« AnteriorContinuar »
island. But that which stirred compassion most of all
old men, by reason of their great age, remained behind; and even the tame domestic animals could not be seen without some pity, running along the shore and howling, as desirous to be carried along with their masters that had kept them; among which it is reported that Xanthippus, the father of Pericles, had a dog that would not endure to stay behind, but leaped into the sea, and swam along by the galley's side till he came to the island of Salanıis, where he fainted away and died, and that spot in the island, which is still called the Dog's Grave, is said to be his.
11 Among the great actions of Themistocles at this crisis,
the recall of Aristides was not the least. For before the war he had been ostracised by the party which Themistocles headed, and was in banishment; but now, perceiving that the people regretted his absence, and were fearful that he might go over to the Persians to revenge himself, and thereby ruin the affairs of Greece, Themistocles proposed a decree, that those who were banished
for a fixed time might return again, to give assistance by word and deed to the cause of Greece with the rest of their fellow-citizens. Eurybiades, on account of the greatness of Sparta, was admiral of the Greek fleet, but yet was faint-hearted in time of danger, and willing to weigh anchor and set sail for the Isthmus of Corinth, near which the land army lay encamped; which Themistocles resisted; and this was the occasion of the wellknown words, when Eurybiades, to check his impatience, told him that at the Olympic games they that start off before the rest are lashed ; " and they," replied Themistocles," that lag behind are not crowned.” Again, Eurybiades lifting up his staff as if he were going to strike, Themistocles said, “ Strike if you will, but hear.” Eurybiades, wondering much at his moderation, desired him to speak, and Themistocles now brought him to a better understanding. And when one who stood by him told him that it did not become those who had neither city nor house to lose, to persuade others to relinquish their habitations and forsake their countries, Themistocles gave a sharp reply: “We have indeed left our houses and our walls, base fellow, not thinking it fit to become slaves for the sake of things that have no life nor soul ; and yet our city is the greatest of all Greece, consisting of two hundred galleys, which are here to defend you, if you please to let them; but if you run away and betray. us, as you did once before, the Greeks shall soon hear news of the Athenians possessing as fair a country, and as large and free a city, as that they have lost.” This expression made Eurybiades suspect, that if he retreated the Athenians would leave him. And when one of Eretria began to oppose him,
he said, “ Have you anything to say of war, that are
like an ink-fish ? you have a sword, but no heart.”* 12 Some authors tell us that while Themistocles was
speaking these things upon the deck, an owl was seen flying to the right hand of the fleet, which came and sate
upon the top of the mast; and this happy omen so far disposed the Greeks to follow his advice, that they presently prepared to fight. Yet when the enemy's fleet was arrived at the port of Phalerum, upon the coast of Attica, and with the number of their ships concealed all the shores about, and when they saw the king himself in person come down with his land army to the sea-side, with all his forces united, then the good reasons of Themistocles were soon forgotten, and the Peloponnesians cast their eyes again towards the Isthmus, and took it very ill if any one spoke against their returning home; they decided to depart that night, and the pilots had order what course to steer. Then Themistocles, in great distress, that the Greeks should retire, and lose the advantage of the narrow seas and strait passage, and slip home every one to his own city, considered with himself, and contrived the stratagem, which was carried out by Sicinnus. This Sicinnus was a Persian captive, but a great lover of Themistocles, and the attendant of his children. Upon this occasion he sent him privately to Xerxes, commanding him to tell the king, that Themistocles, the admiral of the Athenians, having espoused his interest, wished to be the first to inform him, that the Greeks were ready to make their
* The cuttle-fish has a hard mass in the inside, which the Greeks called its sword.
escape, and that he counselled him to hinder their flight, to set upon them while they were in this confusion and at a distance from their land army, and hereby destroy all their forces by sea. Xerxes was very joyful at this message, and received it as from one who wished him all that was good, and immediately issued instructions to the commanders of his ships, that they should set out with two hundred galleys at once, to encompass all the islands and inclose all the straits and passages, that none of the Greeks might escape, and should prepare the rest of the fleet for action at leisure. When this was doing, Aristides the son of Lysimachus was the first man that perceived it, and went to the tent of Themistocles, not out of any friendship, for he had been formerly banished by his means, as has been related, but to inform him how they were encompassed by their enemies. Themistocles, knowing the generosity of Aristides, and much struck by his visit at that time, imparted to him all that he had transacted by Sicinnus, and entreated him, that, as he would be more readily believed among the Greeks, he would employ his credit in helping to induce them to stay and fight their enemies in the narrow seas. Aristides applauded Themistocles, and went to the other commanders and captains of the galleys, and encouraged them to engage; yet they did not perfectly assent to him, till a galley of Tenos which deserted from the Persians, of which Panatius commander, came in, while they were still doubting, and confirmed the news that all the straits and passages were beset; and then their anger as well as their necessity aroused them all to fight.
13 As soon as it was day Xerxes placed himself high up, Battle of Sala
to view his fleet and how it was set in order. Phanomis, B.C.
says, he sat upon a promontory above the sanctuary of Hercules, where the coast of Attica is separated from the island by a narrow channel; but Acestodorus writes, that it was in the confines of Megara, upon those hills which are called the Horns, where he sat in a chair of gold, with many secretaries about him to write down all that was done in the fight. When Themistocles was about to sacrifice, close to the admiral's galley, there were three prisoners brought to him, extremely finelooking men, and richly dressed in ornamented clothing and gold, said to be the children of Artayctes and Sandauce, sister to Xerxes. As soon as the prophet Euphrantides saw them, and observed that at the same time the fire blazed out from the offerings with a more than ordinary flame, and that a man sneezed on the right, he took Themistocles by the hand, and bid him consecrate the three young men for sacrifice, and offer them
prayers for victory to Bacchus the Devourer; so should the Greeks not only save themselves, but also obtain victory. Themistocles was much disturbed at this strange and terrible prophecy, but the common people, who in any difficult crisis and great exigency ever look for relief rather to strange and extravagant, than to reasonable means, calling upon Bacchus with one voice, led the captives to the altar, and compelled the execution of the sacrifice, as the prophet had commanded. This is recorded by Phanias the Les
bian, a philosopher well read in history. 14 The number of the enemy's ships the poet Æschylus