Page:15 decisive battles of the world Vol 1 (London).djvu/62

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BATTLE OF MARATHON.

kept rushing forward, sometimes singly, sometimes in desperate groups of twelve or ten upon the projecting spears of the Greeks, striving to force a lane into the phalanx, and to bring their scymetars and daggers into play.[1] But the Greeks felt their superiority, and though the fatigue of the long continued action told heavily on their inferior numbers, the sight of the carnage that they dealt upon their assailants nerved them to fight still more fiercely on.

At last the previously unvanquished lords of Asia turned their backs and fled, and the Greeks followed, striking them down, to the water's edge,[2] where the invaders were now hastily launching

  1. See the description in the 62nd section of the ninth book of Herodotus of the gallantry shown by the Persian infantry against the Lacedæmonians at Platæa. We have no similar detail of the fight at Marathon, but we know that it was long and obstinately contested (see the 113th section of the sixth book of Herodotus, and the lines from the Vespæ already quoted), and the spirit of the Persians must have been even higher at Marathon than at Platæa. In both battles it was only the true Persians and the Sacæ, who showed this valour: the other Asiatics fled like sheep.
  2. The flying Mede, his shaftless broken bow;
    The fiery Greek, his red pursuing spear;
    Mountains above. Earth's, Ocean's plain below,
    Death in the front. Destruction in the rear!
    Such was the scene. — Byron's Childe Harold.