Abbildungen der Seite

Thus we have seen the end of Xerxes, who was one of the most powerful princes that ever lived. It would be needless for me to anticipate the reader with respect to the judgment he ought to form of him. We see him surrounded with whatever is greatest and most august in the opinion of mankind; the most extensive empire at that time in the world ; immense treasures, and an incredible number of land as well as sea forces. But all these things are around hiin, not in him, and add no lustre to his natural qualities : for, by a blindness too common to princes and great men, born in the midst of all terrestrial blessings, heir to boundless power, and a lustre that cost him nothing, he had acustomed bimself to judge of his own talents and personal merit from the exterior of his exalted station and rank. He disregards the wise counsels of Artabanus his uncle, and of Demaratus, who alone had courage enough to speak truth to bim; and he abandons himself to courtiers, the adorers of his fortune, whose sole study it was to soothe bis passions. He proportions, and pretends to regulate the success of his enterprises by the extent of his power. The slavish submission of so many nations no longer soothes his ambition ; and little affected with too easy an obedience, he takes pleasure in exercising his power over the elements in cutting his way through mountains, and making them navigable; in chastising the sea for having broken down his bridge, and in foolishly attempting to shackle the waves, by throwing chains into them. Elated with a childish vanity and a ridiculous pride, he looks upon himself as the arbiter of nature: he imagines, that not a nation in the world will dare to oppose him ; and fondly and presumptuously relies on the millions of men and ships which he drags after him. But when, after the battle of Salamin, he beholds the sad ruins, the shameful remains of his numberless troops scattered over all Greece, he then is sensible of the wide difference between an army and a crowd of men.* In a word, to form a right judgment of Xerxes, we need but contrast him with a plain citizen of Athens, a Miltiades, Themistocles, or Aristides, In the latter we find all the good sense, prudence, ability in war, valour, and greatness of soul; in the former we see nothing but vanity, pride, obstinacy, the meanest and most grovelling sentiments, and sometimes the most horrid barbarity.

Stratusque per totam passim Græciam Xerxes intellexit, quantum ab exercitu turba distarit.-Senec de Benef. 1. vi. c. 32.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

PLAN THE first and third chapters of this book include the history of the Persians and Grecians during 48 years,

and some months, which contain the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus; the last six years of which answer to the first six of the Peloponnesian war. This space of time begins at the year of the world

3531, and ends at 3579. The second chapter comprehends the other transactions of the Greeks, which happened both in Sicily.

and Italy, during the interval above mentioned.

CHAPTER I This chapter includes the history of the Persians and Greeks, from the beginning of the reign of Artaxerxes to the Peloponnesian war, which began in ihe forty-second year of that king's reign.

SECTION 1.-ARTAXERXES RUINS THE FACTION OF ARTABANUS, &c. The Greek historians give this prince the surname of Longimanus. Strabo says, it was because his hands were so long, that when he stood upright he could touch his knees with them ;* but according to Plutarch, it was because his right hand was longer than his left.f Had it not been for this blemish, he would have been the most graceful man of his age. He was still more remarkable for his goodness and generosity. He reigned about forty-nine years.

Although Artaxerxes by the death of Artabanus, was delivered from a dangerous competitor, there still were two obstacles in his way to be removed before he could establish himself in the quiet possession of his throne ;- one of which was his brother Hystaspes, governor of Bactria; and the other, the faction of Artabanus. He began with the latter. I

Artabanus had left seven sons, and a great number of partisans, who assembled to revenge his death. These and the adherents of Artaxerxes, fought a bloody battle, in which a great number of Persian nobles lost their lives. Artaxerxes having at last entirely defeated his enemies, put to death all who had engaged in this conspiracy. He took an exemplary vengeance of those who were concerned in his father's murder, and particularly of Mithridates the eunuch who had betrayed him, and wbo was executed in the following

He was laid on his back in a kind of borse-trough, and strongly fastened to the four corners of it. Every part of him, except his head, his bands, and his feet, which came out at holes made for that purpose, was covered with another trough. In this horrid situation victuals were given him from time to time ; and in case of his refusal to eat, they were forced down his throat: honey mixed with milk was given him to drink, and all his. face was smeared with it, which by that means attracted a numberless multitude of flies, especially as he was constantly exposed to the scorching rays of

The worms which bred in his excrements preyed upon his bowels. The criminal lived fifteen or twenty days in inexpressible torments.


the sun.

* Lib. xv. p. 735. A. M, 3531.

Cles. c. 30.
Vol. II


Ant. J. C. 473.


f In Artax. p. 1011. Plut. in Artax. p. 1019.

Artaxerxes having crushed the faction of Artabanus, was powerful enough to send an army into Bactriana, which bad declared in favour of his brother, but he was not successful on this occasion. The two armies engaging, Hystaspes stood his ground so well, that, if he did not gain the victory, he at least sustained no loss; so that both armies separated with equal success; and each retired to prepare for a second battle. Artaxerxes having raised a greater arıny than his brother, and having the whole empire in his favour, defeated him in a second engagement, and entirely ruined his party. By this victory he secured to himself the quiet possession of the empire.

To maintain himself in the throne, he removed all such governors of cities and provinces from their employments, as he suspected of holding a correspondence with either of the factions he had overcome, and substituted others on whom he could rely. He afterwards applied himself to reforming the abuses and disorders which had crept into the government. By his wise conduct and zeal for the public good, be soon acquired great reputation and authority, with the love of his subjects, the strongest support of sovereign power.f


ACCORDING to Thucydides, Themistocles fled to this prince in the beginning of his reign ; but other authors, as Strabo, Plutarch, Diodorus, fix this incident under Xerxes his predecessor. Dr. Prideaux is of the latter opinion; he likewise thinks that the Artaxerxes in question, is the same person that is called Ahasuerus in Scripture, and who married Esther; but we suppose with the learned Archbishop Usher, that it was Darius the son of Hystaspes, who espoused this illustrious Jewess. I have already declared more than once, that I would not engage in controversies of this kind; and therefore, with regard to abis flight of Themistocles into Persia, and the history of Esther, I shak follow the opinion of the learned Usher, my usual guide on these occasions. I

We have seen that Themistocles had fled to Admetus, king of the Molossi, and had met with a gracious reception from him: but the Athenians and Lacedæmonians would not suffer him to live in peace, and required that prince to deliver him up; threatening, in case of refusal, to carry their arms into his country. Admetus, who was unwilling to draw such formidable enemies upon himself, and much more to deliver up the man who had fled to him for refuge, informed him of the great danger to which he was exposed, and favoured his flight. Themistocles went as far by land as Pydna, a city of Macedonia, and there embarked on board a merchant ship, which was sailing to lonia. None of the passengers knew him. A storm having carried this vessel near the island of Naxos, then besieged by the Athenians, the imminent danger to which Themistocles was exposed, obliged him to discover himself to the pilot and master of the ship ; after which, by entreaties and menaces, he forced them to sail towards Asia.

Themistocles might on this occasion call to mind an expression which his father had made use of, when he was very young, in order to warn him to lay very little stress on the favour of the common people. They were then walking together in the harbour. His father pointing to some rotten gallies that lay neglected on the strand." look there,” said he, "my son,” pointing to them, “thus do the people treat their governors, when they can do them no farther service.”

He was now arrived in Cumæ, a city of Æolia, in Asia Minor. The king of Persia had set a price upon his head, and promised two hundred talents to any man who should deliver him up. The whole coast was covered with people who were watching for him. He fled to Ægæ, a little city of Æolia, where no one knew him except Nicogenes, at whose house he lodged. He was the

Ctes. C. 31.
# Diod. l. xi. p. 54.

A. M. 3531. Ant. J. C. 473. ị Thuc. I. i. p. 90, 91. Plut. in The. p. 125127. Diod. I. xi. p. 42–44. Corn. Nep. in The. c. 8-10 Plut, in Themist. p. 11%.

1 About two hundred thousand dollars.


most wealthy man in that country, and very intimate with all the lords of the Persian court. Themistocles was concealed some days in his bouse, till Nicogenes sent him under a strong guard to Susa, in one of those covered chariots in which the Persians, who were extremely jealous, used to carry their wives ; those who carried him telling every body, that they were carrying a young Greek lady to a courtier of great distinction.

On his arrival at the Persian court, he waited upon the captain of the guards, and told him, that he was a Grecian by birth, and begged the king would admit him to an audience, having matters of great importance to communicate to bim. The officer informed him of a ceremony, which he knew was insupportable to some Greeks, but without which none were allowed to speak to the king; and this was, to fall prostrate before him. “Our laws," said he, mand us to honour the king in that manner, and to worship him as the living image of the immortal God, who maintains and preserves all things.' Themistocles promised to comply. Being admitted to audience, he fell on his face before the king, after the Persian manner; and afterwards rising up,“ great king,” said he by an interpreter, “ I am Themistocles the Athenian, who have ing been banished by the Greeks, have come to your court in hopes of finding an asylum in it. I have indeed brought many calamities on the Persians ; bul, on the other side, I have done them no less services, by the salutary advices I bave given them more than once; and I now am able to do them more important services than ever. My life is in your hands. You may now display your clemency, or exert your vengeance; by the former you will preserve your suppliant; by the latter you will destroy the greatest enemy of Greece.*

The king made him no answer at this audience, though he was struck with admiration at his great sense and boldness; but history informs us, that he told his friends, he considered the arrival of Themistocles as a very great happiness; that he implored his god Arimanius always to inspire his enemies with such thoughts, and to prompt them to banish and make away with their most illustrious personages. It is added, that when the king was asleep, he started up three times in excess of joy, and exclaimed, “I have got Themistocles the Athenian!"

The next morning, at day break, he sent for the greatest lords of his court, and commanded Themistocles to be brought before him, who expected nothing but destruction ; especially after what one of his guards, upon hearing his name, had said to him the night before, even in the presence-chamber, just as he had left the king : “thou serpent of Greece, thou compound of fraud and malice, the good genius of our prince brings thee hither!” However, the serenity which appeared in the king's face seemed to promise him a favourable reception. Themistocles was not mistaken, for the king began by making him a present of two hundred talents, which sum he had promised to any one who should deliver him up, which consequently was his due, as Themistocles had brought him his head, by surrendering himself to him. He afterwards desired him to give an account of the affairs of Greece. But as Themistocles could not express his thoughts to the king without the assistance of an interpreter, he desired time might be allowed him to learn the Persian tongue ; hoping he should then be able to explain those things he was desirous of communicating to him better than he could by the aid of a third person. It is the same, says he, with the speech of a man, as with a piece of tapestry, which must be spread out and unfolded, to show the figures and other beauties wrought in it. Themistocles having studied the Persian tongue twelve months, made so great a progress, that he spoke it with greater elegance than the Persians themselves, and consequently could converse with the king without the help of an interpreter. This prince treated him with uncommon marks of friendship and es

• Thucydides relates very nearly the same words ; but informs us that Themistocles did not speak them to the king, but sent them in writing before he was introduced to him. + Two hundred thousand French crowns, or about $200,000.


« ZurückWeiter »