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The Story of the Greeks by  H. A. Guerber


 

 

DEATH OF PAUSANIAS

PAUSANIAS, the Spartan king, was very proud of the great victory he had won over the Persians at Platæa, and of the praise and booty he had received. [139] He was so proud of it, that he soon became unbearable, and even wanted to become ruler of all Greece.

Although he had at first pretended to despise the luxury which he had seen in the tent of Mardonius, he soon began to put on the Persian dress and to copy their manners, and demanded much homage from his subjects. This greatly displeased the simple Greeks, and he soon saw that they would not help him to become sole king.

In his ambition to rule alone, he entirely forgot all that was right, and, turning traitor, secretly offered to help the Persians if they would promise to make him king over all Greece.

This base plot was found out by the ephors, the officers whose duty it was to watch the kings, and they ordered his own guards to seize him. Before this order could be carried out, however, Pausanias fled, and took refuge in a neighboring temple, where, of course, no one could lay violent hands upon him.

As the ephors feared he might even yet escape to Persia, and carry out his wicked plans, they ordered that the doors and windows of the temple should all be walled up.

It is said that as soon as this command had been given, Pausanias' mother brought the first stone, saying she preferred that her son should die, rather than live to be a traitor.

Thus walled in, Pausanias slowly starved to death, and the barriers were torn down only just in time to allow him to be carried out, and breathe his last in the open air. The Spartans would not let him die [140] in the temple, because they thought his dying breath would offend the gods.

As Themistocles had been a great friend of Pausanias, he was accused of sharing his plans. The Athenians therefore rose up against him in anger, ostracized him, and drove him out of the country to end his life in exile.

After wandering aimlessly about for some time, Themistocles finally went to the court of Artaxerxes, the son and successor of Xerxes.

The Persian monarch, we are told, welcomed him warmly, gave him a Persian wife, and set aside three cities to supply him with bread, meat, and wine. Themistocles soon grew very rich, and lived on the fat of the land; and a traveler said that he once exclaimed, "How much we should have lost, my children and I, had we not been ruined by the Athenians!"

Artaxerxes, having thus provided for all Themistocles' wants, and helped him to pile up riches, fancied that his gratitude would lead him to perform any service the king might ask. He therefore sent for Themistocles one day, and bade him lead a Persian army against the Greeks.

But, although Themistocles had been exiled from his country, he had not fallen low enough to turn traitor. He proudly refused to fight; and it is said that he preferred to commit suicide, rather than injure the people he had once loved so dearly.


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