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

Demosthenes Wishes to Become an Orator

Demosthenes, the great Athenian orator, was born in 384 B.C. He was a shy and delicate boy, and often stammered when he spoke. Some of his companions were cruel enough to laugh at him and even to imitate his stammer. So he would often slip away from his playmates, but when they saw that he did not join in their games, they but laughed at him the more.

The father of Demosthenes was a rich man. He died when his little son was seven years old, leaving his fortune to his child. But the guardians who took charge of Demosthenes and his wealth were careless and dishonest men. Some of the boy's money they lost, some they spent on themselves.

As the child grew older, his guardians found that there was little money left to use for his education. They could not afford to get the best teachers, nor did they pay well those whom they employed. So that Demosthenes was often taught carelessly or not at all.

Of the boy's mother we are told little, save that she was kind to her delicate little son and tended him with care. But she, too, died while he was still young.

Demosthenes did not learn his lessons well or quickly, but he was interested in all that went on around him, and he soon began to distrust his guardians. Long before he was sixteen years old, he knew that they had lost his money, and even then he hoped that some day he would be able to punish them.

The boy loved the beautiful city of Athens in which he grew up. Never did he tire of gazing at the wonderful temples, the noble statues which made her renowned throughout Greece.

There were in these as in other days famous orators in Athens, to whom the citizens were ever eager to listen. For they were well pleased to be reminded of the glorious days of Thermopylæ, and of Marathon, though now they were not anxious to win glory on the battlefield. They had grown rich and indolent, and were content to stay at home, content to go to games and to theatres.

Demosthenes often heard his teachers talk of the great orators of Athens, and he wished that he might listen to their eloquent speeches.

One day Callistratus, a famous orator, was to speak at a great trial that was taking place in the city.

The boy begged to be allowed to go, and his tutor at length agreed to find a corner in the hall where the boy might sit to see and to hear all that went on.

Demosthenes could imagine no greater treat than to be there, hidden away in the midst of the crowd, to listen to Callistratus.

The speech was a great one, and when it was over the Athenians crowded round the orator, eager to applaud, while many followed him to his home. Demosthenes came away with his ambition roused. He said to himself, 'I too will be an orator and make the people do as I wish. They shall applaud me, even as they have applauded Callistratus to-day.'

But another reason that made him wish to speak in public was that he might expose the dishonesty of his guardians in the law courts. For he could not be content until they were punished.

When the boy had made up his mind to be an orator he lost no time in beginning to study. He knew that he must work hard if he would succeed.

For two years he read history, wrote speeches, and when it was possible, went to hear famous orators. When he was eighteen he thought that he was ready to speak in public. So he went to the law courts and accused his guardians of theft.

At first little notice was taken of what the lad said, but he pleaded his cause again and again, until at length he won his suit, and his guardians were punished. But it was too late to recover the money, which was now nearly all lost.