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By these means Gelon had grown to greatness as a tyrant, and now, when the Greek envoys had come to Syracuse, they had audience with him and spoke as follows: “The Lacedaemonians and their allies have sent us to win your aid against the foreigner, for it cannot be, we think, that you have no knowledge of the Persian invader of Hellas, how he proposes to bridge the Hellespont and lead all the hosts of the east from Asia against us, making an open show of marching against Athens, but actually with intent to subdue all Hellas to his will. Now you are rich in power, and as lord of Sicily you rule what is not the least part of Hellas; therefore, we beg of you, send help to those who are going to free Hellas, and aid them in so doing. The uniting of all those of Greek stock entails the mustering of a mighty host able to meet our invaders in the field. If, however, some of us play false and others will not come to our aid, while the sound part of Hellas is but small, then it is to be feared
After such dealings with Gelon the Greek envoys sailed away. Gelon, however, feared that the Greeks would not be able to overcome the barbarian, while believing it dreadful and intolerable that he, the tyrant of Sicily, should go to the Peloponnese to be at the beck and call of Lacedaemonians. For this reason he took no more thought of this plan but followed another instead. As soon as he was informed that the Persian had crossed the Hellespont, he sent Cadmus son of Scythes,Probably the expelled ruler of Zancle; cp. the following chapter, and Hdt. 6.23. a man of Cos, to Delphi with three fifty-oared ships, bringing them money and messages of friendship. Cadmus was to observe the outcome of the battle, and if the barbarian should be victorious, he was to give him both the money, and earth and water on behalf of Gelon's dominions. If, however, the Greeks were victorious, he was to bring everything back again.
Since the crossing of the Hellespont, where the barbarians began their journey, they had spent one month there crossing into Europe and in three more months were in Attica, when Calliades was archon at Athens. When they took the town it was deserted, but in the sacred precinct they found a few Athenians, stewards of the sacred precinct and poor people, who defended themselves against the assault by fencing the acropolis with doors and logs. They had not withdrawn to Salamis not only because of poverty but also because they thought they had discovered the meaning of the oracle the Pythia had given, namely that the wooden wall would be impregnable. They believed that according to the oracle this, not the ships, was the refuge.
When Xerxes understood the calamity which had taken place, he feared that some of the Ionians might advise the Hellenes, if they did not think of it themselves, to sail to the Hellespont and destroy the bridges. He would be trapped in Europe in danger of destruction, so he resolved on flight. He did not want to be detected either by the Hellenes or by his own men, so he attempted to build a dike across to Salamis, and joined together Phoenician cargo ships to be both a bridge and a wall, making preparations as if to fight another sea battle. All who saw him doing this confidently supposed that he fully intended to stay and fight there, but none of this eluded Mardonius, who had the most experience of the king's intentions. While doing all this, Xerxes sent a messenger to Persia to announce the disaster.
Having given his sons to Artemisia's charge to be carried to Ephesus, Xerxes called Mardonius to him and bade him choose whom he would from the army, and make his words good so far as endeavor availed. That is as far as matters went on that day; in the night, however, the admirals, by the king's command, put out to sea from Phalerum and made for the Hellespont again with all speed to guard the bridges for the king's passage. When the barbarians came near to the “Girdle” in their course, they thought that certain little headlands, which here jut out from the mainland, were ships, and they fled for a long way. When they learned at last that they were no ships but headlands, they drew together and went on their wa
When Themistocles perceived that he could not persuade the greater part of them to sail to the Hellespont, he turned to the Athenians (for they were the angriest at the Persians' escape, and they were minded to sail to the Hellespont even by themselves, if the rest would not) and addressed them as follows: “This I have often seeHellespont even by themselves, if the rest would not) and addressed them as follows: “This I have often seen with my eyes and heard yet more often, namely that beaten men, when they be driven to bay, will rally and retrieve their former mishap. Therefore I say to you,—as it is to a fortunate chance that we owe ourselves and Hellas, and have driven away so mighty a band of enemies—let us not pursue men who flee, for it is not we who ha
us build our houses again and be diligent in sowing, when we have driven the foreigner completely away. Then when the next spring comes, let us set sail for the Hellespont and Ionia.”
This he said with intent to have something to his credit with the Persian, so that he might have a place of refuge if ever (as might chance) he s
Thus spoke Themistocles with intent to deceive, and the Athenians obeyed him; since he had always been esteemed wise and now had shown himself to be both wise and prudent, they were ready to obey whatever he said. Having won them over, Themistocles straightway sent men in a boat whom he could trust not to reveal under any question the message which he charged them to deliver to the king; one of these was his servant Sicinnus. When these men came to Attica, the rest remained with the boat, and Sicinnus went up to Xerxes; “Themistocles son of Neocles,” he said, “who is the Athenian general and of all the allies the worthiest and wisest, has sent me to tell you this: Themistocles the Athenian has out of his desire to do you a service stayed the Greeks when they wanted to pursue your ships and break the bridges of the Hellespont. Now he bids you go your way, none hindering you.” With that message, the men returned in their
But the Greeks, now that they were no longer minded to pursue the barbarians' ships farther or sail to the Hellespont and break the way of passage, besieged Andros so that they might take it, for the men of that place, the first islanders of whom Themistocles demanded money, would not give it. When, however, Themistocles gave them to understand that the Athenians had come with two great gods to aid them, Persuasion and Necessity, and that the Andrians must therefore certainly give money, they said in response, “It is then but reasonable that Athens is great and prosperous, being blessed with serviceable gods. As for us Andrians, we are but blessed with a plentiful lack of land, and we have two unserviceable gods who never quit our island but want to dwell there forever, namely Poverty and Helplessness. Since we are in the hands of these gods, we will give no money; the power of Athens can never be stronger than our inability.