|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 BATTLES OF SALAMIS AND PLATÆA
THE fleets soon came face to face; and Xerxes took up
his post on a mountain, where he sat in state upon a
hastily built throne to see his vessels destroy the
enemy. He had made very clever plans, and, as his fleet
was far larger than that of the Greeks, he had no doubt
that he would succeed in defeating them.
His plans, however, had been found out by Aristides,
who was in the Island of Ægina; and this noble man
rowed over to the fleet, at the risk of being caught by
the enemy, to warn his fellow-citizens of their danger.
 He first spoke to Themistocles, saying, "Rivals we have
always been; let us now set all other rivalry aside,
and only strive which can best serve his native
Themistocles agreed to this proposal, and managed
affairs so wisely and bravely that the Greeks won a
great victory. When they came home in triumph with much
spoil, the women received them with cries of joy, and
strewed flowers under their feet.
Return of the Victorious Greeks.
From his high position, Xerxes saw his fleet cut to
pieces; and he was so discouraged by this check, that
he hastened back to Persia, leaving his brother-in-law
Mardonius with an army of three hundred thousand men
to finish the conquest of Greece.
The Greeks were so happy over their naval victory at
Salamis, that they all flew to arms once more; and
Pausanias, the Spartan king, the successor of
Leonidas, was soon able to lead a large army against
The two forces met at Platæa, and again the Greeks
won, although fighting against foes who greatly
outnumbered them. Strange to relate, while Pausanias
was winning one battle at Platæa, the other Spartan
king, Eurybiades, defeated a new Persian fleet at
These two victories finished the rout of the greatest
army ever seen. Mardonius fled with the remnant of his
host, leaving his tents, baggage, and slaves to the
Greeks, who thus got much booty.
We are told that the Spartans, entering the Persian
camp, were greatly amazed at the luxury of the tents.
Pausanias stopped in the one that had been occupied by
Mardonius, and bade the slaves prepare a meal such as
they had been wont to lay before their master.
 Then, calling his own Helots, he gave orders for his
usual supper. When both meals were ready, they made the
greatest contrast. The Persian tent was all decked with
costly hangings, the table was spread with many kinds
of rich food served in dishes of solid gold, and soft
couches were spread for the guests.
The Spartan supper, on the contrary, was of the
plainest description, and was served in ordinary
earthenware. Pausanias called his officers and men,
and, after pointing out the difference between the
Spartan and the Persian style of living, he showed how
much he liked plain food by eating his usual supper.
To reward Pausanias for his bravery and for defeating
the enemy, the Greeks gave him a part of all that was
best in the spoil. Next they set aside one tenth of it
for Apollo, and sent it to his priest at Delphi as a
token of gratitude for the favor of the god.
To show that they were grateful also to Zeus
and Poseidon,—the gods who, they thought, had helped
them to win their battles by land and by sea,—they sent
statues to Olympia and Corinth; and they erected a
temple in honor of Athene, the goddess of defensive
war, on the battlefield of Platæa.
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