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Sect. 1. The Rise of Persia and the Fall of the Lydian Kingdom

While the Greeks were sailing their own seas, and working out in their city-states the institutions of law and freedom, untroubled by any catastrophe beyond the shores of the Mediterranean, great despotic kingdoms were waxing and waning in the east. In the seventh century, the mighty empire of Assyria was verging to its end; the power destined to overthrow it had arisen. But the story of Assyria lies outside the story of Greece, since the Greeks, except in one outlying corner, came into no immediate contact with the lords of Nineveh. The Greek, as well as the Phoenician communities of Cyprus were involved in the fortunes of the Syrian coastland. When in the last quarter of the eighth century Sargon, under whose sceptre Assyria reached the summit of her power, had conquered the lands of the sea-coast—the Phoenicians and the Philistines—seven kings who lived “at a distance of seven days in the middle of the western sea” trembled before him and offered their submission. They were the kings of Yatnan, as the Assyrians called Cyprus, and their act of fealty is recorded for us by Sargon himself on a pillar which he set up “in a valley of the land of Yatnan.” Among the monarchs who submitted there were doubtless Greeks as well as Phoenicians, and a generation later we have the names of ten Cypriote kings who were subject to Assarhaddon and to Assurbanipal—Assarhaddon the great conqueror who voluntarily abdicated his throne, and Assurbanipal the peaceful sovereign, whom the Greeks remembered as Sardanapalus. Among the names of the vassals whom inscriptions of these two kings enumerate are those of Eteandros of Paphos and Pylagoras of Cition. But if the story of Assyria touches only a remote fringe of the Hellenic world, it is otherwise with the story of those who destroyed the Assyrian empire. The Medes and Persians, folks of Aryan speech like the Greeks, were marked out by destiny to be the adversaries of the Greeks throughout the two chief centuries of Grecian history.

The land of Media lies east of Assyria. Its ancient history is shrouded in mist; but there are some reasons for guessing that in the second millennium it was part of a great Aryan kingdom which stretched far north­eastwards over the plains of Bactria, peopled by the Iranian branch, as it is called, of the Aryan stock. The Iranians worshipped the same gods of heaven and light as the other folks of their kindred; but their sun­worship developed into a very different shape from the religion of Zeus. They regarded the element of fire with deeper reverence than other sun-worshippers; they dreaded to pollute it by the touch of a dead body or the overflow’ of boiling water; their land was full of temples with altars of perpetual fire. But the religion of the fire-worshippers had been moulded into an almost philosophical form by their prophet Zoroaster, who, though his name is encompassed with legend and it is uncertain when he lived, was assuredly a real man and not a creation of myth. He diffused among the Iranians the doctrine that the world is the perpetual scene of a deadly strife between the powers of light and darkness, between Ormuzd, the Great Lord, and Ahriman, the principle of evil.

It was towards the end of the eighth century that the Medes rebelled against the yoke of Assyria. They were led by Deioces, and after a struggle Media gained her independence, and the deliverer was elected king by the free vote of his people. He had not only freed but had united his countrymen, and he set the seal on the Meunion of Media by building the great city of Ecbatana. His treasury and palace were in the centre of a fortress girdled by seven walls; and he is said to have lived in this stronghold, withdrawn from the sight of his people, who could approach him only by written petitions.

The first successors of Deioces had enough to do in resisting the efforts of Assyria to recover her power over Media. But presently a king arose who was strong enough to extend his sway beyond the borders of his own land. Phraortes conquered the hilly land of Persia in the south; and thus a large Aryan realm was formed stretching from the Caspian to the Persian Gulf, east of Assyria and Babylonia. The next step was to conquer Assyria itself; and Cyaxares, the successor of Phraortes, prepared for the enterprise by a new organisation of the Median army. It was no hopeless task, for the Assyrian empire had been breaking up. Egypt had thrown off the yoke of the kings of Nineveh; and Nabopolassar had just arisen to do for Babylonia what Deioces had done for Media. Nabopolassar and Cyaxares joined hands; and the united forces of Media and Babylonia defeated the Assyrian army. The conquerors divided the empire. The south-western portion up to the borders of Egypt went to Babylonia; Assyria itself and the lands stretching westward into Asia Minor were annexed to Media. 

The restored kingdom of Babylonia, under Nebucadnezar, the Babylonia successor of its founder, rose into wonderful fame and brilliance. He drove the Egyptians out of Syria, smiting them in the great battle of Carchemish; he stormed Jerusalem and carried the Jews into captivity; he made Tyre on its rock tremble though he failed to take it; he invaded and overran Egypt. But more famous than his conquests abroad were his mighty works in his own land. He made Babylon the greatest city in the world; and the stray Greeks who visited it came back with amazing stories of the palaces and temples, and the “hanging gardens,” a terraced park which was constructed by Nebucadnezar, though report ascribed it to the mythical queen Semiramis. But the gigantic walls which girt the city were the mightiest monument of Nebucadnezar; Greek travellers said that the circuit was more than fifty miles. It seems certain that few men have done more than this lord of Babylon to increase the sum of human misery, if we imagine the lives of countless thralls forced under the pitiless lash to spend their flesh and blood in unceasing and unsparing labour. Nebucadnezar went down to his grave, full of honours, after a long reign. He knew well on what side danger was to be feared for his kingdom. One of his works of fortification was a wall from the Tigris to the Euphrates, north of Babylon, to defend Babylonia against Media, her northern neighbour.

The exploits of the great Babylonian king affected Greece little. The Greeks of Cyprus must have caught the echoes of the clash of arms at Carchemish ; they must have been stirred by the tidings of the storming of Jerusalem and excited by the siege of Tyre. But the changes which had befallen the east were brought nearer to the ken of Greece by the advance of Media. Cyaxares drew under his power the eastern parts of Asia Minor as far as the banks of the Halys, and this river became the boundary between Media and Lydia. The conquest of Lydia was the next aim in the expansion of the Median power, and a pretext was found for declaring war. In the sixth year of the war a battle was fought, but in the midst of the combat the day was turned suddenly to night; and the darkening of the sun made such a deep impression on the minds of the combatants that they laid down their arms and a peace was concluded. But the solar obscuration of this May day has another association which has a deeper interest for Europe than the warfare of Lydian and Mede. It was the first eclipse of which European science foretold when it should betide. Thales of Miletus, the father of Greek, and thereby of European, philosophy and science, had studied astronomy in Egypt; and he was able to warn the Ionians that before such a year had passed—his lore could not tell the day or the hour—the sun would be darkened. Thales was not only the first man of science; he was also the first philosopher: science and philosophy were not yet separated. If he looks over the ages to Copernicus, Newton, and Laplace, he looks likewise to Descartes, Berkeley, and Kant. He sought for a common substance, a single principle which should explain the variety of nature and reduce the world to unity and system; it is a small matter that he found this principle in water  it is his eternal merit to have sought it.

The Lydian king Alyattes wedded his daughter to Astyages, who succeeded to the throne of Media, and the kingdom of Lydia was saved for a generation, to enjoy the most brilliant period of its history. When Lydia recovered from the Cimmerian invasion, king Ardys renewed the efforts of Gyges to reduce the Greek cities of the coast. His chief success seems to have been the capture of Priene.  His successors, Sadyattes and Alyattes, carried on a weary war against Miletus. They harried the Milesian territory every year, destroying the corn crops, and defeated the Milesians in two battles  but the strong walls of the coast-city defied them, as they had no fleet. At length Alyattes made peace with Miletus; possibly it was the outbreak of the war with Media that forced him to this step. At all events, he seems to have behaved liberally to his foes. He built two temples to Athena in the place of one which had been burned down when he was devastating the Milesian land. This act of reparation was quite in accordance with the reverence for the gods of Greece which the Lydian monarchs invariably displayed. The story is that, when Alyattes fell ill and consulted Apollo at Delphi, the oracle enjoined upon him to restore the temple. Ionian Miletus was saved, but the famous Achaean city of Smyrna was not only captured but destroyed, and in this volume its name will occur no more. Alyattes also conquered Bithynia, and drove the remnant of the Cimmerians out of Asia. He might think that Lydia would now take rank with one of the great monarchies of the south or the east, and he built himself an enormous sepulchre, an earth-mound on stone foundations, which in size at least might match the monuments of Egyptian or Babylonian kings.

It was reserved for Croesus, the son of Alyattes, to carry out fully the design of subjugating the cities of Eastern Greece. He attacked and subdued the cities, Ionian and Aeolian, one after another, all except Miletus, whose treaty with his father he respected, while Miletus on her part saved her freedom by withholding all help from her sister cities. The Dorian states of Caria were also forced to submit, and the empire of Croesus extended from the Halys to the Aegean. We saw before that Lydia exercised a distinct influence on the Greeks of Asia, but perhaps their influence upon her was even greater. The Greek language spread in Lydia, and we may suspect that it was heard in Sardis as much as the native idiom; the Greek gods were revered; the Greek oracles were appealed to. The kings were benefactors of Hellenic sanctuaries. In the new temple of Artemis, which arose at Ephesus during his reign, Croesus was the donor of the sculptured reliefs which encircled the Ionic pillars, and fragments of the three words, which recorded the gift “Dedicated by King Croesus,” can still be read on the bases of the columns. Hence the Greeks never regarded the Lydians as utter barbarians; and they always cherished a curious indulgence and sympathy for Croesus, though he had enslaved and ruled as despot the cities of Asiatic Hellas. The court of Sardis was in truth more oriental than Hellenic, not only in wealth and luxury, but also in its customs, for instance, polygamy and the infliction of cruel punishments. Croesus carded alive a man who had opposed his succession to the throne. The Ionians had marvelled at the treasures of golden Gyges, but the untold wealth of Croesus became proverbial. It was furnished largely by the tributes of the Greek cities, as well as by the white gold of the Pactolus and the products of the mines of Pergamon. Croesus was the first to introduce, instead of the white gold money, a coinage of two metals, pure gold and silver, bearing to each other the fixed proportion of 3 to 40.

There is no more striking proof of the political importance of the oracle of Delphi at this period than the golden offerings dedicated by Croesus, offerings richer than even the priestly avarice of the Delphians could have dared to hope for. Wealthy though the lord of Lydia was, genuine as was his faith in the inspiration of the oracle, he might hardly have sent such gifts if he had not wished to secure the political support of Apollo and believed that Apollo’s support was worth securing. His object was to naturalise himself as a member of the Greek world; to appear, not as an outsider, but as an adopted son of Hellas, ruling over the Greeks whom he had subdued and those whom he still hoped to subdue. Nothing would be more helpful than the good word of the Delphic oracle to compass such a reputation. Moreover, if one of the Asiatic cities contemplated rebellion, a discouraging reply from the oracle, which would assuredly be consulted, might stand the despot in good stead.

Having extended his sway to the coast, Croesus conceived the idea of making Lydia a sea-power and conquering the islands. It was a perfectly feasible plan; and it was not till unforeseen events had frustrated it that the islanders could have found much comfort in the epigram that a Lydian king sailing against them with a fleet would be like themselves advancing against Lydia with a host of cavalry. The tale afterwards shaped itself that one of the wise men of Greece—it mattered little whether he was alive at the time or not—used this witticism to dissuade Croesus from the enterprise. But Croesus was diverted from his western designs by something graver than an epigram. Events of great moment were happening in the east. His brother-in-law Astyages was hurled from the throne of Media by a hero, who was to become one of the world’s mightiest conquerors. The usurper was Cyrus the Great, of the Persian family of the Achaemenids. The revolution signified indeed little more than a change of dynasty; the Persians and Medes were peoples of the same race and the same faith; the realm remained Iranian as before. But the Persians seem to have been the noblest part of the Iranian race; their bravery, temperance, and love of truth extorted the admiration of the Greeks.

The fall of Astyages was an opportunity for the ambitious Lydian to turn his arms to the east. The restoration of his brother-in-law was indeed a sufficient plea; and he might have good cause to fear that if he were not the first to strike, the Persian usurper would soon advance to the conquest of Lesser Asia. But Croesus certainly cherished hopes of extending the Lydian power into the interior parts of Asia, if not of succeeding himself to the Median throne. In undertaking such an enterprise he had to fear his Greek subjects, who might take advantage of his absence to throw off his yoke, and might even intrigue with the Persian. That the Greeks of Ionia had been long accustomed to regard Media as a resort against Lydia and to intrigue with the Median kings is shown by the word medism. For if such intriguing had first come into fashion after the rise of Persia and the fall of Lydia, the name chosen to designate it would naturally have been persism. The preparations of Croesus for an expedition to the east were welcome news to the lands of the Aegean. Desirous of probing the bidden event of the future, he consulted some of the oracles of Greece. There can be no question that the Delphic god gave him an answer which was meant to encourage him in his enterprise. It is said that the answer was that if he crossed the Halys he would destroy a mighty empire—an answer which need not have been that which was actually given, but may have been circulated afterwards to justify the oracle when the ex­pedition failed. But it is the policy of the oracle, not its methods of evasion, which has historical significance. The spirit of Delphi was favourable to Hellenic freedom, and it saw in the proposed expedition the probability of a long war with Persia and a chance for the eastern Greeks of retaining their independence. It did not foresee the complete conquest of Lydia and the subjection of the Greeks to a power which was utterly barbarian. The oracle took the occasion, however, to bring about a union between Croesus and the Lacedaemonians, by bidding him seek the aid of the most powerful state of Greece. An alliance was concluded, but led to nothing, and Lacedaemon sent no help.

Croesus, at the head of an army which included a force of Ionian Greeks, crossed the fateful Halys and invaded Cappadocia. He took the ancient city of Pteria, and in its neighbourhood fought an indecisive battle with the host of Medes and Persians which Cyrus had led against him. But the host of Cyrus seems to have been far superior in numbers, and Croesus retired before him into Lydia. Under the walls of the capital the invader won a decisive victory, and after a short siege Sardis was stormed and plundered. The life of Croesus was spared. Cyrus had given strict injunctions that he was on no account to be slain in the struggle of the capture; and the story went that a soldier, not recognising him, was about to cut him down, when the king’s son, who had been dumb from birth, suddenly burst out into speech: “O man, slay not Croesus.”

This was not the only tale which adorned the fall of the Lydian king. The capture of Sardis was an eventuality of which no one had seriously thought. So great had been the wealth and might of Croesus, so dizzy the height of his power, that none deemed his overthrow possible; and the sheer and sudden fall into nothingness made perhaps a deeper and more abiding impression on the imagination of Hellas than any other historical event. It was the most illustrious example that the Greeks had ever witnessed of their favourite doctrine that the gods visit with jealousy men who enjoy too great prosperity. And the personality of Croesus himself crept into their sympathies—the admirer of Hellenic art and wisdom, the adorer of Hellenic gods, the generous giver out of his abundant wealth. Never more than for the memory of Croesus did Greece put forth the power of that genius, which she possessed in such full measure, of weaving round an event of history tales which have a deep and touching import as lessons for the life of men.

Cyrus built a great pyre—so the story is told by Herodotus—and placed thereon Croesus bound in chains, with fourteen Lydian boys. f And as Croesus was standing on the pile, in this extreme pass, there came into his mind a word which Solon had said to him, that no man could be called happy so long as he was alive. For the Athenian statesman had visited the court of Sardis in his travels—the art of the tale-weaver had no precise regard for the facts of time—and when he had seen the royal treasures and the greatness of the kingdom Croesus asked him whom he deemed the happiest of men. Solon named some obscure Greeks who were dead; and when the king, unable to hide his wonder and vexation, exclaimed, “Is our royal fortune so poor, O Athenian stranger, that you set private men before me?” the wise Greek had discoursed on the uncertainty of life and the jealousy of the gods. Then Croesus, remembering this, groaned aloud and called thrice on the name of Solon. But Cyrus heard him call, and bade the interpreters ask him on whom he was calling. For a while Croesus would not speak, then he said: “One whom I would that all tyrants might meet and converse with.” Pressed further he named Solon the Athenian, and repeated the wise man’s words. The pyre was already alight, but when Cyrus heard the answer of his prisoner he reflected that he too was a man, and he commanded that the fire should be quenched and the victims set free. The flames were already blazing so strong and high that the men could not quench them. Then Croesus cried to Apollo for help, and the god sent clouds into the clear sky, and a tempestuous shower of rain extinguished the fire.

Such is the tale as we read it in the history of Herodotus, who may have heard it at Athens. But we can almost see the story in the making. For, before the episode of Solon was woven in, the fate Croesus had been wrought into a legend; this legend is related in a poem of Bacchylides. When the day of doom surprised the king, “he would not abide to endure the bitterness of bondage, but he raised a pyre before the palace court, and gat him up thereon with his wife and his weeping daughters. He bade the slippered thrall kindle the timber building; the maidens screamed, and stretched their arms to their mother. But as the might of the fire was springing through the wood, Zeus set a sable cloud above it and quenched the yellow flame. Then Apollo bore the old man with his daughters to the land of the Hyperboreans, to be his abiding place, for his piety’s sake, because his gifts to Pytho were greater than all men’s gifts.” The moral of the tale clearly was, Bring gifts to Delphi; and we can hardly doubt that it originated under Delphic influence. But in the city of Solon it was transformed by a touch of genius into one of the great stories of the world.

As for Croesus it is certain that his life was spared, and it is possible that he spent his remaining days in Media, unconscious that a mythical association with the famous Athenian lawgiver would be his best assured claim on the memory of future ages.


Sect. 2. The Persian Conquest of Asiatic Greece


The kingdom of Lydia had performed a certain function in the development of Greece. Besides the invention of coinage, which was its own great contribution to the civilisation of mankind; besides the influence which its luxury and “tyranny” exercised on Ionia; the mere existence of the Lydian realm, in its intermediate position between Greece and the east, was of considerable importance as a bulwark against the great oriental empires. It kept Greece from coming into direct contact with the empire of Assyria; it kept Greece for sixty years from coming into direct contact with the empire of Media. When the barrier is swept away, a new period is opened in Grecian history. The Greeks now stand face to face with the power of a monarch whose dominion stretches far away beyond the Euphrates, beyond the Tigris, into lands which are totally unknown to them. The Asiatic Greeks are now to exchange subjection to a lord of Sardis for subjection to a potentate who holds his court in a city so distant that the length of the journey is told by months. This distance of the centre from the extremities of the empire was of the utmost significance. The king was obliged to leave his conquests in Asia Minor to the government of his satraps; and the Greeks were unable to exercise any influence upon him, as they might have done if he had ruled from Sardis or some nearer capital. This was all the more unfortunate, on account of another difference which, distinguished the Persian from the Lydian kingdom. While the Lydians were outside the Aryan family, the Persians and Medes v spoke a language of the same stock as that of the Greeks. It may be thought that if the Persians had come under Greek influence, Iranian history would have taken a different course. For the Persians were a people marked out to fall under the influence of others and not to hew an independent path for themselves. In their own highlands, like the Spartans in the Laconian vale, they might live unspotted from the world, a valiant, simple, and truthful race; but when they once went forth to conquer and to rule, it was their inevitable doom to be led captive by their captives and to adopt the manners and ideals of more intellectual and original peoples. If Cyrus had transported the centre of his empire to the west, the Greeks might have been the teachers of their Persian speech-fellows; but such an idea would have occurred to no Mede or Persian. Consequently the new Iranian kingdom fell under the relaxing influences of the corrupt Semitic civilisations of Babylonia and Assyria; and it had soon become a despotism so typically oriental that it is hard to remember that the ruling peoples spoke a tongue akin to the Greek. Hence the struggle of two hundred years, upon which we are now entering, between Greece and Persia, though strictly and literally it was a struggle between Aryan peoples,—peoples, that is, of Aryan speech,—assumes the larger character of strife between Europe and Asia, between east and west, between Aryan and non-Aryan ; and takes its place as the first encounter in that still unclosed debate which has arrayed Europe successively against Babylonian, Phoenician, Saracen, and Turk.

At the beginning of the campaign against Lydia, Cyrus had invited the Ionians who were in the army of Croesus to change sides. They had refused to “medize,” not perhaps from loyalty to the rule of the Lydian, under which they chafed, but because they did not anticipate his utter overthrow and therefore feared his vengeance. This refusal annoyed Cyrus; and when, after the fall of Sardis, the Greek cities made overtures to the conqueror, he declined to make any conditions. Only with Miletus, which had not been subject to Lydia and had stood aloof from the contest, did he conclude a sort of treaty like that in which Croesus had recognised her independence. The others prepared to defend themselves. Cyrus himself had greater projects which recalled him to the far east; and he committed the lesser task of reducing the Asiatic Greeks to the lieutenants whom he left in Lydia. The want of unity among the Ionians was disastrous. They might meet in their Panionic assembly, but they seem to have been without the ability or the organisation to carry out any plan of common action. The most powerful of all the states, Miletus had gone her own path and stood quite apart. One of her citizens, Thales, the astronomer and philosopher, whom we have met before, is said to have ventured himself into the speculations of political, as well as celestial, science. He saw the weakness of Ionia in its disunion, and the futility of the loose league of the Panionion; and he made the remarkable proposal that Ionia should form itself into an united nation, with one Hall of Council as well as one place of Assembly, each city surrendering her sovereignty and becoming merely a town or deme of the state; and he suggested Teos as the fitting place for the capital. The idea, whether it was put forward by Thales or not, was assuredly suggested by the political development of Attica, the mother country of the Ionians. It was an idea which the proposer can hardly have hoped to persuade the Ionians to adopt, but it had its value as a comment on the disunion of the Greeks in the one part of Greece where, above all others, there was needed a closer unity and a solid serried front, to resist the aggression of the great barbarian powers. Another proposal, which was made in one of the ineffectual meetings of the Panionion, receives the approval of the historian Herodotus. Bias, a statesman of Priene, advised all the Ionians to sail forth together to the west, to the great island of Sardinia, and there found an Ionian city-state, and live happy and free. This proposal illustrates the terror and despair of Ionia at the prospect of Persian rule.

Disunited, the Asiatic Greeks were an easy prey. Harpagus, the general of Cyrus, reduced them one after another; tribute was imposed upon them and the burden of serving in the Persian armies, when such service was required; but no restrictions were placed upon the freedom of their commerce. To the inhabitants of two cities, exile seemed more endurable than this new slavery and they acted in the spirit of Bias. The people of Phocaea, or the more part of them, embarked in their penteconters and sailed to the island of Corsica, where their own settlement of Alalia received them. The Teians did likewise, but found a nearer home on the coast of Thrace, where they founded Abdera.

One common effort indeed the Aeolians and Ionians made for their defence. They made a common appeal to the most powerful state in the mother country. They sent an embassy to Lacedaemon, but the Spartans, whose horizon was bounded by the Peloponnesus, did as little for them as they had done for Croesus. Sparta had the curiosity, however, to send a ship to Ionia, to spy out the condition of the country and the power of Cyrus. The story is that one of her reconnoitrers went up to Sardis and standing before the Persian king forbade him to work harm to any Greek community, “since the Lacedaemonians will not permit it.” The anecdote was doubtless invented by those who liked a jest at the expense of Sparta; but, if Cyrus might well ask “who are the Lacedaemonians?” his successors learned the answer to their cost.

The conqueror of Lydia returned to the east to subdue the mightier power of Babylon. The conquest occupied some years: then the greatest city on earth was taken; and Cyrus took to himself the title of “ing of Babel, Sumer, and Accad, and of the four quarters of the world,” thus formally entering into the Babylonian inheritance. The dominion of Cyrus the Great extended in the east over Armenia and Hyrcania, Parthia and Bactria, and into the midst of Afghanistan; from the coasts of the Aegean to the banks of the Jaxartes. But his conquests lie outside our history. His last enterprise was the subjugation of the Massagetae, a Scythian folk near the Aral lake, and one story says that he was slain in battle against them, and that the savage queen placed his head in a basin of blood. All we know with certainty is that his body was buried in Persia, and two hundred years hence we shall visit his tomb at Pasargadae, in the company of a conqueror who was mightier even than he.


Sect. 3. Persian Conquest of Egypt. Polycrates of Samos


The subjugation of Lydia and the Greek sea-board carried the borders of the Iranian empire, under its new dynasty, farther westward than the Assyrian conquest had ever reached. Two lords of Sardis had indeed acknowledged the overlordship of the kings of Nineveh; but that relation had been of brief duration and slight significance, and Lydia can hardly be said to have ever formed a part of the Assyrian dominion. In subduing the Greeks of the coast, at all events, Cyrus broke entirely new ground; they had never paid submission in any shape to Assyria. But while he far outpassed the utmost limits of Assyria in some directions, he left unconquered the great kingdom of the south, which had once been part of the Assyrian empire. But his son Cambyses repaired the omission; it was inevitable that the new lords of Syria should seek to bring Egypt under their subjection. We saw how Egypt, like Media itself and Babylonia, threw off the Assyrian yoke and entered upon a new period of national prosperity under enlightened rulers. King Amasis who climbed the throne by a revolution maintained his power by a bodyguard of Ionian and Carian mercenaries, like a Greek tyrant. An Egyptian writing tells us how he loved the strong “wine of Kelebi of Egypt.” He built great temples to the Egyptian gods like the Pharaohs of old; but in his patronage of Greece he may be compared to Croesus. He sent gifts to the Greek sanctuaries; he subscribed generously to the rebuilding of the temple at Delphi; he married a Greek princess of Cyrene; under him Naucratis rose to the rank of a city, though the only city where Greeks were allowed to trade, He had extended his sway over the island of Cyprus when the power of Babylonia was declining; but the Cypriots threw off his yoke when Cyrus entered into the Babylonian heritage, and made their submission to the Persian. Amasis trembled at the rise of the new power in the east, and he lived to witness with dismay the preparations of Cambyses; but he died a few months before the invasion, and the blow fell upon his son, Psammetichus. A fierce battle near Pelusium delivered Egypt into the hands of the Persians. The conqueror led his army up the Nile, and perhaps extended the southern frontier of the Egyptian kingdom on the side of Nubia. The Egyptians said that he planned the conquest of all Ethiopia and was compelled to return through want of provisions, so that his enterprise came to nothing. But the Egyptians hated Cambyses, who openly scoffed at their religion; and it is possible that they may have represented as an inglorious failure what was really a successful effort to secure the southern frontier. The conquest of ntary Egypt, which became a Persian satrapy, led to the submission of Greek Cyrene, even as the conquest of Lydia had led to the subjection of the Greeks of the neighbouring coasts.

Amasis and his son might have hoped, when the Persian danger threatened, that they could depend on the support of a powerful Greek friend, the lord of Samos. In that island,  not long after the Persian conquest of Ionia, a certain Polycrates and his two brothers had established a joint tyranny over the state, with the help of Lygdamis of Naxos. But Polycrates removed his brothers by death and banishment and became sole tyrant. He organised a fleet of a hundred penteconters and made Samos a strong power; as the Ionian mainland had fallen under Persian dominion, he had perhaps the strongest Greek sea-power in the Aegean. His luxurious court was brightened by the presence of the Bacchic poet Anacreon. He building of the great temple of Hera, but the most famous of his works was the aqueduct which supplied the city with water from a spring beyond a hill. The engineering skill of the Megarian architect Eupalinus—who perhaps also constructed the waterworks of Pisistratus at Athens—carried the duct through the hill by a tunnel. In all that he put his hand to, Polycrates prospered; he defied the power of Persia; he extended his influence over some of the Ionian cities under Persian sway; he hoped perhaps to become the lord of all Ionia. It was natural that he and Amasis of Egypt should form a close alliance, based on the common interest of antagonism to Persia. But when the hour of peril came, when Cambyses moved upon Egypt, the Samian tyrant altered his policy. He felt that his navy was unequal to coping with the joint armaments of Phoenicia and Cyprus, and, instead of coming to the aid of his old friend’s son, he sent forty ships to increase the fleet of the invader. These ships, however, never reached Egypt. The tyrant had manned them with those Samians whom he most suspected of hating himself and his tyranny; but his trick recoiled. At the island of Carpathus the crew took the resolve of sailing back to Samos and overthrowing the despot. Defeated in a battle they sought the aid of Sparta, and their appeal was strongly backed by the Corinthians, whose trade probably suffered from the pirate ships of Polycrates. The Lacedaemonians sent an armament to besiege Samos; it was their first expedition to the east, and it was a failure. Despairing of taking the city, and repulsed in a conflict, they returned home.

We cannot charge Polycrates with perfidy in espousing the cause of Persia against Egypt, since we are ignorant of his relations, not only with Psammetichus, but with Amasis in the last years of that monarch’s reign. We might indeed gather from the story of the ring of Polycrates, that the alliance had ceased to exist, and that it was Amasis who had broken it off. Amasis hearing of his friend’s marvellous prosperity, never varied by a reverse, wrote him a letter, expressing misgivings at a good fortune so great and enduring that it could not fail to draw down the envy of heaven, and counselling Polycrates to cast away whatever possession it would give him the most pain to lose: “Cast it away utterly, out of the world.” Polycrates, taking the words to heart, manned a penteconter, and having rowed out to sea, cast into the waves the most precious thing he had, an emerald ring engraved by the gem-cutter Theodorus. A few days later a fisherman came to his house and presented him with a huge fish; the ring was found inside it. Polycrates wrote to Amasis an account of what had happened, and Amasis, when he read the letter, discerned that it was impossible for any man to deliver another from that which was destined to befall him. Convinced therefore that Polycrates would come to no good end, and not wishing to have to grieve for a friend’s misfortune, Amasis broke off the tie of guest­friendship which bound them. The forecast of the Egyptian was fulfilled. Soon after his repulse of the Lacedaemonian attack, Polycrates fell into a trap laid for him by the Persian satrap of Sardis, and was seized and crucified.


Sect. 4. Ionia under Darius


King Cambyses was recalled from Egypt by a rebellion. He had putto death, on suspicions of disloyalty, his brother Smerdis, to c. whom he had entrusted the regency of some of the eastern provinces; and a usurper had arisen, pretending to be the dead Smerdis, to whom he bore a remarkable likeness. Cambyses went in haste to crush the false Smerdis. But, as he passed through Syria, he “found death by his own hand,” as is related in a great writing on the rock of Behistun. The next heir to the Persian throne was a A certain Hystaspes, who was satrap of Parthia and had a son named of Darius. But Hystaspes made no attempt to secure his right, and the false Smerdis established himself so firmly that, as Darius wrote afterwards in that famous inscription of the rock, “No Persian nor Mede dared to oppose him.” But Darius had different thoughts from his father; and conspiring with six nobles he killed the usurper and became king himself. In the first years of his reign his force and ability were proved in the task of quelling rebellions which broke out in almost all parts of the wide realm which Cyrus had put together. Elam, Babylonia, Media, Armenia revolted; a new false Smerdis arose; Babylon had to be twice besieged. Having established his power firmly and crushed all resistance, Darius recorded for future ages the hardly won successes of his first years, in an inscription on the lofty rock of Behistun on the upper course of the river Choaspes. The writing is in the Persian, the Susie, and the Babylonian languages. 

By wedding Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus and widow of her brother Cambyses, Darius linked himself closely to the family of his predecessors. He proceeded to reorganise the administration of his dominion. He extended the system of satrapies or governments, and the whole realm was divided into twenty such satrapies. West of the Halys, the old kingdom of Lydia consisted of three provinces: but subject to two satraps : the Ionian and the Lydian under one governor who resided at Sardis; the Phrygian which included the Greek cities of the Propontis under a governor whose seat was at Dascylion. These satraps did not interfere in the local affairs of the Greek cities, which were ruled by despots ; and the despots might do much as they pleased, so long as they paid tribute duly and furnished military contingents when required. The despots liked the Persian rule which secured their power, and this explains the noteworthy fact that the Greeks of Asia Minor made no attempt to shake off the Persian yoke during the troubles which ushered in the reign of Darius. It is possible too that their condition under the rule of Cambyses was better than under Darius; for Darius is said to have instituted a fixed yearly tribute instead of irregular contributions. Commerce, however, was furthered by this king’s monetary reforms, and by his improvement of the road-system in Persia. He adopted the bimetallic coinage which Croesus had introduced in Lydia; and the chief piece of gold money was always known in Greece by his name—the daric. The Royal Road, by which the messengers between Susa and Sardis came and went, was divided into stages marked off by regular stations. Its length was over 1500 miles, and the way was counted a three months’ journey for a man on foot. A Greek who had to visit Susa would land at Ephesus, and in three days reach Sardis. The road ran through the heart of Phrygia, by the tomb of Midas the golden king, past Pessinus and Ancyra and across the Halys to Pteria the ancient Cappadocian city which Croesus took, then across the Halys again, southward to Mazaka and Comana, to cross the Taurus and reach the Euphrates at Samosata. Beyond the Euphrates, it skirted the mountains which bound Mesopotamia on the north, passing Nisibis and reaching the Tigris at Nineveh, the ruined capital of Assyria. Beyond Arbela, it went south-eastward to the river Choaspes and Susa. A good and safe road, carefully maintained, brought central Asia nearer to the Aegean, and helped to open the east to western curiosity. The construction of the Royal Road must have had an incalculable effect in widening Greek ideas of geography. Its influence is shown by the importance which it assumed on the first Greek maps. Conceived as a straight line running east and west, it plays on one of the maps which were used by Herodotus practically the same part which is played in the modern Atlas by the Equator. The longitudes were determined by the conception that the Nile and the Danube, the two greatest rivers known within the range of the Greek world, were in the same meridian—the Danube being supposed to flow from north to south. This meridian line passed through Sinope. It was a principle of the early Greek geographers who arose about the end of the sixth century in Ionia that the features of the earth were symmetrically arranged. The attempt to apply mathematical principles to a small portion of the earth, very imperfectly observed, necessarily produced maps which to our fuller knowledge appear grotesque. But it would be hard to overestimate the intellectual activity of the Ionian investigators who made the new departure, Anaximander and Hecataeus, both citizens of Miletus. Anaximander constructed the first map, and Hecataeus wrote a Geography which served as a “text to Anaximander’s map.” Hecataeus was himself a traveller—he composed the earliest guide-book to the wonders of Egypt; and he could supplement his own observations by second-hand material gathered, in the great centre of trade where his home was, from travellers and strangers. This development of geography in Ionia was certainly forwarded by the Royal Road, and so far the Persian conquest of eastern Greece was an advantage to European civilisation.

Europe owes so much to the Ionian intellects which at this period were breaking new paths of progress that we may linger a moment longer over the movement of intellectual discovery before resuming the march of events. It was a movement of the most interesting kind, in which the instinct for speculation and the thirst for positive knowledge were closely united. For Anaximander, the first chartographer, map-making is only part of his wider work as a physical philosopher. Dissatisfied with the theory of Thales who found the first principle of the universe in water, he sought it in a more general conception which he designated, negatively, as the “Unlimited”—unlimited, that is, by qualities, and so capable of differentiation into all the kinds of definite matter which our senses perceive. Hecataeus is the founder of Greek history. He partly breaks with the old traditions, and criticises the Hesiodic school of theology. The heroes who appeared in legend as sons of the gods he regards as the bastard sons of women who, to shield their shame, ascribed the fatherhood to Zeus or Apollo. “The stories of the Greeks,” he says, “are, in my opinion, manifold and absurd.” Thus reason was asserting itself against authority in the religious sphere; and Hecataeus was one of the pioneers. But more effective than he in pressing the claims of reason was another Ionian, his contemporary, Xenophanes of Colophon; and we shall have to consider the importance of his work in another connexion

The remoteness of Susa from the Greek seas, and the home­sickness of Greeks whom any chance transported to the far east, find an illustration in the curious story of the physician Democedes of Croton. This man’s skill had earned high salaries, as public physician at Aegina and Athens, and higher still in the service of Polycrates  of Samos. He was carried off as a prisoner to Susa, in consequence of a series of troubles which followed the death of that tyrant; and he was taken from his dungeon to try his craft for Darius, who had sprained a foot in the chase. His success gained him the king’s favour, and there was nothing which he might not ask except the one thing which he desired, permission to return to Greece. One day he was summoned by Queen Atossa who was suffering from a tumour on the breast, and he made her swear that if he cured her she would do what he asked. Acting by his directions, she stirred up the king to cherish the project of conquering the Greeks, and suggested that he should send spies under the conduct of Democedes to travel through Greece and bring back a report. These counsels of the daughter of Cyrus carried weight with Darius, according to the story; and the plan of Democedes succeeded. He promised to return to Susa, and Darius gave him rich presents for his kinsfolk; the Persians who accompanied him were privately charged to see that he did not escape. When they came to Taras,—for the story assumes that Italiot Greece was included in the programme of the journey,—the lord of that city arrested the Persians as spies, and kept them in prison until Democedes had time to escape to his native town. When the Persians were released they followed him to Croton, but the Crotoniats refused to give him up; a Persian invasion of Italy was a contingency which they might reasonably risk. Such is the strange story, blended of fact and fiction, which men told of the first Greek physician who practised at the court of Susa. He was not the last; we shall meet hereafter a more famous leech, who did not yearn back to Greece and wrote the history of his adopted country.


Sect. 5. The European Expedition of Darius: Conquest of Thrace


Cyrus had conquered the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean ; Cambyses had completed and secured that conquest on the south side by the subjection of Egypt; it remained for Darius to complete and secure his empire on the north side by the reduction of Thrace. The possession of the adjacent part of the European continent was of like importance to the lord of Asia Minor, as the possession of the adjacent part of the African continent to the lord of Syria. Having spent eight years in setting his house in order, Darius prepared for his European expedition. It seems probable that his original design was first to subdue the Thracian peoples as far as the Danube, so as to make that river the northern boundary of his empire, and secondly to extend his power westward over Macedonia. The Thracian race was warlike and the country is mountainous, so that the Persian enterprise was serious and demanded large forces and careful precautions. The skill of a Samian architect named Mandrodes was employed to throw a bridge of boats across the Bosphorus, north of Byzantium; and, when the Persian host had passed over, Darius ordered two pillars to be set up on the European side, inscribed with the names of the various peoples composing his army, in Greek and cuneiform characters. These pillars were seen by the historian Herodotus. And in the temple of Hera at Samos there was to be seen another monument of the crossing into Europe. Mandrocles spent a part of the reward which Darius gave him in setting up there a painting in which the bridge and the crossing over, with Darius seated in a prominent place, were portrayed. He inscribed on it four verses to this effect: “Having bridged the fishy Bosphorus, Mandrocles dedicated to Hera a memorial of his raft-bridge. A crown he set upon his own head, and glory upon the men of Samos; for the work he wrought pleased king Darius? A large fleet was also furnished by the Greek subjects of Persia, to sail along the Thracian coast of the Black Sea as far as the mouths of the Danube, and to support and co-operate with the army. The contingents of the various Greek cities were commanded by their despots, prominent among whom were Histiaeus of Miletus, Hippoclus of Lampsacus, and Miltiades of the Thracian Chersonesus.

No details of the warfare in Thrace are preserved. We are told that many tribes submitted, and the Getae signalised their love of freedom by refusing to surrender it without a struggle. It seems probable, however, that the Thracians made some preparations to meet the invader. North of the Danube, in the lands which are now called Walachia and Moldavia (between the Danube, the Carpathians, and the Pruth), lived tribes which were allied in many respects to the tribes south of the river. The Greeks included these tribes under the general name of Scythian, which they applied to the whole series of peoples who dwelled between the Carpathians and the Caucasus. While the most easterly of that series approximated in language to the Persian, the most westerly approximated to the Thracian. Nothing was more natural than that the people south of the Danube, threatened by an Asiatic invasion, should have taken steps to gain help from their neighbours on the north, to oppose the Persian advance. Such help would have been readily given, and Darius doubtless became aware before he reached the Danube that the hostility of the Scythian beyond the Danube—whose frozen waters invited them to cross in winter—might be a frequent trouble to Persian rule in Thrace. The Greek fleet sailed up the mouth of the river and a bridge of boats was thrown across. Darius and his army marched over into Scythia. But both the king’s purpose and what he did, in this remote comer of the world, are hidden in a cloud of legend. That he may have wished to make a hostile demonstration and strike terror into the restless neighbours of Thrace is probable; but it is not the whole explanation. We may rather suppose that the chief object of the diversion beyond the Danube was to lay hands upon the gold mines of Dacia, which was then the land of the Agathyrsi, and to secure a route of communication between that land and the mouth of the Danube. For three facts seem to emerge from the mist. The first is that the Agathyrsi were active in opposing the march of the Persians; the second, that he erected forts on a river named the Oaros,—a name otherwise unknown, but evidently a tributary of the Danube; the third, that his communications with the fleet which awaited his return were for some time cut off, and the Greek commanders were tempted to sail away and leave him in the lurch. He afterwards showed his gratitude to them for the loyalty with which they supported him in this expedition. The fact is that it would have been entirely contrary to their own interests to inflict a blow on the power which maintained despotism in the Greek cities of Asia Minor. But their loyalty at this juncture was all the more precious to the Persian king when he found on returning through Thrace that Byzantium, Perinthus, and Chalcedon had revolted. These revolts forced him to avoid the Bosphorus. He marched to the Thracian Chersonese and crossed the Hellespont, but left behind him an army under Megabazus, which was ultimately to complete the conquest of Thrace, and immediately to reduce the Greek cities along the northern coast of the Propontis and the Aegean. Megabazus established Persian dominion actually as far as the Strymon, and nominally even farther west; for the Paeonians, between the Strymon and the Axius, were conquered, and Macedonia acknowledged allegiance to the Great King.

The Persian dominion over the eastern part of the Balkan peninsula lasted for about fifteen years, and it was increased by the acquisition of the islands of Lemnos and Imbros. The excursion of Darius beyond the Danube, so far as it was intended to make an impression on the Scythians, seems to have been effective. It is only when the Persian power is shaken by a Greek revolt and Thrace herself is able to throw off the yoke that we find Scythians overrunning Thrace and even driving Miltiades out of the Chersonese.

The European expedition of Darius had thus been a distinct success, which might fearlessly be set beside the Egyptian expedition of Cambyses. But it has come down to us in a very different and totally fabulous shape. It is represented as not primarily an expedition against Thrace, but as an attempt to execute the mad project of incorporating the Scythians of the steppes of southern Russia in the Persian empire. In this story, which is told with all the art of Herodotus, Thrace appears merely as the way to Scythia; and the actual conquest of Thrace sinks into insignificance beside the ignominious failure of the Persian army to achieve the ultimate end of their wild enterprise, the conquest of Scythia. Darius, whose purpose is said to have been to take vengeance on the Scythians for their invasion of Media a hundred years before, dispatches the Greek fleet to the Ister simply for the purpose of throwing a bridge of boats across the river. His first idea was to break down the bridge when he had passed over and send the ships home; but by the advice of a prudent Greek he changed his plan. He took a cord, in which he tied sixty knots, and said to the Greek captains: “Untie one of these knots every day, and remain here and guard the bridge till they are all untied. If I have not returned at the end of that time, sail home.” The Greek historian Herodotus then conducts Darius with his vast host through the steppes of Scythia “as it were through fairyland,” without any regard to the rivers which had to be crossed, the leagues which had to be traversed, the want of supplies. He carries him to regions beyond the Don, and transports the river Oaros, on which Darius built his forts, from the neighbourhood of the Danube to the neighbourhood of the Maeotic sea; placing this imaginary march of the Persians in the midst of a poetical picture of the Scythian folks and the Scythian land. In returning to the Danube the Persians found themselves in sore straits, chased and harassed by the barbarians, and meanwhile the sixty days had passed. The Ionians waited at the river beyond the ordained time, and presently a band of Scythians arrived urging them to destroy the bridge, so that they might ensure the destruction of Darius and gain their own freedom. Miltiades the tyrant of the Chersonese strongly advocated the proposal of the Scythians, but the counter-arguments of Histiaeus of Miletus prevailed, for he pointed out that the power of the despots in the cities depended on the Persian domination. They pretended however to fall in with the Scythian proposal, and destroyed a part of the bridge on the northern side, so that the Scythians went their ways, satisfied that the retreat of Darius would be cut off. A little later, Darius arrived in the dark hours of the night, and was filled with terror when he could discover no bridge. An Egyptian with a loud voice shouted the name “Histiaeus!” across the water, and Histiaeus, who was himself keeping guard, heard the cry, brought up his boats, and renewed the missing portion of the bridge. Thus Darius, after an ignominious retreat, was saved by the good offices of Histiaeus; whereas, if the advice of Miltiades had been adopted, the subsequent Persian invasion of Greece might never have taken place.

Thus Greek imagination, inspired by Greek prejudice, has changed a reasonable and successful enterprise into an insane and disastrous expedition; and the transmutation was so skilfully wrought that the fiction was taken for history until the other day.


Sect. 6. The Ionic Revolt against Persia


The Persian conquest of Thrace and Macedonia was a step, though there is no reason for supposing it an intentional step, towards a Persian attempt to conquer Greece. The attempt on Greece was not made till more than twenty years later; and for the first twelve years after the return of Darius from Thrace, nothing occurred which seemed likely to bring on a great struggle between Asiatic autocracy and European freedom. Hippias, the banished tyrant of Athens, repaired to Sardis and tried to induce the satrap Artaphernes to aid him in recovering his power. Artaphernes went so far as to threaten the Athenians; envoys from Sardis said at Athens : “Take back Hippias, if you look for safety.” But he did nothing to enforce his menace.

It was in consequence of events in which that the expedition of the Persians against Athens was at last undertaken. The condition of politics in the island of Naxos led indirectly to an insurrection of the subject Greeks against the Persian power; and the part which Athens and other Greek cities played in connexion with this revolt was the proximate cause of the Persian expeditions against Greece.

In return for services rendered during the Thracian expedition Histiaeus of Miletus was rewarded by Darius with a boon of his own requesting. He asked for Myrcinus, a town with fertile land on the lower Strymon—near the place where the famous Amphipolis was to be built at a later date—where he desired to found a colony. He seems to have accompanied Megabazus in his western march, and he set to work to fortify the place at once. Myrcinus was in the neighbourhood of silver-mines, and there was abundance of wood suitable for shipbuilding. The Persian general thought it would be impolitic to allow a Greek colony to be planted in such a position, and communicated his views to the king who was still at Sardis; and Darius sending for Histiaeus, on the plea that he was a friend whose company was indispensable, carried him off to Susa, with the full purpose of never allowing him to return to the Aegean. Thus the schemes of Histiaeus were cut short, and he spent twelve years in regrets at the court of Susa before he had an opportunity of resuming his connexion with the politics of the Aegean.

Miletus was governed by his son-in-law Aristagoras, a man whose ability fell short of his ambition, but famous in history as the originator of the revolt of the Ionian Greeks. To this man came a number of Naxian oligarchs, who had been expelled from their city by a democratic rising, begging for help to put down the people and gain possession of the populous and wealthy island. Aristagoras discerned in the request a means for his own aggrandisement; but without Persian assistance the enterprise did not seem feasible. He therefore went up to Sardis, and unfolded to Artaphemes a project of reducing all the Cyclades and then perhaps Euboea itself, a project of which the occupation of Naxos was to be the first step. Artaphernes readily entered into the plan, the consent of Darius was obtained, and 200 ships under the command of Megabates were placed at the its failure, disposal of the Milesian. There is little doubt that the enterprise would have been entirely successful but for a quarrel between Aristagoras and Megabates. The Persian admiral spitefully warned the Naxians of the approaching danger; the islanders made such effectual preparations that they stood a siege of four months, and, as there was then no likelihood of reducing the city, the fleet returned to Ionia. This failure was fatal to the prospects of Aristagoras. He had wasted Persian money, forfeited the confidence of Artaphernes, and made a powerful enemy in Megabates. He resolved to retrieve his fortunes by inciting a revolt of the Asiatic Greeks against the Persian power.

The story was that his father-in-law Histiaeus, weary of his long exile beyond the Tigris, instigated Aristagoras to this step, by a secret message branded on the head of a faithful slave. This message is said to have reached Aristagoras just at the moment when he was meditating a rebellion and to have decided him. The motive of Histiaeus in desiring the revolt is supposed to have been the conviction that Darius would send him down to Ionia to restore order. But the story sounds improbable. Histiaeus, detained at Susa because he was already deemed dangerous to Persian interests in the Aegean, would rather have had reason to fear that a revolt promoted by his son-in-law would prove fatal to his credit with Darius. It was a surprising thing that Darius was afterwards induced to send down such a near relative of Aristagoras, and we may suspect that the story that Histiaeus instigated the rebellion was suggested by his subsequent conduct—possibly even invented by himself.

There were the seeds of revolt in Ionia, which only needed kindling to burst into flame. It would be a superficial view to suppose that the rebellion was due to the ambition of Greek despots. On the contrary, its indispensable condition was the widespread hatred of a despotic constitution, which smouldered in the cities; and the despotic constitutions were part of the Persian system. An ambitious despot was indeed the means of calling this feeling into action; but in order to do so he had first to cease to be a despot.

The initial step in promoting the rebellion was to set up democracies in the Greek States and drive out the tyrants. Aristagoras himself resigned his position in Miletus, and in most cases the change seems to have been accomplished without the shedding of blood. Mytilene was an exception; there the tyrant had earned such deep hatred that he was stoned to death.

The next step was to obtain help from free Greece against the Persian power. Aristagoras undertook the mission. He went first to Sparta, but the Spartans refused to send help to free Ionia from Persian oppression, even as they had before refused to aid her against Persian invasion. In later days a delightful story was told of his visit. He went to king Cleomenes and showed him a map of the earth, graven on bronze, displaying the countries of the known world, the seas, and the rivers. Cleomenes had never seen a map before, and the plausible Ionian tried to convince him that Sparta ought to aspire to the conquest of the Persian empire. Cleomenes was impressed, but deferred his reply till the third day, and then asked Aristagoras the distance from Ionia to Susa. “Three months,” said Aristagoras off his guard, and he would have described the road, but the king cut him short with the command, “Begone from Sparta, Milesian stranger, before the sun sets.” Aristagoras made yet another attempt. Entering the house of Cleomenes as a suppliant, he sought to bribe him. Beginning with ten talents, he gradually raised his offers till he reached fifty. Then Gorgo, the king’s daughter, a child of eight or nine years, cried out, “Father, the stranger will corrupt you”; and moved by her words Cleomenes left the room.

The Milesian stranger fared better at Athens and Eretria. Both these cities sent succour; Athens twenty ships—ships, says Herodotus, with the solemnity due to the historical significance of the moment, “which were the beginning of ills between Greeks and barbarians.”

The prospects of success seemed unfavourable to those who were acquainted with the vast resources of the Persian empire. When Aristagoras consulted with the men of leading at Miletus, the geographer Hecataeus had tried to dissuade him. Seeing that Aristagoras and the others had made up their minds and disparaged his arguments, Hecataeus gave a second-best counsel: “If you do revolt, seize the treasure of the temple of Apollo at Didyma, and become masters of the sea; for if you do not, the enemy will.” But the advice was not taken.

With his Athenian and Eretrian allies, Aristagoras marched up to Sardis and occupied the city, but they did not take the citadel. While they were there, a fire broke out and the town was burned to the ground. The Greeks left the smoking ruins and marched back to the coast; but near Ephesus they were met by a Persian force and defeated. The Athenians straightway returned home; and with this battle the part played by Athens in the Ionic revolt comes to an end. But the brief episode was to bring serious consequences upon her in the future. The burning of Sardis was important, not so much for the course of the revolt itself as for what the revolt was to lead to. It irrevocably compromised two states of European Greece in the eyes of Persia. The story is that Darius, being told that Athenians had helped to burn Sardis, asked, “The Athenians—who are they?” He then called for a bow and shooting an arrow into the air invoked heaven, that it might be given to him to punish the Athenians. Moreover he bade one of his slaves to say to him three times at dinner, “Sire, remember the Athenians.” The story has no historical value, but it has artistic significance in the narrative of Herodotus. The historian (as has been well observed) marks, by the significant word and act, that he has entered on a new phase of his great subject, the strife between Greeks and barbarians.

The revolt extended southwards to Caria and to Cyprus, northwards to the Propontis. In Cyprus all the cities except Amathus threw off the Persian yoke, but a Phoenician fleet was sent and the island was recovered. The Hellespontine towns were also subdued. In Caria the insurgents, after suffering two serious defeats, succeeded in destroying a Persian army.

But Aristagoras was a man of slight spirit, not meant by nature to be the leader of such a movement. Seeing that Persia prospered in dealing with the rebellion, he despaired of his cause and fled to Myrcinus in Thrace. It is said that he called a meeting of his adherents, to decide what they should do and whither they should flee. In that assembly it was proposed to sail to the distant shores of Sardinia; and here again Hecataeus is related to have offered advice, which Aristagoras and his friends rejected—the establishment of a fortress in the neighbouring island of Leros, from which, if fortune favoured, they might easily return to Miletus. Aristagoras soon met his fate at the siege of a Thracian town. His death did not affect the course of the rebellion, in which he had played a sorry part. He has hardly left the stage when his father-in-law appears; but the rôle of Histiaeus is even less important than that of Aristagoras. This adventurer persuaded, or professed that he had persuaded Darius to send him down to the coast, by promising to suppress the insurrection before he changed his tunic, and to annex Sardinia to the dominion of the Great King. This promise of Histiaeus, though it may not be true to fact, is thoroughly characteristic of the Greek adventurers of that time, deceiving themselves and others with speculations on the remote island of Sardinia. When he came down to Sardis, Histiaeus found that he was deeply suspected by the satrap Artaphernes, and feeling himself unsafe he fled to Chios. There he embraced the cause of the rebels, asserting that he had instigated the revolt, and perhaps spreading the famous story of the message written on the slave’s head. Having obtained some ships from Lesbos he adopted the congenial business of piracy, occupying Byzantium and seizing the ships that attempted to pass the straits, as long as the revolt lasted, his fate. In the end he was taken prisoner and crucified by Artaphernes.

The main and decisive event of the war was the siege of Miletus on which the Persians at length concentrated all their efforts. The town was blockaded by the squadron of 600 ships which had just reduced Cyprus. The Greek fleet was stationed off the capture of island of Lade. It is said to have numbered 353 ships, but they were ill disciplined, and the contingents were not united under a single command, nor animated by a common spirit. In the battle which ensued, the Lesbians and Samians deserted; the men of Chios fought splendidly but they were too few. Miletus was then taken by storm; the men were slain and the women and children sent up to Susa. The temple of Apollo at Didyma, one of the chief oracular sanctuaries of the Greek world, was surrendered by the Branchidae, its hereditary priests, and was burnt down. Some of the statues which adorned the Sacred Way leading to the temple have partially survived. They are of great interest to the student of sculpture, but one of them is of interest also to the historian. It is a statue of Chares of Teichiussa, who was doubtless a tyrant set up in that city by Darius, and thus it is a monument of the Persian domination in Ionia.

We may suspect that the burning of Apollo’s shrine was not approved of by Darius himself. The respect which the king of kings felt for the oracular god is attested in a letter of admonition which he addressed to a satrap of Ionia. The text of a Greek version of this letter is partly preserved on a stone, and records the remarkable testimony of the king that Apollo always “told the truth to the Persians.”

The capture of Miletus was followed by the reduction of Caria, where the rebels had for a time prospered, and by the conquest of the islands. Presently the Phoenician navy appeared in the waters of the Hellespont; and the attempt of eastern Greece to regain her independence was completely crushed.

Though the Athenians had withdrawn from the movement in Ionia at an early stage, the tidings of the fall of Miletus produced at Athens a deep feeling of disappointment and sympathy, which found expression some time afterwards in the punishment of Phrynichus, a tragic poet, who made the catastrophe of Miletus the theme of a drama. The Athenians fined him for having recalled to their minds their own misfortunes. But in the meantime there had been won for her, from the Persian, what was destined to become afterwards a lasting possession. Miltiades, the tyrant of the Chersonese, took no part in the revolt, but he availed himself of it to strike for his own hand and to seize the isles of Lemnos and Imbros. When the revolt failed, feeling himself unsafe in the Chersonese, he fled to Athens. His son was captured by the Persians, but was kindly treated by Darius; and this proves that Miltiades in his earlier career had been on friendly terms with Persia. At Athens he professed that he had conquered Lemnos and Imbros for her; and, though these islands seem to have been reoccupied by the Persians for a time, they passed back under Athenian dominion.


Sect. 7. Second and Third European Expeditions of Darius. Battle of Marathon


Having suppressed the rebellion, Persia had three things to do. Greek Asia was to be reorganised; Persian Europe was to be re­conquered; and those free Greek states which had made war on Persia and occupied Sardis were to be punished.

Artaphernes caused the territories of the cities to be measured and surveyed, and regulated the tributes accordingly. It was also ordained that the cities should no longer have the right of making war upon one another. But there was more to be done. The revolt had taught Persia that the system of tyrannies did not answer; and it was now resolved to make an experiment of the opposite policy. The despots were abolished and democratic governments were set up. The world may well have been surprised to see the great despotism of all favouring the institution of democracy; it was a concession to the spirit of the Greeks, which reflects credit on the wisdom of Darius.

The king’s son-in-law, Mardonius, was sent to reassert Persian supremacy in Thrace and Macedonia; and through Macedonia he proposed to advance into Greece in order to punish the two cities which had helped the Ionian rebels. A fleet sailed along the coast and subdued the island of Thasos on its way. Thrace was reduced, and Macedonia, then under king Alexander, submitted—a submission which was to be avenged in distant days to come by a descendant and a namesake. But the Greek expedition could not be carried out, since a disaster had befallen the fleet which was partly wrecked in a storm off the perilous promontory of Athos. Mardonius returned; he had lost many ships, but he had fulfilled the more important parts of his task.

But Darius was sternly resolved that Athens and Eretria should not escape without chastisement. Their connexion with the burning of Sardis had deeply incensed him; it seemed an insult which the Great King’s pride could not let pass unnoticed. Moreover Hippias, the banished tyrant, was at the court of Susa, urging an expedition against the city which had cast him out. It was decided that the new expedition should not be sent by way of Thrace and Macedonia, but should move straight across the Aegean Sea. The cities of the Persian seaboard were commanded to equip warships and transports for cavalry, and heralds were sent to the chief cities of free Greece that were not at war with Persia, requiring the tokens of submission, earth and water. In most cases the tokens were given; and among others by Aegina, the enemy of Athens. The command of the army was entrusted to Datis and Artaphernes, a nephew of Darius; and they were accompanied by the aged tyrant Hippias, who hoped to rule once more over his native country. The armament—600 galleys strong, according to Herodotus—setting sail from Samos, made first for Naxos, the island where Aristagoras had failed. The inhabitants abandoned the city and flew up into the hills; and the Persians burned the town. The sacred island of Delos was scrupulously spared; but soon after the Persians had departed, it was shaken by an earthquake, and the unwonted event was noted as a sign of coining troubles. Having sailed from isle to isle, subduing the Cyclades, the fleet went up the channel between Euboea and Attica, and, reducing Carystus by the way, landed in the territory of Eretria. It is strange to find that Athens and Eretria had made no, common preparations to meet a common danger. Eretria was severed from Attica only by a narrow water, and yet there was no joint action. Athens indeed directed the colonists whom she had settled in the territory of her dependency Chalcis to assist their Eretrian neighbours, but she sent no other help. We hear of sharp engagements outside the walls of the Euboean city, but within seven days it was delivered over to the invaders by the treachery of some bum leading burghers. The flames which consumed the temples of Eretria were a small set off against the flames of Sardis. The inhabitants were enslaved. Of all the Greek towns which were involved in the strife between Europe and Asia, none was more ill- fated than Eretria.

The Persian generals had accomplished the lesser half of their task; it now remained to deal with the other city which had defied their king. Crossing over the strait they landed their army in the bay of Marathon. For the second time an exiled tyrant of Athens came down from Eretria to recover his power. The father had come, fifty years before, with but a few mercenaries; the son came now with the forces of Asia. Yet so far as winning support at Athens was concerned, the foreign host was the weakest argument of Hippias. The house of the Pisistratids had many bitter enemies, but none was more bitter than one who had also known what it was to rule as a tyrant, Miltiades, son of Cimon. We have seen how he returned from the Chersonese after the Ionic revolt. His enemies accused him of the crime of oppressive rule in the Chersonese, but he was acquitted by his fellow-citizens, to whom he had brought the gift of Lemnos and Imbros. His hatred of the Pisistratids was natural; they had put to death his father Cimon, celebrated as a victor in the Olympian chariot-race. It is not surprising that Miltiades, who was active as a party man, who was known to be a hot foe of the tyrants, who had probably more first-hand knowledge of the Persians than any other man at Athens, was chosen as the strategos of his tribe. He was the soul of the resistance which his country now offered to the invader.

Athens had changed much since Hippias had been cast out, though a generation had not passed. Athenian character had developed under free democratical institutions. It has been said that if the Athenians had not been radically different from their former selves Hippias would have easily recovered Athens. In other words, if the Persian invasion had happened twenty years sooner, the same stand would not have been made against it as Athens now made; the liberty of Greece would have succumbed. But it was no mere accident that the blow had not been aimed twenty years sooner. The Persian invasion was brought about by the same political causes which enabled Athens to withstand it. The Ionian Greeks would not have risen in revolt but for the growth of a strong sentiment against tyrannies,—the same cause which overthrew the Pisistratids and created Marathonian Athens. On the other hand, if the Ionic revolt had broken out before the expulsion of Hippias, Athens would have taken no part in it, and the Persian invasion of Greece might not have followed.

As the story is told by our historian, one would almost think that the enemy had already landed on Attic soil before the Athenians bethought themselves how they were to defend their city and their land. A fast runner was dispatched in hot haste to Lacedaemon to bear the news of the fall of Eretria and the jeopardy of Athens. The Lacedaemonians said that they would help Athens—they were bound to help a member of their league—but religious scruples forbade them to come at once; they must wait till the full moon had passed. But when the full moon had passed, it was too late.

The whole army of the ’Athenians may have numbered about C9000. The commander-in-chief was Callimachus, the polemarch of the year ; and the grave duty of organising the defence rested upon him and the ten generals of the tribal regiments, who formed a Council of War. Fortunately for Athens, Callimachus seems to have been willing to hearken to the counsels of Miltiades; and the joint authority of the polemarch and the most influential general outweighed the scruples of their less adventurous colleagues. The enemy had landed near Marathon and clearly intended to advance on unwalled Athens by land and sea. The question was whether the Athenian army should await their approach and give them battle within sight and reach of the Acropolis, or should more boldly go forth to find them. This was a question which it devolved upon the Athenian people itself to decide. The hour when the Assembly met to deliberate on this question was the most fateful moment in the whole episode. Miltiades proposed that the army should march to Marathon and meet the Persians there. To have proposed and carried this decree is probably the greatest title of Miltiades to his immortal fame. But if the tyrants had not pulled down the city walls, it

The plain of Marathon, stretching along a sickle-shaped line of coast, is girt on all other sides by the hills which drop down from Pentelicus and Parnes. In the northern part, and on the extreme south, the soil is marshy, and the plain is cleft into two halves by the path of a torrent coming down from the hills through the northern valley, in which the village of Marathon is situated. Two roads lead from Athens to Marathon. The main road, turning eastward, passes between the mountains of Hymettus and Pentelicus; and, traversing the deme of Pallene, skirting Mount Pentelicus, and then turning due north when it reaches the coast, it enters the plain of Marathon from the south. The other road, which is somewhat shorter but more difficult, continues northward, past the deme of Cephisia, and, running into the hills north of Pentelicus, finds two issues in the Marathonian plain. It divides into two paths which encircle the hill of Kotroni: the northern path goes on to Marathon and descends into the plain from the north along the banks of the torrent; the other, passing by a sanctuary of Heracles, and descending the valley of Avlona, issues in the plain at its south-western corner, close to the village which is now called Vraná.

Callimachus took the northern road by Cephisia, and encamped in the valley of Avlona, not far from the shrine of Heracles. The choice of this admirable position was more than half the victory. The Athenians were themselves unassailable, in the lower valley, except at a great disadvantage; and they commanded not only the mountain road by which they had come, but also the main road and the southern gate of the plain; for the Persians in attempting to reach that gate would be exposed to their flank attack. At this period Athens had accomplished strategists, and the brilliant campaign against Boeotia and Chaicis, sixteen years before, has prepared us for the ability which her commanders now displayed in the Persian presence of a graver peril. The Persians had encamped on the north side of the torrent bed, and their ships were riding at anchor beside them. It was to their interest to bring on a pitched battle in the plain as soon as possible. On the other hand, the Athenians had everything to gain by waiting in their impregnable position; if they waited long enough they might hope for help from Sparta. Help from another quarter had already come. When they reached the sanctuary of Heracles they were joined by a band of 1000 Plataeans, who, in gratitude for the protection of Athens against the Theban yoke, now came to help her in the hour of jeopardy.

Some days passed, and then, as the Greeks remained immovable, the Persians would wait no longer. Having embarked a part of the army, including the whole body of their cavalry, they made ready to move upon Athens by land and sea. The land force must follow the main road by Pallene, and was therefore prepared for battle, in case the Greeks should attack them before they defiled from the plain. Another critical moment had come for the Athenians, but the polemarch and the generals had probably decided already what should be done when this contingency arose. That Miltiades, as before in the Assembly so now in the camp, urged the boldest course, we may well believe; but the supreme direction belonged to the polemarch, and he decided 

Callimachus, whether he acted of his own wit or by the counsel of others, showed now a skill in tactics as consummate as the skill in strategy which we have already witnessed. Outnumbered by the foe, if the Athenian line had formed itself in equal depth throughout, it would have swept the Persian centre into the sea, but then it would have been caught in a trap, between the sea and ships on one side and the Persian wings, which would have closed in, on the other. Accordingly Callimachus made his own centre long and shallow, so that it would cover the whole Persian centre, while his wings of the normal depth would be opposed to the wings of the enemy.

The long Persian line crossed the bed of the torrent and advanced along the shore. A large portion was detached to mask the Greek position—a precaution which was dictated by elementary principles of strategy, in order either to prevent or to repel a flank attack. With these troops to cover them, the rest of the host might march securely past. The Greek army had perhaps already appeared in the recess of the hills at the mouth of the valley of Avlona. Callimachus himself led the right wing; the Plataean allies were posted on the extreme left. Among those who fought for their country on this day we must notice one who, though he held no post of command, was destined to hold a greater place in Athenian history than any of his fellow-warriors, Themistocles, the son of Neocles, who fought in the regiment of the Leontid tribe. Another of worldwide fame, Aeschylus the tragic poet, also bore shield and spear, and charged the Medes, on this memorable day. When the Greeks drew near to the line of the enemy, they were met by volleys of arrows from the eastern archers, and to escape this danger they advanced at a run into close quarters. The hoplites did not fail the generals; their valour secured the victory which masterly strategy and tactics had prepared. All fell out as had been foreseen. The Athenian centre was driven back towards the hills by the enemy’s centre, where the best troops, including the Persians themselves, were stationed; but the Athenian wings completely routed the wings of their foe. Then, closing in—and leaving the vanquished to reach their ships if they could—they turned upon the victorious Persians, who were following the retreating Greek centre. Here again they were utterly victorious, breaking up the array of the enemy and pursuing them in confusion to the shore, where all who escaped the sword were picked up by the ships. Only a portion of the Persian army had been engaged; the main body doubtless embarked as soon as they saw the first signs of the disruption of the force on which they had relied to cover them from the enemy.

It was not a long battle. The Athenian loss was small, 192 slain; and the Persian loss was reckoned at about 6400, a number whose very moderation stamps it as probably near the truth. Datis and Artaphernes had still an immense host, which might retrieve the fortune of the campaign; Athens was not yet out of danger. The Persian squadron sailed down the straits and rounded Cape Sunium, while the victorious army, leaving one regiment on the field of their triumph to guard the slain and the spoils, marched back to defend Athens. They halted outside the city near the shrine of Heracles in Cynosarges, on the banks of the Ilisus, and they beheld the fleet Persians of the enemy riding off Phaleron. But it did not put into shore, and near presently the whole squadron began to draw out to sea. Datis had abandoned his enterprise. Perhaps he had sailed within sight of return t0 Athens only on the chance of finding it undefended; and, when he saw that the army was there, shrank from another conflict with the hoplites. But a Spartan army, 2000 strong, cannot have been far from Athens now; it had set out on the day after the full moon, and it reached Athens soon after the battle. We may guess that tidings of the approach of the Spartans, if not their actual presence, had something to do with the sudden departure of the invaders, who, though they had received an unlooked-for check, had not endured an overwhelming defeat.

The Spartans arrived too late for the battle. They visited the field desiring to gaze upon the Persian corpses, and departed home praising the exploit of the Athenians. The scene of the battle is still marked by the mound which the Athenians raised over their own dead; Callimachus was buried there, and Cynegirus (a brother of the poet Aeschylus), who was said to have seized a Persian galley and held it until his arm was severed by an axe. Legend grew up quickly round the battle, and there was no historian to record at the time what had actually happened; so that, when a generation had passed, the facts were partly forgotten, and partly transfigured. Three motives were at work in this transfiguration : the love of the marvellous, the vanity of the Athenians, and the desire of his family to exalt the services of Miltiades. Gods and heroes fought for Athens, ghostly warriors moved among the ranks. The panic terror of the Persians at the Greek charge was ascribed to Pan, and the worship of this god was revived in a cave consecrated to him under the northwest slope of the Acropolis. Out of this grew a story which added a charming incident to the chain of Marathonian memories. The fast runner Philippides, speeding through Arcadia on his way to seek Spartan help, had been accosted by Pan himself, who had asked why the Athenians neglected his worship, and promised them favours in the future. But the supernatural can be easily allowed for. It was more serious that the extraordinarily brilliant strategy and tactics, to which the success was chiefly due, should have faded out of the story, and that Marathon should have been regarded as entirely a soldiers’ battle. It was soberly asserted and believed that those wonderful warriors had taken their enemy aback by advancing against them for a whole mile at a run. Miltiades, who was doubtless the heart and soul of the campaign, was raised by the Marathonian myth to be the commander-in-chief on the day of battle; and it was explained that the chief command each day devolved upon the generals in rotation. This was an arrangement which came into force a few years later, when the polemarch lost his importance  but it supplied the legend with a ready means of setting aside Callimachus in favour of Miltiades. We need not follow the myth further. The battle of Marathon was caught up into a cloud of glory, which obscured the truth of the events; and historical criticism has been able to rescue only the barest outline. Callimachus in particular received less than his due, overshadowed by the fame of Miltiades; and it is interesting to find that there was at least a stone in Athens—set up perhaps by his son—which recorded the services of “he polemarch of the Athenians” in the struggle with the Medes. A few precious words have been preserved.

One mysterious incident connected with the battle must be numbered among those historical puzzles which have never been cleared up. “When the Persians were already in their ships,” a shield was flashed, as a signal to them, on the summit of Pentelicus. Who held up the shield, and what did the signal mean? The popular explanation, in later days, was that it invited the Persians to sail straight for Athens, and the enemies of the Alcmaeonids said that they were the treacherous authors of the signal. Herodotus doubted the explanation, but he was convinced that the flashing of the shield was a well-attested fact.

In the holiest place of Greece, in the sanctuary of Delphi itself, have been found in recent years remains of the noblest monument of the victory of Marathon. Out of the Persian spoils, the Athenians built a little Doric treasure-house of marble from their own Pentelic quarries. It seems to have been a gem of architecture, worthy of the severe grace of the sculptured reliefs which ran round the inside of the building and have been safely preserved under its ruins. The sculptures represent the deeds of Theseus and of Heracles, and the battle of the gods and giants.

The descendants of the Marathonian warriors derived perhaps their most vivid idea of the combat from a picture of it which was painted about a quarter of a century later—one of the famous battle-pictures in the Portico of Frescoes in the market-place. In one scene $ the Athenians and Plataeans advanced against the trowsered barbarians; in a second the Persians in their flight pushed each other into the marsh; and in the last, the Phoenician ships were portrayed and the Greeks slaying the foemen who were striving to reach the ships. Callimachus, Miltiades, Datis and Artaphernes, Cynegirus seizing the prow of a ship, could all be recognised; and Theseus, who was believed to have given phantom aid to the warriors, seemed to rise out of the earth. High above the raging strife, the artist—Micon was his name—showed the gods and goddesses as they surveyed, from the tranquillity of Olympus, the prowess of their Greeks smiting the profane destroyers of the holy places of Eretria.

The significance of the victory of Marathon, as a triumph for Athens, for Greece, for Europe, cannot be gainsaid; but we must take care not to misapprehend its meaning for Greece and for Athens herself. That significance is unmistakable even if we minimize the immediate peril which was averted. The Asiatic invader had perhaps not yet come to annex; he had come only to chastise; it was enough for him if the rest of the Greeks looked on with respectful awe, while he meted out their doom to the two offending cities. His work in Euboea had been purely a work of demolition; he had not sought to annex territory or add a satrapy to the Persian dominion. The Cyclad islands and Carystus had indeed been compelled to submit to the formal authority of the Great King; but it is not proved that Darius thought of reducing the western coasts of the Aegean to the subject condition of Ionia. Thus the danger which menaced Athens may not have been subjection to an Asiatic despot. Nor was she threatened by the doom of destruction and slavery which befell Eretria. The Persian army had come to restore Hippias; and assuredly Darius did not purpose to restore his friend to a city of smouldering temples. The Athenians would be condemned to bow beneath the yoke of their own tyrant; they would not become, like their Eretrian fellows, the bondmen of a barbarian master. To be delivered over to an aged despot, thirsting for power and vengeance, embittered by twenty years of weary exile,—this was the punishment of the Athenians, and this was the fate which they escaped by their valour on the field of Marathon. If they had lost that battle and the rule of the Pisistratids had been restored, the work of twenty years ago would have had to be done again; but that it would have been done again there can be hardly a doubt. The defeat of the Athenians would have arrested, it would not have closed, their develop­ment. It might even be argued that it would have saved Greece^ the terrible trial of the later Persian invasion ; if that invasion was undertaken solely to wipe out the ignominy of the repulse at Marathon. Probably, if Datis had been victorious, the subsequent attempt of Persia to conquer Greece would have assumed a different shape. But the attempt would assuredly have been made. The history of the world does not depend on proximate causes. The clash of Greece and Persia, the effort of Persia to expand at the cost of Greece, were inevitable. From the higher point of view it was not a question of vengeance; where Darius stopped, the successors of Darius would undoubtedly go on. The success of Marathon inspirited Greece to withstand the later and greater invasion; but the chief consequence was the effect which it wrought upon the spirit of Athens herself. The enormous prestige which she won by the single-handed victory over the host of the Great King gave her new self­confidence and ambition; history seemed to have set a splendid seal on her democracy; she felt that she could trust her constitution and that she might lift her head as high as any state in Hellas. The Athenians always looked back to Marathon as marking an epoch. It was as if on that day the gods had said to them, Go on and prosper.

The great battle immortalised Miltiades; but his latter end was not good. His services at Marathon could not fail to gain for him increased influence and respect at Athens. His fellow-citizens granted him, on his own proposal, a commission to attack the island of Paros. For the Parians had furnished a trireme to the armament of Datis, and had thereby made war upon Athens. Miltiades besieged the city of Paros for twenty-six days but without success, and then returned home wounded. The failure was imputed to criminal conduct of the general; his enemies, jealous of his exploits in the Marathonian campaign, accused him of deceiving the people; and he was fined fifty talents, a heavy fine. It is not known what his alleged wrongdoing was; but afterwards, when the legend of Miltiades grew and the part which he played in the campaign of Marathon was unduly magnified, it was foolishly said that he persuaded the Athenians to entrust the fleet to him, promising to take them to a land of gold, and that he deceived them by assailing Paros to gratify a private revenge. At Paros itself, in the temple of Demeter, the tale was told that, when the siege seemed hopeless, he corrupted a priestess of the goddess, named Timo, and that, coming to meet her in a sanctuary to which only women were admitted, he was seized with panic and in his flight, leaping the fence of the precinct, hurt his leg. Certain it is that he returned wounded to Athens, however, he came by the chance; appeared on a couch at his trial; and died soon after his condemnation.


Sect. 8. Struggle of Athens and Aegina


At this time Aegina was the strongest naval power in the Aegean. Hostile feeling had long been the rule between her and Athens, and soon after the fall of the Pisistratids the island had been involved in the quarrel between Athens and Thebes. Legends said that the nymphs Aegina and Theba were sisters; but it was more than sisterly sympathy which drove Aegina to declare a state of standing war, a war without herald, as Greek called it, against her continental neighbour. Her ships ravaged Phaleron and the Attic coast. It was to be expected that Aegina would side with the Persian when he sailed against her foe, and would cordially desire the humiliation Athens. The Athenians had some reason to fear that she would give the invader not only her goodwill but her active help. Accordingly, the Athenians sought the intervention of Sparta, complaining that Aegina was medizing and betraying Greece out of enmity to Athens. The complaint was listened Greece to at Sparta, and king Cleomenes, proceeding to Aegina, seized ten hostages and deposited them with the Athenians. By this means the hands of Aegina were tied; she was hindered from lending help to the Persians or hampering the men of Athens in their preparations to meet the invaders.

This appeal of Athens to Sparta to interfere and exercise coercion in the common interests of Hellas, and the implied recognition of Sparta as the leading power, has been supposed to mark a climax in that feeling of deference towards her which had been growing up both within and without Greece. The episode has been described as “the first direct and positive historical manifestation of Hellas as an aggregate body with Sparta as its chief.” This description is an exaggeration; for we must not lose sight of the fact—which is too often forgotten, and which Athens took pains to forget—that Athens was, like Aegina, a member of the Peloponnesian league, and the appeal to the head of the league was therefore a matter of course.

The prestige of Sparta had indeed been confirmed and increased by a decisive victory which she had won a few years before over her old rival Argos. The battle was fought at Sépeia, near the hill of Tiryns. According to the story, the Argive generals acted with extraordinary folly and were easily overreached by Cleomenes. They listened for the commands which the herald proclaimed to the army of their enemies, and then issued those same commands to their own men. Learning this, Cleomenes gave secret orders that, when the herald gave the word for dinner, the soldiers should pay no heed but stand prepared for battle. The Argives dined in accordance with the command of the Spartan herald, and were immediately fallen upon and destroyed by their enemies. The disaster lamed the power of Argos for more than twenty years.

The episode of the hostages of Aegina brought to a final issue the great scandal of Sparta, the bitter feud of her two kings, Cleomenes and Demaratus. King Demaratus entered into a private compact kwith the Aeginetans to thwart the intervention of king Cleomenes. Accordingly Cleomenes incited Leotychidas, the next heir of the Proclid line to which Demaratus belonged, to challenge the legitimacy of his rival’s birth. A trial was held; a curious story touching the birth of Demaratus was manufactured and attested; and an oracle came from Delphi, declaring that Demaratus was not the son of his reputed father. Leotychidas consequently became king; Demaratus fled to the court of Darius—refuge of fallen potentates—where as the friend of medizing Aegina he found a good reception. Then Cleomenes and his new colleague went to Aegina and seized the hostages.

But the means which Cleomenes used to ruin Demaratus recoiled upon himself. It was discovered that he had tampered with the Pythian priestess at Delphi to bring about the dethronement of his enemy, and fearing the public indignation at this disclosure he fled first to Thessaly and then returned as far as Arcadia, where he conspired against his country. The Spartan government deemed it politic to invite him to return, and he accepted their offer of pardon. But his adventures had unhinged his mind; he became a violent madman, striking with his stick every one who approached, and his kinsfolk placed him in chains under the guard of a Helot. One day, having forced his keeper by means of threats to give him a sword, he wounded himself horribly and died.

Such was the curiously inglorious end of king Cleomenes, who, if he had not been a Spartan, might have been one of the greater figures in Grecian history. But his ambition was cabined and his abilities hampered by the Spartan system; whenever, if left to himself he might have pursued an effective policy, he was checked by the other king or the Ephorate. On important occasions during his life, Sparta was called upon to take action in foreign affairs; and on each occasion we find that the policy of Cleomenes falls short of the mark owing to the opposition of his royal colleague. Even as it is, he dominates in Spartan history for more than twenty years.

After his death, the Aeginetans sent envoys to Sparta, demanding the restoration of the hostages whom he and the other king Leotychidas had delivered over to Athens. Leotychidas had been the accomplice of Cleomenes in deposing Demaratus, and was consequently at this time under the shadow of public displeasure. The Spartans were ready, it is said, to hand him over to the Aeginetans as a prisoner, but the envoys preferred to ask that he should go with them to Athens and compass the restoration of the hostages. The Athenians flatly refused the demand. Aegina resorted to reprisals, and a war broke out. It began with the conspiracy of an Aeginetan citizen, named Nicodromus, who undertook with the help of Athens to overthrow the oligarchical government of his city. His plan failed because the Athenians came a day too late. The delay was due to the necessity of increasing their squadron of fifty triremes by a loan of twenty more from Corinth. These ships gained a victory and landed troops on the island to besiege the town. But the Aeginetans on their side obtained some troops from Argos, and overcame the Athenians. This defeat caused disorder in the fleet, which was then attacked and routed by the islanders. But the double repulse was not decisive, and warfare was protracted between the two cities by desultory plundering raids on their respective coasts. The necessity of protecting Attica from Aeginetan depredations, the ambition perhaps of ultimately reducing Aegina to subjection or insignificance, sensibly accelerated the conversion of Athens into a naval power.


Sect. 9. Growth of the Athenian Democracy


The Athenian constitution underwent several important modifications in the course of the twenty years which followed its reform by Cleisthenes; and there is reason for thinking that some of the changes which tradition ascribed to Cleisthenes were really not introduced by him. Under his scheme, the power of the archons remained very great; they were usually men deliberately elected for their ability; and if the Council of Cleisthenes was a check upon them, they also were a check upon it. The natural development of things was to strengthen the Council and weaken the magistrates. And at length, some years after Marathon, this step was taken by means of a change in the mode of appointment. Henceforward they were appointed by lot. Five hundred men were elected by the demes—in the same way in which the Council itself was elected—and out of this body of five hundred the nine archons were taken by lot. The result of any system of lot in the appointment to offices is to secure average honesty and exclude more than average ability. Henceforward the chances against any prominent statesmen holding the office of chief archon are five hundred to one. It is obvious that the political importance of the chief magistracy now disappears. It is also obvious that a polemarch appointed by lot could no longer hold the post of commander-in-chief. That post must pass to those who were deliberately picked out as competent to hold it. The powers of the polemarch were therefore vested, not in a new officer, but in the body of the ten strategi who were hitherto elected each by his own tribe. Either now or not many years later a reform was intro­duced by which the whole people elected the Generals, but they endeavoured so far as possible to choose one from each tribe, and we know no instance in which the same tribe was represented by more than two. The evil of a divided authority was at first obviated by giving each strategos supreme command for a day—an experiment which to our modem notions seems almost childish. Routine business in time of peace might be transacted on such a system; but a daily change of command in time of war was naturally doomed to failure. There is no reason to suppose that it ever became the practice at the election of the Generals to assign to one of the ten a position of supreme authority over all his colleagues during their whole term of office. That would have been a reinsti­tution of the polemarch in another form. The danger of a divided command was avoided by a simpler expedient. Whenever the people voted a military or naval expedition, they decreed which of the Generals should conduct it, and assigned a position of leadership or presidency to one of those whom they chose. But this superior command was limited to the conduct of the particular expedition; and the General to whom it was assigned exercised it only over those of his colleagues who were specially associated with him.

We have no record touching the attitude of Cleisthenes to the venerable council of the Areopagus, nor do we hear anything about that body for a generation after the fall of the Pisistratids. But a new institution was originated during this period which weak­ened the position of the Areopagus by depriving it of its most important political function—that of guarding the constitution and protecting the state against the danger of a tyranny. The institution of ostracism is traditionally ascribed to Cleisthenes, but it was not made use of till two years after the battle of Marathon. The ordinance of the Ostrakismos was that in the sixth prytany of each civil year the question should be laid before the Assembly, of the people whether they willed that an ostracism should be held or not. If they voted in the affirmative, then an extraordinary Assembly was summoned in the market-place in the eighth prytany. The citizens were grouped in tribes, and each citizen placed in an urn a piece of potsherd (ostrakon) inscribed with the name of the person whom he desired to be “ostracized.” The voting was not valid unless 6000 votes at least were given, and whoever had most ostraka against him was condemned to leave Attica within ten days and not set foot in it again for ten years. He was allowed however to retain his property, and remained an Athenian citizen.

By this institution the duty of guarding against the dangerous ambitions of influential citizens was transferred from the paternal council of the Areopagus to the sovereign people itself. If this clumsy and, it must be owned, oppressive institution was established by Cleisthenes, it would follow that for about fifteen years the Assembly declined every year to make use of it, though it is stated that the chief object of Cleisthenes was to banish a relation of the Pisistratids, Hipparchus the son of Charmus. And in fact this Hipparchus was ultimately banished, by the first ostracism that was ever practised; and in the following year Megacles, who though an Alcmaeonid had espoused the cause of the Pisistratid faction, suffered the same fate. In these acts, as well as in the constitutional reform affecting the archonship, we must see the work of the progressive democratic states­men, of whom the three most prominent were Xanthippus, Aristides, and Themistocles. These leaders, however, had separate policies and separate parties, and the people were persuaded to ostracise Xanthippus, and, two years later, Aristides. It is clear that in these cases there was no fear or danger of a tyranny, but that ostracism was used as a convenient engine for removing the opposition of a statesman who hampered the adoption of a popular measure. We cannot guess on what question Xanthippus stood in the way of Aristides or Themistocles, but it is possible that the ostracism of Aristides was connected with the bold naval policy which it was the great merit of Themistocles to have originated and carried through. An excellent anecdote is told of the ostracism of Aristides “the Just,” as he was called. On the day of the voting an illiterate citizen chanced to be close to Aristides who was unknown to him by sight, and requested him to write down the name “Aristides” on the ostrakon. “Why,” said Aristides, doing as he was asked, “do you wish to ostracise him?” “Because,” said the fellow, “I am tired of hearing him called the Just.”


Sect. 10. Athens to be a Sea-power


But the greatest statesman of this critical period in the history of Athens, greater than either of his two rivals, Xanthippus and Aristides, greater than the hero of Marathon himself, was Themistocles, the son of Neocles. It may be said that he contributed more than any other single man to the making of Athens into a great state. The pre-eminent importance of his statesmanship was due in the first place to his insight in discerning the potentialities of his city and in grasping her situation before any one else had grasped it; and then to his energy in initiating, and his adroitness and perseverance in following, a policy which raised his city, and could alone have raised her, to the position which she attained before his death. In the sixth century the Athenians were a considerable naval power, as Greek naval powers then went; but the fleet was regarded as subsidiary to the army. The idea of Themistocles was to sacrifice the army to the navy and make Athens a sea-state—the strongest sea-state in Greece. The carrying out of this policy in the face of scepticism and opposition was the great achievement of Themistocles. He began the work when he was archon and thus already a man of some prominence, two or three years before the battle of Marathon, by carrying a measure through the Assembly for the fortification of the peninsula of Piraeus. Hitherto the wide exposed strand of Phaleron was the harbour where the Athenians kept their triremes, hauled up on the beach, unprotected against the surprise of an enemy, but within sight of the Acropolis. At that time, after the quelling of the Ionic revolt, Persian warships were cruising about the Aegean, and the possibility of an attack on Phaleron seems to have opened the eyes of the Athenians to the need of reforming their naval establishment. The hostility of Aegina was a nearer and more pressing motive. The Athenians had not to seek far for a suitable port. It seems strange that they had not before made use of “the Piraeus,” the o large harbour on the west side of the peninsula of Munychia, which could be supplemented by the two smaller harbours on the east side, Munychia and Zea. But the Piraeus was somewhat farther from the city, and was not within sight of the Acropolis like Phaleron. So long, therefore, as there was no fortified harbour, Phaleron was safer. The plan of Themistocles was to fortify the whole circuit of the peninsula by a wall, and prepare docks in the three harbours for the reception of the warships. The work was begun, but it was interrupted by the Persian invasion, and by the party struggles after Marathon. Then a war with Aegina broke out, and this, combined with the fear of another Persian invasion, helped Themistocles to carry to completion another part of his great scheme, the increase of the fleet. A rich bed of silver had been recently discovered at Maronea, in the old mining district of Laurion, and had suddenly brought into the public treasury a large sum, perhaps a hundred talents. It was proposed to distribute this among the citizens, but Themistocles persuaded the Assembly to apply it to the purpose of building new ships. Special contributions for the same object must have been made soon afterwards; more ships were built; and two years later we find Athens with nearly 200 triremes at her command—a navy which could be compared with those of Syracuse and Corcyra. The completion of the Piraeus wall was not attempted at this period, but was accomplished, as we shall see, after the final repulse of the Persians from the shores of Greece.