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GREECE-THE PERSIAN WARS.

out a declaration of war. These acts were laid to heart by the city; and

when AEgina made haste to abandon the Greek cause by sending earth and

water to the Persian king, the feeling of resentment against her was

greatly increased. It will be recalled that Cleomenes, one of the Spartan

kings, had, on account of this act of the AEginetans, and at the

instigation of Athens, gone to the island and inflicted a severe

punishment. After the battle of Marathon the authorities of AEgina

demanded back the hostages which they had been compelled to give to the

Athenians, and the refusal of the latter to do so led to a declaration of

war. Hostilities were vigorously. waged on both sides, but the conflict

had not long continued until Athens discovered the great disadvantage at

which she was placed by having no navy. It was clearly impossible to

carry on a successful war at sea, or with a country lying in or beyond

the sea, without the employment of a fleet. The little island of AEgina

was able, in the present condition of affairs, to look across the Saronic

gulf and laugh at Attica. Moreover, it was seen by the wise, and

especially by Themistocles, who had now become the political leader of

the Athenians, that it was only a. question of time when the Persian king

would renew, on a still more formidable scale, the attempt against

Grecian freedom. The prudent statesmen of the city discerned in this

remote danger far greater ground of apprehension than in the petty

imbroglio with the AEginetans.

So Themistocles introduced in the assembly that important measure by

which the whole current of Athenian history was changed-the proposition

to build a large fleet for the protection of the state. It was fortunate

that the treasury of Athens was now in a condition to warrant the

proposed action. The silver mines of Laurium had recently yielded so

largely that a surplus was at the disposal of the city, and a proposition

was actually pending at the time to distribute the same among the

citizens. Themistocles took advantage of all these facts in the advocacy

of his measure, and had the good fortune to secure its passage. It was

ordered that a fleet of two hundred vessels be at once built and equipped

at public expense, and to this was added another clause that hereafter

twenty ships should be annually added to the navy.

Thus was Greece made ready for the coming storm. For Darius was nursing

his wrath for a final explosion. In the interval between the battles of

Marathon and Salamis-a period of ten years-the public affairs of Athens

were directed by Themistocles and Aristides, two of the greatest Greeks.

The first owed his preeminence to talent and policy; the second, to

integrity. In the adaptation of means to ends and in that far-sighted

discernment by which the plans of men and states are penetrated and laid

bare, the palm must be awarded to Themistocles; but in soundness of moral

perception and undeviating conformity to the right as the best means of

reaching the desired object, Aristides stands first among the Greeks, if

not among all the statesmen of antiquity. He was named the Just, and

posterity has not challenged the title.

Such was the then condition of Athenian society that these two eminent

men were brought into constant antagonism. Themistocles was the

progressive and Aristides the conservative leader. They broke heavy

lances over the question of building the fleet. Aristides held that to do

so was to change the habits of the people to the injury of the state. He

urged that the heavy armed soldiers were a better protection in Greece

than any number of ships, and that out of Greece the Athenians had no

business to be engaged in war. But the logic of events was against him.

Not only did the arguments of Themistocles prevail with the assembly and

senate, but the public voice was so strongly against Aristides that the

ostracism was turned to his downfall and he was sent into exile. This act

of the Athenians left Themistocles without a rival, and in this attitude

of leader he stood in the hour of the most tremendous crisis that Greece

had ever witnessed.

For Darius had not forgotten Athens. How he spent years in preparing the

avalanche which was to fall upon and overwhelm the impudent cities of

European Greece; how the Great King, when his preparations were