Persian Invasions Essay

1773 words - 8 pages

King Darius, being very wroth with the Athenians for their share in the burning of Sardis, sent a great army across the Hellespont to march through Thrace against Athens, under his young kinsman Mardonius. But disaster befell these at the hands of the Thracians, and the fleet that was to aid them was shattered in a storm; so that they returned to Asia without honour. Then Darius sent envoys to demand earth and water from the Greek states; and of the islands the most gave them, and some also of the cities on the mainland; and among these were the Aeginetans, which were at feud with Athens.But of those who would not give the earth and water were the Eretrians of Euboea. So Darius sent a great ...view middle of the document...

But as for the story that the Alcmaeonidae hoisted a friendly signal to the Persians, I credit it not at all.Now, Darius was very wroth with the Greeks when he heard of these things, and made preparation for a mighty armament to overthrow the Greeks, and also the Egyptians, who revolted soon afterwards. But he died before he was ready, and Xerxes, his son, reigned in his stead. Then, having first crushed the Egyptians, he, being ruled by Mardonius, gathered a council and declared his intent of marching against the Hellenes; which resolution was commended by Mardonius, but Artabanus, the king's uncle, spoke wise words of warning. Then Xerxes would have changed his mind, but for a dream which came to him twice, and to Artabanus also, threatening disaster if he ceased from his project; so that Artabanus was won over.THEN Xerxes made vast provision for his invasion-for the building of a bridge over the Hellespont, and the cutting of a canal through the peninsula of Athos, where the fleet of Mardonius had been shattered. And from all parts of his huge empire he mustered his hosts first in Cappadocia, and marched thence by way of Sardis to the Hellespont. And because, when the bridge was a-building, a great storm wrecked it, he bade flog the naughty waves of the sea. Then, the bridge being finished, he passed over with his host, which took seven days to accomplish.And when they were come to Doriscus he numbered them, and found them to be 1,700,000 men, besides his fleets. And in the fleet were 1,207 great ships, manned chiefly by the Phoenicians and the Greeks of Asia, having also Persian and Scythian fighting men on board. But when Demaratus, an exiled king of Sparta, warned Xerxes of the valour of all the Greeks, but chiefly of the Spartans, who would give battle, however few they might be, against any foe, however many, his words seemed to Xerxes a jest, seeing how huge his own army was.Now, Xerxes had sent to many of the Greek states heralds to demand earth and water, which many had given; but to Athens and Sparta he had not sent, because there the heralds of his father Darius had been evilly entreated. And if it had not been for the resolution of the Athenians at this time, all Hellas would have been forced to submit to the Great King; for they, in despite of threatening oracles, held fast to their defiance, being urged thereto by Themistocles, who showed them how those oracles must mean that, although they would suffer evil things, they would be victorious by means of wooden bulwarks, which is to say, ships; and thus they were encouraged to rely upon building and manning a mighty fleet. And all the other cities of a Greece resolved to stand by them, except the Argives, who would not submit to the leadership of the Spartans. Nor were the men of Thessaly willing to join, since the other Greeks could not help them to guard Thessaly itself.Therefore, the Greeks resolved to make their stand at Thermopylae on land, and at the strait of Artemisium by...

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