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Xerxes came with an army of five millions of men to Artemisium, and declared war against the country. The Athenians, in a very great surprise, sent Agesilaus, the brother of Themistocles, to discover the motions of the enemy, notwithstanding a dream of his father Neocles, that his son had lost both his hands. This Agesilaus put himself into a Persian habit, and entered the barbarians' camp; where, taking Mardonius (an officer of the king's guards) for Xerxes himself, he killed him. Whereupon he was immediately seized, bound, and carried to Xerxes, who was just then about to sacrifice an ox to the Sun. The fire was kindled upon the altar, and Agesilaus put his right hand into it, without so much as shrinking at the pain. He was ordered upon this to be untied; and told the king that the Athenians were all of the same resolution, and that, if he pleased, he should see him burn his left hand too. This gave Xerxes an apprehension of him, so that he caused him to be still kept in custody,—This I find in Agatharchides the Samian, in the Second Book of his Persian History.

Porsena, a king of Tuscany, encamped himself beyond the Tiber, and made war upon the Romans, cutting off the supplies, till they were brought to great want of provisions. [p. 452] The Senate were at their wits' end what to do, till Mucius, a nobleman, got leave of the consuls to take four hundred of his own quality to advise with upon the matter. Mucius, upon this, put himself into the habit of a private man, and crossed the river; where finding one of the king's officers giving orders for the distribution of necessaries to the soldiers, and taking him for the king himself, he slew him. He was taken immediately and carried to the king, where he put his right hand into a fire that was in the room, and with a smile in the middle of his torments,—Barbarian, says he, I can set myself at liberty without asking you leave; and be it known to you, that I have left four hundred men in the camp as daring as myself, that have sworn your death. This struck Porsena with such a terror, that he made peace with the Romans upon it.—Aristides Milesius is my author for this, in the Third Book of his History.

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