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If we compare Xerxes with himself at different times and on different occa. sions, we shall hardly know him for the same man. When affairs were under consideration and debate, no person could show more courage and intrepidity than this prince; he is surprised, and even offended, if any one foresees the least difficulty in the execution of his projects, or shows any apprehension concerning events. But when he comes to the point of execution, and to tbe hour of danger, he flies like a coward, and thinks of nothing but saving his own life and person. Here we have a sensible and evident proof of the difference between true courage, which is never destitute of prudence, and temerity, always blind and presumptuous. A wise and great prince weighs every thing, and examines all circumstances, before he enters into a war, of which he is not afraid, but which at the same time he does not desire; and when the time of action is come, the sight of danger serves only to animate his courage.* Presumption inverts this order. When she has introduced assurance and boldness where wisdom and circumspection ought to preside, she admits fear and despair where courage and intrepidity ought to be exerted.f
The first care of the Grecians after the battle of Salamin, was to send the first fruits of the rich spoil they had taken to Delphos. Cimon, who was then very young, signalized himself in a particular manner in that engagement, and performed actions of such distinguished valoui, as acquired him a great reputation, and made him be considered from henceforth as a citizen that would be capable of rendering the most important services to his country on future occasions. I
But Themistocles carried off almost all the honour of this victory, which was the most signal that ever the Grecians obtained over the Persians. The force of truth obliged even those who envied his glory most, to render him this testimony. It was a custom in Greece, that after a battle, the commanding officers should declare who had distinguished themselves most, by writing in a paper the name of the man who had merited the first prize, and of hiin who had merited the second.
On this occasion, by a judgment which shows the good opinion natural for every man to have of himself, each officer concerned adjudged the first rank to himself, and allowed the second to Themistocles, which was indeed giving him the preference to them all.
The Lacedæmonians, having carried him to Sparta, in order to pay bim the honours due to his merit, decreed to their general Eurybiades the prize of valour, and to Themistocles that of wisdom, which was a crown of olive for both of them. They also made a present to Themistocles of the finest chariot in the city; and on his departure sent three hundred young men of the most considerable families to wait upon him to the frontiers : an honour they had never before shown to any person whatever.
But what gave him a still more sensible pleasure, were the public acclamations he received at the first Olympic games that were celebrated after the battle of Salamin, where all the people of Greece were met together. As soon as he appeared, the whole assembly rose up to do him honour: nobody regarded either the games or the combats ; Themistocles was the only object of attention. The eyes of all the company were fixed upon him, and every person was eager to show him and point him out to the strangers that did not know him. He acknowledged afterwards, to his friends, that he looked upon that day as the happiest of his life; that he had never tasted any joy so sensible and so transporting ; and that this reward, the genuine fruit of his labours exceeded all his desires.
The reader has undoubtedly observed in Themistocles two or three principal strokes of his character, which entitle him to be ranked among the greatest men. The design which he formed and executed, of making the whole force
* Non times bella, non provocas.Plin. de Traj. Fortissimus in ipso discrimine, qui ante discrimca quietissimus. Tacit. Hist. 1. i. c. 14.
† Ante discrimen feroces, in pericolo pavidi.-Tacit Hist. I. c. 68. Herod. l. rii. c. 122, 125.
& Plut. in Themist. p. 120.
of Athens maritime, showed him to have a guperior genius, capable of the highest views, penetrating into futurity, and judicious in seizing the decisive moment in great affairs. As the territory belonging to Athens was of a barren nature and small extent, he rightly conceived, that the only way that city had to enrich and aggrandize herself was by sea. And indeed, that scheme may justly he looked upon as the source and cause of all those great events, which subsequently raised the republic of Athens to so flourishing a condition.
But in my opinion, though this wisdom and foresight is a most excellent and valuable talent, yet it is infinitely less meritorious than that uncommon temper and moderation, which Themistocles showed on two critical occasions, when Greece had been utterly. undone, if he had listened to the dictates of an illjudged ambition, and had piqued himself upon a false point of honour, as is usual among persons of his age and profession. The first of these occasions was, when, notwithstanding the crying injustice that was committed, both in regard to the republic of which he was a member, and to his own person, in appointing a Lacedæmonian generalissimo of the feet, be exhorted and prevailed with the Athenians to desist from their pretensions, however justly founded, in order to prevent the fatal effects with which a division among the Confederates must have been necessarily attended. And what an admirable instance did he give of his presence of mind and coolness of temper, when the same Eurybiades not only insulted him with harsh and offensive language, but lifted his cane at him in a menacing manner! Let it be remembered at the same time, that Themistocles was then but young ; that he was full of an ardent ambition for glory ; that he was commander of a numerous fleet; and that he had right and reason on his side. How would our young officers behave on a like occasion ? Themistocles bore all patiently, and the victory of Salamin was the fruit of his patience.
As to Aristides, I shall bereafter have occasion to speak more extensively upon his character and merit. He was, properly speaking, the man of the commonwealth ; provided that was well and faithfully served, he was very little concerned by whom it was done. The merit of others was far from offending him ; but rather, hecame his own by the approbation and encouragement he gave
it. We have seen him make his way through the enemy's fleet, at the peril of his life, in order to give Themistocles some good intelligence and advice : and Plutarch takes notice, that during all the time the latter had the command Aristides assisted him, on all occasions, with his counsel and influence, notwithstanding he had reason to look upon him not only as his rival, but his enemy. * Let us compare this nobleness and greatness of soul with the littleness of spirit and meanness of their men, who are so nice, punctilious, and jealous in regard to command ; W unwilling to assist their colleagues, using all their endeavours and industry to engross the glory of every thing to themselves; always ready to sacrifice the public to their private interests, or to suffer their rivals to commit blunders, that they themselves may reap advantage from them.
On the very same day that the action at Thermopylæ happened, the formidable army of the Carthaginians, which consisted of three hundred thousand men, was entirely defeated by Gelon, tyrant of Syracuse. Herodotus places this battle on the same day with that of Salamin. The circumstances of that victory in Sicily I have related in the history of the Carthaginians.t
Áfter the battle of Salamin, the Grecians being returned from pursuing the Persians, Themistocles sailed to all the islands that had declared for them, to levy contributions and exact money from them. The first he began with was that of Andros, from whose inhabitants he required a considerable sum, speak, ing to them in this manner: “I come to you accompanied with two powerful divinities, Persuasion and Force." The answer they made him was:
* Πάντα συνέπραττε και συνεβάλευεν, ένδοξότατον επί σωτηρία κοινή ποιών τον έχθισον.-In Fit Arist. p. 323.
| Herod. d. vi. c. 165, 167.
have two other divinities on our side, no less powerful than your's, and which do not permit us to give the money you demand of us, Poverty and Weakness." Upon this refusal be made a feint of besieging them, and threatened that he would entirely ruin their city. He dealt in the same manner with several other islands, which durst not resist him as Andros had done, and drew great sums from them without the privity of the other commanders; for he was considered as a lover of money, and desirous of enriching himself.*
SECTION IX.-THE BATTLE OF PLATÆÆ.
MARDONIUS, who remained in Greece with a body of three hundred thousand men, let his troops pass the winter in Thessaly, and in the spring following, led them into Boeotia. There was a very famous oracle in that country, the oracle of Lebadia, which he thought proper to consult, in order to know what would be the success of the war. The priest, in his enthusiastic fit, answered in a language which nobody that was present understood, as much as to insinuate, that the oracle would not deign to speak intelligibly to a barbarian. At the same ime Mardonius sent Alexander, king of Macedonia, with several Persian noblemen, to Athens, and by them, in the name of his master, made very advantageous proposals to the Athenian people, to separate them from the rest of their allies. The offers he made them were, to rebuild their city which had been burnt down, to give them a considerable sum of money, to suffer them to live according to their own laws and customs, and to give them the government and command of all Greece. Alexander, as their ancient friend, exhorted them in his own name to lay hold on so favourable an opportunity for re-establishing their affairs, alleging, that they were not in a condition to withstand a power so formidable as that of the Persians, and so much superior to that of Greece. On the first intelligence of this embassy, the Spartans on their side sent deputies to Athens, in order to prevent its success. These were present when the others had their audience; and, as soon as Alexander had finished his speech, they began in their turn to address themselves to the Athenians, and strongly exhorted them not to separate themselves from their allies, nor to desert the common interest of their country ; representing to them, at the same time, that union in the present situation of their affairs was their whole strength, and would render Greece invincible. They added farther, that the Spartan commonwealth was very sensibly moved with the melancholy state which the Athenians were in, who were destitute both of houses and retreat, and who for two years together had lost all their harvest; that, in consideration of that calamity, she would engage herself, during the continuance of the war, to maintain and support their wives, their children, and their old men, and to furnish a plentiful supply for all their wants. They concluded by adverting to the conduct of Alexander, whose discourse, they said, was such as might be expected from one tyrant who spoke in favour of another; but that he seemed to have forgotten that the people whom he addressed had showed themselves, on all occasions, the most zealous defenders of the common liberty of their country.
Aristides was at this time in office, that is to say, principal of the archons. As it was therefore his business to answer, he said, that as to the barbarians, who made silver and gold the chief objects of their esteem, be forgave them for thinking they could corrupt the fidelity of a nation, by large bounties and promises : but that he could not help being surprised, and affected with some degree of indignation, to see that the Lacedæmonians, regarding only the present distress and necessity of the Athenians, and forgetting their courage and magnanimity, should come to persuade them to persist steadfastly in the defence of the common liberty of Greece, by arguments and motives of gain, and by
* Herod. I. viii. c. 111, 112. Plut. in Themist. p. 122. * A. M. 3525. Ant. J. C. 479. Herod. l. viii. c. 113-131, 136-140, 144. Plut. in Arist. p. 324. Diod 1. xi. p. 22, 23. Plut. de Orac. Defect. p. 412.
proposing to give them victuals and provision : he desired them to acquaint their republic, that all the gold in the world was not capable of tempting the Athenians, or of making them desert the defence of the common liberty, that they had the grateful sense they ought to have, of the kind offers which Lacedæmon had made them; but that they would endeavour to manage their Affairs so as not to be a burden to any of their allies. Then, turning himself towards the ambassadors of Mardonius, and pointing with his band to the sun, “ be assured,” said he to them," that as long as that planet shall continue his course, the Athenians will be mortal enemies to the Persians, and will not cease to take vengeance of them for ravaging their lands, and burning their houses and temples.” After which, he desired the king of Macedonia, if he was in, clined to be truly their friend, that he would not make himself any more the bearer of such proposals to them, which would only serve to reflect dishonour upon him, without ever producing any other effect.
Aristides, having made this plain and peremptory declaration, did not stop there; but that he might excite still greater horror at such proposals, and for ever prohibit all intercourse with the barbarians, from a principle of religion, he ordained that the Athenian priests should denounce anathemas and execrations upon any person whatever, who should presume to propose the making an alliance with the Persians, or the breaking of their alliance with the rest of the Grecians.
When Mardonius had learned, by the answer which the Athenians had sent him, that they were to be prevailed upon by no proposals or advantages whatever to sell their liberty,* he marched with his whole army towards Attica, wasting and destroying whatever he found in his way. The Athenians, not being in a condition to withstand such a torrent, retired to Salamin, and a second time abandoned their city. Mardonius, still entertaining hopes of bringing them to some terms of accommodation, sent another deputy to them to make the same proposals as before. A certain Athenian, called 'Lycidas, heing of opinion that they should hearken to what he had to offer, was immediately stoned, and the Athenian women running at the same time to his house, did the same execution upon his wife and children; so detestable a crime did they think it to propose any peace with the Persians. But notwithstanding this, they respected the character wherewith the deputy was invested, and sent him back without offering him any indignity or ill treatment. Mardonius now found that there was no peace to be expected with them. He therefore entered Athens, and burned and demolished every thing that had escaped their fury the preceding year.
The Spartans, instead of conducting their troops into Attica, according to their engagements, thought only of keeping themselves shut up within the Peloponnesus for their own security, and with that view had begun to build a wall over the isthmus, in order to prevent the enemy from entering that way, by which means they hoped they shculd be safe themselves, and should have no farther occasion for the assistance of the Athenians. The latter hereupon sent deputies to Sparta, in order to complain of the slowness and neglect of their allies. But the ephori did not seem to be much moved at their remonstrances; and, as that day was the feast of Hyacinthus,f they spent it in feasts and rejoicing, and deferred giving the deputies their answer till the next day. And still procrastinating the affair as much as they could, on various pretexts, they gained ten days time, during which the building of the wall was completed, They were on the point of disinissing the Athenian envoys in a scandalous manner, when a private citizen expostulated with them, and represented to
* Posteaquam nullo pretio libertatem his videt venalem, &c.- Justin. I. ii. c. 14.
Diod. I. xi. p. 2. . Among the Lacedæmonians the feast of Hyacinthus continued three days : 'the first and the last of which were days of sorrow and mourning for the death of Hyacinthus, but the secoud was a day of rejoicing, which was spent in feasting, sports, and shows, and all kinds of diversions. This festival was cele. brated every year in the month of August, in honour of Apollo and Hyacinthus.
them, how base it would be to treat the Athenians in such a manner, after all the calamities and voluntary losses they had so generously suffered for the common defence of liberty, and all the important services they had rendered Greece in general. This opened their eyes and made them ashamed of their perfidious design. The very next night following, they sent off, unknown to the Athenian deputies, five thousand Spartans, who had each of them seven helots, or slaves, to attend him. In the morning afterwards, the deputies renewed their complaints with great warmth and resentment, and were extremely surprised when they were told that the Spartan succours were on their march, and by this time were not far from Attica.
Mardonius had left Attica at this time, and was on his return into the country of Bæotia. As the latter was an open and flat country, he thought it would be more advantageous for him to fight there, than in Attica, which was uneven and rugged, full of hills and narrow passes, and which for that reason would not allow him space enough for drawing up his numerous army in order of battle, nor leave room for his cavalry to act. When he came back into Bæotia, he encamped by the river Asopus. The Grecians followed him thither under the command of Pausanias, king of Sparta, and of Aristides, general of the Athenians. The Persian army, according to Herodotus, consisted of three hundred thousand, and according to Diodorus, of five hundred thousand men.
That of the Grecians did not amount to seventy thousand; of which there were but five thousand Spartans; but, as these were accompanied with thirty-five thousand of the helots, viz. seven for each Spartan, they made up together forty thousand : the latter of these were light-armed troops, the Athenian forces consisted but of eight thousand, and the troops of the allies made up the remainder. The right wing of the army was commanded by the Spartans, and the left by the Athenians, an honour which the people of Tegæa pretended to, and disputed with them, but in vain.*
While all Greece was in suspense, expecting a battle that should determine their fate, a secret conspiracy, forined in the midst of the Athenian camp, by some discontented citizens, who intended the subvertion of their popular government, or to deliver up Greece into the hands of the Persians, gave Aristides a great deal of perplexity and trouble. On this emergency he had occasion for all his prudence: not knowing exactly how many persons might be concerned in this conspiracy,he contented himself with having eight of them taken up; and of those eight, the only two whom he caused to be accused, because they had the most laid to their charge, made their escape out of the camp while their trial was preparing. There is no doubt but Aristides favoured their escape, lest he should be obliged to punish them, and their punishment might occasion some tumult and disorder. The others, who were in custody, he released, leaving them room to believe, that he had found nothing against them; and telling them that the battle with the enemy should be the tribunal, where they might fully justify their characters, and show the world how unlikely it was that they had ever entertained a thought of betraying their country. This well timed and wise dissimulation, which opened a door for repentance, and avoided driving the offenders to despair, appeased all commotion, and quashed the whole affair.t
Mardonius, in order to try the Grecians, sent out his cavalry, in which he was strongest, to skirmish with them. The Megarians, who were encamped upon a plain, suffered extremely by them ; and in spite of all the vigour and resolution with which they defended themselves, they were upon the point of giving way, when a detachment of three hundred Athenians, with some troops armed with missive weapons, advanced to their succour. Masistius, the general of the Persian horse, and one of the most considerable noblemen of his country, seeing them advance towards him in good order, made his cavalry face about and attack them. The Athenians stood their ground, and waited to re
* Herod. 1. ix. c. 12–76. Plut. in Arist. p. 325-330. Diod. l. xi. p. 24, 26.
† Plut. in Arist. P.