|The Story of Greece|
|by Mary Macgregor|
| Stories from the history of ancient Greece beginning with mythical and legendary stories of gods and heroes and ending with the conquests of Alexander the Great. Gives short accounts of battles and sieges, and of the men who made Greece a great nation. Ages 10-14 |
ATTICA IS INVADED BY THE SPARTANS
 IN the month of May 431 B.C. Attica itself was invaded
by a large Spartan army, under King Archidamus.
Before he crossed the border into Attica the king bade
his army halt, while he sent an ambassador named
Melesippus to the Athenians, to offer them terms if they
would submit to him. But Pericles persuaded the council
to refuse even to listen to Melesippus, who had been
told to return to his own army before the setting of the
sun. As he turned away from the council, Melesippus
said to the Athenians, "This day will be the beginning of
many woes to the Greeks."
Pericles knew that the Spartans would march into Attica,
as soon as their ambassador had returned, so he ordered
the country folk to hasten within the strong walls of
Athens for safety. Their cattle he bade them send to
the island of Euboea.
The Spartans found the Attic farms deserted, but they
destroyed and burned them, while they trampled down the
cornfields and spoiled the olive groves and orchards.
As the invading army drew nearer to Athens, the people
within the city walls could mark its progress by the
smoke that rose from burning farms and villas. The men
rushed to the gates, eager to go to attack the enemy,
and it was all but beyond the power of Pericles to
As winter drew near, Archidamus was forced to retreat,
for he had neither money nor food to keep his troops
longer in the country of the enemy.
Then Pericles knowing that the way was clear, sailed
 from Athens with thirteen thousand men, and surprised
many villages on the Peloponnesian coast. He also
burned the farms and houses in the district of Megara.
When Pericles returned from Megara, a public burial was
given, as was the custom, to those who had been slain in
A cedar box, in which were placed the bones of the
fallen, was carried without the walls of the city and
buried. For those whose bodies had not been recovered,
there was an empty bed covered with a pall. The funeral
oration, or Panegyric as it was named, was spoken by
Here are a few of the sentences which Thucydides, the
historian, heard, as he stood among the people and
listened to the Panegyric.
"Our city is equally admirable in peace and in war. For
we are lovers of the beautiful, yet simple in our
tastes, and we cultivate the mind without loss of
manliness. Wealth we employ, not for talk and
ostentation, but when there is real use for it. To avow
poverty is with us no disgrace; the true disgrace is in
doing nothing to avoid it.
"An Athenian citizen does not neglect the State because
he takes care of his own household; and even those of us
who are engaged in business have a very fair idea of
politics. We alone regard a man who takes no interest
in public affairs, not as harmless, but as a useless
character. . . .
"I would have you day by day fix your eyes upon the
greatness of Athens until you become filled with the
love of her; and when you are impressed with the
spectacle of her glory, reflect that this empire has
been acquired by men who knew their duty and had the
courage to do it . . . . they freely gave their lives to
her as the fairest offering which they could present at
her feast. The whole earth is the sepulchre of famous
men; not only are they commemorated by columns and
inscriptions in their own country, but in foreign lands
there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven,
not on stone, but in the hearts of men. Make them your
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics