|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 |
SARDIS IS DESTROYED
 THE Ionians knew that they would not be able to throw off the
Persian yoke without help from their kinsfolk in Greece. So
Aristagoras was appointed to go to Sparta to beg king
Cleomenes to help the Ionians, who were of the same race as
were he and his people.
When Aristagoras reached Sparta he tried to tempt the king
to help the Ionians by telling him of the wealth he might
gain for himself. After Artaphernes was conquered at Sardis
it would, he said, be an easy matter to go to Susa and seize
the treasures of the great king. He then showed Cleomenes a
thing he had never seen before—a map engraved in bronze.
Aristagoras pointed out to him all the countries he might
make his own if he would aid the Ionians in their revolt.
The king listened and looked, then he dismissed the Greek,
promising to think over the matter. In three days he sent
for Aristagoras and asked him how long it took to journey
from Ionia to Susa.
"Three months," answered the messenger.
"O stranger," then said Cleomenes, "depart from Sparta
before the sun goes down; thou art no friend to the
Lacedaemonians when thou seekest to lead them three months'
journey from the sea."
In spite of the king's command, Aristagoras still tarried in
Sparta. He had made up his mind that he would see Cleomenes
once again ere he left the country.
So one day, taking an olive branch in his hand as a sign
 of peace, he went to the king's house. He found Cleomenes
alone with his little daughter Gorgo, a child about eight
Aristagoras begged the king to send his daughter away, but
Cleomenes said, "Pay no heed to the child."
Then the Greek tried to bribe the king to send help to
Ionia. Ten talents he offered, twenty, thirty, but in vain.
Forty, fifty! Surely, thought Aristagoras, the king would
be won by fifty talents.
But at that moment little Gorgo interfered. "Father," she
said, "the stranger will corrupt you unless you rise up and
Cleomenes listened to the child's words and knew that they
were wise. He rose and left the room, and Aristagoras knew
that he had been beaten by the little princess.
But although Sparta would not help, Athens might. So
Aristagoras went to the beautiful city and found that the
Athenians were willing to send twenty ships to the aid of
the Ionians. "These ships," said Herodotus, "were the
beginnings of evil both to the Greeks and to the barbarians."
In 498 B.C. the Athenian fleet was ready. It sailed across
the Ægean and the troops landed at Ephesus, where they were
joined by the Ionians. Together they marched upon Sardis.
Artaphernes saw that he could not hope to hold the town
against the force that was approaching. So he left the city
to be plundered, while he with a small band of soldiers took
refuge in the Acropolis.
As they met with little resistance, the Athenians at once
began to pillage the town. One of the soldiers set fire to
a house, and as many of them were made of wickerwork, while
all the roofs were thatched, the flames spread quickly
through the city until Sardis was destroyed. Then the
Greeks, loaded with plunder, began to march back to Ephesus,
but on the way they were met by a troop of Persians and
defeated. The Athenians now determined to
 go home.
Aristagoras begged them to stay, but they paid no heed to
his request, and hastening to the shore they embarked and
set sail for Athens. Nor did the Athenians take any further
share in the Ionic revolt.
But they had already done enough to rouse the anger of
Darius. The great king knew that it would be easy to punish
Aristagoras and the Ionians. As for the strangers who had
burned Sardis, one of his capital towns, they, whoever they
were, should suffer most heavily. He was told that the
strangers were the Athenians.
"The Athenians—who are they?" he demanded haughtily. And
when he had been told he sent for a bow and shot an arrow
high into the air, saying as he did so, "O Zeus, suffer me
to avenge myself on the Athenians." He then bade one of his
slaves say to him three times each day as he sat at
dinner, "O king, remember the Athenians."
Meanwhile Aristagoras saw that there was little chance of
the revolt being successful against the forces of Darius.
So, like a coward rather than like a brave leader, he
deserted those whom he had encouraged to rebel and fled to
Thrace. Here, while besieging a town, he was slain.
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