« PreviousContinue »
notion of true glory, to imagine, that the way for me to acquire it is to resemble the barbarians. If the esteem of the people of Egina is not to be purchased but by such a proceeding, I shall be content with preserving that of the Lacedemonians only, amongst whom the base and ungenerous pleasure of revenge is never put in competition with that of showing clemency and moderation to their enemies, and especially after their death. As for the souls of my departed countrymen, they are sufficiently avenged by the death of the many thousand Persians slain upon the spot in the last gagement.”
P A dispute, which arose between the Athenians and Lacedemonians, about determining which of the two people should have the prize of valor adjudged to them, as also which of them should have the privilege of erecting a trophy, had like to have sullied all the glory, and embittered the joy of their late victory. They were just on the point of carrying things to the last extremity, and would certainly have decided the difference with their swords, had not Aristides prevailed upon them, by the wisdom of his counsel and reasoning, to refer the determination of the matter to the judgment of the Grecians in general. This propo. sition being accepted by both parties, and the Greeks being assembled upon the spot to decide the contest, Theogiton of Megara, speaking upon the question, gave it as his opinion, that the prize of valor ought to be adjudged neither to Athens nor to Sparta, but to some other city ; unless they desired to kindle a civil war, of more fatal consequences than that they had just put an end to. After he had finished his speech, Cleo
Plut, in Arist. p. 431.
critus of Corinth rose up to speak his sentiments of the matter : and when he began, nobody doubted but he was going to claim that honour for the city of which he was a member and a native : for Corinth was the chief city of Greece in power and dignity after those of Athens and Sparta. But every body was agreeably deceived when they found, that all his discourse tended to the praise of the Plateans, and that the conclusion he made from the whole was, that, in order to extinguish so dangerous a contention, they ought to adjudge the prize to them only, against whom neither of the contending parties could have any grounds of anger or jealousy. This discourse and proposal were received with a general applause by the whole assembly. Aristides immediately assented to it on the part of the Athenians, and Pausanias on the part of the Lace. demonians.
9 All parties being thus agreed, before they began to divide the spoil of the enemy, they put fourscore tal. ents' aside for the Plateans, who laid them out in building a temple to Minerva, in erecting a statue to her honour, and in adorning the temple with curious and valuable paintings, which were still in being in Plutarch's time, that is to say, above six hundred afterwards, and which were then as fresh as if they had lately come out of the hands of the painters. As for the trophy, which had been another article of the dispute, the Lacedemonians erected one for themselves in particular, and the Athenians another.
The spoil was immense. In Mardonius's camp they found prodigious sums of money in gold and silver, besides cups, vessels, beds, tables, necklaces, and
9 Herod. I. ix. c. 79, 80. * About 18,000l. sterling, or 80,000 crowns French.=8.80,000.
bracelets of gold and silver, not to be valued or num. bered. It is observed by a certain historian, that these spoils proved fatal to Greece, by becoming the instru. ments of introducing avarice and luxury among her inhabitants. According to the religious custom of the Grecians, before they divided the treasure, they appropriated the tythe, or tenth part of the whole, to the use of the gods : the rest was distributed equally among the cities and nations that had furnished troops; and the chief officers who had distinguished themselves in the field of battle, were likewise distinguished in this distribution. They sent a present of a golden tripod to Delphos, in the inscription upon which Pausanias caused these words to be inserted : " That he had defeated the barbarians at Platea, and that in acknowl. edgment of that victory, he had made this present to Apollo.”
This arrogant inscription, wherein he ascribed the honour both of victory and the offering to himself only, offended the Lacedemonian people, who, in order to punish his pride in the very point and place where he thought to exalt himself, as also to do justice to their confederates, caused his name to be rased out, and that of the cities which had contributed to the victory to be put in the stead of it. Too ardent a thirst after glory on this occasion did not give him leave to consider, that a man loses nothing by a discreet modesty, which forbears the setting too high a value upon one's own services, and which, by screening a man from envy," serves really to enhance his reputation.
: Victo Mardonio castra referta regalis opulentiæ capta, unde primum Græcos, diriso inter se auro Persico, divitiarum luxuria cepit. Justin Lü. c. 14.
· Cor. Nep. in Pausan. c. 1.
Pausanias gave still a further specimen of his Spartan spirit and humour, in two entertainments which he ordered to be prepared a few days after the engage. ment; one of which was costly and magnificent, in which was served all the variety of delicacies and dain. ties that used to be served at Mardonius's table ; and the other was plain and frugal, after the manner of the Spartans. Then comparing the two entertainments together, and observing the difference of them to his officers, whom he had invited on purpose,
* What a madness,” says he, “ was it in Mardonius, who was accustomed to such a luxurious diet, to come and attack a people like us, who know how to live without all dainties and superfluities, and want nothing of that kind.”
" All the Grecians sent to Delphos to consult the oracle, concerning the sacrifice it was proper to offer. The answer they received from the gods was, that they should erect an altar to Jupiter Liberator ; but that they should take care not to offer any sacrifice upon it, before they had extinguished all the fire in the coun. try, because it had been polluted and profaned by the barbarians ; and that they should come as far Delphos to fetch pure fire, which they were to take from the altar, called the common altar.
This answer being brought to the Grecians from the oracle, the generals immediately dispersed themselves throughout the whole country, and caused all the fires to be extinguished : and Euchidas, a citizen of Platea, having taken upon himself to go and fetch the sacred fire with all possible expedition, made the best of his way to Delphos. On his arrival, he purified himself, sprinkled his body with consecrated water, put on a crown of laurel, and then approached the altar, from whence, with great reverence, he took the holy fire, and carried it with him to Platea, where he arrived before the setting of the sun, having travelled one thousand stadia, which make one hundred and twenty five miles English, in one day. As soon as he came back, he saluted his fellow citizens, delivered the fire to them, fell down at their feet, and died in a moment afterwards. His countrymen carried
* Plut. in Arist. p. 331, 33.
carried away his body, and buried it in the temple of Diana, surnamed Euclia, which signifies “of good renown;" and put the following epitaph upon his tomb in the compass of one verse : “Here lies Euchidas, who went from hence to Delphos, and returned back the same day.”
In the next general assembly of Greece, which was held not long after this occurrence, Aristides proposed the following decree : that all the cities of Greece, should every year send their respective deputies to Pla. tea, in order to offer sacrifices to Jupiter Liberator, and to the gods of the city ; (this assembly was still regularly held in the time of Plutarch ;) that every five years there should be games celebrated there, which should be called the Games of Liberty ; that the several states of Greece together should raise a body of troops, consisting of ten thousand foot, and a thousand horse, and should equip a fleet of one hundred ships, which should be constantly maintained for making war against the barbarians; and that the inhabitants of Platea, entirely devoted to the service of the gods, should be looked upon as sacred and inviolable, and be concerned in no other function than that of offering prayers and sacrifices for the general preservation and prosperity of Greece.