Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. — Winston Churchill

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber

The African Desert

After staying a few days in Jerusalem, Alexander continued on his way to Egypt, which he quickly conquered also. Here he founded a new city at the mouth of the Nile, and named it Alexandria, after himself. It was so favorably located, that it soon became an important town, and has continued so even till the present day.

Then, having heard that there was a famous temple in Libya, dedicated to Jupiter, Alexander resolved to go there and visit it. The road lay through an African desert, and the journey was very dangerous indeed.

The soldiers toiled painfully along over the burning sand, in which their feet sank up to the ankles. The blazing African sun fell straight down upon their heads, and made them stagger and grow faint with the heat.

From time to time a hot wind, the simoom, blew over the desert, raising great clouds of dust, and choking men and horses as it rolled over them like a torrent, burying them under its shifting waves.

The horses died from thirst and fatigue, for such animals are not fit for travel in the desert. The only creature which can journey comfortably over the dreary waste of the Sahara is the camel, whose stomach is made in a peculiar way, so that it can drink a large quantity of water at a time, and store it up for future use.

Undaunted by fatigue or danger, Alexander pressed onward. Like his soldiers, he suffered from heat and thirst; and like them, too, he was deceived by the mirage.

This is an optical effect due to a peculiar condition of the desert atmosphere. The traveler suddenly sees trees, grass, and running water, apparently a short distance before him. He hastens eagerly forward to lie in the shade, and to plunge his hot face and hands in the refreshing stream; but when he reaches the spot where he saw water and trees, there is nothing but sand, and he sinks down exhausted and cruelly disappointed.

After enduring all these hardships, Alexander arrived at last at the oasis, or green island in the sandy desert, where the Temple of Jupiter stood. The priests led him into the holy place, and, hoping to flatter him, called him the son of Jupiter.

After resting for some time in this pleasant spot, Alexander and his men again braved the dangers of the desert, went back to Alexandria and Tyre, and from there began the long-delayed pursuit of Darius.

The Greek soldiers had suffered so many hardships since beginning the war, that they were now ready for anything. They crossed the Euphrates over a hastily built bridge; then coming to the Tigris, where neither bridge nor boats could be found, they boldly swam across the river, holding their shields over their heads to protect themselves from the arrows of the Persians who stood on the other bank.

Alexander was always the first to rush forward in battle, and he now led the way across the river. He was longing to meet the Persians again, and was very glad to overtake them on the other side of the Tigris.

Here, on the plains of Arbela, the third great battle was fought, and Alexander won the victory. Darius fled once more before the conqueror, while Alexander marched straight on to Babylon, the most wonderful city in the East.


Front Matter

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