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Diodorus Siculus says, that the battle of Platæa was fought in the second year of the seventyfifth Olympiad, when Xanthippus was archon of Athens, B.C. 479, and on the third or fourth day of the month Boedromion, corresponding to the 28th or 29th of August, nearly a twelvemonth after the battle of Salamis.
remained in their posts for ten days, encamped | sacred purposes, was given to Pausanias, and the on each side of the river Asopus. Mardonius, others were rewarded each according to his who was of an impatient temper, grew uneasy at merit. so long a delay. Famine, also, was menacing him, for he had only a few days' provisions for his army. Accordingly, he held a council of war, and, contrary to the wise counsel of Artabazus, who advised Mardonius to retire under the walls of Thebes, where they would be able to obtain forage and provisions, and eventually to prevail on some of the confederates by bribes to desert the common cause, a battle was decided upon the next day.
The attack was to be made by surprise; but Alexander of Macedon came secretly about midnight to their camp, and informed Aristides of all that had passed; an event to which Glover alludes in his "Athenaid:"
Aristides hastes: To whom the stranger:-Bulwark of this camp! Hear, credit, weigh the tidings which I bear: Mardonius, press'd by fear of threatening want, At night's fourth watch the fatal stream will pass, Inflexibly determined, though forbid
By each diviner, to assail your host
With all his numbers. I, against surprise,
Am come to warn you: thee alone I trust,
I who thus hazard both my realm and life,
Acting upon this timely information, the Greek generals ordered their officers to prepare for battle. The next day, however, passed without any decisive engagement, and night coming on, numbers of the Greeks deserted from the confederate army, in order to escape the enemy's cavalry, which had annoyed them greatly; and, retiring about twenty stadia towards Platæa, they encamped near the temple of Juno, opposite to the city.
The movement of these deserters brought on a general engagement on the ensuing day. Mardonius, imagining that the foe fled before him, led on his army, shouting as though they were sure of their prey. As soon, however, as they had passed the Asopus, they encountered the Lacedæmonians, Athenians, and Tegeans, to the number of 53,000 men, which led to a general engagement, in which the Persians were completely defeated, chiefly by the determined valour of the Lacedæmonians and Athenians. Mardonius himself was slain, and of the Persian host, according to the Greek historians, not more than 3000 escaped, except a select body of 40,000 men, under the command of Artabazus, who marched with all expedition towards the Hellespont, whence he transported the remnant (for many of these were slain by the Thracians, or died with fatigue and hunger on the way) from Byzantium, or Constantinople, to Asia. The loss of the Grecians, according to Plutarch, amounted only to 1360 men. The spoils taken from the Persians were immense, consisting of vast sums of money, gold and silver cups, vessels, tables, bracelets, and all kinds of furniture. The tenth of these, after devoting a certain portion to
fortunate; if the liver was bad, they inspected no farther. Thus, it may be seen, that their replies depended solely upon the choice of the animal.
The day on which the Greeks gained the victory at Platea is memorable for another gained by their fleet over that of the Persians, at Mycale, in Ionia, wherein most of the Persians were put to the sword, their ships burned, and an immense booty captured. This battle was fought in the evening, and that of Platea in the morning. They were each decisive in their nature. By them the great designs of Xerxes were frustrated, and the liberties of Greece and of Ionia (colonized from Greece) restored and secured. Nor were the benefits resulting from these contests of a momentary nature. They freed Europe for ages from Asiatic invasion, during the subsistence of the Persian monarchy, and even till the erection of the fanatical empires of the Saracens and Turks, of whom the one subverted the Constantinopolitan empire, and the other penetrated through Africa into Spain.
The Persian invasion, says Dr. Hales, furnishes a salutary and awakening lesson to all free states to dispute their liberties to the last, and never to compromise with the enemy, let them be ever so numerous and formidable. affords, also, a striking comment upon the words of the psalmist:
"There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: A mighty man is not delivered by much strength." Psa. xxxiii. 16.
Victory belongs unto God alone; and none can read the account of this struggle for liberty, without observing his overruling providence in the result. A little band of patriots, inflexibly determined to conquer or die in their country's cause, to preserve their religion, their laws, and their liberty, triumphed over the mightiest host that was ever assembled for the purposes of desolation. Who gave success? Not Jove, or Juno, or Mercury, or Ceres, or Bacchus, or any of the fabled gods of Greece, but HIM in whom are "the issues of life and death," and who overrules all events on earth for his own glory. What, though both the armies of the Persians and Grecians were pagans, He ruled over them; and though they were unmindful of Him, the one was exalted, and the other humbled by his almighty hand. To ourselves, the patriotism of the Greeks reads an important lesson. If they fought so nobly, and struggled so ardently, for their religion, laws, and liberty, which were all founded on the principles of paganism, surely we ought to prize our own, which are established upon the enlightened and broad foundations of Christianity, and to contend for their maintenance against the host of infidel foes with which we are surrounded. Our weapons, it must be remembered, and that with thankfulness, are not, at the present day, those of life-destroying steel;
we need only use "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Christian patriots, wield this to the honour of God, and the salvation of mankind; for the principles of infidelity are as subversive of order in the state, and as destructive of domestic happiness, as the hosts of Xerxes in their wild career.
"Or own the soul immortal, or invert
The defeat of the Persians at Mycale, in the neighbourhood of Sardis, drove Xerxes from that city, where he had resided since he retired from Greece. He was driven with disgrace and dismay to Susa, his capital. His route thither was marked by plunder and devastation through Asia. He pillaged and destroyed all the Grecian temples in his way;* nor did he respect even the ancient and venerated temple of Belus at Babylon. He carried off from thence a statue of solid gold, twelve cubits high, probably the work of Nebuchadnezzar, as mentioned Dan. iii. 1, and slew the high priest, who endeavoured to prevent conduct which he deemed sacrilege. Perhaps the desire of making himself amends for the expenses incurred in his Grecian expedition, might be a prevailing motive for such proceedings; for it is certain he found immense treasures in the temples, which had been amassed through the superstition of princes and people during a long series of ages, or been deposited
there for safety.
The remainder of the reign of this "son of violence," as he was described by the Grecian oracles, was clouded by the most horrid and unnatural crimes, raging through, and ravaging his own household and his own family. The atrocious and complicated injuries which he committed upon the family of Masistes, his brother, and over which we draw a veil, so roused the indignation of that prince, that he fled with his sons and some attendants towards Bactria, of which he was governor, intending to rouse the warlike Sace to revolt. Xerxes apprehending this, intercepted him on the way, and put him, his sons, and his adherents to death. To crown the horrid measures of his cruelties, in a transport of rage, he slew his own mother Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, to whose influence he owed the crown. These atrocities at length, however, drew down vengeance upon his head. His chamberlain, Mithridates, introduced into his bed-chamber at night Artabanus, the captain of his guards, who assassinated him while he slept,
B. C. 464.
"O joyless power, that stands by lawless force!
It was wisely said by the psalmist, that
"Evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him." Psa. cxl. 11.
After the murder of Xerxes, Artabanus meditated securing the crown for himself, by the
Xerxes spared only two temples in the Grecian war; those of Apollo at Delos, and of Diana at Ephesus.
upon the throne, in exclusion of Hystaspes, the second son, who was governor of the province of Bactria, in which he had succeeded Masistes, intending to put him away in his turn. But his career of wickedness was brief. Artaxerxes anticipated his treason, and cut off Artabanus and his family before his plans were ripe for execution. Thus the mischief that he designed for, and which he had brought upon others, returned upon his own head.
After this, Artaxerxes was called upon to sus¬ tain a war with his brother Hystaspes, who claimed the throne. The unhallowed conflict
continued for two years, when Hystaspes was defeated, and Artaxerxes secured to himself the quiet possession of the empire. To prevent further disturbances, he placed governors in every province, on whose fidelity he could depend; after which he applied himself to the reform of abuses in the government.
Artaxerxes Longimanus is celebrated as the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther, and some other
parts of Scripture. In the third year of his reign, Ahasuerus gave a sumptuous entertainment, and sent for his queen Vashti to grace the banquet. This mandate was contrary to oriental notions, and the queen refused to obey; but the monarch being inflamed with wine, was enraged at her refusal, and consulted with his sycophant council what steps he should take to punish her for her disobedience. They represented that her disobedience to her husband was likely to have the worst effects upon society at large, and advised, as a prevention, that she should be dislistened to; he deposed her for her contumacy: carded from his presence. Their advice was upon which it has been said,
"Severe the punishment for so slight a fault,
After a probation of four years, he chose Esther, an orphan Jewess, who possessed peculiar gracefulness and beauty, to be his queen, in preference to all the virgins who were candidates for that dignity.
In the fifth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, B. C. 459, the Egyptians revolted, and chose Inarus, a Libyan prince, for their king. The Egyptians called in the Athenians to their assistance, who having a fleet of forty sail lying off the island of Cyprus, considered it a favourable opportunity of weakening the Persian power, and sailed to Egypt for that purpose. [The particulars of this revolt will be found in the History of the Egyptians.]
In the seventh year of his reign, B. c. 457, Artaxerxes issued a decree, empowering Ezra, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, to go to Judea, to restore and enforce the law of Moses, to appoint magistrates and judges throughout the land, and to punish all transgressors of
the law with confiscation of goods, banishment, or death, Ezra vii. 1-26.
as well as Amyrtæus, who fought for the Egyptian crown. In the year B. C. 450, however, the Athenians exerted themselves to send another fleet of 200 sail to Cyprus, .under the command of Cimon, the son of Miltiades, whence he sent sixty sail to the assistance of Amyrtæus, in the fens. Artabazus, the Persian admiral, being then off the island of Cyprus, with a fleet of 300 ships, Cimon attacked and defeated him, and took the third part of his ships, and destroyed many more. He pursued the rest to Cilicia, and landing his men by stratagem, as if Persians, he surprised and defeated Megabyzus at Eurymedon, whose army consisted of 300,000 men, and returned to Cyprus with a double triumph.
The Jews, however, were in great danger of extirpation by the edicts of this monarch in the fourteenth year of his reign, B. C. 450. Haman, the Amalekite, an inveterate foe of the Jewish nation, and a lineal descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites, in the days of the prophet Samuel, (1 Sam. xv. 33,) was at this date prime minister of Persia. Haman, who was an ambitious and revengeful man, had an undue ascendancy over the mind of the monarch, which he failed not to use for his own unhallowed purposes. On one occasion, he obtained a royal edict for all persons to do him homage. The servile multitude respected this edict; but Mordecai, the kinsman of Esther, doubtless from some scruple of conscience, refused to bow the knee to the Amalekite. Haman's haughty spirit could not brook such a slight, and he resolved to take revenge of the most ample, unjust, and sanguinary nature. For this one man's offence he sought the destruction of the Jewish race; thus displaying the ancient enmity of the Amalekite towards Israel, as well as his own personal revenge. Haman proposed this measure to the king, alleging that the Jews were dangerous to the state; and Artaxerxes, in a moment of weak-journey of the coast. 3. That no Persian ship ness, passed a royal decree for their public proscription and massacre throughout the Persian dominions. After much deliberation of the conspirators, in selecting the most lucky days, it was determined that the tragical event should take place on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month Adar.
In the meantime this dreadful plot was defeated by the piety and address of Esther the queen, and turned upon Haman himself, who was destroyed, with all his family. Thus did this wicked man fall into the snare which he had laid for others, and his name stands in the page of history as a warning to mankind of every generation not to encourage those evil passions incident to human nature from the fall-ambition and revenge. See Esther iii.-viii. Thus, also, did God exhibit his providential care over his people, from whence the Christian may take courage in his pilgrimage on earth. If Israel according to the flesh was tenderly watched over by the great Father of mankind, how much more shall the spiritual Israel share in his Divine and watchful care!
On this occasion was displayed the mischievous effect of that law of the Medes and Persians, which set forth that the king's decree, when signed by him, and sealed with his seal, could not be revoked. Artaxerxes was obliged to issue a counter decree, empowering the Jews to arm themselves in self-defence, and to slay all those who might attack them. The result of this was, the slaughter of 75,000 men, among whom were the ten sons of Haman. See Esther ix.
The Greeks, who sailed to the rescue of Egypt under the command of Inarus, as related in that history, defeated the Persians in the first battle, and slew their leader Achæmenes. Afterwards, the Persian monarch having assembled an overwhelming force, re-established his authority in Egypt, and expelled the Greeks from that country,
Artaxerxes, acting upon the advice of his council, now sought an accommodation with the Athenians. His proposals were listened to; and accordingly they sent ambassadors to Susa, amongst whom was Callias; and the Persians on their side sent Artabanes and Megabyzus to Athens. The conditions of peace were very humiliating to the Persian monarch. They were as follows:-1. That all the Greek cities in Asia Minor should be free, and governed by their own laws. 2. That no Persian governor of the provinces should march an army within three days'
of war should sail between the Cyanean rocks, at the northern extremity of the Thracian Bosporus, and the Chelidonian Isles, near the southern promontory of Lycia; thus excluding the Persians from the entire Ægean Sea, and that part of the Mediterranean bordering upon Asia Minor. 4. That the Athenians should not invade any part of the dominions of the king of Persia.
This peace, so advantageous to the Athenian states, established the independence of the Grecian colonies on the Asiatic coast. It was concluded B. C. 449, in the fifteenth year of Artaxerxes, thirty years after the victories of Platæa and Mycale, and forty years after the first Persian invasion of Greece. The loss of life was immense during this period, and the blood that was shed in the various conflicts must stain the memory of all those at whose instigation it was undertaken throughout all generations.
The trumpet sounds, your legions swarm abroad;
In the twentieth year of the reign of ArtaXerxes, B. c. 444, he granted to the Jews that permission which he had long refused, to rebuild
the walls of Jerusalem. This favour was granted at the instance of Nehemiah, whom he appointed tirshatha, or governor of Judea. Nehemiah was empowered to repair the wall, and set up the gates, to build a palace for himself, and afterwards to rebuild the city; and, in conjunction with Ezra, the priest and scribe, to establish the civil and ecclesiastical polity of the nation, all which he accomplished-notwithstanding he met with great opposition from Sanballat the Samaritan and his army, Tobiah the Ammonite, the Arabians, and the Ashdodites—in the course of his administration of twelve years. See Nehemiah ii.-iv. ; vi. 15; vii. 1—4; and xi. 1,2. This change in the conduct of Artaxerxes respecting the Jews, says Dr. Hales, may be accounted for upon sound political principles, and not merely from regard to the solicitations of Nehemiah, or the influence of his queen; and the humiliating conditions of the treaty with the Athenians corroborates this opinion. Thus excluded from the whole line of sea coast, Dr. Hales adds, and precluded from keeping garrisons in any of the maritime towns, it became a matter both of prudence and necessity to conciliate the Jews, to attach them to the Persian interest, and detach them from the Grecian, by further privileges, that the Persians might have the benefit of a friendly fortified town like Jerusalem, within three days' journey of the sea, and a most important pass, to keep open the communication between Persia and Egypt. To confirm this conjecture, it may be remarked, that in all the ensuing Egyptian wars the Jews remained faithful to the Persians, and even after the Macedonian invasion; and it may reasonably be supposed, that Artaxerxes had some such argument as this to oppose to the jealousy and displeasure this measure excited in the neighbouring provinces hostile to the Jews, whose remonstrances had so much weight with him in former days.
In the engagement in which the Greeks had been driven from Egypt, Inarus, and a body of his auxiliaries, had surrendered themselves to the Persian monarch, after obtaining a promise of pardon from Megabyzus. The queen-mother, a haughty and cruel princess, enraged at the loss of her son Achæmenes, entreated Artaxerxes to violate the capitulation granted to Inarus by Megabyzus, and to deliver the prisoners taken at Byblus to her revenge. He resisted the proposal for five years, but was at length wearied into compliance, and the unhappy captives perished by cruel tortures. Indignant at such conduct, Megabyzus revolted, (B. C. 447,) and being supported by the Syrians, repeatedly defeated the royal forces. He was at length allowed to dictate his own terms, and he returned to court. Shortly after, however, he was perfidiously seized for the slight offence of shooting a lion at a royal hunt before the king had discharged his arrow, and he was condemned to perpetual exile at Cyrta, a city standing on the Red Sea. This cruelty provoked afresh the hostility of the sons and friends of Megabyzus, whose turbulence again disturbed the state; but after five years' banishment, he secretly returned to Susa, when, by the intercession of his wife and mother-in-law, he was reinstated in the king's favour, and enjoyed
it till his death. To Megabyzus the king of Persia owed both his life and crown, when he ascended the throne, which makes his conduct appear in a more unfavourable light: it may be, that the monarch envied the renown of the valour and wisdom of Megabyzus, for he was the best counsellor and greatest general of the Persian empire.
In the thirty-fourth year of the reign of Artaxerxes, the oppressive system of the Athenian policy armed the confederates against that state in the Peloponnesian war, which lasted twenty-seven years, ending in the overthrow of the Athenian dominion. The assistance of Artaxerxes was sought by both parties, but he wisely declined to assist either. The Athenians sent another embassy, but when they reached Ephesus they received news of the death of Artaxerxes.
"Put not your trust in princes,
Nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
By Persian writers, Artaxerxes was surnamed Bahaman, signifying "kind," or "beneficent." According to Thucydides, his favourite maxim was, that "the gates of a king should never be shut." He carried this noble maxim into practice with Themistocles, who had done so much mischief to Persia, and for whose head he had offered a reward of 200 talents, (nearly 40,000l.,) on his accession to the throne. When banished from Greece and every part of Europe by the inveterate persecution of his countrymen, he threw himself upon the mercy of Artaxerxes, who, as we have seen in the history of the polity of Persia, made a princely provision for him. Themistocles used to say to his children, in reference to this treatment, “We should have been undone if we had not been undone;" and the strongest inducement afterwards held out by any Persian to a Greek was, that "he should live with him, as Themistocles did with Artaxerxes."
The chief praise due to Artaxerxes is the regard he had for the temple of Jehovah, as displayed in these verses: "And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily, unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them. And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be
pleasures and amusements, to engross the whole authority to himself. Under the name and protection of queen Parysatis, indeed, to whose will and pleasure he was devoted, he disposed of all the affairs of the empire. The name only of king was wanting, and, to obtain this, he formed a design to rid himself of Darius, and ascend the throne. The plot, however, was discovered, and he was seized and delivered up to Parysatis, by whom he was put to a cruel and ignominious death.
By this it will be perceived, that eunuchs had at this date acquired considerable power in the court of Persia: at a later period they governed absolutely in it, to the great danger of the princes. Some idea may be formed of their character by the picture which Dioclesian, after he had resigned the empire, and reduced himself to a private station of life, drew of the freedmen who had gained a like ascendancy over the
but who is usually called Nothus, that is, "ille-Roman emperors. "Four or five persons," says gitimate," to distinguish him from the other princes of the same title.
he, "who are closely united, and resolutely determined to impose on a prince, may do it very The reign of Darius Nothus was turbulent easily. They never show things to him but in and unfortunate. His own brother Arsites, born such a light as they are sure will please. They of the same mother, seeing in what manner conceal whatever would contribute to enlighten Sogdianus had supplanted Xerxes, and had been him; and as they alone beset him continually, he afterwards driven from the throne by Ochus, cannot be informed of any thing but through their first rebelled against him, but he was decoyed channel, and knows nothing but what they think into a surrender, and smothered in ashes, a death fit to suggest to him. Hence it is that he bestows Sogdianus had previously suffered. Arsites was employments on those whom he ought to exclude assisted in his rebellion by Artyphius son of from them; and, on the other side, removes from Megabyzus, who shared a similar fate.
One of the most dangerous rebellions Darius Nothus had to encounter occurred in Lydia. Pisuthnes, governor of that province, was ambitious of making himself king, for which purpose he enlisted in his service a body of Grecian troops, under the command of Lycon the Athenian. Darius sent Tissaphernes against this opponent, giving him, at the same time, the commission of governor of Lydia, of which he was to dispossess Pisuthnes. By bribes and promises, Tissaphernes brought over the Greeks to his side, and Pisuthnes, thus weakened, was compelled to surrender. A promise of pardon was held out to him, but the instant he was brought before the king he was doomed to undergo the same cruel death as Sogdianus and Arsites. The death of Pisuthnes, however, did not put an end to all danger in this quarter. Amorgas, his son, with the remainder of his army, withstood Tissaphernes, and for two years laid waste the maritime provinces of Asia Minor, till at length he was taken by the Greeks of Peloponnesus in Iasus, a city of Ionia, who delivered him up to Tissaphernes, by whom he was put to death."
A plot within the precincts of his own court had nearly proved fatal to Darius. Three eunuchs had usurped all power therein, but one of these three presided over and governed the rest. This man, whose name was Artoxares, had wormed himself into the confidence of Darius. He had studied all his passions, in order to indulge them, and govern the monarch by their means. He plunged him continually in
The two brief reigns of Xerxes and Sogdianus, amounting only to eight months, are omitted in Ptolemy's canon, but their amount is included in the last year of Artaxerxes, according to his usage.
offices such persons as are most worthy of filling them. In a word, the best prince is often sold by these men, though he be ever so vigilant, and in despite of his suspicion of them."
The greatest misfortune which happened to Darius during the whole course of his reign was the revolt of the Egyptians, the particulars of which are related in that history, (page 60.) After this, the Medes rebelled, but were defeated, and reduced to their ancient allegiance. To punish them for their revolt, their yoke, which hitherto had been light, was made burdensome: a fate rebellious subjects generally experience when they are subdued.
About B. c. 407, Darius gave Cyrus, the } youngest of his sons, the supreme command of all the provinces of Asia Minor: an important commission, by which he made all the provincial governors of that part of the empire dependent upon him.
The hatred which Darius possessed against the Athenians, led him to deviate from his father's policy respecting the Grecian states. Artaxerxes assisted the weaker against the stronger, and so balanced matters between them, that they continued to harass each other, and thereby were prevented from uniting against the Persians. On the contrary, Darius commissioned Cyrus to assist the Lacedæmonians with large subsidies against the Athenians, which enabled Lysander, their general, to finish the Peloponnesian war with the overthrow of the Athenians, and demolition of their fortifications, about B. C. 404.
Shortly after the appointment of Cyrus to the government of the provinces of Asia Minor, he put to death two of the nephews of Darius, because they had not folded their hands in their sleeves, as was customary among the Persians in