|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 |
THE SACRED WAR
 PHILIP of Macedon began to reign in 359 B.C. When he was
sixteen years of age he was taken by Pelopidas as a
hostage to Thebes. Here he stayed for three years,
reading Greek literature and learning to love it,
studying Greek art and learning to admire it. The
craft of war he gained from the great Theban general
When Philip went back to Macedon as king, he trained
his army in the movements he had first seen used by the
Theban troops under their famous general.
At this time a war called the Sacred War was going on
Delphi, where the temple of Apollo stood, had been
seized by the Phocians, who were led by a bold
commander named Philomelus. The home of the Phocians
was near Mount Parnassus.
In the temple vast treasures had been stored; these,
said Philomelus, should be safe as of old. But when he
fortified the city and brought a large army of soldiers
to guard it, the other Greek states said it was time to
interfere—that Delphi must be taken from the
Philomelus at once resolved to increase his army, but
he had no money to pay more soldiers. The Phocians had
already spent all that they possessed on the war, and
the citizens of Delphi had been so heavily taxed that
they could give no more.
Money Philomelus must have! So he began to borrow from
the treasures of the temple, which he had promised
should be untouched. As the war went on he took more
 gold, more of the sacred treasures, none of which he
was able to replace.
When the Thebans and their allies met Philomelus, he and
his hired troops were soon put to flight. Philomelus
fled alone to the top of a precipice, pursued by the
enemy. He must either leap into the awful abyss or be
captured by the angry soldiers. In a moment he had
made his choice, and when the Thebans reached the spot
where he had been seen but a second before, he was no
But other leaders replaced Philomelus, and they too
rifled the temple of Apollo.
At length the Phocians grew so bold that they
determined to attack Philip of Macedon who had invaded
Thessaly, and drive him from Greek territory. They
forced the king to return to Macedon, but he soon came
back with a large army and the Phocians retreated to
the famous pass of Thermopylæ. They hoped that Athens
would help them to hold the pass against Philip, but in
spite of the Philippics of Demosthenes, she did
Alone, the Phocians were not strong enough to resist
Philip's attack, and they were forced to surrender.
The pass, which the king had long resolved to gain, was
in his hand.
When the Athenians heard of the disaster they were
dismayed, and when Demosthenes again urged them to take
up arms against the invaders, his appeal was not made
In August 338 B.C. the united army of Athenians and
Thebans marched against the Macedonians, and met them
in the plain of Chæronea, where a great battle was
Philip's famous son Alexander, who was then only
eighteen years old, was in command of one of the wings
of the Macedonian army. Young as he was, it was his
attack upon the Sacred Band of Thebans that determined
The Sacred Band fought to the last, and was cut down
 where it stood. Soon the rest of the Greek army fled
from the fatal field, Demosthenes, who was among the
foot soldiers, taking flight with his comrades.
On the roadside, not far from the town of Chæronea and
near to Thebes, is a tomb, where the fallen heroes of
the Sacred Band were laid.
Standing over the tomb is the statue of a lion, now
partly in ruins, which was placed there as though to
protect the bodies of the slain.
The victory of Philip at Chæronea left Athens, and
indeed all Greece, at the mercy of the king, and he
treated her well. His chief ambition was to conquer
the kingdom of Persia, and the army he meant to lead
against the great king was to be made up of Greeks as
well as of Macedonians.
But in 336 B.C., before his plans could be carried out,
Philip was murdered.
When Greece heard the tidings she rejoiced, for now
again she hoped to be free. None was more glad than
Demosthenes, for he, as you know, had always been a
bitter enemy of the king.
The orator was wearing black clothes at the time,
because he had but lately lost his daughter. When he
heard that Philip had been murdered, he put them away
and clad himself in gay garments, while he placed a
wreath upon his head.
Only one Athenian was found to reprove the Athenians
for their hasty and foolish joy.
Phocion, who was both a general and an orator, said
gravely, "Nothing shows greater meanness of spirit than
expressions of joy at the death of an enemy. Remember
that the army you fought at Chæronea is lessened by
only one man."
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