Prosperity is the measure or touchstone of virtue, for it is less difficult to bear misfortune than to remain uncorrupted by pleasure. — Tacitus

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




The Rebuilding of Athens

The Persians had been driven out of Greece, and the war with them was now carried on in Asia Minor instead of nearer home. The Greek army won many battles here also, and even managed to free the city of Miletus from the Persian yoke.

These triumphs encouraged all the Ionian cities, and they soon formed a league with the other Greeks, promising to help them against the Persians should the war ever be renewed. As soon as this alliance was made, the Greek fleet returned home, bringing back to Athens as a trophy the chains with which Xerxes had pretended to bind the rebellious sea.

In the mean while the Athenians, who had taken refuge on the Peloponnesus, had returned to their native city, where, alas! they found their houses and temples in ruins. The desolation was great; yet the people were so thankful to return, that they prepared to rebuild the town.

They were greatly encouraged in this purpose by an event which seemed to them a good omen. Near the temple of the patron goddess of Athens stood a sacred olive tree, supposed to have been created by her at the time when the city received her name.

This place had been burned by the invaders, and the returning Athenians sorrowfully gazed upon the blackened trunk of the sacred tree. Imagine their delight, therefore, when a new shoot suddenly sprang up from the ashes, and put forth leaves with marvelous speed.

The people all cried that the goddess had sent them this sign of her continued favor to encourage them to rebuild the city, and they worked with such energy that they were soon provided with new homes.

As soon as the Athenians had secured shelter for their families they began to restore the mighty walls which had been the pride of their city. When the Spartans heard of this, they jealously objected, for they were afraid that Athens would become more powerful than Sparta.

Of course, they did not want to own that they were influenced by so mean a feeling as jealousy, so they tried to find a pretext to hinder the work. This was soon found, and Spartan messengers came and told the Athenians that they should not fortify the town, lest it should fall again into the hands of the enemy, and serve them as a stronghold.

Themistocles suspected the real cause of these objections, and made up his mind to use all his talents to help his fellow-citizens. He therefore secretly assembled the most able men, and told them to go on with the work as fast as possible, while he went to Sparta to talk over the matter with the Lacedæmonians.

When he arrived at Sparta, he artfully prolonged the discussions until the walls were built high enough to be defended. Of course, there was now nothing to be done; but the Spartans were very angry, and waited anxiously for an opportunity to punish the Athenians. This came after a time, as you will see in the following chapters.



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