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his guidance many things result to our advantage. What deeds Cyrus, and Cambyses, and my father Darius have achieved, and what nations they have added to our empire, no one need mention to you who know them well. But I, since I have succeeded to the throne, have carefully considered in what way I may not fall short of my predecessors in this honour, nor acquire less additional power for the Persians. And on mature consideration, I find that we may at once acquire an increase of glory, and a country not inferior nor poorer, but even more productive than that we now possess; and at the same time that satisfaction and vengeance will accrue to us. Wherefore I have now called you together, that I may communicate to you what purpose to do. I intend to throw a bridge over the Hellespont, and to march an army through Europe against Greece, that I may punish the Athenians for the injuries they have done to the Persians and to my father. You have already seen Darius preparing to make war against those people; but he died, and had it not in his power to avenge himself. But I, in his cause and that of the other Persians, will not rest till I have taken and burned Athens; for they first began by doing acts of injustice against my father and me. First of all having come to Sardis, with Aristagoras the Milesian, our servant, on their arrival they burned down both the groves and the temples. And, secondly, how they treated us on our making a descent on their territory, when Datis and Artaphernes led our forces, you all know well enough. For these reasons, therefore, I have resolved to make war upon them. And on reflection, I find the following advantages in this course: If we shall subdue them, and their neighbours, who inhabit the country of Pelops the Phrygian, we shall make the Persian territory coextensive with the air of heaven; nor will the sun look down upon any land that borders on ours; but I, with your assistance, will make them all one territory, marching through the whole of Europe. For I am informed that such is the case; and that no city or nation of the world will remain, which will be able to come to a battle with us, when those whom I have mentioned have been brought into subjection. Thus, both those who are guilty and those who are not guilty must equally submit to the yoke of servitude. But you, by doing what I require, will gratify me exceedingly; when I shall have informed you of the time, it will be the duty of each of you to come promptly. And whosoever shall appear with the bestappointed troops, to him I will give such presents as are accounted most honourable in our country. But that I may
not appear to follow my own counsel only, I lay the matter before you, bidding any one of you who wishes to declare his opinion.” Having said this, he ceased.
After him Mardonius spoke: "Sir, not only are you the most excellent of all the Persians that have yet been, but even of all that ever shall be; you also, in other respects, have in speaking touched upon the most important topics and the most exact truth, and especially will not suffer the Ionians, who dwell in Europe, to mock us, worthless as they are. For it would indeed be a great indignity if, having subdued the Sacæ, Indians, Ethiopians, and Assyrians, and other nations, many and powerful, which never did the Persians any wrong, but, in order only to enlarge our dominions, we hold them in servitude; and yet shall not avenge ourselves on the Greeks, who were the first to commit injustice. Having what to fear? what confluence of numbers? what power of wealth? We are acquainted with their manner of fighting; and we are acquainted with their power, that it is weak. We hold their children in subjection, those who dwell within our territories, and are called Ionians, Æolians, and Dorians. I myself have made trial of these men already, marching against them at the command of your father; and when I advanced as far as Macedonia, and was within a short distance of reaching Athens itself, no one opposed me in battle. And yet the Greeks are accustomed, as I am informed, to undertake wars without deliberation, from obstinacy and folly. For when they have declared war against one another, having found out the fairest and most level spot, they go down to it and fight; so that the conquerors depart with great loss, and of the conquered I say nothing at all, for they are utterly destroyed. Whereas, being of the same language, they ought, by the intervention of heralds and ambassadors, to adjust their differences, and in any way rather than by fighting. But if they must needs go to war with each other, they ought to find out where they are each least likely to be conquered, and there try the issue of a battle. The Greeks, accordingly, adopting a disadvantageous method, when I marched as far as Macedonia, never ventured so far as to come to a battle. Will any one, then, O king, have recourse to war, and oppose you, when you lead the multitudes of Asia, and all her ships? In my opinion, indeed, the Grecians will never proceed to such a degree of audacity. But if I should happen to be deceived in my opinion, and they, elated by folly, should come to battle with us, they will learn that of all men we are the most skilled in war. Let nothing then be untried; for nothing is accomplished of its own self, but all things are achieved by men through endeavours." Mardonius, having thus smoothed over the opinion of Xerxes, ceased to speak.
The rest of the Persians remaining silent, not daring to declare an opinion contrary to the one proposed, Artabanus, son of Hystaspes, being uncle to Xerxes, and relying on this, spoke as follows: "O king, unless opinions opposite to each other are spoken, it is impossible to choose the better, but it becomes necessary to adopt that which has been advanced; whereas, when various opinions have been given, it is possible: just as with unalloyed gold, we can not distinguish it by itself, but when we have rubbed it by the side of other gold, we do distinguish the better. I warned your father and my brother not to make war upon the Scythians, a people who have no city in any part of their territory; but he, hoping to subdue the Scythian nomads, heeded not my advice, and having led an army against them, returned with the loss of many brave men of his army. But you, O king, are about to make war on men far superior to the Scythians; who are said to be most valiant both by sea and land; it is, therefore, right that I should inform you of the danger we have to fear. You say that, having thrown a bridge over the Hellespont, you will march an army through Europe into Greece; now, it may happen that we shall be worsted either by land or by sea, or even by both; for the people are said to be valiant, and this we may infer, since the Athenians alone destroyed so great an army that invaded the Attic territory, under Datis and Artaphernes. They were not, however, successful in both; but if they should attack us with their fleet, and having obtained a naval victory, should sail to the Hellespont, and destroy the bridge, this surely, O king, were a great danger. Nor do I found this conjecture on any wisdom of my own, but from the calamity that once all but befell us when your father, having joined the shores of the Thracian Bosphorus, and thrown a bridge over the Ister, crossed over to attack the Scythians; then the Scythians used every means to induce the Ionians, to whom the guard of the passage over the Ister had been intrusted, to break up the bridge: and if, at that time, Histiæus, tyrant of Miletus, had assented to the opinion of the other tyrants, and had not opposed it, the power of the Persians would have been utterly ruined. It is dreadful even to hear it said that the whole power of the king depended on a single man. Do not, therefore, willingly expose yourself to any such danger, when there is no necessity; but be persuaded by me; dismiss this assembly; and hereafter, whenever it shall seem fit to you, having considered with yourself, proclaim what appears to you to be most advantageous. For to deliberate well, I find is the greatest gain. For if the result prove unfortunate, the matter has, nevertheless, been well deliberated on, but our deliberation is defeated by fortune; but he who has deliberated badly, if fortune attend him, has met with a success he had no right to expect, but has, nevertheless, formed bad plans. Do you see how the deity strikes with his thunder the tallest animals, and suffers them not to be ostentatious, but the smaller ones do not at all offend him? Do you see how he ever hurls his bolts against the loftiest buildings, and trees of the like kind? For the deity is wont to cut off everything that is too highly exalted. Thus, even a large army is often defeated by a small one, in such manner as this: when the deity, through jealousy, strikes them with terror or lightning, whereby they perish in a manner unworthy of themselves; for the deity will not suffer any one but himself to have high thoughts. Again, to hasten any matter produces failures, from whence great losses are wont to follow; but in delay there are advantages, which, though not immediately apparent, yet one may discover after a time. This, then, O king, is the advice I give you. But do you, Mardonius, son of Gobryas, cease to speak vain words of the Grecians, who do not deserve to be lightly spoken of. For by calumniating the Greeks you urge the king himself to lead an army against them; and to this end you appear to me to exert all your efforts. But may it not so be. For calumny is the worst of evils: in it there are two who commit injustice, and one who is injured: for he who calumniates another, acts unjustly by accusing one that is not present; and he acts unjustly, who is persuaded before he has learned the exact truth; and he that is absent when the charge is made is thus doubly injured, being calumniated by the one, and by the other deemed to be base. But if, at all events, it must needs be, that war must be made on these people, come, let the king himself remain in the abodes of the Persians ; let both of us risk our children, and do you lead the expedition, having selected what men you choose, and taken with you as large a force as you think fit; and if matters succeed to the king in the manner you say, let my children be put to death, and me also with them. But if the event prove such as I foretell
, then let your children suffer the same, and you also with them, if ever you return. If, however, you are unwilling to submit to these terms, and will at all events lead an army against Greece, I affirm that some of those who are left in this country will hear that Mardonius, having brought some great disaster upon the Persians, and being torn in pieces by dogs and birds, either in the territory of the Athenians or in that of the Lacedæmonians, if not sooner on his march, has discovered against what sort of men you now persuade the king to make war.”
Artabanus thus spoke, but Xerxes, inflamed with anger, answered as follows: “Artabanus, you are my father's brother; this will protect you from receiving the just recompense of your foolish words. However, I inflict this disgrace upon you, base and cowardly as you are, not to accompany me in my expedition against Greece, but to remain here with the women; and I, without your assistance, will accomplish all that I have said. For I should not be sprung from Darius, son of Hystaspes, son of Arsames, son of Ariaramnes, son of Teispes, son of Cyrus, son of Cambyses, son of Achæmenes, if I did not avenge myself on the Athenians, knowing full well that if we continue quiet, yet they will not, but will even invade our territories, if we may conjecture from what has been already done by them, who have both burned Sardis and advanced into Asia. Wherefore it is not possible for either party to retreat, but the alternative lies before us to do or to suffer: so that all these dominions must fall under the power of the Grecians, or all theirs under that of the Persians; for there is no medium in this enmity. It is therefore honourable for us, who have first suffered, to take revenge, that I may also be informed of the danger to which I shall expose myself, by marching against those men, whom Pelops the Phrygian, who was a slave of my ancestors, so completely subdued, that even to this day the people themselves and their country are called after the name of the conqueror."
These things were said so far: but afterward night came on, and the opinion of Artabanus occasioned uneasiness to Xerxes, and, deliberating with himself during the night, he clearly discovered that it would not be to his interest to make war on Greece: having thus altered his resolution, he fell asleep; and some time in the night he saw the following vision, as is related by the Persians : Xerxes imagined that a tall and handsome man stood by him and said: “Do you then change your mind, O Persian, and resolve not to lead an army against Greece, after having ordered the Persians to assemble their forces? You do not well to change your resolution, nor is there any man who will agree with you. Therefore pursue that course which you resolved upon in the day.” Xerxes thought that the man, having pronounced these