|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 |
DEATH OF DEMOSTHENES
WHEN Alexander left for the East, the orator
Demosthenes began to urge the Greeks to rise up against
him, and win back their freedom. All his eloquence,
however, was not enough to persuade them to make war as
long as Alexander lived.
But when the conqueror's death was made known,
Demosthenes again tried to arouse them, and this time
with success. Phocion, a cautious Athenian, vainly
begged the people to wait at least until the news was
confirmed, saying, "If Alexander is dead to-day, he
will still be dead to-morrow and on the next day, so
that we may take counsel at our leisure."
This wise caution, however, did not suit the Athenians,
who were joined in their revolt by most of the little
states and principal towns of Greece, except Sparta.
The united Greeks soon raised an army, which marched
north-  ward, and met the Macedonian governor's troops near
The Greeks were successful here, and, after shutting up
the enemy in the fortress of Lamia, closely besieged
them. But after a time the Greek general was killed;
and, when the Macedonians were reënforced, they gained
a decisive victory. This really ended the war; for the
Macedonian general, Antipater, broke up the union, and
made separate terms of peace for each city.
In his anger, Antipater said he would punish all those
who had encouraged the Greeks to revolt. He soon
learned that Demosthenes had been one of the principal
men to advise the uprising, so he sent his soldiers to
make him prisoner.
Demosthenes, warned of his danger, immediately fled,
but had only time to take refuge in the Temple of
Neptune. There, in spite of the holiness of the place,
Antipater's guards came to get him.
Seeing that it would be useless to resist, the orator
asked for a few moments' respite, that he might write
 a letter to his friends. The men consented; and
Demosthenes, closely watched, took up his tablet and
the reed with which he generally wrote.
The soldiers saw him trace a few lines, then stop and
bite the top of his reed, as if thinking about what he
would say next. But, instead of going on to his
letter, the orator soon covered his head with his cloak
and staid quite still.
After a few moments' waiting, one of the men went to
him, and, receiving no answer to his question, drew
aside the folds of the cloak. He started back in
terror, for the orator's face was very pale, and he was
evidently about to die.
The men quickly carried him out of the temple, so that
it should not be defiled by death, and then they found
that the reed with which he wrote was hollow, and had
contained a deadly drug. Demosthenes had taken the
poison, thinking that death would be better than
The Athenians now saw that it would have been wiser to
listen to the cautious Phocion: so they set him at the
head of their affairs, and promised to obey him.
Although honest, Phocion was not very clever, and his
caution little by little became cowardice.
In his fear of the Macedonians, he allowed them to have
more and more power; and Greece a few years later was
entirely under the rule of Antipater, the Macedonian
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