|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 |
MILTIADES SAILS TO THE ISLAND OF PAROS
 the Greeks won their great victory at Marathon, in 490 B.C.,
they had always feared the Persians. Now their fear was
forgotten. They had still a long struggle before the
Persians were banished from their land, but, inspired by the
memory of Marathon, the Greeks fought bravely and were sure
always that they would be the victors. "It was as though on
the day of Marathon the gods had said to the Athenians, 'Go
on and prosper.' "
Among those who fought on this famous field was
Themistocles. He was young then and fought in the ranks, but
he was yet to become one of the greatest men that Athens
ever knew. Aristides too was there, of whom as of
Themistocles there are many things to tell; Æschylus, the
great tragic poet, also bore arms at Marathon.
When the battle was over, it was found that the Athenians
had lost only one hundred and ninety-two men, while of the
Persians six thousand four hundred lay dead upon the field.
In spite of this the army of the Persians was still large
enough to attack the unwalled city of Athens.
Soon after the battle a bright shield was hung on one of the
heights of the city, and it was said that a traitor had
signalled to the enemy that now was the time to attack her.
But Miltiades saw the light as well as the Persians, and
guessing what it meant, he took his army back to Athens by a
forced march. He arrived in time to see the fleet of the
enemy as it approached the harbour.
But when the Persian general saw that he need not hope
 to take the city unawares, he did not venture to risk another
battle. An army already flushed with victory would soon
scatter his dejected troops. So he ordered the fleet to
sail for Asia.
While Miltiades was making a forced march back to Athens,
Aristides was left at Marathon with a band of soldiers to
guard the prisoners and the plunder, for his honesty was
already well known.
Neither he himself touched any of the treasures of the
Persian camp, nor did he allow his followers to plunder.
Callias, the torchbearer, "most cruel and
impious of men," did, it is true,
seize a treasure, but he did so unknown to
Aristides. For one of the Persians, thinking Callias was of
noble rank and hoping to win his favour, fell at his feet,
and then, rising, took his hand and led him to a ditch in
which a large quantity of gold had been hidden.
Callias seized the treasure, then lest the Persian should
tell what had happened, he slew him.
The Spartans who had promised to help to fight against their
country's foe did not forget to march to Marathon when the
moon was full. They even marched one hundred and fifty
miles in three days, but in spite of this they reached the
battlefield too late to share in the victory.
A mound was raised over the Athenians who had perished,
about half a mile from the sea. If you go to where
"The mountains look on Marathon,
And Marathon looks on the sea,"
you may see it still.
After the victory, Miltiades was the hero of Athens. He
knew that the citizens would grant what he chose to ask, so
he begged for a fleet of seventy ships. He knew of a land
where gold and treasures were to be had in abundance.
Thither would he sail and return to enrich the city.
The fleet was entrusted to him, but Miltiades did not sail
to the wonderful land of which he had told, but, so it is
 to the island of Paros. Here in the capital city,
which was also called Paros, dwelt a citizen with whom the
Athenian had a quarrel. To punish him, Miltiades laid siege
to the town, but again and again his attacks were repulsed.
Then one day as he was on his way to the temple of Demeter,
Miltiades was seized with sudden panic. In his haste to
leave the sacred grove he leaped over a fence, and in doing
so he hurt his thigh.
When he returned to Athens he was no longer in favour with
the people whom he had deceived. Wounded as he was, he was
carried into court on a couch and was condemned to pay a
heavy fine. But he died before he had collected the money.
Meanwhile Darius heard how his army had been defeated at
Marathon. In his wrath he vowed that he would never rest
until he had conquered Greece.
Three years he spent, preparing once again to invade Europe.
His heralds were sent all over his wide dominions to gather
together a great army. Horses and corn too the king
demanded should be sent "much more than before."
But the great king never carried out his plan of again
attacking Greece, for he died in 485 B.C., after having
reigned for thirty-six years. His son Xerxes succeeded to
the throne of Persia.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics