Page 0555



division of forty thousand Persians, commanded by Artabazus, did not

reach the field until after the rout. More panic struck, however, than

his fellow-generals who had participated in the battle, he broke away

without delivering a blow, and fled in the direction of the Hellespont.

The allied Greeks, flushed with victory, pursued the main body of the

Persians to their fortified camp beyond the Asopus, stormed the

barricades, and slaughtered the disorganized barbarian host till the

whole area ran with blood. Rarely in the annals of war had such a scene

of carnage been witnessed as the infuriated Greeks enacted in this final

arena of the great invasion. Such was the fearful destruction that of the

three hundred thousand soldiers in the army of Mardonius, only three

thousand or four thousand escaped with their lives. The sword of Hellas

had pierced the heart of Asiatic pomp and the huge carcass of despotism

was stretched upon the plain of Plataea, never to rise again.

Ten days were consumed in dividing the spoils of the battle. The body of

Mardonius was decently buried by Pausanias. The sword and silver-footed

throne of the Persian commander and the breast-plate of Masistius were

carried in triumph by the Athenians to Athens and deposited among the

trophies of the Acropolis. Immense was the booty gathered from the field

and camp. Everything with which Oriental luxury and magnificence could

decorate an army was strewn for miles in the dust. Of this one portion

was set aside for the Delphic oracle; another share went to the temple of

the Olympian Zeus; and still another to the Isthmian Poseidon. Pausanias

himself was largely rewarded from the wreck of Asia, and the remaining

enormous aggregate of booty was divided among the allied forces in

proportion to their numbers.

Of all the Greek cities that had espoused the cause of the Persians, the

most conspicuous in her treason to the national cause was Thebes. In the

recent battle the Theban contingent had been posted by Mardonius opposite

the Athenians, and had fought with desperate valor. To punish them and

their city seemed to the allies to be the first duty incumbent after the

destruction of the Persian army. Accordingly the Spartans proceeded to

ravage the Theban territory and besiege the city. A demand was made upon

the authorities that those leaders who had led the people into the

unnatural alliance with the Persians should be given up for punishment.

When this was refused on the part of the city, the leaders made a

voluntary surrender of themselves, expecting that a large ransom would

procure their relief. It was a fatal mistake. For no sooner were they in

the power of Pausanias than they were sent to Corinth and executed

without trial.

On the same day of the battle of Plataea, which completed the wreck of

the Persian army, the final destruction of the great fleet was

accomplished on the coast of Asia Minor. After transferring across the

Hellespont that remnant of the Persian army which accompanied Xerxes on

his homeward flight, what remained of the Persian squadron from the havoc

of Artemesium and Salamis dropped down the coast and anchored at the

headland of Mycale, near the city of Miletus. Thither they were pursued

by the Spartan leader Leotychides; but before his arrival, the Persians,

rather than hazard another naval battle with the victorious Greeks, drew

their remaining ships ashore, surrounded them with a rampart, and placed

for their defense an army of sixty thousand Persians under command of


The Greeks followed, came to anchor, made a landing, and immediately

joined battle. No sooner were the first defenses of the Persians carried

by the impetuosity of the attack than they turned and fled. They were

hotly pursued into the principal fortification, which was soon carried by

the assailants, though not without some desperate fighting. As soon,

however, as the Spartan reserve came up and the Ionian Greeks in the army

of Tigranes mutinied in the ranks, the victory was completed. Tigranes

and Mardontes, the other Persian general, were both killed; the fleet was

burned to ashes, and as the coast wind scattered them along the shore and

bay, the last fragments of the greatest expedition known in the annals of

the ancient world