The Library of History

Page 223

Page 223 their former station, presently with his whole Fleet made for Eubaea, and there first takes the City Istiea by Storm, and raz'd it, and then wasts and destroys the whole Country before him.

In the mean time Xerxes marches from Thermopyle through the Consines of Phocia, razes all the Towns far and near, and wasts and spoils all before him.

That part of the Phocians who sided with the Grecians, not being able to Contest with so great a Multitude, forsook their Towns, and with all their Inhabitants betook themselves to the difficult Passages and Defences of the Mountain Parnassus.

Afterwards the King entring the Country of the Doreans, forbore from Pillage and Spoil, and commanded that no Injury should be done there, because they were his Friends and Associates. But part of his Forces left there, he commanded to invade Delphos, and to burn the Temple of Apollo, and to rob and carry away all that they found there; and he himself in the mean time, led the rest of his Army into Beotia, and there incamp'd.

When those that were sent to spoil the Delphian God, were advanc'd as far as the Temple of Pallas, there arose a sudden and incredible Tempest, and Storm of Hail and Wind, with dreadful Thunder and Lightning, wherewith great Rocks were rent asunder, and fell upon the Heads of the Persians, and destroy'd them by Heaps. The rest that surviv'd, being terrify'd with this Portent of the Immortal Gods, ran away with all haste and speed. And thus by Divine Providence, the Oracle of Delphos was preserv'd from Ruin and Robbery. They of Delphos, that they might continue the Memory of this wonderful Appearance of the Gods to Posterity for ever, erected a great Trophy or Monument near the Temple of Pallas, on which they engraved this Elogy—

A grateful Gift to Jove, the Delphians Me
Have rais'd, proud Monument of Victory.
By Phoebus help, who Medean Bands confound,
Peserv'd the Temple that with Brass was Crown'd.

Xerxes passing through Beotia, wasted the Country of the Thespians, and burnt Platea, forsaken before of its Inhabitants. For the People of these Parts, with their Families and all their Concerns, had withdrawn themselves into Peloponesus: From thence he passed into Attica, continuing still his Devastation and Ruin of all things: And Athens it self he razes to the Ground, and burns the Temples.

Whilst Xerxes was thus imploy'd, his Fleet (having first spoil'd Eubaea and the Coasts of Attica) loos'd from Eubaea, and came to Attica. About the same time the Corcyreans lay about Peloponesus, with Threescore Gallies, because they could not (as they pretended) recover the Cape or Promontory of Malea. But other Writers say, that this was rather done out of Policy, that they might observe how the issue of the War was like to succeed, and submit to the Persians if they were Victors; and that the Grecians, if they were Conquerors, might believe they came so far in order to assist them.

But when News was brought to the Athenians that were at Salamis, that their Country was burnt up, and the Temple of Pallas laid in Rubbish, they were extreamly griev'd and dejected. An exceeding fear likewise seiz'd the other Grecians, seeing themselves besieged (as it were) by the Enemy on every side, coopt up together within Peloponesus. And therefore it was determin'd that the Leaders and Officers should consult and give their Opinion what place was fittest and most convenient wherein to try their Fortune in a Sea-Fight. Many and various Opinions were proposed and bandied to and fro in this matter: The Peloponesians, as those who only minded their own security, advised that the Fight might be near the Isthmus: For Fortifying the Isthmus with a strong Wall, if things did not succeed, they might presently withdraw themselves into Peloponesus, as into a Place of greatest Safety and Defence: But if they should be penned up in the little Island Salamis, they should run into Mischiefs inextricable.

But Themistocles advised to fight at Salamis, for that within the Straights they were sure to have the Advantage, where they might fight with a few Ships against many. On the other hand, he made it out, that to fight near the Isthmus, would be great disadvantage to them, for they must fight in the open Sea, where

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