There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government. — Benjamin Franklin

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber

Aristides the Just

The Athenians were very happy, because they thought, that, having once defeated the Persians, they need fear them no more. They were greatly mistaken, however. The Great King had twice seen his preparations come to naught and his plans ruined, but he was not yet ready to give up the hope of conquering Greece.

On the contrary, he solemnly swore that he would return with a greater army than ever, and make himself master of the proud city which had defied him. These plans were suspected by Themistocles, who therefore urged the Athenians to strengthen their navy, so that they might be ready for war when it came.

Aristides, the other general, was of the opinion that it was useless to build any more ships, but that the Athenians should increase their land forces. As each general had a large party, many quarrels soon arose. It became clear before long, that, unless one of the two leaders left the town, there would be an outbreak of civil war.

All the Athenians, therefore, gathered together in the market place, where they were to vote for or against the banishment of one of the leaders. Of course, on this great occasion, all the workmen left their labors, and even the farmers came in from the fields.

Aristides was walking about among the voters, when a farmer stopped him. The man did not know who he was, but begged him to write his vote down on the shell, for he had never even learned to read.

"What name shall I write?" questioned Aristides.

"Oh, put down 'Aristides,' " answered the farmer.

"Why do you want him sent away? Has he ever done you any harm?" asked Aristides.

"No," said the man, "but I'm tired of hearing him called the Just."

Without saying another word, Aristides calmly wrote his own name on the shell. When the votes were counted, they found six thousand against him: so Aristides the Just was forced to leave his native city, and go away into exile.

This was a second example of Athenian ingratitude; for Aristides had never done anything wrong, but had, on the contrary, done all he could to help his country. His enemies, however, were the men who were neither honest nor just, and who felt that his virtues were a constant rebuke to them; and this was the very reason why they were so anxious to get him out of the city.


Front Matter

Early Inhabitants of Greece
The Deluge of Ogyges
Founding of Important Cities
Story of Deucalion
Daedalus and Icarus
The Adventures of Jason
Theseus Visits the Labyrinth
The Terrible Prophecy
The Sphinx's Riddle
Death of Oedipus
The Brothers' Quarrel
The Taking of Thebes
The Childhood of Paris
Muster of the Troops
Sacrifice of Iphigenia
The Wrath of Achilles
Death of Hector and Achilles
The Burning of Troy
Heroic Death of Codrus
The Blind Poet
The Rise of Sparta
The Spartan Training
The Brave Spartan Boy
Public Tables in Sparta
Laws of Lycurgus
The Messenian War
The Music of Tyrtaeus
Aristomenes' Escape
The Olympic Games
Milo of Croton
The Jealous Athlete
The Girls' Games
The Bloody Laws of Draco
The Laws of Solon
The First Plays
The Tyrant Pisistratus
The Tyrant's Insult
Death of the Conspirators
Hippias Driven out of Athens
The Great King
Hippias Visits Darius
Destruction of the Persian Host
Advance of the Second Host
The Battle of Marathon
Miltiades' Disgrace
Aristides the Just
Two Noble Spartan Youths
The Great Army
Preparations for Defense
Leonidas at Thermopylae
Death of Leonidas
The Burning of Athens
Battles of Salamis and Plataea
The Rebuilding of Athens
Death of Pausanias
Cimon Improves Athens
The Earthquake
The Age of Pericles
Teachings of Anaxagoras
Peloponnesian War Begins
Death of Pericles
The Philosopher Socrates
Socrates' Favorite Pupil
Youth of Alcibiades
Greek Colonies in Italy
Alcibiades in Disgrace
Death of Alcibiades
Overthrow of Thirty Tyrants
Accusation of Socrates
Death of Socrates
The Defeat of Cyrus
Retreat of the Ten Thousand
Agesilaus in Asia
A Strange Interview
The Peace of Antalcidas
The Theban Friends
Thebes Free Once More
The Battle of Leuctra
Death of Pelopidas
The Battle of Mantinea
The Tyrant of Syracuse
Damon and Pythias
The Sword of Damocles
Dion and Dionysius
Civil War in Syracuse
Death of Dion
Philip of Macedon
Philip Begins His Conquests
The Orator Demosthenes
Philip Masters Greece
Birth of Alexander
The Steed Bucephalus
Alexander as King
Alexander and Diogenes
Alexander's Beginning
The Gordian Knot
Alexander's Royal Captives
Alexander at Jerusalem
The African Desert
Death of Darius
Defeat of Porus
Return to Babylon
Death of Alexander
Division of the Realm
Death of Demosthenes
Last of the Athenians
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Battle of Ipsus
Demetrius and the Athenians
The Achaean League
Division in Sparta
Death of Agis
War of the Two Leagues
The Last of the Greeks
Greece a Roman Province