Page images
PDF
EPUB

sail; and landing in Cilicia, completed his triumph by de feating 300,000 Persians, under Megabyzus, 460 A. C. Artaxerxes now sued for peace, which was grauited on terms most honourable to the vation.

VI. The Age of Pericles.

1. An acquaintance with Asia, and an importation of her wealth, introduced a relish for Asiatic manners and luxuries. With the Athenians, however, this luxurious spirit was under the guidance of taste and genius: it led to the cultivation of the fiuer arts, and the age of Pericles, though the national glory was in its wane, is the ærå of the highest internal splendout and magnificence. Pericles ruled Atheus with little less than arbitrary sway; and Athens pretended, at this time, to the command of Greece. She held the allied states in the most absolute subjection, and lavished their subsidies, bestowed for the national defence, in inagnificent buildings, games, and festivals, for her own citizens. 1 2. A war waged by the Corinthians with the people of Corcyra, in which the Athenians interfered, contuued for 28 years, with various and alternate success. Pericles died before its termination, a splendid ornament of his éountry, but a corrupter of her manners. Alcibiadės ran à similar career with equal talents, equal ambition, but with still less purity of motal prineiple. Having been capitally cotidemoed for treason; he sold his services, first to Sparta; and afterwards to Persia : and finally, made his peace with his country by betraying the power which protected him; returning to Athens, the idol of a populace, as versatile as worthless.

3. A fatal defeat of the Athenian fleet at Ægos Potantos, by Lysander, reduced Athens to the last extremity. The Lacedæmonians blockading the eity by sex and land, the war was terminated by the unconditional saboission of the Athenians, 405, A. C.-Lysandet, after the reduction of Athens, abolished the popular government, atıd substitated in its place thirty tyrants, whose power was absoJute. The most eminent of the citizens fled froni theit country; but a band of patriots, headed by Thrasybulus, attacked, vanquished, and expelled the usurpers. The

persecution and death of Socrates, at this time, reflected more disgrace on the Athenian name, than their national humiliation.

4. On the death of Darius Nothus, his eldest son Artaxerxes Mnemon succeeded to the empire of Persia. His younger brother, Cyrus, attempted to dethrone bim, and with the aid of 13,000 Greeks, engaged him near Babylon, but was defeated and slain. The remainder of the Grecian army, 10,000 in number, under the command of the celebrated Xenophon, made a most masterly retreat, traversing a hostile country, in extent 1600 miles, from Babylon to the banks of the Euxine. The Greek cities of Asia had taken part with Cyrus. Agesilaus, king of Sparta, won some important battles in Greece; and a naval defeat pear Cnidos utterly destroyed the Lacedæmonian: fleet. The Spartans sued for peace, A. C. 387, and obtained it by saerificing to Persia all their Asiatic colonies.

VII. The Republic of Thebes.:

1. While Athens and Sparta were tending to decline, the Theban republic rose to a degree of splendour, eclipsing all its cotemporary states. The republic was divided by faction. Four hundred exiled Thebans fed to Athens for protection. Among these was Pelopidas, who disguising himself and friends as peasants, entered Thebes in the evening, and joining a patriotic party of the citizens, they surprised the heads of the usurpation amid the tumult of a feast, and put them all to death. Epaminondas, the friend of Pelopidas, shared with him the glory of this edterprise ; and, attacking with the aid of 5000 Athenians, the Lacedæmonian garrison, drove them entirely out of the Theban territory.

2. A war necesssarily ensued between Thebes and Sparta, in which the former was assisted by Athens. Thebes, singly opposed the power of Sparta, and the league of Greece: but Epaminondas and Pelopidas were her generals ;-- the latter amidst a career of glory, perished in an expedition against the tyrant of Pheraea. Epaminondas, triumphant at Leuctra and Mantinea, fell in that last engagement, and with him expired the glory of his country, 363, A.C. Athens and Sparta were humbled at the battle

of Mautinca ;-Thebes was victorious, but she was undone by the death of the brave Epaminondas. All parties were tired of the war ;-a treaty was agreed to in which it was stipulated, that each power should retain what it possessed. By Epaminondus, Thebes first rose to sovereign power, and with him-she lost her greatness.

VIII. Philip of Macedon.

1. Greece was now in the most abject condition. Athens seemed to have lost all ambition; luxury ruled without control ; poets, musicians, sculptors, and comedians, were now the vnly great men of Attica. Sparta, from a similar cause, was in no capacity to attempt a recovery of her former greatness. In this situation, Philip formed the project of subduing the whole of Greece. He ascended the throne of Macedon by popular choice, in violation of the natural right of the next heirs to the crown; aud, he secured his power by the success of his arms against the Illyrians, Pæonians, and Athenians. Uniting to great military talents, the most consummate artifice and address, he had his pensionaries in all the states of Greece, who directed to his advantage every public measure.

2. A sacrilegious attempt of the Phocians to plunder the temple of Delphos, excited the sacred war, in wbich nlmost all the republics took a part; and Philip's aid being courted by the Thebans and Thessaliaus, he commenced bostilities by invading Phocis, the key to the territory of Attica, Æschines the orator, bribed to his interest, attempted to quiet the alarms of the Athenians, by ascribing to Philip a design ouły of puuishing sacrilege, and vindicating the 'cause of Apollo. Demosthenes, with true patriotism, exposed the artful designs of the invader, and with the most animated eloquence, roused his countrymen to a vigorous effort for the preservation of tlieir natural liberties. But the event was unsuccessful.

3. The battle of Cheronæa, fought 337, A. C. decided the fate of Greece, and subjected all her states to the dominion of the king of Macedon. They retained their separate and independent governments, while he controlled and direeted all the natioval measures. Philip was appointed commander in chief of the forces, and projecting

the conquest of Persia, directed each republic to furnish its proportion of subsidies. On the eve of this great enterprise, Philip was assassinated by Pausanias, a captain of his guards, in revenge of a private injury, 336, A. Č.

4. Thus,' says an admired author, « died Philip, whose virtues and vices were directed and proportioned to his ambition. His most shining and exalted qualities were influenced in a great measure by bis love of power; and even the most exceptionable parts of bis conduct were principally determined by their expediency and convenieney. if he was unjust, he was, like Cæsar, unjust for the sake of empire." If he gloried in the success acquired by his virtues, and his intellectual accomplishments, 'rather than that which the force of arms could gain, the reason which he himself assigned, points out the true principle.

In the former case, said he, the glory is entirely mine ; in the other my generals and soldiers have their share."

IX. Alexander the Great.

[ocr errors]

1. Alexander, the son of Philip, succeeded at the age of twenty to the throne of Macedon, and, after a few suceessful battles with the revolted states, to the comminand of Greece.

2. Alexander was determined to pursue his desigiis for the conqnest of Persia. With an army of 30,000 foot, and 5000 horse, the sum of 70 talents, and provisions only for a single month, he crossed the Hellespont, and in traverso ing Phrygia, visited the tomb of Achilles. Darius Codomannus resolved to crush at once this inconsiderate youth, and met him on the banks of the Granicus with 100,000 foot, and 10,000 horse. The Greeks swam the river, their king leading the van; and, attacking the astonished Persians, left, 20,000 dead upon the field, and put to flight their whole army. Alexander now seut home his fleet, leaving to his army the sole alternative, that they must subtlue Asia, or perish. Prosecuting their course for some tiine, without resistance, the Greeks were attacked by the Persians in a narrow valley of Cilicia, near the town of Issus. The Persian host amounted to 400,000; but their situation was such, that only a small part could come into aetion, and they were defeated with prodigious slaughter. The loss of

the Persians was 110,000; that of the Greeks

véry

incov: siderable. The generosity of Alexander was displayed after the battle of Issus, in his attention to his noble prisoners, the mother, the wife, and family of Darius. To the eredit of Alexander, it must be owned that humanity, however overpowered, and at times extinguished by his passions, formed a part of his natural character.

3. The submission of al Syria followed the battle of Issus. Damascus, where Darius had deposited his ehief treasures, was betrayed, and given up by its governor Alexander bent his course towards Tyre, and desired ad mittance to perform a sacrifice to Hercules. The Tyrians shut their gates, and maintained for seven months a noble defence. The city was at length taken by storm, and the víctor glutfed his revenge by the inhuman Hassaere of 8000 of the intrabitants. The fate of Gaza, gloriously defended by Belis, was equally deplorable to its citizens, and more disgraceful to the conqueror ;-ten-thousand of the former were sold into slavery, and its Brave defender dragged at the wheel's of the victor's chariot.

4. The taking of (aza opened Egypt fo Alexander, ånd the whole country submitted without opposition. Amidst the most incredible fatigues, le led his army through the deserts of Lybia, to visit the temple of his prefended father Jupiter Ammon. On his return, he built Alexandria at the mouth of the Nile, afterwards the capital of the lower Egypt, and one of the most flourishing eities in the world. Twenty other cities of the same name were reared by him in the course of his conquests.

5. Returðing from Egypt, Alexander traversed Assyria, and was met at Arbela by Darius, at the head of 700,000 men. Peace, on very advantageous terms, was offered by the Persians, but was naughtily rejected. The Persians were defeated at Arbela with the loss of 300,000 men, and Darius fled from province to province. At length betrayed by Bessas, one of his own satraps, he was cruellyi “urdered; and the Persian empire submitted to the conqueror, 330, A.C.

6. Alexander, firmly persuaded that the sovereignty of the whole habitable globe had been decreed him, now projected the conquest of India. Ile penetrated to the Ganges, and would have proceded to the Eastern Occan,

« PreviousContinue »