The Story of the Greeks
Page: 80All his last sayings were carefully treasured by Plato, who wrote them down, and who concludes the story of his death in these beautiful words: "Thus died the man who, of all with whom we are acquainted, was in death the noblest, and in life the wisest and best."
Some time after the death of Socrates, the Athenians found out their mistake. Filled with remorse, they recalled the sentence which had condemned him, but they could not bring him back to life. In token of their sorrow, however, they set up a statue of him in the heart of their city.
This statue, although made of bronze, has long ceased to exist; but the remembrance of Socrates' virtues is still held dear, and all who know his name both love and honor him.[Pg 180]
It was at the close of the Peloponnesian War that Darius II., King of Persia, died, leaving two sons, Artaxerxes and Cy´rus. These two heirs could not agree which should reign. Artaxerxes claimed the throne because he was the elder, and Cyrus because he was the first son born after their father had become king; for in Persia it was the custom for a ruler to choose as his successor a son born after he had taken possession of the throne.
The quarrel between the two brothers daily became more bitter; and when Artaxerxes made himself king by force, Cyrus swore that he would compel him to give up his place again.
To oust his brother from the throne, Cyrus collected an army in Asia Minor; and, as he could not secure enough Persian soldiers, he hired a body of eleven thousand Greeks, commanded by a Spartan named Cle-ar´chus.
This Greek army was only a small part of Cyrus' force; but he expected great things from it, as the Persians had already found out to their cost that the Greeks were very good fighters.
After a long march, the armies of both brothers met at Cu-nax´a; and there was a terrible battle, in the midst of which Cyrus was killed. Of course, his death ended the quarrel, and the Persians all surrendered.
But the Greeks continued fighting bravely, until Artaxerxes sent them word that his brother was dead, and that[Pg 181] he would have them guided safely back to their own country if they would lay down their arms.
The Greeks, believing him, immediately stopped fighting; and their officers accepted an invitation to enter the Persian camp, and be present at the council of all the generals.
Their trust was sadly misplaced, however; for no sooner had the Greek officers entered the tent than they were surrounded and slain. The Persian king then sent a message to the Greek troops, saying that their leaders were all dead, and summoning them to give up their arms and to swear to obey him in all things.
This message filled the hearts of the Greeks with rage and despair. What were they to do? Their chiefs were dead, they were in a strange country surrounded by enemies, and their own home lay eight months' journey away.