|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 WAR OF THE TWO LEAGUES
THE Achæan and Macedonian armies now met the Spartans
at Sellasia, in Laconia, where the latter were badly
defeated, and Sparta fell into the enemy's hands.
Antigonus was so proud of his victory that he burst a
blood vessel upon hearing the news, and died shortly
Before he closed his eyes, however, he had the
satisfaction of driving Cleomenes away from Greece into
Egypt. There the young king fell upon his sword, after
killing his children, rather than become a slave.
Tyrants were now allowed again in many of the Greek
cities, in spite of the remonstrances of Aratus, who
learned only too late that the Macedonians had come
into the Peloponnesus merely for the purpose of making
themselves masters of the country.
Aratus' eyes were opened. He saw that all his efforts
were vain, and that, owing to his own imprudence,
Greece would never again be free. In his grief, his
 presence of mind quite forsook him. He did not know
what steps to take in order to undo all the harm he had
The Ætolians now became the champions of freedom, and
marched against the Achæans, whom they defeated. In
their distress, the Achæans once more begged the
Macedonians to interfere, and send troops into Greece.
The contest which followed is known as the War of the
Two Leagues, and lasted for some time. In the
beginning, the Macedonian king allowed Aratus to take
the lead, and followed all his directions; but, growing
weary of this subordinate part, he finally poisoned the
Achæan leader, and became head of the league himself.
When the Spartans and Ætolians, who had joined forces,
found that the Achæans and Macedonians were likely to
prove too strong for them, they also began to look
around for allies. As the fame of the rising city of
Rome had reached them, they finally sent thither for
the help they needed.
The Romans were then rapidly extending their territory,
and hoped soon to become masters of the world, so they
were glad to help the Spartans against the Macedonians,
who were already their enemies.
They therefore speedily came to the Spartans' aid, set
fire to the Achæan and Macedonian ships, and defeated
their armies so sorely, that Philip was obliged to beg
for peace and to give them his son as a hostage.
The Spartans, having thus freed themselves from the
yoke of the Achæan League, now fell into far worse
hands, for they were governed by a tyrant named
Nabis,—a cruel and miserly man, who, in order to
 increase his treasure, often had recourse to vile
He had made a cunning instrument of torture, on purpose
to obtain money from any one he wished. This was a
statue, the exact image of his wife, clad in
magnificent robes. Whenever he heard that any man was
very rich, Nabis used to send for him. After treating
him with exaggerated politeness, the tyrant would
gently advise him to sacrifice his wealth for the good
of the state.
If his guest refused to do so, Nabis would invite him
to visit his wife, and lead the unsuspecting man close
to the statue. This was made so as to move by a system
of cunningly arranged springs, and as soon as the
victim came within reach, the statue's arms closed
tightly around him.
The terrified guest, caught in an irresistible embrace,
then found himself drawn closer and closer, and pressed
against sharp points and knives hidden under the rich
It was only when the tortured man had solemnly promised
to give up all he owned, that the tyrant Nabis would
set him free; but if he resisted, he was killed by slow
torture, and allowed to bleed to death in the statue's
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