The invasion of Greece by Xerxes, with its battles of Thermopylæ, Salamis, and Platæa, forms one of the most dramatic events in history. Had Athens and Sparta succumbed to this attack of Oriental superstition and despotism, the Parthenon, the Attic Theatre, the Dialogues of Plato, would have been almost as impossible as if Phidias, Sophocles, and the philosophers had never lived. Because this contest and its heroes--Leonidas and Themistocles--cast their abiding shadows across our world of to-day, I have attempted this piece of historical fiction.
ed. If we quit ourselves bravely, our names shall be remembered as long as Agamemnon's."
"Or Priam's?--his Troy was sacked."
"And you, my dear king of Sparta, will of course move heaven and earth to have your Ephors and Council somewhat more forward than of late in preparing for war? We all count on you."
"I will try."
"Who can ask more? But now make an end to statecraft. We were speaking about the pentathlon and the chances of--"
Here the same brawling voices that had arrested Simonides broke upon Themistocles and Leonidas also. The cry "A fight!" was producing its inevitable result. Scores of men, and those not the most aristocratic, were running pell-mell whither so many had thronged already. In the confusion scant reverence was paid the king of Sparta and the first statesman of Athens, who were thrust unceremoniously aside and were barely witnesses of what followed.
The outcry was begun, after-report had it, by a Sicyonian bronze-dealer finding a small but valuabl
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