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but the injury, you did yourself, by making so wrong a choice between the different counsels that were offered; rejecting that which led you to sentiments of moderation and equity, and embracing the other, which, on the contrary, i tended only to cherish pride, and to inflamne ambition.
Artabanes, through complaisance, passed the night in the king's bed, and had a vision similar to that which Xerxes had seen; that is, in his sleep he saw a man, who reproached him severely, and threatened him with the greatest misfortunes, if he continued to oppose the king's intentions. This so much affected him, that he yielded to the king's opinion, believing that there was something divine in these repeated visions; and the war against the Grecians was resolved upon. These circunistances I relate as I find them in Herodotus.
Xerxes, in the sequel, did but ill support this character of moderation. We shall find, that he had but very short intervals of wisdom and reason, which shone out only for a moment, and then gave way to the most culpable and ex travagant excesses. We may judge, however, even from thence, that 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. 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.
The counsel of Mardonius was pernicious, because, as Artabanes observes, it tended only to cherish and increase that spirit of haughtiness and violence in the prince, which was but too prevalent in him already, ifgiv aissons ; and to dispose and accustom 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 ambition. 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,“ robbers of nations.”I “If
" you consider and examine the whole succession of Persian kings,” says Seneca,
find any one of them that ever stopped his career of his own accord; that ever was 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.”'S SECTION II.XERXES BEGINS HIS MARCH, AND PASSES FROM ASIA INTO EUROPE,
BY CROSSING THE STRAIT OF THE HELLESPONT UPON A BRIDGE OF BOATS.
The war being resolved upon, Xerxes, that he might omit nothing which could contribute to the success of his undertaking, entered into a confederacy with the Carthaginians, who were at that time the most powerful people of the west, and made an agreement with them, that while the Persian forces should attack Greece, the Carthaginians should fall 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 three hundred thousand men, and a proportionate number of ships, in order to execute the projects and stipulations of the league.ll
• Tacitus. Ώs κακόν είη διδάσκειν την ψυχήν πλέον τι δίζεσθαι αξε έχειν τα παρίoντος. Jer. iv. 7.
§ Nec hoc Alexandri tantum vitium fuit, quem per Liberi Herculisque vestigia felix temeritas egit; sed omnium, quos fortuna irritavit implendo. Totum regni Persici stemma percense, quem invenies, cui mo dum imperii satietas fecerit? qui non vitam in aliqua ulterius procedendi cogitatione finierit? Nec id mirum est. Quicquid cupiditati contigit, penitus hauritur et conditur : nec interest quantum eo, quod inexplebile est, congeras. -Sencc. I. vii. de Benef. c. 3.
# A. M. 3523. Ant. J. C. 481.
Thus Xerxes, agreeably to the prophet 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 weg: under the command of Amilcar, and of all the east, that was under his own banner, 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, while the fleet advanced along the coasts of Asia Minor towards the Hellespont.
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
a to the land by an isthmus only 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 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 vain-glorious than useful, since he might with less trouble and expense have had his vessels carried ove: the isthmus, as was the practice in those days. The passage he caused to be cut through the mountain was broad enough to let iwo gallies, with three benches of oars each, pass through it abreast. I This prince, who was extravagant enough to believe that all nature and the very elements were under his command, in consequence of that opinion, wrote a letter to mount Athos in the following terms: Athos, thou proud and aspiring mountain, that bftest up thy head into 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 thu givest them that opposition, I shall cut thee entirely down, and throw thee headlong into the sea.”'S At the same time he ordered his labourers to be wbipt in order to make them carry on the work the faster./!
A traveller, who lived in the time of Francis the first, and who wrote a book in Latin concerning the singular and remarkable things he had seen in his travels, doubts the truth of this fact; and reinarks, that as he passed near mount Athus, he could perceive 'no traces or footsteps of the work we have been speaking of. 1
Xerxes, as we have already related, advanced towards Sardis. Having left Cappadocia, and passed the river Halys, he came to Cylene, a city in Phrygia, near which is the source of the Mæander. Pythius, a Lydian, had his residence in this city, and, next to Xerxes, was the most opulent prince of those times. He entertained Xerxes and his whole army with incredible magnificence, and made him an offer of all his wealth towards defraying the expenses of his expedition. Xerxes, surprised and charmed at so generous an offer, had the curiosity to inquire to what sum his riches amounted. Pythius answered, that having designed to offer them to his service, he had taken an exact account of them, and that the silver he had by him amounted to two thousand talents, or six millions French money,
,** and the gold to three millions, nine hundred and ninety-three thousand darics, or thirty-nine millions, nine hundred and thirty thousand livres.ft All this money he offered him, telling him, that his revenues were sufficient for the support of his household. Xerxes made him very hearty acknowledgments, entered into a particular friendship with him; and, that he might not be outdone in generosity, instead of accepting his offers, obliged him to accept of a present of the seven thousand darics which were wanting to make up his gold to a round sum of four millions. If
After such condict as this, who would not think that Pythius's peculiar character and particular virtue had been generosity, and a noble contempt of riches ?
• Dan. xi. 2. † Herod. 1. vii. c. 26. A. M. 3524. Ant. J. C. 480. | Herod. I. vii. c. 21, 24. Plut. de Ira Cohib. p. 455. || Plut, de Anim. Tranq. p. 470. I Bellon. singul. rer Observ. p. 78 ** About $1,133,333.
tt About $7,555,555
1 Her. I. vii. c. 28, 27.
And yet he was one of the most penurious princes in the world; and who, be. sides his sordid avarice with regard to himself, was extremely cruel and inhuman to his subjects, whom he kept continually employed in hard and fruitless labour, always digging in the gold and silver mives, which he had in his territories. When he was absent from home, all bis subjects went with tears in their eyes to the princess his wife, laid their complaints before her, and implored her assistance. Commiserating their condition, she made use of a very extraordinary method to work upon her husband, and to give him a clear sense and a kind of palpable demonstration of the folly and injustice of his conduct. On his return home, she ordered an entertainment to be prepared for bim, very magnificent in appearance, but which in reality was no entertainment. All the courses and services were of gold and silver; and the prince, in the midst of all these rich dishes and splendid rarities, could not satisfy his hunger. He conjectured the meaning of this enigma, and began to consider, that the end
of gold and silver was not merely to be looked upon, but to be employed and I made use of; and that to neglect, as he had done, the business of husbandry
and the tillage of lands, by employing all his people in the digging and working of mines, was the direct way to bring a famine both upon himself and his country. For the future, therefore, he only reserved a fifth part of his people for the business of mining. Plutarch has preserved this fact in a treatise, wherein he has collected a great many others to prove the ability and industry of women.* We have the same disposition of mind detailed in fabulous story, in the example of a prince, who reigned in that very country, for whom every thing that he touched was immediately turned into gold, according to the request which he himself had made to the gods, and who by that means was in danger of perishing with hunger.
The same prince, who had made such obliging offers to Xerxes, having desired as a favour of him some time afterwards, that out of his five sons who served in his army, he would be pleased to leave him the eldest, in order to be a support and comfort to him in his old age ; the king was so enraged at the proposal, though so reasonable in itself, that he caused the eldest son to be killed before the eyes of his father, giving the latter to understand, it was a favour that he spared him and the rest of his children; and then causing the dead body to be cut in two, and one part to be placed on the right, and the other on the left, he made the whole army pass between them, as if he meant to purge and purify it by such a sacrifice. What a monster in nature is a prince of this kind ? How is it possible to have any dependence upon the friendship of the great, or to rely upon their warmest professions and protestations of gratitude and service ?
From Phrygia, Xerxes marched and arrived at Sardis, where he spent the winter. From hence he sent heralds to all the cities of Greece, except Athens and Lacedæmon, to require them to give him earth and water, which, as we bave remarked before, was the way of exacting and acknowledging submission.S
As soon as the spring of the year came on, he left Sardis, and directed his march towards the Hellespont. Being arrived there, he was desirous of seeing a naval engagement for his curiosity and diversion. A throne was therefore erected for him upon an eminence; and in that situation, seeing all the sea crowded with his vessels, and the land covered with his troops, he at first felt a secret joy diffuse itself through his soul, in surveying with his own eyes the vast extent of his power, and considering himself as the most happy of mortals : but reflecting soon afterwards, that of so many thousands, in a hundred years time there would not be one living soul remaining, his joy was turned into grief, and he could not forbear weeping at the uncertainty and instability of human affairs.!! He might have found another subject of reflection, which would have more justly merited his tears and affliction, had he turned his thoughts upon
* Plutarch calls him Pythis...Plut. de Virt. Mulier. 252. Herod. I. viii. c. 38, 39. Sen. de Ira, l. iii. c. 17.
| Herod. I. vii. c. 44, and 46
1 Midas, king of Phrygia. § Herod. I. vii. c. 30.32.
himself, and considered the reproaches he deserved for being the instrument of shortening that fatal term to millions of people, whom his cruel ambition was about to sacrifice in an unjust and unnecessary war.
Artabanes, who neglected no opportunity of making himself useful to the young prince, and of instilling into him sentiments of goodness to his people, laid hold of this moment, in which he found him touched with a sense of tenderness and humanity, and led him into farther reflections upon the miseries with which the lives of most men are attended, and which render them so painful and unhappy ; endeavouring at the same time to make him sensible of the duty and obligation of princes, who, not being able to prolong the natural life of their subjects, ought at least to do all that lies in their power to alleviate the pains and allay the bitterness of it.
In the same conversation Xerxes asked his uncle, if he still persisted in his first opinion, and if he would still advise him not to make war against Greece, supposing he had not seen the vision, which occasioned him to change his sentiments. Artabanes owned, he still had his fears; and that he was very uneasy concerning two things. “What are those two things?" demanded Xerxes. “The land and the sea,” replied Artabanes: “the land, because there is no country that can feed and maintain so numerous an army ; the sea, because there are no ports capable of receiving such a multitude of vessels.” The king was very sensible of the strength of this reasoning ; but, as it was now too late to go back, he made answer, that in great undertakings, men ought not so narrowly to examine all the inconveniences that may attend them ; that if they did, no signal enterprises would ever be attempted ; and that, if his predecessors had observed so scrupulous and timorous a rule of policy, the Persian empire would never have attained its present height of greatness and glory.
Artabanes gave the king another piece of very prudent advice, which he did not think fit to follow any more than he had done the former. This advice was, not to employ the lonians in his service against the Grecians, from whom they were originally descended, and on which account he ought to suspect their fidelity. Xerxes, however, after these conversations with his uncle, treated him with great friendship, paid him the highest marks of honour and respect, sent him back to Susa to take the care and administration of the empire upon him during his own absence, and, to that end, invested him with his whole authority.
Xerxes, at a vast expense, had caused a bridge of boats to be built across the sea, for the passage of his forces from Asia into Europe. The space that separates the two continents, formerly called the Hellespont and now called the Strait of the Dardanelles, or of Gallipoli, is seven stadia or nearly an English mile in breadth. A violent storm rising on a sudden, soon aster, broke down the bridge. Xerxes hearing this news on bis arrival, fell into a transport of anger; and, in order to avenge himself of so cruel an affront, commanded two pair of chains to be thrown into the sea, as if he meant to shackle and confine it, and that his men should give it three hundred strokes of a whipand speak to it in this manner: “thou troublesome and unhappy element, thus does thy master chastise thee for having affronted him without reason. Know, that Xerxes will easily find means to pass over thy waters in spite of all thy billows and resistance.” The extravagance of this prince did not stop here; but making the undertakers of the work answerable for events, which do not in the least depend upon the power of man, he ordered all the persons to have their heads struck oft, that had been charged with the direction and management of that undertaking.*
Xerxes commanded two other bridges to be built, one for the army to pass over, and the other for the baggage and beasts of burden. He appointed workmen more able and expert than the former, who constructed it in the following manner: they placed three hundred and sixty vessels across the strait, some
* Herud. l. vii. c. 33-35.4
of them having three benches of oars, and others fifty oars a piece, with their sides turned towards the Euxine sea; and on the side that faced the Ægean sea they put three hundred and fourteen. They then cast large anchors into the water on both sides, in order to fix and secure all these vessels against the violence of the winds, and against the current of the water.* On the east side they left three passages or vacant spaces between the vessels, that there might be room for small boats to pass easily, as there was occasion, to and from the Euxine sea. After this, upon the land on both sides they drove large piles into the earth, with huge rings fastened to them, to which were tied six vast cables, which went over each of the two bridges ; two of which cables were made of hemp, and four of a sort of reeds, called Biblos, which were used in those times in the manufacture of cordage. Those that were made of hemp must have been of an extraordinary strength and thickness, since every cubit of those cables weighed a talent. The cables, laid over the whole extent of the vessels lengthwise, reached from one side of the sea to the other. When this part of the work was finished, quite over the vessels lengthwise, and over the cables we have been speaking of, they laid the trunks of trees, cut purposely for that use, and flat boats again over them, fastened and joined together, to serve as a kind of floor or solid bottom : all which they covered over with earth, and added rails or battlements on each side, that the horses and cattle might not be frightened with seeing the sea in their passage. Such was the construction of those famous bridges built by Xerxes. I
When the whole work was completed, a day was appointed for their passing over: and as soon as the first rays of the sun began to appear, sweet odours of all kinds were abundantly spread over both the bridges, and the way was strewed with myrtle. At the same time Xerxes poured out libations into tne sea, and turning his face towards the sun, the principal object of the Persian worship, he implored the assistance of that god in the enterprise he had undertaken, and desired the continuance of his protection till he had made the entire conquest of Europe, and had brought it into subjection to his power. This done, he threw the vessel which he used in making his libations, together with a golden cup, and a Persian scimitar, into the sea. The army was seven days and seven nights in passing over the strait; those who were appointed to conduct the march, lashing the poor soldiers all the while with whips, in order to quicken their speed, according to the custom of that nation, which properly speaking was only a vast assemblage of slaves.
SECTION III.-TIIE NUMBER OF XERXES' FORCES, &c. &c. XERXES directing his march across the Thracian Chersonesus, arrived at Dor, a city standing at the mouth of the Hebrus in Thrace; where, having encamped his army, and given orders to his fleet to follow him along the shore, he reviewed them both.
He found that the land army, which he had brought out of Asia, consisted of seventeen bundred thousand foot, and of eighty thousand horse, which, with at least twenty-thousand men that were absolutely necessary for conducting and taking care of the carriages and the camels, amounted in all to eighteen hundred thousand men. When he had passed the Hellespont, the other nations that submitted to him made an addition to his army of three hundred thousand men, which made all his land forces together amount to two millions one hundred thousand men.
His fleet, when it set out from Asia, consisted of twelve hundred and seven vessels, or gallies, all of three benches of oars, and intended for fighting. Each vessel carried two hundred men, natives of the country that fitted them out, besides thirty more, that were either Persians or Medes, or of the Sacæ ;
* Polybius remarks, that there is a current of water from the lake Mæotis and the Euxine Sea, into the Ægean Sea, occasioned by the rivers which empty themselves into those two seas.--Polyb. I. iv. p. 307, 308.
f A talent in weight consisted of 80 minæ, or 42 pounds of our weight; and the minæ consisted of 100 drachmas.
| Herod. 1. vii. c. 36.