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of an engagement, that they might afterwards range themselves on the side of the conqueror.
a The people of Crete, having consulted the Delphic oracle, to know what resolution they were to take on this occasion, absolutely refused to enter into the league.
6 Thus were the Lacedæmonians and Athenians left almost to themselves, all the rest of the cities and nations having submitted to the heralds that Xerxes had sent to require earth and water of them, excepting the people of Thespia and of Platæa. In so pressing a danger, their first care was to put an end to all discord and division among themselves ; for which reason the Athenians made peace with the people of Ægina, with whom they were actually at war.
& Their next care was to appoint a general: for there never was any occasion wherein it was more necessary to choose one, who was capable of so important a trust, than in the present conjuncture, when Greece was upon the point of being attacked by the forces of all Asia. The most able and experienced captains, terrified at the greatness of the danger, had taken the resolution of not presenting themselves as candidates. There was a certain citizen at Athens, whose name was Epicydes, that had some eloquence, but in other respects was a person of no merit, was in disreputaţion for his want of courage, and notorious for his avarice. Notwithstanding all which it was apprehended, that in the assembly of the people the votes would run in his favour. Themistocles, who was sensible, e that in calm weather almost any, mariner may be capable of conducting a vessel, but that in storms and tempests the most able pilots are at a loss, was convinced, that the commonwealth was ruined if Epicydes was chosen general, whose venal and mercenary soul gave them the justest reason to fear that he was not proof against the Persian gold. There are occasions, when, in order to act wisely (I had almost said regularly,) it is necessary to dispense with and rise above all rule.The. mistocles, who knew very well that in the present state of affairs he was the only person capable of commanding, did for that reason make no scruple of employing bribes and presents to remove his competitor: Sand having found means to make the ambition of Epicydes amends, by gratifying his avarice, he got himself elected general in his
stead. We may here, I think, very justly apply to Themistocles, what
a Herod. c. 169-171.
b Ibid. c. 132. c Ibid. c. 145.
d Plut in Themist p. 114. e Quilibet nautarum ventorumque tranquillu mari gubernare potest : ubi orta seva tempestas est, ac turbato mari rāpitur vento navis, com viro & gubernatore opus est. Liv | xxiv. n. 8.
Χρήμασι την φιλοτιμίαν έξωλήσατο παρά 18 'Επιεύδε.
Livy says of Fabius on a like occasion. This great commander finding, when Hannibal was in the heart of Italy, that the people were going to make a man of no merit consul, employed all his own influence, as well as that of his friends, to be continued in the consulship, without being concerned at the clamour that might be raised against him; and he succeeded in the attempt. The historian adds, “a The
conjuncture of affairs, and the extreme danger to which “the commonwealth was exposed, were arguments of such
weight, that they prevented any one from being offended “ at a conduct which might appear to be contrary to rule, “ and removed all suspicion of Fabius's having acted from
any motive of interest or ambition. On the contrary, the "public admired his generosity and greatness of soul, in that, “as he knew the commonwealth had occasion for an ac.
complished general, and could not be ignorant or doubtful “of his own singular merit in that respect, he had chosen " rather in some sort to hazard his own reputation, and
perhaps expose his character to the reproaches of envious tongues, than to be wanting in any service he could render “ his country.”
• The Athenians also passed a decree to recall home all their people that were in banishment. They were afraid, lest Aristides should join their enemies, and lest his authority should carry over a great many others to the side of the Barbarians. But they were very little acquainted with their citizen, who was infinitely remote from such sentiments. Be that as it would, on this extraordinary juncture they thought fit to recall him, and Themistocles was so far from opposing the decree for that purpose, that he promoted it with all his influence and authority. The hatred and division of these great men had nothing of that implacable, bitter, and outrageous spirit, which prevailed among the Romans in the later times of the republic. The danger of the state was the means of their reconciliation, and when their service was necessary to the preservation of the public, they laid aside all their jealousy and rancour: and we shall see by the sequel, that Aristides was so far from secretly thwarting his former rival, that he zealously contributed to the success of his enterprises, and to the advancement of
The alarm increased in Greece, in proportion as they received advice that the Persian army advanced. If the
a Tempus ac necessitas belli, ac discrimen summæ rerum, faciebant ne quis aut in exemplum exquireret, aut suspectum cupiditatis imperii consulem habe ret. Quin laudabant potius magnitudinem animi, quod cum summo imperatore esse opus reip. sciret, seque eum haud dubie esse, ininoris invidiam suam si qua ex re oriretur, quam utilitatem reip. fecisset. Liv, lo xxiv. 1. 9. 6 Plat. iq Arist. p. 322, 323.
Athenians and Lacedæmonians had been able to make no other resistance than with their land-forces, Greece had been utterly ruined and reduced to slavery. This exigence taught them how to set a right value upon the prudent foresight of Themistocles, who upon some other pretext had caused 100 gallies to be built. Instead of judging like the rest of the Athenians, who looked upon the victory of Marathon as the end of the war, he on the contrary considered it rather as the beginning, and as the signal of still greater battles, for which it was necessary to prepare the Athenian people: and from that very time he began to think of raising Athens to a superiority over Sparta, which for a long time had been the mistress of all Greece. With this view he judged it expedient to make the Athenian power entirely maritime, perceiving very plainly that as she was so weak by land she had no other way to render herself necesary to her allies, or formidable to her enemies. His advice prevailed in spite of the opposition of Miltiades, whose difference of opinion undoubtedly arose from the little probability there was, that a people entirely unacquainted with fighting at sea, and who were capable of fitting out and arming only very small vessels, should be able to withstand so formidable a power as that of the Persians, who had both a numerous land-army, and a fleet of above 1000 ships.
a The Athenians had some silver mines in a part of Attica, called Laurium, the whole revenues and product of which used to be distributed amongst them. Themistocles had the courage to propose to the people, that they should abolish these distributions, and employ that money in building vessels with three benches of oars, in order to make war upon the people of Ægina, against whom he endeavoured to rekindle their ancient jealousy. No people are ever willing to sacrifice their private interests to the general utility of the public: for they seldom have so much generosity or public spirit, as to purchase the welfare of the state at their own expense. The Athenian people, however, did it upon this occasion: moved by the earnest remonstrances of 'Themistocles, they consented, that the money which arose from the product of the mines, should be employed
in the building of 100 gallies. Against the arrival of Xerxes they doubled the number, and to that fleet Greece owed its preservation.
6 When they came to the point of naming a general for the command of the navy, the Athenians, who alone had furnished two thirds of it, laid claim to that honour, as appertaining to them, and their pretensions were certainly 6 Plut. in Themist. p. 113.
Herad. l. viit c. 213.
just and well grounded. It happened, however, that the suffrages of the allies all concurred in favour of Eurybiades, a Lacedæmonian. Themistocles, though very aspiring after glory, thought it incumbent upon him on this occasion to neglect his own interests for the common good of the nation: and giving the Athenians to understand, that, provided they behaved as valiant men, all the Grecians would quickly desire to confer the command upon them of their own accord, he persuaded them to consent, as he would do himself, to give up that point at present to the Spartans. It may justly be said, that this prudent moderation in Themistocles was another means of saving the state. For the allies threatened to separate themselves from them, if they refused to comply; and if that had happened, Greece must have been inevitably ruined.
The Battle of Thermypolæ. The Death of Leonidas..
. The only thing that now remained to be discussed, was to know in what place they should resolve to meet the Persians, in order to dispute their entrance into Greece. The people of Thessaly represented that as they were the most exposed, and likely to be first attacked by the enemy, it was but reasonable, that their defence and security, on which the safety of all Greece so much depended, should first be provided for; without which they should be obliged to take other measures, that would be contrary to their inclinations, but yet absolutely necessary, in case their country was left unprotected and defenceless. It was hereupon resolved, that 10,000 men should be sent to guard the passage which separates Macedonia from Thessaly near the river Peneus, between the mountains Olympus and Ossa. But Alexander, the son of Amyntas, king of Macedonia, having given them to understand, that if they waited for the Persians in that place they must inevitably be overpowered by their numbers, they retired to Thermopylæ. "The Thessalians finding themselves thus abandoned, without any farther deliberation submitted to the Persians.
• Thermopylæ is a strait or narrow pass of Mount Eta, between Thessaly and Phocis, only 25 feet broad, which therefore might be defended by a small number of forces, and which was the only way through which the Persian landarmy could enter Achaia, and advance to besiege Athens, This was the place where the Grecian army thought fit to
A. M. 3524. Ant. J. C. 480. Herod. I. vii. C. 172, 173.
wait for the enemy: the person who commanded it was Leonidas, one of the two kings of Sparta.
a Xerxes in the mean time was upon his march: he had given orders for his fleet to follow him along the coast, and to regulate their motions according to those of the land-army. Wherever he came he found provisions and refreshment prepared beforehand pursuant to the orders he had sent ; and every city he arrived at gave him a magnificent entertainment, which cost immense sums of money. The vast expense of these treats gave occasion to a witty saying of a certain citizen of Abdera in Thrace, who, when the king was gone, said, they ought to thank the gods that he ate but one meal a day.
o In the same country of Thrace, there was a prince who showed an extraordinary greatness of soul on this occasion: it was the king of the Bisaltæ. Whilst all the other princes ran into servitude, and basely submitted to Xerxes, he proudly refused to receive his yoke or to obey him. Not being in a condition to resist him with open force, he retired to the top of the mountain Rhodope, into an inaccessible place, and forbade all his sons, who were six in number, to carry arms against Greece. But they, either through fear of Xerxes, rough a curiosity to see so important a war, followed the Persians, in contradiction to their father's injunction. On their return home, their father, to punish so direct a disobedience, condemned all his sons to have their eyes put out. Xerxes continued his march through Thrace, Macedonia, and Thessaly, every thing giving way before him till he came to the strait of Thermopylæ.
cOne cannot see, without the utmost astonishment, with what a handful of troops the Grecians opposed the innumerable army of Xerxes. We find a particular account of their number in Pausanias. All their forces joined together amounted only to 11,200 men. Of which number 4,000 only were employed at Thermopylæ to defend the pass. But these soldiers, adds the historian, were all determined to a “ man either to conquer or die. And what is it that an army of such resolution is not able to effect?
d When Xerxes advanced near the strait of Thermopylæ, he was strangely surprised to find that they were prepared to dispute his passage. He had always flattered himself, that on the first hearing of his arrival, the Grecians would betake themselves to flight ; nor could he ever be persuaded to be lieve, what Demaratus had told him from the beginning of his project, that at the first pass he came to, he would find his whole army stopped by a handful of men. He sent out d Herod | vii. p. 207.-231. Diod. l. xi. p. 5, 10,
r Paus, l. 5. p. 645.
a Herod. c. 108, 132.
b Ibid. l.
jii c. 116.