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The Story of the Greeks by  H. A. Guerber


 

 

DEMETRIUS AND THE ATHENIANS

THE Athenians trembled with fear when they saw the stern expression on Demetrius' face as he entered their city. This terror became still greater when he ordered all the principal citizens to assemble in the public square. None of the Athenians dared to disobey, and they were in no wise reassured when the conquering army surrounded them, each soldier holding an unsheathed sword in his hand.

Demetrius now sternly addressed the citizens, who fancied that every moment would be their last. He reproved them harshly for their ingratitude and desertion, and told them that they deserved death at his hands; but he ended his speech by saying that he pre- [267] ferred to show his power by granting them forgiveness rather than by killing them.

Then he went on to tell them, that, knowing how much they had suffered, he had sent supplies of grain to every house, so that when they went home they should not find their wives and children starving.

The sudden reaction from their great terror proved almost fatal to the Athenian citizens. But when they recovered their breath, the air was rent by a mighty shout of joy in honor of the kind conqueror.

Although Demetrius was as generous as he was brave, his end was very sad. After a long life of continual warfare, and after conquering and losing Macedon, he fell into the hands of his rival and enemy, Seleucus, who kept him in prison as long as he lived.

About this time a new trouble befell Macedon and Greece. This was an invasion of the Gauls, who came sweeping down from the mountains into Greece, in order to rob the temple at Delphi.

A second time, however, the temple escaped, thanks to a terrible thunderstorm, which filled the superstitious minds of the robbers with dread. In the sudden darkness the Gauls fell upon each other, as the Persians had done in the days of Xerxes, and fought so desperately that many were killed.

The Greeks, remembering former victories, now made up their minds to strike a blow in their own defense. They collected an army, and defeated the invaders so severely that Brennus, the leader of the Gauls, killed himself in despair, while his followers withdrew to a province in Asia Minor, which from the Gauls was called Galatia.


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