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is now continually carrying forward into the gulf, while the part next the road gradually hardens into firm ground, and widens the pass.
In very early times the Phocians were in possession of Thermopyle, and to protect themselves from the inroads of the Thessalians, had built a wall across the northern entrance, and had discharged the water of the springs to hollow out a natural trench in the road. They were in safety behind this bulwark till the Thessalians discovered a path, which, beginning in a chasm through which a torrent called the Asopus descends on the north side of the mountain, winds up by a laborious ascent to the summit of Callidromus, and then by a shorter and steeper track comes down near the southern end of the pass, where the village of Alpeni once stood. After this discovery the fortification became comparatively useless, and was suffered to go to ruin. It seems wonderful, and would scarcely be credible if it was not positively asserted by Herodotus, that when the congress at the Isthmus determined to defend Thermopylæ, there was not a man among them who knew of the existence of this circuitous track. They ordered the old wall to be repaired; but when Leonidas arrived, he was informed of the danger that threatened him from the Anopæa, so the mountain path was named, if it should come to the knowledge of the barbarians ; and on the arrival of the enemy he posted the Phocians, by their own desire, on the summit of the ridge to guard against a surprise.
The first sight of the Persian host covering the Trachinian plains is said to have struck some of the followers of Leonidas with terror: the Peloponnesians would have retreated, and have reserved their strength for the defence of their own Isthmus ; but the Phocians and Locrians, who were most interested in checking the progress of the invader, were indignant at this proposal, and Leonidas prevailed on the other allies to stay, and soothed them by despatching messengers to the confederate cities to call for speedy reinforcement. Xerxes had heard that a handful of men, under the command of a Spartan king, were stationed at this part of his road; but he imagined, it is said, that his presence would have scared them away. He was surprised by the report of a horseman whom he had sent forward to observe their motions, and who, on riding up, perceived the Spartans before the wall, some quietly seated, combing their flowing hair, others at exercise. He could not believe Demaratus, who assured him that the Spartans at least were come to dispute the pass with him, and that it was their custom to trim their hair on the eve of a combat.
Four days passed before he could be convinced that his army must do more than show itself to clear a way for hini. On the fifth day he ordered a body of Median and Cissian troops to fall upon the rash and insolent enemy, and to lead them captive into his presence. He was seated on a lofty throne from which he could survey the narrow entrance of the pass, which, in obedience to his commands, his warriors endeavoured to force. But they fought on ground where their numbers were of no avail but to increase their confusion when their attack was repulsed ; their short spears
could not reach their foe; the foremost fell, the hinder advanced over their bodies to the charge; their repeated onsets broke upon the Greeks idly, as waves upon a rock. At length as the day wore on, the Medians and Cissians, spent with their efforts, and greatly thinned in their ranks, were recalled from the contest, which the king now thought worthy of the superior prowess of his own guards, the ten thousand Immortals. They were led up as to a certain and easy victory. The Greeks stood their ground as before ; or, if ever they gave way and turned their backs, it was only to face suddenly about, and deal tenfold destruction on their pursuers. Thrice during these fruitless assaults the king was seen to start up from his throne in a transport of fear or rage. The combat lasted the whole day : the slaughter of the barbarians was great; on the side of the Greeks a few Spartan lives were lost : as to the rest nothing is said. The next day the attack was renewed with no better success : the bands of the several cities that made up the Grecian army, except the Phocians, who were employed as we have seen, relieved each other at the post of honour : all stood equally firm, and repelled the charge not less vigorously than before. The confidence of Xerxes was changed into despondence and perplexity.
The secret of the Anopæa could not long remain concealed after it became valuable. Many tongues perhaps would have revealed it; two Greeks shared the reproach of this foul treachery; but by the general opinion, confirmed by the solemn sentence of the council, which set a price upon his head, Ephialtes, a Malian, was branded with the infamy of having guided the barbarians round the fatal path. Xerxes, overjoyed at the discovery, ordered Hydarnes, the commander of the Ten Thousand, with his troops to follow the traitor. They set out at nightfall; as day was beginning to break they gained the brow of Callidromus, where the Phocians were posted. The night was still, and the universal silence was first broken by the trampling of the invaders on the leaves with which the face of the woody mountain was thickly strewed. The Phocians started from their couches, and ran to their arms. The Persians, who had not expected to find an enemy on their way, were equally surprised at the sight of an armed band, and feared lest they might be Spartans, but when Ephialtes had informed them of the truth, they prepared to force a passage. Their arrows showered upon the Phocians, who, believing themselves the sole object of attack, retreated to the highest peak of the ridge, to sell their lives as dearly as they could. The Persians, without turning aside to pursue them, kept on their way, and descended towards Alpenus.
Meanwhile deserters had brought intelligence of the enemy's motions to the Grecian camp during the night, and their report was confirmed at daybreak, by the sentinels who had been stationed on the heights, and now came down with "he news that the barbarians were crossing the ridge. Little time was left for deliberation : opinions were divided as to the course that prudence prescribed, or honour permitted. Leonidas did not restrain, perhaps encouraged, those of his allies who wished to save themselves from the impending fate ; but for himself and his Spartans he declared his resolution of maintaining the post which Sparta had assigned to them, to the last. All withdrew, except the Thespians and the Thebans. Leonidas would, it is said, have saved two of his kinsmen by sending them with letters and messages to Sparta ; but the one said, he had come to bear arms, not to carry letters, and the other, that his deeds would tell all that Sparta wished to know.
Before Hydarnes began his march, Ephialtes had reckoned the time he would take to reach the southern foot of the mountain, and Xerxes had accordingly fixed the hour when he would attack the Greeks in front. It was early in the forenoon when the Ten Thousand had nearly finished their round, and the preconcerted onset began. Leonidas, now less careful to husband the lives of his men than to make havoc among the barbarians, no longer confined himself as before within the pass, but leaving a guard at the wall sallied forth, and charged the advancing enemy. His little band, reckless of everything but honour and vengeance, made deep and bloody breaches in the ranks of the Persians, who, according to an oriental custom, were driven on to the conflict by the lash of their commanders. Many perished in the sea, many were trampled under foot by the throng that pressed on them from behind; yet the Spartans too were thinned, and Leonidas himself died early. The fight was hottest over his body, which was rescued after a hard struggle ; and the Greeks four times turned the enemy. At length, when most of their spears were broken and their swords blunted with slaughter, word came that the band of Hydarnes was about to enter the pass. Then they retreated to the wall, and passed on to a knoll on the other side, where they took up their last stand. The Persians rushed forward unresisted, broke down the wall, and surrounded the hillock where the little remnant of the Greeks, armed only with a few swords, stood, a butt for the arrows, the javelins, and the stones of the
enemy, which at length overwhelmed them. Where they fell, they were afterwards buried : their tomb, as Simonides sang, was an altar ; a sanctuary, in which Greece revered the memory of her second founders.
J. C. THIRLWALL.
THE ISLES OF GREECE.
The isles of Greece! the isles of Greece !
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung!
The Scian and the Teian muse,
The hero's harp, the lover's lute,
Their place of birth alone is mute
The mountains look on Marathon,
And Marathon looks on the sea ;
I dreamed that Greece might still be free;
A king sat on the rocky brow
Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis ;
And men in nations ;-all were his !