« PreviousContinue »
88. The troops despising danger, and desiring only to distina guish themselves by the greatness of their actions, chose rather to die in their ranks, than to lose a step of their ground. The furious slaughter on both sides, having continued a great while, without a victory inclining to either, Epaminondas, to force it to declare for him, thought it his duty to make an extraordinary effort in person, without regard to the danger of his own life.
89. He formed therefore a troop of the bravest and most determinate about him, and putting himself at the head of them made a vigorous charge upon the enemy, where the battle was most warm, and wounded the general of the Lacedæmonians with the first javelin he threw. This troop, by his example, having wounded or killed all that stood in their way, broke and penetrated the phalanx. The Lacedæmonians, dismayed by the presence of Epaminondas, and overpowered by the weight of that intrepid party, were reduced to give ground.
90. The gross of the Theban troops, animated by their general's example and success, drove back the enemy upon his right and left, and made great slaughter of them. But some troops of the Spartans, perceiving that Epaminondas abandoned himself too much to his ardour, suddenly rallied, and returning to the fight, charged him with a shower of javelins. Whilst he kept off part of those darts, shunned some of them, fenced off others, and was fighting with the most heroic valour, a Spartan, named Callicrates gave him a mortal wound with a javelin in the breast across his cuirass.
91. The wood of the javelin being broke off, the iron head continuing in the wound, the torment was insupportable, and he fell immediately. The battle began around him with new fury, the one side using their utmost endeavours to take him alive, and the other to save him. The Thebans gained their point at last, and carried him off, after having put the enemy to flight.
92. After several different movements, and alternate losses and advantages, the troops on both sides stood still, and rested upon their arms; and the trumpets of the two armies, as if by consent, sounded the retreat at the same time. Each party pretended to the victory, and erected a trophy; the Thebans because they had defeated the right wing, and remained masters of the field of battle; the Athenians, because they had cut the de tachment in pieces. And from this point of honour both sides refused at first to ask leave to bury their dead, which, with the ancients, was confessing their defeat. The Lacedæmonians, however sent first to demand that permission, after which, the rest had no thoughts but of paying the last duties to the slain.
93. In the mean time, Epaminondas had been carried into
the camp. The surgeons, after having examined the wound, declared that he would expire as soon as the head of the dart was drawn out of it. Those words gave all that were present the utmost sorrow and affliction, who were inconsolable on seeing so great a man upon the point of expiring. For him, the only concern he expressed was about his arms, and the success of the battle. When they showed him his shield, and assured him that the Thebans had gained the victory, turning towards his friends with a calm and serene air, “ all then is well,” said he, and soon after, upon drawing the head of the javelin out of his body, he expired in the arms of victory..
94. As the glory of Thebes rose with Epaminondas, so it felt with him, and he is perhaps the only instance of one man's being able to inspire his country with military glory, and lead it on to conquest, without having had a predecessor, or leaving an initator of his example.
95. The battle of Mantinea was the greatest that ever was fought by Grecians against Grecians; the whole strength of the country being drawn out, and ranged according to their different interests; and it was fought with an obstinacy equal to the importance of it, which was the fixing the empire of Greece. And this must of course, have been transferred to the Thebans upon their victory, if they had not lost the fruits of it by the death of their general, who was the soul of all their counsels and designs.
96. This blasted all their hopes, and put out their sudden blaze of power almost as soon as it was kindled. However, they did not presently give up their pretensions; they were still ranked among the leading states, and made several further struggles ; but they were faint and ineffectual, and such as were rather for life and being, than for superiority and dominion. A peace therefore was proposed, which was ratified by all the states of Greece except Sparta, the conditions of which were, that every state should maintain what they possessed, and hold it independent of any other power.
97. A state of repose ensued this peace, in which the Grecian powers seemed to slacken from their former animosities, and if we except an expedition under Agesilaus into Egypt, whither he went to assist Tachos, who had usurped that kingdom, and in which he died, there was little done for several years following.
The Athenians, more particularly, when they found themselves delivered from him who kept up their emulation, grew insolent and remiss ; and abandoned themselves to their ease and pleasure, being wholly taken up with shows, sports, and festivals.
98. They were naturally too much addicted to these amusements, and they had formerly been encouraged in them by Peri
cles, who knew how to lead them by their inclinations, and took this method to ingratiate himself, and to divert them from inspecting too narrowly into his administration. But they now carried their diversions to a much higher pitch of extravagance.
99. They had such a passion for the stage, that it stifled in them all other thoughts either of business or of glory. In short, the decorations and other charges attending the theatre, were so excessive, that Plutarch says, “ It cost more to represent some of the famous pieces of Sophocles and Euripides than it had done to carry on the war against the barbarians.”
100. And in order to support this charge, they seized upon the fund which had been set apart for the war, with a prohibition upon pain of death, ever to advise the applying of it to any other purpose. They not only reversed this decree, but went as far the other way, making it death to propose the restoring the fund to the uses to which it had before been appropriated, under the same penalties.
101. By diverting the course of the supplies in so extraordinary a manner, and entertaining the idle citizen at the expense of the soldier and mariner, they seemed to have no remains of that spirit and vigour which they had exerted in the Persian wars, when they demolished their houses to furnish out a navy, and when the women stoned a man to death, who proposed to appease the Great King (as he was called) by paying tribute, and doing homage.
102. In this general remissness, it was not to be supposed that their allies would treat them with the respect they demanded. u Most of the states, that had hitherto been in alliance
. with them, and had found security under their protecDe tion, took up arms against them. In reducing these, Chabrias, Iphicrates, and Timotheus gained great reputation and are supposed to have been consummate generals ; but their successes are too minute to rank them among the class of emi nent commanders; and whatever their skill might have been, there wanted a great occasion for its display.
103. This war opened with the siege of Chio, in which the Athenians were repulsed; and Chabrias, unwilling to abandon his vessel, preferred death to flight. The siege of Byzantium followed, before which the fleet of the contending powers was dispersed by a storm, in consequence of which the Athenian generals were recalled. Timotheus was fined a great sum, but being too poor to pay he went into voluntary banishment.
104. Iphicrates was also obliged to answer for himself, but he got off by his eloquence; and in the mean time, the affairs of Athens succeeded but ill under the guidance of Charis, who was
eft sole commander. A peace was concluded, whereby every city and people were left to the full enjoyment of their liberty; and thus the war of the allies ended after having continued three years.
105. During these transactions, a power was growing up in Greece, hitherto unobserved, but now too conspicuous and formidable to be overlooked in the general picture-this was that of the Macedonians, a people hitherto obscure, and in a manner barbarous, and who, though warlike and hardy, had never yet presumed to intermeddle in the affairs of Greece; but now several circumstances concurred to raise them from obscurity, and to involve them in measures which, by degrees, wrought a thorough change in the state of Greece. It will be necessary, therefore, to begin with a short account of their power and origin, before we enter into a detail of that conspicuous part which they afterwards performed on the theatre of the world.
From the Birth to the Death of Philip, King of Macedon.
1. The people of Macedon were hitherto considered as making no part of the Grecian confederacy; they were looked upon as borderers, as men, in a measure semi-barbarians; who boasted indeed of taking their origin from the Greeks, but who hitherto neither possessed their politeness, nor enjoyed their freedom; they had little or no intercourse with their mother country; they had contracted the habits and manners of the natives where they were settled, and, from thence, they were treated with similar disrespect.
2. The first king who is mentioned with any degree of certainty to have reigned in Macedonia, was Caranus, by birth an Argive, and said to be the sixteenth in descent from Hercules. It was upon this foundation, that Philip afterwards grounded his pretensions to be of the race of Hercules, and assumed to him divine honours. Caranus, therefore, is commonly reputed to have led forth a body of his countrymen, by the advice of the oracle, into these parts where he settled, and made himself king.
3. Caranus, having according to the general account, reigned twenty-eight years, the succession was continued after him to the times we are now treating of. But there is very little worth notice recorded of these kings, they being chiefly employed in defending themselves against the incursions of their neighbours. And as to their domestic affairs, they were remarkable only for the frequent murders and usurpations which happened in the royal family.
4. Amyntas, father of Philip, began to reign the third year or the ninety-sixth Olympiad. Having the very year after been warmly attacked by the Illyrians, and dispossessed of a great part of his kingdom, which he thought it scarce possible for him ever to recover again, he addressed himself to the Olynthians, and, in order to engage them the more firmly in his interest, he had given up to them a considerable tract of land in the neighbourhood of their city.
5. He was restored to the throne by the Thessalians, upon which he was desirous of resuming the possession of the lands which nothing but the ill situation of his affairs had obliged him to resign to the Olynthians. This occasioned a war; but Amyntas, not being strong enough to make head singly against so powerful a people, the Greeks, and the Athenians in particular, sent him succours; and enabled him to weaken the power of the Olynthians, who threatened him with a total and impending ruin.
6. Amyntas died, after having reigned twenty-four years; he eft three legitimate children :-namely, Alexander, Perdiccas, and Philip. Alexander, the eldest son, reigned but one year. · Perdiccas, the second brother, was opposed by Pausanias, who began by seizing some fortresses : but by the assistance of Iphicrates, the Athenian general, the usurper was expelled, and Perdiccas the lawful sovereign confirmed on the throne.
7. He did not, however, long continue in tranquillity. Ptolemy, a natural son of Amyntas, laid claim to the crown, and disputed his title; which, by mutual consent, was referred to Pelopidas the Theban, a man more revered for his probity than his valour. Pelopidas determined in favour of Perdiccas; and having judged it necessary to take pledges on both sides, in order to oblige the two competitors to observe the articles of the treaty accepted by them, among other hostages, he carried Philip with him to Thebes, where he resided several years. He was then ten years of age.
8. Euridice, at her leaving this much loved son, earnestly besought Pelopidas to procure him an education worthy of his birth, and of the city to which he was going a hostage. Pelopidas placed him with Epaminondas, who had a celebrated Pythagorean philosopher in his house for the education of his son.
9. Philip improved greatly by the instructions of his preceptor, and much more by those of Epaminondas, under whom he undoubtedly made some campaigns, though no mention is made of this. He could not possibly have had a more excellent master, whether for war, or the conduct of life; for this illustrious Theban was at the same time a great philosopher: that is to say.