| 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 |
 CIMON had a rival named Pericles who was the most able leader
Athens ever had. He had the power of a tyrant but he used
it for the welfare of the people.
He had many excellent laws passed. One was that a man
accused of any crime should be tried by a certain number of
his fellow-citizens. This was like our trial by jury, and
it gave an Athenian the same rights in a trial that an
American citizen has to-day. Another good law proposed by
Pericles was that any citizen who fought in the army or navy
of Athens should be paid for doing so. Still another of his
laws was that if a poor man wished to go to the theater he
might get the money from the city treasurer to pay for his
A GREEK THEATER RESTORED
You will remember that Themistocles and Aristides began to
rebuild and beautify Athens after it had been burned by the
Persians. This work was afterward carried on by Pericles.
It was said that he found the city of brick and left it of
Under his orders the white marble Parthenon,  or temple of Minerva, was erected on the Acropolis. It was
one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
In front of it stood a bronze statue of Minerva, so large
that it could be seen far out at sea. Within was a splendid
statue of the goddess, nearly thirty feet high, which was of
ivory and gold.
INSIDE THE PARTHENON
Pericles made Athens strong as well as beautiful. He
finished the "Long Walls" which Cimon had begun. These
walls were built from the city to her ports, which were
about four miles away. Between two of the walls was a
roadway, by which in time of war provisions could be safely
carried from the harbor to the city.
Sparta was not pleased to hear of the fortifications of her
rival. Athens might make herself beautiful if she chose,
but she must not make herself strong. The Spartans watched
for an opportunity to quarrel with the Athenians, and the
opportunity soon came. The people of Corcyra, an
island now called Corfu, lying off the west coast of
Greece, went to war with the people of Corinth. Athens
helped the Corcyreans; Sparta, the Corinthians.
This was the beginning of a contest between Sparta and
Athens which desolated Greece for twenty-seven years (431
B.C. to 404 B.C.)
It is called the Peloponnesian War,
because most of the states
 in the Peloponnesus took part in it and were allies of
Sparta. Athens also had her allies.
Athens was well prepared for war. She had a large sum of
money in her treasury, a good fleet, and about thirty
thousand soldiers whom she could put into the field.
The Spartans brought a force of sixty thousand men into
Attica to attack Athens. Pericles then urged the country
people to leave their farms and homes and come into the
city. They took his advice, and every vacant spot in Athens
was filled with huts and tents. Pericles thought that
Athens, protected by the "Long Walls," could stand any
In this he was right, for the Spartans made no headway; but
very soon the Athenians were attacked by a foe far more
terrible than the Spartans. This was "the plague." So many
people were huddled together in the city that it was
impossible to keep it clean and healthy. People began to
sicken and die by dozens, then by hundreds. The Spartans,
fearing that the plague might attack them, retreated across
the Isthmus of Corinth into Peloponnesus.
While Athens was in this desperate condition Pericles acted
most nobly. The plague carried off his eldest son, his
sister, and many of his closest friends. Yet he went among
the people, calming
 and cheering them, and attending faithfully to the affairs
of the government. It was only when he laid the funeral
wreath upon the lifeless body of his favorite son that he
broke down and sobbed and shed a flood of tears.
While the Spartan army was threatening Athens, and when the
plague came, many of the Athenians blamed Pericles. But
when he was in sorrow all Athens showed him the greatest
respect and affection.
Not long after the death of his son, he himself was stricken
with a fatal illness. As he lay dying one of those at his
bedside spoke of the good that he had done for Athens.
"What you praise in my life," he said, "has been due to
fortune. I deserve no credit for it. That of which I am
proudest is that no Athenian ever wore mourning because of
anything done by me."
His death occurred in the third year of the Peloponnesian
War. It was a sad blow to the Athenians, for he was the
greatest of all their statesmen.
ONE of the friends of Pericles was Phidias, the sculptor who
moulded the bronze figure of Minerva that stood in front of
the Parthenon. He carved
 also the ivory and gold statue of the goddess that was
inside the building.
His fame spread over all Greece, and he was invited to adorn
the temple of Jupiter at Olympia. For this temple he made
his masterpiece. It represented Jupiter seated upon his
throne. The statue was so perfect that it was considered
one of the wonders of the world.
PERICLES VISITING THE STUDIO OF PHIDIAS
When Phidias, after several years absence, returned to
Athens he was persecuted by the enemies of Pericles, because
he was known to be a friend of the great statesman. He was
first accused of having stolen part of the gold which had
been supplied by the city to decorate the statue of Minerva.
Phidias was working upon the statue Pericles had advised him
to fasten the gold on in such a way that at any time it
could be taken off and weighed. It was now removed and
weighed and the weight was found to be exactly what it
Phidias was then charged with having insulted the goddess
Minerva, because he had carved upon her shield a likeness of
himself and one of Pericles. On this charge he was cast
into prison to await trial.
Before the day of trial came, however, the great sculptor
was taken sick and died.
 UNDER Pericles Athens was at the height of her glory, and the
twenty-eight years during which he was at the head of
Athenian affairs are known in history as "The Golden Age of
Pericles." At no other time were there in Athens so many
great painters, sculptors, writers, and philosophers.
IN THE GOLDEN AGE OF PERICLES
A celebrated historian who lived during the age of Pericles
was Herodotus. He is called "the Father of History."
Another famous historian of those days was Thucydides, who
wrote a history of the Peloponnesian War.
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