CHAPTER III.

Reduction of Naxos. - Actions off Cyprus. - Manners of Cimon. - Improvements in Athens. - Colony at the Nine Ways. - Siege of Thasos. - Earthquake in Sparta. - Revolt of Helots, Occupation of Ithome, and Third Messenian War. - Rise and Character of Pericles. - Prosecution and Acquittal of Cimon. - The Athenians assist the Spartans at Ithome. - Thasos Surrenders. - Breach between the Athenians and Spartans. - Constitutional Innovations at Athens. - Ostracism of Cimon.

I. At the time in which Naxos refused the stipulated subsidies, and was, in consequence, besieged by Cimon, that island was one of the most wealthy and populous of the confederate states. For some time the Naxians gallantly resisted the besiegers; but, at length reduced, they were subjected to heavier conditions than those previously imposed upon them. No conqueror contents himself with acquiring the objects, sometimes frivolous and often just, with which he commences hostilities. War inflames the passions, and success the ambition. Cimon, at first anxious to secure the Grecian, was now led on to desire the increase of the Athenian power. The Athenian fleet had subdued Naxos, and Naxos was rendered subject to Athens. This was the first of the free states which the growing republic submitted to her yoke [172]. The precedent once set, as occasion tempted, the rest shared a similar fate.

II. The reduction of Naxos was but the commencement of the victories of Cimon. In Asia Minor there were many Grecian cities in which the Persian ascendency had never yet been shaken. Along the Carian coast Cimon conducted his armament, and the terror it inspired sufficed to engage all the cities, originally Greek, to revolt from Persia; those garrisoned by Persians he besieged and reduced. Victorious in Caria, he passed with equal success into Lycia [173], augmenting his fleet and forces as he swept along. But the Persians, not inactive, had now assembled a considerable force in Pamphylia, and lay encamped on the banks of the Eurymedon (B. C. 466), whose waters, sufficiently wide, received their fleet. The expected re-enforcement of eighty Phoenician vessels from Cyprus induced the Persians to delay [174] actual hostilities. But Cimon, resolved to forestall the anticipated junction, sailed up the river, and soon forced the barbarian fleet, already much more numerous than his own, into active engagement. The Persians but feebly supported the attack; driven up the river, the crews deserted the ships, and hastened to join the army arrayed along the coast. Of the ships thus deserted, some were destroyed; and two hundred triremes, taken by Cimon, yet more augmented his armament. But the Persians, now advanced to the verge of the shore, presented a long and formidable array, and Cimon, with some anxiety, saw the danger he incurred in landing troops already much harassed by the late action, while a considerable proportion of the hostile forces, far more numerous, were fresh and unfatigued. The spirit of the men, and their elation at the late victory, bore down the fears of the general; yet warm from the late action, he debarked his heavy-armed infantry, and with loud shouts the Athenians rushed upon the foe. The contest was fierce - the slaughter great. Many of the noblest Athenians fell in the action. Victory at length declared in favour of Cimon; the Persians were put to flight, and the Greeks remained masters of the battle and the booty - the last considerable. Thus, on the same day, the Athenians were victorious on both elements - an unprecedented glory, which led the rhetorical Plutarch to declare - that Plataea and Salamis were outshone. Posterity, more discerning, estimates glory not by the greatness of the victory alone, but the justice of the cause. And even a skirmish won by men struggling for liberty on their own shores is more honoured than the proudest battle in which the conquerors are actuated by the desire of vengeance or the lust of enterprise.

III. To the trophies of this double victory were soon added those of a third, obtained over the eighty vessels of the Phoenicians off the coast of Cyprus. These signal achievements spread the terror of the Athenian arms on remote as on Grecian shores. Without adopting the exaggerated accounts of injudicious authors as to the number of ships and prisoners [175], it seems certain, at least, that the amount of the booty was sufficient, in some degree, to create in Athens a moral revolution - swelling to a vast extent the fortunes of individuals, and augmenting the general taste for pomp, for luxury, and for splendour, which soon afterward rendered Athens the most magnificent of the Grecian states.

The navy of Persia thus broken, her armies routed, the scene of action transferred to her own dominions, all designs against Greece were laid aside. Retreating, as it were, more to the centre of her vast domains, she left the Asiatic outskirts to the solitude, rather of exhaustion than of peace. "No troops," boasted the later rhetoricians, "came within a day's journey, on horseback, of the Grecian seas." From the Chelidonian isles on the Pamphylian coast, to those [176] twin rocks at the entrance of the Euxine, between which the sea, chafed by their rugged base, roars unappeasably through its mists of foam, no Persian galley was descried. Whether this was the cause of defeat or of acknowledged articles of peace, has been disputed. But, as will be seen hereafter, of the latter all historical evidence is wanting.

In a subsequent expedition, Cimon, sailing from Athens with a small force, wrested the Thracian Chersonese from the Persians - an exploit which restored to him his own patrimony.