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“he is an enemy to pride, and takes pleasure in humbling "every thing that exalteth itself; and very often the most
numerous armies fly before an handful of men, because he inspires the one with courage, and scatters terror among " the others.”
Artabanes, after having spoken thus to the king, turned himself towards Mardonius, and reproached him with his want of sincerity or judgment, in giving the king a notion of the Grecians so directly contrary to truth; and showed how extremely he was to blame for desiring rashly to engage the nation in a war, which nothing but his own views of interest and ambition could tempt him to advise. “If a
war be resolved upon,” added he, " let the king, whose “ life is dear to us all, remain in Persia: and do you, since "you so ardently desire it, march at the head of the most
numerous army that can be assembled. In the mean time, " let your children and mine be given up as a pledge, to an
swer for the success of the war. If the issue of it be "favourable, I consent that mine be put to death: but if “it proves otherwise, as I well foresee it will, then I desire " that your children, and you yourself, on your retum, may “ be treated in such a manner as you deserve, for the rash “ counsel you have given your master."
Xerxes, who was not accustomed to have his sentiments contradicted in this manner, fell into a rage; “Thank the "gods,” says he to Artabanes, " that you are my father's “brother; were it not for that, you should this moment “suffer the just reward of your audacious behaviour. But
I will punish you for it in another manner, by leaving you “here among the women, whom you too much resemble in "your cowardice and fear, whilst I march at the head of
my troops, where my duty and glory call me.” Artabanes had expressed his sentiments in very respectful and moderate terms: Xerxes nevertheless was extremely offended. It is the c misfortune of princes, spoiled by Hattery, to look upon every thing as dry and austere, that is sincere and ingenuous, and to regard all counsel, delivered with a generous and disinterested freedom, as a seditious presumption. They do not consider, that even a good man never dares to tell them all he thinks, nor discover the whole truth; especially in things that may be disagreeable to them: and that what they stand most in need of, is a sincere and faithful friend, that will conceal nothing from them, А prince ought to think himself very happy, if in his whole
α Φιλέει ο θεός τα εύπερέχοντα πάντα κολάεν-3 γάρ έα φρονίειν άλλον μέγα ο θεός ή ιωυτόν.
Why should the chi’dren be punished for their father's faults € Ita torniatis principum auribus, ut aspera quæ utilia, neu quicquam nisi jucundum et lætum accipiant. Tacit. Hist. 1. th. c. 66.
reign he finds but one man born with that degree of generosity, who certainly ought to be considered as the most valuable treasure of the state; as he is (if the expression may be admitted) both the most necessary, and, at the same time, the most rare instrument 4 of government.
Xerxes himself acknowledged this upon the occasion we are speaking of. When the first emotions of his anger were over, and he had had time to reflect on his pillow upon the different counsels that had been given him, he confessed he had been to blame to give his uncle such harsh language, and was not ashamed to confess his fault the next day in open council, ingenuously owning, that the heat of youth, and his want of experience, had made him negligent in paying the regard due to a prince so worthy of respect as Artabanes, both for his age and wisdom ; and declaring, at the same time, that he was come over to his opinion, notwithstanding a dream he had had in the night, wherein a phantom had appeared to him, and warmly exhorted him to undertake that war. All the lords who composed the council, were delighted to hear the king speak in this manner; and to testify their joy, they fell prostrate before him, striving who should most extol the glory of such a proceeding. Nor could their praises on such an occasion be at all suspected b; for it is no hard matter to discern, whether the praises given to princes proceed from the heart, and are founded upon truth, or whether they drop from the lips only, as an effect of mere flattery and deceit. That sincere and humiliating acknowledgment of the king, far from appearing as a weakness in him, was looked upon by them as the effort of a great soul, which rises above its faults, in bravely confessing them by way of reparation and atonement. They admired the nobleness of this procedure the more, as they knew that princes educated, like Xerxes, in a vain haughtiness and false glory, are never disposed to own themselves in the wrong, and generally make use of their authority to justify, with pride and obstinacy, whatever faults they have committed through ignorance or imprudence. We may venture, I think, to say, that it is more glorious to rise in this manner, than it would be never to have fallen. Certainly there is nothing greater, and, at the same time, more rare and uncominon, than to see a mighty and powerful prince, and that in the time of his greatest prosperity, acknowledge his faults, when he happens to commit any, without seeking pretexts or excuses to cover them; pay homage to truth, even when it is against him, and condemns him ; and leave other princes, who have a false delicacy concerning their grandeur, the shame of always abounding with errors and defects, and of never owning that they have any.
a Nullum majus boni imperii instrumentum quam bonus amicus. Tacit. Hist l. iv c. 7.
b Nec occultum est quando ex veritate. quando adumbrata lætitia, facea is. peratorum celebrantar. Tacit Annal. 1. iv. e. 31.
The night following, the same phantom, if we may believe Herodotus, appeared again to the king, and repeated the same solicitations with new menaces and threatenings. Xerxes communicated what passed to his uncle ; and, in order to find out whether this vision proceeded from the gods or not, entreated him earnestly to put on the royal robes, to ascend the throne, and afterwards to take his place in his bed for the night. Artabanes hereupon discoursed very sensibly and rationally with the king upon the vanity of dreams'; and then coming to what personally regarded him: “a I look upon it,” says he, “ almost equally commendable to think “well one's self, and to hearken with docility to the good, “ counsels of others. You have both these qualities, great “ prince ; and if you followed the natural bent of your own
temper, it would lead you entirely to sentiments of wisdom “ and moderation. You never take any violent measures “or resolutions, but when the arts of evil counsellors urge
you into them, or the poison of flattery misleads you ; in “the same manner as the ocean, which of itself is calm and
serene, and never disturbed but by the extraneous impulse “ of other bodies. What afflicted me in the answer you “ made me the other day, when I delivered my sentiments
freely in council, was not the personal affront to me, but “ the injury you did yourself, by making so wrong a choice “ between the different counsels that were offered ; reject“ ing that which led you to sentiments of moderation and
equity : and embracing the other, which, on the contrary, “tended only to nourish pride, and to inflame ambition.
Artabanes, through complaisance, passed the night in the king's bed, and had the same vision which Xerxes had before; that is, in his sleep he saw a man, who severely reproached him, and threatened him with the greatest misfortunes, if he continued to oppose the king's intentions. This so much affected him, that he came over to the king's first opinion, believing that there was something divine in these repeated visions; and the war against the Grecians was resolved upon. These circumstances I relate, as I find them. in Herodotus.
Xerxes in the sequel did but ill support this character of moderation. We shall find in him only transient rays of wisdom and reason, which shone forth but for a moment, and then gave way to the most culpable and extravagant excesses. We may judge however even from thence, that
& This thought is in Hesiod Opera & dies, v. 293. Cic. pro Cluent. n. 84. & Tit Liv. 1 xxii. n. 19. Sæpe ego audivi, milites, eum primum esse virum, qui ipse consulat quid in rem sit ; secundum eum, qui bene monenti obediat: qui nec ipse consulere, nec alteri parere sciat, eum extremi ingenii esse.
he had very good natural parts and inclinations. But the most excellent qualities are soon spoiled and corrupted by the poison of flattery, and the possession of absolute and unlimited
power: ari Vi dominationis convulsus." It is a fine sentiment in a minister of state, to be less affected with an affront to himself, than with the wrong done his master by giving him evil and pernicious counsel.
Mardonius's counsel was pernicious; because, as Artabanes observes, it tended only to nourish and increase that spirit of haughtiness and violence in the prince, which was but too prevalent in him already, i per autouons; and 6 because it disposed and accustomed his mind still to carry his views and desires beyond his present fortune, still to be aiming at something farther, and to set no bounds to his àmbition, • This is the predominant passion of those men, whom we usually call conquerors, and whom, according to the language of the Holy Scripture, we might call, with greater propriety, d“ robbers of nations.” If you consider and examine the whole succession of Persian kings, says Seneca, will you find any one of them that ever stopped his career of his own accord; that was ever satisfied with his past conquests; or that was not forming some new project or enterprise, when death surprised him? nor ought we to be astonished at such a disposition, adds the same author: for ambition is a gulf and a bottomless abyss, wherein every thing is lost that is thrown in, and where, though you were to heap province upon province, and kingdom upon kingdom, you would never be able to fill up the mighty void.
Sect. II. Xerxes begins his March, and passes from Asia into Europe,
by crossing the Straits of the Hellespont upon a Bridge of Beats.
The war being resolved upon, e Xerxes, that he might omit nothing which might contribute to the success of his undertaking, entered into a confederacy with the Carthaginians, who were at that time the most potent people of the west, and made an agreement with them, that whilst the Persian forces should attack Greece, the Carthaginians should fall
ο Ω: κακόν ειη διδάσκειν την ψυχήν πλέον τι δίζεσθαι αινεί έχειν του παρέοντα.
c Nec hoc Alexandri tantum vitium fuit, quem per Liberi Herculisque ves. tigia telix temeritas egit; sed omnium, quos fortuna irr tavit inpiendo. Totuna regni Perfici stemnia percense : quern uvenies, cui mudum imperii satietas fecerit? qui non vitam in aliqua ulterius procedendi cogitati ne tinierit ? Nee id m. rum est. Quicquid cupiditate contigit, penitus hauritur & conditu. : .ec interest quantum eo, quod inexplebile est, congeras Senec !. vii. de benes €, 3.
d Jer. iv, 7. c A, M. 3,523. Ant. J. C. 481.
upon the Grecian colonies that were settled in Sicily and Italy, in order to hinder them from coming to the aid of the other Grecians. The Carthaginians made Amilcar their general, who did not content himself with raising as many troops as he could in Africa, but with the money that Xerxes had sent him, engaged a great number of soldiers out of Spain, Gaul, and Italy, in his service ; so that he collected an army of 300,000 men, and a proportionate number of ships, in or’der to execute the projects and stipulations of the league.
Thus Xerxes, agreeably to the prophet a Daniel's prediction," having through his great power and his great riches “stirred up all the nations of the then known world against “ the realm of Greece," that is to say, of all the west under the command of Amilcar, and of all the east under his own banner, b set out from Susa, in order to enter upon this war, in the fifth year of his reign, which was the tenth after the battle of Marathon, and marched towards Sardis, the place of rendezvous for the whole land-army, whilst the fleet advanced along the coast of Asia Minor towards the Hellespont.
c Xerxes had given orders to have a passage cut through Mount Athos. This is a mountain in Macedonia, now a province of Turkey in Europe, which extends a great way into the Archipelago, in the form of a peninsula. It is joined to the land only by an isthmus of about half a league over. We have already taken notice, that the sea in this place was very tempestuous, and occasioned frequent shipwrecks, Xerxes made this his pretext for the orders he gave for cutting through the mountain : but the true reason was the vanity of signalizing himself by an extraordinary enterprise, and by doing a thing that was extremely difficult; as Tacitus says of Nero : Erat incredibilium cupitor. Accordingly Herodotus observes, that this undertaking was more vainglorious than useful, since he might with less trouble and expense have had his vessels carried over the isthmus, as was the practice in those days. The passage he caused to be cut through the mountain was broad enough to let two gallies with three banks of oars each pass through it abreast. This prince, who was extravagant enough to believe, that all nature, and the very elements were under his command, in consequence of that opinion, writ a letter to Mount Athos in the following terms: “ Athos, thou proud and aspiring mountain, that liftest up thy head unto the heavens, I advise thee
not to be so audacious, as to put rocks and stones, which "cannot be cut, in the way of my workmen. If thou givest "them that opposition, I will cut thee entirely down, and
c Ibid. c. 21, 24.
vij. c. 26.
a Dan. xi. 2.