The Library of History

Page 231

Page 231 And now Attica being invaded by so great a Multitude, the Athenians sent Messengers to the Spartans, and desired their Aid, who were so slow that the Enemy violently broke in upon the Country, so that the Athenians were reduced to great Streights, and now a Second time, with their Wives and Children, and all other things that they could in that Distraction and Hurry carry away, left their Country, and fled to Salamis.

Mardonius greatly inrag'd, destroy'd and wasted all the Country, levelling the City to the Ground, and utterly demolished all the Temples that were left untouch'd in the former Desolation.

Upon his returning thus to Athens with his Forces, it was determined in the general Assembly of the Grecians, that they would all join with the Athenians, and march to Platea, and there join Battel with the Persians for the Liberty of their Country. And made Solemn Vows to the Gods, that if they became Victors, they would celebrate and set apart a Festival Day, and institute Sports to the Goddess Libertas at Platea.

At the General Rendezvous in Peleponesus, they took an Oath to oblige one another to the Prosecution of the War, to the end their League might be inviolably observ'd, and that all Difficulties might be undergone with undaunted Courage. The Form of the Oath was thus,—I will not prefer Life before Liberty.I will not desert my Officers, whether they live or dye, but that I will bury my Fellow-Souldiers that shall fall in the War, how many soever they may be. If I be victorious in this War, I will not destroy or spoil any City of my Confederates. I will not rebuild any of the Temples that are burnt or ruin'd, but leave them as Monuments of the Impiety of the Barbarians to Posterity.

When they had thus sworn, they march'd over the Mountain Citharon into Beotia, and incamp'd at the Foot of the Hill, near the City Erythra. Aristides was the Commander of the Athenians, and Pausanias the Tutor of Leonidas (who was under Age) was General of the whole Army.

When Mardonius understood that the Enemy was enter'd Beotia, he march'd from Thebes, and pitcht his Tents at the River Aesopus, and fortify'd himself with a deep Trench, inclosing his Camp round with a Wall of Timber. The Grecians were an Hundred Thousand, but the Persians were Five Hundred Thousand. The Barbarians began the Fight, who all the Night long, roving up and down with all their Cavalry, set upon the Grecians in their Camp: The first that felt the Brunt were the Athenians, who forthwith in good order valiantly oppos'd them; so that the Fight was very hot. At length the rest of the Grecians put all to Flight that made the Onset on them; only the Magareans, who had to deal with the General and best of the Persian Horse, were over-press'd, yet gave no ground, but sent with all speed to the Athenians and the Lacedemonians for Succors. When Aristides understood their Distress, he forthwith sent the chief of such Athenians as were then about him, to their aid; who joyning with the other, made such a Charge upon the Barbarians, that they soon freed the Magareans from their Dangers, killing the General of the Persian Horse, with many others, and put the rest to flight.

This happy success at the beginning of the War, fill'd the Grecians with hope of absolute Victory in the Conclusion. Afterwards they remov'd their Camp out of the Plain, next under the Foot of the Mountain, into another Place more convenient for obtaining a perfect Victory. For on their Right Hand was an high Hill, and on their Left the River Asopus for their Defence: Between these Two they encamp'd, thus guarded by a natural Fortification. The straitness of the Place thus chosen by the Grecians, was of great advantage, and did much conduce to the Victory: For the Persians could not enlarge their Front as otherways they might, by reason whereof so many Thousands of the Barbarians became useless and unprofitable. The Generals, Pausanias and Aristides having now so fair an Opportunity, drew out their Forces, and advanced in Battalia as the Ground would give them leave.

Mardonius on the other Hand, being forc'd to march up in a close Body, drew up his Men to the best advantage he could devise, and with a great Shout meets the Grecians, and with the choicest of his Men, who were his Life-Guard, makes the first Charge upon the Lacedemonians, who were plac'd in Front to receive

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