Imágenes de páginas

Eurybiades, by reafon of the confequence which Sparta held among the other cities, ftill continued admiral of the Grecian fleet. He however was fo intimidated by the formidable appearance of the enemy, that he was once more on the point of failing back to the gulph of Corinth, where their landforces lay. But Themiftocles, in conjunction with Ariftides, (between whom a laudable rivalship to promote the public good now fubfifted), after feveral ftratagems and manœuvres, brought the two fleets to a general engagement.

As the action took place, through the good management of Themiftocles, in a narrow arm of the fea, where the Perfians could bring only a part of their fleet to engage, and where their own fhips fell foul of each other, the Greeks, who by this means equalled them in ftrength, fought them till the evening, when they gained a clear and celebrated victory over them. During the fight, Xerxes had placed himself on a neighbouring promontory, where he fat in a chariot of gold, to behold the bravery and good conduct of his commanders; and fo fure was he of fuccefs, that he had feveral fecretaries about him, to record their deeds.

The Perfian king, being greatly enraged at his ill fortune, ordered vaft heaps of earth and ftones to be caft into the fea, in order to ftop up the channel, and to make a dam, upon which he might lead his land-forces over into the island of Salamine.

Themiftocles, after the victory, intended to fail for the Hellefpont, to break the bridge of fhips, whereby he might hinder Xerxes from retreating into Afia. But Ariftides pointing out to him the impropriety of keeping fuch an immenfe body of enemies in their country, and driving them to defperation, when it was their intent to get rid of them as foon as poffible; Themiftocles fent one of the captives to the Perfian king, with an artful message, which fo terrified him, that he retreated out of Greece with all speed.

The prudent conduct of Themistocles and Ariftides, and the advantageous management of this affair, were afterwards more fully understood at the battle of Platæ, where Mardonius, with a very small portion of the forces of Xerxes, put the Greeks in danger of lofing all.

All men yielded the chief glory of these fucceffes

K 2

fucceffes to Themistocles; and when the Greeks returned to the entrance of Peloponnefus, at the time the officers delivered their fuffrages, infcribed on billets taken from the altar, to determine who was most worthy, every one gave the first vote for himself, and the fecond for Themiftocles.

The Lacedæmonians carried him with them to Sparta, where, beftowing the rewards of valour on Eurybiades, and of wisdom and conduct on Themiftocles, they crowned him. with olive, gave him precedency, presented him with the richest car in the city, and fent three hundred young men to accompany him to the confines of their country.

And at the next Olympian games, when Themiftocles entered the place where those exercises were performed, the fpectators took no further notice of thofe who ftrove for maftery, but spent the whole day in looking at him, fhewing him to the ftrangers, admiring him, and applauding him by clapping their hands, with many other expreffions of joy: which fo delighted him, that he confeffed to his friends, that he then reaped the fruit of all his labours in behalf of the Greeks.


We now see this famous Grecian commander at the fummit of his glory. From a low origin, he had gained as great a degree

affluence and fame, as any of the great men with which Greece in those days abounded. But through the inftability of all human grandeur, we find that he not long after experienced a degrading reverfe, and became a proper object to be admitted. among the inftances of the mutability of fortune, which every age and country (as may be learnt from thofe recorded in the prefent work) have produced,

The caufes which effected this revolution in the fortunes of Themiftocles, were many. In the first place, notwithstanding he had fo lately received almost unparalleled honour from the hands of the Lacedæmonians, he gained their ill will by furrounding Athens with walls. He likewife drew upon himself the hatred of the Athenian nobility, by fortifying the haven of Piræus, and joining the whole city to the fea, as it tended to increase the power of the people. By thefe, and fome other steps, he fo far exafperated the Lacedæmonians, and the principal men of his own country, that they afterwards ufed

[blocks in formation]

all their intereft for the advancement of Cimon, in oppofition to him.

When the citizens of Athens began to lend a willing ear to the suggestions of his enemies, Themiftocles was forced to put them in mind of the great fervices he had per formed: and asking those who were offended with him, whether they were weary of receiving frequent benefits from the same perfon? he thereby added to their enmity.

But what incenfed the people most against him, and brought him general cenfure, was his naming the temple of Diana, which he laid the foundation of, Ariftoboule, or Diana of the best counfel; intimating thereby, that be had given the best counfel, not only to the Athenians, but to all Greece,

At length the Athenians banished him; making ufe of the oftracifm to deprefs his great worth, eminence and authority, as they ufually did to all those whom they thought too powerful, and in a capacity to oppress them, or who, by their greatnefs, were become difproportionable to that equality which

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »