|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 |
CIMON, as you have already seen, was very wealthy, and
as generous as he was rich. Besides spending so much
for the improvement of the city, he always kept
an open house. His table was bountifully spread, and he
gladly received as guests all who chose to walk into
Whenever he went out, he was followed by servants who
carried full purses, and whose duty it was to help all
the poor they met. As Cimon knew that many of the most
deserving poor would have been ashamed to receive alms,
these men found out their wants, and supplied them
Now, although Cimon was so good and thoughtful, you
 must not imagine that it was always very easy for him
to be so. It seems that when he was a young man he was
very idle and lazy, and never thought of anything but
his own pleasure.
Aristides the Just noticed how lazy and selfish the
young man was, and one day went to see him. After a
little talk, Aristides told him seriously that he ought
to be ashamed of the life he was living, as it was
quite unworthy of a good citizen or of a noble man.
This reproof was so just, that Cimon promised to do
better, and tried so hard that he soon became one of
the most industrious and unselfish men of his day.
Cimon was not the only rich man in Athens, however; for
Pericles, another citizen, was even wealthier than
he. As Pericles was shrewd, learned, and very eloquent,
he soon gained much influence over his fellow-citizens.
While Cimon was generally seen in the company of men of
his own class, and was hence considered the leader of
the nobles or aristocrats, Pericles liked to talk with
the poorer class, whom he could easily sway by his
eloquent speeches, and who soon made him their idol.
Day by day the two parties became more distinct, and
soon the Athenians sided either with Pericles or with
Cimon in all important matters. The two leaders were at
first very good friends, but little by little they
drifted apart, and finally they became rivals.
About this time an earthquake brought great misfortunes
upon Greece. The whole country shook and swayed, and
the effects of the earthquake were so disastrous at
Sparta that all the houses and temples were destroyed.
 Many of the inhabitants were crushed under the falling
stones and timbers, and there were only five houses
left standing. The Spartans were in despair; and the
Helots, or slaves, who had long been waiting for an
opportunity to free themselves, fancied that the right
time had come.
They quickly assembled, and decided to kill the
Spartans while they were groping about among the ruined
dwellings for the remains of their relatives and
The plan would have succeeded had not the king,
Archidamus, found it out. Without a moment's delay,
he rallied all the able-bodied men, and sent a swift
messenger to Athens for aid.
True to their military training, the Spartans dropped
everything when the summons reached them; and the
Helots came marching along, only to find their former
masters drawn up in battle array, and as calm as if no
misfortune had happened.
This unexpected resistance so frightened the Helots,
that they hastily withdrew into Messenia. Here they
easily persuaded the Messenians to join forces with
them and declare war against the Spartans.
In the mean while the swift runner sent by Archidamus
had reached Athens, and told about the destruction of
the town and the perilous situation of the people. He
ended by imploring the Athenians to send immediate aid,
lest all the Spartans should perish.
Cimon, who was
generous and kind-hearted, immediately cried out that
the Athenians could not refuse to help their unhappy
neighbors; but Pericles, who, like most of his
fellow-citizens, hated the Spartans, advised all his
friends to stay quietly at home.
 Much discussion took place over this advice. At last,
however, Cimon prevailed, and an army was sent to help
the Spartans. Owing to the hesitation of the Athenians,
this army came late, and they fought with so little
spirit that the Lacedæmonians indignantly said that
they might just as well have remained at home.
This insult so enraged the Athenians that they went
home; and when it became publicly known how the
Spartans had treated their army, the people began to
murmur against Cimon. In their anger, they forgot all
the good he had done them, and, assembling in the
market place, they ostracized him.
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