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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!