Page images
PDF
EPUB

these accidents, and the next year he renewed his preparations for the invasion of Greece. While they were proceeding, he sent heralds round to the Greek cities, among the rest to those which had incurred his anger, to try their spirit by a demand of submission. The arrival of these envoys gave occasion to some changes in the state of Greece which must now be related, and briefly traced to their origin. We have seen that the Athenians had been delivered from the danger with which they were threatened from the revenge of Cleomenes, by the friendship of the Corinthians and the dissension between the two Spartan kings; that they had afterward inflicted a severe and profitable vengeance on Thebes and Chalcis; and that the Thebans, too weak to revenge their discomfiture, called in the aid of Ægina, with which they claimed a mythical affinity, The AEginetans, however, did not need this motive for espousing the cause of Thebes: they had others much stronger in their oligarchical government, and in the ancient quarrel which had produced implacable enmity between them and the Athenians. Athens had interposed in behalf of her ally Epidaurus, when she was insulted by her revolted colony AEgina. The Athenians invaded the island, but were repulsed with great loss by the united forces of the natives and the Argives. Bitter hatred sprang from this source between the neighbours; and there was a tradition that it had induced the Athenians to lay aside the ancient dress of their women, which was that common to the Dorian race, and to adopt the Ionian fashion; while Attic wares were rigidly excluded from sacred and perhaps from profane uses in AEgina. The AEginetans, remembering this old grudge, and confident in the superiority of their naval power, when the Thebans besought their assistance, actively espoused their cause by the invasion of Attica already mentioned. The Athenians either were unable to revenge this insult, or their attention was diverted to another quarter by the threatened restoration of Hippias, and by their unfortunate expedition to Ionia; and their quarrel with AEgina slumbered till the arrival of the Persian envoys, who came to demand earth and water for Darius. Both at Athens and at Sparta the heralds of Darius were put to death with cruel mockery. This breach of the law of nations was probably not the effect of passion, but of policy, which, though inhuman, may not have been ill-judged. At Athens, Miltiades is said to have been the author of the measure.” Many cities on the continent complied with this demand, and none of the islanders rejected it: AEgina consented with the rest. The Athenians interpreted this act of their rivals as if it had been dictated by the malice they bore against Athens, and by their eagerness to assist the barbarians in accomplishing her ruin; and they immediately sent ambassadors to Sparta, and accused Ægina of having betrayed the cause of Greece. Cleomenes, without waiting for a formal com* Paus., iii., 12, 7. Perhaps, however, if any one was anxious to clear Miltiades of the imputation, he might observe that Herodotus, when he was at a loss to discover in what way the Athenians had been visited by divine vengeance for the murder (vii., 133), could hardly have failed

to notice the fate of Miltiades, if he had been known as the adviser of the act.

mission, immediately repaired to Ægina, and was proceeding to arrest some of the principal citizens. But Demaratus had privately encouraged the AEginetans to resist this attempt of his colleague, as a step not sanctioned by any legitimate authority; and Cleomenes was com. pelled to retire from the island baffled and dishonoured. He knew that the author of his disgrace was the same who had before thwarted him in his designs against Athens, and he laid a scheme for revenging himself, and at the same time getting rid of a troublesome adversary. The title of Demaratus to the royal dignity was not beyond dispute. His mother, by a contract which the Spartan manners permitted, had been transferred by her first husband to his father Ariston: his birth was premature, and Ariston had expressed disbelief of his legitimacy, which he afterward suppressed; but it had been uttered with the vehemence of a sudden surprise in the presence of the ephors, and his mother's reputation was not deemed spotless. Cleomenes now instigated Leotychides, a private enemy of Demaratus, and the next in succession of the same house, to avail himself of these grounds, and urge his claim to the throne. The cause was tried: it was one of the highest importance in the eyes of the Spartans, who conceived the safety of the state concerned in the purity of the royal blood. Leotychides insisted on the words of Ariston; but the Spartans would not decide so grave a question on such evidence, and to obtain the utmost certainty, they referred it, on the suggestion of Cleomenes, to the Delphic oracle. Cleomenes had a friend named Cobon, who possessed great influence at Delphi; this man gained over the priestess, and an answer came declaring that Demaratus was not the son of Ariston. Leotychides triumphed; and, not satisfied with his success, he imbittered the degradation of his deposed rival by a wanton insult: at a public festival he sent a message to ask him how he relished a subordinate station after royalty. Demaratus replied that Sparta would perhaps pay dearly for the question: soon after, he left the city, resolved never to return but as king. He was pursued, but reached Asia in safety, and was graciously received by Darius, who gave him lands and the revenues of cities. Cleomenes immediately proceeded to use his creature Leotychides in obtaining satisfaction for the affront he had suffered at Ægina. They went over together, and the AEginetans, afraid of resisting their joint demand, surrendered ten of their principal citizens into their hands. These hostages they deposited with the Athenians. Soon after the sacrilegious fraud was detected; the priestess lost her office, and her suborner was banished; and Cleomenes, fearing punishment, fled to Thessaly. But shortly he returned to Peloponnesus, and took up his residence in Arcadia, where he began to draw the Arcadians into a confederacy against his country; and his machinations alarmed the Spartans so much, that they invited him back by promises of impunity. He had not been long reinstated before the violent humour, which had hitherto only betrayed itself in occasional sallies of passion, broke out into madness; and, having by threats extorted a weapon from the Helot who guarded him, he died miserably by his own hand. Leotychides, too, did not carry his ill-gotten dignity with him to the grave: many years after, he was convicted of having taken bribes from the enemy in an expedition which he made into Thessaly; his house was razed to the ground, and he died in exile at Tegea. On the death of Cleomenes the AEginetans sent to Sparta to complain of the unjust seizure of their citizens. Leotychides, no longer supported by his colleague, was condemned to be given up to them in the room of their hostages; but they thought it prudent not to enforce this sentence, and only took him with them to Athens to demand the restitution of his deposite. The Athenians, however, refused to release their prisoners, and the AEginetans retaliated by the capture of their sacred vessel, in which several men of the first rank were embarked to attend the festival of Apollo at Delos. After this fresh provocation, the Athenians lent a willing ear to the proposals of a discontented AEginetan named Nicodromus, who had formed a plan for overthrowing the oligarchical government of the island with their assistance. On the appointed day, he accordingly rose and seized the citadel; but the Athenian succours did not arrive in time, and he fell into the hands of his adversaries with seven hundred of his adherents. They all suffered the fate which, perhaps, they only wanted power to inflict ; and in this, as in most instances, even religion had not influence sufficient to restrain the rage of party. One of the unhappy men who was led to death extricated himself from his setters and laid hold of the door of a temple, to which he clung by the thong which fastened it till his hands were cut off. This was the only part of the deed of blood which weighed upon the conscience of the perpetrators, and was believed to be beyond the reach of their expiations. prevented from fulfilling their engagement by the want of a fleet able to cope with that of Ægina, and they had sent to borrow ships from the Corinthians. Their request was granted, though too late for its main purpose; but they defeated their enemy in a seafight, and were still

armament, abandoned their walls, and took ref. uge in the mountains. The Persians carried off all who had not time to escape, and committed the city and its temples to the flames. The centre of the Cyclades, the sacred island of Delos, had especial reason to tremble at the approach of an enemy who made war against the gods of Greece. The peaceful people, whose life passed in a round of sacrifices and festivals, fled to Tenos, leaving their rich temple, with its treasures, to the protection of its tutelary gods. They screened it by the fame of their sanctuary. The Persians had heard that Delos was the birthplace of two deities, who corresponded to those which held the foremost rank in their own religious system, the sun and moon. This comparison was probably suggested to them by some Greek who wished to save the temple. It seemed to be confirmed by the intimate union which the Delian legend established between the divine twins, whose simultaneous birth was not a universal tenet of the Greek theology. Hence, though separ-, ately neither of them inspired the barbarians' with reverence, their common shrine was not only spared, but, if we may believe the tradition which was current in the days of Herodotus, received the highest honours from Datis: he would not suffer his ships to touch the sacred shore, but kept them at the island of Rhenea, which is parted from it by a narrow channel: he sent a herald to the fugitives, to remonstrate with them on their groundless alarm, and to assure them that he held their persons no less sacred than their island; and, finally, he burned a great pile of precious incense on the altar. The main fact, that the temple escaped, though surprising, cannot be denied; but the rest of the story is not more certain than the earthquake by which, as the Delians reported, their island was shaken after the departure of

ithe Persians, to announce the calamities that The Athenians had been

impended over Greece. The fleet held on its course through the islands, receiving their submission and taking from each a re-enforcement and hostages, and then sailed to Euboea to accomplish one of the two great objects of the expedition. The first town before which it appeared was Carystus: it re

carrying on the war with varying fortune while jected the demands of the Persians, and would

[blocks in formation]

not serve them against its neighbours and brethren. While it defended itself, Eretria sent to Athens for succour against the attack which she had shortly to expect. The Athenians charged their four thousand citizens, among whom, as we have seen, they had distributed the estates of the rich Chalcidians, with the duty of protecting Eretria. But the city itself was wavering and divided: one party was honest, but timid, and proposed to follow the example of the Naxians, and retire to the mountains; but there were others who were eager to purchase the favour of the Persians by betraying their country. On the arrival of the Athenians, one of the leading Eretrians disclosed to them the state of affairs, and the danger they ran of being deserted or sacrificed by their allies. They took his advice, and crossed over to Attica: the event proved the prudence of their retreat. After the fall of Carystus the Persians laid siege to Eretria: the men who wished to sell themselves to the enemy pre

vailed on their fellow-citizens to abandon the design of flight, and, as they could not venture to meet the invading army in the field, to sustain a siege. For six days they made a brave defence, but on the seventh the gates were treacherously thrown open. The infamy of this deed fell on two men whom Herodotus describes as among the most eminent citizens; and perhaps its baseness was mitigated by political motives, which may have led them to regard Athens as an enemy more formidable and hateful than the Persians. The conquerors exactly fulfilled the commands of the king, the more rigorously that the fate of Eretria might strike terror into the Athenians. The city, with its temples, was plundered, burned, and razed to the ground: according to one tradition, which, however, rests on the half-poetical testimony of Plato, the Persian host swept the whole territory of Eretria, as it had done in Samos and other islands. The captives, however collected, were lodged in a safe place till they could be carried to the king; then the whole armament steered its course to the coast of Attica. It was the aged tyrant Hippias who, as he had most earnestly urged the expedition, now guided the barbarian against his country. By his advice the fleet came to anchor in the Bay of Marathon, where it was sheltered from the northern gales by a promontory which runs out from the foot of Parnes: the army landed in the plain, where a level tract, five miles in length and two in breadth, affords one of the few situations to be found in the rugged land of Attica favourable to the movements of cavalry. On the land side the plain is bounded by steep slopes, descending from the higher ridges of Pentelicus and Parnes, and by their gradual approach it is contracted towards the north into a narrow glen, the bed of a little stream, which, in its course to the sea, divides it into two unequal parts. Near the shore the low grounds at the foot of the hills on either side are swamps, or are covered with small stagnant pools. In this position the Persian generals encamped, expecting an opportunity of fighting a decisive battle on this advantageous ground. Had the Athenians shrunk from a conflict, a march of a day or two would have brought them through the heart of Attica to the city, which they had reason to believe would not have held out longer than Eretria. The Athenians, however, as soon as they heard of the landing at Marathon, marched, without delay, to face the enemy. At the same time, they neglected no provision that prudence suggested for strengthening themselves to meet the contest with fair hopes of success. They armed not only all their serviceable citizens, but such of their slaves as were willing to earn their liberty with their blood. They sent off a messenger, named Phidippides, a man noted for the extraordinary speed with which he could perform long journeys, to request instant succour from Sparta; and it is probable that they likewise summoned the Plataeans, on whom they could call, not mere, y as allies, but as brothers. Plataea had been very early engaged in hostility with Thebes, occasioned by disputed boundaries. In the reign of Cleomenes, being hard pressed by her more powerful neighbour, she sought

protection from Sparta, and offered to withdraw from the Boeotian confederacy, and to place herself under Spartan sovereignty. The Spartans saw no benefit likely to result from this connexion either to themselves or the Plataeans, and, probably not without being conscious that they were sowing the seeds of perpetual feuds between Attica and Boeotia, advised them to address themselves to Athens. Athens received and protected them. The Thebans disputed the right of the Plataeans to dissolve the ties which connected them with Boeotia, and were preparing to contest it in arms; but the Corinthians interposed, and, the question being referred to their arbitration, decided in favour of Plataea, and settled its boundaries. The Thebans were so dissatisfied with this sentence, that they fell upon the Athenian army which had come to the assistance of the Plataeans as it was returning to Attica; but they were defeated, and compelled to relinquish a part of the territory assigned to them by the Corinthians. The landmarks of Plataea, and consequently, in fact, those of Attica, were carried forward to the Asopus: the Plataeans became, as they were afterward called, Athenian Boeotians, united with Athens by the most intimate bonds that were consistent on the one hand with their own political independence, and on the other with the distinct privileges of the Athenian citizens." The Plataeans now raised their whole force, which, on a subsequent and equally pressing occasion, when they fought on their own ground, amounted to six hundred heavy armed men;+ and, marching to Marathon, found the Athenian army already in the presence of the enemy. The Athenian courier, travelling with breathless haste, reached Sparta the next day after he had left Athens. He related the fall of Eretria, the imminent danger of Athens. The Spartans did not refuse assistance; perhaps they hoped that a short delay might not render it useless; but if their intentions were honourable, they did not feel the urgency of the juncture. The moon wanted some days of the full: to set out on an expedition in this interval, at least in the month then passing, which was probably that of the great Carnean festival, was contrary to one of the fundamental maxims of their superstition;t and they dismissed the messenger with promises of distant succour. To console his fellow-citizens, he announced to them assurances of aid from an invisible hand. As he crossed the top of the mountains that separate Argolis from Arcadia, the god Pan, he said, had called him by his name, and had bidden him cheer the Athenians with a gracious reproach for having neglected the worship of a deity who had often befriended them in times past, and would prove his good-will towards them yet again. This seasonable encouragement the grateful city afterward repaid by dedicating a natural grotto in the Cecropian rock to the woodland god, and by honouring him with a yearly sacrifice and a torch race. The

* It was probably the relation of o which was

afterward described by the Theban orator in Thuc., iii., §5, protection of Artemis was invoked against the arrows of the barbarians by an extraordinary vow. For every slain enemy, a she-goat was to be led in solemn procession every year to her altar at Agra, on the banks of the Ilissus, where, according to the legend of the temple, the goddess had first drawn her bow when she came over from her native island. With this strength and with these hopes, the Athenian army crossed the ridge which divides the plain of Marathon from the midland of Attica, and posted itself on the eastern skirts of the hills at the head of the valley. It was commanded, according to the Constitution of Cleisthenes, by ten generals: at their head was the polemarch Callimachus, whose authority and influence was the only security for the unity of their counsels. He was entitled by law to the command of the right wing, and to the casting vote in every question on which the voices of the ten should be equally split. Among them was Miltiades, the late ruler of the Chersonesus. He had not obtained this mark of public confidence without opposition. On his return to Athens he found rivals and enemies, who endeavoured to inflame the popular jealousy against him, and made the station he had held in his foreign principality the ground of a capital charge; they could urge with great force before the tribunal which tried the cause, that a countryman of Harmodius and Aristogeiton who became a tyrant was worthy of death; and as he had probably exercised his authority over Athenian citizens, though not in Attica, he had perhaps made himself, according to the letter of the law, liable to the penalty of tyranny. Miltiades, however, escaped, not so much, perhaps, on the merits of his case, as because he had fortunately used the power which it was deemed a crime to possess in the service of Athens. A bitter grudge had subsisted for many ages between the Athenians and that remnant of the Pelasgian race which, as we have seen, after being driven out of Attica, had settled in the islands of Lemnos and Imbros. They had rendered themselves formidable in the AEgean by piratical excursions; and in one of these had landed on the coast of Attica, and carried off Attic women whom they found cele; a religious festival. The resentment kindled by this injury in the breasts of the Athenians was inflamed by a tragic tale which soon after reached them, that the Pelasgians, suspecting their captives of hostile designs, had murdered them, with the children they had borne to their new lords. This atrocious deed, after which Lemnian horrors became proverbial, was believed to have been followed by the usual signs of divine anger, barrenness and scarcity, and a tradition prevailed at Athens that, by command of an oracle, the offending people had offered to repay their wrong; but, when called upon to deliver up their islands, had eluded the demand by promising to surrender them whenever they should be summoned by a fleet that should sail to them from Attica in one day with a north wind. It was reserved for Miltiades to fulfil this seemingly impossible condition, and at the same time to satiate the vengeance of his countrymen. The Thracian Chersonesus, when he became its master, might be called Attic ground: it was within a few hours' sail

as an absolute admission to the Attic franchise. See

Wachsmuth, 1.2, p. 149, Niebuhr, ii., p. 50. # Herodotus does not mention their number at Marathon.

Justin aud Nepos make it amount to a thousand. 4 See Appendix III.

of the Pelasgian Islands with a north wind; and, this not being sufficient to satisfy the Pelasgians of his right, Miltiades had the power of silencing their objections by the sword. He conquered and expelled them, and, nominally at least, subjected the islands to the dominion of Attica. It seems not improbable that this achievement, which was an encroachment on the Persian dominion, may have been the cause which drew the resentment of the Persians on him, and occasioned his precipitate flight. To it, also, he may have been indebted for the favourable issue of this as well as of a subsequent trial; perhaps, too, the part he had taken in the deliberations of the Ionians on the Danube was now first brought to light, and contributed to turn the popular feeling on his side. After this escape, he rose to the eminence which his birth and his character claimed, and when Attica was threatened with invasion, he was elected one of the ten generals. The opinions of the Ten were equally divided on the momentous question, whether they should give battle to the Persians. Those who dissuaded from immediately engaging in a conflict which was to decide the fate of Athens, might speciously allege the prudence of at least waiting till the re-enforcement expected from Lacedaemon should somewhat reduce the fearful disproportion of their little army to the Persian host; the advantage of accustoming the troops to the sight of an enemy whose name struck terror at a distance; finally, the prospect of a thousand fortunate accidents, from which the invaders had nothing to hope and everything to fear. All these arguments were outweighed by a danger which Miltiades knew was more to be dreaded than the numbers of the Persians—that of treachery within the walls or the camp of the Athenians. The party of Hippias was probably not extinct in Athens, and, while he was in the neighbourhood of the city, with the power and gold of Persia at his command, it was likely every day to gain fresh strength. Motives like those which had led some of the leading Eretrians to betray their country, might find entrance into many Athenian breasts. Cold or selfish calculations might soon take the place of the generous ardour with which the people now glowed for the common cause. Miltiades also knew better than any of his colleagues how little depended on the inequality of numbers, how superior his Athenians were to the barbarians in all that formed the real strength of an army. His reasons could not prevail with his opponents: the decision rested with the polemarch. Callimachus was brave and honest: he saw and felt the force of the arguments with which Miltiades appealed to his judgment and his patriotism, and gave his voice for battle. The ten generals successively took the command of the whole army, each for a day: those who had seconded the advice of Miltiades were willing to resign their turns to him; but he would not expose himself to the risk of being thwarted by his adversaries in the exercise of a borrowed authority, and waited till he could assume the command in his own right. Then he drew up his little army in order of battle. The enemy's line stretched across the broadestpart of the plain. Of the nations that fought gage Artaphernes, who was his personal friend, in the enterprise, he had the fairest prospect not only of accomplishing his immediate purpose, but of doing an important service to the interests of Persia, which would raise his credit at court. The Naxians, equally confident in the support of such an ally, urged him to spare no promises to obtain it. He accordingly repaired to Sardis, and represented to Artaphernes the ease with which he might annex not only Naxos, but all the Cyclades, to the dominions of Darius, and directed his views to a still more tempting conquest which lay only a little farther off, that of the large and wealthy island of Euboea. The cost of the expedition to Naxos he pledged himself to defray, and he promised a large sum besides for the satrap's private coffers. “A hundred ships would be sufficient to ensure success.” Artaphernes was taken with the scheme, and offered, as soon as he had procured the king's consent, to place two hundred ships and a Persian force at the disposal of Aristagoras. As soon as a favourable answer arrived from Susa, he equipped the promised armament, which he intrusted to the command of Megabates, a Persian of high quality, and ordered it to sail to Miletus and take on board the Ionian force that had been raised by Aris

oras. * was intended to lull the enemy into security by leading them to believe that the expedition was destined for a different and a remote quarter. Megabates therefore made towards the Hellespont, but off the coast of Chios he brought the fleet to anchor, meaning to take advantage of the first fair wind and run across to Naxos, and surprise the principal town. While he was in this station, he one day made the round of the fleet to inspect the discipline maintained by the inferior officers. On one ship, a Myndian, he found no watch, and the commander absent; he immediately sent for him, and ordered him to be fastened to the side of his own galley, with his head passing through one of the port-holes, which were opened in the ancient vessels for the oars, as in ours for the ordnance. While the Myndian officer was confined in this ignominious posture, word was brought of the occurrence to Aristagoras, who happened to be his friend. Perhaps he also thought that the severity of the Persian admiral, a stranger to the feelings of Greeks, was impolitic, and that it exceeded the bounds of his authority. When, therefore, on applying for the release of the prisoner, he met with a refusal, he went and set him at liberty. Megabates was indignant at this act of defiance, and was still more enraged when Aristagoras openly disclaimed obedience to him, and asserted his own right to the supreme command. To wound him in the tenderest side, Megabates resolved to defeat the expedition, on the issue of which he had staked so much. He privately sent a message to the Naxians to warn them of their danger; they forthwith began to make preparations for defence, transported their property from the country into the city, laid in stores, and strengthened their fortifications; so that when the Persian fleet at last appeared before their town, they were in a condition to sustain a long siege. At the end of four months the besiegers had made no progress, and had con

sumed the whole fund allotted to the war; the treasures of Aristagoras were exhausted, and, after erecting some forts, in which he left the Naxian exiles to infest their countrymen, he raised the siege and returned to Miletus. He had relied on a prosperous issue for the means of fulfilling the splendid promises he had made to Artaphernes, and the failure of the expedition put it out of his power to discharge the debt he had contracted with the Persian government. He was a ruined man. The state of his affairs called for some desperate remedy, and he saw no way of extricating himself from his embarrassment but by exciting his countrymen to insurrection. While he was revolving this expedient in his mind, he received a message from Histiaeus which fixed his resolution. Histiasus likewise believed that a general commotion in Ionia, which might render his presence necessary or useful, would afford him his only chance of escaping from his irksome captivity. He shaved the head of a trusty slave, traced some letters with a hot iron on his skin, and when his hair had grown again, sent him off to Miletus. Aristagoras opened these singular credentials, and read an invitation to revolt. In all the Ionian cities there were many discontented with the form of government that had been forced upon them by the Persians, and ready at any risk to shake off the yoke. Aristagoras assembled some of the leading men to deliberate on a plan of action. Among those who met on this occasion was the historian Hecataeus of Miletus. He loved his country and prized independence as much as the most ardent and sanguine of his fellow-citizens; but he had read, travelled, and thought more than most men of the age. tent, the colossal strength of the Persian Empire, and dissuaded his friends from embarking in the hopeless struggle. But when this advice was rejected, he next urged the necessity of making themselves masters of the sea, and pointed out one of the resources of which they might avail themselves for this purpose. The treasures that had been accumulated in the temple at Branchidae by the piety of successive generations, and by the liberality of Croesus, would supply the means of raising a navy, with which they might hope to make a stand against the Persian power. These he exhorted them to seize before they fell into the hands of the enemy. But they were rash without being bold or firm; the treasure was sacred; they forgot that their cause was so too; they resolved on war, but neglected the fair opportunity of bracing its sinews. Another measure—less, perhaps, because it was politic than because it was agreeable to many private passions and vicvs—was generally approved. It was determined that one of their number should sail to the camp at Myus, where the force that had returned from the siege of Naxos was still kept together, and should make himself master of the persons of the tyrants who had held commands in the Persian armament. This attempt succeeded, and it was the signal of a general insurrection. Aristagoras, who knew that his safety depended on the strength and zeal of the democratical party, conciliated it by resigning his own authority, and by delivering up the prisoners taken at Myus to the cities over which they had ruled.

He knew the vast ex

« PreviousContinue »