|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 |
DIVISION IN SPARTA
WHILE the Achæan League was doing its best to restore
Greece to its former power, Sparta had remained
inactive. The Spartans had changed greatly since the
days of Lycurgus. They no longer obeyed his wise laws,
and, instead of being brave and frugal, they were
greedy, lazy, and wicked.
One of their kings was named Leonidas; but he was
 in no way like his great namesake, the king who had
fallen at Thermopylæ. Indeed, he married an Eastern
wife, and to please her assumed all the pomp and led
the idle life of an Eastern king.
His fellow-king, on the other hand, was such a miser
that he heaped up great treasures. When he died, his
wife and mother were said to have more gold than the
city and people together. The miser king was succeeded
by his son, but this young man's sole ambition was to
restore Sparta to its former condition.
His name was Agis. He lived like the Spartans of old,
practiced all the virtues of his ancestors, and was
frugal and brave in the extreme. To restore Sparta,
real Spartans were needed, but, in counting them over,
Agis found that there were only about seven hundred of
the old stock left. The first move was to restore
equality. For that purpose, all the money and land
would have to be equally divided, so Agis began by
persuading his own mother and grandmother to give up
their wealth. Leonidas did not like the plan of
equality, and soon openly opposed it, although his
son-in-law Cleombrotus sided with Agis, and upheld it.
But the people were eager for the new division which
would make them all equal as of old; and they were so
angry with Leonidas for his resistance, that they rose
up against him, and proposed to depose him by reviving
an old law which forbade the ruling of a king who
married a foreign wife.
Leonidas had time to flee to the Temple of Athene; and
when the ephors called him to appear before them, he
refused to do so, because he feared for his life. As
 such a refusal was a crime, the ephors said he should
not reign any longer, and named Cleombrotus king in his
Leonidas, who had led a selfish, pleasure-loving life,
was now forsaken by every one except his daughter,
Chilonis, who gave up her husband and the throne in
order to console her unfortunate father. She kept him
company in the temple, cared for him and amused him,
and, when her husband begged her to come back, she
answered that her place was rather with her unhappy
father than with her prosperous husband.
Cleombrotus and Chilonis.
When it became known that the Spartans were plotting to
kill the unhappy Leonidas, Agis helped him to escape,
and Chilonis followed him into exile.
The Ætolian League, which just then was very strong,
now sent an army across the isthmus to attack the
Spartans. The latter sallied forth under the
leadership of Agis, who proved such a skillful general,
that he not only won a great victory, but also drove
the Ætolians out of the peninsula.
During the absence of Agis, many of the richest
Spartans who had not yet given up their property
refused to do so, and when urged by Cleombrotus to
obey, they revolted against him, and recalled Leonidas.
Cleombrotus had only time to take refuge in the same
temple where his father-in-law had once found shelter.
Here he was soon joined by his wife, Chilonis, who,
ever faithful to the most unhappy, came thither to
Leonidas was so angry that he would probably have
treated Cleombrotus with the utmost severity, had not
 Chilonis fallen at his feet and begged him to spare her
husband's life. Her tears touched her father, and he
granted the favor she asked, declaring, however, that
Cleombrotus should go into exile.
In spite of her father's entreaties to remain with him,
Chilonis insisted upon accompanying her husband. She
gave Cleombrotus one of their two children, clasped the
other to her breast, and left the city, proudly walking
at her husband's side.
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