The Story of the Greeks
Page: 116The men quickly carried him out of the temple, so that it should not be defiled by death, and then they found that the reed with which he wrote was hollow, and had contained a deadly drug. Demosthenes had taken the poison, thinking that death would be better than prison.
The Athenians now saw that it would have been wiser to listen to the cautious Phocion: so they set him at the head of their affairs, and promised to obey him. Although honest, Phocion was not very clever, and his caution little by little became cowardice.
In his fear of the Macedonians, he allowed them to have more and more power; and Greece a few years later was entirely under the rule of Antipater, the Macedonian governor.[Pg 260]
Antipater, although master of all Greece, did not treat the people cruelly, for he was very anxious to secure friends who would help him to keep his share of Alexander's realm.
He soon heard that Perdiccas was marching homeward with the infant king, who was named, like his father, Alexander; and he knew that the general wanted to place the child on the Macedonian throne. This plan was very distasteful to Antipater. He was not at all afraid of the infant Alexander, but he knew that Perdiccas would want to be regent, and he wished that position himself.
Rather than give up his authority, Antipater decided to fight; and, as many of Alexander's generals were dissatisfied, they all rose up in arms at the same time, as we have seen.
Perdiccas was surrounded by enemies, but he faced them all bravely, and even led an army into Egypt to subdue Ptolemy, his greatest foe. To reach the enemy, the soldiers under Perdiccas were obliged to swim across the Nile. Here so many of them were eaten up by huge crocodiles, that the rest, angry with their general for leading them into such danger, fell upon him and killed him.
Almost at the same time, Antipater died, leaving his son, Cas-san´der, and his general, Pol-ys-per´chon, to quarrel over the government of Macedon. Each gathered together an army, and tried to get as many friends as possible, especially among the Greeks.[Pg 261]
The Athenians vainly tried to remain neutral during this quarrel; but in the course of the war, Polysperchon came into their city, said that Phocion and many other great citizens were siding with Cassander, and condemned them to die by drinking poison brewed from the hemlock plant.
It seems, however, that there was not enough poison ready to kill them all, so the jailer made Phocion give him some money to buy more. The noble old man, forced to do as he was bidden, gave the necessary amount, saying, "It seems that one cannot even die for nothing in Athens."
As he was the last really noted politician in the city, he has been called the "Last of the Athenians." No one ever dared to uphold the city's power after his death, or tried to help it win back its old freedom.