« PreviousContinue »
Xerxes. For if I had seen this power in you, I would never have come to you bringing such a proposal. For the power of the king is more than human, and his arm exceeding long. If, then, you do not immediately come to terms, when they offer such favourable conditions on which they are willing to agree, I greatly fear for you, who of all the allies dwell in the most beaten road, and who must continually be the only people destroyed, since ye possess a territory exposed, as being between both armies. Be persuaded, then; for this is a high honour to you, that the great king, forgiving your offences alone among all the Greeks, is willing to become your friend.” Thus spoke Alexander. 141. But the Lacedæmonians, having been informed that Alexander had arrived at Athens, in order to induce the Athenians to an agreement with the barbarian ; and remembering the oracles, how it was fated that they, with the rest of the Dorians, should be driven out of Peloponnesus by the Medes and Athenians, were very much afraid lest the Athenians should make terms with the Persian, and therefore resolved forthwith to send ambassadors. It so happened that the introduction of both took place at the same time. For the Athenians had purposely delayed the time, well knowing that the Lacedæmonians would hear that an ambassador had come from the barbarian to negociate a treaty, and that when they did hear of it, they would send ambassadors with all speed. They, therefore, designedly so contrived, as to show their intentions to the Lacedæmonians. 142. When Alexander had ceased speaking, the ambassadors from Sparta, speaking next, said: “The Lacedæmonians have sent us to entreat you not to adopt any new measures with respect to Greece, nor to listen to proposals from the barbarian ; for neither would it be by any means just nor honourable either in any others of the Greeks, and least of all in you, for many reasons. For
raised this war, against our wish, and the contest arose about your sovereignty ; but it now relates to the whole of Greece. Besides, that the Athenians, who are the authors of all these things, should prove the occasion of slavery to Greece, is on no account to be borne ; you, who always, and from of old, have been seen to assert the freedom of many nations. We, however, sympathize with you in your difficulties, and that you have already been deprived of two harvests, and that your property has been so long involved in ruin.. But in compensation for this, the Lacedæmonians and the allies promise to support your wives and all the rest of your families which are useless in war, as long as the war shall continue. Therefore, let not Alexander the Macedonian persuade you, by glossing over the proposal of Mardonius ; for this is what he would naturally do ; for being himself a tyrant, he aids a tyrant's cause. But you should not so act, if indeed you think rightly; because you know that with barbarians there is neither faith nor truth.” Thus spoke the ambassadors. 143. The Athenians gave the following answer to Alexander: “ We ourselves are aware of this, that the power of the Medes is far greater than ours; so that there was no need to insult us with that. But, nevertheless, being ardent for liberty, we will defend ourselves in such manner as we are able. But do not you attempt to persuade us to come to terms with the barbarian, for we will not be persuaded. Go, then, and tell Mardonius, that the Athenians say, so long as the sun shall continue in the same course as now, we will never make terms with Xerxes : but we will go out to oppose him, trusting in the gods, who fight for us, and in the heroes, whose temples and images he, holding them in no reverence, has burnt. And do you appear no more in the presence of the Athenians, bringing such proposals ; nor, imagining that you do us good service, urge us to do wicked deeds. For we are unwilling that you, who are our guest and friend, should meet with any ungracious treatment at the hands of the Athenians.” 144. To Alexander they gave this answer; and to the ambassadors from Sparta the following: “ That the Lacedæmonians should fear lest we should make terms with the barbarian, was very natural; yet, knowing as you do the mind of the Athenians, you appear to entertain an unworthy dread; for there is neither so much gold any where in the world, nor a country so pre-eminent in beauty and fertility, by receiving which, we should be willing to side with the Mede and enslave Greece. For there are many and powerful considerations that forbid us to do so, even if we were inclined. First and chief, the images and dwellings of the gods, burnt and laid in ruins : this we must needs avenge to the utmost of our power, rather than make terms with the
man who has perpetrated such deeds. Secondly, the Grecian race being of the same blood and the same language, and the temples of the gods and sacrifices in common; and our similar customs ; for the Athenians to become betrayers of these would not be well. Know, therefore, if you did not know it before, that so long as one Athenian is left alive, we will never make terms with Xerxes. Your forethought, however, which you manifest towards us, we admire, in that you provide for us whose property is thus ruined, so as to be willing to support our families; and you have fulfilled the duty of benevolence; we, however, will continue thus in the state we are, without being burdensome to you. Now, since matters stand as they do, send out án army with all possible expedition ; for, as we conjecture, the barbarian will in no long time be here to invade our territories, as soon as he shall hear our message that we will do none of the things he required of us. Therefore, before he has reached Attica, it is fitting that we go out to meet him in Boeotia.” When the Athenians had given this answer, the ambassadors returned to Sparta.
MARDONIUS, when Alexander, having returned, had made known the answer from the Athenians, set out from Thessaly, and led his army in haste against Athens; and wherever he arrived from time to time, he joined the people to his own forces. The leaders of Thessaly were so far from repenting of what had been before done, that they urged on the Persian much more: and Thorax of Larissa both assisted in escorting Xerxes in his flight, and now openly gave Mardonius a passage into Greece. 2. When the army on its march arrived among the Bootians, the Thebans endeavoured to restrain Mardonius, and advised him, saying that there was no country more convenient to encamp in than that, and dissuaded him from advancing farther, but urged him to take up his station there, and contrive so as to subdue the whole of Greece without a battle. “For that if the Greeks continue firmly united, as they had done before, it would be difficult even for all man
kind to overcome them. But,” they continued, “ if you
will do what we advise, you will without difficulty frustrate all their plans : send money to the most powerful men in the cities; and by sending it you will split Greece into parties, and then, with the assistance of those of your party, you may easily subdue those who are not in your interest.” 3. They gave this advice; he, however, was not prevailed on, but a vehement desire of taking Athens a second time was instilled into him ; partly by presumption, and partly he hoped, by signal fires across the islands, to make known to the king while he was at Sardis, that he was in possession of Athens. When he arrived in Attica, he did not find the Athenians there ; but was informed that most of them were at Salamis, and on board their ships; he therefore took the deserted city. The capture by the king was ten months before this second invasion by Mardonius.
4. While Mardonius was at Athens, he sent Murychides, a Hellespontine, to Salamis, with the same proposals which Alexander the Macedonian had already conveyed to the Athenians. He sent this second time, although before aware that the disposition of the Athenians was not friendly to him, but expecting they would remit something of their haughtiness, since the whole Attic territory was taken and now in his power. For these reasons he sent Murychides to Salamis. 5. He, on coming before the council, delivered the message of Mardonius. And Lycidas, one of the councillors, gave his opinion, that, “it appeared to him to be best to entertain the proposal which Murychides brought to them, and to report it to the people.” He delivered this opinion, either because he had received money from Mardonius, or because such was really his opinion. But the Athenians, immediately being very indignant, both those belonging to the council, and those without, as soon as they were informed of it, surrounded Lycidas, and stoned him to death ; but they dismissed Murychides the Hellespontine unharmed. A tumult having taken place at Salamis respecting Lycidas, the Athenian women obtained information of what had happened; whereupon one woman encouraging another, and uniting together, they went of their own accord to the house of Lycidas, and stoned his wife and children. 6. The Athenians had crossed over to Salamis under the following circumstances. As long as they expected that an army would come from the Peloponnesus to assist them, they remained in Attica ; but when they had recourse to delay and extreme tardiness, and Mardonius was advancing and reported to be in Baotia, they then removed all their effects, and themselves crossed over to Salamis : they also sent ambassadors to Lacedæmon, partly to blame the Lacedæmonians, because they had allowed the barbarian to invade Attica, and had not gone out with them to meet him in Breotia ; and partly to remind them of what the Persian had promised to give them, if they would change sides; and to forewarn them, that unless they assisted the Athenians, they would themselves find some means of escape. 7. At that time the Lacedæmonians were employed in celebrating a festival, and it was the Hyacinthia with them ; and they deemed it of the greatest importance to attend to the service of the deity. At the same time they were busied in building the wall at the Isthmus, and it had already received the breast-works.
When the ambassadors from the Athenians arrived at Lacedæmon, bringing with them ambassadors from Megara and Platæa, they went before the ephori, and spoke as follows: (1.) “ The Athenians have sent us to tell you, that the king of the Medes in the first place offers to restore our country; and, secondly, is willing to make us his allies on fair and equal terms, without fraud or deceit; he is also willing to give us another territory, in addition to our own, whatever we ourselves may choose. We, however, reverencing the Grecian Jupiter, and thinking it disgraceful to betray Greece, have not acceded to, but rejected his offers ; though we are unjustly treated, and betrayed by the Greeks, and know that it is more for our own interest to come to terms with the Persian, than to continue the war; still we will never willingly come to terms with him. (2.) Thus sincerely we have acted towards the Greeks. But you, who were then in the utmost consternation lest we should come to terms with the Persian, when you were clearly assured of our resolution, that we will never betray Greece, and because your wall drawn across the Isthmus is now nearly completed, no longer show any regard for the Athenians. For having agreed to advance with us to meet the Persian in Boeotia, you have betrayed us, and have allowed the barbarian to invade Attica. Hitherto the Atheni