ALTHOUGH the Spartans thought that Aristomenes was dead, they
were greatly mistaken. By some miracle he had not
struck against any of the sharp, jagged rocks, but,
falling upon the heap of his dead companions, had
reached the bottom of the Ceadas unhurt.
There was apparently no way out of this pit except by
the opening at the top, through which a bit of sky
could be seen; and Aristomenes soon found that the
sides were so steep that it was impossible to reach the
opening. He therefore went off to one side, away from
the heap of dead, and sat down on a stone in that cold,
damp, and dark place. There he drew his cloak over his
head to wait patiently until he should starve to death.
Three days had thus been spent in this place, and his
strength was already fast failing, when he suddenly
felt a warm breath on his hand.
He softly drew aside his cloak, and, now that his eyes
were used to the darkness, he dimly saw a fox prowling
around him, and sniffing his clothes suspiciously.
Gently wrapping his cloak around his hand to protect it
from the fox's sharp teeth, Aristomenes caught the
animal firmly by the tail. Then, in spite of all its
efforts to get away, he held it tight; and when it
started off, he followed its lead.
As he had shrewdly suspected, the fox knew a way out of
the horrible place. All at once it slipped into a
hole; and Aristomenes, seeing a little light at the end
 of this, let the fox go. With the help of a sharp
stone, he soon made the fox's hole big enough to crawl
through, and quickly made his way back to the
You can imagine how happy they were to see the beloved
chief whom they thought dead, and how tenderly they
cared for him until he was well and strong again. They
never tired of hearing the story of his fall,
imprisonment, and escape; and when he proposed to lead
them once more against the Spartans, they gladly
promised to help him.
In spite of all Aristomenes' courage, however, Messenia
finally fell into the hands of the Spartans, and the
Second Messenian War came to an end. All the people
who wished to escape slavery or death left their native
country, and went to Italy or Sicily, where they
founded Greek colonies.
The cities that they built soon became very powerful,
and one of them they named Messina in honor of their
native land. This city still stands, as you will see
by looking at your maps; and near it is the strait of
the same name, which separates Sicily from Italy.