The Story of the Greeks

Page: 33

To frighten the Spartans still more, Aristomenes went secretly into the city one dark night, stole into the principal temple, and there hung up the arms he had taken during the war.

These weapons were arranged so as to form what the Greeks called a trophy, and right under them Aristomenes boldly wrote his name in letters so large that all could see it.

When morning dawned, and the Spartans came as usual into the temple to offer up their morning prayer and sacrifice, they were astonished and dismayed at the sight of this trophy. Aristomenes' bravery was so great that they despaired of conquering him without divine aid, and so they sent to ask an oracle what they should do.

The oracle answered that the Spartans would be victorious if they marched to war under the command of an Athenian general. Now, the Spartans were a proud people, and did not like to ask aid of any one; but they made up their minds to obey this command, and so sent a messenger to Athens to ask for a good leader.

Whether the Athenians, who were well known for their love of joking, wished to make fun of the Spartans, or whether they wanted to show them that the bodily beauty and strength which the Spartans prized so highly was not everything, no one now knows. The fact is, however, that the Athenians sent the Spartans a poor, lame schoolmaster, called Tyr-tæ´us, to lead them in battle. This man had never handled a weapon in his life, and

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Although the Spartans thought that Aristomenes was dead, they were greatly mistaken. By some miracle he had not struck against any of the sharp, jagged rocks, but, falling upon the heap of his dead companions, had reached the bottom of the Ceadas unhurt.