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Title: Problems in Greek history
Author: Mahaffy, John Pentland
Language: English
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Transcriber's Notes: Words in italics in the original are surrounded by
_underscores_. Words in a Gothic font in the original are surrounded by
=equal signs=. Characters superscripted in the original are surrounded
by {braces}. A row of asterisks represents a thought break.

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Ellipses match the original.

A few typographical errors have been corrected. A complete list follows
the text. Other notes also follow the text.



                            GREEK HISTORY


                      J. P. MAHAFFY, M.A., D.D.

      _Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College, Dublin; Knight (Gold
         Cross) of the Order of the Redeemer; Hon. Fellow of
           Queen's College, Oxford; Author of 'Prolegomena
            to Ancient History,' 'Social Life in Greece,'
                    'A History of Classical Greek
                        Literature,' &c., &c._


                          MACMILLAN AND CO.

                             AND NEW YORK


                       [_All rights reserved_]




Even since the following sheets were printed, the researches into
prehistoric Greek life, and its relation both to the East, to the
Homeric poems, and to the Greece we know in the 7th century B.C., have
progressed, and we are beginning to see some light through the mist. I
can refer the reader to two books, of which one has just been published
in English. The other, the second edition of Busolt's _History of
Greece_, though still in the press, will be accessible to those that
read German in a few weeks. I prefer to cite the former--Schuchardt's
account of _Schliemann's Excavations_--in its English form, as it is
there enriched with an Introduction, and apparently a revision of the
text, by Mr. Walter Leaf. This is the first systematic attempt to bring
into a short compass, with the illustrations, and with some regard to
chronology, the great body of facts discovered and hastily consigned to
many large volumes by the gifted discoverer. There is, moreover, a
separate chapter (vi.) which gathers these facts under a theory, not to
speak of the acute and cautious criticism of Mr. Leaf, which will be
found in the Introduction to the volume. The Introduction to Busolt's
_History_, of which (by the author's courtesy) I have seen some 130
pages, contains a complete critical discussion of the same evidence.

Here is the general result in Busolt's own exposition (_G. G._ 2nd ed.
pp. 113 sq.): 'The Homeric culture is younger than the Mykenæan, it is
also simpler and in better proportion. The former had come to use iron
for arms and tools, the latter is strictly in the age of bronze[vi:1].
If the culture of the Epics does show a lower stage of technical
development, we perceive also a decline of oriental influences. In many
respects, in matters of interment, dress and armour, the epic age
contrasts with the Mykenæan, but in many points we find transitions and
threads which unite the two civilizations. The Homeric palace shows
remarkable agreements with those of Mykenæ and Tiryns. The Homeric
heroes fight with sword, spear, and bow, like the Mykenæan. Splendid
vases, too, and furniture, such as occur within the range of the
Mykenæan culture, agree even in details with the descriptions of the
Epos. The Epos, too, knows Mykenæ "rich in gold," and the "wealthy"
Odeomenos. In general the homes of the Mykenæan culture are prominent in
the Iliad. The splendour of the Mykenæan epoch was therefore still fresh
in the memory of the Æolians and Ionians when the Epos arose.

'If the life thus pictured in the Epos thus shows many kindred features
to that of Mykenæ, the Doric life of the Peloponnesus stands in harsh
contrast. Not in strong fortresses, but in open camps, do we find the
Dorian conquerors. The nobles do not fight on chariots in the van, but
serried infantry decides the combat[vii:1].

'It was about from 1550 to 1150, that Mykenæan culture prevailed, and
was then replaced, as the legends asserted, by the Dorian invaders.'

Let us note that the earlier and ruder civilisation of Troy may be
contrasted with that of Mycenæ, though both of them show successive
stages--the later stage of the (second) city of Troy approaching to the
intermediate stage of Tiryns, and indeed, forming an unbroken chain with
this, Mycenæ, and even the later and more finished relics of
prehistoric art found at Menidi and at Vaphio (Amyclæ). The whole series
is homogeneous. The long-misunderstood palace of Troy is of the same
kind in plan and arrangement as that of Tiryns and that of Mycenæ; the
gold ornaments of Mycenæ are akin to those of Amyclæ; we stand in the
presence of an old and organised civilisation which was broken off or
ceased in prehistoric days, and recommenced on a different basis, and
upon a somewhat different model, among the historical Greeks. And yet
the prehistoric dwellers at Tiryns and Mycenæ had certainly some
features in common with the later race. Not to speak of details such as
the designs in pottery, or in the architecture of the simpler historic
temples, they were a mercantile and a maritime people, receiving the
products of far lands, and sending their own abroad; above all, they
show that combination of receptivity and originality in their
handicrafts which gives a peculiar stamp to their successors. While
the ruder Trojan remains are said to show no traces of Phœnician
importation, the Mycenæan exhibit objects from Egypt, from northern
Syria, and from Ph[oe]nicia; while on the other hand all the best
authorities now recognise in much of the pottery, and of the other
handicrafts, intelligent home production, which can even be traced in
exports along a line of islands across the southern Ægean and as far as
Egypt. This latter fact, and the closer trade-relations with Hittite
Syria than with Egypt or Phœnicia, are brought out by Busolt in his
new Introduction.

In what relation do these facts, now reduced to some order, stand to the
Homeric poems? According to Schuchardt they vindicate for our Homer an
amount of historical value which will astonish the sceptics of our
generation. In the first place, however, it is certain that Homer (using
the name as a convenient abstraction) has preserved a true tradition of
the great seats of culture in prehistoric days. He tells us rightly that
Tiryns had gone by when Mycenæ took the lead, and that the civilisation
of this great centre of power in Greece was kindred to that of Troy, an
equally old and splendid centre, which however was destroyed by fire
before it had attained to the perfection of the later stages of Mycenæan
art. Homer also implies that seafaring connections existed between Asia
Minor and Greece, and that early wars arose from reprisals for piratical
raids, as Herodotus confirms.

Some advanced kinds of handicraft, such as the inlaying of metals, which
have been brought to light in Mycenæan work, are specially prominent in
the Homeric poems. It is hard to conceive the nucleus of the poems
having originated elsewhere than in the country where Mycenæan grandeur
was still fresh. The legend which brings the rude Dorians into Greece
about 1100 B.C. (the date need not be so early) accounts for the
disappearance of this splendour, and the migration of the Achæans with
their poems to Asia Minor. So far Mr. Leaf agrees, as well as with the
theory of Fick, that the earliest poems were composed, not in Ionic, but
in the old dialect of Greece, which may be called Æolic, provided (he
adds) we do not identify it with the late Æolic to which it has been
reduced by Fick. It is added by Schuchardt that the great body of
_Nostoi_ seems irreconcilable with E. Curtius' theory that the lays were
composed for the early Æolic settlers, who made Asia Minor their
permanent home; so that the Trojan War may really have been a mercantile
war of Mycenæ against the Trojan pirates, who were outside the zone of
the Mycenæan trade-route, but may have seriously injured it. Mr. Leaf
justly points out that the obscure islands along this route, Cos, and
Carpathus, together with Rhodes, in which Mycenæan wares have been
found, are counted by the Homeric _Catalogue_ as Achæan allies of
Mycenæ, while the (Carian) Cyclades, though much larger and perhaps more
populated, are ignored.

So far the case for the early date and historic basis of Homer seems
considerably strengthened by recent research. Nevertheless, the marked
contrasts between the Mycenæan Greeks and the society in Homer create a
great difficulty. Some of these have been removed by the aid of (perhaps
legitimate) ingenuity, but differences of dress, of burial customs, in
the use of iron, &c., remain. The seafaring too of the Homeric Greeks
does not seem to me at all what we may infer the Mycenæan seafaring to
have been. Minos, or somebody else, must have suppressed piracy, and
prehistoric trading cannot have been so exclusively in the hands of the
Phœnicians. The Old Mycenæans were perfectly ignorant of the art of
writing, a fact which seems to preclude any systematic dealing with the
Phœnicians, though Busolt rather infers from it a want of personal
intercourse with the Hittites, and a mere reception of Asiatic luxuries
through rude and semi-hostile Sidonian adventurers. Busolt thinks we can
follow down prehistoric art through its various steps to that which
leads into the Homeric epoch, but as yet such a gradual transition seems
to me not clearly shown; I cannot but feel a gulf between the two.
Either therefore the original poets of the Iliad were separated by a
considerable gap of time from the life they sought to describe--there
may have been a period of decadence before the Dorians appeared--or the
Ionic recension was far more trenchant than a mere matter of dialect,
and by omission or alteration accommodated the already strange and
foreign habits of a bygone age to their own day; or else the Alexandrian
editors have destroyed traces of old customs far more than has hitherto
been suspected[xi:1].

It does not therefore appear to me that the antiquity of the Homer which
we possess is materially established by these newer researches. That
the earliest lays embodied in the _Iliad_ were very old has never been
doubted by any sane critic, and has always been maintained by me on
independent grounds. But I now think it likely that the great man who
brought dramatic unity into the Iliad, and who may have lived near 800
B.C., did far more than merely string together, and make intelligible,
older poems. He made the old life of Mycenæ into the newer Ionic life of
Asia Minor. I am sorry to disagree with Mr. Leaf when he calls that
Ionic society 'democratic to the core.' Any one who will read what even
Pausanias records of its traditions will see that it was aristocratic to
the core, and quite as likely to love heroic legends as any other Greek
society of that day.

       *       *       *       *       *

I must not conclude this Preface without acknowledging the constant help
of my younger colleagues in correcting and improving what I write. Of
these I will here specify Mr. L. Purser and Mr. Bury.

        _February, 1892_.


[vi:1] 'In the whole range of the Mykenæan culture, there have only been
found in the later graves of the lower city, and in the beehive tomb of
Vaphio, remains of some finger-rings of iron, used for ornaments. Iron
tools and weapons were unknown to the Mykenæans--in spite of Beloch's
opinion to the contrary. In the Iliad bronze is mentioned 279 times,
iron 23; in the Odyssey they are named 80 and 25 times respectively, but
the use of the later metal was far more diffused than the conventional
style of the Epos betrays. Iron weapons are indeed only mentioned in the
Iliad IV, 123; VII, 141, 144; and XVIII, 34. Books IV and VII are
undoubtedly of later origin. Still the use of iron for tools was known
throughout the whole Homeric age, and was gradually increasing during
the growth of the Epos.'

[vii:1] Probably, Busolt adds in the sequel, the use of iron weapons by
the Dorian invaders may have been one cause of their victory. But it
seems to me mainly to have been the victory of infantry over cavalry,
and thus a very early type of the decisive day at Orchomenus, when the
Spanish infantry of the Grand Catalan Company destroyed Guy de la Roche
and his Frankish knights, and seized the country as their spoil.

[xi:1] This last clause is suggested by the fragment of the Iliad,
published in my Memoir on the Petrie Papyri, which shows, in thirty-five
lines, five unknown to modern texts. Cf. Plate III and p. 34 of that


       CHAPTER I.

       Our Earlier Historians of Greece.
  Definite and indefinite problems                                     1

  Examples in theology and metaphysics                                 1

  Examples in literature                                               2

  The case of history generally                                        3

  Special claims of Greek history                                      4

  The claims of Rome and of the Jews                                   4

  Greek influences in our religion                                     4

  Increasing materials                                                 5

  Plan of this Essay                                                   6

  Universal histories                                                  6

  Gillies                                                              7

  Effects of the French Revolution on the writers of the time          8

  Mitford writes a Tory history of Greece                              8

  He excites splendid refutations                                      9

  Thirlwall: his merits                                               10
    his coldness                                                      11
    his fairness and accuracy, but without enthusiasm                 11

  Clinton's _Fasti_: his merits                                       12

  Contrast of Grote's life                                            13

  His theory Radicalism                                               13

  The influences of his time                                          14

  To be compared with Gibbon                                          14

  His eloquence; his panegyric on democracy                           15

  Objections: that democracies are short-lived                        16
    that the Athenian democrat was a slave-holder and a ruler
        over subjects                                                 16

  The Athenian not the ideal of the Greeks                            17

  Grote's treatment of the despots                                    18

  Their perpetual recurrence in the Greek world                       18

  Advantages of despotism                                             18

  Good despots not infrequent                                         19

  Grote a practical politician                                        20

  His treatment of Alexander the Great                                20

  Contrast of Thirlwall                                               20

  Grote ignores the later federations, and despises their history     21

  His treatment of the early legends                                  22

  Even when plausible, they may be fictions                           22

  Thirlwall's view less extreme                                       23

  Influence of Niebuhr on both historians                             23

  Neither of them visited Greece, which later historians generally
      regard as essential                                             24

  Ernst Curtius and Victor Duruy                                      25

  The value of autopsy in verifying old authors                       25

  Example in the theatre of Athens                                    25

  Its real size                                                       26

  No landscape for its background                                     26

  Greek scenery and art now accessible to all                         27

       CHAPTER II.

       Recent Treatment of the Greek Myths.

  The newer histories                                                 28

  Not justifiable without particular reasons                          28

  Max Duncker                                                         28

  Not suited to English readers                                       29

  Busolt and Holm                                                     29

  Return to Grote                                                     30

  Holm's postulate                                                    30

  The modern attitude                                                 31

  Pure invention a rare occurrence                                    31

  Plausible fiction therefore not an adequate cause                   32

  Cases of deliberate invention, at Pergamum, which breed
      general suspicion of marvellous stories                         32

  Example of a trustworthy legend from Roman history                  33

  Niebuhr, Arnold, Mommsen                                            34

  The _rex sacrorum_ at Rome                                          34

  The king-archon at Athens                                           35

  Legends of foreign immigrants                                       35

  Corroborative evidence of art, but not of language                  35

  Corroboration of legends in architecture                            37

  Explanation of myths by the solar theory                            37

  The analogy of Indian and Persian mythology, expounded
      by Professor Max Müller, founded on very wide learning          38
    long since shown inadequate, because it implies sentimental
      savages, which is contrary to our experience                    39

  K. O. Müller's contribution                                         40

  The transference of myths                                           41

  Old anecdotes doing fresh duty                                      41

  Example from the Trojan legend                                      41
    but not therefore false                                           42

  The contribution of Dr. Schliemann                                  42

  History not an exact science                                        43

  Historical value of the Homeric poems                               44

  Mycenæ preserved in legend only                                     44

  General teaching of the epic poems                                  44

  Social life in Greece                                               45

  Alleged artificiality of the poems                                  45

  Examples from the _Iliad_                                           45
    not corroborated by recent discoveries                            46

  Fick's account of the Homeric dialect                               46

  Difficulties in the theory                                          47

  Analogies in its favour                                             48

  Its application to the present argument                             48

  Illustration from English poetry                                    49

  The use of stock epithets                                           49

  High excellence incompatible with artificiality                     50

  The Homeric poems therefore mainly natural                          50
    but only generally true                                           51
    and therefore variously judged by various minds                   52


       Theoretical Chronology.

  Transition to early history                                         53

  The Asiatic colonies                                                53

  Late authorities for the details                                    54

  The colonization of the West                                        54

  The original authority                                              55

  What was nobility in early Greece?                                  55

  Macedonian kings                                                    56

  Romans                                                              56

  Hellenistic cities                                                  56

  Glory of short pedigrees                                            56

  The sceptics credulous in chronology                                57

  The current scheme of early dates                                   57

  The so-called Olympic register                                      58

  Plutarch's account of it                                            58

  The date of Pheidon of Argos                                        59
    revised by E. Curtius                                             60
    since abandoned                                                   60

  The authority of Ephorus                                            61
    not first-rate                                                    62

  Archias, the founder of Syracuse                                    62
    associated with legends of Corcyra and Croton                     63

  Thucydides counts downward from this imaginary date                 64

  Antiochus of Syracuse                                               64
    not trustworthy                                                   65
    his dates illusory                                                66
    though supported by Thucydides                                    66
    who is not omniscient                                             66

  Credulity in every sceptic                                          67

  Its probable occurrence in ancient critics                          68

  Value of Hippias' work                                              68

  Even Eratosthenes counts _downward_                            69

  Clinton's warning                                                   69

  Summary of the discussion                                           69

  The stage of pre-Homeric remains                                    70

  Prototype of the Greek temple                                       70

  Degrees in this stage                                               71

  Probably not so old as is often supposed                            72

  Mr. Petrie's evidence                                               72

  The epic stage                                                      72

  The earliest historical stage                                       73

  The gap between Homer and Archilochus                               73

  Old lists suspicious, and often fabricated                          74

  No chronology of the eighth century B.C. to be trusted    75

  Cases of real antiquity                                             76

       CHAPTER IV.

       The Despots; The Democracies.

  Brilliant age of the great lyric poets                              77

  The Sparta of Alcman's time                                         77

  Its exceptional constitution                                        78

  E. Curtius on the age of the despots                                78

  Grote's view                                                        79

  Greek hatred of the despot                                          80
    how far universal in early days                                   81

  Literary portraits of the Greek despot                              81

  How far exaggerated                                                 82

  _Reductio ad absurdum_ of the popular view                          82

  The real uses to politics of temporary despots                      82

  Questionable statement of Thucydides                                83

  The tyrant welds together the opposing parties                      84

  Cases of an umpire voluntarily appointed                            84

  Services of the tyrants to art                                      85

  Examples                                                            85

  Verdict of the Greek theorists                                      86

  Peisistratus and Solon                                              86

  Contrast of Greek and modern democracy                              87

  Slave-holding democracies                                           88

  Supported by public duties                                          89

  Athenian leisure                                                    89

  The assembly an absolute sovran                                     89

       CHAPTER V.

       The Great Historians.

  Herodotus and Thucydides                                            91

  Herodotus superior in subject                                       92

  Narrow scope of Thucydides                                          92

  His deliberate omissions                                            93
    supplied by inferior historians                                   93

  Diodorus                                                            93

  Date of the destruction of Mycenæ                                   94

  Silence of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides                       94

  Value of Plutarch's _Lives_                                         95

  The newly-found tract on _The Polity of the Athenians_              96

  Effects of Thucydides' literary genius                              97

  The Peloponnesian war of no world-wide consequence                  97

  No representation in Greek assemblies                               98

  No outlying members save Athenian citizens settled in subject
      towns                                                           99

  Similar defect in the Roman Republic                                99

  Hence an extended Athenian empire not maintainable                  99

  The glamour of Thucydides                                          100

  His calmness assumed                                               101

  He is backed by the scholastic interest                            101
    on account of his grammatical difficulties                       102

  He remains the special property of critical scholars               102

  Herodotus underrated in comparison                                 103

  The critics of Thucydides                                          103

  The _Anabasis_ of Xenophon                                         104

  The weakness of Persia long recognized                             105

  Reception of the Ten Thousand on their return                      105

  The army dispersed                                                 106

  Xenophon's strategy                                                106

  His real strategy was literary                                     107

  A special favourite of Grote                                       107

  Xenophon on Agesilaus and Epaminondas                              108

  Injustice of the _Hellenica_                                       108

  Yet Xenophon is deservedly popular                                 109

       CHAPTER VI.

       Political Theories and Experiments in the Fourth Century B.C.

  Literary verdict of the Greeks against democracy                   110

  Vacillation of modern critics                                      111

  Grote's estimate of Pericles, compared with Plato's                111

  The war policy of Pericles                                         112

  His miscalculations                                                112

  He depended on a city population against an army of yeomen         113

  Advantages of mercenaries against citizen troops                   114

  The smaller States necessarily separatists                         114

  Attempts at federation                                             115

  The second Athenian Confederacy                                    116
    its details; its defects                                         116

  Political theories in the fourth century                           117

  Greece and Persia                                                  117

  Theoretical politics                                               117
    inestimable even to the practical historian                      118

  Plato                                                              118

  Xenophon                                                           118

  Aristotle                                                          118

  Sparta ever admired but never imitated                             119

  Practical legislation wiser in Greece than in modern Europe        119

  Sparta a model for the theorists                                   120

  A small State preferred                                            120

  Plato's successors                                                 120

  Their general agreement; (1) especially on suffrage                121
    even though their suffrage was necessarily restricted            122

  (2) Education to be a State affair                                 122

  Polybius' astonishment at the Roman disregard of it                123

  The practical result in Rome                                       123

  Can a real democracy ever be sufficiently educated?                124

  Christianity gives us a new force                                  124

  Formal religion always demanded by the Greeks                      125

  Real religion the property of exceptional persons                  125

  Greek views on music; discussed in my _Rambles and Studies
      in Greece_                                                     126

  Xenophon's ideal                                                   127

  Aristotle's ideal                                                  127

  Aristotle's _Polities_ ignore Alexander                            128

  Evidence of the new _Politeia_                                     128

  Alexander was to all the theorists an incommensurable quantity     129

  Mortality of even perfect constitutions                            130

  Contrast of Greek and modern anticipations                         130


       Practical Politics in the Fourth Century.

  The practical politicians                                          131

  Isocrates, his anti-Persian policy                                 131

  No large ideas of spreading Hellenic culture                       132

  Who is to be the leader of Greece?                                 132

  Demosthenes another ideal figure in this history                   133

  He sees the importance of a foreign policy for Athens              134
    against Persia, or Macedonia                                     134

  Grote on Demosthenes                                               135

  A. Schäfer on Demosthenes                                          135

  Very different estimate of the ancients                            136

  Conditions of the conflict                                         136
    made Philip's victory certain                                    137

  Demosthenes fights a losing game                                   138

  The blunders of his later policy                                   139

  Compared with Phocion                                              139

  Old men often ruinous in politics                                  139

  Hellenism despised                                                 140

  The author feels he is fighting a losing game against democracy
      and its advocates                                              140

  The education of small free States                                 141

  Machiavelli and Aristotle                                          141

  Greek democratic patriotism                                        141

  Its splendid results                                               142
    appear to be essentially transitory                              142
    from internal causes                                             143

  The case of America                                                143

  The demagogue                                                      144

  Internal disease the real cause of decadence                       144

  The Greek States all in this condition                             144
    as Phocion saw; but which Demosthenes ignored                    145

  The dark shadows of his later years                                145

  His professional character as an advocate                          146

  The affair of Harpalus                                             146

  Was the verdict against Demosthenes just?                          147

  The modern ground of acquittal                                     148

  Morality of politicians expounded by Hypereides                    148

  Modern sentiment at least repudiates these principles              149

  As regards practice we have Walpole                                149
    and the Greek patriots of our own century                        150
    analogous to the case of Demosthenes                             150

  The end justified the means                                        151

  Low average of Greek national morality                             152

  Demosthenes above it                                               152

  Deep effect of his rhetorical earnestness                          153

  The perfection of his art is to be apparently natural              153


       Alexander the Great.

  The further course of Greek history                                155

  Droysen's _Geschichte des Hellenismus_                             155

  This period much neglected by English historians                   155

  Nature of our authorities                                          156

  Alexander's place in history still disputed                        157

  Grote's unfairness in accepting evidence against him               157

  Droysen's estimate                                                 158

  Tendency to attribute calculation to genius                        158

  Its spontaneity                                                    159

  Alexander's military antecedents                                   159

  He learns to respect Persian valour and loyalty                    160

  He discovers how to fuse the nations in Alexandria                 160

  His development of commerce                                        161

  Diffusion of gold                                                  161

  Development of Alexander's views                                   162

  His romantic imagination                                           162

  No pupil of Aristotle                                              162

  His portentous activity                                            163

  Compared with Napoleon                                             163
    and Cromwell                                                     164

  Use of artillery                                                   164

  Vain but not envious                                               165

  His assumption of divinity questioned                              165

  An ordinary matter in those days                                   166

  Perhaps not asserted among the Greeks                              166

       CHAPTER IX.

       Post-Alexandrian Greece.

  Tumults of the Diadochi: their intricacy                           168
    their wide area                                                  169

  The liberation of Greece                                           169

  Spread of monarchies                                               169

  The three Hellenistic kingdoms                                     170

  New problems                                                       171

  Politics abandoned by thinking men                                 171
    except as a purely theoretical question, with some fatal
      exceptions                                                     172

  Dignity and courage of the philosophers                            172
    shown by suicide                                                 173

  Rise of despots on principle                                       173

  Probably not wholly unpopular                                      174

  Contemptible position of Athens and Sparta in politics, except
      in mischievous opposition to the new federations, whose
      origin was small and obscure                                   174

  The old plan of a sovran State not successful                      176

  The leading cities stood aloof from this experiment                176

  Athens and the Ætolians, or the Achæans                            177

  Sparta and the Achæans                                             178

  A larger question                                                  178

  What right has a federation to coerce its members?                 178

  Disputed already in the Delian Confederacy by Athens and the
      lesser members                                                 179

  Duruy's attitude on this question                                  179

  Greek sentiment very different                                     180

  Nature of the Achæan League                                        180

  Statement of the new difficulty                                    181

  In its clearest form never yet settled except by force             182

  Case of the American Union                                         182

  Arguments for coercion of the several members                      183

  Cases of doubtful or enforced adherence                            184

  Various internal questions                                         185

  Looser bond of the Ætolian League                                  185

  Radical monarchy of Cleomenes                                      186

       CHAPTER X.

       The Romans in Greece.

  Position of Rome towards the Leagues                               187

  Roman interpretation of the 'liberty of the Greeks'                187

  Opposition of the Ætolians                                         188

  Probably not fairly stated by Polybius                             189

  Rome and the Achæans                                               189

  Mistakes of Philopœmen gave Rome excuses for interference       189

  Mommsen takes the Roman side                                       190

  Hertzberg and Freeman on the Achæan question                       190

  Senility of the Greeks                                             191

  Decay of the mother-country                                        191

  The advocates for union with Rome                                  192

  The advocates of complete independence                             192

  The party of moderate counsels                                     193

  Money considerations                                               193
    acted upon both extremes                                         194

  Exaggerated statements on both sides                               194

  The Separatists would not tolerate separation from themselves      195

  Democratic tyranny                                                 195

  Modern analogies forced upon us                                    195
    and not to be set aside                                          196

  The history of Greece is essentially modern                        196
    therefore modern parallels are surely admissible, if justly
      drawn                                                          197

  The spiritual history not closed with the Roman conquest           197

  The great bequests of the Roman period                             199

  The Anthology, Lucian, Julian, Plotinus                            200

  Theological Greek studies                                          200

  Have the Greeks no share in our religion?                          201

  Or is it altogether Semitic?                                       201

  The language of the New Testament exclusively Greek                202

  Saint Paul's teaching                                              202

  Stoic elements in Saint Paul                                       203

  The Stoic sage                                                     203

  The Stoic Providence                                               203

  Saint John's Gospel                                                204

  Neo-Platonic doctrine of the Logos                                 205

  The Cynic independence of all men                                  205

  The Epicurean dependence upon friends                              206

  The university of Athens                                           206

  Greece indestructible                                              207

  Greek political history almost the private property of the
      English writers,                                               207
    who have themselves lived in practical politics                  208

  Not so in artistic or literary history                             208
    where the French and Germans are superior                        209
    especially in art                                                209

  Importance of studying Greek art                                   209

  Modern revivals of ancient styles,--Gothic, Renaissance            210

  Probability of Hellenic revival                                    211

  Greek art only recently understood. Winckelmann, Penrose,
      Dörpfeld                                                       212

  Its effect upon modern art when properly appreciated               212
    and upon every detail of our life                                212

  Greek literature hardly noticed in this Essay                      213

  Demands a good knowledge and study of the language                 213

  Other languages must be content to give way to this pursuit        214

  The nature and quality of Roman imitations                         215

  The case of Virgil                                                 215

  Theocritus only a late flower in the Greek garden of poetry        216


  On the Authenticity of the Olympian Register                       217




[Sidenote: Definite and indefinite problems.]

§ 1. There are scientific problems and literary tasks which can be
worked out once for all, or which, at least, admit of final solution, to
the lasting fame of him that finds that solution, as well as to the
permanent benefit of civilized man. There are others, more numerous and
far more interesting, which are ever being solved, finally perhaps in
the opinion of the discoverer, and even of his generation, but ever
arising again, and offering fresh difficulties and fresh attractions to
other minds and to newer generations of men.

[Sidenote: Examples in theology and metaphysics.]

I will cite the largest instances, as the most obvious illustration of
this second class. The deep mysteries of Religion, the dark problems of
Knowing and Being, which have occupied the theologian and the
metaphysician for thousands of years, are still unsettled, and there is
hardly an age of thinking men which does not attack these questions
afresh, and offer new systems and new solutions for the acceptance of
the human race. Nor can we say that in these cases new facts have been
discovered, or new evidence adduced; it is rather that mankind feels
there is more in the mystery than is contained in the once accepted
explanation, and endeavours by some new manipulation of the old
arguments to satisfy the eternal craving for that mental rest which will
never be attained till we know things face to face.

[Sidenote: Examples in literature.]

But perhaps these are instances too lofty for my present purpose: I can
show the same pertinacious tendency to re-solve literary problems of a
far humbler kind. How striking is the fact that the task of translating
certain great masterpieces of poetry seems never completed, and that in
the face of scores of versions, each generation of scholars will attack
afresh Homer's _Iliad_, Dante's _Divina Commedia_, Aeschylus'
_Agamemnon_, and Goethe's _Faust_! There are, I believe, forty English
versions of _Faust_. How many there are of the _Iliad_ and the _Divina
Commedia_, I have not ascertained; but of the former there is a whole
library, and of the latter we may predict with certainty that the latest
version will not be the last. Not only does each generation find for
itself a new ideal in translation,--the fine version of the _Iliad_ by
Pope is now regarded with scorn,--but each new aspirant is discontented
with the earlier renderings of the passages he himself loves best; and
so year after year we see the same attempt made, often with great but
never with universally accepted success. For there are always more
beauties in the old masterpiece than have been conveyed, and there are
always weaknesses in the translation, which show after a little wear.

[Sidenote: The case of history generally.]

This eternal freshness in great masterpieces of poetry which ever tempts
new translators, is also to be found in great historical subjects,
especially in the history of those nations which have left a permanent
mark on the world's progress. There is no prospect that men will remain
satisfied with the extant histories, however brilliant, of England or of
France, even for an account of the periods which have long since
elapsed, and upon which no new evidence of any importance can be found.
Such is likewise the case with the histories of Greece and Rome. No
doubt there is frequently new material discovered; the excavator may in
a month's digging find stuff for years of speculation. No doubt there is
an oscillation in the appreciation even of well-sifted materials: a new
theory may serve to rearrange old facts and present them in a new light.

But quite apart from all this, men will be found to re-handle these
great histories merely for the sake of re-handling them. In the words of
the very latest of these attempts: 'Though we can add nothing to the
existing records of Greek history, the estimate placed upon their value
and the conclusions drawn from them are constantly changing; and for
this reason the story which has been told so often will be told anew
from time to time so long as it continues to have an interest for
mankind,--that is, let us hope, so long as mankind continues to

[Sidenote: Special claims of Greek history.]

§ 2. Perhaps the history of Greece has more right than any other to
excite this interest, since the effects of that country and its people
are probably far greater, certainly more subtle and various, than those
of any other upon our modern life. It is curious that this truth is
becoming recognized universally by the very generation which has begun
to agitate against the general teaching of Greek in our higher schools.
Nobody now attributes any real leading to the Romans in art, in
philosophy, in the sciences, nay, even in the science of politics. If
their literature was in some respects great, every Roman knew and
confessed that this greatness was due to the Greeks; if their practical
treatment of law and politics was certainly admirable, the theory of the
latter was derived from Hellenic speculation.

[Sidenote: The claims of Rome and of the Jews.]

[Sidenote: Greek Influences In Our Religion.]

And when the originality of our Roman teachers is reduced to its very
modest proportions, there is no other ancient nation that can be named
among our schoolmasters except the Hebrews. Here there has been great
exaggeration, and it has not yet been sifted and corrected, as in the
case of Rome. It is still a popular truism that while we owe all we have
of intellectual and artistic refinement to the Greeks, in one great
department of civilization, and that the highest, we owe them nothing,
but are debtors to the Semite spirit,--to the clear revelation and the
tenacious dogma conveyed to the world by the Jews. Like many such
truisms, this statement contains some truth, but a great deal of
falsehood. When we have surveyed the earlier centuries, we shall revert
to this question, and show how far the prejudice in favour of the Semite
has ousted the Greek from his rightful place. Even serious history is
sometimes unjust, much more the hasty generalizations of theologians or
mere literary critics. For the history of religion will be found to
rest, like everything good which we possess, partly upon a Greek basis;
but of course mainly on that portion of Greek history which has only
recently risen into public notice among our scholars,--I mean the later
and the spiritual development of the nation when the conquests of
Alexander had brought the whole ancient world under its sway.

[Sidenote: Increasing materials.]

So the subject is still quite fresh, and even the evidence of books is
as yet unexhausted, not to speak of the yearly increment we obtain from
the keen labour of many excavators. The _Mittheilungen_ of the German
Institute at Athens, the _Bulletin de Correspondance hellénique_, the
English _Hellenic Journal_, and even the daily papers at Athens, teem
with accounts of new discoveries. A comparison of the newest guide to
Greece, the _Guide-Joanne_ (1891), with the older books of the kind will
show the wonderful increase in our knowledge of pre-historic
antiquities. These recent books and reviews are following in the wake
of Dr. Schliemann, whose great researches have set us more new problems
than we are likely to solve in the present century.

[Sidenote: Plan of this Essay.]

§ 3. What I purpose, therefore, to do in this Essay is to review the
general lines followed by the great historians of Greece of the last
three generations; to show the main points in which each of them excels,
and where each of them still shows a deficiency. I shall then notice
some current misconceptions, as well as some errors to be corrected by
interesting additions to our evidence, even since the last of our larger
histories has appeared; and in doing this shall specially touch on those
more disputed and speculative questions which are on principle omitted
in practical and non-controversial books. By this means we shall
ascertain in a general way what may be expected from any fresh attempt
in Greek history, and where there still seems room for discovery or for
the better establishing of truths already discovered, but not yet
accepted in the current teaching of our day. Whatever occasional
digressions may occur will all be subordinate to this general plan,
which is in fact an essay, not upon Greek history, but upon the problems
of Greek history. We shall conclude with some reflections upon the
artistic lessons of Greek life which are at last becoming accessible to
the larger public.

[Sidenote: Universal histories.]

§ 4. I need not go back to the period of Universal Histories, such as
that of Bossuet or of Rollin, which were only adequate before special
studies had accumulated vast materials from the records of each separate
nation. In our own day there are not wanting universal histories,[7:1]
though even the acknowledged genius and the enormous experience of Ranke
were insufficient for the task as it now presents itself.[7:2] The first
larger Greek histories known to me are those of Gillies and of
Mitford[7:3],--the former now totally forgotten; the latter only
remembered because it stimulated a great successor to write his famous

[Sidenote: Gillies.]

Yet the work of Gillies, first published in 1786, was continued by the
author, thirty-five years later, down to the reign of Augustus, when the
sixth edition, a stately book in eight volumes, was published. There is
no lack of merit in the work; but the writer's standpoint will be
apparent from the opening of his Dedication to the King: 'Sir, the
history of Greece exposes the dangerous turbulence of democracy, and
arraigns the despotism of tyrants. By describing the incurable evils
inherent in every form of republican policy, it evinces the inestimable
benefits resulting to liberty itself from the lawful domination of
hereditary kings.' One might imagine Gillies a Hellenistic author
dedicating his work to a Ptolemy or a Seleucus.

[Sidenote: Effects of the French Revolution on the writers of the time.]

[Sidenote: Mitford:]

It is clear enough, though I know not the details of his life, that the
horrors of the French Revolution had sunk deep into his soul. This is
quite certain in the case of Mitford, a gentleman of fortune, whose
education in Greek was early interrupted, but whose long residence at
Nice brought him into contact with St. Croix and Villoison, two of the
most famous Grecians of that day. After his return in 1777 from France,
he found himself a man of leisure and importance, in the same Yeomanry
corps with Gibbon, whose friendship he gained, and at whose suggestion
he wrote his once popular history.[8:1]

[Sidenote: writes a Tory history of Greece;]

Mitford wrote in a Tory spirit, and with a distinct feeling of the
_political_ significance of Greek history as an example to modern men.
He had upon his side the authority of almost every great thinker
produced in the days of Hellenic greatness. All these speculators, in
their pictures of ideal, as well as their criticisms of the actual,
States, regard thorough-going democracy as an evil, and its abuses as
the main cause of the early decay of Hellenic greatness. They all point
with respect and pride to the permanence and consistency of Spartan life
as indicating the sort of government likely to produce the best and most
enduring results. Mitford, therefore, not only deserves the credit of
having taken up Greek history as a political study, but he undoubtedly
represents the body of learned opinion among the Greeks themselves upon
the subject. The literary classes, so far as we can judge from what is
extant of their works, were not usually radical or democratic, and it
was very natural, in a generation which had witnessed the awful results
of a democratic upheaval in France, to appeal to this evidence as
showing that the voice of history was against giving power to the
masses, and taking it from the classes, of any society.

What popularity Mitford attained can only now be inferred from the
editions of his work demanded[9:1], coupled with the all-important fact
that he called forth two tremendous refutations,--the monumental works
of Thirlwall and of Grote.

[Sidenote: he excites splendid refutations.]

§ 5. It is very curious that these two famous histories should have been
undertaken (like Gillies' and Mitford's) nearly at the same time, and
both of them by way of correction for the strong anti-republican views
of Mitford. It is also remarkable that each author explicitly declared
himself so satisfied with the work of the other that he would not have
entered upon the task, had he known of his rival's undertaking. This,
however, seems hard to fit in with the dates, seeing that Thirlwall's
book began to appear many years earlier than that of Grote[10:1]. In
any case the former represents a different kind of work, or I should
rather say an earlier stage of work, and therefore comes logically as
well as chronologically first.

[Sidenote: Thirlwall:]

The Bishop of St. David's was a Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, a
scholar trained in all the precision and refinement of the public
schools, a man accustomed to teach the classics and to enforce accuracy
of form and correctness of critical judgment. He had also what was then
rather a novelty, and what separates him from his distinguished Oxford
contemporaries--Gaisford and Clinton--a competent knowledge of German,
as well as of other languages, and a consequent acquaintance with the
recent studies of the Germans, who were then beginning to write about
classics in German instead of using the Latin language.

[Sidenote: his merits;]

John Stuart Mill, who, when a young man, belonged to a debating society
along with Thirlwall, thought him the very best speaker he had ever
heard. The qualities which attracted Mill were not passion or
imaginative rhetoric, but clear, cold, reasoning powers, together with a
full command of the language best suited to express accurately the
speaker's argument.

These are the qualities which made all Thirlwall's work enduring and
universally respected. His episcopal charges were certainly the best
delivered in his day, and his history, without ever exciting any
enthusiasm, has so steadily maintained its high position, that of recent
years it is perhaps rather rising than falling in popular esteem[11:1].

[Sidenote: his coldness;]

[Sidenote: his fairness and accuracy;]

[Sidenote: but without enthusiasm.]

But the absence of passion, since it checks enthusiasm in the reader, is
a fatal want in any historian. The case before us is a remarkable
instance. Both the learning and fairness of Thirlwall are conspicuous.
It is difficult for any competent reader to avoid wondering at his
caution in receiving doubtful evidence, and his acuteness in modestly
suggesting solutions which have since been proved by further evidence.
Of course the great body of our materials, the Greek classics, lay
before him; the pioneers of modern German philology such as Wolf,
Hermann, K. O. Müller, Welcker, were accessible to him. In ordering and
criticising these materials he left nothing to be desired, and the
student of to-day who is really intimate with Thirlwall's history may
boast that he has a sound and accurate view of all the main questions in
the political and social development of the Hellenic nation. But he will
never have been carried away with enthusiasm; he will never remember
with delight great passages of burning force or picturesque beauty such
as those which adorn the histories of Gibbon or of Arnold. He has
before him the type of a historian like Hallam, whose work would be the
most instructive possible on its period, were it not the dullest of
writing. It would be unfair to Thirlwall to say he is dull, but he is
too cold and passionless for modern readers. To use the words of Bacon:
_Lumen siccum et aridum ingenia madida offendit et torret_.

[Sidenote: Clinton's Fasti.]

[Sidenote: His merits.]

The mention of these qualities in Thirlwall suggests to me that I ought
not to omit some mention of the great work of a very similar
student--this, too, stimulated by Mitford--I mean the _Fasti Hellenici_,
'a civil and literary chronology of the Greeks from the earliest times
to the death of Augustus[12:1].' It is not, properly speaking, a
history, but the materials for the fullest possible history of Greece,
with all its offshoots, such as the Hellenistic kingdoms of Hither Asia,
arranged and tabulated with a patience and care to which I know no
parallel. Any one who examines this work will wonder that it could have
been accomplished within the fifteen years during which the several
volumes appeared. It is astonishing how difficult the student finds it
to detect a passage in the obscurest author that Clinton has not seen;
and his ordinary habit is not to indicate, but to quote all the passages
_verbatim_. The book is quite unsuited for a schoolboy, but to any
serious enquirer into the history of Greece it is positively
indispensable. The influence of Gaisford, then probably the greatest of
Greek scholars, obtained for the book the adequate setting of the
Clarendon Press. Clinton worked with a calmness and deliberation quite
exceptional; and though he knew no German, had so completely mastered
his subject that the Germans have since indeed translated, re-edited,
and abridged him: they have never been able to supersede him. Even when
he is wrong or obsolete, he can be corrected by the full materials he
has laid before the reader. But the perfect coldness of his reasoning,
the absence of all passion, the abnegation of all style, make the book
unapproachable except to a specialist.

[Sidenote: Contrast of Grote's life.]

[Sidenote: His theory Radicalism.]

§ 6. For the same reason Thirlwall's great and solid book was ousted at
once from public favour by the appearance of Grote's history. Two minds
more unlike can hardly be imagined, admitting that they were both honest
and hard workers, and that both knew German as well as Greek, Latin, and
French. Instead of a cold, calm college don, loving cautious statement
and accurate rendering as the highest of virtues; instead of a mild and
orthodox Liberal both in religion and politics,--we have a business man,
foreign to university life and its traditions, a sceptic in religion, a
Positivist in philosophy, and above all an advanced Radical in politics,
invading the subject hitherto thought the preserve and apanage of the
pedagogue or the pedant. Of course he occasionally missed the exact
force of an optative, or the logic of a particle; he excited the fury of
men like Shilleto, to whom accuracy in Greek prose was the one
perfection, containing all the Law and the Prophets. What was far
worse, he even mistook and misstated evidence which bore against his
theories, and was quite capable of being unfair, not from dishonesty,
but from prejudice.

[Sidenote: The influences of his time.]

[Sidenote: To be compared with Gibbon.]

He lived in the days when the world was recovering from its horror at
the French Revolution, and the reaction against the monarchical
restorations in central Europe was setting in. He was persuaded that the
great social and political results of Greek history were because of, and
not in spite of, the prevalence of democracy among its States, and
because of the number and variety of these States. He would not accept
the verdict of all the old Greek theorists who voted for the rule of the
one or the enlightened few; and he wrote what may be called a great
political pamphlet in twelve volumes in vindication of democratic
principles. It was this idea which not only marshalled his facts, but
lent its fire to his argument; and when combined with his Radicalism in
religion and philosophy, produced a book so remarkable, that, however
much it may be corrected and criticised, it will never be superseded. It
is probably the greatest history among the many great histories produced
in this century; and though very inferior in style to Gibbon's _Decline
and Fall_, will rank next to it as a monument of English historical

[Sidenote: His eloquence.]

[Sidenote: His panegyric on democracy.]

There are chapters of speculation, such as those on the Greek myths and
their historical value, on the Homeric question, on Socrates and the
Sophists, which mark an epoch in the history of their respective
subjects, and have been ever since gradually moulding even the most
obstinate opponents, who at first rejected his theories with
scorn[15:1]. There are chapters of narrative, such as that on the battle
of Platæa, or the Athenian defeat at Syracuse, where he so saturates
himself with the tragic grandeur of the events, and with the consummate
art of his great Greek predecessors, that his somewhat clumsy and
unpolished style takes their colour and rises to the full dignity of his
great subject. But the greatest novelty among the many which adorn his
immortal work is his admirable _apologia_ for democracy,--for that form
of government where legislation is the result of discussion; where the
minority feels bound to acquiesce in the decision of the majority; and
where the administrators of the law are the servants, not the masters,
of the nation, appointed with defined powers to terminable magistracies,
and liable to indictment for exceeding or abusing these powers. He
occupied the whole body of the book in illustrating how the voluntary
submission of the free citizen to control of this kind, the alternation
in the same men of commanding and obeying, and the loyalty and
patriotism thus engendered, were far higher social factors than the
enforced or unreasoning submission of the masses to the dictates of a
monarch or a close aristocracy.

[Sidenote: Objections: that democracies are short-lived;]

§ 7. To the first great objection,--that of the Greek theorists,--that
the greatness of democracies is but transient, and must rapidly
degenerate into the fickle and violent rule of a mob, he might have
answered, that these theorists themselves never contemplated human
institutions as permanent, and even assumed that the ideal State of
their dreams must be subject to exhaustion and decay. Still more might
he have urged that not a long life, but a great life, was the real test
of the excellence of the body politic, and that centuries of Spartan
respectability had done nothing for the world in comparison with the
brief bloom of Attic genius.

[Sidenote: that the Athenian democrat was a slaveholder and a ruler over

Another and more serious objection to the position that Athens was a
typical democracy, and that its high culture was the direct result of
its political institutions, he seems to me to have practically ignored.
The Athenian citizen, however poor, had indeed equal rights with every
other citizen, could succeed to the same high offices, and appeal to the
same laws. But the Athenian citizen, however poor, was a slaveholder,
and the member of an imperial class, ruling with more or less absolutism
over communities of subjects, treating as manifest inferiors even the
many resident aliens, who promoted the mercantile wealth of his city.
Hence, after all, he was one of a minority, controlling a vast majority
of subjects and slaves with more or less despotic sway. Lord
Redesdale[17:1] tells us that this was the point which his brother
Mitford thought of capital importance, and which prompted him to write
his history. He met, all through revolutionary France, and among the
democrats in England, perpetual assertions that Greek democracy was the
ideal at which modern Europe should aim, and he felt that these
enthusiasts had considered neither the size of modern States, nor the
essential difference just stated between the Athenian and the modern

[Sidenote: The Athenian not the ideal of the Greeks.]

And it is to me certain, that many of the virtues as well as the vices
of the Athenian arose from his being an aristocrat in the strictest
sense,--the member of a privileged and limited society ruling over
inferiors, with the leisure obtainable by the poorest slaveholder, and
the dignity always resulting from the consciousness of inherent
superiority. And yet with all this, the type of perfection which the
Greeks, as a people, ever held before them was not the polished democrat
of Athens, but the blunt aristocrat of Sparta. This latter was admired
and copied, so far as he could be copied, in like manner as the English
aristocrat has been admired by all the nations of the world,--not
because he lives under free institutions, but because he shows in him
the traditions and the breeding of a dominant race long accustomed to
the dignity and the splendour of ancient wealth and importance.

As Grote could see no superiority whatever in aristocracy over
democracy, so he ignored completely this, the aristocratic side of all
the Hellenic democracies.

[Sidenote: Grote's treatment of the despots.]

[Sidenote: Their perpetual recurrence in the Greek world.]

[Sidenote: Advantages of despotism.]

§ 8. But, when he comes to treat of the despots, or tyrants, who
overthrew governments and made themselves irresponsible rulers, he falls
in with all the stock accusations of the aristocratic Greek
writers,--Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch,--and represents these despots
as an unmixed evil to their country[18:1]. He treats them in a special
chapter as a sort of epidemic at a certain epoch of Greek history,
whereas the facts show that through the whole series of centuries, from
the dawn of history to the conquest by Rome, despots were a constantly
recurring phenomenon all over the Greek world. We find them mentioned by
scores, and in every corner of Hellas and Asia Minor. Even Sparta ceased
in time to form the almost solitary exception. This persistence of
tyrants shows that either the people who tolerated them were politically
fools, or that despotic government had really some good points, and
recommended itself at least as an escape from greater evils[18:2]. The
political value of this phase of Greek life I shall treat more fully in
the sequel.

[Sidenote: Good despots not infrequent.]

We hear, of course, of many violent and vicious despots in Greek
history; and these are the cases always cited as proving the unsoundness
of that form of government. But if a list could be procured of the
numerous tyrants who governed wisely or moderately, and who improved the
manners and the culture of their subjects, it would probably comprise an
immense number of names. The good specimens passed by without notice;
the criminal cases were paraded in the schools and upon the stage[19:1]:
and so a one-sided estimate has passed into history. This estimate was
taken up with warmth, and paraded with great amplitude by the Radical
historian. And yet the very history of Europe since he wrote has shown
us strong reasons to doubt that every nation is best managed by a
parliamentary system. But on this point Grote had no misgivings. The
will of the majority was to him the inspired voice, and he trusted to
better education and larger experience to correct the occasional errors
from which not even the fullest debate will save an excited populace.

[Sidenote: Grote a practical politician.]

§ 9. These observations, though meant as strictures upon the sanguine
enthusiasm of Grote's Radical views, are not to be understood as
detracting from the charm of his work. It is this very enthusiasm which
has led him to understand and to interpret political movements or
accommodations completely misunderstood by many learned continental
professors; for he was a practical politician, accustomed to
parliamentary life,--above all to the conservative effects of tradition
and practice, even in the face of the most innovating theories. He has,
therefore, put the case of an educated democracy with more power and
more persuasiveness than any other writer; and for this reason alone his
book must occupy a prominent place even in the library of the mere
practical politician.

[Sidenote: His treatment of Alexander the Great.]

[Sidenote: Contrast of Thirlwall.]

§ 10. Far more serious are the objections to his last volume, on the
life and conquests of Alexander the Great. So unequal, indeed, is this
episode, which to him was a mere appendix to the story of independent
Greece, that a fabulous anecdote prevails of his publisher having
persuaded him against his will to pursue his narrative beyond the battle
of Chæronea[20:1]. Here it is that the calmness and candour of Thirlwall
stand out in marked contrast. The history of the great conqueror and of
the recovered independence (such as it was) of Greece, are treated by
the scholar-bishop with the same care and fairness which mark all the
rest of his work. But Grote is distinctly unfair to Alexander; his love
of democracy led him to hate the man who made it impossible and absurd
for Greece, and he shows this bias in every page of his twelfth volume.

[Sidenote: Grote ignores the later federations,]

As regards the subsequent history, which embraces the all-important
development of federal government throughout Greece, he does not
condescend to treat it at all. His great work is therefore incomplete in
plan, and stops before the proper conclusion of his subject. Of course
he would have found it hard to panegyrize his favourite democracies when
he came to the Hellenistic age. There the inherent weaknesses of a
popular government in days of poverty and decay, in the face of rich and
powerful monarchs, showed themselves but too manifestly.

[Sidenote: and despises their history.]

But he will not confess this weak point; he even covers his retreat by
the bold assertion in his preface that Greek history from the generation
of Alexander has no interest in itself, or any influence on the world's
history--a wonderful judgment! However great therefore and complete the
work of Grote is on the earlier periods, this may be added as a
warning,--the reader of Greek history should stop with the death of
Philip of Macedon, and read the remainder in other books. It is indeed
necessary for schoolmasters to limit the bounds of Greek literature in
school studies, and so with common consent they have admitted nothing
later than the golden age. But the vast interest and paramount
importance of Greek ideas in the culture of the Roman world have tempted
me to sketch the subject in my _Greek Life and Thought from Alexander to
the Roman Conquest_ and _Greek Life under Roman Sway_. Any reader of
these volumes will at least concede the vastness, the importance, and
the deep interest of the period which Grote despised. But so intricate
are the details, and so little arranged, that to write upon it is rather
pioneer's work than anything else.

[Sidenote: His treatment of the early legends.]

[Sidenote: Even when plausible, they may be fictions].

§ 11. Let us now, before passing to his successors, turn back to the
very beginning of the subject, and say a word on his treatment of the
elaborate mythical system which the Greeks prefixed to their historical
annals. Here the Positivism of the man was sure to bear fruit and
produce some remarkable results. He gives, accordingly, with all
deliberation and fulness of detail, a complete recital of the stories
about the gods and heroes, telling all their acts and adventures, and
then proceeds to argue that they are to be regarded as quite distinct
from, and unconnected with, any historical facts. He argues that as
there is in the legends a large quantity of assertions plainly false and
incredible, but intertwined indissolubly with plausible and credible
statements, we have no right to pick out the latter and regard them as
derived from actual facts. There is such a thing as plausible fiction;
and we have no guarantee that the authors of incredible stories about
gods and their miracles did not invent this plausible kind as well.
Rejecting, therefore, all historical inferences from the Greek legends,
he merely regards them as conclusive evidence of the state of mind of
their inventors,--a picture of the Greek mind in what Comte called the
'theological stage.'

[Sidenote: Thirlwall's view less extreme.]

It is remarkable how fully Thirlwall states this view of the Greek
myths, and how clearly his cautious mind appreciates the indisputable
weakness of all such legends in affording proper and trustworthy
evidence. But when we come to persistent bodies of legend which assert
that Oriental immigrants--Cadmus, Danaus, Pelops, &c.--brought
civilization to yet barbarous Greece, Thirlwall, with all his doubts,
with all his dislike to vague and shifting stories, cannot make up his
mind to regard these agreeing myths as mere idle inventions. Moreover,
he urged the point, which Grote omitted to consider, _that early art
might so corroborate a story_ as to make its origin in fact morally

[Sidenote: Influence of Niebuhr on both historians.]

No doubt both historians were considerably under the influence of
Niebuhr, whose rejection of the old Roman legends, which were often
plausible fiction, produced a very great sensation in the literary
world[23:1]. Nor did they live to see the great discoveries in early
art and prehistoric culture which have since been made by the
archæologists. It seems to me, therefore, that as regards the
_incunabula_ of Greek history these great men came at the moment when
little more than a negative attitude was possible. The mental history of
the nation in its passage from easy faith to utter scepticism was
expounded by Grote in a masterly way; but for the construction of the
myths he would not admit any other than subjective causes. Here, then,
was the point on which some further advance might fairly be expected.

[Sidenote: Neither of them visited Greece,]

§ 12. There was another matter also, connected with the life and habits
of the time, which made the appreciation of the facts less keen and
picturesque than it might have been. Neither Thirlwall nor Grote, though
each of them possessed ample means and leisure, seems ever to have
thought of visiting the country and seeking to comprehend the
geographical aspects of their histories from personal experience. They
both--Thirlwall especially--cite the earlier travellers who had explored
and pictured the Hellenic peninsula; but in those days the traveller was
regarded as a different kind of man from the historian, who wrote from
books in his closet.

[Sidenote: which later historians generally regard as essential.]

[Sidenote: Ernst Curtius and Victor Duruy.]

[Sidenote: The value of autopsy in verifying old authors.]

It is in the last two features--the interpretation of the legends, and
the personal acquaintance with the country--that the more recent
attempts excel the older masterpieces. Ernst Curtius spent several years
in Greece, and published a complete and scholarly account of the
Peloponnesus before he produced his history. Duruy gives life and colour
to his narrative by references to his personal experiences in Greece. To
visit and study the scenes of great events is now so easy and so
habitual to scholars, that we may count it one of the necessary
conditions for any future history which is to take a high place in the
ever-increasing series of Hellenic studies[25:1]. In his opening
chapters Ernst Curtius breathes such freshness and reality into the once
dry preamble of geographical description that we feel we have attained a
fresh epoch, and are led to expect great things from an experience
gained upon the spot, which can verify the classical descriptions by the
local features which remain. It is of course idle to think that this
kind of familiarity will compensate for imperfect study. The modern
Greek antiquarians, living upon the spot, have not yet shown themselves
equal to many who have never seen what they discuss. Nevertheless, this
is certain, that new force, and directness, are attained by a personal
acquaintance with the coasts, the mountains, the rivers of Greece, and
that many a wrong inference from ancient texts may be avoided by knowing
that the scene of the events precludes it.

[Sidenote: Example in the theatre of Athens.]

[Sidenote: Its real size.]

[Sidenote: No landscape for its background.]

§ 13. Here is an example. It is commonly inferred from a passage in
Plato's _Symposium_, which speaks of thirty thousand citizens being
addressed by Agathon in his plays, that the theatre held that number of
spectators. This is copied into book after book, though I have long ago
called attention to the impossibility of maintaining such an
interpretation[26:1]. I need not urge the absurdity of speaking from an
open-air stage to thirty thousand people. The actual theatre is now
recovered, and any one who has seen it and possesses reasonable
common-sense will perceive that about fifteen thousand people was the
utmost it could ever have contained[26:2]. To expect a larger crowd to
hear any performance of human voices would be ridiculous. What the
passage, therefore, means is that the whole population of freemen in
Athens were in the habit of enjoying the drama,--not, of course, all at
the same moment. Other fancies, which have given rise to eloquent
musings concerning the picturesque view of the sea and islands enjoyed
by the Athenian as a natural background to his tragedy, can be disposed
of in the same way by simply sitting even on the top row and making the
experiment[26:3],--not to speak of the false notion of attributing to
the Athenian citizen a conscious love of picturesque scenery, or an
attempt to combine two heterogeneous and incongruous æsthetic interests.

[Sidenote: Greek scenery and art now accessible to all.]

If the writer of Greek history is bound to have visited Greece, this
cannot be expected of the reader. But for him too our generation has
brought its benefits. In the fine illustrations now published of all the
objects of interest in Greek museums, and of the finest scenery
throughout the country, the general public can find some equivalent; and
from this point of view the history of Duruy marks a fresh epoch, even
as compared with that of Curtius. For I am not aware that there has
hitherto been any accessible collection of all the interesting things in
Nature and Art which the student of Greek history ought to have seen, at
least in reproduction. There are, of course, splendid monographs on
special buildings, such as the works of the Dilettanti Society, or on
special discoveries, such as the original and richly adorned volumes of
Dr. Schliemann on Mycenæ and Tiryns. But these are beyond the reach of
moderate fortunes. The gallery of photographs begun by Mr. Stillman, and
now in process of publication by the Hellenic Society, are both more
varied and less expensive, and will make the treasures of Greece
perfectly familiar to any student who chooses to acquire them.


[4:1] Mr. Evelyn Abbott's _History of Greece_, preface.

[7:1] More numerous, and much better, in France and Germany than they
are in England.

[7:2] The first volume of his work has recently been translated by Mr.
Prothero, of King's College, Cambridge.

[7:3] I have seen but not read Stanyan's _Grecian History_ in 2 vols.
(1739), and Gast's _History of Greece_, published in Dublin (1793). O.
Goldsmith's Handbook is one of a number published about a hundred years
ago, all of which are forgotten. Of these I have looked through at least
six. They have now no value.

[8:1] It is remarkable that he never mentions his contemporary, Gillies,
so far as I know.

[9:1] The new (second) edition of 1829 has an interesting defence of his
history by Lord Redesdale, his younger brother. There is also a cabinet
edition in 8 vols., published in 1835, and continued from the death of
Agesilaus, where Mitford had stopped, to that of Alexander, by R. A.

[10:1] The dates are, Thirlwall's history, 1835, Grote's first two
volumes, 1846. But Grote says he had his materials collected for some
years. Upon the publication of these volumes, Thirlwall at once
confessed his inferiority, and wrote no more upon the subject.

[11:1] The most obvious proof of this is the price of the book in
auction catalogues. The second (octavo) edition is both rare and
expensive. The first is the cabinet edition in Lardner's series, the
editor of which suggested the work.

[12:1] Published by the Clarendon Press. Clinton alludes to Mitford's
effect upon him in his _Journal_.

[15:1] Thus the recent book on the Homeric theory, by Professor Jebb, a
scholar who in an earlier primer had inclined to the views of Theodor
Bergk, now advocates mainly Grote's theory. Thus Zeller's latest edition
of the _History of Greek Philosophy_, a masterly work, treats the
Sophists with constant reference to Grote's views. Both the recent
German histories of Greece, Holm's and Busolt's, acknowledge fully the
great merits of Grote, whose attitude towards the Greek myths is indeed
maintained by Holm.

[17:1] In his Editorial Preface to the 2nd ed. of Mitford's _Greece_.

[18:1] This curious contrast should be carefully noted in estimating
Grote. The justified and reasonable objections of Greek historians to
ultra-democracy he ignores; their violent and personal objections to the
despots he adopts without one word of qualification.

[18:2] I am glad to see this point dwelt on with great justice and
discrimination in Mr. E. Abbott's recent _History of Greece_, i. 368.

[19:1] Thus Strabo says, when speaking of Sicyon, that the tyrants who
had long ruled the city before its liberation by Aratus were for the
most part good men; and this accounts for the high reputation of Sicyon
for culture. It was Lycophron, in his tragedy entitled the
_Casandreans_, who painted the typical portrait of a tyrant in the
monster Apollodorus. (Cf. my _Greek Life and Thought_, p. 283.) Whether
he was really as bad as he was painted, and whether his Galatian guards
really drank human blood, &c., depends on the comparative weight the
critic assigns to general improbability, as against the veracity of a
stage portrait. We have no other evidence, for the late historians
borrow the traditional features without criticism. But let us suppose
that in the next century the evidence concerning the character of
Napoleon III depended upon Mr. Freeman's allusions in his _Federal
Government_, and upon V. Hugo's monograph, would the inferences from
these great writers be even near the real truth?

[20:1] The original preface to his first volume marks out the limits
which he duly attained.

[23:1] The first edition of Niebuhr's history appeared in 1811. The
second, a wholly different and enlarged work, was published in 1827, and
translated into English by Thirlwall and Hare in 1828. Grote quotes
Niebuhr constantly, and takes from his Lectures on Ancient History more
than from any other modern source.

[25:1] Thus Duncker's chapter on the Olympic games shows at once that he
never was at Olympia, and does not understand the site.

[26:1] _Rambles and Studies in Greece_, p. 107. See also the excellent
note in Duruy's _History_, ii. chap. vii. sect. 1, on the frequent
exaggerations of the number of Athenian citizens, which never reached
this high figure.

[26:2] Dr. Dörpfeld, with his new map before him, estimated the area for
me the last time I was at Athens. He found that counting in every
available space, such as gangways, &c., 16,000 was the limit. It seems,
therefore, highly probable that an average audience would not exceed
10,000. I cannot remember in Attic literature any allusion to crowding
or want of room in this theatre.

[26:3] _Op. cit._, pp. 108-9. Duruy, at the opening of his twentieth
chapter, has given excellent pictures and plans of the theatre in



[Sidenote: The newer histories.]

[Sidenote: Not justifiable without particular reasons.]

[Sidenote: Max Duncker.]

[Sidenote: Not suited to English readers.]

§ 14. We may now pass to the more modern treatment of the myths and
mythical history of Greece. There are before us the essays of several
men since the monumental work of Grote. First there is that of Ernst
Curtius; then Duncker's (both translated into English); still more
recently the shorter histories of Holm, Busolt, Hertzberg, and other
Germans, not to speak of Sir George Cox's history and the first volume
of that of Mr. Evelyn Abbott. In fact they are so many and so various
that the production of a new work on Greek history requires some special
justification. For the time has really come when we may begin to
complain of new histories that are not new, but merely reproduce the old
facts and the old arguments, without regard to what specialists have
been doing to clear up particular questions. Duncker's large work, of
which the earlier period of Greek history forms the closing part, is
indeed an important book, and cannot be dismissed so easily. But if I
may venture to speak out, I do not think it was worth translating into
English. Scholars earnest and patient enough to read through it can
hardly fail to have learned German, and therefore require no English
version. I cannot believe that the English-speaking public will ever
read it, nor do I think this should be expected. For in the first place
the book is sadly deficient in style,--not merely in the graces of
style, which are seldom attained by professional scholars, but in that
higher quality of style produced either by burning passion or delicate
æsthetic taste. Duncker is not, like most of the English historians, a
politician. To him despot and democracy are mere things to be analyzed.
Nor does he strive to advocate novel and picturesque views, like Ernst
Curtius. His mind is so conservative that he rather takes a step
backward, and reverts, especially in his chronology, to statements which
of late seemed likely to be discarded as obsolete. He is always sensible
and instructive; he has an excellent habit of making his authorities
speak for themselves: but he wants _verve_ as well as originality in
treating old, unsettled problems, though he has made some remarkable
re-constructions of history from conflicting myths.

[Sidenote: Busolt and Holm.]

[Sidenote: Return to Grote.]

[Sidenote: Holm's postulate.]

The two best recent histories to which I have referred, Busolt's in
1885, Holm's in 1886 (I speak of the first volumes), are by no means so
conservative as Duncker; Holm is as advanced in his scepticism as Grote;
but, as I shall show in the sequel, their scepticism is still spasmodic,
or shall I say varied with touches of credulity, which are probably the
necessary relief of all scepticism. Nothing strikes the reader of these
new Greek histories more forcibly than their abandonment of the
combinations of the school of E. Curtius, and their return to the
attitude of Grote, whose decision concerning the utter untrustworthiness
of legends for historical purposes they all quote with approval. The
ground taken by Grote was the possibility of 'plausible fiction' which
could not possibly be distinguished, as miraculous stories can, from
sober history. Holm adds to this some excellent arguments showing the
strong temptations to deliberate invention which must have actuated the
old chronographers and genealogists[30:1]. Nevertheless, Holm devotes
200 12mo pages, Busolt 100 8vo, of their 'short histories' to the
analysis and discussion of the legends and discoveries concerning
pre-historic Greece, in the course of which they cannot avoid many
inferences from very doubtful evidence. Holm very justly demands that
historians should let the reader know in the stating of it, what has
been handed down to us, and what is modern hypothesis, and claims to
have observed this distinction himself. But there are traditions which
are manifestly late and untrustworthy, such as that which fixes the
dates of Arktinos and Eumelos, and tells us of written registers in the
eighth century B.C., which he accepts without a due caution to his

[Sidenote: The modern attitude.]

§ 15. I think, moreover, that even the most trenchant of sceptics does
not consistently deny that there must be some truth in legendary
history, though we may not be able to disentangle it from miracles and
misunderstandings. And when once we have abandoned Grote's position, and
hold it more probable that old legends are based on facts than purely
invented, nothing will prevent the sanguine student from striving to
pick out for himself the facts and making a probable, if not a certain,
sketch of the otherwise unrecorded _incunabula_ of a nation's history.

[Sidenote: Pure invention a rare occurrence;]

[Sidenote: plausible fiction therefore not an adequate cause.]

This view and these attempts are based upon an ascertained truth in the
psychology of all human societies. Just as people will accommodate a
small number of distinct words to their perpetually increasing wants,
and will rather torture an old root in fifty ways than simply invent a
new combination of sounds for a new idea; so in popular legends the
human race will always attach itself to what it knows, to what has gone
before, rather than set to work and invent a new series of facts. Pure
invention is so very rare and artificial that we may almost lay it aside
as a likely source for _old_ legends[31:1]; and we may assume either a
loose record of real facts, or the adoption and adaptation of the
legends of a previous age, as our real, though treacherous, materials
for guessing pre-historic truth. This is the reason why we later
students have not adhered without hesitation to the sceptical theory
that plausible fiction _may_ account for all the Greek myths, and we
look for some stronger reason to reject them altogether.

[Sidenote: Cases of deliberate invention,]

[Sidenote: at Pergamum,]

[Sidenote: which breed general suspicion of marvellous stories.]

§ 16. There are cases, for example, where we can see distinct reasons
why people in a historic age should have invented links to attach
themselves to some splendid ancestry. Just as the heralds of our own day
are often convicted of forging the generations which connect some
wealthy upstart with an ancient house, so it is in Greek history. No
larger and more signal instances of this can be found than the barefaced
genealogies made by the learned in the days of Alexander's
successors[32:1], when any of the new foundations,--Antioch, Seleucia,
&c.,--wanted to prove themselves ancient Hellenic cities, re-settled
upon a mythical foundation. Not different in spirit were the Pergamene
fabrications, which not only invented a mythical history for Pergamum,
but adopted and enlarged the Sicilian fables which connected a Pergamene
hero, Æneas, with the foundation of Rome[33:1]. What capital both the
Ilians and the people of Pergamum made out of these bold mendacities, is
well known. I shall return in due course to another remarkable instance,
which I have set before the world already, where a great record of
Olympic games was made up at a late date by a learned man in honour of
Elis and Messene. Later Greek history does show us some of these
deliberate inventors,--Lobo the Argive, Euhemerus the Messenian, and a
few more; a list which the Greeks themselves augmented by adding the
travellers who told wonderful tales of distant lands which conflicted
with Hellenic climate and experience. But here too the Greeks were
over-sceptical, and rejected, as we know, many real truths only because
they found them marvellous. In the same way, modern inquirers who come
to estimate the doubtful and varying evidence for older history must be
expected to differ according to the peculiar temper of their minds.

[Sidenote: Example of a trustworthy legend from Roman history.]

§ 17. But perhaps the reader will desire to hear of a case where a
legend has conveyed acknowledged truth, rather than the multifarious
cases where it may lead us into error. I will give an instance from
Roman history, all the more remarkable from the connection in which it
is found.

[Sidenote: Niebuhr, Arnold, Mommsen.]

That history, as we all know, used to commence with a pretty full
account of the seven kings, who ruled for very definitely stated
periods. The difficulties in accepting this legend were first shown by
Niebuhr; and then came Arnold, who told again the legend as a mere
nursery tale, refusing to call it history. Mommsen, in his very
brilliant work, goes further, and omits the whole story contemptuously,
without one word of apology. The modern reader who refers to his book to
know who the kings of Rome were, would find one casual and partial list,
no official chapter. I am not sure that Mommsen names most of them more
than once in any passing mention.

[Sidenote: The _rex sacrorum_ at Rome.]

But does it follow that Mommsen denies there ever were kings at Rome?
Far from it. For there were laws and ordinances, lasting into historical
times, which would be wholly inexplicable had they not come down from a
monarchy. Thus there remained a priest of great dignity, though of
little importance, whose very title--_rex sacrorum_--shows that his
office was created to perform those priestly functions once performed by
the abolished kings, and not otherwise provided for in the reformed
constitution. The fact therefore asserted by the famous legend, that
there were once kings in Rome, is established to the satisfaction of any
reasonable man by the evidence of surviving usages.

[Sidenote: The king-archon at Athens.]

In the same way we have at Athens legends of kings, but all of such
antiquity as to make us hesitate in believing them, had there not
survived into historical days the _king-archon_, whose name and
functions point clearly to their being a survival of those kingly
functions which were thought indispensable on religious or moral
grounds, even after the actual monarchs had passed away[35:1].

The legends, therefore, which tell of a gradual change from a monarchy
to an aristocracy, and a gradual widening of the Government to embrace
more members by making its offices terminable, are no mere plausible
fictions, but an obscure, and perhaps inadequate, yet still real account
of what did happen in Attica in the days before written records existed.

[Sidenote: Legends of foreign immigrants.]

[Sidenote: Corroborative evidence of art, but not of language.]

§ 18. Larger and more important is the great body of stories which agree
in bringing Phœnician, Egyptian, and Asianic princes to settle in
early Greece, where they found a primitive people, to whom they taught
the arts and culture of the East. To deny the general truth of these
accounts now would be to contradict facts scientifically ascertained; it
is perfectly certain that the Greek alphabet is derived from the
Phœnician, and it is equally certain that many of the artistic
objects found at Orchomenos, in Attica, and at Mycenæ, reveal a foreign
and Oriental origin. At the same time Duruy, in the luminous discussion
he has devoted to the subject[36:1], shows that, however certain the
early contact with the East, there is hardly any trace in Greece of the
language of any non-Hellenic conquerors, as there is, for example (he
might have added), in the names of the letters, which mostly bear in
Greece their Semitic names. He thinks, therefore, that although early
Asianic Greeks were the real intermediaries of this culture, they merely
stimulated the latent spark in the natives, which shows itself in
certain original non-Asiatic features which mark pre-historic Greek
remains. But those who in their enthusiasm for Greece go even further in
rejecting any foreign parentage for the higher Greek art[36:2], will now
no longer deny that the occurrence of amber, ostrich-eggs, and ivory,
which surely were not all imported in a rude or unmanipulated condition,
prove at least the lively traffic in luxuries which must have existed,
and which cannot exist without many other far-reaching connections.

[Sidenote: Corroboration of legends in architecture.]

There are even lesser matters, where legends might seem only to set
before us the difficulty of harmonizing conflicting statements; and yet
archæology finds that there is something real implied. Thus the legend
which asserts that the older Perseids were supplanted by the Pelopids in
the dominion of Mycenæ is in striking agreement with the fact that there
are two styles of wall-building in the extant remains, and that the
ruder work has actually been re-faced with the square hewn blocks of the
later builders[37:1].

§ 19. But we have here been dealing with political legends, which are
less likely than genealogical or adventurous legends to excite the
imagination, and so to be distorted from facts. Let us turn to consider
some of these latter.

[Sidenote: Explanation of myths by the solar theory.]

[Sidenote: The analogy of Indian and Persian mythology,]

When we approach such a story as the rape of Helen by Paris, the
consequent expedition of the Greeks, and the siege of Troy, we are
confronted, or at least we were confronted a few years ago, with a
theory which professed to explain all such stories as mere modifications
or misunderstandings of the great phenomena of Nature expressed in
pictorial language. The break of day, the conquest of the Sun over the
morning mists, his apparent defeat at night, and the victory of the
Powers of Darkness,--all this was supposed to have affected so
powerfully the imaginations of primitive men that they repeated their
original hopes and fears in all manner of metaphors, which by and by
became misinterpreted, and applied to the relations, friendly or
hostile, of the various superhuman powers known as gods or heroes.
Helen, if you please, was the Dawn, carried off by Paris, the Powers of
Night, and imprisoned in Troy. Achilles was only the Sun-god, who
struggles against the Night, and after a period of brilliancy succumbs
to his enemies. It appeared that in the _Vedas_ and the _Zend-Avesta_,
which may be regarded as older cousins of the Greek mythologies, the
names of the gods pointed clearly to their original connection with
solar phenomena, and some of the Greek names were shown to be merely the
Greek forms of the same words.

[Sidenote: expounded by Professor Max Müller,]

[Sidenote: founded on very wide learning,]

It is not necessary for me here to expound more fully this celebrated
theory, seeing that it has acquired great popularity in England from the
brilliant statement of it by Professor Max Müller in his early _Lectures
on the Science of Language_. It was a learned theory, requiring a
knowledge of the various languages as well as the various mythologies of
the Indians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and even other branches of the
great Indo-European family. It required, too, a knowledge of that
wonderful new science, the science of comparative etymology, by which
two names as diverse as possible could be shown to be really akin. The
ordinary reader was surprised at the scientific legerdemain by which
_Helen_ was identified with _Sarama_, and was disposed to accept a great
deal from men who claimed to have made such astonishing discoveries.

[Sidenote: long since shown inadequate,]

[Sidenote: because it implies sentimental savages,]

[Sidenote: which is contrary to our experience.]

§ 20. It is now very long since I first declared myself against this
theory[39:1], not as false, but as wholly inadequate to explain the
great wealth and variety of the Greek legends. On that occasion I argued
the case at length, and showed more especially that the mental condition
presupposed in the primitive Indo-Europeans by this theory was not
provable, and was, moreover, contradicted by everything which we know of
the psychological condition of any such people. The theory implies such
a daily joy and a nightly terror, when the sun rose and set, as coloured
the whole language of the primitive race, and gave them one topic which
wholly occupied their imaginations. Seeing that men must have existed
for a long time before they invented legends, perhaps even before they
used language, such fresh and ever-recurring astonishment would be
indeed a marvellous persistence of childish simplicity[39:2]. Moreover,
what we do know of savage men shows us that surprise and wonder imply a
good deal of intellectual development, and that the primitive savage
does not wonder at, but ignores, those phenomena which interest higher

[Sidenote: K. O. Müller's contribution.]

It is a much more reasonable view to discard the changes of the day, and
adopt those of the year, as having suggested early myths of the death of
beautiful youths, and the lamentation of those that loved them. I do not
know a more masterly treatment of this cause for early myths, such as
the death of Adonis, of Linus, of Maneros (in Egypt), than the opening
of K. O. Müller's _History of Greek Literature_. It is a book now fifty
years old, and our knowledge has so much advanced that Müller's views
are in many points antiquated, as I have shown in re-writing the history
of the same great subject[40:1]. But nothing could antiquate the genius
of K. O. Müller, or the grace with which he shows that the plaintive
lays of shepherd and of vine-dresser express the poignant regrets
excited by the burning up of green and bloom in the fierce heats of a
semi-tropical summer. We now know that Nature provides this rest for her
vegetation in meridional climates; but the sleep of plants in the
drought of torrid sunshine seems to men far less natural than their rest
in the long nights and under the white pall of a northern winter, and
thus were suggested myths of violence and cruelty.

[Sidenote: The transference of myths.]

[Sidenote: Old anecdotes doing fresh duty.]

§ 21. These things, however, account for only a small fraction of the
great volume of Greek legend. It is indeed true that the same story will
be renewed, the same ideas repeated, by succeeding generations. There is
such a principle as the _spontaneous transference of myths_, similar to
the constant recurrence of the same old stories in our modern society
under new scenery and with new characters. If, for example, a man of odd
ways and ridiculous habits haunts any society for a long time, and
becomes what is called 'a character,' a number of anecdotes cluster
about his name, which are told to illustrate his peculiarities. Any old
person who hears these stories will be certain to recognize some of them
as much older than the character in question, and as having been told
about some other oddity long passed away; and we may predict with
confidence that by and by they will be fitted on again to some new
person who is a suitable subject for them. But what would be thought of
the logic which inferred that the story must be false from the beginning
because it wanders down the lapse of time, making itself a new home in
each epoch, or that the person to whom it is fitted must be unreal
because he is the hero of a tale which does not originally belong to
him? Yet I could show that this has been the very attitude assumed by
some of the comparative philologers.

[Sidenote: Example from the Trojan legend,]

[Sidenote: but not therefore false.]

§ 22. I will take an instance which the reader will naturally expect to
find discussed in this Essay--the legend of the siege of Troy. It may be
quite true that old names and old metaphors about the sun or the summer
lie hidden in the names of the heroes. It is to me certain that older
stories were taken from their place and fitted on to the newer and more
celebrated circumstances of this famous War. But all this I take to be
not inconsistent with fact, but even to imply as a necessity that there
must really have been such a war, which excited the minds of all the
Greeks of a certain date, and so formed the obvious nucleus for all the
poetical adventures which clung around it.

[Sidenote: The contribution of Dr. Schliemann.]

[Sidenote: History not an exact science.]

The brilliant researches of Dr. Schliemann have demonstrated that the
locus of the legend was not chosen at random, but that Troy, or Iliom,
was in the first place the site of a prehistoric settlement; in the
next, that it was conquered and burned, and re-settled again and again.
There existed, moreover, a venerable shrine in the obscure historic
town, to which the Locrians, at an early date, sent donations of virgins
to atone for the outrage of their mythical ancestor, the lesser Ajax of
the _Iliad_. These facts show that here, as elsewhere, the legend
formed itself about a historic site, and with some nucleus of
historic fact,--how much will probably for ever remain a subject of
dispute[42:1]. If history were an exact science, in which strict
demonstration were required at every step, this conclusion might warrant
our pursuing Grote's course and rejecting the whole legend as imaginary.
But history is really a science of probabilities, in which this perhaps
is the greatest charm, that it leaves large room to the imagination in
framing hypotheses to supply a rational explanation of results which
come before us full-grown, without their beginnings being recorded.

I am not concerned here with the problem of the origin of the Homeric
poems. Those who desire a summary of modern research in this great
field, and care to know what conclusions I have adopted, may consult my
_Greek Literature_, in which the English reader for the first time found
a full conspectus of this great controversy[43:1]. What now comes before
us is to estimate the amount of historical truth which can be extracted
from our so-called Homer.

[Sidenote: Historical value of the Homeric poems.]

It is certain that there was a great struggle round the very site given
in the poems. It was alleged to be a struggle of many Greek chiefs, at
a time when Mycenæ was the richest capital, against the wealth and
discipline of the princes about the Troad, of whom the chief of Ilion
was the head. This, too, is remarkable, that in spite of the superior
wealth and larger population of Asia Minor, the superiority of the Greek
peninsula over this greater and richer land is plainly asserted. The
whole course of known history has verified the broad fact taught by the
legend. Greece has always been the poorer sister, and the superior, of
Asia Minor.

[Sidenote: Mycenæ preserved in legend only.]

That Mycenæ was really the most powerful city in the Greece of some
early period, is another fact which nobody would ever have suspected but
for the teaching of the legend. Even Dr. Schliemann's new demonstration
of its truth, by the display of wealth and of high art which he found in
the royal tombs, would never have been attempted had he not been guided
by the consistent assertions of the _Iliad_. For the massive remains of
the fortifications, and the tombs, proved no guides to the historical
Greeks, who knew Argos only as the head of that province, and early
forgot the splendour of Mycenæ so far as it was not kept alive in their
epic Bible.

[Sidenote: General teaching of the epic poems.]

§ 23. Quite apart from such particular facts, which teach us that the
statements of Greek legend are never to be despised, there are large
general conclusions which most of us think warranted by the Homeric
poems. We may infer the political ideas prevalent when they were
composed; the relative importance of king, nobles, and commons; the
usages of peace and war; the life of men in its social side; the
position of women and of slaves; the religious notions of the day; and
such other questions as must be answered if we desire to obtain a living
picture of the people. Every recent history of Greece has a chapter on
the Homeric poems from this point of view--none of them fuller or better
than the chapters of Grote.

[Sidenote: Social Life in Greece.]

[Sidenote: Alleged artificiality of the poems.]

What I had to say on this subject was set down in the opening chapters
of my _Social Life in Greece_, from which some stray critics have indeed
expressed their dissent, without undertaking to probe and refute my
arguments. Until that is done, the sketch there given of the
aristocratic society described in the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ claims
to be just, and it is unnecessary to defend it here. Perhaps, however,
recent inquiry may have led some students to imagine that I have
attached too much credit to the Homeric pictures of life, seeing that
they are now often asserted to be artificial, and constructed by the
poets to represent an age and a society different from their own.

[Sidenote: Examples from the Iliad,]

[Sidenote: not corroborated by recent discoveries.]

We cannot verify what these poets describe by anything which we know in
historical Greece, without making very large allowances. The games, for
example, described in the twenty-third book of the _Iliad_, are totally
distinct in character from the Olympic games,--the oldest historical
contests of the same kind known to us. The monarchy of Agamemnon and of
Menelaus is totally different from that of Sparta, which survived into
the light of history; and even the poets themselves constantly tell you
that they speak of men not such as the men of their own day, but
greater, stronger, and happier. On the other hand, when we seek for
support from the very ancient remains found at Mycenæ, Tiryns, and Troy
in recent years, we find no clear corroboration, and must admit that the
arms, the dress, and probably the life of the great men whose splendour
we have unearthed do not correspond to the descriptions of the same
things in Homer. This has been the subject of a special book by W.
Helbig[46:1], and the general result at which he arrives is merely
negative. The civilization found by Dr. Schliemann is apparently not
that of Homer. Is the latter then purely imaginary, neither prehistoric
nor historic? Is the life described as artificial as the language?

[Sidenote: Fick's account of the Homeric dialect.]

§ 24. For now we are assured, by the researches of Fick, that the
apparent jumble of dialects in the poems cannot possibly be any original
language which embraced all the dialects, far less a judicious selection
from each due to the genius of the poet, but rather the incongruous
result of the adaptation of an older form (Æolic) to the wants of a
newer and different (Ionic) public. This rehandling of great poems to
make them intelligible is an almost universal phenomenon, and now
affords us the first reasonable theory for the extraordinary facts
presented by Homer's language. Of course there are later poems, and
possibly later passages in the old poems, where this artificial dialect
was deliberately imitated by men who found it already achieved, and
merely accepted it as the received epic language. But these passages are
insignificant. The body of the poems seems to have been rehandled for
the practical purpose of making them intelligible, just as Dryden
rehandled Chaucer.

[Sidenote: Difficulties in the theory.]

In this theory of Fick, which he has defended with extraordinary
acuteness and learning, we have the greatest advance made in our day as
regards the language of Homer. Of course it has not yet been accepted by
the world of scholars[47:1]. I myself think Fick's weak point is his
close adherence to the dissection of the _Iliad_ into three successive
layers by A. Kirchhoff, and his attempt to show that the parts severed
from the older as accretions by Kirchhoff are also exactly the parts
which were composed in the later (Ionic) dialect, and which therefore do
not show the traces of older forms elsewhere to be found. Fick may be
right even here; but I am not persuaded by his arguments[47:2].

[Sidenote: Analogies in its favour.]

But when the conservatives retorted that in presupposing a rehandling of
the dialect, and an imperfect translation into newer forms, he was
assuming a fact unique in literature,--certainly in Greek
literature,--he smote them 'hip and thigh' by showing parallel cases,
not only in mediæval poetry, but in the collateral Greek lyric poetry.
He showed that old epigrams, for example, had been altered to make them
intelligible, while an occasional form for which no _metrical_
equivalent could be found was allowed to remain[48:1].

[Sidenote: Its application to the present argument.]

§ 25. I have delayed over this important and novel theory not unduly,
because its adoption affects the question of the artificiality of the
poems. If, as was thought formerly, the poets were distinctly composing
in an artificial dialect, into which they foisted forms from various
dialects for the purpose of appearing learned in archaic language, we
might fairly suspect such a pedantic school of playing tricks with
manners and customs, and of omitting or accentuating as they fancied, in
order to make an archaic picture according to their lights. And this is
in fact what they are accused of having done by the most recent English
historian of Greece[48:2].

[Sidenote: Illustration from English poetry.]

But on the new theory, we have before us merely verbal changes, perhaps
made with all care to preserve the original work in the parts which are
old and genuine. It is as if some Englishman were to make one of Burns's
Scotch poems, which are so difficult to ordinary people, accessible by
turning the hard words into their English equivalents, leaving here and
there those which could not be removed without destroying rythm or
metre. The new version would doubtless sacrifice the flavour of the rude
original, but could in no deeper sense be called an artificial
composition, and would probably preserve in its mongrel jargon all the
facts set down by the poet.

[Sidenote: The use of stock epithets.]

There is another point alleged for the artificiality of the Homeric
poems which has not any greater weight. It is the use of epithets and of
forms evidently determined by the convenience of the metre. In all
poetry of all ages metre is a shackle,--perhaps modern rime is more
tyrannous than the quantities of the hexameter. Yet these shackles, if
they mar the efforts of the poetaster, only serve to bring out into
clearer light the excellence of the true poet. And the longer the
Homeric poems are read, the more firmly are all good critics persuaded
of their supreme excellence.

[Sidenote: High excellence incompatible with artificiality.]

[Sidenote: The Homeric poems therefore mainly natural;]

This it is which makes any systematic artificiality to my mind most
improbable. The difference between the learned epic of a really
reflective age and the _Iliad_ is illustrated by comparing with it the
_Argonautics_ of Apollonius Rhodius, a great poet in his way, but
unmistakably and lamentably artificial. I agree, therefore, with
Thirlwall, that the Homeric poets described an age not very different
from that in which they lived, and that the reason why widely varying
societies, such as the democratic Athenian, or the modern European, can
appreciate these pictures, is that they are not artificially
constructed, but adapted from a real experience, drawn from very human
nature, and reflecting permanent human passions[50:1]. The most unreal
thing in the poems is of course their theology; and yet this became in
after days perhaps more real than the rest by its universal adoption
among the Greeks as the authoritative account of their gods.

[Sidenote: but only generally true;]

§ 26. The Homeric poems therefore give us a general picture of the state
of the Greeks at a time shortly before the dawn of history; for such
poems could hardly be composed and held together without writing, and
when writing becomes diffused, history begins[51:1]. Still, the poets
lived in an age not controlled by criticism, or subject to the
verifications of study. Hence they could deal loosely with particulars,
omit details that suited them not, and describe places poetically rather
than topographically. So it is that the Catalogue of the Ships will not
agree with the rest; and in many other cases there is evidence that the
lays brought together were not weeded of their mutual inconsistencies,
or compelled to conform strictly to the final plan.

[Sidenote: and therefore variously judged by various minds.]

It is therefore certain that according as critics lay stress on the
great consistency of character and feeling in these poems, they will, as
Mr. Gladstone does, exaggerate their historical value, and set them down
as almost sober history. When the other spirit prevails, and we attend
to the many flaws in plot and inconsistencies of detail, we shall have
acute scholars, like Mr. Evelyn Abbott, denying that either the
assertions or the omissions in the poems are evidence worth anything for
any historical purpose. Yet even such sceptics will not refrain from
drawing pictures of Greek life from these false and treacherous epics.


[30:1] Cf. his early chapters, especially i. pp. 43 _sq._ Busolt's 2nd
edition, now in the press, contains an exhaustive analysis of all the
recent discoveries.

[31:1] The main causes of invented legends are: first, the glorification
of national heroes; secondly, the desire of chronographers to obtain
synchronisms, and make the heroes of one place contemporaneous with, and
related to, those of another. In the former case it is generally an
older or better known story which is transferred to the new case, with
more or less modification; in the latter there may be deliberate fraud,
as Holm has argued. Of all old Greek legend the chronology is the most
suspicious part, because this has been invented in comparatively late
times, and by learned men, not by, but for, the people.

[32:1] A fine specimen is the pedigree of the Ptolemies direct from
Dionysus and Heracles, given by the historian Satyrus. Cf. C. Müller,
_Fragg. Histor. Graec._, iii. 165. The substance of it is as follows:
From Dionysus and Althea was born Dejanira, from her and Heracles,
Hyllus, and from him in direct descent Kleodaos, Aristomachas, Temenos,
Keisos, Mason, Thestios, Akoos, Aristodamidas, Karanos, Kœnos, Turimmas,
Perdikkas, Philippos, Aerope, Alketas, Amyntas, Balakros, Meleager,
Arsinoe. From her Lagus, Ptolemy Soter, &c., down to Philopator, the
then reigning king. Hence, he adds, were derived the names of the
_demes_ in the Dionysiac _phyle_ at Alexandria, viz. Dejaniris,
Ariadnis, &c.

Here is a most instructive fabrication.

[33:1] Cf. Mommsen, R. G. i. 466-8.

[35:1] We have not a few instances in Greek polities--Megara,
Borysthenes, Calymnos occur to me--where there still existed in late
days magisterial [Greek: basileis] and even [Greek: monarchoi]. Cf.
_Bull. de Corr. hell._ viii. 30; ix. 286.

[36:1] _Hist. of Greece_, chap. ii. sect. 3.

[36:2] Holm (G. G. i. 125) admits this motive for the Germans: 'Im
Grunde leugnet man phönizische Siedelungen in Griechenland besonders
deswegen, weil man nicht will, dass die Griechen jenen Leuten Wichtiges
verdanken'--that is to Semites. He himself asserts early contacts, and
thinks their influence upon Greece but trifling.

The general body of opinion in Germany seems to agree with what I have
cited from Duruy in the text. The words just quoted may serve to put the
English reader upon his guard against the _subjective_ tone of many of
the most learned modern studies on Greek history.

[37:1] On this cf. Adler's remarkable preface to Schliemann's _Tiryns_.

[39:1] Cf. my _Prolegomena to Ancient History_, Longmans, 1872. A
_reductio ad absurdum_ which attained serious attention, in spite of its
patent jocoseness, appeared in an early number of the Dublin University

[39:2] Accordingly, some use was made of the exceptional and alarming
phenomena, such as thunder-storms and eclipses, to supply a more
reasonable and adequate cause for the violent transitions from terror
and grief to joy, which the theory demanded. But it was the regular
daily phenomena which figured in the leading _rôle_ of the comparative

[40:1] _A History of Greek Classical Literature_ (3rd ed.), Macmillan,
1891. The history of K. O. Müller has since been re-edited and
supplemented by Heitz, but in a very different style.

[42:1] Duruy, in speaking of the controversy as to the site (is it
Hissarlik, or Bunarbaschi?), says that even this will never be settled,
in spite of the striking discoveries by which Dr. Schliemann has shown
that Hissarlik was a prehistoric city, and the total absence of any
evidence for a city upon the other site. And Duruy is probably right,
because on these matters writers are too often pedants, who, if once
committed to a theory, will not accept the most convincing evidence that
they have been mistaken. They seem to think the chief merit of a scholar
is to maintain an outward show of impeccability, and therefore hold the
candid confession of a mistake to be not honourable, but disgraceful.
Duruy himself inclines to follow E. Curtius, who holds the wrong
opinion. Holm (i. 96) sees clearly that in the light of Schliemann's
discoveries there can hardly remain a doubt that Hissarlik was the site
which the Homeric poets had in view, though their details may be
inaccurate. This conclusion would have been universally accepted, had
not certain scholars pledged themselves to the other site.

[43:1] It has since been treated in a separate form by Professor Jebb.
The third edition of my _Greek Literature_, being still more recent
(1891), gives additional material.

[46:1] _Das Homerische Epos aus den Denkmälern erläutert_, 1884.

[47:1] Probably a generation will pass away before it is appreciated; or
it may soon pass into oblivion, to be rediscovered by some future
thinker. All the newer histories agree in disapproving it, but chiefly
on the authority of the philologers. Most of these are committed, both
by tradition and by their own special researches, to the theory of a
_natural mixture_ of dialects at Smyrna, the border town of Æolic and
Ionic settlements.

[47:2] I understand that Mr. W. Leaf, one of the highest English
authorities, agrees generally with Fick on this problem. On the other
hand, the Provost of Oriel, as he informs me, does not see his way to
accept it.

[48:1] Thus at the end of a famous epigram on Thermopylæ composed in
Laconian Greek, and reformed into literary language, [Greek: chiliades
tetores] remained, because [Greek: tessares] would not scan. Fick has
now applied his theory to the early Lyric poets, and even printed a
revised text of most of them in _Bezzenberger's Beiträge_, xi, xiii, and
xiv, &c. I have criticised the newer developments of his theory in the
third ed. of my _Greek Literature_.

[48:2] Evelyn Abbott, _History of Greece_, i. 158 _seqq._ I cannot but
suspect that the account of the diet of the Homeric chiefs--great meals
of roast meat, and no fish--is a piece of deliberate archaism, which
contradicts all we know of any historical Greeks from the earliest to
the present days. The Greeks were probably never a meat-eating race, and
even the early athletes trained on cheese (cf. my _Rambles and Studies_,
p. 290). The poets knew all about fishing, for it appears in a simile,
and yet in no case does fish, the great delicacy of Attic days, appear
upon a Homeric table.

[50:1] Holm gives a very ingenious solution of the difficulty, which is,
I think, quite original. He thinks that the Æolic and Ionic settlers who
were driven out by the Dorian immigration carried with them
recollections and traditions of the splendour of the pre-Doric Mycenæ,
Orchomenos, &c. In Asia Minor they sang of these old glories, clothing
the old kings and heroes of the land, and the cities they had left, in
the dress and manners of the Ionia of their own day. Thus their picture
is true traditionally, for we know that the palaces of Greece were in
the places they describe; their pictures of manners were also true, in
another sense, of the society in which they actually lived.

[51:1] When once composed, they could be easily enough _remembered_ by
trained guilds of reciters. It is therefore the composition, and the
transmission as large unities, which imply, in my opinion, that use of
writing which the poets avoid attributing to the society they depict as
one of the past. If we could determine the date of the first fluent use
of writing in Ionia, I think we could also determine the date of the
creation of the _Iliad_ as an artistic whole. At the same time I think
it right to caution the reader, that he need not assume lapidary
inscriptions to mark the first stage. This has been very justly pointed
out by Mr. E. Abbott, and it is here most important; for we have no
extant inscription on stone which can be surely attributed to a date
earlier than 600 B.C., and I am convinced that had such use of writing
been in common use earlier, we should long since have found evidence of
it. Probably the first writing seen and learned by the Greeks was that
of the Phœnician traders, who kept their accounts either on papyrus or
perhaps on wood. Thus the _Iliad_ may have been composed with the aid of
writing, and yet there may have been no contemporary records on stone.



[Sidenote: Transition to early history.]

[Sidenote: The Asiatic colonies.]

§ 27. We may now pass from so-called legend to so-called early history.
All students, from Thucydides downward, have held that shortly after the
state of things described in Homer, important invasions and consequent
dislocations of population began throughout Greece, so that what meets
us in the dawn of sober history differs widely from what Homer
describes. These various movements have their mythical name,--the return
of the Heracleidæ; and their quasi-historical,--the invasion of
Bœotia and Phocis by the Thessalians, and the invasion and conquest
of Peloponnesus by the Dorian mountaineers. The pressure so produced
drove waves of settlers to Asia Minor, where the coasts and islands were
covered with Greek cities,--Æolian, Ionian, and Dorian. But these cities
always claimed to be colonies from Greece, and told of mythical founders
who led them to the East.

[Sidenote: Late authorities for the details.]

We have no early account of these Asiatic settlements. Their traditions
were not apparently discussed critically till the time of Ephorus, the
pupil of Isocrates, who lived close to Alexandrian days; and we know
part of what he said from quotations in Strabo and from the account
given, rather irrelevantly, by Pausanias in the book on Achaia in his
_Tour_, which was not composed till our second century. The metrical
geography attributed to Scymnus of Chios[54:1] gives us some additional
facts; but on the whole we may say that our account of all this early
history is derived from late and very theoretical antiquarians. They did
not hesitate to put these events into the tenth or eleventh century
before Christ, but on what kind of evidence we shall presently discuss.

From the Asiatic settlements and from the rich cities in Eubœa
(Chalcis and Eretria) went out more colonies to the coasts of Thrace and
the Black Sea; but these are placed at such reasonable dates, in the
seventh century, that we must be disposed to give them easier credence.

[Sidenote: The colonization of the West.]

§ 28. Intermediate between these two waves of colonization, both in date
and in credibility of details, come the famous settlements in Sicily, of
which a brief account is given by Thucydides at the opening of his sixth
book; and it is no doubt the apparent precision of this account, and the
general accuracy of the author, which has made this colonization of
Sicily and Southern Italy one of the early portions of Greek history
most readily accepted by even the newest sceptics. It is quite
extraordinary how the general seriousness and the literary skill of an
author may make even practised critics believe anything he chooses to

[Sidenote: The original authority.]

Any one who reads with care the account of Thucydides will see that he
cannot possibly be writing from his own knowledge or research, but from
some older and far worse authority,--doubtless one of the
chroniclers[55:2] or story-tellers who gathered, most uncritically, the
early legends of various portions of the Greek world. It has long since
been suggested, and with the strongest probability, that Thucydides'
authority was the Syracusan Antiochus, who compiled the early annals of
Sicily with the evident intention of enhancing the glory of his native

On what principles did these chroniclers proceed?

[Sidenote: What was nobility in early Greece?]

[Sidenote: Macedonian kings.]

[Sidenote: Romans.]

The great and only patent of respectability in any Greek house or city
of early times was foundation by a hero or the direct descendant of a
hero; for the heroes were sons or grandsons of the gods, from whom all
Greek nobility was derived. The Homeric poems, in making or defining the
Greek theology, also told of the great houses directly descended from
Zeus or Heracles; and so a royal house which was descended from these
personages, or a city founded by them, secured for itself a dignity
recognized by all the race. To cite late historical instances: the
Macedonian kings made good their claim to being Greeks and civilized men
by showing their descent from the hero Æacus, whose descendants the
Æacids figure so prominently in the legendary wars. The Romans, when
first they came into contact with Greek culture, and felt at the same
time their superior strength and their social inferiority, at once
accepted and promoted the story invented for them at Pergamum or adapted
for them in Sicily, that they were a colony of Trojans, led by Æneas,
the child of Aphrodite by a mortal hero.

[Sidenote: Hellenistic cities.]

If these things took place in the dry tree of sober history, what must
have taken place in the green? Every city was bound to have a heroic
founder, and to have been established in almost mythical times. Even in
late and reflecting days, as I have already mentioned (§ 16), when the
successors of Alexander founded new towns in Syria and Asia Minor,
stories continued to be invented alleging old Hellenic settlements of
mythical heroes in these places, whose shrines were accordingly set up,
and their worship instituted, to produce an appearance of respectability
in upstart polities.

[Sidenote: Glory of short pedigrees.]

It is not usually felt by modern readers that in consequence of these
sentiments the great thing was not to have a long pedigree for a family
or city, but to have as short a pedigree as possible for its founder. To
be the son or grandson of a god was splendid; to be his remote
descendant was only to cling on to real nobility like the younger and
remoter branches of great English families. This will indicate how
strong was the tendency to derive an early origin from a great and known
descendant of the gods or their acknowledged sons. The subsequent
history and fortunes of a city were comparatively vulgar, provided it
was founded by a Heracleid,--the second or third in descent from Temenus
or Hyllus. Hence the systematic habit of all early chronologers _of
counting downwards from Heracles or the Trojan war_, and not upwards
from their own days.

[Sidenote: The sceptics credulous in chronology.]

§ 29. I have already declared that I put more faith than the modern
sceptical historians in the pictures of life and manners left us in
Greek epic poetry, that I do not believe pure invention to be a natural
or copious source for the materials of early poets. But the very
sceptics to whom I here allude are in my mind quite too credulous on the
matter of early chronology, and quite too ready to accept statements of
accurate dates where no accurate dates can be ascertained[57:1].

[Sidenote: The current scheme of early dates.]

[Sidenote: The so-called Olympic register.]

[Sidenote: Plutarch's account of it.]

This is the main topic on which I claim to have shown strong reasons for
rejecting what Grote, Curtius, and even the recent sceptical historians
have accepted. They have all agreed in giving up such dates as 1184
B.C. for the siege of Troy, or 1104 B.C. for the Return of the
Heracleids[58:1]; and yet they accept 776 for the first Olympiad, and
736 for the first colony (Naxos) in Sicily, on nearly the same kind of
evidence. And they do this in spite of the most express evidence that
the list of Olympiads was edited or compiled _late_ (after 400 B.C.),
_and starting from no convincing evidence_, by Hippias of Elis. This
passage from Plutarch's _Life of Numa_, which I cited and expounded in
an article upon the Olympiads in the _Journal of Hellenic Studies_ which
I have reprinted in the Appendix to this book, is so capital that it
shows either ignorance or prejudice to overlook its importance. 'To be
accurate,' says Plutarch, 'as to the chronology [of Numa], is difficult,
and especially what is inferred from the Olympic victors, whose register
they say that Hippias the Eleian published late, starting from nothing
really trustworthy[59:1].' Nor is it possible to hold that this was some
sudden and undue scepticism in the usually believing Plutarch; for I
showed at length that the antiquarian Pausanias, whose interest in very
old things was of the strongest, could find at Olympia no dated monument
older than the thirty-third Olympiad. If he had seen an old register
upon stone, he would most certainly have mentioned it, nor can I find in
any extant author any direct evidence that such a thing existed. I
predicted confidently, when the recent excavations began, that no such
list, or fragment of a list, would be found, and negatively at least, my
prediction was verified[59:2].

[Sidenote: The date of Pheidon of Argos]

[Sidenote: revised by E. Curtius]

§ 30. It is curious, moreover, that on one point this traditional
chronology had been rejected, and an important date in early Greek
history revised, by Ernst Curtius; and yet he holds to the tradition in
every other case. The date of Pheidon of Argos, the famous tyrant who
first coined money in Greece, and who celebrated an Olympic contest in
spite of Sparta and Elis, was placed by most of the old chronologers in
747 B.C., the eighth Olympiad, I believe, because Pheidon counted as the
tenth from Temenus, the first Heracleid king of Argos. All the rational
inferences, however, to be made from his life and work pointed to a much
later date[60:1]; so that by a simple emendation the twenty-eighth
Olympiad--also an irregular festival, according to Hippias' list--was
substituted; and thus Curtius has made a most instructive and
interesting combination, by which this tyrant and his relation to Sparta
become part of the rational development of Peloponnesian history.

[Sidenote: Since abandoned.]

[Sidenote: The authority of Ephorus]

There seems to be an agreement in the more recent historians[60:2] to
abandon even this gain, and go back to the old date,--probably because
such a step would imperil many other old dates, and cast the historians
into the turmoil of revising their traditional views. For when you once
root up one of these early dates, many others are bound to follow. The
uncertainty and hesitation of the critics seem now to arise from doubts
about the authority of Ephorus, from whom most of our knowledge is
ultimately derived[61:1]. As I have elsewhere said, I regard this
_Quellenkritik_ as little more than a convenient way of airing acuteness
and learning, and therefore highly useful for theses or exercises of
philological candidates for honours. But as regards what we can really
trace to Ephorus, concerning the date of Pheidon, the reforms of
Lycurgus, and other such questions, two separate inquiries must be
satisfied before we accept his word: first, what documents or other
evidence were accessible to Ephorus; secondly, with what honesty and
judgment did he use them? There are scholars who believe him implicitly,
and even believe implicitly statements which they have fathered upon him
by very doubtful inference. There are others who treat him with
contempt. There is even a third class which accepts him sometimes, and
rejects him at others, because he will not fit in with their
preconceived opinions.

[Sidenote: not first-rate.]

The question now before us is this: If Ephorus did put Pheidon in the
eighth Olympiad, or about 747 B.C., upon what authority did he do so?
Had he any evidence to go upon different from that which we can still
name and criticise? I will here add my opinion to the many which the
reader of German can consult for himself. Ephorus was a pupil of
Isocrates, brought up to consider style and effect the main objects of
the historian. To this he added the usual prejudices of the Greek for
his native city, Kyme, which he glorifies upon every occasion. Thus it
is to Ephorus that we owe the absurd date of the founding of the Italian
Cumæ (1050 B.C.) as an evidence of the early greatness of the Æolic
city. It has been shown by A. Bauer and by Busolt that, in telling the
story of the Persian Wars, Ephorus (as appears in the second-hand
Diodorus) not only rearranged facts in such order as seemed to him
effective, but often invented details. Whenever he adds to the narrative
of Herodotus, this seems to be the case. The night attack of the Greeks
on the Persians at Thermopylæ (Diod. xi. 9) is a signal instance of
this, not to speak of the rhetorical display, which is so widely
different from the admirable and simple narrative of Herodotus. All such
early history, therefore, as depends upon Ephorus, is to me highly

[Sidenote: Archias, the founder of Syracuse,]

There is another 'tenth Temenid,' specially connected in the legends
with Pheidon as a contemporary and opponent, Archias of Corinth, who is
said to have led the first colony to Sicily. I have no doubt that the
same chronography which placed Pheidon in the eighth Olympiad (747 B.C.)
placed Archias there, and, allowing for a few years of domestic
struggles, sent him to Sicily in 735 B.C.[62:1] To my mind this legend
is quite unhistorical, nay, it may possibly have falsified real history;
for though it may have suited the national vanity of Antiochus of
Syracuse and other old historians to magnify their own city by putting
it first, or practically first, in the list, the whole situation points
to a different course of events.

[Sidenote: associated with legends of Corcyra and Croton.]

[Sidenote: Thucydides counts downward from this imaginary date.]

Archias, when on his way, is said to have left a party to settle at
Corcyra; he is also said to have helped the founder of Croton. It is
surely improbable that Greek adventurers in search of good land and
convenient harbours should fix on Sicily, passing by the sites of
Tarentum, Sybaris, Croton, and Locri. That these sites were fully
appreciated is shown by the flourishing cities which the legend asserts
to have been founded in the generation succeeding the origin of
Syracuse. Will any unprejudiced man believe all this most improbable
history? The one fact which the old chronologers of Syracuse could not
get over was this: from time immemorial Greek ships arriving in Sicily
offered sacrifices at the temple of Apollo Archegetes at Naxos. Hence
Naxos must have been the first settlement. In the following year, says
Thucydides, Syracuse was founded; and then all the dates which he copies
from his authority--most likely Antiochus--are, as usual, downward from
the date of Syracuse, and almost all in numbers divisible by five.

I will pause a moment, and give the reader a summary of the conclusions
to which critical scholars in general have given their assent. It is
conceded that Thucydides must have used Antiochus of Syracuse as his
principal source in narrating the archæology of Sicily. This opinion,
first stated by Niebuhr, has been argued out fully by Wölfflin, and
accepted with some reluctance by Holm, Classen (the best editor of
Thucydides), and Busolt[64:1].

[Sidenote: Antiochus of Syracuse]

[Sidenote: not trustworthy;]

[Sidenote: his dates illusory,]

Even the language of Thucydides in these chapters shows phrases which we
recognize in the fragments of Antiochus cited by Strabo. The prominence
of Syracuse, the city of Antiochus, and the mention of the constitutions
of the new cities, are also features pointing to the work of Antiochus.
In his special article Busolt has shown with great acuteness that all
the later authorities, cited by some in support of Thucydides' data,
really rest upon him or upon Antiochus[64:2]. What was the character of
this author? He was an early contemporary of Herodotus, and is never
cited by the ancients as a specimen of critical acumen, but rather as
possessing special knowledge on an outlying part of the Greek world. We
have, moreover, his opening words quoted by Dionysius of
Halicarnassus[65:1], which are most important in the present connection:
[Greek: Antiochos Xenophaneos tade synegrapse peri Italiês ek tôn
archaiôn logôn ta pistotata kai saphestata]. In other words he used oral
tradition for his facts, and this he also did in his account of early
Sicily[65:2]. He was, at best, one of the most serious, if you please,
of the _logopoioi_, or chroniclers, who are always being contrasted with
critical historians such as Thucydides. Such being the state of the
facts, we are compelled to accept as our only authority for the early
traditions concerning Sicily this solitary chronicler, who seems to have
had no difficulty in fixing dates centuries before the first immigration
of the Greeks. In a loose thinker of this kind, patriotism may be fairly
assigned as a strong moving cause in determining his facts and dates.
Indeed, when Archias is said by this Antiochus to have aided at the
founding of Croton, Grote and Holm are quite ready to set it down to his
desire to magnify Syracuse. When Ephorus of Kyme sets down the Italian
colony of his city (Cumæ) at 1050 B.C., all critical historians reject
this date upon the same ground. If this criticism be indeed valid, are
we only to use it when we choose, or to apply it generally? Busolt shows
(in his article) that the actual year of the founding of Syracuse (and
hence of the other Sicilian colonies) cannot be regarded as certain.
Surely he and his brother critics stop short illogically, and refrain
from pushing their doubts as far as they are bound to do. To me not only
the exact year, but the exact generation--it is by generations and round
numbers that Antiochus counted--is quite uncertain; and we are thrown
back on arguments from general probability such as those which I have

[Sidenote: though supported by Thucydides,]

[Sidenote: who is not omniscient.]

§ 31. It is the authority of Thucydides which has imposed upon the
learned an artificial chronology. The scholar is often wanting in
acuteness. There are, I suppose, plenty of philologers who believe
Thucydides far more implicitly than their Bible, and because he appears
careful and trustworthy in contemporary affairs, actually assume that he
must be equally credible in matters wholly beyond his ken. I suppose
they imagine, though they do not state it, that the historian consulted
State archives in Sicily, and set down his conclusions from a careful
analysis of their evidence. We have no trace or mention of any such
systematic archives; and if the historian indeed confined himself to
these, what shall we say to his assertion that the Sikels passed from
Italy to Sicily just three hundred years before the advent of the
Greeks? How could he know this? But the solemn manner of the man and his
habitual reticence concerning his authorities have wonderfully imposed
upon the credulity of the learned.

[Sidenote: Credulity in every sceptic.]

Nobody rates Thucydides higher than I do, wherever he is really
competent to give an unbiassed opinion. His accuracy is not, to my mind,
impeached by the fact that he is found to have made a slovenly copy of a
public document lately recovered on the Acropolis[67:1]. The variations,
though many, are trifling, and do not affect the substance of the
document. Yet this may do more to discredit him with the pedants than
what seems to me dangerous credulity in larger questions. He is hardly
to be blamed; no man escapes entirely from the prejudices of his age.
The most sceptical in some points, as I have already noticed[67:2], let
their credulity transpire in others. Sir George Cornewall Lewis, whose
whole life was spent in framing sceptical arguments against early
history, is found to accept the unity of authorship and unity of design
of the Homeric poems. Grote, so careful and precise in accepting
documents, subscribes to the genuineness of the Platonic _Letters_,
which no other competent scholar admits; and so I suppose that in every
sceptic, however advanced, some nook of belief will be found, often far
less rational than the faith he has rejected.

[Sidenote: Its probable occurrence in ancient critics.]

[Sidenote: Value of Hippias' work.]

[Sidenote: Even Eratosthenes counts _downward_.]

[Sidenote: Clinton's warning.]

This truth, which applies to modern scholars so signally, applies no
less to the ancient critics of the Greek legends. When we find that
Thucydides accepts a piece of ancient history like this account of the
Greek settlement of Sicily, we must first of all be sure that he is not
the victim of a fit of acquiescence in an older chronicler. When we hear
that Aristotle and Polybius, two great and sceptical men, accepted the
Olympiads, we must first know exactly what they said about the earlier
dates[68:1], and then we must be assured that they did not simply
acquiesce in the work of Hippias. For this Hippias was clearly a man
writing with a deliberate policy. He must produce a complete catalogue;
he must make his documents conform to it. And so there is evidence in
Pausanias that he not only succeeded in his purpose, but that he
modified or re-wrote certain inscriptions which we may suppose did not
suit his purpose. I refuse to put faith in such an authority, and I
refuse to accept as the first real date in Greek history an epoch fixed
by all the Greek chronologers in a downward calculation from the Trojan
war,--as may be seen even in the scientific and accurate Eratosthenes.
His fragments, written at a time when there really existed Greek
science, in a day rich with all the learning of previous centuries,
still manifest the old faith in the Trojan war, the Return of the
Heracleids, the colonization of Ionia, and the guardianship of Lycurgus,
as events to be fixed both absolutely and in relation to one another,
and to serve as a basis for all the succeeding centuries down to the day
of real and contemporary records. 'In these early dates and eras,' says
Fynes Clinton in a remarkable passage[69:1], 'by a singular error in
reasoning, the authority of Eratosthenes is made to be binding upon his
predecessors; while those who come after him are taken for original and
independent witnesses in matters which they really derived from his
chronology. The numbers given by Isocrates for the Return of the
Heracleidæ[69:2] are repeated three times, and are more trustworthy; and
yet the critics try to correct them by the authority of Eratosthenes.'

§ 32. What, then, is the outcome of all this discussion?

[Sidenote: Summary of the discussion.]

The first three stages of Greek history are, so to speak, isolated, and
separated by two blank periods, one of which has to this day remained a
great gulf, over which no bridge has yet been constructed. Over the
second, which immediately precedes proper history, the Greeks made a
very elaborate bridge, which they adorned with sundry figures recovered
from vague tradition and arranged according to their fancy. But it is
only after this reconstructed epoch of transition that we can be sure of
our facts.

[Sidenote: The stage of pre-Homeric remains.]

[Sidenote: Prototype of the Greek temple.]

The first stage is that represented by the pre-historic remains, which,
though they are plainly very various in development, and therefore
probably in age, are yet by most of us classed together as 'without
father, mother, or descent,' discovering to us the earliest civilization
in Greek lands. But to assert this foundling character is perhaps too
sceptical a position. For there can hardly be any likelihood that the
Eastern parentage of this early luxury, suggested by the legends, will
hereafter be disproved. And now even the most extreme advocates of Greek
originality must allow this early intercourse with, and influence of,
the older civilizations. As to their effects upon historic Greek art,
there seemed to be a gap between the bee-hive tomb or fortress-wall and
the pillared temple, which was a 'great gulf fixed,' till Dr. Schliemann
found the doorways of the palace of Tiryns. They are all planned like a
temple _in antis_,--the earliest form, from which the _peripteral_
easily follows. And early vases are adorned with rude figures which may
be copies of old models such as those found at Mycenæ. But the
intermediate steps are still hopelessly obscure.

[Sidenote: Degrees in this stage.]

The earliest and rudest of these remains are not in Greece, but at the
island of Santorin, under the lava, and in the fort of Ilion (Troy)
excavated by Dr. Schliemann[71:1]. The more developed, both in
architectural skill and in ornamental designs, are in Argolis (Mycenæ,
Tiryns) and in Attica (Spata, Menidi). As I have already mentioned, this
civilization does not appear to be the same as that of the epic poems,
and the verdict of the learned declares that it dates from a long
anterior epoch. What occurred in Greece between the epoch of this
curious pre-Hellenic and, partially at least, imported culture, and the
age of Homer, none of us can as yet do more than guess[71:2]. But the
fact that the popular poetry chose for the scenes of its adventures the
very sites of this pre-historic culture, seems to show that the
importance of Troy, Mycenæ, and Tiryns either lasted down to the 'epic'
time, or was so recent as to hold the popular imagination.

[Sidenote: Probably not so old as is often supposed.]

[Sidenote: Mr. Petrie's evidence.]

On the whole, therefore, I am disposed to consider these pre-historic
splendours as not so extravagantly old,--surviving, perhaps, till 1000
B.C.; though of course the Trojan remains may be far older than the
Mycenæan. Duncker, in his very careful discussion[72:1], thinks the end
of this period came about 1100 B.C. I look upon this, in an author who
is always liberal with his figures, as a substantial agreement with me,
but I can now add a remarkable corroboration. Mr. Flinders Petrie,
coming fresh from a prolonged and scientific study of Egyptian
art-remains, has examined with care the pre-historic collections in
Greece, and has established[72:2] (1) a very early and widespread
communication between the peoples of the Ægean and Egypt; (2) a close
similarity, both in materials and workmanship, between the Mycenæan
ornaments and the Egyptian of about 1200-1000 B.C. The Egyptian pottery,
&c., from dynasties earlier or later than this epoch show marked
contrasts, and are easily to be distinguished. At the same time, I
protest against making the _rudeness_ of pottery in itself, without any
corroboration, a proof of great antiquity. For there is such a thing as
neo-barbarism, especially in pottery; and moreover, simple people will
go on for a thousand years making their plain household utensils in the
same form and with the same decoration.

[Sidenote: The epic stage.]

[Sidenote: The earliest historical stage.]

§ 33. As regards the second stage, or 'epic age,' I have already, in my
_Greek Literature_, shown ample reasons for not dating it very early;
and further researches since made rather confirm this view. The
personages described seem to belong to the ninth century before Christ;
but it was gone before the poets brought together their work into the
famous epics which were the opening of Greek literature. The _Iliad_ and
the _Odyssey_ therefore seem to me to describe the second, then already
bygone, stage of Greek history, which was certainly separated by a gap
from the third. This last begins with the contemporary allusions of the
earliest lyric poets, Archilochus, Callinus, Tyrtæus,--none of whom were
earlier than 700 B.C., and who more probably lived from 660 B.C.

According to the theory of the Greeks, which is not yet extinct, three
centuries separated this real history from the epic period, when the
Trojan heroes and their singers lived; and even among recent critics
there are some who wish to place the composition of the _Iliad_ as far
back as 900 B.C.

[Sidenote: The gap between Homer and Archilochus.]

[Sidenote: Old lists suspicious, and often fabricated.]

[Sidenote: No chronology of the eighth century B.C. to be trusted.]

I do not believe in so huge a gap in Greek literature. It seems to me
impossible that the stream of original epic should have dried up long
before Archilochus arose towards the middle of the seventh century B.C.
And here it is that the moderns have been deceived by the elaborate
construction of four centuries of history made by the Greeks to fill the
void between the events of the _Iliad_ and the events of the earliest
history. In the seventh century we have contemporary allusions to Gyges,
king of Lydia, known to us from Assyrian inscriptions; we have yearly
archons at Athens, and a series of priestesses at Argos; presently we
have historical colonies and many other real evidences on which to rely.
But before 700 B.C. it is not so. Some stray facts remained, as when
Tyrtæus tells us that he fought in the second Messenian war, and that
the first had been waged by the grandfathers of his
fellow-soldiers[74:1]. The double kingship of Sparta was there, though I
am at a loss to know how we can trust a list of names coming down from a
time when writing was not known[74:2]. Nay, we have even distinct
examples of fabricated lists. Hellanicus wrote concerning the list of
the priestesses at Argos,--in after days a recognized standard for
fixing events. But this list reached back far beyond the Trojan war, as
it started with Io, paramour of Zeus. The name of the priestess marking
the date of the war was solemnly set down. The lists of the Spartan
kings came straight down from Heracles. Again, at Halicarnassus has been
found a list on stone of twenty-seven priests, starting from Telamon,
son of Poseidon, and bringing back the founding of the city to 1174
B.C.[75:1] The tail of this list also was historical; the beginning must
have been deliberately manufactured! From such data the early history of
Greece was constructed[75:2]. Lycurgus is a half-mythical figure, and
probably represents the wisdom of several lawgivers. But however
individual cases may be judged, in chronology all the early dates are to
be mistrusted, and to reconstruct the Greece of the eighth century B.C.
requires as much combination and as much imagination as to construct a
real account of the Homeric age. I am convinced that two capital
features in the usual Greek histories of the eighth century, the reign
of Pheidon and the colonization of Sicily, belong, not to that century,
but to the next.

[Sidenote: Cases of real antiquity.]

Let not the reader imagine that he finds in me one of those who delight
in reducing the antiquity of history, and who advocate the more recent
date in every controversy. There are nations whose culture seems to be
undervalued in duration; to me, for example, those arguments are most
convincing[76:1] which place the great Sphinx at the Pyramids in an
epoch before any written records, even in Egypt, so that it remains a
monument of sculptured art many thousand years before the Christian era.
But the Greeks were mere children in ancient history, and they knew


[54:1] Printed in C. Müller's _Geographi Graeci_.

[55:1] We shall soon come to a similar instance in Xenophon's

[55:2] The Greek name is [Greek: logopoioi], seldom [Greek:
logographoi], which usually means a speech-writer. Cf. below, § 31, a
passage from Clinton which also applies here.

[57:1] The solitary exception is Sir G. Cox, whose _History of Greece_
has found little favour, in spite of its originality. He will not set
down any date earlier than 660 B.C. as worthy of acceptance; and I think
he is right. But he also rides the solar theory of the myths to death,
and so repels his reader at the very outset of his work.

[58:1] The arguments of Busolt (G. G. i. 86) which I had intended to
discuss, will be antiquated by the appearance of his 2nd edition, which
is now in the press, and which discusses the prehistoric conditions by
the light of evidence which has accrued since the first publication of
his important work. But for the printers' strike (November, 1891) I
should probably have been able to quote his revised and amended views.
Holm's appears to me a reasonable view. After stating that Apollodorus
(ii. 7), Diodorus (4, 33), Plato (_Legg._ iii. 6, 7), and Isocrates
(_Archidam._ 119) are all at variance, he adds (i. 181): 'One of these
is just as historical as the other; the current traditions are not
better than the accounts of Plato and of Isocrates; they are all mere
tales (_Sagen_) which can neither be proved or refuted.' Here we have
the attitude of Grote, pure and simple, but applied to a
quasi-historical period.

[59:1] Will it be believed that E. Curtius paraphrases this remark
([Greek: ap' oudenos hormômenon anankaiou pros pistin]) by 'zuerst
wissenschaftlich bearbeitet von Hippias'?

[59:2] It is an axiom, to which I shall revert, that all sceptics have
their credulous side; and so we find that Mr. Evelyn Abbott, a learned
and able man, who will not accept anything as real fact from the Homeric
poems, takes with childish faith the list in Eusebius, and tells us that
there we can read the names of the actual victors from 776 B.C. to 221
A.D.! (_History of Greece_, i. 246.) And he adds, with charming
_naïveté_, that the alleged fact of one thousand years' record of
foot-races 'would be incredible if it were not true. But it is true,'
etc. That a critical historian should tell us these things dogmatically,
without touching upon any of the difficulties involved, can only be
accounted for by the theory that he was following some authority he
respected, such as Duncker, without thinking the matter out for himself.

[60:1] I notice that older scholars, such as Newton, in his
_Chronology_, and Mitford, show quite a wholesome scepticism concerning
Pheidon's date, which they are disposed to bring down even lower than
Curtius proposes.

[60:2] _E. g._ Duncker, Abbott, Duruy, Busolt (i. 140) with the recent
literature cited, Holm (i. 256).

[61:1] The reader may consult a long list of tracts on the credibility
of Ephorus, and the accuracy with which our extant Greek authors cited
him, with the general conclusions to be inferred, in Busolt (i. 97 and
elsewhere) or Holm (i. 11-15).

[62:1] Though the Return of the Heracleids was placed by Eratosthenes in
1104 B.C., older authorities, just as competent, placed it later. Thus
Isocrates, in three of his orations, delivered 366-342 B.C., repeats
that the Dorians had now been four hundred years in Peloponnesus.
Applying this round number, we obtain 1066-1042 for the Return of the
Heracleids. The tenth generation, according to Greek counting, down from
this date for Temenus, would give us 760-730 B.C. This may be the very
computation by which the dates of Archias and Pheidon were fixed.
Duncker (i. 139) thinks the Dorians cannot have come before 1000 B.C. If
he reasoned like a Greek, and held Pheidon to be the tenth Temenid, he
would straightway put him below 700 B.C.

[64:1] The last has given a summary of the arguments in his _History_,
pp. 224, 241, and in the _Rhein. Museum_ for 1885, pp. 461 _seq._

[64:2] That Hippys of Rhegium lived during the Persian Wars, and wrote
[Greek: Sikelika], is stated by Suidas only and without any evidence.

[65:1] _Arch._ i. 12.

[65:2] Diod. xii. 71. I now repeat these facts, which I had urged long
ago, from the recent summary of Busolt (_op. cit._ p. 224).

[67:1] It is the treaty which he professes to give verbatim in v. 47,
with which the reader may compare the actual, though somewhat mutilated
text in C. I. A. i. Suppl. 46{b}.

[67:2] Cf. above, § 29.

[68:1] The excerpt alluding to Polybius (printed in his text as vi. 2,
2) merely asserts that in the book of Aristodemus of Elis it was stated
that no victors were recorded till the twenty-eighth Olympiad, when
Corœbus the Elean won and was recorded as the first victor; from which
time the Olympiads were then reckoned. Aristotle is reported to have
called Lycurgus the founder (fr. 490). Aristodemus was later than
Hippias (cf. above, p. 58); and still _it is to his book, and not to old
registers_, that the Greek writers refer. The recurrence of the 28th as
an improper Olympiad shows that this number had some important place in
the whole discussion. I think it likely that Corœbus really belonged to
the twenty-eighth after 776, and not to that year. The oldest actual
record of a victor which Pausanias could find was from Ol. 33, and this
he describes as of extraordinary antiquity. Other details are given in
the Appendix.

[69:1] _Fasti Hell._, vol. ii. p. vii.

[69:2] Cf. above, § 30, note.

[71:1] I incline, with Mr. Bent, to place the remains of Santorin before
those of Hissarlik, even though they may be in some respects superior in
development. As is obvious, the culture of one place need not keep pace
with that of another. But the total disappearance from the legends of
any mention of the eruption which must have disturbed the whole Ægean
Sea, compared with the living memories of Troy, is to me a proof that
the latter and its destruction must be far more recent than the former.
Mr. E. Abbott, who refers to Bent's _Cyclades_, is disposed to the other
view (_History of Greece_, i. 43); and so are Duruy (vol. i. chap. ii. §
1) and Holm.

[71:2] Many writers put the Dorian immigration and the resulting changes
of population, and emigration to Asia Minor, in the gap.

[72:1] i. 131. Busolt, as he informs me, now agrees with this view.

[72:2] In two remarkable articles (_Hellenic Journal_ for 1890 and

[73:1] The date of Archilochus, the earliest of the historical figures
among Greek poets, used to be fixed about 709 B.C. The researches of
Gelzer, _Das Zeitalter des Gyges_, make it certain that this date is
wrong, and must be reduced to at least 670 B.C.; for Archilochus names
Gyges in an extant fragment, and Gyges appears on a cuneiform
inscription as the vassal of an Assyrian king whose time is
determinable. Moreover, an eclipse which Archilochus mentions seems to
be that in April, 647 B.C., which was total at Thasos, where the poet
spent his later years. Even the conservative Duncker (vol. ii. p. 175,
English ed.) adopts these arguments. Nevertheless, some recent histories
still acquiesce in the exploded date!

[74:1] The connected history was, however, not set down then, but by a
late epic poet, Rhianus, and a late prose historian, Myron, both of whom
Pausanias, who gives us what we now know of these wars, criticises
severely, saying that the prose author is the worse of these bad or
incomplete authorities (Pausanias, iv. 6), since he conflicts with
Tyrtæus. How modern historians in the face of this passage can set down
fixed dates for these wars, beginning with 785 B.C., passes my

[74:2] It is perhaps the most extraordinary fact in the results of the
excavations pointed out to me by Mr. Sayce, that in none of the early
Greek tombs or treasures discovered have we a single specimen of early
writing, though both Egyptians and Phœnicians, who supplied so much to
them, must have been long familiar with that art. The author of the
Sixth Book of the Iliad refers once to writing as a strange or
mysterious thing, and yet on a folded tablet, which could not have been
used at the origin of writing, or indeed till far later times.

[75:1] C. I. G. 2655.

[75:2] These inventions were produced at a comparatively late period,
and therefore do not conflict with what I said of the rarity of
invention in a primitive age which had no theories to support.

[76:1] I allude to the views of M. G. Maspero, in his admirable
_Archéologie égyptienne_.

[76:2] We have now positive evidence that the Athenians registered their
public acts on stone as early as 570-560 B.C. On the Acropolis has been
found (in 1884) the broken slab which contained the decree as to the
legal status of the first cleruchs sent to Salamis upon its conquest by
Athens. (See the article of Koehler in the _Mittheilungen_ of the German
Institute at Athens, vol. ix. p. 117 sq., and the _Bull. de Corresp.
hell._ xii. 1 _sq._ where Foucart comments upon the inscription.) Three
conditions are implied: (1) the _cleruch_ is assimilated to Athenian
citizens, as to taxes and military service, though he is bound to reside
on Salamis and not leave his land. This was no doubt a novelty, and
distinguishes the Athenian cleruch from the older colonist who had gone
to Pontus or Magna Græcia. (2) If he did not reside, or while he did
not, he must pay a special absentee's tax to the State. (This is
understood differently by Koehler and by Busolt, G. G. i. 548.) The
original number of cleruchs was apparently 500 (Foucart _op. cit._
ibid.). (3) If he defaulted in his payment there was a fine of thirty
drachmæ--a very small penalty, even regarding the modest means of the
early Greek states.



[Sidenote: Brilliant age of the great lyric poets.]

[Sidenote: The Sparta of Alcman's time.]

§ 34. At last we emerge into the open light of day, and find ourselves
in the seventh century (more strictly 650-550 B.C.), in that brilliant,
turbulent, enterprising society which produced the splendid lyric poetry
of Alcæus and Sappho, of Alcman and Terpander, and carried Greek
commerce over most of the Mediterranean[77:1]. We have still but scanty
facts to guide us; yet they are enough to show us the general condition
of the country,--aristocratical governments which had displaced
monarchies, and beside them the ancient twin-monarchy of Sparta,
gradually passing into the oligarchy of the ephors. There is evidence in
the character of Alcman's poetry that he did not sing to a Sparta at all
resembling the so-called Sparta of Lycurgus. The remains of early art
found there point in the same direction, as do also the strange funeral
customs described by Herodotus on the death of the kings[78:1]. It
would seem that there was luxury, that there was artistic taste, that
there was considerable license in this older society. The staid sobriety
and simplicity of what is known as Spartan life seems therefore rather a
later growth, than the original condition of this Doric aristocracy. And
so this type is far more explicable, in its exceptional severity, and
its contrast to all other Dorian states, if we take it to be the gradual
growth of exceptional circumstances, than if we regard it as a primitive
type, which would naturally appear in other branches of the race.

[Sidenote: Its exceptional constitution.]

At all events the Greeks had before them the example of an ancient, a
respectable and a brilliant monarchy. It is nevertheless most remarkable
that in all the changes of constitution attempted through the various
States, amid the universal respect in which the Spartans were held, no
attempt was ever made in practical[78:2] Greek history to copy their
institutions. The distinct resemblances to Spartan institutions in some
of the Cretan communities were probably not imitations, nor can we say
that they were Dorian ideas, for the many Dorian States we know well,
such as Argos, Corinth, Syracuse, did not possess them.

[Sidenote: E. Curtis on the age of the despots.]

The Spartan State may therefore be regarded as standing outside the
development of Greece, even in the political sense[78:3]. In one respect
only was its policy an aggressive one,--in interfering on the side of
the aristocracies against the despots who took up the cause of the
common people against their noble oppressors. It is one of those
brilliant general views which make Curtius' history so attractive, that
he interprets this great conflict as partly one of race, so far as Ionic
and Doric can severally be called such. The Doric aristocracies of the
Peloponnesus were opposed by their Ionic subjects, or by Ionic States
rising in importance with the growing commerce and wealth of the Asiatic
cities. The tyrants generally carried out an anti-Dorian policy, even
though they were often Dorian nobles themselves. There was no more
successful aspirant to a tyranny than a renegade nobleman who adopted
the cause of the people.

[Sidenote: Grote's view.]

§ 35. I have already alluded to the chapter in Grote's
history[79:1]--indeed there is such a chapter in most
histories--entitled the 'Age of the Despots.' The mistake which such a
title is likely to engender must be carefully noticed. If we mean the
age when this kind of monarch first arose, no objection need be urged;
but if it be implied that such an age ceased at any definite moment,
nothing can be further from the truth. For this form of government was a
permanent feature in the Greek world. When the tyrants were expelled
from Athens and from the Peloponnesus, they still flourished in Sicily,
Italy, the Black Sea coasts, and Cyprus, till they reappeared again in
Greece[80:1]. There was no moment in old Greek history when there were
not scores of such despots. The closing period, after the death of
Alexander, shows us most of the Greek States under their control. It was
the great boast of Aratus that he freed his neighbours from them, and
brought their cities under the more constitutional Achæan League. But at
this period a despot, if he ruled over a large dominion, called himself
a king; and we may therefore add to the list most of the so-called
kings, who close the history of independent Greece, as they commenced it
in the legends.

[Sidenote: Greek hatred of the despot,]

[Sidenote: how far universal in early days.]

The despot, or tyrant[80:2] as he is called, has a very bad reputation
in Greek history. The Greeks of every age have not only loved individual
liberty, but are a singularly jealous people, who cannot endure that one
of themselves shall lord it over the rest. Even in the present day
Greeks have often told me that they would not for a moment endure a
Greek as king, because they all feel equal, and could not tolerate that
any one among them should receive such honour and profit. This is why
the ancient tyrant, however wisely and moderately he ruled, was always
regarded with hatred by the aristocrats he had deposed; so that to them
the killing of him was an act of virtue approved by all their society. I
very much doubt whether in early days the common people generally had
any such feeling, as the tyrant usually saved them from much severer
oppression. Of course any individual might avenge a particular wrong or
insult, and in later days, when a despot overthrew a democratic
constitution, the lower classes might share in the old aristocratic
hatred of the usurper.

[Sidenote: Literary portraits of the Greek despot.]

[Sidenote: How far exaggerated.]

§ 36. But Greek literature was in the hands of the aristocrats; and so
we have a long catalogue of accusations from Alcæus, Herodotus,
Xenophon, Plato, Polybius, Plutarch,--in fact all through Greek
literature; according to which the tyrant is a ruffian who usurps power
in order that he may gratify his lusts at the expense of all justice and
mercy. Feeling himself the enemy of mankind, he is perpetually in a
panic of suspicion, and surrounds himself with mercenaries who carry out
his behests. He plunders, confiscates, and violates the sanctity of the
family and the virtue of the young.

This terrible indictment, of which the climax was Lycophron's
_Casandreans_, has been indorsed by the great democratic historian of
our century[81:1], to whom the completeness of political liberty is the
great goal of all civilization, and who therefore looks with horror upon
those who retard its growth.

But it seems to me that the problem has not been fairly handled, and
that there is a great deal to be said for these tyrants, in the face of
all this literary evidence[82:1]. Of course their irresponsible powers
were often abused. Coming without the shackles of tradition or the
scruples of legitimacy to a usurped throne, the same Greek who was so
jealous of his neighbour was sure to feel insolent elation at his own
success, and deep suspicion of his unsuccessful rivals. And if a case
can be found of a tyrant overthrowing a fairly working constitution, I
surrender it to the verdict of the jury of historians from Herodotus to

[Sidenote: _Reductio ad absurdum_ of the popular view.]

But if the _tyrannis_ was so unmixed an evil, how comes it to have been
a constant and permanent phenomenon in Greek politics? Man may indeed,
as Polybius says, be the most gullible of all animals, though professing
to be the most sagacious, and may ever be ready to fall into the same
snares that he has seen successful in entrapping others[82:2]. But
surely it exceeds all the bounds of human, not to say Greek, stupidity
that men should perpetually set a villain over them to plunder, violate,
and exile men and women.

[Sidenote: The real uses to politics of temporary despots.]

The fact is that the tyrant was at one time a necessity, and even a
valuable _moment_, in the march of Greek culture. The aristocratic
governments had only substituted a many-headed sovranty over the poor
for the rule of a single king, who might be touched by compassion or
reached by persuasion. But who could argue with the clubs of young
patricians, who thought the poor no better than their slaves, and swore
the solemn oath which Aristotle has preserved: 'I will be at enmity with
the Demos, and will do it all the harm I can.' To these gentlemen the
political differences with the people had gone quite beyond argument;
whatever they urged was true, whatever was against them false: each side
regarded its opponents as morally infamous. Whenever politics reach this
condition, it is time to abandon discussion and appeal to an umpire who
can enforce his decision with arms.

[Sidenote: Questionable statement of Thucydides.]

When the commons had gained wealth and acquired some cohesion, there
were consequently violent revolutions and counter-revolutions, massacres
and confiscations, so that 'peace at any price' was often the cry of the
State. Thucydides has drawn a famous picture of the political factions
of his day, in which he declares their violence, fraud, and disregard of
every obligation but that of party interests to be novel features of his
times. That clever rhetorician knew well enough that these frauds and
violences were no new thing in Greek politics. The poems of Alcæus,
still more those of Theognis, and many more that were known to him, must
have taught him that this war of factions was as old as real Greek
history, and that the earliest solution of this terrible problem was the
tyrant, who made peace by coercing both sides to his will and punishing
with death or exile those that were refractory.

[Sidenote: The tyrant welds together the opposing parties.]

§ 37. In the shocking condition of cities like Athens before
Peisistratus, or the Megara of Theognis, we may even go so far as to say
that, without an interval during which both parties were taught simply
to obey, no reasonable political life was possible. The haughty noble
must be taught that he too had a master; he must be taught to treat his
plebeian brother as another man, and not merely as a beast of burden.
The poor must learn that they could be protected from every rich man's
oppression, that they could follow their business in peace, and that
they could appeal to a sovran who ruled by their sympathy and would
listen to their voice.

[Sidenote: Cases of an umpire voluntarily appointed.]

There were even a few cases where the opposing parties voluntarily
elected a single man, such as Pittacus or Solon, as umpire, and where
their trust was nobly requited. But even in less exceptional cases, such
as that of Peisistratus of Athens, I make bold to say that the
constitution of Cleisthenes would not have succeeded, had not the people
received the training in peace and obedience given them by the
Peisistratid family. The despots may have murdered or exiled the leading
men; they at all events welded the people into some unity, some
homogeneity, if it were merely in the common burdens they inflicted, and
the common antipathies they excited. And this is the most adverse view
that can be urged. The picture we have of Peisistratus, especially in
the _Polity of the Athenians_ of recent fame, is that of a just and
kindly man, wielding his power of coercion for the general happiness of
his subjects.

[Sidenote: Services of the tyrants to art.]

[Sidenote: Examples.]

This then was the _political_ value of the early tyrants, and a feature
in them which is generally overlooked. Their services to the _artistic_
progress of Greece in art and literature are more manifest, and
therefore less ignored. The day of great architectural works, such as
the castles and tombs of Argolis, the draining of Lake Copais, had
passed away with the absolute rulers of pre-historic times. Even
Agamemnon and his fellows, who probably represent a later stage in Greek
society, would not have dared to set their subjects to such task-work.
So long as there were many masters in each city and State, all such
achievements were impossible. With the tyrants began again the building
of large temples, the organizing of fleets, the sending out of colonies,
the patronage of clever handicrafts, the promoting of all the arts. It
was the care of Peisistratus for the study of Homer, and no doubt for
other old literature, which prepared the Athenian people to understand
Æschylus. Nay, this tyrant is said to have specially favoured the
nascent drama, and so to have led the way to the splendid results that
come upon us, with apparent suddenness, in liberated Athens. The
Orthagorids, the Cypselids, and single tyrants such as Polycrates of
Samos and Pheidon of Argos, did similar services for Greek art: they
organized fleets and promoted commerce; they had personal intercourse of
a more definite and intimate kind with one another than States as such
can possibly have; they increased the knowledge and wealth of the lower
classes, as well as their relative position in the State; and so out of
apparent evil came real good[86:1].

[Sidenote: Verdict of the Greek theorists.]

Even after all the full experience of Greek democracies, of the complete
liberty of the free citizen, of the value of public discussion, and of
the responsibility of magistrates to the people, we find all the later
theorists deliberately asserting that if you could secure the right man,
a single-headed State was the most perfect. All the abuses of tyranny,
therefore, so carefully pictured by literary men, had not seemed to them
equal to the abuses of mob-rule,--the violence and the vacillation of an
incompetent or needy public. I cannot but repeat, that if we regard the
world at large, and the general fitness of men for democratic liberties,
we shall hesitate to pronounce the majority of races even now fit for
government by discussion and by vote of the majority.

[Sidenote: Peisistratus and Solon.]

It is very instructive to reflect that Peisistratus, the most
enlightened of tyrants, was contemporary with Solon, the father of Greek
democracy. The theory, therefore, of a constitution in which wealth as
well as birth should have influence, and which should also regard the
rights and the burdens of the poor, was not only alive, but represented
by Solon, when Peisistratus made himself master of the State. Solon's
theory, though supported by his _law against neutrality_[87:1], was
unable to overcome the turbulence of faction; and it required a
generation of strong rule to prepare the whole people for the revival of
Solon's theory, with many further developments, by Cleisthenes.

Nevertheless, Solon remains a capital figure in early Greek history,
known to us not by legends and legislation only, but also by the
fragments of his poetry[87:2].

[Sidenote: Contrast of Greek and modern democracy.]

§ 38. This is the right place to consider the nature of those Greek
democracies that followed upon the expulsion of aristocrats and tyrants,
and that have been so lauded in modern histories. The panegyric of
Grote is well known; and there is also a very fine chapter[88:1] in
which Duruy, without being intimate, apparently, with Grote (for he only
quotes Thirlwall in his support), has not only defended and praised this
form of government at Athens, but even justified the coercion of all
recalcitrant members of the Delian confederacy. The student has,
therefore, the case of democracies in Greece ably and brilliantly

[Sidenote: Slave-holding democracies.]

[Sidenote: Supported by public duties.]

But in the first place let me repeat that they were one and all
slave-holding democracies, and that for each freeman with a vote there
were at least three or four slaves. Hence a Greek democracy can in no
wise be compared with the modern democracies of artisans and labourers
who have to do all their own drudgery, and have hardly any servants.
Even very poor Athenians kept a slave or two; they were saved the worry
of much troublesome or degrading manual labour; and so the Athenian or
the Tarentine, even when poor and over-worked, was in a serious sense an
aristocrat as well as a democrat: he belonged to a small minority ruling
a far greater population. Still more eminently was this the case, when
the democracy was, like Athens or Rhodes, an Imperial one, ruling over
subjects, or allied with smaller polities which were little better than
subjects. Holm argues that under Pericles the poorest citizen was paid
by public money for doing public duties, and was thus above all care
concerning his daily bread[89:1]. But when he adds that by this means
Pericles succeeded in making the Athenians in one respect (materially)
equal to the Spartans, in that they could be (if they performed public
duties) noblemen and gentlemen like the latter, he surely overstates the
case. The traditions of a landed aristocracy are wholly different from
those of salaried paupers, however great may be the power wielded by
these latter, or the privileges that they enjoy.

[Sidenote: Athenian leisure.]

Still it is quite possible that all the modern aids which our poor can
use are not as efficient in helping them to attain culture as the
leisure granted to the Greek democrat by slave-labour at home. Nor have
we as yet any instance of a society becoming really refined without the
aid of some inferior class, some Gibeonites, to hew wood and draw water.

[Sidenote: The assembly an absolute sovran.]

But if from this point of view the ancient artisan was far freer than
his modern counterpart, in another he was not so. As against his
brother-citizen, the laws secured him equality and justice; but against
the demands of the State he had no redress. The Greek theory required
that all citizens should be regarded simply as the property of the
State; and such a thing as an appeal to a High Court of Judicature
against the decree of the Assembly would have been regarded as
absurd[90:1]. The Demos was indeed 'the sovran people,' but sovran in
the sense of a tyrant, or irresponsible ruler, as Aristophanes tells the

These are the general features of Greek democracy, which are not always
understood by foreign, and not urged with sufficient clearness by
English, historians.


[77:1] The reader who desires fuller details may consult the chapter on
the 'Lyric Age' in my _Social Life in Greece_, and the chapters on the
lyric poets in my _History of Greek Literature_.

[78:1] Herodotus, vi. 58.

[78:2] The theorists were always framing policies after Spartan ideas.

[78:3] The two accounts of early Sparta which are cited with general
approval are those of Duncker in his history, and Busolt's monograph,
_Die Lakedaimonier_ (Leipzig, 1878). But there is a host of additional
literature, cf. Busolt, G. G. i. 95.

[79:1] Above, § 8.

[80:1] It is likely enough that at no time were they really extinct in
the Peloponnesus or in the lesser towns of northern Greece.

[80:2] There is a good note upon this word in the Greek argument to the
_Œdipus Tyrannus_.

[81:1] Cf. above, § 8.

[82:1] Mitford, who wrote in the days when tirades against tyrants were
in high fashion, brought down a torrent of censure upon his head by
saying his word for absolute government against democracy.

[82:2] Cf. my _Greek Life and Thought_, p. 416.

[86:1] I shall return to this subject of tyrants in connection with
their later and Hellenistic features. Cf. below, § 71.

[87:1] Three remarkable laws, all intended to save the Athenian
democracy, whose ministers had no standing-army at their control, from
sudden overthrow, seem to me never to have been clearly correlated by
the historians. Solon's law (1) ordained that where an actual [Greek:
stasis] had arisen, every citizen must take some side, calculating that
all quiet and orderly people, if compelled to join in the conflict,
would side with the established Government. Cleisthenes saw that this
appeal to the body of the citizens came too late, and indeed had failed
when the usurpation of Peisistratus took place. He (2) established
_Ostracism_, which interfered before the [Greek: stasis], but when the
rivalry of two leaders showed that the danger was at hand. So far Grote
expounds the development. But this expedient also failed when the rivals
combined, and turned the vote against Hyperbolus. It is from that date
only--about 416 B.C.--that I can find cases (3) of the [Greek: graphê
paranomôn], or prosecution for making illegal _proposals_, thus
interfering at a still earlier stage. This last form of the safeguard
replaced Ostracism, and lasted to the end of Athenian history. It was a
democratic engine often abused, but always safe to be applied in good

[87:2] These have been increased for us by the text of the Aristotelian
[Greek: Athênaiôn Politeia], from which Plutarch cited, but not fully,
his quotations in the _Life of Solon_.

[88:1] _Hist. of Greece_, vol. ii. chap. xix. § 2. He claims in his
interesting preface to the last edition to have attained Grote's
conclusions independently thirty years ago, when they were regarded in
France as dangerous paradoxes.

[89:1] G. G. ii. 391. There is a very curious summary of the various
classes of public employments on which the Attic citizen lived in the
Aristotelian [Greek: Athênaiôn Politeia], § 24. The author estimates the
total number of civil servants or pensioners at over 20,000.

[90:1] This has for the first time been clearly put by Duruy in his
_History of Rome_. Our irresponsible and final Houses of Parliament,
whose acts may annul any law, are a very dangerous modern analogy.



§ 39. I now pass on to the Persian and Peloponnesian wars, and their
treatment by ancient and modern critics.

[Sidenote: Herodotus and Thucydides.]

[Sidenote: Herodotus superior in subject.]

It is our peculiar good fortune to have these two wars narrated
respectively by the two greatest historians that Greece
produced,--Herodotus and Thucydides. Unfortunately, perhaps, after the
manner of most historians, they have made wars their chief subject; but
this criticism applies less to Herodotus, who in leading up to his great
climax has given us so many delightful digressions on foreign lands and
their earlier history, that his book is rather a general account of the
civilized world in the sixth century, with passages from older history,
than a mere chronicle of the great war. Nor does he disdain to tell us
piquant anecdotes and unauthorized gossip,--all giving us pictures of
his own mind and time, if not an accurate record of older history.
Making, therefore, every allowance for the often uncritical, though
always honest[92:1], view he took of men and affairs, there can be no
doubt that the very greatness of his subject puts him far above
Thucydides, whose mighty genius was unfortunately confined to a tedious
and generally uninteresting conflict, consisting of yearly raids,
military promenades, very small battles, and only one large and tragic
expedition, throughout the whole course of its five-and-twenty years.

[Sidenote: Narrow scope of Thucydides.]

[Sidenote: His deliberate omissions,]

Still sadder is that this great man, having undertaken to narrate a very
small, though a very long, war, so magnifies its importance as to make
it out the greatest crisis that ever happened, and therefore excludes
from his history almost everything which would be of real interest to
the permanent study of Greek life. He passes briefly over the deeply
interesting but now quite obscure period of the rise of the Athenian
power. A detailed history of the fifty years preceding his war would
indeed have been an inestimable boon to posterity. He passes in
contemptuous silence over all the artistic development of Athens. The
origin of the drama, Æschylus, Susarion, Cratinus; the growth of
sculpture, Pheidias, Ictinus, the building of the Parthenon, of the
temple of Theseus,--all this is a blank in his narrative. And yet he
does not think it inconsistent with his plan to give us a sketch of the
famous _fifty years_ that elapsed between the Persian and Peloponnesian
Wars. He proposes to correct the inaccuracies of Hellanicus, his only
predecessor in this field, and there can be no doubt that what he has
condescended to give us is both accurate and valuable. But so scanty are
his details, so frequent his silence on really important public events,
that we are fain to turn to any inferior author to fill the gap.

[Sidenote: supplied by inferior historians.]

[Sidenote: Diodorus.]

[Sidenote: Date of the destruction of Mycenæ.]

Of these there are (apart from the poets) two extant, Diodorus and
Plutarch. Both these men lived long after the events, and were beholden
to literary sources for their information. The whole tone and the
arrangement of Diodorus' eleventh book show that he used Ephorus as his
chief authority. The citations from Ephorus by other authors make this
conclusion unavoidable. The value of Diodorus' account, when it adds to
what Thucydides has said, is therefore to be estimated by the value of
Ephorus as an independent historian. On this I have already declared my
opinion (§ 30), to which I need only add that I fully agree with Busolt
when he says that for the early years of the period Ephorus had no other
authority than Thucydides of any value. The only new fact that Diodorus
preserves for us is the alleged destruction of Mycenæ by the Argives
(_circ._ 464 B.C.), at a moment, he infers, when Sparta was in the
crisis of the Helot insurrection, and unable to interfere.

[Sidenote: Silence of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.]

I have long since explained (in Schliemann's _Mycenæ_) why I discredit
the whole story. Holm is the only writer who seems to feel with me the
difficulty of supposing such an event to have been passed over with
indifference by the patriotic Greek States, whom the Mycenæans and
Tirynthians had joined in the great Persian crisis. And when Holm urges
political expediency to account for Sparta's non-interference, he surely
forgets that the literary men of Athens were restrained by no such
considerations. Thucydides (i. 102) mentions Argos at this moment: is it
likely that even he would pass over this territorial aggrandisement of
Argos without a syllable of notice? But apart from this mass of
reticences, what of Æschylus, the comrade of the Mycenæans on the field
of battle, what of Sophocles, what of Euripides, all of whom ought to
have celebrated Mycenæ, and who celebrate Argos instead? They seem to
have absolutely forgotten Mycenæ! What of the absolute reticence of the
remains found by Schliemann, not one of which belongs to the fifth or
sixth century B.C., but all to a long anterior period? The whole affair
is, therefore, placed two centuries too late, and, for all we know, may
not be derived from Ephorus at all, but from some inferior source, or
from Diodorus' own combination. Even if Ephorus was the source, I refuse
to accept his authority.

[Sidenote: Value of Plutarch's _Lives_.]

When we turn to Plutarch, whose object was indeed rather artistic and
moral than historical, we are in a far better plight. For although his
_Lives_ of Themistocles and Cimon do not give us much material of a
trustworthy kind beyond what we know from Thucydides, this is not the
case with the _Life of Pericles_, in which he has collected much
valuable information from sources now lost to us, which all the
researches of the Germans have not even succeeded in specifying by name.
Our whole picture of the splendour of Athens in her greatest moment is
derived not so much from the vague phrases of the speeches in Thucydides
as from the deeply interesting facts preserved by Plutarch. His
brilliant sketch and the narrative of Thucydides have been illustrated,
since the days of Curtius and of Grote, by the recovery of a large
number of inscriptions, chiefly from the Acropolis at Athens, recording
the quotas paid from the tribute of the several allied cities to Athena
and to the other gods. These lists, together with several fragments of
treaties with the various cities, and the lists of offerings recently
found at Delos, have afforded Holm the materials for his fascinating
chapters upon Imperial Athens[96:1].

[Sidenote: The newly-found tract _On the Constitution of Athens_.]

But even since the appearance of his book (1889) a new and important
review of the obscure moments of Athenian growth has been recovered in
the work of Aristotle on _The Polity of the Athenians_[96:2]. He does
not indeed concern himself either with the foreign policy or with the
artistic grandeur of the city. But as regards her internal development
he brings us several new and curious facts. He ascribes the creation of
the sovran Demos living at Athens on salaries for public duties, not to
Pericles, but to Aristides. The whole democratic reform is in fact
completed before the former arrives at power. The political activity of
Themistocles is also prolonged for several years later than we had
suspected, and it is even at his instigation that Ephialtes attacks the
Areopagus. The political _rôle_ of Pericles is in fact so reduced, that
we almost suspect an _animus_ against him in the author, who elsewhere
shows his preference for the conservative side in politics. We should
indeed rejoice could we confront this Aristotle with Thucydides, and see
what truth there is in his departure from our received histories.
Plutarch, who uses the work constantly in the _Life_ of Solon,
evidently disregards it when he comes to treat of Themistocles and
Pericles. Had Thucydides been a little fuller, had he given himself the
trouble to preserve a few more details, we should be in a better
position to face this new historical problem, and estimate the really
great period of the history of Athens.

[Sidenote: Effects of his literary genius.]

[Sidenote: The Peloponnesian war of no world-wide consequence.]

And yet such was his literary genius, such his rhetorical force, that,
crabbed and sour as he may have been, he has so impressed his own and
his subject's importance upon the learned world as to bring the
Peloponnesian war into much greater prominence than the greater events
of Greek history. Thus in a well-known selection of fifteen decisive
battles from the world's history, the defeat of the Athenians at
Syracuse figures as a world event; whereas it only settled the question
whether one kind of Greek or another should dominate in Sicily, and
perhaps in Greece. The domestic quarrels within the limits of a single
nationality are not of this transcendent import. If the Carthaginians
had crushed Rome, or the northern hordes of Asia destroyed the
civilization of Persia when it was growing under Cyrus, there indeed a
great battle might be called a decisive event. But even had the
Athenians conquered Syracuse, it is quite certain that their domination
of the Greek world would have broken down from within, from the inherent
weaknesses in all Greek democracies, which Plato and Aristotle have long
ago analyzed and explained.

[Sidenote: No representation in Greek assemblies.]

§ 40. This statement requires some further illustration to the modern
reader, who thinks, I suppose rightly, that the surest and most stable
of governments is that based upon the free resolve of the whole nation.
But the Athenian imperial democracy was no such government. In the first
place, there was no such thing as _representation_ in their
constitution. Those only had votes who could come and give them at the
general Assembly, and they did so at once upon the conclusion of the
debate[98:1]. There was no Second Chamber or Higher Council to revise or
delay their decisions; no Crown; no High Court of Appeal to settle
claims against the State. The body of Athenian citizens formed the
Assembly. Sections of this body formed the jury to try cases of
violation of the constitution either in act or in the proposal of new

[Sidenote: No outlying members save Athenian citizens settled in subject

The result was that all outlying provinces, even had they obtained
votes, were without a voice in the government. But as a matter of fact
they had no votes, for the States which became subject to Athens were
merely tributary; and nothing was further from the ideas of the
Athenians than to make them members of their Imperial Republic in the
sense that a new State is made a member of the present American

[Sidenote: Similar defect in the Roman Republic.]

This it was which ruined even the great Roman without any military
reverses, and when its domination of the world was unshaken. Owing to
the absence of _representation_, the Empire of the Roman Republic was in
the hands of the city population, who were perfectly incompetent, even
had they been in real earnest, to manage the government of the vast
kingdoms their troops had conquered. In both cases the outsiders were
governed wholly for the benefit of the city crowd.

[Sidenote: Hence an extended Athenian empire not maintainable.]

The mistakes and the injustices which resulted in the Roman executive
were such that any able adventurer could take advantage of the
world-wide discontent, and could play off one city faction against the
other. It is not conceivable that any other general course of events
would have taken place at Athens, had she become the ruler of the
Hellenic world. Her Demos regarded itself as a sovran, ruling subjects
for its own glory and benefit; there can, therefore, be no doubt that
the external pressure of that widespread discontent which was the
primary cause of the Peloponnesian war, would have co-operated with
politicians within, if there were no enemies without, and that
ambitious military chiefs, as at Rome, would have wrested the power
from the sovran people either by force or by fraud.

Hence I contend that the result of the Peloponnesian war even in its
largest crisis had little import in the world's history. That the little
raids and battles, the capture of a couple of hundred Spartans, or the
defeat of twenty ships should still be studied with minuteness, and
produce libraries of modern criticism, is due solely to the power of the
historian and the just preeminence of the famous language in which he
wrote his book.

[Sidenote: The glamour of Thucydides.]

§ 41. This is, I think, the most signal instance on record of the
falsification of the proper _perspective_ of history by individual
literary genius. It was a commonplace in old days that Achilles and
Agamemnon, Ulysses and Diomede, all the famous heroes of the Trojan war,
would have died in obscurity and passed out of sight but for the voice
of the inspired poet. How much truer is it that Phormion and Brasidas,
Gylippus and Lamachus would have virtually disappeared from history but
for the eloquence of the Attic historian! Pericles would have remained
an historic figure, and so does Lysander (who is almost beyond the
period), whether any single historian intended it or not. The rest were
important in their day and to their city, not beyond these limits. The
really great spirits from whom the Athens of that day derives her
eternal supremacy, which no Lysander could take away, are, except
Pericles, never mentioned in all his work. No one could ever suspect,
from this severe and business-like narrative, that the most splendid
architects, sculptors, and dramatic poets the world has yet seen were
then jostling each other in the streets of Athens.

[Sidenote: His calmness assumed.]

It seems thankless to complain of what Thucydides has not done, instead
of acknowledging what he undertook to do and has performed with
extraordinary ability. Never was the history of a long war written with
more power, judgment, and, I was going to say, impartiality. But I
honestly believe that his book would have been far inferior had it
indeed been coldly impartial; and I think Grote has shown, what I have
supplemented in my _Greek Literature_, that strong personal feelings
underlie the apparent calmness of his decisions[101:1].

[Sidenote: He is backed by the scholastic interest,]

§ 42. This estimate of Thucydides is, however, one which will make its
way but slowly in the English classical world,--by which I mean that
large and important body who teach classics to schoolboys and college
students,--and the schoolmaster interest so completely commands our
literary journals that any opinion which runs counter to scholastic
traditions is sure to be set down there also as the outcome of rashness
or of ignorance. For Thucydides, in addition to his just influence as a
great writer, has enlisted in his favour all those to whom Greek grammar
with its intricacies is the most divine of all pursuits.

[Sidenote: on account of his grammatical difficulties.]

If his speakers, as one of them tells us, strove hard to conceal what
they had to say under new and startling forms, in order to outrun in
smartness the cleverness of their audience, and play a sort of
intellectual hide-and-seek with their critics, so Thucydides himself
plays hide-and-seek with the grammarians, both ancient and modern. To
make out exactly what he means his speakers to say, and to render it
with every shade of nicety into modern English, is a task to which many
acute men have devoted years, and upon its success very considerable
reputations depend. It is but natural that this school, or these
schoolmen, should become so enamoured of his intricacies as to love them
with a love passing the love of women, and consequently to resent
bitterly any word of depreciation which affects the importance of their

[Sidenote: He remains the special property of critical scholars.]

Enthusiastic study of any subject is always praiseworthy; the insistence
upon minute accuracy, and contempt for slovenliness in writing, are
always to be admired and encouraged, for it is to these qualities in the
minute scholars that we owe much of our precision in thinking, and still
more the sense of clearness and correctness in style. To this class,
therefore, let Thucydides remain forever the foremost of books; but let
them not bully us into the belief that because they have studied his
grammar more carefully than any other, they are therefore to decide that
he is absolutely faultless as a narrator, and absolutely trustworthy as
a historian.

[Sidenote: Herodotus underrated in comparison.]

I have already dealt with this latter point[103:1]; what I am here
concerned with is the exaggerated place given in our modern histories to
the petty feuds and border-raids of his often tedious
chronicle,--tedious only because the events he describes are completely
trivial. Herodotus, on the other hand, is apt to be underrated in these
modern days. The field he covers is so wide, and the chances of error in
observation so great, that it is impossible he should not often be found
wrong. But what would our notions of earlier Greece or Asia Minor be
without his marvellous prose epic?

[Sidenote: The critics of Thucydides.]

The reader will pardon me for expressing my satisfaction, that this
comparative estimate of the two great historians which I published some
twenty years ago, and which is still regarded by many of my English
critics as a mere paradox, has now become a widely and solidly defined
belief among the best German critics. Of course they began by
exaggerating the new view. Müller-Strübing especially, as has been
freely exposed by his opponents, has advanced from criticism to censure,
from censure to contempt of Thucydides. This is of course silly
pedantry. Thucydides was a very great historian, and whoever cannot
recognize it, shows that he has no proper appreciation for this kind of
genius. But let the reader consult the passages in which the newest, and
perhaps the best, of Greek histories, Holm's, gives a summary of the
researches on the contrasted masters of historiography, and he will see
that the result is much the same as that which I have long advocated.
Holm argues (ii. pp. 346 _sq._) that Herodotus has been underrated; he
argues (_ibid._ pp. 369 _sq._) that Thucydides has been overrated. Let
me call particular attention to the details of the latter estimate, as
one to which I thoroughly subscribe. But let no one charge me with
despising the great Athenian; I believe I appreciate his greatness far
better than do his random panegyrists.

§ 43. Let us pass by anticipation to another remarkable case of
distorted perspective, likewise due to transcendent literary ability.

[Sidenote: The Anabasis of Xenophon.]

The next great author who has fascinated the world by the grace and
vividness of his style is the Athenian Xenophon. In his famous
_Anabasis_, or Expedition of the Ten Thousand to assist the insurgent
Cyrus, he has told us the story of what must have happened (on a smaller
scale) many times before, of Greek mercenaries being induced by large
pay to serve in the quarrels of remote Asiatic sovrans, and finding
their patron assassinated or defeated. They had then their choice of
taking service under his rival (with the chance of being massacred), or
of cutting their way out of the country to some Hellenic colony. It
seems to have been mainly due to the ability and eloquence of Xenophon
that the present very large and formidable body of mercenaries chose and
carried out the latter course. His narrative of this Retreat, in which
he claims to have played the leading part, is one of the most delightful
chapters of Greek history.

[Sidenote: The weakness of Persia long recognized.]

But in all the modern accounts, without exception, both the events and
the narrator have assumed what seem to me gigantic proportions. It is
not the least true that the Greeks were dependent upon this source for
their knowledge of the weakness of the Persian Empire. The campaigns of
Agesilaus in Asia Minor, which were almost synchronous, and not by any
means suggested (so far as we know) by the expedition, showed the same
facts clearly enough. The military weakness of the Empire was already a
commonplace. Its financial power, in the face of the poor and divided
Greek States, was the real difficulty in the way of a Hellenic conquest.

[Sidenote: Reception of the Ten Thousand on their return.]

The manner in which the Ten Thousand were received, upon their return to
Greek lands, shows all this plainly enough. Instead of being hailed as
pioneers of a new conquest, as heroes who had done what nobody dreamed
of doing before, they were merely regarded as a very large and therefore
very dangerous body of turbulent marauders, who had acquired cohesion
and discipline by the force of adversity, and who might make a dangerous
attack on any civilized city, unless a little time were gained, during
which their strength and harmony would give way to defections, and
quarrels among themselves. Their ill-gotten wealth would soon be
squandered, and they must then be induced to seek new service
separately, and not in such a mass as to intimidate their employers.

[Sidenote: The army dissipated.]

This is the rational account of what historians often represent as the
shabby, or even infamous, conduct of the Lacedæmonians, then the leading
power in Greece. The policy they adopted was as prudent as it was
successful, and the Ten Thousand melted away as quickly as they were
gathered; but we can hardly hope that many of them retired into so
innocent and cultivated a leisure as Xenophon did in after years.

[Sidenote: Xenophon's strategy.]

[Sidenote: His real strategy was literary.]

§ 44. So much for the expedition; now a word or two concerning this
famous Xenophon. If his expedition had indeed made the figure in the
contemporary world that it does in his _Anabasis_ and in modern
histories, who can doubt that he would have been recognized as one of
the chief military leaders of the age; and, as his services were in the
market, that he would have been at once employed, either as a general or
as a minister of war, in the memorable campaigns which occupied the
Greeks after his return? Why did he never command an army again[106:1]?
Why was he never tried as a strategist against Epaminondas, the rising
military genius of the age? The simple fact is that he has told us the
whole story of his Retreat from his own point of view; he has not failed
to put himself into the most favourable light; and it is more than
probable that the accounts given by the other mercenaries did not place
him in so preeminent a position. The _Anabasis_ is a most artistic and
graceful self-panegyric of the author, disguised under an apparently
candid and simple narrative of plain facts, perhaps even brought out
under a false name,--Themistogenes of Syracuse,--to help the illusion;
nor was it composed at the spur of the moment, and when there were many
with fresh memories ready to contradict him, but after the interest in
the affair had long blown over, and his companions and rivals were
scattered or dead.

[Sidenote: A special favourite of Grote.]

It is of course an excellent text for Grote to develop into his
favourite historical sermon, that the broad literary and philosophical
culture of the Athenian democracy fitted any man to take up suddenly
any important duties, even so special as the management of a campaign.
But however true or false this may be, it is certain that Xenophon's
contemporaries did not accept him as a military genius, and that he
spent his after years of soldiering in attendance upon a second-rate
Spartan general as a volunteer and a literary panegyrist.

[Sidenote: Xenophon on Agesilaus and Epaminondas.]

[Sidenote: Injustice of the Hellenica.]

§ 45. For in me the suspicion that Xenophon may have been guilty of
strong self-partiality in the _Anabasis_ was first awakened by the
reflection that his later works show the strongest partiality for his
patron, and the most niggardly estimate of the real master of them all,
the Theban Epaminondas. If instead of spending his talents in glorifying
the Spartan king--a respectable and no doubt able but ordinary
personage, he had undertaken with his good special knowledge to give us
a true account of the military performances of Epaminondas, then indeed
he would have earned no ordinary share of gratitude from all students of
the world's greatness. He was in the rare position of being a
contemporary, a specialist, standing before the greatest man of the age,
and capable of both understanding his work and explaining it to us with
literary perfection; yet his _Hellenica_ is generally regarded as a work
tending to diminish the achievements of the Theban hero[108:1].

Happily we have here means to correct him, and to redress the balance
which he has not held with justice. Shall we believe that when he had no
one to contradict him, and his own merits to discuss, he is likely to
have been more strictly impartial?

[Sidenote: Yet Xenophon is deservedly popular.]

Xenophon will never cease to be a popular figure, and most deservedly;
for he added to the full education of an Athenian citizen in general
intelligence, in politics, and in art, the special training given by the
conversations of Socrates, and the tincture of occasional abstract
thinking. But this was only a part of his education. He learned
knowledge of the world and of war by travel and exciting campaigns, and
completed his admirable and various training by a close intimacy with
the best and most aristocratic Spartan life, together with that devotion
to field-sports which is so far more gentlemanly and improving than
training for athletics. In the whole range of Greek literature he
appears the most cultivated of authors, in his external life he combines
everything which we desire in the modern gentleman, though his
superficiality of judgment and lesser gifts place him far below
Thucydides, or even Polybius.


[92:1] Mr. Sayce will not admit even this, and indeed the habit of
appropriating previous work, which Greek literary honesty seems to have
allowed, must naturally offend an original inquirer like Mr. Sayce,
whose ideas are so often pilfered without acknowledgment. But Greek
historians seldom name their authority unless they are about to differ
from it, and criticise or censure it. It is for this reason that I
distrust the usual enumeration of Herodotus' travels (e.g. Busolt, G. G.
ii. 90 _sq._), which assumes that whatever lands he describes he must
himself have seen. I feel sure that he borrowed a great deal, even a
great many bare facts, from other books. But I call attention with
pleasure to the suggestion of Holm (ii. 330), who shows that with the
extended trade relations of Periclean Athens, information upon Pontus,
Persia, and Egypt was of great practical value, and that the story of
the ten talents reward given him by the Athenians may point to a real
reward for his valuable reports, which were most important to their
'Foreign Office.' Hence the great and immediate popularity of his work.
Holm feels as I do, that Herodotus has been underrated, in comparison
with Thucydides (G. G. ii. 346).

[96:1] ii. 11, 12, 16-20.

[96:2] I call it the work of Aristotle, in spite of the many critical
doubts expressed in England, for I cannot ignore the persistent
citations of Plutarch and of many good Greek grammarians and
antiquarians, who express no word of doubt, nor do the peculiarities of
style seem to me to prove anything more than carelessness in revision,
or perhaps the work of a pupil under the master's direction. Cf. § 53.

[98:1] Cicero specially mentions this as a grave defect in Greek
democracies, and compares it with the Roman precaution of making the
voting by tribes or centuries a formal act at a distinct time. Here is
this important and little-known passage (_pro Flacco_, cap. vii.):
'Nullam enim illi nostri sapientissimi et sanctissimi viri vim concionis
esse voluerunt; quae scisceret plebes, aut quae populus juberet, summota
concione, distributis partibus, tributim et centuriatim descriptis
ordinibus, classibus, aetatibus, auditis auctoribus, re multos dies
promulgata et cognita, juberi vetarique voluerunt. _Graecorum autem
totae respublicae sedentis concionis temeritate administrantur._' The
Roman safeguards were, however, quite insufficient, as the course of
history proved. The Athenians also had some safeguards, especially in
preparing resolutions for the assembly by a previous council; but these
too were almost useless.

[101:1] Cf. my _Hist. Gk. Lit._ ii. 1, chap. 5.

[103:1] Above, § 28.

[106:1] Some of the historians note naïvely enough, that the performance
of Xenophon is very wonderful, seeing he had never learned the art of
war, or commanded in any previous campaign. Wonderful indeed, but was it
a real fact? Holm, who seems to me really awake to the common-sense
difficulties which seldom strike learned men, feels this, but accounts
for it (iii. 182) in a very surprising way. I may premise that Xenophon
is perhaps his favourite authority, whom he defends against all attacks
with great spirit. His answer to the question why Xenophon never again
commanded an army, is this: He could have, but he would not, because he
was exiled from his native city, and despised the career of a mercenary
chief! In other words a very ambitious young man, who had deliberately
chosen the profession of foreign adventure, when he had succeeded and
shown his transcendent powers, stops short because he despises that
profession. Is not this most improbable? Had Xenophon brought home with
him a really first-rate reputation, he would not have been required to
fight the battles of his native city as a mercenary leader: he would
very soon have recovered himself in popularity, and have become a
leading Athenian. It was not therefore because he could and would not,
but because he would and could not, that he retired into obscurity.
There is no reason to think he had excited any great or lasting odium at
Athens. We hardly know for certain why he was banished.

[108:1] This is stoutly denied by Holm, G. G. iii. 15, and 181 _sq._,
who cites Breitenbach's Edition and Stern's researches in support of his
opinion. He regards Xenophon as perfectly impartial to others throughout
his _Hellenica_. Whether he was so to himself in the _Anabasis_ is of
course another question, which Holm has not touched. It may be perfectly
true, as Holm insists, that not a single false statement has ever been
proved against the author of the _Hellenica_, but does this demonstrate
that he was impartial? It is in the selection, in the suppression, in
the marshalling of his facts; it is in his _perspective_ that disguised
partiality seems to have been shown.



[Sidenote: Literary verdict of the Greeks against democracy.]

§ 46. What may most properly make the modern historian pause and revise
his judgment of the Athenian democracy, is the evident dislike which the
most thoughtful classes, represented by these great historians, and by
the professed pupils of Socrates, displayed to this form of
society[110:1]. We are now so accustomed to histories written by modern
Radicals, or by men who do not think out their politics, that we may
perhaps be put off with the plea that the democracy which these authors
and thinkers disliked and derided, and which some of them tried to
overthrow, was a debased form of what had been established under
Pericles, and that it was the accidental decay or the accidental abuses
of democracy which disgusted them, whereas its genuine greatness had
been clearly manifested by the great century of progress which had now
come sadly to a close.

[Sidenote: Vacillation of modern critics.]

[Sidenote: Grote's estimate of Pericles]

Ernst Curtius, a German _savant_ of the highest type, has so little
thought out this subject that on one page we find him saying that the
voluntary submission of the people to a single man, Pericles, was a
proof of the high condition of their State; whereas on another he says
their voluntary submission to a single man, Cleon, is a proof of its
degeneracy. But we can hardly expect any real appreciation of the
working of a democracy from a German professor brought up in the last
generation. Indeed his inconsistencies, and his hypotheses of decay and
regeneration in the Athenian Demos at various moments, are ably
dissected by Holm in a valuable appendix to his chapter on Athens in 360
B.C.[111:1] But our dealing is rather with Grote, who knew perfectly the
conditions of the problem. He argues that Cleon, on the whole, and
without military ability, tried to carry out the policy of Pericles, and
that the policy of Pericles was a sound and far-seeing one, which would
have preserved Athens through all her dangers, had she steadily adhered
to it.

§ 47. I have already discussed at length the narrow basis of the
Athenian imperial democracy, and expressed my judgment that even great
successes would soon have brought about its fall.

[Sidenote: compared with Plato's.]

[Sidenote: The war policy of Pericles.]

But I join issue with Grote, and side with Plato, in thinking that the
policy of Pericles, even within the conditions imposed upon him by the
circumstances just mentioned, was so dangerous and difficult that no
cautious and provident thinker could have called it secure. Plato goes
so far as to say that Pericles had made the Athenians lazy, frivolous,
and sensual. Without actually indorsing this, we are warranted by the
course of history to say that the hope of holding a supremacy by merely
keeping up with all energy and outlay a naval superiority already
existing and acknowledged, was truly chimerical. Pericles thought that
by making the city impregnable--which was then, against the existing
means of attack, quite feasible--and by keeping the sea open, he could
amply support his city population and make them perfectly independent
even of the territory of Attica. While they could derive money and food
from their subjects and their commerce, they might gather in the rural
population from the fields, and laugh at the enemy from their walls
until his means were exhausted, or he was compelled to retreat for the
purpose of protecting his own coasts against a hostile fleet.

[Sidenote: His miscalculations.]

Thucydides tells us in affecting language how this experiment actually
turned out,--what was the misery of the country people crowded into the
city without proper houses or furniture, sleeping in sheds and nooks of
streets; what was the rage of the farmers when they saw their homesteads
go up in flames, and the labour of years devastated with ruthless
completeness. Pericles had not even reckoned with the immediate effects
of his singular policy. Still less had he thought of the sanitary
consequences of overcrowding his city, which must in any case have
produced fatal sickness, and therefore deep indignation among those who
suffered from its visitation, even though no one could have anticipated
the frightful intensity of the plague which ensued.

[Sidenote: He depended on a city population against an army of yeomen.]

But a far larger and more philosophical objection may be based upon the
consideration that no city population, trusting mainly to money for a
supply of soldiers and sailors, is likely to hold its own permanently
against an agricultural population fighting, not for pay, but for the
defence of its liberties, and with the spirit of personal patriotism. If
you abolish the yeoman of any country, and trust merely to the artisan,
you destroy the backbone of your fighting power; and no outlay will
secure your victory if a yeoman soldiery is brought into the field
against you and well handled. This was perfectly felt in Thucydides'
day; for he makes the Spartan king, when invading Attica, specially
comment on the fact that the Athenian power was acquired by money rather
than native[113:1]; and on this he bases his anticipation that the army
of Peloponnesian farmers will prevail. It would surely have been a safer
and a better policy to extend the area of Athenian yeomen, and secure a
supply of hardy and devoted soldiers as the basis of a lasting military
and naval power.

[Sidenote: Advantages of mercenaries against citizen troops.]

§ 48. It will be urged, and it was urged in those days, that mercenary
forces could be kept at sea more permanently than a body of farmers, who
must go home frequently to look after their subsistence and work their
fields. This is quite true; but mercenaries without a citizen force to
keep them in order were always a failure, they became turbulent and
unmanageable, and left their pay-master in the lurch when any new chance
of immediate gain turned up. Besides, as the event proved in the next
century, when Philip of Macedon rose to power, a mercenary force under a
monarch will always defeat mercenaries under leaders directed by the
discussion, the hesitation, the vacillation of a debating

[Sidenote: The smaller States necessarily separatists.]

The only excuse, therefore, for Pericles' policy was the impossibility
of doing anything else with the materials he had at his disposal; and
his materials were thus crippled because the Athenian democracy as a
ruling power had not the confidence of the subject States. In fact, so
long as these were _subjects_, liable to oppression in any moment of
panic or of passion, no solidarity, no common feeling of patriotism, no
real union could possibly be attained. It has been rather the fashion,
since Grote's influence has prevailed, to attribute the breakdown of all
attempts at an empire among free Greeks to the incurable jealousy and
the love of separatism in their small States. I fancy that at no period
in the world's history could any small communities have easily been
persuaded to submit to this kind of union, which was built on far too
narrow a foundation, and was far too distinctly worked for the almost
exclusive benefit of the leading city.

It is necessary to insist upon these things,--the want of representation
in a common assembly, the want of scope for talent in the outlying
States, the difficulty of redress against the dominant people if they
transgressed their State-treaties,--especially for a practical writer,
who holds that historical analogies are most serviceable, and help to
explain both ancient and modern history. But we must see clearly that
the analogies are genuine, and that we are not arguing from an
irrelevant antecedent or to an irrelevant consequent.

[Sidenote: Attempt at federation]

Yet the necessity of combination was so great, and so keenly felt during
the tyrannical ascendency of Sparta at the opening of the next century,
that several attempts were made to obtain the advantages, while avoiding
the evils, of the old Athenian supremacy. The first, which was made
immediately after the battle of Cnidos (394 B.C.) and which seems to
have been originated by Thebes, is passed over in silence by all our
literary authorities, and was only discovered upon the evidence of
coins. We know that Rhodes, Cnidos, Naxos, Samos, Ephesus, belonged to
it, and that they adopted for their common coinage an old Theban
emblem--Heracles throttling the snakes. The existence of this
confederation seems to justify the hopes of Epaminondas to make his
city a naval power, and thus protects the great Theban from a charge of
political vanity, often repeated[116:1].

[Sidenote: The second Athenian Confederacy;]

[Sidenote: its details,]

The second was the well-known Athenian Confederacy of 377 B.C. of which,
however, the details are only preserved in an important inscription (No.
81 in Mr. Hicks' collection) which gives us most interesting
information. It included Byzantium, Lesbos, Chios, Rhodes, Eubœa, and
also Thebes. Western tribes and islands brought up the members to
seventy in number. But its declared object was mainly to protect these
members against Spartan tyranny, and it acknowledged the Persian
supremacy in Asia Minor. The safeguards against Athenian tyranny, which
were far more important, are a clause forbidding the acquisitions of
_cleruchies_, and the appointment of a synod of the allies to sit at
Athens, in which Athens was not represented. Decrees proposed either in
the Athenian assembly or in this synod (_synedrion_) must be sanctioned
by the other body before becoming law[116:2].

[Sidenote: its defects.]

As might be expected, all these Leagues failed. The precautions against
the tyranny of the leading States only hampered the unity and promptness
of action of the League, and did not allay jealousy in the smaller, or
ambition in the greater, members. Yet these abortive attempts are
important to the historian, as showing the intermediate stages in the
history of Confederations between the old Attic Empire and the Achæan

[Sidenote: Political theories in the fourth century.]

§ 49. The century at which we have now arrived in our survey--the fourth
before Christ--was eminently the age of political theories devised by
philosophers in their studies; and they give us the conclusions to which
able thinkers had come, after the varying conflicts which had tested the
capacities of all the existing States to attain peace with plenty at
home, or power abroad. The Athenian supremacy had broken down; the
Spartan, a still more complete _hegemony_, as the Greeks called it, had
gone to pieces, not so much by the shock of the Theban military power,
as by its own inherent defects. Epaminondas has passed across the
political sky, a splendid meteor, but leaving only a brief track of
brilliancy which faded into night.

[Sidenote: Greece and Persia.]

[Sidenote: Theoretical politics.]

And in every generation, if the military efficiency of Persia grew
weaker, her financial supremacy became more and more apparent. In the
face of all these brilliant essays and signal failures, in the face of
the acknowledged intellectual supremacy of the Greeks, coupled with
their continued exhibitions of political impotence in foreign policy, it
was fully to be expected that Greek thinkers should discuss the causes
of these contrasts, and endeavour to ascertain the laws of public
happiness and the conditions of public strength. And so there were a
series of essays, of which several remain, on the Greek State and its
proper internal regulation, and a series of solutions for the practical
difficulties of the day, especially the external dangers to which the
Hellenic world was exposed. These documents form the main body of the
splendid prose Literature of the Attic Restoration, as I have elsewhere
called it[118:1], and of the period which closed with the actual
solution of the difficulties in foreign politics by the famous Philip of

[Sidenote: Inestimable even to the practical historian.]

The historian of Greece must evidently take into account these
speculations, though they be not strictly history; but the facts can
hardly be understood and appreciated without the inestimable comments of
the greatest thinkers and writers whom the country produced.

[Sidenote: Plato.]

[Sidenote: Xenophon.]

[Sidenote: Aristotle.]

Foremost among these in literary perfection is Plato, whose speculations
on the proper conditions--the internal conditions only--of a _Polity_ in
the Hellenic sense will ever remain a monument of genius, though his
ideal could hardly lead, or be intended to lead, to practical results.
Then we have Xenophon, who in his political romance on the _Education of
Cyrus_ stands half-way between the mere philosopher and the practical
man of the world. The most instructive of all is Aristotle, who, though
he lived to see the old order pass away, and a new departure in the
history of the race, nevertheless confined himself to the traditional
problems, and composed a special book--his _Politics_--on the virtues
and vices of the ordinary Greek polity. The practical side, the
necessary steps to reform and strengthen the leading States of Greece,
especially in their external policy, and in the face of powerful and
dangerous neighbours, we find discussed in the pamphlets of Isocrates
and the public speeches of Demosthenes. It is on the proper place of
these documents, and the weight assigned to them in modern histories,
that I invite the reader's attention.

[Sidenote: Sparta ever admired but never imitated.]

§ 50. I have already mentioned the remarkable fact that though, at every
period of this history, Spartan manners and Spartan laws commanded the
respect and the admiration of all Greece, though the Spartan
constitution had proved stable when all else was in constant flux and
change, still no practical attempt was ever made in older Greek history
to imitate this famous constitution. It shows, no doubt, in the old
Greek legislators, a far keener sense of what was practical or possible
that, instead of foisting upon every new or newly emancipated State the
ordinances which had succeeded elsewhere as a legitimate, slow, and
historic growth, they rather sought to adapt their reforms to the
conditions of each State as they found it. They fully appreciated the
difference between the normal and the exceptional in legislation.

[Sidenote: Practical legislation wiser in Greece than in modern Europe.]

The politicians of modern Europe, who are repeating gaily, and without
any sense of its absurdity, the experiment of handing over the British
parliamentary system to half-civilized and hardly emancipated
populations, and who cry injustice and shame upon those who decline to
follow their advice--these unhistorical and illogical statesmen might
well take lessons from the sobriety of Greek politicians, if their own
common-sense fails to tell them that the forest-tree of centuries cannot
be transplanted; nay, even the sapling will not thrive in ungrateful

[Sidenote: Sparta a model for the theorists.]

[Sidenote: A small State preferred.]

But although the real rulers of men in Greece saw all this clearly, it
was not so with the theorists, nor indeed were they bound to observe
practical limitations in framing the highest ideal to which man could
attain. Hence we see in almost all the theorists a strong tendency to
make Spartan institutions the proper type of a perfect State. Plato will
not even consider the duties of an imperial or dominating State, he
rather regards large territory and vast population as an insuperable
obstacle to good government. But as a philosopher deeply interested in
the real culture of the mind, perhaps as a theorist deeply impressed
with the haphazard character of the traditional education, he felt that
to intrust an uneducated mob with the control of public affairs was
either to hand over the State to unscrupulous leaders, who would gain
the favour of the crowd by false and unworthy means, or to run the
chance of having the most important matters settled by the caprice of a
many-headed and therefore wholly irresponsible tyrant.

[Sidenote: Plato's successors.]

[Sidenote: Their general agreement,]

Every theorist that followed Plato seems to have felt the same
difficulties, and therefore he and they adopted in the main the Spartan
solution,--first, in limiting the number and condition of those to whom
they would intrust power; secondly, in interfering from the beginning,
more or less, in the education and training of the individual citizen.
They differed as to the amount of control to be exercised,--Plato and
the Stoic Zeno were the most trenchant, and thought least of the value
of individual character;--they differed as to the particular form of the
actual government; whether a small council of philosophic elders, or
some limited assembly of responsible and experienced citizens, or, still
better, one ideal man, the natural king among men, should direct the
whole course of the State.

[Sidenote: (1) especially on suffrage,]

But on the other two points they were firm. First, universal suffrage
had been in their opinion proved a downright failure. And let the reader
remember that this universal suffrage only meant the voting of free
citizens,--slaves never came within their political horizon,--still
more, that the free citizens of many Greek democracies, notably of the
Athenian, were more highly educated than any Parliament in our own

We now have as an additional document on the same side, the newly
discovered _Polity of the Athenians_[121:2], which, whether it be
really Aristotle's work or not, certainly was quoted as such freely by
Plutarch, and represents the opinions of the early Peripatetic school.
Nothing is stranger in the book than the depreciation of Pericles, as
the founder of the extreme democracy of Athens, and the praise of
Thucydides (son of Melesias), Nicias, and Theramenes, as the worthiest
and best of the later politicians,--Theramenes especially, whose
shiftiness is explained as the opposition of a wise and temperate man to
all extremes, while he was content to live under any moderate

[Sidenote: even though their suffrage was necessarily restricted.]

I have already pointed out what important differences in the notions of
democracy--the absence of all idea of representation, of all delay or
control by a second legislative body, of the veto of a constitutional
sovran--make this strong and consistent verdict not applicable by
analogy to modern republics. Not that I reject Hellenic opinion as now
of no value--far from it; but if we argue from analogy, we are bound to
show where the analogy fits, and where it fails,--above all to
acknowledge the latter cases honestly. For we are not advocates pleading
a cause, but inquirers seeking the truth from the successes and the
sufferings of older men of like passions with ourselves.

[Sidenote: (2) Education to be a State affair.]

[Sidenote: Polybius' astonishment at the Roman disregard of it.]

§ 51. Secondly, the education of the citizens should not be left to the
sense of responsibility in parents, or to the private enterprise of
professional teachers, but should be both organized and controlled by
the State[123:1]. So firmly was this principle engrained into Greek
political thinkers that Polybius, who came at the close of all their
rich experience, and whose opinion is in many respects more valuable
than any previous one, expresses his astonishment how the Romans, a
thoroughly practical and sensible people, and moreover eminently
successful, could venture to leave out of all public account the
question of education, and allow it to be solved by each parent as he
thought fit. He pointed out this as the most profound existing contrast
to the notions of Greek thinkers[123:2].

[Sidenote: The practical result in Rome.]

We know very well how the Roman aristocracy in their best days solved
the matter; but we must deeply regret that there are no statistics, or
even information, how the poorer classes at Rome fared in comparison
with the Greeks. National education in Greece was certainly on a far
higher level; but here again we have an old civilization to compare with
a new one, and must beware of rash inferences.

It is, for example, of great importance to note that the Greek State
was essentially a city with its suburbs, where the children lived so
near each other that day-schools could be attended by all. In a larger
State, which implies a population scattered through the country, much
more must be intrusted to parents, since day-schools are necessarily
inadequate[124:1]. This is but one of the differences to be weighed in
making the comparison. To state them all would lead us beyond reasonable

[Sidenote: Can a real democracy ever be sufficiently educated?]

Still, I take the verdict of the philosophers as well worth
considering,--and, indeed, there is no question which now agitates the
minds of enlightened democrats more deeply than this: How can we expect
uneducated masses of people to direct the course of public affairs with
safety and with wisdom? It is certain that even in the small, easily
manageable, and highly cultivated republics of the Greeks, men were not
educated enough to regard the public weal as paramount, to set it above
their narrow interests or to bridle their passions. Is it likely, then,
that Education will ever do this for the State? Are we following an
_ignis fatuus_ in setting it up as the panacea for the defects of our

[Sidenote: Christianity gives us a new force.]

§ 52. To these grave doubts there is an obvious but not, I think, a real
rejoinder, when we urge that the position of the Christian religion in
modern education makes the latter a moral force for good far superior to
any devices of legislators.

[Sidenote: Formal religion always demanded by the Greeks.]

While admitting unreservedly the vast progress we have attained by
having the Christian religion an integral part of all reasonable
education, we must urge on the other side that to most people, and at
all times, religion is only a very occasional guide of action, and that
what we have attained with all our preaching and teaching is rather an
acquiescence in its excellence than a practical submission to its
directions. So far as this mere acquiescence in moral sanctions is to be
considered, all Greek legislators took care to inculcate the teaching
and the observance of a State religion, with moral sanctions, and with
rewards and punishments. They knew as well as we do that a public
without a creed is a public without a conscience, and that scepticism,
however consistent with individual sobriety and goodness, has never yet
been found to serve as a general substitute for positive beliefs.

[Sidenote: Real religion the property of exceptional persons.]

But when we come to the case of superior individuals, to whom religion
is a living and acting force, then we have on the Greek side those
splendid thinkers, whose lives were as pure a model as their
speculations were a lesson, to the world. These men certainly did not
require a higher faith to make them good citizens, and were a 'law unto
themselves, showing forth the work of law written in their hearts,' with
a good conscience. The analogy, then, between the old Greek States and
ours as regards education may be closer than is usually assumed by those
who have before them the contrast of religions.

[Sidenote: Greek views on music]

I will mention a very different point on which all the ancient educators
were agreed, and which seems quite strange to modern notions,--I mean
the capital importance of music, on account of its direct effect upon
morals. They all knew that the Spartan pipes had much the same effect as
the Highland pipes have now upon the soldiers who feel them to be their
national expression. Hence all music might be regarded as either
wholesome or unwholesome stimulant, wholesome or unwholesome soothing,
to the moral nature; and not only does the sober Aristotle discuss with
great seriousness and in great detail the question of this influence,
but he agrees with Plato in regarding the State as bound to interfere
and prevent those strains, 'softly sweet in Lydian measure,' which
delighted, indeed, and beguiled the sense, but disturbed and endangered
the morals of men.

[Sidenote: discussed in my _Rambles and Studies in Greece_.]

On this fascinating but difficult subject I have already said my say in
the last chapter of my _Social Life in Greece_[126:1], and I will only
repeat that if the Greeks put too much stress on this side of education
as affecting character, the moderns have certainly erred in the opposite
directions, and are quite wrong in regarding music as an accomplishment
purely æsthetic, as having nothing to say to the practical side of our
nature,--our sensual passions and our moral principles.

[Sidenote: Xenophon's ideal.]

§ 53. It remains for us to note the chief variations between the
positions of the various theorists on the ideal State. Xenophon tells us
his views under the parable of the ideal education and government of a
perfect king. But as he did not conceive such a personage possible in
the Hellenic world, he chooses the great Cyrus of Persia,--a giant
figure remote from the Greeks of his day, and looming through the mists
of legend[127:1]. But he makes it quite plain that he considers the
monarchy of the right man by far the most perfect form of government,
and his tract on the Spartan State shows how he hated democracy, and
favoured those States which reserved all power for the qualified few.

[Sidenote: Aristotle's.]

[Sidenote: Aristotle's Politics ignore Alexander.]

Nor is Aristotle at variance with Xenophon, as both his _Ethics_ and
_Politics_ agree in conviction that there were single men superior to
average society, and intended by Nature, like superior races, to rule
over inferior men. It starts at once to our recollection that Aristotle
had before his mind that wonderful pupil who transformed the Eastern
world, and opened a new era in the world's politics. But no. The whole
of Aristotle's _Politics_ looks backward and inward at the old Greek
State, small, and standing by the side of others of like dimensions,
differing as despotisms, aristocracies, republics will differ, but not
pretending to carry out a large foreign policy or to dominate the world.

[Sidenote: Evidence of the new _Politeia_.]

The recently discovered treatise on the History of the Athenian
Constitution does not give us any further light as to the foreign policy
which Aristotle thought best for a Greek State. Many critics are,
moreover, inclined to deny the genuineness of the work, and a sharp
controversy is now proceeding, in which, strange to say, the Germans are
for the most part ready to accept the work as Aristotle's, while the
English are mostly for its rejection. Against it has been urged (1) its
general style, which in its easy straightforwardness does not remind the
reader of the Aristotle we know; (2) the particular occurrence of a
number of words and phrases not elsewhere extant in the very large
vocabulary of his works; (3) certain inconsistencies not only with the
_Politics_, but with Xenophon, and indeed, with the generally accepted
facts of earlier Greek history. Thus while the political activity of
Themistocles is prolonged, and that of Aristides is exalted beyond the
other extant estimates of these men, that of Pericles is lessened into
second-rate proportions. The praise of Theramenes as a moderate
politician, as a conservative in a very radical moment, affords no
difficulty, for it is not foreign to what we know of Aristotle's views.
These, however, are the main objections urged by the English critics who
have flooded the literary papers with their emendations. On the other
hand, great German scholars,--Gomperz, Wilamowitz von Möllendorf,
Kaibel, and others,--have stoutly maintained that there are no adequate
reasons for doubting the unanimous testimony of later antiquity, proved
as it is by many citations in Plutarch, many more in the Greek
grammarians and lexicographers. They add, that we know little or nothing
of Aristotle's popular style, and that his lost dialogues have been
praised for their easy flow. I do not feel prepared, as yet, to offer an
opinion for or against the treatise--_adhuc sub judice lis est_.

[Sidenote: Alexander was to all the theorists an incommensurable

But in any case the monarchy of Alexander is quite foreign to anything
contemplated in the theories or in the reflections of Aristotle. The
Greek theorist, even such as he was, could not adjust this new and
mighty phenomenon to the laws of Greek human nature. I shall presently
show how other great men of that day manifested the same purblindness;
but I note it here specially in the case of Aristotle's _Politics_,
because it has not been brought out with sufficient emphasis by modern
historians. The one man who made Plato and Aristotle the subjects of
exhaustive studies, George Grote, did not live to complete his account
of Aristotle's theories on the State, and relegated his masterly account
of Plato and Xenophon into a separate book, long difficult to procure,
and more so to master[130:1].

[Sidenote: Mortality of even perfect constitutions.]

[Sidenote: Contrast of Greek and modern anticipations.]

All these theorists, though in close contact with politicians, were
themselves outside the sphere of practical affairs, whether from choice
or compulsion. As they looked upon the changing phases of society which
make up that complicated and various whole called Greek history, they
were led to one general conclusion. No State, however perfectly framed,
however accurately balanced, was intended by Nature to last for ever.
Polities, like individuals, had their youth, development, and decay, and
would in the lapse of time give way to newer growths. In this we find
one of the most curious contrasts between the buoyant, hopeful Greek and
the weary, saddened modern. The former had no hope of the permanent and
indefinite improvement of the human race; the latter adopts it almost as
an historical axiom. Each modern State hopes to escape the errors and
misfortunes which have ruined its predecessors, and makes its
preparations for a long futurity. The Greeks were fuller in their
experience or fainter in their hope; they would have regarded our
expectations as chimerical, and our anticipations as contradicted by all
the past records of human affairs.


[110:1] The tract _de Repub. Athen._ handed down to us among Xenophon's
works, is now, by general agreement, assigned to some author who lived
earlier, and wrote it before the close of the Peloponnesian war. It does
not, therefore, express the individual opinion of Xenophon, though it is
an attack upon the Athenian democracy by a determined and bitter
aristocrat. Upon the details, cf. my _Gk. Lit._ ii. p. 47.

[111:1] G. G. iii. pp. 221 _sq._

[113:1] [Greek: ônêtê mallon ê oikeios.]

[114:1] Cf. on this point Polybius, xi. 13, whom I have quoted in my
_Greek Life and Thought_, p. 416.

[116:1] Cf. the excellent summary in Holm iii. 54-7.

[116:2] Cf. Holm iii. 96 _sqq._

[118:1] That is, the Restoration of its legitimate democracy. Cf. my
_History of Greek Literature_, part ii. cap. v.

[118:2] Roughly speaking, 400-340 B.C.

[121:1] This Professor Freeman has admirably shown in his _History of
Federal Governments_; and it is generally admitted by all competent

[121:2] It is perhaps worth calling attention to the fact that the tract
on Athens in the Xenophontic collection has the same title as the
newly-discovered treatise, so that some distinction is necessary in
citing them. For the present the novelty of the Aristotelian book has
cast the older document into oblivion.

[122:1] Cf. [Greek: Ath. Pol.] c. 28. Holm (ii. p. 583) controverts my
use of Plutarch's quotation from this chapter of Aristotle, and thinks
that I had mistranslated the term [Greek: beltistos]. The full text now
shows that Holm was mistaken and I was right.

[123:1] It is well to add, lest the reader might be misled by a false
analogy, that this supervision applied to the appointment of teachers,
and the regulation of teaching and of school discipline. The Greeks
would have despised any system such as ours, which limits the State
control to examinations, and which tests efficiency by success in them.
The modern notion of disregarding the moral and social conditions under
which the young are brought up, provided they can answer at a high-class
examination, would have struck them as wicked and barbarous.

[123:2] Cf. the citation in Cicero _de Repub._ iv. 3. 3.

[124:1] The makeshift of boarding-schools was unknown to the ancients,
but at Sparta, young men were kept together even in their hours of
leisure, and away from their homes, so that we must here admit a
qualified exception. But what we know of this separate life is rather
that of a barrack than of a school.

[126:1] Seventh Edition. It had been formerly the last chapter of my
_Rambles and Studies in Greece_.

[127:1] It was an artistic device, to make this paternal despot a
foreign prince, living in a bygone age, of the same kind as the device
of Æschylus to narrate the Persian war from the Oriental side, and make
Darius a capital figure. No Greek or contemporary person could have
sustained the figure of Cyrus in Xenophon's book. I need only remind the
reader that the tract on the Athenian State now preserved among
Xenophon's works is by an unknown author, and therefore an authority
independent of Xenophon.

[130:1] Grote's _Plato and the other Companions of Socrates_, 3 vols.
(Murray, London.) His _Aristotle_ is posthumous and fragmentary, and
does not include the _Politics_. Mr. Jowett's expected Essays on the
_Politics_ may perhaps supply this deficiency.



[Sidenote: The practical politicians.]

§ 54. Let us now pass on to the practical politicians of the day, or to
those who professed to be practical politicians, and see what they had
to propose in the way of improving the internal condition of Greek
society, as well as of saving it from those external dangers which every
sensible man must have apprehended, even before they showed themselves
above the political horizon.

[Sidenote: Isocrates,]

[Sidenote: his anti-Persian policy.]

Let us begin with Isocrates, whose pamphlets, though written with far
too much attention to style, and intended as rhetorical masterpieces,
nevertheless tell us a great deal of what filled the minds of thoughtful
men in his day. He sees plainly that the Greeks were wearing themselves
out with internecine wars and perpetual jealousies, and he opined,
shrewdly enough, that nothing but a great external quarrel would weld
them together into unity, and make the various States forget their petty
squabbles in the enthusiasm of a common conflict against a foreign foe.
He saw plainly enough that the proper enemy to attack was the power of
Asia. For it was ill-cemented and open to invasion; it was really
dangerous to the liberty even of the Hellenic peninsula,--almost fatal
to that of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, and moreover so full of
wealth as to afford an enormous field for that legitimate plunder which
every conqueror then thought his bare due at the hands of the

[Sidenote: No large ideas of spreading Hellenic culture.]

Isocrates had not the smallest idea of raising the Asiatic nations, or
of civilizing them[132:1]. No Greek down to Aristotle, nay, not even
Aristotle himself, ever had such a notion, though he might concede that
isolated men or cities could possibly, by careful and humble imitation
of Hellenic culture, attain to a respectable imitation of it. Isocrates'
plain view of the war policy against Persia was simply this: first, that
the internal quarrels of Greece would be allayed; secondly, that a great
number of poor and roving Greeks would attain wealth and contentment;
thirdly, 'the Barbarians would learn to think less of

[Sidenote: Who is to be the leader of Greece?]

His first proposal was that Athens and Sparta, the natural leaders of
Greece, should combine in this policy, divide the command by a formal
treaty, and so resume their proper position as benefactors and
promoters of all Hellenedom.

But as years went on, the impotence and the strife of these powers made
it only too plain that this was no practical solution; so he turns in an
open letter to Philip of Macedon, who was gradually showing how to solve
the problem of Hellenic unity, and advises him to use his power, not for
the subjugation of the Greeks, but to lead them in a victorious campaign
into Asia.

But in Philip they had already found that common enemy against whom they
should have united, if voluntary union was ever again possible among
them; and their miserable failure to do so showed plainly that the days
of independent States throughout Greece were numbered, and that the
first neighbouring power with organization and wealth was certain to
pluck the over-ripe fruit of Hellenedom.

[Sidenote: Demosthenes another ideal figure in this history.]

§ 55. This brings us by natural transition to Demosthenes, on whose life
and policy it is very necessary to say a few words, seeing that they
have been, like so many other topics in Greek history, distorted by the
specialists, and made the ground of sentimental rhetoric instead of
being sifted with critical care. To utter anything against Demosthenes
thirty years ago was almost as bad as to say a word in old Athenian days
against the battle of Marathon. This battle was so hymned and lauded by
orators and poets that had you suggested its importance in the campaign
to be overrated, had you said that you believed the alleged numbers of
the Persians to be grossly exaggerated, you would have been set down as
an insolent and unpatriotic knave. In the same way the scholars have
laid hold of Demosthenes; they have dwelt not only upon the matchless
force of his eloquence, but upon the grammatical subtleties of his
Greek, till they are so in love with him that whatever is said in his
favour is true, and whatever appears to be against him is false.

As I have not spent the whole of a long life either in commenting on
this great author or in vindicating for him all the virtues under
heaven, I may perhaps be better able than greater scholars to give a
fair estimate of his political merits.

[Sidenote: He sees the importance of a foreign policy for Athens]

[Sidenote: against Persia]

[Sidenote: or Macedonia.]

Demosthenes at the outset of his career saw plainly, like Isocrates,
that a foreign policy was necessary to give not only dignity, but
consistency, to the counsels of Athens; and he too at the outset,
misconceiving the real power of Philip, thought that Persia was the
serious foe[134:1], and should be the object of most importance to
Athenian politicians. Darius Ochus, the last vigorous king of Persia,
had made such military preparations for the reconquest of his rebellious
provinces as to alarm all the Asiatic Greeks and conjure up the phantom
of a new Persian war. But presently the real danger set aside this
bugbear; the activity and military skill of Philip, added to his
discovery or utilization of the Thracian gold mines, made him clearly
the future lord of the Hellenes if he could prevent them from combining
against him for a few years.

[Sidenote: Grote on Demosthenes.]

The narrative of this famous struggle, carried on mainly by the
eloquence of Demosthenes on one side, and the diplomacy of Philip on the
other, forms one of the most attractive pages in history; and nowhere is
it better told than in the eleventh volume of Grote's work. The cause of
Demosthenes naturally attracted the Radical historian[135:1], who sees
in the power of Macedon nothing but the overthrow of democracy, of
discussion, of universal suffrage; and hence the relapse of society into
a condition worse and less developed than what had been attained by all
the labours of great and enlightened reform.

[Sidenote: A. Schäfer on Demosthenes.]

The cause of Demosthenes also attracted Arnold Schäfer, who having
chosen the orator and his works for his own speciality, spent years in
gradually increasing admiration for this choice, till Demosthenes became
for him a patriot of spotless purity and a citizen of such high
principle that all charges against him are to be set down as calumnies.
This enthusiasm has reached so far that if in the collection of law
speeches which the orator composed for pay, and often to support a very
weak case, there are found illogical arguments or inconsistencies with
other speeches on analogous subjects, such flaws are set down as
evidence that the particular speech is spurious, and cannot have
emanated from so noble a character as Demosthenes[136:1].

[Sidenote: Very different estimate of the ancients.]

§ 56. This estimate is totally at variance with the judgment of the
ancients, his contemporaries and immediate successors, who openly
accused, and indeed convicted, him of embezzling money in his public
capacity, as well as of accepting briefs and fees from both sides in a
private litigation.

[Sidenote: Conditions of the conflict]

[Sidenote: made Philip's victory certain.]

To this question of his private character I shall revert. But as regards
the struggle which he carried on for years, not so much against Philip
as against the apathy of his fellow-citizens, it must have been plain
from the beginning that he was playing a losing game. The dislike of
military service in what is called by Grote the 'Demosthenic Athenian'
was notorious; the jealousies of parties within, and of other States
without, hampered any strong and consistent line of action. The gold of
Philip was sure to command, not only at Athens, but at Thebes, at Argos,
in Arcadia, partisans who, under the guise of legitimate opposition,
would carry adjournments, postponements, limitations, of all vigorous
policy. Mercenary troops, which were now in fashion, if not amply paid
and treated with regard to their convenience, became a greater scourge
to their own side than to the enemy. It was therefore quite plain that
Philip must win, though none of us can fail to appreciate and to admire
the persistent and noble efforts of Demosthenes, who is never weary of
urging that if the free States, especially Athens, would do their duty,
and make some sacrifices for the good of Greece, the impending foreign
domination would be indefinitely postponed. But this only means that if
the Athenians had changed their character, and adopted that of another
generation or another race, the issue of the contest might have been

[Sidenote: Demosthenes fights a losing game.]

This is the sort of up-hill game that Demosthenes played for twenty
years. At first Athens seemed quite the stronger to superficial
observers. But because she was so strong it seemed unnecessary to act
with full vigour. Presently she begins to lose, and Philip to make way.
Even still she can win if she will rouse herself. But soon he makes
further advances, and she is involved in difficulties. Then the
faint-hearted begin to fear, and the disloyal to waver. It is not till
the very end of the struggle, when Athens is in direct danger of
immediate siege, that the whole population wakes up, the traitors are
silenced, and the city, in conjunction with Thebes, makes a splendid
struggle. But the day for victory had long gone by, and Demosthenes has
the bitter satisfaction of at last attaining his full reputation for
wisdom and patriotism because his gloomiest prophecies are fulfilled.

[Sidenote: The blunders of his later policy.]

[Sidenote: Compared with Phocion.]

§ 57. It is from this time onward[138:1] that his public acts seem to
me hardly consistent with common-sense, or with that higher idea of
patriotism which seeks the good of the State at the sacrifice of
personal theories or prejudices. Grote has observed of the other leading
Athenian of that time, the general Phocion, that while his policy of
submission and despair was injurious, nay, even fatal, up to the battle
of Chæronea, this tame acquiescence when the struggle was over was the
practical duty of a patriot, and of decided advantage to his country.
Grote ought to have insisted with equal force that the policy of
resistance and of hope, while highly commendable and patriotic up to the
same moment, was deeply mischievous to the conquered people, and led
them into many follies and many misfortunes. And yet this was the policy
which Demosthenes hugged to the last, and which cost the lives and
fortunes of hundreds of Athenians.

[Sidenote: Old men often ruinous politics.]

I have spoken elsewhere[139:1] of the peculiar mischief to a nation of
having her fortunes at a great crisis intrusted to _old_ men.
Demosthenes was indeed only fifty years of age when the genius of
Alexander showed itself beyond any reasonable doubt. But at fifty
Demosthenes was distinctly an old man. His delicate constitution, tried
by the severest early studies, had been worn in political conflicts of
nearly thirty years' duration; and we may therefore pardon him, though
we cannot forget the fatal influence he exercised in keeping both Athens
and the other Greek cities from joining heartily in the great new
enterprise of the Macedonian king. All the Attic politicians were then
past middle life, with the exception of Hypereides.

[Sidenote: Hellenism despised.]

So then the old republican glories of Athens, the old liberties of the
Greeks, which had been tried and found wanting, were praised and hymned
by all the orators, and the great advent of a new day, the day of
_Hellenism_, was cursed as the setting of the sun of Greece. Modern
scholars, led, as usual, by literary instead of political greatness,
have in general adopted this view; and so strongly do they feel that the
proper history of Greece is now over that they either close their work
with the battle of Chæronea, or add the conquests of Alexander and the
wars of the Diadochi as a sort of ungrateful and irrelevant appendix. On
this subject I have already spoken in connection with the work of

[Sidenote: The author feels he is fighting a losing game against
democracy and its advocates.]

The love of political liberty, and the importance attached to political
independence, are so strong in the minds of the Anglo-Saxon nations that
it is not likely any one will persuade them, against the splendid
advocacy of Grote, that there may be such losses and mischiefs in a
democracy as to justify a return to a stronger executive and a greater
restriction of public speech. Nevertheless, the conviction derived from
a life-long study of Greek history is so strong in me on this question
that I feel compelled to state my opinions. It is all the more a duty as
I hold that one of the greatest lessons of ancient history is to suggest
guiding-posts and advices for the perplexities of modern life. So far
is mankind the same in all places and countries, that most civilized
peoples will stumble upon the same difficulties and will apply the same
experiments to their solution.

[Sidenote: The education of small free States.]

[Sidenote: Machiavelli and Aristotle.]

§ 58. There is no one more convinced than I am that this complex of
small, independent cities, each forming a separate State in the
strictest sense of the term, each showing modifications of internal
constitution, each contending with the same obstacles in varied
ways,--this wonderful political Many-in-one (for they were one in
religion, language, and general culture) afforded an intellectual
education to Greek citizens such as the world has not since experienced.
The _Politics_ of Aristotle is a summary of the theoretical side of that
experience, which could find no parallel till the days of Machiavelli,
whose scheme, if completed by the promised _Repubblica_, would have been
very similar. For his _Principe_ is plainly suggested by the then
re-discovered _Politics_ of Aristotle, which naturally struck the
Florentine statesman with its curiously close and various analogies to
the history of the Italian republics of the Middle Ages.

[Sidenote: Greek democratic patriotism.]

Even far more deeply did the lessons of Athenian political life act upon
the practical character of the citizen, and train him to be a rational
being submitting to the will of the majority, to which he himself
contributed in debate, taking his turn at commanding as well as obeying,
regarding the labours of office as his just contribution to the public
weal, regarding even the sacrifices he made as a privilege,--the outward
manifestation of his loyalty to the State which had made him in the
truest sense an aristocrat among men. Even when he commanded fleets or
armies he did so as the servant of the State; and any attempt to redress
private differences by personal assertion of his rights, other than the
law provided, was regarded as essentially a violation of his civility
and a return to barbarism. To carry arms for personal defence, to
challenge an adversary to mortal combat, to take forcible possession of
disputed property,--these things were greater outrages and greater
violences to civilization at Athens than they are in most of the
civilized countries of the nineteenth century.

[Sidenote: Its splendid results]

To have attained this high level, four centuries before Christ, without
the aid of a really pure system of State religion, without the aid of
that romantic sentiment which is so peculiar to Northern nations, is to
have achieved a triumph which no man can gainsay. Had the Greeks not
been subjected to this splendid training, which radiated from politics
into art and letters, and which stimulated, though it did not create,
that national genius that has since found no rival, all the glories of
Hellenism, all the splendours of Alexander's successors, all the
victories over Western barbarism would have been impossible.

[Sidenote: appear to be essentially transitory,]

[Sidenote: from internal causes.]

§ 59. But when all this is said, and however fully and eloquently it may
be urged, the fact remains that the highest education is not
all-powerful in producing internal concord and external peace. There
seems, as it were, a national strain exercised by a conquering and
imperial democracy, which its members may sustain for a generation or
two, but which cannot endure. The sweets of accumulated wealth and
domestic comfort in a civilized and agreeable society become so
delightful that the better classes will not keep up their own energy.
All work, says Aristotle, to which men submit, is for the purpose of
having leisure; and so there is a natural tendency in the cultivated
classes to stand aside from politics, and allow the established laws to
run in their now accustomed grooves. Hence the field of politics is left
to the poorer, needier, more discontented classes, who turn public life
into a means of glory and of gain, and set to work to disturb the State
that they may satisfy their followers and obtain fuel to feed their own
ambition. To such persons either a successful war upon neighbours, or an
attack upon the propertied classes at home, becomes a necessity.

[Sidenote: The case of America.]

Let me state a modern case. The natural resources of America are still
so vast that this inevitable result has not yet ensued. But whenever a
limit has been reached and the pinch of poverty increases, we may expect
it to arise in the United States. Even the Athenian democracy, when its
funds were low and higher taxes were threatened, hailed with approval
informations against rich citizens, in the hope that by confiscations of
their property the treasury might be replenished.

[Sidenote: The demagogue.]

This is the heyday of the demagogue, who tells the people--the poorer
crowd--that they have a right to all the comforts and blessings of the
State, and that their pleasures must not be curtailed while there are
men of large property living in idle luxury. Such arguments produce
violences instead of legal decisions; the demagogue becomes a tyrant
over the richer classes; the public safety is postponed to private
interests; and so the power of the democracy as regards external foes is
weakened in proportion as the harmony among its citizens is disturbed.

[Sidenote: Internal disease the real cause of decadence.]

[Sidenote: The Greek States all in this condition,]

Such are the changes which Greek theorists regarded as inevitable in a
democracy, and as certain to bring about its ultimate fall. Whatever may
be the case with the great States of modern days, this prognosis was
thoroughly verified in Greek history. It may safely be said that no
State was ever crushed by external adversaries at the period of its
perfection. In every case internal decay has heralded the overthrow from
without. There is no reasonable probability that, had there never been a
Philip or an Alexander, Athens, Sparta, Thebes, or Argos would have
risen into a glorious future and revived the splendours of Leonidas or
of Pericles. We may deeply regret that the maintenance of such
prosperity should seem impossible; we may laud in the strongest words
the condition of things which had once made it actual: but the day for
this splendour was gone by; and far better than the impotence of an
unjust mob, and the chicanery of an unprincipled leader, is the
subjection of all to external control, even with the impairing or
abolishing of universal suffrage.

[Sidenote: as Phocion saw,]

This was evidently the opinion of Phocion, an honourable and experienced
man, whose contempt for the floods of talk in Athens, leading to waste
of time and delay in action, made him the persistent opponent of
Demosthenes, but nevertheless trusted and respected even by the mob whom
he openly despised. We may indeed feel glad that his policy did not
earlier prevail,--we should have lost the speeches of Demosthenes; and
to the after world this loss would not have been compensated, had the
Athenians merely escaped their troubles and lived in peaceful

[Sidenote: but which Demosthenes ignored.]

Demosthenes says proudly, in a famous passage of his immortal _De
Corona_, that even in presence of his life's failure, even after all he
had attempted had been wrecked by circumstances, he would not recall one
act of his life, one argument in his speeches, no, not by the heroes
that stood the brunt of battle at Marathon, by the memory of all those
who died for their country's liberty!

[Sidenote: The dark shadows of his later years.]

§ 60. We may all applaud this noble self-panegyric, but not the
irritating agitation which he had adopted and continued for fifteen
years against the Macedonian supremacy, and which involved his country
in further distresses, and cost him and his brother-agitators their
lives. For the very means he used to carry on his policy of revolt were
more than doubtful in their honesty, and have thrown a dark shade upon
his memory. The fact is, as I have already said, that while Phocion, the
enemy of the democratic policy, is above all suspicion, both
contemporaries and survivors had their doubts about Demosthenes.

[Sidenote: His professional character as an advocate.]

I need not discuss here the allegation that he made speeches for money
on opposite sides in the successive trials of the same case. The fact
appears to me clear enough, for it is only evaded by his panegyrists
with their stock expedient of declaring one of such opposing speeches,
though accepted by the best ancient critics, to be spurious. But the
morals of the bar from that day to this are so peculiar--I will not say
loose--as to make the layman hesitate in offering an opinion. That a man
should take fees for a case in which he cannot appear, or retain them
when he is debarred by lucrative promotion from appearing for his
client, seems to be consistent with the morality of the modern bar. Why
then try Demosthenes by a severer standard?

[Sidenote: The affair of Harpalus.]

But a larger question arises when we find him arraigned for embezzling a
sum of money brought to Athens by a fugitive defaulter from Alexander's
treasury, and moreover convicted of the embezzlement. The chorus of
modern critics, with a very occasional exception, cry out that of course
the accusation was false, and the verdict simply a political move to
escape the wrath of the formidable Macedonian. But the facts remain, and
this moreover among them, that the principal accuser of Demosthenes was
his brother-patriot Hypereides, who afterwards suffered death for the
anti-Macedonian cause[147:1].

[Sidenote: Was the verdict against Demosthenes just?]

The evidence left to us seems to me not sufficient to overthrow the
Athenian verdict on political grounds, and is certainly not such as to
justify us in acquitting Demosthenes without further consideration. The
real ground, however, which actuates modern historians is quite a
different one from that of the evidence adduced, and is, I think, based
on a historical misprision, a false estimate of the current morals of
the day. I think it well to state the case here; for it is a test case,
and affects many of our judgments of other Greek politicians as well as
of Demosthenes.

[Sidenote: The modern ground of acquittal.]

§ 61. The modern ground of acquittal urged is this, that we cannot for a
moment conceive a pure and high-souled patriot, who had risked all for
the national cause, to have been guilty of taking bribes or embezzling
money. Schäfer indeed distinctly says[148:1] that his judgment is
determined by his estimate of the moral character of its hero; and so
not only weak and illogical speeches, but immoral or dishonest acts, are
simply to be set aside as inconceivable in so lofty and unsullied a
nature. Whether this be a sensible way of writing history, I leave the
reader to decide. What I am now going to urge is this, that in the
morality of Attic politics, taking money privately was not thought
disgraceful, but was, with certain restrictions, openly asserted to be
quite justifiable.

[Sidenote: Morality of politicians expounded by Hypereides.]

Hypereides puts it plainly in his speech in this very case. Seeing that
it was not the practice at Athens to pay salaries to politicians for
their services, the public, he says, was quite prepared that they should
make indirect profits and receive money privately for their work; the
one thing intolerable was that they should take it from the enemies of
their country or to prejudice Athenian interests.

[Sidenote: Modern sentiment at least repudiates these principles.]

In England we have had the good fortune to find rich men of high
traditions to carry on the affairs of the nation, and even where we do
not, or used not, to give salaries, it has been long thought
disgraceful to make politics the source of private gain. How far it was
done or not, in spite of this feeling, we need not inquire. There can be
no doubt that now, at all events, there are large numbers of men
supporting themselves by a parliamentary career; and it is usually said
of America also, that politics are there regarded as a lucrative
profession, and that the men who spend their lives in politics from mere
ambition or from pure patriotism are very rare indeed. Still I think
modern sentiment, theoretically at least, brands these indirect profits
as disgraceful; nor do I think any modern advocate would describe such a
practice as perfectly excusable in the way that Hypereides expresses it.

We are dealing, therefore, with a condition of public morality in which
taking bribes, to put it plainly, was not at all considered a heinous
offence, provided always that they were not taken to injure the State.
You might therefore be a patriot at Athens, and yet make that patriotism
a source of profit.

[Sidenote: As regards practice we have Walpole]

This combination of high and sordid principles seems so shocking to
modern gentlemen that I must remind them of two instances not irrelevant
to the question in hand. In the first place men who were thoroughly
honourable and served their country faithfully, as, for example, Sir
Robert Walpole, have thought it quite legitimate to corrupt with money
those under them and those opposed to them. Though they would scorn to
receive bribes, they did not scruple to offer them; and they have left
it on record that they found few men unwilling to accept such bribes in
some indirect or disguised form.

[Sidenote: and the Greek patriots of our own century.]

Again, if the reader will turn to the narratives of the great War of
Liberation in Greece, which lasted some ten years of this century
(1821-1831), and will study the history of the national leaders who
fought all the battles by sea and land, and contributed far more than
foreign aid to the success of that remarkable Revolution, he will find
that on the one hand they were actuated with the strongest and most
passionate feelings of patriotism, while on the other they did not
scruple to turn the war to their own profit[150:1]. They were klephts,
bandits, assassins. They often took bribes to save the families of
Turks, and then allowed them to be massacred. They made oaths and broke
them, signed treaties and violated them. And yet there is not the
smallest doubt that they were strictly patriots, in the sense of loving
their country, and even shedding their blood for it.

[Sidenote: Analogous to the case of Demosthenes.]

[Sidenote: The end justified the means.]

§ 62. Let us now come back to the case of Demosthenes. At the opening of
his career he would have gladly obtained money and men from Macedon to
use against Persia; for Persia then seemed a danger to Greece. Later on,
his policy was to obtain money from Persia to attack Macedon; and we are
told that in the crisis before Chæronea he had control of large funds of
foreign gold, which he administered as he chose. The one great end was
to break the power of Macedon. And so I have not the smallest doubt that
if he thought the gold of Harpalus would enable him to emancipate
Athens, he was perfectly ready to accept it, even on the terms of
screening Harpalus from any personal danger, provided this did not balk
the one great object in view. Thus the telling of a deliberate lie,
which to modern gentlemen is a crime of the same magnitude as taking a
bribe, is in the minds of many of our politicians justified by urgent
public necessity[151:1]. It is hardly worth while to give instances of
this notorious laxity in European public life. Is it reasonable, is it
fair, to try Demosthenes by a far higher standard?

This is why I contend that it is illogical and unhistorical to argue
that because Demosthenes was an honourable man and a patriot, therefore
he could not have done what he was convicted of doing by the

[Sidenote: Low average of Greek national morality.]

At no time was the average morality of the Greeks very high. From the
days of Homer down, as I have shown amply in my _Social Life in Greece_,
we find a low standard of truth and honesty in that brilliant society,
which is gilded over to us by their splendid intellectual gifts. As
Ulysses in legend, Themistocles in early, Aratus in later history are
the types which speak home to Greek imagination and excite the national
admiration, so in a later day Cicero, in a remarkable passage, where he
discusses the merits and demerits of the race[152:2], lays it down as an
axiom that their honesty is below par, and will never rank in court with
a Roman's word.

[Sidenote: Demosthenes above it.]

Exceptions there were, such as Aristides, Socrates, Phocion; but they
never enlisted the sympathy, though they commanded the respect, of the
Greek public. Nay, all these suffered for their honesty. I do not
believe Demosthenes to have been below the average morality of his
age,--far from it; he was in all respects, save in military skill, much
above it: but I do not believe he was at all of the type of his
adversary, Phocion, who was honest and incorruptible in the strictest
modern sense.

[Sidenote: Deep effect of his rhetorical earnestness.]

[Sidenote: The perfection of his art is to be apparently natural.]

The illusion has here again been produced by the perfect art of
Demosthenes, whose speeches read as if he spoke the inmost sentiments of
his mind and laid his whole soul open with all earnestness and sincerity
to the hearer. I suppose there was a day when people thought this
splendid, direct, apparently unadorned eloquence burst from the fulness
of his heart, and found its burning expression upon his lips merely from
the power of truth and earnestness to speak to the hearts of other men.
We know very well now that this is the most absurd of estimates. Every
sentence, every clause, was turned and weighed; the rythm of every
phrase was balanced; the very interjections and exclamations were nicely
calculated. There never was any speaking or writing more strictly
artificial since the world of literature began. But as the most perfect
art upon the stage attains the exact image of nature, so the perfection
of Greek oratory was to produce the effect of earnestness and simplicity
by the most subtle means, adding concealed harmonies of sound, and
figures of thought, by which the audience could be charmed and beguiled
into a delighted acquiescence. This is the sort of rhetorician with whom
we have to deal, and who regarded the simple and trenchant Phocion as
the most dangerous 'pruner of his periods.' To many persons such a
school of eloquence, however perfect, will not seem the strictest
school for plain uprightness in action; and they will rather be
surprised at the eagerness of modern historians to defend him against
all accusations, than at the decisive, though reluctant, condemnation
which he suffered at the hands of his own citizens[154:1]. All the life
of Demosthenes shows a strong theatrical tendency, even as he is said to
have named [Greek: hypokrisis] (the art of delivery) as the essence of
eloquence. It is in this connection that Holm justly finds fault with
the modern critics, who reject indeed the ribaldry of Æschines as
mendacious, but set down that of Demosthenes as a source of sober
history. The scandalous accusations made by all these orators against
their opponents have one distinct parallel in earlier history--the
sallies of the Old Comedy. This kind of political play died out with the
rise of dramatic oratory, which was fully as libellous. Holm's remark is
also worth repeating in this connection, that the dialectical
discussions of the later tragedy were appropriated by the philosophers,
whose dialogues satisfied the strong taste of the Athenians for this
kind of intellectual exercise.


[132:1] He says indeed in one place (_Panegyr._ p. 51) that Hellenedom
is rather a matter of common culture, than of common race. But nowhere
does he ever acknowledge that foreign races as such can attain this
culture, and he shows the respect of every old-fashioned Hellene for the
Spartans, who belonged to the race, but were devoid of this culture.

[132:2] The texts are all cited in my _History of Greek Literature_, ii.
215, when treating of Isocrates.

[134:1] Cf. the texts in my _Greek Lit._ ii. 2, pp. 87, 105.

[135:1] As it did Niebuhr, who was brought up in the great struggle of
Germany with Napoleon.

[136:1] This absurd feeling has gone so far as to lead Demosthenes'
admirers to blacken the character of all those who opposed him, not only
of Philip of Macedon, but of Eubulus and other Attic politicians. Holm
has very well defended Eubulus (G. G. iii. 252 _sq._), and has also
vindicated Philip from the usual accusations of treachery, cruelty, and
tyranny (_ibid._ 327).

[137:1] I cannot avoid citing a parallel from contemporary history,
which is by no means so far-fetched as may appear to those who have not
studied both cases so carefully as I have been obliged to do. The Irish
landlords, a rich, respectable, idle, uncohesive body, have been
attacked by an able and organized agitation, unscrupulous, mendacious,
unwearied, which has carried point after point against them, and now
threatens to force them to capitulate, or evacuate their estates in the
country. It has been said a thousand times: Why do not these landlords
unite and fight their enemy? They have far superior capital; they have
had from the outset public influence far greater; they have a far
stronger case, not only in law, but in real justice: and yet they allow
their opponents to push them from position to position, till little
remains to be conquered. Even after a series of defeats we tell them
still that if they would now combine, subscribe, select, and trust their
leaders, they could win. And all this is certain. But it is not likely
that they will ever do it. One is fond of his pleasures, another of his
idleness, a third is jealous of any leader who is put forward, a fourth
is trying underhand to make private terms with the enemy. A small and
gallant minority subscribe, labour, debate. They are still a
considerable force, respected and feared by their foes. But the main
body is inert, jealous, helpless; and unless their very character be
changed, these qualities must inevitably lead to their ruin.

[138:1] Holm, in his remarkable estimate of the Greek policy of this
time, goes so far as to say that Demosthenes' efforts even before
Chæronea were mischievous, and that the idea he constantly puts forward,
of making Athens great by weakening her old rivals Sparta and Thebes, is
no better than supporting that old particularism which always made the
Greeks inferior to any powerful or wealthy foreign State. Holm thinks
that a larger and truer policy was that of Isocrates, who would have
loyally accepted the hegemony of Philip, that he might lead the whole
nation against a foreign enemy. We may be able to see things in that
light now, yet I cannot blame Demosthenes, and the patriotic party at
Athens, for neglecting the essay of Isocrates, and desiring to maintain
Athens upon the old lines. But their effort was neither honestly nor
persistently supported by the main body of the Athenians.

[139:1] _Greek Life and Thought_, p. 4.

[140:1] Above, § 10.

[147:1] It is nevertheless not likely that Hypereides was personally
intimate with Demosthenes, for he was not, as is usually stated, his
contemporary, but a man of a younger generation, as I have argued in my
_Greek Lit._ ii. 2, p. 371. I invite the critics either to refute or to
accept the arguments there stated.

I can now cite several scholars of the first magnitude whose estimate of
Demosthenes agrees in almost every detail with what I had argued in my
_History of Greek Literature_. They are H. Weil, in his admirable
edition of Demosthenes (Paris, 1886), and Holm in the third volume of
his History (1891), especially the passage (pp. 247-9), which shows that
there is now a general tendency to judge Demosthenes less leniently than
Grote and Schäfer have done. Beloch, Sittl, Spengel, and other
considerable critics are quoted in his summary. It is no small
satisfaction to me to see the opinions I put forth in the first edition
of _Social Life in Greece_ (1871), which were then treated as paradoxes,
now adopted, quite independently, by a large body of the best critics. I
do not, however, think that they have sufficiently appreciated the low
standard of political honesty at Athens, as compared with ours. This
affords the best apology for Demosthenes' faults. He was, after all, the
child of his time.

[148:1] _Demosthenes_, iii. 239 _et passim_: cf. Curtius, G. G. iii. 774
(note 44).

[150:1] Finlay even goes so far as to say that the islanders of Hydra,
who were certainly the most prominent in the cause of patriotism, were
actuated by no higher motives than despair at the loss of the lucrative
monopoly they had enjoyed of visiting all the ports of Europe during the
great Napoleonic wars under the protection of the neutral flag of
Turkey! The patriotism of these people did not include gratitude.

[151:1] But according to our evidence, Demosthenes did not deny that he
had taken the money; he pleaded as an excuse that he had advanced for
the Theoric Fund, for the benefit of the Athenians, twenty talents, and
that he had recouped himself for this money. This is the plea put into
his mouth by Hypereides (_in Demosth._ 10). Such a defence, which merely
amounted to making the Athenian public an unwitting accomplice, is so
suicidal in Demosthenes' mouth, that I hesitate to accept it as it
stands, though Holm (G. G. iii. 420) does so.

[152:1] All the evidence has been justly weighed by Holm, G. G. iii.
420-4, who comes to the same conclusion which I had put forward twenty
years ago, long before the recent change of opinion concerning
Demosthenes. That the Athenians condemned the orator justly, and to a
moderate penalty, can be demonstrated from his own admissions. Political
expediencies doubtless secured his conviction; they do not prove it to
have been unjust.

[152:2] _Pro Flacco_, cap. iv. _Graeca fides_ was a stock phrase.

[154:1] Cf. now the sensible remarks of Holm, G. G. 501 _sq._, who
criticises this exceedingly studied oratory from the very same



[Sidenote: The further course of Greek history.]

§ 63. As I have said already, the death of Demosthenes is the favourite
terminus for the political historians of Greece. But let us not grow
weary,--let us survey the fortunes of the race for some centuries more,
touching upon those turning-points or knotty points where it seems that
the evidence has not been duly stated or weighed.

[Sidenote: Droysen's _Geschichte des Hellenismus_.]

In approaching the work and the character of Alexander, we come upon a
new authority among modern historians, whom we have not yet encountered.
Droysen, who unfortunately devoted the evening of his life to Prussian
history, employed his brilliant abilities for years in researches upon
the history of Alexander and of his immediate successors. His latest
work on this period is no doubt the fullest and best to which we can
refer, and it seems a very great omission that it has not been as yet
translated into our language.

[Sidenote: This period much neglected by English historians.]

[Sidenote: Nature of our authorities.]

This is more specially to be desired as we have no great English history
of these times. It is but another instance of what has been so often
urged in these pages. Greek history has been in the hands of people
with literary and scholastic interests. So long as there are great
authors to be translated, explained, panegyrized, all the most minute
events are recorded and discussed with care; but as soon as we come to
an epoch certainly not less important in human affairs, perhaps more
decisive than any that had gone before in shaping the future history of
the world, we are deserted by our modern historians, because the Greeks
had lost that literary excellence which makes their earlier records the
proper training for the schoolboy and the collegian[156:1]. We are now
reduced to Diodorus, Plutarch, Arrian, Strabo, for our materials, and
there are those who think that the moral splendour and unfailing
interest of the famous _Parallel Lives_ do not atone for the want of
Attic grace and strength which marks the decadence of Greek prose
literature. Yet surely to the genuine historian, to whom all these
records are merely sources of information on the course of affairs and
the characters of men, literary perfection should only be an agreeable
accident, an evidence, if you like, of that day's culture, not a gauge
to test the pre-eminence of one century or one nation over another.

[Sidenote: Alexander's place in history still disputed.]

§ 64. Accordingly, the character of Alexander and his work have not yet
been sufficiently weighed and studied to afford us a perfectly clear
picture, which might carry conviction to the majority of readers, and
finally fix his place in history. As I said above[157:1], Grote's
picture of him--the only recent study of the period in England previous
to my own _Alexander's Empire_ and _Greek Life and Thought_--is so
manifestly unfair that no candid judge will be satisfied with it. If any
other writer had used against Demosthenes or Pericles such evidence as
Grote cites and believes against Alexander, the great historian would
have cried shame upon him, and refuted his arguments with the high
satisfaction of supporting an unanswerable case.

[Sidenote: Grote's unfairness in accepting evidence against him.]

Thus, for example, Grote finds in Q. Curtius, a late, rhetorical, and
very untrustworthy Latin historian of Alexander, theatrical details of
Alexander's cruelties to the heroic defender of Gaza, or the mythical
descendants of the Milesian Branchidæ who had settled in Inner
Asia,--details unknown to Arrian, unknown apparently to the Athenians of
the day, and fairly to be classed with the king's adventures among the
Amazons or in the land beyond the Sun. Yet these stories have their
distinct effect upon Grote's estimate of Alexander, whom he esteems
hardly a Hellene, but a semi-barbarian conqueror, of transcendent
military abilities, only desirous of making for himself a great Oriental
despot-monarchy, with a better and more efficient military and civil
organization, but without any preparations for higher civilization.

[Sidenote: Droysen's estimate.]

The estimate of Droysen is nearer the truth, but still not strictly the
truth itself[158:1]. To him the Macedonian is a political as well as a
military genius of the highest order, who is educated in all the views
of Aristotle, who understands thoroughly that the older forms of
political life are effete, that small separate States require to be
united under a strong central control. He even divines that the wealth
and resources of Asia require regeneration through Greek intelligence
and enterprise, and therefore the 'marriage of Europe and Asia,' of
which the manifest symbol was the wholesale matrimony of his officers
with Persian ladies, was the real aim and goal of all his achievements.
As such Alexander is more than the worthy pupil of Aristotle, and the
legitimate originator of a new and striking form of civilization.

[Sidenote: Tendency to attribute calculation to genius.]

[Sidenote: Its spontaneity.]

§ 65. There is, I think, a great tendency, whenever we come to estimate
a great and exceptional genius, to regard him as manifesting merely a
higher degree of that conscious ability called talent, or cleverness.
It is much easier to understand this view of genius than to give any
rational account of its spontaneity, its unconscious and unreflective
inspirations, which seem to anticipate, and solve without effort,
questions laboriously answered by the patient research or experiment of
ordinary minds[159:1]. We talk of 'flashes of genius.' When these
flashes come often enough, and affect large political questions, we have
results which baffle ordinary mortals, and are easily mistaken either
for random luck or acute calculation.

[Sidenote: Alexander's military antecedents.]

If I am right, Alexander started with few definite ideas beyond the
desire of great military conquests. On this point his views were
probably quite clear, and no doubt often reasoned out with his early
companions. He had seen the later campaigns of Philip, and had
discovered at Chæronea what the shock of heavy cavalry would do against
the best infantry the Greek world could produce. In his very first
operations to put down revolt and secure his crown, he had made trial of
his field artillery, and of the marching powers of his army through the
difficult Thracian country. He therefore required no Aristotle to tell
him that with the combined arms of Greece and Macedonia he could conquer
the Persian Empire. His reckless exposure of his life at the Granicus
and at Issus may indeed be interpreted as the divine confidence of a
genius in his star, but seems to me nothing more than a manifest defect
in his generalship, counterbalanced to some extent by the enthusiasm it
aroused in his household troops.

[Sidenote: He learns to respect Persian valour and loyalty.]

But it also taught him a very important lesson. He had probably quite
underrated the high qualities of the Persian nobles. Their splendid
bravery and unshaken loyalty to their king in all the battles of the
campaign, their evident dignity and liberty under a legitimate sovran,
must have shown him that these were indeed subjects worth having, and
destined to be some day of great importance in checking Greek discontent
or Macedonian insubordination. The fierce and stubborn resistance of the
great Aryan barons of Sogdiana, which cost him more time and loss than
all his previous conquests, must have confirmed this opinion, and led to
that recognition of the Persians in his empire which was so deeply
resented by his Western subjects.

[Sidenote: He discovers how to fuse the nations in Alexandria.]

§ 66. His campaigns, on the other hand, must have at the same time
forced this upon his mind, that the deep separation which had hitherto
existed between East and West would make a homogeneous empire
impossible, if pains were not taken to fuse the races by some large and
peaceful process[160:1]. This problem was the first great political
difficulty he solved; and he solved it very early in his career by the
successful experiment of founding a city on the confines of the Greek
seas and the Asiatic continent, into which Jews and Egyptians crowded
along with Greeks, and produced the first specimen of that composite
Hellenistic life which soon spread over all his empire.

[Sidenote: His development of commerce.]

[Sidenote: Diffusion of gold.]

This happy experiment, no doubt intended as an experiment, and perhaps
the easiest and most obvious under the circumstances, must have set
Alexander's mind into the right groove. Further advances into Asia
showed him the immense field open to conquest by his arms, and also by
the higher culture and enterprise of Greeks and Jews. He must have felt
that in the foundation of chains of cities peopled by veterans and
traders he would secure not only a military frontier and military
communications, but _entrepôts_ for the rising trade which brought new
luxuries from the East, and new inventions from the West. Two distinct
causes tended largely to promote this commerce, the vigorous maintenance
of peace and security on roads and frontiers, and still more the
dissemination of a vast hoard of gold captured in the Persian
treasuries. This hoard, amounting to several millions of our money, not
only stimulated trade by its mere circulation, but afforded the merchant
a medium of exchange as superior in convenience to baser metals as
bank-notes are to gold. The new merchant could pay out of his girdle in
gold as much as his father had paid out of a camel's load in silver or
copper. I have no doubt the Jews were the first people to profit by
these altered circumstances, and thus to attain that importance from
Rhodes to Rhagæ which comes to light so suddenly and silently in the
history of the Diadochi.

[Sidenote: Development of Alexander's views.]

[Sidenote: His romantic imagination.]

[Sidenote: No pupil of Aristotle.]

These changes seem to me to have dawned gradually, though quickly, upon
the powerful mind of the conqueror, and to have transformed him from a
young knight-errant in search of fame into a statesman facing an
enormous responsibility. His intense and indefatigable spirit knew no
repose except the distraction of physical excitement; and unfortunately,
with the growth of larger views, his love of glory and of adventure was
not stilled. No cares of State or legislative labours were able to
quench the romance of his imagination and the longing to make new
explorations and new conquests. This is the feature which legends of the
East and West have caught with poetic truth; they have transformed the
visions of his fancy into the chronicle of his life. But all that he did
in the way of real government, of practical advancement in civilization,
of respecting and adjusting conflicting rights among his various
subjects, seems to me the result of a rapid practical insight, a large
comprehension of pressing wants and useful reforms, not the working out
of any mature theory. Hence I regard it as nonsense to call the
politician and the king in any important sense the pupil of Aristotle.
There is hardly a point in the _Politics_ which can be regarded as
having been adopted in the Macedonian settlement of the world. The whole
conditions of this problem and its solution were non-Hellenic,
non-speculative, new.

[Sidenote: His portentous activity.]

§ 67. It is quite possible that some of Alexander's most successful
ordinances were not fully understood by himself, if what I have said
above of the spontaneous action of genius be true. But certainly many of
them were clearly seen and really planned. What astonishes us most is
the supernatural quickness and vigour of the man. He died at an early
age, but we may well question whether he died young. His body was hacked
with wounds, worn with hard exercise and still harder drinking. His mind
had undergone a perpetual strain. We feel that he lived at such a rate
that to him thirty years were like a century of ordinary life.

[Sidenote: Compare with Napoleon,]

[Sidenote: and Cromwell.]

[Sidenote: Use of artillery.]

It is a favourite amusement to compare the great men of different
epochs, who are never very similar, for a great genius is an individual
belonging to no class, and can neither be copied nor replaced.
Nevertheless it may be said that Napoleon shows more points of
resemblance than most other conquerors to the Macedonian king. Had he
died of fever on his way to Russia, while his Grand Army was unbroken,
he would have left a military reputation hardly inferior to Alexander's.
He won his campaigns by the same rapidity in movement, the same resource
in sudden emergencies. But if Alexander's strategy was similar to that
of Napoleon, his tactics on the battlefield bear the most curious
resemblance to those which Cromwell devised for himself under analogous
circumstances. Both generals saw that by organizing a heavy cavalry
under perfect control, and not intended for mere pursuit, they could
break up any infantry formation then possible. Both accordingly won all
their battles by charges of this cavalry, while the enemy's cavalry,
often equally victorious in attack, went in wild pursuit, and had no
further effect in deciding the contest. It is even the case that both
chose their right wing for their own attack, and used their infantry as
the defensive arm of the action. This curious analogy, which seems never
to have been noticed, only shows how great minds will find out the same
solution of a difficulty, whenever like circumstances arise. It is in
the use of field artillery, which Alexander brought to bear in quite a
novel way upon the northern barbarians in his first campaign, that we
should probably find, were our evidence more complete, a resemblance to
the tactics which Napoleon employed at Waterloo, attacking with cavalry
and artillery together, in a manner which appeared strange even to

But the analogy to Napoleon holds good beyond the battlefield. Although
both conquerors commenced their career as soldiers, both showed
themselves indefatigable in office-work of a peaceful kind, and
exceedingly able in the construction of laws. Napoleon imposed, if he
did not originate, the best code in modern Europe, and he is known to
have worked diligently and with great power at its details.

[Sidenote: Vain but not envious.]

Both showed the same disagreeable insistence upon their own superiority
to other men, whose rivalry they could not brook. But Alexander sought
to maintain it by exalting himself to a superhuman position, Napoleon by
degrading his rivals with the poisoned weapons of calumny and lies. The
falsehoods of Napoleon's official documents have never been surpassed.
Alexander did not sink so low; but the assertion of divinity seems to
most of us moderns a more monstrous violation of modesty, and a flaw
which affects the whole character of the claimant.

[Sidenote: His assumption of divinity questioned.]

§ 68. So strongly is this felt that an acute writer, Mr. D. C. Hogarth,
has endeavoured to show[165:1] that this too was one of the later fables
invented about Alexander, and that the king himself never personally
laid claim to a divine origin. The criticism of the evidence in this
essay is excellent, and to most people will seem convincing.
Nevertheless, after due examination of the matter, I am satisfied that
the conclusion is wrong, and there is good reason to think that the
visit to the temple of Ammon was connected with the policy of deriving
Alexander's origin from that god. The very name Alexandria, given at
that moment to his new foundation, was a formation only hitherto known
in connection with a god's name. The taunt of his soldiers at Babylon,
that he should apply to his father Ammon, is perfectly well attested,
and implies that his claim to divinity was well known in the army.

[Sidenote: An ordinary matter in those days.]

But to my mind a greater flaw in this able essay is the assumption that
for a Greek or Macedonian to claim divine origin was as odious and
ridiculous as for a modern man to do so. It is only yesterday that men
held in Europe the theory that monarchy was of divine origin. In Egypt
and the East it was quite the common creed that the monarchs themselves
were such.[166:1] The new subjects of the Macedonian king would have
thought it more extraordinary that he should not have claimed this
descent than that he should; and in Egypt especially the belief that the
king was the son of a god and a god himself did not conflict with the
assertion of his ordinary human parentage. This is a condition of
thought which we cannot grasp, and cannot therefore realize; but
nevertheless the fact is as certain as any in ancient history.

[Sidenote: Perhaps not asserted among the Greeks.]

The assertion, therefore, of divinity in the East was an ordinary piece
of policy which Alexander could hardly avoid; the writer I have quoted
has, however, shown strong reasons to doubt that he ever claimed it in
Greece, though individual Greeks who visited his Eastern court at once
perceived it in the ceremonial of his household, and though his soldiers
taunted him with it during their revolt at Babylon. But this after all
is a small matter. He probably knew better than any of his critics how
to impress his authority upon his subjects; and whether it was from
vanity or from policy or from a contempt of other men that he insisted
upon his own divinity, is now of little consequence.


[156:1] Hence Fynes Clinton's third volume of _Fasti_, now fifty years
old, is still by far the most complete collection of materials for
studying later Hellenism. He not only gives all manner of out-of-the-way
texts in full, but also a very excellent sketch of each of the
Hellenistic monarchies, with dates and other credentials. Considering
the time of its appearance (1845), it may be regarded as one of the
finest monuments of English scholarship.

[157:1] Cf. § 10.

[158:1] With the usual zeal of a specialist, who not only makes a hero
his own, but defends him against every criticism, Droysen even justifies
Alexander's introduction of the Oriental obeisances at his court. As
Holm observes, such ceremonies, in themselves impolitic as regards free
subjects, were quite inconsistent with the familiarities of the
drinking-parties, which Alexander would not deny himself. A Persian King
would have understood this, not so a Macedonian. The latest estimate,
that of Holm (iii. 403 _sq._), appears to me also far the best. Yet he
too, seems to attribute too much consciousness to the youthful

[159:1] Thus Timoleon set up in his house a shrine to [Greek:
Automatia], the spontaneous impulse which had led him to many brilliant
successes. Cf. my _Greek Life and Thought_, p. 110.

[160:1] We hear of the complaints of Macedonians and Greeks. The
complaints of the Persians have not been transmitted to us; but as they
were certainly more just and well-founded, and as the king was living in
their midst, where he could not but hear them, are we rash in asserting
that they must have been fully as important in influencing his decision?
Could the many Persian princesses, married to high Macedonian officers,
and their native retinues, have been satisfied or silenced without large

[165:1] In the _Historical Review_ for 1887, pp. 317, _sqq._

[166:1] It is to be noted that the Achæmenid kings, though asserting for
themselves a Divine origin, did not claim to be gods. I think the first
Greek who received in his lifetime supra-human honours was Lysander, who
was flattered by altars, &c., in Asia Minor after his great victory.



[Sidenote: Tumults of the Diadochi:]

[Sidenote: their intricacy;]

§ 69. The period which follows the death of Alexander is one so
complicated with wars and alliances, with combinations and defections,
with reshapings of the world's kingdoms[168:1], with abortive efforts at
a new settlement, that it deters most men from its study, and has
certainly acted as a damper upon the student who is not satisfied with
the earlier history, but strives to penetrate to the closing centuries
of freedom in Greece. There is very little information upon it, or
rather there are but few books upon it, to be found in English.
Thirlwall has treated it with his usual care and justice; and to those
who will not follow minute and intricate details, I have recently given,
in my _Greek Life and Thought_, a full study of the social and artistic
development which took place in this and the succeeding periods of
Hellenism in Greece and the East. Hertzberg's and Droysen's histories,
the one confined in space to Greece proper, the other in time to the
fourth and third centuries B.C., are both thorough and excellent works.
Holm's final volume, which will include the same period, is not yet
accessible, so that I cannot notice it.

[Sidenote: their wide area.]

[Sidenote: The liberation of Greece.]

A great part of this history was enacted, not in Greece, or even in
Greek Asia Minor, but in Egypt, in Syria, in Mesopotamia, and even in
Upper Asia. The campaigns which determined the mastery over Greece were
usually Asiatic campaigns, and each conqueror, when he arrived at
Athens, endeavoured to enlist the support of Greece by public
declarations of the freedom, or rather the emancipation, of the Greeks.
This constant and yet unmeaning manifesto, something like the Home Rule
manifestoes of English politicians, is a very curious and interesting
feature in the history of the _Diadochi_, as they are called, and
suggests to us to consider what was the independence so often proclaimed
from the days of Demetrius (306 B.C.) to those of the Roman T.
Flamininus (196 B.C.), and why so unreal and shadowy a promise never
ceased to fascinate the imagination of an acute and practical people.

[Sidenote: Spread of monarchies.]

[Sidenote: The three Hellenistic kingdoms.]

For, on the other hand, it was quite admitted by all the speculative as
well as the practical men of the age that monarchy was not only the
usual form of the Hellenistic State, but was the only means of holding
together large provinces of various peoples, with diverse traditions and
diverse ways of life. From this point of view the monarchy of the
Seleucids in Hither Asia, and that of the Antigonids over the Greek
peninsula, are far more interesting than the simpler and more
homogeneous kingdom of the Ptolemies in Egypt[170:1]. For the Greeks in
Egypt were never a large factor in the population. They settled only two
or three districts up the country; they shared with Jews and natives the
great mart of Alexandria, and even there their influence waned, and the
Alexandria of Roman days is no longer a Hellenistic, but an Egyptian
city. The persecutions by the seventh Ptolemy, who is generally credited
with the wholesale expulsion of the Greeks, would only have had a
transitory effect, had not the tide of population been setting that way;
the persecutions of the Jews in the same city never produced the same
lasting results. The Syrian monarchy stands out from this and even from
the Macedonian as the proper type of a Hellenistic State. Unfortunately,
the history of Antioch is almost totally lost, and the very vestiges of
that great capital are shivered to pieces by earthquakes. Of its
provinces, one only is tolerably well-known to us, but not till later
days, through the _Antiquities_ of Josephus, and the _New

[Sidenote: New problems.]

§ 70. How did the Greeks of Europe and of Asia accommodate themselves to
this altered state of things, which not only affected their political
life, but led to a revolution in their social state? For it was the
emigrant, the adventurer, the mercenary, who now got wealth and power
into his hands, it was the capitalist who secured all the advantages of
trade; and so there arose in every city a moneyed class, whose interests
were directly at variance with the mass of impoverished citizens.
Moreover the king's lieutenant or agent was a greater man in the city
than the leading politician. Public discussions and resolutions among
the free men of Athens or Ephesus were often convincing, oftener
exciting, but of no effect against superior forces which lay quietly in
the hands of the controlling Macedonian.

[Sidenote: Politics abandoned by thinking men,]

We may then classify the better men of that day as follows. First there
was a not inconsiderable number of thoughtful and serious men who
abandoned practical politics altogether, as being for small States and
cities a thing of the past, and only leading to discontent and
confusion. These men adopted the general conclusion, in which all the
philosophical schools coincided, that peace of mind and true liberty of
life were to be obtained by retiring from the world and spending one's
days in that practice of personal virtues which was the religion of a
nation that had no creed adequate to its spiritual wants.

[Sidenote: except as a purely theoretical question,]

[Sidenote: with some fatal exceptions.]

Nevertheless among other topics of speculation these men sometimes
treated of politics; and when they did condescend to action, it was to
carry out trenchant theories, and to act on principle, without regard to
the terrible practical consequences of imposing a new order of things on
a divided or uneducated public. The Stoic philosophers, in particular,
who interfered in the public life of that day, were dangerous
firebrands, not hesitating at the murder of an opponent; for were not
all fools criminal, and was not he that offended in one point guilty of
all? Such men as the Sphærus who advised the _coup d'état_ of the
Spartan Cleomenes[172:1], and the Blossius who stimulated the Gracchi
into revolution, and the Brutus who mimicked this sort of thing with
deplorable results to the world in the murder of Cæsar,--all these were
examples of the philosophical politician produced by the Hellenistic

[Sidenote: Dignity and courage of the philosophers]

[Sidenote: shown by suicide.]

But if there were mischievous exceptions, we must not forget that the
main body of the schools kept alive in the Greek mind a serious and
exalted view of human dignity and human responsibility,--above all,
they trained their hearers in that noble contempt for death which is
perhaps the strongest feature in Hellenistic as compared with modern
society; for there can be no doubt that Christian dogmas make cowards of
all those who do not live up to their lofty ideal. The Greeks had no
eternal punishment to scare them from facing death, and so we find whole
cities preferring suicide to the loss of what they claimed as their
rightful liberty[173:1]. People who do this may be censured; they cannot
be despised.

[Sidenote: Rise of despots on principle.]

§ 71. Secondly, most philosophers had become so convinced of the
necessity of monarchy, if not of the rule of one superior spirit, as
better than the vacillations and excitements of a crowd, that many of
their pupils considered themselves fit to undertake the duty of
improving the masses by absolute control; and so we have a
recrudescence, in a very different society, of those tyrants whose
merits and defects we have already discussed at an earlier stage in this
essay[173:2]. The long series of passages from essays _That Monarchy is
best_, which we may read in the commonplace book of Stobæus[173:3], is
indeed followed by a series of passages _On the Censure of Tyranny_; but
the former is chiefly taken from Hellenistic philosophical tracts,
whereas the latter is drawn wholly from older authors, such as Xenophon,
who lived in the days of successful republics.

[Sidenote: Probably not wholly unpopular.]

Even the literary men, who are always anti-despotic in theory, confess
that many of these later tyrants were good and worthy men; and the fact
that Gonatas, the greatest and best of the Antigonids, constantly
'planted a tyrant' in a free State which he found hard to manage, proves
rather that this form of government was not unacceptable to the
majority, than that he violated all the deepest convictions of his
unmanageable subjects for the sake of an end certain to be balked if he
adopted impolitic means. The force of imitation also helped the creation
of tyrannies in the Greek cities; for were not the Hellenistic
monarchies the greatest success of the age? And we may assume that many
sanguine people did not lay to heart the wide difference between the
requirements of the provinces of a large and scattered empire, and those
of a town with a territory of ten miles square.

These then were phenomena which manifested themselves all over the
peninsula,--aye, even at times at Athens and Sparta, though these cities
were protected by a great history and by the sentimental respect of all
the world from the experiments which might be condoned in smaller and
less august cities.

[Sidenote: Contemptible position of Athens and Sparta in politics,]

[Sidenote: except in mischievous opposition to the new federations,]

§ 72. But despite these clear lessons, the normal condition of the old
leaders of the Greek world was hardly so respectable as that of the
modern tyrannies. It consisted of a constant policy of protest, a
constant resuscitation of old memories, an obsolete and ridiculous claim
to lead the Greeks and govern an empire of dependencies after the manner
of Pericles or Lysander. The strategic importance of both cities, as
well as their hold upon Greek sentiment, made it worth while for the
great Hellenistic monarchs to humour such fancies; for in those days the
means of defending a city with walls or natural defences were still far
greater than the means of attack, even with Philip's developments of
siege artillery,--so that to coerce Athens or Sparta into absolute
subjection by arms was both more unpopular and more expensive than to
pay political partisans in each, who could at least defeat any active
external policy. But if from this point of view these leading cities
with all their dignity had little influence on the world, from another
they proved fatal to the only new development of political life in
Greece which had any promise for small and separate States. And this
brings us to the feature of all others interesting to modern readers,--I
mean the experiment of a federation of small States, with separate
legislatures for internal affairs, but a central council to manage the
external policy and the common interests of all the members.

[Sidenote: whose origin was small and obscure.]

§ 73. This form of polity was not quite new in Greece or Asia Minor, but
had remained obscure and unnoticed in earlier and more brilliant times.
We may therefore fairly attribute to the opening years of the third
century B.C. its discovery as an important and practical solution of the
difficulty of maintaining small States in their _autonomy_ or
independence as regards both one another and the great Powers which
threatened to absorb them.

[Sidenote: The old plan of a sovran State not successful.]

The old idea had been to put them under the _hegemony_, or leadership,
of one of the great cities. But these had all abused the confidence
reposed in them. Athens, Sparta, Thebes, had never for one moment
understood the duty of ruling in the interests, not only of the
governing, but of the governed. The Athenian law, by which
subject-cities could seek redress before the courts of Athens, had been
in theory the fairest; and so Grote and Duruy have made much of this
apparent justice. But the actual hints we find of individual wrong and
oppression, and the hatred in which Athens was held by all her
dependencies or allies, show plainly that the democratic theory, fair as
it may seem in the exposition of Grote, did not work with justice.
Accordingly, we find both in northern and in southern Greece the
experiment of federations of cities attaining much success, and
receiving much support in public opinion.

[Sidenote: The leading cities stood aloof from this experiment.]

[Sidenote: Athens and the Ætolians]

It is most significant that these new and powerful federations were
formed outside and apart from the leading cities. Neither Athens nor
Sparta, nay, not even Thebes, and hardly even Argos, would condescend to
a federation where they should have only a city vote in conjunction with
other cities; and so the new trial was deprived both of their advice
and of the prestige of their arms and arts. If, for example, both Athens
and Thebes, but especially the former, had joined the Ætolian League of
wild mountaineers, who had wealth and military power, but no practice in
the peaceful discussion and settlement of political questions, they
would probably have influenced the counsels of the League for good, and
saved it from falling into the hands of unprincipled mercenary chiefs,
who regarded border wars as a state of nature, and plunder as a
legitimate source of income.

But Athens stood sullenly aloof from this powerful organization,
remembering always her long-lost primacy, and probably regarding these
mountaineers as hardly Hellenes, and as unworthy to rank beside the
ancient and educated States, which had once utilized them as mere
semi-barbarous mercenaries. And yet the Ætolians were the only Greeks
who were able to make a serious and obstinate struggle for their
liberties, even against the power of Rome.

[Sidenote: or the Achæans.]

§ 74. But if to have rude Ætolians as co-equal members of a common
council would have been too bitter a degradation for Athens, why not
ally herself to the civilized and orderly Achæans? For the Achæan
cities, though insignificant heretofore, had old traditions, legendary
glories; and in later times Sicyon especially had been a leading centre,
a chosen home for the fine arts. When Corinth and Argos were forced to
join this League, why should Athens stand aloof? Yet here was the
inevitable limit, beyond which the Achæan League could never obtain a
footing. It stopped with the Isthmus, because no arguments could ever
induce Athens to give it her adhesion[178:1].

[Sidenote: Sparta and the Achæans.]

Within the Peloponnesus the case was even worse; for here Sparta was
ever the active opponent of the Achæan League, and sought by arms or by
intrigues to separate cities and to make any primacy but her own
impossible. Thus the Leagues had to contend with the sullen refusal or
the active opposition of the principal Powers of Greece; and if, in
spite of all that, they attained to great and deserved eminence, it only
shows how unworthy was the opposition of those States whose narrow
patriotism could not rise beyond their own susceptibilities. This it was
which made the success of the experiment from the first doubtful.

[Sidenote: A larger question.]

[Sidenote: What right has a federation to coerce its members?]

§ 75. But there was a constitutional question behind, which is one of
the permanent problems of statecraft, and therefore demands our earnest
attention. The mode of attack upon the Leagues, especially upon the
constitutional and orderly Achæan League, adopted by Macedon, Sparta,
and Athens, was to invite some member to enter upon separate
negotiations with them, without consulting the common council of the
federation. And time after time this move succeeded, till at last the
interference of the Romans in this direction sapped the power and
coherence of the League.

[Sidenote: Disputed already in the Delian Confederacy by Athens and the
lesser members.]

[Sidenote: Duruy's attitude on this question.]

The same kind of difficulty had occurred long before under the old
dominations of Sparta, Athens, and Thebes; but I did not refer to it
before, because this is the proper place to bring the problem in all its
bearings before the reader. Under the Athenian supremacy many members
had voluntarily entered into the Delian Confederacy; others had done so
either under protest, or for some special object, such as the clearing
of the Ægean from Persian occupation. Presently, when the particular
object was fulfilled, and when the Athenian tax-gatherers insisted upon
the tribute which was spent on public, but Athenian, objects, the
separate members declared their right to secede, and revolted whenever
they had the power. The Athenians argued that the peace and prosperity
of the Ægean had been secured by the common effort of the Confederacy
and by the zeal and self-sacrifice of Athens. They denied that each
member which had so long profited by the arrangement had a right to
secede, and in any case they declared that they would coerce the
seceder. In Duruy's chapter on the passage of the Delian Confederacy
into the Athenian empire[179:1] he shows little sympathy for the
individual members and their hardships, and justifies Athens in her
aggressive policy. In a mere passing note he compares the case of the
North against the South in the late American Civil War. But as he has
not argued out the problem, I may be of service to the reader in
discussing it here.

[Sidenote: Greek sentiment very different.]

It was to this dispute that the real origin of the Peloponnesian war is
to be traced. And though most people thought Athens quite justified in
holding what she had obtained, and not surrendering the empire which had
cost such labour and returned in exchange such great glory, yet the
general feeling of the Greek world was distinctly in favour of the
seceder,--in favour of the inalienable right of every city to reassert
its autonomy as a separate State[180:1], not only with communal
independence, but with perfect liberty to treat as it chose with
neighbouring States. Whenever, therefore, this conflict between
Imperialism and Particularism arose, public sympathies sided with the
assertion of local independence.

[Sidenote: Nature of the Achæan League.]

§ 76. The debate in the present case was somewhat different in its
details. The Achæan League, a number of small cities situated upon a
coast exposed to pirates, and able to foresee from lofty posts the
coming raid, united voluntarily for attack and defence, and so formed a
Confederacy, which lasted a long time before the wealth gained by its
members as mercenaries and the decay of the greater Powers of Greece
brought it into prominence[181:1]. These cities had a common executive
and a sort of cabinet, preparing the business for the general Assembly,
which met for three days twice a year, and then decisions were obtained
from this Assembly and measures ratified by its votes. But as the more
distant members could not attend in great numbers, the members of each
city present, whether few or many, gave that city's vote, which counted
as an unit in the Confederacy. The result was of course to put political
power into the hands of the richer classes, who had leisure to leave
their own affairs and go regularly to the Assembly at Ægion[181:2].

[Sidenote: Statement of the new difficulty]

The difficulties which now arose were these: Had any of the original
twelve towns, that had voluntarily formed this Union, the right to
withdraw their adhesion? In a lesser degree, had the towns that
afterwards joined in consequence of the pressure of circumstances, but
by a deliberate and public vote, a right to rescind that vote? And in a
still less degree, had any town which had subscribed to the Achæan
constitution any right to violate its observance in one point, as by
negotiating separately with another State, or was it bound to observe in
all respects the terms imposed by the Union from which it was not
allowed to secede?

[Sidenote: in its clearest form never yet settled except by force.]

The first of these cases is by far the most perplexing, and I am not
aware that it has ever been settled by any argument better than an
appeal to force. To the Greeks, at all events, it seemed that the right
of autonomy--the power to manage one's own affairs--was the inalienable
right of every _city_; just as the Irish Nationalists may be heard daily
asserting it for every _nation_[182:1].

[Sidenote: Case of the American Union.]

In our own youth we heard this right far more seriously urged by the
seceding States of the American Union, some of which had been members of
the first combination, and had voluntarily ceded certain portions of
their political rights, at least their theoretical rights, in return for
the protection and support of the Confederation as a whole. These States
argued that if the Union began to interfere in the domestic concerns of
each,--such, for example, as the practice of permitting household
slaves,--it was a breach of contract, and justified the State in
formally repudiating the remainder of the contract. But even had there
been no encroachment by new legislation, the Greek city claimed the
right of returning to its isolated independence.

[Sidenote: Arguments for coercion of the several members.]

§ 77. On the other side, it has always been argued that though contracts
for a definite period need not be renewed, there are many contracts
intended by their very nature to be permanent, and which are so
far-reaching in their consequences that for any one party to abandon
them is a profound injustice to the remainder, whose lives have been
instituted and regulated upon these contracts[183:1]. Let us take an
illustration from everyday life. From the contract of marriage there
arise such important consequences that a dissolution does not permit the
contracting parties to resume their original life; and therefore in all
higher civilizations legal divorce has been made very difficult, and
secession by either party without legal sanction a grave offence.

In like manner it was argued that the several cities had grown rich and
powerful under the League. The lives of its members had been sacrificed
to defend every city attacked; the funds of the League had been spent on
each as they were needed. Was it just that after growing and thriving
upon these conditions any one of them should, for its own convenience,
repudiate the bond and regard all the accruing benefits as a private
property, to be disposed of to any strange Power?

[Sidenote: Cases of doubtful or enforced adherence.]

To answer this question and to adjudicate between the litigants is hard
enough, and yet I have stated the simplest difficulty. For in the case
of many of the additions to the Achæan League a revolution had first
taken place, the existing government had been overthrown, and then the
new majority had placed themselves under the protection of the
Confederation. If the old rulers returned to power, were they bound by
the Government which had coerced them, and which they regarded as
revolutionary? Others, again, had been constrained by the presence of an
armed force, and by threats of imminent danger if they did not accept
the League's protection. When circumstances changed, could they not
argue that they were coerced, and that an apparently free _plébiscite_
was wrung from them against their better judgment?

[Sidenote: Various internal questions.]

§ 78. Such were the profoundly interesting and thoroughly modern
problems which agitated the minds of men in post-Alexandrian Greece.
There were moreover various internal questions,--whether new cities
which joined should have equal rights with the original members; whether
large cities should have a city vote only equal to the vote of the
smallest; whether the general Assembly should be held in turn at each of
the cities, or in the greatest and most convenient centre, or in a place
specially chosen for its insignificance, so that the Assembly might be
entirely free from local influences? All these questions must have
agitated the minds of the founders of the Swiss Union and the American
Union, for the problems remain the same, however nations may wax and

[Sidenote: Looser bond of the Ætolian League.]

The Achæan and Ætolian Unions were very popular indeed, especially the
latter, which required no alterations in the administration of each
State, but accepted any member merely on terms of paying a general tax,
and obtaining in lieu thereof military aid, and restitution of property
from other members if they had carried off plunder from its
territory[185:1]. The Achæan League required more. A tyrant must
abdicate before his city could become a member, and in more than one
case this actually took place.

The most dangerous, though passive, enemy of this hopeful compromise
between the Separatist and the truly National spirit was, as I have
said, the sullen standing aloof of the greater cities. Of course the
ever active foe was the power of Macedon, which could deal easily with
local tyrants, or even single cities, but was balked by the strength of
the combination.

[Sidenote: Radical monarchy of Cleomenes.]

At last there arose a still more attractive alternative, which was
rapidly destroying the Achæan League, when its leader, Aratus, called in
the common enemy from Macedon, and enslaved his country in order to
checkmate his rival. This rival was the royalty of Sparta, who offered
to the cities of the Peloponnesus an Union on the old lines of a
Confederation under the headship of Sparta, but of Sparta as Cleomenes
had transformed it; for he had assassinated the ephors, abolished the
second king, and proposed sweeping reforms in the direction of
socialistic equality,--division of large properties, and protection of
the poor against the oppression of aristocrats or capitalists. This kind
of revolution, with the military genius of Cleomenes to give it strength
and brilliancy, attracted men's minds far more than the constitutional,
but somewhat torpid and plutocratic, League. Of course the fatal
struggle led practically to the destruction of both schemes by the
superior force and organization of Macedon.


[168:1] We may well apply to it the famous words of Tacitus at the
opening of his _Histories_: 'Opus adgredior opimum casibus, atrox
proeliis, discors seditionibus, ipsa etiam pace saevum; principes ferro
interempti, bella civilia, plura externa ac plerumque permixta . . .
pollutae caeremoniae; magna adulteria; plenum exiliis mare; infecti
caedibus scopuli . . . corrupti in dominos servi, in patronos liberti;
et quibus deerat inimicus, per amicos oppressi.'

[170:1] This judgment seems likely to be reversed by the wonderful
accession of new materials upon the Ptolemaic age, the first instalment
of which I have published in a monograph upon the Petrie Papyri (with
autotype plates, Williams & Norgate, 1891). We shall presently know the
conditions of life in one province at all events, the Fayoum, which was
peopled with Greek veterans along with Jews and Egyptians. I have now
under my hand their wills, their private letters, their accounts, their
official correspondence in hundreds of shreds and fragments.

[171:1] The best special work on the conflict of the Greek settlements
with the Jewish population, and with the Asmonæan sovrans all along the
coast of Palestine, is B. Stark's _Gaza und die Philistische Küste_.

[172:1] Cf. Plutarch's _Life of Cleomenes_, cap. xi.

[173:1] Cf. the cases quoted in my _Greek Life and Thought_, pp. 394,
537, 541-543.

[173:2] Above §§ 35 _seqq._

[173:3] _Florilegium_ (ed. Teubner), ii. 247-284.

[178:1] The momentary acquisition (in 190 B.C.) of two unimportant
towns, Pleuron and Heraclea, in northern Greece, need hardly count as a
correction of this general statement. The acquisition of the island
Zacynthos was prevented by the Romans.

[179:1] _Hist. des Grecs_, chap. xix.

[180:1] I need not pause to remind the reader that each Greek city, or
[Greek: polis], was in every constitutional sense a separate and
independent State, just as much as the largest country is now. These
cities severally made frequent treaties even with Rome, to which they
stood in the same relations as a foreign king.

[181:1] These points were suggested for the first time in my _Greek Life
and Thought_, pp. 7 _seqq._

[181:2] This voting by cities seems to me the nearest approach to
representation that the Greeks ever made in politics, as distinct from
religious councils, such as the Amphictyonies; for of course a city far
from the place of assembly could agree with a small number of its
citizens that they should attend and vote in a particular way. Every
citizen, however, might go if he chose, so that this would be a mere
private understanding.

[182:1] The Greek _city-polity_ ([Greek: polis]) was a perfectly clear
and definite thing. A _nation_, on the contrary, may mean anything, for
it may be determined by race, religion, language, locality, or
tradition. Any one or all of these may be utilized to mark out the
bounds of a nation according to the convenience of the case. I have
often heard it asserted, and seen it printed, that in Ireland the
Protestants of the North and East are quite a separate race. Such a
statement, generally made to justify harsh measures against them from a
Parliament of Roman Catholics, would also justify them in seceding from
the rest of Ireland.

[183:1] Duruy even quotes, in connection with the earlier Athenian
Confederacy (chap. xix. § 2), the words of the actual treaties between
several of the smaller towns (Erythræ, Chalcis), which have been found
graven on stone; and argues that because they assert permanent union
with Athens, and invoke curses on him that hereafter attempts to
dissolve this union, Athens was legally as well as morally justified in
coercing any seceders. It is strange so acute a thinker should not
perceive that this assertion of eternal peace and union was an almost
universal and perfectly unmeaning formula. If such formulæ were really
valid, we might find ourselves bound by our ancestors to very serious
obligations. There is no case, except that of Adam, where the act of one
generation bound all succeeding centuries.

[185:1] We now have recovered several inscriptions, which give us
information on some of these points. Cf. _Mitth._ of the German
Institute at Athens, xi. 262.



[Sidenote: Position of Rome towards the Leagues.]

§ 79. The interference of the Romans in Greek affairs reopened many of
the constitutional questions upon which I have touched; for in their
conflicts with Macedon they took care to win the Greeks to their side by
open declarations in favour of independence, and by supporting the
Leagues, which afforded the only organization that could supply them
with useful auxiliaries. When the Romans had conquered came the famous
declaration that all the cities which had been directly subject to
Macedon should be independent, while the Achæan League could resume its
political life freed from the domination of the Antigonids which Aratus
had accepted for it. Now at last it might have seemed as if the
peninsula would resume a peaceful and orderly development under the
presidency and without the positive interference of Rome.

[Sidenote: Roman interpretation of the 'liberty of the Greeks.']

But new and fatal difficulties arose. The 'liberty of the Greeks' was
still, as ever, a sort of sentimental aphorism which the Romans
repeated, often from conviction, often again from policy. But the
Romans were a practical people, and did not the least understand why
they should free the Greeks from Macedon in order that they might join
some other Hellenistic sovran against Rome. And even if this danger did
not arise, the Romans felt that the liberation of Greece would have
worse than no meaning if the stronger States were allowed to prey upon
the weaker, if every little city were allowed to go to war with its
neighbours,--if, in fact, the nominal liberty resulted in the tyranny of
one section over another.

[Sidenote: Opposition of the Ætolians.]

Both these difficulties soon arose. The Ætolians, who had not obtained
from the Romans any extension of territory or other advantages adequate
to their vigorous and useful co-operation against the king of Macedon,
were bitterly disappointed, for they saw clearly that Rome would rather
curtail than advance their power. The cities of northern Greece which
had been liberated by the Romans from Philip V. could not be coerced
into the Ætolian League without an appeal on their part to Rome, which
could hardly fail to be successful. So then the Ætolians found that they
had brought upon themselves a new and steady control, which would
certainly prevent the marauding chiefs from acquiring wealth by keeping
up local disturbances, raids, and exactions as the normal condition of
the country. They therefore openly incited king Antiochus of Syria to
invade Greece, and so brought on their own destruction.

[Sidenote: Probably not fairly stated by Polybius.]

It was a great pity, for this League of mountaineers had shown real
military vigour, and had it been educated into orderly and
constitutional ways, would have been a strong bulwark of Hellenic
independence. Nor are we to forget that when we read of its turbulence
and its reckless disregard of justice, we are taking the evidence of its
most determined foe, the historian Polybius. He was one of the leaders
of the rival League, and will hardly concede to the Ætolians any
qualities save their vices. On the other hand, he has stated as
favourably as possible the more interesting case of his own

[Sidenote: Rome and the Achæans.]

[Sidenote: Mistakes of Philopœmen gave Rome excuses for

§ 80. Here the second difficulty just stated was that which arose, not
without the deliberate assistance of the Romans. On the one hand, the
Achæans thought themselves justified in extending their Union so as if
possible to comprise all Greece; and though they usually succeeded by
persuasion, there were not wanting cases where they aided with material
force the minority in a wavering city, and coerced a new member which
showed signs of falling away. More especially the constant attempts to
incorporate Sparta and Messene, which had never been friendly to the
League, proved its ultimate destruction. The bloody successes of
Philopœmen, the first Greek who ever really captured Sparta, and who
compelled it to join the League, led to complaints at Rome about
violated liberties, and constant interferences of the Senate, not only
to repress disorders, but to weaken any growing union in the country
which Rome wished to see reduced to impotent peace; and so there came
about, after half a century of mutual recrimination, of protest, of
encroachment, the final conquest and reduction of Greece into a Roman

[Sidenote: Mommsen takes the Roman side.]

§ 81. The diplomatic conflict between the Achæans and the Romans is of
the highest interest, and we have upon it the opposing judgments of
great historians; for here Roman and Greek history run into the same
channel, and the conflict may be treated from either point of view.
Those who look at the debate from the Roman point of view, like Mommsen,
and who are, moreover, not persuaded of the immeasurable superiority of
republican institutions over a strong central power, controlling without
hesitation or debate, are convinced that all the talk about Greek
independence was mere folly. They point out that these Greeks, whenever
they had their full liberty, wore each other out in petty conflicts;
that liberty meant license, revolutions at home and encroachments upon
neighbours; and that it was the historical mission and duty of the
Romans to put an end to all this sentimental sham.

[Sidenote: Hertzberg and Freeman on the Achæan question.]

On the other hand Hertzberg, in the first volume of his excellent
_History of the Greeks under Roman Domination_, and Professor Freeman,
in his _Federal Government_, show with great clearness that far lower
motives often actuated the conquering race, that they were distinctly
jealous of any power in the hands of their Greek neighbours, and that
they constantly encouraged appeals and revolts on the part of individual
cities in the League. So the Senate in fact produced those unhappy
disturbances which resulted in the destruction of Corinth and the
conquest of Greece by a Roman army in formal war.

[Sidenote: Senility of The Greeks.]

It is of course easy to see that there were faults on both sides, and
that individual Romans, using their high position without authority of
the Senate, often promoted quarrels in the interests of that truculent
financial policy which succeeded in playing all the commerce of the
world into the hands of Roman capitalists. On the other hand, it is hard
to avoid the conviction that the days of independent Greece were over,
that the nation had grown old and worn out, that most of its intellect
and enterprise had wandered to the East, to Egypt, or to Rome, and that
had the Romans maintained an absolute policy of non-intervention, the
result would have been hardly less disastrous, and certainly more
disgraceful to the Greeks. For a long and contemptible decadence, like
that of Spain in modern Europe, is surely more disgraceful than to be
embodied by force in a neighbouring empire.

[Sidenote: Decay of the mother-country.]

Greece in this and the succeeding centuries had arrived at that curious
condition that her people who emigrated obtained fortune and distinction
all over the world, while those who remained at home seemed unable even
to till the land,--which was everywhere relapsing into waste
pasture,--far less to prosecute successful trade, for want of both
capital and sustained energy. One profession unfortunately
flourished,--that of politics; and the amount of time and ability spent
on this profession may perhaps account for the decadence of both
agriculture and commerce.

[Sidenote: The advocates for union with Rome.]

§ 82. Greek politicians were divided into three classes. There were
first those who saw in Roman domination the only salvation from internal
discord and insecurity. They either despaired of or despised the
prospects of political independence, and saw in the iron Destiny which
extended the Roman sway over the East, a definite solution of their
difficulties, and possibly a means of increasing their material welfare.
They therefore either acquiesced in or actively promoted every
diplomatic encroachment on the part of Rome, and made haste to secure to
themselves 'friends of the mammon of unrighteousness,' as their
adversaries thought, that by and by they might be the local governors,
and recipients of Roman favour.

[Sidenote: The advocates of complete independence.]

Over against them were the uncompromising Nationalists,--I apologize for
using the right word,--who maintained absolutely the inalienable right
of the Greeks to be independent and manage not only their internal
affairs, but their external differences as they pleased. They insisted
that the Romans had gained their power over Greece by a system of
unconstitutional encroachments, and that no material advantages of
enforced peace or oppressive protection could compensate for the
paralysis which was creeping over Hellenic political life.

The tyrannous and cruel act of the Romans, who deported one thousand
leading Achæans to Italy (on the charge of disloyalty to Rome in
sentiments) and let most of them pine in their exile and die as mere
_suspects_, without ever bringing them to trial, gave this party the
strongest support by the misery which it inflicted and the wide-spread
indignation it excited.

[Sidenote: The party of moderate counsels.]

The third party was the party of moderate counsels and of compromise.
Sympathizing deeply with the National party, they felt at the same time
that any armed resistance to Rome was absurd and ruinous. They therefore
desired to delay every encroachment by diplomatic protests, by appeals
to the justice of the Romans, and thus protract, if they could not
prevent, the absorption of all national liberties into the great
dominion of Rome. This party, undoubtedly the most reasonable and the
most honest, have left us their spokesman in the historian Polybius; but
we may be sure that, like every intermediate party, they commanded
little sympathy or support.

[Sidenote: Money considerations]

[Sidenote: acted upon both extremes.]

§ 83. Moreover, both the extreme parties had strong pecuniary interests
to stimulate them. The party which promoted complete submission to Rome
were the people of property, to whom a settled state of things without
constitutional agitations or sudden war-contributions afforded the only
chance of retaining what they possessed. Rome had never favoured the
needy mob in her subject cities, but had always ruled them through the
responsible and moneyed classes. Roman dominion therefore meant at least
peace and safety for the rich. The grinding exactions of Roman prætor
and Roman publican were as yet unknown to them. The Nationalist party,
on the other hand, consisted of the needy and discontented, who
expected, if allowed to exercise their political power, to break down
the monopolies of the rich, and, in any case, to make reputation and
money by the practice of politics; for, as I have shown above, and as is
not strange to our own day, politics had become distinctly a lucrative
profession. These people's hope of gain, as well as their local
importance, would vanish with full subjection to Rome; and this was a
strong motive, even though in many it may have only been auxiliary to
the real patriotism which burned at the thought of the extinction of
national independence.

[Sidenote: Exaggerated statements on both sides.]

[Sidenote: The Separatists would not tolerate separation from

[Sidenote: Democratic tyranny.]

The debate soon went beyond the stage of rational argument or the
possibility of rational persuasion. To the Nationalist, the Romanizing
aristocrat or moneyed man was a traitor, sacrificing his country's
liberties for his mess of potage, grovelling and touting for Roman
favour, copying Roman manners, and sending his sons to be educated in
Roman ways. To the advocate of union with Rome, the so-called
Nationalist was a needy and dishonest adventurer, using the cry of
patriotism and of nationality to cloak personal greed, socialistic
schemes, and hatred of what was orderly and respectable. If he
succeeded, his so-called liberty would be used in coercing and
plundering the dissentients; and, after all, such stormy petrels in
politics must be quite unfit to form any stable government. If any
portion of the Peloponnesus asserted its right to several liberty, no
politicians would have recourse to more violent coercion than these
advocates of national independence. They protested against enforced
union with Rome: they would be the first to promote enforced union with
themselves, and carry it through in bloody earnest. This was actually
what happened during the last despairing struggle. The coercion
practised by the last presidents of the Leagues, the violent
Nationalists who forced the nation into war, was tyrannous and cruel
beyond description.

But of course the issue was certain; and with the reeking smoke of the
ruins of Corinth closes the history of Greece, as most historians, even
of wider views, have understood it.

[Sidenote: Modern analogies forced upon us,]

[Sidenote: and not to be set aside.]

§ 84. There is no period of the history which deserves modern study more
than that which I have here expounded in its principles. The analogies
which it presents to modern life, nay, to the very history of our times,
are so striking that it is almost impossible to narrate it without
falling into the phraseology of current politics. When I first
published an account of these things[196:1], I was at once attacked by
several of my reviewers for daring to introduce modern analogies into
ancient history. I had dragged the Muse of History into the heated
atmosphere of party strife and the quarrels of our own day; I had
spoiled a good book by allusions to burning questions which disturbed
the reader and made him think of the next election, instead of calmly
contemplating the lessons of Polybius. It would have been far more to
the point had they shown that the analogies suggested were invalid, and
the comparisons misleading. This not one of them has attempted to do;
nor do I hesitate to say that the objections they raised were rather
because my analogies were too just and striking than because they were
far-fetched and irrelevant. If these critics had found that the facts I
adduced favoured their own political views, no doubt they would have
lavished their praise upon the very feature which incurred their

[Sidenote: The history of Greece is essentially modern;]

[Sidenote: therefore modern parallels are surely admissible, if justly

I think, with Thucydides and Polybius, that the study of history is then
most useful and serious when it leads us to estimate what is likely to
happen by the light of what has already happened in similar cases. Mere
remoteness of date or place has nothing to say to the matter. The
history of Greece, as I have often said already, is intensely
modern,--far more so than any mediæval or than most recent histories. We
have to deal with a people fully developed, in its mature life; nay,
even in its old age and decadence. To deny a historian the privilege and
the profit of illumining his subject by the light of modern parallels,
or the life of to-day by parallels from Greek history, is simply to
condemn him to remain an unpractical pedant, and to abandon the
strongest claim to a hearing from practical men.

Above all, let us seek the truth with open mind, and speak out our
convictions; and if we are wrong, instead of blaming us for appealing to
the deeper interests and stirring the warmer emotions of men, let our
errors be refuted. Let us save ancient history from its dreary fate in
the hands of the dry antiquarian, the narrow scholar; and while we
utilize all his research and all his learning, let us make the acts and
lives of older men speak across the chasm of centuries, and claim
kindred with the men and the motives of to-day. For this, and this only,
is to write history in the full and real sense,--this is to show that
the great chain of centuries is forged of homogeneous metal, and joined
with links that all bear the great Workman's unmistakeable design.

[Sidenote: The spiritual history not closed with the Roman conquest.]

§ 85. We have come to the real close of political Greek history,--at a
point upon which historians have been unanimous. And yet the Greeks
would hardly have been worth all this study if the sum of what they
could teach us was a political lesson. They showed indeed in politics a
variety and an excellence not reached by any other ancient people. But
their spiritual and intellectual wealth is not bounded by these limits;
and they have left us, after the close of their independence, more to
think out and to understand than other nations have done in the heyday
of their greatness.

On this spiritual history I shall not say more than a few words. The
earlier part of it, extending to the moment when, under Trajan,
Christianity came forth from its concealment, and became a social and
political power, I have recently treated in a volume entitled _The Greek
World under Roman Sway_. The reader who cares to unfold this complicated
and various picture of manners, of ideas, of social habits and moral
principles, will find the Greek subjects of the Roman Empire full of
interest, and will even find, in the authors of that age, merits which
have long been unduly ignored. The crowded thoroughfares of Antioch and
Alexandria; the great religious foundations of Comana, Stratoniceia, and
Pessinus, each ruled by a priest no less important than the
prince-bishops of Salzburg or Würtzburg in recent centuries; the
old-world fashions of Borysthenes, of Naples, of Eubœa; the gradual
rise of Syrian and of Jewish Hellenism, the fascinating rivalries of
Herod and of Cleopatra for Roman favour, the Hellenism of Cicero, of
Cæsar, of Claudius, and of Nero, the fluctuations of trade from Rhodes
to Delos, from Delos to Puteoli and Corinth, the splendours and the dark
spots in the society which Dion, Apuleius, and Plutarch saw and
described--these and many other kindred topics make up a subject most
fascinating, though from its complexity difficult to set in order, and
impossible to handle without the occurrence of error.

[Sidenote: The great bequests of the Roman period.]

I am sure it is below the mark to say that more than half the Greek
books now extant date from the period of the Roman domination. And if it
be true that in style there is nothing to equal the great poets and
prose-writers from Æschylus to Demosthenes, it is equally true that in
matter the later writers far exceed their predecessors. All the exacter
science got from the Greeks comes from that large body of Alexandrian
writings which none but the specialist can understand. The history of
Diodorus, embracing an immense field and telling us a vast number of
facts otherwise lost; the great geographies of Strabo, of Ptolemy, and
that curious collection which can be read in Carl Müller's laborious
_Corpus_; the moral essays of Dion Chrysostom; the social encyclopædia
of Plutarch; the vast majority of the extant inscriptions, come to us
from Roman times.

But most of these are special. Is there nothing of general interest?
Assuredly there is. No Greek book can compare for one moment in general
importance with that collection of history and letters called the New
Testament, all written in Greek, and intended to reach the civilized
world through the mediation of Greek.

[Sidenote: The Anthology, Lucian, Julian,]

I will not here enter upon Christian Greek literature, but point to
Plutarch, who has certainly been more read and had more influence than
any other Greek writer on the literature of modern Europe. Nay, in the
lighter subjects, and where the writers must trust to style to commend
them to the reader, not only is there a good deal of poetry once thought
classical,--such as the Anacreontics and the Anthology--which is in
great part the produce of later Greek genius, but the wit of Lucian and
the seriousness of Julian found in the Greek language their appropriate

[Sidenote: Plotinus.]

The deeper philosophy of these centuries, that attempt to fuse the
metaphysics of heathendom and Christendom which is called
Neo-Platonism,--this too was created and circulated by Greek writers and
in Greek; so that though Hellas was laid asleep, and her independence a
mere tradition, her legacy to the world was still bearing interest one

[Sidenote: Theological Greek studies.]

The writers who have dealt with this great and various development of
later Hellenism are either the historians of the Roman
Empire--especially Duruy, who has kept up the thread of his Greek
History in his popular _History of Rome_--or the theologians. The latter
have a field so specially their own, and the literature of the subject
is so enormous, that the mere historian of Greece and the Greeks must
content himself with the pagan side. To touch even in a general way, as
I have hitherto done, upon the many controversies that now arise
concerning Greek life and thought would here be impossible.

§ 86. But there is one important point at the very outset of the new
departure into Christianity upon which I would gladly save the reader
from a widely diffused error.

[Sidenote: Have the Greeks no share in our religion?]

It has been long the fashion--since the writings of Ernest Renan it has
been almost a commonplace, to say: that while modern Europe owes to the
Greeks all manner of wisdom and of refinement, in politics, literature,
philosophy, architecture, sculpture, one thing there is which they could
not impart to us,--religion. This deeper side of man, his relation to
one God, his duty and his responsibilities beyond this ordinary life, we
owe not to the Greeks, but to the legacy of the Semitic race. To the
Jews, we are told, are due all the highest, all the most serious, all
the most elevating features in modern Christianity.

[Sidenote: Or is it altogether Semitic?]

Is this true? Is it the case that the Greeks were, after all, only
brilliant children, playing with life, and never awaking to the real
seriousness of the world's problems? There has seldom been a plausible
statement circulated which is further from the truth. However capital
the fact that the first great teacher and revealer of Christianity was a
Jew, however carefully the dogmas of the Old Testament were worked up
into the New, Christianity, as we have it historically, would have been
impossible without Hellenism.

[Sidenote: The language of the New Testament exclusively Greek.]

In the first place, the documents of the New Testament were one and all
composed in Greek, as the _lingua franca_ of the East and West; and the
very first author in the list, Saint Matthew, was a tax-gatherer, whose
business required him to know it[202:1]. If, therefore, the vehicle of
Christianity from the first was the Greek language, this is not an
unimportant factor to start with; and yet it is the smallest and most
superficial contribution that Greek thought has given to Christianity.
When my later studies on the history of Hellenism under the Roman Empire
see the light, I trust that the evidence for the following grave facts,
already admitted by most critical theologians, will be brought before
the lay reader.

[Sidenote: Saint Paul's teaching.]

[Sidenote: Stoic elements in Saint Paul.]

§ 87. When we pass by the first three, or Synoptical, Gospels, there
remains a series of books by early Christian teachers, of whom Saint
Paul and Saint John are by far the most prominent. To Saint Paul is due
a peculiar development of the faith which brings into prominence that
side of Christianity now known as Protestantism,--the doctrine of
justification by faith; of the greater importance of dogma than of
practice; of the predestination or election of those that will be saved.
This whole way of thinking, this mode of looking at the world, so
different from anything in the Jewish books, so developed beyond the
teaching of the Synoptic Gospels, was quite familiar to the most serious
school of Hellenism, to the Stoic theory of life popular all over the
Hellenistic world, and especially at Tarsus, where Saint Paul received
his education.

[Sidenote: The Stoic sage.]

The Stoic wise man, who had adopted with faith that doctrine, forthwith
rose to a condition differing _in kind_ from the rest of the world, who
were set down as moral fools, whose highest efforts at doing right were
mere senseless blundering, mere filthy rags, without value or merit. The
wise man, on the contrary, was justified in the sight of God, and could
commit no sin; the commission of one fault would be a violation of his
election, and would make him guilty of all, and as subject to punishment
as the vilest criminal. For all faults were equally violations of the
moral law, and therefore equally proofs that the true light was not
there. Whether one of the elect could fall away, was a matter of
dispute, but in general was thought impossible[203:1]. Whether
conversion was a gradual change of character, or a sudden inspiration,
was an anxious topic of discussion. The wise man, and he alone, enjoyed
absolute liberty, boundless wealth, supreme happiness; nothing could
take from him the inestimable privileges he had attained.

[Sidenote: The Stoic Providence.]

Can any one fail to recognize these remarkable doctrines, not only in
the spirit, but in the very letter, of Saint Paul's teaching? Does he
not use even the language of the Stoic paradoxes, 'as, sorrowful, yet
always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet
possessing all things'? Is not his so-called sermon at Athens a direct
statement of Stoic views against the Epicureans, taking nothing away,
but adding to their account of the moral world the revelation of Jesus
Christ and of the Resurrection? Will any one venture to assert in the
face of these facts that the most serious and religious of Greek systems
was the offspring of children in morals, or that it failed to exert a
powerful influence through the greatest teacher of Christianity upon all
his followers? It is of course idle to weigh these things in a minute
balance, and declare who did most, or what was the greatest advance made
in our faith beyond the life and teaching of its Founder. But the more
we compare Greek Stoicism with Pauline Christianity, the more distinctly
their general connection will be felt and appreciated.

[Sidenote: Saint John's Gospel.]

§ 88. Let us now come to the more obvious and better acknowledged case
of Saint John. It has been the stock argument of those who reject the
early date and alleged authorship of the Fourth Gospel that the writer
is imbued with Hellenistic philosophy; that he is intimate with that
fusion of Jewish and Platonic thought which distinguished the schools of
Alexandria; that in particular the doctrine of the _Word_, with which
the book opens, is quite strange to Semite thought, doubly strange to
Old Testament theology, not even hinted at in the early apocryphal
books. In other words, the Greek elements in the Fourth Gospel are so
strong that many critics think them impossible of attainment for a man
of Saint John's birth and education!

[Sidenote: Neo-Platonic doctrine of the Logos.]

For my purpose this is more than enough. I need not turn, to refute
these sceptics, to show how the author of the book of Revelation, if he
be the same, made great strides in Greek letters before he wrote the
Gospel, thus showing the importance he attached not only to Greek
thought, but to Greek expression. The Alexandrian tone of Saint John's
Gospel, derived from the same sources as those which gave birth to
Neo-Platonism, is as evident as the Stoical tone in Saint Paul, derived
from the schools of Tarsus and Cilicia.

Here is a chapter of deeper Greek history yet to be written from the
Greek side, not as an appendage to Roman history, or as an interlude in
theological controversy.

[Sidenote: The Cynic independence of all men;]

[Sidenote: the Epicurean dependence upon friends.]

§ 89. So much for the influence of the highest and most serious forms of
Greek thinking upon the religion of the Roman Empire. But even from the
inferior developments of philosophy, its parodies of strength and its
exaggerations of weakness, elements passed into this faith which is
asserted to be wholly foreign to Hellenism. The Cynic ostentation of
independence, of living apart from the world, free from all cares and
responsibilities, found its echo in the Christian anchorite, who chose
solitude and poverty from higher but kindred motives. The sentimental
display of personal affection, by which the Epicurean endeavoured to
substitute the love of friends for the love of principle or devotion to
the State, had its echo in those personal ties among early Christians
which replaced their civic attachments and consoled them when outlawed
by the State. Indeed, there is much in Epicureanism which has passed
into Christianity,--an unsuspected fact till it was brought out by very
recent writers[206:1].

[Sidenote: The university of Athens.]

What shall we say too of the culture of this age? Is not the eloquence
of the early Christian Fathers, of John Chrysostom, of Basil, worthy of
admiration; and was not all their culture derived from the old Greek
schools and universities, which had lasted with unbroken though changing
traditions from the earliest Hellenistic days? One must read Libanius, a
writer of the fourth century after Christ, to understand how thoroughly
Athens was still old Greek in temper, in tone, in type, and how it had
become the university of the civilized world[206:2]. The traditions of
this Hellenistic university life and system passed silently, but not
less certainly, into the oldest mediæval Italian universities, and
thence to Paris and to England,--just as the Greek tones or scales
passed into the chants of Saint Ambrose at Milan, and thence into the
noble music of Palestrina and of Tallis, which our own degenerate age
has laid aside for weaker and more sentimental measures.

[Sidenote: Greece indestructible.]

§ 90. It is indeed difficult to overrate the amount and the variety of
the many hidden threads that unite our modern culture to that of ancient
Greece, not to speak of the conscious return of our own century to the
golden age of Hellenic life as the only human epoch in art, literature,
and eloquence which ever approached perfection. As the Greek language
has lasted in that wonderful country in spite of long domination by
Romans, of huge invasion by Celts and Slavs, of feudal occupation by
Frankish knights, of raid and rapine by Catalans and Venetians, ending
with the cruel tyranny of the Turk, so the Greek spirit has lasted
through all manner of metamorphose and modification, till the return
wave has in our day made it the highest aspiration of our worldly

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Greek political history almost the private property of the
English writers,]

§ 91. I said at the opening of this essay that I should endeavour to
indicate the principal problems to be solved by future historians of
Greece,--at least by those who have not the genius to recast the whole
subject by the light of some great new idea; and in so doing, particular
stress has been laid on the political side, not without deliberate
intention. For, in the first place, this aspect of Greek affairs is the
peculiar province of English historians. They, with their own
experiences and traditions of constitutional struggles, cannot but feel
the strongest attraction towards similar passages in the life of the
Greeks, so that even the professional scholar in his study feels the
excitement of the contested election, the glow of the public debate,
when he finds them distracting Athens or Ægion. The practical insight of
a Grote or a Freeman leads him to interpret facts which may be
inexplicable or misleading to a foreign student. Even with Grote before
him, Ernst Curtius or Duruy is sometimes unable to grasp the true
political situation.

[Sidenote: who have themselves lived in practical politics.]

I say this in the higher and more delicate sense; for of course many
recent histories give an adequate account of the large political changes
to the general student. Perhaps, indeed, the remoteness of foreign
writers from political conflicts such as ours gives them a calmness and
fairness which is of advantage, while the English writer can hardly
avoid a certain amount of partisanship, however carefully he may strive
to be scrupulously impartial. For in all these things we are compelled
unconsciously to reflect not only our century, but our nation, and
colour the acts and the motives of other days with the hues our
imagination has taken from surrounding circumstances.

[Sidenote: Not so in artistic or literary history,]

[Sidenote: where the French and Germans are superior;]

§ 92. When we come to the literary and artistic side, the foreign
historians have a decided advantage. The philosophical side of Greek
literature has indeed been treated by Grote and other English writers
with a fulness and clearness that leave little to be desired; but on the
poetry and the artistic prose of the Greeks, foreign scholars write with
a freshness and a knowledge to which few of us attain. Of course a
Frenchman, with the systematic and careful training which he gets in
composition, must have an inestimable advantage over people, like us,
who merely write as they list, and have no rules to guide their taste or
form their style. And the German, if as regards style he is even less
happily circumstanced than the Englishman, whose language has at least
been moulded by centuries of literature, has yet on the side of
archæology and art enjoyed a training which is only just now becoming
possible in England or America.

[Sidenote: especially in art.]

Hence it is that the earlier part of Curtius' history has such a
charm,--though we must not detract from the individual genius of the
man, which is manifest enough if we compare him with the solid but
prosaic Duncker. However complete and well articulated the bones of fact
may lie before us, it requires a rare imagination to clothe them with
flesh and with skin, nay, with bloom upon the skin, and expression in
the features, if we are to have a living figure, and not a dry and
repulsive skeleton.

[Sidenote: Importance of studying Greek art.]

§ 93. What I think it right, in conclusion, to insist upon is this: that
a proper knowledge of Greek art, instead of being the mere amusement of
the dilettante, is likely to have an important effect upon the general
appearance of our public buildings and our homes, and to make them not
only more beautiful, but also instructive to the rising generation. The
day for new developments of architecture and of decorative art seems
past, though the modern discovery of a new material for
building--iron--ought to have brought with it something fresh and
original. In earlier ages the quality of the material can always be
shown to be a potent factor in style.

[Sidenote: Modern revivals of ancient styles,--Gothic, Renaissance.]

If, however, we are not to have a style of our own, we must necessarily
go back to the great builders and decorators of former ages, and make
them the models of our artists. This has in fact been the history of the
revivals since the universal reign of vulgarity in what we call the
early Queen Victoria period in England. First there was a great Gothic
revival, when we began to understand what the builders of the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries meant, and to reproduce their ideas with
intelligence. This has since given way to the Renaissance style, in
which most recent buildings have been erected, and which has beauties
which the Gothic revivalists used to regard with horror.

There is no probability that the last ideal will be more permanent than
the last but one; it will presently be replaced by some other model.
This, however, will have been gained,--that our ordinary lay public will
have been trained to understand and appreciate not only the great Gothic
works of the early, but the great Renaissance works of the late Middle
Ages. We can now even tolerate those curious vampings, so common in
Holland and Germany, where one style has been laid upon the other or
added to it[211:1].

[Sidenote: Probability of Hellenic revival.]

It is more than likely that the next revival will be a Hellenic revival.
Renaissance architecture, as is well known, is the imitation of Roman or
late Hellenistic art, with certain peculiarities and modifications
forced upon the builders by their education and surroundings. But many
of them thought they were reproducing pure Greek style, concerning which
they were really in total darkness. The few earlier attempts in this
century to imitate Greek buildings show a similar ignorance. Thus the
builders of the Madeleine in Paris thought, I suppose, they were copying
the Parthenon, whereas they knew nothing whatever about the art of
Ictinus. How far this inability to understand the art of a distant
century may go, is curiously exemplified in the drawings taken (in 1676)
from the yet un-ruined Parthenon by Jacques Carrey, by the order of the
Marquis of Nointel. These drawings are positively ludicrous travesties
of the sculpture of Phidias in seventeenth-century style[211:2].

[Sidenote: Greek art only recently understood. Winckelmann, Penrose,

Not until a long series of great students, beginning with Winckelmann,
had studied with real care the secrets of Greek art, till Mr. Penrose
had disclosed the marvellous subtlety in the curves of the Parthenon,
till Dr. Dörpfeld had analyzed the plan and materials and execution of
the Olympian treasure-houses and temples, could we say that we were
beginning to have a clear perception of the qualities which made Greek
sculpture and architecture so superior to all imitations which have
since been attempted.

[Sidenote: Its effect upon modern art when properly appreciated,]

§ 94. It is high time that all this profound research, this recondite
learning, these laborious excavations, should be made known in their
results, and brought home to the larger public. Then when the day comes
that we undertake to carry out a Hellenic Renascence, we shall know what
we are about; we shall abandon the superstition of white marble worship,
and adopt colours; we shall learn to combine chastity of design with
richness of ornamentation; we shall revert to that harmony of all the
arts which has been lost since the days of Michael Angelo.

[Sidenote: and upon every detail of our life.]

If it be true that there is in heaven a secret treaty between the three
sovran Ideas that ennoble human life,--the Good, the Beautiful, and the
True--which enacts that none of them shall enrich us without the
co-operation of the rest, then our study of this side of Greek
perfection may even have its moral results. May not the ideas of
measure, of fitness, of reserve, which are shown in all the best Greek
work, radiate their influence into our ordinary life, and, making it
fairer, prepare it for the abode of larger truth and more perfect

[Sidenote: Greek Literature hardly noticed in this Essay.]

§ 95. Thus far I have sought to bring out the political lessons which
are the peculiar teaching of history, and have only suggested what may
yet result from the artistic lessons left us by this wonderful people.
The reader may wonder that I have said little or nothing concerning
another very prominent side of Greek perfection,--the wonders of the
poetry which ranks with the best that has been produced by all the
efforts of man before or since. My reason for this omission was, that
here, if anywhere, the excellence of the extant Hellenic work is
acknowledged, while the fact that all those ignorant of the language are
excluded from enjoying it, makes any discussion of it unsuited to the
general public. For whatever may be said of good translations of foreign
prose, poetry is so essentially the artistic expression of the peculiar
tongue in which it originates, that all transference into alien words
must produce a fatal alteration. A great English poet may indeed
transfer the ideas of a Greek to his page; but he gives us an English
poem on Greek subjects, not the very poem of his model, however faithful
his report may be.

[Sidenote: Demands a good knowledge and study of the language.]

If, therefore, we are to benefit by this side of Hellenic life, there is
no short cut possible. We must sit down and study the language till we
can read it fluently; and this requires so much labour, that the
increasing demands of modern life upon our time tend to thrust aside the
study of bygone languages for the sake of easier and more obvious

§ 96. Nevertheless, it seems well-nigh impossible that a Hellenic
Renascence, such as I have anticipated, can ever be thorough and lasting
unless the English-speaking nations become really familiar with the
literary side of Hellenic life. Revivals of the plays of Æschylus and
Sophocles must not be confined to the learned stage and public of an
English or American university, but must come to be heard and
appreciated by a far larger public.

[Sidenote: Other languages must be content to give way to this pursuit.]

This can hardly be done until we make up our minds that the subjects of
education must not be increased in number, and that moreover they may be
alternated with far more freedom than is now the case. There is, for
example, a superstition that everybody must learn Latin before learning
Greek, and that French is a sort of necessary accomplishment for a lady,
whereas it is perfectly certain that the cultivation to be attained
through Greek is ten times as great as that we can gain through Latin;
while in the second case it is no paradox to assert that any woman able
to understand the _Antigone_ of Sophocles or the _Thalusia_ of
Theocritus would derive from them more spiritual food than from all the
volumes of French poetry she is ever likely to read. If we cannot
compass all, the lesser should give way to the greater; and it is not
till our own day that the supremacy of Greek has been acknowledged by
all competent judges.

[Sidenote: The nature and quality of Roman imitations.]

§ 97. What has promoted the reign of Latin, and has told against Greek
in our schools, is partly, I believe, the bugbear of a strange alphabet;
partly also--and this among more advanced people--the want of a clear
knowledge how closely most Roman poetry was copied from Greek models.
Were the Greek models now extant, the contrast would probably cause the
Roman imitations to disappear, as indeed many such must have disappeared
when the Roman readers themselves approached the great originals. Even
now, if the lyrics of Sappho and Alcæus were recovered from some
Egyptian tomb or from the charred rolls of Herculaneum, it might have a
disastrous effect on the popularity of Horace.

[Sidenote: The case of Virgil.]

But in most cases the Romans copied from inferior poets of the
Alexandrian age; and before the reader and I part company, it is of
importance to insist upon this,--that the best of Roman poetry was often
a mere version of third-rate Greek. By far the greatest of the Roman
poets is Virgil; and if he alone remained, Latin would be worth learning
for his sake. But even Virgil copies from second-rate Alexandrian poets,
Apollonius and Aratus--from the latter to an extent which would be
thought shameful in any independent literature. It may be true that the
translations are in this case not only equal, but far superior, to the
originals. I will not dispute this, as my case does not require any
doubtful supports. For even granting that he can exceed a second-rate
Greek model, what shall we say when he attempts to imitate Theocritus in
his _Bucolics_? Here he is taking a really good Greek poet for his
model, and how poor is the great Roman in comparison! Even therefore in
imitating an Alexandrian master, we can see that the first of Latin
poets cannot bear the comparison.

[Sidenote: Theocritus only a late flower in the Greek garden of poetry.]

§ 98. If I had not written fully on this subject in my recent _Greek
Life and Thought_, and my _Greek World under Roman Sway_, I should fain
conclude with some brief account of the after-glow of Hellenic genius,
when the loss of freshness in the language and the life of the people
had made pedantry and artificiality common features in the writing of
the day. Yet these patent faults did not strike the Romans, whose poets,
with only few exceptions, copied Callimachus and Parthenius as the
finest models in the world.

From my point of view, though I have cited these facts to show what a
superstition the preference of Latin to Greek is, I can urge them as but
another evidence of the supremacy of Greece and its right to a spiritual
empire over cultivated men. Even debased and decaying Hellenism could
produce poetry too good for the ablest disciples to rival, too subtle
for any other tongue to express. Can we conclude with any greater
tribute to the genius of the race, with any higher recommendation of
their history than this, that it is the history of a people whose gifts
have never ceased to illumine and to sustain the higher spirits in every
society of civilized men?


[190:1] I am of course speaking generally, nor do I venture to decide
without argument the difficult question of the exact status of Greece in
the years after 146 B.C.

[196:1] _Greek Life and Thought, from Alexander to the Roman Conquest._
Macmillan, 1887.

[202:1] The old belief in an original Hebrew Gospel, from which Saint
Matthew's was translated, now turns out to have no better foundation
than the existence of an old version into Hebrew (Aramaic) for the
benefit of the common people who were too ignorant to read Greek. Cf.
Dr. Salmon's _Introduction to the New Testament_.

[203:1] Cf. further details in my _Greek Life and Thought_, pp. 140,

[206:1] Cf. Mr. W. Pater's _Marius the Epicurean_, which is built on
this idea; also the excellent account in Mr. Bury's new _History of the
Later Roman Empire_, vol. i. chap. i.

[206:2] The reader who fears to attack Libanius directly, may find all
the facts either in Sievers' (German) _Life of Libanius_, or in Mr. W.
W. Capes's excellent book on _University Life at Athens_ (London, 1877).

[211:1] Of this confusion the hall of the Middle Temple in London is a
very interesting specimen, seeing that the Renaissance screen, a
splendid thing, is only two years later than the Gothic hall.

[211:2] They are not, however, one whit worse than the ordinary attempts
at Greek dress made by nineteenth-century ladies who go to Fancy Fairs.



There seems a sort of general agreement among modern historians of
Greece to accept the 1st Olympiad (776 B.C.) as the trustworthy
starting-point of solid Greek chronology. Even Grote, so sceptical about
legends, and so slow to gather inferences from them, accepts this date.
There is only one exception, I think, to be found in Sir George Cox, who
evidently rejects the Olympian register, who will not set down in his
chronology any figure higher than 670 B.C., and even that under the
protest of a query.

When we come to inquire on what authority so early a date can be
securely established, we find a sort of assumption, not supported by
argument, that from 776 onward the Eleians kept a regular record of
their great festival, and as a matter of fact the alleged list is still
extant. It was generally acknowledged and cited by the late historians
of Greece, who determined events according to it. Above all, the
critical doubts of philologists are soothed by the supposed authority of
Aristotle, who is reported to have made researches on the question, and
to refer to the list as if authentic[218:1]; at all events he mentioned
a discus at Olympia with Lycurgus' name inscribed upon it, but in what
work, and for what purpose, is unknown. Aristotle is considered an
infallible authority by modern philologists, so much so that even the
most sceptical of them seem almost to attribute verbal inspiration to
this philosopher. One other Greek authority shares with him this
pre-eminence--the historian Thucydides. And it so happens that in his
Sicilian _Archæology_ (book vi) Thucydides gives a number of dates,
apparently without hesitation, which start from 735 B.C., and therefore
persuades his commentators that accurate dates were attainable
concerning a period close to the 1st Olympiad. These are apparently the
reasons which have determined the general consent of modern historians.

But neither Grote, nor E. Curtius, nor even Sir George Cox, has analysed
the evidence for the authenticity of the older portion of this register.
I cannot find in Clinton's _Fasti_, where it might well be expected, any
such inquiry. In Mure's _History of Greek Literature_ (iv. 77-90), a
work far less esteemed than it deserves, and here only, do we find any
statement of the evidence. The negative conclusions reached by Mure have
made no impression on the learned world, and are now well-nigh
forgotten. I will take up the question where he left it, and add some
positive evidence to corroborate his argument--that the list of victors
at Olympiads handed down to us by Eusebius is, at least in its earlier
part, an artificially constructed list, resting on occasional and
fragmentary monumental records, and therefore of no value as a
scientific chronology. I will also endeavour to determine when the
victors began to be regularly recorded, and when the extant list was
manufactured. Such an inquiry must be of great importance in measuring
the amount of credence to be given to the dates of events referred to
the eighth and the first half of the seventh centuries B.C.--for
example, Thucydides' dates for the western colonies of the Hellenes.

Let us first sketch the tradition about the Register as we find it
implied in Diodorus, Strabo, the fragments of Timæus, and other late
historians. We find especially in Pausanias a considerable amount of
detail, and an outline of the general history of the feast as then
accepted. All admitted, and indeed asserted, a mythical origin for the
games. The declarations of Pindar and other old poets were express, that
Herakles had founded them, that Pelops and other mythical heroes had won
victories at them--and victories of various kinds, including chariot
races. Another account ascribed their foundation to Oxylus (Paus. v. 8,
5). But a long gap was admitted between these mythical glories and the
revival of the games by his descendant Iphitus, king of Elis. 'This
Iphitus,' says Pausanias (v. 4, 6), '_the epigram at Olympia_ declares
to be the son of Hæmon, but most of the Greeks to be the son of
Praxonides, and not of Hæmon; the old documents ([Greek: archaia
grammata]) of the Eleians, however, referred[219:1] Iphitus to a father
of the same name.' Iphitus, in connection with the Spartan Lycurgus,
re-established the games, but (as was asserted) only as a contest in
the short race ([Greek: stadion]), and in this first historical Olympiad
Corœbus won, as was stated in an epigram on his tomb, situated on the
borders of Elis and Arcadia (Paus. viii. 26, 4). A quoit on which
Lycurgus' name was engraved, was at Elis, says Plutarch, in the days of
Aristotle. The 'discus of Iphitus,' says Pausanias (v. 20, 1), 'has the
truce which the Eleians announce for the Olympiad, not inscribed in
straight lines, but the letters run round the discus in a circular
form[220:1].' He alludes to the list again and again: _e.g._ (v. 8, 6)
'ever since there is a continuous record of the Olympiads ([Greek: ex
hou to syneches tais mnêmais epi tais Ol. esti]); prizes for running
were first established, and the Eleian Corœbus won.'

Pausanias proceeds in this passage to give an account of the successive
additions of other competitions to the sprint race, 'according as they
remembered them,' that is, according as they recollected or found out
that they had been practised in mythical days. In the 14th Ol. the
[Greek: diaulos], or double course, was instituted, and Hypenus the
Pisæan won, and next after him Acanthus. In the 18th they remembered the
pentathlon and the wrestling match, in which Lampis and Eurybatus
respectively won, both Lacedæmonians. In the 23rd came boxing, and
Onomastus of Smyrna, which then already counted as Ionian, won. In the
25th the first chariot race was won by the Theban Pagondas. In the 33rd
came the pancration, and the monument of the first victor, Lygdamis, was
at Syracuse. . . . . The boys' contests were based on no old tradition,
but the Eleians established them of their own good pleasure. The boys'
wrestling match was accordingly instituted in the 37th Ol.

I need not here pursue the account further, but will return to this
passage in connection with the other arrangements of the feast.

We find that other authorities, such as Polemo, quoted by the Scholiast
on Pindar (Ol. v.), agree with Pausanias as to some of these details.
Strabo quotes from Ephorus the double foundation, by Oxylus and again by
Iphitus. So does Phlegon, a freedman of Hadrian, who wrote a work on the
Olympian festival, and gave a list of victors, probably from the same
source as Eusebius' list. Phlegon notes indeed the difficulty of making
Lycurgus and Iphitus contemporary with Corœbus in 776 B.C., and fixes
the date of Iphitus twenty-eight Olympiads earlier (at 887 B.C.). But he
introduces an Iphitus again in the 6th registered Ol., inquiring about
the crowning of victors, and states that Daïcles of Messene was first
crowned with wild olive at the 7th contest. The only other point of
interest in Phlegon's fragments is the full catalogue of the 177th Ol.
(frag. 12 in Müller's _Frag. Hist._ iv. 606), which gives the winners in
seventeen events; some of them thrice successful in the competitions.

We may therefore take it for granted that the account of Pausanias,
which now passes current in all the German and English works on Greek
athletics, was, in the main, that established or adopted by Timæus or by
Aristotle, the latter of whom is often alleged to have first given the
Olympiads their prominent position as the basis of Greek chronology. But
whether he adopted the list as genuine from the beginning or not, his
isolated remark about the quoit with Lycurgus' name is not sufficient
to inform us[222:1]. Indeed we have only negative evidence concerning
his opinion and no direct information.

It is of far more importance to examine what positive evidence there was
for this theory of the gradual rise and progress of the festival, its
regularity, and the prominence of the _stadion_, or short race, in
giving the name of its victor as the index of the date. We have two
kinds of authority to consult--the older literature; and the monuments,
either at first hand, or as described for us by former observers. As
regards the literature, our review need be but very brief.

(1) The twenty-third book of the _Iliad_ seems composed without any
reference to the earliest Olympian games as Pausanias describes them.
The nature of this (perhaps special) competition is quite different.
There are some events, such as the armed combat, which never made part
of the historical games; there are others, such as the chariot race,
which are expressly asserted to have been later innovations at Olympia.
The giving of valuable prizes, and several of them in each competition,
is quite against the practice at Olympia. The Phæacian games in the
_Odyssey_ ([Greek: th] 120, sq.) contain _five_ events, running,
wrestling, leaping, discus, and boxing. Those who believe that the epics
were composed before 776 B.C., or those who believe them to be the much
later compilation of antiquarian poets, will find no difficulty in this.
The one will assert that the poet could not know, and the other that he
would not know, what was established at Olympia. The latter will also
hold that the accounts of the mythical celebrations by Herakles,
Pelops, &c., were invented in imitation of the Homeric account. But
still if Lycurgus indeed promoted the knowledge of the Homeric poems,
why did he and Iphitus found a contest without the least resemblance to
the heroic models? And if, as I hold, the Homeric poems were growing
into shape about the time of the alleged 1st Olympiad, and after it, the
contrast of the _Iliad_ in its games to the Olympian festival is so
difficult to explain, that we must assume the old Eleian competition to
have been no mere sprint race, but a contest similar in its events to
that in the _Iliad_, or at least to that in the _Odyssey_.

(2) This view is strongly supported by the statements of Pindar, who is
the next important witness on the subject. In his Tenth Olympic Ode
(_vv._ 43 _sq._) he tells of the foundation by Herakles, and gives the
names of _five_ heroes who won the various events of the first contest.
He gives us no hint that there was any break in the tradition, or that
these five events had not remained in fashion ever since. In fact he
does mention (_Isth._ i. 26 _sq._) that the _pentathlon_ and
_pancration_ were later inventions, thus making it clear that the rest
were in his mind the original components of the meeting. Nor does he
anywhere give priority or special dignity to the _stadion_; only the
last of his Olympian Odes is for this kind of victory, his Thirteenth
for the _stadion_ and _pentathlon_ together. He never mentions, as we
should certainly have expected, that these _stadion_ victors would have
the special glory of handing down their names as eponymi of the whole
feast. The other contests, the chariot race, the pancration, and the
pentathlon, were evidently far grander and more highly esteemed, and we
find this corroborated by the remark of Thucydides (v. 49), 'This was
the Olympiad when Androsthenes won for the first time the pancration.'
Thucydides therefore seems to have marked the Olympiad, not by the
stadion, but by the pancration.

(3) This historian indeed (as well as his immediate predecessors,
Herodotus and Hellanicus) gives us but little information about the
nature of the games, except the remark that 'it was not many years'
since the habit of running naked had come into fashion at Olympia. Such
a statement cannot be reconciled with Pausanias' account, who placed the
innovation three centuries before Thucydides' time. But in one important
negative feature all the fifth-century historians agree. None of them
recognise any Olympian register, or date their events by reference to
this festival. Thucydides, at the opening of his second book, fixes his
main date by the year of the priestess of Hera at Argos, by the Spartan
ephor, and by the Athenian archon. In his Sicilian _Archæology_, to
which we will presently return, where it would have been very convenient
to have given dates by Olympiads, he counts all his years from the
foundation of Syracuse downward. Yet we know that Hellanicus, Antiochus
and others had already made chronological researches at that time, and
the former treated of the list of the Carneian victors. All these things
taken together are conclusive against the existence, or at least the
wide recognition, of the Olympian annals down to 400 B.C.

In the next century Ephorus wrote in his earlier books concerning the
mythical founding of the festival, but we have nothing quoted from him
at all like the history set down by Pausanias. It is nevertheless about
this time that the newer and more precise account came into vogue, for
Timæus, the younger contemporary of Ephorus, evidently knew and valued
the register. Its origin in literature would have remained a mystery but
for the solitary remark of Plutarch. At the opening of his _Life of
Numa_, in commenting on the difficulty of fixing early dates, he says:

[Greek: tous men oun chronous exakribôsai chalepon esti, kai malista
tous ek tôn Olympionikôn anagomenous, hôn tên anagraphên opse phasin
Hippian ekdounai ton Êleion, ap' oudenos hormômenon anankaiou pros

What does this mean? Does it mean that Hippias first _published_ or
edited in a literary form the register, or does it mean that he _both
compiled and edited_ it? The former is the implied opinion of the
learned. 'Dieser Zeit,' says E. Curtius, _Hist._ i. 494 (_viz._ 'der
Mitte des achten Jahrhunderts'), 'gehören ja auch die Listen derer an,
welche in den Nationalspielen gesiegt'; and in the note on this at the
end of the volume, he indicates, together with the [Greek: anagraphai]
of the Argive priestesses, which Hellanicus published, two passages in
Pausanias, and adds: 'wissenschaftlich bearbeitet zuerst von Hippias dem
Eleer, dann von Philochorus in seinen [Greek: Olympiades].' Now of the
latter work we know nothing more than the name; of the former nothing
but the passage just cited from Plutarch. Does it justify Ernst Curtius'
_wissenschaftlich bearbeitet_? Or does our other knowledge of Hippias
justify it? The pictures of him drawn in the Platonic dialogues called
after his name, and in Philostratus, though perhaps exaggerated, make
him a vain but clever polymath, able to practise all trades, and exhibit
in all kinds of knowledge. We should not expect anything
'wissenschaftlich' from him. Indeed, in this case there was room for
either a great deal of science, or for none. If there was really an
authentic list at Olympia, Hippias need only have copied it. But is
this consistent with Plutarch's statement? Far from it.

Plutarch implies a task of difficulty, requiring research and
combination. And this, no doubt, was what the Sophist wanted to exhibit.
Being an Eleian, and desirous to make himself popular in the city, he
not only chose Olympia for special displays of various kinds, but
brought together for the people a history of their famous games. And in
doing this he seems to have shown all the vanity, the contempt of
ancient traditions, and the rash theorizing which we might expect from a
man of his class. We have, fortunately, a single case quoted by
Pausanias which shows us both that this estimate of the man is not far
from the truth, and what licence the Eleians gave him when he was
reconstructing the history of the festival. Pausanias (v. 25, 2 _sqq._)
tells a pathetic story about the loss of a choir of boys and their
teacher on the way from Messana in Sicily to Olympia, where they were
commemorated by statues. [Greek: to men dê epigramma edêlou to archaion
anathêmata einai tôn en porthmô Messêniôn; chronô de hysteron Hippias ho
legomenos hypo Hellênôn genesthai sophos ta elegeia ep' autois
epoiêsen]. Here, then, we have some kind of falsification, and
apparently one in favour of the Messenians of the Peloponnesus, if we
may judge from the form of Pausanias' remark. In more than one case a
later epigram appears to have been inscribed on a votive offering, and I
think we can show in Hippias a decided leaning to the Messenians, whose
restoration to independence he probably witnessed.

But were there really no registers, [Greek: anagraphai], from which
Hippias could have copied? If there was certainly no single complete
list, of undoubted authority, may there not have been partial lists,
affording him suitable materials? This we must endeavour to answer from
the passages of Pausanias referred to by E. Curtius, as well as from
others, which he has not thought it necessary to quote.

The first is the opening passage of the sixth book, where the author
says that as his work 'is not a catalogue of all the athletes who have
gained victories at Olympia, but an account of votive offerings, and
especially statues, he will omit many who have gained victories, either
by some lucky chance, or without attaining the honour of a statue.'
Though this passage may imply that there was such a catalogue--of course
there was in Pausanias' day--it says not a word about an old and
authentic register. It is indeed a capital fact in the present
discussion, that neither does Pausanias, in this elaborate account of
Olympia, nor, as far as I know, does any other Greek author, distinctly
mention [Greek: anagraphai], or [Greek: parapêgmata], or any equivalent
term for any official register at Olympia. Pausanias speaks of [Greek:
ta tôn Êleiôn grammata], and also says of certain _an-Olympiads_[227:1]:
[Greek: en tô tôn Ol. katalogô ou graphousin]--not that they noted in,
or erased from any official register. In Pausanias the absence of such
mention appears to me decisive.

Let us pass to the second passage indicated by E. Curtius, _viz._ vi. 6,
3. 'There stands there also the statue of Lastratidas, an Eleian boy,
who won the crown for wrestling; he obtained also in Nemea among the
boys, and among youths ([Greek: en te paisi kai ageneiôn]) another
victory.' Pausanias adds: that Paraballon, the father of Lastratidas,
won in the [Greek: diaulos, hypeleipeto de kai es tous epeita
philotimian, tôn nikêsantôn Olympiasi ta onomata anagrapsas en gymnasiô
tô en Olympia]. Here, at last, we have some definite evidence, and I
will add at once another passage--the only other passage I can find
where any register is alluded to--as it expounds the former. In vi. 8,
1, we find: Euanorides the Eleian gained the victory for wrestling both
at Olympia and Nemea: [Greek: genomenos de Hellanodikês egrapse kai
houtos ta onomata en Olympia tôn nenikêkotôn]. It appears then that if
an Eleian had distinguished himself at the games, he was likely to be
afterwards chosen as one of the judges--a reasonable custom, even now
prevailing amongst us. It also appears that such [Greek: hellanodikai]
obtained the right of celebrating their year of office by inscribing the
names of the victors, and doubtless their own, in the gymnasium.

But fortunately, the date of these inscriptions is determined by two
facts. In the first place both came after the establishing of boys'
contests, which Pausanias expressly calls an invention of the Eleians,
and fixes at the 37th Olympiad. Again the son of Paraballon, and
Euanorides himself, won prizes at Nemea--a contest not established,
according to E. Curtius, till about 570 B.C., but probably a little
earlier, and nearer to 600 B.C. I do not for a moment deny the existence
of some kind of register from this time onward; in fact there are some
probable reasons to be presently adduced in favour of it. Indeed the
very form of the note about Paraballon _seems to imply some novelty_, an
exceptional distinction in his inscription; and what we are here seeking
is evidence for an _early_ register, in fact a register of the contests
previous to 600 B.C.

What evidence does Pausanias afford of this? As I have said, there is
not a word about a register or catalogue, but there are several notes
of old offerings and inscriptions, which show us what sort of materials
existed, at least in Pausanias' day. And there is no reason whatever to
believe that many ancient monuments or inscriptions had been injured,
unless Hippias carried out his work of falsifying them on a large scale.
There were indeed several monuments antedated by mere vulgar mistakes.
Such was the _stele_ of Chionis (vi. 13, 2), who was reported to have
won in four successive contests (Ols. 28-31), but the reference in the
inscription to _armed races as not yet introduced_, proved even to
Pausanias that the writer of it must have lived long after Chionis'
alleged period. There was again the monument of Pheidolas' children,
whose epigram Pausanias notes as conflicting (vi. 13, 10) with [Greek:
ta Êleiôn es tous Olympionikas grammata. ogdoê gar Ol. kai hexêkostê kai
ou pro tautês estin en tois Êl. grammasi hê nikê tôn Ph. paidôn]. These
[Greek: grammata]--a word apparently distinct from [Greek:
anagraphai]--are probably nothing but the treatise of Hippias, preserved
and copied at Elis. Had these [Greek: grammata] indeed been an authentic
register, inscribed at the time of each victory, is it possible that any
epigrams of later date would have been allowed to conflict with it?
Surely not. But if the register came to be concocted at a late period,
such discrepancies might be hard to avoid.

But as regards genuine early monuments, Pausanias tells us that
Corœbus had no statue at Olympia, and implies that _there was no
record of his victory save the epigram on his tomb_ at the border of
Elis and Arcadia. Then comes the case of the Spartan Eutelidas (vi. 15,
8), who conquered as a boy in the 38th Ol., the only contest ever held
for a pentathlon of boys. [Greek: esti de hê te eikôn archaia tou Eut.,
kai ta epi tô bathrô grammata amydra hypo tou chronou.] But this statue
cannot have been so old even as the 38th Ol. For in vi. 18, 7, Pausanias
tells us that the first athlete's statues set up at Olympia were those
of Praxidamas the Æginetan, who won in boxing at the 59th Ol., and that
of the Opuntian Rexibios the pancratiast, at the 61st. 'These portrait
statues are not far from the pillar of Œnomaos, and are made of wood,
Rexibios' of fig-tree, but the Æginetan's of cypress, and less decayed
than the other.' Just below this we have a mention of a treasure-house,
dedicated by the Sicyonian tyrant Myron in the 33rd Ol. In this
treasure-house was an inscribed shield, 'an offering to Zeus from the
Myones.' [Greek: ta de epi tê aspidi grammata parêktai men epi brachy,
peponthe de auto dia tou anathêmatos to archaion] (vi. 19, 5).

These exhaust the oldest dated monuments found by Pausanias. He mentions
indeed an ancient treasury of the Megarians, built in a time before
either yearly archons at Athens or Olympiads (vi. 19, 13)[230:1]. Thus
the antiquarian traveller, who revelled in the venerable in history and
the archaic in Greek art, could find no dated votive offerings older
than the 33rd Ol., and these he specially notes as of extraordinary
antiquity, decayed and illegible with age. We may feel quite certain
that he omitted no really important extant relic of old times in his

Such then were the materials from which Hippias proceeded, not before
the year 400 B.C., and probably a generation later, to compile the full
register of the Olympiads. There may have been some old inscriptions
which Pausanias failed to see, or which had become illegible, or had
disappeared under the soil with time. Doubtless there were many old
traditions at Elis, which the Eleian sophist would gather and utilise.
There were also throughout Greece, in the various cities he visited,
traditions and inscriptions relating to victors who had been natives of
these cities. But that these formed an unbroken chain from Corœbus
down to Hippias' day is quite incredible.

His work is so completely lost that we can only conjecture his method of
proceeding from the general character of his age, and from the critical
spirit we can fairly attribute to it. He had before him the history of
the Pythian festival, which began in historical times (Ol. 48), if we
omit the old contest in composing a hymn to the gods. The various
innovations and additions were well known, and it is certain that at
Olympia too the range of contests had been enlarged by the pentathlon,
the pancration, the hoplite race, &c. But it is likely that Hippias
carried out this analogy too far. He found no traditions for the other
events as old as Corœbus, and he assumed that the games had begun
with a simple short race. _According to the order of the first record of
each competition_, he set down its first origin. He was thus led to make
the [Greek: stadion] the 'eponymous competition,' if I may coin the
expression, though it is more than probable that the early festivals
were noted by the victor in the greatest feats and--if there was a real
register--by the Hellanodicæ who had presided. For it is certain from
Pausanias that the umpire did inscribe his own name with those of the

Hippias' work, the [Greek: grammata] of the Eleians in after days, was
thus a work based upon a problematical reconstruction of history. It
rested for its earlier portions on scanty and broken evidence; as it
proceeded, and monuments became more numerous, its authenticity
increased. After Ol. 60, when the fashion came in of setting up athlete
statues, we may assume it in the main to have been correct; though even
here there were not wanting discrepancies with other evidence, and
possibly some _mala fides_ on the part of the compiler[232:1].

There remain, therefore, three points of interest connected with the
theory thus proposed. Have we any evidence of the date at which the
Hellanodicæ first made it a matter of ambition to inscribe their own
names, and those of victors in the gymnasium, at Olympia? Are there
traces of deliberate theorizing in the extant list of victors previous
to this date? Why and for what reasons did Hippias fix on the year 776
B.C. as the commencement of his list?

(1) There are several probable reasons for fixing the origin of
registering the victories at about the 50th Ol. It was about this time
that the Eleians finally conquered the Pisatans, and secured the
complete management of the games. From the spoils of Pisa they built the
magnificent Doric temple lately excavated, and no doubt increased the
splendour of Olympia in other ways. For in addition to their increase of
power they were stimulated by a new and dangerous competition--that of
the Pythian games, established in the third year of the 48th Ol., and
this may have been one of the reasons why they determined finally to
crush and spoil the Pisatans. It is likely that the Nemean and Isthmian
games were instituted about the same time, and these rival games were
perhaps connected with some complaints as to the management of the
Olympian festival, for no Eleian seems to have competed at the Isthmian
games (Paus. v. 2, 2). The Eleians were accordingly put upon their
mettle, both to keep their contest unequalled in splendour, and beyond
suspicion in fairness. To obtain the first, they lavished the spoils of
Pisa, as already mentioned. As to the second, we have a remarkable story
told us by Herodotus (ii. 160), and again by Diodorus (i. 95), that they
sent an embassy as far as Egypt to consult the Pharaoh as to the best
possible conduct of the games. This king told them _that no Eleian
should be allowed to compete_. Herodotus calls him Psammis (Psammetichus
II), who reigned 594-587 B.C.; and he is a higher authority than
Diodorus, who calls him Amasis, and so brings down the date by
twenty-five years. Herodotus' story has never been much noticed, or
brought into relation with the other facts here adduced, but it surely
helps to throw light on the question. And there is yet one more
important datum. Pausanias tells us that in Ol. 50 a second umpire was
appointed. If the practice of official registering now commenced at
Olympia, as it certainly did at Delphi in the Pythian games, we can
understand Pausanias' remarks about Paraballon and others having
esteemed it a special glory to leave their names associated with the
victors'. For it was a new honour. From this time onward, therefore, I
have nothing to say against the register which we find in Eusebius.

(2) But as regards the first fifty Olympiads, is there any appearance of
deliberate invention or arrangement about the list of names? Can we show
that Hippias worked on theory, and not from distinct evidence? It is
very hard to do this, especially when we admit that he had a good many
isolated victories recorded or remembered, and that he was an
antiquarian, who no doubt worked out a probable list. Thus the list
begins with victors from the neighbourhood, and gradually admits a wider
range of competitors. This is natural enough, but I confess my suspicion
at the occurrence of eight Messenians out of the first twelve victors,
followed by their total disappearance till after the restoration by
Epaminondas. For the sacred truce gave ample occasion for exiled
Messenians to compete at the games[234:1]. I also feel grave suspicions
at the curious absence of Eleian victors. Excepting the first two, there
is not a single Eleian in the list. How is this consistent with Psammis'
remark to the Eleians? For how could they have avoided answering him
that their fairness was proved by the occurrence of no Eleian as victor
eponymous for 170 years? Many Eleian victors are indeed noticed by
Pausanias in the other events. It is hardly possible that they could not
have conquered in the _stadion_, so that I suspect in Hippias a
deliberate intention to put forward non-Eleians as victors. I have
suspicions about Œbotas, placed in the 6th Ol. by Hippias, but about
the 75th by the common tradition of the Greeks. It is curious, too, that
Athenian victors should always occur in juxtaposition with Laconian. But
all these are only suspicions.

(3) I come to the last and most important point; indeed it was this
which suggested the whole inquiry. On what principles, or by what
evidence, did Hippias fix on the year 776 B.C. as his starting-point? We
need not plunge into the arid and abstruse computations of years and
cycles which make early chronology so difficult to follow and to
appreciate. For one general consideration is here sufficient. Even had
we not shown from Plutarch's words, and from the silence of all our
authorities, that Hippias _could_ not have determined it by counting
_upwards_ the exact number of duly recorded victories, it is perfectly
certain that he _would_ not have followed this now accepted method. All
the Greek chronologists down to Hippias' day (and long after) made it
their chief object to derive historical families and states from
mythical ancestors, and they did this by reasoning _downwards_ by
generations. They assumed a fixed starting-point, either the siege of
Troy, or the return of the Herakleids. From this the number of
generations gave the number of years. Thus we may assume that Hippias
sought to determine the date of the 1st Olympiad by King Iphitus, who
had been assigned to the generation 100 Olympiads--a neat
round-number--before himself. Hippias thus fixed the date of both
Iphitus and Lycurgus. The Spartan chronologers would not accept such a
date for Lycurgus. His place in the generations of Herakleids put him
fully three generations earlier. Other chronologers therefore sought
means to accommodate the matter, and counted twenty-eight nameless
Olympiads from Lycurgus to Corœbus (and Iphitus). Others imagined two
Iphiti, one of Lycurgus' and one of Corœbus' date. But all such schemes
are to us idle; for we may feel certain that the number of Olympiads was
accommodated to the date of Iphitus, and not the date of Iphitus to the
number of Olympiads.

Unfortunately the genealogy of Iphitus is not extant; in Pausanias' day
he already had three different fathers assigned to him (v. 4, 6.); and
we cannot, therefore, follow out the _a priori_ scheme of Hippias in
this instance; but I will illustrate it by another, which still plays a
prominent figure in our histories of Greece--I mean the chronology of
the Sicilian and Italian colonies, as given by Thucydides in his sixth
book. He speaks with considerable precision of events in the latter half
of the eighth century B.C.; he even speaks of an event which happened
300 years before the arrival of the Greeks in Sicily. As Thucydides was
not inspired, he must have drawn these things from some authority; as he
mentions no state documents it has been conjectured that his source was
here the work of Antiochus of Syracuse. This man was evidently an
antiquarian no wiser or more scientific than his fellows; Thucydides
betrays their method by dating all the foundations _downwards_ from that
of Syracuse. Antiochus was obliged to admit the priority of Naxos, but
grants it only one year; then he starts from his fixed era. But how was
the date of the foundation of Syracuse determined? Not, so far as we
know, from city registers and careful computations of years backward
from the fifth century. Such an assumption is to my mind chimerical, and
the source of many illusions. The foundation of Syracuse was determined
as to date by its founder, Archias, _being the tenth from Temenos_. The
return of the Herakleidæ was placed before the middle of the eleventh
century B.C.; hence Archias would fall below the middle of the eighth
century. The usual date of Pheidon of Argos, 747 B.C., was fixed in the
same way by his being the tenth Temenid, and hence the 8th Ol. was set
down as the _an-Olympiad_ celebrated by him. He should probably, as I
have before argued, be brought down nearly a century (to 670 B.C.) in

I will now sum up the results of this long discussion. When we emerge
into the light of Greek history, we find the venerable Olympian games
long established, and most of their details referred to mythical
antiquity. We find no list of victors recognised by the early
historians, and we have the strongest negative evidence that no such
list existed in the days of Thucydides. Nevertheless about 580 B.C. the
feast was more strictly regulated, and the victors' names recorded,
perhaps regularly, in inscriptions; from 540 B.C. onward the practice of
dedicating athlete statues with inscriptions was introduced, though not
for every victor. About 500 B.C. there were many inscriptions (that of
Hiero is still extant), and there was evidence from which to write the
history of the festival; but this was never done till the time of the
archæologist and rhetorician Hippias, who was a native of Elis, with
influence and popularity there, and who even placed new inscriptions on
old votive offerings. This man (probably in 376 B.C.) constructed the
whole history of the feast, partly from the evidence before him, partly
from the analogy of other feasts. He fixed the commencement of his list,
after the manner of the chronologers of his day, by the date of the
mythical founder. Hence neither the names nor the dates found in
Eusebius' copy of the register for the first fifty Olympiads are to be
accepted as genuine, unless they are corroborated by other evidence.

We have not even, as yet, the corroborative evidence of any other Greek
inscriptions of the seventh or eighth centuries B.C. Till some such
records, or fragments of such records, are found, we are not entitled to
assume that the Greeks began to use writing upon stone for any records
at such a date as 776 B.C. That great storehouse of old civilization,
the Acropolis of Athens, has yielded us nothing of the kind; and even if
we admit that the annual archons were noted down since 683 B.C. (which
is far from certain), is not the further step to nearly a century
earlier completely unwarrantable?

I have reserved till now a passage in Aristotle's fragments (594) on the
Olympian festival, which may help the still unconvinced reader to
estimate the value of his opinion, on the authenticity of the Register.
Aristotle is commonly spoken of as having made critical researches upon
this question: here is _the only specimen_ left to us:--

     'The order of the festivals, as Aristotle makes out the list,
     is: first, the _Eleusinia_ in honour of the fruit of Demeter;
     second, the _Panathenæa_ to commemorate the slaying of the
     giant Aster by Athene; third, that which Danaos established at
     Argos at the marriage of his daughters; fourth, that of Lykaon
     in Arcadia, and called _Lykæa_; fifth, that in Iolkos ordained
     by Akastos for his father Pelias; sixth, that ordained by
     Sisyphos (_Isthmian?_) in honour of Melikertes: seventh, the
     _Olympian_, ordained by Herakles in honour of Pelops; eighth,
     that at Nemea, which the Seven against Thebes established in
     honour of Archemorus; ninth, that at Troy, which Achilles
     celebrated for Patroklos; tenth, the _Pythian_, which the
     Amphiktyons established to commemorate the death of the
     Python. This is the order which Aristotle, who composed the
     treatise called [Greek: Peploi], set out of the ancient
     festivals and games.'

This quotation is from a scholiast to Aristides, who is not the only
grammarian who refers to the [Greek: Peploi]: there seems no reason to
question the authenticity of the reference to this book as the work of
Aristotle. It seems to be on the strength of these _Peploi_, with its
only extract now cited, that modern historians have claimed the
authority of the great critic for the Olympian Register! Was there ever
so strange an inference? Is this indeed the _wissenschaftliche
Bearbeitung_ which was begun by Hippias of Elis? Any calm critic free of
prejudice will rather conclude from it that on questions of early
chronology and mythical history Aristotle was a firm believer in legend,
and that he understood his duty to be that of a classifier and arranger
of these stories rather than that of a destructive critic. It is but
another case of acquiescence in a sceptic, such as I have described in
the text above. This being Aristotle's attitude as regards the
foundation of the feast, his authority as to the beginning of the
Register would be probably worthless. But as a matter of fact we know
nothing about it.

These considerations are, however, of great importance in dealing with
an objection or reservation made to my argument by Mr. Bury, who, while
he accepts my conclusions as regards the Olympiads, thinks that the
early dates for the Sicilian settlements rest on better evidence, seeing
that they are sanctioned by the much older and greater authority of
Thucydides, who was certainly critical about many of his dates, and
cautious in expressing a positive opinion.

I think the case of Thucydides to be closely analogous to that of
Aristotle. On all historical matters within the reach of proper inquiry,
I hold him to have been thoroughly critical. But when we go back to the
legends such as the Siege of Troy, or the story of Tereus and Procne, I
think he laid aside all this caution, and contented himself with a very
modest rationalism in interpreting the myths. He is most particular
about the _Pentekontaetia_, and Hellanicus' mistakes, but tells us
calmly of events sixty years after the Trojan War, or 300 years before
the Greeks went to Sicily. These matters stood with him on a different
footing from that of his researches, just as our Bible history is
honestly accepted by many scientific men of very sceptical turn in their
special studies. They acquiesce in Scriptural evidence as a matter of
general consent.

Neither critic ever seems to suspect fabrication of legends and lists;
and yet fabrication there certainly was. In discussing the lists of the
Argive priestesses, the kings of Sparta, and others, Max Duncker comes
to the deliberate conclusion (vol. i. pp. 130-1 Eng. ed.) that the early
part of these lists is fabricated. He classes all the names before 800
B.C. as imaginary; applying critical principles more consistently, and
accepting nothing upon the evidence of one unconfirmed witness, I have
now shown reasons why we may suspect many of them down to 650 B.C.


[217:1] I gladly acknowledge some valuable hints and corrections from
Dr. Hirschfeld of Königsberg, and Dr. Th. Kock of Weimar; both of whom
expressed agreement with my main results.

[218:1] Cf. below, p. 238, for the remaining fragment.

[219:1] [Greek: anêge], as if they were no longer extant; but see below,
p. 229.

[220:1] I can find no evidence that these discuses were identical, as is
universally assumed. Pausanias would surely have mentioned Lycurgus'
name, had he seen it.

[222:1] Cf. Plutarch, _Lycurgus_, § 1, to whom we owe the information.
In the extant works of Aristotle there is no allusion whatever to the
Register as a chronological standard. Cf. below, p. 238.

[227:1] By the Eleians the 8th, the 34th, and the 104th were called by
this name, probably used in Hippias' work, because these feasts were
celebrated by invaders, who had no legal right to do so.

[230:1] The recent excavations have refuted this very early date for the

[232:1] Cf. the case of Œbotas, supposed to have won the 6th Ol., but
also asserted to have fought in Platæa in Ol. 75. His statue and
epigram, be it observed, dated from about Ol. 80.--Paus. vi. 3, 8; vii.
17, 13.

[234:1] Hippias' false epigram on the Sicilian Messenians (above
mentioned) implies that the Messenians exiled from Messene were


The abbreviations B.C. and A.D. are unspaced throughout for consistency.

The following corrections have been made to the text:

     Page 46 sidenote: not corroborated by recent discoveries.
     [period missing in original]

     Page 74: the middle of the seventh century B.C.[period missing
     in original]

     CENTURY B.C.[period after "B" missing in original]

     Page 121: newly discovered _Polity of the Athenians_[121:2]
     [anchor added by transcriber

     Page 141 sidenote: Greek democratic patriotism.[period missing
     in original]

     Page 163 sidenote: Compare[original has Compar] with Napoleon

     Page 181 sidenote: Statement of the new difficulty[original
     has extraneous period]

     [62:1] older authorities[original has authorites], just as

     [96:2] under the master's direction. Cf. § 53.[period missing
     in original]

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