The Persian king now held a council on what
to do next, how should the war continue? Their fleet disabled, moral
low, the Athenians just across the straight, and still somewhere ahead
the Pelopennese waiting to strike out against him. It was during this
time that the thought of the Greek navy heading straight to the Hellespont
and breaking up the bridge, in which case they would be blocked up
in Europe and run the risk of perishing, began to cross their minds.
Xerxes continued to make warlike preperations,
he bagan to fasten a number of ships together to make a bridge to
cross over to Salamis, plus a mole was begining to be built towards
the island. All grew fully persuaded that the king was bent on remaining.
However, this was all a ruse, in reality, Xerxes was organising his
army to return to the Hellspont, the threat from the Greek navy was
too much to leave unguarded.
Consternation now for Mardonius,
he now suspected that the blame would eventually fall on himself,
being the one that pursuaded the king to attack Greece. He asked the
king if he could be left behind with an army of 300,000 ((in
reality probably about 70,000)). He himself would be able to
subdue to Greeks into submission. Xerxes asked Artemisia, the woman
commander who couciled him not to go into a sea battle in Salamis.
words were that as long as the king was safe, it was not important
even if Mardonius failed,
after all he was a slave, the king had done as he had wanted, he had
burnt Athens to the ground, he had nothing more to prove by staying.
Xerxes agreed. Allowing Mardonius
his request, the following day orders were given to the remaining
ships to proceed with all hast to the defence of the Hellespont. Xerxes with his remaining force pressed on back towards the bridge.
The Greeks now seeing the land force gone,
thought that a sea battle was about to take place and went on the
defence. Soon after news came that the Persian ships had abandoned
their base. Orders were given to immediatey pursue them. They went
as far as Andros before a council of war was taken. Themistocles advised
that the Greeks should follow on through with the pusuit all the way
to the Hellespont and there break down the bridges. Eurybiades, however,
delivered a contrary opinion. If the Greeks should break down the
bridges, it would be the worst thing that could possibly happen for
Greece. The Persians, supposing that this retreat were cut off, and
then compelled to remain in Europe, would be sure never to give them
any peace. The other Peloponnesian captains agreed. Grudgingly,
Themistocles agreed. Telling his contingent
that "the barbarian is clean gone - we have driven him off -
let each now repair his own house, and sow his land diligently. In
the spring we will take ship and sail to the Hellespont and to Ionia!"
The ever cunning Themistocles,
now sent a message to the king, the hearld saying that he has been
sent by the leader of the Athenians 'who is anxious to render the
king assistance. He has restrained the Greeks, who were impatient
to pursue your ships, and to break up the bridges at the Hellespont.
Now return home at your lesuire.'
The Peloponnesians returned, the king after
waiting a few days after Salamis was now making way through Boeotia.
that his city lay in ruins, but that their navy lay intaked, including
being unmistakeable rulers of the sea, needed money, he knew also
how to get it.
seige to Andros intending to take the town by storm, the Athenians
required money and sent word ahead that they needed it and that they
bought two mighty gods with them - Persuasion and Necessity. To which
the rulers of Andros replyed that Athens might be a glorious city,
but the island of Andros had two gods of their own, Poverty and Helplessness,
and to this end, they would not pay.
Word was now being sent to all neighouring
islands, pay the Athenians or prepare for a vist from them. Many of
the islands knowing that Andros was being attacked, decided to pay
rather than face the Athenians.
Xerxes and the Persians all made their way
to Thessaly, where Mardonius
hand picked his force to stay in Greece. Winter was on the way and
the ones that remained would stay in Thessaly ((advantageous
for an army with superious calvalry)). Picked were the 'Immortals',
less their leader Hydarnes, who refused to abandon the king. Any Perisans
wearing breastplates or any kind of armour was next chosen plus all
members of the calvalry, and anybody who had stood out during combat
or had an appearance of being a dominant soldier.
It was at this time that the
Lacedaemonians received an oracle that said that they 'should
seek satisfaction at the hands to Xerxes for the death of Leonidas,
and take whatever he chose to give them'. So the Spartans sent a hearld
to Thessaly, who arrived to report to the king that Sparta required
of him satisfaction due for bleedshed, because he slew their king,
who fell fighting for Greece. After a long pause of contemplation
he pointed to Mardonius,
who was standing by him, and said 'Mardonius
here shall give them the satisfaction they deserve'. The hearld accepted
the answer and went away.
The bulk of the army now made their way back
up towards the Hellespont while Mardonius
and his soldiers got ready for the winter that lay ahead.
The Athenians having returned from their 'island
hopping' returned to Salamis and immediatley sent offerings to Delphi.
When the spoils had been divided the Greeks made their way to the
Ishthmus, where they voted on who should be awarded for their bravery.
On this Themistocles
clearly won, however, envy hindered the chiefs from coming to a decision,
and they all sailed away without issuing a reward.
was regarded everywhere as by far the wisest man of all the Greeks;
and the whole country rang with his fame. From their Themistocles
went to Lacedaemon, in the hope that he would be honoured there. They
received him handsomely, and paid him great respect. The prize of
valour indeed, which was a crown of olive, they gave to Eurybiades,
but Themistocles was
given a crown of olive too, as the pricze of wisdom and dexterity.
The was also given a beatiful chariot and after receiving abundant
praises was, upon his departure, escorted as far as the borders of
Tegea, by the three hundred Spartans, who were called the knights.
Never before or since had a man been given an escort such as this.
On his return Themistocles was immediatley put on the back foot when
long time nemisses Timodemus, accused that 'it was not on his merit
that they had won, but on the fame of Athens'.
now camping in Thessaly and Macedonia sent Artabazus to escort Xerxes across the Hellespont. The bridge of boats now long gone, blown apart
by a storm, this however, did not slow down the journey as the force
crossed the straight by boat. After the king was safely across, Artabazus
didn't immediatley return to Mardonius.
He detoured to the city of Potidaea (on the
penincilar of Pallene) who had now openly revolted against
the king. On his way there he detoured to Olynthus (Olynthos)
as he had suspisions that they too were about to revolt. Here he led
them out to swampland and had the entire city killed. Replacing the
inhabitants with his own. He now pressed the siege with Potidaea.
Not being able to take their walls he dealt with an insider called
Timoxenus to breach the walls. The informer was soon discovered, and
though not killed, was stipped of his post.
After three long months a stoke of luck now
came across the Persians, the ebb in the tide seem to be very low,
now only a swamp stood before them, not the sea. The Perisans gave
orders for a big push. But while attacking the walls, the sea swept
back in, killing many Persians and forcing the remains running for
their lives, on this the city opened it's door and their soldiers
rushed out to take on the disorientated Persians, killing many and
forcing the others to flee toward Mardonius.
The part of the kings navy, about 300, that
had survived Salamis and had escorted the king across the Hellespont,
now made their way to Cyme, and once regrouping, harboured at Samos.
The Greeks had abandoned the chase early on, so they thought a full
on asult on Asia Minor would not be coming. They would wait for how
Mardonius would go with
Athens, threatening on their doorstep.
The approach of spring, and the knowledge that
Mardonius was in Thessaly,
roused the Greeks from inaction. Their land force had not as yet come
together, but the fleet, consisting of one hundred and ten ships,
proceeded to Aegina, under the command of the Spartan General and
Admiral Leotychides, who had taken over from Eurybiades. The Athenian
contingent was commanded by Xanthippus (Themistocles
had now moved on to be 'strategos'). It was about
this time too that Kleombrotus died of natural causes. Kleombrotus
became regent with the death of Leonidas, whos son, Pleistarchus was
now rightly king, but being only a child was given his uncle Kleombrotus,
son of Anaxandrias, as regent. The regent that now took over was Pausanias
who was the son of Kleombrotus, the chief power now belonged to him.
When the whole fleet was stationed at Aegina,
ambassadors from Ionia arrived. They had just come from Sparta where
they had implored help to deliver their native land from the Persians.
But this seemed to the Greeks a risky business. They sailed to Delos, but past that
seemed to them full of danger, unknown to them and full of Persian
Thus, at the very same time the barbarians
were hindered by their fears from venturing any further west than
Samos and the prayers of the ambassadors failed to induce the Greeks
to advance any further east than Delos...terror guarded the mid-region.
'Histories' by Herodotus published by Wordsworth