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ABOUT GREECE AND THE GREEKS
REECE is a beautiful country. Mountains and rivers and
sea are all jumbled together. The farms are not flat.
They slope down a mountain-side or run over a dozen
little rocky hills, and everywhere the sea comes up
into the land so that the whole country smells of the
The Greeks liked to walk among their mountains and
they liked to sail on their sea. The climate was warm
and sunny, and the people would not stay in the house;
so they were strong, and tall, and straight. They
walked like lions. They could run, they could leap,
they could wrestle, they could swim. Their muscles were
hard. Their skin was smooth. Their clothes, too, were
"They must not bind our muscles," said the Greeks.
"They must not be in
 our way when we run. Our arms must be free for
So a man wore a loose chiton that had no sleeves and
that came only to his knees. It was white, or gray, or
yellow, and was belted and bloused at the waist. Then a
short cape of some bright color was flung over the
man's shoulders and fastened with a gold pin. He called
this his chlamys. The clothes were made of linen or
wool. They were often beautifully embroidered in gold
or in colors.
Think of a Greek man or boy in white chiton, and
purple, gold-trimmed chlamys. His clothes hung about
him in soft folds. His head was bare. His right arm was
bare, and his strong legs below the knees. He had
sandals on his feet. He was all ready for any kind of
The women wore the same sort of clothes, but their
chitons trailed on the ground and had longer blouses.
They were of brighter colors, too, and were more gaily
trimmed. The cloaks were called himations. These were
sometimes like great shawls that the women
 could wrap themselves in from head to feet. But often
the himation was long and narrow like a scarf and was
thrown around the neck.
When Greeks went to war they used spears and swords,
and bows and arrows. They wore big bronze plates on
their bodies — on the front, on their backs, on
their thighs, on their shins. These were to keep off
arrows and spears and sword cuts. The metal felt
unpleasant to the skin, so the warrior had a suit of
cloth or leather under it. On his head he wore a helmet
of bronze or silver with a horse-hair plume on top. He
carried a shield on his left arm. Sometimes this was
made of bronze, inlaid with gold or silver, but
sometimes it was only many thicknesses of leather.
A GREEK WARRIOR
The people thought out their houses at a time when
they were having many wars.
"An enemy can push in doors and windows," they said.
"We will have no windows and only one door."
That left strong walls all around.
 Against these the rooms were built. But there must be
light from somewhere, so a yard was left in the middle
of the house, and every room had wide openings into it.
Sometimes there was a porch around the four sides of
this yard or court. That made it a pleasant place to
sit in. The house was only one story high, with a flat
roof of thatch or tile. The outside walls were
sometimes of limestone or marble, but most often they
were frame covered with plaster or mud. The
mud-plastered houses were usually whitewashed.
The Greeks had no stoves. They cooked at an open
fire-place in the court. Achilles had a bonfire in his
great hall, built on the dirt floor. There was a hole
in the roof above to let the smoke out. His house was
lighted by pine torches. They were sticks smeared with
pitch. They were stuck into the floor, or, sometimes,
into beautiful holders, and were lighted.
Greek ships were small, carrying only about fifty
men. There was a little deck at each end. In this
 goods were stored, and the men sometimes slept there.
The middle of the ship was uncovered. Here the crew
worked, and everybody on board belonged to the crew.
There was no room for idle people. The ship went by
sail, and the great mast stood up
from this middle space. But sometimes the wind would
stop blowing when the boat was out at sea. Then the men
rolled up the sail and took down the mast and laid it
in the bottom of the ship. Then they sat down
 benches and put out their oars and rowed, while a man
kept time for them. A pilot sat on the deck in the
stern and steered. When the boat came to shore, the men
did not throw an anchor overboard. They jumped out and
pulled the ship up on the sand away from the water. The
Greeks said of their boat:
"She is going on long voyages. She needs eyes."
So they painted one on each side of her prow.
A GREEK SHIP
All the pictures in this book are drawn from statues
or vase-paintings that the
Greeks made. If you go to our art
stores or art galleries now you will find
them full of pictures or casts of beautiful Greek
things. There have been many wars in Greece since
 artists worked, so most of the statues are broken and
the paint is rubbed off; for the marble figures used to
be colored to appear like real men. Many of the dishes
that we find are broken, too, but they tell us much
about that old people; for there are pictures on them,
"vase-paintings," we say. The colors of these vases
are like the colors of this book-cover.
A GREEK VASE
But best of all, we have many stories that the
Greeks wrote. Some people of now-a-days have told them
over for children. Here are the names of a few of their
"Tanglewood Tales," by Hawthorne.
"Wonder Book," by Hawthorne.
"The Greek Heroes," by Kingsley.
"Old Greek Stories," by Baldwin.
"The Story of Ulysses," by Cook.