|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 |
DEMOSTHENES IN THE TEMPLE OF POSEIDON
 WHEN Alexander set out on his great expedition to Asia,
Demosthenes was living in Athens, and for five years
nothing happened to disturb the quiet habits of his
He loved his city well, and with his own money he had
rebuilt the walls of Athens. Many other services he
had done for his countrymen, and because of these, one
of the Athenians proposed to the people that a hero's
crown of gold should be bestowed upon Demosthenes.
This they were very willing to do. So at one of the
great Athenian festivals, when the people were
assembled in the theatre, a herald proclaimed that a
golden crown had been awarded to the orator because of
all that he had done for his city.
But Æschines, another great orator, was angry that
this honour should have been given to Demosthenes, whom
he happened to dislike. So he brought a lawsuit
against him, and attacked his enemy in a speech that
But Demosthenes defended himself in a still more
brilliant speech, and won his case, which so annoyed
Æschines that he left Athens and never again returned
to the city.
Six years later, Demosthenes was accused of having
taken bribes. It was not proved that he had done so,
yet he was found guilty and sentenced to pay a heavy
As he had not money enough to pay the fine, he was
thrown into prison. Before long he escaped and fled to
the sea-coast town of Ægina, not far from Athens.
 would sit on the shore or pace up and down the sands,
looking wistfully toward the city he loved.
When tidings of the death of Alexander reached Athens,
the Greeks resolved once more to try to fling off the
yoke of Macedon. Demosthenes was recalled to the city,
and his voice encouraged the Athenians in their
determination to fight for liberty.
But Antipater hastened to Attica with an army, and soon
put down the revolt of the Athenians. He then
condemned Demosthenes to death, for it was well-known
that his Philippics had often roused the Athenians to
show their hatred of Philip, and he had, too,
continually spoken against his son Alexander.
When Demosthenes heard that he had been condemned, he
fled to the temple of Poseidon, in the island of
Calauria. Antipater at once sent soldiers, led by a
man named Archians, to capture the fugitive. Archias
had once been an actor, and was well known to
Archias reached Calauria, and going to the temple he
begged Demosthenes to come out of the sanctuary, saying
that if he did so he would be pardoned.
But Demosthenes knew that this was a false promise and
he said, "O Archias, I am as little affected by your
promises now as I used formerly to be by your acting."
Now Archias had been proud of his acting, so this made
him very angry with Demosthenes, and he began to
threaten him with all kinds of evil.
"Now," said the orator, "you speak like an oracle of
Macedon; before, you were acting a part. Therefore
wait only a little, while I write a word or two to my
Then he rose and went into the inner temple, and taking
a tablet and his own pen in his hand, he sat down as
though to write. He had a habit of putting his pen
into his mouth and biting it, and he did so now. It
seemed as though he was thinking what he would write.
But all the while he was sucking poison which he had
concealed in his pen.
 Then, knowing that the poison would soon do its work,
Demosthenes leaned on the altar, his face hidden in his
Archias had now grown tired of waiting, and he went
into the temple again and bade Demosthenes come,
without more delay.
The orator rose, uncovering his head, and looking at
Archias, he said, "I will depart while I am alive out
of this sacred place." But as he tried to walk toward
the door he staggered and fell by the altar. The
poison had done its work.
Antipater had no interest in the art or in the culture
of Greece, and her glory soon faded under his rule.
Athens, Sparta, Corinth, as well as the smaller states,
all ceased to be independent.
As the power of Greece grew less, that of Rome was
growing greater and greater. In 196 B.C. she conquered
Macedon and restored to Greece her liberty.
Fifty years later, Corinth defied the Roman power, and
treated her ambassadors with insult. The Roman consuls
then sent an army into Greece to conquer the country,
and add it to their great dominions.
But although the Romans conquered Greece, and so made
her subject to them, they could not escape her
influence. The Greek language was spoken by every
educated Roman, Greek plays were acted at Rome, Greek
literature was read and studied.
Wherever the Romans went they carried with them the
habits and the culture of the people whom they had
conquered. And the greatest and most precious thing
the Greeks had to teach the world was, "the just
consideration of the truth of things everywhere."
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