UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
a pit and bade him take his earth and water from there. At this time
Athens was at war with AEgina. The AEginetans were of those who sent
tokens of submission to Darius. The Athenians now called upon Sparta as
the leading Grecian state to punish the people of AEgina for deserting
the cause of the country. Cleomenes, the Spartan king, readily took up
the cause, and, proceeding against the AEginetans, seized ten of the
leaders and gave them to the Athenians as hostages.
Meanwhile, in the spring of B. C. 490, the preparations of the Persians
being complete, Darius began his invasion of European Greece. A vast
army was assembled in Cilicia. The fleet which was to accompany the
expedition numbered six hundred galleys, besides the transports. The
command was given to the Median Datis and Artaphernes, a son of the
former satrap of Lydia of that name. Their instructions were to conquer
all the Greek states that had not already made their submission, and to
take special vengeance on Athens and Eretria by burning them to the
ground and selling the inhabitants into slavery. Manacles were prepared
and sent to the commanders, with which the Greeks were to be bound and
led into captivity. The dreams of the Persian were not troubled by any
specter prophesying failure.
The expedition of Datis and Artaphernes, departing from the coast of Asia
Minor, proceeded across the AEgean by way of the Cyclades. Naxos was
taken and its principal city reduced to ashes. All the other islands
submitted, nor did the Persians meet any opposition until they came to
Euboea. Eretria bravely defended herself for six days, and was then taken
through the treachery of two citizens, who opened the gates. The city was
burnt, and the principal inhabitants put into chains, according to the
command of the king. It only remained for Datis to cross the strait and
do likewise to Athens and her impertinent democracy.
Here was the rub. For the Athenians had prepared for the crisis such
means of resistance as seemed most likely to stay the deluge. According
to the custom, ten generals had been chosen to command the army. Of these
the men of greatest ability were Miltiades, Themistocles, and Aristides.
The first was the same previously mentioned as that despot of the
Thracian Chersonesus, who advised the destruction of the bridge of the
Hellespont in order to secure the destruction of Darius. In the struggle
of the Persians and the Ionian cities Miltiades had taken the side of his
countrymen, and had captured Lemnos and Imbros from the enemy. After the
revolt of the Greek cities had been suppressed he fled to Athens for
As soon as the Athenians heard of the destruction of Eretria they sent a
courier to Sparta imploring assistance. (1) The Spartans returned a
favorable answer, but the moon was now near her full, and they could lend
no aid until after the change! Such was their custom. The Athenians took
their station at Marathon and awaited the onset. Five of the generals
desired to delay until after the arrival of the Spartans, but the other
five wished to fight at once while the spirit of the people was up to the
point of battle. Finally the Polemarch, Callimachus, who, retained by the
old statutes of the oligarchy, now constituted the eleventh officer, gave
his vote for an immediate engagement, and it was agreed by all that
Miltiades should have supreme command until the issue of the conflict
should be determined.
At this critical moment a thousand Boeotians from the little town of
Plataea arrived as a voluntary reinforcement of their countrymen.
Miltiades could now muster ten thousand men of heavy armor, besides a few
light armed troops, who were not of much moment in battle. The Persian
army numbered one hundred and ten thousand.
The plain of Marathon lies on the coast, at the distance of twenty-two
miles from Athens. It is a tract semicircular in shape, defined at each
extreme by a promontory reaching into the sea. Between these two head-
lands the plain stretches along the shore, a distance of six miles. Its
greatest breadth ________________________________ 1 The messenger who
carried the petition of Athens to Sparta on this occasion was
Phidippides. He is said to have run the whole distance of a hundred and
fifty miles in forty-eight hours!