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Calm in the Face of Danger
The invasion of Athen
Young Percles never forgot the sight of the enemy approaching his city of athens. He and his dog, Ajax, were up on the hill of the Acropolis, high above the city. From there they could see the huge dust cloud of the advancing Persian Army. How could tiny Athens resist such a mighty force?
A voice echoed in the city below,calling out the warning to evacuate. All Athenians were to leave their homes at once and proceed to the port of Piraeus, four miles away. Ships there would ferry everyone to safety. Pericles and Ajax raced to home to join their family, who were already rushing. Women and Children were being sent to a distant coast, while most Athenian men were shipping out to island of Salamis, a few miles away.
Along the waterfront, families wept as they were forced to part. But Pericles´ family was lucky. Because Pericles´ father was an important politician, his entire family was being sent to Salamis. Only one family member would have to stay behind-- poor Ajax, their beloved dog. The ship´s officer told them that, without exception, no dogs were allowed on board.
Fear of Tyranny
It was a fear of tyranny that had motivated the Athenians to join other Greeks in resisting the Persian Invasion. Pericles probably viewed the Persian war in political family and would grow up to become a leading politician. In Athens, power was shared among all citizens
Greek and Persian Naval Battle
Pericles and his family knew that the powerful Persian fleet would soon arrive in hot pursuit. They feared that he next day,when the Greek ships faced the enemy, the entire Greek navy might be destroyed.
Suddenly someone shouted and pointed. Behind each boat dozens of dogs were swimming frantically after their masters. Pericles laughed as he caught a glimpse of Ajax´s head bobbing above the waves.
This was a new approach to political power,
quite unfamiliar to Persians, who simply
obeyed their king.
The Naval battle of Salamis,fought in 480 B.C., became a turning point in the war.
When His family Returned to Athens, Pericles dedicated his life restoring the city and strengthening its power. Years later, Pericles helped bring a golden age in Athens, the world´s first democracy. He always remembered the lessons of Salamis--- when a tiny democracy stood up to the world´s greatest empire.
That night they saw Athens burning in the distance. All seemed lost. Yet, the next day, as the battle unfolded,they watched astonishment as the Athenian and other Greek ships bought back-hard.Slowly the Greeks gained the upper hand. The family celebrated as the last Persian ships fled, giving the Greeks a decisive victory.