|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 RISE OF SPARTA
 THE city of Sparta, founded in the days of the Pelasgians,
and once ruled over by Menelaus and Helen, had fallen,
as we have seen, into the hands of the Heraclidæ when
they came back to the Peloponnesus after their exile of
a hundred years. It was first governed by
Aristodemus, one of their three leaders; and, as
records soon began to be kept, we know a great deal
about the early history of this famous place.
As the town had formerly belonged to the Heraclidæ, and
had been ruled by one of their ancestors, called
Lacedæmon, they called it by his name, and the
country around it they named Laconia. Having won
back the town by fighting, the Heraclidæ said that they
would attend to war and politics, and make the
conquered people till the ground.
The old inhabitants of Laconia, therefore, went on
living in the country, where they sowed and harvested
for the benefit of the Spartans. All the prisoners of
war, however, became real slaves. They were obliged to
serve the Spartans in every way, and were called
When Aristodemus died, his twin sons were both made
kings; and, as each of them left his throne to his
descendants, Sparta had two kings, instead of one, from
this time on. One member of the royal family, although
he never bore the name of king, is the most noted man
in Spartan history. This is Lycurgus, the son of one
ruler, the brother of another, and the guardian of an
infant king named Charilaus.
 Lycurgus was a thoroughly good and upright man. We are
told that the mother of the baby king once offered to
put her child to death that Lycurgus might reign.
Fearing for the babe's safety, Lycurgus made believe
that he agreed to this plan, and asked that the child
should be given to him to kill as he saw fit.
Lycurgus, having thus obtained possession of the babe,
carried him to the council hall. There the child was
named king; and Lycurgus promised that he would watch
carefully over him, educate him well, and rule for him
until he should be old and wise enough to reign alone.
While he was thus acting as ruler, Lycurgus made use of
his power to bring many new customs into Sparta, and to
change the laws. As he was one of the wisest men who
ever lived, he knew very well that men must be good if
they would be happy. He also knew that health is far
better than riches; and, hoping to make the Spartans
both good and healthy, he won them over little by
little to obey a new set of laws, which he had made
after visiting many of the neighboring countries, and
learning all he could.
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