|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 |
THE LAST OF THE GREEKS
WHEN Aratus died, the principal man in the Achæan army
was Philopœmen, a brave and virtuous young man. He
was patriotic in the extreme,
 and so plain and unassuming that no one would have
suspected his rank.
On one occasion, when he had reached the dignity of
general, he was invited to dine at a house where the
hostess was a stranger to him. When he came to the
door, she took him for a servant, on account of his
plain clothes, and curtly bade him go and split wood.
Without saying a word, Philopœmen threw aside his
cloak, seized an ax, and set to work. The host, on
coming up a few minutes later, was horrified to see his
honored guest cutting wood, and was profuse in his
apologies for a mistake which only made Philopœmen
When Philopœmen heard how cruel Nabis was, he wanted
to free Sparta from his tyranny. So he entered the
town at the head of an armed force of men, confiscated
the treasures for the benefit of the public, and drove
The Spartans were at first very grateful to the
Achæans for freeing them, but they soon began to feel
jealous of their power, and again rose up in revolt
against them. This time Philopœmen treated the
Spartans with the utmost severity, even razing the
walls of the city, which were never rebuilt.
Philopœmen was farsighted enough to see from the
beginning that the Roman alliance would prove bad for
Greece. He soon discovered that the Romans intended to
subdue the country, and in order to do so most easily
were trying to make the people quarrel among
All his efforts were therefore directed toward keeping
 peace, and for a time he was quite successful. But the
Romans, seeing no other way to bring about a quarrel,
at last bribed the Messenians to revolt.
In the course of the war, Philopœmen was led into an
artfully arranged ambuscade, and was taken in chains to
Messenia, where notwithstanding his gray hair, he was
exposed to the jeers of the common people.
After thus humiliating him, they led him to the place
of torture; but when he heard that his army had escaped
from the ambush, he fervently cried, "I die happy,
since the Achæans are safe."
This only hastened the end of the brave patriot, who
has been called the "Last of the Greeks," because he
was the last to try to maintain his country's
The Achæans soon after took the town of Messenia,
stoned all Philopœmen's murderers on his tomb, and
carried his ashes to Megalopolis, his native city,
where they were buried with great pomp.
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