| Famous Men of Greece|
|by John H. Haaren|
|Attractive biographical sketches of thirty-five of the most prominent characters in the history of ancient Greece, from legendary times to its fall in 146 B.C. Each story is told in a clear, simple manner, and is well calculated to awaken and stimulate the youthful imagination. Ages 9-12 |
MILTIADES THE HERO OF MARATHON
 AFTER Pisistratus died his two sons, Hippias and
Hipparchus, ruled over Athens. They governed well until
Hipparchus was killed by his enemies. Then Hippias became
so cruel that the Athenians banded together and drove him
out of the city.
Some time after being driven from Athens Hippias sailed to
Asia and begged Darius, king of Persia, to help him regain
his power. At that time Persia was the greatest country in
the world. Darius, her sovereign, was called "the Great
King," or simply "the King," as if there were no other king
on the face of the earth. He intended that there should be
no other if he could have his way. He made up his mind not
only to help Hippias, but also to make himself master of
Greece. Persian heralds were therefore sent to every state
of Greece to demand from each a tribute of earth and water.
If the Greeks had yielded to this demand it would have been
the same as saying that all the land and water of Greece
belonged to Persia. Some of the states submitted, others
proudly refused. The Athenians
 threw the heralds into a ditch into which the bodies of
criminals were thrown; the Spartans threw them into a well
and told them, "There you will find both earth and water for
As soon as Darius heard of this he declared war and a little
later his fleet, carrying one hundred and fifty thousand
men, set sail for Greece. The Persians landed on the
Grecian coast and went into camp on the plain
of Marathon, twenty-two miles from Athens.
Meantime the Athenians had not been idle. They had collected
a force of ten thousand men, and the entire army was under
ten generals, each of whom in turn was commander-in-chief for
one day. The little city of Platæa, unasked, had
sent a thousand volunteers.
A SOLDIER OF ATHENS
The ablest of the Greek generals was Miltiades. He
determined to attack the enemy at once, and when his day of
command came, on the 12th of August, 490
B.C., he drew up
the Greek army in line of battle and moved across the plain.
Then he charged upon the Persian army, broke their line, and
drove them back to their ships in confusion.
 News of the victory was carried to Athens by a soldier, who
though wounded ran the twenty-two miles from the field of
battle to the city. Reaching the market-place, he rushed
into the crowd of citizens assembled there, and
crying—"Rejoice! Rejoice! We are victors!"—fell dead.
This news delighted all loyal Athenians, but was very
unwelcome to some traitors who had been hoping to hear of
a Persian victory. These traitors had gone to a mountain near
Athens, and with a polished shield they flashed to the
Persian fleet a signal to sail to Athens and capture the
city before Miltiades could return from Marathon.
Fortunately, the signal was seen in the camp of the Greeks.
Miltiades guessed what it meant and marched back to Athens
immediately. So when the Persians approached in their ships
they found that if they landed they must again meet the army
of Miltiades. They had no wish to do this and sailed away
across the Ægean Sea to the Great King's own
 The battle of Marathon showed that the Greeks were equal to
any soldiers in the world. They had routed an army of
Persians fifteen times as large as their own, and had lost
only one hundred and ninety-two men.
The Greeks believed that this splendid victory was won
through the aid of their gods and of their god-like hero
Theseus, who was said to have fought in the thick of the
battle and made terrible havoc among the Persians.
MILTIADES won great fame in Athens. Honors were showered upon him and
whatever he asked was granted. Thinking that he could add
still more to his own glory and that of Athens, he asked
that a fleet of seventy ships be placed at his command and
that he be allowed to do with it as he pleased.
READY FOR BATTLE
The fleet was granted and with it he set sail for the island
of Paros. The people of Paros had helped the Persians
in the recent war and Miltiades wished
 to punish them, but he also hoped to avenge himself upon a
personal enemy. The expedition was a complete failure. The
town of Paros was not captured, and Miltiades was obliged
to give up the siege and return to Athens.
Moreover at Paros his thigh had been badly hurt while he was
leaping over a fence so that he came home injured as well as
unsuccessful. Upon his return he was accused of having
deceived the people and wasted the public money.
When his trial took place he was brought before his judges
upon a couch, being too weak to stand or sit. The decision
of the court was against him and he was sentenced to pay a
heavy fine, which he was too poor to pay. Not long
afterward he died of the injury that he had received at
After the death of Miltiades the Athenians were sorry for
their harshness toward him. Remembering only his heroism at
Marathon, they buried him with the highest honors on the
plain where his great victory was won.
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