The Story of the Greeks

Page: 48

One of these women was A-tos´sa, the favorite queen; and when she became ill, Democedes was fortunate enough to save her life. The king was so delighted with this cure, that he bade Democedes choose any reward he pleased except his freedom.

Democedes, after a few moments' thought, asked permission to visit his native land once more; and Darius let him go under the escort of fifteen officers, who had orders not to lose sight of the doctor for a moment, to bring him back by force if necessary, and to spy out the land.

In spite of the constant watching of these fifteen men, Democedes managed to escape while they were in Greece, and hid so well that they were never able to find him. They were therefore obliged to go home without him;[Pg 108] and as soon as they arrived in Persia, they reported to Darius all they had done on the way.

The Great King questioned them very closely about all they had seen; and his curiosity was so excited by what they told him, that he made up his mind to conquer Greece and add it to his kingdom.

He therefore sent for Hippias again, told him that he was ready to help him, and gave orders to collect one of the largest armies that had ever been seen. With this army he hoped not only to take the whole country, but also to get back the runaway doctor, Democedes, who in the mean while was living peacefully in Greece, where he had married a daughter of the famous strong man, Milo of Croton.


The Persian preparations for war were hastened by news that all the Ionian cities had rebelled. These were, as you remember, Greek colonies founded on the coast of Asia Minor. They had little by little fallen into the hands of the Persians; but, as they hated to submit to foreign rule, they had long planned a revolt.

The Athenians, who knew that the Persians were talking of coming over to conquer them, now offered to help the Ionians, and sent some troops over to Asia Minor. These joined the rebels, and together they managed to[Pg 109] surprise and burn to the ground the rich city of Sar´dis, which belonged to Darius.

A messenger was sent in hot haste to bear these tidings to The Great King; and when he heard them, he was very angry indeed. In his wrath, he said that he would punish both rebels and Athenians, and immediately sent his army into Ionia.

The first part of his vow was easily kept, for his troops soon defeated the Ionian army, and forced the rebels to obey him once more. When Darius heard this, he was very much pleased; and then, sending for his bow, he shot an arrow in the direction of Athens, to show that the punishment of the Athenians would be his next care.

As he was afraid of forgetting these enemies in the pressure of other business, he gave orders that a slave should appear before him every day while he sat at dinner, and solemnly say, "Master, remember the Athenians!"