Front Matter Wonderland The Great God Pan The Six Pomegranate Seeds The Birth of Athene The Two Weavers The Purple Flowers Danae and Her Little Son The Quest of Perseus Andromeda and Sea-Monster Acrisius Killed by Perseus Achilles and Briseis Menelaus and Paris Do Battle Hector and Andromache The Horses of Achilles The Death of Hector Polyphemus the Giant Odysseus Escapes from Cave Odysseus Returns to Ithaca Argus the Hound Dies The Bow of Odysseus The Land of Hellas Lycurgus and His Nephew Lycurgus Returns to Sparta Training of the Spartans The Helots Aristomenes and the Fox The Olympian Games The Last King of Athens Cylon Fails to be Tyrant Solon Frees the Slaves Athenians Take Salamis Pisistratus Becomes Tyrant Harmodius and Aristogiton The Law of Ostracism The Bridge of Boats Darius Rewards Histiaeus Histiaeus Shaves His Slave Sardis Is Destroyed Sandal Sewn by Histiaeus Earth and Water Battle of Marathon Miltiades Sails to Paros Aristides is Ostracised The Dream of Xerxes Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont Bravest Men of All Hellas Battle of Thermopylae Battle of Artemisium Themistocles at Salamis Themistocles Tricks Admirals Battle of Salamis Battle of Plataea Delian League Themistocles Deceives Spartans Themistocles is Ostracised Eloquence of Pericles Pericles and Elpinice The City of Athens Great Men of Athens Thebans Attack Plataeans Attica Invaded by Spartans Last Words of Pericles Siege of Plataea The Sentence of Death Brasidas Loses His Shield The Spartans Surrender Brasidas the Spartan Amphipolus Surrenders Alcibiades the Favourite Socrates the Philosopher Alcibiades Praises Socrates Images of Hermes Destroyed Alcibiades Escapes to Sparta The Siege of Syracuse Athenian Army is Destroyed Alcibiades Returns to Athens Antiochus Disobeys Alcibiades Walls of Athens Destroyed March of the Ten Thousand Pelopidas and Epaminondas Seven Conspirators Battle of Leuctra Death of Epaminondas The Two Brothers Timoleon exiles Dionysius Icetes Attacks Timoleon Battle of Crimisus Demosthenes' Wish Greatest Orator of Athens The Sacred War Alexander and Bucephalus Alexander and Diogenes Battle of Granicus The Gordian Knot Darius Gallops from Battle Tyre Stormed by Alexander Battle of Gaugamela Alexander Burns Persepolis Alexander Slays Foster-Brother Porus and His Elephant Alexander Is Wounded The Death of Alexander Demosthenes in the Temple

Story of Greece - Mary Macgregor

The Gordian Knot

After the battle of Granicus, many Persian towns submitted to the conqueror. Those along the coast of Asia Minor that refused to open their gates, the king quickly subdued.

During the winter he reached a city called Gordion, about which a strange story is told.

In the citadel of Gordion was an old, roughly built wagon, which had once belonged to a peasant named Gordius. Long, long ago Gordius had ridden into the town in his wagon, and the oracle had declared that this peasant had been chosen by the gods to be king of Phrygia, in which country Gordion stood.

When Gordius was made king, almost the first thing he did was to dedicate his wagon to the gods, tying the yoke to the pole with fibre taken from the bark of a tree. The Gordian knot, as it was named, was twisted and tangled in a bewildering way, and looked as though it would defy the most skilful fingers to untie. Yet an oracle had said that whoever should succeed in undoing this wonderful knot would become king over all Asia.

Many men who wished to wear a crown came to Gordion to try to undo the knot, but not one of them had been able to unravel the twisted fibre.

When Alexander, with his victorious army, rode into Gordion, every one wondered if the king would be able to untie the famous knot.

Alexander was not long in going to see the ancient wagon. He looked at the puzzling knot and soon saw that he would not be able to untie it.

But he did not mean to be beaten. He would solve the problem in his own way. So taking his sword in his impatient hands, with one swift stroke he cut the formidable knot in two.

The onlookers, both Phrygians and Macedonians, shouted with delight for lo! the oracle was fulfilled, and Alexander would become monarch of Asia.

As the knot was cut in twain, a great thunderstorm raged over the town, and the people said, 'It is Zeus who sends the storm to show that he is pleased that the prophecy is fulfilled.'

While Alexander had been conquering the towns along the coast of Asia, Darius had been gathering together another great army, which numbered, so it was said, six hundred thousand men. The king himself commanded the vast army, and in the spring of 333 B.C. he set out to find Alexander.

Darius was not a skilful general, nor was he a brave king, but he had no doubt that he would conquer Alexander.

When Alexander still lingered in one of the coast towns, Darius deemed that it was cowardice that kept him there, so little did he know of the character of his foe. It was illness alone that kept Alexander from advancing against the great king.

Some said that it was the hardships of the battlefield that had made the king ill, others that while he was still heated after a long march he had bathed in a river, the waters of which were very cold.

To the dismay of his soldiers, who adored their brave leader, the king grew worse and worse. He was so ill that it seemed that he must die.

His physicians were afraid to give the king medicine, for should he die they would be accused of giving him poison.

At length one of the physicians, named Philip, to whom Alexander had shown great kindness, determined that whatever happened to him, he would do his utmost to save the king's life.

Alexander himself was content to take what Philip ordered, so impatient was he to be well and at the head of his army once again.

So Philip left the king for a few moments to prepare the medicine that he believed would cure him.

While he was absent, a letter was brought to Alexander from his officer Parmenio. It besought the king not to trust Philip, as he had been bribed by Darius to poison him. Vast sums of money and the hand of the great king's daughter, said Parmenio, were to be the reward of the physician.

When Alexander had read the letter, he put it under his pillow, showing it to no one, not even to his beloved friend Hephæstion. He had no sooner done so than Philip returned with the medicine. The king took it without hesitation. Then, drawing the letter from beneath his pillow, he bade his physician read it.

Philip was horrified as he read the false accusation, and flinging himself down by the bed, he entreated the king to trust him and to fear nothing.

The drug was a powerful one, and after taking it the king was unconscious for hours. His nurses whispered to one another that he was dead.

But after a time he opened his eyes, weak indeed, but no longer in danger. Philip tended him until his strength returned, and he was at length able to go out to show himself to his Macedonians. For they had been in constant fear lest aught should befall their king, and nothing would satisfy them until they had seen his face.