It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. — Confucius

Story of Greece - Mary Macgregor

Great Men of Athens

Athens, in the age of Pericles, was the home of literary men as well as of sculptors and architects.

Æschylus, one of the greatest men of the age, was a diligent writer of tragedies or serious plays. You will think that he was diligent indeed, when I tell you that he wrote ninety plays, although only seven are known to us now. His tragedies were acted in the great theatre of Dionysus. The Persae, his first play, was written eight years after the great sea-fight at Salamis, to tell of the victory the Athenians had won over the Persians.

Just as races were run, and music was written by competitors to win renown and gain prizes at the festival of Dionysus, so plays were written and prizes were awarded to the successful author at this great feast. These plays might be about the things that were taking place in Greece at that very time, or the plot might be taken from the old-world stories of Troy. Proud and dauntless were the men and women whom Æschylus made to live upon the stage of Athens. Of many of these you will some day read yourself.

Sophocles and Euripides also wrote tragedies, and Euripides is known, too, for the beauty of his songs. He was a magician who made all that he touched radiant with beauty. Many people loved Euripides because of the wonderful songs and plays which he wrote, but some hated him.

Aristophanes, the writer of comedies or amusing plays that made the Athenians laugh with uncontrollable glee, was one of those who disliked Euripides and held up some of his works to scorn. But Socrates, a greater man than he, loved Euripides and called him his favourite poet.

Herodotus was the first great Greek historian. He was not born in Attica, but he lived some years in Athens. He wrote the story of the Persian wars, while Thucydides wrote that of the Peloponnesian war.

Some of the greatest teachers in Greece at this time were called Sophists. A Sophist meant, at first, one who was clever in any special art. It did not matter what the art was; it might be cooking, gardening, teaching.

Protagoras was one of the most famous Sophists, but the Athenians did not treat him well. For he wrote a book which displeased them, so that they condemned it and accused him of writing against the gods of Greece. So angry were his enemies that Protagoras knew that he could no longer live safely in Athens. He fled from the city and set sail for Sicily, but he was drowned before he reached the island.

It was of his dead friend Protagoras that Euripides was thinking when he wrote in one of his plays, 'Ye have slain, O Greeks, ye have slain the nightingale of the muses, the wizard bird that did no wrong.'

These are a few of the great men who, with Ictinus, Pheidias, and many another of whom I have not told, made the glory of Greece known throughout the wide world.


Front Matter

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