Plutarch's lives : in six volumes : translated from the Greek (Volume 2) online

. (page 36 of 42)
Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's lives : in six volumes : translated from the Greek (Volume 2) → online text (page 36 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


(8) In the firft book of the if that fhould happen to them be-
IHad. fore the Ifthmus, they might re-

(9) Euribiades a Spartan was tire every one to his own coun-
commander of the whole fleet, try. Themiflocles was of another
In a council of war that was opinion.

held, all the officers were of opi- (i) For Themiftocles wasof opi-
nion to leave their poft at Sala- nion, that they ought to fight the
min,to go and fight the enemy be- enemy at Salamin ; and he repre-
fore the Ifthmus ; and their reafon fented to Eurybiades, that being
was, that if they fhould happen inferior in the number, as well as
to be beaten at Salamin, tbey ftreng th of fliips they would have
would be befu j ged in the ifland, an advantage by fighting in that
and have no aififtancc; whereas ftrait, which would hinder the


A R I S T I D E S. 395

General of the army, he joined with him, and aflifted him
both with his perfon and counfel ; thus, out of regard to
the publick good, advancing his greatefl enemy to the
higheft pitch of glory. (9) For when Eurybiades the Ge-
neral had refolved to quit Salamin, and the enemy's mips
failing by night, had in a manner furrounded the iilands
without any one's knowing that the army was encompaff-
ed, Ariftides failed from Aegina by night, and having patted
with great danger through the enemy's whole fleet, came
atlafl to Themiftocles's tent, where, havingcalledhim out
by himfelf, he fpoke to him in thefe words : " If we are
" wife, Themiftocles we (hall now for ever lay afide that
" vain and childifh contention that has hitherto been be-
" tween us, and begin a more falutary and honourable e-
" mulation, by contending which of us two (hall do moft
" for the fafety of Greece, you by performing the part of
" a General, and I, by obeying and aflifti ng you wi th my per-
" fon and advice. ( i )I underftand that you alone have deter-
" mined rightly, advifmg to engage in the ftraits without
" delay. Your allies oppofe you, but the enemy feems to
" affift you i for the fea all round us is covered and (hut up
" by their fleet, fo that they who were unwilling to come
" to an engagement mufl be forced to fight, and mow
*' themfelves men of courage, there being no room left
" for flight."

To this Themiftocles replied, " I am afhamed, Arifti-
" des, at your having got the ft art of me in this noble
" emulation ; I ihall ufe my utmoft endeavours to outdo
" this beginning by my future actions." At the fame time
he acquainted him (2) with the ftratagem he had contrived


enemy from making ufe of their Mnefiphilus an Athenian,

whole force; whereas if they went (2) This ftratagem was to give

before the Ifthmus, befides lofing the enemy a fecret information

Salamin, Megara, and yEgina, that the Greeks intended to aban-

they would fight to a great difad- don Salamin, and that they had

vantage on the open fea a gain ft nothing more to do than to hin-

a fuperior fleet; and that all der their retreat from thence,, in

the troops would defert them, order to have them at their

and march back to their own mercy. The perfon entrufted to

country, fo that they would have manage and convey this intelli-

no army left. Herodotus writes, gence was named Sicinus. See

that Themiftocles was not the firft the life of Themiftocles, and He-

that gave this advice, but one jadotus, viii. 75.

(3) The

396 t fbt L I F E of

to enfnare the barbarians, and begged him to perfuade Eu-
rybiades to venture a battle, and to fhow him the impoiTi-
bility of faving themfelves without it ; for Ariftides had
much the greater influence over him. Therefore when at
a council of war where all the general officers aflifted,
Cleocritus the Corinthian told Themiftocles, that Arifti-
des did not approve his advice, fmce he was there pre-
fent, and faid nothing at all ; Ariftides anfwered, " You
" are miftaken, for had not Themiftocles propofed what
" is moft expedient, I mould have declared my own fen-
" timents, and my filence is not owing to any favour to
" his perfon, but to my approbation of his advice."
While the Grecian commanders were engaged in thefe
debates Ariftides perceiving that Pfyttalia, a little ifland
lying in the ftraits over againft Salamin, was entirely pof-
iefled by the enemy's troops, put on board his fmall tran-
iports fome of the moft brave and refolute of his country-
men, and landing with them there, attacked the enemy
with fuch fury, that they were all cut to pieces, except
fome of the principal perfons who were made prifoners.
Among thefe were three fons of Sandauce the King's fif-
ter, whom Ariftides fent immediately to Themiftocles ;
and it is faid, that at the command of a certain Oracle,
by the direction of Euphrantides the diviner, they were
facrificed to Bacchus, furnamed Omeftes.

After this, Ariftides placed troops all round the ifland
to watch all fuch as fhould happen to be thrown upon
it, that fo none of his friends might perifh, nor any of
his enemies efcape ; for the greateft ftrefs and fury of
the battle feems to have lain thereabouts ; and therefore
a trophy was ere&ed in that ifland.

When the battle was over, Themiftocles, in order *u
difcover Ariftides's fentiments, fpoke thus ; 4t We have
" performed a great exploit, but a greater ftill remains,

" which

(3) Themiftocles was overjoyed for it appears plainly from Hero-

at Ariftides's propofal ; becaufe dotus's whole account, that The-

he plainly faw that it put it in miftocles had a mind to procure

his power to ferve his country, the favour and intereft of this

fcy obliging Xerxes to retreat ; Prince.

and at the fame time to make a (4) Herodotus makes no men-

meiit of his advice with the King; tion of thefe letter?, but fays, he "


A R I S T I D E S. 397

" which is, to take all Afia even in Europe, by failing di-
"reftly to the Hellefpont, and breaking down the bridge
" that Xerxes has left there for his retreat." But Ariftides
explained loudly againft this project, and defired The-
miftocles to give over all thoughts of it, telling him, that
he ought rather to conflder how they might drive the
Medes fpeedily out of Greece, left fo powerful an army
finding themfelves fhut up, and no way left for their
efcape, defpair might roufe their courage, and force
them to an obftinate defence.

Themiftocles therefore (3) fenta fecond time to Xerxes
by Arnaces the eunuch, one of the captives, whom he
ordered to acquaint the King privately, that out of a
defire to ferve him he had ufed his utmoft endeavours
to divert the Greeks from their defign of cutting
down the bridge over the Hellefpont. Xerxes, alarmed
at the danger that feemed to threaten him, iailed
immediately back towards the Hellefpont with his whole
fleet, leaving Mardonius behind him with a land army
compofed of three hundred thoufand of his beft

This great number of forces made the King's lieute-
nant-general very dreadful to the Greeks, and their fears
were heightened by his menaces, and the haughty letters
he wrote to them ; " You have," faid he in one of them,
"overcome, atfea, menunfkilledat the oar, and only ac-
" cuflomed to fight on land ; but the plains of TheiTaly and
" Boeotia offer us a fair opportunity to try the bravery of
" our horfe and foot." But (4) he wrote particular letters
to the Athenians, in which he made them offers from the
King, to rebuild their city, to give them large fums of
money, and to make them mafters of all Greece, upon
condition they would withdraw their forces, and give
their allies no further affiftance. (5) The Lacedaemonians


fent them to Alexander King of ties, lib, viii. 140, 141.

Macedon.thefonof Amyntas,and (0 According to Herodotus

the feventh in a lineal defcent they fent thefe arabafladors, not

from Peidicas ; and he relates the upon any intelligence they had re-

fpeech made by him in their pub- ceived of thefe propofals, but upon

lick aflemblies, and the anfwer the firft news of Alexander's leav

made to it by the Spartan depu- ing the army under Mardonius ;



having intelligence of thefe propofals, and fearing they
might be accepted, fent ambalfadors to Athens, (6) to
entreat the Athenians to fend their wives and children
to Sparta for their greater fafety, and to accept from
them of what was neceflary for the fuftenance and fup-
port of fuch as were in years ; for the people being de-
fpoiled both of their city and country, fuffered an ex-
treme poverty. When the Athenians had heard the am-
baiTadors ; they made them fuch an anfwer, by the direction
of Ariftides,as can never be fufficiently admired; they faid,
" They forgave their enemies, if they thought every thing
" was to be purchafed for money, becaufe perhaps they
" knew nothing of greater value; but that they were highly
"offended that the Lacedaemonians mould regard only their
" prefent poverty and diftrefs, and forgetful of the Atheni-
"an honour and virtue, mould think that an allowance of
" bread to their poor would be the only fufficient motive to
" induce them to continue firm to their alliance, and to
" fight for the fafety of Greece." This anfwer being ap-
proved of, all the ambafladors were brought into the afiem-
bly, Arifiides then ordered thofe from Sparta to acquaint
the Lacedsemonians, " That all the gold upon earth, and all
" that was contained within the bowels of it, was not fo
" valuable to the Athenians as the liberty of Greece;" and to
thofe that came from Mardonius, mowing them the fun,
he faid, " That fo long as that luminary continued its courfe,
"fo long would the Athenians wage waragainft the Perfi-
" ans, to revenge the plundering and wafting of their coun-
" try, and the profanation and burning of their temples."
He like wife preferred a decree, that whofoever mould
fend any embaffy to the Medes, or defert the alliance of
Greece, mould be folemnly curfed by the priefts.


for they very much fufpedled the ambafladors arrived at Athens foon

occafion of this journey. Befides, after Alexander, and were prefent

the>- called to mind the predic- at the firft audience he had of

tions of certain Oracles which the people,
encreafed their fears ; for they (6) Herodotus relates the dif-

threatened both them and all the courfe thefe ambafladors made to

Dorians with being driven out of the people at their audience,.

Peloponnefus by the Medes and viii. 142. Plutarch has only

Athenians. Accordingly thefe flightly mentioned the heads of


A R I S T I D E S. 399

When Mardonius made a fecond incurfion into the
country of Attica, the Athenians retired again into the
ifland of Salamin. At that time Ariilides being fentam-
baiTador to Sparta, complained of the delay and neglect
of the Lacedaemonians, reproached them with their aban-
doning Athens again to the barbarians, and earneftly ex-
horted them to march with all fpeed to the relief of that
part of Greece which was not yet fallen in to the enemy's
hands. The Ephori having heard this reprefentation,
(7) feemed very little moved' at it, but (8) fpent the whole
day in feafling and merriment, it happening to be the
feftival of Hyacinthus. But at night they difpatched five
thoufand Spartans, each of them taking with him feven
Helots, and fent them away privately, unknown to tire
Athenians. Some days after Ariftides complaining again
to the council, the Ephori told him {railing, " That he
" rnuft needs either doat or dream ; fince their army was
"by that time as far asOreftium, on their march againft
" the foreigners ;" for fo the Lacedasmonians called the
barbarians. Ariftides told them, "it was not then a time
" to jeft and divert themfelves with deceiving their
"friends inftead of their enemies." This is Idomeneus's
account of the matter : but in Ariftides decree, he is
not mentioned as an ambafiador, the arnbafladors being
Cimon, Xanthippus and Myronides.

Being fome time after appointed chief commander of
the Athenian forces, he marched with eight thoufand
foot to Plataeae. There Paufanias, General of all Greece,
joined him with the Spartans, and the other Grecian
troops arrived daily in great numbers. The barbarian
army was encamped along the fide of the river Afopus,
and occupied an immenfe tract of ground; in the middle


it. They did not propofe to the gained ten days ; in which time
Athenians to fend their wives and they finifhed the wall that guard-
children to Sparta, but only of- ed the Ifthmus, and fecured them
fered to maintain them during againft the barbarians.
the war. (8) Among the Lacedaemonians
(7) They deferred giving him the feaft of Hyacinthus lafted three
'an anfwer till the next day, and days; the firft and laft were days
then till the day following, and of forrow and mourning for Hya-
.fo from day to. day, till they had cinthus's death, but the fecond wa:

a day

4 <3o ?hc LIFE of

of it there was a fquare wall thrown up, each fide
of which was ten furlongs in length, for the fecurity of
their baggage and other things of value.

In the Grecian army there was a diviner ofElis, named
(9) Tifamenus, who had foretold Paufanias, and all the
Greeks, that they mould infallibly obtain the victory,
provided they forbore to attack the enemy, and flood
only on their own defence. And Ariflides having fent to
confult the Oracle at Delphi, the God anfwered, " That
" the Athenians mould gain the victory over their enemies,
" provided they made their fupplications to Jupiter, to
" Juno the Patronefs of mount Citheron, to Pan, and (i) to
" the nymphs Sphragitides ; and facrificed to the heroes,
" Androcrates, Leucon, Pifander, Damocrates, Hypfion,
" Acteon and Polyidus ; and fought only in their own coun-
" try, in the plain of Ceres the Eleufmian and Proferpine."

This anfwer of the Oracle very much perplexed Ari-
flides, for the heroes to whom it commanded to offer
facrifice were the anceflors of the Plataeans ; and the cave
of the nymphs Sphragitides was on one of the fummits
of mount Citheron, on that fide which in the fummer fea-
fon is oppofite to the fetting fun ; in that cave, it is
faid, there was formerly an Oracle, and many, who
dwelt in thofe parts, were infpired by it, and were from
thence called Nympholepti, that is, "poflefTed by the
"nymphs." But on the other fide, to promife victory to
the Athenians upon condition only of fighting in their own
country, and in the plain of the Eleufmian Ceres, was to
transfer the war again into Attica.

In the mean time Arimneftus, the General of the Pla-
taeans, dreamed that Jupiter the Saviour came to him,


a day of rejoicing; there were promifed this Tifamenus five great
feafts, plays, fliows, and all kind victories. The Spartans being in-
of diverfions : and it is very evi- formed of this, had a mind to
dent that this paffage of Plutarch have him for their diviner, and
is to be underftood of this fecond made him confiderable offers ;
day. This feaft was celebrated but he demanded to be made a
annually in the month of Auguft, citizen of Sparta, which they re-
in honour of Apollo and Hya- fufed. Upon the approach of
cinthus. the Perfians the Spartans offered
(9) An Oracle had formerly him what the/ had refufed be-

A R I S T I D E S. 401

and afked him, " What reiblution the Grecians had taken ;
to which he anfwered, " To-morrow we fhall decamp and
" remove our army into the territories of Eleufis, and there
a fight the barbarians, according to the directions of the
" Oracle." To which the God replied, "That they were
" quite miftaken, for the place mentioned by the Oracle
" was the country round Plataege and that they would find
" it to be fo, upon enquiry."After fo plain a vifion, Arimne-
ftus as foon as he awoke, fent for the moft aged and expe-
rienced of his countrymen, and having advifed with them,
found at laft that not far from Hufia, at the foot of mount
Citheron, there was a very old temple, called The temple
of Eleufmian Ceres and Proferpine. He immediately led
Ariftides to the place, which they found very commo-
dious for drawing up an army of foot, that was not well
provided with cavalry, becaufe the bottom of mount Ci-
theron extending as far as the temple, rendered it inac-
ceilible to horfe. Befides, in the fame place was the tem-
ple of the hero Androcrates, quite overgrown and co-
vered by trees and thickets. And that the Oracle might
be obeyed in every particular, to confirm their hopes of
victory, the Plataeans upon the motion of Arimneftus
made a decree to alter the boundaries betv/een their
country and Greece, enlarging the territories of Attica,
that fo the Athenians, according to the direction of the
Oracle, might give the enemy battle within their own do-
minions. The Platasans became fo renowned for this ge-
ncrofity, that many years after, when Alexander had con-
quered all Afia, hecaufed the walls ofPlatasae to be rebuilt,
and proclamation to be made by an herald at the Olym-
pick games, " That he did thePlataeans this favour for

" their

fore; but he infifted on having the the refpedt and filence that was

lame honour beftowed on his bro- obferved in relation to every thing

ther Hegias, which was granted, that happened in the cave, for

And thefe are the only two foreign- fear of offending the nymphs, and

ers that ever were made citizens incurring their difpleafure. For

of Sparta. Herodot. ix. 32. o-ppayKiignifies a feal, from whence

(i) The nymphs of mount Ci- they fay a-^fxyf^x yXaWi) \<rrutt~o-

theron were named Sphragitides, & Os fignatum habere, to ex-

from the cave called Sphragidion. prefs abfolute filence.
This name probably came from

VOL. II. Cc (2) Here


" their virtue and generofity, of which they had given
" fuch fignal proofs in the war with the Medes, by
" making over their country to the Athenians, for the
" fafety of Greece.

When it was propofed to draw tip the whole army in
order of battle, a great difpute arofe between the Tege-
atse and the Athenians ; the Tegeatae pretending, that as
the Lacedaemonians, in all battles, commanded the right
wing, fo the honour cf commanding the left was their
due ; and to juftify this pretenfion, they ailedged the me-
morable exploits of their anceftors. As the, Athenians
were highly enraged at this, Ariftides advancing in the
midft of them, faid, " It is not now a time to contefl with
" the Tegeatae concerning their valour and exploits; \ve
*' (hall content ourfelves with telling you O Spartans, and
" all the reft of the Greeks, that it is not the poft that
" gives courage, or takes it away, and that whatever poft
** you (hall afiignus, we will endeavour to render it ho-
" nourable, and maintain it in fuch a manner as to reflect
" no difgrace on our former atchievements. We are come
" hither, not to contend with our friends, but to fight with
" our enemies ; not to boaft of our anceftors, but to fhow
** our own bravery in the defence of Greece ; for this battle
*' will diftinguilh the particular merit of each city, com-
" mander, and private ibldier." The council of war ha-
ving heard this, declared in favour of the Athenians, and
gave them the command of the left wing.

While the fate of all Greece was in fufpence, and the
Athenians in particular found themfelves in very difficult
and dangerours circumftances, feveral of the moft noble
and wealthy citizens feeing that they were ruined by the
war, and that with their wealth they had loft all their
credit and authority in the city, others being advanced
in their room, ai:d enjoying the honours they had loft,
aflembled privately in a houfe at Plataex, and confpired
a diilolution of the Athenian government ; refolving if


(z) Here Plutarch follows au- as he was contemporary with A-
thorities that differ from Hcrodo- riftides ; for he was nine or ten
tus; though Herodotus feems more years old when this battle was
worthy of credit than all the reft, fought, and he wrote his account


A R I S T I D E S. 403

they mifcarried in their defign, to ruin every thing, and
betray all Greece to the barbarians.

When Ariftides difcovered this confpiracy, which was
carried on in the camp, and found that great numbers
were already corrupted dnd won ov 7 er, he was 'at firft
very much alarmed on account of the prefent jundure,
and Unrefolved what courfe to purfue ; but at laft he
determined neither wholly to neglect an affair of that
confequence, nor yet to fearch. too minutely into it: for
not knowing how many might be engaged in it, he
judged it advifeable ,to facrifice juflice, in fome mea-
fure to the publick good, by forbearing to profecute all
that were guilty. Out of the whole number he caufed
eight only to be apprehended, and of thofe eight only
two to be proceeded againft as being mod guilty, JEi'-
chines of Lampra, and Agefias, of Acharnes, who made
their efcape out of the camp during the profecution. As
for the reft, he difcharged them ; giving them thereby
an opportunity to recover from their fear, and repent,
as they might imagine that nothing had been found a-
gainft them ; but he told them at the fame time, " That
" the battle would be the tribunal, where they mightjuf-
" tify themfelves, and make it appear, that they had ne-
" ver purfued any counfels, but what were juft and ufeful
" to their country."

(3) After this, Mardonius, 'to try the Grecian courage,
lent his cavalry, in which he was flrongefl, to fkirmifh
with them. The Greeks were encamped at the foot of
mount Citheron, in ftrong and flony places, except the
Megarenfians, who, to the number of three thoutand,
were encamped in the plain ; by which mean's they were
the more expofed to the enemy's horfe, who attacked
them on every fide. They therefore fent to Paufanias
for affiftance, being unable to oppofe the fuperior power
of the enemy. Paufanias hearing this, and feeing the
camp of the Megarenfians as it were darkened and co-

of it from perfons that were in the encamp round Platseae, near Hufia,
battle. He informs us that this and before the conteft between
happened before the Greeks left the Tegeatae and the Athenians,
their camp at Erythrx, in order to L. ix. 19, 20, &c.

C c 2 0) Oa

404 L I F E of

vered by ~he great number of the barbarian darts and
arrows, and that they .v/ere forced to contract themfelves
within a narrow compafs, was at a lofs what to refblve
on ; for he faw no way of attacking the enemy with his
heavy-armed Spartans. He endeavoured therefore to
awaken the emulation of the officers and commanders
that were about him, that they might make it a point
of honour voluntarily to undertake the defence and fuc-
cour of the Megarenfians. But Ariilides perceiving that
they all declined it, made an offer of his Athenians, and
at the fame time gave his orders to Olympiodorus, the
braveft of all his officers, who had a body of three hun-
dred men, and fome archers under his command. They
were all ready in a moment, and marched againft the
barbarians with the utmoft expedition. Mafiftius, Ge-
neral of the Perfian horfe, a man diftinguifhed for his
ilrength and graceful mien, as foon as he faw them,
turned his horfe, and made toward them. The Athe-
nians received him with great firmnefs and refolution ;
whereupon a (harp contefl enfued, as if the event of the
war were to be determined from the fuccefs of this en-
gagement. At laft Mafiflius's horfe being wounded
with an arrow, threw his rider, who could not rife for
the weight of his armour, nor yet be eafily flain by the
Athenians, who thronged about him, and aflaulted him
on every fide ; for not only his head and bread but all
his limbs were covered with gold, brafs, and iron. But
the vizor of his helmet leaving part of his face un-
guarded, a certain Athenian pierced him in the eye with
his pike, and flew him ; (3) whereupon the Perfians left
his body and fled. The great advantage gained by
the Athenians did not appear from the number of the
flain, very few lying dead upon the field of battle, but
from the mourning of the barbarians, who exprefled
fuch a grief for the death of Mafiftius, that they cut off
their own hair, and that of their hones and mules, and


(3) On the contrary Herodotus fliarp engagement enfued.
fays they rallied, and charged (4) Herodotus mentions the rea-
again wirn great fury, in order to fon of this great frisndfhip of Alex-
carry off bis body, and Aat a ander for the Greeks, which was,



filled all the camp with their cries, groans and tears, as
having loft the next perlbn in the army to Mardonius,
for courage as well as authority.

After this engagement againft the barbarian horfe, both

Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's lives : in six volumes : translated from the Greek (Volume 2) → online text (page 36 of 42)