The comedy of man survives the tragedy of man. — G. K. Chesterton

Story of Greece - Mary Macgregor


The story of Greece began long, long ago in a strange wonderland of beauty. Woods and winds, fields and rivers, each had a pathway which led upward and onward into the beautiful land. Sometimes indeed no path was needed, for the rivers, woods, and lone hill-sides were themselves the wonderland of which I am going to tell.

In the woods and winds, in the trees and rivers, dwelt the gods and goddesses whom the people of long ago worshipped. It was their presence in the world that made it so great, so wide, so wonderful.

To the Hellenes, for that is the name by which the Greeks called themselves, there were eyes, living eyes in flowers, trees and water. 'So crowded full is the air with them,' wrote one poet who lived in the far-off days, 'that there is no room to put in the spike of an ear of corn without touching one.'

When the wind blew soft, the Hellenes listened to the whispering of a voice. When it blew rough, and snatched one of the children from their midst, they did not greatly grieve. The child had but gone to be the playmate of the gods.

The springs sparkled clean, for in them dwelt the Naiads or freshwater nymphs, with gifts as great as the river gods, who were ofttimes seen and heard amid the churning, tossing waters.

In the trees dwelt the Dryads, nymphs these of the forest, and whom the Hellenes saw but seldom. Shy nymphs were the Dryads, born each one at the birth of a tree, in which she dwelt, fading away when the tree was felled, or when it withered and died.

Their revels were held in some wooded mountain, far from the haunts of men. Were a human footfall heard, the frolics ceased on the instant, while each Dryad sped swift for shelter to the tree of her birth.

So the gods wandered though the land, filling the earth with their presence. Yet there was one lofty mountain in central Greece, named Mount Olympus, which the Hellenes believed was the peculiar home of the gods. It was to this great mount that the actual roads on which the Hellenes walked each day seemed ever to lead.

On the sides of the mountain, green trees and dark pines clustered close. The summit reached high up, beyond the clouds, so used the ancient people to tell. Here, where no human foot had ever climbed, up beyond the twinkling stars, was the abode of the gods.

What the Hellenes never saw with their eyes, they saw quite clear with their imagination. Within the clouds, where the gods dwelt, they gazed in this strange way, upon marble halls, glistening with gold and silver, upon thrones too, great white thrones, finer far than those on which an earthly king might sit. The walls gleamed with rainbow tints, and beauty as of dawns and sunsets was painted over vast arches of Olympus.


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