|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 |
GREAT MEN OF ATHENS
 ATHENS, in the age of Pericles, was the home of literary men as well
as of sculptors and architects.
Æschylus, one of the greatest men of the age, was a
diligent writer of tragedies or serious plays. You will
think that he was diligent indeed, when I tell you that he
wrote ninety plays, although only seven are known to us now.
His tragedies were acted in the great theatre of Dionysus.
The Persae, his first play, was written eight years after
the great sea-fight at Salamis, to tell of the victory the
Athenians had won over the Persians.
Just as races were run, and music was written by competitors
to win renown and gain prizes at the festival of Dionysus,
so plays were written and prizes were awarded to the
successful author at this great feast. These plays might be
about the things that were taking place in Greece at that
very time, or the plot might be taken from the old-world
stories of Troy. Proud and dauntless were the men and women
whom Æschylus made to live upon the stage of Athens. Of
many of these you will some day read yourself.
Sophocles and Euripides also wrote tragedies, and Euripides
is known, too, for the beauty of his songs. He was a
magician who made all that he touched radiant with beauty.
Many people loved Euripides because of the wonderful songs
and plays which he wrote, but some hated him.
Aristophanes, the writer of comedies or amusing plays that
made the Athenians laugh with uncontrollable glee,
 was one
of those who disliked Euripides and held up some of his
works to scorn. But Socrates, a greater man than he, loved
Euripides and called him his favourite poet.
Herodotus was the first great Greek historian. He was not
born in Attica, but he lived some years in Athens. He wrote
the story of the Persian wars, while Thucydides wrote that
of the Peloponnesian war.
Some of the greatest teachers in Greece at this time were
called Sophists. A Sophist meant, at first, one who was
clever in any special art. It did not matter what the art
was; it might be cooking, gardening, teaching.
Protagoras was one of the most famous Sophists, but the
Athenians did not treat him well. For he wrote a book which
displeased them, so that they condemned it and accused him
of writing against the gods of Greece. So angry were his
enemies that Protagoras knew that he could no longer live
safely in Athens. He fled from the city and set sail for
Sicily, but he was drowned before he reached the island.
It was of his dead friend Protagoras that Euripides was
thinking when he wrote in one of his plays, "Ye have slain,
O Greeks, ye have slain the nightingale of the muses, the
wizard bird that did no wrong."
These are a few of the great men who, with Ictinus,
Pheidias, and many another of whom I have not told, made the
glory of Greece known throughout the wide world.
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