Page images
PDF
EPUB

" kimself sets yout. Assemble, onder Eleusis, a body of As uthenians, of an age fit for service and support these by:

your cavalry. By this step you will show all Greece 4 that you are ready armed to defend yourscives ; and in

spire your partizans in Thebes with such resolution, as “ may enable them both to support their reasons and to “ make head against the opposite partys. wyhen they shall 4 perceive, that as those who sell their country to Philip « have forces in Elatæ ready to assist them upon occasion, li in like manner those who were willing to fight for the

preservation of their own liberties, have you at their “ gates, ready to defend them in case of an invasion." Demosthenes added, that it would be proper for them to send ambasasdors immediately to the different states of Greece, and to the Thebans in particular, to engage them in a common league against Philip. * This prudent and salatary counsel was followed in every particular; and in consequence thereof a decree was formed, in which, after enumerating the several enterprises by which Philip had infringed the peace, it continues thus : $For this reason the senate and people of Athens, calling " to mind the magnanimity of their ancestors, who prefer“ red the liberty of Greece to the safety of their own coun“ try, have resolved, that after offering up prayers and sac. 6 rifices, to call down the assistance of the tutelar gods and « demi-gods of Athens and Attica, 200 sall of ships shall be

put to sea. That the admiral of their fleet shall go, as “ soon as possible, and cruise on the other side of the pass of 66 Thermopyla ; at the same time that the land generals, at “ the head of a considerable body of horse and foot, shall 6 march and encamp in the neighborhood of Eleusis. That * amhassadors shall likewise be sent to the other Greeks ; “ but first to the Thebans, as these are most threatened by .“ Philip. Let them be exhorted not to dread Philip in any 6 manner, but to maintain courageously their particular in66 dependence, and the common liberty of all Greece. And 6 let it be declared to them, that though formerly some mo« tives of discontent might have cooled the reciprocal friend“ ship between them and us, the Athenians however, oblit« erating the remembrance of past transactions, will now 6 assist them with men, money, darts, and all kinds of mili“ tary weapons ; persuaded, that such as are natives of “ Greece may, very honorably, dispute with one another - 6 for pre-eminence; but that they can never, without sully" ing the glory of the Greeks, and derogating from the vir. « tue of their ancestors, suffer a foreigner to despoil them of

[ocr errors]

ery.

war.

& that pre-eminence; nor consent to so ignominious a slav

* Demosthenes, who was at the head of this embassy, ima mediately set out for Thebes ; and indeed, he had no time to lose, since Philip might reach Attica in two days. This prince also sent ambassadors to Thebes. Among these † Python was the chief, who distinguished himself greatly by his lively persuasive eloquence, which it was searce possible to withstand ; so that the rest of the deputies were mere novices in comparison to him : however, he here met with a superior. And indeed, Demosthenes, in an oration, where he relates the services he had done the commonwealth, ex patiates very strongly on this, and places the happy success of so important a negociation at the head of his political exploits.

Ñ It was of the utmost importance for the Athenians to draw the Thebans into the alliance, as they were neighbours to Attica, and covered it ; had troops excellently well disciplined, and had been considered from the famous victories of Luctra and Mantinea, among the several states of Greece, as those who held the first rank for valour and ability in

To effect this was no very easy matter ; not only be cause of the great service Philip had lately done them dura ing the war of Phoeis; but likewise because of the ancient inveterate antipathy of Thebes and Athens. į Philip's deputies spoke first. These displayed in the strongest light, the kindnesses with which Philip had loaded: the Thebans, and the innumerable evils which the Athenians had made them suffer. They represented to the ut. most advantage the great benefit they might reapfrom lay“ ing Attica waste, the flocks, goods, and power of which would be carried into their city ; whereas by joining in league with the Athenians, Bæotia would thereby become the seat of war, and would alonc suffer the losses, depredations, burnings and all the other calamities which are the inevita ble consequences of it. They concluded with requestingy either the Thebans would join their forces with those of Philip against the Athenians ; orig at least, permit him to pass through their territories to enter Attica.

• Plut, in Demosth. p, 853,854.

+ This Python was of Byzantium. The Athenians had presented him with the freedom of their city ; after which he went over to Philip. Demosth. Pi 193, 745.

Demosth, in: orat, pro Coron. Po 509,
# Ibid.

[ocr errors]

The love of his country, and a just indignation at the breach of faith and usurpations of Philip, had already sufficiently animated Demosthenes, but the sight of an orator, who seemed to dispute with him the superiority of eloquence inflamed his zeal, and heightened his vivacity still more. To the captious arguments of Python, he opposed the actions themselves of Philip, and particularly the late taking of Elatæa, which evidently discovered his designs. He represented him as a restless, enterprising, ambitious, crafty, perfidious prince, who had formed the design of enslaving all Greece ; but who, to succeed the better in his schemes, was determined to attack the different states of it singly : prince whose pretended benificence was only a snare for the credulity of those who did not know him, in order to disarm those whose zeal for the public liberty might be an obstacle to his enterprises. He proved to them that the conquest of Attica, so far from satiating the immeasurable avidity of this usarper, would only give him an opportunity of subjecting Thebes, and the rest of the cities of Greece. That there. fore, the interests of the two commonwealths being hencefor: ward inseparable, they ought to erase entirely the remembe rance of their former divisions, and unite their forces to repel the common enemy:

* The Thebans were not long in determining. The strong eloquence of Demosthenes says an historian, blowing into their souls like an impetuous wind, rekindled there so warm a zeal for their country, and so mighty a passion for liberty, that banishing from their minds every idea of fear, of prudence, or gratitude, bis discourse transported and ravished them, like a fit of enthusiasm, and inflamed them solely with the love of true glory. Here we have a proof of the mighty ascendant which eloquence has over the minds of men, especially when it is heightened by a love and zeal for the public good. One single man swayed all things at kis will in the assemblies of Athens and Thebes, where he was equally loved, respected and feared.

Philip, quite disconcerted by the union of these two das tions, sent anrbassadors to the Athenians, to request them not to levy an armed force, but to live in harmony with him. However they were too justly alarmed and exaspe. rated to listen to any accommodation, and would no longer depend oir the word of a prince whose whole aim was to deceive. In consequence, préparations for war were made with the utmost diligence, and the soldiery discovered in credible ardour. However, many evil disposed persons en

Thcopom. apud Plut, in vit, Demosth. P, 854

deavoured to extinguish or damp it, by relating fatal omens and terrible predictions, which the priestess of Delphos was said to have uttered : but Demosthenes, confiding firmly in the arms of Greece,and encouraged wonderfully by the num. ber and bravery of the troops, who desired only to march against the enemy, would not suffer them to be amused with these oracles and frivolous predictions. It was on this oc. casion he said, the priestess philippized,, meaning, that it was Philip's money that inspired the priestess, opened her mouth, and made the god speak whatever she thought proper.

He bade the Thebans remember their Epaminondas, and the Athenians their Pericles, who considered these oracles and predictions as idle scarecrows, and consulted only their reason. The Athenian army set out immediately, and marched to Eleusis; and the Thebans, surprised at the dili, gence of their confederates, joined them, and waited the approach of the enemy.

Philip, on the other side, not having been able to prevent the Thebans from uniting with Athens, nor to draw the lat, ter into an alliance with him, assembles all his forces, and enters Bæotia. His army consisted of 30,000 foot and 2000 horse ; that of his enemy was not quite so numerons. The valour of the troops might have been said to have been equal on both sides; but the merit of the chiefs was not so, And indeed, what warrior was comparable to Philip at that time? Iphicrates, Chabrias, Timotheus, all famous Atheni. an captains, were not his superiors. Phocion, indeed, might have opposed him ; but not to mention that this war had been undertaken against his advice, the contrary faction had excluded him the command, and had appointed generals, Chares, universally despised, and Lysicles, distinguished for nothing but his rash and daring audacity. It is the choice of such leaders as these, by the means of cabal alone, that paves the way to the ruin of states.

The two armies encamped near Charonea, a city of Bæo. tia. Philip gave the command of his left wing to his son Alexander, who was then but 16 or 17 years old, having posted his ablest officers near him; and took the command of the right wing upon himself. In the opposite army the Thebans formed the right wing, and the Athenians the left.

At sun-rise, the signal was given on both sides. The battle was bloody, and the victory a long time dubious, both sides exerting themselves with astonishing valour and brav, ery. Alexander at that time, animated with a noble ardour, for glory, and endeavouring to signalise himself, in or, der to answer the confidence his father had reposed in him, under whose eye he fought, in quality of a commander, for

the first time, discovered, in this battle, all the capacity which could have been expected from a veteran general, with all the intrepidity of a young warrior. It was he who broke, after a long and vigorous resistance, the sacred battallion of the Thebans, which was the flower of their army. The rest of the troops who were round Alexander, being encouraged by his example, entirely routed them.

On the right wing, Philip, who was determined not to yield to his son, charged the Athenians with great vigour, and began to make them give way. However they soonresumed their courage, and recovered their first post. *Ly. sicles, one of the two generals, having broke into some troops which formed the centre of the Macedonians, imag, ined himself already victorious, and in that rash confidence cried out, "come on, my lads, let us pursue them into Mace. "donia." Philip, perceiving that the Athenians, instead of seizing the advantage of taking his phalanx in flank, pure sued his troops too vigorously, cried out with a calm tone of voice, " the Athenians do not know how to conquer." Im mediately he commanded his phalanx to wheel about to a little eminence ; and perceiving that the Athenians, in dist order, were wholly intent on pursuing those they had broke, he charged them with his phalanx,and attacking them both in flank and rear, entirely routed them. Demosthenes who was a greater statesman than a warrior, and more capable of giving wholesome counsel in his harangues, than of supporting them by an intrepid courage, threw down his arms, and fled with the rest. It is even said, that in his flight his robe being catched by a bramble, he imagined that some of the enemy had laid hold of him, and cried out, “spare my life.' More than 1000 Athenians were left upon the field of battle, and above 2000 taken prisoners, among whom was Demades the orator. The loss pyas as great on the Theban side.

Philip, after having set up a trophy, and offered to the gods a sacrifice of thanksgiving for his victory, distributed l'ewards to the officers and soldiers, each according to his merit and the rank he held.

His conduct after this victory shows, that it is much easier to overcome an enemy, than to conquer one's self and tri. umph over one's own passions. Upon his coming from a grand entertainment, which he had given his officers, being equally transported with joy and the fumes of wine, ne hurried to the spot where the battle had been fought, and there, insulting the dead bodies with which the field was covered,

Polyænn, Stratag. lib, iy,' ' † Flut, in vit, deccm, orat, P, 845,

« PreviousContinue »