... we are all prompted by the same motives, all deceived by the same fallacies, all animated by hope, obstructed by danger, entangled by desire, and seduced by pleasure. — Samuel Johnson

Story of Greece - Mary Macgregor

Darius Demands Earth and Water

The Ionian revolt was ended, but Darius had yet to punish the Athenians for burning the city of Sardis. Eight years had now passed since she had been destroyed, yet his anger against the Greeks was as fierce as ever.

Daily during all these years a slave had said to him as he sat at dinner, 'Sire, remember the Athenians.' And now, at length, his vengeance was at hand.

Mardonius, one of the king's generals, was ordered to invade Greece and to bring back with him to Susa the Athenians who had dared to destroy Sardis.

So Mardonius crossed the Hellespont, and began to march through Thrace and Macedonia. His fleet, with part of his army, was to meet him later, beyond the perilous promontory of Mount Athos.

The country through which Mardonius marched was wild, and inhabited by rough and savage tribes. These tribes attacked the Persian troops so fiercely that more than half of them were slain. Meanwhile the fleet had encountered a terrible storm, and three hundred ships were dashed to pieces upon the rocks near Mount Athos, while twenty thousand were drowned.

When Mardonius heard of this terrible disaster he knew that his troops would not now be strong enough to invade Greece. So he went back to Persia.

But Darius was as determined as ever to punish the Athenians. He spent two years in preparations, and then, before he set out for Greece, he sent heralds to the different states, demanding from each earth and water. To give earth to the great king was to acknowledge him as ruler of their land, to give water was to own that he was monarch of the sea.

Many of the states were afraid to refuse, and sent the earth and water which Darius demanded, but among these was neither Athens nor Sparta.

So indignant were these two cities that a barbarian, as they called Darius, should send such a demand to the free States of Greece, that they treated his heralds with scant courtesy. The Athenians flung the messenger who came to their city into a deep pit, while he who went to Sparta was tossed into a well and told that there he would find the earth and water that his king desired.

In the spring of 490 B.C. Darius sent the army and fleet that he had assembled, across the Ægean Sea to the island of Euboea. Here there was a city named Eretria, whose inhabitants had shared in the destruction of Sardis. The Persians plundered the city and took its chief citizens prisoners, loading them with chains.

Flushed with victory, the army then crossed over to Attica and landed near the plain of Marathon. There where

'The mountains look on Marathon,

And Marathon looks on the sea,'

a great battle was fought between the Greeks and the Persians.

Hippias, the tyrant who had fled from Athens many years before, had been living under the protection of Darius and was now with the Persian army. It is said that it was he who had advised the enemy to land at Marathon.

The army of Darius was much larger than that of the Athenians, for it was one hundred thousand strong, while the Greeks numbered only about ten thousand trained soldiers.

The Greeks were commanded by ten generals. If they did not agree how to attack the enemy or how to defend themselves, they consulted one of the archons called the polemarch, or commander-in-chief. The polemarch at this time was Callimachus. But the glory of the victory of Marathon belongs not to Callimachus but to the general Miltiades.

It was Miltiades who had urged the Greeks to break up the bridge of boats at the Danube and to leave Darius to his fate, and he had ever rebelled against the lordship of the Persian king. He had done all he could to encourage the Ionian revolt, and when it was crushed he fled to Athens, to which city he belonged.

When the Persians landed at Marathon the ten Greek generals met together to decide how best they might defend their country. Five of them, among whom Miltiades was the most urgent, wished to march at once to Marathon to attack the enemy. But the other five were more timid, and said that it would be better to wait until they were joined by the other Greek States before they risked a battle.

Then Miltiades rose in the council of war to beg Callimachus to give his vote for war without delay. So sure was he of success that his eagerness decided the polemarch to give his vote as Miltiades wished. Thus it was settled that the army should march to Marathon without delay.

At this time an army was usually drawn up for battle in three divisions—the right wing, the left wing, and the centre.

On the field of Marathon, Miltiades made his wings as deep as possible, but as his army was small, this left his centre less strong than that of the enemy.


Front Matter

The Great God Pan
The Six Pomegranate Seeds
The Birth of Athene
The Two Weavers
The Purple Flowers
Danae and Her Little Son
The Quest of Perseus
Andromeda and Sea-Monster
Acrisius Killed by Perseus
Achilles and Briseis
Menelaus and Paris Do Battle
Hector and Andromache
The Horses of Achilles
The Death of Hector
Polyphemus the Giant
Odysseus Escapes from Cave
Odysseus Returns to Ithaca
Argus the Hound Dies
The Bow of Odysseus
The Land of Hellas
Lycurgus and His Nephew
Lycurgus Returns to Sparta
Training of the Spartans
The Helots
Aristomenes and the Fox
The Olympian Games
The Last King of Athens
Cylon Fails to be Tyrant
Solon Frees the Slaves
Athenians Take Salamis
Pisistratus Becomes Tyrant
Harmodius and Aristogiton
The Law of Ostracism
The Bridge of Boats
Darius Rewards Histiaeus
Histiaeus Shaves His Slave
Sardis Is Destroyed
Sandal Sewn by Histiaeus
Earth and Water
Battle of Marathon
Miltiades Sails to Paros
Aristides is Ostracised
The Dream of Xerxes
Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont
Bravest Men of All Hellas
Battle of Thermopylae
Battle of Artemisium
Themistocles at Salamis
Themistocles Tricks Admirals
Battle of Salamis
Battle of Plataea
Delian League
Themistocles Deceives Spartans
Themistocles is Ostracised
Eloquence of Pericles
Pericles and Elpinice
The City of Athens
Great Men of Athens
Thebans Attack Plataeans
Attica Invaded by Spartans
Last Words of Pericles
Siege of Plataea
The Sentence of Death
Brasidas Loses His Shield
The Spartans Surrender
Brasidas the Spartan
Amphipolus Surrenders
Alcibiades the Favourite
Socrates the Philosopher
Alcibiades Praises Socrates
Images of Hermes Destroyed
Alcibiades Escapes to Sparta
The Siege of Syracuse
Athenian Army is Destroyed
Alcibiades Returns to Athens
Antiochus Disobeys Alcibiades
Walls of Athens Destroyed
March of the Ten Thousand
Pelopidas and Epaminondas
Seven Conspirators
Battle of Leuctra
Death of Epaminondas
The Two Brothers
Timoleon exiles Dionysius
Icetes Attacks Timoleon
Battle of Crimisus
Demosthenes' Wish
Greatest Orator of Athens
The Sacred War
Alexander and Bucephalus
Alexander and Diogenes
Battle of Granicus
The Gordian Knot
Darius Gallops from Battle
Tyre Stormed by Alexander
Battle of Gaugamela
Alexander Burns Persepolis
Alexander Slays Foster-Brother
Porus and His Elephant
Alexander Is Wounded
The Death of Alexander
Demosthenes in the Temple