War between Megara and Corinth. - Megara and Pegae garrisoned by Athenians. - Review of Affairs at the Persian Court. - Accession of Artaxerxes. - Revolt of Egypt under Inarus. - Athenian Expedition to assist Inarus. - Aegina besieged. - The Corinthians defeated. - Spartan Conspiracy with the Athenian Oligarchy. - Battle of Tanagra. - Campaign and Successes of Myronides. - Plot of the Oligarchy against the Republic. - Recall of Cimon. - Long Walls completed. - Aegina reduced. - Expedition under Tolmides. - Ithome surrenders. - The Insurgents are settled at Naupactus. - Disastrous Termination of the Egyptian Expedition. - The Athenians march into Thessaly to restore Orestes the Tagus. - Campaign under Pericles. - Truce of five Years with the Peloponnesians. - Cimon sets sail for Cyprus. - Pretended Treaty of Peace with Persia. - Death of Cimon.

I. Cimon, summoned to the ostracism, was sentenced to its appointed term of banishment - ten years. By his removal, the situation of Pericles became suddenly more prominent and marked, and he mingled with greater confidence and boldness in public affairs. The vigour of the new administration was soon manifest. Megara had hitherto been faithful to the Lacedaemonian alliance - a dispute relative to the settlement of frontiers broke out between that state and Corinth. Although the Corinthian government, liberal and enlightened, was often opposed to the Spartan oligarchy, it was still essential to the interest of both those Peloponnesian states to maintain a firm general alliance, and to keep the Peloponnesian confederacy as a counterbalance to the restless ambition of the new head of the Ionian league. Sparta could not, therefore, have been slow in preferring the alliance of Corinth to that of Megara. On the other hand, Megara, now possessed of a democratic constitution, had long since abandoned the Dorian character and habits. The situation of its territories, the nature of its institutions, alike pointed to Athens as its legitimate ally. Thus, when the war broke out between Megara and Corinth, on the side of the latter appeared Sparta, while Megara naturally sought the assistance of Athens. The Athenian government eagerly availed itself of the occasion to increase the power which Athens was now rapidly extending over Greece. If we cast our eyes along the map of Greece, we shall perceive that the occupation of Megara proffered peculiar advantages. It became at once a strong and formidable fortress against any incursions from the Peloponnesus, while its seaports of Nisaea and Pegae opened new fields, both of ambition and of commerce, alike on the Saronic and the Gulf of Corinth. The Athenians seized willingly on the alliance thus offered to them, and the Megarians had the weakness to yield both Megara and Pegae to Athenian garrisons, while the Athenians fortified their position by long walls that united Megara with its harbour at Nisaea.

II. A new and more vast enterprise contributed towards the stability of the government by draining off its bolder spirits, and diverting the popular attention from domestic to foreign affairs.

It is necessary to pass before us, in brief review, the vicissitudes of the Persian court. In republican Greece, the history of the people marches side by side with the biography of great men. In despotic Persia, all history dies away in the dark recesses and sanguinary murthers of a palace governed by eunuchs and defended but by slaves.

In the year 465 B. C. the reign of the unfortunate Xerxes drew to its close. On his return to Susa, after the disastrous results of the Persian invasion, he had surrendered himself to the indolent luxury of a palace. An able and daring traitor, named Artabanus [187], but who seems to have been a different personage from that Artabanus whose sagacity had vainly sought to save the armies of Xerxes from the expedition to Greece, entered into a conspiracy against the feeble monarch. By the connivance of a eunuch, he penetrated at night the chamber of the king - and the gloomy destinies of Xerxes were consummated by assassination. Artabanus sought to throw the guilt upon Darius, the eldest son of the murdered king; and Artaxerxes, the younger brother, seems to have connived at a charge which might render himself the lawful heir to the throne. Darius accordingly perished by the same fate as his father. The extreme youth of Artaxerxes had induced Artabanus to believe that but a slender and insecure life now stood between himself and the throne; but the young prince was already master of the royal art of dissimulation: he watched his opportunity - and by a counter-revolution Artabanus was sacrificed to the manes of his victims. [188]

Thus Artaxerxes obtained the undisturbed possession of the Persian throne (B. C. 464). The new monarch appears to have derived from nature a stronger intellect than his father. But the abuses, so rapid and rank of growth in Eastern despotisms, which now ate away the strength of the Persian monarchy, were already, perhaps, past the possibility of reform. The enormous extent of the ill-regulated empire tempted the ambition of chiefs who might have plausibly hoped, that as the Persian masters had now degenerated to the effeminacy of the Assyrians they had supplanted, so the enterprise of a second Cyrus might be crowned by a similar success.

Egypt had been rather overrun by Xerxes than subdued - and the spirit of its ancient people waited only the occasion of revolt. A Libyan prince, of the name of Inarus, whose territories bordered Egypt, entered that country (B. C. 460), and was hailed by the greater part of the population as a deliverer. The recent murder of Xerxes - the weakness of a new reign, commenced in so sanguinary a manner, appeared to favour their desire of independence; and the African adventurer beheld himself at the head of a considerable force. Having already secured foreign subsidiaries, Inarus was anxious yet more to strengthen himself abroad; and more than one ambassador was despatched to Athens, soliciting her assistance, and proffering, in return, a share in the government for whose establishment her arms were solicited: a singular fatality, that the petty colony which, if we believe tradition, had so many centuries ago settled in the then obscure corners of Attica, should now be chosen the main auxiliary of the parent state in her vital struggles for national independence.

III. In acceding to the propositions of Inarus, Pericles yielded to considerations wholly contrary to his after policy, which made it a principal object to confine the energies of Athens within the limits of Greece. It is probable that that penetrating and scientific statesman (if indeed he had yet attained to a position which enabled him to follow out his own conceptions) saw that every new government must dazzle either by great enterprises abroad or great changes at home - and that he preferred the former. There are few sacrifices that a wary minister, newly-established, from whom high hopes are entertained, and who can justify the destruction of a rival party only by the splendour of its successor - will not hazard rather than incur the contempt which follows disappointment. He will do something that is dangerous rather than do nothing that is brilliant.

Neither the hatred nor the fear of Persia was at an end in Athens; and to carry war into the heart of her empire was a proposition eagerly hailed. The more democratic and turbulent portion of the populace, viz., the seamen, had already been disposed of in an expedition of two hundred triremes against Cyprus. But the distant and magnificent enterprise of Egypt - the hope of new empire - the lust of undiscovered treasures - were more alluring than the reduction of Cyprus. That island was abandoned, and the fleet, composed both of Athenian and confederate ships, sailed up the Nile. Masters of that river, the Athenians advanced to Memphis, the capital of Lower Egypt. They stormed and took two of the divisions of that city; the third, called the White Castle (occupied by the Medes, the Persians, and such of the Egyptians as had not joined the revolt), resisted their assault.

IV. While thus occupied in Egypt, the Athenian arms were equally employed in Greece. The whole forces of the commonwealth were in demand - war on every side. The alliance with Megara not only created an enemy in Corinth, but the Peloponnesian confederacy became involved with the Attic: Lacedaemon herself, yet inert, but menacing; while the neighbouring Aegina, intent and jealous, prepared for hostilities soon manifest.

The Athenians forestalled the attack - made a descent on Haliae, in Argolis - were met by the Corinthians and Epidaurians, and the result of battle was the victory of the latter. This defeat the Athenians speedily retrieved at sea. Off Cecryphalea, in the Saronic gulf, they attacked and utterly routed the Peloponnesian fleet. And now Aegina openly declared war and joined the hostile league. An important battle was fought by these two maritime powers with the confederates of either side. The Athenians were victorious - took seventy ships - and, pushing the advantage they had obtained, landed in Aegina and besieged her city. Three hundred heavy-armed Peloponnesians were despatched to the relief of Aegina; while the Corinthians invaded the Megarian territory, seized the passes of Geranea, and advanced to Megara with their allies. Never was occasion more propitious. So large a force in Egypt, so large a force at Aegina - how was it possible for the Athenians to march to the aid of Megara? They appeared limited to the choice either to abandon Megara or to raise the siege of Aegina: so reasoned the Peloponnesians. But the advantage of a constitution widely popular is, that the whole community become soldiers in time of need. Myronides, an Athenian of great military genius, not unassisted by Pericles, whose splendid qualities now daily developed themselves, was well adapted to give direction to the enthusiasm of the people. Not a man was called from Aegina. The whole regular force disposed of, there yet remained at Athens those too aged and those too young for the ordinary service. Under Myronides, boys and old men marched at once to the assistance of their Megarian ally. A battle ensued; both sides retiring, neither considered itself defeated. But the Corinthians retreating to Corinth, the Athenians erected a trophy on the field. The Corinthian government received its troops with reproaches, and, after an interval of twelve days, the latter returned to the scene of contest, and asserting their claim to the victory, erected a trophy of their own. During the work the Athenians sallied from Megara, where they had ensconced themselves, attacked and put to flight the Corinthians; and a considerable portion of the enemy turning into ground belonging to a private individual, became entangled in a large pit or ditch, from which was but one outlet, viz., that by which they had entered. At this passage the Athenians stationed their heavy-armed troops, while the light-armed soldiers surrounded the ditch, and with the missiles of darts and stones put the enemy to death. The rest (being the greater part) of the Corinthian forces effected a safe but dishonourable retreat.

V. This victory effected and Megara secured - although Aegina still held out, and although the fate of the Egyptian expedition was still unknown - the wonderful activity of the government commenced what even in times of tranquillity would have been a great and arduous achievement. To unite their city with its seaports, they set to work at the erection of the long walls, which extended from Athens both to Phalerus and Piraeus. Under Cimon, preparations already had been made for the undertaking, and the spoils of Persia now provided the means for the defence of Athens.

Meanwhile, the Spartans still continued at the siege of Ithome. We must not imagine that all the helots had joined in the revolt. This, indeed, would be almost to suppose the utter disorganization of the Spartan state. The most luxurious subjects of a despotism were never more utterly impotent in procuring for themselves the necessaries of life, than were the hardy and abstemious freemen of the Dorian Sparta. It was dishonour for a Spartan to till the land - to exercise a trade. He had all the prejudices against any calling but that of arms which characterized a noble of the middle ages.

As is ever the case in the rebellion of slaves, the rise was not universal; a sufficient number of these wretched dependants remained passive and inert to satisfy the ordinary wants of their masters, and to assist in the rebuilding of the town. Still the Spartans were greatly enfeebled, crippled, and embarrassed by the loss of the rest: and the siege of Ithome sufficed to absorb their attention, and to make them regard without open hostilities, if with secret enmity, the operations of the Athenians. The Spartan alliance formally dissolved - Megara, with its command of the Peloponnesus seized - the Doric city of Corinth humbled and defeated - Aegina blockaded; all these - the Athenian proceedings - the Spartans bore without any formal declaration of war.

VI. And now, in the eighth year of the Messenian war, piety succeeded where pride and revenge had failed, and the Spartans permitted other objects to divide their attention with the siege of Ithome. It was one of the finest characteristics of that singular people, their veneration for antiquity. For the little, rocky, and obscure territory of Doris, whence tradition derived their origin, they felt the affection and reverence of sons. A quarrel arising between the people of this state and the neighbouring Phocians, the latter invaded Doris, and captured one of its three towns [189]. The Lacedaemonians marched at once to the assistance of their reputed father-land, with an army of no less than fifteen hundred heavy-armed Spartans and ten thousand of their Peloponnesian allies [190], under the command of Nicomedes, son of Cleombrotus, and guardian of their king Pleistoanax, still a minor. They forced the Phocians to abandon the town they had taken; and having effectually protected Doris by a treaty of peace between the two nations, prepared to return home. But in this they were much perplexed; the pass of Geranea was now occupied by the Athenians: Megara, too, and Pegae were in their hands. Should they pass by sea through the Gulf of Crissa, an Athenian squadron already occupied that passage. Either way they were intercepted [191]. Under all circumstances, they resolved to halt a while in Boeotia, and watch an opportunity to effect their return. But with these ostensible motives for that sojourn assigned by Thucydides, there was another more deep and latent. We have had constant occasion to remark how singularly it was the Spartan policy to plot against the constitution of free states, and how well-founded was the Athenian jealousy of the secret interference of the Grecian Venice.

Halting now in Boeotia, Nicomedes entered into a clandestine communication with certain of the oligarchic party in Athens, the object of the latter being the overthrow of the existent popular constitution. With this object was certainly linked the recall of Cimon, though there is no reason to believe that great general a party in the treason. This conspiracy was one main reason of the halt in Boeotia. Another was, probably, the conception of a great and politic design, glanced at only by historians, but which, if successful, would have ranked among the masterpieces of Spartan statesmanship. This design was - while Athens was to be weakened by internal divisions, and her national spirit effectually curbed by the creation of an oligarchy, the tool of Sparta - to erect a new rival to Athens in the Boeotian Thebes. It is true that this project was not, according to Diodorus, openly apparent until after the battle of Tanagra. But such a scheme required preparation; and the sojourn of Nicomedes in Boeotia afforded him the occasion to foresee its possibility and prepare his plans. Since the Persian invasion, Thebes had lost her importance, not only throughout Greece, but throughout Boeotia, her dependant territory. Many of the states refused to regard her as their capital, and the Theban government desired to regain its power. Promises to make war upon Athens rendered the Theban power auxiliary to Sparta: the more Thebes was strengthened, the more Athens was endangered: and Sparta, ever averse to quitting the Peloponnesus, would thus erect a barrier to the Athenian arms on the very frontiers of Attica.

VII. While such were the designs and schemes of Nicomedes, the conspiracy of the aristocratic party could not be so secret in Athens but what some rumour, some suspicion, broke abroad. The people became alarmed and incensed. They resolved to anticipate the war; and, judging Nicomedes cut off from retreat, and embarrassed and confined in his position, they marched against him with a thousand Argives, with a band of Thessalian horse, and some other allied troops drawn principally from Ionia, which, united to the whole force of the armed population within their walls, amounted, in all, to fourteen thousand men.

VIII. It is recorded by Plutarch, that during their march Cimon appeared, and sought permission to join the army. This was refused by the senate of Five Hundred, to whom the petition was referred, not from any injurious suspicion of Cimon, but from a natural fear that his presence, instead of inspiring confidence, would create confusion; and that it might be plausibly represented that he sought less to resist the Spartans than to introduce them into Athens - a proof how strong was the impression against him, and how extensive had been the Spartan intrigues. Cimon retired, beseeching his friends to vindicate themselves from the aspersions cast upon them. Placing the armour of Cimon - a species of holy standard - in their ranks, a hundred of the warmest supporters among his tribe advanced to battle conscious of the trust committed to their charge.

IX. In the territory of Tanagra a severe engagement took place. On that day Pericles himself fought in the thickest part of the battle (B. C. 457); exposing himself to every danger, as if anxious that the loss of Cimon should not be missed. The battle was long, obstinate, and even: when in the midst of it, the Thessalian cavalry suddenly deserted to the Spartans. Despite this treachery, the Athenians, well supported by the Argives, long maintained their ground with advantage. But when night separated the armies [192], victory remained with the Spartans and their allies. [193]

The Athenians were not, however, much disheartened by defeat, nor did the Spartans profit by their advantage. Anxious only for escape, Nicomedes conducted his forces homeward, passed through Megara, destroying the fruit-trees on his march; and, gaining the pass of Geranea, which the Athenians had deserted to join the camp at Tanagra, arrived at Lacedaemon.

Meanwhile the Thebans took advantage of the victory to extend their authority, agreeably to the project conceived with Sparta. Thebes now attempted the reduction of all the cities of Boeotia. Some submitted, others opposed.

X. Aware of the necessity of immediate measures against a neighbour, brave, persevering, and ambitious, the Athenian government lost no time in recruiting its broken forces. Under Myronides, an army, collected from the allies and dependant states, was convened to assemble upon a certain day. Many failed the appointment, and the general was urged to delay his march till their arrival. "It is not the part of a general," said Myronides, sternly, "to await the pleasure of his soldiers! By delay I read an omen of the desire of the loiterers to avoid the enemy. Better rely upon a few faithful than on many disaffected."

With a force comparatively small, Myronides commenced his march, entered Boeotia sixty-two days only after the battle of Tanagra, and, engaging the Boeotians at Oenophyta, obtained a complete and splendid victory (B. C. 456). This battle, though Diodorus could find no details of the action, was reckoned by Athens among the most glorious she had ever achieved; preferred by the vain Greeks even to those of Marathon and Plataea, inasmuch as Greek was opposed to Greek, and not to the barbarians. Those who fell on the Athenian side were first honoured by public burial in the Ceramichus - "As men," says Plato, "who fought against Grecians for the liberties of Greece." Myronides followed up his victory by levelling the walls of Tanagra. All Boeotia, except Thebes herself, was brought into the Athenian alliance - as democracies in the different towns, replacing the oligarchical governments, gave the moral blow to the Spartan ascendency. Thus, in effect, the consequences of the battle almost deserved the eulogies bestowed upon the victory. Those consequences were to revolutionize nearly all the states in Boeotia; and, by calling up a democracy in each state, Athens at once changed enemies into allies.

From Boeotia, Myronides marched to Phocis, and, pursuing the same policy, rooted out the oligarchies, and established popular governments. The Locrians of Opus gave a hundred of their wealthiest citizens as hostages. Returned to Athens, Myronides was received with public rejoicings [194], and thus closed a short but brilliant campaign, which had not only conquered enemies, but had established everywhere garrisons of friends.

XI. Although the banishment of Cimon had appeared to complete the triumph of the popular party in Athens, his opinions were not banished also. Athens, like all free states, was ever agitated by the feud of parties, at once its danger and its strength. Parties in Athens were, however, utterly unlike many of those that rent the peace of the Italian republics; nor are they rightly understood in the vague declamations of Barthelemi or Mitford; they were not only parties of names and men - they were also parties of principles - the parties of restriction and of advance. And thus the triumph of either was invariably followed by the triumph of the principle it espoused. Nobler than the bloody contests of mere faction, we do not see in Athens the long and sweeping proscriptions, the atrocious massacres that attended the party-strifes of ancient Rome or of modern Italy. The ostracism, or the fine, of some obnoxious and eminent partisans, usually contented the wrath of the victorious politicians. And in the advance of a cause the people found the main vent for their passions. I trust, however, that I shall not be accused of prejudice when I state as a fact, that the popular party in Athens seems to have been much more moderate and less unprincipled even in its excesses than its antagonists. We never see it, like the Pisistratidae, leagued with the Persian, nor with Isagoras, betraying Athens to the Spartan. What the oligarchic faction did when triumphant, we see hereafter in the establishment of the Thirty Tyrants. And compared with their offences, the ostracism of Aristides, or the fine and banishment of Cimon, lose all their colours of wrong.

XII. The discontented advocates for an oligarchy, who had intrigued with Nicomedes, had been foiled in their object, partly by the conduct of Cimon in disavowing all connexion with them, partly by the retreat of Nicomedes himself. Still their spirit was too fierce to suffer them to forego their schemes without a struggle, and after the battle of Tanagra they broke out into open conspiracy against the republic.

The details of this treason are lost to us; it is one of the darkest passages of Athenian history. From scattered and solitary references we can learn, however, that for a time it threatened the democracy with ruin. [195]

The victory of the Spartans at Tanagra gave strength to the Spartan party in Athens; it also inspired with fear many of the people; it was evidently desirable rather to effect a peace with Sparta than to hazard a war. Who so likely to effect that peace as the banished Cimon? Now was the time to press for his recall. Either at this period, or shortly afterward, Ephialtes, his most vehement enemy, was barbarously murdered - according to Aristotle, a victim to the hatred of the nobles.

XIII. Pericles had always conducted his opposition to Cimon with great dexterity and art; and indeed the aristocratic leaders of contending parties are rarely so hostile to each other as their subordinate followers suppose. In the present strife for the recall of his rival, amid all the intrigues and conspiracies, the open violence and the secret machination, which threatened not only the duration of the government, but the very existence of the republic, Pericles met the danger by proposing himself the repeal of Cimon's sentence.

Plutarch, with a childish sentimentality common to him when he means to be singularly effective, bursts into an exclamation upon the generosity of this step, and the candour and moderation of those times, when resentments could be so easily laid aside. But the profound and passionless mind of Pericles was above all the weakness of a melodramatic generosity. And it cannot be doubted that this measure was a compromise between the government and the more moderate and virtuous of the aristocratic party. Perhaps it was the most advantageous compromise Pericles was enabled to effect; for by concession with respect to individuals, we can often prevent concession as to things. The recall [196] of the great leader of the anti-popular faction may have been deemed equivalent to the surrender of many popular rights. And had we a deeper insight into the intrigues of that day and the details of the oligarchic conspiracy, I suspect we should find that, by recalling Cimon, Pericles saved the constitution. [197]

XIV. The first and most popular benefit anticipated from the recall of the son of Miltiades in a reconciliation between Sparta and Athens, was not immediately realized further than by an armistice of four months. [198]

About this time the long walls of the Piraeus were completed (B. C. 455), and shortly afterward Aegina yielded to the arms of the Athenians (B. C. 455), upon terms which subjected the citizens of that gallant and adventurous isle (whose achievements and commerce seem no less a miracle than the greatness of Athens when we survey the limits of their narrow and rocky domain) to the rival they had long so fearlessly, nor fruitlessly braved. The Aeginetans surrendered their shipping, demolished their walls, and consented to the payment of an annual tribute. And so was fulfilled the proverbial command of Pericles, that Aegina ought not to remain the eyesore of Athens.

XV. Aegina reduced, the Athenian fleet of fifty galleys, manned by four thousand men [199], under the command of Tolmides, circumnavigated the Peloponnesus - the armistice of four months had expired - and, landing in Laconia, Tolmides burnt Gythium, a dock of the Lacedaemonians; took Chalcis, a town belonging to Corinth, and, debarking at Sicyon, engaged and defeated the Sicyonians. Thence proceeding to Cephallenia, he mastered the cities of that isle; and descending at Naupactus, on the Corinthian gulf, wrested it from the Ozolian Locrians.

In the same year with this expedition, and in the tenth year of the siege (B. C. 455), Ithome surrendered to Lacedaemon. The long and gallant resistance of that town, the precipitous site of which nature herself had fortified, is one of the most memorable and glorious events in the Grecian history; and we cannot but regret that the imperfect morality of those days, which saw glory in the valour of freemen, rebellion only in that of slaves, should have left us but frigid and scanty accounts of so obstinate a siege. To posterity neither the cause nor the achievements of Marathon or Plataea, seem the one more holy, the other more heroic, than this long defiance of Messenians and helots against the prowess of Sparta and the aid of her allies. The reader will rejoice to learn that it was on no dishonourable terms that the city at last surrendered. Life and free permission to depart was granted to the besieged, and recorded by a pillar erected on the banks of the Alpheus [200]. But such of the helots as had been taken in battle or in the neighbouring territory were again reduced to slavery - the ringleaders so apprehended alone executed. [201]

The gallant defenders of Ithome having conditioned to quit for ever the Peloponnesus, Tolmides invested them with the possession of his new conquest of Naupactus. There, under a democratic government, protected by the power of Athens, they regained their ancient freedom, and preserved their hereditary name of Messenians - long distinguished from their neighbours by their peculiar dialect.

XVI. While thus, near at home, the Athenians had extended their conquests and cemented their power, the adventurers they had despatched to the Nile were maintaining their strange settlement with more obstinacy than success. At first, the Athenians and their ally, the Libyan Inarus, had indeed, as we have seen, obtained no inconsiderable advantage.

Anxious to detach the Athenians from the Egyptian revolt, Artaxerxes had despatched an ambassador to Sparta, in order to prevail upon that state to make an excursion into Attica, and so compel the Athenians to withdraw their troops from Egypt. The liability of the Spartan government to corrupt temptation was not unknown to a court which had received the Spartan fugitives; and the ambassador was charged with large treasures to bribe those whom he could not otherwise convince. Nevertheless, the negotiation failed; the government could not be induced to the alliance with the Persian king. There was indeed a certain spirit of honour inherent in that haughty nation which, if not incompatible with cunning and intrigue, held at least in profound disdain an alliance with the barbarian, for whatsoever ends. But, in fact, the Spartans were then entirely absorbed in the reduction of Ithome, and the war in Arcady; and it would, further, have been the height of impolicy in that state, if meditating any designs against Athens, to assist in the recall of an army which it was its very interest to maintain employed in distant and perilous expeditions.

The ambassador had the satisfaction indeed of wasting some of his money, but to no purpose; and he returned without success to Asia. Artaxerxes then saw the necessity of arousing himself to those active exertions which the feebleness of an exhausted despotism rendered the final, not the first resort. Under Megabyzus an immense army was collected; traversing Syria and Phoenicia, it arrived in Egypt, engaged the Egyptian forces in a pitched battle, and obtained a complete victory. Thence marching to Memphis, it drove the Greeks from their siege of the White Castle, till then continued, and shut them up in Prosopitis, an island in the Nile, around which their ships lay anchored. Megabyzus ordered the channel to be drained by dikes, and the vessels, the main force of the Athenians, were left stranded. Terrified by this dexterous manoeuvre, as well as by the success of the Persians, the Egyptians renounced all further resistance; and the Athenians were deprived at once of their vessels and their allies. [202]

XVII. Nothing daunted, and inspired by their disdain no less than by their valour, the Athenians were yet to the barbarian what the Norman knights were afterward to the Greeks. They burnt their vessels that they might be as useless to the enemy as to themselves, and, exhorting each other not to dim the glory of their past exploits, shut up still in the small town of Byblus situated in the isle of Prosopitis, resolved to defend themselves to the last.

The blockade endured a year and a half, such was the singular ignorance of the art of sieges in that time. At length, when the channel was drained, as I have related, the Persians marched across the dry bed, and carried the place by a land assault. So ended this wild and romantic expedition. The greater part of the Athenians perished; a few, however, either forced their way by arms, or, as Diodorus more probably relates, were permitted by treaty to retire, out of the Egyptian territory. Taking the route of Libya, they arrived at Cyrene, and finally reached Athens.

Inarus, the author of the revolt, was betrayed, and perished on the cross, and the whole of Egypt once more succumbed to the Persian yoke, save only that portion called the marshy or fenny parts (under the dominion of a prince named Amyrtaeus), protected by the nature of the soil and the proverbial valour of the inhabitants. Meanwhile a squadron of fifty vessels, despatched by Athens to the aid of their countrymen, entered the Mendesian mouth of the Nile too late to prevent the taking of Byblus. Here they were surprised and defeated by the Persian troops and a Phoenician fleet (B. C. 455), and few survived a slaughter which put the last seal on the disastrous results of the Egyptian expedition.

At home the Athenians continued, however, their military operations. Thessaly, like the rest of Greece, had long shaken off the forms of kingly government, but the spirit of monarchy still survived in a country where the few were opulent and the multitude enslaved. The Thessalian republics, united by an assembly of deputies from the various towns, elected for their head a species of protector - who appears to have possessed many of the characteristics of the podesta of the Italian states. His nominal station was that of military command - a station which, in all save the most perfect constitutions, comprehends also civil authority. The name of Tagus was given to this dangerous chief, and his power and attributes so nearly resembled those of a monarch, that even Thucydides confers on a Tagus the title of king. Orestes, one of these princes, had been driven from his country by a civil revolution. He fled to Athens, and besought her assistance to effect his restoration. That the Athenians should exert themselves in favour of a man whose rank so nearly resembled the odious dignity of a monarch, appears a little extraordinary. But as the Tagus was often the favourite of the commonalty and the foe of the aristocratic party, it is possible that, in restoring Orestes, the Athenians might have seen a new occasion to further the policy so triumphantly adopted in Boeotia and Phocis - to expel a hostile oligarchy and establish a friendly democracy [203]. Whatever their views, they decided to yield to the exile the assistance he demanded, and under Myronides an army in the following year accompanied Orestes into Thessaly. They were aided by the Boeotians and Phocians. Myronides marched to Pharsalus, a Thessalian city, and mastered the surrounding country; but the obstinate resistance of the city promising a more protracted blockade than it was deemed advisable to await, the Athenians raised the siege without effecting the object of the expedition.

XVIII. The possession of Pegae and the new colony of Naupactus [204] induced the desire of extending the Athenian conquests on the neighbouring coasts, and the government were naturally anxious to repair the military honours of Athens - lessened in Egypt, and certainly not increased in Thessaly. With a thousand Athenian soldiers, Pericles himself set out for Pegae. Thence the fleet, there anchored, made a descent on Sicyon; Pericles defeated the Sicyonians in a pitched battle, and besieged the city; but, after some fruitless assaults, learning that the Spartans were coming to the relief of the besieged, he quitted the city, and, re-enforced by some Achaeans, sailed to the opposite side of the continent, crossed over the Corinthian Bay, besieged the town of Oeniadae in Acarnania (B. C. 454) (the inhabitants of which Pausanias [205] styles the hereditary enemies of the Athenians), ravaged the neighbouring country, and bore away no inconsiderable spoils. Although he reduced no city, the successes of Pericles were signal enough to render the campaign triumphant [206]; and it gratified the national pride and resentment to have insulted the cities and wasted the lands of the Peloponnesus.

These successes were sufficient to render a peace with Sparta and her allies advisable for the latter, while they were not sufficiently decided to tempt the Athenians to prolong irregular and fruitless hostilities. Three years were consumed without further aggressions on either side, and probably in negotiations for peace. At the end of that time, the influence and intervention of Cimon obtained a truce of five years between the Athenians and the Peloponnesians.

XIX. The truce with the Peloponnesians (B. C. 450) removed the main obstacle to those more bright and extensive prospects of enterprise and ambition which the defeat of the Persians had opened to the Athenians. In that restless and unpausing energy, which is the characteristic of an intellectual republic, there seems, as it were, a kind of destiny: a power impossible to resist urges the state from action to action, from progress to progress, with a rapidity dangerous while it dazzles; resembling in this the career of individuals impelled onward, first to obtain, and thence to preserve, power, and who cannot struggle against the fate which necessitates them to soar, until, by the moral gravitation of human things, the point which has no beyond is attained; and the next effort to rise is but the prelude of their fall. In such states Time indeed moves with gigantic strides; years concentrate what would be the epochs of centuries in the march of less popular institutions. The planet of their fortunes rolls with an equal speed through the cycle of internal civilization as of foreign glory. The condition of their brilliant life is the absence of repose. The accelerated circulation of the blood beautifies but consumes, and action itself, exhausting the stores of youth by its very vigour, becomes a mortal but divine disease.

XX. When Athens rose to the ascendency of Greece, it was necessary to the preservation of that sudden and splendid dignity that she should sustain the naval renown by which it had been mainly acquired. There is but one way to sustain reputation, viz., to increase it and the memory of past glories becomes dim unless it be constantly refreshed by new. It must also be borne in mind that the maritime habits of the people had called a new class into existence in the councils of the state. The seamen, the most democratic part of the population, were now to be conciliated and consulted: it was requisite to keep them in action, for they were turbulent - in employment, for they were poor: and thus the domestic policy and the foreign interests of Athens alike conspired to necessitate the prosecution of maritime enterprise.

XXI. No longer harassed and impeded by fears of an enemy in the Peloponnesus, the lively imagination of the people readily turned to more dazzling and profitable warfare. The Island of Cyprus had (we have seen) before attracted the ambition of the mistress of the Aegaean. Its possession was highly advantageous, whether for military or commercial designs, and once subjected, the fleet of the Athenians might readily retain the dominion. Divided into nine petty states, governed, not by republican, but by monarchical institutions, the forces of the island were distracted, and the whole proffered an easy as well as glorious conquest; while the attempt took the plausible shape of deliverance, inasmuch as Persia, despite the former successes of Cimon, still arrogated the supremacy over the island, and the war was, in fact, less against Cyprus than against Persia. Cimon, who ever affected great and brilliant enterprises, and whose main policy it was to keep the Athenians from the dangerous borders of the Peloponnesus, hastened to cement the truce he had formed with the states of that district, by directing the spirit of enterprise to the conquest of Cyprus.

Invested with the command of two hundred galleys, he set sail for that island (B. C. 450) [207]. But designs more vast were associated with this enterprise. The objects of the late Egyptian expedition still tempted, and sixty vessels of the fleet were despatched to Egypt to the assistance of Amyrtaeus, who, yet unconquered, in the marshy regions, sustained the revolt against the Persian king.

Artabazus commanded the Persian forces, and with a fleet of three hundred vessels he ranged himself in sight of Cyprus. Cimon, however, landing on the island, succeeded in capturing many of its principal towns. Humbled and defeated, it was not the policy of Persia to continue hostilities with an enemy from whom it had so much to fear and so little to gain. It is not, therefore, altogether an improbable account of the later authorities, that ambassadors with proposals of peace were formally despatched to Athens. But we must reject as a pure fable the assertions that a treaty was finally agreed upon, by which it was decreed, on the one hand, that the independence of the Asiatic Greek towns should be acknowledged, and that the Persian generals should not advance within three days' march of the Grecian seas; nor should a Persian vessel sail within the limit of Phaselis and the Cyanean rocks; while, on the other hand, the Athenians were bound not to enter the territories of Artaxerxes [208]. No such arrangement was known to Thucydides; no reference is ever made to such a treaty in subsequent transactions with Persia. A document, professing to be a copy of this treaty, was long extant; but it was undoubtedly the offspring of a weak credulity or an ingenious invention. But while negotiations, if ever actually commenced, were yet pending, Cimon was occupied in the siege of Citium, where famine conspired with the obstinacy of the besieged to protract the success of his arms. It is recorded among the popular legends of the day that Cimon [209] sent a secret mission to the oracle of Jupiter Ammon. "Return," was the response to the messengers; "Cimon is with me!" The messengers did return to find the son of Miltiades was no more. He expired during the blockade of Citium (B. C. 449). By his orders his death was concealed, the siege raised, and, still under the magic of Cimon's name, the Athenians engaging the Phoenicians and Cilicians off the Cyprian Salamis, obtained signal victories both by land and sea. Thence, joined by the squadron despatched to Egypt, which, if it did not share, did not retrieve, the misfortunes of the previous expedition, they returned home.

The remains of Cimon were interred in Athens, and the splendid monument consecrated to his name was visible in the time of Plutarch.