Friday, June 22, 2012

Story of the Greek People - E.M. Tappan


"...Such a man was on the throne of Macedonia, the country lying to the north and northeast of Greece. The Macedonians had no artists, no talented writers, no brilliant orators, no schools of philosophy. The Greeks of the south admitted that they were of Greek blood, but laughed at their rude, unpolished manners and their homely fashion of speaking. The man who sat on the throne, Philip II, was keenly alive to all these differences..."

"...Philip went on with his conquests in the north, and soon an opportunity presented itself for him to gain a footing in Greece and appear, not as the ruler of a rude, barbaric people, but as the protector of the rights of Apollo...Philip punished the Phocians, and the amphictyony gave him their votes in the amphictyonic council, and decreed that he should preside at the games held at Delphi. He was now the defender of Apollo; and if he could make it appear that any act of a Grecian state was a wrong to the god, he had a right to punish that state..."

"...At Chæronea in Bœotia the armies met, the best armies in the world. There was a terrible battle; and when it had come to an end, Philip of Macedonia was master of Greece..."

"...Not long after the battle of Chæronea, Philip requested the Grecian states to send representatives to a congress to be held at Corinth. First, a kind of union of states was formed, with Macedonia for its head. Then Philip laid before the council the real business of the meeting. It was to ask their aid in an expedition which had no less an object than the conquest of Persia..."


"...Alexander not only liked philosophy, but he enjoyed reading the old plays and histories, and used to send long distances for them. Most of all, he loved Homer. His mother often told him he was descended from Achilles, the hero of the Iliad; and when he was a small boy, he was delighted to have one of his tutors address him as Achilles..."

"...Such was the young man who was now ruler of Macedonia and all Greece..."

"...In all his preparations for the invasion Alexander had not forgotten that he was a descendant of Achilles, and he went first to the site of Troy, to pay honor to his ancestor. He offered a sacrifice to Athene and hung a wreath on the pillar of Achilles's tomb..."

"...First of all, however, he ordered a brazen statue to be made in honor of every man who had fallen in the battle. He gave lavish gifts to the Greeks, and to the Athenians, who seemed to be his favorites, he sent a special present of three hundred shields. To his mother at home in Macedonia, he dispatched the purple furnishings and the gold and silver dishes that were found in large numbers in the tents of the Persians..."

"...Before he came to Persepolis he saw a pitiful sight: hundreds of Greek captives, some of whom had lost a leg, some an arm or an eye, and some who had suffered so severely that they were utterly helpless. This was the work of the Persians. Many of these captives had been kept in Persia for years. Tears came into Alexander's eyes and he urged them to return to Greece. "I will send you home," he said, "and see that you are well cared for as long as you live..."

"...After a time the Greeks formed two leagues, but they could not agree, and therefore they had no power to resist the Romans. Both Macedonia and Greece became only parts of the Roman Empire. So it was that before the coming of Christ the vast possessions of Alexander had become provinces of Rome..."

"...He who would select a tongue in which every shade of thought and feeling may find adequate utterance must fix upon that of the Greeks. So it is that Greece, her statues shattered, her temples in ruins, much of her noblest literature vanished or known but in fragments, her language spoken, in modern form, by only a few thousands, is still the conqueror of her conquerors,—is still 'immortal Greece'...."

[Eva March Tappan, Story of the Greek people, Cambridge 1908]

Source: Heritage-History


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