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The fall of Sybaris, B. C. 510, was occasioned by war with the sister but now rival city Crotona. The popular party had supplanted an oligarchy in Sybaris, and the exiled citizens had taken refuge in Crotona. The Sybarites demanded their rendition. The Crotonians trembled, for they had to choose between two great perils: they must incur either the wrath of the gods by betraying suppliants, or the vengeance of the Sybarites, whose army was supposed to number 300,000 men. Pythagoras urged them to adopt the more generous alternative, and his disciple, Milo, the most celebrated athlete of his time, became their general. In a battle on the Trais the Crotonians were victorious. They became masters of Sybaris, and determined to destroy it so thoroughly that it should never again be inhabited. For this purpose they turned the course of the river Crathis, so that it overflowed the city and buried its ruins in mud and sand. To this day a wall can be seen in the bed of the river when the water is low, the only monument of the ancient grandeur of Sybaris.
88. The people of Locri were the first of the Greeks who possessed a body of written laws. The ordinances of Zaleucus, a shepherd whom they made their legislator by the command of the Delphic oracle, were forty years earlier than those of Draco, which they resembled in the severity of their penalties. The Locrians, however, held them in so high esteem, that if any man wished to propose a new law or repeal an old one, he appeared in the public assembly with a rope around his neck, which was immediately tightened if he failed to convince his fellow-citizens of the wisdom of his suggestions.
89. Rhegium, on the Straits of Messina, was founded by the Chalcidians of Euboea, but greatly increased by fugitives from the Spartans during the first and second Messenian wars. The straits and the opposite town in Sicily, formerly called Zan'cle, received a new name from these exiled people. Taren'tum was a Spartan colony founded about 708 B. C. Its harbor was the best and safest in the Tarentine Gulf, and after the fall of Sybaris it became the most flourishing city in Magna Græcia. Though its soil was less fertile than that of other colonies, its pastures afforded the finest wool in all Italy. Tarentine horses were in great favor among the Greeks; and its shores supplied such a profusion of the shell-fish used for coloring, that “Tarentine purple" was second only to the Tyrian. So extensive were the manufactories of this dye, that great mounds may even yet be seen near the ancient harbor, composed wholly of broken shells of the murex.
90. The prosperity of Magna Græcia declined after the close of the sixth century B. C., when the warlike Samnites and Lucanians began to press southward from their homes in central Italy. The Greek colonies gradually lost their inland possessions, and became limited to mere trading settlements on the coast.
91. Massilia, in Gaul, has already been mentioned as a colony of the
Ionic Phocians. It exerted a controlling influence upon the Celtic tribes by which it was surrounded, and who derived from it the benefits of Greek letters and civilization. A Massiliot mariner, Pytheas, navigated the Atlantic and explored the western coasts of Europe, as far, at least, as Great Britain. Five colonies on the Spanish coast were founded by Massilia.
92. The fertile island of Sicily early attracted the attention of the Greeks. The Carthaginians already occupied the western side of the island, but for two and a half centuries the commercial settlements of either people flourished side by side without collision. Twelve flourishing Greek cities sprang up within 150 years, among which Syracuse, on the eastern, and Agrigentum, on the southern coast, were the most important. Syracuse, the earliest, except Naxos, of the Sicilian colonies, was founded by Corinthians, B. C. 734. Its position made it the door to the whole island, and in Roman times it was the capital of the province. In its greatest prosperity it contained half a million of inhabitants, and its walls were twenty-two miles in extent. Agrigentum, though of later origin (B. C. 582), grew so fast that it outstripped its older neighbors. The poet Pindar called it the fairest of mortal cities, and its public buildings were among the most magnificent in the ancient world.
93. AFRICAN COLONIES. Greek colonization was at first confined to the northern shores of the Mediterranean, Egypt and Carthage dividing between them the southern. But the policy of Psammetichus, and, after him, of Amasis, favored the Greeks, who were thenceforth permitted to settle at Naucratis, and enjoy there a monopoly of the Mediterranean commerce of Egypt. Twenty years after the first establishment at Naucratis, Cyrene was founded by the people of Thera, a Spartan colony on the Ægean. Unlike most Greek colonies, Cyrene was governed by kings during the first two centuries of its existence.
94. The peninsula of Chalcid'ice, in Macedonia, was covered with the settlements of colonists from Chalcis and Eretria, from the former of which it derived its name. Potidea, on the same coast, was planted by Corinthians. Byzantium was founded by Megarians, on the strait which connects the Propontis with the Euxine. Few cities could boast so splendid a position; but the power of the Megarian colony bore little proportion to what it was afterward to attain as the capital of Constantine and the mistress of the world. The most northerly Grecian settlement was Istria, founded by Milesians near the mouth of the Danube.
Codrus, the last king of Athens, was succeeded during three centuries by archons for life, chosen from his family. Seven archons afterward reigned successively ten years each, and the government was then intrusted to a commission of nine, annually elected. The people demanding written laws, Draco
prepared a code of inhuman severity. A more moderate constitution was framed by Solon, one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece; but the contention of the three rival factions of the Plain, the Shore, and the Mountain soon resulted in the subjection of Athens to the tyranny of Pisistratus. Twice expelled, Pisistratus twice re-established his power, and by his justice and liberal encouragement of all the arts, consoled the people for his unwarranted seizure of the government. His son Hippias was expelled by the Alcmeonidæ, with the aid of the Spartans. Clisthenes completed the liberal reforms of Solon, and introduced the singular custom of ostracism. In three attempts to overthrow the free constitution of Athens, the Spartans and their allies were signally defeated.
THIRD PERIOD. B. C. 500–338.
95. The details of the Ionian Revolt (B. C. 499-494) have been found in the History of Persia.* Reserving his vengeance for the European Greeks who had interfered in the quarrel, Darius sought to console the conquered Ionians for the loss of their political independence by greater personal freedom. Just laws, equal taxes, peace and good order began to restore their prosperity; and when Mardonius, the son-in-law of Darius, succeeded Artaphernes in the satrapy, he signalized his reign by removing all tyrants and restoring to the cities a republican form of government. All this was done to secure their friendship or neutrality in his approaching expedition against Greece. That expedition (B. C. 492) failed, as we have seen, in its principal object.
B. C. 491.
96. The next year messengers were sent by Darius to each of the states of Greece, demanding earth and water, the customary symbols of obedience. None of the island states and few on the continent dared refuse. The people of Athens and Sparta returned an answer which could not be mistaken. The latter threw the envoys into a well, and the former into a pit where the vilest criminals were punished, telling them to get earth and water for themselves.
97. The youth and ill success of Mardonius led Darius to recall him, and place the command of his new expedition against the Greeks in the hands of Datis, a Mede, and Artaphernes, his own nephew. In the spring of 490 B. C., the great host was drawn up off the coast of Cilicia — a fleet of 600 triremes, carrying not less than 100,000 men. They sailed westward and ravaged the isle of Naxos, but spared Delos, the reputed birth-place of Apollo and Artemis, because the Median Datis recognized them as identical with his own national divinities, the sun and moon. The fleet then advanced to Euboea, Eretria being the first object of vengeance. Carystus, refusing to join the armament against her neighbors, was taken and destroyed. Eretria withstood a siege of six days; but the unhappy city was a prey to the same dissensions which constituted the fatal weakness of Greece.†
*See Book II, 2 34.
† Almost every Grecian state was divided between two parties, which preferred respectively democracy and oligarchy; i. e., government by many and by few.
Two traitors of the oligarchical party opened the gates to the barbarians. The place was given up to plunder, the temples burnt, and the people enslaved.
98. A swift-footed messenger was now dispatched from Athens to Sparta imploring aid. The distance was ninety miles, and he reached his destination the day after his departure. The Spartans did not refuse their assistance, but they declared that religion forbade their marching before the full moon, and it was now only the ninth day. The Persians were already landed on the coast of Attica, and, guided by Hippias, advanced to the plain of Marathon. The Athenian army, posted upon the heights, had to consider whether to await their tardy allies or meet these overwhelming numbers alone. At the last moment there arrived an unexpected reinforcement, which, though small in numbers, raised the spirits of the Athenians by the friendliness it expressed. It was the entire fighting population of the little town of Platæa, a thousand men in all, who came to testify their gratitude for a former service rendered by the Athenians.
99. All the other generals, who were to have commanded in turn, gave up their days to Miltiades, whose genius and experience alike won their confidence; but he, fearful of arousing envy, waited until his own turn came, and then gave orders for battle. The sacrifices and prayers were offered, the trumpets sounded, and, chanting a battle-hymn, the eleven thousand Greeks rushed down from the heights where they had been encamped. Instead of the usual slow march of the phalanx, they traversed the mile or more of level ground which separated them from the Persians at a full run, bearing their level spears in a straight, unwavering line. *
The front rank of Asiatics fell instantly before this unusual assault; but the resistance was not less determined. Rushing upon the spears of the Greeks, in the attempt to make an opening in the phalanx where their short swords and daggers might serve them, the Persians freely sacrificed their lives. It was the belief of many on the field that the gigantic shade of Theseus, the great Attic hero, might be seen in the ranks. Night approached before the desperate conflict was decided. But the Greeks, though wearied with the long action, never wavered, and at length the shattered remains of the Asiatic host turned and fled. †
100. The Persians had brought with them a mass of white marble, with which they meant to erect upon the field of Marathon a monument of their victory. It was carved by Phidias into a gigantic statue of
*“The first Greeks," says Herodotus, "who ever ran to meet a foe; the first, too, who beheld without dismay the garb and armor of the Medes, for hitherto in Greece the very name of Mede had excited terror."
† Read the movements of Datis after the battle, p. 86.
Nemesis, the impersonation of divine vengeance. From the brazen spoils
of the Persians was cast that colossal statue of Athena Promachos, whose glittering spear and helmet, from the summit of the Athenian citadel, could be seen far off at sea beyond the point of Sunium. The armed goddess, "First in the Fight," seemed to be keeping a perpetual guard over her beloved city.
101. For a time after the victory at Marathon, Miltiades was the best beloved of the Athenians. Even while prince in the Chersonesus, he had won their gratitude by annexing Lemnos and Imbros to their dominions. To this claim on their regard he now added that of having delivered them from their greatest peril, and there was no limit to their confidence. When, therefore, he promised them a still more lucrative though less glorious enterprise than the recent one against the Persians, they were not slow to consent, though the conditions were a fleet of seventy ships and a large supply of men and money for his use, of which he was to render no account until his return. They were granted, and Miltiades set sail for the isle of Paros, which had furnished a trireme to
B. C. 489.
the Persians during the recent invasion. The chief city was besieged and on the point of being taken, when suddenly, for no sufficient cause, Miltiades burnt his fortifications, drew off his fleet, and returned to Athens, having no treasures and only disgrace and loss to report as the result of his expedition.
102. The glory of Miltiades was now departed. He was accused by Xanthip'pus, a leader of the aristocracy, of having accepted a bribe from the Persians to withdraw from Paros. Severely wounded, Miltiades was brought into the court upon a couch; and although his brother Tisag'oras undertook his defense, the only plea he cared to make was in the two words, "Lemnos" and "Marathon." The offense, if proved, was capital; but the people refused to sentence their deliverer to death. They commuted his punishment to a fine of fifty talents; but before it was paid he expired from his wound.
103. The greatest citizen of Athens, after the death of Miltiades, was Aristides, called "the Just." He was of noble birth and belonged to the Alemæonid party, but he was ardently devoted to the interests of the people. Stern toward crime, whether in friends or foes, he was yet mild
Coin of Athens, enlarged three-fourths.