Home  |  Authors  |  Books  |  Stories  |  What's New  |  How to Get Involved 
   T h e   B a l d w i n   P r o j e c t
     Bringing Yesterday's Classics to Today's Children                 @mainlesson.com
Search This Site Only
 
 
The Story of the Greeks by  H. A. Guerber

[Illustration] Hundreds of additional titles available for online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics

Learn More
[Illustration]

 

 

HEROIC DEATH OF CODRUS

[55] YOU remember, do you not, how the sons of Pelops had driven the Heraclidæ, or sons of Hercules, out of the peninsula which was called the Peloponnesus? This same peninsula is now called Morea, or the mulberry leaf, because it is shaped something like such a leaf, as you will see by looking at your map.

The Heraclidæ had not gone away willingly, but were staying in Thessaly, in the northern part of Greece, where they promised to remain one hundred years without making any attempt to come back.

Shortly after the end of the Trojan War, this truce of a hundred years came to an end; and the Heraclidæ called upon their neighbors the Dorians to join them, and help them win back their former lands.

Led by three brave chiefs, the allies passed through Greece proper, along the Isthmus of Corinth, and, spreading all over the Peloponnesus, soon took possession of the principal towns. The leading members of the family of Hercules took the title of kings, and ruled over the cities of Argos, Mycenæ, and Sparta.

The Dorians, who had helped the Heraclidæ win back their former possessions, now saw that the land here was better than their home in the mountains, so they drove all the rest of the Ionians out of the country, and settled there also.

Thus driven away by the Dorians and the Heraclidæ, these Ionians went to Athens, to the neighboring islands, and even to the coast of Asia Minor, south of the ruined [56] city of Troy, where they settled in great numbers. They called the strip of land which they occupied Ionia, and founded many towns, some of which, such as Ephesus and Miletus, were destined to become famous.

Of course, the Ionians were very angry at thus being driven away from home; and those who had gone to live in Athens soon asked Codrus, the Athenian king, to make war against the Heraclidæ of Sparta.

The two armies soon met, and prepared for battle. Codrus, having consulted an oracle, had learned that the victory would be given to the army whose king should be killed, so he nobly made up his mind to die for the good of his people.

Instead of going into battle in royal dress, with his guards all around him, as was his habit, he dressed himself like an ordinary soldier, and went forward until he stood in the very first rank of the army. Then he rushed boldly into the midst of the foe.

Of course, he was soon cut down; but the Athenians, seeing his courage, and learning why he had thus risked his life, fought with such valor that they defeated the Spartan forces, and forced them to retreat.

The victory had been won; but the Athenians were so sorry to lose their beloved king, that they could not rejoice, and sadly returned home, carrying the body of Codrus. Such was the admiration of all the people for this act of royal courage, that they vowed they would never again call any one by the name of king.

When Codrus had been buried, therefore, the Athenians gave his son and heir the government of the city, [57] calling him archon, or chief for life,—a title which was borne by many rulers after him.

The Spartans, who had come into Attica to fight the Athenians, retreated hastily after their defeat, and returned to their city, where they settled, forcing all the people who dwelt in the neighborhood either to leave the country or to serve them as their slaves.

The return of the Heraclidæ into the Peloponnesus is the last event of the Heroic Age, and now real history begins. After this, it is no longer necessary to try to find out the truth hidden in the old tales which were handed down from father to son, and which were the only fairy stories the Greek children knew; for henceforth records were kept of all the principal events.


 Table of Contents  |  Index  | Previous: The Burning of Troy  |  Next: The Blind Poet
Copyright (c) 2000-2017 Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.