The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right. — G. K. Chesterton

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




Beginning of the Peloponnesian War

The end of Pericles' long and useful life was troubled by a new war between Athens and Sparta; for, as soon as the thirty-years' truce was ended, both cities flew to arms. The war which then began, and which in history is known as the Peloponnesian War, lasted almost as long as the truce; that is to say, for nearly thirty years.

Pericles knew very well that the Athenians, not being so well trained, were no match for the Spartans on land. He therefore advised all the people to come into the city, and take refuge behind the mighty walls, while the fleet carried on the war by sea.

This advice was followed. All the farmers left their fields, and crowded into Athens. When the Spartans came into Attica, they found the farms and villages deserted; but from the top of the Acropolis the people could see the enemy burn down their empty dwellings and destroy the harvests in their fields.

In the mean while the Athenian fleet had sailed out of the Piræus, and had gone down into the Peloponnesus, where the troops landed from time to time, striking terror into the hearts of the inhabitants, and causing much damage.

The Spartans also had a fleet; but it was so much smaller than that of the Athenians, that it could not offer any very great resistance. Still the time came when a battle was to take place between the vessels of the two cities.

It happened on a day when there was to be an eclipse of the sun. Now, you know that this is a very simple and natural thing. An eclipse of the sun is a darkening of its surface, which occurs whenever the moon passes between it and the earth.

As the moon is a very large and solid body, we cannot see either through or around it, and for a few minutes while it is directly between us and the sun it entirely hides the latter from our sight. Pericles, who had so often talked with Anaxagoras and the other learned men of his day, knew what an eclipse was, and had even been told that one would soon take place. He was therefore quite ready for it, warned his soldiers that it was coming, and illustrated his meaning by flinging his cloak over the head of his pilot.

"Can you see the sun now?" he asked.—"Why, no! master, of course not!" replied the man. "Your thick cloak is between me and the sun; how could I see through it?"—"Well, neither can you see through the moon, then," replied Pericles.

His men, thus warned, showed no fear of the eclipse; but the Spartans, who did not trouble themselves greatly with learning, were terrified. They imagined that the darkening of the sun at midday was the sign of some coming misfortune, and hardly dared to fight against the Athenians.

Thanks to this superstitious fear, Pericles laid waste the fields of the Peloponnesus, and came back to Athens in triumph; for, although much damage had been done to the enemy, the Athenians had lost only a few men. These were buried with great honors. Pericles himself pronounced their funeral oration; and we are told that he was so eloquent that all his hearers were melted to tears.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Inhabitants of Greece
The Deluge of Ogyges
Founding of Important Cities
Story of Deucalion
Daedalus and Icarus
The Adventures of Jason
Theseus Visits the Labyrinth
The Terrible Prophecy
The Sphinx's Riddle
Death of Oedipus
The Brothers' Quarrel
The Taking of Thebes
The Childhood of Paris
Muster of the Troops
Sacrifice of Iphigenia
The Wrath of Achilles
Death of Hector and Achilles
The Burning of Troy
Heroic Death of Codrus
The Blind Poet
The Rise of Sparta
The Spartan Training
The Brave Spartan Boy
Public Tables in Sparta
Laws of Lycurgus
The Messenian War
The Music of Tyrtaeus
Aristomenes' Escape
The Olympic Games
Milo of Croton
The Jealous Athlete
The Girls' Games
The Bloody Laws of Draco
The Laws of Solon
The First Plays
The Tyrant Pisistratus
The Tyrant's Insult
Death of the Conspirators
Hippias Driven out of Athens
The Great King
Hippias Visits Darius
Destruction of the Persian Host
Advance of the Second Host
The Battle of Marathon
Miltiades' Disgrace
Aristides the Just
Two Noble Spartan Youths
The Great Army
Preparations for Defense
Leonidas at Thermopylae
Death of Leonidas
The Burning of Athens
Battles of Salamis and Plataea
The Rebuilding of Athens
Death of Pausanias
Cimon Improves Athens
The Earthquake
The Age of Pericles
Teachings of Anaxagoras
Peloponnesian War Begins
Death of Pericles
The Philosopher Socrates
Socrates' Favorite Pupil
Youth of Alcibiades
Greek Colonies in Italy
Alcibiades in Disgrace
Death of Alcibiades
Overthrow of Thirty Tyrants
Accusation of Socrates
Death of Socrates
The Defeat of Cyrus
Retreat of the Ten Thousand
Agesilaus in Asia
A Strange Interview
The Peace of Antalcidas
The Theban Friends
Thebes Free Once More
The Battle of Leuctra
Death of Pelopidas
The Battle of Mantinea
The Tyrant of Syracuse
Damon and Pythias
The Sword of Damocles
Dion and Dionysius
Civil War in Syracuse
Death of Dion
Philip of Macedon
Philip Begins His Conquests
The Orator Demosthenes
Philip Masters Greece
Birth of Alexander
The Steed Bucephalus
Alexander as King
Alexander and Diogenes
Alexander's Beginning
The Gordian Knot
Alexander's Royal Captives
Alexander at Jerusalem
The African Desert
Death of Darius
Defeat of Porus
Return to Babylon
Death of Alexander
Division of the Realm
Death of Demosthenes
Last of the Athenians
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Battle of Ipsus
Demetrius and the Athenians
The Achaean League
Division in Sparta
Death of Agis
War of the Two Leagues
The Last of the Greeks
Greece a Roman Province