Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/496

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is the Soros or funeral mound, raised by the Athenians, at Marathon, as a tomb for their fellow countrymen who fell on the spot in battle. The marble lion, which originally stood guard upon its summit, long ago disappeared but the tumulus itself, thirty feet high and two hundred paces in circumference, was excavated by the Greek government in 1890. Nine feet below the present surface of the surrounding plain was found an artificial floor, 85 feet long and 20 feet wide, upon which rested a layer of ashes, charcoal and human bones. A trench was subsequently discovered which contained the remains of the victims sacrificed to the dead heroes. The black figured vases, found with the bones and ashes of the dead, belong to the period of the Persian "Wars, and there is no doubt but that the human remains are those of the one hundred and ninety-two Athenians that Herodotus says (Book 6, Sec. 117) fell at Marathon on the glorious day.

And more than this, the Greek showed his devotion to his citizen-soldier not only in the flush of victory but also when defeat turned the splendid anticipations of the patriot into a "Lost Cause," in which the commonwealth went down to its doom in the train of Philip, King of Macedon. The Sacred Band, at Chæronea (338 B.C.), fell fighting to a man, and they made "Chæronea," forever, the symbol of a struggle for liberty. Here, too, the Athenians raised a tomb to their heroes, glorious in their defeat, and the mound and fragments of the Marble Lion of Chæronea are still to be seen on the road to Thebes. The Greek raised his monument to the glorious deeds performed by the volunteer in arms, and in it did not seem to be aware of death or defeat which are apt to characterize the modern testimonial, but looked beyond and above all those inevitable incidents and reared a memorial of incomparable value to the national cause and a miraculous inspiration to brilliant patriotic endeavor—a symbol not of gloom, but of glory, fame and triumph.

Nor did the spirit of democratic Athens content itself with cheers for the dying and offer but a crust for the living; for at a very early period—at least twenty-five centuries ago—a systematic provision for the disabled veteran soldier of the people was entered upon by Solon and continued in apparently unbroken observance down to the day of Chæronea, when the nation lost her sovereignty, soon to be merged in the world-projects of Alexander the Great. In the sixth century before Christ, Solon had a law passed in the case of the wounded soldier, Thersippus—the first name on a pension-roll in history—by which it was decreed that he and all others thereafter "who were maimed in war should be supported at the public expense."[1]

Even Peisistratus, constitutional tyrant at Athens that he was, subsequently endorsed and followed the precedent set by Solon, in this re-

  1. Plutarch, "Lives," Solon, Chap. 31.