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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 ten thousand men should be sent to guard the passage which separates Macedonia from Thessaly, near the river Peneus, between the mountains of Olympus and Ossa. But Alexander, the son of Amyntas, king of Macedonia, baving given them to understand, that if they waited for the Persians in that place, they must inevitably be overpow ered by their numbers, they retired to Thermopylæ. The Thessalians find, ing 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, but twenty-five feet broad, which therefore might be defended by a small number of forces, and which was the only way through which the Persian land-army could enter Achaia, and advance to besiege Athens. This was the place where the Grecian
army thought fit to wait for the enemy; the person who commanded it was Leonidas, one of the two kings of Sparta.f
Xerxes in the mean time was upon his march ; be 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 refreshments prepared beforehand, pursuant to the orders he had sent; and every city he arrived at gave bim 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 gout, said, they ought to thank the gods that he eat but one meal a-day. I
An extraordinary instance of magnanimity was shown on this occasion by the king of the Bisaltes, a people of Thrace. While all the other princes ran into servitude, and basely submitted to Xerxes, he bravely refused to receive bis 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 out of fear of Xerxes, or out of a curiosity to see so important a war, followed the Persians, in opposition 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 canie to the strait of Thermopylæ.
One cannot behold 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 eleven thousand two hundred men; of which number only four thousand 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 ?|||
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 be ever be persuaded to believe, 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 a spy before him to reconnoitre the enemy. The spy brought him word, that be found the Lacedæmonians out of their entrenchments, and that they were diverting themselves with military exercises, and combing their hair, which was the Spartan manner of preparing themselves for battle.it
Xerxes, still entertaining some hopes of their flight, waited four days on purpose to give them time to retreat." And in this interval of time lie used his utmost endeavours to gain Leonidas, by making him magnificent promises, and
* A. M. 3524. Ant. J. C. 480. Herod. l. vii. c. 172, 173. | Herod. I. vii. c. 175, 177. Herod. l. vii. c. 103, 132. À Herod. I. viii. c. 116. || Paus. l. x. p. €46
I Herod. 1. vi. ci 207-231, Diod. I. si p. 5, 10
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 spirit truly laconic, answered him in these words, “ 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. These Medes were not able to stand the charge of the Grecians; and being shamefully put to flight, they showed, says Herodotus, that Xerxes had a great many men, but few soldiers. The next that were to face the Spartans, were those Persians called the Immortal Band, which consisted of ten thousand men, and were the best troops in the whole army. But these had no better success than the former. I
Xerxes, out of all hopes 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 path to the top of an eminence, which overlooked and commanded the Spartan forces.Ş. He quickly despatched 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 apprized of this misfortune, and Leonidas, seeing that it was now impossible to repulse the enemy, obliged the rest of the allies to retire, but staid himself with his three hundred 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. 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 a banquet, and full of ardour advanced with their king to battle. The shock was exceedingly 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 Platææ, where he distinguished himself in an extraordinary manner. Xerxes, enraged to the last degree against Leonidas for daring to make a stand against him, caused his dead body to be hung up on a gallows, and made this intended dishonour of his enemy his own immortal shame.||
Sorne 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 four thousand, had withstood the Persian army, which consisted of three millions of men: the other related - to the Spartans in particular. It was composed by the poet Simonides, and is very remarkable for its simplicity. It is as follows:
*Ω ξειν', άγγειλον Λακεδαιμονίοις, ότι τη δε
* 'Αντέγραψε. Μόλων λάβε. + Ότι πολλοί μιν άνθρωποι είεν, ολιγοι δε άνδρες. Quod multi homines essent, pauci autem vir
| Plut. in Lacon. Apoph. p. 225. When the Gauls, two hundred years after this, came to invade Greece, they possessed themselves of the strait of Thermopylæ by means of the same by-path which the Grecians had still neglected to see ture.-Pausan. 1. i. p. 7. 8.
11 Herod. I. vü. c. 238.
Dic, hospes, Sparta nos hic vidisse jacentes,
Cic. Tusc. Rnæst. 1. i. 2. 101
That is to say, "go, passenger, and tell at Lacedæmon, that we died here n obedience to her sacred laws." Forty years afterwards, Pausanias, who obtained the victory of Platææ, 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 those heroes, and a public game, wherein none but the Lacedæmonians had a right to participate ; in order to show, that they alone were concerned in the glory obtained at Thermopylæ.
Xerxes in that affair lost above twenty thousand 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 boles, 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.*
Dismayed with a victory that had cost him so dear, he asked Demaratus if the Lacedæmonians had many such soldiers ? that prince told him, that the Spartan republic had a great many cities belonging to it, all the inhabitants of which were exceedingly brave; but that the inbabitants of Lacedæmon, who were properly called Spartans, and who were about eight thousand in number, surpassed all the rest in valour, and were all of them such as those who had fought under Leonidas.
I return for a short time to the battle of Thermopylæ, the issue of which, fatal in appearance, might make an impression upon the minds of the reader 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 three hundied Spartans, was not the effect of rashness or despair, but was a wise and noble conduct, as Diodorus Siculus has taken care to observe, in the magnificent encomium upon that famous en gagement, to which he ascribes the success of all the ensuing victories and campaigns. Leonidas, knowing that Xerxes marched at the head of all the forces of the East, in order to overwhelm and crush a little country by his overwhelming numbers, rightly conceived, from the superiority of his genius and understanding, that if they pretended to place their hopes of success in that war 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 other means of safety and preservation, while she was under these alarms; and that they ought to show to the world whose eyes were upon them, what glorious things may be done, when greatness of mind is opposed to force of body, true courage and bravery to blind impetuosity, the love of liberty to tyrannical oppression, and a few disciplined veteran troops to a confused multitude, however 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 impress upon the Persians how difficult it is to reduce free men to slavery, and to teach the rest of Greece, by their example, either to vanquish or to perish.
These sentiments do not originate in fancy, nor do I ascribe them to Loonidas without foundation : they are plainly comprised in the short answer which that worthy king of Sparta made to a certain Lacedæmonian, who, being as tonished at the generous resolution the king had taken, spoke to him in this
" Hornd, l. viii. c. 24, 25.
| Herod. l. viii. c. 134, 137
Diod. I. xi. pa man
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 rely, 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 ber entire population : but if we are to rely 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, greater and more lasting than they themselves had imagined. On one hand it was in a manner the cause 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 thing to him. On the other hand, so singular and exemplary an 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 first who made the attempt with success. Agesilaus afterwards pushed that design so far, that he made the great monarch 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, that with thirty thousand men he could reduce the Persian empire, as three hundred Spartans had been sufficient to check the united forces of the whole East.
SECTION VI. -NAVAL BATTLE NEAR ARTEMISIUM.
The very same day, on which the glorious action was fought at Thermopylæ, there was also an engagement at sea between the two Heets. That of the Grecians, exclusive of the little galleys and small boats, consisted of two hundred and seventy-one vessels. This feet had lain by near Artemisium, a promontory of Euboea, upon the northern coast towards the strait. That of the enemy, which was much more numerous, was near the same place, but had lately suffered in a violent tempest, which had destroyed above four hundred 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 two hundred of their vessels with orders to wait about Euboea, so that none of the enemy's vessels might be able to escape them. The Grecians having got intelligence of this separation, immediately set sail in the night, in order to attack that detachment at day-break the next morning. But not meeting with it, they went towards the evening, and fell upon the main body of the enemy's fleet, which they treated very roughly. Night coming on, they were obliged to separate, and hoth parties retired to their post. But the very night that parted them, proved more destructive to the Persians than the engagement which had proceeded, from a violent storm of wind, accompanied with rain and thunder, which distressed and harassed their vessels till break of day: and the two hundred ships also that had been detached from their fleet, as we mentioned before, were almost all cast away upon the coasts of Eubca: it being the will of the gods, says Herodotus, that the two fleets should become very nearly equal.
The Athenians having the same day received a reinforcement of fifty-three vessels, the Grecians, who were apprised of the disaster that had befallen part of the enemy's fleet, fell upon the ships of the Cilicians, at the same hour they had attacked the fleet the day before, and sunk a great number of them. The Persians ashamed of seeing themselves thus insulted by an enemy so much
Plut. in Lacon. Apoph. p. 225,
| Herod. 1, vii, 1–18, Diod. l. xi. p. 10, 11,
inferior in number, thought fit the next day to appear first in a disposition to engage. The battle was very obstinate this time, and the success pretty nearly equal on both sides ; but the Persians, who were incommoded by the great size and number of their vessels, sustained the greater loss. Both parties, however, retired in good order.
All these actions, which took place near Artemisium, did not bring matters to an alsolute decision, but contributed very much to animate the Athenians, as they were convinced by experience, that there is nothing really formidable, either in the number and magnificent omaments of vessels, or in the insolent shouts and songs of victory of barbarians, to men that know how to come to close engagement, and have the courage to fight with steadiness and resolution; and that the best way of dealing with such an enemy, is to despise all that vain appearance, to advance boldly up to them, and to charge briskly and vigr rously, without ever giving ground.*
The Grecian fleets having by this time had intelligence of what had passed at Thermopylæ, resolved upon the course they were to take without any farther deliberation. They immediately sailed away from Artemisium and advancing towards the heart of Greece, they stopped at Salamis, a small island very near and opposite to Attica. While the fleet was retreating, Themistocles passed through all the places where the enemy was obliged to land, in oro to take in fresh water or other provisions, and engraved in large characters, upon the rocks and the stones, the following words, which be addressed to the Ionians : “Be of our side, ye people of lonia : come to the party of your fathers, who exposed their own lives for no other object than to maintain your liberty: or, if you cannot possibly do that, at least do the Persians all the mischief you can, when we are engaged with them, and put their army into disorder and confusion.” By this means Themistocles hoped either to bring the Ionians really over to their party, or at least to cause them to be suspected by the barbarians. We see this general had his thoughts always intent upon his business, and neglected nothing that could contribute to the success of his designs. SECTION VII.—THE ATHENIANS ABANDON THEIR CITY, WHICH IS TAKEN AND
BURNT BY XERXES.
XERXES in the mean time had entered into the country of Phocis by the upper part of Doris, and was burning and plundering the cities of the Phocians. The inhabitants of Peloponnesus having no thoughts but to save their own country, resolved to abandon all the rest, and to collect all the Grecian forces, within the isthmus, which they intended to fortify by a strong wall, extending from one sea to the other, a distance of nearly five English miles. The Athenians were highly provoked at so base a desertion, seeing themselves ready to fall into the hands of the Persians, and likely to bear the whole weight of their fury and vengeance. Some time before, they had consulted the oracles of Delnhos, which bad given them for answer, “that there would be no way of sayg the city but by walls of wood.” The sentiments of the people were much Jivided about this ambiguous expression: some thought it was to be understood to mean the citadel, because, heretofore, it had been surrounded with wooden palisades. But Themistocles gave another sense the words, which was much more natural, understanding it to mean shipping ; and demonstrated, that the only measures they had to take, were to leave the city empty, and to embark all the inhabitants. But this was a resolution the people would not listen to, thinking they would relinquish all hope of victory and even of safety when once they had abandoned the temples of their gods and the tombs of their ancestors. Here Themistocles had occasion for all his address and all his eloquence, to prevail upon the people. After he had represented to them, that Athens did not consist either of its walls, or its houses, but of its citizens, and
* Alut, in Themist. p. 115, 117. Herod. 1. viii. c. 21, 22.
t Herod. I. viii. c. 40, 41,