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But letting this pass, let us see what was done after the fight. ‘The barbarians,’ says he, ‘retiring back with the rest of their ships, and taking the Eretrian slaves out of the island, where they had left them, doubled the point of Sunium, desiring to prevent the Athenians before they could gain the city. The Athenians suspected this to have been done by a plot of the Alcmaeonidae, who by agreement [p. 347] showed a shield to the Persians when they were got into their ships. They therefore doubled the cape of Sunium.’ 1 Let us in this place take no notice of his calling the Eretrians slaves, who showed as much courage and gallantry in this war as any other of the Grecians, and suffered things unworthy their virtue. Nor let us insist much on the calumny with which he defames the Alcmaeonidae, some of whom were both the greatest families and noblest men of the city. But the greatness of the victory itself is overthrown, and the end of that so celebrated action comes to nothing, nor does it seem to have been a fight or any great exploit, but only a light skirmish with the barbarians, as the envious and ill-willers affirm, if they did not after the battle fly away, cutting their cables and giving themselves to the wind, to carry them as far as might be from the Attic coast, but having a shield lifted up to them as a signal of treason, made straight with their fleet for Athens, in hope to surprise it, and having at leisure doubled the point of Sunium, were discovered above the port Phalerum, so that the chief and most illustrious men, despairing to save the city, would have betrayed it. For a little after, acquitting the Alcmaeonidae, he charges others with the treason. ‘For the shield indeed was shown, nor can it be denied,’ says he, as if he had seen it himself. But this could no way be, since the Athenians obtained a solid victory; and if it had been done, it could not have been seen by the barbarians, flying in a hurry amidst wounds and arrows into their ships, and leaving every one the place with all possible speed. But when he again pretends to excuse the Alcmaeonidae of those crimes which he first of all men objected against them, and speaks thus: ‘I cannot believe that the Alcmaeonidae by agreement would ever have lifted up a shield to the Persians, and have brought the Athenians under the [p. 348] power of the barbarians and Hippias;’ I am reminded of a certain proverbial saying,—Stop and be caught, crab, and I'll let you go. For why art thou so eager to catch him, if thou wilt let him go when he is caught? Thus you first accuse, then apologize; and you write calumnies against illustrious men, which again you refute. And you discredit yourself; for you heard no one but yourself say that the Alcmaeonidae lifted up a shield to the vanquished and flying barbarians. And in those very things which you allege for the Alcmaeonidae, you show yourself a sycophant. For if, as here you write, the Alcmaeonidae were more or no less enemies to tyrants than Callias, the son of Phaenippus and father of Hipponicus, where will you place their conspiracy, of which you write in your First Book, that assisting Pisistratus they brought him back from exile to the tyranny and would not have driven him away till he was accused of unnaturally abusing his wife? Such then are the repugnances of these things; and by his intermixing the praises of Callias, the son of Phaenippus, amidst the crimes and suspicions of the Alcmaeonidae, and joining to him his son Hipponicus, who was (as Herodotus himself says) one of the richest men in Athens, he confesses that he brought in Callias not for any necessity of the story, but to ingratiate himself and gain favor with Hipponicus.

1 Herod. VI. 115, 121-124.

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