The Persian Wars. - The Battles of Thermopylae Salamis, and Plataea, B.C. 480-479
HE DEFEAT of the Persians at Marathon served only to increase the resentment of Darius. He now resolved to collect the whole forces of his empire, and to lead them in person against Athens. For three years busy preparations were made throughout his vast dominions. In the fourth year his attention was distracted by a revolt of the Egyptians; and before he could reduce them to subjection he was surprised by death, after a reign of 37 years (B.C. 485). Xerxes, the son and successor of Darius, had received the education of an eastern despot, and been surrounded with slaves from his cradle. In person he was the tallest and handsomest man amidst the vast hosts which he led against Greece; but there was nothing in his mind to correspond to this fair exterior. His character was marked by faint-hearted timidity and childish vanity. Xerxes had not inherited his father's animosity against Greece; but he was surrounded by men who urged him to continue the enterprise. Foremost among these was Mardonius, who was eager to retrieve his reputation, and to obtain the conquered country as a satrapy for himself after subduing Egypt (B.C. 484), Xerxes began to make preparations for the invasion of Greece. For four years the din of preparation sounded throughout Asia. Troops were collected from every quarter of the Persian empire, and were ordered to assemble in Cappadocia. As many as forty-six different nations composed the land-force, of various complexions, languages, dresses, and arms. Meantime Xerxes ordered a bridge to be thrown across the Hellespont, that his army might march from Asia into Europe: and he likewise gave directions that a canal should be cut through the isthmus of Mount Athos, in order to avoid the necessity of doubling this dangerous promontory, where the fleet of Mardonius had suffered shipwreck. The making of this canal, which was about a mile and a half long employed a number of men for three years.
To Chapter IX : From the end of the Persian Wars to the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, B.C. 479-431
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