364 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
tingent was armed and equipped after the fashion of the country whence it came. Each had
its own commander and its own place in the advance. The whole army was broken into three
great divisions. The front column consisted of about one-half of the contingents and the
baggage. The next division was composed exclusively of Persian soldiers, in the midst of
whom the king had his place, with the sacred emblems of authority and religion. Next to
the royal person was the famous cohort of ten thousand, called the "Immortals." The third
column was made up of the other half of the contingents furnished by the provinces and
states of the Empire.
The march was from Susa to Sardis, from Sardis to Abydos. At the latter place a throne was
erected on an eminence, from which the king surveyed the country, the sea, and the army.
It was such a sight as was never before, never afterwards, witnessed by any potentate of
the earth. Herodotus relates that, as the pageant passed before the monarch, he remarked
pathetically to Artabanes that in a few years not a man of the immense host would be
alive. The lesson of mortality rushed over him, and he gave way to tears.
The Hellespont was crossed in safety, the passage requiring seven days and nights. The
king, having first prayed and cast a golden goblet into the sea, went in advance, amid
myrtle boughs and clouds of incense. Then came the "Immortals," and then the endless
stream of soldiers. The march now lay through Thrace. For some distance the advance was
through territories already subject to the king, and no opposition was met. The country
for a great distance on either hand was eaten up. The first trouble was in the district
between the Strymon and the Axius, where it is said that droves of lions came down out of
the mountains and killed and ate many of the camels. At Pieria a halt was made, and the
king sent ambassadors to all the states of Greece, except Sparta and Athens,
1 of a man's waist. The space was then emptied and successively filled until the whole
army had been measured. It was found that the infantry filled the inclosure a hundred and
demanding earth and water as tokens of submission. Nor was it believed that any would dare
The replies were favorable from a large number of the states, but others refused. The
march was accordingly renewed, and continued without molestation to the PASS OF
THERMOPYLAE. Here, between Callidromus and the sea, was a long, narrow defile, which had
been selected by the Greeks as affording them the most advantageous point of defense on
the whole line of the Persian advance. Here were collected the forces of Sparta and
Athens, and of a few other states that had determined to stand or fall with their
countrymen. The whole body numbered nine thousand men. They were under the polemarch
LEONIDAS, of Sparta. His own band numbered only three hundred men; but there were seven
hundred Lacedemonians, one thousand Phocians, one thousand Locrians, seven hundred
Thespians, and four hundred Thebans, all of whom were first-class soldiers, skilled in the
best discipline of the Greeks. These took possession of the pass and awaited the onset.
After a four days' pause the Persians advanced. The vanguard was beaten back. The Medes
and Cissians were sent into the defile and were repulsed. The Immortals were sent forward
and were cut to pieces. For two days assault after assault was made upon the invincible
Greeks, but to no avail. On the third night, however, the Persians discovered a path over
the mountains, gained the lower end of the pass, hemmed in all of the heroes except those-
the larger number- who, receiving the news, had preferred to save themselves by flight.
The Spartans and some others remained. They attacked the enemy in front, but were pressed
back into the narrowest part of the defile. Here they fought till the last man was killed.
Twenty thousand of the enemy had fallen, and Xerxes had had a taste of the coming banquet.
As the invading army proceeded into Greece, the Persian fleet kept along the coast as far
as the island of Euboea. Here in three sea-fights, on three successive days,