The Persian Wars. - The Battles of Thermopylae Salamis, and Plataea, B.C. 480-479
The desertion of the cause of Grecian independence by so many of the Greeks did not shake the resolution of Sparta and of Athens. The Athenians, especially, set a noble example of an enlarged patriotism. They became reconciled to the AEginetans, and thus gained for the common cause the powerful navy of their rival. They readily granted to the Spartans the supreme command of the forces by sea as well as by land, although they furnished two- thirds of the vessels of the entire fleet. Their illustrious citizen Themistocles was the soul of the congress. He sought to enkindle in the other Greeks some portion of the ardour and energy which he had succeeded in breathing into the Athenians.
The Greeks determined to make a stand at the pass of Thermopylae, which forms the entrance from northern into southern Greece. This pass lies between Mount OEta and the sea. It is about a mile in length. At each of its extremities the mountains approach so near the sea as to leave barely room for the passage of a single carriage. The northern, or, to speak more properly, the western Gate, was close to the town of Anthela, where the Amphictyonic council held its autumnal meetings; while the southern, or the eastern Gate, was near the Locrian town of Alpeni. These narrow entrances were called Pylae, or the Gates. The space between the gates was wider and more open, and was distinguished by its hot springs, from which the pass derived the name of Thermopylae, or the "Hot-Gates." The island of Euboea is here separated from the mainland by a narrow strait, which in one part is only two miles and a half in breadth; and accordingly it is easy, by defending this part of the sea with a fleet, to prevent an enemy from landing troops at the southern end of the pass.
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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