Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Complete
by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
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Pausanias forbade the booty to be touched [114], and directed the helots to collect the treasure in one spot. But those dexterous slaves secreted many articles of value, by the purchase of which several of the Aeginetans, whose avarice was sharpened by a life of commerce, enriched themselves—obtaining gold at the price of brass.

Piety dedicated to the gods a tenth part of the booty—from which was presented to the shrine of Delphi a golden tripod, resting on a three-headed snake of brass; to the Corinthian Neptune a brazen state of the deity, seven cubits high; and to the Jupiter of Olympia a statue of ten cubits. Pausanias obtained also a tenth of the produce in each article of plunder—horses and camels, women and gold—a prize which ruined in rewarding him. The rest was divided among the soldiers, according to their merit.

So much, however, was left unappropriated in the carelessness of satiety, that, in after times, the battlefield still afforded to the search of the Plataeans chests of silver and gold, and other treasures.

XXIL Taking possession of the tent of Mardonius, which had formerly been that of Xerxes, Pausanias directed the oriental slaves who had escaped the massacre to prepare a banquet after the fashion of the Persians, and as if served to Mardonius. Besides this gorgeous feast, the Spartan ordered his wonted repast to be prepared; and then, turning to the different chiefs, exclaimed—"See the folly of the Persian, who forsook such splendour to plunder such poverty."

The story has in it something of the sublime. But the austere Spartan was soon corrupted by the very luxuries he affected to disdain. It is often that we despise to-day what we find it difficult to resist to-morrow.

XXIII. The task of reward to the living completed, the Greeks proceeded to that of honour to the dead. In three trenches the Lacedaemonians were interred; one contained those who belonged to a class in Sparta called the Knights [115], of whom two hundred had conducted Themistocles to Tegea (among these was the stubborn Amompharetus); the second, the other Spartans; the third, the helots. The Athenians, Tegeans, Megarians, Phliasians, each had their single and separate places of sepulture, and, over all, barrows of earth were raised. Subsequently, tribes and states, that had shared indeed the final battle or the previous skirmishes, but without the glory of a loss of life, erected cenotaphs to imaginary dead in that illustrious burial-field. Among those spurious monuments was one dedicated to the Aeginetans. Aristodemus, the Spartan who had returned safe from Thermopylae, fell at Plataea, the most daring of the Greeks on that day, voluntarily redeeming a dishonoured life by a glorious death. But to his manes alone of the Spartan dead no honours were decreed.

XXIV. Plutarch relates that a dangerous dispute ensued between the Spartans and Athenians as to their relative claim to the Aristeia, or first military honours; the question was decided by awarding them to the Plataeans—a state of which none were jealous; from a similar motive, ordinary men are usually found possessed of the honours due to the greatest.

More important than the Aristeia, had the spirit been properly maintained, were certain privileges then conferred on Plataea. Thither, in a subsequent assembly of the allies, it was proposed by Aristides that deputies from the states of Greece should be annually sent to sacrifice to Jupiter the Deliverer, and confer upon the general politics of Greece. There, every fifth year, should be celebrated games in honour of Liberty; while the Plataeans themselves, exempted from military service, should be deemed, so long as they fulfilled the task thus imposed upon them, a sacred and inviolable people. Thus Plataea nominally became a second Elis—its battle-field another Altis. Aristides, at the same time, sought to enforce the large and thoughtful policy commenced by Themistocles. He endeavoured to draw the jealous states of Greece into a common and perpetual league, maintained against all invaders by a standing force of one thousand cavalry, one hundred ships, and ten thousand heavy-armed infantry.

XXV. An earnest and deliberate council was now held, in which it was resolved to direct the victorious army against Thebes, and demand the persons of those who had sided with the Mede. Fierce as had been the hostility of that state to the Hellenic liberties, its sin was that of the oligarchy rather than the people. The most eminent of these traitors to Greece were Timagenidas and Attaginus, and the allies resolved to destroy the city unless those chiefs were given up to justice.

On the eleventh day from the battle they sat down before Thebes, and on the refusal of the inhabitants to surrender the chiefs so justly obnoxious, laid waste the Theban lands.

Whatever we may think of the conduct of Timagenidas in espousing the cause of the invaders of Greece, we must give him the praise of a disinterested gallantry, which will remind the reader of the siege of Calais by Edward III., and the generosity of Eustace de St. Pierre. He voluntarily proposed to surrender himself to the besiegers.

The offer was accepted: Timagenidas and several others were delivered to Pausanias, removed to Corinth, and there executed—a stern but salutary example. Attaginus saved himself by flight. His children, given up to Pausanias, were immediately dismissed. "Infants," said the Spartan, "could not possibly have conspired against us with the Mede."

While Thebes preserved herself from destruction, Artabazus succeeded in effecting his return to Asia, his troop greatly reduced by the attacks of the Thracians, and the excesses of famine and fatigue.

XXVI. On the same day as that on which the battle of Plataea crushed the land-forces of Persia, a no less important victory was gained over their fleet at Mycale in Ionia.

It will be remembered that Leotychides, the Spartan king, and the Athenian Xanthippus, had conducted the Grecian navy to Delos. There anchored, they received a deputation from Samos, among whom was Hegesistratus, the son of Aristagoras. These ambassadors declared that all the Ionians waited only the moment to revolt from the Persian yoke, and that the signal would be found in the first active measures of the Grecian confederates. Leotychides, induced by these representations, received the Samians into the general league, and set sail to Samos. There, drawn up in line of battle, near the temple of Juno, they prepared to hazard an engagement.

But the Persians, on their approach, retreated to the continent, in order to strengthen themselves with their land-forces, which, to the amount of sixty thousand, under the command of the Persian Tigranes, Xerxes had stationed at Mycale for the protection of Ionia.

Arrived at Mycale, they drew their ships to land, fortifying them with strong intrenchments and barricades, and then sanguinely awaited the result.

The Greeks, after a short consultation, resolved upon pursuit. Approaching the enemy's station, they beheld the sea deserted, the ships secured by intrenchments, and long ranks of infantry ranged along the shore. Leotychides, by a herald, exhorted the Ionians in the Persian service to remember their common liberties, and that on the day of battle their watchword would be "Hebe."

The Persians, distrusting these messages, though uttered in a tongue they understood not, and suspecting the Samians, took their arms from the latter; and, desirous of removing the Milesians to a distance, intrusted them with the guard of the paths to the heights of Mycale. Using these precautions against the desertion of their allies, the Persians prepared for battle.

The Greeks were anxious and fearful not so much for themselves as for their countrymen in Boeotia, opposed to the mighty force of Mardonius. But a report spreading through the camp that a complete victory had been obtained in that territory (an artifice, most probably, of Leotychides), animated their courage and heightened their hopes.

The Athenians, who, with the troops of Corinth, Sicyon, and Troezene, formed half the army, advanced by the coast and along the plain—the Lacedaemonians by the more steep and wooded courses; and while the latter were yet on their march, the Athenians were already engaged at the intrenchments (Battle of Mycale, September, B. C. 479).

Inspired not more by enmity than emulation, the Athenians urged each other to desperate feats—that they, and not the Spartans, might have the honours of the day. They poured fiercely on—after an obstinate and equal conflict, drove back the foe to the barricades that girt their ships, stormed the intrenchments, carried the wall, and, rushing in with their allies, put the barbarians to disorderly and rapid flight. The proper Persians, though but few in number, alone stood their ground—and even when Tigranes himself was slain, resolutely fought on until the Lacedaemonians entered the intrenchment, and all who had survived the Athenian, perished by the Spartan, sword.

The disarmed Samians, as soon as the fortunes of the battle became apparent, gave all the assistance they could render to the Greeks; the other Ionians seized the same opportunity to revolt and turn their arms against their allies. In the mountain defiles the Milesians intercepted their own fugitive allies, consigning them to the Grecian sword, and active beyond the rest in their slaughter. So relentless and so faithless are men, compelled to servitude, when the occasion summons them to be free.

XXVII. This battle, in which the Athenians were pre-eminently distinguished, was followed up by the conflagration of the Persian ships and the collection of the plunder. The Greeks then retired to Samos. Here deliberating, it was proposed by the Peloponnesian leaders that Ionia should henceforth, as too dangerous and remote to guard, be abandoned to the barbarian, and that, in recompense, the Ionians should be put into possession of the maritime coasts of those Grecian states which had sided with the Mede. The Athenians resisted so extreme a proposition, and denied the power of the Peloponnesians to dispose of Athenian colonies. The point was surrendered by the Peloponnesians; the Ionians of the continent were left to make their own terms with the barbarian, but the inhabitants of the isles which had assisted against the Mede were received into the general confederacy, bound by a solemn pledge never to desert it. The fleet then sailed to the Hellespont, with the design to destroy the bridge, which they believed still existent. Finding it, however, already broken, Leotychides and the Peloponnesians returned to Greece. The Athenians resolved to attempt the recovery of the colony of Miltiades in the Chersonese. The Persians collected their whole remaining force at the strongest hold in that peninsula—the Athenians laid siege to it (begun in the autumn, B. C. 479, concluded in the spring, B. C. 478), and, after enduring a famine so obstinate that the cordage, or rather straps, of their bedding were consumed for food, the Persians evacuated the town, which the inhabitants then cheerfully surrendered.

Thus concluding their victories, the Athenians returned to Greece, carrying with them a vast treasure, and, not the least precious relics, the fragments and cables of the Hellespontic bridge, to be suspended in their temples.

XXVIII. Lingering at Sardis, Xerxes beheld the scanty and exhausted remnants of his mighty force, the fugitives of the fatal days of Mycale and Plataea. The army over which he had wept in the zenith of his power, had fulfilled the prediction of his tears: and the armed might of Media and Egypt, of Lydia and Assyria, was now no more!

So concluded the great Persian invasion—that war the most memorable in the history of mankind, whether from the vastness or from the failure of its designs. We now emerge from the poetry that belongs to early Greece, through the mists of which the forms of men assume proportions as gigantic as indistinct. The enchanting Herodotus abandons us, and we do not yet permanently acquire, in the stead of his romantic and wild fidelity, the elaborate and sombre statesmanship of the calm Thucydides. Henceforth we see more of the beautiful and the wise, less of the wonderful and vast. What the heroic age is to tradition, the Persian invasion is to history.




Remarks on the Effects of War.—State of Athens.—Interference of Sparta with respect to the Fortifications of Athens.—Dexterous Conduct of Themistocles.—The New Harbour of the Piraeus.—Proposition of the Spartans in the Amphictyonic Council defeated by Themistocles. —Allied Fleet at Cyprus and Byzantium.—Pausanias.—Alteration in his Character.—His ambitious Views and Treason.—The Revolt of the Ionians from the Spartan Command.—Pausanias recalled.—Dorcis replaces him.—The Athenians rise to the Head of the Ionian League.— Delos made the Senate and Treasury of the Allies.—Able and prudent Management of Aristides.—Cimon succeeds to the Command of the Fleet. —Character of Cimon.—Eion besieged.—Scyros colonized by Atticans.— Supposed Discovery of the Bones of Theseus.—Declining Power of Themistocles.—Democratic Change in the Constitution.—Themistocles ostracised.—Death of Aristides.

I. It is to the imperishable honour of the French philosophers of the last century, that, above all the earlier teachers of mankind, they advocated those profound and permanent interests of the human race which are inseparably connected with a love of PEACE; that they stripped the image of WAR of the delusive glory which it took, in the primitive ages of society, from the passions of savages and the enthusiasm of poets, and turned our contemplation from the fame of the individual hero to the wrongs of the butchered millions. But their zeal for that HUMANITY, which those free and bold thinkers were the first to make the vital principle of a philosophical school, led them into partial and hasty views, too indiscriminately embraced by their disciples; and, in condemning the evils, they forgot the advantages of war. The misfortunes of one generation are often necessary to the prosperity of another. The stream of blood fertilizes the earth over which it flows, and war has been at once the scourge and the civilizer of the world: sometimes it enlightens the invader, sometimes the invaded; and forces into sudden and brilliant action the arts and the virtues that are stimulated by the invention of necessity—matured by the energy of distress. What adversity is to individuals, war often is to nations: uncertain in its consequences, it is true that, with some, it subdues and crushes, but with others it braces and exalts. Nor are the greater and more illustrious elements of character in men or in states ever called prominently forth, without something of that bitter and sharp experience which hardens the more robust properties of the mind, which refines the more subtle and sagacious. Even when these—the armed revolutions of the world—are most terrible in their results—destroying the greatness and the liberties of one people— they serve, sooner or later, to produce a counteracting rise and progress in the fortunes of another; as the sea here advances, there recedes, swallowing up the fertilities of this shore to increase the territories of that; and fulfilling, in its awful and appalling agency, that mandate of human destinies which ordains all things to be changed and nothing to be destroyed. Without the invasion of Persia, Greece might have left no annals, and the modern world might search in vain for inspirations from the ancient.

II. When the deluge of the Persian arms rolled back to its Eastern bed, and the world was once more comparatively at rest, the continent of Greece rose visibly and majestically above the rest of the civilized earth. Afar in the Latian plains, the infant state of Rome was silently and obscurely struggling into strength against the neighbouring and petty states in which the old Etrurian civilization was rapidly passing to decay. The genius of Gaul and Germany, yet unredeemed from barbarism, lay scarce known, save where colonized by Greeks, in the gloom of its woods and wastes. The pride of Carthage had been broken by a signal defeat in Sicily; and Gelo, the able and astute tyrant of Syracuse, maintained in a Grecian colony the splendour of the Grecian name.

The ambition of Persia, still the great monarchy of the world, was permanently checked and crippled; the strength of generations had been wasted, and the immense extent of the empire only served yet more to sustain the general peace, from the exhaustion of its forces. The defeat of Xerxes paralyzed the East.

Thus Greece was left secure, and at liberty to enjoy the tranquillity it had acquired, and to direct to the arts of peace the novel and amazing energies which had been prompted by the dangers and exalted by the victories of war.

III. The Athenians, now returned to their city, saw before them the arduous task of rebuilding its ruins and restoring its wasted lands. The vicissitudes of the war had produced many silent and internal as well as exterior changes. Many great fortunes had been broken; and the ancient spirit of the aristocracy had received no inconsiderable shock in the power of new families; the fame of the baseborn and democratic Themistocles, and the victories which a whole people had participated, broke up much of the prescriptive and venerable sanctity attached to ancestral names and to particular families. This was salutary to the spirit of enterprise in all classes. The ambition of the great was excited to restore, by some active means, their broken fortunes and decaying influence—the energies of the humbler ranks, already aroused by their new importance, were stimulated to maintain and to increase it. It was the very crisis in which a new direction might be given to the habits and the character of a whole people; and to seize all the advantages of that crisis, fate, in Themistocles, had allotted to Athens a man whose qualities were not only pre-eminently great in themselves, but peculiarly adapted to the circumstances of the time. And, as I have elsewhere remarked, it is indeed the nature and prerogative of free states to concentrate the popular will into something of the unity of despotism, by producing, one after another, a series of representatives of the wants and exigences of the hour— each leading his generation, but only while he sympathizes with its will; and either baffling or succeeded by his rivals, not in proportion as he excels or he is outshone in genius, but as he gives or ceases to give to the widest range of the legislative power the most concentrated force of the executive; thus uniting the desires of the greatest number under the administration of the narrowest possible control; the constitution popular—the government absolute, but, responsible.

IV. In the great events of the late campaign, we have lost sight of the hero of Salamis [116]. But the Persian war was no sooner ended than we find Themistocles the most prominent citizen of Athens—a sufficient proof that his popularity had not yet diminished, and that his absence from Plataea was owing to no popular caprice or party triumph.

V. In the sweeping revenge of Mardonius, even private houses had been destroyed, excepting those which had served as lodgments for the Persian nobles [117]. Little of the internal city, less of the outward walls was spared. As soon as the barbarians had quitted their territory, the citizens flocked back with their slaves and families from the various places of refuge; and the first care was to rebuild the city. They were already employed upon this necessary task, when ambassadors arrived from Sparta, whose vigilant government, ever jealous of a rival, beheld with no unreasonable alarm the increasing navy and the growing fame of a people hitherto undeniably inferior to the power of Lacedaemon. And the fear that was secretly cherished by that imperious nation was yet more anxiously nursed by the subordinate allies [118]. Actuated by their own and the general apprehensions, the Spartans therefore now requested the Athenians to desist from the erection of their walls. Nor was it without a certain grace, and a plausible excuse, that the government of a city, itself unwalled, inveighed against the policy of walls for Athens. The Spartan ambassadors urged that fortified towns would become strongholds to the barbarian, should he again invade them; and the walls of Athens might be no less useful to him than he had found the ramparts of Thebes. The Peloponnesus, they asserted, was the legitimate retreat and the certain resource of all; and, unwilling to appear exclusively jealous of Athens, they requested the Athenians not only to desist from their own fortifications, but to join with them in razing every fortification without the limit of the Peloponnesus.

It required not a genius so penetrating as that of Themistocles to divine at once the motive of the demand, and the danger of a peremptory refusal. He persuaded the Athenians to reply that they would send ambassadors to debate the affair; and dismissed the Spartans without further explanation. Themistocles next recommended to the senate [119] that he himself might be one of the ambassadors sent to Sparta, and that those associated with him in the mission (for it was not the custom of Greece to vest embassies in individuals) should be detained at Athens until the walls were carried to a height sufficient, at least, for ordinary defence. He urged his countrymen to suspend for this great task the completion of all private edifices —nay, to spare no building, private or public, from which materials might be adequately selected. The whole population, slaves, women, and children, were to assist in the labour.

VI. This counsel adopted, he sketched an outline of the conduct he himself intended to pursue, and departed for Sparta. His colleagues, no less important than Aristides, and Abronychus, a distinguished officer in the late war, were to follow at the time agreed on.

Arrived in the Laconian capital, Themistocles demanded no public audience, avoided all occasions of opening the questions in dispute, and screened the policy of delay beneath the excuse that his colleagues were not yet arrived—that he was incompetent to treat without their counsel and concurrence—and that doubtless they would speedily appear in Sparta.

When we consider the shortness of the distance between the states, the communications the Spartans would receive from the neighbouring Aeginetans, more jealous than themselves, and the astute and proverbial sagacity of the Spartan council—it is impossible to believe that, for so long a period as, with the greatest expedition, must have elapsed from the departure of Themistocles to the necessary progress in the fortifications, the ephors could have been ignorant of the preparations at Athens or the designs of Themistocles. I fear, therefore, that we must believe, with Theopompus [120], that Themistocles, the most expert briber of his time, heightened that esteem which Thucydides assures us the Spartans bore him, by private and pecuniary negotiations with the ephors. At length, however, such decided and unequivocal intelligence of the progress of the walls arrived at Sparta, that the ephors could no longer feel or affect incredulity.

Themistocles met the remonstrances of the Spartans by an appearance of candour mingled with disdain. "Why," said he, "give credit to these idle rumours? Send to Athens some messengers of your own, in whom you can confide; let them inspect matters with their own eyes, and report to you accordingly."

The ephors (not unreluctantly, if the assertion of Theopompus may be credited) yielded to so plausible a suggestion, and in the mean while the crafty Athenian despatched a secret messenger to Athens, urging the government to detain the Spartan ambassadors with as little semblance of design as possible, and by no means to allow their departure until the safe return of their own mission to Sparta. For it was by no means improbable that, without such hostages, even the ephors, however powerful and however influenced, might not be enabled, when the Spartans generally were made acquainted with the deceit practised upon them, to prevent the arrest of the Athenian delegates. [121]

At length the walls, continued night and day with incredible zeal and toil, were sufficiently completed; and disguise, no longer possible, was no longer useful. Themistocles demanded the audience he had hitherto deferred, and boldly avowed that Athens was now so far fortified as to protect its citizens. "In future," he added, haughtily, "when Sparta or our other confederates send ambassadors to Athens, let them address us as a people well versed in our own interests and the interests of our common Greece. When we deserted Athens for our ships, we required and obtained no Lacedaemonian succours to support our native valour; in all subsequent measures, to whom have we shown ourselves inferior, whether in the council or the field? At present we have judged it expedient to fortify our city, rendering it thus more secure for ourselves and our allies. Nor would it be possible, with a strength inferior to that of any rival power, adequately to preserve and equally to adjust the balance of the liberties of Greece." [122]

Contending for this equality, he argued that either all the cities in the Lacedaemonian league should be dismantled of their fortresses, or that it should be conceded, that in erecting fortresses for herself Athens had rightly acted.

VII. The profound and passionless policy of Sparta forbade all outward signs of unavailing and unreasonable resentment. The Spartans, therefore, replied with seeming courtesy, that "in their embassy they had not sought to dictate, but to advise—that their object was the common good;" and they accompanied their excuses with professions of friendship for Athens, and panegyrics on the Athenian valour in the recent war. But the anger they forbore to show only rankled the more bitterly within. [123]

The ambassadors of either state returned home; and thus the mingled firmness and craft of Themistocles, so well suited to the people with whom he had to deal, preserved his country from the present jealousies of a yet more deadly and implacable foe than the Persian king, and laid the foundation of that claim of equality with the most eminent state of Greece, which he hastened to strengthen and enlarge.

The ardour of the Athenians in their work of fortification had spared no material which had the recommendation of strength. The walls everywhere presented, and long continued to exhibit, an evidence of the haste in which they were built. Motley and rough hewn, and uncouthly piled, they recalled, age after age, to the traveller the name of the ablest statesman and the most heroic days of Athens. There, at frequent intervals, would he survey stones wrought in the rude fashion of former times—ornaments borrowed from the antique edifices demolished by the Mede—and frieze and column plucked from dismantled sepulchres; so that even the dead contributed from their tombs to the defence of Athens.

VIII. Encouraged by the new popularity and honours which followed the success of his mission, Themistocles now began to consummate the vast schemes he had formed, not only for the aggrandizement of his country, but for the change in the manners of the citizens. All that is left to us of this wonderful man proves that, if excelled by others in austere virtue or in dazzling accomplishment, he stands unrivalled for the profound and far-sighted nature of his policy. He seems, unlike most of his brilliant countrymen, to have been little influenced by the sallies of impulse or the miserable expediencies of faction—his schemes denote a mind acting on gigantic systems; and it is astonishing with what virtuous motives and with what prophetic art he worked through petty and (individually considered) dishonest means to grand and permanent results. He stands out to the gaze of time, the model of what a great and fortunate statesman should be, so long as mankind have evil passions as well as lofty virtues, and the state that he seeks to serve is surrounded by powerful and restless foes, whom it is necessary to overreach where it is dangerous to offend.

In the year previous to the Persian war, Themistocles had filled the office of archon [124], and had already in that year planned the construction of a harbour in the ancient deme of Piraeus [125], for the convenience of the fleet which Athens had formed. Late events had frustrated the continuance of the labour, and Themistocles now resolved to renew and complete it, probably on a larger and more elaborate scale.

The port of Phalerun had hitherto been the main harbour of Athens—one wholly inadequate to the new navy she had acquired; another inlet, Munychia, was yet more inconvenient. But equally at hand was the capacious, though neglected port of Piraeus, so formed by nature as to permit of a perfect fortification against a hostile fleet. Of Piraeus, therefore, Themistocles now designed to construct the most ample and the most advantageous harbour throughout all Greece. He looked upon this task as the foundation of his favourite and most ambitious project, viz., the securing to Athens the sovereignty of the sea. [126]

The completion of the port—the increased navy which the construction of the new harbour would induce—the fame already acquired by Athens in maritime warfare, encouraging attention to naval discipline and tactics—proffered a splendid opening to the ambition of a people at once enterprising and commercial. Themistocles hoped that the results of his policy would enable the Athenians to gain over their own offspring, the Ionian colonies, and by their means to deliver from the Persian yoke, and permanently attach to the Athenian interest, all the Asiatic Greeks. Extending his views, he beheld the various insular states united to Athens by a vast maritime power, severing themselves from Lacedaemon, and following the lead of the Attican republic. He saw his native city thus supplanting, by a naval force, the long-won pre-eminence and iron supremacy of Sparta upon land, and so extending her own empire, while she sapped secretly and judiciously the authority of the most formidable of her rivals.

IX. But in the execution of these grand designs Themistocles could not but anticipate considerable difficulties: first, in the jealousy of the Spartans; and, secondly, in the popular and long-rooted prejudices of the Athenians themselves. Hitherto they had discouraged maritime affairs, and their more popular leaders had directed attention to agricultural pursuits. We may suppose, too, that the mountaineers, or agricultural party, not the least powerful, would resist so great advantages to the faction of the coastmen, if acquainted with all the results which the new policy would produce. Nor could so experienced a leader of mankind be insensible of those often not insalutary consequences of a free state in the changing humours of a wide democracy—their impatience at pecuniary demands— their quick and sometimes uncharitable apprehensions of the motives of their advisers. On all accounts it was necessary, therefore, to act with as much caution as the task would admit—rendering the design invidious neither to foreign nor to domestic jealousies. Themistocles seemed to have steered his course through every difficulty with his usual address. Stripping the account of Diodorus [127] of its improbable details, it appears credible at least that Themistocles secured, in the first instance, the co-operation of Xanthippus and Aristides, the heads of the great parties generally opposed to his measures, and that he won the democracy to consent that the outline of his schemes should not be submitted to the popular assembly, but to the council of Five Hundred. It is perfectly clear, however, that, as soon as the plan was carried into active operation, the Athenians could not, as Diodorus would lead us to suppose, have been kept in ignorance of its nature; and all of the tale of Diodorus to which we can lend our belief is, that the people permitted the Five Hundred to examine the project, and that the popular assembly ratified the approbation of that senate without inquiring the reasons upon which it was founded.

X. The next care of Themistocles was to anticipate the jealousy of Sparta, and forestall her interference. According to Diodorus, he despatched, therefore, ambassadors to Lacedaemon, representing the advantages of forming a port which might be the common shelter of Greece should the barbarian renew his incursions; but it is so obvious that Themistocles could hardly disclose to Sparta the very project he at first concealed from the Athenians, that while we may allow the fact that Themistocles treated with the Spartans, we must give him credit, at least, for more crafty diplomacy than that ascribed to him by Diodorus [128]. But whatever the pretexts with which he sought to amuse or beguile the Spartan government, they appear at least to have been successful. And the customary indifference of the Spartans towards maritime affairs was strengthened at this peculiar time by engrossing anxieties as to the conduct of Pausanias. Thus Themistocles, safe alike from foreign and from civil obstacles, pursued with activity the execution of his schemes. The Piraeus was fortified by walls of amazing thickness, so as to admit two carts abreast. Within, the entire structure was composed of solid masonry, hewn square, so that each stone fitted exactly, and was further strengthened on the outside by cramps of iron. The walls were never carried above half the height originally proposed. But the whole was so arranged as to form a fortress against assault, too fondly deemed impregnable, and to be adequately manned by the smallest possible number of citizens; so that the main force might, in time of danger, be spared to the fleet.

Thus Themistocles created a sea-fortress more important than the city itself, conformably to the advice he frequently gave to the Athenians, that, if hard pressed by land, they should retire to this arsenal, and rely, against all hostilities, on their naval force. [129]

The new port, which soon bore the ambitious title of the Lower City, was placed under the directions of Hippodamus, a Milesian, who, according to Aristotle [130], was the first author who, without any knowledge of practical affairs, wrote upon the theory of government. Temples [131], a market-place, even a theatre, distinguished and enriched the new town. And the population that filled it were not long before they contracted and established a character for themselves different in many traits and attributes from the citizens of the ancient Athens—more bold, wayward, innovating, and tumultuous.

But if Sparta deemed it prudent, at present, to avoid a direct assumption of influence over Athens, her scheming councils were no less bent, though by indirect and plausible means, to the extension of her own power. To use the simile applied to one of her own chiefs, where the lion's skin fell short, she sought to eke it by the fox's.

At the assembly of the Amphictyons, the Lacedaemonian delegates moved that all those states who had not joined in the anti-Persic confederacy should be expelled the council. Under this popular and patriotic proposition was sagaciously concealed the increase of the Spartan authority; for had the Thessalians, Argives, and Thebans (voices ever counter to the Lacedaemonians) been expelled the assembly, the Lacedaemonian party would have secured the preponderance of votes, and the absolute dictation of that ancient council. [132]

But Themistocles, who seemed endowed with a Spartan sagacity for the foiling the Spartan interests, resisted the proposition by arguments no less popular. He represented to the delegates that it was unjust to punish states for the errors of their leaders—that only thirty-one cities had contributed to the burden of the war, and many of those inconsiderable—that it was equally dangerous and absurd to exclude from the general Grecian councils the great proportion of the Grecian states.

The arguments of Themistocles prevailed, but his success stimulated yet more sharply against him the rancour of the Lacedaemonians; and, unable to resist him abroad, they thenceforth resolved to undermine his authority at home.

XI. While, his danger invisible, Themistocles was increasing with his own power that of the state, the allies were bent on new enterprises and continued retribution. From Persia, now humbled and exhausted, it was the moment to wrest the Grecian towns, whether in Europe or in Asia, over which she yet arrogated dominion—it was resolved, therefore, to fit out a fleet, to which the Peloponnesus contributed twenty and Athens thirty vessels. Aristides presided over the latter; Pausanias was commander-in-chief; many other of the allies joined the expedition. They sailed to Cyprus, and reduced with ease most of the towns in that island. Thence proceeding to Byzantium, the main strength and citadel of Persia upon those coasts, and the link between her European and Asiatic dominions, they blockaded the town and ultimately carried it.

But these foreign events, however important in themselves, were trifling in comparison with a revolution which accompanied them, and which, in suddenly raising Athens to the supreme command of allied Greece, may be regarded at once as the author of the coming greatness —and the subsequent reverses—of that republic.

XII. The habits of Sparta—austere, stern, unsocial—rendered her ever more effectual in awing foes than conciliating allies; and the manners of the soldiery were at this time not in any way redeemed or counterbalanced by those of the chief. Since the battle of Plataea a remarkable change was apparent in Pausanias. Glory had made him arrogant, and sudden luxury ostentatious. He had graven on the golden tripod, dedicated by the confederates to the Delphic god, an inscription, claiming exclusively to himself, as the general of the Grecian army, the conquest of the barbarians—an egotism no less at variance with the sober pride of Sparta, than it was offensive to the just vanity of the allies. The inscription was afterward erased by the Spartan government, and another, citing only the names of the confederate cities, and silent as to that of Pausanias, was substituted in its place.

XIII. To a man of this arrogance, and of a grasping and already successful ambition, circumstances now presented great and irresistible temptation. Though leader of the Grecian armies, he was but the uncle and proxy of the young Spartan king—the time must come when his authority would cease, and the conqueror of the superb Mardonius sink into the narrow and severe confines of a Spartan citizen. Possessed of great talents and many eminent qualities, they but served the more to discontent him with the limits of their legitimate sphere and sterility of the Spartan life. And this discontent, operating on a temper naturally haughty, evinced itself in a manner rude, overbearing, and imperious, which the spirit of his confederates was ill calculated to suffer or forgive.

But we can scarcely agree with the ancient historians in attributing the ascendency of the Athenians alone, or even chiefly, to the conduct of Pausanias. The present expedition was naval, and the greater part of the confederates at Byzantium were maritime powers. The superior fleet and the recent naval glories of the Athenians could not fail to give them, at this juncture, a moral pre-eminence over the other allies; and we shall observe that the Ionians, and those who had lately recovered their freedom from the Persian yoke [133], were especially desirous to exchange the Spartan for the Athenian command. Connected with the Athenians by origin—by maritime habits—by a kindred suavity and grace of temperament—by the constant zeal of the Athenians for their liberties (which made, indeed, the first cause of the Persian war)—it was natural that the Ionian Greeks should prefer the standard of Athens to that of a Doric state; and the proposition of the Spartans (baffled by the Athenian councils) to yield up the Ionic settlements to the barbarians, could not but bequeath a lasting resentment to those proud and polished colonies.

XIV. Aware of the offence he had given, and disgusted himself alike with his allies and his country, the Spartan chief became driven by nature and necessity to a dramatic situation, which a future Schiller may perhaps render yet more interesting than the treason of the gorgeous Wallenstein, to whose character that of Pausanias has been indirectly likened [134]. The capture of Byzantium brought the Spartan regent into contact with many captured and noble Persians [135], among whom were some related to Xerxes himself. With these conversing, new and dazzling views were opened to his ambition. He could not but recall the example of Demaratus, whose exile from the barren dignities of Sparta had procured him the luxuries and the splendour of oriental pomp, with the delegated authority of three of the fairest cities of Aeolia. Greater in renown than Demaratus, he was necessarily more aspiring in his views. Accordingly, he privately released his more exalted prisoners, pretending they had escaped, and finally explained whatever messages he had intrusted by them to Xerxes, in a letter to the king, confided to an Eretrian named Gongylus, who was versed in the language and the manners of Persia, and to whom he had already deputed the government of Byzantium. In this letter Pausanias offered to assist the king in reducing Sparta and the rest of Greece to the Persian yoke, demanding, in recompense, the hand of the king's daughter, with an adequate dowry of possessions and of power.

XV. The time had passed when a Persian monarch could deride the loftiness of a Spartan's pretensions—Xerxes received the communications with delight, and despatched Artabazus to succeed Megabates in Phrygia, and to concert with the Spartan upon the means whereby to execute their joint design [136]. But while Pausanias was in the full flush of his dazzled and grasping hopes, his fall was at hand. Occupied with his new projects, his natural haughtiness increased daily. He never accosted the officers of the allies but with abrupt and overbearing insolence; he insulted the military pride by sentencing many of the soldiers to corporeal chastisement, or to stand all day with an iron anchor on their shoulders [137]. He permitted none to seek water, forage, or litter, until the Spartans were first supplied—those who attempted it were driven away by rods. Even Aristides, seeking to remonstrate, was repulsed rudely. "I am not at leisure," said the Spartan, with a frown. [138]

Complaints of this treatment were despatched to Sparta, and in the mean while the confederates, especially the officers of Chios, Samos, and Lesbos, pressed Aristides to take on himself the general command, and protect them from the Spartan's insolence. The Athenian artfully replied, that he saw the necessity of the proposition, but that it ought first to be authorized by some action which would render it impossible to recede from the new arrangement once formed.

The hint was fiercely taken; and a Samian and a Chian officer, resolving to push matters to the extreme, openly and boldly attacked the galley of Pausanias himself at the head of the fleet. Disregarding his angry menaces, now impotent, this assault was immediately followed up by a public transfer of allegiance; and the aggressors, quitting the Spartan, arrayed themselves under the Athenian, banners. Whatever might have been the consequences of this insurrection were prevented by the sudden recall of Pausanias. The accusations against him had met a ready hearing in Sparta, and that watchful government had already received intimation of his intrigues with the Mede. On his arrival in Sparta, Pausanias was immediately summoned to trial, convicted in a fine for individual and private misdemeanours, but acquitted of the principal charge of treason with the Persians—not so much from the deficiency as from the abundance of proof [139]; and it was probably prudent to avoid, if possible, the scandal which the conviction of the general might bring upon the nation.

The Spartans sent Dorcis, with some colleagues, to replace Pausanias in the command; but the allies were already too disgusted with the yoke of that nation to concede it. And the Athenian ascendency was hourly confirmed by the talents, the bearing, and the affable and gracious manners of Aristides. With him was joined an associate of high hereditary name and strong natural abilities, whose character it will shortly become necessary to place in detail before the reader. This comate was no less a person than Cimon, the son of the great Miltiades.

XVI. Dorcis, finding his pretensions successfully rebutted, returned home; and the Spartans, never prone to foreign enterprise, anxious for excuses to free themselves from prosecuting further the Persian war, and fearful that renewed contentions might only render yet more unpopular the Spartan name, sent forth no fresh claimants to the command; they affected to yield that honour, with cheerful content, to the Athenians. Thus was effected without a blow, and with the concurrence of her most dreaded rival, that eventful revolution, which suddenly raised Athens, so secondary a state before the Persian war, to the supremacy over Greece. So much, when nations have an equal glory, can the one be brought to surpass the other (B. C. 477) by the superior wisdom of individuals. The victory of Plataea was won principally by Sparta, then at the head of Greece. And the general who subdued the Persians surrendered the results of his victory to the very ally from whom the sagacious jealousy of his countrymen had sought most carefully to exclude even the precautions of defence!

XVII. Aristides, now invested with the command of all the allies, save those of the Peloponnesus who had returned home, strengthened the Athenian power by every semblance of moderation.

Hitherto the Grecian confederates had sent their deputies to the Peloponnesus. Aristides, instead of naming Athens, which might have excited new jealousies, proposed the sacred Isle of Delos, a spot peculiarly appropriate, since it once had been the navel of the Ionian commerce, as the place of convocation and the common treasury: the temple was to be the senate house. A new distribution of the taxes levied on each state, for the maintenance of the league, was ordained. The objects of the league were both defensive and offensive; first, to guard the Aegaean coasts and the Grecian Isles; and, secondly, to undertake measures for the further weakening of the Persian power. Aristides was elected arbitrator in the relative proportions of the general taxation. In this office, which placed the treasures of Greece at his disposal, he acted with so disinterested a virtue, that he did not even incur the suspicion of having enriched himself, and with so rare a fortune that he contented all the allies. The total, raised annually, and with the strictest impartiality, was four hundred and sixty talents (computed at about one hundred and fifteen thousand pounds).

Greece resounded with the praises of Aristides; it was afterward equally loud in reprobation of the avarice of the Athenians. For with the appointment of Aristides commenced the institution of officers styled Hellenotamiae, or treasurers of Greece; they became a permanent magistracy—they were under the control of the Athenians; and thus that people were made at once the generals and the treasurers of Greece. But the Athenians, unconscious as yet of the power they had attained—their allies yet more blind—it seemed now, that the more the latter should confide, the more the former should forbear. So do the most important results arise from causes uncontemplated by the providence of statesmen, and hence do we learn a truth which should never be forgotten—that that power is ever the most certain of endurance and extent, the commencement of which is made popular by moderation.

XVIII. Thus, upon the decay of the Isthmian Congress, rose into existence the great Ionian league; and thus was opened to the ambition of Athens the splendid destiny of the empire of the Grecian seas. The pre-eminence of Sparta passed away from her, though invisibly and without a struggle, and, retiring within herself, she was probably unaware of the decline of her authority; still seeing her Peloponnesian allies gathering round her, subordinate and submissive, and, by refusing assistance, refusing also allegiance to the new queen of the Ionian league. His task fulfilled, Aristides probably returned to Athens, and it was at this time and henceforth that it became his policy to support the power of Cimon against the authority of Themistocles [140]. To that eupatrid, joined before with himself, was now intrusted the command of the Grecian fleet.

To great natural abilities, Cimon added every advantage of birth and circumstance. His mother was a daughter of Olorus, a Thracian prince; his father the great Miltiades. On the death of the latter, it is recorded, and popularly believed, that Cimon, unable to pay the fine to which Miltiades was adjudged, was detained in custody until a wealthy marriage made by his sister Elpinice, to whom he was tenderly, and ancient scandal whispered improperly, attached, released him from confinement, and the brother-in-law paid the debt. "Thus severe and harsh," says Nepos, "was his entrance upon manhood." [141] But it is very doubtful whether Cimon was ever imprisoned for the state-debt incurred by his father—and his wealth appears to have been considerable even before he regained his patrimony in the Chersonese, or enriched himself with the Persian spoils. [142]

In early youth, like Themistocles, his conduct had been wild and dissolute [143]; and with his father from a child, he had acquired, with the experience, something of the license, of camps. Like Themistocles also, he was little skilled in the graceful accomplishments of his countrymen; he cultivated neither the art of music, nor the brilliancies of Attic conversation; but power and fortune, which ever soften nature, afterward rendered his habits intellectual and his tastes refined. He had not the smooth and artful affability of Themistocles, but to a certain roughness of manner was conjoined that hearty and ingenuous frankness which ever conciliates mankind, especially in free states, and which is yet more popular when united to rank. He had distinguished himself highly by his zeal in the invasion of the Medes, and the desertion of Athens for Salamis; and his valour in the seafight had confirmed the promise of his previous ardour. Nature had gifted him with a handsome countenance and a majestic stature, recommendations in all, but especially in popular states—and the son of Miltiades was welcomed, not less by the people than by the nobles, when he applied for a share in the administration of the state. Associated with Aristides, first in the embassy to Sparta, and subsequently in the expeditions to Cyprus and Byzantium, he had profited by the friendship and the lessons of that great man, to whose party he belonged, and who saw in Cimon a less invidious opponent than himself to the policy or the ambition of Themistocles.

By the advice of Aristides, Cimon early sought every means to conciliate the allies, and to pave the way to the undivided command he afterward obtained. And it is not improbable that Themistocles might willingly have ceded to him the lead in a foreign expedition, which removed from the city so rising and active an opponent. The appointment of Cimon promised to propitiate the Spartans, who ever possessed a certain party in the aristocracy of Athens—who peculiarly affected Cimon, and whose hardy character and oligarchical policy the blunt genius and hereditary prejudices of that young noble were well fitted to admire and to imitate. Cimon was, in a word, precisely the man desired by three parties as the antagonist of Themistocles; viz., the Spartans, the nobles, and Aristides, himself a host. All things conspired to raise the son of Miltiades to an eminence beyond his years, but not his capacities.

XIX. Under Cimon the Athenians commenced their command [144], by marching against a Thracian town called Eion, situated on the banks of the river Strymon, and now garrisoned by a Persian noble. The town was besieged (B. C. 476), and the inhabitants pressed by famine, when the Persian commandant, collecting his treasure upon a pile of wood, on which were placed his slaves, women, and children—set fire to the pile [145]. After this suicide, seemingly not an uncommon mode of self-slaughter in the East, the garrison surrendered, and its defenders, as usual in such warfare, were sold for slaves.

From Eion the victorious confederates proceeded to Scyros, a small island in the Aegean, inhabited by the Dolopians, a tribe addicted to piratical practices, deservedly obnoxious to the traders of the Aegean, and who already had attracted the indignation and vengeance of the Amphictyonic assembly. The isle occupied, and the pirates expelled, the territory was colonized by an Attic population.

An ancient tradition had, as we have seen before, honoured the soil of Scyros with the possession of the bones of the Athenian Theseus—some years after the conquest of the isle, in the archonship of Aphepsion [146], or Apsephion, an oracle ordained the Athenians to search for the remains of their national hero, and the skeleton of a man of great stature, with a lance of brass and a sword by its side was discovered, and immediately appropriated to Theseus. The bones were placed with great ceremony in the galley of Cimon, who was then probably on a visit of inspection to the new colony, and transported to Athens. Games were instituted in honour of this event, at which were exhibited the contests of the tragic poets; and, in the first of these, Sophocles is said to have made his earliest appearance, and gained the prize from Aeschylus (B. C. 469).

XXI. It is about the period of Cimon's conquest of Eion and Scyros (B. C. 476) that we must date the declining power of Themistocles. That remarkable man had already added, both to domestic and to Spartan enmities, the general displeasure of the allies. After baffling the proposition of the Spartans to banish from the Amphictyonic assembly the states that had not joined in the anti-Persic confederacy, he had sailed round the isles and extorted money from such as had been guilty of Medising: the pretext might be just, but the exactions were unpopularly levied. Nor is it improbable that the accusations against him of enriching his own coffers as well as the public treasury had some foundation. Profoundly disdaining money save as a means to an end, he was little scrupulous as to the sources whence he sustained a power which he yet applied conscientiously to patriotic purposes. Serving his country first, he also served himself; and honest upon one grand and systematic principle, he was often dishonest in details.

His natural temper was also ostentatious; like many who have risen from an origin comparatively humble, he had the vanity to seek to outshine his superiors in birth—not more by the splendour of genius than by the magnificence of parade. At the Olympic games, the base-born son of Neocles surpassed the pomp of the wealthy and illustrious Cimon; his table was hospitable, and his own life soft and luxuriant [147]; his retinue numerous beyond those of his contemporaries; and he adopted the manners of the noble exactly in proportion as he courted the favour of the populace. This habitual ostentation could not fail to mingle with the political hostilities of the aristocracy the disdainful jealousies of offended pride; for it is ever the weakness of the high-born to forgive less easily the being excelled in genius than the being outshone in state by those of inferior origin. The same haughtiness which offended the nobles began also to displease the people; the superb consciousness of his own merits wounded the vanity of a nation which scarcely permitted its greatest men to share the reputation it arrogated to itself. The frequent calumnies uttered against him obliged Themistocles to refer to the actions he had performed; and what it had been illustrious to execute, it became disgustful to repeat. "Are you weary," said the great man, bitterly, "to receive benefits often from the same hand?" [148] He offended the national conceit yet more by building, in the neighbourhood of his own residence, a temple to Diana, under the name of Aristobule, or "Diana of the best counsel;" thereby appearing to claim to himself the merit of giving the best counsels.

It is probable, however, that Themistocles would have conquered all party opposition, and that his high qualities would have more than counterbalanced his defects in the eyes of the people, if he had still continued to lead the popular tide. But the time had come when the demagogue was outbid by an aristocrat—when the movement he no longer headed left him behind, and the genius of an individual could no longer keep pace with the giant strides of an advancing people.

XXII. The victory at Salamis was followed by a democratic result. That victory had been obtained by the seamen, who were mostly of the lowest of the populace—the lowest of the populace began, therefore, to claim, in political equality, the reward of military service. And Aristotle, whose penetrating intellect could not fail to notice the changes which an event so glorious to Greece produced in Athens, has adduced a similar instance of change at Syracuse, when the mariners of that state, having, at a later period, conquered the Athenians, converted a mixed republic to a pure democracy. The destruction of houses and property by Mardonius—the temporary desertion by the Athenians of their native land—the common danger and the common glory, had broken down many of the old distinctions, and the spirit of the nation was already far more democratic than the constitution. Hitherto, qualifications of property were demanded for the holding of civil offices. But after the battle of Plataea, Aristides, the leader of the aristocratic party, proposed and carried the abolition of such qualifications, allowing to all citizens, with or without property, a share in the government, and ordaining that the archons should be chosen out of the whole body; the form of investigation as to moral character was still indispensable. This change, great as it was, appears, like all aristocratic reforms, to have been a compromise [149] between concession and demand. And the prudent Aristides yielded what was inevitable, to prevent the greater danger of resistance. It may be ever remarked, that the people value more a concession from the aristocratic party than a boon from their own popular leaders. The last can never equal, and the first can so easily exceed, the public expectation.

XXIII. This decree, uniting the aristocratic with the more democratic party, gave Aristides and his friends an unequivocal ascendency over Themistocles, which, however, during the absence of Aristides and Cimon, and the engrossing excitement of events abroad, was not plainly visible for some years; and although, on his return to Athens, Aristides himself prudently forbore taking an active part against his ancient rival, he yet lent all the influence of his name and friendship to the now powerful and popular Cimon. The victories, the manners, the wealth, the birth of the son of Miltiades were supported by his talents and his ambition. It was obvious to himself and to his party that, were Themistocles removed, Cimon would become the first citizen of Athens.

XXIV. Such were the causes that long secretly undermined, that at length openly stormed, the authority of the hero of Salamis; and at this juncture we may conclude, that the vices of his character avenged themselves on the virtues. His duplicity and spirit of intrigue, exercised on behalf of his country, it might be supposed, would hereafter be excited against it. And the pride, the ambition, the craft that had saved the people might serve to create a despot.

Themistocles was summoned to the ordeal of the ostracism and condemned by the majority of suffrages (B. C. 471). Thus, like Aristides, not punished for offences, but paying the honourable penalty of rising by genius to that state of eminence which threatens danger to the equality of republics.

He departed from Athens, and chose his refuge at Argos, whose hatred to Sparta, his deadliest foe, promised him the securest protection.

XXV. Death soon afterward removed Aristides from all competitorship with Cimon; according to the most probable accounts, he died at Athens; and at the time of Plutarch his monument was still to be seen at Phalerum. His countrymen, who, despite all plausible charges, were never ungrateful except where their liberties appeared imperilled (whether rightly or erroneously our documents are too scanty to prove), erected his monument at the public charge, portioned his three daughters, and awarded to his son Lysimachus a grant of one hundred minae of silver, a plantation of one hundred plethra [150] of land, and a pension of four drachmae a day (double the allowance of an Athenian ambassador).


Popularity and Policy of Cimon.—Naxos revolts from the Ionian League.—Is besieged by Cimon.—Conspiracy and Fate of Pausanias.— Flight and Adventures of Themistocles.—His Death.

I. The military abilities and early habits of Cimon naturally conspired with past success to direct his ambition rather to warlike than to civil distinctions. But he was not inattentive to the arts which were necessary in a democratic state to secure and confirm his power. Succeeding to one, once so beloved and ever so affable as Themistocles, he sought carefully to prevent all disadvantageous contrast. From the spoils of Byzantium and Sestos he received a vast addition to his hereditary fortunes. And by the distribution of his treasures, he forestalled all envy at their amount. He threw open his gardens to the public, whether foreigners or citizens—he maintained a table to which men of every rank freely resorted, though probably those only of his own tribe [151]—he was attended by a numerous train, who were ordered to give mantles to what citizen soever—aged and ill-clad—they encountered; and to relieve the necessitous by aims delicately and secretly administered. By these artful devices he rendered himself beloved, and concealed the odium of his politics beneath the mask of his charities. For while he courted the favour, he advanced not the wishes, of the people. He sided with the aristocratic party, and did not conceal his attachment to the oligarchy of Sparta. He sought to content the people with himself, in order that he might the better prevent discontent with their position. But it may be doubted whether Cimon did not, far more than any of his predecessors, increase the dangers of a democracy by vulgarizing its spirit. The system of general alms and open tables had the effect that the abuses of the Poor Laws [152] have had with us. It accustomed the native poor to the habits of indolent paupers, and what at first was charity soon took the aspect of a right. Hence much of the lazy turbulence, and much of that licentious spirit of exaction from the wealthy, that in a succeeding age characterized the mobs of Athens. So does that servile generosity, common to an anti-popular party, when it affects kindness in order to prevent concession, ultimately operate against its own secret schemes. And so much less really dangerous is it to exalt, by constitutional enactments, the authority of a people, than to pamper, by the electioneering cajoleries of a selfish ambition, the prejudices which thus settle into vices, or the momentary exigences thus fixed into permanent demands.

II. While the arts or manners of Cimon conciliated the favour, his integrity won the esteem, of the people. In Aristides he found the example, not more of his aristocratic politics than of his lofty honour. A deserter from Persia, having arrived at Athens with great treasure, and being harassed by informers, sought the protection of Cimon by gifts of money.

"Would you have me," said the Athenian, smiling, "your mercenary or your friend?"

"My friend!" replied the barbarian.

"Then take back your gifts." [153]

III. In the mean while the new ascendency of Athens was already endangered. The Carystians in the neighbouring isle of Euboea openly defied her fleet, and many of the confederate states, seeing themselves delivered from all immediate dread of another invasion of the Medes, began to cease contributions both to the Athenian navy and the common treasury. For a danger not imminent, service became burdensome and taxation odious. And already some well-founded jealousy of the ambition of Athens increased the reluctance to augment her power. Naxos was the first island that revolted from the conditions of the league, and thither Cimon, having reduced the Carystians, led a fleet numerous and well equipped.

Whatever the secret views of Cimon for the aggrandizement of his country, he could not but feel himself impelled by his own genius and the popular expectation not lightly to forego that empire of the sea, rendered to Athens by the profound policy of Themistocles and the fortunate prudence of Aristides; and every motive of Grecian, as well as Athenian, policy justified the subjugation of the revolters—an evident truth in the science of state policy, but one somewhat hastily lost sight of by those historians who, in the subsequent and unlooked-for results, forgot the necessity of the earlier enterprise. Greece had voluntarily intrusted to Athens the maritime command of the confederate states. To her, Greece must consequently look for no diminution of the national resources committed to her charge; to her, that the conditions of the league were fulfilled, and the common safety of Greece ensured. Commander of the forces, she was answerable for the deserters. Nor, although Persia at present remained tranquil and inert, could the confederates be considered safe from her revenge. No compact of peace had been procured. The more than suspected intrigues of Xerxes with Pausanias were sufficient proofs that the great king did not yet despair of the conquest of Greece. And the peril previously incurred in the want of union among the several states was a solemn warning not to lose the advantages of that league, so tardily and so laboriously cemented. Without great dishonour and without great imprudence, Athens could not forego the control with which she had been invested; if it were hers to provide the means, it was hers to punish the defaulters; and her duty to Greece thus decorously and justly sustained her ambition for herself.

IV. And now it is necessary to return to the fortunes of Pausanias, involving in their fall the ruin of one of far loftier virtues and more unequivocal renown. The recall of Pausanias, the fine inflicted upon him, his narrow escape from a heavier sentence, did not suffice to draw him, intoxicated as he was with his hopes and passions, from his bold and perilous intrigues. It is not improbable that his mind was already tainted with a certain insanity [154]. And it is a curious physiological fact, that the unnatural constraints of Sparta, when acting on strong passions and fervent imaginations, seem, not unoften, to have produced a species of madness. An anecdote is recorded [155], which, though romantic, is not perhaps wholly fabulous, and which invests with an interest yet more dramatic the fate of the conqueror of Plataea.

At Byzantium, runs the story, he became passionately enamoured of a young virgin named Cleonice. Awed by his power and his sternness, the parents yielded her to his will. The modesty of the maiden made her stipulate that the room might be in total darkness when she stole to his embraces. But unhappily, on entering, she stumbled against the light, and the Spartan, asleep at the time, imagined, in the confusion of his sudden waking, that the noise was occasioned by one of his numerous enemies seeking his chamber with the intent to assassinate him. Seizing the Persian cimeter [156] that lay beside him, he plunged it in the breast of the intruder, and the object of his passion fell dead at his feet. "From that hour," says the biographer, "he could rest no more!" A spectre haunted his nights—the voice of the murdered girl proclaimed doom to his ear. It is added, and, if we extend our belief further, we must attribute the apparition to the skill of the priests, that, still tortured by the ghost of Cleonice, he applied to those celebrated necromancers who, at Heraclea [157], summoned by gloomy spells the manes of the dead, and by their aid invoked the spirit he sought to appease. The shade of Cleonice appeared and told him, "that soon after his return to Sparta he would be delivered from all his troubles." [158]

Such was the legend repeated, as Plutarch tells us, by many historians; the deed itself was probable, and conscience, even without necromancy, might supply the spectre.

V. Whether or not this story have any foundation in fact, the conduct of Pausanias seems at least to have partaken of that inconsiderate recklessness which, in the ancient superstition, preceded the vengeance of the gods. After his trial he had returned to Byzantium, without the consent of the Spartan government. Driven thence by the resentment of the Athenians [159], he repaired, not to Sparta, but to Colonae, in Asia Minor, and in the vicinity of the ancient Troy; and there he renewed his negotiations with the Persian king. Acquainted with his designs, the vigilant ephors despatched to him a herald with the famous scytale. This was an instrument peculiar to the Spartans. To every general or admiral, a long black staff was entrusted; the magistrates kept another exactly similar. When they had any communication to make, they wrote it on a roll of parchment, applied it to their own staff, fold upon fold—then cutting it off, dismissed it to the chief. The characters were so written that they were confused and unintelligible until fastened to the stick, and thus could only be construed by the person for whose eye they were intended, and to whose care the staff was confided.

The communication Pausanias now received was indeed stern and laconic. "Stay," it said, "behind the herald, and war is proclaimed against you by the Spartans."

On receiving this solemn order, even the imperious spirit of Pausanias did not venture to disobey. Like Venice, whose harsh, tortuous, but energetic policy her oligarchy in so many respects resembled, Sparta possessed a moral and mysterious power over the fiercest of her sons. His fate held him in her grasp, and, confident of acquittal, instead of flying to Persia, the regent hurried to his doom, assured that by the help of gold he could baffle any accusation. His expectations were so far well-founded, that, although, despite his rank as regent of the kingdom and guardian of the king, he was thrown into prison by the ephors, he succeeded, by his intrigues and influence, in procuring his enlargement: and boldly challenging his accusers, he offered to submit to trial.

The government, however, was slow to act. The proud caution of the Spartans was ever loath to bring scandal on their home by public proceedings against any freeborn citizen—how much more against the uncle of their monarch and the hero of their armies! His power, his talents, his imperious character awed alike private enmity and public distrust. But his haughty disdain of their rigid laws, and his continued affectation of the barbarian pomp, kept the government vigilant; and though released from prison, the stern ephors were his sentinels. The restless and discontented mind of the expectant son-in-law of Xerxes could not relinquish its daring schemes. And the regent of Sparta entered into a conspiracy, on which it were much to be desired that our information were more diffuse.

VI. Perhaps no class of men in ancient times excite a more painful and profound interest than the helots of Sparta. Though, as we have before seen, we must reject all rhetorical exaggerations of the savage cruelty to which they were subjected, we know, at least, that their servitude was the hardest imposed by any of the Grecian states upon their slaves [160], and that the iron soldiery of Sparta were exposed to constant and imminent peril from their revolts—a proof that the curse of their bondage had passed beyond the degree which subdues the spirit to that which arouses, and that neither the habit of years, nor the swords of the fiercest warriors, nor the spies of the keenest government of Greece had been able utterly to extirpate from human hearts that law of nature which, when injury passes an allotted, yet rarely visible, extreme, converts suffering to resistance.

Scattered in large numbers throughout the rugged territories of Laconia—separated from the presence, but not the watch, of their master, these singular serfs never abandoned the hope of liberty. Often pressed into battle to aid their masters, they acquired the courage to oppose them. Fierce, sullen, and vindictive, they were as droves of wild cattle, left to range at will, till wanted for the burden or the knife—not difficult to butcher, but impossible to tame.

We have seen that a considerable number of these helots had fought as light-armed troops at Plataea; and the common danger and the common glory had united the slaves of the army with the chief. Entering into somewhat of the desperate and revengeful ambition that, under a similar constitution, animated Marino Faliero, Pausanias sought, by means of the enslaved multitude, to deliver himself from the thraldom of the oligarchy which held prince and slave alike in subjection. He tampered with the helots, and secretly promised them the rights and liberties of citizens of Sparta, if they would co-operate with his projects and revolt at his command.

Slaves are never without traitors; and the ephors learned the premeditated revolution from helots themselves. Still, slow and wary, those subtle and haughty magistrates suspended the blow—it was not without the fullest proof that a royal Spartan was to be condemned on the word of helots: they continued their vigilance—they obtained the proof they required.

VII. Argilius, a Spartan, with whom Pausanias had once formed the vicious connexion common to the Doric tribes, and who was deep in his confidence, was intrusted by the regent with letters to Artabazus. Argilius called to mind that none intrusted with a similar mission had ever returned. He broke open the seals and read what his fears foreboded, that, on his arrival at the satrap's court, the silence of the messenger was to be purchased by his death. He carried the packet to the ephors. That dark and plotting council were resolved yet more entirely to entangle their guilty victim, and out of his own mouth to extract his secret; they therefore ordered Argilius to take refuge as a suppliant in the sanctuary of the temple of Neptune on Mount Taenarus. Within the sacred confines was contrived a cell, which, by a double partition, admitted some of the ephors, who, there concealed, might witness all that passed.

Intelligence was soon brought to Pausanias that, instead of proceeding to Artabazus, his confidant had taken refuge as a suppliant in the temple of Neptune. Alarmed and anxious, the regent hastened to the sanctuary. Argilius informed him that he had read the letters, and reproached him bitterly with his treason to himself. Pausanias, confounded and overcome by the perils which surrounded him, confessed his guilt, spoke unreservedly of the contents of the letter, implored the pardon of Argilius, and promised him safety and wealth if he would leave the sanctuary and proceed on the mission.

The ephors, from their hiding-place, heard all.

On the departure of Pausanias from the sanctuary, his doom was fixed. But, among the more public causes of the previous delay of justice, we must include the friendship of some of the ephors, which Pausanias had won or purchased. It was the moment fixed for his arrest. Pausanias, in the streets, was alone and on foot. He beheld the ephors approaching him. A signal from one warned him of his danger. He turned—he fled. The temple of Minerva Chalcioecus at hand proffered a sanctuary—he gained the sacred confines, and entered a small house hard by the temple. The ephors—the officers—the crowd pursued; they surrounded the refuge, from which it was impious to drag the criminal. Resolved on his death, they removed the roof—blocked up the entrances (and if we may credit the anecdote, that violating human was characteristic of Spartan nature, his mother, a crone of great age [161], suggested the means of punishment, by placing, with her own hand, a stone at the threshold)—and, setting a guard around, left the conqueror of Mardonius to die of famine. When he was at his last gasp, unwilling to profane the sanctuary by his actual death, they bore him out into the open air, which he only breathed to expire [162]. His corpse, which some of the fiercer Spartans at first intended to cast in the place of burial for malefactors, was afterward buried in the neighbourhood of the temple. And thus ended the glory and the crimes—the grasping ambition and the luxurious ostentation— of the bold Spartan who first scorned and then imitated the effeminacies of the Persian he subdued.

VIII. Amid the documents of which the ephors possessed themselves after the death of Pausanias was a correspondence with Themistocles, then residing in the rival and inimical state of Argos. Yet vindictive against that hero, the Spartan government despatched ambassadors to Athens, accusing him of a share in the conspiracy of Pausanias with the Medes. It seems that Themistocles did not disavow a correspondence with Pausanias, nor affect an absolute ignorance of his schemes; but he firmly denied by letter, his only mode of defence, all approval and all participation of the latter. Nor is there any proof, nor any just ground of suspicion, that he was a party to the betrayal of Greece. It was consistent, indeed, with his astute character, to plot, to manoeuvre, to intrigue, but for great and not paltry ends. By possessing himself of the secret, he possessed himself of the power of Pausanias; and that intelligence might perhaps have enabled him to frustrate the Spartan's treason in the hour of actual danger to Greece. It is possible that, so far as Sparta alone was concerned, the Athenian felt little repugnance to any revolution or any peril confined to a state whose councils it had been the object of his life to baffle, and whose power it was the manifest interest of his native city to impair. He might have looked with complacency on the intrigues which the regent was carrying on against the Spartan government, and which threatened to shake that Doric constitution to its centre. But nothing, either in the witness of history or in the character or conduct of a man profoundly patriotic, even in his vices, favours the notion that he connived at the schemes which implicated, with the Grecian, the Athenian welfare. Pausanias, far less able, was probably his tool. By an insight into his projects, Themistocles might have calculated on the restoration of his own power. To weaken the Spartan influence was to weaken his own enemies at Athens; to break up the Spartan constitution was to leave Athens herself without a rival. And if, from the revolt of the helots, Pausanias should proceed to an active league with the Persians, Themistocles knew enough of Athens and of Greece to foresee that it was to the victor of Salamis and the founder of the Grecian navy that all eyes would be directed. Such seem the most probable views which would have been opened to the exile by the communications of Pausanias. If so, they were necessarily too subtle for the crowd to penetrate or understand. The Athenians heard only the accusations of the Spartans; they saw only the treason of Pausanias; they learned only that Themistocles had been the correspondent of the traitor. Already suspicious of a genius whose deep and intricate wiles they were seldom able to fathom, and trembling at the seeming danger they had escaped, it was natural enough that the Athenians should accede to the demands of the ambassadors. An Athenian, joined with a Lacedaemonian troop, was ordered to seize Themistocles wherever he should be found. Apprized of his danger, he hastily quitted the Peloponnesus and took refuge at Corcyra. Fear of the vengeance at once of Athens and of Sparta induced the Corcyreans to deny the shelter he sought, but they honourably transported him to the opposite continent. His route was discovered—his pursuers pressed upon him. He had entered the country of Admetus, king of the Molossians, from whose resentment he had everything to dread. For he had persuaded the Athenians to reject the alliance once sought by that monarch, and Admetus had vowed vengeance.

Thus situated, the fugitive formed a resolution which a great mind only could have conceived, and which presents to us one of the most touching pictures in ancient history. He repaired to the palace of Admetus himself. The prince was absent. He addressed his consort, and, advised by her, took the young child of the royal pair in his hand, and sat down at the hearth—"THEMISTOCLES THE SUPPLIANT!" [163] On the return of the prince he told his name, and bade him not wreak his vengeance on an exile. "To condemn me now," he said, "would be to take advantage of distress. Honour dictates revenge only among equals upon equal terms. True that I opposed you once, but on a matter not of life, but of business or of interest. Now surrender me to my persecutors, and you deprive me of the last refuge of life itself."

IX. Admetus, much affected, bade him rise, and assured him of protection. The pursuers arrived; but, faithful to the guest who had sought his hearth, after a form peculiarly solemn among the Molossians, Admetus refused to give him up, and despatched him, guarded, to the sea-town of Pydna, over an arduous and difficult mountain-road. The sea-town gained, he took ship, disguised and unknown to all the passengers, in a trading vessel bound to Ionia. A storm arose—the vessel was driven from its course, and impelled right towards the Athenian fleet, that then under Cimon, his bitterest foe, lay before the Isle of Naxos (B. C. 466).

Prompt and bold in his expedients, Themistocles took aside the master of the vessel—discovered himself; threatened, if betrayed, to inform against the master as one bribed to favour his escape; promised, if preserved, everlasting gratitude; and urged that the preservation was possible, if no one during the voyage were permitted, on any pretext, to quit the vessel.

The master of the vessel was won—kept out at sea a day and a night to windward of the fleet, and landed Themistocles in safety at Ephesus.

In the mean while the friends of Themistocles had not been inactive in Athens. On the supposed discovery of his treason, such of his property as could fall into the hands of the government was, as usual in such offences, confiscated to the public use; the amount was variously estimated at eighty and a hundred talents [164]. But the greater part of his wealth—some from Athens, some from Argos—was secretly conveyed to him at Ephesus [165]. One faithful friend procured the escape of his wife and children from Athens to the court of Admetus, for which offence of affection, a single historian, Stesimbrotus (whose statement even the credulous Plutarch questions, and proves to be contradictory with another assertion of the same author), has recorded that he was condemned to death by Cimon. It is not upon such dubious chronicles that we can suffer so great a stain on the character of a man singularly humane. [166]

X. As we have now for ever lost sight of Themistocles on the stage of Athenian politics, the present is the most fitting opportunity to conclude the history of his wild and adventurous career.

Persecuted by the Spartans, abandoned by his countrymen, excluded from the whole of Greece, no refuge remained to the man who had crushed the power of Persia, save the Persian court. The generous and high-spirited policy that characterized the oriental despotism towards its foes proffered him not only a safe, but a magnificent asylum. The Persian monarchs were ever ready to welcome the exiles of Greece, and to conciliate those whom they had failed to conquer. It was the fate of Themistocles to be saved by the enemies of his country. He had no alternative. The very accusation of connivance with the Medes drove him into their arms.

Under guidance of a Persian, Themistocles traversed the Asiatic continent; and ere he reached Susa, contrived to have a letter, that might prepare the way for him, delivered at the Persian court. His letter ran somewhat thus, if we may suppose that Thucydides preserved the import, though he undoubtedly fashioned the style. [167]

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