« הקודםהמשך »
were possible, in the whole of his future conduct. Then, after having imparted to him the stratagem he had contrived to deceive the barbarian, he desired bim to go in person to Eurybiades, in order to convince him that there was no other means of safety for them than to engage the enemy by sea at Salamin; which commission Aristides executed with pleasure and success
; for he was in great credit and esteem with the general. * Both sides, therefore, prepared themselves for the battle. The Grecian fleet consisted of 380 sail of ships, which in every thing followed the direction and orders of Themistocles. As nothing escaped his vigilance, and as, like an able commander, he knew how to improve every circum. stance and incident to advantage, before he would begin the engagement, he waited till a certain wind, which rose regularly every day at a certain hour, which was entirely contrary to the enemy, began to blow.
As soon as this wind rose, the signal was given for battle. The Persians, who knew that their king had his eyes upon them, advanced with such a courage and impetuosity, as were capable of striking an enemy with terror. But the heat of the first attack quickly abated, when they came to be engaged. Every thing was contrary to, and disadvantageous for them; the wind, which blew directly in their faces ; the height, and the heaviness of their Vessels, which could not move and turn without great difficulty ; and even the number of their ships, which was so far from being of use to them, that it only served to embarrass them in a place so strait and narrow, as that they fought in ; whereas, on the side of the Grecians, every thing was done with good order, and without hurry or confusion ; because every thing was directed by one commander. The Ionians, whom Themistoeles bad advised by characters engraven upon stones along the coasts of Eubea, to remember from whom they derived their original, were the first that betook themselves to flight, and were quickly followed by the rest of the fleet. But queen Artemisa distinguished herself by incredible efforts of resolution and courage, so that Xerxes, who saw in what manner she bad behaved herself, cried out, tbatzthe menghad behaved like women in this engagement, and that the women had showed the courage of men. The Athenians, being enraged that a woman had dared to appear in arms against them, had promised a reward of 10,000 drachms to any one that should be able to take her alive : but she had the good fortune to escape their pursuits. If they had taken her, she could have deserved nothing from them but the highest commendations, and the most honourable and generous treatment.
I The manner in which that || queen escaped, ought not to be omitted,
* Herod. I. viii. c. 84--96.
Artemisa inter primos duces bellum acerrime ciebat. Quippe, ut in viro mu liebrem timorem, ita in muliere virilem audaciam cerneres. Just, I. ii. c. 19.
| Herod. I. viji. c. 87, 88. Polyæn. I. viii. c. 58.
|| It appears that Artemisa valued herself no less upon stratagem than courage, and at the same time was not very delicate in the choice of the measure she used. It is said, that being desirous of seizing Latmus a small city of Caria, that lay very commodiously for her she laid her troops in ambush, and, under pretence of celebrating the feast of the mother of the gods, in a wood consecrated to her near that city, that she repaired thither with a great train of eunuchs, women, drums, and trumpets. The inhabitants ran in throngs to see that religious ceremony; and in the mean time Artemisa's troops took possession of the place, Polyan. Stratag. I. viii. c. 55.
Seeing herself warmly pursued by an Athenian ship, from which it seemed impossible for her to escape, she hung out Grecian colours, and attacked one of the Persian vessels, on board of which was Damasithymuş, king of * Calynda, with whom she had some difference, and supk it: this made her pursuers believe that her ship was one of the Grecian fleet, and gave over the chace.
Such was the success of the battle at Salamin, one of the most memorable actions related in ancient history, and which has, and will render the name and courage of the Grecians famous for ever. A great number of the Persian ships were taken, and a much greater sunk upon this occasion, Many of their allies, who dreaded the king's cruelty no less than the ene, my, made the best of their way into their own country,
Themistocles, in a secret conversation with Aristides, proposed to his consideration, in order to sound him and to learn his true sentiments, whether it would not be proper for them to send some vessels to break down the bridge which Xerxes had caused to be built, to the end, says he, that we may take Asia into Europe : but though he made this proposal, he was far from approving it. Aristides believing him to be in earnest argued very warmly and strenuously against any such project, and represented to him bow dangerous it was to reduce so powerful an enemy to despair, from whom it was their business to deliver themselves as soon as possible, Themistocles seemed to acquiesce in his reasons ; and, in order to hasten the king's departure, contrived to have bim secretly informed, that the Grecians designed to break down the bridge. The point Themistocles seems to have had in view by his false confidence, was to strengthen himself with Aristides' opinion, which was of great weight against that of the other generals, in case they inclined to go and break down the bridge, Perhaps too he might aim at guarding himself by this means against the illwill of his enemies, who might one day accuse him of treason before the people, if ever they came to know that he had been the author of that secret advice to Xerxes.
+ This prince, being frightened on such news, made the best use he could of his time, and set out by night, leaving Mardonius behind him, with an army of 300,000 men, in order to reduce Greece, if he was able.
The Grecians, who expected that Xerxes would have come to another engagement the next day, having learned that he was fled, pursued him as fast as they could, but to no purpose. They had destroyed 200 of the enemy's ships, besides those which they had taken. The remainder of the Persian feet, after having suffered extremely by the winds in their passage, retired towards the coast of Asia, and entered into the port of Cuma, a city in Æolia, where they passed the winter, without daring afterwards to return into Greece.
Xerxes took the rest of his army along with him, and marched by the way of the Hellespont. As no provisions had been prepared for them beforehand, they underwent great hardships during their whole march, which lasted 45 days. After having consumed all the fruits they could find, the soldiers were obliged to live upon herbs, and even upon the bark and leaves of trees. This occasioned a great sickness in the army, and great numbers died of fluxes and the plague.
The king, through eagerness and impatience to make his escape, left his army behind himn, and travelled on before with a small retinue, in order to
* A city of Lycia, Ibid. c. 130.
+ Herod. I. viii. c. 115-120.
reach the bridge with the greater expedition; but when he arrived at the place, he found the bridge broken down by the violence of the waves, in a great tempest that had happened, and was reduced to the necessity of passing the strait in a cock-boat. This was a spectacle very proper to show mankind the mutability of all earthly things, and the instability of human greatness; a prince, whose armies and fleets the land and sea were scarce able to contain a little while before, now stealing away in a little boat, almost without any servants or attendants ! Such was the event and success of Xerxes' expedition against Greece.
If we compare Xerxes with himself at different times and on different occasions, we shall bardly 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 the 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 beiween 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 at the same time does not desire ; and when the time of action is come, the sight of danger serves only to animate his courage. Presuinption 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.
| The first thing the Grecians took care of after the battle of Salamin, was to send the first fruits of the rich spoil they had taken to Deiphos. Cimon, who was then very young, signalized himself in a particular apanner in that engagement, and performed actions of such distinguished valour 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.
| 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 names of the man who had merited the first prize and of him 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 him 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
* Non times bella, non provocas. Plin. de Traj. Fortissimus in ipso discrimine, qui ante discrimen quietissimus. Tacit. Hist. I. i. c. 14.
† Ante discrimen feroces, in periculo pavidi. Taeit. Hist. 1. i. c. 68. I Herod. I. viji. c. 122, 125.
Plut. in Themist. p. 120.
finest chariot in the city; and, on his departure, sent '300 young men of the most considerable families to wait upon him to the frontiers ; an honour they had never shown to any person whatsoever before.
But that which 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 spectacle. The eyes of all the company were fixed upon him, and every body was eager to show him and point him out with the hand to 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 fruits of bis 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 amongst the greatest men. The design which he formed and executed, of making the whole force of Athens maritime, showed him to have a superior genius capable of the highest view, penetrating into futurity, and judicious to seize the decisive point in great affairs. As the territory belonging to Athens was of a barren nature and small extent, be rightly conceived, that the only way that city had to enrich and aggrandize herself was by sea. And indeed that scheme may justly be looked upon as the source and cause of all those great events which raised the republic of Athens in the sequel 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 shewed on two critical occasions, when Greece had been utterly undone, if he had listened to the dictates of an ill-judged 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 ivjustice that was committed, both in reference to the republic, of which he was a member, and to his own person, in appointing a Lacedæmonian generalissimo of the fleet, he exhorted and prevailed with the Athenians to desist from their pretension, though never so justly founded, in order to prevent the fatal effects with which division among the confederates must have been necessarily attended. And wbat an admirable instance did he give of his presence of mind and coolness of temper, when the same Eurybiades not only affronted him with harsh and offensive language, but lifted up his cane at him in a menacing posture ! 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 the like occasion ? Themistocles took all patiently, and the victory of Salamin was the fruit of his patience.
As to Aristides, I shall have occasion in the sequel to speak more extensively upon his care 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 offeuding him ; and instead of that became his own, by the approbation and encouragement he gave it. We have seen bim make his way through the enemy's fleet, at the peril of his life, in order to give Themisto
cles 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 bis counsel and credit, notwithstanding be 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 little spiritedness and meanness of those men, who are so nice, punctilious, and jealous in point of command; who are incompatible with their colleagues, using all their attention 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 the action of Thermopylæ happened, the formidable army of the Carthaginians, which consisted of 300,000 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.
[ After 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, speaking to them in this manner; “ I come to you accompani" ed with two powerful divinities, Persuasion and Force." The answer they made him was: “ We have also two other divinities on our side, no “ less powerful than yours, and which do not permit us to give the money “ you demand of us, Poverty and Impotence." Upon this refusal he 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 of money from them without the privity of the other commanders; for he was esteemed a lover of money; and to be desirous of enriching himself.
THE BATTLE OF PLATEA. MARDONIUS,|| who staid in Greece with a body of 300,000 men, let his troops pass the winter in Thessaly, and in the spring following, led them into Breotia. There was a very famous oracle in this country, the oracle I mean of Labadia, 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 time 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 divide 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
* Παντα συνεπραττε και συνεβολευεν, ενδοξοτατον επι σωτηρια κοινη ποιων των εχθισον. In vit. Arist. p. 323. + Her. I. vii. c. 165. 167. 1 Ibid. I. viii. c. 111, 112. Plut. in Them. p. 122. | A.M. 3525. Ant. J. C. 497. Herod. I. viii. c. 113--131. 136-140, 144. Plut. in Arist. p. 524. Diod. 1. xi. p. 29, 23. Plut. de Orac. Defect. p. 412: