The unexpected retreat of the Peloponnesian army delivered the Athenians from their most formidable enemy, and they lost no time in turning their arms against their other foes. Marching into Boeotia, they defeated the Thebans and then crossed over into Euboea, where they gained a decisive victory over the Chalcidians. In order to secure their dominion in Euboea, and at the same time to provide for their poorer citizens, the Athenians distributed the estates of the wealthy Chalcidian landowners among 4000 of their citizens, who settled in the country under the name of CLERUCI.
The successes of Athens excited the jealousy of the Spartans, and they now resolved to make a third attempt to overthrow the Athenian democracy. They had meantime discovered the deception which had been practised upon them by the Delphic oracle; And they invited Hippias to come from Sigeum to Sparta, in order to restore him to Athens. The experience of the last campaign had taught them that they could not calculate upon the co-operation of their allies without first obtaining their approval of the project; and they therefore summoned deputies from all their allies to meet at Sparta, in order to determine respecting the restoration of Hippias. But the proposal was received with universal repugnance; and the Spartans found it necessary to abandon their project. Hippias returned to Sigeum, and afterwards proceeded to the court of Darius.
Athens had now entered upon her glorious career. The institutions of Clisthenes had given her citizens a personal interest in the welfare and the grandeur of their country. A spirit of the warmest patriotism rapidly sprang up among them; and the history of the Persian wars, which followed almost immediately, exhibits a striking proof of the heroic sacrifices which they were prepared to make for the liberty and independence of their state.
THE GREEK COLONIES.
The vast number of the Greek colonies, their wide-spread diffusion over all parts of the Mediterranean, which thus became a kind of Grecian lake, and their rapid growth in wealth, power, and intelligence, afford the most striking proofs of the greatness of this wonderful people. Civil dissensions and a redundant population were the chief causes of the origin of most of the Greek colonies. They were usually undertaken with the approbation of the cities from which they issued, and under the management of leaders appointed by them. But a Greek colony was always considered politically independent of the mother-city and emancipated from its control. The only connexion between them was one of filial affection and of common religious ties. Almost every colonial Greek city was built upon the sea-coast, and the site usually selected contained a hill sufficiently lofty to form an acropolis.
The Grecian colonies may be arranged in four groups: 1. Those founded in Asia Minor and the adjoining islands; 2. Those in the western parts of the Mediterranean, in Italy, Sicily, Gaul, and Spain; 3. Those in Africa; 4. Those in Epirus, Macedonia, and Thrace.
1. The earliest Greek colonies were those founded on the western shores of Asia Minor. They were divided into three great masses, each bearing the name of that section of the Greek race with which they claimed affinity. The AEolic cities covered the northern part of this coast, together with the islands of Lesbos and Tenedos; the Ionians occupied the centre, with the islands of Chios and Samos; and the Dorians the southern portion, with the islands of Rhodes and Cos. Most of these colonies were founded in consequence of the changes in the population of Greece which attended the conquest of Peloponnesus by the Dorians. The Ionic cities were early distinguished by a spirit of commercial enterprise, and soon rose superior in wealth and in power to their AEolian and Dorian neighbours. Among the Ionic cities themselves Miletus and Ephesus were the most flourishing, Grecian literature took its rise in the AEolic and Ionic cities of Asia Minor. Homer was probably a native of Smyrna. Lyric poetry flourished in the island of Lesbos, where Sappho and Alcaeus were born. The Ionic cities were also the seats of the earliest schools of Grecian philosophy. Thales, who founded the Ionic school of philosophy, was a native of Miletus. Halicarnassus was one of the most important of the Doric cities, of which Herodotus was a native, though he wrote in the Ionic dialect.
2. The earliest Grecian settlement in Italy was Cumae in Campania, situated near Cape Misenum, on the Tyrrhenian sea. It is said to have been a joint colony from the AEolic Cyme in Asia and from Chalcis in Euboea, and to have been founded, according to the common chronology, in B.C. 1050. Cumae was for a long time the most flourishing city in Campania; and it was not till its decline in the fifth century before the Christian era that Capua rose into importance.
The earliest Grecian settlement in Sicily was founded in B.C. 735. The extraordinary fertility of the land soon attracted numerous colonists from various parts of Greece, and there arose on the coasts of Sicily a succession of flourishing cities. Of these, Syracuse and Agrigentum, both Dorian colonies, became the most powerful. The former was founded by the Corinthians in B.C. 734, and at the time of its greatest prosperity contained a population of 500,000 souls, and was surrounded by walls twenty-two miles in circuit. Its greatness, however, belongs to a later period of Grecian history.
The Grecian colonies in southern Italy began to be planted at nearly the same time as in Sicily. They eventually lined the whole southern coast, as far as Cumae on the one sea and Tarentum on the other. They even surpassed those in Sicily in number and importance; and so numerous and flourishing did they become, that the south of Italy received the name of Magna Graecia. Of these, two of the earliest and most prosperous were Sybaris and Croton, both situated upon the gulf of Tarentum, and both of Achaean origin. Sybaris was planted in B.C. 720 and Croton in B.C. 710. For two centuries they seem to have lived in harmony, and we know scarcely anything of their history till their fatal contest in B.C. 510, which ended in the ruin of Sybaris. During the whole of this period they were two of the most flourishing cities in all Hellas. Sybaris in particular attained to an extraordinary degree of wealth, and its inhabitants were so notorious for their luxury, effeminacy, and debauchery, that their name has become proverbial for a voluptuary in ancient and modern times. Croton was the chief seat of the Pythagorean philosophy. Pythagroras was a native of Samos, but emigrated to Croton, where he met with the most wonderful success in the propagation of his views. He established a kind of religious brotherhood, closely united by a sacred vow. They believed in the transmigration of souls, and their whole training was designed to make them temperate and self-denying. The doctrines of Pythagoras spread through many of the other cities of Magna Graecia.
Of the numerous other Greek settlements in the south of Italy, those of Locri, Rhegium, and Tarentum were the meet important. Locri was founded by the Locrians from the mother-country in B.C. 683. The laws of this city were drawn up by one of its citizens, named Zaleucus, and so averse were the Locrians to any change in them, that whoever proposed a new law had to appear in the public assembly with a rope round his neck, which was immediately tightened if he failed to convince his fellow-citizens of the necessity of the alteration. Rhegium, situated on the straits of Messina, opposite Sicily, was colonised by the Chalcidians, but received a large body of Messenians, who settled here at the close of the Messenian war. Anaxilas, tyrant of Rhegium about B.C. 500, was of Messenian descent. He seized the Sicilian Zancle on the opposite coast, and changed its name into Messana, which it still bears. Tarentum was a colony from Sparta and was founded about B.C. 708. After the destruction of Sybaris it was the most powerful and flourishing city in Magna Graecia, and continued to enjoy great prosperity till its subjugation by the Romans. Although of Spartan origin, it did not maintain Spartan habits, and its citizens were noted at a later time for their love of luxury and pleasure.
The Grecian settlements in the distant countries of Gaul and Spain were not numerous. The most celebrated was Massalia, the modern Marseilles, founded by the Ionic Phocaeans in B.C. 600.
3. The northern coast of Africa, between the territories of Carthage and Egypt, was also occupied by Greek colonists. The city of Cyrene was founded about B.C. 630. It was a colony from the island of Thera in the AEgean, which was itself a colony from Sparta. The situation of Cyrene was well chosen. It stood on the edge of a range of hills, at the distance of ten miles from the Mediterranean, of which it commanded a fine view. These hills descended by a succession of terraces to the port of the town, called Apollonia. The climate was most salubrious, and the soil was distinguished by extraordinary fertility. With these advantages Cyrene rapidly grew in wealth and power; and its greatness is attested by the immense remains which still mark its desolate site. Cyrene planted several colonies in the adjoining district, of which Barca, founded about B.C. 560, was the most important.
4. There were several Grecian colonies situated on the eastern side of the Ionian sea, in Epirus and its immediate neighbourhood. Of these the island of Corcyra, now called Corfu, was the most wealthy and powerful. It was founded by the Corinthians about B.C. 700, and in consequence of its commercial activity it soon became a formidable rival to the mother-city. Hence a war broke out between these two states at an early period; and the most ancient naval battle on record was the one fought between their fleets in B.C. 664. The dissensions between the mother-city and her colony are frequently mentioned in Grecian history, and were one of the immediate causes of the Peloponnesian war. Notwithstanding their quarrels they joined in planting four Grecian colonies upon the same line of coast—Leucas, Anactorium, Apollonia, and Epidamnus.
The colonies in Macedonia and Thrace were very numerous, and extended all along the coast of the AEgean, of the Hellespont, of the Propontis, and of the Euxine, from the borders of Thessaly to the mouth of the Danube. Of these we can only glance at the most important. The colonies on the coast of Macedonia were chiefly founded by Chalcis and Eretria in Euboea; and the peninsula of Chalcidice, with its three projecting headlands, was covered with their settlements, and derived its name from the former city. The Corinthians likewise planted a few colonies on this coast, of which Potidaea, on the narrow isthmus of Pallene, most deserves mention.
Of the colonies in Thrace, the most flourishing were Selymbria and Byzantium, both founded by the Megarians, who appear as an enterprising maritime people at an early period.
THE PERSIAN WARS.—FROM THE IONIC REVOLT TO THE BATTLE OF MARATHON, B.C. 500-490.
The Grecian cities on the coast of Asia Minor were the neighbours of an Asiatic power which finally reduced them to subjection. This was the kingdom of Lydia, of which Sardis was the capital. Croesus, the last and most powerful of the Lydian kings, who ascended the throne B.C. 560, conquered in succession all the Grecian cities on the coast. His rule, however, was not oppressive, and he permitted the cities to regulate their own affairs. He spoke the Greek language, welcomed Greek guests, and reverenced the Greek oracles, which he enriched with the most munificent offerings. He extended his dominions in Asia Minor as far as the river Halys, and he formed a close alliance with Astyages, king of the Medes, who were then the ruling race in Asia. Everything seemed to betoken uninterrupted prosperity, when a people hitherto almost unknown suddenly became masters of the whole of western Asia.
The Persians were of the same race as the Medes and spoke a dialect of the same language. They inhabited the mountainous region south of Media, which slopes gradually down to the low grounds on the coast of the Persian gulf. While the Medes became enervated by the corrupting influences to which they were exposed, the Persians preserved in their native mountains their simple and warlike habits. They were a brave and hardy nation, clothed in skins, drinking only water, and ignorant of the commonest luxuries of life. Cyrus led these fierce warriors from their mountain fastnesses, defeated the Medes in battle, took Astyages prisoner, and deprived him of his throne. The other nations included in the Median empire submitted to the conqueror, and the sovereignty of Upper Asia thus passed from the Medes to the Persians. The accession of Cyrus to the empire is placed in B.C. 559. A few years afterwards Cyrus turned his arms against the Lydians, took Sardis, and deprived Croesus of his throne (B.C. 546). The fall of Croesus was followed by the subjection of the Greek cities in Asia to the Persian yoke. They offered a brave but ineffectual resistance, and were taken one after the other by Harpagus the Persian general. Even the islands of Lesbos and Chios sent in their submission to Harpagus, although the Persians then possessed no fleet to force them to obedience. Samos, on the other hand, maintained its independence, and appears soon afterwards one of the most powerful of the Grecian states.
During the reign of Cambyses (B.C. 529-521), the son and successor of Cyrus, the Greek cities of Asia remained obedient to their Persian governors. It was during this reign that Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, became the master of the Grecian seas. The ambition and good fortune of this enterprising tyrant were alike remarkable. He possessed a hundred ships of war, with which he conquered several of the islands; and he aspired to nothing less than the dominion of Ionia, as well as of the islands in the AEgean. The Lacedaemonians, who had invaded the island at the invitation of the Samian exiles, for the purpose of overthrowing his government, were obliged to retire, after besieging his city in vain for forty days. Everything which he undertook seemed to prosper; but his uninterrupted good fortune at length excited the alarm of his ally Amasis, the king of Egypt. According to the tale related by Herodotus, the Egyptian king, convinced that such amazing good fortune would sooner or later incur the envy of the gods, wrote to Polycrates, advising him to throw away one of his most valuable possessions and thus inflict some injury upon himself. Thinking the advice to be good, Polycrates threw into the sea a favourite ring of matchless price and beauty; but unfortunately it was found a few days afterwards in the belly of a fine fish which a fisherman had sent him as a present. Amasis now foresaw that the ruin of Polycrates was inevitable, and sent a herald to Samos to renounce his alliance. The gloomy anticipations of the Egyptian monarch proved well founded. In the midst of all his prosperity Polycrates fell by a most ignominious fate. Oroetes, the satrap of Sardis, had for some unknown cause conceived a deadly hatred against the Samian despot. By a cunning stratagem the satrap allured him to the mainland, where he was immediately arrested and hanged upon a cross (B.C. 522).
The reign of Darius, the third king of Persia. (B.C. 521-485), is memorable in Grecian history. In his invasion of Scythia, his fleet, which was furnished by the Asiatic Greeks, was ordered to sail up the Danube and throw a bridge of boats across the river. The King himself, with his land forces, marched through Thrace; and, crossing the bridge, placed it under the care of the Greeks, telling them that, if he did not return within sixty days, they might break it down, and sail home. He then left them, and penetrated into the Scythian territory. The sixty days had already passed away, and there was yet no sign of the Persian army; but shortly afterwards the Greeks were astonished by the appearance of a body of Scythians, who informed them that Darius was in full retreat, pursued by the whole Scythian nation, and that his only hope of safety depended upon that bridge. They urged the Greeks to seize this opportunity of destroying the Persian army, and of recovering their own liberty, by breaking down the bridge. Their exhortations were warmly seconded by the Athenian Miltiades, the tyrant of the Thracian Chersonesus, and the future conqueror of Marathon. The other rulers of the Ionian cities were at first disposed to follow his suggestion; but as soon as Histiaeus of Miletus reminded them that their sovereignty depended upon the support of the Persian king, and that his ruin would involve their own, they changed their minds and resolved to await the Persians. After enduring great privations and sufferings Darius and his army at length reached the Danube and crossed the bridge in safety. Thus the selfishness of these Grecian despots threw away the most favourable opportunity that ever presented itself of delivering their native cities from the Persian yoke. To reward the services of Histiaeus, Darius gave him the town of Myrainus, near the Strymon. Darius, on his return to Asia, left Megabazus in Europe with an army of 80,000 men to complete the subjugation of Thrace and of the Greek cities upon the Hellespont. Megabazus not only subdued the Thracians, but crossed the Strymon, conquered the Paeonians, and penetrated as far as the frontiers of Macedonia. He then sent heralds into the latter country to demand earth and water, the customary symbols of submission. These were immediately granted by Amyntas, the reigning monarch (B.C. 510); and thus the Persian dominions were extended to the borders of Thessaly. Megabazus, on his return to Sardis, where Darius awaited him, informed the Persian monarch that Histiaeus was collecting the elements of a power which might hereafter prove formidable to the Persian sovereignty, since Myrcinus commanded the navigation of the Strymon, and consequently the commerce with the interior of Thrace. Darius, perceiving that the apprehensions of his general were not without foundation, summoned Histiaeus to his presence, and, under the pretext that he could not bear to be deprived of the company of his friend, carried him with the rest of the court to Susa. This apparently trivial circumstance was attended with important consequences to the Persian empire and to the whole Grecian race.
For the next few years everything remained quiet in the Greek cities of Asia; but about B.C. 502 a revolution in Naxos, one of the islands in the AEgean Sea, first disturbed the general repose, and occasioned the war between Greece and Asia. The aristocratical exiles, who had been driven out of Naxos by a rising of the people, applied for aid to Aristagoras, the tyrant of Miletus and the son-in-law of Histiaeus. Aristagoras readily promised his assistance, knowing that, if they were restored by his means, he should become master of the island. He obtained the co-operation of Artaphernes, the satrap of western Asia by holding out to him the prospect of annexing not only Naxos, but all the islands of the AEgean sea, to the Persian empire. He offered at the same time to defray the expense of the armament. Artaphernes placed at his disposal a fleet of 200 ships under the command of Megabates, a Persian of high rank; but Aristagoras having affronted the Persian admiral, the latter revenged himself by privately informing the Naxians of the object of the expedition, which had hitherto been kept a secret. When the Persian fleet reached Naxos they experienced a vigorous resistance; and at the end of four months they were compelled to abandon the enterprise and return to Miletus. Aristagoras was now threatened with utter ruin. Having deceived Artaphernes, and incurred the enmity of Megabates, he could expect no favour from the Persian government, and might be called upon at any moment to defray the expenses of the armament. In these difficulties he began to think of exciting a revolt of his countrymen; and while revolving the project he received a message from his father-in-law, Histiaeus, urging him to this very step. Afraid of trusting any one with so dangerous a message, Histiaeus had shaved the head of a trusty slave, branded upon it the necessary words, and as soon as the hair had grown again sent him off to Miletus. His only motive for urging the Ionians to revolt was the desire of escaping from captivity at Susa, thinking that Darius would set him at liberty in order to put down an insurrection of his countrymen. The message from Histiaeus fixed the wavering resolution of Aristagoras. He forthwith called together the leading citizens of Miletus, laid before them the project of revolt, and asked them for advice. They all approved of the scheme, with the exception of Hecataeus, one of the earliest Greek historians. Aristagoras laid down the supreme power in Miletus, and nominally resigned to the people the management of their own affairs. A democratical form of government was established in the other Greek cities of Asia, which thereupon openly revolted from Persia (B.C. 500).
Aristagoras now resolved to cross over to Greece, in order to solicit assistance. The Spartans, to whom he first applied, refused to take any part in the war; but at Athens he met with a very different reception. The Athenians sympathised with the Ionians as their kinsmen and colonists, and were incensed against the satrap Artaphernes, who had recently commanded them to recall Hippias. Accordingly they voted to send a squadron of twenty ships to the assistance of the Ionians; and in the following year (B.C. 499) this fleet, accompanied by five ships from Eretria in Euboea, crossed the AEgean. The troops landed at Ephesus, and, being reinforced by a strong body, of Ionians, marched upon Sardis. Artaphernes was taken unprepared; and not having sufficient troops to man the walls, he retired into the citadel, leaving the town a prey to the invaders. Accordingly they entered it unopposed; and while engaged in pillage, one of the soldiers set fire to a house. As most of the houses were built of wickerwork and thatched with straw, the flames rapidly spread, and in a short time the whole city was in flames. The Greeks, on their return to the coast, were overtaken by a large Persian force and defeated with great slaughter. The Athenians hastened on board their ships and sailed home.
When Darius heard of the burning of Sardis, he burst into a paroxysm of rage. It was against the obscure strangers who had dared to burn one of his capitals that his wrath was chiefly directed. "The Athenians!" he exclaimed, "who are they?" Upon being informed he took his bow, shot an arrow high into the air, saying, "Grant me, Jove, to take vengeance upon the Athenians!" And he charged one of his attendants to remind him thrice every day at dinner "Sire, remember the Athenians." Meantime the insurrection spread to the Greek cities in Cyprus, as well as to those on the Hellespont and the Propontis, and seemed to promise permanent independence to the Asiatic Greeks; but they were no match for the whole power of the Persian empire, which was soon brought against them. Cyprus was subdued, and siege laid to the cities upon the coast of Asia. Aristagoras now began to despair, and basely deserted his countrymen, whom he had led into peril. Collecting a large body of Milesians, he set sail for the Thracian coast, where he was slain under the walls of a town to which he had laid siege. Soon after his departure, his father-in-law, Histiaeus came down to the coast. The artful Greek not only succeeded in removing the suspicions which Darius first entertained respecting him, but he persuaded the king to send him into Ionia, in order to assist the Persian generals in suppressing the rebellion. Artaphernes, however, was not so easily deceived as his master, and plainly accused Histiaeus of treachery when the latter arrived at Sardis. "I will tell you how the facts stand" said Artaphernes to Histiaeus; "it was you who made the shoe, and Aristagoras has put it on." Finding himself unsafe at Sardis, he escaped to the island of Chios; but he was regarded with suspicion by all parties. At length he obtained eight galleys from Lesbos, with which he sailed towards Byzantium, and carried on piracies as well against the Grecian as the barbarian vessels. This unprincipled adventurer met with a traitor's death. Having landed on the coast of Mysia, he was surprised by a Persian force and made prisoner. Being carried to Sardis, Artaphernes at once caused him to be crucified, and sent his head to Darius, who ordered it to be honourably buried, condemning the ignominious execution of the man who had once saved the life of the Great King.
In the sixth year of the revolt (B.C. 495), when several Grecian cities had already been taken by the Persians, Artaphernes laid siege to Miletus by sea and by land. A naval engagement took place at Lade a small island off Miletus, which decided the fate of the war. The Samians deserted at the commencement of the battle, and the Ionian fleet was completely defeated. Miletus was soon afterwards taken, and was treated with signal severity. Most of the males were slain; and the few who escaped the sword were carried with the women and children into captivity (B.C. 494). The other Greek cities in Asia and the neighbouring islands were treated with the same cruelty. The islands of Chios, Lesbos, and Tenedos were swept of their inhabitants; and the Persian fleet sailed up to the Hellespont and Propontis, carrying with it fire and sword. The Athenian Miltiades only escaped falling into the power of the Persians by a rapid flight to Athens.
The subjugation of Ionia was now complete. This was the third time that the Asiatic Greeks had been conquered by a foreign power: first by the Lydian Croesus; secondly by the generals of Cyrus; and lastly by those of Darius. It was from the last that they suffered most, and they never fully recovered their former prosperity.
Darius was now at liberty to take vengeance upon the Athenians. He appointed Mardonius to succeed Artaphernes as satrap in western Asia, and he placed under his command a large armament, with injunctions to bring to Susa those Athenians and Eretrians who had insulted the authority of the Great King. Mardonius, after crossing the Hellespont, commenced his march through Thrace and Macedonia, subduing, as he went along, the tribes which had not yet submitted to the Persian power. He ordered the fleet to double the promontory of Mount Athos, and join the land forces at the head of the gulf of Therma; but one of the hurricanes which frequently blow off this dangerous coast overtook the Persian fleet, destroyed 300 vessels and drowned or dashed upon the rocks 20,000 men. Meantime the land forces of Mardonius had suffered so much from an attack made upon them by a Thracian tribe, that he could not proceed farther. He led his army back across the Hellespont, and returned to the Persian court covered with shame and grief (B.C. 492).
The failure of this expedition did not shake the resolution of Darius. He began to make preparations for another attempt on a still larger scale, and meantime sent heralds to most of the Grecian states to demand from each earth and water as the symbol of submission. Such terror had the Persians inspired by their recent conquest of Ionia, that a large number of the Grecian cities at once complied with the demand; but the Athenians cast the herald into a deep pit, and the Spartans threw him into a well bidding him take earth and water from thence.
In the spring of B.C. 490 a large army and fleet were assembled in Cilicia, and the command was given to Datis, a Median, and Artaphernes, son of the satrap of Sardis of that name. Warned by the recent disaster of Mardonius in doubling the promontory of Mount Athos, they resolved to sail straight across the AEgean to Euboea, subduing on their way the Cyclades. These islands yielded a ready submission; and it was not till Datis and Artaphernes reached Euboea that they encountered any resistance. Eretria defended itself gallantly for six days, and repulsed the Persians with loss; but on the seventh the gates were opened to the besiegers by the treachery of two of its leading citizens. The city was razed to the ground, and the inhabitants were put in chains. From Eretria the Persians crossed over to Attica, and landed on the ever memorable plain of Marathon, a spot which had been pointed out to them by the despot Hippias, who accompanied the army.
As soon as the news of the fall of Eretria reached Athens, a courier had been sent to Sparta to solicit assistance. This was promised; but the superstition of the Spartans prevented them from setting out immediately, since it wanted a few days to the full moon, and it was contrary to their religious customs to commence a march during this interval. Meantime the Athenians had marched to Marathon, and were encamped upon the mountains which surrounded the plain. They were commanded, according to the regular custom, by ten generals, one for each tribe, and by the Polemarch, or third Archon, who down to this time continued to be a colleague of the generals. Among these the most distinguished was Miltiades, who, though but lately a tyrant in the Chersonesus, had shown such energy and ability, that the Athenians had elected him one of their commanders upon the approach of the Persian fleet. Upon learning the answer which the courier brought from Sparta, the ten generals were divided in opinion. Five of them were opposed to an immediate engagement with the overwhelming number of Persians, and urged the importance of waiting for the arrival of the Lacedaemonian succours. Miltiades and the remaining four contended that not a moment should be lost in fighting the Persians, not only in order to avail themselves of the present enthusiasm of the people, but still more to prevent treachery from spreading among their ranks. Callimachus, the Polemarch, yielded to the arguments of Miltiades, and gave his vote for the battle. The ten generals commanded their army in rotation, each for one day; but they now agreed to surrender to Miltiades their days of command, in order to invest the whole power in a single person. While the Athenians were preparing for battle, they received unexpected assistance from the little town or Plataea, in Boeotia. Grateful to the Athenians for the assistance which they had rendered them against the Thebans, the whole force of Plataea, amounting to 1000 heavy-armed men, marched to the assistance of their allies and joined them at Marathon. The Athenian army numbered only 10,000 hoplites, or heavy-armed soldiers: there were no archers or cavalry, and only some slaves as light-armed attendants. Of the number of the Persian army we have no trustworthy account, but the lowest estimate makes it consist of 110,000 men.
The plain of Marathon lies on the eastern coast of Attica, at the distance of twenty-two miles from Athens by the shortest road. It is in the form of a crescent, the horns of which consist of two promontories running into the sea, and forming a semicircular bay. This plain is about six miles in length, and in its widest or central part about two in breadth. On the day of battle the Persian army was drawn up along the plain about a mile from the sea, and their fleet was ranged behind them on the beach. The Athenians occupied the rising ground above the plain, and extended from one side of the plain to the other. This arrangement was necessary in order to protect their flanks by the mountains on each side, and to prevent the cavalry from passing round to attack them in rear. But so large a breadth of ground could not be occupied with a small a number of men without weakening some portion of the line. Miltiades, therefore, drew up the troops in the centre in shallow files, and resolved to rely for success upon the stronger and deeper masses of his wings. The right wing, which was the post of honour in a Grecian army, was commanded by the Polemarch Callimachus; the hoplites were arranged in the order of their tribes, so that the members of the same tribe fought by each other's side; and at the extreme left stood the Plataeans.
Miltiades, anxious to come to close quarters as speedily as possible, ordered his soldiers to advance at a running step over the mile of ground which separated them from the foe. Both the Athenian wings were successful, and drove the enemy before them towards the shore and the marshes. But the Athenian centre was broken by the Persians, and compelled to take to flight. Miltiades thereupon recalled his wings from pursuit, and charged the Persian centre. The latter could not withstand this combined attack. The rout now became general along the whole Persian line; and they fled to their ships, pursued by the Athenians.
The Persians lost 6400 men in this memorable engagement: of the Athenians only 192 fell. The aged tyrant Hippias is said to have perished in the battle, and the brave Polemarch Callimachus was also one of the slain. The Persians embarked and sailed away to Asia. Their departure was hailed at Athens with one unanimous burst of heartfelt joy. Marathon became a magic word at Athens. The Athenian people in succeeding ages always looked back upon this day as the most glorious in their annals, and never tired of hearing its praises sounded by their orators and poets. And they had reason to be proud of it. It was the first time that the Greeks had ever defeated the Persians in the field. It was the exploit of the Athenians alone. It had saved not only Athens but all Greece. If the Persians had conquered at Marathon, Greece must, in all likelihood, have become a Persian province; the destinies of the world would have been changed; and oriental despotism might still have brooded over the fairest countries of Europe.
The one hundred and ninety-two Athenians who had perished in the battle were buried on the field, and over their remains a tumulus or mound was erected, which may still be seen about half a mile from the sea.
Shortly after the battle Miltiades requested of the Athenians a fleet of seventy ships, without telling them the object of his expedition, but only promising to enrich the state. Such unbounded confidence did the Athenians repose in the hero of Marathon, that they at once complied with his demand. This confidence Miltiades abused. In order to gratify a private animosity against one of the leading citizens of Paros, he sailed to this island and laid siege to the town. The citizens repelled all his attacks; and having received a dangerous injury on his thigh, he was compelled to raise the siege and return to Athens. Loud was the indignation against Miltiades on his return. He was accused by Xanthippus, the father of Pericles, of having deceived the people, and was brought to trial. His wound had already begun to show symptoms of gangrene. He was carried into court on a couch, and there lay before the assembled judges, while his friends pleaded on his behalf. They could offer no excuse for his recent conduct, but they reminded the Athenians of the services he had rendered, and, begged them to spare the victor of Marathon. The judges were not insensible to this appeal; and instead of condemning him to death as the accuser had demanded, they commuted the penalty to a fine of fifty talents. Miltiades was unable immediately to raise this sum and died soon afterwards of his wound. The fine was subsequently paid by his son Cimon. The melancholy end of Miltiades must not blind us to his offence. He had grossly abused the public confidence, and deserved his punishment. The Athenians did not forget his services at Marathon, and it was their gratitude towards him which alone saved him from death.
Soon after the battle of Marathon a war broke out between Athens and AEgina. This war is of great importance in Grecian history, since to it the Athenians were indebted for their navy, which enabled them to save Greece at Salamis as they had already done at Marathon. AEgina was one of the chief maritime powers in Greece; and accordingly Themistocles urged the Athenians to build and equip a large and powerful fleet, without which it was impossible for them to humble their rival. There was at this time a large surplus in the public treasury, arising from the produce of the silver-mines at Laurium. It had been recently proposed to distribute this surplus among the Athenian citizens; but Themistocles persuaded them to sacrifice their private advantage to the public good, and to appropriate the money to building a fleet of 200 ships.
The two leading citizens of Athens at this period were Themistocles and Aristides. These two eminent men formed a striking contrast to each other. Themistocles possessed abilities of the most extraordinary kind; but they were marred by a want of honesty. Aristides was inferior to Themistocles in ability, but was incomparably superior to him in honesty and integrity. His uprightness and justice were so universally acknowledged that he received the surname of the "Just." Themistocles was the leader of the democratical, and Aristides of the conservative party at Athens. After three or four years of bitter rivalry, the two chiefs appealed to the ostracism, and Aristides was banished (B.C. 483). We are told that an unlettered countryman gave his vote against Aristides at the ostracism, because he was tired of hearing him always called the Just.
THE PERSIAN WARS.—THE BATTLES OF THERMOPYLAE, SALAMIS, AND PLATAEA, B.C. 480-479.
The defeat of the Persians at Marathon served only to increase the resentment of Darius. He now resolved to collect the whole forces of his empire, and to lead them in person against Athens. For three years busy preparations were made throughout his vast dominions. In the fourth year his attention was distracted by a revolt of the Egyptians; and before he could reduce them to subjection he was surprised by death, after a reign of 37 years (B.C. 485). Xerxes, the son and successor of Darius, had received the education of an eastern despot, and been surrounded with slaves from his cradle. In person he was the tallest and handsomest man amidst the vast hosts which he led against Greece; but there was nothing in his mind to correspond to this fair exterior. His character was marked by faint-hearted timidity and childish vanity. Xerxes had not inherited his father's animosity against Greece; but he was surrounded by men who urged him to continue the enterprise. Foremost among these was Mardonius, who was eager to retrieve his reputation, and to obtain the conquered country as a satrapy for himself after subduing Egypt (B.C. 484), Xerxes began to make preparations for the invasion of Greece. For four years the din of preparation sounded throughout Asia. Troops were collected from every quarter of the Persian empire, and were ordered to assemble in Cappadocia. As many as forty-six different nations composed the land-force, of various complexions, languages, dresses, and arms. Meantime Xerxes ordered a bridge to be thrown across the Hellespont, that his army might march from Asia into Europe: and he likewise gave directions that a canal should be cut through the isthmus of Mount Athos, in order to avoid the necessity of doubling this dangerous promontory, where the fleet of Mardonius had suffered shipwreck. The making of this canal, which was about a mile and a half long employed a number of men for three years.
In the spring of B.C. 480 Xerxes set out from Sardis with his vast host. Upon reaching Abydos on the Hellespont the army crossed over to Europe by the bridge of boats. Xerxes surveyed the scene from a marble throne. His heart swelled within him at the sight of such a vast assemblage of human beings; but his feelings of pride and pleasure soon gave way to sadness, and he burst into tears at the reflection that in a hundred years not one of them would be alive. Xerxes continued his march through Europe along the coast of Thrace. Upon arriving at the spacious plain of Doriscus, which is traversed by the river Hebrus, he resolved to number his forces. He found that the whole armament, both military and naval, consisted of 2,317,610 men. In his march from Doriscus to Thermopylae he received a still further accession of strength; and accordingly when he reached Thermopylae the land and sea forces amounted to 2,641,610 fighting men. The attendants are said to have been more in number than the fighting men; but if they were only equal, the number of persons who accompanied Xerxes to Thermopylae reaches the astounding figure of 5,283,220! The number is quite incredible; but though the exact number of the invading army cannot be determined, we may safely conclude, from all the circumstances of the case, that it was the largest ever assembled at any period of history.
From Doriscus Xerxes his march along the coast through Thrace and Macedonia. The principal cities through which he passed had to furnish a day's meal for the immense host, and for this purpose had made preparations many months before-hand. The cost of feeding such a multitude brought many cities to the brink of ruin. At Acanthus his fleet sailed through the isthmus of Athos and after doubling the promontories of Sithonia and Pallene joined him at the city of Therma, better known by its later name of Thessalonica. Thence he continued his march through the southern part of Macedonia and Thessaly, meeting with no opposition till he reached the celebrated pass of Thermopylae.
The mighty preparations of Xerxes had been no secret in Greece; and during the preceding winter a congress of the Grecian states had been summoned by the Spartans and Athenians to meet at the isthmus of Corinth. But so great was the terror inspired by the countless hosts of Xerxes that many of the Grecian states at once tendered their submission to him, and others refused to take any part in the congress. The only people, north of the isthmus of Corinth, who remained faithful to the cause of Grecian liberty, were the Athenians and Phocians, and the inhabitants of the small Boeotian towns of Plataea and Thespiae. The other people in northern Greece were either partisans of the Persians, like the Thebans, or were unwilling to make any great sacrifices for the preservation of their independence. In Peloponnesus, the powerful city of Argos and the Achaeans stood aloof. From the more distant members of the Hellenic race no assistance was obtained. Gelon, the ruler of Syracuse, offered to send a powerful armament, provided the command of the allied forces was intrusted to him; but the envoys did not venture to accept a proposal which would have placed both Sparta and Athens under the control of a Sicilian tyrant.
The desertion of the cause of Grecian independence by so many of the Greeks did not shake the resolution of Sparta and of Athens. The Athenians, especially, set a noble example of an enlarged patriotism. They became reconciled to the AEginetans, and thus gained for the common cause the powerful navy of their rival. They readily granted to the Spartans the supreme command of the forces by sea as well as by land, although they furnished two-thirds of the vessels of the entire fleet. Their illustrious citizen Themistocles was the soul of the congress. He sought to enkindle in the other Greeks some portion of the ardour and energy which he had succeeded in breathing into the Athenians.
The Greeks determined to make a stand at the pass of Thermopylae, which forms the entrance from northern into southern Greece. This pass lies between Mount OEta and the sea. It is about a mile in length. At each of its extremities the mountains approach so near the sea as to leave barely room for the passage of a single carriage. The northern, or, to speak more properly, the western Gate, was close to the town of Anthela, where the Amphictyonic council held its autumnal meetings; while the southern, or the eastern Gate, was near the Locrian town of Alpeni. These narrow entrances were called Pylae, or the Gates. The space between the gates was wider and more open, and was distinguished by its hot springs, from which the pass derived the name of Thermopylae, or the "Hot-Gates." The island of Euboea is here separated from the mainland by a narrow strait, which in one part is only two miles and a half in breadth; and accordingly it is easy, by defending this part of the sea with a fleet, to prevent an enemy from landing troops at the southern end of the pass.
The Grecian fleet, under the command of the Spartan Eurybiades, took up its station off that portion of the northern coast of Euboea which faces Magnesia and the entrance to the Thessalian gulf and which was called Artemisium, from a neighbouring temple of Artemis (Diana). It was, however, only a small land-force that was sent to the defence of Thermopylae. When the arrival of Xerxes at Therma became known, the Greeks were upon the point of celebrating the Olympic games, and the festival of the Carnean Apollo, which was observed with great solemnity at Sparta and in other Doric states. The Peloponnesians therefore sent forward only 300 Spartans and 3000 hoplites from other Peloponnesian states, under the command of the Spartan king Leonidas, a force which they thought would be sufficient to maintain the pass till the festivals were over. In his march northwards Leonidas received additions from the Thespians, Phocians, and Locrians, so that he had under his command at Thermopylae about 7000 men.
Meanwhile Xerxes had arrived within sight of Thermopylae. He had heard that a handful of desperate men, commanded by a Spartan, had determined to dispute his passage, but he refused to believe the news. He was still more astonished when a horseman, whom he had sent to reconnoitre, brought back word that he had seen several Spartans outside the wall in front of the pass, some amusing themselves with gymnastic exercises, and others combing their long hair. In great perplexity, he sent for the exiled Spartan king Demaratus, who had accompanied him from Persia, and asked him the meaning of such madness. Demaratus replied, that the Spartans would defend the pass to the death, and that it was their practice to dress their heads with peculiar care when they were going to battle. Later writers relate that Xerxes sent to them to deliver up their arms. Leonidas desired him "to come and take them." One of the Spartans being told that "the Persian host was so prodigious that their arrows would conceal the sun:"—"So much the better" (he replied), "we shall then fight in the shade."
At length, upon the fifth day, Xerxes ordered a chosen body of Medes to advance against the presumptuous foes and bring them into his presence. But their superior numbers were of no avail in such a narrow space, and they were kept at bay by the long spears and steady ranks of the Greeks. After the combat had lasted a long time with heavy loss to the Medes, Xerxes ordered his ten thousand "Immortals," the flower of the Persian army, to advance. But they were as unsuccessful as the Medes. Xerxes beheld the repulse of his troops from a lofty throne which had been provided for him, and was seen to leap thrice from his seat in an agony of fear or rage.
On the following day the attack was renewed, but with no better success: and Xerxes was beginning to despair of forcing his way through the pass, when a Malian, of the name of Ephialtes, betrayed to the Persian king that there was an unfrequented path across Mount OEta, ascending on the northern side of the mountain and descending on the southern side near the termination of the pass. Overjoyed at this discovery, a strong detachment of Persians was ordered to follow the traitor. Meantime Leonidas and his troops had received ample notice of the impending danger. During the night deserters from the enemy had brought him the news; and their intelligence was confirmed by his own scouts on the hills. His resolution was at once taken. As a Spartan he was bound to conquer or to die in the post assigned to him; and he was the more ready to sacrifice his life, since an oracle had declared that either Sparta itself or a Spartan king must perish by the Persian arms. His three hundred comrades were fully equal to the same heroism which actuated their King; and the seven hundred Thespians resolved to share the fate of this gallant band. He allowed the rest of the allies to retire, with the exception of four hundred Boeotians, whom he retained as hostages. Xerxes delayed his attack till the middle of the day, when it was expected that the detachment sent across the mountain would arrive at the rear of the pass. But Leonidas and his comrades, only anxious to sell their lives as dearly as possible, did not wait to receive the attack of the Persians, but advanced into the open space in front of the pass, and charged the enemy with desperate valour. Numbers of the Persians were slain; many were driven into the neighbouring sea; and others again were trampled to death by the vast hosts behind them. As long as the Greeks could maintain their ranks they repelled every attack; but when their spears were broken, and they had only their swords left, the enemy began to press in between them. Leonidas was one of the first that fell, and around his body the battle raged fiercer than ever. The Persians made the greatest efforts to obtain possession of it; but four times they were driven back by the Greeks with great slaughter. At length, thinned in numbers, and exhausted by fatigue and wounds, this noble band retired within the pass, and seated themselves on a hillock. Meanwhile the Persian detachment, which had been sent across the mountains, began to enter the pass from the south. The Spartan heroes were now surrounded on every side, overwhelmed with a shower of missiles, and killed to a man.
On the hillock, where the Greeks made their last stand, a marble lion was set up in honour of Leonidas. Another monument, erected near the spot, contained the memorable inscription:—
"Go, tell the Spartans, thou that passest by, That here obedient to their laws we lie."
While Leonidas had been fighting at Thermopylae, the Greek fleet had also been engaged with the Persians at Artemisium. The Persian fleet set sail from the gulf of Therma, and arrived in one day at almost the southern corner of Magnesia. In this position they were overtaken by a sudden hurricane, which blew upon the shore with irresistible fury. For three days and three nights the tempest raged without intermission; and when calm at length returned, the shore was seen strewed for many miles with wrecks and corpses. At least four hundred ships of war were destroyed, together with a countless number of transports, stores, and treasures. The Greek fleet had been seized with a panic terror at the approach of the Persians, and retreated to Chalcis in the narrowest part of the Euboean straits; but upon hearing of the disaster of the Persian fleet, they took courage, and sailed back with the utmost speed to their former station at Artemisium. Being now encouraged to attack the enemy, they gained some success. On the following night another terrific storm burst upon the Persians. All night long it blew upon the Thessalian coast at Aphetae, where the Persian ships were stationed, thus causing little inconvenience to the Greeks upon the opposite shore. Notwithstanding these losses, the Persian fleet still had a vast superiority of numbers, and determined to offer battle to the Greeks. Quitting the Thessalian coast, they sailed towards Artemisium in the form of a crescent. The Greeks kept near the shore, to prevent the Persians from bringing their whole fleet into action. The battle raged furiously the whole day, and each side fought with determined valour. Both parties suffered severely; and though the Persians lost a greater number of ships and men, yet so many of the Greek vessels were disabled that they found it would be impossible to renew the combat. Under these circumstances the Greek commanders saw that it would be necessary to retreat; and their determination was hastened by the news which they now received, that Leonidas and his companions had fallen, and that Xerxes was master of the pass of Thermopylae. Having sailed through the Euboean strait, the fleet doubled the promontory of Sunium, and did not stop till it reached the island of Salamis.
Meanwhile the Peloponnesians had abandoned Attica and the adjoining states to their fate, whilst they strained every nerve to secure themselves by fortifying the isthmus of Corinth. The Athenians, relying upon the march of a Peloponnesian army into Boeotia, had taken no measures for the security of their families and property, and beheld with terror and dismay the barbarian host in full march towards their city. In six days it was calculated Xerxes would be at Athens—a short space to remove the population of a whole city: but fear and necessity work wonders. Before the six days had elapsed, all who were willing to abandon their homes had been safely transported, some to AEgina, and others to Troezen in Peloponnesus; but many could not be induced to proceed farther than Salamis. It was necessary for Themistocles to use all his art and all his eloquence on this occasion. The oracle at Delphi had told the Athenians that "the divine Salamis would make women childless,"—yet, "when all was lost, a wooden wall should still shelter the Athenians." Themistocles told his countrymen that these words clearly indicated a fleet and a naval victory as the only means of safety. Some however gave to the words another meaning; and a few, especially among the aged and the poor, resolved to shut themselves up in the Acropolis, and to fortify its accessible or western front with barricades of timber.
On his march towards Athens, Xerxes sent a detachment of his army to take and plunder Delphi. But this attempt proved unsuccessful. The god of the most renowned oracle of the Grecian world vindicated at once the majesty of his sanctuary and the truth of his predictions. As the Persians climbed the rugged path at the foot of Mount Parnassus, leading up to the shrine, thunder was heard to roll, and two crags, suddenly detaching themselves from the mountain, rolled down upon the Persians, and spread dismay and destruction in their ranks, Seized with a sudden panic, they turned and fled, pursued, as they said, by two warriors of superhuman size and prowess, who had assisted the Delphians in defending their temple.
On arriving before Athens, Xerxes found the Acropolis occupied by a handful of desperate citizens, who made a brave resistance; but they were overpowered and put to the sword. The temples and houses on the Acropolis were pillaged and burnt; and Xerxes thus became undisputed master of Athens.
About the same time the Persian fleet arrived in the bay of Phalerum. Its strength is not accurately known, but it must have exceeded 1000 vessels. The combined Grecian fleet at Salamis consisted of 366 ships, of which 200 were Athenian.
At this critical juncture dissension reigned in the Grecian fleet. In the council of war which had been summoned by Eurybiades the Spartan commander, Themistocles urged the assembled chiefs to remain at Salamis, and give battle to the Persians in the narrow straits, where the superior numbers of the Persians would be of less consequence. The Peloponnesian commanders, on the other hand, were anxious that the fleet should be removed to the isthmus of Corinth, and thus be put in communication with their land-forces. The council came to a vote in favour of retreat; but Themistocles prevailed upon Eurybiades to convene another assembly upon the following day. When the council met, the Peloponnesian commanders loudly expressed their dissatisfaction at seeing a debate re-opened which they had deemed concluded. Adimantus, the Corinthian admiral broke out into open rebukes and menaces. "Themistocles," he exclaimed, "those who rise at the public games before the signal are whipped." "True," replied Themistocles; "but they who lag behind it never win a crown." Another incident in this discussion has been immortalized by Plutarch. Eurybiades, incensed by the language of Themistocles, lifted up his stick to strike him, whereupon the Athenian exclaimed, "Strike, but hear me!" Themistocles repeated his arguments and entreaties; and at length threatened that he and the Athenians would sail away to Italy and there found a new city, if the Peloponnesians still determined to retreat. Eurybiades now gave way and issued orders for the fleet to remain and fight at Salamis; but the Peloponnesians obeyed the order with reluctance. A third council was summoned and Themistocles, perceiving that the decision of the assembly would be against him, determined to effect his object by stratagem. He secretly despatched a trusty slave with a message to Xerxes, representing the dissensions which prevailed in the Grecian fleet, and how easy a matter it would be to surround and vanquish an armament both small and disunited. Xerxes readily adopted the suggestion, and ordered his captains to close up the straits of Salamis at both ends during the night. On the council assembling in the morning, Aristides arrived with the news that the Grecian fleet was completely surrounded by that of the Persians, and that retreat was no longer possible. As the veil of night rolled gradually away, the Persian fleet was discovered stretching as far as the eye could reach along the coast of Attica. The Grecian fleet, being concentrated in the harbour of Salamis, was thus surrounded by the Persians. Xerxes had caused a lofty throne to be erected upon one of the projecting declivities of Mount AEgaleos, opposite the harbour of Salamis, whence he could survey the combat, and stimulate by his presence the courage of his men.
As a battle was now inevitable the Grecian commanders lost no time in making preparations for the encounter. The Greek seamen embarked with alacrity, encouraging one another to deliver their country, their wives, and children, and the temples of their gods, from the grasp of the barbarians. History has preserved to us but few details of the engagement. The Persian fleet, with the exception of some of the Ionic contingents, fought with courage. But the very numbers on which they so confidently relied, proved one of the chief causes of their defeat. Too crowded either to advance or to retreat, their oars broken or impeded by collision with one another, their fleet lay like an inert and lifeless mass upon the water, and fell an easy prey to the Greeks. A single incident will illustrate the terror and confusion which reigned among the Persians. Artemisia, queen of Halicarnassus in Caria, distinguished herself in it by deeds of daring bravery. At length she turned and fled, pursued by an Athenian galley. Full in her course lay the vessel of a Carian prince. Instead of avoiding, she struck and sunk it, sending her countryman and all his crew to the bottom. The captain of the Athenian galley, believing from this act that she was a deserter from the Persian cause, suffered her to escape. Xerxes, who from his lofty throne beheld the feat of the Halicarnassian queen, but who imagined that the sunken ship belonged to the Greeks, was filled with admiration at her courage, and exclaimed—"My men are become women, my women men!"
Two hundred of the Persian ships were destroyed and sunk when night put an end to the engagement. But notwithstanding this loss the fleet was still formidable by its numbers. The Greeks themselves did not regard the victory as decisive, and prepared to renew the combat. But the pusillanimity of Xerxes relieved them from all further anxiety. He became alarmed for his own personal safety; and his whole care was now centred on securing his retreat by land. The best troops were disembarked from the ships, and marched towards the Hellespont, in order to secure the bridge, whilst the fleet itself was ordered to make for Asia. These dispositions of Xerxes were prompted by Mardonius. He represented to his master that the defeat, after all, was but slight; that having attained one of the great objects of the expedition by the capture of Athens, he might now retire with honour, and even with glory; and that for the rest he (Mardonius) would undertake to complete the conquest of Greece with 300,000 men. While the Persian fleet sailed towards Asia, Xerxes set out on his homeward march. In Thessaly Mardonius selected the 300,000 men with whom he proposed to conclude the war; but as autumn was now approaching, he resolved to postpone all further operations till the spring.
After forty-five days' march from Attica, Xerxes again reached the shores of the Hellespont, with a force greatly diminished by famine and pestilence. On the Hellespont he found his fleet, but the bridge had been washed away by storms. Landed on the shores of Asia, the Persian army at length obtained abundance of provisions, and contracted new maladies by the sudden change from privation to excess. Thus terminated this mighty but unsuccessful expedition.
Greece owed its salvation to one man—Themistocles, This was virtually admitted by the leaders of the other Grecian states, when they assembled to assign the prizes of wisdom and conduct. Upon the altar of Poseidon, at the isthmus of Corinth, each chief deposited a ticket inscribed with two names, of those whom he considered entitled to the first and second prizes. But in this adjudication vanity and self-love defeated their own objects. Each commander had put down his own name for the first prize; for the second, a great majority preponderated in favour of Themistocles. From the Spartans, also, Themistocles received the honours due to his merit. A crown of olive was conferred upon him, together with one of the most splendid chariots which the city could produce.
On the very same day on which the Persians were defeated at Salamis the Sicilian Greeks also obtained a victory over the Carthaginians. There is reason to believe that the invasion of Sicily by the Carthaginians was concerted with Xerxes, and that the simultaneous attach on two distinct Grecian peoples, by two immense armaments, was not merely the result of chance. Gelon, the powerful ruler of Syracuse, defeated Hamilcar, the Carthaginian general, with the loss it is said of 150,000 men.
In the spring of B.C. 479 Mardonius prepared to open the campaign. He was not without hopes of inducing the Athenians to join the Persian alliance, and he despatched Alexander, king of Macedon, to conciliate the Athenians, now partially re-established in their dilapidated city. His offers on the part of the Persians were of the most seductive kind; but the Athenians dismissed him with a positive refusal, whilst to the Lacedaemonians they protested that no temptations, however great, should ever induce them to desert the common cause of Greece and freedom. In return for this disinterested conduct all they asked was that a Peloponnesian army should be sent into Boeotia for the defence of the Attic frontier: a request which the Spartan envoys promised to fulfil. No sooner, however, had they returned into their own country than this promise was completely forgotten.
When Mardonius was informed that the Athenians had rejected his proposal, he immediately marched against Athens, accompanied by all his Grecian allies; and in May or June, B.C. 479, about ten months after the retreat of Xerxes, the Persians again occupied that city. With feelings of bitter indignation against their faithless allies, the Athenians saw themselves once more compelled to remove to Salamis. Mardonius took advantage of his situation to endeavour once more to win them to his alliance. Through a Hellespontine Greek, the same favourable conditions were again offered to them, but were again refused. One voice alone, that of the senator Lycidas, broke the unanimity of the assembly. But his opposition cost him his life. He and his family were stoned to death by the excited populace. In this desperate condition the Athenians sent ambassadors to the Spartans to remonstrate against their breach of faith, and to intimate that necessity might at length compel them to listen to the proposals of the enemy. The Spartans became alarmed. That very night 5000 citizens, each attended by seven Helots, were despatched to the frontiers; and these were shortly followed by 5000 Lacedaemonian Perioeci, each attended by one light-armed Helot. Never before had the Spartans sent so large a force into the field. Their example was followed by other Peloponnesian cities; and the Athenian envoys returned to Salamis with the joyful news that a large army was preparing to march against the enemy, under the command of Pausanias, who acted as regent for the infant son of Leonidas.
Mardonius, on learning the approach of the Lacedaemonians, abandoned Attica and crossed into Boeotia. He finally took up a position on the left bank of the Asopus, and not far from the town of Plataea. Here he caused a camp to be constructed of ten furlongs square, and fortified with barricades and towers. Meanwhile the Grecian army continued to receive reinforcements from the different states, and by the time it reached Boeotia, it formed a grand total of about 110,000 men. After several days' manoeuvring a general battle took place near Plataea. The light-armed undisciplined Persians, whose bodies were unprotected by armour, maintained a very unequal combat against the serried ranks, the long spears, and the mailed bodies of the Spartan phalanx. Mardonius, at the head of his body-guard of 1000 picked men, and conspicuous by his white charger, was among the foremost in the fight, till struck down by the hand of a Spartan. The fall of their general was the signal for flight to the Persians, already wearied and disheartened by the fruitless contest; nor did they once stop till they lad again crossed the Asopus and reached their fortified camp. The glory of having defeated the Persians at Plataea rests with the Lacedaemonians, since the Athenians were engaged in another part of the field with the Thebans. After repulsing the Thebans, the Athenians joined the Lacedaemonians, who had pursued the Persians as far as their fortified camp. Upon the arrival of the Athenians the barricades were stormed and carried, after a gallant resistance on the part of the Persians. The camp became a scene of the most horrible carnage. The Persian loss was immense, while that of the Greeks seems not to have exceeded 1300 or 1400 men.
It remained to bury the dead and divide the booty, and so great was the task that ten days were consumed in it. The booty was ample and magnificent. Gold and silver coined, as well as in plate and trinkets, rich vests and carpets, ornamented arms, horses, camels—in a word, all the magnificence of Eastern luxury. The failure of the Persian expedition was completed by the destruction of their naval armament. Laotychides, the Spartan admiral, having sailed across the AEgean, found the Persian fleet at Mycale a promontory of Asia Minor near Miletus. Their former reverses seem completely to have discouraged the Persians from hazarding another naval engagement. The ships were hauled ashore and surrounded with a rampart, whilst an army of 60,000 Persians lined the coast for their defence. The Greeks landed on the very day on which the battle of Plataea was fought. A supernatural presentiment of that decisive victory, conveyed by a herald's staff which floated over the AEgean from the shores of Greece, is said to have pervaded the Grecian ranks at Mycale as they marched to the attack. The Persians did not long resist: they turned their backs and fled to their fortifications, pursued by the Greeks, who entered them almost simultaneously. A large number of the Persians perished; and the victory was rendered still more decisive by the burning of the fleet.
The Grecian fleet now sailed towards the Hellespont with the view of destroying the bridge; but hearing that it no longer existed, Leotychides departed homewards with the Peloponnesian vessels. Xanthippus however, the Athenian commander, seized the opportunity to recover from the Persians the Thracian Chersonese, which had long been an Athenian possession; and proceeded to blockade Sestos, the key of the strait. This city surrendered in the autumn, after a protracted siege, whereupon the Athenians returned home, carrying with them the cables of the bridge across the Hellespont, which were afterwards preserved in the Acropolis as a trophy.
FROM THE END OF THE PERSIAN WARS TO THE BEGINNING OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR, B.C. 479-431.
The Athenians, on their return to Attica, after the defeat of the Persians, found their city ruined and their country desolate. They began to rebuild their city on a larger scale than before, and to fortify it with a wall. Those allies to whom the increasing maritime power of Athens was an object of suspicion, and especially the AEginetans, to whom it was more particularly formidable, beheld her rising fortifications with dismay. They endeavoured to inspire the Lacedaemonians with their fears, and urged them to arrest the work. But though Sparta shared the jealousy of the allies, she could not with any decency interfere by force to prevent a friendly city from exercising a right inherent in all independent states. She assumed therefore the hypocritical garb of an adviser and counsellor. Concealing her jealousy under the pretence of zeal for the common interests of Greece, she represented to the Athenians that, in the event of another Persian invasion, fortified towns would serve the enemy for camps and strongholds, as Thebes had done in the last war; and proposed that the Athenians should not only desist from completing their own fortifications, but help to demolish those which already existed in other towns.
The object of the proposal was too transparent to deceive so acute a statesman as Themistocles. Athens was not yet, however, in a condition to incur the danger of openly rejecting it; and he therefore advised the Athenians to dismiss the Spartan envoys with the assurance that they would send ambassadors to Sparta to explain their views. He then caused himself to be appointed one of these ambassadors; and setting off straightway for Sparta, directed his colleagues to linger behind as long as possible. At Sparta, the absence of his colleagues, at which he affected to be surprised, afforded him an excuse for not demanding an audience of the ephors. During the interval thus gained, the whole population of Athens, of both sexes and every age, worked day and night at the walls, which, when the other ambassadors at length arrived at Sparta, had attained a height sufficient to afford a tolerable defence. Meanwhile the suspicions of the Spartans had been more than once aroused by messages from the AEginetans respecting the progress of the walls. Themistocles, however, positively denied their statements; and urged the Spartans to send messengers of their own to Athens in order to learn the true state of affairs, at the same time instructing the Athenians to detain them as hostages for the safety of himself and colleagues. When there was no longer any motive for concealment, Themistocles openly avowed the progress of the works, and his intention of securing the independence of Athens, and enabling her to act for herself. The walls being now too far advanced to be easily taken, the Spartans found themselves compelled to acquiesce, and the works were completed without further hindrance.
Having thus secured the city from all danger of an immediate attack, Themistocles pursued his favourite project of rendering Athens the greatest maritime and commercial power of Greece. He erected a town round the harbour of Piraeus, distant between four and five miles from Athens, and enclosed it with a wall as large in extent as the city itself, but of vastly greater height and thickness. Meanwhile an event occurred which secured more firmly than ever the maritime supremacy of Athens, by transferring to her the command of the allied fleet.
In the year after the battle of Plataea a fleet had been fitted out and placed under the command of the Spartan regent, Pausanias, in order to carry on the war against the Persians. After delivering most of the Grecian towns in Cyprus from the Persians, this armament sailed up the Bosporus and laid siege to Byzantium, which was garrisoned by a large Persian force. The town surrendered after a protracted siege; but it was during this expedition that the conduct of the Spartan commander struck a fatal blow at the interests of his country.
The immense booty, as well as the renown, which Pausanias had acquired at Plataea, had filled him with pride and ambition. After the capture of Byzantium he despatched a letter to Xerxes, offering to marry the king's daughter, and to bring Sparta and the rest of Greece under his dominion. Xerxes was highly delighted with this letter, and sent a reply in which he urged Pausanias to pursue his project night and day, and promised to supply him with all the money and troops that might be needful for its execution. But the childish vanity of Pausanias betrayed his plot before it was ripe for execution. Elated by the confidence of Xerxes, and by the money with which he was lavishly supplied, he acted as if he had already married the Great King's daughter. He assumed the Persian dress; he made a progress through Thrace, attended by Persian and Egyptian guards; and copied, in the luxury of his table and the dissoluteness of his manners, the example of his adopted country. Above all, he offended the allies by his haughty reserve and imperiousness. His designs were now too manifest to escape attention. His proceedings reached the ears of the Spartans, who sent out Dorcis to supersede him. Disgusted by the insolence of Pausanias, the Ionians serving in the combined Grecian fleet addressed themselves to Aristides, whose manners formed a striking contrast to those of the Spartan leader, and begged him to assume the command. This request was made precisely at the time when Pausanias was recalled; and accordingly, when Dorcis arrived, he found Aristides in command of the combined fleet (B.C. 478).
This event was not a mere empty question about a point of honour. It was a real revolution, terminated by a solemn league, of which Athens was to be the head. Aristides took the lead in the matter, for which his proverbial justice and probity eminently qualified him. The league obtained the name of "the Confederacy of Delos," from its being arranged that deputies of the allies belonging to it should meet periodically for deliberation in the temple of Apollo and Artemis (Diana) in that island. Each state was assessed in a certain contribution, either of money or ships, as proposed by the Athenians and ratified by the synod. The assessment was intrusted to Aristides, whose impartiality was universally applauded. Of the details, however, we only know that the first assessment amounted to 460 talents (about 106,000L sterling), that certain officers called Hellenotamiae were appointed by the Athenians to collect and administer the contributions, and that Delos was the treasury.
Such was the origin of the Confederacy of Delos. Soon after its formation Aristides was succeeded in the command of the combined fleet by Cimon, the son of Miltiades.
Pausanias, on his return to Sparta, seems to have been acquitted of any definite charges; but he continued his correspondence with Persia, and an accident at length afforded convincing proofs of his guilt. A favourite slave, to whom he had intrusted a letter to the Persian satrap at Sardis, observed with dismay that none of the messengers employed in this service had ever returned. Moved by these fears, he broke the seal and read the letter, and finding his suspicions of the fate that awaited him confirmed, he carried the document to the ephors. But in ancient states the testimony of a slave was always regarded with suspicion. The ephors refused to believe the evidence offered to them unless confirmed by their own ears. For this purpose they directed him to plant himself as a suppliant in a sacred grove near Cape Taenarus, in a hut behind which two of their body might conceal themselves. Pausanias, as they had expected, anxious at the step taken by his slave, hastened to the spot to question him about it. The conversation which ensued, and which was overheard by the ephors, rendered the guilt of Pausanias no longer doubtful. They now determined to arrest him on his return to Sparta. They met him in the street near the temple of Athena Chalcioecus (of the Brazen House), when Pausanias, either alarmed by his guilty conscience, or put on his guard by a secret signal from one of the ephors, turned and fled to the temple, where he took refuge in a small chamber belonging to the building. From this sanctuary it was unlawful to drag him; but the ephors caused the doors to be built up and the roof to be removed, and his own mother is said to have placed the first stone at the doors. When at the point of death from starvation, he was carried from the sanctuary before he polluted it with his corpse. Such was the end of the victor of Plataea. After his death proofs were discovered among his papers that Themistocles was implicated in his guilt. But in order to follow the fortunes of the Athenian statesman, it is necessary to take a glance at the internal history of Athens.
The ancient rivalry between Themistocles and Aristides had been in a good degree extinguished by the danger which threatened their common country during the Persian wars. Aristides had since abandoned his former prejudices, and was willing to conform to many of the democratical innovations of his rival. The effect of this was to produce, soon after their return to Attica, a still further modification of the constitution of Clisthenes. The Thetes the lowest of the four classes of Athenian citizens, were declared eligible for the magistracy, from which they had been excluded by the laws of Solon. Thus not only the archonship, but consequently the Council of Areopagus, was thrown open to them; and, strange to say, this reform was proposed by Aristides himself.
Nevertheless party spirit still ran high at Athens. Cimon and Alcmaeon were violent opponents of Themistocles, and of their party Aristides was still the head. The popularity of Aristides was never greater than at the present time, owing not only to the more liberal spirit which he exhibited, but also to his great services in establishing the Confederacy of Delos. Themistocles had offended the Athenians by his ostentation and vanity. He was continually boasting of his services to the state; but worse than all this, his conduct was stained with positive guilt. Whilst, at the head of an Athenian squadron, he was sailing among the Greek islands for the ostensible purpose of executing justice, there is little room to doubt that he corrupted its very source by accepting large sums of money from the cities which he visited. Party spirit at length reached such a height that it was found necessary to resort to ostracism, and Themistocles was condemned to a temporary banishment (B.C. 471). He retired to Argos, where he was residing when the Spartans called upon the Athenians to prosecute their great statesman before a synod of the allies assembled at Sparta, on the ground of treasonable correspondence with Persia. Accordingly joint envoys were sent from Athens and Sparta to arrest him (B.C. 466). Themistocles avoided the impending danger by flying from Argos to Corcyra. The Corcyraeans, however, not daring to shelter him, he passed over to the continent; where, being still pursued, he was forced to seek refuge at the court of Admetus, king of the Molossians, though the latter was his personal enemy. Fortunately, Admetus happened to be from home. The forlorn condition of Themistocles excited the compassion of the wife of the Molossian king, who placed her child in his arms, and bade him seat himself on the hearth as a suppliant. As soon as the king arrived, Themistocles explained his peril, and adjured him by the sacred laws of hospitality not to take vengeance upon a fallen foe. Admetus accepted his appeal, and raised him from the hearth; he refused to deliver him up to his pursuers, and at last only dismissed him on his own expressed desire to proceed to Persia. After many perils, Themistocles succeeded in reaching in safety the coast of Asia. Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, was now upon the throne of Persia, and to him Themistocles hastened to announce himself. The king was delighted at his arrival, and treated him with the greatest distinction. In a year's time, Themistocles, having acquired a sufficient knowledge of the Persian language to be able to converse in it, entertained Artaxerxes with magnificent schemes for the subjugation of Greece. Artaxerxes loaded him with presents, gave him a Persian wife, and appointed Magnesia, a town not far from the Ionian coast, as his place of residence. After living there some time he was carried off by disease at the age of sixty-five, without having realised, or apparently attempted, any of those plans with which he had dazzled the Persian monarch. Rumour ascribed his death to poison, which he took of his own accord, from a consciousness of his inability to perform his promises; but this report, which was current in the time of Thucydides, is rejected by that historian.
Aristides died about four years after the banishment of Themistocles. The common accounts of his poverty are probably exaggerated, and seem to have been founded on the circumstances of a public funeral, and of handsome donations made to his three children by the state. But whatever his property may have been, it is at least certain that he did not acquire or increase it by unlawful means; and not even calumny has ventured to assail his well-earned title of THE JUST.
On the death of Aristides, Cimon became the undisputed leader of the conservative party at Athens. Cimon was generous, affable, magnificent; and, notwithstanding his political views, of exceedingly popular manners. He had inherited the military genius of his father, and was undoubtedly the greatest commander of his time. He employed the vast wealth acquired in his expeditions in adorning Athens and gratifying his fellow-citizens. It has been already mentioned that he succeeded Aristides in the command of the allied fleet. His first exploits were the capture of Eion on the Strymon, and the reduction of the island of Scyros (B.C. 476). A few years afterwards we find the first symptoms of discontent among the members of the Confederacy of Delos. Naxos, one of the confederate islands, and the largest of the Cyclades, revolted in B.C. 466, probably from a feeling of the growing oppressiveness of the Athenian headship. It was immediately invested by the confederate fleet, reduced, and made tributary to Athens. This was another step towards dominion gained by the Athenians, whose pretensions were assisted by the imprudence of the allies. Many of the smaller states belonging to the confederacy, wearied with perpetual hostilities, commuted for a money payment the ships which they were bound to supply; and thus, by depriving themselves of a navy, lost the only means by which they could assert their independence.
The same year was marked by a memorable action against the Persians. Cimon at the head of 200 Athenian triremes, and 100 furnished by the allies, proceeded to the coast of Asia Minor. The Persians had assembled a large fleet and army at the mouth of the river Eurymedon in Pamphylia. After speedily defeating the fleet, Cimon landed his men and marched against the Persian army which was drawn up on the shore to protect the fleet. The land-force fought with bravery, but was at length put to the rout.
The island of Thasos was the next member of the confederacy against which the Athenians directed their arms. After a siege of more than two years that island surrendered, when its fortifications were razed, and it was condemned to pay tribute (B.C. 463).
The expedition to Thasos was attended with a circumstance which first gives token of the coming hostilities between Sparta and Athens. At an early period of the blockade the Thasians secretly applied to the Lacedaemonians to make a diversion in their favour by invading Attica: and though the Lacedaemonians were still ostensibly allied with Athens, they were base enough to comply with this request. Their treachery, however, was prevented by a terrible calamity which befel themselves. In the year B.C. 461 their capital was visited by an earthquake which laid it in ruins and killed 20,000 of the citizens. But this was only part of the calamity. The earthquake was immediately followed by a revolt of the Helots, who were always ready to avail themselves of the weakness of their tyrants. Being joined by the Messenians, they fortified themselves in Mount Ithome in Messenia. Hence this revolt is sometimes called the Third Messenian War (B.C. 464). after two or three years spent in a vain attempt to dislodge them from this position, the Lacedaemonians found themselves obliged to call in the assistance of their allies, and, among the rest, of the Athenians. It was with great difficulty that Cimon persuaded the Athenians to comply with this request; but he was at length despatched to Laconia with a force of 4000 hoplites. The aid of the Athenians had been requested by the Lacedaemonians on account of their acknowledged superiority in the art of attacking fortified places. As, however, Cimon did not succeed in dislodging the Helots from Ithome the Lacedaemonians, probably from a consciousness of their own treachery in the affair of Thasos, suspected that the Athenians were playing them false, and abruptly dismissed them, saying that they had no longer any occasion for their services. This rude dismissal gave great offence at Athens, and annihilated for a time the political influence of Cimon. The democratical party had from the first opposed the expedition; and it afforded them a great triumph to be able to point to Cimon returning not only unsuccessful but insulted. That party was now led by Pericles. A sort of hereditary feud existed between Pericles and Cimon; for it was Xanthippus, the father of Pericles, who had impeached Miltiades, the father of Cimon. The character of Pericles was almost the reverse of Cimon's. Although the leader of the popular party, his manners were reserved. He appeared but little in society, and only in public upon great occasions. His mind had received the highest polish which that period was capable of giving. He constantly conversed with Anaxagoras, Protagoras, Zeno, and other eminent philosophers. To oratory in particular he had devoted much attention, as an indispensable instrument for swaying the public assemblies of Athens.
Pericles seized the occasion presented by the ill success of Cimon, both to ruin that leader and to strike a fatal blow at the aristocratical party. He deprived the Areopagus of its chief functions, and left it a mere shadow of its former influence and power. He rendered the election to magistracies dependent simply upon lot, so that every citizen however poor, had an equal chance of obtaining the honours of the state. Other changes which accompanied this revolution—for such it must be called—were the institution of paid DICASTERIES or jury-courts, and the almost entire abrogation of the judicial power of the Senate of Five Hundred. It cannot be supposed that such fundamental changes were effected without violent party strife. The poet AEschylus, in the tragedy of the EUMENIDIES, in vain exerted all the powers of his genius in support of the aristocratical party and of the tottering Areopagus; his exertions on this occasion resulted only in his own flight from Athens. The same fate attended Cimon himself; and he was condemned by ostracism (B.C. 461) to a ten years' banishment. Nay, party violence even went the length of assassination. Ephialtes, who had taken the lead in the attacks upon the Areopagus, fell beneath the dagger of a Boeotian, hired by the conservative party to dispatch him.
It was from this period (B.C. 461) that the long administration of Pericles may be said to have commenced. The effects of his accession to power soon became visible in the foreign relations of Athens. Pericles had succeeded to the political principles of Themistocles, and his aim was to render Athens the leading power of Greece. The Confederacy of Delos had already secured her maritime ascendency; Pericles directed his policy to the extension of her influence in continental Greece. She formed an alliance with the Thessalians, Argos, and Megara. The possession of Megara was of great importance, as it enabled the Athenians to arrest the progress of an invading army from Peloponnesus, AEgina, so long the maritime rival of Athens, was subdued and made tributary. The Athenians marched with rapid steps to the dominion of Greece. Shortly afterwards the battle of OEnophyta (B.C. 456), in which the Athenians defeated the Boeotians, gave Athens the command of Thebes, and of all the other Boeotian towns. From the gulf of Corinth to the straits of Thermopylae Athenian influence was now predominant. During these events the Athenians had continued to prosecute the war against Persia. In the year B.C. 460 they sent a powerful fleet to Egypt to assist Inarus, who had revolted against Persia; but this expedition proved a complete failure, for at the end of six years the revolt was put down by the Persians, and the Athenian fleet destroyed (B.C. 455). At a later period (B.C. 449) Cimon, who had been recalled from exile, sailed to Cyprus with a fleet of 200 ships. He undertook the siege of Citium in that island; but died during the progress of it, either from disease or from the effects of a wound. Shortly afterwards a pacification was concluded with Persia, which is sometimes, but erroneously, called "the peace of Cimon." It is stated that by this compact the Persian monarch agreed not to tax or molest the Greek colonies on the coast of Asia Minor, nor to send any vessels of war westward of Phaselis in Lycia, or within the Cyanean rocks at the junction of the Euxine with the Thracian Bosporus; the Athenians on their side undertaking to leave the Persians in undisturbed possession of Cyprus and Egypt. During the progress of these events, the states which formed the Confederacy of Delos, with the exception of Chios, Lesbos, and Samos, had gradually become, instead of the active allies of Athens, her disarmed and passive tributaries. Even the custody of the fund had been transferred from Delos to Athens. The purpose for which the confederacy had been originally organised disappeared with the Persian peace; yet what may now be called Imperial Athens continued, for her own ends, to exercise her prerogatives as head of the league. Her alliances, as we have seen, had likewise been extended in continental Greece, where they embraced Megara, Boeotia, Phocis, Locris, together with Troezen and Achaia in Peloponnesus. Such was the position of Athens in the year 448 B.C., the period of her greatest power and prosperity. From this time her empire began to decline; whilst Sparta, and other watchful and jealous enemies, stood ever ready to strike a blow.
In the following year (B.C. 447) a revolution in Boeotia deprived Athens of her ascendency in that country. With an overweening contempt of their enemies, a small band of 1000 Athenian hoplites, chiefly composed of youthful volunteers belonging to the best Athenian families, together with a few auxiliaries, marched under the command of Tolmides to put down the revolt, in direct opposition to the advice of Pericles, who adjured them to wait and collect a more numerous force. The enterprise proved disastrous in the extreme. Tolmides was defeated and slain near Chaeronea, a large number of the hoplites also fell in the engagement, while a still larger number were taken prisoners. This last circumstance proved fatal to the interests of Athens in Boeotia. In order to recover these prisoners, she agreed to evacuate Boeotia, and to permit the re-establishment of the aristocracies which she had formerly overthrown. But the Athenian reverses did not end here. The expulsion of the partisans of Athens from the government of Phocis and Locris, and the revolt of Euboea and Megara, were announced in quick succession. The youthful Pleistoanax, king of Sparta, actually penetrated, with an army of Lacedaemonians and Peloponnesian allies, as far as the neighbourhood of Eleusis; and the capital itself, it is said, was saved only by Pericles having bribed the Spartan monarch. Pericles reconquered Euboea; but this was the only possession which the Athenians succeeded in recovering. Their empire on land had vanished more, speedily than it had been acquired; and they were therefore induced to conclude, at the beginning of B.C. 445, a THIRTY YEARS' TRUCE with Sparta and her allies, by which they consented to abandon all the acquisitions which they had made in Peloponnesus, and to leave Megara to be included among the Peloponnesian allies of Sparta.
From the Thirty Years' Truce to the commencement of the Peloponnesian war, few political events of any importance occurred. During these fourteen years (B.C. 445-431) Pericles continued to enjoy the sole direction of affairs. His views were of the most lofty kind. Athens was to become the capital of Greece, and the centre of art and refinement. In her external appearance the city was to be rendered worthy of the high position to which she aspired, by the beauty and splendour of her public buildings, by her works of art in sculpture, architecture, and painting, and by the pomp and magnificence of her religious festivals. All these objects Athens was enabled to attain in an incredibly short space of time, through the genius and energy of her citizens and the vast resources at her command. No state has ever exhibited so much intellectual activity and so great a progress in art as was displayed by Athens in the period which elapsed between the Thirty Years' Truce and the breaking out of the Peloponnesian war. She was the seat and centre of Grecian literature. The three great tragic poets of Greece were natives of Attica. AEschylus, the earliest of the three, had recently died in Sicily; but Sophocles was now at the full height of his reputation, and Euripides was rapidly rising into notice. Aristophanes, the greatest of the Grecian comic poets, was also born in Attica, and exhibited plays soon after the beginning of the Peloponnesian war. Herodotus, the Father of History, though a native of Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, resided some time at Athens, and accompanied a colony which the Athenians sent to Thurii in Italy. Thucydides, the greatest of Greek historians, was an Athenian, and was a young man at this period.