|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 PERICLES
 ALTHOUGH the Athenian fleet had caused much damage, and
had come home victorious, the Spartan army was still in
Attica. The Spartans had been awed and frightened by
the eclipse, but they did not give up their purpose,
and continued the war.
The Athenians remained within the city walls, not
daring to venture out lest they should meet with a
defeat, and they soon began to suffer greatly. As there
were not enough water and food for the crowded
multitude, a terrible disease called the plague soon
attacked the people. This sickness was contagious, and
it spread rapidly. On all sides one could see the dead
and dying. The sufferers were tormented by a burning
thirst; and as there was soon no one left to care for
the sick, they painfully dragged themselves to the
sides of the fountains, where many of them died.
Not only were the sick uncared for, but it was also
nearly impossible to dispose of the dead; and the
bodies lay in the streets day after day, waiting for
When the Athenians were in the greatest distress,
Pericles heard that there was a Greek doctor, named
Hippocrates, who had a cure for the plague; and he
wrote to him, imploring his help.
Hippocrates received Pericles' letter at the same time
that a message arrived from Artaxerxes, King of Persia.
The king asked him to come and save the Persians, who
were suffering from the same disease, and offered the
doctor great wealth.
 The noble doctor did not hesitate a moment, but sent
away the Persian messenger, saying that it was his duty
first to save his own countrymen. Then he immediately
set out for the plague-stricken city of Athens, where
he worked bravely night and day.
His care and skill restored many sufferers; and,
although thousands died of the plague, the remaining
Athenians knew that they owed him their lives. When the
danger was over, they all voted that Hippocrates should
have a golden crown, and said he should be called an
Athenian citizen,—an honor which they seldom granted
to any outsider.
The plague had not only carried away many of the poorer
citizens, but had also stricken down the nobles and the
rich. Pericles' family suffered from it too. All his
children took it and died, with the exception of one.
The great man, in spite of his private cares and
sorrows, was always in and out among the people,
helping and encouraging them, and he finally caught the
His friends soon saw, that, in spite of
all their efforts, he would die. They crowded around
his bed in tears, praising him in low tones, and saying
how much he had done for the Athenians and for the
improvement of their city.
"Why," said one of them warmly, "he found the city
bricks, and leaves it marble!"
Pericles, whose eyes had been closed, and who seemed
unconscious, now suddenly roused himself, and said,
"Why do you mention those things? They were mostly
 owing to my large fortune. The thing of which I am
proudest is that I never caused any fellow-citizen to
put on mourning!"
Pericles then sank back, and soon died; but his friends
always remembered that he had ruled Athens for more
than thirty years without ever punishing anyone
unjustly, and that he had always proved helpful and
merciful to all.
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