Books > Old Books >The Elson Readers Book Six (1910)


Page 211

STORIES OF GREECE AND ROME
A FORWARD LOOK

Every great people has cherished the stories that have grown up about the names of its ancient heroes. As a nation increases in wealth and power, its founders are regarded with deeper reverence, and their lives are studied as a means for making clear the ideals which have made the nation great. So, just now, Americans call to mind the words and deeds of Washington and the Revolutionary heroes, who founded the nation, and of Lincoln and Roosevelt, heroes who have interpreted the spirit of the nation, in order to remind themselves of their great inheritance and to find guidance through the years that are to come.
In the long centuries of the world, many nations have come into being, risen to power, and then passed away. Some wandering tribe one day seized upon a fertile land and, under the leadership of bold and able chieftains, settled down and established a homeland. They drove out invaders, found riches in commerce or in war, built up forms of government, developed better ways of living, and increased their territory, until at length they seemed to be an empire which could govern the future of the world. At last came decay and death, and the power passed to other races. Ancient Babylon, Persia, Egypt; in later times Greece; still later Rome-these are illustrations of what has been going on for ages. Sometimes a nation has had vast territories but has done little to make the world better; again, a nation small in territory, like the ancient Hebrews, has given new ideas to the world and left a permanent influence on mankind. But always there has been this growth followed by decay.
The world is like a forest in which are trees of every size and age. Thousands of wandering seeds are driven with the leaves before the wind; at length a slender shoot springs up, which grows with the help of sun and shower into a tree. For most of these

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