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 Thebans Attack the Plataeans

The cause of the Peloponnesian War was jealousy—jealousy between Athens and Sparta. Each wished to be the chief State in Greece, and the only way to settle the dispute in those days was by an appeal to arms.

Athens had a great navy and much wealth. She was at the head of an empire, but the States which she had subdued, and which she had forced to pay tribute, were discontented and unlikely to prove useful allies.

Sparta was the head of the Peloponnesian States. She had a strong army, but she had not money with which to carry on war, nor had she, or any of her allies save Corinth, a fleet that would be of any use against the large, well-equipped fleet of Athens.

As long as Athens could keep the mastery of the sea, she would be able to defy the enemy. Famine would soon subdue her if she lost this mastery, for much of her corn supply came from abroad, and if the corn ships did not reach the Piraeus with their precious freight, the people would starve.

On land Athens could not hope to hold her own against Sparta. Pericles knew this well, and so he urged the Athenians to place their trust in their ships.

'Let us give up lands and houses,' he said, 'but keep a watch over the city and the sea. We should not, under any irritation at the loss of our property, give battle to the Peloponnesians, who far outnumber us. Mourn not for houses or lands, but for men; men may give these, but these will not give men. If I thought that you would listen to me, I would say to you, "Go yourselves and destroy them, and thereby prove to the Peloponnesians that none of these things move you." Such is the power which the empire of the sea gives.'

The Peloponnesian War began in the early spring of 431 B.C. when the citizens of the little town of Thebes made a treacherous attack upon the town of Plataea.

Thebes belonged to the Boeotian League, which was on good terms with Sparta, upon bad terms with Athens.

Plataea was in alliance with Athens, but there were traitors among the citizens, and these determined to betray their city into the hands of the Thebans.

One dark, stormy night the gates of the city were opened to admit a band of three hundred Thebans. The main body of the Theban force was still some distance off. At midnight the citizens of Plataea were awakened by the sound of trumpets. They dressed in haste, and then rushing to the market place found it in the hands of the Thebans, who were calling upon the citizens to forsake Athens and to join the Boeotian League.

At first the Plataeans thought it would be useless to resist the enemy, but before long they found that there was only a small band of Thebans in the market place. Heavy rains had made the river Asopus rise, and the main body of the enemy was still on the farther side of the river, looking in vain for a ford.

So the Plataeans shut their gates, barricaded their streets with wagons, and then boldly attacked the enemy.

The Thebans were soon separated from one another and lost their way in the unknown and dusky streets. To add to their confusion, from windows and roofs, heavy missiles were hurled down upon them by the angry Plataean women. A few scaled the city wall and escaped, but the greater number, rushing through a large door which they mistook for one of the city gates, found themselves in a granary from which there was no escape save by the door through which they had entered. It was already held by the Plataeans, and the Thebans were taken prisoners and commanded to lay down their arms.

Meanwhile the main body of the Thebans had reached the city gates to find them guarded by the inhabitants. A herald was sent to bid them withdraw, after releasing the prisoners whom they had taken on their march to the city. Unless this was done without delay, the Plataeans threatened to put to death the Thebans whom they had captured.

It was plain that their plot had failed; so, to save their comrades, as they believed, the Thebans released their prisoners, recrossed the Asopus, and went back to their own city. Then the Plataeans did a cruel and treacherous deed, for they slew two hundred of their Theban prisoners.

The Plataeans sent to Athens to ask for help when the Theban army appeared without their walls, but the danger was over before help could reach them.

Yet, lest the Thebans should return, the women and children were taken to Athens for safety, while eighty Athenians were sent to garrison the walls of Plataea.