Part 3 out of 15

[11] A monument containing the code of Hammurabi was found on the site of
Susa in 1901-1902 A.D. See the illustration, page 25.

[12] Chaldea was another name for Babylonia.

[13] See page 148.

[14] The names of four other week days come from the names of old Teutonic
deities. Tuesday is the day of Tyr, Wednesday of Woden (Odin), Thursday of
Thunor (Thor), and Friday of the goddess Frigga. See page 304.

[15] Zoroastrians are still to be found in the East In Persia, now a
Mohammedan country, there is a little band of devoted followers of
Zoroaster, who keep up to this day the tenets of their ancient faith. In
India the Parsees of Bombay are the descendants of those Persians who fled
from Persia at the time of the Mohammedan conquest (page 376), rather than
surrender their cherished beliefs and embrace a new religion.

[16] _Job_, X, 21.

[17] See page 28.

[18] See the illustrations, pages 27, 54, 58, 63.

[19] See page 13.

[20] See page 186, note 2.

[21] See page 48.

[22] See the illustration, page 46.





The continent of Asia, projecting its huge bulk southwestward between the
seas, gradually narrows into the smaller continent of Europe. The boundary
between the two regions is not well defined. Ancient geographers found a
convenient dividing line north of the Black Sea in the course of the river
Don. Modern map makers usually place the division at the Ural Mountains,
the Caspian Sea, and the Caucasus. Each of these boundaries is more or
less arbitrary. In a geographical sense Europe is only the largest of the
great Asiatic peninsulas.


But in physical features the two continents disclose the most striking
contrasts. The sea, which washes only the remote edges of Asia, penetrates
deeply into Europe and forms an extremely irregular coast line with
numerous bays and harbors. The mountains of Europe, seldom very high and
provided with easy passes, present no such barriers to intercourse as the
mightier ranges of Asia. We miss in Europe the extensive deserts and
barren table-lands which form such a feature of Asiatic geography. With
the exception of Russia the surface, generally, is distributed into
plains, hills, and valleys of moderate size. Instead of a few large
rivers, such as are found in Asia, Europe is well supplied with numerous
streams that make it possible to travel readily from one district to


The almost unbroken mountain chain formed by the Pyrenees, the Alps, and
the Balkans, sharply separates the central land mass of Europe from the
regions to the south. Central Europe consists, in general, of lowlands,
which widen eastward into the vast Russian plain. Northern Europe includes
the British Isles, physically an extension of Europe, and the peninsulas
of Scandinavia and Finland, between the Baltic Sea and the Arctic Ocean.
Twenty centuries ago central and northern Europe was a land of forests and
marshes, of desolate steppes and icebound hills. The peoples who inhabited
it--Celts in the west, Teutons or Germans in the north, Slavs in the east
--were men of Indo-European [2] race and speech. They were still
barbarians. During ancient times we hear little of them, except as their
occasional migrations southward brought them into contact with the Greeks
and the Romans.


Southern Europe comprises the three peninsulas of Spain, Italy, and the
Balkans, which reach far south into the Mediterranean. This great inland
sea is divided into two parts near the center, where Africa and the island
of Sicily almost touch each other across a narrow strait. The eastern part
contains several minor seas, of which the one called the Aegean had most
importance in Greek history.



The Aegean is an almost landlocked body of water. The Balkan peninsula,
narrowing toward the Mediterranean into the smaller peninsula of Greece,
confines it on the west. On the east it meets a boundary in Asia Minor.
The southern boundary is formed by a chain of islands, while the only
opening northward is found in the narrow passage leading to the Black Sea.
The coasts and islands of the Aegean thus make up a little world set off
by itself.

[Illustration: Map, PHYSICAL MAP OF EUROPE]


Continental Greece is a tiny country. Its greatest length is scarcely more
than two hundred and fifty miles; its greatest breadth is only one hundred
and eighty miles. Mountain ridges, offshoots of the Balkans, compose the
greater part of its area. Into the valleys and deep gorges of the interior
the impetuous sea has everywhere forced a channel. The coast line,
accordingly, is most irregular--a constant succession of sharp
promontories and curving bays. The mountains, crossing the peninsula in
confused masses, break it up into numberless valleys and glens which
seldom widen into plains. The rivers are not navigable. The few lakes,
hemmed in by the hills, have no outlets except in underground channels. In
this land of the Greeks no place is more than fifty miles from a mountain
range, or more than forty miles from some long arm of the Mediterranean.


From the Greek mainland to the coast of Asia Minor the traveler follows a
route thickly studded with rocky islands. They are near enough together to
permit the passage from one to another without losing sight of land. The
Aegean islands thus served as "stepping-stones" between Greece and Asia
Minor. [3]


Western Asia Minor resembles Continental Greece in its deeply indented
coast, variety of scenery, and mild climate. The fertile river valleys of
this region early attracted Greek colonists. They built here many
flourishing cities, especially along the central coast, which came to be
known as Ionia.


Greek history well illustrates the influence of geographical conditions on
the life of a people. In the first place, mountain ranges cut up
Continental Greece into many small states, separated from one another by
natural ramparts. Hence the Greeks loved most of all their own local
independence and always refused to unite into one nation under a single
government. In the second place, the near presence of the sea made sailors
of the Greeks and led them to devote much energy to foreign commerce. They
early felt, in consequence, the stimulating effects of intercourse with
other peoples. Finally, the location of Greece at the threshold of Asia,
with its best harbors and most numerous islands on the eastern coast,
enabled the country to receive and profit by all the culture of the
Orient. Greece faced the civilized East.



The Greeks of historic times knew very little about their prehistoric
period. Instead of accurate knowledge they had only the beautiful legends
preserved in ancient poems, such as the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_. Within
our own day, however, remarkable excavations have disclosed the remains of
a widespread and flourishing civilization in times so distant that the
historic Greeks had lost all sight of it. As in the Orient, [4] the labors
of modern scholars are yearly adding to our knowledge of ancient life.

[Illustration: Map, AEGEAN CIVILIZATION]

[Illustration: EXCAVATIONS AT TROY The great northeast tower of the sixth
city. The stairs at the right belong to the eighth city.]


The man who did most to reveal the prehistoric civilization of Greece was
a wealthy German merchant named Heinrich Schliemann. An enthusiastic lover
of Homer, he believed that the stories of the Trojan War related in the
_Iliad_ were not idle fancies, but real facts. In 1870 A.D. he started to
test his beliefs by excavations at a hill called Hissarlik, on the
northwestern coast of Asia Minor. Here tradition had always fixed the site
of ancient Troy. Schliemann's discoveries and those of later explorers
proved that at Hissarlik at least nine successive cities had come into
existence, flourished, and passed away. Excavations completed in 1892 A.D.
have shown that the sixth city in order from the bottom was the one
described in the Homeric poems. It had powerful walls defended by towers,
well-fortified gates, and palaces of stone. The marks of fire throughout
the ruins indicate that the city must have been destroyed by a disastrous


The remarkable disclosures at Troy encouraged Schliemann to excavate other
Homeric sites. At Mycenae, a prehistoric city of Argolis in Greece, he
laid bare six rock-hewn graves, containing the skeletons of nineteen
persons, men, women, and children. The faces of the dead had been covered
with thin masks of gold, and their bodies had been decked with gold
diadems, bracelets, and pendants. The other funeral offerings include gold
rings, silver vases, and a variety of bronze weapons. At Tiryns, once the
capital of Argolis, he uncovered the ruins of an extensive structure with
gateways, open courts, and closed apartments. Characteristic of this
edifice were the separate quarters occupied by men and women, the series
of storerooms for provisions, and such a modern convenience as a bathroom
with pipes and drains. In short, the palace at Tiryns gives us a clear and
detailed picture of the home of a Homeric prince.

[Illustration: LIONS' GATE, MYCENAE
The stone relief, of triangular shape, represents two lions (or lionesses)
facing each other on opposite sides of a pillar. The heads of the animals
have been lost.]


But the fame of even Schliemann's discoveries has been somewhat dimmed by
the excavations made since 1900 A.D. on the site of Gnossus, the ancient
capital of the island of Crete. At Gnossus an Englishman, Sir Arthur
Evans, has found the remains of an enormous palace, with numerous courts,
passages, and rooms. Here is the royal council chamber with the throne on
which the king once sat. Here are the royal magazines, still filled with
huge earthenware jars for the storage of provisions. A great number of
brilliant pictures--hunting scenes, landscapes, portraits of men and
women--cover the palace walls. Buried in some of the chambers were
thousands of clay tablets with inscriptions which, if ever read, will add
new chapters to ancient history. [5]

[Illustration: THE VAPHIO GOLD CUPS (National Museum, Athens)
These beautiful objects were found in 1888 within a "bee-hive" tomb at
Vaphio in Laconia. The two cups are of beaten gold, ornamented with
designs in _repousse_ work. The first scene represents a wild-bull hunt.
The companion piece pictures four tame bulls under the care of a

[Illustration: SILVER FRAGMENT FROM MYCENAE (National Museum, Athens)
A siege scene showing the bows, slings, and huge shields of Mycenaean
warriors. In the background are seen the masonry of the city wall and the
flat-roofed houses.]


These discoveries in the Aegean enable us to place another venerable
center of civilized life by the side of Babylonia and Egypt. As early as
3000 B.C. the primitive inhabitants of the Aegean were giving up the use
of stone tools and weapons for those of metal. Bronze soon came into
general use, as is shown by the excavations. The five centuries between
1600 and 1100 B.C. appear to have been the time when the civilization of
the Aegean Age reached its highest development.


Remarkable progress took place during Aegean times in some of the fine
arts. We find imposing palaces, often splendidly adorned and arranged for
a life of comfort. Wall paintings, plaster reliefs, and fine carvings in
stone excite our admiration. Aegean artists made beautiful pottery of many
shapes and cleverly decorated it with plant and animal forms. They carved
ivory, engraved gems, and excelled in the working of metals. Some of their
productions in gold, silver, and bronze were scarcely surpassed by Greek
artists a thousand years later. [6]


There was much intercourse throughout the Mediterranean during this
period. Products of Aegean art have been found as far west as Sicily,
Italy, and Spain, Aegean pottery has frequently been discovered in
Egyptian tombs. Some objects unearthed in Babylonia are apparently of
Aegean workmanship. In those ancient days Crete was mistress of the seas.
Cretan merchants preceded the Phoenicians as carriers between Asia and
Europe. [7] Trade and commerce thus opened up the Mediterranean world to
all the cultural influences of the Orient.

[Illustration: A CRETAN GIRL (Museum of Candia, Crete)
A fresco painting from the palace of Gnossus. The girl's face is so
astonishingly modern in treatment that one can scarcely believe that the
picture belongs to the sixteenth century B.C.]


Aegean civilization did not penetrate beyond the shores of Asia Minor, the
islands, and the coasts of Continental Greece. The interior regions of the
Greek peninsula remained the home of barbarous tribes, which had not yet
learned to build cities, to create beautiful objects of art, or to traffic
on the seas. By 1100 B.C. their destructive inroads brought the Aegean Age
to an end.

23. THE HOMERIC AGE (ABOUT 1100-750 B.C.)


The barbarians who overthrew Aegean civilization seem to have entered
Greece from the north, perhaps from the region the Danube River. They
pushed gradually southward, sometimes exterminating or enslaving the
earlier inhabitants of the country, but more often settling peaceably
in their new homes. Conquerors and conquered slowly intermingled and so
produced the one Greek people which is found at the dawn of history. These
Greeks, as we shall call them henceforth, also occupied the islands of the
Aegean Sea and the coast of Asia Minor. The entire basin of the Aegean
thus became a Greek world.

[Illustration: AEGEAN SNAKE GODDESS (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
A gold and ivory statuette found in Crete. Dates from the sixteenth
century B.C. The goddess wears the characteristic Cretan dress, with low-
cut jacket and full skirt with five plaited flounces. On her head is an
elaborate crown.]


The period between the end of the Aegean Age and the opening of historic
times in Greece is usually called the Homeric Age, because many features
of its civilization are reflected in two epic poems called the _Iliad_ and
the _Odyssey_. The former deals with the story of a Greek expedition
against Troy; the latter describes the wanderings of the hero Odysseus on
his return from Troy. The two epics were probably composed in Ionia, and
by the Greeks were attributed to a blind bard named Homer. Many modern
scholars, however, consider them the work of several generations of poets.
The references in the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ to industry, social life,
law, government, and religion give us some idea of the culture which the
historic Greeks received as their inheritance.


The Greeks as described in the Homeric epics were in a transitional stage
between the life of shepherds and that of farmers. Wealth consisted
chiefly of flocks and herds, though nearly every freeman owned a little
plot of land on which he cultivated grain and cared for his orchard and
vineyard. There were few skilled workmen, for almost everything was made
at home. A separate class of traders had not yet arisen. Commerce was
little followed. The Greeks depended on Phoenician sailors to bring to
their shores the commodities which they could not produce themselves. Iron
was known and used, for instance, in the manufacture of farm tools. During
Homeric times, however, that metal had not yet displaced copper and
bronze. [8]


Social life was very simple. Princes tended flocks and built houses;
princesses carried water and washed clothes. Agamemnon, Odysseus, and
other heroes were not ashamed to be their own butchers and cooks. The
Homeric knights did not ride on horseback, but fought from chariots. They
sat at table instead of reclining at meals, as did the later Greeks.
Coined money was unknown. Trade was by barter, values being reckoned in
oxen or in lumps of gold and silver. Men bought their wives by making
gifts of cattle to the parents. The art of writing is mentioned only once
in the Homeric poems, and doubtless was little used.

[Illustration: A CRETAN CUPBEARER (Museum of Candia, Crete)
A fresco painting from the palace of Gnossus. The youth carries a silver
cup ornamented with gold. His waist is tightly drawn in by a girdle, his
hair is dark and curly, his profile is almost classically Greek.]


The times were rude. Wars, though petty, were numerous and cruel. The
vanquished suffered death or slavery. Piracy, flourishing upon the
unprotected seas, ranked as an honorable occupation. It was no insult to
inquire of a seafaring stranger whether he was pirate or merchant. Murders
were frequent. The murderer had to dread, not a public trial and
punishment, but rather the personal vengeance of the kinsmen of his
victim. The Homeric Greeks, in fact, exhibited the usual defects and vices
of barbarous peoples.


The _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ disclose a considerable acquaintance with
peninsular Greece and the coasts of Asia Minor. Cyprus, Egypt, and Sicily
are also known in part. The poet imagines the earth as a sort of flat
shield, with Greece lying in the center. [9] The Mediterranean, "The Sea,"
as it is called by Homer, and its continuation, the Euxine, [10] divided
the world into two equal parts. Surrounding the earth was "the great
strength of the Stream of Ocean," [11] a river, broad and deep, beyond
which lay the dark and misty realm of the mythical Cimmerians. The
underworld of Hades, home of the dead, was beneath the surface of the

[Illustration: Map, THE WORLD according to HOMER (900 B.C.)]




We may learn from the Homeric poems what were the religious ideas held by
the early Greeks. The greater gods and goddesses were not numerous. Less
than a score everywhere received worship under the same names and in all
the temples. Twelve of the chief deities formed a select council, which
was supposed to meet on the top of snow-crowned Olympus. The Greeks,
however, did not agree as to what gods and goddesses should be included in
this august assemblage.


Many of the Olympian deities appear to have been simply personifications
of natural phenomena. Zeus, "father of gods and men," as Homer calls him,
was a heaven god, who gathered the clouds in storms and hurled the
lightning bolt. Apollo, a mighty god of light, who warded off darkness and
evil, became the ideal of manly beauty and the patron of music, poetry,
and healing. Dionysus was worshiped as the god of sprouting and budding
vegetation. Poseidon, brother of Zeus, ruled the sea. Hera, the wife of
Zeus, represented the female principle in nature. Hence she presided over
the life of women and especially over the sacred rites of marriage.
Athena, who sprang full-grown from the forehead of Zeus, embodied the idea
of wisdom and all womanly virtues. Aphrodite, who arose from the foam of
the sea, was the goddess of love and beauty. Demeter, the great earth-
mother, watched over seed-time and harvest. Each deity thus had a kingdom
and a function of its own.

ZEUS OTRICOLI, Vatican Gallery, Rome
HERA, Ludovisi Villa, Rome
APOLLO OF THE BELVEDERE, Vatican Gallery, Rome
APHRODITE OF CNIDUS, Glyptothek, Munich]

[Illustration: THE APHRODITE OF MELOS (Louvre, Paris)
More commonly known as the "Venus of Milo." The statue was discovered in
1820 A.D. on the island of Melos. It consists of two principal pieces
joined together across the folds of the drapery. Most art critics date
this work about 100 B.C. The strong serene figure of the goddess sets
forth the Greek ideal of female loveliness.]


The Greeks made their gods and goddesses after themselves. The Olympian
divinities are really magnified men and women, subject to all human
passions and appetites, but possessed of more than human power and endowed
with immortality. They enjoy the banquet, where they feast on nectar and
ambrosia; they take part in the struggles of the battle field; they marry
and are given in marriage. The gods, morally, were no better than their
worshipers. They might be represented as deceitful, dissolute, and cruel,
but they could also be regarded as upholders of truth and virtue. Even
Homer could say, "Verily the blessed gods love not evil deeds, but they
reverence justice and the righteous acts of men." [12]

[Illustration: THE FRANCOIS VASE (Archaeological Museum, Florence)
Found in an Etruscan grave in 1844 A.D. A black-figured terra cotta vase
of about 600 B.C. It is nearly three feet in height and two an one half
feet in diameter. The figures on the vase depict scenes from Greek

Calydonian boar hunt
Games at the funeral of Patroclus
Peleus Thetis and the gods
Pursuit of Troilus by Achilles
Animal scenes, sphinxes, etc.]


Greek ideas of the other world were dismal to an extreme. The after-life
in Hades was believed to be a shadowy, joyless copy of the earthly
existence. In Hades the shade of great Achilles exclaims sorrowfully,
"Nay, speak not comfortably to me of death. Rather would I live on earth
as the hireling of another, even with a landless man who had no great
livelihood, than bear sway among all the dead." [13] It was not until
several centuries after Homer that happier notions of the future life were
taught, or at least suggested, in the Eleusinian mysteries. [14]



The Greeks believed that communications from the gods were received from
certain inspired persons at places called oracles. The oracle of Apollo at
Delphi in Phocis enjoyed the utmost veneration. It lay within a deep cave
on the rocky side of Mount Parnassus. Out of a chasm rose a volcanic vapor
which had a certain intoxicating power. The Pythia, or prophetess of
Apollo, sat on a tripod over the steaming cleft and inhaled the gas. The
words she uttered in delirium were supposed to come from the god. They
were taken down by the attendant priests, written out in verse, and
delivered to the suppliants.


The fame of Apollo as the patron of inspiration and prophecy spread
throughout Greece and penetrated to foreign lands. Every year thousands of
visitors made their way to Apollo's shrine. Sick men prayed for health,
childless men prayed for offspring. Statesmen wished to learn the fate of
their political schemes; ambassadors sent by kings and cities sought
advice as to weighty matters of peace and war. Above all, colonists came
to Delphi in order to obtain directions as to the best country in which to
settle. Some of the noblest cities of the Greek world, Cyrene and
Byzantium, for example, [15] had their sites fixed by Apollo's guidance.



The priests who managed the oracle and its responses were usually able to
give good advice to their inquirers, because news of every sort streamed
into Delphi. When the priests were doubtful what answer to give, the
prophecy of the god was sometimes expressed in such ambiguous fashion
that, whatever the outcome, neither Apollo nor his servants could be
charged with deceit. For instance, when Croesus, the Lydian king, was
about to attack Cyrus, he learned from the oracle that "if he warred with
the Persians he would overthrow a mighty empire" [16]--but the mighty
empire proved to be his own. [17]


Athletic games were held in different parts of Greece from a remote
period. The most famous games were those in honor of Zeus at Olympia in
Elis. They took place every fourth year, in midsummer. [18] A sacred truce
was proclaimed for an entire month, in order that the thousands of
spectators from every part of Greece might arrive and depart in safety. No
one not of Greek blood and no one convicted of crime or of the sin of
impiety might participate in the contests. The candidates had also to
prove that they were qualified for the severe tests by a long and hard
training. Once accepted as competitors, they could not withdraw. The man
who shrank back when the hour of trial arrived was considered a coward and
was punished with a heavy fine.


The games occupied five days, beginning with the contests in running.
There was a short-distance dash through the length of the stadium, a
quarter-mile race, and also a longer race, probably for two or three
miles. Then followed a contest consisting of five events: the long jump,
hurling the discus, throwing the javelin, running, and wrestling. It is
not known how victory in these five events taken together was decided. In
the long jump, weights like dumb-bells were held in the hands, the swing
of the weights being used to assist the spring. The discus, which weighed
about twelve pounds, was sometimes hurled more than one hundred feet. The
javelin was thrown either by the hand alone or with the help of a thong
wound about the shaft and held in the fingers. In wrestling, three falls
were necessary for a victory. The contestants were free to get their grip
as best they could. Other contests included boxing, horse races, and
chariot races. Women were apparently excluded from the games, yet they
were allowed to enter horses for the races and to set up statues in honor
of the victors.

[Illustration: THE DISCUS THROWER (DISCOBOLUS) (Lancelotti Palace, Rome)
Marble copy of the bronze original by Myron, a sculptor of the fifth
century B.C. Found in 1781 A.D. on the Esquiline Hill, Rome. The statue
represents a young man, perhaps an athlete at the Olympian games, who is
bending forward to hurl the discus. His body is thrown violently to the
left with a twisting action that brings every muscle into play.]


The Olympian festival was profoundly religious, because the display of
manly strength was thought to be a spectacle most pleasing to the gods.
The winning athlete received only a wreath of wild olive at Olympia, but
at home he enjoyed the gifts and veneration of his fellow-citizens. Poets
celebrated his victories in noble odes. Sculptors reproduced his triumphs
in stone and bronze. To the end of his days he remained a distinguished

[Illustration: HERMES AND DIONYSUS (Museum of Olympia)
An original statue by the great sculptor, Praxiteles. It was found in 1877
A.D. at Olympia. Hermes is represented carrying the child Dionysus, whom
Zeus had intrusted to his care. The symmetrical body of Hermes is
faultlessly modeled; the poise of his head is full of dignity; his
expression is refined and thoughtful. Manly strength and beauty have never
been better embodied than in this work.]

[Illustration: ATHLETE USING THE STRIGIL (APOXYOMENUS) (Vatican Gallery,

Marble copy of the bronze original by Lysippus, a sculptor of the fourth
century B.C. The statue represents an athlete rubbing his arm with a flesh
scraper to remove the oil and sand of the palestra, or exercising ground.
His slender form suggests quickness and agility rather than great


There were few Greeks who at least once in their lives did not attend the
festival. The crowds that gathered before and after the games turned the
camp into a great fair, at which merchants set up their shops and money
changers their tables. Poets recited their lines before admiring audiences
and artists exhibited their masterpieces to intending purchasers. Heralds
read treaties recently formed between Greek cities, in order to have them
widely known. Orators addressed the multitude on subjects of general
interest. The games thus helped to preserve a sense of fellowship among
Greek communities.



The Greeks in Homeric times had already begun to live in towns and cities.
A Greek city, being independent and self-governing, is properly called a
city-state. Just as a modern nation, it could declare war, arrange
treaties, and make alliances with its neighbors. Such a city-state
included not only the territory within its walls, but also the surrounding
district where many of the citizens lived.


The members of a Greek city-state were very closely associated. The
citizens believed themselves to be descended from a common ancestor and so
to be all related. They were united, also, in the worship of the patron
god or hero who had them under his protection. These ties of supposed
kinship and common religion were of the utmost importance. They made
citizenship a privilege which came to a person only by birth, a privilege
which he lost by removal to another city. Elsewhere he was only a
foreigner without legal rights--a man without a country.


The Homeric poems, which give us our first view of the Greek city-state,
also contain the most ancient account of its government. Each city-state
had a king, "the shepherd of the people" [19] as Homer calls him. The king
did not possess absolute authority. He was surrounded by a council of
nobles, chiefly the great landowners of the community. They helped him in
judgment and sacrifice, followed him to war, and filled the principal
offices. Both king and nobles were obliged to consult the common people on
matters of great importance. For this purpose the ruler would summon the
citizens to the market place to hear the deliberations of his council and
to settle such questions as making war or declaring peace. All men of free
birth could attend the assembly, where they shouted assent to the decision
of their leaders or showed disapproval by silence. This public assembly
had little importance in the Homeric Age, but later it became the center
of Greek democracy.


After the middle of the eighth century B.C., when historic times began in
Greece, some interesting changes took place in the government of the city-
states. In some of them, for example, Thebes and Corinth, the nobles
became strong enough to abolish the kingship altogether. Monarchy, the
rule of one, thus gave away to aristocracy, [20] the rule of the nobles.
In other states, for instance, Sparta and Argos, the kings were not driven
out, but their power was much weakened. Some states came under the control
of usurpers whom the Greeks called "tyrants." A tyrant was a man who
gained supreme power by force and governed for his own benefit without
regard to the laws. There were many tyrannies in the Greek world during
the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. Still other states went through an
entire cycle of changes from kingship to aristocracy, from aristocracy to
tyranny, and from tyranny to democracy or popular rule.


The isolated and independent Greek communities thus developed at an early
period many different kinds of government. To study them all would be a
long task. It is better to fix our attention on the two city-states which
held the principal place in Greek history and at the same time presented
the most striking contrasts in government and social life. These were
Sparta and Athens.



The Greek invaders who entered southern Greece, or the Peloponnesus, [21]
were known as Dorians. They founded the city of Sparta, in the district of
Laconia. By the close of the sixth century B.C. the Spartans were able to
conquer their immediate neighbors and to organize some of the city-states
of the Peloponnesus into a strong confederacy called the Peloponnesian
League. The members of the league did not pay tribute, but they furnished
troops to serve in war under Spartan leaders, and they looked to Sparta
for guidance and protection. Thus this single city became the foremost
power in southern Greece.


It is clear that the Spartans must have been an extremely vigorous and
warlike people. Their city, in fact, formed a military camp, garrisoned by
soldiers whose whole life was passed in war and in preparation for war.
The Spartans were able to devote themselves to martial pursuits because
they possessed a large number of serfs, called helots. The helots tilled
the lands of the Spartans and gave up to their masters the entire product
of their labor, except what was necessary for a bare subsistence.


Spartan government also had a military character. In form the state was a
kingdom, but since there were always two kings reigning at once and
enjoying equal authority, neither of them could become very powerful. The
real management of public affairs lay in the hands of five men, known as
ephors, who were elected every year by the popular assembly. The ephors
accompanied the kings in war and directed their actions; guided the
deliberations of the council of nobles and the assembly of freemen;
superintended the education of children; and exercised a general oversight
of the private life of citizens. The ephors had such absolute control over
the lives and property of the Spartans that we may describe their rule as
socialistic and select Sparta as an example of ancient state socialism.
Nowhere else in the Greek world was the welfare of the individual man so
thoroughly subordinated to the interests of the society of which he formed
a unit.


Spartan education had a single purpose--to produce good soldiers and
obedient citizens. A sound body formed the first essential. A father was
required to submit his son, soon after birth, to an inspection by the
elders of his tribe. If they found the child puny or ill-shaped, they
ordered it to be left on the mountain side, to perish from exposure. At
the age of seven a boy was taken from his parents' home and placed in a
military school. Here he was trained in marching, sham fighting, and
gymnastics. He learned to sing warlike songs and in conversation to
express himself in the fewest possible words. Spartan brevity of speech
became proverbial. Above all he learned to endure hardship without
complaint. He went barefoot and wore only a single garment, winter and
summer. He slept on a bed of rushes. Every year he and his comrades had to
submit to a flogging before the altar of the goddess Artemis, and the hero
was the lad who could bear the whipping longest without giving a sign of
pain. It is said that boys sometimes died under the lash rather than utter
a cry. Such ordeals are still a feature of savage life to-day.


On reaching the age of twenty the youth was considered a warrior. He did
not live at home, but passed his time in barracks, as a member of a
military mess to which he contributed his proper share of food, wine, and
money. At the age of thirty years the young Spartan became a full citizen
and a member of the popular assembly. He was then compelled to marry in
order to raise children for the state. But marriage did not free him from
attendance at the public meals, the drill ground, and the gymnasium. A
Spartan, in fact, enjoyed little home life until his sixtieth year, when
he became an elder and retired from actual service.


This exclusive devotion to military pursuits accomplished its object. The
Spartans became the finest soldiers of antiquity. "All the rest of the
Greeks," says an ancient writer, "are amateurs; the Spartans are
professionals in the conduct of war." [22] Though Sparta never produced
great thinkers, poets or artists, her military strength made her the
bulwark of Greece against foreign foes. The time was to come when Greece,
to retain her liberties, would need this disciplined Spartan soldiery.

28. THE GROWTH OF ATHENS (to 500 B.C.)


The district of Attica, though smaller than our smallest American
commonwealth, was early filled with a number of independent city-states.
It was a great step in advance when, long before the dawn of Greek
history, these tiny communities were united with Athens. The inhabitants
of the Attic towns and villages gave up their separate governments and
became members of the one city-state of Athens. Henceforth a man was a
Athenian citizen, no matter in what part of Attica he lived.


At an earlier period, perhaps, than elsewhere in Greece, monarchy at
Athens disappeared before the rising power of the nobles. The rule of the
nobility bore harshly on the common people. Popular discontent was
especially excited at the administration of justice. There were at first
no written laws, but only the long-established customs of the community.
Since all the judges were nobles, they were tempted to decide legal cases
in favor of their own class. The people, at length, began to clamor for a
written code. They could then know just what the laws were.


After much agitation an Athenian named Draco was employed to write out a
code for the state. The laws, as published, were very severe. The penalty
for most offenses, even the smallest theft, was death. The Athenians used
to declare that the Draconian code had been written, "not in ink, but in
blood." Its publication, however, was a popular triumph and the first step
toward the establishment of Athenian democracy.


The second step was the legislation of Solon. This celebrated Athenian was
accounted among the wisest men of his age. The people held him in high
honor and gave him power to make much-needed reforms. At this time the
condition of the Attic peasants was deplorable. Many of them had failed to
pay their rent to the wealthy landowners, and according to the old custom
were being sold into slavery. Solon abolished the custom and restored to
freedom all those who had been enslaved for debt. He also limited the
amount of land which a noble might hold. By still another law he admitted
even the poorest citizens to the popular assembly, where they could vote
for magistrates and judge of their conduct after their year of office was
over. By giving the common people a greater share in the government, Solon
helped forward the democratic movement at Athens.


Solon's reforms satisfied neither the nobility nor the commons. The two
classes continued their rivalry until the disorder of the times enabled an
ambitious politician to gain supreme power as a tyrant. [24] He was
Solon's own nephew, a noble named Pisistratus. The tyrant ruled with
moderation and did much to develop the Athenian city-state. He fostered
agriculture by dividing the lands of banished nobles among the peasants.
His alliances with neighboring cities encouraged the rising commerce of
Athens. The city itself was adorned with handsome buildings by architects
and sculptors whom Pisistratus invited to his court from all parts of


Pisistratus was succeeded by his two sons, but the Athenians did not take
kindly to their rule. Before long the tyranny came to an end. The
Athenians now found a leader in a noble named Clisthenes, who proved to be
an able statesman. He carried still further the democratic movement begun
by Draco and Solon. One of his reforms extended Athenian citizenship to
many foreigners and emancipated slaves ("freedmen") then living in Attica.
This liberal measure swelled the number of citizens and helped to make the
Athenians a more progressive people. Clisthenes, it is said, also
established the curious arrangement known as ostracism. Every year, if
necessary, the citizens were to meet in assembly and to vote against any
persons whom they thought dangerous to the state. If as many as six
thousand votes were cast, the man who received the highest number of votes
had to go into honorable exile for ten years. [25] Though ostracism was
intended as a precaution against tyrants, before long it came to be used
to remove unpopular politicians.


There were still some steps to be taken before the rule of the people was
completely secured at Athens. But, in the main, the Athenians by 500 B.C.
had established a truly democratic government, the first in the history of
the world. The hour was now rapidly approaching when this young and
vigorous democracy was to show forth its worth before the eyes of all



While Athens, Sparta, and their sister states were working out the
problems of government, another significant movement was going on in the
Greek world. The Greeks, about the middle of the eighth century B.C.,
began to plant numerous colonies along the shores of the Mediterranean and
of the Black Sea. The great age of colonization covered more than two
hundred years. [26]


Several reasons led to the founding of colonies. Trade was an important
motive. The Greeks, like the Phoenicians, [27] could realize large profits
by exchanging their manufactured goods for the food and raw materials of
other countries. Land hunger was another motive. The poor soil of Greece
could not support many inhabitants and, when population increased,
emigration afforded the only means of relieving the pressure of numbers. A
third motive was political and social unrest. Greek cities at this period
contained many men of adventurous disposition who were ready to seek in
foreign countries a refuge from the oppression of nobles or tyrants. They
hoped to find in their new settlements more freedom than they had at home.


A Greek colony was not simply a trading post; it was a center of Greek
life. The colonists continued to be Greeks in customs, language, and
religion. Though quite independent of the parent state, they always
regarded it with reverence and affection: they called themselves "men away
from home." Mother city and daughter colony traded with each other and in
time of danger helped each other. A symbol of this unity was the sacred
fire carried from the public hearth of the old community to the new


The Greeks planted many colonies on the coast of the northern Aegean and
on both sides of the long passage between the Mediterranean and the Black
Sea. Their most important colony was Byzantium, upon the site where
Constantinople now stands. They also made settlements along the shores of
the Black Sea. The cities founded here were centers from which the Greeks
drew their supplies of fish, wood, wool, grain, metals, and slaves. The
immense profits to be gained by trade made the Greeks willing to live in a
cold country so unlike their own and among barbarous peoples.


The western lands furnished far more attractive sites for colonization.
The Greeks could feel at home in southern Italy, where the genial climate,
pure air, and sparkling sea recalled their native land. At a very early
date they founded Cumae, on the coast just north of the bay of Naples.
Emigrants from Cumae, in turn, founded the city of Neapolis (Naples),
which in Roman times formed a home of Greek culture and even to-day
possesses a large Greek population. To secure the approaches from Greece
to these remote colonies, two strongholds were established on the strait
of Messina: Regium (modern Reggio) on the Italian shore and Messana
(modern Messina) on that of Sicily. Another important colony in southern
Italy was Tarentum (modern Taranto).

Paestum, the Greek Poseidonia, was a colony of Sybaris The malarial
atmosphere of the place led to its desertion in the ninth century of our
era. Hence the buildings there were not used as quarries for later
structures. The so called "Temple of Neptune" at Paestum is one of the
best preserved monuments of antiquity.]


Greek settlements in Sicily were mainly along the coast. Expansion over
the entire island was checked by the Carthaginians, who had numerous
possessions at its western extremity. The most celebrated colony in Sicily
was Syracuse, established by emigrants from Corinth. It became the largest
of Greek cities.


In Corsica, Sardinia, and on the coast of Spain Carthage also proved too
obstinate a rival for the Greeks to gain much of a foothold. The city of
Massilia (Marseilles), at the mouth of the Rhone, was their chief
settlement in ancient Gaul. Two colonies on the southern shore of the
Mediterranean were Cyrene, west of Egypt, and Naucratis, in the Delta of
the Nile. From this time many Greek travelers visited Egypt to see the
wonders of that strange old country.


Energetic Greeks, the greatest colonizers of antiquity, thus founded
settlements from the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. "All the Greek
colonies" says an ancient writer, "are washed by the waves of the sea,
and, so to speak, a fringe of Greek earth is woven on to foreign lands."
[28] To distinguish themselves from the foreigners, or "barbarians," [29]
about them, the Greeks began to call themselves by the common name of
Hellenes. Hellas, their country, came to include all the territory
possessed by Hellenic peoples. The life of the Greeks, henceforth, was
confined no longer within the narrow limits of the Aegean. Wherever rose a
Greek city, there was a scene of Greek history.



The Greek colonies, as we have seen, were free and independent. In Greece
itself the little city-states were just as jealous of their liberties.
Nevertheless ties existed, not of common government, but of common
interests and ideals, which helped to unite the scattered sections of the
Greek world. The strongest bond of union was, of course, the one Greek
speech. Everywhere the people used the same beautiful and expressive
language. It is not a "dead" language, for it still lives in modified form
on the lips of nearly three million people in the Greek peninsula,
throughout the Mediterranean, and even in remote America.


Greek literature, likewise, made for unity. The _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_
were recited in every Greek village for centuries. They formed the
principal textbook in the schools; an Athenian philosopher calls Homer the
"educator of Hellas." It has been well said that these two epics were at
once the Bible and the Shakespeare of the Greek people.


Religion formed another bond of union. Everywhere the Greeks worshiped the
same gods and performed the same sacred rites. Religious influences were
sometimes strong enough to bring about federations known as amphictyonies,
or leagues of neighbors. The people living around a famous sanctuary would
meet to observe their festivals in common and to guard the shrine of their
divinity. The Delphic amphictyony was the most noteworthy of these local
unions. It included twelve tribes and cities of central Greece and
Thessaly. They established a council, which took the shrine of Apollo
under its protection and superintended the athletic games at Delphi.


The seventh and sixth centuries before Christ form a noteworthy epoch in
Greek history. Commerce and colonization were bringing their educating
influence to bear upon the Greeks. Hellenic cities were rising everywhere
along the Mediterranean shores. A common language, literature, and
religion were making the people more and more conscious of their unity as
opposed to the "barbarians" about them.


Greek history has now been traced from its beginnings to about 500 B.C. It
is the history of a people, not of one country or of a united nation. Yet
the time was drawing near when all the Greek communities were to be
brought together in closer bonds of union than they had ever before known.


1. On the map facing page 66 see what regions of Europe are less than 500
feet above sea level; less than 3000 feet; over 9000 feet.

2. Why was Europe better fitted than Asia to develop the highest
civilization? Why not so well fitted as Asia to originate civilization?

3. "The tendency of mountains is to separate, of rivers to unite, adjacent
peoples." How can you justify this statement by a study of European

4. Why has the Mediterranean been called a "highway of nations"?

5. Locate on the map several of the natural entrances into the basin of
the Mediterranean.

6. At what points is it probable that southern Europe and northern Africa
were once united?

7. Compare the position of Crete in relation to Egypt with that of Sicily
in relation to the north African coast.

8. Why was the island of Cyprus a natural meeting place of Egyptian,
Syrian, and Greek peoples?

9. What modern countries are included within the limits of the Balkan

10. Describe the island routes across the Aegean (map between pages 68-

11. What American states lie in about the same latitude as Greece?

12. Compare the boundaries of ancient Greece with those of the modern

13. What European countries in physical features closely resemble Greece?
What state of our union?

14. Why is Greece in its physical aspects "the most European of European

15. What countries of Greece did not touch the sea?

16. Tell the story of the _Iliad_ and of the _Odyssey_.

17. Explain the following terms: oracle; amphictyony; helot; Hellas;
Olympiad; and ephors.

18. Give the meaning of our English words "ostracism" and "oracular."

19. Explain the present meaning and historical origin of the following
expressions: "a Delphic response"; "Draconian severity"; "a laconic

20. What is the date of the first recorded Olympiad? of the expulsion of
the last tyrant of Athens?

21. Describe the Lions' Gate (illustration, page 70) and the Francois
Vase (illustration, page 77).

22. Compare Greek ideas of the future life with those of the Babylonians.

23. Why has the Delphic oracle been called "the common hearth of Hellas"?

24. What resemblances do you discover between the Olympian festival and
one of our great international expositions?

25. Define and illustrate these terms: monarchy; aristocracy; tyranny;

26. Why are the earliest laws always unwritten?

27. What differences existed between Phoenician and Greek colonization?

28. Why did the colonies, as a rule, advance more rapidly than the mother
country in wealth and population?

29. What is the origin of the modern city of Constantinople? of
Marseilles? of Naples? of Syracuse in Sicily?


[1] Webster, _Readings in Ancient History_, chapter iii, "Early Greek
Society as Pictured in the Homeric Poems"; chapter iv, "Stories from Greek
Mythology"; chapter v, "Some Greek Tyrants"; chapter vi, "Spartan
Education and Life."

[2] See pages 16-17.

[3] For the island routes see the map between pages 68-69.

[4] See page 42.

[5] See the illustration, page 10.

[6] See the plate facing page 70.

[7] See pages 29, 48.

[8] See page 5.

[9] See the map, page 76.

[10] The Greek name of the Black Sea.

[11] _Iliad_, xviii, 607.

[12] _Odyssey_, xiv, 83-84.

[13] _Odyssey_, xi, 488-491.

[14] See page 227.

[15] See pages 88,90.

[16] Herodotus, i, 53.

[17] See page 37.

[18] The first recorded celebration occurred in 776 B.C. The four-year
period between the games, called an Olympiad, became the Greek unit for
determining dates. Events were reckoned as taking place in the first,
second, third, or fourth year of a given Olympiad.

[19] _Iliad_, ii, 243.

[20] _Aristocracy_ means, literally, the "government of the best." The
Greeks also used the word _oligarchy_--"rule of the few"--to describe a
government by citizens who belong to the wealthy class.

[21] "Pelops's island," a name derived from a legendary hero who settled
in southern Greece.

[22] Xenophon, _Polity of the Lacedaemonians_, 13.

[23] The Spartans believed that their military organization was the work
of a great reformer and law-giver named Lycurgus. He was supposed to have
lived early in the ninth century B.C. We do not know anything about
Lycurgus, but we do know that some existing primitive tribes, for
instance, the Masai of East Africa, have customs almost the same as those
of ancient Sparta. Hence we may say that the rude, even barbarous,
Spartans only carried over into the historic age the habits of life which
they had formed in prehistoric times.

[24] See page 82.

[25] The name of an individual voted against was written on a piece of
pottery (Greek _ostrakon_), whence the term _ostracism_. See the
illustration, page 97.

[26] See the map facing page 50.

[27] See page 49.

[28] Cicero, _De republica_, ii, 4.

[29] Greek _barbaroi_, "men of confused speech."





The history of the Greeks for many centuries had been uneventful--a
history of their uninterrupted expansion over barbarian lands. But now the
time was approaching when the independent and isolated Greek communities
must meet the attack of the great despotic empires of Asia. The Greek
cities of Asia Minor were the first part of the Hellenic world to be
involved. Their conquest by the Lydian king, Croesus, about the middle of
the sixth century B.C., showed how grave was the danger to Greek
independence from the ambitious designs of Oriental monarchs.


As we have already learned, Croesus himself soon had to submit to a
foreign overlord, in the person of Cyrus the Great. The subjugation of
Lydia and the Greek seaboard by Cyrus extended the Persian Empire to the
Mediterranean. The conquest of Phoenicia and Cyprus by Cambyses added the
Phoenician navy to the resources of the mighty empire. Persia had now
become a sea power, able to cope with the Greeks on their own element. The
subjection of Egypt by the same king led naturally to the annexation of
the Greek colonies on the north African shore. The entire coast of the
eastern Mediterranean had now come under the control of a new, powerful,
and hostile state.

[Illustration: CROESUS ON THE PYRE
Painting on an Athenian vase of about 490 B.C. According to the legend
Cyrus the Great, having made Croesus prisoner, intended to burn him on a
pyre. But the god Apollo, to whose oracle at Delphi Croesus had sent rich
gifts, put out the blaze by a sudden shower of rain. The vase painting
represents the Lydian king sitting enthroned upon the pyre, with a laurel
wreath on his head and a scepter in one hand. With the other hand he pours
a libation. He seems to be performing a religious rite, not to be
suffering an ignominious death.]

[Illustration: PERSIAN ARCHERS (Louvre, Paris)
A frieze of enameled brick from the royal palace at Susa. It is a
masterpiece of Persian art and shows the influence of both Assyrian and
Greek design. Each archer carries a spear, in addition to the bow over the
left shoulder and the quiver on the back. These soldiers probably served
as palace guards, hence the fine robes worn by them.]


The accession of Darius to the Persian throne only increased the dangers
that overshadowed Hellas. He aimed to complete the work of Cyrus and
Cambyses by extending the empire wherever a natural frontier had not been
reached. Accordingly, about 512 B.C., Darius invaded Europe with a large
army, annexed the Greek colonies on the Hellespont (the modern
Dardanelles), and subdued the wild tribes of Thrace and Macedonia. The
Persian dominions now touched those of the Greeks. [2]

[Illustration: Map, GREECE at opening of the PERSIAN WARS 400 B.C.]


Not long after this European expedition of Darius, the Ionian cities of
Asia Minor revolted against the Persians. Unable to face their foes
single-handed, they sought aid from Sparta, then the chief military power
of Greece. The Spartans refused to take part in the war, but the
Athenians, who realized the menace to Greece in the Persian advance, sent
ships and men to fight for the Ionians. Even with this help the Ionian
cities could not hold out against the vast resources of the Persians. One
by one they fell again into the hands of the Great King.



No sooner was quiet restored in Asia Minor than Darius began preparations
to punish Athens for her part in the Ionian Revolt. The first expedition
under the command of Mardonius, the son-in-law of the Persian monarch, was
a failure. Mardonius never reached Greece, because the Persian fleet, on
which his army depended for provisions, was wrecked off the promontory of
Mount Athos.


Darius did not abandon his designs, in consequence of the disaster. Two
years later a second fleet, bearing a force of perhaps sixty thousand men,
set out from Ionia for Greece. Datis and Artaphernes, the Persian leaders,
sailed straight across the Aegean and landed on the plain of Marathon,
twenty-six miles from Athens.

[Illustration: GRAVESTONE OF ARISTON (National Museum, Athens)
Found near Marathon in 1838 A.D. Belongs to the late sixth century B.C.
Incorrectly called the "Warrior of Marathon"]


The situation of the Athenians seemed desperate. They had scarcely ten
thousand men with whom to face an army far larger and hitherto invincible.
The Spartans promised support, but delayed sending troops at the critical
moment. Better, perhaps, than a Spartan army was the genius of Miltiades,
one of the Athenian generals. Relying on Greek discipline and Greek valor
to win the day, he decided to take the offensive. His heavy armed soldiers
made a smashing charge on the Persians and drove them in confusion to
their ships. Datis and Artaphernes then sailed back to Asia with their
errand of vengeance unfulfilled.

Painting on a Greek vase]


After the battle of Marathon the Athenians began to make preparations to
resist another Persian invasion. One of their leaders, the eminent
Aristides, thought that they should increase their army and meet the enemy
on land. His rival, Themistocles, urged a different policy. He would
sacrifice the army to the navy and make Athens the strongest sea power in
Greece. The safety of Athens, he argued, lay in her ships. In order to
settle the question the opposing statesmen were put to the test of
ostracism. [3] The vote went against Aristides, who was obliged to
withdraw into exile. Themistocles, now master of the situation, persuaded
the citizens to use the revenues from some silver mines in Attica for the
upbuilding of a fleet. When the Persians came, the Athenians were able to
oppose them with nearly two hundred triremes [4]--the largest navy in



"Ten years after Marathon," says a Greek historian, "the 'barbarians'
returned with the vast armament which was to enslave Hellas." [5] Darius
was now dead, but his son Xerxes had determined to complete his task. Vast
quantities of provisions were collected; the Hellespont was bridged with
boats; and the rocky promontory of Mount Athos, where a previous fleet had
suffered shipwreck, was pierced with a canal. An army of several hundred
thousand men was brought together from all parts of the Great King's
domain. He evidently intended to crush the Greeks by sheer weight of

[Illustration: A THEMISTOCLES OSTRAKON (British Museum, London)
A fragment of a potsherd found in 1897 A.D., near the Acropolis of Athens.
This ostrakon was used to vote for the ostracism of Themistocles, either
in 483 B.C. when he was victorious against Aristides, or some ten years
later, when Themistocles was himself defeated and forced into exile.]


Xerxes did not have to attack a united Greece. His mighty preparations
frightened many of the Greek states into yielding, when Persian heralds
came to demand "earth and water," the customary symbols of submission.
Some of the other states, such as Thebes, which was jealous of Athens, and
Argos, equally jealous of Sparta, did nothing to help the loyal Greeks
throughout the struggle. But Athens and Sparta with their allies remained
joined for resistance to the end. Upon the suggestion of Themistocles a
congress of representatives from the patriotic states assembled at the
isthmus of Corinth in 481 B.C. Measures of defense were taken, and Sparta
was put in command of the allied fleet and army.


The campaigns of the Great Persian War have been described, once for all,
in the glowing pages of the Greek historian, Herodotus. [6] Early in the
year 480 B.C. the Persian host moved out of Sardis, crossed the
Hellespont, and advanced to the pass of Thermopylae, commanding the
entrance to central Greece. This position, one of great natural strength,
was held by a few thousand Greeks under the Spartan king, Leonidas. For
two days Xerxes hurled his best soldiers against the defenders of
Thermopylae, only to find that numbers did not count in that narrow
defile. There is no telling how long the handful of Greeks might have kept
back the Persian hordes, had not treachery come to the aid of the enemy. A
traitor Greek revealed to Xerxes the existence of an unfrequented path,
leading over the mountain in the rear of the pass. A Persian detachment
marched over the trail by night and took up a position behind the Greeks.
The latter still had time to escape, but three hundred Spartans and
perhaps two thousand allies refused to desert their post. While Persian
officers provided with whips lashed their unwilling troops to battle,
Leonidas and his men fought till spears and swords were broken, and hands
and teeth alone remained as weapons. Xerxes at length gained the pass--but
only over the bodies of its heroic defenders. Years later a monument to
their memory was raised on the field of battle. It bore the simple
inscription: "Stranger, go tell the Spartans that we lie here in obedience
to their commands." [7]


After the disaster at Thermopylae nearly all the states of central Greece
submitted to the Persians. They marched rapidly through Boeotia and Attica
to Athens, but found a deserted city. Upon the advice of Themistocles the
non-combatants had withdrawn to places of safety, and the entire fighting
force of Athens had embarked on the ships. The Athenian fleet took up a
position in the strait separating the island of Salamis from Attica and
awaited the enemy. [8]


The battle of Salamis affords an interesting example of naval tactics in
antiquity. The trireme was regarded as a missile to be hurled with sudden
violence against the opposing ship, in order to disable or sink it. A sea
fight became a series of maneuvers; and victory depended as much on the
skill of the rowers and steersmen as on the bravery of the soldiers. The
Persians at Salamis had many more ships than the Greeks, but Themistocles
rightly believed that in the narrow strait their numbers would be a real
disadvantage to them. Such proved to be the case. The Persians fought
well, but their vessels, crowded together, could not navigate properly and
even wrecked one another by collision. After an all-day contest what
remained of their fleet withdrew from the strait.

[Illustration: AN ATHENIAN TRIREME (Reconstruction)
A trireme is supposed to have had three tiers or banks of oars, placed one
above the other. Each tier thus required an oar about a yard longer than
the one immediately beneath it. There were about two hundred rowers on a


The victory at Salamis had important results. It so crippled the Persians
that henceforth they lost command of the sea. Xerxes found it difficult to
keep his men supplied with provisions and at once withdrew with the larger
part of his force to Asia. The Great King himself had no heart for further
fighting, but he left Mardonius, with a strong body of picked troops, to
subjugate the Greeks on land. So the real crisis of the war was yet to


Mardonius passed the winter quietly in Thessaly, preparing for the spring
campaign. The Greeks in their turn made a final effort. A strong Spartan
army, supported by the Athenians and their allies, met the Persians near
the little town of Plataea in Boeotia. Here the heavy-armed Greek
soldiers, with their long spears, huge shields, and powerful swords,
easily overcame the enormous masses of the enemy. The success at Plataea
showed how superior to the Persians were the Greeks in equipment,
leadership, and fighting power. At the same time as this battle the
remainder of the Persian fleet suffered a crushing defeat at Mycale, a
promontory off the Ionian coast. These two battles really ended the war.
Never again was Persia to make a serious effort to secure dominion over
Continental Greece.


The Great Persian War was much more than a conflict between two rival
states. It was a struggle between East and West; between Oriental
despotism and Occidental individualism. On the one side were all the
populous, centralized countries of Asia; on the other side, the small,
disunited states of Greece. In the East was the boundless wealth, in men
and money, of a world-wide empire. In the West were the feeble resources
of a few petty communities. Nevertheless Greece won. The story of her
victory forms an imperishable record in the annals of human freedom.



After the battle of Plataea the Athenians, with their wives and children,
returned to Attica and began the restoration of their city, which the
Persians had burned. Their first care was to raise a wall so high and
strong Athens in future would be impregnable to attack. Upon the
suggestion of Themistocles it was decided to include within the
fortifications a wide area where all the country people, in case of
another invasion, could find a refuge. Themistocles also persuaded the
Athenians to build a massive wall on the land side of Piraeus, the port
of Athens. That harbor town now became the center of Athenian industry
and commerce.


While the Athenians were rebuilding their city, important events were
taking place in the Aegean. After the battle of Mycale the Greek states in
Asia Minor and on the islands once more rose in revolt against the
Persians. Aided by Sparta and Athens, they gained several successes and
removed the immediate danger of another Persian attack. It was clearly
necessary, however, for the Greek cities in Asia Minor and the Aegean to
remain in close alliance with the Continental Greeks, if they were to
preserve their independence. Under the guidance of Aristides, the old
rival of Themistocles, [9] the allies formed a union known as the Delian

[Illustration: "THESEUM"
An Athenian temple formerly supposed to have been constructed by Cimon to
receive the bones of the hero Theseus. It is now believed to have been a
temple of Hephaestus and Athena erected about 440 B.C. The 'Theseum' owes
its almost perfect preservation to the fact that during the Middle Ages it
was used as a church.]


The larger cities in the league agreed to provide ships and crews for a
fleet, while the smaller cities were to make their contributions in money.
Athens assumed the presidency of the league, and Athenian officials
collected the revenues, which were placed in a treasury on the island of
Delos. As head of this new federation Athens now had a position of
supremacy in the Aegean like that which Sparta enjoyed in the
Peloponnesus. [10]


The man who succeeded Themistocles and Aristides in leadership of the
Athenians was Cimon, son of Miltiades, the hero of Marathon. While yet a
youth his gallantry at the battle of Salamis gained him a great
reputation, and when Aristides introduced him to public life the citizens
welcomed him gladly. He soon became the head of the aristocratic or
conservative party in the Athenian city. To Cimon the Delian League
entrusted the continuation of the war with Persia. The choice was
fortunate, for Cimon had inherited his father's military genius. No man
did more than he to humble the pride of Persia. As the outcome of Cimon's
successful campaigns the southern coast of Asia Minor was added to the
Delian League, and the Greek cities at the mouth of the Black Sea were
freed from the Persian yoke. Thus, with Cimon as its leader, the
confederacy completed the liberation of the Asiatic Greeks.


While the Greeks were gaining these victories, the character of the Delian
League was being transformed. Many of the cities, instead of furnishing
ships, had taken the easier course of making all their contributions in
money. The change really played into the hands of Athens, for the tribute
enabled the Athenians to build the ships themselves and add them to their
own navy. They soon had a fleet powerful enough to coerce any city that
failed to pay its assessments or tried to withdraw from the league.
Eventually the common treasure was transferred from Delos to Athens. The
date of this event (454 B.C.) may be taken as marking the formal
establishment of the Athenian naval empire.


Sparta and her Peloponnesian allies viewed with growing jealousy the rapid
rise of Athens. As long, however, as Cimon remained at the head of
Athenian affairs, there was little danger of a break with Sparta. He
desired his city to keep on good terms with her powerful neighbor: Athens
should be mistress of the seas, and Sparta should be mistress on the
mainland. A contest between them, Cimon foresaw, would work lasting injury
to all Greece. Cimon's pro-Spartan attitude brought him, however, into
disfavor at Athens, and he was ostracized. New men and new policies
henceforth prevailed in the Athenian state.



The ostracism of Cimon deprived the aristocrats of their most prominent
representative. It was possible for the democratic or liberal party to
assume complete control of public affairs. Pericles, their leader and
champion, was a man of studious habits. He never appeared on the streets
except when walking between his house and the popular assembly or the
market place, kept rigidly away from dinners and drinking bouts, and ruled
his household with strict economy that he might escape the suspicion of
enriching himself at the public expense. He did not speak often before the
people, but came forward only on special occasions; and the rarity of his
utterances gave them added weight. Pericles was a thorough democrat, but
he used none of the arts of the demagogue. He scorned to flatter the
populace. His power over the people rested on his majestic eloquence, on
his calm dignity of demeanor, and above all on his unselfish devotion to
the welfare of Athens.

[Illustration: PERICLES (British Museum, London)
The bust is probably a good copy of a portrait statue set up during the
lifetime of Pericles on the Athenian Acropolis. The helmet possibly
indicates the office of General held by Pericles.]


The period, about thirty years in length, between the ostracism of Cimon
and the death of Pericles, forms the most brilliant epoch in Greek
history. Under the guidance of Pericles the Athenian naval empire reached
its widest extent. Through his direction Athens became a complete
democracy. Inspired by him the Athenians came to manifest that love of
knowledge, poetry, art, and all beautiful things which, even more than
their empire or their democracy, has made them famous in the annals of
mankind. The Age of Pericles affords, therefore, a convenient opportunity
to set forth the leading features of Athenian civilization in the days of
its greatest glory.


Athens under Pericles ruled more than two hundred towns and cities in Asia
Minor and the islands of the Aegean Sea. [11] The subjects of Athens, in
return for the protection that she gave them against Persia, owed many
obligations. They paid an annual tribute and furnished soldiers in time of
war. In all legal cases of importance the citizens had to go to Athens for
trial by Athenian courts. The Delian communities, in some instances, were
forced to endure the presence of Athenian garrisons and officers. To the
Greeks at large all this seemed nothing less than high-handed tyranny.
Athens, men felt, had built up an empire on the ruins of Hellenic liberty.


If the Athenians possessed an empire, they themselves were citizens of a
state more democratic than any other that has existed, before or since, in
the history of the world. They had now learned how unjust was the rule of
a tyrant or of a privileged class of nobles. They tried, instead, to
afford every one an opportunity to make the laws, to hold office, and to
administer justice. Hence the Athenian popular assembly and law courts
were open to all respectable citizens. The offices, also, were made very
numerous--fourteen hundred in all--so that they might be distributed as
widely as possible. Most of them were annual, and some could not be held
twice by the same person. Election to office was usually by lot. This
arrangement did away with favoritism and helped to give the poor man a
chance in politics, as well as the man of wealth or noble birth.


The center of Athenian democracy was the Assembly. Its membership included
every citizen who had reached twenty years of age. Rarely, however, did
the attendance number more than five thousand, since most of the citizens
lived outside the walls in the country districts of Attica. Forty regular
meetings were held every year. These took place on the slopes of the hill
called the Pnyx. A speaker before the Assembly faced a difficult audience.
It was ready to yell its disapproval of his advice, to mock him if he
mispronounced a word, or to drown his voice with shouts and whistles.
Naturally, the debates became a training school for orators. No one could
make his mark in the Assembly who was not a clear and interesting speaker.
Voting was by show of hands, except in cases affecting individuals, such
as ostracism, when the ballot was used. Whatever the decision of the
Assembly, it was final. This great popular gathering settled questions of
war and peace, sent out military and naval expeditions, voted public
expenditures, and had general control over the affairs of Athens and the

A decree of the Assembly, dating from about 450 B.C.]


The Assembly was assisted in the conduct of public business by many
officers and magistrates, among whom the Ten Generals held the leading
place. It was their duty to guide the deliberations of the Assembly and to
execute the orders of that body.


There was also a system of popular jury courts composed of citizens
selected by lot from the candidates who presented themselves. The number
of jurors varied; as many as a thousand might serve at an important trial.
A court was both judge and jury, it decided by majority vote; and from its
decision lay no appeal. Before these courts public officers accused of
wrong-doing were tried; disputes between different cities of the empire
and other important cases were settled; and all ordinary legal business
affecting the Athenians themselves was transacted. Thus, even in matters
of law, the Athenian government was completely democratic.


Democracy then, reached its height in ancient Athens. The people ruled,
and they ruled directly. Every citizen had some active part in politics.
Such a system worked well in the management of a small city-state like
Athens. But if the Athenians could govern themselves, they proved unable
to govern an empire with justice and wisdom. There was no such thing as
representation in their constitution. The subject cities had no one to
speak for them in the Assembly or before the jury courts. We shall notice
the same absence of a representative system in republican Rome. [12]


A large number of Athenians were relieved from the necessity of working
for themselves through the system of state pay introduced by Pericles.
Jurors, soldiers, and sailors received money for their services. Later, in
the fourth century, citizens accepted fees for attending the Assembly.
These payments, though small, enabled poor citizens to devote much time to
public duties.


Athens contained many skilled workmen whose daily tasks gave them scant
opportunity to engage in the exciting game of politics. The average rate
of wages was very low. In spite of cheap food and modest requirements for
clothing and shelter, it must have been difficult for the laborer to keep
body and soul together. Outside of Athens, in the country districts of
Attica, lived the peasants whose little farms produced the olives, grapes,
and figs for which Attica was celebrated.


There were many thousands of slaves in Athens and Attica at this period.
Their number was so great and their labor so cheap that we may think of
them as taking the place of modern machines. It was the slaves who did
most of the work on the large estates owned by wealthy men, who toiled in
the mines and quarries, and who served as oarsmen on the ships. The system
of slavery enabled many an Athenian to live a life of leisure, but it
lowered the dignity of labor and tended to prevent the rise of the poorer
citizens to positions of responsibility. In Greece, as in the Orient, [13]
slavery cast its blight over free industry.


The Athenian city was now the chief center of Greek commerce. [14] "The
fruits of the whole earth," said Pericles, "flow in upon us; so that we
enjoy the goods of other Commercial countries as freely as of our own."
[15] Exports of Athens wine and olive oil, pottery, metal wares, and
objects of art were sent out from Piraeus [16] to every region of the
Mediterranean. The imports from the Black Sea region, Thrace, and the
Aegean included such commodities as salt, dried fish, wool, timber, hides,
and, above all, great quantities of wheat. Very much as modern England,
Athens was able to feed all her people only by bringing in food from
abroad. To make sure that in time of war there should be no interruption
of food supplies, the Athenians built the celebrated Long Walls, between
the city and its port of Piraeus. (See the map below) Henceforth they felt
secure from attack, as long as their navy ruled the Aegean.

[Illustration: Map, THE VICINITY OF ATHENS]


In the days of her prosperity Athens began to make herself not only a
strong, but also a beautiful, city. The temples and other structures which
were raised on the Acropolis during the Age of Pericles still excite, even
in their ruins, the envy and wonder of mankind. [17] Athens at this time
was also the center of Greek intellectual life. In no other period of
similar length have so many admirable books been produced. No other epoch
has given birth to so many men of varied and delightful genius. The
greatest poets, historians, and philosophers of Greece were Athenians,
either by birth or training. As Pericles himself said in a noble speech,
Athens was "the school of Hellas." [18]



The brilliant Age of Pericles had not come to an end before the two chief
powers in the Hellenic world became involved in a deadly war. It would
seem that Athens and Sparta, the one supreme upon the sea, the other at
the head of the Peloponnesus, might have avoided a struggle which was sure
to be long and costly. But Greek cities were always ready to fight one
another. When Athens and Sparta found themselves rivals for the leadership
of Greece, it was easy for the smouldering fires of distrust and jealousy
to flame forth into open conflict. "And at that time," says Thucydides,
the Athenian historian who described the struggle, "the youth of Sparta
and the youth of Athens were numerous; they had never seen war, and were
therefore very willing to take up arms." [19]

[Illustration: Map, GREECE at Opening of the PELOPONNESIAN WAR 431 B.C.]

[Illustration: THE "MOURNING ATHENA" (Acropolis Museum, Athens)
A tablet of Pentelic marble. Athena, leaning on her spear, is gazing with
downcast head at a grave monument.]


The conflict was brought on by Corinth, one of the leading members of the
Peloponnesian League and, next to Athens, the most important commercial
power in Greece. She had already seen her once-profitable trade in the
Aegean monopolized by Athens. That energetic city was now reaching out for
Corinthian commerce in Italian and Sicilian waters. When the Athenians
went so far as to interfere in a quarrel between Corinth and her colony of
Corcyra, even allying themselves with the latter city, the Corinthians
felt justly resentful and appealed to Sparta for aid. The Spartans
listened to their appeal and, with the apparent approval of the Delphic
oracle which assured them "that they would conquer if they fought with all
their might," [20] declared war.


The two antagonists were fairly matched. The one was strong where the
other was weak. Sparta, mainly a continental power, commanded all the
Peloponnesian states except Argos and Achaea, besides some of the smaller
states of central Greece. Athens, mainly a maritime power, ruled all the
subject cities of the Aegean. The Spartans possessed the most formidable
army then in the world, but lacked money and ships. The Athenians had a
magnificent navy, an overflowing treasury, and a city impregnable to
direct attack. It seemed, in fact, as if neither side could seriously
injure the other.


The war began in 431 B.C. Its first stage was indecisive. The Athenians
avoided a conflict in the open field with the stronger Peloponnesian army,
which ravaged Attica. They were crippled almost at the outset of the
struggle by a terrible plague among the refugees from Attica, crowded
behind the Long Walls. The pestilence slew at least one-fourth of the
inhabitants of Athens, including Pericles himself. After ten years of
fighting both sides grew weary of the war and made a treaty of peace to
last for fifty years.


Not long after the conclusion of peace the Athenians were persuaded by a
brilliant and ambitious politician, named Alcibiades, to undertake an
expedition against Syracuse in Sicily. This city was a colony of Corinth,
and hence was a natural ally of the Peloponnesian states. The Athenians,
by conquering it, expected to establish their power in Sicily. But the
siege of Syracuse ended in a complete failure. The Athenians failed to
capture the city, and in a great naval battle they lost their fleet. Then
they tried to retreat by land, but soon had to surrender. Many of the
prisoners were sold as slaves; many were thrown by their inhuman captors
into the stone quarries near Syracuse, where they perished from exposure
and starvation. The Athenians, says Thucydides, "were absolutely
annihilated--both army and fleet--and of the many thousands who went away
only a handful ever saw their homes again." [21]

The profile of the nymph Arethusa has been styled the most exquisite Greek
head known to us.]


Athens never recovered from this terrible blow. The Spartans quickly
renewed the contest, now with the highest hopes of success. The Athenians
had to guard their city against the invader night and day; their slaves
deserted to the enemy; and they themselves could do no farming except
under the walls of the city. For supplies they had to depend entirely on
their ships. For nearly ten years, however, the Athenians kept up the
struggle. At length the Spartans captured an Athenian fleet near
Aegospotami on the Hellespont. Soon afterwards they blockaded Piraeus and
their army encamped before the walls of Athens. Bitter famine compelled
the Athenians to sue for peace. The Spartans imposed harsh terms. The
Athenians were obliged to destroy their Long Walls and the fortifications
of Piraeus, to surrender all but twelve of their warships, and to
acknowledge the supremacy of Sparta.



Sparta was now the undisputed leader of Continental Greece and of the
Aegean. As the representative of the liberty-loving Greeks she had humbled
the pride and power of "tyrant" Athens. A great opportunity lay before her
to reorganize the Hellenic world and to end the struggles for supremacy
between rival cities. But Sparta entered upon no such glorious career. She
had always stood as the champion of aristocracy against democracy, and now
in her hour of triumph she began to overturn every democratic government
that still existed in Greece. The Greek cities soon found they had
exchanged the mild sway of Athens for the brutal despotism of Sparta.


But Spartan despotism provoked resistance. It was the Boeotian city of
Thebes which raised the standard of revolt. Some of the liberty-loving
Thebans, headed by Pelopidas, a patriotic noble, formed a conspiracy to
drive the Spartans out of the city. Disguised as huntsmen, Pelopidas and
his followers entered Thebes at nightfall, killed the tyrants whom Sparta
had set over the people, and forced the Spartan garrison to surrender.


The Thebans had now recovered their independence. Eight years later they
totally defeated a superior Peloponnesian force at the battle of Leuctra
and brought the supremacy of Sparta to an end. This engagement from a
military standpoint is one of the most interesting in ancient history.
Epaminondas, the skilful Theban commander, massed his best troops in a
solid column, fifty men deep, and hurled it with terrific force against
the Spartan ranks. The enemy, drawn up twelve men deep in the customary
formation, could not withstand the impact of the Theban column; their
lines gave way, and the fight was soon won. The battle destroyed once for
all the legend of Spartan invincibility.


The sudden rise of Thebes to the position of the first city in Greece was
the work of two men whose names are always linked together in the annals
of the time. In Pelopidas and Epaminondas, bosom friends and colleagues,
Thebes found the heroes of her struggle for independence. Pelopidas was a
fiery warrior whose bravery and daring won the hearts of his soldiers.
Epaminondas was both an able general and an eminent statesman. No other
Greek, save perhaps Pericles, can be compared with him. Even Pericles
worked for Athens alone and showed no regard for the rest of Greece.
Epaminondas had nobler ideals and sought the general good of the Hellenic
race. He fought less to destroy Sparta than to curb that city's power of
doing harm. He aimed not so much to make Thebes mistress of an empire as
to give her a proper place among Greek cities. The Thebans, indeed,
sometimes complained that Epaminondas loved Hellas more than his native


By crippling Sparta, Epaminondas raised Thebes to a position of supremacy.
Had he been spared for a longer service, Epaminondas might have realized
his dream of bringing unity and order into the troubled politics of his
time. But circumstances were too strong for him. The Greek states, which
had accepted the leadership of Athens and Sparta, were unwilling to admit
the claims of Thebes to a position of equal power and importance. The
period of Theban rule was filled, therefore, with perpetual conflict. Nine
years after Leuctra Epaminondas himself fell in battle at Mantinea in the
Peloponnesus, and with his death ended the brief glory of Thebes.



The battle of Mantinea proved that no single city--Athens, Sparta, or
Thebes--was strong enough to rule Greece. By the middle of the fourth
century B.C. it had become evident that a great Hellenic power could the
not be created out of the little, independent city-states of Greece.


The history of Continental Hellas for more than a century after the close
of the Persian War had been a record of almost ceaseless conflict. We have
seen how Greece came to be split up into two great alliances, the one a
naval league ruled by Athens, the other a confederacy of Peloponnesian
cities under the leadership of Sparta. How the Delian League became the
Athenian Empire; how Sparta began a long war with Athens to secure the
independence of the subject states and ended it by reducing them to her
own supremacy; how the rough-handed sway of Sparta led to the revolt of
her allies and dependencies and the sudden rise of Thebes to supremacy;
how Thebes herself established an empire on the ruins of Spartan rule--
this is a story of fruitless and exhausting struggles which sounded the
knell of Greek liberty and the end of the city-state.


Far away in the north, remote from the noisy conflicts of Greek political
life, a new power was slowly rising to imperial greatness--no
insignificant city-state, but an extensive territorial state like those of
modern times. Three years after the battle of Mantinea Philip II ascended
the throne of Macedonia. He established Hellenic unity by bringing the
Hellenic people within a widespread empire. Alexander the Great, the son
of this king, carried Macedonian dominion and Greek culture to the ends of
the known world. To this new period of ancient history we now turn.


1. On an outline map indicate the principal places mentioned in this

2. On an outline map indicate the Athenian allies and dependencies and
those of Sparta at the opening of the Peloponnesian War.

3. What do you understand by a "decisive" battle? Why has Marathon been
considered such a battle?

4. Why did Xerxes take the longer route through Thrace, instead of the
shorter route followed by Datis and Artaphernes?

5. What was the importance of the Phoenician fleet in the Persian

6. What reasons can be given for the Greek victory in the struggle against

7. Distinguish between a confederacy and an empire.

8. Compare the relations of the Delian subject cities to Athens with those
of British colonies, such as Canada and Australia, to England.

9. What do you understand by representative government?

10. If the Athenian Empire could have rested on a representative basis,
why would it have been more likely to endure?

11. How far can the phrase "government of the people, by the people, for
the people" be applied to the Athenian democracy?

12. Did the popular assembly of Athens have any resemblance to a New
England town meeting?

13. Compare the Athenian jury system with that of England and the United

14. The Athenian democracy of the time of Pericles has been described as a
_pure_ democracy and not, like the American, as a _representative_
democracy. In what lies the difference?

15. Can you suggest any objections to the system of state pay introduced
by Pericles? To what extent do we employ the same system under our

16. What conditions of the time help to explain the contempt of the Greeks
for money-making?

17. Trace on the map, page 107, the Long Walls of Athens.

18. Why has the Peloponnesian War been called an "irrepressible conflict"?
Why has it been called the "suicide of Greece"?

19. What states of the Greek mainland were neutral in the Peloponnesian
War (map facing page 108)?

20. Contrast the resources of the contending parties. Where was each side
weak and where strong?

21. Why was the tyranny of Sparta more oppressive than that of Athens?

22. What were the reasons for the failure of the Athenian, Spartan, and
Theban attempts at empire?


[1] Webster, _Readings in Ancient History_, chapter vii, "Xerxes and the
Persian Invasion of Greece"; chapter viii, "Episodes from the
Peloponnesian War"; chapter ix, "Alcibiades the Athenian"; chapter x, "The
Expedition of the Ten Thousand"; chapter xi, "The Trial and Death of

[2] See the map facing page 38.

[3] See page 87.

[4] See the illustration, page 99.

[5] Thucydides, i, 18.

[6] See page 272.

[7] Herodotus, vii, 228.

[8] See the map on page 107.

[9] See page 96.

[10] See page 83.

[11] See the map facing page 108.

[12] See page 155.

[13] See page 44.

[14] The commercial importance of Athens is indicated by the general
adoption of her monetary standard by the other Greek states. (For
illustrations of Greek coins see the plate facing page 134.)

[15] Thucydides, ii, 38.

[16] See the map, page 107.

[17] For a description of ancient Athens, see pages 288-292.

[18] Thucydides, ii, 41.

[19] Thucydides, ii, 8.

[20] Thucydides, i, 118.

[21] Thucydides, vii, 87.





The land of Macedonia, lying to the north of Greece, for a long time had
been an inconspicuous part of the ancient world. Its people, though only
partially civilized, were Greeks in blood and language. No doubt they
formed an offshoot of those northern invaders who had entered the Balkan
peninsula before the dawn of history. The Macedonian kings, from the era
of the Persian wars, seized every opportunity of spreading Greek culture
throughout their realm. By the middle of the fourth century B.C., when
Philip II ascended the throne, the Macedonians were ready to take a
leading place in the Greek world.

[Illustration: PHILIP II
From a gold medallion struck by Alexander]


Philip of Macedonia, one of the most remarkable men of antiquity, was
endowed with a vigorous body, a keen mind, and a resolute will. He was no
stranger to Greece and its ways. Part of his boyhood had been passed as a
hostage at Thebes in the days of Theban glory. His residence there gave
him an insight into Greek politics and taught him the art of war as it had
been perfected by Epaminondas. In the distracted condition of Greece, worn
out by the rivalries of contending cities, Philip saw the opportunity of
his own country. He aimed to secure for Macedonia the position of
supremacy which neither Athens, Sparta, nor Thebes had been able to



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