F Heritage History | Story of the Greeks by Helene Guerber
Contents 
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

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




Two Noble Spartan Youths

Darius was in the midst of his preparations for a third expedition to Greece, when all his plans were cut short by death. His son and successor, Xerxes I., now became king of Persia in his stead.

The new monarch was not inclined to renew the struggle with the Greeks; but his courtiers and the exiled Greeks who dwelt in his palace so persistently urged him to do it, that he finally consented. Orders were then sent throughout the kingdom to get ready for war, and Xerxes said that he would lead the army himself.

During eight years the constant drilling of troops, manufacture of arms, collecting of provisions, and construction of roads, were kept up all through Asia. A mighty fleet lay at anchor, and the king was almost ready to start. Rumors of these great preparations had, of course, come to the ears of the Greeks. All hearts were filled with trouble and fear; for the coming army was far larger than the one the Athenians had defeated at Marathon, and they could not expect to be so fortunate again.

When the Spartans saw the terror of the people, they regretted having angered the king by killing the Persian messengers, and wondered what they could do to disarm his wrath. Two young men, Bulis and Sperthias, then nobly resolved to offer their lives in exchange for those that had been taken.

They therefore set out for Persia, and, having obtained permission to enter the palace, appeared before the king. Here the courtiers bade them fall down before the monarch, and do homage to him, as they saw the others do. But the proud young men refused to do so, saying that such honor could be shown only to their gods, and that it was not the custom of their country to humble themselves thus. Xerxes, to the surprise of his courtiers, did not at all resent their refusal to fall down before him, but kindly bade them make their errand known.

Thus invited to speak, one of them replied, "King of Persia, some years ago our people killed two of your father's messengers. It was wrong to touch an ambassador, we know. You are about to visit our country to seek revenge for this crime. Desist, O king! For we have come hither, my friend and I, to offer our lives in exchange for those our people have taken. Here we are! Do with us as you will."

Xerxes was filled with admiration when he heard this speech, and saw the handsome youths standing quietly before him, ready to die to atone for their country's wrong. Instead of accepting their offer, he loaded them with rich gifts, and sent them home unharmed, telling them he would not injure the innocent, for he was more just than the Lacedæmonians.

But a few months later, when his preparations were complete, Xerxes set out with an army which is said to have numbered more than two million fighting men. As they were attended by slaves and servants of all kinds, some of the old historians say that ten millions of human beings were included in this mighty host.