Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

that gaped like an open sepulchre. A mourn. ful silence instantly prevailed! All eyes were turned upon the destined victim, whose destruction now appeared inevitable. But the pily of the multitude was soon converted into astonishment, when they beheld the lion, instead of destroying his defenceless prey, crouch submissively at his feet, fawn upon him as a faithful dog would do upon his master, and rejoice over him as a mother that unexpectedly recovers her offspring. The governor of the town, who was present, then called out with a loud voice, and ordered Androcles to explain to them, this unintelligible mystery; and how a savage of the fiercest and most unpitying nature, should thus in a moment have forgotten his innate disposition, and be converted into an harmless and inoffensive animal. Androcles then related to the assembly, every circumstance of his adventures in the woods, and concluded by saying, that the very lion which now stood before them, had been his friend and entertainer in the woods. All the persons present were delighted with the story, they were astonished to find that even the fiercest beasts are capable of being softened by gratitude, and moved by humanity; and they unanimously joined to entreat for the pardon of the unhappy man, from the governor of the place. This was immediately granted to him; and he

was also presented with the lion, who had in this manner twice saved the life of Androcles.

000Leonidas, King of Sparta. The King of Persia commanded a great extent of territory, which was inhabited by many millions of people, and not only abounded in all the necessrries of life, but produced immense quantities of gold and silver, and every other costly thing. Yet all this did not satisfy the haughty mind of Xerxes, who at that time possessed the empire of this country. · He considered that the Grecians, his neighbours, were free, and refused to obey his imperious orders ; which he foolishly imagined all mankind should respect. He therefore determined to make an expedition with a mighty army into Greece, and to conquer the country. For this reason, he raised such a prodigious army, that it was almost impossible to describe it. The numbers of men that composed it seemed sufficient to conquer the whole world, and all the forces the Grecians were able to raise would scarcely amount to an hundreth part.

Neverthe. less, the Grecians held public councils to consult about their

common safety; and they nobly determined, that as they had hitherto lived free, so they would either maintain their 'liberty, or bravely die in its defence. In the mean time, Xerxes was continually

1

marching forward, and at length entered the territory of Greece. The Grecians had not yet been able to assemble their troops, or make their preparations, and therefore they were struck with consternation at the approach of such an army as attended Xerxes. Leonidas was at that time king of Sparta, and, when he considered the state of affairs, he saw one method alone by which the ruin of his country, and all Greece, could be prevented. In order to enter the inore cultivated parts of this country, it was necessary for the Persian army to march through a very rough and mountainous district, called Therniopplæ. There was only one narrow road through all these mountains, which it was possible for a very small number of men to defend for some time against the most numerous army.

Leonidas perceived, That if a small number of resolute men would undertake to defend this passage, it would retard the march of the whule Persian army, and give the Grecians time to collect their troops. But, who would undertake so desperate an enterprize, where there was scarcely any possibility of escaping alive? For this reason, Leonidas determined to undertake the expedition himself, with such of the Spartans as would voluntarily attend him, and to sa.

crifice his own life for the preservation of his - country. With this design, he assembled the chief persons of Sparta, and laid before them the necessity of defending the pass of Thermopylæ. They were equally convinced of its importance, but knew not a here to fud a man of such determined valour as to undertake it. " Then, (said Leonidas,) since there is no more worthy man ready to perform this service, I myself will undertake it, with those who will voluntarily accompany me." They were struck with admiration at his proposal, and praised the greatness of his mind, but set before him the certain destruction which must attend him.

“ All this," said Leonidas, “ I have already considered; but I am delermined to go, with the appearance, indeed, of defending the pass of Thermypy læ. but in reality, to die for the liberty of Greece." Saying this, he instantly went out of the assembly, anil repared for the ex pedition, taking with him about three hun dred Spartans. Before he went, he embraced his wife, who hung about him in tears, as well acquainted with the purpose of his march; but he endeavoured to comfort her, and told her that a short life was well sacrificed to the interests of his country, and that Sparian women should be more careful about the glory than the safety of their husbands. He then kissed his infant children, and charging his wife is educate them in the same principles he had lived in, went out of his house to put himself at the head of those brave men who were to accompany him. As they marched through the city, all ihe inhabitauts' attended them with praises and acclamations. The young women sang songs of triumph, and scattered flowers before them; the youths were jealous of their glory, and lamented that such a noble doom had not rather fallen upon themselves; while all their friends and relations seemed rather to exult in the immortal honour they were going to acquire, than to be dejected with the ap. prehensions of their loss. As they marched i hrough Greece, they were joined by various bodies of their allies ; so that their number amounted to about six thousand, when they tok possession of the Straits of Thermopylæ.

In a short time, Xerxes approached, with his innumerable army, composed of various nations, and armed in a thousand different manners. When he had seen the small number of his enemies, he could not believe that they really meant to oppose his passage ; but when he was told, that this was surely their design, he sent out a small detachment of bis troops, and ordered them to take these Grecians alive, and bring them before him. The Persian troops set out, and attacked the Grecians with considerable fury; but, in an instant, they were routed, the greater part slain, and the rest obliged to fly. Xerxes was enraged at this mis. fortune, and ordered the combat to be renicwed with greater forces. The attack was renewed,

« ZurückWeiter »