|The Story of the Greeks|
|by Helene A. Guerber|
| Elementary history of Greece, made up principally of stories about persons, giving at the same time a clear idea of the most important events in the ancient world and calculated to enforce the lessons of perseverance, courage, patriotism, and virtue that are taught by the noble lives described. Beginning with the legends of Jason, Theseus, and events surrounding the Trojan War, the narrative moves on to present the contrasting city-states of Sparta and Athens, the war against Persia, their conflicts with each other, the feats of Alexander the Great, and annexation by Rome. Ages 10-14 |
HEROIC DEATH OF CODRUS
 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
 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,
 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.
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