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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 185

107. When Xerxes had entrusted his sons to Artemisia to carry them back to Ephesos, he called Mardonios and bade him choose of the army whom he would, and make his deeds, if possible, correspond to his words. During this day then things went so far; and in the night on the command of the king the leaders of the fleet began to withdraw their ships from Phaleron to the Hellespont, as quickly as they might each one, to guard the bridges for the king to pass over. And when the Barbarians were near Zoster as they sailed, then seeing the small points of rock which stretch out to sea from this part of the mainland, they thought that these were ships and fled for a good distance. In time however, perceiving that they were not ships but points of rock, they assembled together again and continued on their voyage.

108. When day dawned, the Hellenes, seeing that the land-army was staying still in its place, supposed that the ships also were about Phaleron; and thinking that they would fight another sea-battle, they made preparations to repel them. When however they were informed that the ships had departed, forthwith upon this they thought it good to pursue after them. They pursued therefore as far as Andros, but did not get a sight of the fleet of Xerxes; and when they had come to Andros, they deliberated what they should do. Themistocles then declared as his opinion that they should take their course through the islands and pursue after the ships, and afterwards sail straight to the Hellespont to break up the bridges; but Eurybiades expressed the opposite opinion to this, saying that if they should break up the floating-bridges, they would therein do 73 the greatest possible evil to Hellas: for if the Persian should be cut off and compelled to remain in Europe, he would endeavour not to remain still, since if he remained still, neither could any of his affairs go forward, nor would any way of returning home appear; but his army would perish of hunger: whereas if he made the attempt and persevered in it, all Europe might be brought over to him, city by city and nation by nation, the inhabitants being either conquered 74 or surrendering on terms before they were conquered: moreover they would have for food the crops of the Hellenes which grew year by year. He thought however that conquered in the sea-fight the Persian would not stay in Europe, and therefore he might be allowed to flee until in his flight he came to his own land. Then after that they might begin the contest for the land which belonged to the Persian. To this opinion the commanders of the other Peloponnesians adhered also.

109. When Themistocles perceived that he would not be able to persuade them, or at least the greater number of them, to sail to the Hellespont, he changed his counsel 75 and turning to the Athenians (for these were grieved most at the escape of the enemy and were anxious to sail to the Hellespont even by themselves alone, 76 if the others were not willing) to them he spoke as follows: "I myself also have been present before now on many occasions, and have heard of many more, on which something of this kind came to pass, namely that men who were forced into great straits, after they had been defeated fought again and repaired their former disaster: and as for us, since we have won as a prize from fortune the existence of ourselves and of Hellas by repelling from our land so great a cloud of men, let us not pursue enemies who flee from us: for of these things not we were the doors, but the gods and heroes, who grudged that one man should become king of both Asia and of Europe, and he a man unholy and presumptuous, one who made no difference between things sacred and things profane, 77 burning and casting down the images of the gods, and who also scourged the Sea and let down into it fetters. But as things are at present, it is well that we should now remain in Hellas and look after ourselves and our households; and let each man repair his house, and have a care for sowing his land, after he has completely driven away the Barbarian: and then at the beginning of the spring let us sail down towards the Hellespont and Ionia." Thus he spoke, intending to lay up for himself a store of gratitude with the Persian, in order that if after all any evil should come upon him at the hands of the Athenians, he might have a place of refuge: and this was in fact that which came to pass.


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