« הקודםהמשך »
the patriarch of that sect, who maintained its maxims and interests with the greatest violence, attended Xerxes upon his expedition against Greece.* T'his prince, as he passed through Babylon on his return to Susa, destroyed also the temples of that city, as he had done those of Greece and Asia Minor; doubtless through the same principle, and out of hatred to the sect of the Sabæans, who made use of images in their divine worship, which was a thing extremely detested by the Magi. Perhaps also, the desire of making himself amends for the charges of his Grecian expedition by the spoil and plunder of those temples, might be another motive that induced him to destroy them: for it is certain he found immense riches and treasure in them, which had been amassed together through the superstition of princes and people during a long series of ages.
The Grecian fleet, after the battle of Mycale, set sail toward the Hellespont, in order to possess themselves of the bridges which Xerxes had caused to be laid over that narrow passage, and which they supposed were still entire. But finding them broken by tempestuous weather, Leotychi. des and his Peloponnesian forces returned towards their own country. As for Xant)
us, he staid with the Athenians and their Ionian confederates, and they made themselves masters of Sestus and the Thracian Chersonesus: in wbich places they found great booty, and took a vast number of prisoners. After which, before winter came on, they returned to their own cities.
From this time all the cities of lonia revolted from the Persians; and having entered into confederacy with the Grecians, most of them preserved their liberty during the time that empire subsisted.
AND INHUMAN REVENGE OF AMESTRIS, THE WIFE
DURING the residence of Xerxes at Sardist, he conceived a violent passion for the wife of his brother Masistus, who was a prince of extraordinary merit, had always served the king with great zeal and fidelity, and had never done any thing to disoblige him. The virtue of this lady, her great affection and fidelity to her husband, made her inexorable to all the king's solicitations. However, he still flattered himself, that by a profusion of favours and liberalities he might possibly gain upon her; and among other kind things he did to oblige her, he married his eldest son Darius, whom he intended for his successor, to Artainta, this princess' daughter, and ordered that the marriage should be consummated as soon as he arrived at Susa. But Xerxes finding the lady still no less impregnable, in spite of all his temptations and attacks, immediately changed his object and fell passionately in love with her daughter, who did not imitate the glorious example of her mother's constancy and virtue. Whilst this intrigue was carrying on, Amestris, wife of Xerxes, made him a present of a rich and magnificent robe of her own making. Xerxes being extremely pleased with this robe, thought fit to put it on upon the first visit he afterwards made to Artainta; and in the conversation he had with her, he mightily pressed her to let him know what she desired he should do for her; assuring her, at the same time, with an oath, that he would grant ħer whatever she asked of him. Artainta, upon this, desired him to give her the robe he had on. Xerxes, foreseeing the ill consequences that would necessarily ensue upon his making her this present, did all that he could to dissuade her from insisting upon it, and offered her any thing in the world in lieu of it. But not being able to prevail upon her, and thinking himself bound by the imprudent promise and oath he had made to her, he gave her the robe. The lady no sooner received it, but she put it on, and wore it publicly by way of trophy,
* Arrian. I. vii. † A. M. 3525. Ant. J. C. 479. Herod. I. ix, c. 107-112.
Amestris being confirmed in the suspicions she had entertained, by this action, was enraged to the last degree. But, instead of letting her vengeance fall upon the daughter, who was the only offender, she resolved to wreak it upon the mother, whom she looked upon as the author of the whole intrigue, though she was entirely innocent of the matter. For the better executing of her purpose, she waited until the grand feast, which every year was celebrated on the king's birth-day, and which was not far off; on which occasionthe king, according to the established custom of the country, granted her whatever she demanded. This day then being come, the thing which she desired of his majesty was, that the wife of Masistus sbould be delivered into her hands. Xerxes, who apprehended the queen's design, and who was struck with horror at the thoughts of it, as well out of regard to his brother, as on account of the innocence of the lady, against whom he perceived his wife was so violently exasperated, at first refused her request, and endeavoured all he could to dissuade her from it. But not being able either to prevail upon her, or to act with steadiness and resolution bimself, he at last yielded, and was guilty of the weakest and most cruel piece of complaisance that ever was acted, making the inviolable obligations of justice and humanity give way to the arbitrary laws of a custom, that had only been established to give occasion for the doing of good, and for acts of beneficence and generosity. In consequence then of this compliance, the lady was apprehended by the king's guards, and delivered to Amestris, who caused her breasts, tongue, nose, ears and lips, to be cut off, ordered them to be cast to the dogs in her own presence, and then sent her home to her husband's house in that mutilated and miserable condition. In the mean time, Xerxes had sent for his brother, in order to prepare him for this melancholy and tragical adFenture. He first gave him to understand, that he should be glad he would put away his wife; and to induce him thereto, offered to give him one of his daughters in her stead. But Masistus, who was passionately fond of his wife, could not prevail upon hiin to divorce her: whereupon Xerxes in great wrath, told him, that since he refused his daughter, he should neither have her nor his wife; and that he would teach him not to reject the offers his master had made him ; and with this inhuman reply dismissed him.
This strange proceeding threw Masistus into the greatest anxiety ; who, thinking he had reason to apprehend the worst of accidents, made all the haste he could bome, to see what had passed there during his absence. On his arrival he found his wife in that deplorable condition we have just been describing. Being enraged thereat to the degree we may naturally immagine, he assembled all his family, his servants and dependants, and set out with all possible expedition for Bactriana, whereof he was governour, determined as soon as he arrived there, to raise an army and make war against the king, in order to avenge bimself for his barbarous treatment. But Xerxes being informed of his hasty departure, and from thence suspecting the design he had conceived against him, sent a party of horse after hinn to pursue bim ; which having overtaken bim, cut him in pieces,
together with his children and all his retinue. I do not know whether a more tragical example of revenge, than I have now related, is to be found in history.
* There is still another action, no less cruel or impious than the former, related of Amestris. She caused 14 children of the best families in Persia to be burnt alive, as a sacrifice to the infernal gods, out of compliance with a superstitious custom practiced by the Persians.
# Masistus being dead, Xerxes gave the government of Bactriana to his second son Hystaspes ; who being by that means obliged to live at a distance from the court, gave his younger brother Artaxerxes the opportunity of ascending the throne to his disadvantage, after the death of their father, as will be seen in the sequel.
Here ends Herodotus' history, viz. at the battle of Mycale, and the siege of the city of Sestus by the Athenians.
THE ATHENIANS REBUILD THE WALLS OF THEIR CITY, NOTWITHSTAND:
ING THE OPPOSITION OF THE LACEDÆMONIANS. THE war, commonly called the war of Media, which had lasted but two years, being terminated in the manner we have mentioned, the Athepians returned to their own country, sent for their wives and children, whom they had committed to the care of their friends during the war, and began to think of rebuilding their city, which was almost entirely destroyed by the Persians, and to surround it with strong walls, in order to secure it from farther violence. The Lacedæmonians having intelligence of this, conceived a jealousy, and began to apprehend that Athens, which was already very powerful by sea, if it should go on to increase its strength by land also, might take upon her in time to give laws to Sparta, and to deprive her of that authority and pre-eminence, which she had hitherto exercised over the rest of Greece. They therefore sent an embassy to the Athenians, the purport of which was, to represent to them that the common interest and safety required, that there should be no fortified city out of the Poloponnesus, lest, in case of a second irruption, it should serve for a place of arms for the Persians, who would be sure to settle themselves in it, as they had done before at Thebes, and who from thence would be able to infest the whole country, and to make themselves masters of it very speedily. Themistocles, who since the battle of Salamin, was greatly considered and respected at Athens, easily penetrated into the true design of the Lacedæmonians, though it was gilded over with the specious pretext of public good : but as the latter were able, with the assistance of their allies, to hinder the Athenians by force from carrying on the work, in case they should positively and absolutely refuse to comply with their demands, he advised the senate to make use of cunning and dissimulation as well as they. The answer therefore they made their envoys was, that they would send an embassy to Sparta, to satisfy the commonwealth concerning their jealousies and apprehensions. Themistocles got himself to be nominated one of the ambassadors, and persuaded the senate not to let his colleagues set out along with him, but to send them one after anoth
in order to gain time for carrying on the work. The matter was exe
† Diod. I. xi. p. 55. | A.M. 3526. Ant. J. C. 478. Thucyd. I. viii. p. 59–62. Diod. l. xi. p. So, 31. Justin. l. i. c. 15.
* Herod. ). vii. c. 114.
cuted pursuant to his advice ; and he accordingly went alone to Lacedæmon, where he let a great many days pass without waiting upon the magistrates, or applying to the senate. And upon their pressing him to do it, and asking bim the reason why he deferred it so long, he made answer, that he waited for the arrival of his colleagues, that they might all have their audience of the senate together, and seemed to be very much surprised that they were so long in coming. At length they arrived ; but all came singly, and at a good distance of time one from another. During all this while the work was carried op at Athens with the utmost industry and vigor. The women, children, strangers and slaves, were all employed in it: nor was it inierrupted night or day. The Spartans were not ignorant of the matter, but made great complaints of it to Themistocles, who positively denied the fact, and pressed them to send other deputies to Athens, in order to inform themselves better of the fact ; desiring them not to give credit to loose and flying reports, without foundation. At the same time he secretly advised the Athenians to detain the Spartan envoys as so many hostages, until he and his colleagues were returned from their embassy, fearing, not without good reason, that they themselves might be served in the same manner at Sparta. At last, when all his fellow ambassadors were arrived, he desired an audience, and declared in full senate, that it was really true the Athenians had resolved to fortify their city with strong walls; that the work was almost completed; that they had judged it to be absolutely necessary for their own security, and for the public good of the allies; telling them at the same tiine, that after the great experience they had of the Athenian people's behaviour, they could not well suspect them of being wanting in their zeal for the common interest of their country ; that as the condition and privileges of all the allies ought to be equal, it was just the Athenians should provide for their own safety by all the methods they judged necessary, as well as the other confederates; that they had thought of this expedient, and were in a condition to defend their city against whomsoever should presume to attack it; and * that as for the Lacedæmonians, it was not much for their honour, that they should desire to establish their power and superiority rather upon the weak and defenceless condition of their allies, than upon their own strength and val. or. The Lacedæmonians were extremely displeased with this discourse : but either out of a sense of gratitude and esteem for their country, or out of a conviction that they were not able to oppose their enterprise, they dissembled their resentment: and the ambassadors on both sides, having all suitable honors paid them, returned to their respective cities.
† Themistocles, who had always his thoughts fixed upon raising and augmenting the power and glory of the Athenian commonwealth, did not confine his views to the walls of the city. He went on with the same vigorous application to finish the building and fortifications of the Piræus ; for, from the time he entered into office, he had begun that great work. Before his time they had no other port at Athens but that of Phalerus, which was neither very large nor commodious, and consequently not capable of answering the great designs of Themistocles. For this reason he had cast his eye upon the Piræus, which seemed to invite him by its advantageous situation, and by the conveniency of its three spacious havens, which were capable of containing above 400 vessels. This undertaking was
* Graviter castigat eos, quod non virtute, sed imbecilitate sociorum, potentiam quærerent. Justin. Í. ii. c. 15.
+ Thucyd. p. 62, 65. Diod. l. xi. p. 32, 33.
prosecuted with so much vigilance and vivacity, that the work was considerably advanced in a very little time. Themistocles likewise obtained a decree, that every year they should build 20 vessels for the augmentation of their fleet : and, in order to engage the greater number of workmen and sailors to resort to Athens, he caused particular privileges and immunities to be granted in their favour. His design was, as I have already observed, to make the whole force of Athens maritime ; in which he followed a very different scheme of politics from what had been pursued by their ancient kings, who, endeavouring all they could to alienate the minds of the citizens from seafaring business and from war, and to make them apply themselves wholly to agriculture and to peaceable employments, published this fable: That Minerva disputing with Neptune, to know which of them should be declared patron of Attica, and give their name to the city newly built, she gained her cause by showing her judges the branch of an olive-tree, the happy syinbol of peace and plenty, which she had planted; whereas Neptune had made a fiery horse, the symbol of war and confusion, rise out of the earth before them.
THE BLACK DESIGN OF THEMISTOCLES REJECTED UNANIMOUSLY BY THE
PEOPLE OF ATHENS.
THEMISTOCLES, * who conceived the design of supplanting the Lacedæmonians, and of taking the government of Greece out of their hands, in order to put it into those of the Athenians, kept his eye and his thoughts continually fixed upon that great object. And as he was not very nice or scrupulous in the choice of bis measures, whatever tended towards the accomplishing of the end he had in view, he looked upon as just and lawful. On a certain day then he declared, in a full assembly of the people, that he had a very important design to propose, but that he could not communicate it to the people ; because its success required it should be carried on with the greatest secrecy : he therefore desired they would appoint a person, to whom he might explain himself upon the matter in question. Aristides was unanimously pitched upon by the whole assembly, who referred themselves entirely to his opinion of the affair : so great a confidence had they both in his probity and prudence. Themistocles therefore having taken him aside, told him, that the design he had conceived was to burn the fleet belonging to the rest of the Grecian states which then lay in a neighbouring port, and that by this ineans Athens would certainly become mistress of all Greece. Aristides hereupon returned to the assembly, and only declared to them, that indeed nothing could be more advantageous to the commonwealth than Themistocles' project, but that at the same time nothing in the world could be more unjust. All the people unanimously ordained that Themistocles should entirely desist from his project. We see in this instance, that the title of just was not given to Aristides, even in his life time, without some foundation ; a title, says Plutarch, infinitely superior to all those which conquerors pursue with so much ardour, and which, in some measure, approaches a man to the divinity.
I do not know whether all history can afford us a fact more worthy of adlmiration than this. It is not a company of philosophers (to whom it costs nothing to establish fine maxims and sublime notions of morality in the
* Plut. in Themist. p. 121, 122. in Arist. p. 337.