樊崧甫But when the Un-ion troops were on their way North, a few weeks lat-er, May 23, 1865, and 65,000 of"Nay, my lord, they came down to us from our forefathers. We know not who made them, and there are but few left. None but those of royal blood may be clad in them. They are magic coats through which no spear can pass, and those who wear them are well-nigh safe in the battle. The king is well pleased or much afraid, or he would not have sent these garments of steel. Clothe yourselves in them to-night, my lords."They should be taught that this world is not a parade-ground, but a battle-field. All are called to endure hardness, as good soldiers. They are to be strong, and quit themselves like men. Let them be taught that the true test of character is found in the willingness to bear burdens, to take the hard place, to do the work that needs to be done, though it bring no earthly recognition or reward.Hydarnês, not troubling himself to pursue the Phocians, followed the descending portion of the mountain-path, shorter than the ascending, and arrived in the rear of Thermopyl? not long after midday. But before he had yet completed his descent, the fatal truth had already been made known to Leonidas, that the enemy were closing in upon him behind. Scouts on the hills, and deserters from the Persian camp, especially a Kym?an named Tyrastiadas, had both come in with the news: and even if such informants had been wanting, the prophet Megistias, descended from the legendary seer Melampus, read the approach of death in the gloomy aspect of the morning sacrifices. It was evident that Thermopyl? could be no longer defended; but there was ample time for the defenders to retire, and the detachment of Leonidas were divided in opinion on the subject. The greater number of them were inclined to abandon a position now become untenable, and to reserve themselves for future occasions on which they might effectively contribute to repel the invader. Nor is it to be doubted that such was the natural impulse, both[p. 90] of brave soldiers and of prudent officers, under the circumstances. But to Leonidas the idea of retreat was intolerable. His own personal honor, together with that of his Spartan companions and of Sparta herself, forbade him to think of yielding to the enemy the pass which he had been sent to defend. The laws of his country required him to conquer or die in the post assigned to him, whatever might be the superiority of number on the part of the enemy: moreover, we are told that the Delphian oracle had declared that either Sparta itself, or a king of Sparta, must fall a victim to the Persian arms. Had he retired, he could hardly have escaped that voice of reproach which, in Greece especially, always burst upon the general who failed: while his voluntary devotion and death would not only silence every whisper of calumny, but exalt him to the pinnacle of glory both as a man and as a king, and set an example of chivalrous patriotism at the moment when the Greek world most needed the lesson.樊崧甫
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