THE ADVANCE OF THE SECOND HOST
DARIUS was very busy preparing this other army to march
against Greece. While the men were being drilled, he
sent two messengers to the Greek towns and islands,
bidding them surrender and give him earth and water.
By demanding "earth and water," Darius meant that he
wanted them to recognize him as their king, and as
master of all their land and vessels. The inhabitants
of many of the islands and towns were so frightened by
the messages sent by The Great King, that they humbly
yielded; but when the messengers came to Sparta and
Athens, they met with a different reception.
 In both cities the people proudly replied that they
were their own masters, and would not yield to the
demands of the Persian king. Then, angered by the
insolent command to give earth and water, the Spartans
entirely forgot that the life of an ambassador is
sacred. In their rage, they seized the Persians, flung
one into a pit and the other into a well, and told them
to take all the earth and water they wanted.
This conduct made Darius all the more angry, and he
hastened his preparations as much as he could. He was
so active that in a short time he was able to start out
again, with an army of a hundred and twenty thousand
The generals of this force were Datis and
Artaphernes, who were guided and advised by the
traitor Hippias. The fleet was to land the army on the
plain of Marathon, close by the sea, and only one
day's journey from Athens.
When the Athenians heard that the Persians were coming,
they immediately decided to ask the Spartans, who were
now their allies, to come to their aid, and help them
drive back the enemy. As there was no time to lose,
they chose as their messenger a fleet-footed Athenian,
who made the journey of a hundred and fifty miles in a
few hours, running every step of the way, and only
seldom pausing to rest.
The Spartans listened breathlessly to his tidings, and
promised that they would help the Athenians; but they
added, that they would not be able to start until the
moon was full, for they thought that they would be
beaten unless they set out at a certain time.
The Persians in the mean while were advancing rapidly,
 so the Athenians started out to meet them with no other
help than that of their neighbors the Platæans. The whole Greek force numbered only ten thousand men, and
was under the command of the ten Athenian generals who
were each entitled to the leadership for a day in turn.
Among these ten Athenian generals were three remarkable
men,—Miltiades, Aristides, and Themistocles. They
consulted together, hoping to
find a plan by which their small army could
successfully oppose the Persian host, which was twelve
At last Miltiades proposed a plan which might succeed,
provided there was but one chief, and all obeyed him
well. Aristides, who was not only a
good man, but also remarkably just and wise, at once
saw the importance of such a plan, and offered to give
up his day's command, and to carry out
his friend's orders just as if he were nothing but a
The other generals, not wishing to appear less generous
than he, also gave up their command to Miltiades, who
thus found himself general in chief of the Athenian and
Platæan armies. So he speedily made his preparations,
and drew up his small force on the plain of Marathon,
between the mountains and the sea.