Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. — John Adams

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




Socrates' Favorite Pupil

As you have already heard, Socrates was a teacher. He did not, however, have a school like yours with desks, and books, and maps, and blackboards. His pupils gathered about him at his workshop, or in the cool porticoes, or under the trees in the garden of the Academy.

Then, while hammering his stone, or while slowly pacing up and down, the philosopher talked to his scholars so gently and wisely, that even the richest and noblest youths of Athens were proud to call him their teacher. He also visited the house of the noted Aspasia, and was a friend of Pericles, Phidias, and Anaxagoras, besides being the teacher of three very celebrated men,—Plato, Xenophon, and Alcibiades. Plato and Xenophon, even in their youth, were noted for their coolness and right-mindedness; but Alcibiades, a general favorite, was very different from them both. He was an orphan, and the ward of Pericles. His father had left him a large fortune; and, as Alcibiades was handsome, intelligent, and very high-spirited, he was made much of and greatly spoiled.

Even as a little child he was very headstrong, and, as he had no father and mother to check him, he was often led by his willfulness into great danger. We are told that once, when he saw a wagon coming down the street where he and his playmates were playing, he called to the man to stop. The man, who cared nothing for their game, drove on, and the other children quickly sprang aside so as not to be run over. Alcibiades, however, flung himself down across the road, in front of his playthings, and dared the driver to come on.

Alcibiades
Alcibiades dared the Driver to come on.


This was of course very foolish; and if the driver had given him a few sharp cuts with his whip, it might have done Alcibiades a great deal of good. But the man was so amused by the little fellow's pluck, that he actually turned around and drove through another street.

When Alcibiades grew a little older, he went to listen to the teachings of Socrates. In the presence of this wise man, Alcibiades forgot all his vanity and willfulness, talked sensibly, and showed himself well informed and kind-hearted.

He seemed so earnest and simple that Socrates soon grew very fond of him. They often walked together on the street; and it must have been pleasing to see this tall, handsome, and aristocratic youth, eagerly listening to the wise words of the homely, toil-worn workman beside him.

Unfortunately, however, Alcibiades could not pass all his time with the good philosopher, and when he left him it was to spend the rest of the day with his own class. As he was rich, generous, and handsome, his companions always flattered him, approved of all he did, and admired everything he said.

This constant flattery was very bad for the young man; and, as he was anxious to please everybody, it often led him to do foolish things. He gave costly banquets, drove fast horses, boasted a great deal, and even started out for his first battle in a magnificent suit of armor all inlaid with gold.

His shield was also inlaid with gold and ivory, and on it was a picture of Cupid throwing the thunderbolts of Jove (Zeus). All his flatterers, instead of telling him frankly that such armor was ridiculous, admired him greatly, and vowed that he looked like the god of the sun.

In the midst of the battle, Alcibiades, who was very brave, rushed into the thick of the foe. His armor was not as strong as a plainer suit would have been; and he soon found himself hemmed round, and almost ready to fall. His fine friends had of course deserted the lad; but, fortunately for him, Socrates was there. The philosopher rushed into the midst of the fray, caught up the young man in his strong arms, and bore him off the battlefield to a place of safety, where he tenderly bound up his wounds.

As Alcibiades was a good-hearted youth, he felt deeply grateful to Socrates for saving his life, and ever after proudly claimed him as a friend. In spite of the philosopher's advice, however, the young man continued to frequent the same society; and, as he was genial and open-handed with all, he daily grew more popular.



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