MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 236 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.

The reason of its turning upon such a wretch was this.  Alcibiades and Nicias, who were persons of the greatest interest in Athens, had each his party; but perceiving that the people were going to proceed to the Ostracism, and that one of them was likely to suffer by it, they consulted together, and joining interests, caused it to fall upon Hyperbolus.  Hereupon the people, full of indignation at finding this kind of punishment dishonoured and turned into ridicule, abolished it entirely.

The Ostracism (to give a summary account of it) was conducted in the following manner.  Every citizen took a piece of a broken pot, or a shell, on which he wrote the name of the person he wanted to have banished, and carried it to a part of the market-place that was enclosed with wooden rails.  The magistrates then counted the number of the shells; and if it amounted not to six thousand, the Ostracism stood for nothing:  if it did, they sorted the shells, and the person whose name was found on the greatest number, was declared an exile for ten years, but with permission to enjoy his estate.

At the time that Aristides was banished, when the people were inscribing the names on the shells, it is reported that an illiterate burgher came to Aristides, whom he took for some ordinary person, and, giving him his shell, desired him to write Aristides upon it.  The good man, surprised at the adventure, asked him “Whether Aristides had ever injured him?” “No,” said he, “nor do I even know him; but it vexes me to hear him everywhere called the Just.”  Aristides made no answer, but took the shell, and having written his own name upon it, returned it to the man.  When he quitted Athens, he lifted up his hands towards heaven, and, agreeably to his character, made a prayer, very different from that of Achilles; namely, “That the people of Athens might never see the day which should force them to remember Aristides.”

Plutarch’s Lives.

[Notes:  Aristides.  A prominent citizen of Athens (about the year 490 B.C.) opposed to the more advanced policy of Themistocles, who wished to make the city rely entirely upon her naval power.  He was ostracised in 489, but afterwards restored.

Marathon.  The victory gained over the Persian invaders, 490 B.C.]

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THE VENERABLE BEDE.

Baeda—­the venerable Bede as later times styled him—­was born about ten years after the Synod of Whitby, beneath the shade of a great abbey which Benedict Biscop was rearing by the mouth of the Wear.  His youth was trained and his long tranquil life was wholly spent in an offshoot of Benedict’s house which was founded by his scholar Ceolfrid.  Baeda never stirred from Jarrow.  “I spent my whole life in the same monastery,” he says, “and while attentive to the rule of my order and the service of the Church, my constant pleasure

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