Imatges de pàgina

next to those of the Sidonians. This princess dis- Xerxes. tinguished herself in this war by her singular courage, and still more by her prudence and conduct. Herodotus observes, that among all the commanders in the army, there was not one who gave Xerxes so good advice and such wise counsel as this queen : But he was not prudent enough to apply it to his advantage.

When Xerxes had numbered his whole forces by land and sea, he asked Demaratus, if he thought the Grecians would dare to expect him. I have already taken notice, that this Demaratus was one of the two kings of Sparta, who being exiled by the faction of his enemies, had taken refuge at the Persian court, where he was entertained with the greatest marks of honour and beneficence. As the courtiers were one day expressing their surprize that a king should suffer himself to be banished, and desired him to acquaint them with the reason of it: It is, says he, because the law is more powerful than the kings of Sparta. This prince was very much considered in Persia: But neither the injustice of the Spartan citizens, nor the kind treatment of the Persian king, could make him forget his country *. As soon as he knew that Xerxes was making preparations for the war, he found means to give the Grecians secret intelligence of it. And now being obliged on this occasion to speak his sentiments to the king, he did it with such a noble freedom and dignity, as became a Spartan, and a king of Sparta.

P Demaratus, before he answered the king's question, desired to know whether it was his pleasure that he should flatter him, or that he should speak his thoughts to him freely and truly. Xerxes having declared that he desired him to act with entire sincerity, he spoke in the following terms: "Great "prince," says Demaratus, " since it is agreeable to

• Plut. in Apoph. Lacon. p. 220. Herod. 1. vij. c. 101. 105. * Amicior patriæ pɔst fugam, quàm regi post beneficia. Justin.

Xerxes. your pleasure and commands, I shall deliver my "sentiments to you with the utmost truth and sin' cerity. It must be confessed, that from the beginning of time, Greece has been trained up, and "accustomed to poverty: But then she has intro"duced and established virtue within her territories, "which wisdom cultivates, and the vigour of her "laws maintains. And it is by the use, which "Greece knows how to make of this virtue, that "she equally defends herself against the inconveni



ences of poverty, and the yoke of servitude. But, to speak only of the Lacedæmonians, my particular countrymen, you may assure yourself, that as they "are born and bred up in liberty, they will never "hearken to any proposals that tend to slavery.

Though they were deserted and abandoned by all "the other Grecians, and reduced to a band of a "thousand men, or even to a more inconsiderable "number, they will still come out to meet you, and "not refuse to give you battle." Xerxes upon hearing this discourse fell a laughing; and as he could not comprehend how men, in such a state of liberty and independence, as the Lacedæmonians were described to enjoy, who had no master to force and compel them to it, could be capable of exposing them selves in such a manner to danger and death; Demaratus replied: "The Spartans indeed are free, "and under no subjection to the will of any man; "but at the same time they have laws, to which



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they are subject, and of which they stand in greater "awe than your subjects do of your majesty. Now "by these laws they are forbid ever to fly in battle, "let the number of their enemies be never so supe"rior; and are commanded, by abiding firm in "their post, either to conquer or to die."

Xerxes was not offended at the liberty wherewith Demaratus spoke to him, and continued his march,

9 Herod. 1. vii. c. 145, 146.

SECT. IV. The Lacedæmonians and Athenians send to their allies in vain to require succours from them. The command of the fleet given to the Lacedæmonians.

'LACEDÆMON and Athens, which were the Xerxes. two most powerful cities of Greece, and the cities against which Xerxes was most exasperated, were not indolent or asleep, whilst so formidable an enemy was approaching. Having received intelligence long before of the designs of this prince, they had sent spies to Sardis, in order to have a more exact information of the number and quality of his forces. These spies were seized, and as they were just going to be put to death, Xerxes countermanded it, and gave orders that they should be conducted through his army, and then sent back without any harm being done to them. At their return the Grecians understood what they had to apprehend from so potent

an enemy.

They sent deputies at the same time to Argos, into Sicily to Gelon tyrant of Syracuse, to the isles of Corcyra and Crete, to desire succours from them, and to form a league against the common enemy.

$ The people of Argos offered a very considerable succour, on condition they should have an equal share of the authority and command with the Lacedæmonians. The latter consented, that the king of Argos should have the same authority as either of the two kings of Sparta. This was granting them a great deal: But into what errors and mischiefs are not men led by a mistaken point of honour, and a foolish jealousy of command! The Argives were not contented with this offer, and refused to enter into the league with the Grecians, without considering, that if they suffered them to be destroyed, their own ruin must inevitably follow,

T Herod. 1. vii. c. 145, 146.

• Ibid. c. 148, 152.


The deputies proceeded from Argos to Sicily, and addressed themselves to Gelon, who was the most potent prince of the Greeks at that time. He promised to assist them with two hundred vessels of three benches of oars, with an army of twenty thou sand foot and two thousand horse, two thousand light-armed soldiers, and the same number of bowmen and slingers, and to supply the Grecian army with provisions during the whole war, on condition they would make him generalissimo of all the forces both by land and sca. The Lacedæmonians were highly offended at such a proposal. Gelon then abated somewhat in his demands, and promised the same, provided he had at least the command either of the fleet or of the army. This proposal was strenuously opposed by the Athenians, who made answer, that they alone had a right to command the fleet, in case the Lacedæmonians were willing to give it up. Gelon had more substantial reason for not leaving Sicily unprovided of troops, which was the approach of the formidable army of the Carthaginians, commanded by Amilcar, that consisted of three hundred thousand men.

" The inhabitants of Corcyra, now called Corfu, gave the envoys a more favourable answer, and immediately put to sea with a fleet of sixty vessels. But they advanced no farther than the coasts of Laconia, pretending they were hindered by contrary winds, but in reality waiting to see the success of an engagement, that they might afterwards range themselves on the side of the conqueror.

* The people of Crete, having consulted the Delphick oracle, to know what resolution they were to take on this occasion, absolutely refused to enter into the league.

Thus were the Lacedæmonians and Athenians left almost to themselves, all the rest of the cities and

Herod. 1. rii. c. 153-102.
Ibid. c. 152.

Ibid. c. 168.

x Ibid. c.


nations having submitted to the heralds, that Xerxes Xerxes. had sent to require earth and water of them, excepting the people of Thespia and of Platea. In so pressing a danger their first care was to put an end to all discord and division among themselves; for which reason the Athenians made peace with the people of Egina, with whom they were actually at


a Their next care was to appoint a general: For there never was any occasion wherein it was more necessary to chuse one, capable of so important a trust, than in the present conjuncture, when Greece was upon the point of being attacked by the whole forces of Asia. The most able and experienced captains, terrified at the greatness of the danger, had taken the resolution of not presenting themselves as candidates. There was a certain citizen at Athens, whose name waspicydes, that had some eloquence, but in other respects was a person of no merit, was in disreputation for his want of courage, and notorious for his avarice. Notwithstanding all which it was apprehended, that in the assembly of the people the votes would run in his favour. Themistocles, who was sensible, that in calm weather almost any mariner may be capable of conducting a vessel, but that in storms and tempests the most able pilots are at a loss, was convinced that the commonwealth was ruined, if Epicydes was chosen general, whose venal and mer, enary soul gave them the justest reason to fear, that he was not proof against the Persian gold. There are occasions, when, in order to act wisely, (I had almost said regularly,) it is necessary to dispense with and rise above all rule. Themistocles, who knew very well that in the present state of affairs he was the only person capable of commanding, did

2 Herod. 1. vii c. 145. a Plut. in Themist. p. 114. * Qillet wanarum vectorumque tranquillo mari gubernare potest ubi orta væva tempesta et, ac turbato mari rapitur cento navis, tum virs & gubernatore opus est. Liv. 1. xxiv. n. 8.

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