HISTORY OF GREECE. 325 refounded with the lively notes of music, and their songs were dictated by the tender passions of pity and love: the poets of Sparta rehearsed only the ftern virtues of departed heroes, or roused her sons to martial exploits by the description of battles, victory, and death. In Athens the sportive fallies of wit, and the gay images of fancy, gave a peculiar, vivacity to social intercourse : the seriousness of a Spartan was manifested in his cautious reserve, hisgrave deportment, and the peculiar conciseness of his sharp and pointed repartee; the virtues of a Spartan were gloomy and austere; the diffipation of an Athenian was engaging and agreeable. The one was an illiterate soldier, whose character was formed by martial discipline alone; the other was a man of genius, of taste, and of letters, who enjoyed the advantages of refinement and knowledge'. The moroseness of the Spartan was increased by holding po intercourse with other nations; whereas by the laws of Solon, ftrangers were invited to Athens, and were admitted to all the privileges of citizens.


[ocr errors]

? This contrast of character is finely touched by Pericles in his celebrated Oration on the Athenians Nain in the Peloponpesian war.

Και μην και των πονων πλεισας αναπαυλας τη γημη ηπoρισαμεθα, αγώσι: μεν γε και θυσιαις διεθησιους νομιζολες, ιδιαις δε κατασκευαϊς ευπρεπεσιν ων καθ' ήμεραν η τερψις το λυπηρον εκπλησσει. επεισερχεται δε δια μεγεθGτης πολεως εκ πασης γής τα παλα και ξυμβαινει ημιν μηδεν οικειοθερα τη απολαυσει τα αυλα αγαθα γιγνομενα καρπεθαι, ή και τα των αλλων ανθρωπων. Διαφερομεν δε και ταις των πολεμικων μελείαις των εναλιων τους δε. την τε γαρ σολιν κοινην παρεχομεν, και εκ εσιν δε ξενηλασιαις AteipYouer, Tuva on painuusto bragato, &c. Thucy, Lib. 2, p. 57. Tom, 2. Ed. Bipont.

Y 3

In Athens, liberty of action was shewn in every indulgence of social pleasure ; in Sparta, the spirit of fociety, divested of its charms to amuse and ta enliven, was made subfervient to the affairs of the state. The temper of Sparta was depreffed by ex. ceffive restraint, while that of her rival was vain, arrogant, licentious, and fickle. Impatient both of freedom and slavery, these great republics had few principles in common except glory and ambition; and they continually embarrassed each other in the execution of their respective projects to obtain the sovereignty of Greece. The spirit of independence, however, was predominant in the other states; and the yoke either of Sparta or Athens was regarded as heavy and intolerable. Discordant as their respective interests were, a train of events succeeded, which caused them to fufpend their animofities, to unite in a general alliance, and to equip their fleets, and lead forth their armies, not only to repel a formidable invasion, but to avert the storm which threatened the destruction of their political existence.

Among the colonies of Greece, settled upon the coasts of Asia Minor, the Ionians occupied the most pleafant and fertile territories. In order to refift: the force of the Persian power, which was exerted to crush their insurrection, they solicited the aid of Athens, their mother country. Reinforced by her assistance, they burnt the ancient city of Sardis ; and although the Ionians were foon after reduced to submission, the resentment of Darius, the Persian


monarch was roused to inflict vengeance on the Athenians for their interference. He demanded earth and water as tokens of their submiffion; and on their spirited refusal, he began his hostile attacks againft them both by sea and land. Such were the cause and the commencement of those memorable wars, which contributed to mature the martial genius of the Greeks; and the interesting accounts of which give dignity, fplendour, and glory, to the most authentic pages of their history.

The train of events to which this diffention led, involved likewise the most important interests of the Persians; for the wars, begun upon flight grounds with the Greeks, terminated at last in the fubversion of their empire.

: IV. The most glorious Age of Greece.

Of all the expeditions recorded in ancient hiftory, that which was carried on againft Greece by the Persians is mentioned as the most formidable, whether the great forces which were brought into the field, or the obstacles which they furmounted previous to their engagement with their enemies, be coníidered. The minute and exact relation given by Herodotus of the vast preparations made by Xerxes, and the ardour with which he pursued his romantic enterprize, contribute to raise the reputation and glory of the Greeks to the highest pitch, when we consider the apparently inadequate

Y 4


means of their defence and resistance. Yet what was the success of the vain despot of innumerable

hordes of undisciplined barbarians, when opposed · to the determined valour and confirmed difcipline

of regular armies, commanded by generals of consummate talents and approved experience ? The Historian above mentioned will give us the most satisfactory answer to this question.

The signal victory obtained in the plains of Marathon over the Persians, was effected by the sagacity, experience, and valour of Miltiades,' The fall of Leonidas, and his illustrious Spartans in the straits of Thermopylæ, taught Xerxes to respect their unexampled prowess, and to regret a victory obtained over a small band of heroes, by the loss of the choicest foldiers of his army'. The Athenians, after abandoning their city, and conveying their wives and families to the islands for security, embarked on board their ships, and under the conduct of Themistocles, engaged the fleet of Xerxes in the ftraits of Salamis'. From a lofty throne on Mount Egialos, the Persian monarch observed the action, and witnessed the total destruction of his vast navy. The battle of Platæa established the renown of Paufanias, and his victory was rewarded with the costly spoils of the Persian camp. On the same day, the Greeks were equally successful at the promontory of Mycale in Ionia, where they devoted the rich camp and powerful fleet of the enemy to the flames,

s B. C. 480.

B. C. 480.

Çimon, Cimon, the son of Miltiades, attacked and defeated the Persian fleet, and landing in Cilicia, gained a second victory, by routing an immense army under the command of Megabyzes. Artaxerxes finding it vain to contend with a nation of heroes, folicited a peace, which was established on conditions highly advantageous to the Greeks. It was agreed that all the Grecian cities upon the coasts of Asia should enjoy their full independence, and that the Persian fleets should not approach their coasts from the Euxine sea to the borders of Pamphylia. A war so glorious, and a peace so honourable, were the united fruits of Grecian unanimity and valour".

For half a century after the repulse of the armies of Darius, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes, Athens maintained, without controul, the pre-eminence of her power. The farther progress of the Athenians, in extending their dominions, was assisted by colonization and commerce. Their navies rode the feas in triumph, and their merchants exchanged the superfluous productions of Attica for the choiceft fruits of distant countries. The large and fertile island of Euboea was numbered among their territories; their dominion extended over the Afiatic coast for the space of a thousand miles, from Cyprus to the Thracian Bofphorus, and over forty intermediate islands. They planted colonies on the winding shores of Macedon and Thrace, and commanded the coasts

u The victory obtained at Marathon, B. C. 490 ; at Salamis, 480; at Platæa, 479; at Pamphylia, 460.


« ElőzőTovább »