GREECE-THE PERSIAN WARS.
they dealt upon the barbarians. Every ship that went to the bottom
brought a revival of hope, a promise of freedom. As the sun sank low,
victory declared for the Greeks. Two hundred of the Persian ships had
been destroyed. Many more were captured. The whole bay was covered with
the wreck of Asia. As the issue declared itself Xerxes, in the extremity
of terror and despair, rose and fled. The residue of the fleet was
scattered to the winds.
The episode of the battle of Salamis occurred when Artemesia, queen of
Caria, who had tried to dissuade the king from risking all in the straits
of Salamis, performed prodigies of valor in the fight. (1) "My men are
women today, and my women men," said Xerxes, as he beheld her bravery.
Finally, turning to fly, she struck a galley commanded by one of her own
countrymen, and sent both it and the crew to the bottom. The Greek
commanders, seeing the deed and believing it to have been purposely done,
allowed the queen to escape without pursuit. In the meantime the Persian
troops that had been landed on the island were attacked by a body of
heavy armed soldiers led by Aristides, and were destroyed to a man. The
victory was complete, and the sun set on one of the most glorious days in
Xerxes, becoming concerned for his personal safety, quitted the country
with all haste. There was no need for such a flight; for his army was but
little reduced in numbers, and of his fleet there still remained a
squadron much larger than that of the Greeks; but the king had enough of
that peculiar glory which came of battles with the Greeks, and was eager
to leave the land which his father had been so anxious to remember.
Pressing forward as rapidly as he could through Boeotia and Thessaly, he
came, after a march of forty-five days, to the Hellespont.
________________________________ 1 Lord Byron's graphic verse on the
battle of Salamis should not be omitted:
"A king sate on the rocky brow Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis; And
ships by thousands lay below, And men in nations; all were his! He
counted them at break of day- And when the sun set where were they?"