Page:15 decisive battles of the world Vol 1 (London).djvu/33

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17
BATTLE OF MARATHON.

play and no favour, we are able to get the best of it in an engagement."[1]

The vote of the brave War-Ruler was gained, the council determined to give battle; and such was the ascendancy and acknowledged military eminence of Miltiades, that his brother generals one and all gave up their days of command to him, and cheerfully acted under his orders. Fearful, however, of creating any jealousy, and of so failing to obtain the vigorous co-operation of all parts of his small army, Miltiades waited till the day when the chief command would have come round to him in regular rotation, before he led the troops against the enemy.

The inaction of the Asiatic commanders during

  1. Herodotus, lib. vi. sec. 109. The 116th section is to my mind clear proof that Herodotus had personally conversed with Epizelus, one of the veterans of Marathon. The substance of the speech of Miltiades would naturally become known by the report of some of his colleagues. The speeches which ancient historians place in the mouths of kings and generals, are generally inventions of their own; but part of this speech of Miltiades bears internal evidence of authenticity. Such is the case with the remarkable expression ήν δέ ξυμβάλωμεν πρίν τι καί Άθηναίων μετεξετέροισι έγγενέσθαι, θεων τά ίσα νεμόντων, οίοι τέ είμεν περιγενέσθαι τη συμβολη. This daring and almost irreverent assertion would never have been coined by Herodotus, but it is precisely consonant with what we know of the character of Miltiades; and it is an expression which, if used by him, would be sure to be remembered and repeated by his hearers.