by W.H.D. Rouse
Macmillan and Co., Limited
St. Martin's Street, London
ALL that you will read of in this book happened a long time ago. It is a long time since you were born, and a still longer time from William the Conqueror; and before William the Conqueror came Alfred the Great, who spoilt the cakes and drove out the Danes. And about as long as from now back to Alfred the Great, it was back again from Alfred to the days of our Lord Jesus Christ, since when we call all the years A.D. or anno domini, 'in such a year of our Lord.' Before that the years are called B.C., or 'before Christ.' If you measure as far back B.C. as King Alfred was A.D., you come to the time of Homer; and if you measure half as far, before and after the time of Homer, you will get two points which are very important for our story, and for the whole history of the world.
The first point concerns Crete, the second Athens.
Now you must look at the map, and get an idea of the place where all these things are to happen. In those days, the world was already pretty full ; but we have to do chiefly with those who lived round the Mediterranean sea. Outside this sea, beyond Gibraltar, was the Ocean, which every one believed to be a great river surrounding the land, full of mystery.
England was unknown, except to very daring sailors, who came to Cornwall for tin;
the inhabitants were of no account to any one. On the shores of the Mediterranean
we have, to the east, Asia Minor, with a great Empire of the Hittites, whom you have
heard of in the Bible; and in the south-
The great island of Crete, between Egypt and Europe, was held by a fine race of men.
The time we speak of now was not long before Pharaoh let the Israelites go out of Egypt; and at that time Crete was at its best. Crete had been inhabited by the same race for thousands of years, and this race had grown into power and prosperity. They were handsome and brave, and great sailors. Their merchants traded all round the Mediterranean Sea, to Egypt and Asia Minor, to Western Europe and Northern Africa; their navy kept the peace of the seas, just as the English navy has done for a hundred years, and destroyed pirates, and held sway over the islands. So strong was this navy, that the Cretans did not fortify their towns, but trusted to the navy to keep all enemies away.
They lived in light airy dwellings built of blocks of stone or cement, which were
painted with pictures of what they did in their daily life. Their royal palaces were
splendid masses of building,and in the wide courtyards the people used to stand watching
They worshipped a goddess, and her servants were priestesses, who wore a mitre and a long dress, and carried serpents wreathed about arms and neck. They also had sacred caves in Mount Ida and elsewhere.
Minos was at this time King of Crete, and he had one of the wonders of the world in his city of Cnossos. This was the Labyrinth, a place full of winding and secret ways; and in this dark place lived a monster, a man's body with bull's head, named the Minotaur.
Every year tribute was sent to Minos from Athens, a city of Greece, seven youths and seven maidens, to pay for his son, who had met his death at Athens; and Minos used to drive these youths and maidens into the Labyrinth, that the monster might devour them at his leisure.
Now it happened that Theseus, the son of the King of Athens, was filled with anger, to think that these youths and maidens should meet with so cruel a fate; and he determined to kill the monster, if he could. So he offered himself as one of the seven youths to be handed over to Minos.
When they arrived at the port, they were received with great pomp. Minos and his chief men escorted them in a splendid procession to the city; and all the people watched them as they went by, and the city was full of music and cries of triumph.
Now Ariadne, the King's daughter, with her friends, was looking out of a window in the upper story of the palace, as the procession came into the great courtyard; and her eyes fell on Theseus who stood at the head of the seven youths. The others all looked downcast and sad, the maidens wept, but Theseus held up his head and looked as if he feared nothing.
'Who is that noble youth? ' Ariadne asked.
'He is Theseus, son of the King of Athens; and they say that he was not chosen by lot, as the others were, but came of his own free will.'
Ariadne thought to herself, 'Brave boy! What a pity he should be devoured by the monster!'
She could not get him out of her mind; she could not sleep; and in the end she resolved to try to save him.
So she sent her old nurse to him secretly in the prison, bearing a sword and a ball of thread, and a message, to say that he should fasten one end of the thread at the door of the Labyrinth, so that if he succeeded in killing the monster, he might thus find his way out again.
When the victims were led into the Labyrinth, and the door was shut, Theseus made the others await him at the door while he sought the monster in his den. He fastened one end of the thread to the door, and unwound it as he went; and after a long search, when he felt completely bewildered as to his whereabouts, he came on the noisome cave where the monster dwelt.
With a roar the monster leapt at him; but Theseus avoided the bull's rush, and as he went by, gave him a thrust in the flank with his short sword.
Again and again the monster turned and charged, but Theseus was very strong and active, and tired out the monster by his quick movements, and by the loss of blood, until at last he was able to deal him the fatal thrust in the neck.
Thus Theseus slew the monster; and returning to the gate by means of his thread, in spite of the windings of the Labyrinth, he found his friends there. No one expected to see them again, so there was no guard by the gate; and when night fell, Theseus broke it open, and led all the youths and maidens down to the harbour, where they found their own vessel making ready to sail. They all climbed on board, and away they sailed home to Athens. That was the end of the cruel tribute; and not long after, vengeance fell upon the cruel King of Crete, as you shall hear.
MYCENAE AND TROY
IF you look at the map of Greece, you will find that the southern part hangs on to the northern by a narrow neck of land, called the Isthmus. The city of Athens, of which you have heard, lies a few miles east of this neck, in the northern part of Greece; but we have to speak now of the southern part. This is rather like a mulberry leaf, with three prongs sticking out on the south side. These are three mountain ranges, one range to each prong of the leaf, and there are two others running across them, one through the middle of the land, and one on the north.
Between these two, on the eastern side, is a fertile plain, called the plain of Argos; and in this place were settled the men of a great nation, who came from the north long before, and they were called the Achaeans. These people had built three mighty fortresses in that plain: one near the sea on a low rock, called Tiryns; one on the middle, on a high rock called Argos; and one in the corner nearest the Isthmus, on a huge rock, called Mycenae. These people were not seamen: they had no word for the sea, which they called, when they first saw it, the briny; their lives were spent on the land, and their enemies came from the land; so they built themselves great castles of stone upon the rugged rocks.
Their palaces were not airy and open, or gay with painting, like the Cretan palaces; they were cold, and grim, and heavy, and built of huge blocks of stone. The chief thought of these people was not to be happy, but to be safe, and to defend themselves from death.
But the Cretans used to trade with them; and the Achaeans copied their fashions and
even their religion, and tried to be gay too. The women put on long flounced skirts,
and pinched their waists, and fluffed their hair: and these people had bull-
They destroyed all the cities and the beautiful palaces, and after that, they were the great power in the Mediterranean Sea.
In the course of time, another quarrel came up in these regions, and this quarrel was to change the world's history.
In those days, the great caravans of merchants, long strings of asses and mules and
camels, used to march out of China and India and Arabia, to Europe; they passed over
the desert, they crossed the straits called Hellespont, now the Dardanelles, at their
narrowest point, and landing in the Chersonese (now Gallipoli) they passed into Europe,
carrying gold and spices, silks and sweet-
Near the crossing, on the Asiatic side, a great city grew up, called Troy, which levied toll on the travellers, and upon ships which passed between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. One of the sons of old King Priam of Troy, named Paris, while visiting Greece, fell in love with Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, who was the wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta. He carried her off to Troy; and the Greek kings made a league together, led by Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, and collected a mighty fleet, and besieged Troy.
Ten long years the siege lasted, and great deeds were done by the heroes on both sides; until the chief Greek hero, Achilles, conquered and killed Hector, another son of Priam.
Soon after this, the Greeks made a large wooden horse, and filled it with warriors, and pretended to sail away, leaving it on the beach. The Trojans took it into their city, amid great rejoicings, and dedicated it to their goddess Athena.
But in the night the warriors came out of the horse, and opened the gates to their friends, who had returned, and the city was taken and burnt to the ground.
You can still see the remains, charred by the fire. Few of the Trojans escaped, but one of them was AEneas, who sailed away and afterwards founded the Roman race. Homer told stories of this siege in his splendid poem called the Iliad, and also the story of Odysseus or Ulysses of Ithaca, a Greek who had wonderful adventures in travelling home. The story of Odysseus is called the Odyssey. It would be too long to tell them all now, and you may read them yourself.
The destruction of Troy put all the power into the hands of the Achaeans for a long time.
But about two hundred years later (that is, as long as from Queen Anne's time to ours) a great change came over Europe.
Hitherto, the armour and weapons of the people were made of bronze; but a wild tribe of Greeks, called the Dorians, coming from central Europe as it seems, had begun to use iron, which is much stronger than bronze. Thus their armour was too strong for the bronze weapons, and their swords being half as long again as the bronze swords could be made, gave them such an advantage that they carried everything before them.
They swept over Greece like a hurricane, killing and destroying everywhere, and built up their own states upon the ruins.
Only a few small remnants were left to carry on the old traditions. As the Dorians were savages, they had nothing to put in place of the older civilisation; and arts and culture had to grow up anew.
Thus it happens that there is a gap between the fine Cretan civilisation, and the still finer one which grew up in Greece after many years.
This was about the time when the Philistines oppressed the Children of Israel, and just before Jephthah arose to deliver them.
WHEN we next have knowledge of Greece, about four hundred years have passed; as long as from the reign of Henry VIII to the present day.
Now the writers of Greece begin to appear. They tell us many stories, of Hercules and his twelve labours, of Theseus and his mighty deeds, of the heroes from whom the noble Greek families traced their descent.
We find Greece, and the islands, and the coast of Asia Minor, covered with cities, each independent of the rest, and all fighting with each other, but all of one race. There were three great divisions of this race.
Southward are the Dorians, who have become civilised themselves; they fill the Peloponnese (that is the southern part, like a mulberry leaf), and spread across the islands to the south of Asia Minor.
In the middle are the Ionians, who have spread their colonies across the middle part of the islands and Asia Minor;
and to the north the AEolians, who have done the same in the northern part.
Each of these contributes its part; but in literature the Ionians are the most important, and they include Athens, which was the fine flower of the whole race.
So long as the people did nothing but fight for what they wanted, there could be no quiet life, and no art or education or culture of any sort; and so we find codes of law being made in every city, which might ensure quiet and justice, and take the place of force.
There had been famous laws in Crete long before; and there is actually a Greek code of laws, carved on stone, still to be seen in Crete. But the most important for us are the two codes of Sparta and Athens, the Spartan made by Lycurgus, the Athenian by Solon. These were not new inventions, but were the ancient customs of each place agreed upon by the people. But the two great lawgivers collected them, and improved them, and wrote them down, and prevailed on the people to abide by them.
In the far East, there were few laws, and nothing really mattered except the will of the King. Thus there came about a great difference between East and West. The eastern peoples had, in general, no rights, but were ruled by any tyrant who was strong enough, at his own pleasure; but the western peoples had rights, as they had duties, and were ruled in agreement with their laws, which were above any king or magistrate.
That is one of the most precious things we have inherited from them; but the eastern peoples have always preferred to be told what to do by someone stronger than themselves, and to be made to do it.
Sparta was in confusion, when Lycurgus set out on a long journey to study the famous laws of the world. He went to Crete, and Egypt, and Asia Minor, and on returning, set up his famous laws. Their effect was, to establish peace and order, but to make the citizens a kind of standing army, under two kings, which kept their subject races in hand. Lycurgus made the people promise to keep the laws until he should return; and then he set forth on a journey no man knew whither. He never meant to return, and he never did, but died in exile.
Solon of Athens found his own city in equal confusion; in danger from the quarrels of the farmers, the fishermen and the highlanders, and in danger from foreign foes; the citizens were crushed under a load of debt, and no one knew what to do. He arranged the people in classes according to their wealth; but he put parts of each class in different parts of the city, so that they could not combine into groups and fight together. Every one had to give up something, but they were well satisfied on the whole. Solon also went for a long journey, after making the Athenians promise to keep his laws for ten years.
In the course of his travels, he came to Sardis in Asia Minor.
At this time King Croesus was reigning in Sardis, and he was the richest man in the world. He entertained Solon in his palace; and one day he ordered his marshals to show Solon all the treasures that were stored there, gold and silver and precious stones, and when he had seen all this, Croesus asked him,
'Who is the happiest man you have ever seen?'
He thought that Solon would have answered at once, 'Croesus'; but Solon said,
'Tellus the Athenian.'
Croesus was put out by this answer, and said, 'Why do you call him so?'
Solon answered: 'When Tellus lived, his native city was prosperous; he was the father of noble sons, and he saw children born to his sons; and he had a glorious end to his life: for in fighting for his country, he attacked and routed the enemy, and there nobly died; and the Athenians gave him burial where he fell, and did him great honour.'
Then Croesus said, 'Whom do you put next to him?' thinking that at least he would receive the second prize.
Solon answered, 'Cleobis and Biton. These were two young men of Argos, who had wealth enough, and were so strong as to win prizes in the public games. Now it happened once that there was a feast in Argos, and it was necessary for their mother to be drawn to the feast by a yoke of oxen. But the oxen did not come from the fields in time ; so the young men put themselves under the yoke, and drew the waggon with their mother to the temple, which was five miles away. All the men gave them joy of their strength, and the women called the mother happy to have such sons; so she prayed aloud that the goddess would give her sons, Cleobis and Biton, the best gift a man can have. After this prayer, the young men sacrificed, and ate of the feast, and then lay down in the temple itself, and slept; and they rose up no more, but there they ended their lives. Then the Argives set up statues of the young men in the temple at Delphi, to be a memory of their excellence.'
At this Croesus was angry, and said, 'Man, do you think nothing of my prosperity
in comparison with such common men as these?' And Solon answered : 'The whole life
of man is but chance. In his seventy years are at least twenty-
'I see you here rich, and the lord of many men, but I cannot answer your question until I hear how your life shall end. Always look at the end of every matter ; for there are many to whom God has given a vision of blessedness, and yet He has brought them to utter ruin.'
So Croesus sent Solon away without a gift, for he thought him a man of no account.
But afterwards the wrath of God fell upon Croesus; for Croesus in his ambition attacked Cyrus, King of the Persians. And Cyrus descended on the land, and took Sardis and destroyed all the power of Croesus.
And Cyrus had a great pyre built, and set upon it Croesus, bound in chains, and twice seven boys beside him, to burn them as a sacrifice to his gods.
But Croesus in this evil plight remembered the words of his guest, and groaning deeply, he cried thrice in a loud voice — 'Solon! Solon! Solon!'
Cyrus heard it, and sent his interpreter to ask what he meant; then Croesus told him how Solon had made light of his royal state, and bidden him to look what his end should be before he thought himself happy. The pyre had been set alight, and wits now beginning to burn; but Cyrus was struck with pity, and repented him of his purpose, and commanded the fire to be quenched, and as they were trying to quench it a storm of rain fell and put it out. Then Cyrus spared the life of Croesus and the lives of the boys. He asked Croesus, 'Who persuaded you to attack my country with an army, and to be my enemy rather than my friend?' Croesus answered, 'No one but myself; and it is foolish indeed to desire war instead of peace. For in peace, sons bury their fathers, but in war, fathers bury their sons.' Ever after that Cyrus carried Croesus about with him, and Croesus gave him good advice in many difficulties. Cyrus was not a very wise man, and Croesus had learnt wisdom by experience; but Cyrus took advice, and so Croesus was useful to Cyrus. Cambyses the son of Cyrus, when he succeeded his father, also kept Croesus with him, by force of habit, I suppose; for he was a very great fool, and the good advice of Croesus only made him angry.
IN Greek history, you often find mention of the oracles, so I will tell you what they were. In a great many places, there was a cave or grotto, where a spirit of divination was believed to dwell. Any one who wished to know what he ought to do, in the various perplexities of life, used to go there and ask the god ; and he received answers. There was a Greek god who presided over each of these places, but the sacred places were older than the Greeks and their gods. Each place had its own way of doing things.
There was one oracle at Dodona, most ancient of all, where there were sacred doves
and a sacred oak tree. When a question was asked, the priestesses used to cry out
what the answers were. Some of the questions, and one answer have been found engraved
upon plates of bronze. One man asks whether he will do well in his trade of sheep-
At Lebadea there was another oracle, sacred to a half -
But the greatest and most famous of all was the Oracle of the Earth at Delphi, which
was in the splendid temple of Apollo. Kings and potentates used to consult this oracle,
whenever they thought of undertaking some great enterprise ; and the sacred precinct
was full of their thank-
Delphi was like St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey, only the memorials were more splendid, and all stood in the open air carved in marble; there were temples covered with painting, and gold, and thousands of inscriptions cut on stone.
The oracle was given by a priestess, who used to sit on a tripod, or three-
The vapour no longer rises under the temple, because there have been earthquakes which shook everything up; but it still comes out of a little cleft just below, on the road to the sea. I have breathed it myself, but it did not make me prophesy anything.
Croesus, King of Lydia, the richest man in the world, wanted to make war on Cyrus, King of Persia ; and to clear the way, he thought of asking an oracle. But which oracle ? which spoke the truth ? He hit on the following plan. He sent messengers separately to Dodona, Delphi, and all the other oracles of importance, and told them to wait for one hundred days after leaving Sardis, and on the hundredth day, to enquire what Croesus, King of Lydia, was doing on that day. We do not know what the other oracles said, so probably what they said was wrong ; but the Delphian priests replied in this way:
I count the waves, I count the grains of sand,
I hear the dumb, the silent understand.
And what is this, and what is this I smell
It is a tortoise in his armoured shell,
In a bronze pot, with lambsmeat put to seethe:
And bronze is laid above, and bronze beneath.'
For Croesus had cut up a tortoise and a lamb, and boiled them together in a bronze pot with a bronze lid upon it. He thought no one would ever guess that; but the oracle at Delphi did.
Or did it? You may be sure that when Croesus thought of this plan, he was very much pleased with himself, and went about chuckling all day. His courtiers would see it, of course, and perhaps one would say,
'Sir, you seem happy to-
And he might answer, 'O nothing, nothing at all; ha, ha!'
But you may be sure they would all talk about it, and you may be sure that Croesus was bursting with his fine idea, and wanting to tell some one; and in the evening, may be, when he had had a few cups of wine, and went on chuckling, his neighbour, his most trusted companion might ask, 'I am sure you have thought of some fine plan, Sir? what can it be?' Then at last Croesus would say, 'Will you swear to keep it a secret?'
'Sir, do you think I would betray you?'
And Croesus might whisper the grand secret in his car, and both would roar with laughter to think how the famous oracles were going to be puzzled. But when the embassy set out, suppose our courtier was one of them? or suppose he was not, and he whispered the secret in the ear of one who was? and suppose this man whispered it to one of the Delphian priests? — not without a good fee — for the priest would of course be eager for the honour of his oracle.
I do not say that is what happened, but it might very well have been so, seeing that human nature is what it is.
However, Croesus was satisfied that the oracle of Delphi was the one great infallible voice.
Then he sacrificed to Apollo three thousand beasts, of each kind fit for sacrifice, and burnt on a great pyre couches covered with gold and silver, and golden goblets, and purple cloaks and tunics ; which he burnt that they might more easily go up to the sky, where the god Apollo dwelt. Besides this, he melted down a great mass of gold, and cast it into golden bricks. Each brick was eighteen inches long by nine inches wide and three deep. These bricks were a hundred and seventeen in number. He also ordered to be made the figure of a lion in refined gold, and a huge bowl of gold and one of silver, each of which held more than five thousand gallons. With these he sent to Delphi four silver jars and two sprinkling vessels, one of gold and one of silver, and other gifts, including a statue of his own baker, and his wife's necklaces and girdles. We do not know what his wife said to that.
Those who brought these gifts, were instructed to ask whether Croesus should send an army against the Persians. The reply was, that if he sent an army against the Persians, he should destroy a great empire.
Croesus thought the Persian empire was meant, and made his attack; but he was conquered, and all his power was taken from him; he was put in chains, as you have heard, and barely escaped with his life.
So he sent his chains as an offering to Delphi, and reproached Apollo with having misled him. The answer was, that the oracle had spoken the truth; Croesus had destroyed a great empire, and he had no right to suppose that the oracle had meant the Persians by what was said. You see the oracle was safe either way.
The games also had a great place among the Greeks. There were games in every place
where the Greeks had cities; but the chief of them all were four: the Olympian, the
Pythian, the Nemean, and the Isthmian. The Pythians were held at Delphi, once in
two years; and the race-
The Nemeans were held at Nemea, near Corinth, and the Isthmians on the Corinthian isthmus, each once in two years.
The Olympians were held once in four years, at Olympia in South Greece.
The Olympian games were the greatest of all, and while they were being held, there was a truce from all wars and quarrels all over Greece.
There were races for four-
There is still at Olympia a great stone, weighing 315 pounds, with this inscription on it:' Bybon threw me over his shoulder with one hand.'
Competitors came from all quarters, and the magnificent tyrants of Syracuse did not
disdain to compete. Crowds of sightseers collected, and camped all over the plain;
it was like a gigantic fair, with hucksters' booths, and entertainments, and all
kinds of merry-
The prize at the Olympian games was a crown of wild olive leaves; which amazed foreigners, who could not understand the spirit of sport, which makes men contend for honour and not for pelf. The victors indeed received public honours in their own states, which rejoiced as much over winning a chariot race as winning a battle.
Sometimes a competitor would try to bribe the judges; he was made to set up a statue of Zeus as a punishment. One such was inscribed with this verse, which is still to be seen:
Let all the Greeks take warning by this scribe,
That no competitor may give a bribe.
The victors often set up their statues in the sacred precinct.
There was one of a boy named Glaucus, who worked on the land. Once when his ploughshare fell out, he hammered it in with his fist. This made his father think he might hammer men too, so he had him trained as a boxer; in due time he came to Olympia.
In the first round he was badly punished, and in the last he seemed to be flinching, until his father called out — 'My boy, give him one from the plough!'
He cheered up, and gave it, and won.
ALTHOUGH Solon had arranged matters so well with his laws, people went on quarrelling; and before we take a look at these quarrels, it is well to speak of a man who had a great part in them, a man named Megacles.
This Megacles came of a noble and ancient family, called the Alcmaeonidea, or sons
of Alcmaeon; in this family the names of Alemee-
The first known Alcmaeon, founder of the family, lived about the time of the Dorian invasion, five hundred years before the time of Solon.
Megacles, the grandfather of this Megacles, had got into trouble fifty years before. One Cylon had attempted to make himself tyrant in Athens, and had been defeated, and had taken sanctuary at the altar of Athena. He and his men surrendered under promise of life; but Megacles had them all put to death, for which his family was banished. This sacrilege was never forgotten, and it appears again and again in Greek history.
But the fortunes of the family were soon restored. Alcmeeon, the son of the banished Megacles, was able once on a time to make himself very useful to Croesus, when Croesus had sent an embassy to the oracle at Delphi, as you have heard already. Croesus accordingly invited Alcmaeon to Sardis; and when he came there, said he would give him as much gold as he could carry about him all at once.
Alcmveon therefore prepared himself for the business. He put on a wide tunic, tucking it over the belt, so as to leave a deep bag, and put on the biggest buskins he could find, and so drest he was led into the treasury. Then he fell on a heap of gold dust; and first he packed as much as he could round his shins, then he filled the bag of his tunic as full as it could hold, and spread some over the hair of his head, and put more into his mouth; and when he came out of the treasury, hardly dragging the weight of his buskins, he was like anything rather than a man, with his mouth crammed full and his body all puffed abroad.
Crcesus burst out laughing to see the sight, and gave him all he carried and as much
again. In this way the house of Megacles became rich, and he was able to keep a stud
The family was still further exalted by the marriage of his son Megacles, whom we shall hear of soon in the struggle for power at Athens. This was how the marriage came about.
At that time, one Cleisthenes was tyrant of Sicyon, a city near Corinth; and this Cleisthenes had a daughter, Agarista. He determined to choose for her husband the best man in Hellas.
So at the great games of Olympia, when he was victor in the chariot race, and his
name was in every mouth, he made a proclamation, that whoever thought he would like
to be his son-
Then all those who had pride in themselves and their country, gathered together to pay their court. Cleisthenes made them a racecourse and a wrestling place, and kept them at work there. They all came: from Italy (which was full of Greek colonies) came Smindyrides of Sybaris, the most luxurious dandy in the Greek world, and Damasos the wise young man, son of a great scholar; from AEtolia came Males, brother of the strongest man on earth; from the south came the son of the tyrant of Argos, who made weights and measures and coinage for mankind; and the son of another man, who had entertained the twin brethren, the gods Castor and Pollux, and thereafter kept open house for all men. There were others also; and from Athens came Megacles, son of Alcmeeon, and Hippocleides, notable in his city for wealth and good looks.
On their arrival, Cleisthenes asked each his name and family, and then he kept them for a year, making trial of their courage, and temper, and education, and manners; he sought their company alone and together, and set the younger of them at contests of strength; but chief of all he tested them at mealtimes: for all the time he kept them, he did everything for them, and entertained them magnificently.
Now in fact he liked best the two suitors from Athens; and of the two he favoured Hippocleides, both for his manliness, and because he was descended from the royal house of Corinth.
When the appointed day came for the marriage feast, and for Cleisthenes to declare
whom he chose out of them all, Cleisthenes sacrificed a hundred oxen, and feasted
the suitors and all the men of Sicyon. And when they rose from the dinner, the suitors
vied together in music and good fellowship. As the drinking went on, Hippocleides
outdid all the rest; and at last he called for a flute-
He was very well pleased with himself, but Cleisthenes looked on the whole thing with disgust, because the Greeks thought dancing was vulgar. After this Hippocleides waited a while, then bade someone bring in a table; and when the table came in, first of all he danced Laconian figures upon the table, then Athenian figures, and lastly putting his head down on the table he prestidigitated with his legs in the air.
Now Cleisthenes, at the first and second bout, could not bear to think that Hippocleides
should be his son-
'That's all very well, sir, but you have danced away your bride.'
The young man only said, 'Hippocleides don't care!'
This afterwards became a proverb in Greece; and whenever any one wanted to show his indifference, he would say, 'Hippocleides don't care!'
Then Cleisthenes called for silence, and said, Sirs, you who have sought my daughter's hand, I thank you all, and I wish I could give you all your desire, without distinguishing one above the rest. But since I have only one daughter to arrange for, I cannot satisfy all; and therefore to those who are rejected, I offer a talent of silver as a gift in return for his desire to wed one of my house, and for his absence from home; and I betroth my daughter to Megacles the son of Alcmaeon, according to the laws of Athens.'
Megacles accepted the betrothal, and the contract was made good.
WHEN Solon came back from his travels, he found the Athenians quarrelling in the
old way, the highlanders, the farmers, and the alongshore-
This man, whose name was Peisistratus, was a highlander. There was a fierce quarrel
going on between the coast-
As he had a good name among his countrymen, and had gained honour in fighting against the people of Megara, they agreed to let him have a bodyguard of citizens, who were armed with clubs.
This city of Megara was not twenty miles from Athens, and yet it was inhabited by Dorians, who were of a different tribe from the Athenians, and were always their enemies. So small were the Greek states. It is as if the city of London was always at war with Epping, or Hatfield, or Croydon.
Peisistratus then, the hero of Megara, got his bodyguard of citizens; and together they seized the Acropolis, the fortress in the midst of the city where the chief temples were; and Peisistratus ruled Athens, but he ruled justly and did not upset the laws nor the public magistrates.
However, Megacles and Lycurgus now left their quarrels for a while, and joined together, and turned him out; but this done, they quarrelled again. Then Megacles, to get the better of Lycurgus, offered to marry his daughter to Peisistratus, and to make him ruler once more. This was the plan they made.
There was a woman in one of the villages only three inches short of six feet tall — a very rare thing among the Greeks — and of noble presence. This woman they dressed in full armour, and put her in a chariot, and drove her into the city, while heralds ran in front crying out, 'Athenians, give welcome to Peisistratus, whom the goddess Athena is bringing back to her own citadel!'
One of the chief temples on the Acropolis was the temple of Athena, who was represented as clad in full armour; and the simple people believed that this was the goddess herself, and welcomed Peisistratus.
Peisistratus had many ups and downs before he established himself as tyrant, with his two sons Hippias and Hipparchus. He was a moderate man, and ruled well at first, but all this opposition made him more hard than he naturally was. The name tyrant, as the Greeks used it, meant not a bully, but only that one man put himself above the law, and ruled according to his will. Peisistratus made many laws which were good, or he.kept the old ones ; but the Greeks, like the English, were an independent people, who valued their freedom highly, and would not put up with arbitrary treatment. They did not mind obeying laws, but they wanted to make or sanction those laws themselves, and to elect their own magistrates, not those they were told to elect. And that is why the Greek states all got rid of their tyrants before long, although in some respects they were better off with them.
Peisistratus made Athens powerful and respected. He attracted poets and artists of all sorts, and embellished. the city with fine buildings and fortifications, including a conduit for water cut out of the living rock, which is still to be seen there. It is said that he collected and published the poems of Homer. He made splendid festivals, and held games and athletic contests. He encouraged commerce and agriculture, and led the Athenian armies to victory. Of course the people grumbled at having to pay taxes, as they always do. One day Peisistratus was walking on a hill near Athens, and he saw an old farmer digging about among the stones; and when he asked him, 'What do you grow here?' the old man said, 'Hard labour and sore bones, and even that must pay tithe to Peisistratus.' This answer pleased Peisistratus so much, that he took off all the taxes from the old man's farm for ever.
When Peisistratus died, things went on much the same under his sons Hippias and Hipparchus; but owing to private jealousies, Hipparchus was murdered by two young men, Harmodius and Aristogeiton.
After this Hippias became hard and cruel. Four years later, Megacles took advantage of the times, and rallying his friends drove out the family of Peisistratus. Harmodius and Aristogeiton got the credit of this, and they were famous all through Greek history as deliverers of their country. Their statues were set up on the Acropolis; their descendants were made free of taxes, and had the right to dine every day in the town hall ; and their praises were sung by revellers over the wine:
'I'll carry my sword in myrtle hid
As once the two young heroes did,
Who killed the tyrant, and set Athens free.
You are not dead, I think, but rest
Far in the islands of the Blest,
Where the ancient heroes all are said to be.'
They believed that all great and good men went after death to a lovely place, which they called the Islands of the Blest, where they were happy ever more. So the young men would sing, a verse each in turn, the singer wreathing his brow with myrtle and playing upon the lyre; his verse done, he passed on the lyre and the myrtle to the next.
THERE were tyrants in many Greek cities about the same time as at Athens, or just before; but they were all abolished in time, and the government came either into the hands of a few prominent men, when it was called Aristocracy (rule of the best) or Oligarchy (rule of the few) ; or else into the hands of the people, when it was called Democracy (rule of the people). But there were always two parties in every city, and these used to fight with each other to get the upper hand. They were worse than our parties, because the winning party was not content to live and let live, but usually turned the other party out of the city, or even killed them. We may learn a good deal of useful wisdom by seeing what happened, for we have the same difficulties to. solve now. One thing is certain, that the worst thing in the world is civil war, and that the more we use force, whether by oppression, or taxes, or by strikes, the worse it is for every one.
The rule of the tyrants was often good, as I have said before ; and two of them are among the seven wise men of Greece, Periander of Corinth, and Pittacus of Mitylene. You will hear soon about the Seven Wise Men.
One of the most famous of the tyrants was Polycrates of Samos. He had a hundred warships of fifty oars, and a thousand archers, and with these he made himself master of the seas, being the first to attempt this since Minos a thousand years before; he took and sacked many of the islands, and many of the cities on the coast of the mainland. Wherever he went, he was victorious. His prisoners dug a great moat around his chief city of Samos, and cut out a large tunnel through the rock to bring water to the city. This tunnel was one of the seven wonders of the world in ancient days, and it is still to be seen. It is nearly a mile long; a pathway eight feet wide and about eight feet high runs along one side, and on the other is a ditch, thirty feet deep and three wide, which carried the water. The quarrymen began at both ends, and met in the middle, so they must have been clever workmen. Polycrates had an alliance with Amasis, King of Egypt; but Amasis was disquieted to see him prosper so exceedingly, and he wrote him the following letter.
' From Amasis to Polycrates, these. It is pleasant to learn that a friend and guest is prospering well, but I like not these great successes of yours, for I know how jealous is the divine being. What I wish for myself and those I care for is something like this, to prosper in some of their doings and to stumble in others, and so to have ups and downs in life, rather than always to prosper. For I have never yet heard tell of any one, who at the end did not come to destruction, if he were always prosperous. Then pray be advised by me, and do as I shall tell you, to amend your prosperity ; consider what you hold most precious, and what would pain your soul most to lose it, and throw this away, so that it shall never again be seen amongst men; and if afterwards your successes be not chequered with mishaps, amend it in this manner as I advise you.'
Polycrates thought well of this advice; and on considering which of his treasures
it would most hurt his soul to lose, this is what he thought of; a seal there was,
which he wore, set in gold, an emerald stone carved by the most famous graver of
Samos, and he resolved to cast this away. So he manned a ship-
Five or six days later, it happened that a fisherman took a great fine fish.
'This is too good for me,' he thought; 'I will give it to Polycrates.'
So he carried it to the gates of the palace, and being admitted, offered it to Polycrates, with these words:
'O King, when I caught this fish I did not think it right to take it to market, although I live by the work of my hands, but I thought it worthy of your majesty; here then I bring it and give it to you.'
Polycrates was pleased, and said, 'I thank you heartily, both for your words and
your gift, and-
The fisherman was highly delighted, and after dinner returned to his home; but when the attendants cut up the fish, they found in its belly the ring of Polycrates. When they saw this they took it rejoicing to Polycrates, and told him how it was found. But he thought the hand of God was in this, and he wrote a letter to Egypt, telling what he had done, and what had happened to him.
When Amasis read the letter, he understood that man cannot save man from that which is destined to befall him, and that Polycrates would not end well, since he was prosperous always and even recovered what he had cast away.
So he sent a herald to Samos, and denounced his friendship with Polycrates, and this was the reason why: when some great and terrible misfortune should overtake Polycrates, he did not wish to be grieved at heart as for a friend. Was not that an odd way of looking at it?
Polycrates went on for a long time, amid wars and rebellions, still prosperous. He lived in pomp and magnificence, and his court was frequented by poets and artists of all sorts. But his ambition was even greater than his prosperity. So he was ready to listen, when a messenger came to him from the Persian satrap, or governor, of the province of Lydia, named Oroetes, who hated Polycrates with a deadly hate. He wrote him a letter in these words:
'These from Oroetes to Polycrates. I learn that you are planning great enterprises, but that you have not wealth to match your designs. I will tell you now how to exalt yourself, and also to save me. King Cambyses is plotting death against me, and I have plain intelligence of this. Do you then bring me off with my wealth, and you shall leave me some of it and keep the rest ; then as far as wealth goes, you shall rule all Hellas. If you do not believe what I say of my wealth, send your most trusty man and I will show him.'
Polycrates was pleased at this, and sent one Mmandrius, his scribe, the same man who not long after dedicated in the temple of Hera all the fine furniture of the palace of Polycrates. Oroetes prepared for the inspection thus : he filled eight huge chests with stones, except just a little space at the top, and on the surface he laid gold, and locked up the chests and kept them ready. Meeandrius came, and saw the gold. at the top, and reported to Polycrates, that he had seen eight huge chests full of gold.
Then Polycrates made ready to go, in spite of all the diviners could do to dissuade him, and in spite of a dream which his daughter had; for she dreamt that she saw her father aloft in the air, being washed by the god Zeus, and anointed by the Sun. But Polycrates cared nothing for all these warnings, and to Magnesia he went. As soon as he came there, he was cruelly murdered by Oroetes, and after that his body was raised on a stake, and so the dream was fulfilled : for he was washed by Zeus when it rained, and he was anointed by the Sun as the body sweated out its own moisture. This was the end of all the great prosperity of Polycrates.
THE Greeks of long ago were a very clever people.
Their senses were very keen, and they loved beautiful things and could make them, in gold and silver, wood and ivory, carvings of stone and temples or walls and towers.
They were handsome themselves, and in fine trim for races and wrestlings and all sorts of contests.
They made beautiful poems, and sang and danced, and told good stories; they were very intelligent and were always enquiring about everything they saw.
But they did not know much more than they could see; they thought that the earth was flat, as it seems to be, and that the sun went round it once a day, and sank in the ocean every evening. What they could not understand, they put down to the power of the gods. They thought that other creatures, partly like gods, lived in the trees and rivers and in the sea; these they called nymphs or dryads, fauns and satyrs, and other such. The gods and goddesses often came and walked among men, and sometimes wedded with them, so that many great families traced their descent from a god.
Their religion taught them very different things from ours as being true, and they believed what they were taught; but they had much the same thoughts about right and wrong as we have, and there were many men and women then as good as there are now, indeed there have never lived better ones than the best of the Greeks.
They had no machinery and knew nothing about steam or electricity, so they did not travel far from home.
But you need not be conceited and think yourself wiser than they. You know more, but you did not find it out yourself; and whatever we know, the Greeks either found out or put us in the way of finding out.
At this time of which I speak, when the tyrants were ruling in the Greek cities, a number of very intelligent men were enquiring into everything. They wanted to know what the sun and the moon and the stars really were; whether they moved about in the sky, as they seemed to do; how things grow; why the same rain, sucked up by different plants, produces wheat or apples, or nettles; why the same bread and meat turns into a man or a pig; how animals grow and die, and the same about men; where they all come from, and what it all really means. Still more important, what becomes of us after death; whether there are any gods, and why one thing is right and another wrong.
Thus they studied what we call nature, and astronomy, and biology, and many other
They soon became convinced that what we see, has grown somehow out of a very few
beginnings. Some thought there were four beginnings, earth, air, fire, and water;
some, one or two of these four; but by and by a specially clever man saw that we
must go farther back than that, and he hit on the idea that all these four beginnings
or elements, themselves, with everything else, were composed of small dots or mites
of different shapes, combined in numbers of ways, but such as could not be destroyed
themselves. These they called atoms; and this is the foundation of all natural science.
But they never could find out what life is, nor has any one else ever been able to
do so. You are alive, and a stone is not, and that is all that the wisest men of
A number of these men of old gained fame by their wisdom, and especially those whom the Greeks called the Seven Wise Men.
One of them was Solon, whom you will remember. He was busy with every-
But life had taught him a great deal of good sense, as you remember from the story of Solon and Croesus.
Each of the Seven Wise Men had a bit of his own common sense tacked on to his name, as his own special proverb, and Solon's proverb was 'Look at the end.' He used to say 'Learn to obey before you rule. Tyranny is a fine farm, but there is no way out.'
Another wise man was Periander, tyrant of Corinth. We do not know much about him, or why he was thought so wise; he was certainly a cruel tyrant, and did not always keep his own golden rules. Some of his sayings are : 'Be the same to your friends, whether they are rich or poor, in prosperity or in adversity. Stick to your agreement. Master your wrath. Betray no secret.' He would also say, 'Democracy is better than tyranny,' but he managed to live cheerfully as a tyrant for a long time, although in his story it is written, He lost heart, and died at the age of eighty.'
Even grim Sparta had its Wise Man, Cheilon.
Like others of the Seven, he wrote poems, but they have not come down to us. According
to him there were three hard things: to keep a secret, to employ leisure well, and
to be able to bear an injury. He used to say: ' Prefer loss to dishonest gain; the
one hurts for a moment, the other for ever. When strong, be merciful. Honour old
age. Never be in a hurry.' He saw his son win the boxing-
Another of the wise men, Cleobulus, came from Lindos, a city of Rhodes. His proverb was 'Moderation is best,' the most Greek of all proverbs, for it describes exactly the character of the Greeks. They loved balance and perfect proportion, both in body and mind, and hated excess of all sorts.
Cleobulus was not a skinny man with a big head and horn spectacles, but he was strong and good to look at, and came of a high family, which traced its descent from Hercules. He wrote songs, and was great at riddles; even his daughter made riddles, so they must have been a lively family. One of his riddles is not hard to guess; it is this;
There is one father has a dozen sons, Each son has thirty daughters, yet of these Fifteen are black, fifteen of them are white: All of them are immortal, yet all die.
These are the year and the months, and the days of the moon's light and dark fortnights. He used to say: 'Do nothing by violence. Marry one of your own class. Do not be arrogant in prosperity, do not cringe in adversity. Listen rather than talk. Educate your daughters as well as your sons.'
Pittacus of Mitylene, in the island of Lesbos, was the other tyrant among the Wise Men. He was very different from Cleobulus to look at, if we may judge from his nicknames: for he was called Flatfoot, Chilblains, Swaggerer, Sloven. The Lesbian women used to sing this ditty as they ground their corn :
`Grind, millstone, grind,
For Pittacus also used to grind,
Who ruled great Mitylene.'
Perhaps they meant that he was a hard ruler; at any rate he kept the state in good order. He used to give double punishment to any one who did wrong while he was drunk, one for the offence, and one for being drunk. He advised men not to marry above them, for he had done so himself and was henpecked in consequence.
He used to say: 'It is a hard thing to be good. Even the gods do not fight against necessity. Know your chance. Win your victories without blood.' His proverb was : 'Nothing too much.' The Lesbian women still sing ditties as they grind their corn, but they have forgotten Pittacus.
Two of the Wise Men, you see, came from the islands, and the next two came from Greek cities on the coast of Asia Minor. One of them, Bias, came from Priene, a city which lies over against the island of Samos. Like the other Greek cities of the coast, Priene was always in danger from the barbaric Persians who ruled the interior; and the troubles of his life perhaps gave him the proverb which hangs to his name, 'Most men are bad.' He used to say: ' Use persuasion, not force. Slow to begin, steadfast to persevere. Believe in the gods. Cherish wisdom, the chief of possessions.' He was a great orator, and gave useful advice to his countrymen in the defence of their city.
From Miletus, a city not far from Priene, came the greatest of all the Wise Men, Thales; the Greeks when they spoke of wisdom used to say, As wise as Thales, just as we say, As wise as Solomon. Like Solon, he studied politics, and he gave useful advice in matters of state; but his chief interests were natural science and astronomy. He was the first who sought one single beginning of things. He thought it was water, from which all things come, and to which they return; and although he was wrong there, he set our feet on the right path of discovery. He was the first to predict eclipses of the sun; and he tried to calculate the real size of the sun and moon. He first gave the name of Cosmos, or order, to the Universe. Some of his sayings were:
'Most ancient of all things is God, for he is uncreated.
Most beautiful is the universe : for it is God's work.
Greatest is space for it contains all things.
Swiftest is mind for it runs everywhere.
Strongest is necessity: for it masters all.
Wisest is time: for it brings all things to light.'
He held that there is no difference between life and death. Some one asked him: 'Then why do you not die? ' He said, 'Because there is no difference.' Another asked him whether one could hide an evil deed from the gods. He said, 'No, nor an evil thought.' He said that if we wished to lead a good life, we must not do what we blame in others. Some say that he first thought that the soul is immortal. His proverb was, 'Never go surety for anyone.'
Thales had equally good sense in practical affairs; and once he helped Croesus to cross a deep river. Croesus sat down in his camp before the river, and did not know what to do. Then Thales directed the soldiers to dig a deep trench from a place higher up in the river, round the back of the camp, and into the river again. Thus half the water flowed round by the trench, and both parts were shallow enough to pass on foot.
A story is told of him, that once he went out to look at the stars, and as he walked gazing upwards he fell into a ditch. An old woman who saw him, called out: 'Eh, Thales! You expect to know all about the heavens, and yet you cannot see what is before your feet!'
The proverbs of the Wise Men were put into Greek verse, and they have been translated by an Englishman, Timothy Kendall, in his Flowers of Epigrams:
'The cities seven, wherein the seven wise masters rare
Were born, their names, and sayings seven, seven verses shall declare.
Cleobulus of Lindus said, A mean doth all excel.
Wise Pittacus of Mitylen said, Measure bears the bell.
Cheilon of Lacedemon said, Take heed thyself to know.
Of Corinth Periander said, To anger be thou slow.
Sage Solon the Athenian said, For aye respect the end.
Wise Thales of Miletus said, Naught promise for thy friend.
Last, Bias of Priene said, All things to mischief bend.'
You remember that I asked you to measure backwards and forwards from Homer, to arrive at two important dates. We have now come to the second of these. It will be the first exact year I have to give you, and you must remember it, for if things had fallen out otherwise in this year, you and I would not be in existence. This is the year 490 B.C., when East and West first came into conflict. The Greeks were at this time like a small garden of fruit and flowers in the midst of a vast wilderness of weeds, which threatened to swallow it up on all sides. In Europe, and most of Africa, there were savages. In Asia and Egypt there were barbarians. The difference is this : savages are wild and rude in their ways : barbarians have an outside polish, luxury and elegance, perhaps, and knowledge, but the minds and characters of both are wild and savage and cruel. The Greeks called all those who were not Greeks, by the name of barbarians; but this was something more than national pride, because there was such a difference between them and other people that a special name was proper.
This difference was, to put it shortly, and to use the words which the Greeks used themselves, that the Greeks were determined to be free. For one thing, they were never content to be slaves of their rulers, as the Easterns were. It is true that they had slaves of their own; they were cruel to each other, as all men were then, and many are now ; when they fought, the winners thought it their right to kill or enslave all their enemies, and to take all their goods. But still, each of these cities, and each man, thought he and his city had a right to be free; and when they came to consider what this meant, they saw that there must be give and take, and in short, they began to understand the meaning of justice. They made laws each for themselves, and other laws between state and state, and they grew by degrees out of the custom of violence.
They also naturally abhorred certain kinds of cruelty, such as torture and cutting off limbs ; and they were the only race in the world which hated such things. It is quite a short time since we in England have been as wise as the Greeks were so long ago. Torture was used in England at the time of the Gunpowder Plot, and on the Continent to the time of Napoleon, and it is still used by savages and barbarians. The Easterns, on the contrary, used torture as a matter of course; and although they talked of the laws of the Medes and Persians, they treated every one as the slave of their Kings, who did whatever they liked, so far as their power went.
Their acts of cruelty were so horrible, that they can hardly be thought about.
The Greeks had also the same feeling about their minds as about their bodies: they were determined to be free. They were full of curiosity about everything, just as you are, and also very intelligent, as I hope you are ; they thought about everything, and talked about it, and so by degrees they found things out. Thus they were not content to believe what they were told, and they came to see through foolish superstitions; they always wanted to know the truth, and very often they found it out.
Now at this time the greatest power in the world was the Persian Empire. The Persians and the Medes were two kindred nations, and they always had a keen rivalry which was to be leader; at this time the Persians were on the top. Cyrus the Persian, who, as you will remember, once conquered Creesus, had taken Babylon; and you have read that story in the Book of Daniel, how it was weighed in the balances and found wanting. I will tell you how Cyrus came to be King, and the story will show you something of the ways of these Eastern tyrants.
Before Dareius was born, Astyages the Mede was King, and he had a dream. He dreamt that a vine grew out of his daughter's body, and overshadowed all Asia. This so terrified his childish mind, that he consulted his diviners, who told him that it meant that her son should rule over his kingdom. His daughter had married a Persian; so in his fear, King Astyages sent for Harpagus, his faithful steward, and this is what he said: 'Harpagus, make no mistake in what I am about to enjoin upon you, or you may come to great grief. Take my daughter's child, and carry it to your house and kill it, and then bury it as you will.' He answered : 'King, you have never yet seen me do anything to displease you, and I will take care not to offend against you in future; but if it is your will that this should be done, it is my duty to serve you accordingly.'
With this answer, he received the child, adorned for its death, and went to his home weeping. When he came there, he told his wife all that had been said to him. She said : `Now what do you mean to do ? ' He answered : 'Not what Astyages commands me, not though he shall lose his wits and be madder than he is now ; I will never fall in with his purpose, or serve him for such a murder. There are many reasons why I will not kill the child ; for he is of my own kin, and Astyages is old and has no sons ; and if his power shall pass to his daughter after his death, what have I to look for but the greatest of dangers ? Yet for safety's sake the boy must die ; but one of the King's people must kill him, and not one of mine.'
Having said this, he sent a messenger to fetch one of the King's cowherds, who dwelt in a wild and rocky place with his wife. When the cowherd came in all haste at this summons, Harpagus said to him : 'The King bids you take this child, lay him in the most deserted spot of the hills, that he may soon die. And he bade me tell you, that if you do not kill him, he will destroy you by the most cruel death. And I am instructed to see that the deed is done.'
Then the cowherd took the child, and carried it to his steading. There he found his wife waiting for him, in great anxiety, for she feared that something was wrong with her husband. She asked him, ' Why did Harpagus send for you in such a hurry? 'He answered, `Wife, I went to the city, and saw something which I would I had never seen happen to our masters. His house was full of lamentation; and as soon as I entered, I saw a child laid there panting and crying, adorned with gold and fine raiment. When Harpagus saw me, he told me to take up the child with all haste, and carry it and lay it in the wildest place of the hills, saying that this was the King's command, and threatening me most grievously if I should not obey. And I took it up, thinking it was some servant's child, for I never could have guessed whose it was : but I was surprised to see him adorned with gold and finery, and to hear all the lamentation that was made. I heard the whole story from the man who escorted me out of the city, and handed over the babe to me. It turns out to be the son of the King's daughter, and the King commands me to kill him. Here he is,' and with these words he uncovered the child and showed it to her. She begged and prayed her husband not to do such a deed, but he said he must, because men were to be sent to see that it had been done. At last she said, 'If you must expose the child, then do so; but let me tell you, that while you were away, a child was born by me, and born dead. Take that child then, and expose it, and let us bring up this as our own; so our child will have royal burial, and you will be free from an evil deed.'
The cowherd did as she said; he gave her the child which he had brought, and his own dead child he decked out in the royal trappings, and exposed it upon the hills. Three days later, Harpagus sent one of his spearmen, who saw the dead child, and buried it, and reported that the deed was done.
When the boy was ten years old, he was playing with his companions; and in their play, they chose him to be King over them. He acted the part well; he divided his subjects into groups, telling this group to be soldiers, that to build houses, others to be this and that officer, one to be the King's Eye (or head of the Intelligence Department), all according to the Persian way. He went so far as to have one of his subjects flogged for disobedience; and the boy went and complained to his father.
The boy's father, who was an important person, went and laid a complaint before the King about this upstart son of a cowherd; and the King sent for the boy and the cowherd to appear before him. When they appeared, the King looked at the boy, and said, 'Then you are the boy! See what your father is, and see this great man whose son you have thrashed!' He answered: ' Master, I had a good right to do it. The village boys, of whom he is one, chose me as their King in play. The others did what I told them, but this boy disobeyed, and would not pay heed until he was punished. Then if I deserve to be punished, here I am.'
As he spoke, the King thought he knew him; the boy's face seemed to be like his own, and he spoke boldly. His age also seemed to agree with the time when his daughter's child was exposed. For a while he was speechless; then he told the complaining father that he would see justice done, and sent him away. He then told the attendants to lead the boy within, and when the cowherd was left, he said to him, ' Where did you get this boy?' The cowherd said, 'He is my own, and his mother is still with me.' The King said, 'You are a foolish man, if you wish to get into trouble,' and he gave a sign to his spearmen to lead him away and put him to the torture. Then in his terror the cowherd told the truth, from beginning to end, and prayed for mercy. The King thought little of his part in the matter, but sent for Harpagus, and asked him, 'Harpagus, how did you kill the boy that I handed over to you?' Harpagus saw the cowherd, and knew that it was of no use to pretend; and he answered,
'King, when I took the boy, I sought how I might do your pleasure, and yet neither you nor your daughter might call me murderer. And this is what I did. I sent for this cowherd and gave him the child, saying that it was your command to kill him. And I told him no falsehood in this thing; for you had given that command. But I bade the cowherd expose him upon the hills, and wait until he died, with terrible threats if he did not obey. And when he had done what was commanded, I sent trusty men to the place, and through them I saw the boy, and buried him. That is what. happened, my lord, and that is how the boy died.'
King Astyages then told him the cowherd's tale; and for the time being, hid the anger he felt against Harpagus. 'The boy is alive,' he said, 'and all has turned out for the best. I have long since repented what I did, and I grieve at being estranged from my daughter. This is indeed a happy event. Send me your son to play with the newcomer, and be my guest this evening ; for I am about to make sacrifice for the boy's safety.'
Harpagus did reverence, and took his leave, glad indeed that all had turned out so well, and sent his son to the palace, while he told the good news to his wife. When the son of Harpagus came, King Astyages cut his throat, and carved up the body ; part he roasted, and part, he boiled, and laid it aside ready, all except head, hands, and feet, which he covered up in a basket. When evening came, and they sat down to the feast, the other guests had the usual dishes, but Harpagus was served with the flesh of his own son. When he had finished, the King asked him how he liked the fare. He said ' I have never had better.' Then the attendants brought in a covered basket, and bade him take what he would. Harpagus uncovered the basket, and saw the remains of his son; but he mastered himself. The King said, 'Do you know what meat you have eaten?' He answered, 'Yes, I know, and whatever the King does is pleasing to me.' Then he took up the basket, and went to his own house, where he gathered up the remains of his son, and gave them burial.
Then King Astyages sent for his diviners, and told them all that had happened. They said, 'If he has been once made King, as it seems, the prophecy has been fulfilled, and you need not trouble about the matter. Now send the boy away to his parents.' So then the King did, wishing him good luck; and his real parents were glad indeed to see him, and gave him the name of Cyrus, which had been his grandfather's name.
But Harpagus could not forgive the outrage which had been done upon himself. So he persuaded many of the chief Medians to join him in a plot against King Astyages, whom they all hated for his cruelty; and when the time was ripe, he sent a letter secretly to Cyrus, sewed up in a hare's belly, advising him to stir up the Persians to revolt. This they did, and conquered Astyages, and took him prisoner; and Harpagus at last had his revenge. But the King lived long enough to kill all the diviners who had interpreted his dream. Cyrus made Harpagus his chief general, and Harpagus it was who subdued most of the Greek cities of the coast. Cyrus himself, after a long reign, was killed in battle ; and a few years later the sovereignty was seized by Dareius.
DAREIUS now ruled over the greatest empire in the world: from India to Thrace, from the Black Sea to Arabia, Palestine, Egypt and Ethiopia.
A great road led across it, with post-
But Dareius had one great failure. He led a large army across the straits to subdue the wild Scythians, who lived beyond the Danube, where South Russia is now. To cross the Danube, he made a bridge of boats, which he left in charge of the Ionian forces under their own captains. He failed to catch the Scythians, who just rode away on horseback; and when he set out to return, the Scythians came round by another way to the bridge, and said to the Ionians, 'You break down this bridge, then we will destroy Dareius and his army at our leisure.'
The Ionian captains held a council. One of them was a man named Miltiades, an Athenian really, but then tyrant of the Chersonese (now called Gallipoli). His uncle, also called Miltiades, had left Athens to get free from the tyrant Peisistratus, and then made himself tyrant of the Chersonese ; then after his death Miltiades the nephew took it over, and married the daughter of a Thracian Prince. He ruled there like Rajah Brooke of Sarawak. When the Scythians asked them to break down Dareius's bridge, Miltiades at once spoke for it : ' Let us break the bridge, and win freedom for our countrymen!' The others agreed ; but one, named Histizeus, tyrant of Miletus, said, ' Wait a bit. It is only the power of Dareius, that keeps us in power as tyrants. Take him away, and the people will turn us all out ! ' This made most of them change their minds, and they remained until Dareius came back. But Miltiades kept his own counsel, and we shall hear of him again.
There was a party quarrel in the island of Naxos, between the rich men—they called them fat men in Naxos—and the common people; this time, the people, won, and as the Greek parties usually did, they turned the fat men out of the place. I dare say they carried off some of their fat with them, even if the thin men got the rest; in any case, they were sure to try whether they could not win their way back. So they made haste to Miletus, a Greek city on the coast of the mainland, where the tyrant was a friend of the Naxians by family ties.
This man was named Aristagoras, and a bad man he was: ambitious and greedy, and cared very little for his countrymen or any one else. He thought it a good chance to get the island of Naxos into his power; so he resolved to take up their cause. 'I can't help you by myself,' he said, 'for I understand the Naxians can put eight thousand shields into battle, and they have a large fleet; but I will see what I can do. The governor of all this coast is Artaphernes, a nephew of King Dareius; he has a large army and plenty of ships ; he is a friend of mine, and I think he will be able to do what we want.' For Miletus itself was really under the Persian rule, like all the Greek cities on the coast, and Aristagoras was tyrant under the Persians.
The exiles promised to pay all expenses, and to provide gifts besides ; and they hoped he might be tempted by the prospect of conquering the Greek islands, which so far were independent of Persia. The very sight of his fleet would be enough to frighten the Naxians, and to make them agree to anything.
Accordingly, Aristagoras made a journey to Sardis, the great city of those parts, and had an interview with Artaphernes. He said, 'Naxos is not a large island, but it is a good one, and contains plenty of spoil ; besides, you can make it a centre for conquering the neighbouring islands, and it is close to a very fine and rich island, Euboea. Give me a hundred ships ; I will pay all expenses, of course, and there will be a handsome present for you in addition.' Artaphernes replied, 'This is an excellent plan, and suppose we say 200 ships? But I must get the consent of Dareius.' This he did easily; Aristagoras went back well pleased; the fleet was got ready, and another nephew of Dareius was made admiral.
So the fleet set sail, pretending to be bound for the Hellespont ; but they put in
at the island of Chios, to wait for a wind that might carry them across to Naxos.
While they were waiting there, the admiral used to go on his rounds every night,
to see that a proper watch was kept. One night he found a ship where nobody was on
guard at all; so he was very angry, and hunted up the captain of that ship, whose
name was Skylax, or Doggie, and ordered his attendants to tie him along a bench,
with his head stuck out of the port-
Some one told Aristagoras that Captain Doggie was to be seen, tied up in his own
ship, with his head sticking out of a port-
Then the admiral thought of a way to pay him out. As soon as night came, he sent a cutter to Naxos, and told them what was coming; so when the fleet arrived at Naxos, they found all the people and all their goods shut up in the town, with plenty of supplies for a siege. They besieged Naxos for four months, and then their money came to an end, and they had to sail away unsuccessful.
Thus Aristagoras could not keep his promise to Artaphernes, and he had spent vast sums of money of his own to no purpose ; he was afraid that the Persians might deprive him of his office, and turn him out. Just at this moment he received a strange message. A man, looking like a slave, was shown in, who said he was sent by his cousin. For Aristagoras had a cousin at the court of Dareius, named Histiaeus, a strong and ambitious man, who was kept by Dareius at court, because Dareius was afraid to trust him out of his sight ; he was not exactly a prisoner, but he was not allowed to go away. Aristagoras asked the man, 'Have you brought me a letter?' But he said no, only stood there, until they were alone, and then all he said was, 'Shave my head.'
Aristagoras was astonished, but he shaved the man's head, and there he read his cousin's letter. For Histiaeus had been afraid to give a written letter, in case some one else might get hold of it; so he confided in his most trusty slave: he shaved his head, and tattooed his message upon it, and when the hair had grown thick again, he sent him to Miletus as I have told.
This letter advised Aristagoras to revolt from Dareius ; so it was no wonder he wanted
to keep it secret. He hated being kept away from his home, and hoped by this means
to return again. This fitted in well with what Aristagoras wished; so he persuaded
the chief men of Miletus to join, and they sent messages to the unsuccessful fleet,
and won over a number of the captains, who were themselves Greeks, as were most of
the sailors. At this time, you see, the Greeks did not feel themselves one nation,
as they did later in the Persian wars; and they were quite ready to fight for or
against anybody, as it might be convenient. However, none of them liked the Persians,
and they much pre-
He went first to Sparta, and had a long talk with King Cleomenes. He said, 'You must not be surprised at my desire for your help. There in Asia we are all slaves, men of your own race, and we call on you to set us free. It is not a difficult task. The Persians are not good fighting men ; they use arrows and short spears, and instead of armour, they wear long tights on their legs, and turbans on their heads. The riches of their land are enormous: gold and silver more than there is in the whole world besides, fine rugs and fine clothes, oxen, horses, and other beasts of burden. Here are the Ionian Greeks, and here next to them are the Lydians,' and as he spoke, he pointed to a plate of bronze which he brought with him. Such a thing had never been seen before ; but here was the shape of the coast scratched upon it, and the islands, and all the names of the different peoples put in. He went on, 'Why do you want to fight against paltry places like Argos and Arcadia, when there is nothing worth fighting for when you beat them? when you can have all Asia and its riches.'
`Well,' said the King of Sparta, 'I can't very well answer you at once; but tell me, how many days' journey is it from the sea to the King's court?' It looked very close on the map, you see.
Aristagoras had done well so far, and the King of Sparta was listening, and inclined to agree; but here he made his mistake. Instead of making light of the distance, he said simply, 'Three months.'
The King would not listen to another word ; he said, 'Sir, depart from this country before sunset. You give bad advice to the Spartans, if you ask them to go away from the sea three months' journey.'
But he had better success at Athens. There he received a welcome, and got twenty ships, and a promise of help; and thus Athens came across the Great King, and brought down his vengeance upon her head.
See from what small beginnings great things come. As there was once a war waged by England called the War of Jenkins's Ear, so this great wax between Persia and Greece, with Marathon and Salamis, and all the events which followed, might have been called the War of Doggie's Head.
And so the Ionic Greeks made their revolt; but there was a terrible vengeance; for the King reconquered them all again, and all the islands near the coast. Those who would not yield, were killed or sold as slaves; except some who sailed away to the west with all their families, to found new cities, and to seek freedom there.
The Athenians had helped in this revolt, which made Dareius resolve to subdue all Greece. He bade one of his slaves say to him every day at dinner, three times, 'Remember the Athenians!'
One large army, which was sailing to Greece, was wrecked off Mount Athos, and destroyed. You will see something like three fingers sticking out, in the map, north of the Egean Sea, and near the Dardanelles: the first finger is Athos. But in the year 490 B.c. Dareius sent another army and fleet, which reached the Grecian soil.
This army, on board of the fleet, was sent across to the island of Eubcea ; and after
cruelly treating the city of Eretria, and enslaving all the people, the Persians
anchored off the plain of Marathon, about twenty-
The Persians were in no hurry, for they meant to go round by sea, and they were waiting for a signal from the city. With them was Hippias, once tyrant of Athens, whom they meant to replace as tyrant ; and he expected his friends in the city to help him. They had agreed to flash a shield in the sun from the top of a high mountain, Pentelicus, which is between Athens and Marathon ; and indeed they did, but the signal came too late. Hippias had a dream, which he interpreted to mean that he should be tyrant again, and die and be buried in his country. But as he was busy on the beach, he began to sneeze and cough, so that all his teeth shook in his head (for he was an old man), and after a stronger cough than usual, one of his teeth fell out, and was buried in the sand. Search as he would, he could not find his tooth, so he said with a sigh, 'Ah well, there is my dream. We shall never conquer this land, and all I shall ever get of it, my tooth has already.'
In the Greek army was Miltiades, whom we heard of last in the Chersonese; for he had fled thence with his family and goods when the first Persian expedition had visited those parts, and now he was one of the Athenian generals.
There were ten of these, and these ten were equally divided: five (one of whom was Miltiades) wanted to attack, and five did not.
One of the chief magistrates of the city, Callimachus the Polemarch, who had charge of all the arrangements for war, was there, and he had a right to vote; so Miltiades went to him, and said:
'It lies in you, Callimachus, either to enslave Athens, or to make her free, to leave a fame greater than the fame of Harmodius and Aristogeiton as long as there shall be men upon the earth. For the Athenians are in the greatest danger they have ever had to face. If they bow to the Medes, they will be delivered over to Hippias, and their fate is sure; but if this city survives, it will become the first city in Hellas. I will tell you how this matter rests with you. We ten generals are equally divided, half wishing to attack, and half not. Now if we do not attack, I fear the spirit of the city may be shaken, and a party may prevail to give way to the Medes; but if we attack before any rot sets in at Athens, let the gods give us fair play, and we are able to prevail in the battle. Now all depends on you, all is in your hands. Vote on my side, and our country is free.'
With these words he won over the war minister, and it was decided to join battle.
The Athenians had the foolish custom of giving the generals command of the army for one day, each in turn; but now they all agreed to give up their days to Miltiades. When he saw his opportunity, he drew up his army in line, as long as the Persian line, but .he made the centre only a few deep, and the two wings many deep. Then he advanced at a quick step. The Persians thought they were mad, to advance in a mass of footmen, without either archers or horse ; but they made ready to receive them. When the armies met, the battle was hard and lasted long. The Persian centre beat back the Greek centre, and began to chase it off the field; the Greek wings easily conquered the Persian wings, but instead of chasing them off the field, they let them run, and joining together, both turned inwards on the two flanks and rear of the Persians in the centre (who thought they had won the day), and destroyed them utterly. They killed many thousands of the Persians, and took seven ships. Those who were left, embarked and sailed away. As they went, they saw the signal flash over Pentelicus.
Of the Athenians, one hundred and ninety-
But the work of the army was not yet done. Weary as they were, they marched back to Athens, and there they were when the Persian fleet appeared round the promontory of Sunium. The fleet, after a short delay, sailed back to Asia.
Then the Spartans arrived to help, two thousand strong, and very much pleased they were to see the dead bodies of the Persians.
DAREIUS did not give up his designs after this failure. On the contrary, he began to make preparations for a much larger expedition, which he intended to do the business thoroughly.
But he was not yet ready, when five years later, he died, and his son Xerxes succeeded him.
Nor had the Athenians been idle. Although most people thought the danger was at an end, one man saw that it was only beginning, and that man was Themistocles, the greatest statesman of the Athenian race.
Miltiades, the great general, thought of war on land ; but Themistocles saw that the final event must be decided at sea; since if the Persian fleet was defeated, the Persians could do nothing. For years already he had been trying to persuade the Athenians of this; and he had some success, for he had got them to fortify the port of the Piraeus; but it was not until six years after Marathon that he got his way.
At that time, the silver mines of Attica, which belonged to the government, began
to yield so rich a store of silver, that the city had plenty, and did not quite know
what to do with it. The demagogues, or mob-
Xerxes, who was now King of Persia, is called in the Bible Ahasuerus; and you have read one story about him in the Book of Esther. He went on with the preparations for the invasion of Greece. Troops and ships were demanded of all the nations and tribes of the Persian Empire; stores of corn and fodder were collected at many places along the coasts of the sea ; a deep canal was dug across the neck of Mount Athos, to avoid the dangerous storms off that headland; and two bridges of ships were built over the Hellespont, from Abydos to Sestos.
When the bridges were ready, a great storm broke upon them and destroyed them. This
incensed Xerxes so much, that the first thing he did was to cut off the heads of
the architects ; then he told his servants to cast into the Hellespont a pair of
fetters, and to inflict upon the sea three hundred stripes with the lash, saying
as they did so-
'O bitter water, thy master inflicts this punishment upon thee, because thou hast wronged him when he never did wrong to thee. And King Xerxes will cross thee, whether thou will or no; it is quite right that no man sacrifices to thee, thou muddy and salt river.'
Then the bridges were built anew. To Abydos all the great host marched, half in front
and half behind, and between the two parts went Xerxes with magnificent pomp. With
him came first a thousand horsemen, then a thousand spear-
The great nobles of the empire had their followers, and all the luxuries of life; gold and silver plate, silks and fine carpets and rugs, gorgeous raiment and tents, and they fed on the fat of the land.
At Abydos Xerxes sat on a lofty throne and reviewed his host.
There were Persians and Medes in coats of mail like the scales of fishes, with tall
tiaras of felt on their heads, and tight hose, and wicker shields; Assyrians with
bronze helmets, and linen tunics, carrying spears and swords and clubs ; Bactrians
with bows and short javelins, Indians in cotton, others with turbans, others with
high boots up to the knee ; Ethiopians with stone-
They devoured all the food in the country, and drank the rivers dry. This was the largest host that ever marched; and their fleet was more than twelve hundred ships of war, besides a host of transport.
The Greeks had heard news of this mighty armament, and great was their anxiety. The Athenians sent to Delphi to consult the oracle, and got no comfort, only a prophecy of disaster; but one piece of advice was given to them:
Zeus gives you, though you lose your all,
For your defence a wooden wall.
Same took this to mean that they must sail away in their ships, and found a new city elsewhere; but Themistocles persuaded them that it meant they were to fight in their ships.
So a great council was held of the Greek states; and they agreed for the time being to forget all their private quarrels, and to unite against the dreaded enemy. Those who lay in the Persians' path had to give way, as it was impossible to resist; but some of the others collected at the Isthmus of Corinth, and they resolved to make a stand at Thermopylae. This was the name of a narrow pass between the sea and the mountains, and where a few might hold out against many. The Persian army was collected in the plain beyond, the fleet lying along the shore, eight deep; and the Greek fleet, very much smaller, lay at the headland of Eubcea just opposite, the name of which was Artemisium.
An advanced guard of seven thousand men was sent to Thermopylae, commanded by King Leonidas of Sparta, with his bodyguard of three hundred. More were to follow, but they came not ; and day by day the two armies sat facing each other. Xerxes sent a spy to report. He saw only the Spartans, who on that day were posted outside the wall that was built across the pass ; and they were engaged in wrestling and racing, or combing their long hair. Xerxes laughed at this report ; but he was told that these were following a national custom, and that they combed their long hair very carefully before fighting to the death.
Some one said to the Spartans: 'If the Persians discharge their arrows, they will hide the sun ! ' but a Spartan replied, 'Then we shall have shade to fight in.'
At last Xerxes made his attack. One after another the masses came on, each to be repulsed ; and even the picked Persian troops, who were called the Immortals, fared no better. For the defenders held a narrow place, which allowed no chance for numbers to tell. Xerxes leapt thrice from his throne in rage to see this sight. There seemed to be no hope of success ; when a countryman came and offered to guide him over the mountains to the rear of the pass. Xerxes sent his best men with him. It was a steep and rocky path, leading through ravines and forests, and fit only for single file. By daybreak they were at the top of the pass, and there they found a detachment of Greeks who had been posted there to keep the way. And they could have kept it ; but they fled, and the Persians came down into the valley below.
When the news came to Leonidas, he sent away those of his army who desired to go, and himself remained with the rest; for it had been said by a Delphic oracle, that in this war, either Sparta should be destroyed, or her King should be killed; so he and his own men, the three hundred, at least, resolved to fight to the death.
The Persians set on in relays, and there were overseers behind with whips, to lash them on when they retreated. Four times did they make a grand assault, and four times they were repulsed; two sons of King Dareius were slain in the mellay, and one brother. At last the encompassing force arrived in the rear; what remained of the Greeks retired to a large mound in the midst of the pass, and there they fought until their spears and swords were all broken; there still fighting they were overwhelmed by showers of spears and arrows, and all perished on the spot. Some of the Greek forces were taken prisoners, but only one of the Spartans escaped death; he was ill in bed, and we shall hear of him again.
At a later day the Three Hundred were buried there with this epitaph :
Go tell the Spartans, thou that passest by,
That here obedient to their words we lie.
The Greeks set up a tomb for the others also who fell there, with a stone lion upon it.
Meanwhile a great storm had broken, and a large number of the Persian ships had been wrecked; but there were also fights between them and the Greek ships, in which the Greeks held their own.
When the news came from Thermopylae, Themistocles still wished them to stay and attack the Persians, but the admiral did not, and all the Greek ships retreated; fires were lit all along the shore, to make the Persians think they were still there. So the Greek ships sailed, and came to anchor at Athens and Salamis.
And now there was great debating what was best to do. Most of them wished to sail to Corinth, where the main army lay, and make a stand there, to which end they built a great wall across the Isthmus. They did not understand, but Themistocles did, that so long as the Persians held the sea, they could land anywhere and do very much what they liked.
All the people of Attica, men, women, and children, sailed to Salamis or Aegina, or to the coast opposite, carrying with them what they could of their possessions; their homes, their temples, and the tombs of their ancestors, they left to the mercy of the barbarians. Thus they trusted in wooden walls; but a few who thought the oracle meant exactly what it said, and made a wooden wall round the Acropolis, a rock in the midst of Athens where the chief temples stood, and themselves made ready to defend it.
The Persians swept into the countryside, and took possession of the city, destroying all they found there and burning the wooden wall. Their fleet followed, and anchored along the shore of the bay as far as the Peireius.
The sight of the enemy on their shores, and the innumerable fleet of ships, so staggered the Greeks, that they held a council, and decided to retreat to Corinth. Themistocles alone held firm, for he alone understood the way of fighting by sea. When he heard of this council, he went on board the Admiral's ship, and said to him,
'Eurybiades, if you allow the fleet to depart, what will happen is this: each part will sail away to its own city, in the hope either to escape somehow, or to make terms with the barbarians!'
He convinced him, and they called another council, where Themistocles said nothing of what he had said before for that would only have made them angry; he said,
'Eurybiades, on you rests the safety of Hellas. If we go to the Isthmus, we shall have to fight in the open sea, and the enemy has more ships than we, and heavier ships. Their army will follow by land, and Hellas will be destroyed. But here in the straits, a few ships can make a fight against many, and they will not be able to use their numbers. If we conquer them, as I believe we shall, you will see their army retreating in full disorder; for they depend on the fleet for their food.'
After a hot debate, the admiral decided to remain; and just at this moment, a message came that the Persians had sent a detachment round the other side of the island, to close the straits, so that they could not depart if they would.
The story says that Themistocles had managed this himself, by sending a faithful servant to Xerxes, who warned him that the Greeks were about to escape, and told him that if he wished to catch them, he should block up the other end of the straits. Xerxes fell into the trap; although if he had just left the Greeks, and sailed to the Isthmus, he could have given battle on his own terms.
So on this evening, both sides were prepared for the fight. The Greeks had three hundred ships, and the Persians a thousand. The island of Salamis lies close to the shore of the mainland, leaving a narrow strait ; and the mouth of the strait where the Greeks lay was cut in two by a small island called Psyttaleia, leaving two still narrower channels. The Athenians were posted across the northern of these channels and other Greeks across the southern, with the rest behind.
In the night the Persians deployed right across the sea, from the coast of Phalerum overlapping the end of Salamis, and enclosing the end of the little island of Psyttaleia.
Day dawned. The Greeks sang their battle hymn, and cheered, as they saw the Persians come on into the straits like two great rivers. Then the battle began.
At first the issue was doubtful; but before long the great columns of the Persians, crowding into the narrow straits, got into confusion, and the Greeks steadily made headway. Their right column forced its way through the strait, and took the Persian fleet in flank and rear.
Soon the battle became a massacre; ships capsized, the crews were thrown overboard,
you could not have seen the sea for wreckage. In the end the Persians turned and
fled, and the Greeks pursued, spearing those in the water like tunny-
Xerxes had caused his throne to be placed on a hill above the sea-
A King sat on the rocky brow
That looks o'er sea-
And ships in thousands lay below,
And men in nations—all were his.
He counted them at break of day;
And when the night came-
THE next day after the battle, the Persian fleet sailed away home, and the Greeks pursued them a little way ; but they came back again, because it was clear that the danger had not passed while the Persian army remained. When the captains met to decide who should be counted first, and also second, for merit and valour, it is said that each captain put down his own name first, and second the name of Themistocles ; so that no one got the first place, but it was easy to see who really had won the honours of the day.
But Xerxes fell into a panic ; and all he thought of was how to get back in safety. He therefore left his general Mardonius behind, with three hundred thousand of the best men, and returned himself with the rest by the way they came. Xerxes took great care to make himself safe.
One story tells that when he was crossing to Asia his ship fell in with a terrible storm, and the captain said there was no hope, unless he could lighten the ship, which was full of men. Then the noble Persians on board all offered themselves as a willing sacrifice, and leapt into the sea. When the ship landed, Xerxes crowned the captain with a golden crown for saving the King's life; then because he had caused the death of many Persians, he had the captain's head cut off.
If this is not a true tale, it is just the kind of thing that Eastern despots did, and that was why the Greeks would not yield to them.
But the retreating army had a terrible time. There was no fleet to feed them; they ate up the country, they ate weeds, and leaves, and the bark of tree; thousands perished of disease, and thousands were killed by the natives; and of that mighty host few indeed lived to return.
Mardonius spent the winter in Thessaly, and tried his best to persuade the Greeks
to come to terms ; but they would not. Themistocles on his part managed to persuade
his countrymen to collect an army and meet him; for now everyone listened to the
words of Themistocles. So in the spring of 479 B.C., Mardonius ravaged Attica again,
and burnt Athens,-
The Greek army, commanded by Pausanias, King of Sparta, encamped along the foot of the hills, and there were many combats, in which they suffered severely. When the final battle took place, it was so confused that it is difficult to give a clear account of it. But although the Persians were brave men, they had the advantage only where their cavalry could attack ; the Greeks were much better armed, and hand to hand they were always victorious. They defeated the Persians completely, by the little town of Plataea, which you will remember had alone sent help to the Athenians at Marathon ; Mardonius himself was slain, and the whole camp was taken with immense booty. When the Persian troops were defeated, the rest fled at once, and made the best of their way homewards. Of all the Persian host, the bravest of the brave was Mardonius ; and of the Greeks, Aristodemus, the one Spartan who had not perished in Thermopylae, being ill at the time. He had lived since then in great shame of spirit, and despised by his countrymen, because he had not been killed with his friends ; but on this day he redeemed all the past, and after deeds of bravery which amazed all beholders, died upon the field.
The bravest Athenian was Sophanes.
He used to carry an iron anchor fastened by a chain to his belt ; and when he came near the enemy, he would fix it in the ground, so that nothing could move him from the spot. Then as the enemy retired, he picked it up and gave chase.
One of the army advised Pausanias to hang up the body of Mardonius on a stake, in revenge for an outrage done by Xerxes to the body of Leonidas. But he replied : 'Such a deed is worthy of barbarians alone. The dead on this field are a sufficient vengeance for Thermopylae. And you, man, never come into my presence again, and be thankful that you go now unpunished.'
When the spoil was collected, there were tents adorned with silver and gold, and
gilded couches, goblets and plates and cups of gold, and sacks full of golden and
silvern vessels ; the dead wore bracelets and necklaces and jewelled swords, and
there was so much fine raiment that no one took any account of it. There were horses
and mules, oxen and camels without number. One tenth was set apart for a thank-
If you should ever go to Athens, you will see on the top of the Acropolis hill, the old wall, rebuilt after this war. It is a heap of old blocks and pillars and tombstones, the bits of the old buildings which the Persians threw down.
You have heard how the Greeks faced the barbarians of Asia, and beat them back. What they saw before them was dangerous enough; but it was indeed only half the peril that beset the Greek race, although they did not know it.
To explain how that was, I must go back a little in the story.
The Greeks were always sending out colonies, when they had too many men at home ; they settled, as you know, in all the isles of the AEgean Sea, and on the coasts of Asia, and wherever they could find a good place. They did just the same in the west. Thus they made settlements in Sicily, and South Italy, which became full of Greeks as far north as Naples and Cumw; their descendants live there still, and many of them speak a Greek dialect. The Romans were nobody in those days ; when they got to know the Greeks, they borrowed the Greek alphabet, which they afterwards passed on to us. But the Greeks themselves had borrowed the alphabet from another race, called the Phoenicians. How it was invented is another amusing tale, which you ought to hear some day.
These Phoenicians are called in the Bible Philistines ; they lived on the coasts
of Canaan, and in Tyre and Sidon. Before the Greek race came up, they had done what
the Greeks afterwards did. They sent traders all over the Mediterranean Sea, and
even outside it ; along the coast of Africa, northwards to Britain, making settlements
wherever they could. Spain and Sicily contained many of them ; and their chief place
grew into a great city, Carthage in North Africa. These Phoenicians were not savages
; they had an excellent government at Carthage, they could build walls, temples,
and ships, and they were brave men. But they were barbarians, cruel and merciless,
who crucified men, and sacrificed human beings to Moloch, and delighted in blood.
Like the Asiatics, these people found themselves face to face with the Greeks, and
hated the freedom and humanity of the Greek spirit. Sicily, in particular, was the
place of long years of warfare. The Phoenicians were there first, and did not see
why they should give way to the new-
Now when Xerxes was planning his invasion of Greece, he sent men to Carthage, and arranged that the Carthaginians should make an attack at the same time on the Greeks of Sicily.
So a fleet was prepared, and a great host was sent under Hamilcar, which landed at the city of Himera, and laid siege to it. Syracuse was the chief city of Sicily, and it was ruled by a tyrant, Gelon. He had nearly fifty thousand foot and five thousand horse; the women all gave up their silver ornaments, to be melted and struck into coin. Gelon knew that the invasion was coming, but not when or where, because it came by sea. When he heard it was at Himera, he marched out to the attack, although the enemy was vastly more in number than his men.
All day long the battle raged, now these winning, now those. All day long Hamilcar made fiery sacrifices to Baal; at last, when victory did not come, he threw himself alive into the fire, to appease his god: so the Carthaginians say. But this availed not. The Greeks were victorious, and it is said they killed a hundred and fifty thousand in the battle and the pursuit. For a while, at least, the Greeks were saved from the barbarians.
This battle fell in the same year as the battle of Salamis, and the Greeks declare on the same day. In honour of this victory, Gelon struck a number of beautiful silver coins, some of which you may see in the British Museum.
Most of the Greek cities in Sicily at that time were ruled by tyrants ; and the tyrants of Syracuse were powerful and magnificent. They held noble festivals, they competed at the Olympian games, they employed the first poets of the day to sing their triumphs. But the people were never contented with such rule ; they revolted again and again, until they succeeded in overthrowing the tyrants, and ruled themselves. Soon Sicily became full of riches and splendour; but the Sicilians were always quarrelling among themselves.
For twenty years the Carthaginians left them in peace. Then came another invasion,
led by Hannibal, grandson of Hamilcar who had led the first. He took Himera, and
killed in cold blood all the prisoners he took there. The Carthaginians got a firm
hold on Sicily this time, and the wars between them and the Greeks went on for another
fifty years. Then a peace was made, and the Carthaginians were confined to the north-
Even this defeat did not make the Carthaginians desist. They went on, year after year, until at last they came into conflict with Rome, and then Carthage was finally destroyed.
SALAMIS and Plataea decided the war; but they were not the end.
The Grecian fleet followed up its enemies, and won victories on the coast of Asia Minor and in the straits, setting free the islands and most of the Greek settlements in Asia.
Then Athens made herself head of a league of Greek states, which might have been the beginning of a united Greek empire; but no Greek state ever learnt how to manage either subjects or allies. The Athenians abused their power, and made themselves hated; and other states did just the same later in their turns.
But for fifty years the League kept the Persians at a distance.
During this time, Athens bred a number of great men, poets and painters, writers of tragedy and comedy, architects and sculptors, whose genius has never been surpassed. Athens itself was adorned with noble buildings, the most famous of which is the Parthenon; and you may see some of the carvings from this temple in the British Museum.
Nearly all of this was paid for by the Athenians themselves; they did' use some of the money of the League, it is true, but most of it was properly applied to keep up the fleet, and the work they had to do was honestly done.
All this while, they were quarrelling among themselves, and becoming more and more subject to the unsteady passions of the mob; but for most of the time, they were kept in hand by a great man named Pericles.
When he died, the city grew worse and worse, until it was defeated by its rival, Sparta.
Pericles was descended from the ancient house of Alcmaeon, and his mother Agariste,
We are the only people of Greece who have lived in the same place as long as the memory of man can reach ; and our own forefathers have handed down to us a free state, which of late years our fathers have increased and made glorious by their valour. We have our own way of managing our affairs. All men are equal in private matters, all have an equal opportunity to reach public honours ; poverty does not hinder any, and only merit promotes all. We live and let live, and put on no sour looks if our neighbours do not do exactly as we do. We are ready to obey lawful authority, and our public opinion helps justice and good manners.
We have games and pastimes to cheer our minds, fine shows with all manner of diversions; our city is open to traders who bring in what we cannot produce, and to strangers who may wish to see us as we are.
Our education is not a cruel and harsh discipline, but it is full of good-
No enemy can destroy us, because we are protected by an invincible fleet.
We love beauty without being extravagant, and we love wisdom without being weak. Wealth we use for good ends, and poverty is no shame. All men take part in public affairs.
We are both prudent in beginning an enterprise, and bold in carrying it out. We are generous in giving, and do not count up what we shall gain.
In a word, our city is the school of Hellas, which others may learn from and do well. We alone, when put to the test, are greater than our great name; every sea and every land has seen proofs of our daring. For this city a man may be proud to die.'
If this was what he wished Athens to be, and a little better than what it was, Athens at her best was truly so. In reading his words, we think that much the same might be said of England, and what we wish England to be.
But after the death of Pericles, the power fell into the hands of low-
The Athenians were ungrateful to their great men.
Miltiades died in disgrace; it was partly his own fault, perhaps, but we do not know exactly what happened.
Themistocles was driven into banishment, and he actually had to take refuge with the Persian King, who treated him well.
They had a custom of banishing every one who seemed to be growing too powerful, because
they were always in deadly fear of a new tyrant. The public assembly would meet,
and decide whether it seemed necessary to banish any one. If it was agreed to be
necessary, on an approved day they all met, and each wrote down on a potsherd the
name of the man who he thought should be banished ; then the names were counted,
and whoever got the most votes, was banished for ten years. They called this Ostracism,
because ostrakon meant a potsherd -
The father of Pericles was one of those who were potsherded, and one of these very same potsherds, with his name scratched on it, has been found.
Another was Aristeides, who was always called the Just. A democracy is apt to be dishonest in money matters, and this was particularly a fault of the Greeks; but Aristeides, when he was a magistrate, would not allow any pilfering or jobbing; he was as strict with himself and his friends as he was with his adversaries.
Once a man who had brought a case before him, said, 'Aristeides, my adversary is an enemy of yours, who has done you great wrong.'
Aristeides said, 'My friend, tell me only the wrong that he has done to you; for I am here to do you right, and not myself.'
Aristeides was one of the generals when they fought the Persians at Marathon, and it was he who proposed that they should all give their days of command to Miltiades, since he was the best man.
By his justice he made many enemies; and so it came about, when a meeting was held to decide whom they should ostracise, and they were all voting, a rude countryman came up to Aristeides, who was the first man he saw, and said to him, 'Sir, I can neither read nor write; will you put down the name of Aristeides on my potsherd?'
Aristeides was abashed at this, and asked him, 'Friend, what harm has Aristeides done to you?'
'No harm at all, but I am tired of hearing him called the Just.'
Aristeides said not a word, but put down his own name, and he gave it back to the man. A potsherd has lately been found with his name on it, perhaps this very one! He was banished; but he was afterwards recalled, and fought at the battle of Salamis, and did much good to his countrymen.
Alcibiades was a different kind of man. Well born, handsome, clever, and rich, he began with everything in his favour; but he was full of vanity and ambition, and cared more for himself than for his country or anything else in the world.
He dazzled Athens, and indeed all the Greek states, by his magnificent show at the Olympic games, and he kept them all talking about his bravery and his prowess. But he was a good statesman and a good leader in war. While he was absent in command of an army, those who disliked him managed to get him into trouble on a false charge of conspiracy; which so enraged him, that he deserted and joined the enemy, and did great harm in the war against his own countrymen. Then being restored to power, he won victories for them ; but he was again banished, and was murdered in Asia.
One good point about Alcibiades was, that he was a great friend and admirer of Socrates, who did his best to turn the young man's mind from his folly.
Socrates was the most remarkable man of all that great age. He is said to have been
He was full of humour, and while he made himself out to be ignorant and simple, he made other people so ridiculous, if they were really shams, that they were quite abashed and had nothing to say. Pretence and falsehood he could not abide, and he turned such things to laughter; but any one who was modest, and really wished to learn, he helped by his questions and his talk to know himself, and to become wiser. For beneath all this odd mockery was a great mind and a noble character.
One of his pupils, named Plato, after the death of Socrates, wrote down many of these conversations, and by means of them built up a system of philosophy, or wisdom, which has been considered ever since the greatest work of its kind in the world. It deals with all important subjects, including politics and religion.
Socrates always professed to know nothing, but to ask questions in order to get information. A friend of his once went to Delphi, and asked the oracle who was the wisest man: the reply was, Socrates.
When Socrates heard this he was puzzled, for he said, 'The god cannot be lying, and yet I know that I am not wise. Then I went to a man who had a name for wisdom, and by talking with him, I found that he was really not wise. After doing this with a great many others, and finding them all anything but wise, I began to understand what the god meant. I am wiser than they are; for I know nothing, but then I do not think I know; and they know nothing, and yet think they know much.'
One of these books of Plato describes a dinner party where Socrates was present, with Alcibiades and several other notable men. Alcibiades made a speech, in which he described Socrates. Now Socrates was an ugly man, with a snub nose.
So Alcibiades said :
Socrates is like one of those figures of Silenus which are made to open. Outside
they are ugly and common; but when opened they disclose beautiful figures of the
gods. So his talk is outside all about pack-
Alcibiades went on to tell what happened when they were in the army together. He said:
'Socrates was more hardy than any of us; he could go without food and shelter, and when we had good cheer, he could enjoy it to the full. He did not care to drink, but if we persuaded him, he could beat us all; and no one has ever seen Socrates drunk.
He used to walk barefoot amid snow and ice, and never put on a thick coat. One morning as he stood in front of his tent, he began to think about some puzzling question, and there he was still at midday, when the men began to notice him. There he had been thinking since dawn! they said — and there he stood till the evening. Then some of them brought out their rugs and lay down beside him to see what he would do. He stood there all night long, and at sunrise, offered a prayer to the sun, and walked away.
In battle, he once saved my life; and was the bravest man of the army; and when we
had to retreat, there he was doing as he does in the street, to use the comic poet's
words, " strutting along like a proud marsh-
Of course Socrates made many enemies all the shams he showed up, and all those who
could not enjoy a laugh against themselves, and all the stupid and evil-
Then Socrates said : 'You have not gained much time, gentlemen. I am seventy years old, and in a short time I should have died in any case, if you had waited. Perhaps you think I have been convicted for want of something to say. That is not true; I could have said such things as would have moved you, I could have wept and lamented and begged for mercy ; but I prefer to make such a defence as becomes a free man, and to die, rather than to live by an unworthy defence. I am convicted by you, and sentenced to death ; but my accusers are convicted by truth, and their punishment is, to have done wrong. I abide by my penalty, and they by theirs. To you who have voted for my acquittal I have also something to say. Death is either to be nothing, or it is a migration of the soul to another place. If it be nothing, a dreamless sleep for ever, what a gain that would be, in exchange for the troubles of life! But if what we are told about the future be true, there will be righteous judges to judge our deeds, and we shall have the company of the noble men of the past. I shall hope to talk with them as I did with you, and to find out which of them are wise. At least I shall not be put to death for it again. And no evil can come to a good man, either in life or after death. Now the time has come to depart. I go to die, and you to live; and which is the better lot, God alone knows.'
He spent what time he had left in conversing with his friends; and when the last day of his immortality of the soul. Plato has described this day in the most beautiful of all his books.
'And such,' he says, 'was the end of our friend, who we may say, of all those we have ever known, was the best and wisest and most righteous man.'
While all his friends wept and grieved sore, he alone was calm; and he drank the
THE Spartans did not destroy Athens utterly, as they could have done, and as most victors of that age would have done. They destroyed the long walls and the walls of the Peir2eus, and stript Athens of her fleet and of her empire, but left the city and its people unharmed. It was a noble act of a great race. Athens, after a time of unrest, settled down to its own form of government ; and the Spartans were the leading power in Greece for thirty years. But they were no more successful than Athens had been in governing their dependencies ; and they even left the Asiatic Greeks to the mercy of Persia. In this time took place the greatest adventure of Greek history, the march of the Ten Thousand.
At that time, the King of Persia was Artaxerxes, the great-
Although they were brothers, these two hated each other, as is the way with eastern royalties. The march up country took three months. Then the two armies found themselves face to face at Cunaxa, about a hundred miles short of Babylon, the capital city. The Greeks, on the right wing, put to flight their opponents, the Persian cavalry, without any loss at all ; but the rest of the army was no match for their opponents. Amid the confusion, Cyrus caught sight of his brother, and in his fury crying aloud, 'I have the man!' he rode at him, and wounded him in the breast with his spear; but a soldier struck Cyrus under the eye, and of that wound he died. In a battle of eastern peoples, the leader's death meant defeat, and Cyrus's army at once broke up into pieces; but the Greeks kept order, and encamped together, with sentries set.
However, they were in the greatest danger, and really did not know what to do. The King tried by threats and promises to make them lay down their arms, but they refused outright to do this. He wanted only to get rid of them, and so he allowed one of his generals to lead them away, promising them guidance and supplies of food. They made a truce, and both parties swore by their gods not to hurt each other.
All the while the King hoped to entrap them, and he almost succeeded. For Tissaphernes, the general whom I spoke of, invited the Greek generals and captains to meet him in conference ; and they agreed. They were so foolish as to attend him unarmed; and as soon as they entered his tent, they were all killed or taken prisoners. The Persian troops then rode about, killing all the Greeks they met, who were unarmed, and suspicious of nothing.
When the news spread abroad, the Greeks were in great trouble and despondency. Their leaders were killed; they were more than a thousand miles from home, in an enemy country, without money, food, cavalry or guides. Few tasted food, few kindled a fire, but they slept where they were as best they could.
Now there was a young man in the camp, named Xenophon, not thirty years of age, and himself no soldier, but the friend of Proxenus, one of the murdered generals. At home he was a friend of the philosopher Socrates, whose advice he had asked when Proxenus invited him to go with him; and Xenophon out of a desire to see the world had been glad to go. On that dreadful night, as he was sunk in a troubled sleep, he dreamt that a thunderbolt fell on his father's house, and set it ablaze.
He awoke at once in great fear, but he took a good omen from his dream, because amidst these perils he had seen a great light from Zeus, the god of the sky. Then he thought, 'Why do I lie here? At daybreak it is likely that the enemy will be upon us. No one is preparing to meet them. What about myself then? Why do I wait for someone else?' So he arose, and collected the lesser officers of Proxenus, and told them his thoughts.
'Now,' he added, 'our truce is at an end, and broken by the enemy. And I am not altogether sorry, for I see around us a rich land, the prize of the victors; and the gods will be on our side, for our enemies have broken their oath. We are ten thousand soldiers, and better men than they. And we must not wait for others to take the lead; let us do it ourselves.'
So the rest put themselves under Xenophon's command; then each went to call the officers of the other bodies of troops, and by midnight they met together. Xenophon again spoke so as to put heart into them, and filled them with hope of success; and they chose five new commanders, one being Xenophon himself.
It was now close upon daybreak. They summoned the soldiers together, and appealed to them in the same way. Xenophon in his finest dress, spoke of the treachery of their foes and the anger of the gods, and exhorted them to fight with good hope. At this moment a man sneezed, which was a good omen, and all bowed in reverence to the god; while Xenophon said, 'At this omen I move that we vow to make sacrifice to Zeus Saviour, whose name was our watchword in the late battle, and we will fulfil our vow when we reach a friendly land.'
He made them a fine speech, reminding them of the great deeds of their past history, and told them that they should fight if they wished to save their lives, if they wished to see their friends again, or if they wished for wealth ; one thing was certain, if they did not fight, all they could expect was death.
The soldiers by this time were full of spirit, and ready to obey. They burnt their wagons and their tents, and all but the most necessary of their baggage, and arranged how the army should march. You will find in the story, when you can read it in Greek, all the arrangements described so clearly, that you can almost see them on the march.
The Persians were surprised when they found they had still a fighting army to deal
with; and they tried to entrap them again by false promises, but the Greeks would
not listen. They marched with one division in front, one on each side, one at the
rear, and the baggage in the middle. The Persians hung on their rear, and did much
damage ; when the Greeks turned on them, they fled away, but the Greeks could not
catch them, having no cavalry, and could not hit them, because their Cretan archers
could not shoot so far. So Xenophon that very night got together the best horses
from the baggage-
They were not returning by the same way by which they had come; they had learnt that by marching to the north, they would in time come to Armenia, and then to the sea, so they just arranged each day for the next day's march, and got guides by catching some of the country folk.
In this long march, which lasted all the winter, they had every possible hardship and danger to meet: snow and ice and storms, cold and want, weariness and fighting, mountains to climb, and rivers to cross; and all the time Xenophon kept up their courage, now by appeals, now by jests, but always by his own example.
When they had to enter a mountain pass, and the enemy were seen along the heights, he would send parties of men round to take them behind, and so man the heights first.
Once he was with such a party going at a great pace, for the enemy were racing for it too, when a sulky soldier called out, ' It's all very well for you, Xenophon; you are on horseback, and I am tired out with the weight of my shield.' At once Xenophon leapt down from his horse, and took the man's shield, pushing him out of the ranks, and marching along in his place. He really found it hard work, he says, but he stuck to it and he told the men not to wait for him; but when they saw his pluck, they beat the sulky man until he took back his shield and left Xenophon to do his proper work. Of course you understand that Xenophon had no mind to shirk, but he was needed in front because he had to tell the rest what to do.
Another time they came to a deep river, and could not tell how to cross it. Then a Rhodian soldier offered to show them how if they would give him what he wanted. When they asked him what that was, he said, 'Two thousand skins. I see plenty of sheep and goats and cattle and asses. Let them be killed and skinned, and the skins made into bags and blown up. Then give me the girths of the animals; with these I will tie the skins together, and make a long line, and anchor them to the bottom by stones. I will carry this line of skins across the river, and make it fast at both ends; I will lay brushwood and earth on the top, and your army shall march across, for every skin will support two men.'
But the plan could not be carried out, because there were large bodies of horsemen on the other side; so the army had to march back, and to try the road through the mountains instead.
This was the country we call Kurdistan. For seven days they fought their way through the mountains, and then they came to a plain and the river which separates Kurdistan from Armenia.
This river was too deep to ford without danger; there was also a large force of the enemy on the opposite bank and a host of hillmen behind them, so the army in despair stayed there for the night.
But Xenophon had another dream; he thought he was bound in fetters, and the fetters fell from him of themselves, and allowed him to straddle as wide as he pleased. He took this for an omen that the army could straddle across the river, and told the others, who were encouraged at once.
While he was at breakfast, two young men ran up and told him they had found another ford, and an easy one. So the army, full of courage, marched to this ford, and the enemy kept pace with them on the other side.
Then Xenophon devised this plan. The vanguard made as though to cross over, with
much noise and cheering. But Xenophon, with the rearguard, went off at the double
back to the first ford ; the enemy feared they were to be taken in the rear, and
hurried back to meet them. At once the vanguard crossed by the easy ford, and took
up a strong position, sending some of their men in pursuit. The rest of the main
army followed. Then Xenophon led his men quickly back to the easy ford, and faced
the hillmen who had been following them all along. The light-
They were now quit of the Kurds, but the Persian troops from Armenia were before
them. They had not only to keep these off, but to face terrible snowstorms on the
mountains, and a bitter north wind which froze them. Xenophon was everywhere ; giving
food to those who had hunger-
For many days they marched through this country of snow and mountains, fighting when they must, but ever moving onwards. One day the vanguard climbed to the top of a mountain; and no sooner had they got there, than a great shout went up.
Xenophon and the rearguard on hearing this, thought that a new battle had begun, for there were enemies behind them and all about. But when company after company came up, and the shouts grew louder and louder, it became clear that something of great moment had happened. So Xenophon took horse, and rode up with his cavalry, and they heard the men shouting
'The Sea! the Sea!'
Then all the rearguard broke into a run, and the horses and pack-
It is true their troubles were not yet at an end, and it was a long time before they were at home in their own country, or wherever they wished to go. But they were really delivered; their terrible dangers were over, their worst hardships were past; such dangers and hardships as never yet had any great body of men faced with success. They had fought their way for a whole year, and they had lost one third of their numbers, but they were still an army of soldiers under discipline.
In fact they were more than an army, they were a kind of city travelling on foot. The Greek soldiers were free men, bold and independent, who would obey no man unless they trusted him, and carry out no orders unless they consented to them. It was always possible to convince them by reason, if the right way were taken; but tyranny they would not and could not abide.
They held a great council, in which the men reviewed all the conduct of their commanders, and any one who had a complaint, was allowed to speak out. Of course there were grumblers, and many who forgot that they had been saved, but remembered only their small grievances.
One man complained that Xenophon had assaulted him. 'Where was it ? ' said Xenophon. He answered, `In a place where we were perishing with cold, and there was a great amount of snow.' 'Ah well,' said Xenophon, 'I confess that I do lose my temper sometimes, with nothing to eat and nothing to drink. Tell me, why did I strike you ? Did I ask you for something, and strike you because you would not give it? Was it a fight? Was I drunk?'
The man said, no.
'Well, were you a soldier?'
'No, I was deputed by my messmates to drive a mule.'
Then Xenophon recognised him, and asked, 'Were you the fellow who carried the sick man?'
'Yes, for you forced me to do so, and you scattered my messmates' baggage all over the place.'
'Ah yes,' said Xenophon, 'I remember. I gave it to the others to carry, and told them to bring it back to me, and they did so, and I returned it all to you intact, when you had shown me the sick man. But listen, all of you, and hear what happened. A man was left behind because he could move no longer, and I made you carry him, sir, to save his life, for the enemy were following behind. Is that right?'
The man said, yes.
'Well, I sent you on ahead, and when I came up with you later with the rearguard, I found you digging a hole to bury the man. I praised you, when suddenly I saw the man's leg move. "Why, he's alive," we all said. You said, "Let him be alive as much as he likes, I am not going to carry him." So then I did strike you: it is quite true.'
The man said, 'Well, what of that? Didn't he die afterwards?'
'We are all going to die, but that is no reason why we should be buried alive.'
All agreed that Xenophon was right there; but if any real accusations could have been brought, the company would not have been satisfied with less than justice.
Xenophon spent twenty years of his later life in a pleasant farm, about three miles from Olympia.
Here he fulfilled a vow, which he made in one of his expeditions. He enclosed a large
park, containing meadows, and forests and hills, suited for the breeding of swine,
goats, cattle, and horses. In it was a grove of fruit-
ATHENS made a wonderful recovery after her defeat.
In a few years she had rebuilt the long walls and the defences of the Peiroeus, and had gathered allies into a new league.
But this only meant that she was able to stand amongst the great cities as an equal; she was no longer their mistress. The Spartans were the chief power in Greece for about thirty years; but they were cruel and oppressive, so that all Greece was glad when they were defeated by a Theban general named Epameinondas. He was a great soldier and a great man, but he was killed at the moment of victory, like Nelson. For a while the Thebans were the leading power in Greece, but they were soon overshadowed by a rising power in the north, the kingdom of Macedonia.
The Macedonians were a half-
He was a strong man and full of ability. While he was conquering his savage neighbours, the Greeks took little notice; but he soon began to attack the Greek cities on the coast, and thus he came into contact with Athens and her allies. He was quite unscrupulous, and used deceit as one of his weapons; being also one man whose will was law, he was able to act long before the free states of Greece could make up their minds to do anything. The Athenians were disturbed about his success, but he managed by bribery and persuasion to keep them from acting until it was too late.
The one man who saw what he had in his mind was the Athenian Demosthenes, a great patriot, and by common consent the greatest of all orators.
His father was a rich man, but he died when Demosthenes was seven years old, and his guardians cheated him of his inheritance. Thus he had no proper schooling, and he was also a sickly child, with a stammer in his tongue.
In spite of this, he determined to become an orator. His first attempts at speaking in public were failures; he was laughed down and whistled at for his pains. So he went to the seashore, and practised speaking and reciting with pebbles in his mouth; he shaved his head, so that he might not to be tempted to go into company, and exercised himself so well, that next time he spoke, every one was glad to hear him.
He first brought a suit against his guardians, and made them give up what was left of his property; then came the rise of Philip, and Demosthenes turned to public affairs. When most men were afraid to speak out, and some had been bribed, he spoke the truth boldly; but he did not succeed in convincing his countrymen until it was too late.
He travelled all over Greece, appealing to the states for a united effort. Then Philip, who had mastered all enemies in the north, came into Greece with an army, and met the allied Greeks at the battle of Chaeroneia, where he defeated them completely.
It was evening, when a man came to Athens with the news that Chaeroneia was taken.
The chief men of the city rose from their dinner, and cleared the market-
There was a dead silence. Again and again the herald made his cry, and at last Demosthenes rose, and advised them to stir up the Thebans to resist, before the enemy should descend upon Attica and lay it in ruins. They succeeded at last in getting fair terms of peace, but the freedom of Greece was gone. Upon the field of Choeroneia they built a monument to the dead, a great stone lion, sitting upon its haunches, and looking fearlessly towards the enemy. There the lion still is to be seen, a monument of invincible courage. Soon after that Philip was murdered, and Alexander came to the throne. Demosthenes lived through the short reign of Alexander, but when his successor sought to take him, Demosthenes took poison and gave up his life.
Philip filled his court with distinguished men from Greece, poets and philosophers, learned men and artists of all sorts; he claimed to be Greek himself, and educated his son Alexander as a Greek. Alexander loved Homer, and kept Homer's poems under his pillow. One of his tutors was the great philosopher, Aristotle. Alexander was a fine boy, strong and handsome, and full of courage, but his chief passion was ambition. This led him afterwards to many cruel acts. He would often do things in sudden anger which he repented of ever after ; but he was naturally generous, and a wholesome boy in every way.
Once a man brought Philip a splendid horse for sale. He asked a great price for him ; but when the horse was brought out to try, he would let no man get on his back, nor abide the voices of any, but would kick out. Philip told them to take the horse away, as wild and unprofitable ; but Alexander said, 'O ye gods, what a horse to turn away, all because they lack the skill and heart to handle him!'
Philip said, 'Do you think you could do better?' Alexander said, 'Yes I do, and I will forfeit the price of the horse if I do not!' They all laughed and agreed to let him try.
So Alexander went softly up to the horse, and caught his bridle, and turned him to face the sun; for he had noticed that the horse had been terrified by his own shadow, as he stirred to and fro. Then Alexander speaking gently to the horse, and clapping him on the back with his hand, till he had left his fury and snorting, softly let fall his cloak upon him, and lightly leaping upon his back, got up without any danger; and holding the reins of the bridle hard, without striking or stirring the, horse, made him to be gentle enough. Then when he saw that the fury of the horse was past, and that he began to gallop, he put him to his full career, and laid on spurs and voice with a will. Philip at first was afraid; but when he saw Alexander readily turn the horse at the end of his career, he and all the rest shouted for joy. This was the famous warhorse Bucephalus, or Oxhead, which Alexander took with him on all his campaigns.
Alexander served as a soldier with his father, and he it was who broke the Greek
forces at Chaeroneia. He was twenty years old when his father was murdered, and his
first task was to subjugate Greece; in the course of these wars he did one very cruel
act, for he utterly destroyed the city of Thebes, and slew or sold as a slave every
man, woman, and child within it. He then conquered the barbarians on his borders,
and in the year 334 B.C., at the age of twenty-
When Alexander had conquered Greece, all the great men of Greece came to pay court to him, except one. This was a philosopher named Diogenes, who lived at Corinth, and he would not come. Diogenes lived a very frugal life and slept in a large earthen jar laid on its side in the open air. Alexander was curious to see this independent old man, so he paid him a visit, and there he found him, beside his tub, laid all along in the sun. When Diogenes saw so many coming towards him, he sat up a little, and looked full upon Alexander. Then Alexander courteously spoke to him, and asked him if he lacked anything. 'Yes, I do,' said Diogenes, 'that you stand out of my sun a little.' This pleased Alexander, and when the rest were laughing at Diogenes, as they went away, he said, 'Say what you like, but if I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.'
Alexander, then, crossed into Asia with an army, and prepared to meet the hosts of Persia. The march of the Ten Thousand had shown the weakness of the Persian Empire. The men were brave enough, but they had no discipline, and they depended too much on their leaders. Dareius the Third was now King, and he had enormous numbers of men, including a large body of Greek soldiers of fortune. But Alexander commanded an army, which was indeed far smaller than the enemy, but was better trained, and he himself was one of the greatest leaders of men; one of the four who are counted by all men the greatest captains, Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and Napoleon.
In the end, therefore, he conquered Dareius in three great battles, and took the enormous treasures of the Persian Empire. He stormed many fortresses, such as Tyre and Gaza; he passed over the mountains of the Hindoo Koosh, and invaded India; and he sailed down the river Indus to the sea. It is too long a tale to tell all the long marches he made, the nations he subdued, the cities he founded ; he left his mark for ever upon Asia. His name remains in the city of Secunderabad, and Indian sculptors imitated the Greek style. He treated his conquered foes, as a rule, generously, and did no harm to their wives and families; but it is true that he was sometimes cruel when his anger was aroused. All this he did in nine years. You must read the story of it some day; it is more exciting than Treasure Island, and as wonderful as a fairy tale, and all true.
When he had conquered the Indian King Porus, he asked Porus, 'How do you expect me to treat you ? ' Porus replied, 'Like a king!' Alexander did treat him like a king; he gave him his kingdom back, and more besides. So he made friends as he went along.
He married Roxana, a Bactrian princess, and his chief captains also married women of Asia; many Greeks settled in various places, and their descendants, no doubt, still remain. Indeed, some of the mountain chiefs to this day claim descent from Alexander himself.
He was only at the beginning of his great schemes, and these were not only of conquest. He intended to conquer the rest of Asia, and then turn his attention to Carthage and the west; to explore the world, and to spread everywhere the civilisation of Greece.
But he died in Babylon of a fever in the year 323 B.C., at the age of thirty-
AFTER Alexander's death there was no one to take his place. His generals were men of different sorts, some soldiers, some suited to politics ; but each one was determined to be the new King, and get all he could for himself, and none had the grand ideas and plans of Alexander. So they fought together, and in the end the great empire was divided up.
One general took Macedonia, and whatever he could keep of the neighbouring lands. There is little to say about him and his successors ; but about two hundred years later, one of them came to fight with Rome, and this was the beginning of the great Roman Empire.
Another general, Seleucus, took Asia Minor ; and his family made it a great place for building and sculpture, for art, stage plays, philosophy, and all kinds of learning. There was a great university there, as famous as the university of Athens.
The third, named Ptolemy, chose Egypt, and he made there so wise a government, that his family reigned for three hundred years. Alexandria was their capital ; there also was a great university, and the finest library of the world. We know a good deal about the life of ordinary people in Egypt, because of late years thousands of letters and papers have been found there, dating from the age of Alexander to late Roman times. I will give you one little letter which was found in Egypt, written in Greek by a small boy to his father. 'Dear Father, much obliged to you for not taking me to town with you. If you will not take me with you to Alexandria, I won't write you a letter, I won't speak to you, I won't ask how you are, and if you go to Alexandria, I won't shake hands with you or say good morning. If you will not take me that is what will happen. Mother said to ArchelaUs, Take him away, do, he drives me mad. A nice present you sent me, beans ! You got me out of the way by a trick the other day when you started. Well, send for me, please. If you will not, I won't eat or drink. That's that. Your affectionate son, Theon.' I have corrected his spelling, which was very bad.
By and by the Romans swallowed up all the kingdoms; and when the Roman Empire itself split up into two, the Greek half had its capital at Byzantium, which was afterwards called Constantinople. There it remained for a thousand years, fighting against the barbarians, until a barbarian tribe, the Ottoman Turks, took Constantinople in A.D. 1453, when Henry VI was King of England. They destroyed the Greek civilisation, but they could not destroy the Greek spirit ; which lived through all its afflictions, and in 1821 revolted against the Turks. Lord Byron helped them—and his adventures would give you another story : the English fleet also helped, at the battle of Navarino in 1827. Now the Greeks are an independent nation once more, and they still speak their old language, although not quite the same as it used to be.
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