« VorigeDoorgaan »
* A decree was therefore passed, by which, in Xerxes. order to soften what appeared so hard in the resolution of deserting the city, it was ordained, that "Athens should be given up in trust into the hands, "and committed to the keeping and protection of "Minerva, patroness of the Athenian people; that "all such inhabitants as were able to bear arms, "should go on ship-board; and that every citizen should provide, as well as he could, for the "safety and security of his wife, children, and "slaves."
The extraordinary behaviour of Cimon, who was at this time very young, was of great weight on this singular occasion. Followed by his companions, with a gay and chearful countenance, he went publickly along the street of the Cerimacus to the citadel, in order to consecrate a bitt of a bridle, which he carried in his hand, in the temple of Minerva, designing to make the people understand by this religious and affecting ceremony, that they had no farther business with land-forces, and that it behoved them now to betake themselves entirely to the sea. After he had made an offering of this bitt, he took one of the shields that hung upon the wall of the temple, paid his devotions to the goddess, went down to the water-side, and was the first, who by his example inspired the greatest part of the people with confidence and resolution, and encouraged them to
The major part of them sent their fathers and mothers, that were old, together with their wives and children, to the city of Trezene, the inhabitants of which received thein with great humanity and generosity. For they made an ordinance, that they should be maintained at the expense of the publick,
* Herod. 1. viii. c. 51---54. Plut. in Themist. p. 117. y Plut. in Cim. p. 481.
*This was a small city situate upon the sea-side, in that part of the Peloponnesus called Argolis.
Xerxes, and assigned for each person's subsistence two oboli a day, which were worth about two-pence English money. Besides this, they permitted the children to gather fruit wherever they pleased, or wherever they came, and settled a fund for the payment of the masters, who had the care of their education. What a beautiful thing it is to sce a city, exposed as it was to the greatest dangers and calamities, extend her care and generosity in the very midst of such alarms, even to the education of other people's chil
When the whole city came to embark, so moving and melancholy a spectacle drew tears from the eyes of all that were present, and at the same time occasioned great admiration with regard to the steadiness and courage of those men, who sent their fathers and mothers another way and to other places, and who, without being moved either at their grief or lamentations, or at the tender embraces of their wives and children, passed over with so much firmness and resolution to Salamin. But that which extremely raised and augmented the general compassion, was the great number of old men that they were forced to leave in the city on account of their age and infirmities, and of which many voluntarily remained there, on a motive of religion, believing the citadel to be the thing meant by the oracle in the forementioned ambiguous expression of wooden walls. There was no creature, (for history has judged this circumstance worthy of being remembered;) there was no creaturc, I say, to the very domestick animals, but what took part in this publick mourning, nor was it possible for a man to see those poor creatures run howling and crying after their masters, who were going a ship-board, without being touched and affected. Among all the rest of these animals, particular notice is taken of a dog belonging to Xanthippus, the father of Pericles, which not being able to endure to see himself abandoned by his master, jumped into the sea after him, and continued swimming as near as
he could to the vessel his master was on board of, Xerxes. till he landed quite spent at Salamin, and died the moment after upon the shore. In the same place, even in Plutarch's time, they used to shew the spot wherein this faithful animal was said to be buried, which was called the dog's burying-place.
z Whilst Xerxes was continuing his march, some deserters from Arcadia came and joined his army. The king having asked them what the Grecians were then doing, was extremely surprized when he was told, that they were employed in seeing the games and combats then celebrating at Olympia: And his surprize was still increased, when he understood that the victor's reward in those engagements was only a crown of olive. What men must they be, cried one of the Persian nobles with great wonder and astonishment, that are affected only with honour, and not with money!
a Xerxes had sent off a considerable detachment of his army to plunder the temple at Delphos, in which he knew there was immense treasures, being resolved to treat Apollo with no more favour than the other gods, whose temples he had pillaged. If we may believe what Herodotus and Diodorus Sicu lus say of this matter, as soon as ever this detachment advanced near the temple of Minerva, surnamed the Provident, the air grew dark on a sudden, and a violent tempest arose, accompanied with impetuous winds, thunder and lightning; and two huge rocks having severed themselves from the mountain, fell upon the Persian troops, and crushed the greatest part of them.
The other part of the army marched towards the city of Athens, which was deserted by all its inhabitants, except a small number of citizens who had retired into the citadel, where they defended themselves with incredible bravery, till they were all
Ibid. c, 35-99. Diod. 1. xi, p. 12.
2 Herod. 1. viii, c. 16. ➤ Herod, 1, ii, c, 50---5k,
Xerxes. killed, and would hearken to no terms of accommo dation whatsoever. Xerxes having stormed the ci tadel, reduced it to ashes. He immediately dispatched a courier to Susa to carry the agreeable news of his success to Artabanes his uncle; and at the same time sent him a great number of pictures and statues. Those of Harmodius and Aristogiton, the ancient deliverers of Athens, were sent with the rest. One of the Antiochus's, king of Syria, (I do not know which of them, nor at what time it was) returned them to the Athenians, being persuaded he could not possibly make them a more acceptable present.
SECT. VIII. The battle of Salamin.
Precipitate re turn of Xerxes into Asia. The characters of Themistocles and Aristides. The defeat of the Carthaginians in Sicily.
AT this time a division arose among the commanders of the Grecian fleet; and the confederates, in a council of war which was held for that purpose, were of very different sentiments concerning the place for engaging the enemy. Some of them, and indeed the major part, at the head of whom was Eurybiades, the generalissimo of the fleet, were for having them advance near the isthmus of Corinth, that they might be nearer the land-army, which was posted there to guard that pass under the command of Cleombrotus, Leonidas's brother, and more ready for the defence of Peloponnesus. Others, at the head of whom was Themistocles, alledged, that it would be betraying of their country to abandon so advantageous a post as that of Salamin. And as he supported his opinion with abundance of warmth, Eurybiades lifted up his cane over him in a menacing manner. Strike, says the Athenian, unmoved at the
Pausan. 1. i. p: 14. d Herod. 1. viii. c. 56, & 65. Plut. in Themist. P. 117.
insult, but hear me: And continuing his discourse, Xerxes. proceeded to shew of what importance it was for the fleet of the Grecians, whose vessels were lighter and much fewer in number than those of the Persians, to engage in such a streight as that of Salamin, which would render the enemy incapable of using a great part of their forces. Eurybiades, who could not help being surprized at the moderation in Themistocles, submitted to his reasons, or at least complied with his opinion, for fear the Athenians, whose ships made up above one half of the fleet, should separate themselves from the allies, as their general had taken occasion to insinuate.
e A council of war was also held on the side of the Persians, in order to determine whether they should hazard a naval engagement; Xerxes himself was come to the fleet to take the advice of his captains and officers, who were all unanimous for the battle, because they knew it was agreeable to the king's inclination. Queen Artemisa was the only person who opposed that resolution. She represented the dangerous consequences of coming to blows with people much more conversant and more expert in maritime affairs than the Persians; alledging, that the loss of a battle at sea would be attended with the ruin of their land-army; whereas, by protracting the war, and approaching Peloponnesus, they would create jealousies and divisions among their enemies, or rather augment the division already very great amongst them; that the confederates in that case would not fail to separate from one another, to return and defend their respective countries; and that then the king without difficulty, and almost without striking a stroke, might make himself master of all Greece. This wise advice was not followed, and a battle was resolved upon.
Xerxes, imputing the ill success of all his former engagements at sea to his own absence, was resolved
e Herod. 1. viii. c. 67-70;