogated dominion--it was resolved,
therefore, to fit out a fleet, to which the Peloponnesus contributed
twenty and Athens thirty vessels. Aristides presided over the latter;
Pausanias was commander-in-chief; many other of the allies joined the
expedition. They sailed to Cyprus, and reduced with ease most of the
towns in that island. Thence proceeding to Byzantium, the main
strength and citadel of Persia upon those coasts, and the link between
her European and Asiatic dominions, they blockaded the town and
ultimately carried it.

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