. . .This only is certain, that there is nothing certain; and nothing more miserable and yet more arrogant than man. — Pliny the Elder

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




Heroic Death of Codrus

You remember, do you not, how the sons of Pelops had driven the Heraclidæ, or sons of Hercules, out of the peninsula which was called the Peloponnesus? This same peninsula is now called Morea, or the mulberry leaf, because it is shaped something like such a leaf, as you will see by looking at your map.

The Heraclidæ had not gone away willingly, but were staying in Thessaly, in the northern part of Greece, where they promised to remain one hundred years without making any attempt to come back.

Shortly after the end of the Trojan War, this truce of a hundred years came to an end; and the Heraclidæ called upon their neighbors the Dorians to join them, and help them win back their former lands.

Led by three brave chiefs, the allies passed through Greece proper, along the Isthmus of Corinth, and, spreading all over the Peloponnesus, soon took possession of the principal towns. The leading members of the family of Hercules took the title of kings, and ruled over the cities of Argos, Mycenæ, and Sparta.

The Dorians, who had helped the Heraclidæ win back their former possessions, now saw that the land here was better than their home in the mountains, so they drove all the rest of the Ionians out of the country, and settled there also.

Thus driven away by the Dorians and the Heraclidæ, these Ionians went to Athens, to the neighboring islands, and even to the coast of Asia Minor, south of the ruined city of Troy, where they settled in great numbers. They called the strip of land which they occupied Ionia, and founded many towns, some of which, such as Ephesus and Miletus, were destined to become famous.

Of course, the Ionians were very angry at thus being driven away from home; and those who had gone to live in Athens soon asked Codrus, the Athenian king, to make war against the Heraclidæ of Sparta.

The two armies soon met, and prepared for battle. Codrus, having consulted an oracle, had learned that the victory would be given to the army whose king should be killed, so he nobly made up his mind to die for the good of his people.

Instead of going into battle in royal dress, with his guards all around him, as was his habit, he dressed himself like an ordinary soldier, and went forward until he stood in the very first rank of the army. Then he rushed boldly into the midst of the foe.

Of course, he was soon cut down; but the Athenians, seeing his courage, and learning why he had thus risked his life, fought with such valor that they defeated the Spartan forces, and forced them to retreat.

The victory had been won; but the Athenians were so sorry to lose their beloved king, that they could not rejoice, and sadly returned home, carrying the body of Codrus. Such was the admiration of all the people for this act of royal courage, that they vowed they would never again call any one by the name of king.

When Codrus had been buried, therefore, the Athenians gave his son and heir the government of the city, calling him archon, or chief for life,—a title which was borne by many rulers after him.

The Spartans, who had come into Attica to fight the Athenians, retreated hastily after their defeat, and returned to their city, where they settled, forcing all the people who dwelt in the neighborhood either to leave the country or to serve them as their slaves.

The return of the Heraclidæ into the Peloponnesus is the last event of the Heroic Age, and now real history begins. After this, it is no longer necessary to try to find out the truth hidden in the old tales which were handed down from father to son, and which were the only fairy stories the Greek children knew; for henceforth records were kept of all the principal events.



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