A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools. — Thucydides

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.



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