The Library of History

Page 224

Page 224 the Enemy would have room to make use of the whole Fleet, by which a few Vessels (as they were) would soon be destroyed by such a Multitude.

These Reasons, and many others to the same purpose in reference to the Business in Hand, being seasonably and wisely offer'd by Themistocles, brought over all the rest to his Opinion.

It being now therefore determin'd in this General Council, to Fight within the Straights of Salamis, the Grecian Captains with all speed prepared themselves for Battel against the Persians: Euribiades therefore, together with Themistocles, began to encourage the People against the Danger approaching: But they were struck with such Terror and Fear of the great Power of the Persians, that they regarded not the Advice or Commands of their Leaders and Officers; but every one to save himself, hasted with all speed to pass over from Salamis to Peloponesus.

Neither were the Grecian Forces by Land, seized with less Fear and Terror, by reason of the great Power of the Enemy, being likewise much dejected by the Slaughter of those valiant Men at Thermopile: And then the misery of the Atheniaus, was ever before their Eyes, which amazed them, and put a damp upon all their Hopes.

Upon which the General Council discerning the Tumult and distracting Fears among the People, made an Order for the Inclosing of the Isthmus with a Wall; and thereupon many Hearts and Hands joining together, the Work was compleated: And so the Peloponesians, defended themselves by a Wall drawn out along from Lecheum to Cenchrea Forty Furlongs.

But now the Fleet at Salamis, was in a Mutiny, and in that degree of Fear, that none would obey their Officers. Themistocles therefore perceiving that Euribiades, the Admiral of the Fleet, was not regarded, and that the Violence of the Furious Popularity could not be restrained; and considering likewise that the Straits and Difficulties of the Places at Salamis were of great Advantage in order to obtain the Victory, resolved upon this Project: He commanded one chosen out for that purpose, to go privately as a Deserter to the King, to let him know that the Grecians had resolved to pass over with all their Fleet from Salamis into the Isthmus. Xerxes gives credit to what was related, as a thing very probable, and therefore resolved with all haste and diligence, to prevent the Land and Sea-Forces of the Grecians from joining; and to that purpose commanded the Ships he had from Egypt, forthwith to possess themselves of the Straits and narrow Seas between Salamis and Megaris, and orders the rest of his Navy to make for Salamis, and there without delay to Fight the Enemy. The King's Gallies were drawn up distinctly, according to their several Natiòns, that being all of one and the same Language, they might more readily aid and assist one another.

The Fleet setting forth in this Order, the Phaenicians were in the Right Wing, and the Grecians joyn'd with the Persians were plac'd in the Left. In the mean time, the Officers of the Ionians sent with great Secrecy a certain Samian unto the Grecians, to acquaint them what the King determined, and in what Method and order all things were hastning forward, and that they themselves (as soon as the Battel was join'd) were resolved to desert the Barbarians.

All which, when the Samian had thus privily discover'd to Euribiades, Themistocles (his Matters succeeding according to his Hearts desire, and as he had contrived,) with great Joy encourag'd the Navy to Fight. The Grecians recovering their Spirits at the Message sent by the Ionians, and (stirred up with fresh hope by the present Circumstances of Affairs to Fight) against their former Determinations, loosed from Salamis with great Resolution. And now the Fleet being disposed in order of Battel by Euribiades and Themistocles, the Left Wing was committed to the Lacedemonians and Athenians against the Phenicians, the Enemy's Right Wing.

The Phenicians were at that time in great Reputation for Maritime Affairs, as well by reason of the multitude of their Shipping, as for their singular and ancient Skill in Navigation. The Aegineans, and those of Megara, were plac'd in the Left Wing, for these were conceived (next to the Athenians) to be the best Seamen; and it was concluded that they would fight with the greatest Obstinacy and Resolution, in regard they had no where to fly with the rest of the

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