Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE HISTORY

OF THE

PERSIANS AND GRECIANS.

PLAN. The first and third chapters of this book include the history of the

Persians and Greeks, during 48 years and some months, which contain the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus ; the last six years of which answer to the six first of the Peloponnesian war. This space of time begins at the year of the world 3531, and ends at

3579. The second chapter comprehends the other transactions of the

Greeks, which happened both in Sicily and Italy, during the intera val above mentioned.

CHAPTER I. • THE

THIS chapter includes the history of the Persians and

Greeks, from the beginning of the reign of Artaxerxes, to the Peloponnesian war, which began in the fortysecond year of that king's reign.

SECT. I. Artaxerxes ruins the Faction of Artabanus, and that of

Hystaspes kis elder Brother. The Greek historians give this prince the surname of Longimanus. Strabob says, it was because his hands were so long, that when he stood upright he could touch his knees with them ; but according to ĉ Plutarch, it was because his right hand was longer than his left. Had it not been for this blemish, he would have been the most graceful man of his age. He was still more remarkable for his goodness and generosity. He reigned about 49 years.

d Although Artaxerxes, by the death of Artabanus, was delivered from a dangerous competitor, there still were two obstacles in his way, before he could establish himself in the quiet possession of his throne ; one of which was, his brother a A. M. 3531. Ant. J. C. 473. 6 Lib. xv. p. 735.

c In Artax. p. 1011. b Ctes. e. XXX.

sun.

Hystaspes, governor of Bactriana ; and the other, the faction of Artabanus. He began by the latter.

Artabanus had left seven sons, and a great number of partisans, who soon assembled to revenge his death. These, and the adherents of Artaxerxes, fought a bloody battle, in which a great number of Persian nobles lost their lives. Artaxerxes having at last entirely defeated his enemies, put to death all who had engaged in this conspiracy. He took an exemplary vengeance of those who were concerned in his father's murder, and particularly of Mithridates the eunuch, who had betrayed him : he made him suffer the punishment of the Troughs, which was executed in the following manner. a He was laid on his back in a kind of horse-trough, and strongly fastened to the four corners of it. Every part of him, except his head, his hands and feet, which came out at holes made for that purpose, was covered with another trough. In this horrid situation victuals were given him from time to time; and in case of his refusal to eat, they were forced down his throat : honey mixed with milk was given him to drink, and all his face was smeared with it, which by that means attracted a numberless inultitude of fties, especially as he was perpetually exposed to the scorching rays of the

The worms which bred in his excrements preyed upon his bowels. The criminal lived fifteen or twenty days in inexpressible torments.

Artaxerxes having crushed the faction of Artabanus, was powerful enough to send an army into Bactriana, which had declared in favour of his brother, but he was not equally successful on this occasion. The two armies engaging, Hystaspes stood his ground so well, that, if he did not gain the victory, he at least sustained no loss ; so that both armies separated with equal success; and each retired to prepare for a second battle. Artaxerxes having raised a greater army than his brother, (not to mention that the whole empire declared in his favour) defeated him in a second engagement, and entirely ruined his party. By this victory he secured to himself the quiet possession of the empire.

• To maintain himself in the throne, he removed from their employment all such governors of cities and provinces as he suspected to hold a correspondence with either of the factions he had overcome, and substituted others on whom he could rely. He afterwards applied himself to reforming the abuses and disorders which had crept into the government. By this wise conduct and zeal for the public good, he soon acquired great reputation and authority, with the love of his subjects, the strongest support of sovereign power. a Plut, in Artax. p. 1019.

b Coes, CXXXIX c Diod. I. si p.St.

1

SECT. II.---Themistocles takes Refuge with Artaxerxes.

. According to Thucydides, Themistocles fled to this prince in the beginning of his reign; but other authors, as Strabo, Plutarch, Diodorus, fix this incident under Xerxes his predecessor. Dean Prideaux is of the latter opinion ; he likewise thinks, that the Artaxerxes in question is the same with him who is called Ahasuerus in Scripture, and who married Esther : but we suppose with the learned archbishop Usher, that it was Darius the son of Hystaspes who espoused this illustrious Jewess. I have already declared more than once, that I would not engage in controversies of this kind ; and therefore with regard to this flight of Themistocles into Persia, and the history of Esther, I shall follow the opinion of the learned Usher, my usual guide on these occasions.

6. We have seen that Themistocles had fled to Admetus, king of the Molossi, and had met with a gracious reception from him ; but the Athenians and Lacedæmonians would not suffer him to remain there in peace, and required that prince to deliver him up ; threatening, in case of refusal, to carry their arms into his country. Admetus, who was unwilling to draw such formidable enemies upon himself, and much more to deliver up the man who had fled to him for refuge, informed him of the great danger to which he was exposed, and favoured his flight. Themistocles went as far by land as Pydna, a city of Macedonia, and there embarked on board a merchant ship which was bound to Ionia. None of the passengers knew him. A storm having carried this vessel near the island of Naxos, then besieged by the Athenians; the imminent danger to which Themistocles was exposed, obliged him to discover himself to the pilot and master of the ship ; after which, by intreaties and menaces, he forced them to sail towards Asia.

c Themistocles might on this occasion call to mind an expression which his father had made use of, in order to warn him, when an infant, to lay very little stress on the favour of the common people. They were then walking together in the harbour. His father pointed to some rotten gallies that lay neglected on the strand, Look there,” says he,

son (pointing to them) thus do the people treat their governors, when they can do them no farther service.” He arrived at Cumæ, a city of Æolia in Asia Minor. The king of Persia had set a price upon his head, and pro

66

GA, M. 3531. Ant. J. C. 473.

Thucyd. l, i. p 90, 91, Plut. in Themist. p. 125, 127. Diod, l. xi p. 42 44. Corn. Nep. in Themist. C. viit. X.

c Plut. in Themist. p. 112.

[ocr errors]

mised 200 a talents to any man who should deliver him up. The whole coast was covered with people, who were watching for him. He fied to Ægæ, a little city of Æolia, where no one knew him except Nicogenes, at whose house he lodged. He was the most wealthy man in that country,

and very intimate with all the lords of the Persian court. Themistocles was concealed some days in his house, till Nicogenes sent him under a strong guard to Susa, in one of those covered chariots in which the Persians, who were extremely jealous, used to carry their wives ; those who conducted him telling every body, that they were carrying a young Greek lady to a courtier of great

distinction. Being come to the Persian court, he waited upon

the

captain of the guards, and told him, that he was a Grecian by birth, and begged the king would admit him to audience, as he had matters of great importance to communicate to him. The officer informed him of a ceremony, which he knew was insupportable to some Greeks, but without which none were allowed to speak to the king; and this was, to fall prostrate before him.

“Our laws," says he,“ command us to honour the king in that manner, and to worship him as the living image of the immortal God, who maintains “ and preserves all things.” Themistocles promised to comply. Being admitted to audience, he fell on his face before the king, after the Persian manner; and afterwards rising up, “Great king b." says he by an interpreter, “I

Themistocles the Athenian, who having been banished “by the Greeks, am come to your court in hopes of finding

an asylum. I have indeed brought many calamities on “ the Persians; but, on the other side, I have done them no “ less services, by the salutary advice I have given them

more than once; and I now am able to do them more

important services than ever. My life is in your hands. " You may now exert your clemency, or display your ven

geance: by the former you will preserve your suppliant; by the latter you will destroy the greatest enemy of “Greece.”

The king made him no answer at this audience, though he was struck with admiration at his great sense and boldness; but history informs us, that in company with his friends, he congratulated himself upon his good fortune, and considered Themistocles's arrival as a very great happiness; that he implored his god Arimanius always to inspire his enemies with such thoughts, and to prompt them to banish and thus to deprive themselves of their most illustrious

a 200.000 erowns, or about l. 45,000 sterling

6 Thucydides attributes to him very near the same words ; but informs us. that Themistocles did not speak them to the king but sent them by way of less zer before he was introduced to himse

am

« AnteriorContinuar »