There having been then four fights with the barbarians; he says, that the Greeks fled from Artemisium; that, whilst their king and general exposed himself to danger at Thermopylae, the Lacedaemonians sat negligent at home, celebrating the Olympian and Carnean feasts; and discoursing of the action at Salamis, he uses more words about Artemisia than he does in his whole narrative of the naval battle. Lastly, he says, that the Greeks sat still at Plataea, knowing no more of the fight, till it was over, than if it had been a skirmish between mice and frogs (like that which Pigres, Artemisia's fellow-countryman, merrily and scoffingly described in his poem), and it had been agreed to fight silently, lest they should be heard by others; and that the Lacedaemonians excelled not the barbarians in valor, but only got the better, as fighting against naked and unarmed men. To wit, when Xerxes himself was present, the barbarians were with much difficulty compelled by scourges to fight with the Greeks; but at Plataea, having taken other resolutions, as Herodotus says, ‘they were no way inferior in courage and strength; but their garments being without armor was prejudicial to them, since being naked they fought against a completely armed enemy.’ What then is there left great and memorable to the Grecians of those fights, if the Lacedaemonians fought with unarmed men, and the other Greeks, though present, were ignorant of the battle; if empty monuments are set up everywhere, and tripods and altars full of lying inscriptions are placed before the Gods; if, lastly, Herodotus only knows the truth, and all others that give any account of the Greeks have been deceived by the fame of those glorious actions, as the effect of an admirable prowess? But he is an acute writer, his style is pleasant, there is a certain grace, force, and elegancy in his narrations; [p. 371] and he has, like a musician, pronounced his discourse, though not knowingly, still clearly and elegantly. These things delight, please, and affect all men. But as in roses we must beware of the venomous flies called cantharides; so must we take heed of the calumnies and envy lying hid under smooth and well-couched phrases and expressions, lest we imprudently entertain absurd and false opinions of the most excellent and greatest cities and men of Greece.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1893)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: