The Story of the Greeks
Page: 120A second time, however, the temple escaped, thanks to a terrible thunderstorm, which filled the superstitious minds of the robbers with dread. In the sudden darkness the Gauls fell upon each other, as the Persians had done in the days of Xerxes, and fought so desperately that many were killed.
The Greeks, remembering former victories, now made up their minds to strike a blow in their own defense. They collected an army, and defeated the invaders so severely that Bren´nus, the leader of the Gauls, killed himself in despair, while his followers withdrew to a province in Asia Minor, which from the Gauls was called Ga-la´tia.[Pg 268]
While the generals and successors of Alexander were busy trying to crush one another, most of the Greek towns, left to their own devices, had become small republics. But instead of forming a union, they became so jealous, that they began to quarrel and even to fight among themselves.
As the quarrels became more bitter, two parties or leagues were formed, which, from the two most important provinces at that time, received the names of Achæan and Æ-to´li-an.
The Achæan League was made up of twelve small towns in the Peloponnesus, and was under the leadership of A-ra´tus, a native of Sic´y-on. When a child, Aratus had seen his native city in the hands of a tyrant. His father, who was a patriot, had made a bold attempt to free the city, but had failed, and lost his life. Aratus, who was but seven years of age, heard that his father and all his family had been slain, and knew that the tyrant would try to kill him too. As he was too weak to defend himself, he sought refuge in the house of the tyrant's sister, where no one would be likely to seek for him.
This woman, touched by the child's trust, hid him cleverly, and, when all danger was over, sent him to some friends, where she paid for his board, and had him carefully brought up.
As Aratus was patriotic, he was anxious to finish the work which his father had begun. At the age of[Pg 269] twenty, therefore, he assembled a few comrades, entered Sicyon, called all the lovers of liberty to his aid, and drove away the tyrant without shedding any blood.
The town, thus freed, joined the Achæan League, of which Aratus soon became the leader. This office was elective, and no one was expected to fill it for more than a year; but Aratus was so much loved that he was chosen leader thirty-five years in succession.
At this time, Greece and Macedon were under the rule of Antigonus Go-na´tas, son of Demetrius; for this man had conquered for himself the second kingdom which his father had lost. But now Aratus and the Achæan League refused to obey him, so he marched down from Macedon to restore order.