Page 0544



pursued to the beach, where their ships saved them from annihilation. As

it was, six thousand four hundred of their soldiers lay dead on the

field. The Athenians attempted to fire the fleet, but only succeeded in

destroying seven vessels. The rest made their escape, carrying the

Persians with them. The Athenian loss was one hundred, and ninety-.two

men, but among these was the brave Polemarch Callimachus, who here gave

his life for the freedom of his country.

Just at the close of the battle a bright but traitorous shield was seen

raised aloft on a distant mountain in the direction of Athens. It was a

signal for the Persian fleet to sail and take the city before the

soldiers of Miltiades could return to her defense. It was noticed,

moreover, by the Greeks that the vanishing armament departed in the

direction of Cape Sunium. Accordingly, Miltiades marched with all haste

towards the city. His conjectures were correct; for just as he arrived

the Persian fleet hove in sight. But when the army of Datis, about to

debark, saw before them the same dusty heroes from whom they had so

recently fled at Marathon, they could not be induced to land. They turned

their prows instead to the shores of Asia Minor, and the AEgean soon

rolled between Athens and her peril.

Marathon was to the Greek what Bunker Hill is to the American. After the

battle the Athenians gave themselves up to raptures. The day became

historic. Poetry brought her magic song and imagination her legends to

add to and hallow the remembrance of a deed so great. It was said that

Theseus reappeared in the battle. At night ever afterwards, the old

heroes of Athens marshaled their hosts in the clouds, and the noise of

invisible warriors shouting to the charge, the uproar of chariots and

horses, and the moans of dying spirits, could be heard above that

haunted, glorious field.

Miltiades became the hero of the day. No mark of honor or gratitude was

omitted. Besides the great tumulus or mound which public patriotism and

affection reared over the one hundred and ninety-two immortals who fell

at Marathon, a separate monument was erected on the field to the memory

of Miltiades. His influence became unbounded; but he seems to have

belonged, after all, to that type of heroes who are able to bear

adversity better than success. The memory of an old resentment rose

within him, and forgetting his greatness, he asked the Athenians to give

him an armament of seventy sail without explaining his intentions. When

the fleet was voted, he sailed away to the island of Paros and attacked

the capital city; for against a leading citizen of that place he harbored

a grudge of many years. But the Parians defended themselves with such

vigor that Miltiades was about to despair of success when a priestess in

the temple of Demeter promised him success if he would visit the temple

by night. In attempting to do so he wounded himself on the wall, and was

barely able to reach his ship. In this miserable condition he was

obliged to return to Athens. He could give no honorable account of

himself or of the use which he had made of his country's fleet. Charges

were preferred against him, and he was brought in with his gangrened

wound and laid before the judges. It was asked that he be condemned to

death, but such a sentence could not be obtained against the hero of

Marathon. (1) He was severely punished by a fine of fifty talents, but

before the sum could be raised he died of his injury.

The next important event in the career of Athens was her war with AEgina.

For a long time there had been between the city and this island a feeling

of suppressed hostility. In B. C. 506 the AEginetans had given aid to the

Thebans in a strife with the Athenians, and had even invaded the

territory of Attica _________________________________ 1 It is not

wonderful that the genius of Byron, on viewing Marathon, broke forth in

an unusual strain: "The battle-field where Persia's victim horde First

bowed beneath the brunt of Hellas' sword, As on the morn to distant glory

dear, When Marathon became a magic word, Which uttered, to the hearer's

eye appear The camp, the host, the fight, the conqueror's career- The

flying Mede, his shaftless, broken bow; The fiery Greek, his red pursuing

spear, Mountains above, earth's, ocean's plain below, Death in the front,

destruction in the rear!"