Famous StoriesKing Alfred And The Cakes
Many years ago there lived in Eng-land a wise and good ...
The Inchcape Rock
In the North Sea there is a great rock called the Inch-cape...
The Black Douglas
In Scotland, in the time of King Robert Bruce, there lived ...
King John And The Abbot
The 3 Questions. There was once a king of England whose...
The Ungrateful Guest
Among the soldiers of King Philip there was a poor man who ...
The Barmecide Feast
There was once a rich old man who was called the Bar-me-cid...
Three Men Of Gotham
There is a town in England called Go-tham, and many merry s...
Socrates And His House
There once lived in Greece a very wise man whose name was S...
The Blind Men And The Elephant
There were once six blind men who stood by the road-side ev...
The Story Of William Tell
The people of Swit-zer-land were not always free and happy ...
A Story Of Robin Hood
In the rude days of King Rich-ard and King John there were ...
Sir Philip Sidney
A cruel battle was being fought. The ground was covered wit...
It was a bright morning in the old city of Rome many hundre...
King Alfred And The Beggar
At one time the Danes drove King Alfred from his kingdom, a...
Whittington And His Cat
The City There was once a little boy whose name was Rich...
Maximilian And The Goose Boy
One summer day King Max-i-mil'ian of Ba-va'ri-a was walking...
George Washington And His Hatchet
When George Wash-ing-ton was quite a little boy, his father...
Horatius At The Bridge
Once there was a war between the Roman people and the E-tru...
There was a great battle at sea. One could hear nothing but...
Damon And Pythias
A young man whose name was Pyth'i-as had done something whi...
THE SWORD OF DAMOCLES
There was once a king whose name was Di-o-nys'i-us. He was so unjust
and cruel that he won for himself the name of tyrant. He knew that
almost everybody hated him, and so he was always in dread lest some
one should take his life.
But he was very rich, and he lived in a fine palace where there were
many beautiful and costly things, and he was waited upon by a host of
servants who were always ready to do his bidding. One day a friend of
his, whose name was Dam'o-cles, said to him,--
"How happy you must be! You have here everything that any man could
"Perhaps you would like to change places with me," said the tyrant.
"No, not that, O king!" said Dam-o-cles; "but I think, that, if I
could only have your riches and your pleas-ures for one day, I should
not want any greater hap-pi-ness."
"Very well," said the tyrant. "You shall have them."
And so, the next day, Damocles was led into the palace, and all the
servants were bidden to treat him as their master. He sat down at a
table in the banquet hall, and rich foods were placed before him.
Nothing was wanting that could give him pleasure. There were costly
wines, and beautiful flowers, and rare perfumes, and de-light-ful
music. He rested himself among soft cushions, and felt that he was the
happiest man in all the world.
Then he chanced to raise his eyes toward the ceiling. What was it that
was dangling above him, with its point almost touching his head? It
was a sharp sword, and it was hung by only a single horse-hair. What
if the hair should break? There was danger every moment that it would
The smile faded from the lips of Damocles. His face became ashy pale.
His hands trembled. He wanted no more food; he could drink no more
wine; he took no more delight in the music. He longed to be out of the
palace, and away, he cared not where.
"What is the matter?" said the tyrant.
"That sword! that sword!" cried Damocles. He was so badly frightened
that he dared not move.
"Yes," said Di-o-nys-i-us, "I know there is a sword above your head,
and that it may fall at any moment. But why should that trouble you? I
have a sword over my head all the time. I am every moment in dread
lest something may cause me to lose my life."
"Let me go," said Damocles. "I now see that I was mis-tak-en, and that
the rich and pow-er-ful are not so happy as they seem. Let me go back
to my old home in the poor little cot-tage among the mountains."
And so long as he lived, he never again wanted to be rich, or to
change places, even for a moment, with the king.
Next: DAMON AND PYTHIAS
Previous: JULIUS CAESAR