So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do. — Benjamin Franklin

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




The Philosopher Socrates

When Pericles died, the Peloponnesian War had already been carried on for more than three years, but was not nearly at an end. As the Athenians felt the need of a leader, they soon chose Nicias to take the place left vacant by Pericles.

This Nicias was an honest man; but he was unfortunately rather dull, and very slow about deciding anything. Whenever he was called upon to see to matters of state, he hesitated so long, and was so uncertain, that the Greeks often had cause to regret the loss of Pericles.

There was another man of note in Athens at this time, the philosopher Socrates, a truly wise and good man. He was no politician, however; and, instead of troubling himself about the state, he spent all his spare moments in studying, or in teaching the young men of Athens.

Like his friend Anaxagoras, Socrates was a very deep thinker. He, too, always tried to find out the exact truth about everything. He was specially anxious to know how the earth had been created, who the Being was who gave us life, and whether the soul died with the body, or continued to live after the body had fallen into dust.

Socrates was a poor man, a stonecutter by trade; but he spent every moment he could spare from his work in thinking, studying, and questioning others. Little by little, in spite of the contrary opinion of his fellow-citizens, he began to understand that the stories of the Greek gods and goddesses could not be true.

He thought that there must surely be a God far greater than they,—a God who was good and powerful and just, who governed the world he had created, and who rewarded the virtuous and punished the wicked.

Socrates
Socrates.


Socrates believed that everybody should be as good and gentle as possible, and freely forgive all injuries. This belief was very different from that of all ancient nations, who, on the contrary, thought that they should try to avenge every insult, and return evil for evil.

The philosopher Socrates not only taught this gentleness, but practiced it carefully at home and abroad. He had plenty of opportunity to make use of it; for he had such a cross wife, that her name, Xanthippe, is still used to describe a scolding and bad-tempered woman.

Whenever Xanthippe was angry, she used to scold poor Socrates soundly. He always listened without flying into a passion, or even answering her; and when her temper was too unbearable, he quietly left the house, and went about his business elsewhere.

This gentleness and meekness only angered Xanthippe the more; and one day, when he was escaping as usual, she caught up a jug full of water and poured it over his head.

Socrates good-naturedly shook off the water, smiled, and merely remarked to his companions, "After the thunder comes the rain."



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