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But, in my opinion, though this wisdom and fore. sight is a most excellent and valuable talent, yet it is infinitely less meritorious than that uncommon temper and moderation, which Themistocles shewed on two critical occasions, when Greece had been utterly undone, if he had listened to the dictates of an ill judged ambition, and had piqued himself upon a false point of honour, as is usual among persons of his age and profession. The first of these occasions was, when notwithstanding the crying injustice that was committed, both in reference to the republic, of which he was a member, and to his own person, in appointing a Lacedemonian generalissimo of the fleet, he exhorted and prevailed with the Athenians to desist from their pretension, though never so justly founded, in order to prevent the fatal effects with which a division among the confederates must have been necessarily attended. And what an admirable instance did he give of his presence of mind and coolness of temper, when the same Eurybiades not only affronted him with harsh and offensive language, but lifted up his cane at him in a menacing posture! Let it be remembered at the same time, that Themistocles was then but young ; that he was full of an ardent ambition for glory; that he was commander of a numerous fleet; and that he had right and reason on his side, How would our young officers behave on the like occasion ? Themistocles took all patiently, and the victory of Salamin was the fruits of his patience,
As to Aristides, I shall have occasion in the sequel to speak more extensively upon his character and merit. He was, properly speaking, the man of the commonwealth : provided that was well and faithfully served, he was very little concerned by whom it was done. The merit of others was far from offending him ; and instead of that, became his own, by the approbation and encouragement he gave it. We have seen bim make his way through the enemy's feet, at the peril of his life, in order to give Themistocles some good intelligence and advice; and Plutarch takes notice, that during all the time the latter had the command, Aristides assisted him on all occasions with his counsel and credit, notwithstanding he had reason to look upon him not only as his rival, but his enemy. Let us compare this nobleness and greatness of soul with the little spiritedness and meanness of those men, who are so nice, punctilious, and jealous in point of command; who are incompatible with their colleagues, using all their attention and industry to engross the glory of every thing to themselves ; always ready to sacrifice the public to their private interests, or to suffer their rivals to commit blunders, that they themselves may reap advantage from them.
On the very same day the action of Thermopyle happened, the formidable army of the Carthaginians, which consisted of three hundred thousand men, was entirely defeated by Gelon, tyrant of Syracuse. Herodotus places this battle on the same day with that of Salamin. The circumstances of that victory in Sic. ily I have related in the history of the Carthaginians.
* After the battle of Salamin, the Grecians being returned from pursuing the Persians, Themistocles sailed to all the islands that had declared for them, to levy
• Παντα συνοπραττε και συνεζιλευεν, ενδοξοτατον επι σωτηρια κοινη ποιων τον 17515or. In vit. Arist. p. 323.
d Her, I. vii. c. 165, 167.
contributions, and exact money from them. The first he began with was that of Andros, from whose inhabit. ants he required a considerable sum, speaking to them in this manner : “I come to you accompanied with two powerful divinities, persuasion and force.” The answer they made him was: “We also have two other divinities on our side, no less powerful than yours, and which do not permit us to give the money you demand of us, poverty and impotence.” Upon this refusal he made a feint of besieging them, and threatened that he would entirely ruin their city. He dealt in the same manner with several other islands, which durst not resist him as Andros had done, and drew great sums of money from them without the privity of the other commanders; for he was esteemed a lover of money, and to be desirous of enriching himself.
THE BATTLE OF PLATEA.
MARDONIUS,' who staid in Greece with a body of three hundred thousand men, let his troops pass the winter in Thessaly, and in the spring following, led them into Beotia. There was a very famous oracle in this country, the oracle I mean of Labadia, which he thought proper to consult, in order to know what would be the success of the war. The priest, in his enthusiastic fit, answered in a language which no body that was present understood; as mach as to insinuate, that the oracle would not deign to speak intelligibly to a barbarian. At the same time Mardonius sent Alex.
FA. M.3525. Ant. J. C. 479. Herod. I. viii c. 113–131, 136-140, 144. Plut. in Arist. p. 524. Diod.l. xi. p. 22, 23. Plut. de Drac. defect. p. 412.
ander, king of Macedonia, with several Persian noblemen to Athens, and by them, in the name of his master, made very advantageous proposals to the Athenian people, to divide them from the rest of their allies. The offers he made them were, to rebuild their city, which had been burnt down, to give them a considerable sum of money, to suffer them to live according to their own laws and customs, and to give them the government and command of all Greece. Alexander, as their ancient friend, exhorted them, in his own name, to lay hold on so favourable an opportunity for reestablishing their affairs, alleging, that they were not in a condition to withstand a power so formidable as that of the Persians, and so much superior to that of Greece. On the first intelligence of this embassy, the Spartans also on their side sent deputies to Athens, in order to hinder it from taking effect.
These were present when the others had their audience, where, as soon as Alexander had finished his speech, they began in their turn to address themselves to the Athenians, and strongly exhorted them not to separate themselves from their allies, nor to desert the common interest of their country, representing to them at the same time, that their union in the present situation of their affairs was their whole strength, and would render Greece invincible. They added farther, that the Spartan commonwealth was very sensibly moved with the melancholy state which the Athenians were in, who were destitute both of houses and retreat, and who for two years together had lost all their harvests ; that, in consideration of that calamnity, she would engage herself, during the continuance of the war, to maintain and support their wives, their children, and their old men, and to furnish a plentiful supply for all their wants. They concluded by observing, on the conduct of Alexander, whose discourse, they said, was such as might be expected from one tyrant who spoke in favour of another; but that he seemed to have forgot, that the people to whom he addressed himself, had shewed themselves, on all occasions, the most zealous defenders of the common liberty of their country.
Aristides was at this time in office, that is to say, the principal of the Archons. As it was therefore his business to answer, he said, that as to the barbarians, who made silver and gold the chief objects of their esteem, he forgave them for thinking they could corrupt the fidelity of a nation, by large bounties and promises; but that he could not help being surprised and affected with some sort of indignation, to see that the Lacedemonians, regarding only the present distress and necessity of the Athenians, and forgetting their courage and magnanimity, should come to persuade them to persist steadfastly in the defence of the common lib. erty of Greece, by arguments and motives of gain, and by proposing to give them victuals and provision : he desired them to aquaint their republic, that all the gold in the world was not capable of tempting the Athenians, or of making them desert the defence of the common liberty; that they had the grateful sense they ought to have, of the kind offers which Lacedemon had made them; but that they would endeavour to manage their affairs so as not to be a burden to any of their allies. Then turning himself towards the ambassadors of Mardonius, and pointing with his hand to the sun : “ Be assured,” says he to them, “that as long as that planet shall continue his course, the Athenians will be