Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/49

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BATTLE OF MARATHON.

Marathon paid religious rites to them; and orators solemnly in- voked them in their most impassioned adjurations before the as- sembled men of Athens. " Nothing was omitted that could keep alive the remembrance of a deed which had first taught the Athenian people to know its own strength, by measuring it with the power which had subdued the greater part of the known world. The consciousness thus awakened fixed its character, its station, and its destiny ; it was the spring of its later great ac- tions and ambitious enterprises,"[1]

It was not indeed by one-defeat, however signal, that the pride of Persia could be broken, and her dreams of universal empire dispelled. Ten years afterward she renewed her attempts upon Europe on a grander scale of enterprise, and was repulsed by Greece with greater and reiterated loss. Larger forces and heav- ier slaughter than had been seen at Marathon signalized the con- flicts of Greeks and Persians at Artemisium, Salamis, Platsea, and the Eurymedon. But, mighty and momentous as these battles were, they rank not with Marathon in importance. They orig- inated no new impulse. They tumed back no current of fate. They were merely confirmatory of the; already existing bias which Marathon had created. The day of Marathon is the critical epoch in the history of the two nations. It broke forever the spell of Persian invincibility, which had previously paralyzed men's minds. It generated among the Greeks the spirit which beat back Xerxes, and afterward led on Xenophon, Agesilaus, and Alexander, in terrible retaliation through their Asiatic cam- paigns. It secured for mankind the intellectual treasures of Athens, the growth of free institutions, the liberal enlightenment of the Westem world, and the gradual ascendency for many ages of the great principles of European civilization.


Explanatory Resurks on some of the Circumstances of the Battle op Marathon.

Nothing is said by Herodotus of the Persian cavalry taking any part in the battle, although he mentions that Hippias recommended the Persians to land at Marathon, because the plain was favorable for cavalry evolutions. In the life of Miltiades,

  1. Thirlwall.