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a spy before him to view the enemy. The spy brought him word, that he found the Lacedæmonians out of their entrenchments, and that they were diverting themselves with military exercises, and combing their hair: this was the Spartan manner of preparing themselves for battle.
Xerxes still entertaining some hopes of their flight, waited four days on purpose to give them time to retreat. a And in this interval of time he used his utmost endeavours to gain Leonidas, by making him magnificent promises, and assuring him, that he would make him master of all Greece if he would come over to his party. Leonidas rejected his proposal with scorn and indignation. Xerxes having afterwards written to him to deliver up his arms, Leonidas, in a style and a spirit truly laconical, answered him in these words; 6“ Come and take them.” Nothing remained, but to prepare themselves to engage the Lacedæmonians. Xerxes first commanded his Median forces to march against them with orders to take them all alive and bring them to him. The Medes were not able to stand the charge of the Grecians; and being shamefully put to flight, they showed, says c Herodotus, that Xerxes had a great many men, and but few soldiers. The next that were sent to face the Spartans, were those Persians called the Immortal Band, which consisted of 10,000 men, and were the best troops in the whole army. But these had no better success than the former.
Xerxes, despairing of being able to force his way through troops so determined to conquer or die, was extremely perplexed, and could not tell what resolution to take, when an inhabitant of the country came to him, and discovered a secret d path leading to an eminence, which overlooked and commanded the Spartan forces. He quickly dispatched a detachment thither, which marching all night, arrived there at the break of day, and possessed themselves of that advantageous post.
The Greeks were soon apprised of this misfortune ; and Leonidas, seeing that it was now impossible to withstand the enemy, obliged the rest of the allies to retire, but staid himself with his 300 Lacedæmonians, all resolved to die with their leader, who being told by the oracle that either Lacedæmon or her king must necessarily perish, determined without the least difficulty or hesitation, to sacrifice himself for his country. The Spartans lost all hopes either of conquering or escaping, and looked upon Thermopylæ as their burying-place. a Plut. jo Lacon. Apoph. p. 225.
ο 'Αντίγραψε, Μόλων λάβε. • "Οτι πολλοί μεν άνθρωποι έιεν, όλιγοι δε άνδρες.
Quod multi homines essent, pauci autem viri, d When the Gauls, 200 years after this, came to invade Greece, they possessed themselves of the strait of Theremopylæ by means of the same by-path, which the Grecians had still neglected to secure. Pausan. L. i. p. 7. & Son
The king, exhorting his men to take some nourishment, and telling them at the same time, that they should sup together with Pluto, they set up a shout of joy as if they had been invited to a banquet and full of ardour advanced with their king to battle. The shock was exceeding violent and bloody. Leonidas himself was one of the first that fell. The endeavours of the Lacedæmonians to defend his dead body were incredible. At length, not vanquished, but oppressed by numbers, they all fell, except one man, who escaped to Sparta, where he was treated as a coward and traitor to his country, and nobody would keep company or converse with him. But soon afterwards he made a glorious amends for his fault at the battle of Platæa, where he distinguished himself in an extraordinary manner. u Xerxes, enraged to the last degree against Leonidas for daring to make head against him, caused his dead body to be hung on a gallows, and made his intended dishonour of his enemy his own immortal shame.
Some time after these transactions, by order of the Amphictyons, a magnificent monument was erected at Thermopylæ to the honour of these brave defenders of Greece, and upon the monument were two inscriptions; one of which was general, and related to all those that died at Thermopylæ, importing that the Greeks of Peloponnesus, to the number only of 4,000 had made head against the Persian army, which consisted of 3,000,000 of men : The other related to the Spartans in particular. It was composed by the peet Simonides, and is very remarkable for its simplicity. It is as follows:
**Ω ξειν', άγδειλος Λακεδαιμονίοις, ότι τί δε
Κείμεθα, τοις κείνων πυθόμενοι νομίμοις. That is to say ; “Go, passenger, and tell at Lacedæmon, “ that we died here in obedience to her sacred laws." Forty years afterwards, Pausanias, who obtained the victory of Platæa, caused the bones of Leonidas to be carried from Thermopylæ to Sparta and erected a magnificent monument to his memory; near which was likewise another erected for Pausanias. Every year at these tombs was a funeral oration pronounced to the honour of these heroes, and public games celebrated, wherein none but Lacedæmonians had a right to partake, in order to show that they alone were concerned in the glory obtained at Thermopylæ.
a Herod l. vii c 238.
Dic, bospes, Spartæ nos te hic vidisse jacentes,
Cic. Tusc. Quæst. l. i. n. 101.
« Xerxes in that affair lost above 20,000 men, among whom were two of the king's brothers. He was very sensible, that so great a loss, which was a manifest proof of the courage of their enemies, was capable of alarming and discouraging his soldiers. In order therefore to conceal the knowledge of it from them, he caused all his men that were killed in that action, except a thousand, whose bodies he ordered to be left upon the field, to be thrown together into large holes, which were secretly made, and covered over afterwards with earth and herbs. This stratagem succeeded very ill: for when the soldiers in his fleet, being curious to see the field of battle, obtained leave to come thither for that purpose, it served rather to discover his own littleness of soul than to conceal the number of the slain.
6 Dismayed with a victory that had cost him so dear, he asked Demaratus, if the Lacedæmonians had yet many such soldiers. That prince told him, that the Spartan republic had a great many cities belonging to it; of which all the inhabitants were exceeding brave; but that those of Lacedæmon, who were properly called Spartans, and who were about 8,000 in number, surpassed all the rest in valour, and were all of them such as those who had fought under Leonidas.
I return for an instant to the battle of Thermopylæ, the issue of which, fatal in appearance, might make an impression upon the minds of the readers to the disadvantage of the Lacedæmonians, and occasion their courage to be looked upon as the effect of a presumptuous temerity, or a desperate resolution.
That action of Leonidas, with his 300 Spartans, was not the effect of rashness or despair, but was a wise and noble conduct, as c Diodorus Siculus has taken care to observe, in his magnificent encomium upon that famous engagement, to to which he ascribes the success of all the ensuing campaigns. Leonidas knowing that Xerxes was marching at the head of all the forces of the east, in order to overwhelm and crush a little country by the dint of his numbers, rightly conceived from the superiority of his genius and understanding, that if they pretended to make the success of that war consist in opposing force to force, and numbers to numbers, all the Grecian nations together would never be able to equal the Persians, or to dispute the victory with them; that it was therefore necessary to point out to Greece another means of safety and preservation, whilst she was under these alarms; and that they ought to show the whole universe, who had all their eyes upon them, what glorious things may be done when greatness of mind is opposed to force of body, true
a Herod. l. viii. 8. 24, 25,
6 Ibid. l. vii. e. 134, 137.
c Lib. xi. P %.
courage and bravery against blind impetuosity, the love of liberty against tyrannical oppression, and a few disciplined veteran troops against a confused multitude, though never so numerous. These brave Lacedæmonians thought it became them, who were the choicest soldiers of the chief people of Greece, to devote themselves to certain death, in order to make the Persians sensible how difficult it is to reduce free men to slavery and to teach the rest of Greece, by their example, either to conquer or to perish.
These sentiments do not originate from my own invention, nor do I ascribe them to Leonidas without foundation: they are plainly comprised in that short answer, which that worthy king of Sparta made to a certain Lacedæmonian; who, being astonished at the generous resolution the king hag taken, spoke to him in this manner: @“ Is it possible then,
sir, that you can think of marching with a handful of men against such a mighty and innumerable army?” “ If we are to reckon upon numbers,” replied Leonidas, “ all the
people of Greece together would not be sufficient, since a “small part of the Persian army is equal to all her inhabit“ ants: but if we are to reckon upon valour, my little * troop is more than sufficient."
The event showed the justness of this prince's sentiments. That illustrious example of courage astonished the Persians, and gave new spirit and vigour to the Greeks. The lives then of this heroic leader and his brave troop were not thrown away, but usefully employed ; and their death was attended with a double effect, more great and lasting than they themselves had imagined. On one hand, it was in a manner the seed of their ensuing victories, which made the Persians for ever after lay aside all thoughts of attacking Greece; so that during the seven or eight succeeding reigns, there was neither any prince who durst entertain such a design, nor any flatterer in his court, who durst propose the plan to him. On the other hand, such a signal and exemplary instance of intrepidity made an indelible impression upon all the rest of the Grecians, and left a persuasion deeply rooted in their hearts, that they were able to subdue the Persians, and subvert their vast empire. Cimon was the man who made the first attempt of that kind with success. Agesilaus afterwards pushed that design so far, that he made the great king tremble in his palace at Susa. Alexander at last accomplished it with incredible facility. He never had the least doubt, any more than the Macedonians who followed him, or the whole country of Greece that chose him general in that expedition, but that with 30,000 men he could
a Plut in Lacon. Apoph. p. 295.
overturn the Persian empire, as 300 Spartans had been suf& ficient to check the united forces of the whole East.
Sect. VI.Naval Battle near Artemisium. « The very, same day cn which the glorious action at Thermopylæ took place there was also an engagement at sea between the two fleets. That of the Grecians, exclusive of the little gallies and small boats, consisted of 271 vessels. This fleet had lain by near Artimesium, a promontory of Eubea upon the northern coast towards the straits. That of the enemy, which was much more numerous, was near the same place, but had lately suffered in a violent tempest, that had destroyed above 400 of their vessels. Notwithstanding this loss, as it was still vastly superior in number to that of the Grecians, which they were preparing to attack, they detached 200 of their vessels with orders to wait about Eubæa, to the end that none of the enemy's vessels might be able to escape them. The Grecians having got intelligence of that separation, immediately set sail in the night in order to attack that detachment at daybreak the next morning. But not meeting with it, they went towards the evening and fell upon the
bulk of the enemy's fleet, which they treated very roughly. Night coming on, they were obliged to separate, and both parties retired to their post. But the very night that parted them proved more pernicious to the Persians, than the engagement which had preceded, from a violent storm of wind, accompanied with rain and thunder, which distressd and harrassed their vessels till break of day :. And the 200 ships also, that had been detached from their fleet, as we mentioned before, were almost all cast away upon the coasts of Eubea; it being the will of the gods, says Herodotus, that the two fieets should become very near equal.
The Athenians having the same day received a reinforcement of 53 vessels, the Grecians, who were apprised of the wreck that had befallen part of the enemy's feet, fell upon the ships of the Cilicians at the same hour they had attacked the feet the day before, and sunk a great number of them. The Persians, being ashamed to see the nselves thus insuited by an enemy that was so much inferior in number, thought fit the next day to appear first in a disposition to engage. The battle was very obstinate, and the success pretty near equal on both sides, excepting that the Persians, who were incommoded by the largeness and nuinber of their vessels, sus
tained much the greater loss. Both parties however re3. tired in good order.
a Hered. I. viji, c, 1.-18. Diod. I. xi. p. 10 & 11. VOL. III.