BOOK XI - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
The first five books

Page 222 Having now said enough of these Gallant Men, we shall return where we broke off. Xerxes thus possess'd of the Passes, obtain'd (according to the Proverb) only in a Cadmean Victory, lost a great number of his Soldiers, with the Destruction of a very few of his Enemies in comparison. And having now gain'd the Straights, and made his way open, he determin'd to try his Fortune in a Sea-Fight: To that purpose he forthwith sent for Megabates the Admiral of his Navy, and commanded him to make up to the Grecian Fleet, and with the whole strength of his Navy to join Battel with them; who without delay obeys the King's Command, and looses from Pydna in Macedonia with the whole Fleet, and sails to the utmost Coasts or Promontory of Magnesia call'd Sepias, where meeting with a violent Storm and Tempest, he lost Three Hundred of his Ships of War, and a great number of his Transport Ships. When the Storm was over, he made away, and arrived at Aphetas, a City of Magnesia. From thence he sent forth Three Hundred Sail, and commanded the Officers that they should sail about, and make to the Right Hand of the Island Eubea, and so surround the Enemy. The Grecians in the mean time lay at Anchor at Artemesia in Eubea, whose Navy was at the most not above Two Hundred and Fourscore Sail, whereof an Hundred and Forty were fitted out by the Athenians, and the rest by the other Grecians. Euribiades, a Spartan, was Admiral of the Fleet; and Themistocles the Athenian took care of all other things relating to it. This Man by reason of his singular Prudence and Military Experience, was not only in great Reputation and Authority with the Grecians in the Fleet, but even with Euribiades himself; and all were ready at his Command. When the Sea-Officers were in Consultation where was the most commodious Place to join Battel; whilst all the rest were for abiding where they were, and to receive the Enemy as they then lay; only Themistocles was of a contrary Opinion, and declared, that that Party ever had the advantage, who in good order made the first Onset upon the Enemy: For if they then in a Body fell upon the Enemy, who was at that time in Disorder and Confusion, by coming out of several Ports, and at a great distance one from another, the Attack would probably be successful and prosperous.

The Counsel and Advice of Themistocles prevailing, the whole Grecian Fleet in order of Battel, set sail against the Persians, who coming out of their several Ports, as they were dispers'd and out of order, were met by the Navy of Themistocles, who sunk many of 'em, and forc'd as many more upon the Shoar.

In the mean time, the Fleets of both Parties now come together, and Battel join'd, some parts of the Fleets prevail'd here and there on both sides, without absolute Victory on either, till Night put an end to the Contest. Presently follow'd a most dreadful Tempest, whereby many Ships of the Persian Fleet were forc'd out of their Harbours, and lost. So as God dimself seem'd to fight for the Grecians, by reducing the Barbarians to a less number, that the Grecians might be an equal Match for them, and better able to bear the brunt of a Sea-Fight. Hence it was, that the Grecians grew more and more confident and couragious: And on the other Hand, the Barbarians ever more fearful in all Attempts.

But after the Storm was over, having again brought together their Navy, they made down upon the Enemy with their whole Fleet: The Grecians inforc'd with Fifty Athenian Ships, made ready, and undauntedly receiv'd the Barbarians. And here the manner of the Fight was almost like that at Thermopyle, for the Persians endeavour'd to charge through the midst of the Grecians, and so to pass into Euripus: But the Grecians, with the help of their Confederates in Eubea, defended the Straights; upon which, there was again a fierce Engagement, and both sides lost many of their Men of War: But Night drawing on again, both Parties were forc'd into their Harbours. It's reported that the Athenians on the Grecian side, and the Zidonians on the other, bravely behav'd themselves in both Battels.

The Grecians afterwards hearing of the Defeat and Slaughter made at Thermopyle, and being certainly informed, that the Persians were marching towards Athens, were in great consternation, and therefore sailing back to Salamis, they there lay. And now the Athenians seeing the extream Hazard all were in, who remain'd in Athens, put on Board their Wives and Children, and all Necessaries, and whatever else they could, and transported 'em into Salamis. Then the Admiral of the Persian Fleet, understanding that the Enemy was withdrawn from

Preface         Index
Credits         Tables