Thoth: A Romance
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In the time of Pericles, as every one knows, Athens attained her greatest glory. Magnificent buildings were erected, and in them were placed statues and other ornaments of most exquisite workmanship. Whilst the work was in progress, great encouragement was given to foreign merchants, who brought materials of various kinds, and especially ivory and metals. The laws against strangers were in a great measure relaxed, and they were enabled to prosecute their business with as much freedom as the citizens themselves. Even after the outbreak of the Peloponnesian war, and when fear of spies and treachery was natural, there was still a great concourse of foreign merchants in the port and the city. But an event occurred which soon put to flight all strangers, and made Athens an object of the utmost dread. This was the great plague, of which Thucydides, the son of Oloros, has given a memorable account in his history. A most remarkable incident, however, which is the key-stone of this narrative, he has omitted to notice, probably because, being incredible in its nature, he ascribed it to the invention of those whose minds had been affected by the horrors of the scene, and considered it to be unworthy of the dignity of his style and his careful adherence to truth.