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Xerxes. to be witness of this from the top of an eminence, where he caused a throne to be erected for that purpose. This might have contributed in some measure to animate his forces: But there is another much more sure and effectual means of doing it, I mean, by the prince's real presence and example, when he himself shares in the danger, and thereby shews himself worthy of being the soul and head of a brave and numerous body of men ready to die for his service. A prince, that has not this sort of fortitude which nothing can shake, and which even takes new vigour from danger, may nevertheless be endued with other excellent qualities, but then he is by no means proper to command an army. No qualification whatsoever can supply the want of courage in a general: And the more he labours to shew the appearance of it, when he has not the reality, the more he discovers his cowardice and fear. There is, it must be owned, a vast difference between a general-officer, and a simple soldier. Xerxes ought not to have exposed his person otherwise than became a prince; that is to say, as the head, not as the hand: As he, whose business it is to direct and give orders, not as those who are to put them in execution. But to keep himself entirely at a distance from danger, and to act no other part than that of a spectator, was really renouncing the quality and office of a general.
Themistocles, knowing that some of the commanders in the Grecian fleet still entertained thoughts of sailing towards the isthmus, contrived to have notice given underhand to Xerxes, that as the Grecian allies were now assembled together in one place, it would be an easy matter for him to subdue and destroy them all together; whereas, if they once separated from one another, as they were going to do,
f Herod. 1. viii. c. 71-78.
Quanto magis occultare ac abdere pavorem nitebantur, manifestius pavidi. Tacit. Hist.
he might never meet with another opportunity so Xerxes. favourable. The king gave into this opinion; and immediately commanded a great number of his vessels to surround Salamin by night, in order to make it impracticable for the Greeks to quit their post.
5 No body among the Grecians perceived that their army was surrounded in this manner. Aristides came by night time from Egina, where he had some forces under his command, and with very great danger passed through the whole fleet of the enemies. When he came up to Themistocles's tent, he took him aside, and spoke to him in the following manner: "If we are wise, Themistocles, we "shall from henceforward lay aside that vain and "childish dissension, that has hitherto divided us, "and strive with a more noble and useful emula❝tion, which of us shall render the best service to "his country, you by commanding and doing the duty of a wise and able captain, and I by obeying your orders, and by assisting you with my per"son and advice." He then informed him of the army's being surrounded with the ships of the Persians, and warmly exhorted him to give them battle without delay. Themistocles, extremely astonished at such a greatness of soul, and such a noble and generous frankness, was somewhat ashamed, that he had suffered himself to be so much excelled by his rival; but without being ashamed to own it, he promised Aristides, that he would henceforward imitate his generosity, and even exceed it, if it were possible, in the whole of his future conduct. Then, after having imparted to him the stratagem he had contrived to deceive the Barbarian, he desired him to go in person to Eurybiades, in order to convince him that there was no other means of safety for them, than to engage the enemy by sea at Salamin; which commission Aristides executed with pleasure
Plut. in Arist. p. 323. Herod. 1. viii. c. 78–82.
Xerxes. and success; for he was in great credit and esteem with that general.
h Both sides therefore prepared themselves for the battle. The Grecian fleet consisted of three hundred and eighty sail of ships, which in every thing followed the direction and orders of Themistocles. As nothing escaped his vigilance, and as, like an able commander, he knew how to improve every circumstance and incidence to advantage, before he would begin the engagement he waited till a certain wind, which rose regularly every day at a certain hour, and which was entirely contrary to the enemy, began to blow. As soon as this wind rose, the signal was given for battle. The Persians, who knew that their king had his eyes upon them, advanced with such courage and impetuosity, as were capable of striking an enemy with terror. But the heat of the first attack quickly abated, when they came to be engaged. Every thing was contrary to, and disadvantageous for them: The wind, which blew directly in their faces; the height, and the heaviness of their vessels, which could not move and turn without great difficulty, and even the number of their ships, which was so far from being of use to them, that it only served to embarrass them in a place so straight and narrow, as that they fought in: Whereas, on the side of the Grecians, every thing was done with good order, and without hurry or confusion; because every thing was directed by one commander. The Ionians, whom Themistocles had advised by characters engraven upon stones along the coasts of Euboea to remember from whom they derived their original, were the first that betook themselves to flight, and were quickly followed by the rest of the fleet. But queen Artemisa distinguished herself by incredible efforts of resolution and courage, so that Xerxes, who saw in what manner she
h Herod. c. 84-96.
had behaved herself, cried out, that the men had Xerxes. behaved like women in this engagement, and that the women had shewed the courage of men. Athenians, being enraged that a woman had dared to appear in arms against them, had promised a reward of ten thousand drachma's to any one, that should be able to take her alive: But she had the good fortune to escape their pursuits. If they had taken her, she could have deserved nothing from them but the highest commendations, and the most honourable and generous treatment.
The manner in which that † queen escaped ought not to be omitted. Seeing herself warmly pursued by an Athenian ship, from which it seemed impossible for her to escape, she hung out Grecian colours, and attacked one of the Persian vessels, on board of which was Damasithymus, king of Calynda, with whom she had some difference, and sunk it: This made her pursuers believe, that her ship was one of the Grecian fleet, and gave over the chace.
Such was the success of the battle of Salamin, one of the most memorable actions related in ancient history, and which has, and will render the name
i Herod. 1. viii. c. 87, 88. Polyæn. 1. viii. c. 53. of Lycia.
* Οἱ μὲν ἄνδρες γεγόνασί μοι γυναῖκες, αἱ ανδρες.
* A City
Artemisia inter primos duces bellum acerrimè ciebat. Quippe, ut in viro muliebrem timorem, ita in muliere virilem audaciam cerneres. Justin. 1. ii. c. 12.
+ It appears, that Artemisa valued herself no less upon stratagem than courage, and at the same time was not very delicate in the choice of the measures she used. It is said, that being desirous of seizing Latmus, a small city of Caria, that lay very commodiously for her, she laid her troops in ambush, and under pretence of celebrating the feast of the mother of the gods, in a wood consecrated to her near that city, that she repaired thither with a great train of eunuchs, women, drums and trumpets. The inhabitants ran in throngs to see that religious ceremony; and in the mean time Artemisa's troops took possession of the place. Polyæn. Stratag. 1. viii. c. 53.
Xerxes. and courage of the Grecians famous for ever. A great number of the Persian ships were taken, and a much greater sunk upon this occasion. Many of their allies, who dreaded the king's cruelty no less than the enemy, made the best of their way into their own country.
Themistocles, in a secret conversation with Aristides, proposed to his consideration, in order to sound him and to learn his true sentiments, whether it would not be proper for them to send some vessels to break down the bridge, which Xerxes had caused to be built, to the end, says he, that we may take Asia into Europe: But though he made this proposal, he was far from approving it. Aristides believing him to be in earnest, argued very warmly and strenuously against any such project, and represented to him how dangerous it was to reduce so powerful an enemy to despair, from whom it was their business to deliver themselves as soon as possible. Themistocles seemed to acquiesce in his reasons; and in order to hasten the king's departure, contrived to have him secretly informed, that the Grecians designed to break down the bridge. The point Themistocles seems to have had in view by this false confidence, was to strengthen himself with Aristides's opinion, which was of great weight against that of the other generals, in case they inclined to go and break down the bridge. Perhaps too he might aim at guarding himself by this means against the ill will of his enemies, who might one day accuse him of treason before the people, if ever they came to know that he had been the author of that secret advice to Xerxes.
This prince, being frightened on such news, made the best use he could of his time, and set out by night, leaving Mardonius behind him, with an army of three hundred thousand men, in order to reduce Greece, if he was able. The Grecians who expected that Xerxes would have come to another
1 Herod. 1. viii. c. 115-120.