Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

The battle was very fierce and obstinate. Miltiades had made the wings of his army exceeding strong, but had left the main body weaker, and not so deep; the reason of which is sufficiently obvious. Having but ten thousand men to oppose to such a numerous and vast army, it was impossible for bin either to make a large front, or to give an equal depth to his battalions. He was obliged therefore to take his choice; and he imagined, that he could gain the victory in no other way, than by the efforts he should make with his two wings, in order to break and disperse those of the Persians ; not doubting that when once his wings were victorious, they would be able to attack the enemy's main body in flank, and complete the victory without much difficulty. This was the plan followed by Hannibal afterwards at the battle of Cannæ, which succeeded so well with him, and which indeed can scarce ever fail of succeeding. The Persians then attacked the main body of the Grecian army, and made their greatest effort, particularly upon their front. This was led by Aristides and Themistocles, who supported it a long time with intrepid courage and bravery, but were at length obliged to give ground. At that very instant came up their two victorious wings, which had defeated those of the enemy, and put them to flight. Nothing could be more seasonable for the main body of the Grecian army, which began to be broken, being quite borne down by the number of the Persians. The scale was quickly turned, and the barbarians were entirely routed. They all betook themselves to flight, not towards their camp, but to their ships, that they might make their escape. The Athenians pursued them thither and set many of their vessels on fire. It was on this occasion that Cynægirus, the brother of the poet Æschylus, who laid bold of one of the ships, in order to get into it with those that fed, had his right hand cut off, and fell into the sea and was drowned.* The Athenians took seven of their ships. They lost not inore than two hundred men on their side in this engagement; whereas, on the side of the Persians, above six thousand were slain, besides those who fell into the sea as they endeavoured to escape, or those that were consumed with the ships on fire.

Hippias was killed in the battle. That ungrateful and perfidious citizen, in order to recover the unjust dominion usurped by his father Pisistratus over the Athenians, had the baseness to become a servile courtier to a barbarian prince, and to implore his aid against his native country. Urged on by hatred and revenge, he suggested all the means he could invent to load his country with chains ; and even put himself at the head of its enemies, for the purpose of reducing that city to ashes to which he owed his birth, and against which be had no other ground of complaint, than that she would not acknowledge him for her tyrant. An ignominious death, together with everlasting infamy, entailed upon his name, was the just reward of so black a treachery.

Immediately after the battle, an Athenian soldier, still reeking with the blood of the enemy, quitted the army, and ran to Athens, to carry his fe!low-citizens the happy news of the victory. When he arrived at the magistrate's house, he only uttered two words, “ rejoice, rejoice,t the viciory is ours, " and fell down dead at their feet. I

The Persians thought themselves so sure of the victory, that they had brought marble to Marathon, to erect a tropby there. The Grecians took this marble, and caused a statue to be made of it by Phidias in honour of the goddess Nemesis,ß who had a temple near the place where the battle was fought.||

The Persian fleet, instead of sailing by the islards, in order to ie-enter Asia, doubled the cape of Sunium, with the design of surprising Athens, before the Athenian forces should arrive there to defend the city. But the latter bad the precaution to march thither with nine tribes to secure their country; and performed

* Justin adds, that Cynægirus, having first had his right, and then his left hand cut off with an axe, laid. hold of the vessel with his teeth, and would not let go, so violent was his rage against the enemy. This account is utterly fabulous, and has not the least appearance of truth. † Xaigere. Xaigojev. I could not render the liveliness of the Greek expression in our language.

* Plut. de Glor. Athen. p.247.
This was the goddess whose business it was to punish injustice and oppression.

| Paus. 1. i. p. 62,

their march with so much expedition, that they arrived there the same day. The distance from Marathon to Athens is about forty miles, or fifteen French leagues. This was a great exertion for an army that had just under. gone the fatigue of a long and severe battle. By this means the design of their enemies miscarried.

Aristides, the only general that remained at Marathon with his tribe, to take care of the spoil and prisoners, acted suitably to the good opinion that was entertained of him. For, though gold and silver were scattered about in abundance in the enemy's camp, and though all the tents, as well as gallies that were taken, were full of rich clothes and costly furniture, and treasure of all kinds to an immense value, he not only was not tempted to touch any of it bimself, but hindered every body else from touching it.

As soon as the day of the full moon was over, the Lacedæmonians began their march with two thousand men; and, having travelled with all imaginable expedition, arrived in Attica after three days forced march, the distance from Sparta to Attica being no less than twelve bundred stadia, or one hundred and fifty English miles. The battle was fought the day before they arrived : they however proceeded to Marathon, where they found the fields covered with dead bodies and riches. After having congratulated the Athenians on the happy success of the battle, they returned to their own country.*

They were prevented by a foolish and ridiculous superstition, from having a share in the most glorious action recorded in history. For it is almost without example, that such a handful of men as the Athenians were, should not only make head against so numerous an army as that of the Persians, but should entirely rout and defeat them. One is astonished to see so formidable a power miscarry in an attack on so small a city ; and we are almost tempted to question the truth of an event that appears so improbable, but which is, however, well authenticated. This battle alone shows what wonderful things may be performed by an able general, who knows how to take bis advantages; by the intrepidity of soldiers, who are not afraid of death ; by a zeal for one's country; the love of liberty ; a hatred and detestation of slavery and tyranny; which were sentiments natural to the Athenians, but undoubtedly very much augmented and inflamed in them by the very presence of Hippias, whom they dreaded to have again for their master, after all that had passed between them.

Plato in more places than one, makes it his business to extol the battle of Marathon, and is for having that action considered as the source and original cause of all the victories that were gained afterwards.f It was undoubtedly this victory that deprived the Persians of that power and terror which had rendered them so formidable, and made every thing yield before them : it was this victory that taught the Grecians to know their own strength, and not to tremble before an enemy terrible only in name; that made them find by experience, that victory does not depend so much upon the number, as the courage of troops ; that set before their eyes in a most conspicuous light the glory there is in sacrificing one's life in the defence of our country, and for the preserva. tion of liberty ; and, lastly, that inspired them, through the whole course of succeeding ages, with a noble emulation and warm desire to imitate their ancestors, and not to degenerate from their virtue. For, on all important occa. sions, it was customary among them to put the people in mind of Miltiades and his invincible troop, that is, of a little army of heroes, whose intrepidity and pravery had done so much honour to Athens.

Those who were slain in the battle had all the honour immediately paid to them that was due to their merit. Illustrious monuments were erected to them all, in the very place where the battle was fought; upon which their own names and that of their tribes were recorded. There were three distinct sets of monuments separately set up ; one for the Athenians, another for the Platæans,

• Isocr. in Paneg. p. 113,

. f In Monex. p. 239, 240. Et lib. jii. de Leg. p. 698.690

and a third for the slaves, whom they had admitted among their soldiers On that occasion. A tomb for Miltiades was afterwards erected in the same place.*

The reflection Cornelius Nepos makes upon what the Atheniahs did to honour the memory of their generals, deserves to be taken notice of. Formerly, says he, speaking of the Romans, our ancestors rewarded virtue by marks of dis. tinction that were not stately or magnificent, but such as were rarely granted, and for that very reason highly esteemed; whereas now they are so profusely bestowed, that little or no value is set upon them. The same thing happened, adds he, among the Athenians. All the honour that was paid to Miltiades, the great deliverer of Athens and of all Greece, was, that in a picture of the battle of Marathon, drawn by order of the Athenians, he was represented at the head of the ten commanders, exhorting the soldiers, and setting them an example of their duty. But this same people in later ages, grown more powerful and corrupted by the flatteries of their orators, decreed three hundred statues to Demetrius Phalereus.f

Plutarch makes the same reflection, and wisely observes, that the honour which is paid to great men ought not to be looked upon as the reward of their illustrious actions, but only as a mark of esteem of which such monuments are intended to perpetuate the remembrance.s. It is not, then, the stateliness or magnificence of public monuments, which gives them their value, or makes them durable, but the sincere gratitude of those who erect them. The three hundred statues of Demetrius Phalereus were all thrown down even in his own life-time, but the picture representing the courage of Miltiades was preserved many ages after him.

This picture was kept at Athens in a gallery, adorned and enriched with different paintings, all excellent in their kind, and done by the greatest masters ; which for that reason was called 119:x'an, signifying varied and diversified. The celebrated Polygnotus, a native of the isle of Thasos, and one of the finest painters of his time, painted this picture, or at least the greatest part of it; and, as he valued himself upon his reputation, and was more attached to glory than interest, he did it gratuitously, and would not receive any recompense for it. The city of Athens therefore rewarded him in a manner that was more congenial to his feelings, by procuring an order from the Amphictyons to appoint him a public lodging in the city, where he might live during his own pleasure.ll

The gratitude of the Athenians towards Miltiades was of no very long duration. After the battle of Marathon, he desired and obtained the command of a fleet of seventy ships, in order to punish and subdue the islands that had favoured the barharians. Accordingly he reduced several of them: but having been unsuccessful in the isle of Paros, and upon a false report of the arrival of the enemy's fleet, having raised the siege which he had laid to the capital city, wherein he had received a very dangerous wound, he returned to Athens with his fleet, and was there impeached by a citizen, called Xanthippus, who accused him of having raised the siege through treachery, and in consideration of a great sum of money given him by the king of Persia. T Little probability as there was in this accusation, it nevertheless prevailed over the merit and innocence of Miltiades. He was condemned to lose his life, and to be throw'n into the barathrum: a sentence passed only upon the greatest criminals and malefactors. The magistrate opposed the execution of so unjust a condemnation. All the favour shown to this preserver of his country, was to have the sentence of death commuted into a penalty of fifty talents, or fifty thousand crowns French money, being the sum to which the expenses of the fleet, that had been equipped upon his solicitation and advice, amounted. Not being able to pay this sum, he was sent to prison, where he died of the wound he had received at Paros. Cimon, bis son, who was at this time very young, signalized himself for his piety on this occasion, as we shall find in the sequel he afterwards did for his courage. He purchased the permission of burying his father's body, by paying the fine of fifty thousand crowns, in which he had been condemned, which sum the young man raised as well as he could, by the assistance of his friends and relations.*

* Paus. in Attie. p. 60, 61.

† Corn. Nop. in Milt. c. vi. + Ου γάρ μισθόν είναι δεί της πράξεως, αλλά σύμβολον την τιμήν, ίνα και διαμένη πολύς χρόν ile Præc de Rep. Ger. p. 5:20,

| Plin. 1, xxxv, 4. 1 Herod. 1. vi, c. 132, 136, Corn. Nep, in Milt. c, vii, vüi.

Cornelius Nepos observes, that what chiefly induced the Athenians to act in this manner, with regard to Miltiades, was only his great merit and reputation, which made the people who were but lately delivered from the yoke of slavery under Pisistratus apprehend, that Miltiades, who had been tyrant before in the Chersonesus, might affect the same at Athens. They therefore chose rather to punish an innocent person, than to be under perpetual apprehensions of him. To this same principle was to be attributed the institution of the ostracism at Atbens. I have elsewhere given an account of the most plausible reasons upon which the ostracism could be founded: but I do not see how we can fully justify so strange a policy, to which all merit becomes suspected, and virtue itself appears criminal. I

This appears plainly in the banishment of Aristides. His inviolable attach ment to justice obliged him on many occasions to oppose Themistocles, who did not pride himself upon his delicacy in that respect, and who spared no intrigues and cabals to engage the suffrages of the people, for removing a rival who always opposed his ambitious designs. This is a strong instance, that a person may be superior in merit and virtue, without being so in influence. The impetuous eloquence of Themistocles bore down the justice of Aristides, and occasioned his banishment.§. In this kind of trial, the citizens gave their suffrages by writing the name of the accused person upon a shell, called in Greek, osparov, from whence came the term ostracism. On this occasion a peasant, who could not write, and did not know Aristides, applied to himself, and desired him to put the name of Aristides upon his shell. “Has he done you any wrong," said Aristides, that you are for condemning him in this manner?: “ No, replied the other, “I do not so much as know him; but I am quite tired and angry with hearing every body call him the Just." "Aristides, without saying a word more, calmly took the shell, wrote his own name on it, and returned it. He set out for his banishment, imploring the gods that no accident might befall his country to make it regret him.Il The great Camillus, in a like case did not imitate his generosity, but prayed to a quite different effeci, desiring the gods to force his ungrateful country, by some misfortune to have occasion for his aid, and recall him as soon as possible. I

O fortunate republic ! exclaims Valerius Maximus, speaking of the banishment of Aristides, which, aiter having so basely treated the most virtuous man it ever produced, has still been able to find citizens zealously and faithfully attached to her service! Felices Athenas, quæ post illius exilium, invenire aliquem aut virum bonum, aut amantem sui civem potuerunt; cum quo tunc ipsa sanctitas migravit.** SECTION VIII. DARIUS RESOLVES TO MAKE WAR IN PERSON AGAINST EGYPT AND

AGAINST GREECE, &c. When Darius received the news of the defeat of his army at Marathon, he was violently enraged; but that misfortune was so far from discouraging or diverting him from carrying on the war against Greece, that it only served to animate him to pursue it with the greater vigour, in order to be revenged at the same time for the burning of Sardis, and for the disgrace suffered at Marathon. Being thus determined to march in person with all his forces, be despatched orders to all his subjects in the several provinces of his einpire, to arm themselves for this expedition *

* Plat. in Gorg. p. 519.
† Hæc populus respiciens maluit eum innocentem plecti, quam se diutius esse in timore.

Man d'Etud. Vol. iii. p. 407. . In his cogpitum est, quanto nntistaret eloquentia innocentiæ. Quanquam enim adeo excellebat Aris tides abstinentia, ut unus post hominum memoriam, quod quidem nos audierimus, cognomine Justus sit appel latus; tamen a Themistocle collabefactus testula illa exilio decem annorum mulctatus est.-Coro. Nep in Arist.

|| Plut. in Arist. p. 322, 323. 1 In exilium abiit, precatus ab diis immortalibus, si innoxio sibi ea injuria fieret; primo quoque tempore desiderium sui civitati ingratæ facerent, Liv. l, v. A. 32.

** Val. Max. l. v. c. 3.

After having spent three years in making the necessary preparations, he had another war to carry on, occasioned by the revolt of Egypt. It seems from what we read in Diodorus Siculus, that Darius went thither himself to quell it, and that he succeeded. The historian relates, that upon this princes's desiring to have his statue placed before that of Sesostris, the chief priest of the Egyp; tians told him, “ he had not yet equalled the glory of that conqueror;' and that the king, without being offended at the Egyptian priest's freedom, made answer, that he would endeavour to surpass it. Diodorus adds farther, that Darius, detesting the impious cruelty which his predecessor Cambyses had exercised in that country, expressed great reverence for their gods and temples; that he had several conversations with the Egyptian priests upon matters of religion and government; and that having learned of them, with what great gentleness their

ancient kings used to treat their subjects, he endeavoured, after his return into Persia, to form himself upon their model. But Herodotus, more worthy of belief in this particular than Diodorus, only observes, that this prince, resolving at once to chastise his revolted subjects, and to be avenged of his ancient enemies, determined to make war against both at the same time, and to attack Greece in person with the main body of his army, while the rest of it was employed in the reduction of Egypt. I

According to an ancient custom among the Persians, their king was not allowed to go to war, without having first named the person that should succeed him on the throne; a custom wisely established to prevent the state's being exposed to the troubles which generally attend the uncertainty of a successor, to the inconvenience of anarchy, and to the cabals of various pretenders. Darius, before he undertook his expedition against Greece, thought himself the more obliged to observe this rule, as he was already advanced in years, and as there was a difference between two of his sons, upon the question of succeeding to the empire ; which difference might occasion a civil war after his death, if he left it undetermined. Darius had three sons by his first wife, the daughter of Gobryas, all three bɔrn before their father came to the crown; and four by Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, who were all born after their father's succession to the throne. Artabazanes, called by Justin Artemenes, was the eldest of the former, and Xerxes of the latter. Artabazanes alleged in his owu behalf, that as he was the eldest of all the brothers, the right of succession, according to the custom and practice of all nations, belonged to him, in preference to all the rest. Xerxes's argument was, that, as son of Darius by. Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, who founded the Persian empire, it was more just that the crown of Cyrus should devolve upon one of his descendants, than upon one who was not. Demaratus, a Spartan king, unjustly deposed by his subjects, and at that time in exile at the court of Persia, secretly suggested to Xerxes another argument to support his pretensions : that Artabazanes was indeed the eldest son of Darius, but he, Xerxes, was the oldest son of the king; and therefore, Artabazanes being born when his father was but a private man, all he could pretend to, on account of his seniority, was only to inherit his private estate; but that he, Xerxes, being the first-born son of the king, had the best right to succeeil to the crown. He farther supported this argument by the example of the Lacedæmonians, who admitted none to inherit the kingdom but those children who were born after their father's accession. The right of succeeding was accordingly determined in favour of Xerxes.

Justin|l and Plutarch place this dispute after Darius's decease, 1 They both take notice of the prudent conduct of these two brothers on so nice an occa| Lib. I. p. 54, 35. # Herod. I. vi. c. 4.

Idem. c. 2, 3. # Adeo fraterna contentio fuit, ut nec victor insultaverit, nec vict's doluerit; ipsoque litis tempore invi com munera miseriot; jucunda quoque inter se non solum, sed credula convivia habuerint ; judicium qua que ipsum sine arbitris, siae convitio fuerit. Tanto moderatius tum fratres inter se regna masima divide beat, quum nunc exigua patrimonia partiuntur.

Justin,
u Justin.d. ij. 6. 10. Plute de Frat, Amore, p. 448.

* Herod. l. vii. c. 1.

« ZurückWeiter »