But to Alexander the Athenians replied as follows: “We know of ourselves that the power of the Mede is many times greater than ours. There is no need to taunt us with that. Nevertheless in our zeal for freedom we will defend ourselves to the best of our ability. But as regards agreements with the barbarian, do not attempt to persuade us to enter into them, nor will we consent.
Now carry this answer back to Mardonius from the Athenians, that as long as the sun holds the course by which he now goes, we will make no agreement with Xerxes. We will fight against him without ceasing, trusting in the aid of the gods and the heroes whom he has disregarded and burnt their houses and their adornments.
Come no more to Athenians with such a plea, nor under the semblance of rendering us a service, counsel us to act wickedly. For we do not want those who are our friends and protectors to suffer any harm at Athenian hands.”
Such was their answer to Alexander, but to the Spartan envoys they said, “It was most human that the Lacedaemonians should fear our making an agreement with the barbarian. We think that it is an ignoble thing to be afraid, especially since we know the Athenian temper to be such that there is nowhere on earth such store of gold or such territory of surpassing fairness and excellence that the gift of it should win us to take the Persian part and enslave Hellas.
For there are many great reasons why we should not do this, even if we so desired; first and foremost, the burning and destruction of the adornments and temples of our gods, whom we are constrained to avenge to the utmost rather than make pacts with the perpetrator of these things, and next the kinship of all Greeks in blood and speech, and the shrines of gods and the sacrifices that we have in common, and the likeness of our way of life, to all of which it would not befit the Athenians to be false.
Know this now, if you knew it not before, that as long as one Athenian is left alive we will make no agreement with Xerxes. Nevertheless we thank you for your forethought concerning us, in that you have so provided for our wasted state that you offer to nourish our households.
For your part, you have given us full measure of kindness, yet for ourselves, we will make shift to endure as best we may, and not be burdensome to you. But now, seeing that this is so, send your army with all speed,
for as we guess, the barbarian will be upon us and invade our country in no long time as soon as the message comes to him that we will do nothing that he requires of us; therefore, before he comes into Attica, now is the time for us to march first into Boeotia.” At this reply of the Athenians the envoys returned back to Sparta.