« ElőzőTovább »
to the Phænicians on the Persian right. The Lacedæmonians and the other Peloponnesians took their station on the right, and the Æginetans and Eubeans in the center. Animated by the harangues of Themistocles and the other leaders, the Greek seamen embarked with alacrity, encouraging one another to deliver their country, their wives, and children, and the temples of their gods from the grasp of the barbarians. Just at this juncture a favorable omen seemed to promise them success. When Eurybiades gave the order for the fleet to remain and fight at Salamis, a trireme had been dispatched to Ægina to invoke the assistance of Æacus, and the Æacid heroes, Palamon and Aias (Ajax). As the Greeks were on the point of embarking, the trireme returned from the mission just in time to take her place in the line of battle. 3 As the trumpets sounded, the Greeks rowed forward to the attack, hurling into the still morning air the loud war-pæan, reverberated shrilly from the cliffs of Salamis, and not unanswered by the Persians. But suddenly a panic appeared to seize the Grecian oarsmen. They paused, backed astern, and some of the rearward vessels even struck the ground at Salamis. At this critical juncture a supernatural portent is said to have reanimated the drooping courage of the Greeks. A female figure was seen to hover over the fleet, uttering loud reproaches at their flight. Reanimated by the vision, the Greeks again rowed forward to the attack. History has preserved to us but few details of the engagement, which, indeed, soon became a scene of confusion too intricate to be accurately observed; but the names of those who first grappled with the enemy have not been left unrecorded. The Athenian captains, Ameinias and Lycomedes, the former a brother of the poet Æschylus,
were the first to bring their ships into action; Democritus, a Naxian, was the third. The Persian fleet, with 4 the exception of some of the Ionic contingents, appears to have fought with alacrity and courage. But the very numbers on which they so confidently relied proved one of the chief causes of their defeat. They had neither concert in action nor space to mancuvre; and the confusion was augmented by the mistrust with which the motley nations composing the Persian armament regarded one another. Too crowded either to advance or to retreat, their oars broken or impeded by collision with one another, their fleet lay like an inert and lifeless mass upon the water, and fell an easy prey to the Greeks. A single incident will illustrate the terror and confusion which reigned among the Persians. Artemisia, although, as 5 we have related, averse to giving battle, distinguished herself in it by deeds of daring bravery. At length she turned and fled, pursued by the Athenian trierarch, Ameinias. Full in her course lay the vessel of the Carian prince, Damosithymus of Calyndus. Instead of avoiding, she struck and sunk it, sending her countryman and all his crew to the bottom. Ameinias, believing from this act that she was a deserter from the Persian cause, suffered her to escape. Xerxes, who from his lofty throne beheld the feat of the Halicarnassian queen, but who imagined that the sunken ship belonged to the Greeks, was filled with admiration at her courage, and is said to have exclaimed, “My men are become women, my women men!”
The number of ships destroyed and sunk is stated at 6 forty on the side of the Greeks, and two hundred on that of the Persians, exclusive of those which were captured with all their crews. Besides this loss at sea, Aristeides succeeded in inflicting on the Persians another on land.
It has been already stated that some chosen Persian troops had been landed at Psyttaleia, in order to assist such Persian ships, or destroy such Grecian ships, as might be forced upon the island. When the rout of the Persian fleet was completed, Aristeides landed on the island with a body of Hoplites, defeated the Persians, and cut them to pieces to a man.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT.-INFLUENCE OF HIS CON
SMITH'S " HISTORY OF GREECE."
The conquests of Alexander the Great were instrumental in preparing the way for the spreading of the Gospel, by extending the Greek culture and the Greek language throughout the Eastern world. Greek became the language of learning and literature in the East; the Old Testament was translated into Greek at Alexandria, one of the great centers of commerce and philosophy, founded by Alexander, and the New Testament was written in Greek. Upon his death, Alexander's conquests were divided among his successors, and were finally absorbed into the empire of Rome. (See Freeman's “Historical Essays,” and Grote's “ History of Greece.")
1 ALEXANDER entered Babylon in the spring of 324, not
withstanding the warnings of the priests of Belus, who predicted some serious evil to him if he entered the city at that time. Babylon was now to witness the consiimmation of his triumphs and of his life. As in the last scene of some well-ordered drama, all the results and tokens of his great achievements seemed to be collected there to do honor to his final exit. Ambassadors from all parts of
Greece, from Libya, Italy, and probably from still more distant regions, were waiting to salute him, and to do homage to him as the conqueror of Asia ; the fleet under Nearchus had arrived, after its long and enterprising royage, and had been augmented by other vessels constructed in Phænicia, and thence brought overland to Thapsacus, and down the river to Babylon; while for the reception of this navy, which seemed to turn the inland capital of his empire into a port, a magnificent harbor was in process of construction. A more melancholy, and, it may be 2 added, a more useless monument of his greatness, was the funeral pile now rising for Hephæstion, which was constructed with such unparalleled splendor that it is said to have cost ten thousand talents. The mind of Alexander was still occupied with plans of conquest and ambition; his next design was the subjugation of Arabia ; which, however, was to be only the stepping-stone to the conquest of the whole known world. He dispatched three expeditions to survey the coast of Arabia; ordered a fleet to be built to explore the Caspian Sea; and engaged himself in surveying the course of the Euphrates, and in devising improvements of its navigation. The period for commencing the Arabian campaign had already arrived ; solemn sacrifices were offered up for its success, and grand banquets were given previous to departure. At these 3 carousals Alexander drank deep; and at the termination of the one given by his favorite, Medius, he was seized with unequivocal symptoms of fever. For some days, however, he neglected the disorder, and continued to occupy himself with the necessary preparations for the march. But in eleven days the malady had gained a fatal strength and terminated his life on June 28th, B. C. 323, at the early age of thirty-two. While he lay speechless on his death-bed his favorite troops were admitted to
see him; but he could offer them no other token of recog. nition than by stretching out his hand. 4 Few of the great characters of history have been so
differently judged as Alexander. Of the magnitude of his exploits, indeed, and of the justice with which, according to the usual sentiments of mankind, they confer upon him the title of “Great,” there can be but one opinion; it is his motive for undertaking them that has been called in question. An eminent writer brands him as an “adventurer”—an epithet which, to a certain extent, must be allowed to be true, but which is not more true of him than of most other conquerors on a large scale. His military renown, however, consists more in the seemingly extravagant boldness of his enterprises than in the real
power of the foes whom he overcame. The resist ance he met with was not greater than that which a European army experiences in the present day from one composed of Asiatics; and the empire of the East was decided by the two battles of Issus and Arbela. His chief difficulties were the geographical difficulties of distance, climate, and the nature of the ground traversed. But this is no proof that he was incompetent to meet a foe more worthy of his military skill; and his proceedings in Greece before his departure show the reverse. 5 His motives, it must be allowed, seem rather to have sprung from the love of personal glory and the excitement of conquest than from any wish to benefit his subjects. The attention which he occasionally devoted to commerce, to the foundation of new cities, and to other matters of a similar kind, form rather episodes in his history than the real objects at which his aims were directed; and it was not by his own prudence, but through the weariness of his army, that his career of conquest was at length arrested, which he wished to prosecute before he