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So let this be the conclusion of our account of the Persian empire, and how its present evil administration is due to excess of slavery and of despotism.Megillus
By all means.Athenian
We ought to examine next, in like manner, the Attic polity, and show how complete liberty, unfettered by any authority, is vastly inferior to a moderate form of government under elected magistrates. [698b] At the time when the Persians made their onslaught upon the Greeks—and indeed one might say on nearly all the nations of Europe—we Athenians had an ancient constitution,1 and magistrates based on a fourfold grading; and we had Reverence, which acted as a kind of queen, causing us to live as the willing slaves of the existing laws. Moreover, the vastness of the Persian armament that threatened us both by sea and land, by the desperate fear it inspired, bound us still more closely in the bonds of slavery [698c] to our rulers and our laws; and because of all this, our mutual friendliness and patriotism was greatly intensified. It was just about ten years before the seafight at Salamis that the Persian force arrived under Datis, whom Darius had despatched expressly against the Athenians and Eretrians, with orders to bring them back in chains, and with the warning that death would be the penalty of failure. So within a very short time [698d] Datis, with his many myriads, captured by force the whole of the Eretrians; and to Athens he sent on an alarming account of how not a man of the Eretrians had escaped him: the soldiers of Datis had joined hands and swept the whole of Eretria clean as with a draw-net. This account—whether true, or whatever its origin—struck terror into the Greeks generally, and especially the Athenians; but when they sent out embassies in every direction to seek aid, all refused, [698e] except the Lacedaemonians; and they were hindered by the war they were then waging against Messene, and possibly by other obstacles, about which we have no information, with the result that they arrived too late by one single day for the battle which took place at Marathon. After this, endless threats and stories of huge preparations kept arriving from the Persian king. Then, as time went on, news came that Darius was dead, and that his son, who had succeeded to the throne, was a young hothead, and still keen on the projected expedition.
1 That of Solon.
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