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Title: Famous Men of Ancient Times
Author: Goodrich, Samuel G. (Samuel Griswold)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                              FAMOUS MEN
                            ANCIENT TIMES.


                            S. G. GOODRICH.


                      THOMPSON, BROWN & COMPANY.
                           23 HAWLEY STREET.


The reader of these pages will perhaps remark, that the length of the
following sketches is hardly proportioned to the relative importance of
the several subjects, regarded in a merely historical point of view.
In explanation of this fact, the author begs leave to say, that, while
he intended to present a series of the great beacon lights that shine
along the shores of the past, and thus throw a continuous gleam over
the dusky sea of ancient history,--he had still other views. His chief
aim is moral culture; and the several articles have been abridged or
extended, as this controlling purpose might be subserved.

It may be proper to make one observation more. If the author has been
somewhat more chary of his eulogies upon the great men that figure in
the pages of Grecian and Roman story, than is the established custom,
he has only to plead in his vindication, that he has viewed them in the
same light--weighed them in the same balance--measured them by the same
standard, as he should have done the more familiar characters of our
own day, making due allowance for the times and circumstances in which
they acted. He has stated the results of such a mode of appreciation;
yet if the master spirits of antiquity are thus shorn of some portion
of their glory, the writer still believes that the interest they
excite is not lessened, and that the instruction they afford is not
diminished. On the contrary, it seems to him that the study of ancient
biography, if it be impartial and discriminating, is one of the most
entertaining and useful to which the mind can be applied.




          MOHAMMED,                                    7

          BELISARIUS,                                 25

          ATTILA,                                     60

          NERO,                                       68

          SENECA,                                     74

          VIRGIL,                                     83

          CICERO,                                     95

          JULIUS CÆSAR,                              130

          HANNIBAL,                                  145

          ALEXANDER,                                 157

          ARISTOTLE,                                 183

          DEMOSTHENES,                               197

          APELLES,                                   209

          DIOGENES,                                  213

          PLATO,                                     218

          SOCRATES,                                  229

          ALCIBIADES,                                244

          DEMOCRITUS,                                252

          PERICLES,                                  256

          ARISTIDES,                                 261

          ÆSOP,                                      264

          SOLON,                                     271

          LYCURGUS,                                  277

          HOMER,                                     282

          CONFUCIUS,                                 291


                      FAMOUS MEN OF ANCIENT TIMES



This individual, who has exercised a greater influence upon the
opinions of mankind than any other human being, save, perhaps, the
Chinese philosopher Confucius, was born at Mecca, in Arabia, A. D.
570. He was the only son of Abdallah, of the noble line of Hashem and
tribe of Koreish--descendants of Ishmael the reputed progenitor of the
Arabian race.

The Koreishites were not only a commercial people, and rich by virtue
of their operations in trade, but they were the hereditary guardians
of the Caaba, or Kaaba, a heathen temple at Mecca. The custody of this
sacred place, together with all the priestly offices, belonged to the
ancestors of Mohammed.

The Mohammedan authors have embellished the birth of the prophet with a
great variety of wonderful events, which are said to have attended his
introduction into the world. One of these is, that the Persian sacred
fire, kept in their temples, was at once extinguished over all Arabia,
accompanied by the diffusion of an unwonted and beautiful light. But
this and other marvels, we leave to the credulity of the prophet's

Mohammed's father died early, and his son came under the guardianship
of his uncle, Abu Taleb. He was a rich merchant, who was accustomed
to visit the fairs of Damascus, Bagdad, and Bassora--three great and
splendid cities, and Mohammed often accompanied him to these places.
In his twelfth year, Mohammed took part in an expedition against
the wandering tribes that molested the trading caravans. Thus, by
travelling from place to place, he acquired extensive knowledge, and,
by being engaged in warlike enterprise, his imagination became inflamed
with a love of adventure and military achievements. If we add to
this, that he had naturally a love of solitude, with a constitutional
tendency to religious abstraction; and if, moreover, we consider that
in his childhood he had been accustomed to behold the wild exercises,
the dark ceremonies, and hideous rites of the temple of Caaba--we
shall at once see the elements of character, and the educational
circumstances, which shaped out the extraordinary career of the founder
of Islamism.

It appears that Mohammed was remarkable for mental endowments, even in
his youth, for, in a religious conversation with a Nestorian monk, at
Basra, he showed such knowledge and talent, that the monk remarked to
his uncle, that great things might be expected of him. He was, however,
attentive to business, and so completely obtained the confidence of his
uncle, as a merchant, that he was recommended as a prudent and faithful
young man, to Khadijah, a rich widow, who stood in need of an agent to
transact her business and manage her affairs. In this capacity he was
received, and so well did he discharge his duties, that he not only won
the confidence of the widow, but finally obtained her hand in marriage.
This event took place when he was about twenty-five years old, Khadijah
being almost forty.

Mohammed was now rich, and, though he continued to carry on mercantile
business, he often retired to a cave, called Heva, near Mecca, where
he resided. He also performed several journeys to different parts
of Arabia and Syria, taking particular pains to gather religious
information, especially of learned Jews and Christians.

For some time, Mohammed, who lived happily with his wife, confided
to her his visits to the cave Heva, professing to enjoy interviews
with Heaven there, by means of dreams and trances, in which he met
and conversed with the angel Gabriel. There is little doubt that his
habits of religious retirement and gloomy reflection had unsettled
his judgment, and that he now gave himself up to the guidance of
an overwrought fancy. It is probable, therefore, that he believed
these visions to be of divine inspiration; else, why should he first
communicate them, as realities, to his wife?

Soon after this, he informed other members of his family of his
visions, and, being now about forty years old, assumed with them,
the character and profession of a prophet. Several of his friends,
particularly his wife, and his cousin Ali, a young man of great energy
of character, yielded to the evidence he gave of his divine mission.
Having been silently occupied about three years in converting his
nearest friends, he invited some of the most illustrious men of the
family of Hashem to his house, and, after conjuring them to abandon
their idolatry, for the worship of ONE GOD, he openly proclaimed his
calling, and set forth, that, by the commands of Heaven, revealed
through the angel Gabriel, he was prepared to impart to his countrymen
the most precious gift--the only means of future salvation.

Far from being convinced, the assembly was struck silent with mingled
surprise and contempt. The young and enthusiastic Ali, alone, yielded
to his pretences, and, falling at his feet, offered to attend him, in
good or evil, for life or for death. Several of the more sober part of
the assembly sought to dissuade Mohammed from his enterprise; but he
replied with a lofty fervor, that if the sun were placed in his right
hand, and the moon in his left, with power over the kingdoms they
enlighten, he would not, should not, could not hesitate or waver in his

Inflamed by the opposition he met with among this assembly, Mohammed
now went forth, and, wherever he could find crowds of people, there he
announced his mission. In the temples, in the public squares, streets,
and market-places, he addressed the people, laying claim to the
prophetic character, and setting forth the duty of rejecting idolatry,
for the worship of one God. The people were struck with his eloquence,
his majesty of person, the beautiful imagery he presented to their
minds, and the sublime sentiments he promulgated. Even the poet Lebid
is said to have been converted by the wonderful beauty and elevation
of the thoughts poured forth by the professed prophet. The people
listened, and, though they felt the fire of his eloquence, still they
were so wedded to their idolatries, that few were yet disposed to join

To aid in understanding the revolution wrought by Mohammed, it may
be well to sketch the condition of the Arabians at that period. The
original inhabitants of Arabia, though all of one stock, and occupying
a peninsula 1200 miles in length by 700 in width, had been, from
time immemorial, divided into a variety of distinct tribes. These
constituted petty communities or states, which, often changing, still
left the people essentially the same. In the more elevated table lands,
intersected by mountain ridges, with dreary wastes consisting of sandy
plains, the people continued to pursue a roving life, living partly
upon their flocks of camels, horses, and horned cattle, and partly
upon the robbery of trading caravans of other tribes. The people of the
plains, being near the water, settled in towns, cultivated the soil,
and pursued commerce.

The various tribes were each governed by the oldest or most worthy
sheik or nobleman. Their bards met once a year, at Okhad, holding a
fair of thirty days, for the recitation of their productions. That
which was declared to be the finest, was written in gold and suspended
in the great temple of Mecca. This was almost the only common tie
between the several states or tribes, for, although they nominally
acknowledged an emir, or national chief, they had never been brought to
act in one body.

The adoration of the Arabians consisted chiefly in the worship of the
heavenly luminaries; but they had a great variety of deities, these
being personifications of certain powers in nature, or passions in
mankind. They were represented by idols of every variety of shape,
which were gathered around the ancient temple of Caaba, at Mecca, a
large square edifice, considered as the central point of religion, and
the favorite seat of divinity. Their worship was attended with the most
horrid rites and shocking ceremonies: even children were sacrificed to
the idols, and one of the tribes was accustomed to bury their daughters
alive. Except that they fancied the souls of the departed to be
transformed into owls, hovering in gloom around the grave, it does not
appear that they had the least idea of a future state of existence.

Such was the state of religion among the native Arabians. Among the
foreign settlers in the towns there were a few followers of the Greek
and Roman philosophy; the Christians were never numerous. These latter
were divided into a variety of sects, and those belonging to the Greek
church, advocated monasteries, and were addicted to the worship of
images, martyrs and relics. Some of these, even elevated the Virgin
Mary into a deity, and addressed her as the third person in the Trinity.

Mohammed, while he no doubt looked with horror upon this state of
things, having studied the Bible, and clearly comprehended its sublime
revelation of one God, conceived the idea of uniting the people of
his native land under a religion of which this fundamental principle
should constitute the basis. His purpose was to crush idolatry, and
restore the lost worship of the true God. How far he was sincere, and
how far he was an impostor, we cannot venture to affirm. It is probable
that he was a religious enthusiast, deceived by his own fancies, and,
perhaps, really believing his own visions. At the outset of his career,
it is likely that he acted in good faith, while he was himself deluded.
When he had advanced so far as to see power and dominion offered
to his grasp, it is probable that his integrity gave way, and that
thenceforward we are to consider him as under the alternate guidance of
craft and fanaticism.

Several of the nobles citizens of Mecca were finally converted by
Mohammed. Khadijah was now dead, and the prophet had married Ayesha,
the daughter of Abubeker, a man of great influence, and who exercised
it in favor of his son-in-law. Yet the new faith made little progress,
and a persecution of its votaries arose, which drove them to
Abyssinia, and caused Mohammed himself to fly for safety to Medina.
This flight is called the Hegira, and, taking place in the year 622, is
the epoch from which Mohammedan chronology is computed, as is ours from
the birth of Christ.

At Medina, whither his tenets had been carried by pilgrims, Mohammed
was received with open arms. He was met by an imposing procession,
and invested at once with the regal and sacerdotal office. The people
also offered him assistance in propagating his faith, even by force,
if it should be required. From this moment, a vast field seems to have
been opened to the mind of Mohammed. Hitherto, he may have been but a
self-deceived enthusiast; but now, ambition appears to have taken at
least partial possession of his bosom. His revelations at once assumed
a higher tone. Hitherto he had chiefly inculcated the doctrine of one
God, eternal, omnipotent, most powerful and most merciful, together
with the practical duties of piety, prayer, charity, and pilgrimages.
He now revealed, as a part of his new faith, the duty of making war,
even with the sword, to propagate Islamism, and promised a sensual
paradise to those who should fall in doing battle in its behalf. At the
same time he announced that a settled fate or destiny hung over every
individual, which he could not by possibility alter, evade, or avert.

He now raised men, and proceeded, sword in hand, to force the
acknowledgment of his pretensions. With alternate victory and defeat,
he continued to prosecute his schemes, and at last fell upon the towns
and castles of the peaceful and unwarlike Jews. These were soon taken
and plundered. But the prophet paid dearly for his triumph. A Jewish
female, at the town of Chaibar, gave him poison in some drink, and,
though he survived, he never fully recovered from the effects of the

Thus advancing with the tribes settled in his own country, the power of
the ambitious apostle increased like the avalanche in its overwhelming
descent. Mecca was conquered, and yielded as well to his faith as
to his arms. He now made expeditions to Palestine and Syria, while
his officers were making conquests in all directions. His power was
soon so great, that he sent messages to the kings of Egypt, Persia,
and Ethiopia, and the emperor of Constantinople, commanding them to
acknowledge the divine law revealed through him.

At last, in the tenth year of the Hegira, he proceeded on a farewell
pilgrimage to Mecca. The scene was imposing beyond description. He was
attended by more than a hundred thousand of his followers, who paid
him the greatest reverence. Everything in dress, equipage and imposing
ceremony that could enhance the splendor of the pageant, and give it
sanctity in the eyes of the people, was adopted. This was the last
great event of his life.

Mohammed had now become too powerful to be resisted by force, but
not too exalted to be troubled by competition. His own example in
assuming the sacred character of an apostle and prophet, and the
brilliant success which had attended him, gave a hint to others of
the probable means of advancing themselves to a similar pitch of
dignity and dominion. The spirit of emulation, therefore, raised up a
fellow-prophet in the person of Moseilama, called to this day by the
followers of Islam "the lying Moseilama," a descendant of the tribe of
Honeifa, and a principal person in the province of Yemen.

This man headed an embassy sent by his tribe to Mohammed, in the
ninth year of the Hegira, and then professed himself a Moslem; but on
his return home, pondering on the nature of the new religion and the
character and fortunes of its founder, the sacrilegious suggestion
occurred to him, that by skilful management he might share with his
countryman in the glory of a divine mission; and, accordingly, in the
ensuing year he began to put his project in execution. He gave out that
he, also, was a prophet sent of Heaven, having a joint commission with
Mohammed to recall mankind from idolatry to the worship of the true
God. He, moreover, aped his model so closely as to publish written
revelations resembling the Koran, pretended to have been derived from
the same source.

Having succeeded in gaining a considerable party, from the tribe of
Honeifa, he at length began to put himself still more nearly upon a
level with the prophet of Medina, and even went so far as to propose
to Mohammed a partnership in his spiritual supremacy. His letter
commenced thus: "From Moseilama, the apostle of God, to Mohammed, the
apostle of God. Now let the earth be half mine and half thine." But
the latter, feeling himself too firmly established to stand in need of
an associate, deigned to return him only the following reply: "From
Mohammed, the apostle of God, to Moseilama, the liar. The earth is
God's: he giveth the same for inheritance unto such of his servants as
he pleaseth; and the happy issue shall attend those who fear him."

During the few months that Mohammed lived after this, Moseilama
continued, on the whole, to gain ground, and became at length so
formidable, as to occasion extreme anxiety to the prophet, now rapidly
sinking under the effects of disease. An expedition, under the command
of Caled, the "Sword of God," was ordered out to suppress the rival
sect headed by the spurious apostle, and the bewildered imagination
of Mohammed, in the moments of delirium, which now afflicted him, was
frequently picturing to itself the results of the engagement between
his faithful Moslems and these daring apostates.

The army of Caled returned victorious. Moseilama himself, and ten
thousand of his followers, were left dead on the field; while the rest,
convinced by the shining evidence of truth that gleamed from the swords
of the conquerors, renounced their errors, and fell quietly back into
the bosom of the Mohammedan church. Several other insurgents of similar
pretences, but of minor consequence, were crushed in like manner in the
early stages of their defection.

We have now reached the period at which the religion of Mohammed may
be considered as having become permanently established. The conquest
of Mecca and of the Koreishites had been, in fact, the signal for the
submission of the rest of Arabia; and though several of the petty
tribes offered, for a time, the show of resistance to the prophet's
arms, they were all eventually subdued. Between the taking of Mecca
and the period of Mohammed's death, somewhat more than three years
elapsed. In that short period he had destroyed the idols of Arabia; had
extended his conquests to the borders of the Greek and Persian empires;
had rendered his name formidable to those once mighty kingdoms; had
tried his arms against the disciplined troops of the former, and
defeated them in a desperate encounter at Muta.

His throne was now firmly established; and an impulse given to the
Arabian nation, which induced them to invade, and enabled them to
conquer, a large portion of the globe. India, Persia, the Greek empire,
the whole of Asia Minor, Egypt, Barbary, and Spain, were eventually
reduced by their victorious arms. Mohammed himself did not indeed live
to see such mighty conquests achieved, but he commenced the train
which resulted in this wide-spread dominion, and, before his death,
had established over the whole of Arabia, and some parts of Asia, the
religion which he had devised.

And now, having arrived at the sixty-third year of his age, and the
tenth of the Hegira, A. D. 632, the fatal effects of the poison, which
had been so long rankling in his veins, began to discover themselves
more and more sensibly, and to operate with alarming virulence. Day
by day, he visibly declined, and it was evident that his life was
hastening to a close. For some time previous to the event, he was
conscious of its approach, and is said to have viewed and awaited it
with characteristic firmness. The third day before his dissolution,
he ordered himself to be carried to the mosque, that he might, for
the last time, address his followers, and bestow upon them his parting
prayers and benedictions. Being assisted to mount the pulpit, he
edified his brethren by the pious tenor of his dying counsels, and in
his own example taught a lesson of humility and penitence, such as we
shall scarcely find inculcated in the precepts of the Koran.

"If there be any man," said the prophet, "whom I have unjustly
scourged, I submit my own back to the lash of retaliation. Have I
aspersed the reputation of any Mussulman? let him proclaim my fault
in the face of the congregation. Has any one been despoiled of his
goods? the little that I possess shall compensate the principal
and the interest of the debt." "Yes," replied a voice from the
crowd, "thou owest me three drachms of silver!" Mohammed heard the
complaint, satisfied the demand, and thanked his creditor that he
had accused him in this world, rather than at the day of judgment.
He then set his slaves at liberty, seventeen men and eleven women;
directed the order of his funeral; strove to allay the lamentations
of his weeping friends, and waited the approach of death. He did not
expressly nominate a successor, a step which would have prevented the
altercations that afterwards came so near to crushing in its infancy
the religion and the empire of the Saracens; but his appointment of
Abubeker to supply his place in the function of public prayer, and the
other services of the mosque, seemed to intimate indirectly the choice
of the prophet. This ancient and faithful friend, accordingly, after
much contention, became the first Caliph of the Saracens, though his
reign was closed by his death at the end of two years.

The death of Mohammed was hastened by the force of a burning fever,
which deprived him at times of the use of reason. In one of these
paroxysms of delirium, he demanded pen and paper, that he might compose
or dictate a divine book. Omar, who was watching at his side, refused
his request, lest the expiring prophet might dictate something which
should supersede the Koran. Others, however, expressed a great desire
that the book might be written; and so warm a dispute arose in the
chamber of the apostle that he was forced to reprove their unbecoming
vehemence. The writing was not performed, and many of his followers
have mourned the loss of the sublime revelations which his dying
visions might have bequeathed to them.

The favorite wife of the prophet, Ayesha, hung over her husband in
his last moments, sustaining his drooping head upon her knee, as he
lay stretched upon the carpet; watching with trembling anxiety his
changing countenance, and listening to the last broken sounds of his
voice. His disease, as it drew towards its termination, was attended at
intervals with most excruciating pains, which he constantly ascribed
to the fatal morsel taken at Chaibar; and as the mother of Bashar,
his companion who had died upon the spot from the same cause, stood
by his side, be exclaimed, "O mother of Bashar, the cords of my heart
are now breaking of the food which I ate with your son at Chaibar." In
his conversation with those around him, he mentioned it as a special
prerogative granted to him, that the angel of death was not allowed
to take his soul till he had respectfully asked permission of him, and
this permission he condescendingly granted. Recovering from a swoon
into which the violence of his pains had thrown him, he raised his eyes
towards the roof of the house, and with faltering accents exclaimed, "O
God! pardon my sins. Yes, I come among my fellow-laborers on high!" His
face was then sprinkled with water, by his own feeble hand, and shortly
after he expired.

The city, and more especially the house of the prophet, became at once
a scene of sorrowful but confused lamentation. Some of his followers
could not believe that he was dead. "How can he be dead, our witness,
our intercessor, our mediator with God? He is not dead. Like Moses and
Jesus, he is wrapped in a holy trance, and speedily will he return to
his faithful people." The evidence of sense was disregarded, and Omar,
brandishing his scimitar, threatened to strike off the heads of the
infidels who should affirm that the prophet was no more. The tumult was
at length appeased, by the moderation of Abubeker. "Is it Mohammed,"
said he, "or the God of Mohammed, whom ye worship? The God of Mohammed
liveth forever, but the apostle was a mortal like ourselves, and,
according to his own prediction, he hath experienced the common fate of

The prophet's remains were deposited at Medina, in the very room where
he breathed his last, the floor being removed to make way for his
sepulchre, and a simple and unadorned monument was, some time after,
erected over them. The house itself has long since mouldered, or been
demolished, but the place of the prophet's interment is still made
conspicuous to the superstitious reverence of his disciples. The story
of his relics being suspended in the air, by the power of loadstone in
an iron coffin, and that too at Mecca, instead of Medina, is a mere
idle fabrication. His tomb at the latter place has been visited by
millions of pilgrims, and, from the authentic accounts of travellers
who have visited both these holy cities in disguise, we learn that it
is constructed of plain mason work, fixed without elevation upon the
surface of the ground. The urn which encloses his body is protected by
a trellis of iron, which no one is permitted to pass.

The Koran or Alkoran, meaning _the Book_, is a collection of all the
various fragments which the prophet uttered during the period in which
he professed to exercise the apostolic office. They were originally
written on scattered leaves, but they were collected by Abubeker, two
years after Mohammed's death. They are in the purest and most refined
dialect of Arabia, and are distinguished by extraordinary graces of

The Koran furnishes not only the divinity, but the civil law of the
Mohammedans. It professes to contain the revelation of God's will by
Gabriel to Mohammed, and through him to mankind. One of the books gives
an account of the translation of the prophet by night to the third
heaven, upon a winged animal, named Alborak, and resembling an ass,
where he saw unutterable things. The great doctrines of the Koran, as
before stated, are the existence of one supreme God, to whom alone
adoration and obedience are due. It declares that the divine law was
faithfully delivered by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Christ. It
declares the immortality of the soul of man, and the final judgment,
and sets forth that the good are to dwell in everlasting bliss, amid
shady and delicious groves, and attended by heavenly virgins. The hope
of salvation is not confined to the Moslem, but is extended to all who
believe in God and do good works. Sinners, particularly unbelievers,
are to be driven about in a dark burning hell, forever.

The practical duties enjoined by the Koran, are the propagation
of Islamism, and prayers directed to the temple of Mecca, at five
different periods of the day, together with fasting, alms, religious
ablutions, pilgrimages to Mecca, &c. It allows a man but four wives,
though the prophet had seventeen, and it is curious to add that all
were widows, save one. It strongly prohibits usury, gaming, wine and

We cannot deny to Mohammed the possession of extraordinary genius. He
was a man of great eloquence, and the master of a beautiful style of
composition; and he possessed that majesty of person, which, united to
his mental qualities, gave him great ascendancy over those who came
into his presence. He lived in a dark age, amid a benighted people;
yet, without the aids of education, he mastered the religious systems
of the day, and took a broad and sagacious view of the moral and
political condition of the people of Asia. He conceived the sublime
idea of uniting, by one mighty truth, the broken fragments of his own
nation, and the destruction of idolatry by the substitution of the
worship of one God. It is true, that he sought to accomplish these
ends by unlawful means--by imposture, and the bloody use of the sword;
we must admit, also, that he was licentious and although we cannot
fail to condemn his character, we must acknowledge the splendor of
his abilities and allow that while he imposed on his followers, he
established a faith infinitely above Paganism, and sprinkled with many
rays of light from the fountain of Divine Truth.




This celebrated general, to whom the emperor Justinian is chiefly
indebted for the glory of his reign, was a native of Germania, on the
confines of Thrace, and was born about the year 505. It is probable
that he was of noble descent, liberally educated, and a professor of
the Christian faith. The first step in his military career was an
appointment in the personal guard of Justinian, while that prince was
yet heir apparent to the throne.

The Roman or Byzantine empire, at this period, embraced almost exactly
the present territory of the Turkish dominions in Europe and Asia
Minor, with the addition of Greece--Constantinople being its capital.
Italy was held by the Goths; Corsica, Sardinia and Barbary in Africa,
by the Vandals.

Justin I., an Illyrian peasant, having distinguished himself as a
soldier, had become emperor. His education was of course neglected, and
such was his ignorance, that his signature could only be obtained by
means of a wooden case, which directed his pen through the four first
letters of his name. From his accession, the chief administration of
affairs devolved on Justinian, his nephew and intended heir, whom he
was reluctantly compelled to raise from office to office, and at length
to acknowledge as his partner on the throne. His death, after a languid
reign of nine years and a life of nearly fourscore, left Justinian sole
sovereign in name, as well as in fact.

In order to appreciate the life and actions of Belisarius, it is
necessary to understand the character of the new emperor, during
whose long reign his great exploits were performed. The first act of
Justinian on ascending the throne, was to marry a dissolute actress,
named Theodora, who, though licentious, avaricious, cruel and
vindictive, soon acquired an almost complete control over him. His mind
was essentially feeble and inconstant, and, though his Christian faith
was doubtless sincere, it was less fruitful of virtues than of rites
and forms. At his accession his treasury was full; but it was soon
exhausted by his profuseness, and heavy taxes were imposed, offices
put to sale, charities suppressed, private fortunes seized, and, in
short, every act of rapacity, injustice and oppression, practised by
his ministers, to support the wasteful magnificence of the court.

The troops of the empire at this period were by no means what they
had been in the time of Scipio and Cæsar. They consisted, to a great
extent, of foreign mercenaries, and were divided into squadrons
according to their country; thus destroying all unity of feeling, and
annihilating that national spirit which once made the Roman arms the
terror of the world. These hired troops, which greatly outnumbered
the native soldiers, marched under their own national banner, were
commanded by their own officers, and usually followed their own
military regulations. The inefficiency of such mingled and discordant
forces, is obvious; yet it was under such a system that Belisarius
entered upon his military career.

With a feeble and corrupt government, an ill-appointed and trustless
army, the Roman empire was still surrounded with powerful enemies. It
is scarcely possible to conceive of a great nation in a condition of
more complete debility and helplessness, than was the kingdom of the
Cæsars, at the period in which Belisarius appears upon the active stage
of life.

Kobad, king of Persia, after a long cessation of hostilities, renewed
the war toward the close of Justin's reign, by the invasion of
Iberia, which claimed the protection of the emperor. At this period,
Belisarius, being about twenty years of age, had the command of a
squadron of horse, and was engaged in some of the conflicts with the
Persian forces, on the borders of Armenia. In conjunction with an
officer named Sittas, he ravaged a large extent of territory, and
brought back a considerable number of prisoners.

On a second incursion, however, they were less fortunate; for, being
suddenly attacked by the Persian forces, they were entirely defeated.
It appears that Belisarius incurred no blame, for he was soon after
promoted to the post of governor of Dara, and the command of the forces
stationed there. It was at this place that he chose Procopius, the
historian, as his secretary, and who afterwards repaid his kindness by
a vain attempt to brand his name with enduring infamy.

Soon after Belisarius obtained the command of Dara, Justinian came
to the throne, and enjoined it upon his generals to strengthen the
defences of the empire in that quarter. This was attempted, but the
Persians baffled the effort. Belisarius was now appointed general of
the East, being commander-in-chief of the whole line of the Asiatic
frontier. Foreseeing that a formidable struggle was soon to ensue, he
applied himself to the raising and disciplining an army. He traversed
the neighboring provinces in person, and at last succeeded in mustering
five and twenty thousand men. These, however, were without discipline,
and their spirit was depressed by the ill success that had long
attended the Roman arms.

In this state of things, the news suddenly came, that 40,000 men, the
flower of the Persian army, commanded by Firouz, was marching upon
Dara. Confident of victory, the Persian general announced his approach,
by the haughty message that a bath should be ready for him at Dara
the next evening. Belisarius made no other reply than preparations for
battle. Fortifying himself in the best manner he was able, he awaited
the onset; exhorting his men, however, by every stimulating motive he
could suggest, to do honor to the name and fame of Rome.

The battle began by a mutual discharge of arrows, so numerous as to
darken the air. When the quivers were exhausted, they came to closer
combat. The struggle was obstinate and bloody; and the Persians were
already about to win the victory, when a body of horse, judiciously
stationed behind a hill by Belisarius, rushed forward, and turned the
tide of success. The Persians fled, and the triumph of Belisarius was
complete. They left their royal standard upon the field of battle, with
8000 slain. This victory had a powerful effect, and decided the fate of
the campaign.

The aged Kobad, who had conceived a profound contempt for the Romans,
was greatly irritated by the defeat of his troops. He determined upon
a still more powerful effort, and the next season sent a formidable
army to invade Syria. Belisarius, with a promptitude that astounded he
enemy, proceeded to the defence of this province, and, with an inferior
force, compelled the Persian army to retreat. Obliged at length, by
his soldiers, against his own judgment, to give battle to the enemy,
he suffered severely, and only avoided total defeat by the greatest
coolness and address. Even the partial victory of the enemy was without
advantage to them, for they were obliged to retreat, and abandon their
enterprise. Soon after this event, Kobad died, in his eighty-third
year, and his successor, Nushirvan, concluded a treaty of peace with

The war being thus terminated, Belisarius took up his residence at
Constantinople, and here became the second husband of Antonina, who,
though the child of an actress, had contracted an exalted marriage on
account of her beauty, and having filled a high office, enjoyed the
rank and honors of a patrician. While thus raised above the dangerous
profession of her mother, she still adhered to the morals of the stage.
Though openly licentious, she obtained through her bold, decided, and
intriguing character, aided by remarkable powers of fascination, a
complete ascendancy over Belisarius. It is seldom that a man is great
in all respects, and the weakness of the general whose history we are
delineating, was exhibited in a blind and submissive attachment to this
profligate woman.

A singular outbreak of popular violence occurred about this period,
which stained the streets of Constantinople with blood, and threatened
for a time to hurl Justinian from his throne. The fondness of the
Romans for the amusements of the circus, had in no degree abated.
Indeed, as the gladiatorial combats had been suppressed, these
games were frequented with redoubled ardor. The charioteers were
distinguished by the various colors of red, white, blue, and green,
intending to represent the four seasons. Those of each color,
especially the blue and green, possessed numerous and devoted
partisans, which became at last connected with civil and religious

Justinian favored the Blues, who became for that reason the emblem
of royalty; on the other hand, the Greens became the type of
disaffection. Though these dangerous factions were denounced by the
statutes, still, at the period of which we speak, each party were ready
to lavish their fortunes, risk their lives, and brave the severest
sentence of the laws, in support of their darling color. At the
commencement of the year 532, by one of those sudden caprices which
are often displayed by the populace, the two factions united, and
turned their vengeance against Justinian. The prisons were forced, and
the guards massacred. The city was then fired in various parts, the
cathedral of St. Sophia, a part of the imperial palace, and a great
number of public and private buildings, were wrapped in conflagration.
The cry of "_Nika! Nika!_" Vanquish! Vanquish! ran through every part
of the capital.

The principal citizens hurried to the opposite shore of the Bosphorus,
and the emperor entrenched himself within his palace. In the mean time,
Hypatius, nephew of the emperor Anastatius, was declared emperor by
the rioters, and so formidable had the insurrection now become, that
Justinian was ready to abdicate his crown. For the first and last
time, Theodora seemed worthy of the throne, for she withstood the
pusillanimity of her husband, and, through her animated exhortations,
it was determined to take the chance of victory or death.

Justinian's chief hope now rested on Belisarius. Assisted by Mundus,
the governor of Illyria, who chanced to be in the capital, he now
called upon the guards to rally in defence of the emperor; but these
refused to obey him. Meanwhile, by another caprice the party of the
Blues, becoming ashamed of their conduct, shrunk one by one away, and
left Hypatius to be sustained by the Greens alone.

These were dismayed at seeing Belisarius, issuing with a few troops
which he had collected, from the smoking ruins of the palace. Drawing
his sword, and commanding his veterans to follow, he fell upon them
like a thunderbolt. Mundus, with another division of soldiers,
rushed upon them from the opposite direction. The insurgents were
panic-struck, and dispersed in every quarter. Hypatius was dragged
from the throne which he had ascended a few hours before, and was soon
after executed in prison. The Blues now emerged from their concealment,
and, falling upon their antagonists, glutted their merciless and
ungovernable vengeance. No less than thirty thousand persons were slain
in this fearful convulsion.

We must now turn our attention to Africa, in which the next exploits
of Belisarius were performed. The northern portion of this part of the
world, known to us by the merited by-word of Barbary, hardly retains a
trace of the most formidable rival and opulent province of Rome. After
the fall of Jugurtha, at the commencement of the second century, it
had enjoyed a long period of prosperity and peace--having escaped the
sufferings which had fallen upon every other portion of the empire. The
Africans in the fifth century were abounding in wealth, population, and
resources. During the minority of Valentinian, Boniface was appointed
governor of Africa. Deceived by Ætius into a belief of ingratitude on
the part of the government at home, he determined upon resistance, and
with this view, concluded a treaty with the Vandals in the southern
portion of Spain.

These, embarking from Andalusia, whose name still denotes their former
residence, landed at the opposite cape of Ceuta, A. D. 429. Their
leader was the far-famed Genseric, one of the most able, but most
lawless and bloody monarchs recorded in history. Of a middle stature,
and lamed by a fall from his horse, his demeanor was thoughtful and
silent; he was contemptuous of luxury, sudden in anger, and boundless
in ambition. Yet his impetuosity was always guided and restrained by
cunning. He well knew how to tempt the allegiance of a foreign nation,
to cast the seeds of future discord, or to rear them to maturity.

The barbarians on their passage to Africa consisted of 50,000 fighting
men, with a great crowd of women and children. Their progress
through the African province was rapid and unopposed, till Boniface,
discovering the artifices of Ætius, and the favorable disposition of
the government of Rome, bitterly repented the effects of his hasty
resentment. He now endeavored to withdraw his Vandal allies; but he
found it less easy to allay, than it had been to raise, the storm. His
proposals were haughtily rejected, and both parties had recourse to
arms. Boniface was defeated, and in the event, Genseric obtained entire
possession of the Roman provinces in Africa.

Carthage, which had risen from its ruins at the command of Julius
Cæsar and been embellished by Diocletian, had regained a large share
of its former opulence and pride, and might be considered, at the
time of which we speak, the second city in the western empire. Making
this his capital, Genseric proceeded to adopt various measures to
increase his power, and, among others, determined upon the creation
of a naval force. With him, project and performance were never far
asunder. His ships soon rode in the Mediterranean, and carried terror
and destruction in their train. He annexed to his kingdom the Balearic
islands, Corsica and Sardinia; the last of which was afterwards
allotted by the Vandals as a place of exile or imprisonment for captive
Moors; and during many years, the ports of Africa were what they became
in more recent days, the abode of fierce and unpunished pirates.

With every returning spring, the fleet of Genseric ravaged the coasts
of Italy and Sicily, and even of Greece and Illyria, sometimes bearing
off the inhabitants to slavery, and sometimes levelling their cities to
the ground. Emboldened by long impunity, he attacked every government
alike. On one occasion, when sailing from Carthage, he was asked by
the pilot of his vessel to what coast he desired to steer--"Leave the
guidance to God," exclaimed the stern barbarian; "God will doubtless
lead us against the guilty objects of his anger!"

The most memorable achievement of Genseric, the sack of Rome in 455,
is an event too much out of the track of our narrative to be detailed
here. We can only pause to state, that, after spending a fortnight
in that great metropolis, and loading his fleets with its spoils,
he returned to Africa, bearing the Empress Eudocia thither, as his
captive. She was, at length, released, but one of her daughters was
compelled by Genseric to accept his son in marriage.

The repeated outrages of the Vandal king at length aroused the tardy
resentment of the court of Constantinople, and Leo I., then emperor,
despatched an army against him, consisting of nearly one hundred
thousand men, attended by the most formidable fleet that had ever been
launched by the Romans. The commander was a weak man, and being cheated
into a truce of five days by Genseric, the latter took advantage of a
moment of security, and, in the middle of the night, caused a number
of small vessels, filled with combustibles, to be introduced among the
Roman ships. A conflagration speedily ensued; and the Romans, starting
from their slumbers, found themselves encompassed by fire and the
Vandals. The wild shrieks of the perishing multitude mingled with the
crackling of the flames and the roaring of the winds; and the enemy
proved as unrelenting as the elements. The greater part of the fleet
was destroyed, and only a few shattered ships, and a small number of
survivors, found their way back to Constantinople.

A peace soon followed this event, which continued uninterrupted till
the time of Justinian. Genseric died in 477, leaving his kingdom to his
son Hunneric. About the year 530, Gelimer being upon the Vandal throne,
Justinian began to meditate an expedition against him. His generals,
with the exception of Belisarius, were averse to the undertaking. The
same feeling was shared by many of the leading men about the court, and
in an assembly, in which the subject was under discussion, Justinian
was about to yield to the opposition, when a bishop from the east
earnestly begged admission to his presence.

On entering the council chamber he exhorted the emperor to stand forth
as the champion of the church, and, in order to confirm him in the
enterprise, he declared that the Lord had appeared to him in a vision,
saying, "I will march before him in his battles, and make him sovereign
of Africa." Men seldom reject a tale, however fantastic, which
coincides with their wishes or their prepossessions. All the doubts of
Justinian were at once removed; he commanded a fleet and army to be
forthwith equipped for this sacred enterprise, and endeavored still
further to insure its success by his austerity in fasts and vigils.
Belisarius was named supreme commander, still retaining his title as
General of the East.

In the month of June, A. D. 533, the Roman armament, consisting of five
hundred transports, with twenty thousand sailors, and nearly the same
number of soldiers, became ready for departure. The general embarked,
attended on this occasion by Antonina and his secretary, the historian
Procopius, who, at first, had shared in the popular fear and distaste
of the enterprise, but had afterwards been induced to join it by a
hopeful dream. The galley of Belisarius was moored near the shore,
in front of the imperial palace, where it received a last visit from
Justinian, and a solemn blessing from the patriarch of the city. A
soldier recently baptized was placed on board, to secure its prosperous
voyage; its sails were then unfurled, and, with the other ships in its
train, it glided down the straits of the Bosphorus, and gradually
disappeared from the lingering gaze of the assembled multitude.

With a force scarcely one fourth as strong as that which was
annihilated by Genseric, about seventy years before, Belisarius
proceeded upon his expedition. Having touched at Sicily and Malta,
he proceeded to the coast of Africa, where he landed in September,
about one hundred and fifty miles from Carthage, and began his
march upon that city. He took several towns, but enforcing the most
rigid discipline upon his troops, and treating the inhabitants with
moderation and courtesy, he entirely gained their confidence and good
will. They brought ample provisions to his camp, and gave him such a
reception as might be expected rather by a native than a hostile army.

When the intelligence of the landing and progress of the Romans reached
Gelimer, who was then at Hermione, he was roused to revenge, and took
his measures with promptitude and skill. He had an army of eighty
thousand men, the greater part of whom were soon assembled, and posted
in a defile about ten miles from Carthage, directly in the route by
which Belisarius was approaching. Several severe skirmishes soon
followed, in which the Vandals were defeated.

The main army now advanced, and a general engagement immediately
ensued. In the outset, the Vandals prevailed, and the Romans were on
the eve of flying, defeated, from the field. A pause on the part of
Gelimer was, however, seized upon by Belisarius to collect and rally
his forces, and with a united effort he now charged the Vandal army.
The conflict was fierce, but brief: Gelimer was totally defeated, and,
with a few faithful adherents, he sought safety in flight. Knowing that
the ruinous walls of Carthage could not sustain a siege, he took his
way to the deserts of Numidia.

All idea of resistance was abandoned; the gates of Carthage were thrown
open, and the chains across the entrance of the port were removed. The
Roman fleet soon after arrived, and was safely anchored in the harbor.
On the 16th September, Belisarius made a solemn entry into the capital.
Having taken every precaution against violence and rapacity, not a
single instance of tumult or outrage occurred, save that a captain of
one of the vessels plundered some of the inhabitants, but was obliged
to restore the spoil he had taken. The soldiers marched peaceably to
their quarters; the inhabitants continued to pursue their avocations;
the shops remained open, and, in spite of the change of sovereigns,
public business was not for a moment interrupted! Belisarius took
up his quarters in the palace of Gelimer, and in the evening held a
sumptuous banquet there, being attended by the same servants who had so
lately been employed by the Vandal king.

With his usual activity, Belisarius immediately applied himself to
the restoration of the ruinous ramparts of the city. The ditch was
deepened, the breaches filled, the walls strengthened, and the whole
was completed in so short a space as to strike the Vandals with
amazement. Meanwhile, Gelimer was collecting a powerful army at Bulla,
on the borders of Numidia at the distance of four days' journey from

Having placed the capital in a proper state for defence, at the end
of three months from its capture, Belisarius led forth his army,
leaving only five hundred troops to guard the city. Gelimer was now
within twenty miles of the capital, having raised an army of one
hundred thousand men. No sooner had the Romans taken up their march
toward his camp, than they prepared for battle. The armies soon met,
and Belisarius, having determined to direct all his endeavors against
the centre of the Vandal force, caused a charge to be made by some
squadrons of the horse guards. These were repulsed, and a second onset,
also, proved unsuccessful.

But a third prevailed, after an obstinate resistance. The ranks of
the enemy were broken; Zazo, the king's brother, was slain, and
consternation now completed the rout of the Vandals. Gelimer, under
the influence of panic, betook himself to flight; his absence was
perceived, and his conduct imitated. The soldiers dispersed in all
directions, leaving their camp, their goods, their families, all in
the hands of the Romans. Belisarius seized upon the royal treasure in
behalf of his sovereign, and in spite of his commands, the licentious
soldiers spent the night in debauchery, violence and plunder.

Gelimer fled to the mountains of Papua, inhabited by a savage but
friendly tribe of Moors. He sought refuge in the small town of Medenus,
which presented a craggy precipice on all sides Belisarius returned to
Carthage, and sent out various detachments, which rapidly subdued the
most remote portions of the Vandal kingdom.

Immediately after the capture of Carthage, he had despatched one of his
principal officers to Justinian, announcing these prosperous events.
The intelligence arrived about the time that the emperor had completed
his _pandects_.[1] The exultation of the monarch is evinced by the
swelling titles he assumes in the preamble of these laws. All mention
of the general by whom his conquests had been achieved, is carefully
avoided; while the emperor is spoken of as the "pious," "happy,"
"victorious," and "triumphant!" He even boasts, in his Institutes, of
the warlike fatigues he had borne, though he had never quitted the
luxurious palace of Constantinople, except for recreation in some of
his neighboring villas.

While the Roman general was actively employed at Carthage, Pharus was
proceeding in the siege of Medenus, which had been begun immediately
after the flight of Gelimer. Pent up in this narrow retreat, the
sufferings of the Vandal monarch were great, from the want of supplies
and the savage habits of the Moors. His lot was likewise embittered by
the recollection of the soft and luxurious life to which he had lately
been accustomed.

During their dominion in Africa, the Vandals had declined from their
former hardihood, and yielded to the enervating influence of climate,
security and success. Their arms were laid aside; gold embroidery shone
upon their silken robes, and every dainty from the sea and land were
combined in their rich repasts. Reclining in the shade of delicious
gardens, their careless hours were amused by dancers and musicians,
and no exertion beyond the chase, interrupted their voluptuous repose.
The Moors of Papua, on the contrary, dwelt in narrow huts, sultry in
summer, and pervious to the snows of winter. They most frequently
slept upon the bare ground, and a sheepskin for a couch was a rare
refinement. The same dress, a cloak and a tunic, clothed them at every
season, and they were strangers to the use of both bread and wine.
Their grain was devoured in its crude state, or at best was coarsely
pounded and baked, with little skill, into an unleavened paste.

Compelled to share this savage mode of life, Gelimer and his attendants
began to consider captivity, or even death, as better than the daily
hardships they endured. To avail himself of this favorable disposition,
Pharus, in a friendly letter, proposed a capitulation, and assured
Gelimer of generous treatment from Belisarius and Justinian. The spirit
of the Vandal prince, however, was still not wholly broken, and he
refused the offers, while acknowledging the kindness of his enemy.
In his answer he entreated the gifts of a lyre, a loaf of bread, and
a sponge, and his messenger explained the grounds of this singular
petition. At Medenus, he had never tasted the food of civilized
nations, he wished to sing to music an ode on his misfortunes written
by himself, and a swelling on his eyes needed a sponge for its cure.
The brave Roman, touched with pity that such wants should be felt by
the grandson and successor of Genseric, forthwith sent these presents
up the mountain, but by no means abated the watchfulness of his

The siege had already continued for upwards of three months, and
several Vandals had sunk beneath its hardships, but Gelimer still
displayed the stubborn inflexibility usual to despotic rulers, when
the sight of a domestic affliction suddenly induced him to yield. In
the hovel where he sat gloomily brooding over his hopeless fortunes,
a Moorish woman was preparing, at the fire, some coarse dough. Two
children, her son and the nephew of Gelimer, were watching her progress
with the eager anxiety of famine. The young Vandal was the first to
seize the precious morsel, still glowing with heat, and blackened with
ashes, when the Moor, by blows and violence, forced it from his mouth.
So fierce a struggle for food, at such an age, overcame the sternness
of Gelimer. He agreed to surrender on the same terms lately held out to
him, and the promises of Pharus were confirmed by the Roman general,
who sent Cyprian as his envoy to Papua. The late sovereign of Africa
reentered his capital as a suppliant and a prisoner, and at the suburb
of Aclas, beheld his conqueror for the first time.

With the capitulation of Gelimer, the Vandal was at an end. There now
remained to Belisarius but the important task of making the conquered
countries permanently useful to the Romans. But, while occupied
in this design, his glory having provoked envy, he was accused to
Justinian of the intention of making himself king over the territories
he had conquered. With the weakness of a little mind, the emperor so
far yielded to the base accusation as to send a message to Belisarius,
indicating his suspicions. The latter immediately departed from
Carthage, and, taking with him his spoils and captives, proceeded to

This ready obedience dissipated the suspicions of the emperor, and he
made ample and prompt reparation for his unfounded jealousy. Medals
were struck by his orders, bearing on one side the effigy of the
emperor, and on the other that of the victorious general, encircled by
the inscription, _Belisarius, the glory of the Romans_. Beside this,
the honors of a triumph were decreed him, the first ever witnessed in
the Eastern capital.

The ceremony was in the highest degree imposing. The triumphal
procession marched from the house of Belisarius to the hippodrome,[2]
filled with exulting thousands, where Justinian and Theodora sat
enthroned. Among the Vandal captives, Gelimer was distinguished by the
purple of a sovereign. He shed no tears, but frequently repeated the
words of Solomon, "Vanity of vanities: all is vanity." When he reached
the imperial throne, and was commanded to cast aside the ensigns of
royalty, Belisarius hastened to do the same, to show him that he was to
undergo no insult as a prisoner, but only to yield the customary homage
of a subject. We may pause for a moment to reflect upon the caprices
of fortune, which had raised a comedian, in the person of Theodora, to
see the successor of Genseric and Scipio prostrate as slaves before her

Both the conqueror and captive experienced the effects of imperial
generosity. The former received a large share of the spoil as his
reward, and was named consul for the ensuing year. To the Vandal
monarch, an extensive estate in Galatia was assigned, to which he
retired, and, in peaceful obscurity, spent the remainder of his days.

We must now turn our attention to Italy. Theodoric the Great, the
natural son of Theodomir, king of the Ostrogoths, became the master of
Italy toward the close of the fifth century. The Gothic dominion was
thus established in the ancient seat of the Roman empire, and the king
of the Goths was seated upon the throne of the Cæsars.

Theodoric has furnished one of the few instances in which a successful
soldier has abandoned warlike pursuits for the duties of civil
administration, and, instead of seeking power by his arms, has devoted
himself to the improvement of his kingdom by a peaceful policy. Upright
and active in his conduct, he enforced discipline among his soldiers,
and so tempered his general kindness by acts of salutary rigor, that
he was loved as if indulgent, yet obeyed as if severe. He applied
himself to the revival of trade, the support of manufactures, and the
encouragement of agriculture.

At the death of this great monarch, in 526, his grandson, Athalaric,
then only ten years of age, became king. After a nominal reign of eight
years he died in consequence of his dissipations, and was succeeded by
Theodatus, the nephew of Theodoric. This prince having attained the
throne by the murder of Amalasontha, the widow of Theodoric, Justinian
regarded him as an usurper stained with an atrocious crime, and
therefore determined to drive him from his throne.

Accordingly, a force of twelve thousand men was despatched to Italy
under Belisarius. Landing at Catania, in Sicily, they surprised the
Goths, and had little difficulty in reducing the island. Fixing his
head quarters at Syracuse, he was making preparations to enter the
heart of Italy, when a messenger came to inform him that a serious
insurrection had broken out at Carthage. He immediately set out
for that place. On his arrival the insurgents fled, but Belisarius
pursued them, overtook them, and, though their force was four times as
great as his own, they were completely defeated in a pitched battle.
Returning to Carthage, the Roman general was informed by a messenger
from Sicily that a formidable mutiny had broken out in his army there.
He immediately embarked, and soon restored his troops to order and

The rapid conquest of Sicily by Belisarius struck terror into the heart
of king Theodatus, who was weak by nature, and depressed by age. He was
therefore induced to subscribe an ignominious treaty with Justinian,
some of the conditions of which forcibly display the pusillanimity of
one emperor, and the vanity of the other. Theodatus promised that no
statue should be raised to his honor, without another of Justinian at
his right hand, and that the imperial name should always precede his
own in the acclamations of the people, at public games and festivals:
as if the shouts of the rabble were matter for a treaty!

But even this humiliating compact was not sufficient for the grasping
avarice of Justinian. He required of Theodatus the surrender of his
throne, which the latter promised; but before the compact could be
carried into effect, he was driven from his throne, and Vittiges, a
soldier of humble birth, but great energy and experience, was declared
his successor. Establishing his head quarters at Ravenna, the Gothic
king was making preparations to sustain his cause, when Belisarius,
who had taken Naples, was invited to Rome by Pope Sylverius.
Taking advantage of this opportunity, he immediately advanced, and
triumphantly entered the "eternal city."

Rome had now been under the dominion of its Gothic conquerors for
sixty years, during which it had enjoyed the advantages of peace and
prosperity. It had been the object of peculiar care, attention, and
munificence, and had received the respect due to the ancient mistress
of the world. Still, the people at large looked upon their rulers as
foreigners and barbarians, and desired the return of the imperial sway,
seeming to forget that they were preferring a foreign to a native

Belisarius lost no time in repairing the fortifications of Rome, while
he actively extended his conquests in the southern parts of Italy. His
military fame was now a host, and most of the towns submitted, either
from a preference of the Byzantine government, or respect for the
military prowess of the Roman general.

The great achievements of Belisarius strike us with wonder, when we
consider the feeble means with which they were accomplished. His force
at the outset of his invasion of Italy did not exceed 12,000 men.
These were now much reduced by the bloody siege of Naples, and by his
subsequent successes, which made it necessary to supply garrisons for
the captured towns.

Vittiges, in his Adriatic capital, had spent the winter in
preparations, and when the spring arrived, he set forth with a powerful
army. Knowing the small force of Belisarius, he hurried forward towards
Rome, fearing only that his enemy should escape by flight. The genius
of Belisarius never shone with greater lustre than at this moment. By
numerous devices he contrived to harass the Gothic army in their march,
but owing to the flight of a detachment of his troops whom he had
stationed at one of the towers, to delay their progress, they at last
came upon him by surprise.

He was at the moment without the city, attended by only a thousand of
his guards, when suddenly he found himself surrounded by the van of the
Gothic cavalry. He now displayed not only the skill of a general, but
the personal courage and prowess of a soldier. Distinguished by the
charger whom he had often rode in battle--a bay with a white face--he
was seen in the foremost ranks, animating his men to the conflict.
"That is Belisarius," exclaimed some Italian deserters, who knew him.
"Aim at the bay!" was forthwith the cry through the Gothic squadrons
and a cloud of arrows was soon aimed at the conspicuous mark. It
seemed as if the fate of Italy was felt to be suspended upon a single
life--so fierce was the struggle to kill or capture the Roman leader.

Amid the deadly strife, however, Belisarius remained unhurt; and it is
said that more of the army fell that day by his single arm, than by
that of any other Roman. His guards displayed the utmost courage and
devotion to his person, rallying around him, and raising their bucklers
on every side, to ward off the showers of missiles that flew with
deadly aim at his breast. Not less than a thousand of the enemy fell in
the conflict--a number equal to the whole Roman troop engaged in the
battle. The Goths at length gave way, and Belisarius, with his guards,
reentered the city.

On the morrow, March 12th, A. D. 537, the memorable siege of Rome
began. Finding it impossible, even with their vast army, to encircle
the entire walls of the city, which were twelve miles in length, the
Goths selected five of the fourteen gates, and invested them. They
now cut through the aqueducts, in order to stop the supply of water,
and several of them, having never been repaired, remain to this day,
extending into the country, and seeming like the "outstretched and
broken limbs of an expiring giant."

Though the baths of the city were stopped, the Tiber supplied the
people with water for all needful purposes. The resources and activity
of Belisarius knew no bounds: yet he had abundant occasion for all the
advantages these could supply. The relative smallness of his force,
the feebleness of the defences the fickleness and final disaffection
of the people, the intrigues of Vittiges, and his vastly superior army
constituted a web of difficulties which would have overwhelmed any
other than a man whose genius could extort good from evil, and convert
weakness into strength.

For a whole year, the encircling walls of Rome were the scenes of
almost incessant attack and defence. The fertile genius of Vittiges
suggested a thousand expedients, and the number as well as courage
of his troops enabled him to plan and execute a variety of daring
schemes. Yet he was always baffled by his vigilant rival, and his most
elaborate devices were rendered fruitless by the superior genius of the
Roman general. At last, on the 21st of March, A. D. 538, foreseeing
that Belisarius was about to receive reinforcements, and despairing
of success in the siege, Vittiges withdrew his army, suffering in his
retreat a fearful massacre, from a sally of the Roman troops.

Vittiges retired to Ravenna, and Belisarius soon invested it. While
he was pressing the siege, Justinian, probably alarmed by the threats
of the Persian king, entered into a treaty with the ambassadors of
Vittiges, by which he agreed to a partition of Italy, taking one half
himself, and allowing the Gothic king to retain the other portion.
Belisarius refused to ratify this treaty, and soon after, was pressed
by the Goths to become their king. Vittiges even joined in this
request, and Belisarius had now the easy opportunity of making himself
the emperor of the West, without the remotest fear of failure. But
he was too deeply impressed with his oath of allegiance, to allow
him to entertain a treacherous design toward his sovereign, and he
rejected the tempting offer. The merit of his fidelity under these
circumstances, is heightened by the consideration that he had refused
the ratification of the treaty, and was well aware that reproach, or
even hostility, might await him at Constantinople.

Soon after these events, Ravenna capitulated, and Belisarius became
its master. His fame was now at its height; but this only served to
inflame the envy of his rivals at Constantinople. These, insidiously
working upon the suspicious temper of Justinian, induced him to command
the return of Belisarius to Constantinople. With prompt obedience,
he embarked at Ravenna, carrying with him his Gothic captives and
treasure. After five years of warfare, from the foot of Etna to the
banks of the Po, during which he had subdued nearly the same extent
of country which had been acquired by the Romans in the first five
centuries from the building of that city, he arrived at Constantinople.

The voice of envy was silenced for a time, and Belisarius was appointed
to the command of the army now about to proceed against the Persians.
The captive monarch of the Goths was received with generous courtesy
by the emperor, and an ample estate was allotted to him in Asia.
Justinian gazed with admiration on the strength and beauty of the
Gothic captives--their fair complexions, auburn locks, and lofty
stature. A great number of these, attracted by the fame and character
of Belisarius, enlisted in his guards.

In the spring of the year 540, Chosroes or Nushirvan, the Persian king,
invaded the Roman provinces in the east. The next year Belisarius
proceeded against him, and took his station at Dara. Here, instead of
a well-appointed army, he found only a confused and discordant mass
of undisciplined men. After various operations, being baffled by the
treachery or incapacity of his subalterns, he was obliged to retreat,
and closed a fruitless campaign, by placing his men in winter quarters.

Being recalled to Constantinople, he went thither, but took the field
early in the spring, with the most powerful army he had ever commanded.
Nushirvan advanced into Syria, but, thwarted by the masterly manoeuvres
of Belisarius, he was at last obliged to retreat. Soon after, the Roman
general being again recalled by Justinian, the most fatal disasters
befel the Roman army.

During these Persian campaigns, the political security, as well as the
domestic happiness of Belisarius, were shaken by the misconduct of his
wife. She had long been engaged in an intrigue with Theodosius, the
young soldier newly baptized as an auspicious omen in the galley of the
general, upon his departure for Africa. Though told of this, Belisarius
had been pacified by the protestations and artifices of Antonina; but
while he was absent in Asia Minor, she, being left in Constantinople,
pursued her licentious career with little scruple.

Her son Photius, a gallant young soldier, being a check upon her
conduct, became the object of her hatred. While at the distance of a
thousand miles, during the Persian campaign, he still experienced the
malignant influence of her intrigues, and urged by a sense of duty
to his step-father, made him acquainted with his mother's depravity.
When she afterwards joined her husband on the frontier, he caused her
to be imprisoned, and sent Photius towards Ephesus to inflict summary
punishment upon Theodosius. The latter was taken captive by Photius,
and borne to Cilicia.

Antonina, by her convenient intrigues in behalf of Theodora, had laid
her under great obligations, and obtained the greatest influence
over her. The empress, therefore, now interfered to save her friend.
Positive injunctions were sent to Cilicia, and both Photius and
Theodosius were brought to Constantinople. The former was cast into
a dungeon and tortured at the rack; the latter was received with
distinction; but he soon expired from illness. Photius, after a third
escape from prison, proceeded to Jerusalem, where he took the habit of
a monk, and finally attained the rank of abbot.

Belisarius and Antonina were summoned to Constantinople, and the
empress commanded the injured husband to abstain from the punishment
of his wife. He obeyed this order of his sovereign. She next required
a reconciliation at his hands; but he refused to comply with a demand
which no sovereign had a right to make. He, therefore, remained
at Constantinople, under the secret displeasure of Theodora and
Justinian, who only wanted some plausible pretext to accomplish his

The invasion of Nushirvan, in the ensuing spring impelled the
terrified emperor to lay aside his animosity, and restore the hero
to the direction of the eastern armies; but in this campaign, his
former offence was aggravated, and the glory of saving the East was
outweighed by the guilt of frankness. Justinian was recovering from a
dangerous illness; a rumor of his death had reached the Roman camp, and
Belisarius gave an opinion in favor of the emperor's nearest kinsman
as his successor, instead of acknowledging the pretensions of Theodora
to the throne. This declaration inflamed with equal anger the aspiring
wife and the uxorious husband.

Buzes, the second in command, who had concurred in these views, was
confined in a subterranean dungeon, so dark that the difference of day
and night was never apparent to its inmate. Belisarius himself was
recalled, with flattering professions of confidence and friendship,
lest resentment should urge him to rebellion; but on his arrival at
Constantinople, the mask was thrown aside; he was degraded from the
rank of general of the East; a commission was despatched into Asia to
seize his treasures; and his personal guards, who had followed his
standard through so many battles, were removed from his command.

It was with mingled feelings of compassion and surprise, that the
people beheld the forlorn appearance of the general as he entered
Constantinople, and rode along the streets, with a small and squalid
train. Proceeding to the gates of the palace, he was exposed during
the whole day to the scoffs and insults of the rabble. He was received
by the emperor and Theodora with angry disdain, and when he withdrew,
in the evening, to his lonely palace, he frequently turned round,
expecting to see the appointed assassins advancing upon him.

In the evening, after sunset, a letter was brought him from Theodora,
declaring that his life was granted and a portion of his fortune spared
at the intercession of his wife, and she trusted that his future
conduct would manifest his gratitude to his deliverer. The favorable
moments of surprise and gratitude were improved by Antonina with
her usual skill. Thus, by the artifices of two designing women, the
conqueror of armies was subdued, and Belisarius once more became the
duped and submissive husband.

A fine of three hundred pounds weight of gold was levied upon the
property of Belisarius, and he was suffered for many months to languish
in obscurity. In 544, however, he was appointed to the command of
the war in Italy, whither he soon proceeded. Here, in his operations
against far superior forces, he displayed the same genius as before,
and in February, 547, he again entered Rome. He pursued the war with
various fortune; but at last, finding his means entirely inadequate
to the necessities of the contest, he begged of the emperor either
reinforcements or recall. Engrossed by religious quarrels, Justinian
took the easier course, and adopted the latter. Thus, after having
desolated Italy with all the horrors of war for several years, he now
abandoned it, from mere weakness and caprice.

Belisarius returned to Constantinople, and for several years his
life affords no remarkable occurrence. He continued in the tranquil
enjoyment of opulence and dignities; but, in the year 559, various
warlike tribes beyond the Danube, known under the general name of
Bulgarians, marched southward, and desolated several provinces by
sword, fire, and plunder. Zabergan, their enterprising leader, having
passed the frozen Danube in the winter, detached one portion of his
army for the pillage of Greece, and the other against the capital.

So sudden and bold an aggression filled Constantinople with helpless
and despairing terror. The people and the senators were agitated with
fear, and the emperor sat trembling in his palace. In this general
confusion and affright, all eyes were turned with hope to the conqueror
of Africa and Italy. Though his constitution was broken by his military
labors, his heart was alive to the call of his country, and Belisarius
prepared to crown his glorious life by a last and decisive battle. He
resumed his rusty armor, collected a handful of his scattered veterans,
and in the return of martial spirit he seemed to shake off the weakness
of decrepitude.

Sallying from the city with three hundred mounted men, he met Zabergan
at the head of two thousand cavalry. Selecting a favorable position, he
withstood the onset, and, seeming to recover the powers of his youth,
he astonished all around him by his intrepidity and skill. After a
severe and bloody struggle, the Bulgarians were driven back in the
utmost disorder; four hundred fell on the field, and Zabergan himself
escaped with difficulty. The whole army of barbarians, amounting to
many thousands, were seized with contagious fear, raised their camp,
and retreated to the north.

Belisarius was preparing for a close pursuit, when again his enemies
awaked the suspicions of Justinian by suggesting that he was aiming
at popular favor with disloyal views. The enthusiastic praises of
his heroic conduct, by the people, turned even the emperor's heart
to jealousy, and he chose rather to purchase the departure of the
barbarians by tribute, than to permit Belisarius to obtain new laurels
by chastising their audacity.

From this period, Belisarius continued under the displeasure of
Justinian, whose suspicious temper seemed to grow more virulent as his
faculties sunk in the dotage of years. In 563, several conspiracies
against the life of Justinian were detected, and under torture, some of
the domestics of Belisarius accused their master of participation. This
testimony, disproved by the long life and the habitually submissive
loyalty of Belisarius, was sufficient for his conviction. He was
stripped of his fortune, deprived of his guards, and detained as a
close prisoner in his palace.

The other conspirators were condemned and executed; but, in
consideration of the past services of Belisarius, the decree of death
was changed for that of blindness, and his eyes were accordingly put
out.[3] He was now restored to liberty, but, deprived of all means
of subsistence, he was compelled to beg his bread before the gates of
the convent of Laurus. There he stood with a wooden platter which he
held out for charity, exclaiming to the passers-by, "Give a penny to
Belisarius the general!"

The affecting scene was long impressed upon the recollection of the
people; and it would seem that this spectacle of persecuted merit
aroused some dangerous feelings of indignation and pity, and he was,
therefore, removed from public view. Belisarius was brought back to his
former palace, and a portion of his treasures was allotted for his use.
His death, which was doubtless hastened by the grief and hardships of
his lot, occurred in 565; and Antonina, who survived him, devoted the
remains of her life and fortune to the cloister.

In person, Belisarius was tall and commanding; his features regular
and noble. When he appeared in the streets of Constantinople, he never
failed to attract the admiration of the people. As a military leader,
he was enterprising, firm, and fearless. His conception was clear,
and his judgment rapid and decisive. His conquests were achieved with
smaller means than any other of like extent recorded in history. He
experienced reverses in the field; but never did he fail without
strong and sufficient reason. His superior tactics covered his defeats,
retrieved his losses, and prevented his enemies from reaping the fruits
of victory. Never, even in the most desperate emergencies, was he known
to lose his courage or presence of mind.

Though living in a barbarous and dissolute age, Belisarius possessed
many shining virtues. In the march of his armies, he would avoid the
trampling of the corn-fields, nor would he allow his soldiers even to
gather apples from the trees without making payment to the villagers.
After a victory, it was his first care to extend mercy and protection
to the vanquished. The gift of a golden bracelet or collar rewarded
any valorous achievement among his troops; the loss of a horse or
weapon was immediately supplied from his private funds; the wounded
ever found in him a father and a friend. To all, he was open and easy
of access, and by his courteous demeanor often comforted, where he
could not relieve. From his generosity, one would have deemed him rich;
from his manners, poor. His private virtues promoted and confirmed the
discipline of his soldiers. None ever saw him flushed with wine, nor
could the charms of his fairest captives overcome his conjugal fidelity.

But the most remarkable feature in the character of Belisarius is his
steadfast loyalty, and the noble magnanimity with which he overlooked
the suspicious meanness and ingratitude of his sovereign. It is
impossible to find in history another instance of an individual so
strongly induced to rebellion by treacherous treatment or the part of
his country, and the opportunity of placing a crown upon his head
without the risk of effectual opposition, who refused, from patriotic
motives, the double temptation.

That Belisarius had faults, is not to be denied. His blind submission
to his wife displayed great weakness, and led him into most of the
errors which are charged upon his public career. In his last campaign
in Italy, his wealth having been exhausted by an enormous fine, he
endeavored to repair his losses by imitating the rapacity universally
practised by other commanders of that period. He thus inflicted upon
his memory a serious stain, and showed that, however he was exalted
above the age, he was still a man. His whole career affords a striking
moral, coinciding with the emphatic language of Scripture, "Put not thy
trust in princes."


[Footnote 1: These were a digest of the civil law of Rome, made by the
order of Justinian, and have been preserved to our time. They contained
five hundred and thirty-four decisions or judgments of lawyers, to
which the emperor gave the force of law. The compilation consists of
fifty books, and has contributed to save Justinian's name from the
contempt and reproach which had otherwise been heaped upon it.]

[Footnote 2: A space where the chariot races were exhibited.]

[Footnote 3: This portion of the story of Belisarius has been the
subject of controversy. It has been doubted by Gibbon and other
historians, whether the infliction of blindness upon Belisarius and
his beggary, were not mere traditionary fables. But Lord Mahon, in his
excellent life of the great Roman general from which we have drawn the
preceding account, appears to have established their authenticity. The
beautiful tale of Belisarius by Marmontel, is fictitious in many of its


                       ATTILA, KING OF THE HUNS

This renowned barbarian was the son of Mandras, and of a royal line. He
served in the army of his uncle, Roas, who was king of the Huns. At his
death, in 433, he succeeded him, sharing the throne with his brother
Bleda. The Huns at this period were very numerous and warlike. They
extended over the southern part of Russia, and a considerable portion
of the present empire of Austria. Attila's kingdom lay between the
Carpathian mountains and the Danube, and was called Pannonia.

At this period, the Roman empire had been for more than a century
divided into the Eastern and Western empire. Theodosius II. was
now emperor of the former, and Constantinople its capital, while
Valentinian III. was emperor of the latter, and Rome, or Ravenna, the
seat of his government.

Both branches of the Roman empire were now sunk in the lap of luxury.
They were spread over with splendid cities, and enriched with all the
refinements of art, and all the spoils gathered from every quarter
of the world. These offered a tempting inducement to the fierce and
hungry barbarians of the north. Alaric[4] had shown the way to Rome a
few years before, and taught the weakness of the queen of the world.
Constantinople was not likely to be an inferior or more inaccessible
prize. Attila's dominions bordered upon those of the two empires, and
the distance to either capital was not more than five or six hundred

Among the first achievements of the two brothers, they threatened
the Eastern empire with their armies, and twice compelled the weak
Theodosius to purchase peace on humiliating terms. They then extended
their dominions both east and west, until they reigned over the whole
country from the Baltic to the Caspian Sea.

Attila was regarded by the Huns as their bravest warrior, and most
skilful general. He performed such feats of valor, and success so
uniformly attended his career, that the ignorant and superstitious
people were inclined to think him more than mortal. He took advantage
of this feeling, and pretended that he had found the sword of their
tutelar god, and that with this he intended to conquer the whole earth.
Being unwilling to hold a divided sceptre, he caused his brother Bleda
to be murdered, and when he gave out that it was done by the command of
God, the event was celebrated with the greatest demonstrations of joy.

Being now sole master of a warlike people, his ambition made him the
terror of all the surrounding nations. It was a saying of his own, that
no grass grew where his horse had set his foot, and the title of the
"Scourge of God" was assigned to him, as characterizing his career.
He extended his dominions over the whole of Germany and Scythia. The
Vandals, the Ostrogoths, and a part of the Franks, acknowledged his
sway, and both the Eastern and Western empires paid him tribute.
Historians tell us that his army amounted to 700,000 men.

Having heard of the riches of Persia, he directed his march against it.
Being defeated on the plains of Armenia, he turned back, to satisfy
his desire of plunder in the dominions of the emperor of the East.
Regardless of existing treaties, he laid waste the whole country from
the Black Sea to the Adriatic. In three bloody engagements, he defeated
the troops sent against him by Theodosius. Thrace, Macedonia, and
Greece, were overrun by the savage robber, and seventy flourishing
cities were utterly destroyed.

Theodosius was now at the mercy of the victor and was obliged to sue
for peace. One of the servants of Attila, named Edekon, was tempted
by an agent of the emperor to undertake the assassination of his
master, on his return to Pannonia; but, at the moment he was about to
accomplish his object, his courage failed him, he fell on his knees
before Attila, confessed his criminal design, and disclosed the plot.
Constantinople trembled at the idea of Attila's revenge; but he was
contented with upbraiding Theodosius, and the execution of Crisapheus,
who had drawn his servant into the scheme.

Priscus, a Roman historian, who was an ambassador to Attila in the
year 448, gives an interesting account of the king and his people. He
found the palace in the midst of a large village. The royal edifice was
entirely of wood: the houses of the Huns were also of wood, sometimes
mixed with mortar made of earth. The only stone building was a set
of baths. The wooden pillars of the palace were carved and polished,
and the ambassador could discover some evidence of taste in the
workmanship, as well as barbarous magnificence in the display of rich
spoils taken from more civilized nations.

They were soon invited to a sumptuous entertainment, in which the
guests were all served upon utensils of silver and gold; but a dish of
plain meat was set before the king on a wooden trencher, of which he
partook very sparingly. His beverage was equally simple and frugal. The
rest of the company were excited into loud and frequent laughter by
the fantastic extravagances of two buffoons; but Attila preserved his
usually inflexible gravity. A secret agent in the embassy was charged
with the disgraceful task of procuring the assassination of this
formidable enemy. Attila was acquainted with this, which was the real
object of the mission, but he dismissed the culprit, as well as his
innocent companions, uninjured. The emperor Theodosius was compelled,
however, to atone for his base attempt, by a second embassy, loaded
with magnificent presents, which the king of the Huns was prevailed
upon to accept. Theodosius died not long after, and was succeeded by
the more virtuous and able Marcian.

Attila was at this time collecting an enormous army, and threatened
both divisions of the Roman world at once. To each emperor he sent
the haughty message, "Attila, my lord and thy lord, commands thee
immediately to prepare a palace for his reception!" To this insult, he
added a demand upon the emperor for the remainder of the tribute due
from Theodosius. Marcian's reply was in the same laconic style: "I have
gold for my friends, and steel for my enemies!"

Attila determined to make war first on Valentinian. Honoria, the
emperor's sister, who had been guilty of some youthful error, and was
consequently confined in a convent, had sent Attila a ring, offering to
become his wife. It was to claim her and half the empire as her dower,
that Attila professed to be making these formidable preparations. At
last, he appeared to accept the excuse of Theodosius for not allowing
his sister to become his wife, and speedily marched with a prodigious
force to the westward. He set out in midwinter, and did not pause
till he reached the Rhine. Having defeated the Franks, he cut down
whole forests to make rafts for his army to cross the river, and now,
throwing off the mask, entered Gaul, a dependency of Rome.

The horrors of his march it is scarcely possible to describe.
Everything was destroyed that came in his way. Before him were terror
and despair; behind, a broad track marked with desolation, ruin and
death. He proceeded in his victorious career, till he reached the
ancient town of Orleans. Here an obstinate defence was offered. The
combined armies of Rome, under the celebrated Ætius, and the Goths
under Theodoric, attacked him here, and compelled him to raise the
siege. He retreated to Champaign, and waited for them in the plain of
Chalons. The two armies soon approached each other.

Anxious to know the event of the coming battle, Attila consulted
the sorcerers, who foretold his defeat. Though greatly alarmed, he
concealed his feelings, and rode among his warriors, animating them for
the impending struggle. Inflamed by his ardor, the Huns were eager for
the contest. Both armies fought bravely. At length the ranks of the
Romans and Gauls were broken, and Attila felt assured of victory, when,
suddenly, Thorismond, son of Theodoric, swept down like an avalanche
from the neighboring heights upon the Huns. He threw them into
disorder, spread death through their ranks, and Attila, pressed on all
sides, escaped to his camp with the utmost difficulty.

This was the bloodiest battle ever fought in Europe, for 106,000
men lay dead on the field. Theodoric was slain, and Attila, who had
gathered his treasures into a heap, in order to burn himself with them
in case he was reduced to extremities, was left unexpectedly to make
his retreat.

Having returned to Hungary and reinforced his army, he proceeded to
repeat his demand for the hand of Honoria. He mastered the unguarded
passes of the Alps, and, in 452, carried devastation into the north
of Italy. At last he approached the city of Rome, when a supplicatory
embassy met him, Pope Leo I. being at its head. The eloquence of the
pontiff, united to prudential considerations, prevailed, and the city
was saved; Attila returning to his home beyond the Danube. The Romans
looked upon this preservation as a miracle, and they have preserved
a legend that St. Peter and St. Paul appeared to the barbarian, and
threatened him with instant death, if he did not accept the proffered

Attila now soothed himself by adding the beautiful Ildico to his
numerous wives, whom he wedded with all due ceremony. On this occasion
he gave himself up to licentiousness, but in the morning after his
marriage, he was found dead in his tent, and covered with blood, Ildico
sitting veiled by his side. The story went abroad that he had burst
a blood-vessel, and died in consequence, but a common suspicion is
entertained that he was stabbed by his bride.

The news of Attila's death spread terror and sorrow among his army.
His body was enclosed in three coffins,--the first of gold, the second
of silver, and the third of iron. The captives who dug his grave were
strangled, so that the place of his burial might not be known.

In person, Attila was marked with the Tartar characteristics, from
which he, as well as the people of his kingdom, were descended. He was
low in stature, broad-chested, and of a powerful frame. He was dark
complexioned, with a few straggling hairs for beard, a flat nose, large
head, and small eyes. No one could look upon him, and not feel that
he had come into the world to disturb it. The number of persons slain
in his battles amounted to hundreds of thousands, yet to so little
purpose, that his empire was immediately dismembered upon his death.


[Footnote 4: Alaric was one of the most eminent of those northern
chiefs who successively overran Italy, during the decline of the
Western empire, and the first who gained possession of imperial Rome.
He learned the art of war under the celebrated emperor of the East,
Theodosius, who curbed the depredations of the Goths. At his death,
Alaric became their leader, and overran Greece, A. D. 396. In the year
403, he entered Italy with a powerful army, but was defeated, and
retired to his own country. In 410, he again entered Italy, besieged
and took Rome, which he entered at midnight, and gave it up to plunder
and pillage for six days. He now led his troops into the southern
provinces of Italy, but died suddenly while he was besieging Cozenza.
He was buried in the channel of the river Bucente, in Naples, that his
remains might not be found by the Romans. To perform the burial, the
water of the river was turned out of its course.]



Claudius Cæsar Nero was son of Caius Domitius Ænobarbus and Agrippina,
the daughter of Germanicus and wife of the Emperor Claudius, after the
death of her first husband. He was adopted by the Emperor Claudius,
A.D. 50, and when he was murdered by his wife, four years after, Nero
succeeded him on the throne. He possessed excellent talents, and
was carefully educated by Seneca and Burrhus. The beginning of his
reign was marked by acts of the greatest kindness and condescension,
by affability, complaisance and popularity. The object of his
administration seemed to be the good of his people; and when he
was desired to sign his name for the execution of a malefactor, he
exclaimed, "I wish to heaven I could not write!" He appeared to be an
enemy to flattery, and when the senate had liberally commended the
wisdom of his government, Nero desired them to keep their praises till
he deserved them.

But these promising virtues were soon discovered to be artificial,
and Nero displayed the real propensities of his nature. He delivered
himself from the sway of his mother, and at last ordered her to be
assassinated. This unnatural act of barbarity shocked some of the
Romans; but Nero had his devoted adherents; and when he declared
that he had taken away his mother's life to save himself from ruin,
the senate applauded his measures, and the people signified their
approbation. Even Burrhus and Seneca, Nero's advisers, either
counselled or justified his conduct. Many of his courtiers shared the
unhappy fate of Agrippina, and Nero sacrificed to his fury or caprice
all such as obstructed his pleasures, or stood in the way of his

In the night he generally sallied out from his palace, to visit the
meanest taverns and the scenes of debauchery in which Rome abounded.
In his nocturnal riots he was fond of insulting the people in the
streets, and on one occasion, an attempt to offer violence to the wife
of a Roman senator nearly cost him his life. He also turned actor, and
publicly appeared on the Roman stage, in the meanest characters. He had
an absurd passion to excel in music, and to conquer the disadvantages
of a hoarse, rough voice, he moderated his meals, and often passed the
day without eating.

The celebrity of the Olympic games having attracted his notice, he
passed into Greece, and presented himself as a candidate for the
public honors. He was defeated in wrestling, but the flattery of the
spectators adjudged him the victory, and Nero returned to Rome with all
the pomp and splendor of an eastern conqueror, drawn in the chariot
of Augustus, and attended by a band of musicians, actors, and stage
dancers from every part of the empire.

These private and public amusements of the emperor were comparatively
innocent; his character was injured, but not the lives of the people.
His conduct, however, soon became more censurable; he was guilty of
various acts which cannot be even named with decency. The cruelty of
his nature was displayed in the sacrifice of his wives Octavia and
Poppæa; and the celebrated writers, Seneca, Lucan, Petronius, &c.,
became the victims of his wantonness. The Christians did not escape
his barbarity. He had heard of the burning of Troy, and as he wished
to renew that dismal scene, he caused Rome to be set on fire in
different places. The conflagration became soon universal, and during
nine successive days the fire was unextinguished. All was desolation;
nothing was heard but the lamentations of mothers whose children had
perished in the flames, the groans of the dying, and the continual fall
of palaces and buildings.

Nero was the only one who enjoyed the general consternation. He placed
himself on a high tower and he sang on his lyre the destruction
of Troy; a dreadful scene which his barbarity had realized before
his eyes. He attempted to avert the public odium from his head, by
a feigned commiseration of the sufferings of his subjects, and by
charging the fire upon the Christians. He caused great numbers of them
to be seized and put to death. Some were covered with the skins of wild
beasts, and killed by dogs set upon them; others were crucified; others
were smeared with pitch and burned, at night, in the imperial gardens,
for the amusement of the people!

Nero began to repair the streets and the public buildings at his own
expense. He built himself a celebrated palace, which he called his
golden house. It was profusely adorned with gold and precious stones,
and with whatever was rare and exquisite. It contained spacious fields,
artificial lakes, woods, gardens, orchards, and every device that
could exhibit beauty and grandeur. The entrance to this edifice would
admit a colossal image of the emperor, one hundred and twenty feet
high; the galleries were each a mile long, and the whole was covered
with gold. The roofs of the dining halls represented the firmament, in
motion as well as in figure, and continually turned round, night and
day, showering all sorts of perfumes and sweet waters. When this grand
edifice, which, according to Pliny, extended all round the city, was
finished, Nero said that he could now lodge like a man!

His profusion was not less remarkable in all his other actions. When
he went fishing, his nets were made with gold and silk. He never
appeared twice in the same garment, and when he undertook a voyage,
there were thousands of servants to take care of his wardrobe. His
continued debauchery, cruelty, and extravagance at last roused the
resentment of the people. Many conspiracies were formed against him,
but they were generally discovered, and such as were accessory,
suffered the greatest punishments. One of the most dangerous plots
against Nero's life was that of Piso, from which he was delivered
by the confession of a slave. The conspiracy of Galba proved more
successful; for the conspirator, when he was informed that his design
was known to Nero, declared himself emperor. The unpopularity of Nero
favored his cause; he was acknowledged by the whole Roman empire, and
the senate condemned the tyrant, that sat on the throne, to be dragged,
naked, through the streets of Rome, whipped to death, and afterwards
to be thrown from the Tarpeian rock, like the meanest malefactor.
This, however, was not done, for Nero, by a voluntary death, prevented
the execution of the sentence. He killed himself, A. D. 68, in the
thirty-second year of his age, after a reign of thirteen years and
eight months.

Rome was filled with acclamations at the intelligence of this event,
and the citizens, more strongly to indicate their joy, wore caps such
as were generally used by slaves who had received their freedom. Their
vengeance was not only exercised against the statues of the deceased
tyrant, but his friends were the objects of the public resentment, and
many were crushed to pieces in such a violent manner, that one of the
senators, amid the universal joy, said that he was afraid they should
soon have cause to wish for Nero. The tyrant, as he expired, begged
that his head might not be cut off from his body and exposed to the
insolence of an enraged populace, but that the whole might be burned
on a funeral pile. His request was granted, and his obsequies were
performed with the usual ceremonies.

Though his death seemed to be the source of universal gladness, yet
many of his favorites lamented his fall, and were grieved to see
that their pleasures and amusements were terminated by the death of
the patron of debauchery and extravagance. Even the king of Parthia
sent ambassadors to Rome to condole with the Romans, and to beg that
they would honor and revere the memory of Nero. His statues were
also crowned with garlands of flowers, and many believed that he was
not dead, but that he would soon make his appearance and take a due
vengeance upon his enemies. It will be sufficient to observe, in
finishing the character of this tyrannical emperor and detestable man,
that the name of _Nero_ is, even now, the common designation of a
barbarous and unfeeling oppressor.


                         LUCIUS ANNÆUS SENECA.

This individual, whose "Morals" are so familiar to us, was born
at Corduba, in Spain, six years before Christ. His father was a
rhetorician of some celebrity, and a portion of his works has come down
to our time. While Lucius was yet a child, he removed from Corduba to
Rome, which henceforward became his residence. The son, possessing
very promising talents, received the greatest care and attention in
respect to his education. He was taught eloquence by his father, and
took lessons in philosophy from the most celebrated masters. According
to the custom of those who sought to excel in wisdom and knowledge, he
travelled in Greece and Egypt, after completing his studies, and his
work entitled _Quæstiones Naturales_ showed that he made good use of
his opportunities during this excursion; it also proves that he was
master of the science of his time.

Young Seneca was fascinated with the philosophical speculations of
the Stoics,[5] to which sect he became devoted. He even adopted the
austere modes of life they inculcated, and refused to eat the flesh of
animals; but when the emperor, Tiberius,[6] threatened to punish some
Jews and Egyptians for abstaining from certain meats, at the suggestion
of his father, he departed from this singularity. In compliance with
his father's advice, who urged upon him the necessity of devoting
himself to some kind of business, he adopted the profession of an

As a pleader, Seneca appeared to great advantage, and consequently
excited the envy of Caligula, who aspired to the reputation of an
orator. Apprehensive of the consequences, he changed his views, and
became a candidate for the honors and offices of the state. He was made
prætor, under Claudius, but, being charged with a shameful intrigue
with a lady of rank, he was banished to Corsica. Though his guilt was
not satisfactorily proved, he continued for five years in exile; during
which period he wrote a treatise on Consolation. In this, he seems to
draw contentment and peace from philosophical views, and one would
fancy that he was elevated by these, above the evils of his condition.
Yet, unhappily for his reputation in respect to consistency and
sincerity, history tells us that, at this period, he was suing to the
emperor in the most abject terms for restitution.

Claudius[7] at length married Agrippina, and Seneca, being recalled,
was made preceptor of Nero, the son of Agrippina, who was destined to
become emperor. From the favorable traits of character displayed by
the pupil of the philosopher in the early part of his career, it might
seem that Seneca's instructions had exerted a good influence over him.
But an impartial scrutiny of the events of that period has led to the
probable conclusion that he was a pander to the worst of Nero's vices.
It is certain that he acquired immense wealth in a short period of
time, and it appears that this was obtained through the munificence
of his royal patron. The latter was avaricious and mercenary, and was
likely to part with his money only for such things as ministered to his
voluptuous passions.

The possessions of Seneca were enormous. He had several gardens and
villas in the country, and a magnificent palace in Rome. This was
sumptuously furnished, and contained five hundred tables of cedar,
with feet of ivory, and all of exquisite workmanship. His ready cash
amounted to about twelve millions of dollars. It appears certain
that such riches could not have been acquired by means of Seneca's
precepts; and the inference of many of his contemporaries, as well as
of posterity, has been, that the virtue which appears so lovely in his
pages was but the decorous veil of avarice, vice, and crime.

For a period after his accession to the throne, Nero's conduct was
deserving of praise; but he soon threw off all regard even to decency,
and launched forth upon that career which has made his name a by-word
and reproach for all after time. Seneca, being accused of having
amassed immense wealth by improper means, became greatly alarmed;
for he knew the tyrant so well as to foresee that, under color of
this charge, he was very likely to sacrifice him, in order to obtain
his property. Pretending, therefore, to be indifferent to riches, he
begged the emperor to accept of his entire fortune, and permit him to
spend the remainder of his days in the quiet pursuits of philosophy.
The emperor, with deep dissimulation, refused this offer--no doubt
intending in some other way to compass the ruin of Seneca.

Aware of his danger, the philosopher now kept himself at home for
a long period, as if laboring under disease. Some time after, a
conspiracy for the murder of Nero, headed by Piso, was detected.
Several of the most noble of the Roman senators were concerned, and
Seneca's name was mentioned as an accessory. Nero, doubtless glad of an
opportunity to sacrifice him, now sent a command that he should destroy

It has been a question whether Seneca was really concerned in the
conspiracy of Piso. The proof brought against him was not indeed
conclusive, but it is obvious that his position might lead him to
desire the death of the tyrant, as the only means of safety to himself;
and Seneca's character, unfortunately, is not such as to shield his
memory against strong suspicion of participation in the alleged crime.

Seneca was at table, with his wife, Paulina, and two of his friends,
when the messenger of Nero arrived. He heard the words which commanded
him to take his own life, with philosophic firmness, and even with
apparent joy. He observed that such a mandate might long have been
expected from a man who had murdered his own mother and assassinated
his best friends. He wished to dispose of his possessions as he
pleased, but his request was refused. When he heard this, he turned to
those around who were weeping at his fate, and told them, that, since
he could not leave them what he believed his own, he would leave them
at least his own life for an example--an innocent conduct, which they
might imitate, and by which they might acquire immortal fame.

Against their tears and wailings, he exclaimed with firmness, and asked
them whether they had not learned better to withstand the attacks of
fortune and the violence of tyranny. As for his wife, he attempted to
calm her emotions, and when she seemed resolved to die with him, he
said he was glad to have his example followed with so much constancy.
Their veins were opened at the same moment; but Nero, who was partial
to Paulina, ordered the blood to be stopped, and her life was thus

Seneca's veins bled but slowly, and the conversation of his dying
moments was collected by his friends, and preserved among his works. To
hasten his death, he drank a dose of poison, but it had no effect, and
therefore he ordered himself to be carried to a hot bath, to accelerate
the operation of the draught, and to make the blood flow more freely.
This was attended with no better success, and, as the soldiers were
clamorous, he was carried into a stove, and suffocated by the steam.
Thus he died, in the 66th year of the Christian era.

The death of Seneca has been loudly applauded, and has sometimes been
pronounced sublime; but this is owing to an ignorance of the time,
and inattention to Seneca's own doctrines. With the Stoics, death was
nothing; "It is not an evil, but the absence of all evil." This was
their creed. With such principles, there could be no fear of death,
and consequently, we find that courage to die--if it be courage to
encounter that which is not an evil--was common in Seneca's time. "At
that period of languor and luxury," says M. Nisard, "of monstrous
effeminacies, of appetites for which the world could hardly suffice--of
perfumed baths, of easy and disorderly intrigues, there were daily men
of all ranks, of all fortunes, of all ages, who released themselves
from their evils by death. How was it possible for them to avoid
suicide, with no other consolation than the philosophy of Seneca, and
his theories on the delights of poverty?

"Marcellinus[8] is attacked with a painful but curable malady. He is
young, rich, has slaves, friends, everything to make life pleasant: no
matter, he conceives the fancy of the pleasure of dying. He assembles
his friends; he consults them as if he were going to marry. He
discusses with them his project of suicide, and puts it to the vote.
Some advise him to do as he pleases; but a Stoic, a friend of Seneca's,
then present, exhorts him bravely to die. His principal reason is that
he is _ennuyé_. No one contradicts the Stoic. Marcellinus thanks his
friends, and distributes money to his slaves. He abstains for three
days from all food, and is then carried into a warm bath, where he
quickly expires, having muttered some words on the pleasure he felt in

"This pleasure was so little of an affectation, so much had it become
the fashion, that some of the austere Stoics thought themselves bound
to place certain restrictions upon it. They committed suicide from
_ennui_, from idleness, from want of patience to cure themselves of
their ills,--for distraction--much in the same way that they killed
each other in duels, under Cardinal Richelieu."

Viewed in this light, Seneca's death had nothing in it of the sublime:
he yielded but to a fashion; he only practised what was common. If he
sincerely believed his professed creed--that death is the absence
of all evil--he neither evinced courage nor dignity; if he did not
believe, then his conduct displayed but the skilful acting of a part,
and under circumstances which mark him with the deepest hypocrisy.

It is impossible to deny that Seneca's works are full of wisdom, though
they fall far short of the Christian's philosophy. In his treatise upon
benefits, for example, we have the following passage:--

"The good will of the benefactor is the fountain of all benefits;
nay, it is the benefit itself, or, at least, the stamp that makes it
valuable and current. Some there are, I know, that take the matter
for the benefit, and tax the obligation by weight and measure. When
anything is given them, they presently cast it up--'What may such a
house be worth? such an office? such an estate?' as if that were the
benefit which is only the sign and mark of it, for the obligation
rests in the mind, not in the matter; and all those advantages which
we see, handle, or hold in actual possession, by the courtesy of
another, are but several modes or ways of explaining and putting the
good will in execution. There needs no subtlety to prove that both
benefits and injuries receive their value from the intention, when
even brutes themselves are able to decide this question. Tread upon a
dog by chance, or put him in pain upon the dressing of a wound, the
one he passes by as an accident, and the other, in his fashion, he
acknowledges as a kindness. But offer to strike at him--though you do
him no hurt at all--he flies in the face of you, even for the mischief
that you barely meant him."

This is all just and true: it makes the heart the seat of moral action,
and thus far coincides with the Christian's philosophy. But if there be
nothing after death, what sanction has virtue? It may be more beautiful
than vice, and consequently preferable, just as a sweet perfume is
more desirable than an offensive odor. It is good taste, therefore,
to be virtuous. Still, each individual may choose for himself, and
without future responsibility, for all alike must share the oblivion
of the tomb. The insufficiency of this philosophy to ensure virtue, is
attested by the life of Seneca, as well as that of most of his sect. It
resulted in the grossest hypocrisy; an ostentation of virtue, covering
up the practice of vice.


[Footnote 5: The Stoics were the followers of Zeno, a Greek philosopher
of Citium. They professed to prefer virtue to everything else, and
to regard vice as the greatest of evils. They required an absolute
command over the passions, and maintained the ability of man to attain
perfection and felicity in this life. They encouraged suicide, and held
that the doctrine of rewards and punishments was unnecessary to enforce
virtue upon mankind.]

[Footnote 6: Tiberius succeeded Augustus Cæsar, as emperor; at his
succession he gave promise of a happy reign, but he soon disgraced
himself by debauchery, cruelty, and the most flagitious excesses. It
was wittily said of him by Seneca that he was never intoxicated but
once, for when he became drunk, his whole life was a continued state of
inebriety. He died A. D. 37, after a reign of twenty-two years, and was
succeeded by Caligula.

For a brief period, Rome now enjoyed prosperity and peace; but the
young emperor soon became proud, cruel and corrupt. He caused a temple
to be erected to himself, and had his own image set in the place of
Jupiter and the other deities. He often amused himself by putting
innocent people to death; he attempted to famish Rome, and even wished
that the Romans had one head, that he might strike it off at a blow! At
last, weary of his cruelties, several persons formed a conspiracy and
murdered him, A. D. 41. History does not furnish another instance of so
great a monster as Caligula.]

[Footnote 7: Claudius succeeded Caligula in 41, and, after a reign of
thirteen years, he was poisoned by his wife, Agrippina.]

[Footnote 8: Seneca, Ess. lxxvii.]


Mantua, the capital of New Etruria itself built three centuries before
Rome, had the honor of giving birth to Publius Virgilius Maro. This
event happened on or near the fifteenth of October, seventy years B.
C, or during the first consulship of Pompey the Great and Licinius
Crassus. Who his father was, and even to what country he belonged, has
been the subject of much dispute. Some assert that he was a potter of
Andes; but the most probable account is, that he was either a wandering
astrologer, who practised physic, or a servant to one of this learned
fraternity. It is observed by Juvenal, that _medicus, magus_ usually
went together, and that this course of life was principally followed
by the Greeks and Syrians; to one of these nations, therefore, it
is presumed, Virgil owes his birth. His mother, Maia, was of good
extraction, being nearly related to Quintilius Varus, of whom honorable
mention is made in the history of the second Carthaginian war.

It appears that all due attention was paid to young Virgil's education.
He passed through his initiatory exercises at Mantua; thence he removed
to Cremona, and afterwards to Milan. In all these places he prosecuted
his studies with the most diligent application, associating with the
eminent professors of every department of science, and devoting whole
nights to the best Latin and Greek authors. In the latter he was
greatly assisted by his proximity to Marseilles, the only Greek colony
that maintained its refinement and purity of language, amidst the
overwhelming influence of all the barbarous nations that surrounded
it. At first, he devoted himself to the Epicurean philosophy, but
receiving no satisfactory reason for its tenets from his master, the
celebrated Syro, he passed over to the academic school, where physics
and mathematics became his favorite sciences; and these he continued to
cultivate, at leisure moments, during his whole life.

At Milan, he composed a great number of verses on various subjects,
and, in the warmth of early youth, framed a noble design of writing
an heroic poem, on the Wars of Rome; but, after some attempts, he was
discouraged from proceeding, by the abruptness and asperity of the old
Roman names.

It is said that he here formed the plan and collected the materials
for his principal poems. Some of these he had even begun; but a too
intense application to his studies, together with abstinence and
night-watching, had so impaired his health, that an immediate removal
to a more southern part of Italy was deemed absolutely necessary for
the preservation of his existence. He fixed upon Naples, and visiting
Rome in his way, had the honor, through the interest of his kinsman
and fellow-student, Varus, of being introduced to the emperor,
Octavius, who received him with the greatest marks of esteem, and
earnestly recommended his affairs to the protection of Pollio, then
lieutenant of Cisalpine Gaul, where Virgil's patrimony lay, and who
generously undertook to settle his domestic concerns. Having this
assurance, he pursued his journey to Naples. The charming situation
of this place, the salubrity of the air, and the constant society of
the greatest and most learned men of the time, who resorted to it,
not only re-established his health, but contributed to the formation
of that style and happy turn of verse in which he surpassed all his

To rank among the poets of their country, was, at this time, the
ambition of the greatest heroes, statesmen, and orators of Rome.
Cicero, Octavius, Pollio, Julius Cæsar, and even the stoical Brutus,
had been carried away by the impetuosity of the stream; but that genius
which had never deserted them in the forum, or on the day of battle,
shrunk dismayed at a comparison with the lofty muse of Virgil; and,
although they endeavored, by placing their poems in the celebrated
libraries, to hand them down to posterity, scarcely a single verse of
these illustrious authors survived the age in which they lived. This
preponderence of fashion, however, was favorable to Virgil; he had for
some time devoted himself to the study of the law, and even pleaded one
cause with indifferent success; but yielding now to the impulse of the
age and his own genius, he abandoned the profession and resumed with
increased ardor the cultivation of that talent for which he afterwards
became so distinguished.

Captivated at an early age by the pastorals of Theocritus, Virgil was
ambitious of being the primitive introducer of that species of poetry
among the Romans. His first performance in this way, entitled Alexis,
is supposed to have appeared when the poet was in his twenty-fifth
year. Palæmon, which is a close imitation of the fourth and fifth Idyls
of Theocritus, was probably his second; but as this period of the life
of Virgil is enveloped in a considerable degree of obscurity,--few
writers on the subject having condescended to notice such particulars
as chronological arrangement,--little more than surmise can be
offered to satisfy the researches of the curious. The fifth eclogue
was composed in allusion to the death and deification of Cæsar, and
is supposed to have been written subsequently to Silenus, his sixth
eclogue. This is said to have been publicly recited on the stage, by
the comedian Cytheris, and to have procured its author that celebrity
and applause to which the peculiar beauty and sweetness of the poem so
justly entitled him.

The fatal battle of Philippi, in which Augustus and Antony were
victorious, at once annihilated every shadow of liberty in the
commonwealth. Those veteran legions, who had conquered the world,
fought no more for the dearest rights of their country. Having been
once its protectors, they now became its ravagers. As the _amor patria_
no longer inspired them, the treasury of the Roman empire proved
inadequate to allay their boundless thirst for wealth. Augustus,
therefore, to silence their clamors, distributed among them the
flourishing colony of Cremona, and, to make up the deficiency, added
part of the state of Mantua. In vain did the miserable mothers, with
famishing infants at their breasts, fill the forum with their numbers,
and the air with their lamentations; in vain did the inhabitants
complain of being driven, like vanquished enemies, from their native
homes. Such scenes are familiar to the conquerors in a civil war; and
those legions, which had sacrificed their own and their country's
liberty, must be recompensed at the expense of justice and the
happiness of thousands. Virgil, involved in the common calamity, had
recourse to his old patrons, Pollio and Mecænas;[9] and, supported
by them, petitioned Augustus not only for the possession of his own
property, but for the reinstatement of his countrymen in theirs also;
which, after some hesitation, was denied, accompanied by a grant for
the restitution of his individual estate.

Full of gratitude for such favor, Virgil composed his Tityrus, in
which he has introduced one shepherd complaining of the destruction of
his farm, the anarchy and confusion of the times; and another rejoicing
that he can again tune his reed to love amidst his flocks; promising to
honor, as a superior being, the restorer of his happiness.

Unfortunately for Virgil, his joy was not of long continuance, for, on
arriving at Mantua, and producing his warrant to Arrius, a captain of
foot, whom he found in possession of his house, the old soldier was so
enraged at what he termed the presumption of a poet, that he wounded
him dangerously with his sword, and would have killed him had he not
escaped by swimming hastily over the Mincius. Virgil was, therefore,
compelled to return half the length of Italy, with a body reduced by
sickness, and a mind depressed by disappointment, again to petition
Augustus for the restoration of his estate. During this journey, which,
from the nature of his wound, was extremely slow, he is supposed to
have written his Moeris, or ninth eclogue; and this conjecture is
rendered more probable by the want of connexion, perceivable through
the whole composition--displaying, evidently, the disorder at that time
predominant in the poet's mind. However, on his arrival at Rome, he had
the satisfaction to find that effectual orders had been given in his
behalf, and the farm was resigned into the hands of his procurator or
bailiff, to whom the above pastoral is addressed.

The Sibylline Oracles, having received information from the Jews that
a child was to be born, who should be the Saviour of the world, and
to whom nations and empires should bow with submission, pretended to
foretell that this event would occur in the year of Rome, 714, after
the peace concluded between Augustus and Antony. Virgil, viewing this
prophecy with the vivid imagination of a poet, and willing to flatter
the ambition of his patron, composed his celebrated eclogue, entitled
Pollio, in which he supposes the child, who was thus to unite mankind
and restore the golden age, to be the offspring of Octavia, wife of
Antony, and half sister to Augustus. In this production, the consul
Pollio, Octavia, and even the unborn infant, are flattered with his
usual delicacy; and the rival triumviri, though a short time before in
open hostility, have the honor of equally sharing the poet's applause.

While Pollio, who seems to have been the most accomplished man of his
age, and is celebrated as a poet, soldier, orator and historian, was
engaged in an expedition against the Parthini, whom he subdued, Virgil
addressed to him his Pharmaceutria, one of the most beautiful of all
his eclogues, and in imitation of a poem of the same name, by his
favorite author, Theocritus. This production is the more valuable, as
it has handed down to posterity some of the superstitious rites of the
Romans and the heathen notions of enchantment. Virgil himself seems to
have been conscious of the beauty of his subject, and the dignity of
the person whom he was addressing; and, accordingly, has given us, by
the fertility of his genius and the brilliancy of his imagination, some
of the most sublime images that are to be found in any of the writings
of antiquity.

By the advice, and indeed at the earnest entreaty of Augustus, Virgil,
in his thirty-fourth year, retired to Naples, and formed the plan of
his Georgics: a design as new in Latin verse, as pastorals, before
his, were in Italy. These he undertook for the interest, and to
promote the welfare, of his country. As the continual civil wars had
entirely depopulated and laid waste the land usually appropriated for
cultivation, the peasants had turned soldiers, and their farms became
scenes of desolation. Famine and insurrection were the inevitable
consequences that followed such overwhelming calamities. Augustus,
therefore, resolved to revive the decayed spirit of husbandry, and
began by employing Virgil to recommend it with all the insinuating
charms of poetry. This work took up seven of the most vigorous years of
his life, and fully answered the expectations of his patron.

Augustus, having conquered his rival, Antony, gave the last wound to
expiring liberty, by usurping the exclusive government of the Roman
empire. To reconcile a nation, naturally jealous of its freedom, to
this, seems to have been the grand object of Virgil, in his Æneid. This
poem was begun in the forty-fifth year of the author's life, and not
only displays admirable poetical genius, but great political address.
Not an incident that could in any way tend to flatter the Roman
people into a submission to the existing government, has escaped his
penetrating judgment. He traces their origin to the Trojans, and makes
Augustus a lineal descendant of Æneas. At the command of the gods they
obey him, and in return are promised the empire of the world.

So anxious was Augustus as to the result of this poem, that he insisted
upon having part of it read before the whole was completed. Gratitude,
after threats and entreaties had been used in vain, at length induced
its author to comply; and, knowing that Octavia, who had just lost her
son, Marcellus, would be present, Virgil fixed upon the sixth book,
perhaps the finest part of the whole Æneid. His illustrious auditors
listened with all the attention which such interesting narrative and
eloquent recital demanded, till he came to that beautiful lamentation
for the death of young Marcellus, and where, after exhausting
panegyric, he has artfully suppressed the name of its object, till the
concluding verse:

    "Tu Marcellus eris."

At these words, Octavia, overcome with surprise and sorrow, fainted
away; but, on recovering, was so highly gratified at having her son
thus immortalized, that she presented the poet with ten _sesterces_ for
each line; amounting, in the whole, to about ten thousand dollars.

Having at length brought his Æneid to a conclusion, Virgil proposed
travelling into Greece, and devoting three years to the correction and
improvement of his favorite work. Having arrived at Athens, he met with
Augustus, who was returning from a victorious expedition to the East,
and who requested the company of the poet back to Italy. The latter
deemed it his duty to comply; but, being desirous to see as many of
the Grecian antiquities as the time would allow, went for that purpose
to Megara. Here he was seized with a dangerous illness, which, from
neglect, and the agitation of the vessel in returning to Italy, proved
mortal, at Brundusium. Thus the great poet died on the twenty-second
of September, nineteen years B. C, and at a period when he had
nearly completed his fifty-second year. He expired with the greatest
tranquillity; and his remains, being carried to Naples, were interred
in a monument, erected at a small distance from the city; where it is
still shown, with the following inscription, said to have been dictated
by him on his death-bed:

    Mantua me genuit; Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc
    Parthenope; cecini pascua, rura, duces.

In his will he had ordered that the Æneid should be burnt, not having
finished it to his mind; but Augustus wisely forbade the destruction of
a performance which will perpetuate his name, as one of the greatest
of poets. It was, therefore, delivered to Varius and Tucca, Virgil's
intimate friends, with the strictest charge to make no additions, but
merely to publish it correctly, in the state it then was.

In person, Virgil was tall, and wide-shouldered, of a dark swarthy
complexion, which probably proceeded from the southern extraction
of his father; his constitution was delicate, and the most trifling
fatigue, either from exercise or study, produced violent headache and
spitting of blood. In temper he was melancholy and thoughtful, loving
retirement and contemplation. Though one of the greatest geniuses
of his age, and the admiration of the Romans, he always preserved
a singular modesty, and lived chastely when the manners of the
people were extremely corrupt. His character was so benevolent and
inoffensive, that most of his cotemporary poets, though they envied
each other, agreed in loving and esteeming him. He was bashful to a
degree of timidity; his aspect and behavior was rustic and ungraceful;
yet he was so honored by his countrymen, that once, coming into the
theatre, the whole audience rose out of respect to him. His fortune was
large, supposed to be about seventy thousand pounds sterling, besides
which he possessed a noble mansion, and well-furnished library on the
Esquiline Mount, at Rome, and an elegant villa in Sicily. Both these
last, he left to Mecænas, at his death, together with a considerable
proportion of his personal property; the remainder he divided between
his relations and Augustus,--the latter having introduced a politic
fashion of being in everybody's will, which alone produced a sufficient
revenue for a prince.

The works of Virgil are not only valuable for their poetic beauties,
but for their historical allusions and illustrations. We here find a
more perfect and satisfactory account of the religious customs and
ceremonies of the Romans, than in any other of the Latin poets, Ovid
excepted. Everything he mentions is founded upon historical truth.
He was uncommonly severe in revising his poetry--and often compared
himself to a bear that licks her cubs into shape.

In his intercourse with society, Virgil was remarkable; his friends
enjoyed his unbounded confidence, and his library and possessions in
Rome were so liberally offered for the use of those who needed them,
as to seem to belong to the public. Amiable and exemplary, however, as
he was, he had bitter enemies; but their revilings only served to add
lustre to his name and fame.


[Footnote 9: Mecænas, a celebrated Roman, who distinguished himself
by his liberal patronage of learned men and letters. His fondness for
pleasure removed him from the reach of ambition, and he preferred
to live and die a knight, to all the honors and dignities that the
Emperor Augustus could heap upon him. The emperor received the private
admonitions of Mecænas in the same friendly way in which they were
given. Virgil and Horace both enjoyed his friendship. He was fond of
literature, and from the patronage which the heroic and lyric poets of
the age received from him, patrons of literature have ever since been
called by his name. Virgil dedicated to him his Georgics and Horace his
Odes. He died eight years B. C.]



Marcus Tullius Cicero was born on the 3d of January, 107, B. C. His
mother, whose name was Helvia, was of an honorable and wealthy family;
his father, named Marcus, was a wise and learned man of fortune, who
lived at Apulia. This city was anciently of the Samnites, now part of
the kingdom of Naples. Here Cicero was born, at his father's country
seat, which it seems was a most charming residence.

The care which the ancient Romans bestowed upon the education of their
children was worthy of all praise. Their attention to this, began from
the moment of their birth. They were, in the first place, committed to
the care of some prudent matron, of good character and condition, whose
business it was to form their first habits of acting and speaking; to
watch their growing passions, and direct them to their proper objects;
to superintend their sports, and suffer nothing immodest or indecent
to enter into them, that the mind, preserved in all its innocence,
and undepraved by the taste of false pleasures, might be at liberty
to pursue whatever was laudable, and apply its whole strength to that
profession in which it should desire to excel.

Though it was a common opinion among the Romans that children should
not be instructed in letters till they were seven years old, yet
careful attention was paid to their training, even from the age of
three years. It was reckoned a matter of great importance what kind of
language they were first accustomed to hear at home, and in what manner
their nurses, and even their fathers and mothers spoke, since their
first habits were then formed, either of a pure or corrupt elocution.
The two Gracchi were thought to owe that elegance of speaking for which
they were distinguished, to their mother, Cornelia, who was a very
accomplished woman and remarkable for the purity of her diction, as
well in speaking as writing.

Young Cicero experienced the full advantage of these enlightened views,
in his childhood. When he was of sufficient age to enter upon a regular
course of study, his father removed to Rome, and placed him in a public
school, under an eminent Greek master. Here he gave indications of
those shining abilities, which rendered him afterwards so illustrious.
His school-fellows carried home such stories of his extraordinary
powers, that their parents were often induced to visit the school, for
the sake of seeing a youth of such endowments.

Encouraged by the promising genius of his son Cicero's father spared no
cost or pains to improve it by the help of the ablest professors. Among
other eminent instructors, he enjoyed the teaching of the poet Archias.
Under this master, he applied himself chiefly to poetry, to which he
was naturally addicted and made such proficiency in it, that, while
he was still a boy, he composed and published a poem, called Glaucus

After finishing the course of juvenile studies, it was the custom to
change the dress of the boy for that of the man, and take what they
called the _manly gown_, or the ordinary robe of the citizen. This was
an occasion of rejoicing, for the youth thus passed from the power of
his tutor into a state of greater liberty. He was at the same time
introduced into the forum, or great square of the city, where the
assemblies of the people were held. Here also, they were addressed
by the magistrates, and here all the public pleadings and judicial
transactions took place.

When Cicero was sixteen years old, he was introduced to this place,
with all customary solemnity. He was attended by the friends and
dependants of the family, and after divine rites were performed in
the capital, he was committed to the special protection of Q. Mucius
Scævola, the principal lawyer as well as statesman of that age.

Young Cicero made good use of the advantages he enjoyed. He spent
almost his whole time in the society of his patron, carefully
treasuring up in his memory the wisdom that fell from his lips. After
his death, he came under the instruction of another of the same
family--Scævola, the high priest, a person remarkable for his probity
and skill in the law.

The legal profession, as well as that of arms and eloquence, was a sure
recommendation to the first honors of the republic; for it appears to
have been the practice of many of the most eminent lawyers to give
their advice gratis to all that asked it. It was the custom of the old
senators, eminent for their wisdom and experience, to walk up and down
the forum in the morning, freely offering their assistance to all who
had occasion to consult them, not only in cases of law, but in relation
to their private affairs. At a later period, they used to sit at home,
with their doors open, upon a kind of throne, or raised seat, giving
access and audience to all who might come.

It is not surprising that a profession thus practised should be honored
among the Roman people, nor is it wonderful that Cicero's ambitious
mind should have been attracted by so obvious a road to honor and
preferment. But his views were not satisfied with being a mere lawyer.
He desired especially to be an orator; and, conceiving that all kinds
of knowledge would be useful in such a profession, he sought every
opportunity to increase his stores of information. He also attended
constantly at the forum, to hear the speeches and pleadings; he
perused the best authors with care, so as to form an elegant style;
and cultivated poetry, for the purpose of adding elegance and grace to
his mind. While he was thus engaged, he also studied philosophy, and,
for a time, was greatly pleased with Phædrus, the Epicurean, who then
gave lessons at Rome. Though he retained his affection for the amiable
philosopher, Cicero soon rejected his system as fallacious.

It was always a part of the education of the young gentlemen of Rome,
to learn the art of war by personal service, under some general of
name and experience. Cicero accordingly took the opportunity to make
a campaign with Strabo, the father of Pompey the Great. During this
expedition, he manifested the same diligence in the army that he had
done in the forum, to observe everything that passed. He sought to be
always near the person of the general, that nothing of importance might
escape his notice.

Returning to Rome, Cicero pursued his studies as before, and about
this time, Molo, the Rhodian, one of the most celebrated teachers of
eloquence of that age, coming to the city to deliver lectures upon
oratory, he immediately took the benefit of his instructions, and
pursued his studies with ceaseless ardor. His ambition received an
impulse at this time, from witnessing the fame of Hortensius, who made
the first figure at the bar, and whose praises fired him with such
emulation, that, for a time, he scarcely allowed himself rest from his
studies, either day or night.

He had in his own house a Greek preceptor, who instructed him in
various kinds of learning, but more particularly in logic, to which
he paid strict attention. He, however, never suffered a day to pass,
without some exercise in oratory, particularly that of declaiming,
which he generally performed with some of his fellow-students. He
sometimes spoke in Latin, but more frequently in Greek, because the
latter furnished a greater variety of elegant expressions, and because
the Greek masters were far the best, and could not correct and improve
their pupils, unless they declaimed in that language.

Cicero had now passed through that course of discipline, which, in his
treatise upon the subject, he lays down as necessary for the formation
of an accomplished orator. He declares that no man should pretend to
this, without being acquainted with everything worth being known, in
art and nature; that this is implied in the very name of an orator,
whose profession is to speak upon every subject proposed to him, and
whose eloquence, without knowledge, would be little better than the
prattle and impertinence of children.

He had learnt grammar and the languages from the ablest teachers,
passed through the studies of humanity and the polite letters with
the poet Archias been instructed in philosophy by the principal
philosophers of each sect--Phædrus the epicurean, Philo the academic,
Diodorus the Stoic--and acquired a thorough knowledge of the law from
the greatest jurists and statesmen of Rome--the two Scævolas.

These accomplishments he regarded but as subservient to the object
on which his ambition was placed,--the reputation of an orator. To
qualify himself, therefore, particularly for this, he had attended
the pleadings of the greatest speakers of his time, heard the daily
lectures of the most eminent orators of Greece, constantly written
compositions at home, and declaimed them under the correction of these

That he might lose nothing which would in any degree improve and polish
his style, he spent the intervals of his leisure in the company of
ladies, especially those who were remarkable for elegant conversation,
and whose fathers had been distinguished for their eloquence. While he
studied the law, therefore, under Scævola, the augur, he frequently
conversed with his wife, Lælia, whose discourse he says was tinctured
with all the eloquence of her father, Lælius, the most polished orator
of his time. He also frequented the society of her daughter, Mucia, as
well as that of two of her granddaughters, who all excelled in elegance
of diction, and the most exact and delicate use of language.

It is impossible not to admire the noble views which Cicero had formed
of the profession to which he was to devote his life. Nor can we
withhold praise for the diligence, energy and judgment with which he
trained himself for entering upon the theatre of his ambition. If in
all respects he is not to be regarded as a model for imitation, still,
his example is thus far worthy of emulation to all those who seek to
enjoy a virtuous and lasting fame.

Thus adorned and accomplished, Cicero, at the age of twenty-six years,
presented himself at the bar, and was soon employed in several private
causes. His first case of importance was the defence of S. Roscius, of
Ameria, which he undertook in his twenty-seventh year; the same age at
which Demosthenes distinguished himself at Athens.

The case of Roscius was this. His father was killed in the recent
proscription of Sylla, and his estate, worth about £60,000 sterling,
was sold, among the confiscated estates of the proscribed, for a
trifling sum, to L. Cornelius Chrysogonus, a young favorite slave, whom
Sylla had made free, and who, to secure possession of it, accused the
son of the murder of his father, and had prepared evidence to convict
him; so that the young man was likely to be deprived, not only of his
fortunes, but, by a more villanous cruelty, of his honor also, and his

The tyrant Sylla was at this time at the height of his power. Fearing
his resentment, therefore, as well as the influence of the prosecutor,
the older advocates of Rome refused to undertake the defence of
Roscius, particularly as it would lead them into an exposure of the
corruptions of the age, and the misdemeanors of those high in rank and

But Cicero readily undertook it, as a glorious opportunity of enlisting
in the service of his country, and giving a public testimony of his
principles, and his zeal for that liberty to the support of which he
was willing to devote the labors of his life. In the management of the
cause, he displayed great skill and admirable eloquence. Roscius was
acquitted, and Cicero was applauded by the whole city for his courage
and address. From this period he was ranked as one of the ablest
advocates of Rome.

Having occasion in the course of his pleading to mention that
remarkable punishment which their ancestors had contrived for the
murder of a parent--that of sewing the criminal alive into a sack, and
throwing him into a river--he says, "that the meaning of it was, to
strike him at once, as it were, out of the system of nature, by taking
him from the air, the sun, the water, and the earth; that he who had
destroyed the author of his being, should lose the benefit of those
elements whence all things derive their being. They would not throw him
to the beasts, lest the contagion of such wickedness should make the
beasts themselves more furious; they would not commit him naked to the
stream, lest he should pollute the very sea, which was the purifier of
all other pollutions; they left him no share of anything natural, how
vile or common soever; for what is so common as breath to the living,
earth to the dead, the sea to those who float, the shore to those who
are cast up? Yet these wretches live so, as long as they can, as not to
draw breath from the air; die so, as not to touch the ground; are so
tossed by the waves, as not to be washed by them; so cast out upon the
shore, as to find no rest, even on the rocks."

This passage was received with acclamations of applause; yet, speaking
of it afterwards himself, Cicero calls it "the redundancy of a juvenile
fancy, which wanted the correction of his sounder judgment; and, like
all the compositions of young men, was not applauded so much for its
own sake, as for the hopes which it gave of his more improved and
ripened talents."

The popularity of his cause, and the favor of the audience, induced
Cicero, in the course of his plea, to expose the insolence and villany
of the favorite, Chrysogonus, with great freedom. He even ventured
some bold strokes at Sylla himself. He took care, however, to palliate
these, by observing, that through the multiplicity of Sylla's affairs,
who reigned as absolute on earth as Jupiter in heaven, it was not
possible for him to know everything that was done by his agents, and
that he was perhaps forced to connive at some of the corrupt practices
of his favorites.

Soon after this trial, Cicero set out for the purpose of visiting
Greece and Asia, the fashionable tour of that day with those who
travelled for pleasure or improvement. At Athens he spent six months,
renewing the studies of his youth, under celebrated masters. He was
here initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries, the end and aim of which
appear to have been to inculcate the unity of God and the immortality
of the soul.

From Athens, he passed into Asia, where he was visited by the principal
orators of the country. These kept him company through the remainder
of his tour, frequently exercising themselves together in oratorical
exhibitions. They came at last to Rhodes, where Cicero applied to Molo,
and again became his pupil On a public occasion he made an address
at the end of which, the company were lavish of their praises. Molo
alone was silent, till, observing that Cicero was somewhat disturbed,
he said, "As for you, Cicero, I praise and admire you, but pity the
fortune of Greece, to see arts and eloquence, the only ornaments which
were left to her, transplanted by you to Rome."

Soon after Cicero's return from his travels, he pleaded the cause of
the famous comedian, Roscius, whom a singular merit in his art had
recommended to the familiarity and friendship of the greatest men of
Rome. The case was this. One Fannius had made over to Roscius, a young
slave, to be trained for the stage, on condition of a partnership in
the profits which the slave should acquire by acting. The slave was
afterwards killed, and Roscius prosecuted the murderer for damages, and
obtained, by composition, a little farm, worth about 800 pounds, for
his particular share. Fannius also sued separately, and was supposed to
have gained as much, but, pretending to have recovered nothing, sued
Roscius for the moiety of what he had received.

One cannot but observe, from Cicero's pleading, the wonderful esteem
and reputation which Roscius enjoyed--of whom he draws a very amiable
picture. "Has Roscius, then," said he, "defrauded his partner? Can such
a stain adhere to such a man, who--I speak it with confidence--has more
integrity than skill, more veracity than experience; whom the people of
Rome know to be a better man than he is an actor, and, while he makes
the first figure on the stage in his art, is worthy of the senate for
his virtues?"

His daily pay for acting is said to have been about thirty pounds
sterling. Pliny computes his yearly profit at 4000 pounds; but Cicero
seems to rate it at 5000 pounds. He was generous, benevolent, and a
contemner of money; after he had raised an ample fortune from the
stage, he devoted his talents to the public, for many years, without
pay; whence Cicero urges it as incredible that he, who in ten years
past might honestly have gained fifty thousand pounds, which he
refused, should be tempted to commit a fraud for the paltry sum of four
hundred. We need but add that the defence was effectual.

Soon after Cicero's return to Rome, he, being about thirty years of
age, was married to Terentia, a lady of good station in life, and of
large fortune. Shortly after, he was a candidate for the office of
quæstor, in which he succeeded by the unanimous suffrage of the tribes.

The provinces of the quæstors being distributed by lot, the island
of Sicily fell to Cicero's share. This was called the granary of the
republic, and this year, there being great scarcity at Rome, the people
were clamorous for a supply. As it was a part of the duty of the
quæstors to supply the city with corn, a difficult duty devolved upon
Cicero; for, while he was to see that Rome was adequately furnished, it
was necessary to avoid impoverishing the island. He, however, acquitted
himself with the greatest prudence and address, displaying courtesy to
the dealers, justice to the merchants, generosity to the inhabitants,
and, in short, doing all manner of good offices to everybody. He
thus obtained the love and admiration of the Sicilians, and, at his
departure, they paid him greater honors than had ever been bestowed,
even upon their own governors.

In his hours of leisure, Cicero pursued his rhetorical studies, making
it a rule never to let a day pass without some exercise of this kind.
At the expiration of his year, he left the island, and, on his return
to Rome, he stopped at Baiae, the chief seat of pleasure at that time
in Italy, and where there was a perpetual resort of the rich and great,
as well on account of its delightful situation, as for the use of its
luxurious baths and tepid waters.

Pleased with the success of his administration, and flattering
himself that all Rome was celebrating his praises, he reached this
place, and mingled amongst the crowd. What was his disappointment
and mortification, to be asked by the first friend he met, "How long
since you left Rome, and what is the news there?" "I came from the
provinces," was the reply. "From Africa, I suppose," said one of the
bystanders. "No, I came from Sicily," said Cicero, a little vexed.
"How, did you not know that Cicero was quæstor of Syracuse?" said
another person present; thus showing his ignorance, while he pretended
to be wiser than the rest. This incident humbled Cicero for the time,
and made him feel that he had not yet made himself so conspicuous as to
live perpetually in the eye of so mighty a city as Rome.

Having now devoted himself to a life of business and ambition, he
omitted none of the usual arts of recommending himself to popular
favor, and facilitating his advancement to the highest honors. "He
thought it absurd," says Plutarch, "that, when every little artificer
knew the name and use of all his tools, a statesman should neglect the
knowledge of men, who were the proper instruments with which he was to
work; he made it his business, therefore, to learn the name, the place,
and the condition of every eminent citizen; what estate, what friends,
what neighbors he had; and could readily point out their several
houses, as he travelled through Italy."

This knowledge was deemed so necessary at Rome, where the people
expected to be courted by their public men, that every individual who
aspired to official dignities, kept a slave or two in his family, whose
sole business it was to know the name and person of every citizen at
sight, so that he might whisper them to his master as he passed through
the streets, and enable him to salute them familiarly, as particular
acquaintances. Such artifices, which appear degrading in our day, were
by no means beneath the practice of one so elevated in his sense of
propriety as Cicero.

Having reached his thirty-seventh year, and being therefore eligible to
the office of edile, he offered himself as a candidate, and was elected
by the people. Before he entered upon its duties, however, he undertook
the prosecution of C. Verres, the late prætor of Sicily, charged
with many flagrant acts of injustice, rapine and cruelty, during his
triennial government of that island. This was one of the most memorable
transactions of Cicero's life, and has given him greater fame than any

In order to obtain the evidence, he proceeded to Sicily, where he was
received with the greatest kindness and favor, though every art was
resorted to, by the agents of Verres, to obstruct his inquiries. On
his return, he found the most formidable preparations to resist him.
Hortensius was engaged for Verres and several of the leading families
had taken his part. Cicero, however, produced his witnesses, whose
depositions overwhelmed the criminal with such proofs of guilt, that
Hortensius had nothing to say for his client, who submitted without
defence to a voluntary exile.

From this account, it appears, that, of the seven orations on the
subject of this trial, which now remain among the works of Cicero,
two only were spoken, and these contain little more than a statement
of the whole case. The five others were published afterwards, as they
were prepared, and intended to be spoken, if Verres had made a regular

From the evidence produced, it appears that every species of rapine
was practised without scruple by Verres, during his prætorship. Cicero
estimated the amount of his plunder at 800,000 pounds sterling, or
nearly four millions of dollars. It is shocking to read the black
catalogue of this man's crimes; yet, such was the corruption of
society, especially among the higher classes, that Cicero, instead of
gaining favor by his exposure of these abuses, brought upon himself
the hatred and ill-will of the largest portion of the nobility.
They doubtless looked upon the public offices as their inheritance,
and did not like to see the accustomed privileges of the provincial
governors abridged. We may add here that Verres continued long in a
miserable exile, deserted and forgotten by his former friends, and
was actually relieved in his necessities by the generosity of Cicero.
He was afterwards proscribed and murdered by Mark Antony, in order to
obtain some fine statues, which he had obtained by robbery, during his
government in Sicily, and which he had refused to part with, even in
the extremity of his poverty.

From the impeachment of Verres, Cicero entered upon the office of
edile, and in one of his speeches gives a short account of its duties.
"I am now chosen edile," says he, "and am sensible of what is committed
to me by the Roman people. I am to exhibit with the greatest solemnity
the most sacred sports to Ceres, Liber, and Libera; am to appease
and conciliate the mother Flora to the people and city of Rome, by
the celebration of the public games; am to furnish out those ancient
shows, the first which were called Roman, with all possible dignity and
religion, in honor of Jupiter, Juno, Minerva; am to take care also of
all the sacred edifices, and, indeed, of the whole city."

The people of Rome were passionately fond of the public games and
diversions, and the allowance for them being small, the ediles were
obliged to supply the rest. Many of them, in their ambition to flatter
the people and obtain their favor, incurred such expense in these
entertainments, as to involve themselves in ruin. Every part of the
empire was ransacked for whatever was rare and curious to increase the
splendor of these shows; the forum, in which they were exhibited, was
usually beautified with porticoes for the purpose, and these were
decorated with the choicest pictures and statues, which Rome, and
indeed, all Italy could furnish. Several of the great men of Cicero's
time had distinguished their magistracy by their magnificence, some of
them having entertained the city with stage plays, in which the scenes
were entirely covered with silver. Cæsar, in the sports exhibited upon
the occasion of his father's funeral, caused the entire furniture of
the theatre to be made of solid silver, so that the wild beasts trod
upon that metal.

Unseduced by these examples, Cicero took the middle course, which was
suited to his circumstances. In compliance with the custom, he gave
three entertainments, which were conducted with taste, and to the
satisfaction of the people. The Sicilians gave him effectual proofs of
their gratitude by supplying him largely with provisions for the use
of his table and the public feasts he was obliged to provide. Cicero,
however, took no private advantage of these gifts, for he distributed
the whole to the poor.

Soon after leaving the office of edile, Cicero was chosen prætor; a
magistrate next in dignity to a consul. The business of the prætors was
to preside and judge in all causes, especially of a public or criminal
kind. There were eight of them, and their several jurisdictions were
assigned by lot. It fell to Cicero to hear charges of extortion and
rapine, brought against magistrates and governors of provinces.
In this office, he acquired great reputation for integrity and
impartiality--qualities, in the corrupted state of Rome, scarcely to be
found, either in public or private life, among men of high stations.
While he seemed full of employment as prætor, and attentive to his
duties in the senate, Cicero still had a large practice as advocate. It
is evident that nothing but ceaseless industry and wonderful facility
in the despatch of business, could have enabled him to discharge his
multifarious duties, and with such surpassing ability.

His office of prætor having expired, Cicero now fixed his hopes upon
the consulship. While he was aiming at this, and resorting to all the
ordinary means of attaining his object, by flattering the people,
allaying the hostility of the nobles, and strengthening his interest
on every hand, he was expending large sums of money in decorating his
several villas, especially that of Tusculum, in which he took the
greatest pleasure. This was situated in the neighborhood of Rome,
and furnished him an easy retreat from the hurry and fatigue of the
city. Here he built several rooms and galleries, in imitation of
the schools and porticoes of Athens, in which he was accustomed to
hold philosophical conversations with his learned friends. He had
given Atticus, a lover of the arts, who resided at Athens, a general
commission to purchase for him pictures, statues and other curiosities;
and Atticus, having a rare taste in these matters, thus assisted him to
embellish and enrich his residence with a choice collection of works of
art and literary treasures, of various kinds.

Cicero, being now in his forty-third year, became eligible as consul,
and offered himself as a candidate for that high office. As the
election approached, his interest appeared to take the lead; for the
nobles, envious and jealous of him as they were, were alarmed by the
threatening aspect of the times, and saw the necessity of entrusting
the consular power to strong and faithful hands. The intrigues of
Cæsar, the plots of Cataline, the ambition of Pompey, seemed to heave
and convulse the elements of society to its foundation, and portend a
storm which threatened the very existence of the state. Thus, by the
voices of the people as well as the favor of the patricians, Cicero was
proclaimed First Consul, and Antonius was chosen his colleague.

This year, Cicero's father died in a good old age, and he gave his
daughter Tullia, in marriage, at the age of thirteen, to C. Piso Frugi,
a young nobleman of great hopes and of one of the best families in
Rome. He was also much gratified by the birth of a son and heir to his

Cicero had now passed through the usual gradations to the highest
honors which the people could bestow, or a citizen desire. He entered
upon his trust with a patriotic determination to discharge its duties,
not so much according to the fleeting humor, as the lasting interests
of the people. The most remarkable event of his consulship was the
conspiracy of Cataline, which he detected by his sagacity, and defeated
by his courage and address.

Cataline was adapted by art and nature, to be the leader of desperate
enterprises. He was of an illustrious family, of ruined fortunes,
profligate heart, undaunted courage and unwearied industry. He had a
capacity equal to the hardiest attempt, a tongue that could seduce, an
eloquence to persuade, a hand to execute. His character, compounded of
contradictory qualities--of great virtues, mastered by still greater
vices--is forcibly drawn by Cicero himself.

"Who," said he, "was more agreeable at one time to the best citizens?
Who more intimate at another with the worst? Who a man of better
principles? Who a fouler enemy to this city? Who more intemperate in
pleasure? Who more patient in labor? Who more rapacious in plundering,
who more profuse in squandering? He had a wonderful faculty of engaging
men to his friendship and obliging them by his observance; sharing
with them in common whatever he was master of; serving them with his
money, his interest, his pains, and, when there was occasion, by the
most daring acts of villany, moulding his nature to his purposes,
and bending it every way to his will. With the morose, he could live
severely; with the free, gayly; with the old, gravely; with the young,
cheerfully; with the enterprising, audaciously; with the vicious,
luxuriously. By a temper so various and pliable, he gathered about him
the profligate and the rash from all countries; yet held attached to
him, at the same time, many brave and worthy men, by the specious show
of a pretended virtue."

Associated in the plot with Cataline, were about thirty-five
individuals as leaders, some of them senators, and all of them men of
rank and consideration. Several were from the colonies and the larger
towns of Italy. Among the most important of these persons were Lentulus
and Cethegus, both patricians, possessing powerful family influence;
the two Syllas nephews of the dictator; Cassius, who was a competitor
with Cicero for the consulship, and Autronius, who had obtained an
election to that office, but was not permitted to hold it, on account
of his gross briberies. Julius Cæsar was suspected of being also
engaged in the scheme, but it is probable that while he was willing to
see it attempted, hoping to be benefited by the convulsion that might
follow, he was too wary to commit himself by any overt act of treason.

A meeting of the conspirators was finally held, in which it was
resolved that a general insurrection should be raised throughout Italy,
the different parts of which were assigned to different leaders.
Cataline was to put himself at the head of the troops in Etruria; Rome
was to be set on fire in different places at once, under the direction
of Cassius, and a general massacre of the senate, with all the enemies
of the conspirators, was to be affected under the management of
Cithegus. The vigilance of Cicero being the chief occasion of their
apprehensions, two knights of the company undertook to gain access
to his house early the next morning, upon pretence of business, and,
rushing into his chamber, to kill him in his bed.

But no sooner was the meeting over, than Curius, one of the assembly,
and in the interest of Cicero, sent him a particular account of all
that had transpired. He immediately imparted the intelligence to some
of the chiefs of the city, who assembled at his house that night,
and made preparations for the emergency. The two knights came before
break of day to Cicero's house, but had the mortification to find it
carefully guarded. Cataline had set out in the hope of surprising the
town of Preneste, one of the strongest fortresses of Italy, and within
twenty five miles of Rome; but Cicero's messenger anticipated him, and
when the attack was made the next night, he found the place so well
guarded, as to forbid an assault.

Cicero now assembled the senate at the temple of Jupiter, in the
capital, where they were accustomed to meet only in times of public
alarm, and laid before them the facts which we have narrated. Cataline
had returned to Rome, and being a member of the senate, met the charge
with profound dissimulation and the most subtle cunning. Cicero,
however, poured forth upon him such a torrent of invective, and placed
his guilt in so strong a light, that the conspirator became desperate,
made a threatening speech to the senate, and left the hall. That night,
he departed and repaired with expedition to head the forces at Etruria.
The result of the whole enterprise was, that several of the accomplices
were executed, and Cataline himself fell bravely fighting at the head
of those troops he had induced to join his cause. Cicero received the
thanks of the senate, and the most unbounded applause at the hands of
the people.

Cicero's administration being now at an end, nothing remained but to
resign the consulship, according to custom, in an assembly of the
people, and declare upon oath that he had administered the office with
fidelity. It was usual for the consul, under such circumstances, to
address the people, and on the present occasion an immense concourse
of people met to hear the farewell speech of Cicero. But Metellus, one
of the new tribunes, ambitious to signalize himself by some display
of that remarkable veto power committed to the tribunes, determined to
disappoint the orator and the audience.

Accordingly, when Cicero had mounted the rostrum, and was about to
address the people, Metellus interfered, remarking that he who had
put citizens to death unheard, ought not to be permitted to speak for
himself. This was a reflection upon Cicero, because the associates
of Cataline had been executed by a vote of the senate, without the
ordinary trial. Cicero, however, was never at a loss, and, instead of
pronouncing the usual form of the oath, exalted his voice so that all
the people might hear him, saying, "I have saved the republic and the
city from ruin!" The vast multitude caught the sounds, and, with one
acclamation, declared, "You have sworn the truth!" Thus, the intended
affront of Metellus was turned to the advantage of Cicero, and he was
conducted from the forum to his house with every demonstration of
respect by the whole city.

It was about this period that Cicero is supposed to have pronounced his
oration, still extant, in defence of his old preceptor, Archias. He,
doubtless, expected from his muse an immortality of fame; for Archias
had sung in Greek verse the triumphs of Marius over the Cimbri, and of
Lucullus over Mithridates. He appears, however, to have died without
celebrating the consulship of Cicero; and Archias, instead of adding to
the fame of the orator, would have been buried in complete oblivion,
had not his memory been perpetuated in the immortal pages of his pupil.

Pompey the Great now returned to Rome, in the height of his fame and
fortunes, from the Mithridatic war. It had been apprehended that he
was coming back to Rome, at the head of his army, to seize upon the
government. It is certain that he had this in his power, and Cæsar,
with the tribune Metellus, was inviting him to it. But he seemed
content, for the time, with the glory he had achieved. By his victories
he had extended the boundaries of the empire into Asia, having reduced
three powerful kingdoms there, Pontus, Syria and Bithynia, to the
condition of Roman provinces, taken the city of Jerusalem, and left
the other nations of the east, as far as the Tigris, tributary to the

For these great services, a triumph was decreed him, which lasted two
days, and was the most splendid that had ever been seen in Rome. Of
the spoils, he erected a temple to Minerva, with an inscription giving
a summary of his victories:--"that he had finished a war of thirty
years; had vanquished, slain, and taken two millions one hundred and
eighty-three thousand men; sunk or taken eight hundred and forty-six
ships; reduced to the power of the empire a thousand five hundred
and thirty-eight towns and fortresses, and subdued all the countries
between the lake Moeris and the Red Sea."

The spectacle which Rome, at this period, presents is full of warning
to mankind. In the very height of her pride and her power, holding
the whole civilized world in her grasp, she was still torn with
dissensions, and corrupted through every vein and artery of society.
With political institutions favorable to liberty, and calculated to
promote public and private virtue; yet vice and crime stained the
character of public men, while profligacy, in every form, characterized
the people at large.

Nor could anything better be expected; for the general policy of the
nation was alike wicked and unwise. Instead of seeking prosperity by
the peaceful arts of life, they sought to enrich themselves by robbing
other nations. War was the great trade of the state; the soldier was
a hero; a successful general, the idol of the nation. The greatest
plunderer received the greatest honors, and glory was proportioned to
the blood spilled and the spoils obtained. A system so immoral could
not fail to debauch the nation, nor was it difficult to see that, from
robbing other countries, the victorious general, having attached the
soldiery to himself by leading them on to booty, would soon learn to
turn his arms against the country. Such had now become the experience
of Rome; and the natural course of ambition seemed to be to obtain
the command of an army in some of the provinces, gorge the soldiers
with plunder, and, having become the idol of the troops, to march upon
Rome and seize, by intimidation or force, the sceptre of power. Such a
course had been expected of Pompey, and was soon after adopted by Cæsar.

The triumvirate, consisting of Cæsar, Pompey and Crassus, was now
formed, and Cicero yielded, for a time, to their power. His patriotism
and integrity were obstacles, however, to the success of their schemes,
and he became the object of their hatred and persecution. Perceiving
the storm that was ready to burst over him, he threw himself at the
feet of Pompey and begged his protection. This, however, was refused;
and seeing no alternative but to defend himself by force, or retreat
till the storm had blown over, he adopted the latter course by the
advice of Cato and Hortensius. He left the city, and attended by a
numerous train of friends, pursued his way to Sicily.

After his departure, the dissolute Clodius, who had become tribune,
caused a law to be passed, denouncing Cicero in violent terms, and
forbidding all persons, on pain of death, to harbor or receive him.
Immediately after, his houses, both in the city and country, were given
up to plunder; the marble columns of his dwelling on the Palatine
hill were carried away by one of the consuls, and the rich furniture
of his Tusculum villa, by another. Even the ornamental trees of his
plantations were taken up and transplanted to one of his neighbor's
grounds. To make the loss of his house in Rome irretrievable, Clodius
caused the space to be consecrated to the service of religion, and a
temple to be built upon it, dedicated to the goddess of liberty!

Nor did the vengeance of Cicero's enemies stop here. Clodius pursued
his wife and children with the same fury, and made several attempts
to gain access to his son, then six years old, with the intention of
putting him to death. But the child was carefully guarded, and finally
removed from the reach of his malice. Terentia took sanctuary in the
temple of Vesta, but she was dragged forcibly out, and insolently
examined as to the concealment of her husband's property. Being a
woman of singular spirit, however, she bore these indignities with
masculine courage.

The desolation of Cicero's fortunes at home, and the misery which he
suffered abroad, in being deprived of everything that was dear to
him, soon made him repent his flight. His suffering was increased
on reaching Sicily, for there he found his former friends afraid to
receive him, in consequence of the decree of banishment which had
been passed at Rome, and which forbade him to remain within four
hundred miles of the city. He therefore found it necessary to leave
Sicily, and after various changes of opinion, he resolved to proceed
to Thessalonica, in Macedonia. Here he took up his residence with his
friend Plaucius, who treated him with the utmost kindness.

Cicero was so dejected by his misfortunes, that he shut himself up
in his apartments, and refused to see all company. When his brother,
Quintus, was on his way from Asia to Rome, Cicero felt incapable of
supporting an interview, and did not see him, so deeply were his
feelings affected. At the same time, his letters to his friends were
full of regret, complaint and despondency. It is obvious that, in this
period of trial, he displayed great weakness of character, though it
is probable that his affectionate disposition--his fondness for his
children, and love of his friends--rendered separation from them an
evil almost worse than death. It would seem, also, that he had so long
enjoyed the homage paid to his talents, had so long lived in the blaze
of popular favor, that his present exile seemed like being deprived of
the very light of heaven.

But the period of his return to Rome was now approaching. Clodius, by
a series of the most flagrant outrages, made himself hated at Rome,
and finally put himself in opposition to Pompey himself. The people at
large were favorable to Cicero, and it was not long before the senate,
with great unanimity, passed a resolution favorable to his recall.
Pompey urged the measure with ardor, and declared that Cicero ought to
be received with such honors, as might atone for the sorrows of his

Preparations were made to obtain the passage of a law coinciding
with the resolve of the senate; but Clodius, with his slaves and a
multitude of hired gladiators, resisted the tribunes who sought to
gain possession of the market-place, for that purpose. Several bloody
encounters followed, and for a time the streets of Rome were deluged
with blood. The dead bodies were thrown into the Tiber, which were so
numerous as almost to obstruct its channel. Nothing can better show
the greatness of Cicero's reputation, than the facts now transpiring
in Rome. For several months the attention of the people of that city,
and of Italy, was wholly occupied with the question of his recall.
The ambassadors of kings, the messengers of princes,--affairs which
involved the fate of nations--were all laid aside, till this absorbing
subject could be disposed of.

The senate, after long deliberation, and in a full assembly, at last
passed a decree for his restoration; Clodius, among four hundred and
fifty, giving the only vote against it. When the news reached a
neighboring theatre, the air was rent with acclamation. Æsopus, the
actor, was performing, at the time, the part of Timolean, banished from
the country, in one of the plays of Accius. By a happy change of a
few words, and giving the utmost effect to his voice, he directed the
thoughts of the audience to Cicero, while he uttered these sentences,
"What, he who always stood up for the republic! who, in doubtful
times, spared neither life nor fortunes--the greatest friend in the
greatest dangers--of such parts and talents! O Father--I saw his house
and rich furniture all in flames! O, ungrateful Greeks, inconstant
people; forgetful of services,--to see such a man banished, driven
from his country, and suffer him to continue in this condition!" It
is not possible to describe the thrilling effect of these words, or
the enthusiasm of the people. When Lentulus, the consul, who had
taken an active part in Cicero's favor, entered the place, they all
rose up, stretched out their hands, and, with tears of joy and loud
acclamations, testified their thanks. Several of the senators coming
into the theatre, were received with the most deafening applause.
Clodius also making his appearance was assailed by reproaches, threats
and curses.

Though a decree was now regularly obtained for Cicero's return, Clodius
had still the courage and address to hinder its sanction by the popular
assemblies. There were several meetings of the senate, and the whole
city was shaken to its foundation with the question now at issue. All
Italy and indeed many of the remote provinces were thrown into a state
of ferment by the struggle, and the mighty interests of the empire
were postponed till this important question could be settled. Ptolemy,
the king of Egypt, driven from his kingdom, and seeking protection at
the hands of Rome, even though a lodger in Pompey's house, could not
obtain an audience, till Cicero's cause was decided.

The greatest preparations were now made for submitting the question
to the popular assemblies. Never had there been known so numerous
and solemn a gathering of the Roman people as on this occasion. The
whole country seemed to be drawn together. It was reckoned a sin to
be absent. Neither age nor infirmity was thought a sufficient excuse
for failing to lend a helping hand to the restoration of Cicero.
The meeting was held in the field of Mars, for the more convenient
reception of so vast a multitude. It was an august scene. The senators
presided at the polls, to see the ballots fairly taken. The result was
that Cicero was recalled from exile by the unanimous suffrage of all
the hundreds, and to the infinite joy of the whole city!

Cicero, having been advised of the course of events, had returned
as far as Brundusium, where he was met by his daughter Tullia. In a
few days he received the welcome intelligence of his recall. Setting
out immediately for Rome, he everywhere received the most lively
demonstrations of joy from the people. Multitudes were drawn together
to congratulate him on his return. The whole road, from Brundusium to
Rome, being crowded with men, women, and children, seemed like one
continued street. Every prefecture, town and colony throughout Italy
decreed him statues, or public honors, and sent deputations to him,
with tenders of congratulation. Cicero himself remarks, that Italy
brought him back on its shoulders, and that the day of his return was
worth an immortality.

Cicero was now restored to his dignity, but not to his fortunes.
Restitution had been decreed, and the sum of £22,000 was finally paid
him. This he accepted, though it was scarcely more than half what he
had actually lost. He now attached himself to the cause of Pompey,
but spent several years with little public employment, being chiefly
occupied with his rhetorical studies and the business of an advocate.
The turbulent Clodius was at last slain by Milo, and Cicero was thus
delivered from his most troublesome enemy.

The senate now conferred upon him the office of pro-consul, or
governor, of Cilicia, in Asia Minor, whither he immediately proceeded.
He discharged the duties of this office with ability, and, on his
return, was decreed a triumph. But he was prevented from enjoying it
by the factious opposition of his enemies. On his return, he found
Rome agitated with serious disturbances. The rupture between Cæsar and
Pompey had taken place, and the horrors of a civil war seemed to be
impending over the republic. In vain did he attempt to reconcile the
fierce and haughty rivals.

Cæsar advanced upon Rome, and Pompey was forced to fly with the consuls
and the senate. Cæsar had met Cicero at Formiae, and sought to gain
him over to his cause, but though convinced that he would prevail in
the coming struggle, he felt himself prompted, by a sense of honor to
return to Pompey, who had served him so effectually during his exile.
After the fatal battle of Pharsalia and the flight of Pompey, he
returned to Rome, where he was graciously received by Cæsar.

He now devoted himself to literary and philosophical pursuits, and,
soon after, divorced his wife Terentia, an act which has justly
subjected him to much reproach. It is true that she was a woman of
an imperious and turbulent spirit, expensive and negligent in her
private affairs, busy and intriguing in public matters. But these
qualities were in some degree compensated by her devotion to Cicero,
and especially by the energy with which she had sought to effect his
return during his exile. His letters to her at this period recognise
her efforts in his behalf, and are full of the most tender expressions
of affection and esteem.

It must be remarked that the nuptial bond was lightly regarded at this
period in Rome, and divorces were so common as to be little thought
of. Terentia was soon after married to Sallust, the historian, by
which it would seem that her separation from Cicero inflicted upon her
no disgrace. Cicero would perhaps have been little blamed, were it
not that he was soon after married to a young lady named Publilia, of
whom he was guardian, and who had been committed to his care by her
father's will. She had a large estate, and this was doubtless Cicero's
inducement to the match, if not to the divorce of Terentia. It is the
suspicion of such motives, in these transactions, that has sullied the
fame of Cicero. We may add here, in respect to Terentia, that she was
once or twice married after the death of Sallust, and lived to the age
of one hundred and three years.

Cæsar, having established himself as dictator, Cicero was induced to
assent to his government. Accordingly, he pronounced a famous oration,
in which he mingled as much counsel as panegyric for the despot. He
was rapidly regaining his former consideration, when the conspiracy
of Brutus and his associates terminated the career of the ambitious
usurper. Antony now took Cæsar's place, and while he was prosecuting
his designs, Cicero returned to his literary occupations. He went to
Greece for a time, but soon returned, and pronounced those famous
orations against Antony, which are called Philippics.

Octavius, known as Augustus Cæsar, and the nephew of Julius Cæsar,
united his interests with those of Antony, and having obtained the
consulate, soon gained an ascendency over the senate. Cicero, in his
retirement at Tusculum, saw that the power having passed into the
hands of desperate men, the liberty of Rome was no more. He soon heard
that his own name was included among those of the proscribed. He fled
immediately to Astura, on the sea coast, where he found a vessel
waiting for him.

He here embarked, but contrary winds drove him back to the shore. At
the earnest entreaty of his slaves, he embarked a second time, but
returned to await his fate at his country seat near Formiae, declaring,
"I will die in my country, which I have more than once saved." His
slaves, seeing the neighborhood already disturbed by the soldiers of
Antony, endeavored to convey him away in a litter, but soon discovered
the assassins, who had been sent to take his life, at their heels.
They prepared for resistance, but Cicero, who felt that death was
unavoidable, bowed his head before Pompilius, the commander of the
murderers, who had once been saved by his eloquence, and suffered death
more courageously than he had borne misfortune.

Thus died Cicero, and with him the liberties of Rome. The dynasty of
the emperors was built upon the ruins of the republic, and, continuing
for five centuries, was finally extinguished in the gloom of the dark
ages. Cicero was killed on the 7th December, 43 B. C., at the age of
sixty-three. His head and hands were severed from the body, by his
murderers, and carried to Antony, who caused the former to be placed
upon the rostra in the forum, between the two hands. The odium of these
barbarities fell chiefly upon Antony, yet they left a stain of perfidy
and ingratitude upon Augustus, which can never be wiped away.

In his person, Cicero was tall and slender, yet his features were
regular and manly. He mingled great dignity with an air of cheerfulness
and serenity, that inspired both affection and respect. His
constitution was naturally weak, but his prudent habits enabled him to
support all the fatigues of an active and studious life, with health
and vigor. In dress, he avoided singularity, and was only remarkable
for personal neatness and appropriateness of attire. In domestic
and social life, his demeanor was exceedingly amiable. He was an
affectionate parent, a zealous friend, a generous master. Yet he was
not more generous to his friends than placable to his enemies. It was
one of his sayings, delivered in a public assembly, that "his enmities
were mortal, his friendships immortal."

The moral character of Cicero was not blemished by the stain of any
habitual vice. He was, indeed, the shining pattern of virtue in an age,
of all others, the most licentious and profligate. His great soul was
superior to the sordid passions which engross little minds--avarice,
envy and malice. His familiar letters, in which he pours out his whole
heart, are free from anything base, immodest or vengeful. A uniform
principle of benevolence, justice, love of his friends and his country,
is seen to flow through the whole, inspiring all his thoughts and words
and actions.

The failings of Cicero consisted chiefly in his vanity and that
despondency under adverse circumstances, which seemed unworthy of his
character. With these abatements, we must pronounce him a truly great
and good man--the glory of Rome, an honor to human nature. His works,
a large portion of which are extant, are among the richest treasures
bequeathed to us by antiquity, and there are few minds so exalted, even
with the advantages of our own time, as not to find instruction in his


                          CAIUS JULIUS CÆSAR.

This celebrated Roman, famous for his intrigues, his generalship, his
eloquence and his talents, was born in the year 100 B. C. He was of a
good family, and his aunt Julia was wife of Caius Marius, who had been
consul. We know little of him in his youth, though it would seem that
he early attracted attention by his abilities and ambition. At the age
of fifteen, he left his father, and was made a priest in the temple of
Jupiter, the year after. At the age of seventeen, he married Cornelia,
a daughter of Cinna. By this marriage, and through his aunt Julia, he
was allied both to Marius and Cinna, the two principal opposers of
Sylla, who had acquired an ascendency in Rome, and exercised his power
with fearful and bloody tyranny. Soon after his marriage, Cæsar became
an object of suspicion to the despot; he was stripped of his office
as priest of Jupiter, his wife's dower was confiscated, and he, being
threatened with death, deemed it prudent to seek safety in flight.

He wandered up and down the country, concealing himself for a time
among the Sabines; but at last he escaped by sea, and went to Bithynia
in Asia Minor, and sought protection of king Nicomedes. His stay at
this place was, however, short. He re-embarked, and was taken, near
the isle of Pharmacusa, by pirates, who were masters of that sea, and
blocked up all the passages with a number of galleys and other vessels.
They asked him only twenty talents for his ransom. He laughed at their
demand, as the consequence of not knowing him, and promised them fifty

To raise the money he despatched his attendants to different cities,
and in the meantime remained, with only one friend and two servants,
among these people, who considered murder a trifle. Cæsar, however,
held them in great contempt, and used, whenever he went to sleep,
to send them an order to keep silence. Thus he lived among them
thirty-eight days, as if they had been his guards rather than his

Perfectly fearless and self-possessed, he joined in their diversions,
and took his exercises among them. He wrote poems and orations, and
rehearsed them to these pirates; and when they expressed no admiration,
he called them dunces and barbarians--nay, he often threatened to
crucify them. They were delighted with these freedoms, which they
imputed to his frank and facetious vein. But as soon as the money was
brought for his ransom, and he had recovered his liberty, he manned
some vessels in the port of Miletus, in order to attack these corsairs.
He found them still lying at anchor by the island, took most of them,
together with the money he had paid them, and caused them to be
imprisoned at Pergamus.

After this adventure, Cæsar took lessons of Appolonius Molo, of Rhodes,
a celebrated teacher of rhetoric, who had been the instructor of
Cicero. He here displayed great talents, especially in an aptitude for
eloquence, in which he afterwards excelled. After this, he served under
different generals in Asia, and upon the death of Sylla, returned to
Rome, where he soon became conspicuous among the aspiring politicians
of the day.

Rome was at this time a republic, in which there was a constant
struggle for ascendency between the aristocracy and the
democracy--between the privileged few and the people. Sylla had placed
the former on a firm footing; for a time, therefore, Cæsar, who
courted the people, took no open part, but looked calmly on, waiting
and watching for his opportunity. He, however, seized every occasion
to please and flatter the people; he gave expensive entertainments to
which they were invited; he attached to his person the talented and
enterprising young men; he distributed presents, paid compliments, and
said a thousand pleasant things, calculated to flatter those whose
favor he desired. He also made public speeches on various occasions,
in all of which he avowed sentiments which gratified the plebeians.
Thus beginning afar off and steadily approaching his object he was ere
long in a situation to realize it. Cato, who had watched him carefully,
discovered his dangerous ambition, but he could not prevent the success
of his schemes.

At the age of thirty-one, he was chosen by the people, as one of the
military tribunes, an office which gave him the command of a legion, or
division in the army. The year following, he was quæstor, or receiver
of public moneys in Spain; and in the year 68, having returned to Rome,
he was chosen edile--an office which gave him charge of the public

In this situation, he had an opportunity to indulge his taste for
magnificence and display; at the same time, he gratified the people. He
beautified the city with public edifices and gave splendid exhibitions
of wild beasts and gladiators.

He was now thirty-five years old, and being desirous of military glory,
he sought a command in Egypt. He offered himself as a candidate--but
failed. The next year he took his measures more carefully. The
corruption of the voters of Rome, at that time, was such as to excite
our disgust. On the day of election, there were stalls, openly kept,
where the votes of the freemen were bought, with as little shame, as if
they had been common merchandise. We hardly know which most to despise,
the crafty leaders, who thus corrupted the people, or the venal voters,
who abused and degraded the dearest of privileges.

Though Cæsar was from the beginning a professed champion of the
democracy, yet the manner in which he treated those whose support he
sought, showed that his designs were selfish; that he wished to make
the people instruments of his ambition. A man who will flatter the
mass; use false, yet captivating arguments with them; appeal to their
prejudices; fall in with their currents of feeling and opinion, even
though they may be wrong, may profess democracy but he is at heart an
aristocrat: he has no true love for the people; no confidence in them;
he really despises them, and looks upon them but as the despicable
tools of his ambition. Such was Cæsar, and such is always the popular
demagogue. While nothing is more noble than a true democrat--a true
well-wisher of the people--and one who honestly seeks to vindicate
their rights, enlighten their minds, and elevate them in the scale of
society; so nothing is more base than a selfish desire to govern them,
hidden beneath the cloak of pretended democracy.

The measures of Cæsar were now so open, and his real character so
obvious, that we should wonder at his success with the people, did we
not know the power which flattery exerts over all mankind, and that
when a man of rank and talents becomes a demagogue, he is usually more
successful than other men. It was so, at least, with Cæsar. He courted
the populace on all occasions; he distributed money with a lavish hand,
particularly among the poorer voters.

After many intrigues, he obtained the office of prætor, at the end
of a sharply contested election. This office was one of high dignity
and trust. The prætor administered justice, protected the rights of
widows and orphans--presided at public festivals was president of the
senate, in the absence of the consul, and assembled or prorogued the
senate at his pleasure. He also exhibited shows to the people, and in
the festivals of Bona Dea, where none but women were admitted, his wife

In obtaining this office, Cæsar achieved a great triumph. He also
increased his power, and reached a situation which enabled him still
more to flatter the people. An event, however, occurred about this
time, which gave him great annoyance. During the ceremonies in honor
of the Bona Dea, at his house, a profligate person, named Clodius,
disguised as a woman, gained access to the festivities. This caused a
great deal of scandal, and Cæsar divorced his wife, Pompeia, whom he
had married after the death of Cornelia.

In the year 63 B. C., a conspiracy, which had for its object the
subversion of the Roman government, was detected by Cicero, the orator,
then consul. It was headed by Cataline, a Roman nobleman of dissolute
habits, whose life had been stained with many crimes. His accomplices
were men of similar character, who took an oath of fidelity to the
cause, which they sealed by drinking human blood. After the disclosure
of the plot, Cataline braved the senate for a time, but five of his
associates being seized, he fled to Gaul, where, having raised some
troops, he was attacked, and fell, bravely fighting to the last.

When the trial of the five accomplices came on in the Roman senate,
there was but a single person who dared to oppose their execution, and
this was Cæsar. His courage, moral or physical, never failed him. In
policy and war, he often undertook what might seem the most desperate
schemes, yet the event usually bore out his judgment, or his skill
and energy generally ensured success. In the present case, he failed;
though his speech in the senate had a wonderful effect. Even Cicero
wavered. As that speech is handed down by Sallust, it is a masterly
performance. It gave Cæsar a high place as an orator, he being now
regarded as second to Cicero alone. Though he did not obtain his direct
object respecting the conspirators, and was driven from his office by
the aristocratic faction, he gained more than he lost, by increased
popularity with the plebeians.

In the year 60 B. C., when the time was approaching for the choice of
consuls, Cæsar being a candidate, the aristocratic faction saw that
they could not defeat his election; they therefore thought to check
him, by associating with him Bibulus, one of their own party. When
the election took place, Cæsar and Bibulus were chosen. The latter
was rather a weak man, and offered no effectual obstacle to Cæsar's
schemes. On one occasion, he determined to check his colleague, and for
this purpose, resorted to the use of an extreme power, vested, however,
in his hands. It was the custom, before any public business, to consult
the augurs. These were officers of state, who were supposed to foretell
future events.

The augur sat upon a high tower, where he studied the heavens, and
particularly noticed comets, thunder and lightning, rain and tempest.
The chirping or flying of birds--the sudden crossing of the path by
quadrupeds--accidents, such as spilling salt hearing strange noises,
sneezing, stumbling, &c.--were all esteemed ominous, and were the means
by which the soothsayers pretended to unravel the fate of men and of
nations. When these gave an unfavorable report, a consul could stop
public business, and even break up the sittings of the senate. Bibulus
resorted to the use of this power, and not only declared that the
augurs were unfavorable, but that they would be so all the year! This
extravagant stretch of authority was turned to ridicule by Cæsar and
his friends, and the baffled consul, in disgust and shame, shut himself
up in his own house. Cæsar was now, in fact, the sole consul of Rome.

Pompey the Great was at this period in the full flush of his fame.
His military achievements had been of the most splendid character. He
was, therefore, a man of the highest consideration, and even superior
to Cæsar in standing. The latter, by a series of intrigues, gained
his favor, and these two, rivals at heart, both yearning for supreme
authority in Rome, entered into a political alliance, which they
cemented by the marriage of Julia, Cæsar's daughter, to Pompey. It
mattered not, among these unscrupulous politicians, that Julia had long
been betrothed to Marcus Brutus. Cæsar, at this time, also took a wife,
named Calpurnia, daughter of Piso--a political match, which greatly
enlarged his power. Three great men were now at the head of affairs in
Rome--Cæsar, Pompey, and Crassus--and this union is called in history
the First Triumvirate.

Cæsar was, however, the master as well of the senate as of the people.
By his influence, an agrarian law was passed, for the division of some
public lands in Campania, among the poorer citizens, which he carried
by intimidation. Everything gave way before him; even Cicero, who was
in his way, was banished. Cæsar's desire was now to have an army at
his command: this he obtained, being appointed to the charge of the
provinces of Gaul, on both sides of the Alps, for five years.

From this time, the history of Rome presents a striking parallel to
that of the republic of France during Bonaparte's first campaigns
in Italy. In both cases we see a weak republic, torn by contending
factions, and rather feeding discontent than seeking tranquillity. In
both cases we see vast provinces of the distracted republic occupied
by a general of unlimited powers--a man of superior genius, desperate
resolves, and fearful cruelty--a man, who, under the show of democratic
principles and a love of the people, gains a complete ascendency over
the soldiers, that he may lead them on to victory, bloodshed, plunder,
and despotism!

We shall not follow Cæsar in the details of his victorious career. It
is sufficient to say, that, in nine campaigns, he waged war against
the numerous tribes which occupied the present territory of France,
Britain, Switzerland, and Germany. Some of these were warlike and
populous nations, and frequently brought into the field immense armies
of fierce and formidable soldiery. Though often pushed to extremity, by
a series of splendid achievements, Cæsar reduced them all to subjection
at last. During this period, it is said that he fought nearly a
thousand battles, captured eight hundred towns, slew a million of
men, and reduced to captivity as many more! If the warrior's glory is
estimated by the blood he sheds, the life he extinguishes, the liberty
he destroys--Cæsar's crown must be one of surpassing splendor.

Though Cæsar did not visit Rome during this long period, he was by no
means ignorant of what was transpiring there. It was his custom to
spend his winters in Cisalpine Gaul, that is, on the southern side of
the Alps, about two hundred and fifty miles from Rome. Here he was able
to keep up a correspondence with his friends, and to mingle in all the
intrigues that agitated the mighty city--the heart of the empire.

Pompey had at length broken through the alliance with Cæsar, and set
up for supreme authority. It was now understood that Cæsar had similar
views, and Rome began to look with fear and trembling upon the issue
that was approaching between these powerful rivals. Pompey succeeded
in getting certain acts passed by the senate, requiring Cæsar to quit
his army, and come to Rome. The latter saw danger in this, and while he
determined to visit Rome, he resolved that his army should accompany
him. The southern boundary of his provinces was a small stream, called
the Rubicon. When Cæsar came to this, he hesitated. To cross it with
his troops, was a declaration of war. Staggered with the greatness of
the attempt, he stopped to weigh with himself its evils and advantages;
and, as he stood revolving in his own mind the arguments on both sides,
he seemed to waver in his opinion. In a state of doubt, he conferred
with such of his friends as were by, enumerating the calamities
which the passage of that river would bring upon the world, and the
reflections that might be made upon it by posterity. At last, upon some
sudden impulse, bidding adieu to his reasonings, and plunging into the
abyss of futurity--in the words of those who embark in doubtful and
arduous enterprises--he cried out, "The die is cast;" and immediately
passed the river.

He now travelled with the utmost rapidity, having but about three
hundred horse and five thousand foot. The consternation of the whole
country was evinced by the movements visible on all hands--not
individuals, only, were seen wandering about, but whole cities were
broken up, the inhabitants seeking safety in flight. Pompey himself,
with his friends, fled from Rome, and Cæsar entered the city, and took
possession of the government without opposition.

A senate was hastily assembled, and the forms of law observed, though
in obedience to Cæsar's will. He was declared dictator, and then
marched to Brundusium, whither Pompey had fled. After many skirmishes,
the two armies met on the plains of Pharsalia, a town of Thessaly, in
Greece, and a decisive and bloody engagement took place. Pompey was
defeated, and, wandering like a distracted man, came at last to Egypt,
where he was treacherously murdered. Cæsar followed, as the remorseless
eagle pursues its prey, but finding his rival slain, he repaired in
triumph to Rome. These events occurred in the year 48 B. C.

After various proceedings, Cæsar was elected consul for ten years, and
declared dictator for life. The mask was now thrown off--the despot
stood disclosed. Forty senators, incensed at his subversion of the
constitution of Rome, entered into a conspiracy to take his life, and,
on the 18th of March, B. C. 44, they stabbed him, as he was entering
the senate chamber. Proud even in death, Cæsar muffled his face in his
cloak as he fell, that his expiring agonies might not be witnessed.

Thus lived and thus died, Julius Cæsar. His talents were only equalled
by his ambition. If he sought glory, it was often by worthy means--by
valuable improvements, and real benefits. Yet he hesitated not to
trample upon life, principles, bonds, rights--upon liberty--his
country--everything that stood in the way of his towering wishes.

He left behind him an account of his battles, written from day to day,
as events occurred. These are called Commentaries, and furnish a fund
of authentic narrative for history, beside being admired for their
elegance of style. It was after a victory over Pharnaces, king of
Pontus, in Asia Minor, that he used the remarkable words, _veni, vidi,
vinci_--"I came, I saw, I conquered." They well express the celerity
and decision of his movements. In private affairs he was extravagant of
money; his debts at one time amounted to eight hundred talents--almost
a million of dollars. These were paid by his friends. In public
concerns he did not appear greedy of wealth. As an evidence of the
activity and energy of his faculties, it was said that at the same time
he could employ his ear to listen, his eye to read, his hand to write,
and his mind to dictate. His disposition led him irresistibly to seek
dominion; in battle, he must be a conqueror; in a republic, he must be
the master. This leading feature in his character is well illustrated,
in his saying to the inhabitants of a village, "I would rather be first
here, than second in Rome." His character is delineated by an eminent
writer, in the following terms:--

"Such was the affection of his soldiers, and their attachment to his
person, that they, who, under other commanders, were nothing above the
common rate of men, became invincible when Cæsar's glory was concerned,
and met the most dreadful dangers with a courage which nothing could

"This courage, and this great ambition, were cultivated and cherished,
in the first place, by the generous manner in which Cæsar rewarded his
troops, and the honors which he paid them. His whole conduct showed
that he did not accumulate riches to minister to luxury, or to serve
any pleasures of his own, but that he laid them up in a common stock,
as prizes to be obtained by distinguished valor; and that he considered
himself no farther rich, than as he was in a condition to do justice to
the merit of his soldiers. Another thing that contributed to make them
invincible, was their seeing Cæsar always take his share in the danger,
and never desire any exemption from labor and fatigue.

"As for his exposing his person to danger, they were not surprised at
it, because they knew his passion for glory; but they were astonished
at his patience under toil, so far, in all appearance, above his
bodily powers; for he was of a slender make, fair, of a delicate
constitution, and subject to violent headaches, and epileptic fits. He
had the first attack of the falling sickness at Corduba. He did not,
however, make these disorders a pretence for indulging himself. On the
contrary, he sought in war a remedy for his infirmities, endeavoring
to strengthen his constitution by long marches, by simple diet, by
seldom coming under cover. Thus he contended against his distemper, and
fortified himself against its attacks.

"When he slept, it was commonly upon a march, either in a chariot or a
litter, that rest might be no hindrance to business. In the daytime he
visited the castles, cities, and fortified camps, with a servant at his
side, and with a soldier behind, who carried his sword.

"As a warrior and a general, we behold him not in the least inferior to
the greatest and most admired commander the world ever produced; for,
whether we compare him with the Fabii, the Scipios, the Metelli--with
the generals of his own time, or those who flourished a little before
him--with Sylla, Marius, the two Luculli, or with Pompey himself,
whose fame in every military excellence, reached the skies, Cæsar's
achievements bear away the palm. One he surpassed in the difficulty of
the scene of action; another in the extent of the countries he subdued;
this, in the number and strength of the enemies he overcame; that,
in the savage manners and treacherous dispositions of the people he
humanized; one, in mildness and clemency to his prisoners; another, in
bounty and munificence to his troops; and all, in the number of battles
that he won, and enemies that he killed. In less than ten years' war
in Gaul, he took eight hundred cities by assault, conquered three
hundred nations, and fought pitched battles, at different times, with
three millions of men, one million of which he cut in pieces, and made
another million prisoners."

Such was Cæsar, one of the greatest, yet worst of men. It appears that
after his death he was enrolled among the gods. It is evident that a
people who looked upon such a being as divine, must have worshipped
power, and not virtue; and that what we call vice and crime, were, in
their view, compatible with divinity.




This great man, a native of Carthage, and son of Hamilcar Barcas, was
born 247 B. C. At this period, Rome and Carthage were rival powers and
both seated upon the borders of the Mediterranean Sea. Rome had been
in existence about five hundred years, and had already extended her
conquests over Italy and a portion of Spain. She had not yet crossed
the Alps, to conquer the more northern Gauls or Goths, but she was
rapidly advancing in power; and, about a century after, Greece and Asia
Minor fell before her. Already her proud eagle began to spread his
wing, and whet his beak for conquest and slaughter.

Rome was a nation of soldiers; and, paying little respect to commerce,
manufactures and productive industry, she sought to enrich herself by
robbing other countries--thus building herself up by the very means
which the Goths and Vandals employed, seven hundred years after, for
her destruction. Carthage was, in most respects, the opposite of Rome;
her citizens were chiefly devoted to commerce and manufactures. The
Mediterranean was dotted over with her vessels, and she had numerous
colonies in Spain and along the coasts of Africa.

The city of Rome was the centre of the republic and the seat of
government. Here all the laws were enacted; here all the military
movements and other affairs of state were decided upon. The city was
at this time nearly twenty miles in circuit, and defended by a triple
range of walls. The number of its inhabitants was several millions.

Carthage was also a vast city, situated in Africa, about four hundred
miles south-west of Rome, the Mediterranean Sea lying between them. It
originated with a small colony of people from Tyre, a maritime city in
Syria, about a hundred years before Rome was founded by Romulus. It
increased rapidly, and became a flourishing place. The city exercised
dominion over the whole country around. Its government was a mixture
of aristocracy and democracy; the chief men ruling on all ordinary
occasions, but sometimes consulting the people.

The Carthaginians were an industrious nation and appear to have had no
taste or leisure for the gladiator fights, the shows of wild beasts,
the theatrical exhibitions and other amusements, that excited such
deep interest among the idle and dissipated Romans. They were, in many
respects, exemplary in their morals--even abstinence from wine being
required of the magistrates while in office. Their religion, however,
was a gloomy superstition, and their punishments were cruel. They even
sacrificed children to their gods, in the earlier periods of their

Though chiefly addicted to commerce, the Carthaginians paid great
attention to agriculture. The rich men laid out their surplus money in
cultivating the lands; and in the time of Hannibal, the whole extent
of country around Carthage, which was the territory now called Tunis,
was covered with vast herds of the finest cattle, fields waving with
corn, vineyards and olive grounds. There were a multitude of small
villages scattered over the country; near to the great city, the whole
landscape was studded with the splendid villas of the rich citizens. To
such a pitch was the art of agriculture carried, that one Mago wrote
twenty-eight books upon the subject. These were carried to Rome, after
the conquest of Carthage, and greatly increased the knowledge and skill
of the Romans, in the science of husbandry.

It was at a period when these two great powers had already extended
themselves so far as to come in frequent collision, that Hannibal was
born. His father was a general, who had served in Spain and fought
against the Romans in the first Punic war. His mind was filled with
hatred of that nation; and while Hannibal was yet a boy of nine years
old, and about to accompany his father in his Spanish campaigns, he
caused him to kneel before the altar, and swear eternal hatred to the

Asdrubal, the brother of Hamilcar, succeeded, at the death of the
latter, to the command of the Carthaginian army in Spain; at his death,
Hannibal, now twenty-one years old, was made general of the whole army,
as well by the acclamations of the soldiers, as the decree of the
Carthaginian senate. He immediately marched against various barbarous
tribes in Spain, yet unsubdued, and quickly reduced them to submission.

During the first Punic war, Carthage had lost her finest colonies--the
island of Sicily, as well as the Lipari isles--all of which had fallen
into the hands of Rome. She had now recovered from the losses of that
war, and Hannibal determined to revenge the injuries Rome had inflicted
upon his country. Accordingly, he laid siege to Saguntum, in Spain, a
large city subject to Rome, and situated on the Mediterranean, near the
present town of Valencia. Faithful to their alliance, and expecting
succors from Rome, the people made the most determined resistance for
eight months. They were at last reduced to such fearful extremity
for food, that they killed their infant children and fed upon their
blood and flesh. Filled with a horrid despair, they finally erected
an immense pile of wood, and setting it on fire, the men first hurled
their women, slaves and treasures into the blaze, and then plunged into
it themselves. Hannibal now entered the city, but, instead of finding
rich spoils, he only witnessed a heap of ashes. The solitude of that
scene might have touched even a warrior's heart. The present town of
Murviedo, the site of the ancient Saguntum and the witness of these
horrid scenes, still abounds in remains of Roman architecture.

The second Punic war was begun by these proceedings against Saguntum.
Hannibal, who had determined upon the invasion of Italy, spent the
winter in making his preparations. Leaving a large force in Africa, and
also in Spain, to defend these points, he set out, in the spring of
the year 218, with eighty thousand foot and twelve thousand horse, to
fulfil his project.

His course lay along the Mediterranean; the whole distance to Rome
being about one thousand miles by the land route which he contemplated.
When he had traversed Spain, he came to the Pyrenees, a range of
mountains separating that country from Gaul, now France. Here he was
attacked by wild tribes of brave barbarians, but he easily drove them
back. He crossed the Pyrenees, traversed Gaul, and came at last to
the Alps, which threw up their frowning battlements, interposing a
formidable obstacle between him and the object of his expedition. No
warrior had then crossed these snowy peaks with such an army; and
none but a man of that degree of resolution and self-relience which
will not be baffled, would have hazarded the fearful enterprise.
Napoleon accomplished the task, two thousand years afterwards, but with
infinitely greater facilities.

Hannibal, after a march of five months, descended the southern slopes
of the Alps, and poured down upon the soft and smiling plains of Italy.
The northern portion, called Cisalpine Gaul, was peopled with Gothic
tribes, long settled in the country. They were desirous, however, of
throwing off the Roman yoke, and therefore favored the Carthaginian
cause. Hannibal, whose army had been greatly reduced in his march,
especially in crossing the Alps, remained among some of these people
for a time, to recruit, and then proceeded southward toward Rome.

On the banks of the river Tessino he was met by a Roman army despatched
against him; but, after a bloody conflict, he was victorious. In a few
weeks he again encountered the Romans, and again he triumphed. Thus,
the whole of Cisalpine Gaul fell into his hands, and these people,
relieved from the presence of the Roman army, aided him freely with
every kind of supplies.

Rome now presented a scene of the greatest activity. She was not
yet softened by luxuries, or corrupted by indulgence; she did not,
therefore, yield to fear, as in after days, when the wild leaders
of the north poured down from the Alps, like an avalanche. She was
alarmed, but yet she met the emergency with courage and resolution.
Every artisan in the city was busy in preparation; the senate were
revolving deep schemes; generals held councils of war; soldiers were
recruited and trained; the people ran to and fro in the streets,
telling the last news, and recounting some marvellous legend of the
Carthaginians and their dreaded leader. All was bustle and preparation.

When the spring of the year 217 B. C. arrived, two Roman armies took
the field; one under the consul Flaminius, and the other under the
consul Servilius. Hannibal first marched against Flaminius, but in
passing the swamps of the river Arno, his army suffered greatly, and
he himself lost one of his eyes. Soon after this, Flaminius, who was
a rash and headstrong man, came up with him on the banks of the lake
Trasimenus, and gave the Carthaginians battle. Here, again, the genius
of Hannibal triumphed. The conflict was dreadful, and the water of the
lake where the armies met, was red with blood. But the Romans were
totally defeated.

After this event, a famous general, Quintus Fabius Maximus, was
appointed dictator of Rome, and, under his direction, a new policy was
adopted. Instead of sending armies to act offensively against Hannibal
at a distance, the defensive system of warfare was rigidly observed.
This prudent course, adopted by Fabius, has given a signification
to his name; the _Fabian_ policy being a term which is used as
synonymous with _prudent_ policy. It is thought that Washington, in our
revolutionary war, imitated this great Roman general.

But the successes of Hannibal and the disasters of Rome, had not
yet ended. In the year 216, another battle was determined upon, and
Hannibal met the enemy at Cannæ, near the present city of Naples. Here,
again, the Romans were defeated with dreadful slaughter. Not less than
forty thousand of their soldiers were slain. To this day, the relics
of the fight are ploughed up from the ground, and the spot where the
battle took place, is called the "field of blood." If the red stain
has long since vanished from the soil, time cannot wash out the bloody
record from the memory of man.

Beside this fearful carnage, ten thousand Roman soldiers were taken
prisoners. The Carthaginian loss was small. We can only account for
such events as these, by the supposition that Hannibal, whose army
was scarcely half as large as that of the Romans, was a man greatly
superior in capacity even to the able and practised generals of Rome,
who were sent against him. Nothing in modern times has been witnessed,
to compare with his achievements, except those of Napoleon, operating
in the same countries, and also contending against disciplined troops
and generals long practised in the military art.

The whole of lower Italy was now in the possession of Hannibal. He had
entered the country by the north, and, having passed Rome, was in the
southern portion of the peninsula. It would seem that he was now near
the consummation of his wishes, and that the imperial city must fall
before him; but such was not the event. A defensive system was still
observed, and the city being too formidable for attack, Hannibal was
obliged to look around for aid. He applied to Philip of Macedon and the
Syracusans, but the Romans contrived to keep both occupied at home.

Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, had charge of the Carthaginian
forces in Spain, where he conducted the war with ability. In a great
battle, he defeated the Romans; and two generals, by the name of
Scipio, fell. Another Scipio was sent thither, and he soon recovered
in Spain what the Romans had lost there. Hasdrubal now left that
country to join his brother, and, crossing the Alps without opposition,
reached Italy. Before he could effect the junction he desired, he was
met by the Roman forces, his army cut to pieces and he himself slain.
Hannibal was now obliged to act on the defensive. Yet he continued
to sustain himself here for a series of years without calling upon
Carthage for supplies.

Scipio, having finished the war in Spain, now transported his army
across the Mediterranean: thus _carrying the war into Africa_, and
giving rise to an expression still in vogue, and significant of
effective retaliation. By the aid of Massinissa, a powerful prince of
Numidia, now Morocco, he gained two victories over the Carthaginians,
who were obliged hastily to recall their great commander from Italy.
He landed at Leptis, and advanced near Zama, five days' journey to
the west of Carthage. Here he met the Roman forces, and here, for the
first time, he suffered a total defeat. The loss of the Carthaginians
was immense, and they were obliged to sue for peace. This was granted
on humiliating terms by Scipio, called Africanus, after this victory.
Hannibal would still have resisted, but he was compelled by his
countrymen to submit. Thus ended the second Punic war, 200 B. C, having
continued about eighteen years.

Hannibal now applied himself to the reform of abuses in the government
of Carthage. In this he was supported by the people, but he incurred
the dislike of certain leading men among his countrymen. These,
insensible to his great services, and only guided by their jealousy,
sent to the Roman authorities certain representations, calculated to
excite their suspicion and arouse their anger against him. Ambassadors
were accordingly sent to Carthage, to demand his punishment; but
Hannibal, foreseeing the storm, fled to Tyre. From this place he went
to Ephesus, and induced Antiochus to declare war against Rome, B. C.
196. He had himself but a subordinate command, and when the war, which
proved unfortunate, was over, he was compelled to depart, and seek a
refuge with Prusias, prince of Bithynia, in Asia Minor. The Romans,
being uneasy so long as their formidable enemy was alive, sent to
Prusias to demand that he should be given up. Hannibal, now driven to
extremity, and sick of life, destroyed himself by poison, B. C. 183, in
the sixty-fifth year of his age.

We have no accounts of this wonderful man except from his enemies, the
Romans, and nothing from them but his public career. Prejudiced as are
these sources of evidence, they still exhibit him as one of the most
extraordinary men that has ever lived. Many of the events of his life
remind us of the career of Napoleon. Like him, he crossed the Alps with
a great army; like him, he was repeatedly victorious over disciplined
and powerful forces in Italy; like him, he was finally overwhelmed in a
great battle; like him, he was a statesman as well as a general; like
him, he was the idol of the army; like him, he was finally driven from
his country and died in exile. No one achievement of Bonaparte's life
was equal to that of Hannibal in crossing the Alps, if we consider
the difficulties he had to encounter; nor has anything in generalship
surpassed the ability he displayed in sustaining himself and his army,
for sixteen years, in Italy, in the face of Rome, and without asking
for assistance from his own country.

During this whole period he never once dismissed his forces, and
though they were composed of Africans, Spaniards, Gauls, Carthaginians
and Greeks--persons of different laws, languages and habits--never
was anything like mutiny displayed among them. How wonderful was the
genius that held such a vast number of persons--the fiery spirits of
so many different nations--subject to one will, and obedient to one
authority! Where can we look for evidence of talent superior to this?
We cannot doubt that Hannibal, in addition to his great mind, possessed
those personal qualifications, which enabled him to exercise powers
of fascination over all those persons who came into his presence; and
that, in this respect too, he bore a resemblance to Napoleon.

We may not approve, yet we can hardly fail to admire, the unflinching
hostility of Hannibal to Rome. He had been taught this in his
childhood; it came with the first lessons of life, and from the lips
of a father; he had sworn it at the altar. Rome was the great enemy
of his country; and as he loved the last, he must hate the first. His
duty, his destiny, might serve to impel him to wage uncompromising war
against Rome; for this he lived--for this, at last, he died.

Nor can we believe that this sentiment, which formed the chief spring
of his actions, was unmixed with patriotism. Indeed, this was
doubtless at its very root. It was for the eclipse that she cast over
Carthage, that he would annihilate Rome. It was from a conviction
that one of these great powers must give way to the other--that
the existence of Rome boded destruction to Carthage--that he waged
uncompromising and deadly war upon the former.

That Hannibal was patriotic, is evinced also by the reforms which he
sought to effect in the government of his country. These had for their
object the benefit of the people at large. For this, he obtained the
confidence of the mass, while he incurred the hostility of the few.
It is no evidence against him that he fell a victim to the jealousy
thus excited, for such has too often been the fate of the lover of his



                      ALEXANDER, KING OF MACEDON.

It is now somewhat more than two thousand years since this warrior
flourished; yet his image continues to stand out from the page of
history in bold relief, seeming not only to claim our attention, but to
challenge our admiration. A brief outline of his history may enable us
to judge upon what basis this undying fame is founded.

Alexander was born 354 B. C., on the same day that Erostratus destroyed
the famous temple of Diana at Ephesus, by fire. A wit of the time
remarked that "it was no wonder that the temple of Diana should be
burnt at Ephesus, while the goddess was at Macedon, attending the
birth of Alexander." Plutarch observes that this witticism was frigid
enough to have extinguished the flames. Philip, Alexander's father,
being absent at the time of his birth, received three messages in one
day: the first informed him that his general, Parmenio, had won a great
battle; the second, that his horse had gained the prize at the Olympic
games; the third, that his wife had borne him a son.

At the time of Alexander's birth, Macedonia, which lay north of Greece,
and now constitutes that part of Turkey called Romelia, had become a
warlike and powerful kingdom. Philip was not only an able warrior, but
an ambitious and sagacious statesman. He greatly civilized his own
people, trained them to arms, and added to his kingdom several adjacent
states. By a series of victories and crafty negotiations he had also
become the nominal protector, but real master of Greece. It was against
the insidious policy of Philip that Demosthenes pronounced his caustic
speeches, which gave rise to the term "Philippics."

Although Philip was ruthless in war and unscrupulous in policy, still
he was a very enlightened prince. He understood many of the arts,
customs and feelings which belong to civilization; nor was he destitute
of noble traits of character. We are told that a Grecian, named
Arcadius, was constantly railing against him. Venturing once into the
dominions of Philip, the courtiers suggested to their prince that he
had now an opportunity to punish Arcadius for his past insults, and to
put it out of his power to repeat them. The king took their advice, but
in a different way. Instead of seizing the hostile stranger and putting
him to death, he sent for him, and then caused him to be dismissed,
loaded with courtesies and kindness.

Some time after Arcadius' departure from Macedon, word was brought
that the king's old enemy had become one of his warmest friends, and
did nothing but diffuse his praises wherever he went. On hearing this,
Philip turned to his courtiers, and said with a smile, "Am not I a
better physician than you are?" We are also told of numerous instances
in which Philip treated his prisoners of war with a kindness quite
unusual in the barbarous age in which he lived. Though dissolute in
private life, as a prince he was far in advance of his nation in all
that belongs to civilization.

No better evidence of his enlightened views can be required than is
afforded by the pains he bestowed upon the education of Alexander,
his eldest son, and heir to his throne. He obtained for him the best
masters, and finally placed him under the care of Aristotle, then the
most learned and famous philosopher of Greece, and one of the most
extraordinary men that ever lived. It cannot but be interesting and
instructive to trace the history of the greatest warrior, who was, at
the same time, the pupil of the greatest philosopher, of antiquity.

Alexander was an apt and attentive student, and easily mastered the
studies to which he applied. He was somewhat headstrong if treated
with harshness, and he resisted, if an attempt was made to drive him.
He, however, was docile and obedient when treated gently. It would
seem, that, in this at least, he was very much like the clever boys
of our own day. He mastered not only matters of science, but polite
literature also. He was greatly delighted with Homer's Iliad, and, it
is thought, modelled himself upon the warlike heroes of that poem. In
after days, even in his campaigns, he took a copy of this work with
him, and in the camp, read it at moments of leisure, and slept with it
at night beneath his pillow.

Alexander was greatly attached to Aristotle during his pupilage,
though he changed both in feeling and conduct towards him afterwards.
Philip seems to have formed a high estimate of the services rendered
by Aristotle. The latter being born at Stagira--and hence called the
Stagirite--which had been dismantled, Philip ordered it, in compliment
to the philosopher, to be rebuilt, and re-established there the
inhabitants which had either fled or been reduced to slavery. He also
ordered a beautiful promenade, called Mirza, to be prepared on the
borders of the river, for the studies and literary conversation of the
people. Here were shown, even in the time of Plutarch, Aristotle's
stone seats and shady walks.

It is interesting to remark here, that both Philip and Alexander,
powerful sovereigns and men of great minds, were yet inferior, in what
constitutes greatness, to Aristotle. They treated him, indeed, as their
inferior--an object of their patronage; and it is also true, that
both Philip and Alexander are remembered at the present day; but the
consequences of their actions ceased ages ago. Not so with Aristotle:
his books being preserved, have come down to our times, and for two
thousand years have been constantly exercising a powerful influence
over mankind. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the schoolmaster
is infinitely above the prince; the one lives for a generation, the
other for all time; the one deals with external things which perish;
the other with knowledge, science--principles--which never die. The one
is a being of action, the other of mind; the one may be great for a
brief space in the eye of vulgar observation, but he is soon quenched
in utter oblivion; the other, though his body be dead, still lives by
the power of the spirit. It is desirable to impress this truth on our
hearts, for it shows that true glory lies in cultivating and exercising
the mind; while, in comparison, it is a poor and mean ambition, which
incites us to seek only worldly power or wealth or station.

At an early period, Alexander displayed noble qualities, amid some
vices. He was exceedingly ambitious, and when news came that his father
had taken some strong town, or won some great battle, "My father will
conquer," he exclaimed impatiently "the whole world, and will leave
nothing for me to conquer." Though in the light of our Christian
philosophy, nothing more wicked than the feelings here displayed could
exist, still it accorded with the education he had received, and was
an earnest of that love of war and conquest which signalized his after
career. It may be stated, also, that Alexander did not value riches
or pleasure, in his youth, but seemed to be always excited by a love
of glory; he did not desire a kingdom that should afford him opulence
and the means of luxury, but one that would bring wars and conflicts,
and the full exercise of ambition. A sad portrait this, viewed in the
light of our day--yet the very description of a hero, and almost of a
god, in the age and country in which he lived.

When Alexander was about twelve years old, a horse was brought for sale
from Thessaly called Bucephalus. The price required was about £2,500
sterling, or $12,000. Yet when any one attempted to mount him, he
became restive and unmanageable. Philip was incensed that such a price
should be asked for so vicious a beast, but Alexander had observed him
carefully, and saw that he was indeed a noble creature. He therefore
wished to try him. His father rebuked him sharply, but the prince
persevered, and desired to mount the horse. "If you are not able to
ride him upon trial," said Philip, "what forfeit will you pay?" "The
price of the horse," said Alexander. This produced a laugh rather at
Alexander's expense--but the forfeit was agreed upon, and he ran to
the horse. He had observed that he was startled at his shadow, the
sun shining very brightly; so he turned his head to the sun, leaped
lightly upon his back, obtained a firm seat, and gave the animal the
rein. The noble beast felt, with that quick intelligence of which his
race is capable, that one worthy to be his master was on his back, and
set forward. Finding him inclined to run, Alexander, nothing daunted,
but with a spirit as wild and fearless as his own, and no doubt with a
bounding and joyous sympathy, gave him the spur, and made him fly over
the plain.

Philip and all his courtiers around him were greatly frightened at
first, but soon Alexander wheeled Bucephalus about, and rode him back
to the place from which he started. The animal was completely subdued;
yet there was something in his proud look, as he now stood still before
the admiring throng, which seemed to say, "I yielded, but only to one
worthy of being a conqueror." Alexander was received by a shout of
acclamation--but Philip was overcome by the noble chivalry of his boy,
and wept in very joy. "Seek another kingdom, my son!" said he, in the
fulness of his heart, "for Macedon is too small for thee!" Such was the
value in those days set upon personal gallantry and courage; and we
know that these qualities are of the utmost importance, when hard blows
usually decide the fate of empires.

Everything seemed to show that Alexander had very early acted under
the idea of being a king, and of pursuing, in that character, a career
of conquest. No doubt all around him, the courtiers, his father and
mother, and his teachers had thus trained him, and no doubt all this
coincided with his natural turn of mind. He not only showed personal
courage, but a precocious desire of practical knowledge. When less than
twelve years of age, ambassadors came to visit the court of Macedon
from Persia. Philip was absent, and Alexander therefore received them
with great politeness, and a sobriety quite astonishing. He asked no
trifling or childish questions; but made a great many inquiries about
the roads to Persia; the distance from place to place; the situation
of certain provinces; the character of their king; how he treated his
enemies; in what the power of Persia lay, &c. All this astonished
the ambassadors, who, in their excitement, exclaimed, "The boasted
sagacity of Philip is nothing to the lofty and enterprising genius of
his son!" Such, indeed, were the striking qualities of young Alexander,
that the people of Macedon, in their admiration, called the youth king,
and his father only general!

Philip was pleased with all this, but as Alexander grew older, troubles
sprung up between them. Olympias, the mother of Alexander, was a woman
of fierce and restive temper, and she was justly incensed by a foolish
marriage which Philip made with a young lady, named Cleopatra. At the
celebration of this union there was great festivity, and the king got
drunk. Alexander's mind, having been poisoned by his mother, was in
such a state of irritation, that he spoke rudely at the feast. Philip
drew his sword, but his passion and the wine he had drunk, caused
him to stumble, and he fell upon the floor. "See," said Alexander,
insolently--"men of Macedon, see there the man who was preparing to
pass from Europe into Asia! He is not able to pass from one table to
another!" After this insult, he left the table, and taking his mother,
they repaired to Epirus.

Here they spent some time, but Philip at last induced them to come
back. Other troubles, however, arose, and finally king Philip was slain
by Pausanius, whom he had injured. Olympias was thought to have incited
the young man to this desperate act, and suspicion of participation
fell upon Alexander.

The latter, now twenty years of age, succeeded to his father's throne.
His dominion extended over Macedon and the adjacent tribes to the
north, including nearly the whole of that territory which now forms a
part of Turkey, and lies between Greece, and the Argentaro mountains.
Macedonia itself, was far less civilized than the southern parts
of Greece: the people were, indeed, men of a different race, being
esteemed barbarous, though the kings claimed to have been of Hellenic
origin, and even to trace their lineage to Achilles and Hercules. The
nation was much softened in its manners by the wise administration of
Philip, while, at the same time, they were carefully trained in the art
of war. The surrounding tribes, still more savage than his own people,
and often giving exercise to his arms, still served to fill his ranks
with the most daring and powerful soldiery.

Greece, too, constituted a part of the kingdom now left to the youthful
Alexander. But his father had only conquered, not consolidated into
one empire, his vast dominions. Upon his death, the barbarians on
the north, and the states of Greece at the south, feeling themselves
liberated from a tyrant, and little fearing a youth of twenty, either
revolted or showed a disposition to revolt. Alexander's advisers
recommended him to give up Greece, and seek only to subdue the
barbarous tribes around him, and to do this by mild measures.

Such a course did not suit the young king. He took the opposite course;
marched north as far as the Danube, defeating his principal enemy, and
thus securing submission to his authority in that quarter. He then
pushed southward, and fell upon the restive Thebans, destroying their
city, and reducing the place to a mere heap of ghastly ruins! No less
than six thousand of the inhabitants were slain in battle, and three
thousand were sold as slaves!

In the midst of the horrors which took place immediately after Thebes
was taken--fire and the sword, slaughter, rapine, violence, raging on
all sides--a party of savage Thracians, belonging to Alexander's army,
demolished the house of Timoclea, a woman of high standing and quality.
Having carried off the booty found in her house, and shamefully abused
the lady, the captain asked her if she had not some gold and silver
concealed. She replied that she had--and taking him alone into the
garden, showed him a well, in which she said she had thrown everything
of value when the city was taken. The officer stooped to look into
the well, when the lady pushed him down, and rolling stones down
upon him, soon despatched him. The Thracians, coming up, found what
she had done, and, binding her hands, took her to Alexander. When he
asked her who she was--"A sister of Theagenes," said she, proudly and
fearlessly,--"a Theban general, who fought for the liberty of Greece,
against the usurpation of Philip--and fell gloriously at the battle of
Cheronæa!" Alexander was so much struck by her noble mien and patriotic
sentiments, that he caused her and her children to be set at liberty.
Such are the few rays of light, that flash across the dark path of the

Greece was soon brought to a state of submission and, as Alexander now
contemplated an expedition against Darius, king of Persia, the several
states, having held an assembly at Corinth, concluded to furnish their
quota of supplies. Many statesmen and philosophers came to Corinth,
where Alexander was to congratulate him upon this result; but the king
was disappointed to find that Diogenes, the cynic philosopher, was not
among the number. As he desired greatly to see him, he went to his
residence in the suburbs of the city, to pay him a visit. He found the
philosopher, basking in the sun; at the approach of so many people, he
carelessly roused himself a little, and happened to fix his eyes on
Alexander--"Is there anything," said the king, condescendingly--"in
which I can serve you?"--"Only stand a little out of my sunshine," said
Diogenes. This answer produced a laugh among the crowd, who thought it
mere vulgarity; but Alexander saw deeper, and, reflecting upon that
superiority, which could regard even his presence without surprise,
and look with disdain upon his gifts, remarked, "that if he were not
Alexander, he would wish to be Diogenes."

Alexander set out, in the spring of the year 334 B. C., upon his
expedition against Persia--from which, however, he never returned.
He had thirty thousand foot, and five thousand horse, and a supply
of money. His troops were well armed, the infantry bearing shields,
spears, and battle-axes of iron; the horse were equipped with similar
weapons, but defended with helmets and breastplates. The officers
all bore swords. The arms of the Persians were similar, though many
of their troops used the bow: the forces of Alexander were, however,
better provided, better trained, and far more athletic than their
Asiatic enemies.

We must pause a moment to look at that mighty power which had now
swallowed up Assyria, Babylon, and the countries from the Grecian
Archipelago on the west, to India on the east; an extent of territory
nearly three thousand miles in length, and comprehending at once the
most fertile and populous region on the face of the globe. Such were
the power and resources of the Persian empire, that, about one hundred
and fifty years prior to the date of which we are speaking, it had sent
an army, with its attendants, of five millions of persons, to conquer
that very Greece, which was now preparing to roll back the tide of war,
and put a final period to its proud existence.

The reigning king of Persia was Darius III., a weak but conceited
monarch, who held his court at the splendid city of Persepolis,
which had long been the capital of the empire. His situation was
very similar to that of the sultan of Turkey at the present day. The
Persians, though their king ruled over almost countless nations, were
comparatively few in number. His revenue was derived from the tribute
of dependent princes, and the extortions made by his own satraps or
governors. His empire, consisting of so many nations, required constant
watchfulness, to keep all parts in subjection; and as the Asiatic
troops were inferior, he kept in his pay, at all times, a considerable
number of renegade Greeks, as soldiers.

Being made aware of the design of Alexander, Darius sent a vast army
westward, and marching into Syria himself, determined there to await
his enemy. Alexander crossed the Propontis, now Sea of Marmora, which
immediately brought him into Asia Minor, and the dominions of Persia.
As soon as he landed, he went to Ilium, the scene of the Trojan war,
and the ten years' siege of Troy, celebrated in the Iliad. He anointed
the pillar upon Achilles' tomb with oil--and he and his friends ran
naked around it, according to the custom which then prevailed. He also
adorned it with a wreath, in the form of a crown. These ceremonies
are supposed to have been intended to enforce the belief that he was
descended from Achilles--a claim which he always maintained.

Meantime, the Persian generals had pushed forward and posted themselves
upon the banks of the Granicus, a small river now called Ousvola, which
empties into the sea of Marmora. Alexander led the attack upon them
by plunging into the river with his horse. He advanced, with thirteen
of his troop, in the face of a cloud of arrows; and though swept down
by the rapidity of the current, and opposed by steep banks lined with
cavalry, he forced his way, by irresistible strength and impetuosity,
across the stream. Standing upon the muddy slope, his troops were now
obliged to sustain a furious attack, hand to hand, and eye to eye.
The Persian troops, cheered by their vantage ground, pushed on with
terrific shouts, and hurled their javelins, like snow-flakes, upon the
Macedonians. Alexander, being himself distinguished by his buckler and
crest, decorated with white plumes, was the special object of attack.
His cuirass was pierced by a javelin, at the joint; but thus far he was
unhurt. Now he was assailed by two chiefs of great distinction. Evading
one, he engaged the other; after a desperate struggle, in which his
crest was shorn away, and his helmet cleft to his hair, he slew one of
the chiefs, and was saved, at the moment of deadly peril, by the hand
of his friend Clytus, who despatched the other.

While Alexander's cavalry were fighting with the utmost fury, the
Macedonian phalanx and the infantry crossed the river, and now engaged
the enemy. The effect of a leader's example was never more displayed.
Alexander's exhibition of courage and prowess, made every soldier a
hero. They fought, indeed, like persons who knew nothing, and cared
for nothing, but to destroy the enemy. Some of the Persians gave way
and fled. Their hireling Greeks, however, maintained the fight, and
Alexander's horse was killed under him--but not Bucephalus. "When Greek
meets Greek, then comes the tug of war." The fight was, indeed, severe,
but at last Alexander triumphed. The victory was complete. The loss of
the Persians was twenty-five thousand slain; that of the Macedonians
less than fifty.

Alexander had now passed the gates of Asia, and had obtained entrance
into the dominions of the enemy. He paused for a time to pay the last
honors to the dead. To each, he erected a statue of brass, executed
by Lysippus. Upon the arms which were taken and distributed among the
troops, he caused this inscription to be made:--"Won by Alexander, of
the barbarians in Asia!"

We may pause here to note that Bonaparte seems to have imitated the
Macedonian conqueror in this kind of boasting. As he was on his march
to Russia, he caused to be graven on a stone fountain at Coblentz upon
the Rhine, as follows:

"Year MDCCCXII. _Memorable for the campaign against Russia._ 1812."

The Russian commander, when Napoleon had been dethroned, passing
through Coblentz with his troops, caused to be carved, immediately
beneath as follows:

"_Seen and approved by the Russian commander of the town of Coblentz,
January 1, 1814._"

It is true that no such speedy retort awaited the Macedonian conqueror,
yet he was bound upon an errand which was ere long to put a period to
his proud career.

Alexander soon pushed on to the East, and, meeting Darius near the
Gulf of Issus, now Aias, and forming the north-eastern point of
the Mediterranean, a tremendous engagement took place. Darius was
defeated, and more than one hundred thousand of his soldiers lay
dead on the field. Darius escaped with difficulty, leaving his tent,
and even his wife and daughter, in the hands of the enemy. When the
fighting was over, Alexander went to see the tent of Darius. It
was, indeed, a curiosity to one like the Macedonian king, little
acquainted with eastern refinements. He gazed for a time at the
luxurious baths of Darius; his vases, boxes, vials and basins, all of
wrought gold; he inhaled the luscious perfumes, and surveyed the rich
silk drapery and gorgeous furniture of the tent--and then exclaimed,
contemptuously--"This, then, it seems, is to be a king,"--intimating
that if these were the only distinctions of a king, the title deserved

While Alexander was thus occupied, he was told that the wife and
daughter of Darius were his captives. The queen was one of the
loveliest women that was ever known, and his daughter was also
exceedingly beautiful. Though Alexander was told all this, he sent word
to the afflicted ladies that they need have no fear; and he caused them
to be treated with the utmost delicacy and attention. He refrained from
using his power in any way to their annoyance; and thus displayed one
of the noblest graces of a gentleman and a man--a nice regard for the
feelings of the gentler sex. This anecdote of the conqueror has shed
more honor upon his name for two thousand years, than the victory of
the Issus; nor will it cease to be cited in his praise, as long as
history records his name.

The historians represent Alexander as simple in his tastes and habits
at this period. He was temperate in eating, drank wine with great
moderation, and if he sat long at table, it was for the purpose of
conversation, in which he excelled, though given to boasting of his
military exploits. When business called, nothing could detain him; but
in times of leisure, his first business in the morning was to sacrifice
to the gods. He then took his dinner, sitting. The rest of the day
he spent in hunting, or deciding differences among his troops, or in
reading and writing. Sometimes he would exercise himself in shooting
or darting the javelin, or in mounting and alighting from a chariot
in full career. Sometimes, also, he diverted himself with fowling and
fox-hunting. His chief meal was supper, which he took at evening, and
in a recumbent posture, with his friends around him. He was not fond of
delicacies and though they were always found at his table, he usually
sent them to others. Such was Alexander during the early periods of his
campaigns in Asia.

After various operations, Alexander marched against Phoenicia and
Sidon, which submitted at once. Tyre resisted, but, after a siege of
seven months, was taken by storm. Eight thousand Tyrians fell in the
onslaught, and thirty thousand captives were sold into slavery. Gaza
was now taken, after a siege of two months. Alexander then marched
to Jerusalem, to punish the inhabitants for refusing to supply him
with men and money. The high priest, Jaddus, went forth to meet the
conqueror, attended by the priests and the people, with all the
imposing emblems and signs of the Jewish religion. Alexander was so
struck with the spectacle, that he pardoned the people, adored the name
of the Most High, and performed sacrifices in the temple, according to
the instructions of Jaddus. The book of the prophet Daniel was shown to
him, and the passage pointed out in which it was foretold that the king
of Grecia would overcome the king of Persia, with which he was well

The conqueror now turned his arms against Egypt, which yielded without
striking a blow. Having established the government on a liberal
footing, he set out, A. D. 331, to attack the Persian king, who had
gathered an army of a million of men, and was now in Persia. About
this time, he received a letter from Darius, in which that prince
proposed, on condition of a pacification and future friendship, to
pay him ten thousand talents in ransom of his prisoners, to cede him
all the countries on this side the Euphrates, and to give him his
daughter in marriage. Upon his communicating these proposals to his
friends, Parmenio said, "If I were Alexander, I would accept them."
"So would I," said Alexander, "if I were Parmenio." The answer he gave
Darius, was, "that if he would come to him, he should find the best of
treatment; if not, he must go and seek him."

In consequence of this declaration, he began his march; but he repented
that he had set out so soon, when he received information that the wife
of Darius was dead. That princess died in childbed; and the concern of
Alexander was great, because he lost an opportunity of exercising his
clemency. All he could do was to return, and bury her with the utmost

Alexander, having subdued various places that held out against him,
now proceeded in his march against Darius. He found him with his
immense army encamped on the banks of the Bumadus, a small river in
what is now called Kourdistan. Alexander immediately approached, and
prepared for battle. Being near the enemy at night, the murmur of the
immense multitude, seeming like the roaring of the sea, startled one of
Alexander's friends, who advised him to attack them in the night. The
reply was, "I will not steal a victory!"

During that night, though it was foreseen that a dreadful and doubtful
battle was to be fought the next day, Alexander, having made his
preparations, slept soundly. In the morning, on the field, he wore a
short coat, girt close about him; over that, a breast plate of linen
strongly quilted, which he had taken in the battle of the Issus. His
helmet was of polished iron, and shone like silver. To this was fixed
a gorget, set with precious stones. His sword was light, and of the
finest temper. The belt he wore was superb and was given him by the
Rhodians, as a mark of respect. In reviewing and exercising, he spared
Bucephalus, but he rode him in battle, and when he mounted his back it
was always a signal for the onset.

Aristander, the soothsayer, rode by the side of Alexander, in a white
robe, and with a golden crown upon his head. He looked up, and lo, an
eagle was sailing over the army! His course was towards the enemy. The
army caught sight of the noble bird, and, taking it for a good omen,
they now charged the enemy like a torrent. They were bravely resisted,
but Alexander and his troops burst down upon them like an overwhelming
avalanche, cutting their way towards the tent of Darius. The path was
impeded by the slaughtered heaps that gathered before them, and their
horses were embarrassed by the mangled and dying soldiers, who clung to
the legs of the animals, seeking in their last agonies to resist them.
Darius, now in the utmost peril, turned to fly, but his chariot became
entangled in the slain. Seeing this, he mounted a swift horse, and fled
to Bactriana, where he was treacherously murdered by Bessus.

Alexander was now declared king of all Asia, and, though this might
seem the summit of his glory, it was the point at which his character
begins to decline. He now affected the pomp of an eastern prince, and
addicted himself to dissipation. He, however, continued his conquests.
He marched to Babylon, which opened its gates for his reception. He
proceeded to Persepolis, which he took by surprise. Here, in a drunken
frolic, and instigated by an abandoned woman, named Thais, he set fire
to the palace, which was burnt to the ground.

He now marched into Parthia, and, meeting with a beautiful princess,
named Roxana, daughter of a Bactrian king, he fell in love with her,
and married her. Some time after this, upon some suspicion of the
fidelity of Philotas, the son of Parmenio, he caused him to be put
to the torture till he died. He then sent orders to have his father,
an old and faithful soldier, who had fought under Philip, and who
was now in Media, to be put to death, which were but too faithfully
executed. This horrid transaction was soon followed by another, still
more dreadful. Under the excitement of wine, a dispute arose between
Alexander and Clytus, the brave officer who had saved his life at the
battle of the Granicus.

Both became greatly excited: taunts and gibes were uttered on either
side. Alexander, unable longer to keep down his rage, threw an apple
in the face of Clytus, and then looked about for his sword; but one of
his friends had prudently taken it away. Clytus was now forced out of
the room, but he soon came back, and repeated the words of Euripides,
meaning to apply them to Alexander:

    "Are these your customs?--Is it thus that Greece
     Rewards her combatants? Shall one man claim
     The trophies won by thousands?"

The conqueror was now wholly beside himself. He seized a spear from
one of the guards, and, at a plunge, ran it through the body of Clytus,
who fell dead, uttering a dismal groan as he expired.

Alexander's rage subsided in a moment. Seeing his friends standing
around in silent astonishment, he hastily drew out the spear, and was
applying it to his own throat, when his guards seized him, and carried
him by force to his chamber. Here the pangs of remorse stung him to
the quick. Tears fell fast for a time, and then succeeded a moody,
melancholy silence, only broken by groans. His friends attempted in
vain to console him. It was not till after long and painful suffering,
that he was restored to his wonted composure.

Alexander now set out for the conquest of India, then a populous
country, and the seat of immense wealth. After a series of splendid
achievements, he reached the banks of the Hydaspes, a considerable
stream that flows into the Indus. Here he was met by Porus, an Indian
king, with an army, in which were a large number of elephants. A
bloody battle followed, in which Alexander was victorious and Porus
made captive. "How do you wish to be treated?" said Alexander to the
unfortunate monarch. "Like a king," was the brief, but significant
reply. Alexander granted his request, restored his dominions and much
enlarged them, making him, however, one of his tributaries.

The conqueror, not yet satisfied, wished to push on to the Ganges;
but his army refusing to go farther, he was forced to return. On his
way back, he paid a visit to the ocean, and, in a battle with some
savage tribes, being severely wounded, he came near losing his life.
On the borders of the sea, he and his companions first saw the ebbing
and flowing of the tide,--a fact of which they were before entirely
ignorant. In this expedition the army suffered greatly: when it set out
for India, it consisted of 150.000 men: on its return, it was reduced
to one fourth of that number.


Coming to a fertile district, Alexander paused to recruit, and refresh
his men. He then proceeded, keeping up a kind of bacchanalian fête, in
which the whole army participated. His own chariot was drawn by eight
horses: it consisted of a huge platform where he and his friends
revelled, day and night. This carriage was followed by others, some
covered with rich purple silk and others with fresh boughs. In these
were the generals, crowned with flowers, and inebriated with wine. In
the immense procession there was not a spear, helmet, or buckler, but
in their places cups, flagons, and goblets. The whole country resounded
with flutes, clarionets, and joyous songs. The scene was attended with
the riotous dances and frolics of a multitude of women. This licentious
march continued for seven days.

When he arrived at Susa, in Persia, he married a great number of his
friends to Persian ladies. He set the example by taking Statira,
daughter of Darius, to himself, and gave her sister to Hephæstion,
his dearest friend. He now made a nuptial feast for the newly-married
people, and nine thousand persons sat down to the entertainment. Each
one was honored with a golden cup.

On his return to Babylon, Alexander determined to make that place his
residence and capital, and set about various plans for carrying this
into effect. But his mind seemed haunted with superstitious fears.
Everything that happened was construed into an augury of evil. The
court swarmed with sacrifices and soothsayers, but still, for a long
time, peace could not be obtained by the monarch.

At last he seemed to be relieved, and being asked by Medias to a
carousal, he drank all day and all night, until he found a fever coming
upon him. He then desisted, but it was too late. The disease increased,
setting at defiance every attempt at remedy, and in the space of about
thirty days he died. Such was the miserable end of Alexander the Great.
His wife, Roxana, with the aid of Perdiccas, murdered Statira and her
sister, and the empire of the mighty conqueror was divided between four
of his officers.

The great achievement of Alexander--the grand result of his life--was
the subjugation of the Persian monarchy, which lay like an incubus upon
the numerous nations that existed between the Indus and the Euxine
sea, and at the same time intercepted the communication between Europe
and Asia. It was an achievement far greater than it would be now to
overthrow the Ottoman throne, and give independence to the various
tribes and states that are at present under its dominion. That he
accomplished this work for any good motive, we cannot maintain, for his
whole course shows, that, like all other conquerors, his actions began
and terminated in himself.

The character of Alexander has been delineated in the course of this
brief sketch. We have not been able to give the details of all his
battles, marches, and countermarches. His achievements were indeed
stupendous. He crossed the Propontis in 334, and died in 323. It was in
the brief space of eleven years, and at the age of thirty-three, that
he had accomplished the deeds of which we have given a naked outline.
Nor was he a mere warrior. He displayed great talents as a statesman,
and many of the traits of a gentleman. His whole life, indeed, was
founded upon an atrocious wrong--that one man may sacrifice millions
of lives for his own pleasure--but this was the error of the age. As
before intimated, considered in the light of Christianity, he was a
monster; yet, according to the heathen model, he was a hero, and almost
a god.

In seeking for the motives which impelled Alexander forward in his
meteor-like career we shall see that it was the love of glory--an
inspiration like that of the chase, in which the field is an empire,
and the game a monarch. In this wild ambition, he was stimulated by
the Iliad of Homer, and it was his darling dream to match the bloody
deeds of its heroes--Ajax and Achilles. It is impossible to see in his
conduct, anything which shows a regard to the permanent happiness of
mankind. He makes war, as if might were the only test of right; and he
sacrifices nations to his thirst of conquest, with as little question
of the rectitude of his conduct, as is entertained by the lion when he
slays the antelope, or the sportsman when he brings down his game.

Although we see many noble traits in Alexander, the real selfishness
of his character is evinced in his famous letter to Aristotle. The
latter, having published some of his works, is sharply rebuked by
the conqueror, who says to him--"Now that you have done this, what
advantage have I, your pupil, over the rest of mankind, since you have
put it in the power of others to possess the knowledge which before was
only imparted to me!" What can be more narrow and selfish than this?
Even the current standard of morals in Alexander's time, would condemn
this as excessive meanness.

We must not omit to record the last days of one that figures in
Alexander's annals, and is hardly less famous than the conqueror
himself--we mean his noble horse, Bucephalus. This animal, more
renowned than any other of his race, died on the banks of the Hydaspes.
Craterus was ordered to superintend the building of two cities, one
on each side of this river. The object was to secure the passage in
future. That on the left bank was named Nicæa, the other Bucephala,
in honor of the favorite horse, which had expired in battle without
a wound, being worn out by age, heat, and over-exertion. He was then
thirty years old. He was a large, powerful, and spirited horse, and
would allow no one but Alexander to mount him. From a mark of a bull's
head imprinted on him, he derived his name, Bucephalus; though some say
that he was so called in consequence of having in his forehead a white
mark resembling a bull's head.

Once this famous charger, whose duties were restricted to the field
of battle, was intercepted, and fell into the hands of the Uxians.
Alexander caused a proclamation to be made, that, if Bucephalus were
not restored, he would wage a war of extirpation against the whole
nation. The restoration of the animal instantly followed the receipt of
this notification; so great was Alexander's regard for his horse and so
great the terror of his name among the barbarians. "Thus far," writes
Arrian, "let Bucephalus be honored by me, for the sake of his master."



This great philosopher was born at Stagira, or Stageira, in Macedonia,
384 B. C. His father, physician to Amyntas II., king of Macedonia,
commenced the education of his son, intending to prepare him for his
own profession; and the studies pursued by the latter with this object,
doubtless laid the foundation for that lore of natural history, which
he displayed through life, and which he cultivated with such success.

Aristotle lost both his parents while he was still young. After their
death, he was brought up under Proxenes, a citizen of Mysia, in Asia
Minor, who had settled in Stagira. Aristotle testified his gratitude to
Proxenes and his wife, by directing, in his will, that statues of them
should be executed at his expense and set up as his parents. He also
educated their son Nicanor, to whom he gave his daughter Pythias in

In his eighteenth year, Aristotle left Stagira and went to Athens,
the centre of letters and learning in Greece--doubtless attracted
thither by the fame of the philosopher, Plato. It appears, however,
that during the three first years of his residence there, Plato was
absent on a visit to Sicily. There can be no doubt that Aristotle paid
particular attention to anatomy and medicine, as appears both from his
circumstances in youth, and what we know of his best writings. It is
also probable, as is indicated by some statements of ancient writers,
that for a space he practised, like Locke, the healing art; he must,
however, from an early age, have devoted his whole time to the study
of philosophy and the investigation of nature, and have abandoned all
thoughts of an exclusively professional career.

His eagerness for the acquisition of knowledge, and his extraordinary
acuteness and sagacity, doubtless attracted Plato's attention at
an early period; thus we are told that his master called him "the
Intellect of the school," and his house, the "House of the reader;"
that he said Aristotle required the curb, while Zenocrates, a
fellow-disciple, required the spur; some of which traditions are
probably true. We are likewise informed that when reading he used to
hold a brazen ball in his hand over a basin, in order that, if he
fell asleep, he might be awaked by the noise which it would make in
falling. Although Aristotle did not during Plato's life, set up any
school in opposition to him, as some writers have stated, he taught
publicly in the art of rhetoric, and by this means became the rival of
the celebrated Isocrates, whom he appears, notwithstanding his very
advanced age, to have attacked with considerable violence, and to have
treated with much contempt.

Aristotle remained at Athens till Plato's death, 347 B. C., having at
that time reached his thirty-seventh year. Many stories are preserved
by the ancient compilers of anecdotes, respecting the enmity between
Plato and Aristotle, caused by the ingratitude of the disciple, as well
as by certain peculiarities of his character which were displeasing to
the master. But these rumors appear to have no other foundation than
the known variance between the opinions and the mental habits of the
two philosophers; and particularly the opposition which Aristotle made
to Plato's characteristic doctrine of ideas; whence it was inferred
that there must have been an interruption of their friendly relations.
The probability, however, is, that Aristotle, at whatever time he may
have formed his philosophical opinions, had not published them in an
authoritative shape, or entered into any public controversy, before
his master's death. In his Nicomachean Ethics, moreover, which was
probably one of his latest works, he says "that it is painful to him to
refute the doctrine of ideas, as it had been introduced by persons who
were his friends: nevertheless, that it is his duty to disregard such
private feelings; for both philosophers and truth being dear to him, it
is right to give the preference to truth." He is, likewise, stated to
have erected an altar to his master inscribing on it that he was a man
"whom the wicked ought not even to praise."

After the death of Plato, Aristotle left Athens and went to live at the
court of Hermeias, prince of Atarneus. He had resided here but three
years, when Hermeias, falling into the hands of the Persians, was put
to death. Aristotle took refuge in Mytilene, the chief city of Lesbos.
Here he married Pythias, sister of Hermeias, and who, being exposed to
persecution from the Persians, now coming into power there, he saved by
a rapid flight. For the patriotic and philosophical prince Hermeias,
Aristotle entertained a fervent and deep affection, and he dedicated
to his memory a beautiful poem, which is still extant. On account of
the admiration he expresses of his friend, he was afterwards absurdly
charged with impiety in deifying a mortal.

In the year 356 B. C., Philip of Macedon wrote a famous letter to
Aristotle, as follows: "King Philip of Macedon, to Aristotle, greeting.
Know that a son has been born to me. I thank the gods, not so much that
they have given him to me, as that they have permitted him to be born
in the time of Aristotle. I hope that thou wilt form him to be a king
worthy to succeed me, and to rule the Macedonians."

In the year 342 B. C., Aristotle was invited by Philip to take charge
of the education of his son, Alexander, then fourteen years old.
This charge was accepted, and Alexander was under his care three or
four years. The particulars of his method of instruction are not
known to us; but when we see the greatness of mind that Alexander
displayed in the first years of his reign,--his command of his passions
till flattery had corrupted him, and his regard for the arts and
sciences,--we cannot but think that his education was judiciously
conducted. It may be objected that Aristotle neglected to guard his
pupil against ambition and the love of conquest; but it must be
recollected that he was a Greek, and of course a natural enemy to the
Persian kings; his hatred had been deepened by the fate of his friend
Hermeias; and, finally, the conquest of Persia had, for a long time,
been the wish of all Greece. It was, therefore, natural that Aristotle
should exert all his talents to form his pupil with the disposition and
qualifications necessary for the accomplishment of this object.

Both father and son sought to show their gratitude for the services of
such a teacher. Philip rebuilt Stagira, and established a school there
for Aristotle. The Stagirites, in gratitude for this service, appointed
a yearly festival, called _Aristotelia_. The philosopher continued at
Alexander's court a year after his accession to the throne, and is
said to have then repaired to Athens. Ammonius, the Eclectic, says
that he followed his pupil in a part of his campaigns; and this seems
very probable; for it is hardly possible that so many animals as the
philosopher describes could have been sent to Athens, or that he could
have given so accurate a description of them without having personally
dissected and examined them. We may conjecture that he accompanied
Alexander as far as Egypt, and returned to Athens about 331 B. C.,
provided with the materials for his excellent History of Animals.

Aristotle, after parting with Alexander, returned to Athens, where he
resolved to open a school, and chose a house, which, from its vicinity
to the temple of Apollo Lyceus, was called the _Lyceum_. Attached to
this building was a garden, with walks, in Greek _peripatoi_, where
Aristotle used to deliver his instructions to his disciples; whence his
school obtained the name of _peripatetic_. It appears that his habit
was to give one lecture in the early part of the day on the abstruser
parts of his philosophy, to his more advanced scholars, which was
called the _morning walk_, and lasted till the hour when people dressed
and anointed themselves; and another lecture, called the _evening
walk_, on more popular subjects, to a less select class.

It was probably during the thirteen years of his second residence at
Athens, that Aristotle composed or completed the greater part of his
works which have descended to our days. The foundation of most of
them was, doubtless, laid at an early period of his life; but they
appear to have been gradually formed, and to have received continual
additions and corrections. Among the works which especially belong to
this period of his life, are his treatises on Natural History; which,
as has been correctly observed by a late writer on this subject, are
not to be considered as the result of his own observations only, but
as a collection of all that had been observed by others, as well as by

It is stated by Pliny, that "Alexander the Great, being smitten with
the desire of knowing the natures of animals, ordered several thousand
persons, over the whole of Asia and Greece, who lived by hunting,
bird-catching and fishing, or who had the care of parks, herds,
hives, seines, and aviaries, to furnish Aristotle with materials for
a work on animals." We are likewise informed that Aristotle received
from Alexander the enormous sum of eight hundred talents,--nearly a
million of dollars, to prosecute his researches in natural history,--a
circumstance which did not escape the malice of his traducers, who
censured him for receiving gifts from princes. Seneca, who states that
Philip furnished Aristotle with large sums of money for his history of
animals, had, doubtless, confounded the father and son.

Callisthenes, a relation of Aristotle, by his recommendation,
attended Alexander in his expedition to Asia, and sent from Babylon
to the philosopher, in compliance with his previous injunctions, the
astronomical observations which were preserved in that ancient city,
and which, according to the statement of Porphyrius, reached back as
far as 1903 years before the time of Alexander the Great; that is, 2234
years before the Christian era.

Aristotle had, at this time, reached the most prosperous period of his
life. The founder and leader of the principal school of Greece, and
the undisputed head of Grecian philosophy, surrounded by his numerous
disciples and admirers, protected by the conqueror of Asia, and by him
furnished with the means of following his favorite pursuits, and of
gratifying his universal spirit of inquiry, he had, probably, little
to desire in order to fill up the measure of a philosopher's ambition.
But he did not continue to enjoy the favor of Alexander till the end.
Callisthenes, by his free-spoken censures and uncourtly habits, had
offended his master, and had been executed, on a charge of having
conspired with some Macedonians to take away his life; and the king's
wrath appears to have extended to his kinsman, Aristotle, as being the
person who had originally recommended him. It is not, however, probable
that this circumstance caused any active enmity between the royal pupil
and his master; even if we did not know that Alexander died a natural
death, there would be no reason for listening to the absurd calumny
that Aristotle was concerned in poisoning him. Aristotle indeed appears
to have been considered, to the last, as a partisan of Alexander, and
an opponent of the democratic interest.

When the anti-Macedonian party obtained the superiority at Athens in
consequence of Alexander's death, an accusation against Aristotle was
immediately prepared, and the pretext selected, was, as in the case of
Socrates, _impiety_, or _blasphemy_. He was charged by Eurymedon, the
priest, and a man named Demophilus, probably a leader of the popular
party, with paying divine honors to Hermeias, and perhaps with teaching
certain irreligious doctrines. In order to escape this danger, and
to prevent the Athenians, as he said, in allusion to the death of
Socrates, from "sinning twice against philosophy," he quitted Athens
in the beginning of the year 322 B. C., and took refuge at Chalcis,
in Euboea, an island then under the Macedonian influence--leaving
Theophrastus his successor in the Lyceum. There he died, of a
disease of the stomach, in the autumn of the same year, being in the
sixty-third year of his age. His frame is said to have been slender and
weakly, and his health had given way in the latter part of his life,
having probably been impaired by his unwearied studies and the intense
application of his mind. The story of his having drowned himself in the
Euripus of Euboea, is fabulous.

The characteristic of Aristotle's philosophy, as compared with
that of Plato, is, that while the latter gave free scope to his
imagination, and, by his doctrine that we have ideas independent of
the objects which they represent, opened a wide door to the dreams of
mysticism--the latter was a close and strict observer of both mental
and physical phenomena, avoiding all the seductions of the fancy,
and following a severe, methodical, and strictly scientific course
of inquiry, founded on data ascertained by experience. The truly
philosophical character of his mind, and his calm and singularly
dispassionate manner of writing, are not more remarkable than the
vast extent both of his reading and of his original researches. His
writings appear to have embraced nearly the whole circle of the
theoretical and practical knowledge of his time, comprising treatises
on logical, metaphysical, rhetorical, poetical, ethical, political,
economical, physical, mechanical, and medical science. He likewise
wrote on some parts of the mathematics; and, besides a collection of
the constitutions of all the states known in his age, both Grecian and
barbarian he made chronological compilations relating to the political
and dramatic history of Greece.

His works, however, though embracing so large an extent of subjects,
were not a mere encyclopædia, or digest of existing knowledge; some
of the sciences which he treated of were created by himself, and
the others were enriched by fresh inquiries, and methodized by his
systematic diligence. To the former belong his works on analytics and
dialectics, or, as it is now called, logic; to the invention of which
science he distinctly lays claim, stating that "before his time nothing
whatever had been done in it." Nearly the same remark applies to his
metaphysical treatise. "But of all the sciences," says Cuvier, "there
is none which owes more to Aristotle, than the natural history of
animals. Not only was he acquainted with a great number of species, but
he has studied and described them on a luminous and comprehensive plan,
to which, perhaps, none of his successors has approached; classing the
facts not according to the species, but according to the organs and
functions, the only method of establishing comparative results. Thus it
may be said that he is not only the most ancient author of comparative
anatomy, whose works have come down to us, but that he is one of those
who have treated this branch of natural history with the most genius,
and that he best deserves to be taken for a model. The principal
divisions which naturalists still follow in the animal kingdom,
are due to Aristotle; and he had already pointed out several which
have recently been again adopted, after having once been improperly
abandoned. If the foundations of these great labors are examined,
it will be seen that they all rest on the same method. Everywhere
Aristotle observes the facts with attention; he compares them with
sagacity, and endeavors to rise to the qualities which they have in

Among the sciences which he found partly cultivated, but which he
greatly advanced, the most prominent are those of rhetoric, ethics, and
politics. Of rhetoric he defined the province, and analyzed all the
parts with admirable skill and sagacity. His treatise on the passions,
in this short but comprehensive work, has never been surpassed, if it
has ever been equalled, by writers on what may be termed descriptive
moral philosophy. His ethical writings contain an excellent practical
code of morality, chiefly founded on the maxim that virtues are in
the middle, between two opposite vices; as courage between cowardice
and fool-hardiness, liberality between niggardliness and prodigality,
&c. His remarks on friendship are also deserving of special notice; a
subject much discussed by the ancients, but which has less occupied the
attention of philosophers, since love has played a more prominent part,
in consequence of the influence of the Germans, and the introduction
of the manners of chivalry in western Europe. His treatise on politics
is not, like Plato's Republic, and the works of many later speculators
on government, a mere inquiry after a perfect state, but contains an
account of the nature of government, of the various forms of which it
is susceptible, and the institutions best adapted to the societies in
which these forms are established; with an essay, though unhappily an
imperfect one, on education. This treatise is valuable, not only for
its theoretical results, but also for the large amount of information
which it contains, on the governments of Greece and other neighboring
countries. Throughout these last-mentioned works, the knowledge of the
world and of human nature displayed by Aristotle, is very observable;
and, although his mind appears to have preferred the investigations
of physical and metaphysical science, yet he holds a very high place
in the highest rank of moral and political philosophers. Aristotle,
it will be remembered, did not lead the life of a recluse; but, as
the friend of Hermeias, the teacher of Alexander, and the head of a
philosophical school, he was brought into contact with a great variety
of persons, and learned by practice to know life under many different
forms, and in many different relations.

Of all the philosophers of antiquity, Aristotle has produced the most
lasting and extensive effect on mankind. His philosophical works, many
centuries after his death, obtained a prodigious influence, not only in
Europe, but even in Asia; they were translated into Arabic, and from
thence an abstract of his logical system passed into the language of
Persia. In Europe they acquired an immense ascendency in the middle
ages, and were considered as an authority without appeal, and only
second to that of Scripture; we are even informed that in a part of
Germany his ethics were read in the churches on Sunday, in the place
of the Gospels. Parts of his philosophy, which are the most worthless,
as his Physics, were much cultivated; and his logical writings were,
in many cases, abused so as to lead to vain subtleties, and captious
contests about words. The connection between some of his tenets and the
Roman Catholic theology, tended much to uphold his authority, which
the Reformation lowered in a corresponding degree. His doctrines were
in general strongly opposed by the early reformers. In 1518 Luther
sustained a thesis at Heidelberg, affirming that "he who wishes to
philosophize in Aristotle, must be first stultified in Christ." Luther,
however, gave way afterwards, and did not oppose Aristotle, as to human
learning. Melanchthon, who was one of the mildest of the reformers, was
a great supporter of Aristotle. Many of his doctrines were in the same
century zealously attacked by the French philosopher, Pierre Ramus.
Bacon, afterwards, with others of his followers, added the weight of
their arguments and authority against him. Aristotle's philosophy
accordingly fell into undeserved neglect during the latter part of the
seventeenth, and the whole of the eighteenth century. Of late, however,
the true worth of his writings has been more fully appreciated, and the
study of his best treatises has much revived.

The most valuable of Aristotle's lost works, and indeed the most
valuable of all the lost works of Greek prose, is his collection of One
Hundred and Fifty-eight Constitutions, both of Grecian and Barbarian
States, the Democratic, Oligarchical, Aristocratical, and Tyrannical,
being treated separately, containing an account of the manners,
customs, and institutions of each country. The loss of his works on
Colonies, on Nobility, and on Royal Government; of his Chronological
Collections, and of his Epistles to Philip, Alexander, Antipater, and
others, is also much to be regretted. He likewise revised a copy of
the Iliad, which Alexander carried with him during his campaigns, in a
precious casket; hence this recension, called the _casket copy_, passed
into the Alexandrine library, and was used by the Alexandrine critics.
His entire works, according to Diogenes Laertius, occupied in the Greek
manuscripts 445,270 lines.




This celebrated Grecian orator was born about 384 or 385 years B.
C., at a period when Athens had reached the zenith of her literary,
and had passed that of her political, glory. Juvenal has represented
him slightingly, as the son of a blacksmith--the fact being that the
elder Demosthenes was engaged in various branches of trade, and, among
others, was owner of a sword manufactory. His maternal grandmother was
a Thracian woman--a circumstance noticeable because it enabled his
enemies, in the spirit of ill-will, to taunt him as a barbarian and
hereditary enemy of his country; for the Greeks, in general, regarded
the admixture of other than Greek blood, with the same sort of contempt
and dislike that the whites of America do the taint of African descent.

Being left an orphan when seven years old, Demosthenes fell into the
hands of dishonest guardians, who embezzled a large portion of the
property which his father had bequeathed to him. His constitution
appears to have been delicate, and it may have been on this account
that he did not attend the gymnastic exercises, which formed a large
portion of the education of the youths in Greece; exercises really
important where neither birth nor wealth set aside the obligation to
military service common to all citizens; and where, therefore, skill
in the use of arms, strength, and the power to endure fatigue and
hardship, were essential to the rich as well as to the poor. It may
have been on this account that a nickname expressive of effeminacy
was bestowed on him, which was afterwards interpreted into a proof of
unmanly luxury and vicious habits; indeed, the reproach of wanting
physical strength clung to him through life; and apparently this was
not undeserved. Another nickname that he obtained was that of "Viper."
In short, the anecdotes which have come down to us, tend pretty
uniformly to show that his private character was harsh and unamiable.

His ambition to excel as an orator is said to have been kindled by
hearing a masterly and much admired speech of Callistratus. For
instruction, he resorted to Isæus, and, as some say, to Isocrates, both
eminent teachers of the art of rhetoric. He had a stimulus to exertion
in the resolution to prosecute his guardians for abuse of their trust;
and having gained the cause, B. C. 364, in the conduct of which he
himself took an active part, recovered, it would seem, a large part of
his property. The orations against Aphobus and Onetor, which appear
among his works, profess to have been delivered in the course of the
suit; but it has been doubted, on internal evidence, whether they were
really composed by him so early in life.

Be this as it may, his success emboldened him to come forward as a
speaker in the assemblies of the people; on what occasion, and at what
time, does not appear. His reception was discouraging. He probably
had underrated, till taught by experience, the degree of training and
mechanical preparation requisite at all times to excellence, and most
essential in addressing an audience so acute, sensitive and fastidious
as the Athenians. He labored also under physical defects, which almost
amounted to disqualifications. His voice was weak, his breath short,
his articulation defective; in addition to all this, his style was
throughout strained, harsh and involved.

Though somewhat disheartened by his ill success, he felt as Sheridan
is reported to have expressed himself on a similar occasion, that
_it was in him, and it should come out_; beside, he was encouraged
by a few discerning spirits. One aged man, who had heard Pericles,
cheered him with the assurance that he reminded him of that unequalled
orator; and the actor Satyrus pointed out the faults of his delivery,
and instructed him to amend them. He now set himself in earnest to
realize his notions of excellence; and the singular and irksome methods
which he adopted, denoting certainly no common energy and strength of
will, are too celebrated and too remarkable to be omitted, though the
authority on which they rest is not free from doubt. He built a room
under ground, where he might practise gesture and delivery without
molestation, and there he spent two or three months together, shaving
his head, that the oddity of his appearance might render it impossible
for him to go abroad, even if his resolution should fail. The defect in
his articulation he cured by reciting with small pebbles in his mouth.
His lungs he strengthened by practising running up hill, while reciting
verses. Nor was he less diligent in cultivating mental than bodily
requisites, applying himself earnestly to study the theory of the art
as explained in books, and the examples of the greatest masters of
eloquence. Thucydides is said to have been his favorite model, insomuch
that he copied out his history eight times, and had it almost by heart.

Meanwhile, his pen was continually employed in rhetorical exercises;
every question suggested to him by passing events served him for
a topic of discussion, which called forth the application of his
attainments to the real business of life. It was perhaps as much
for the sake of such practice, as with a view to reputation, or the
increase of his fortune, that he accepted employment as an advocate,
which, until he began to take an active part in public affairs, was
offered to him in abundance.

Such was the process by which he became confessedly the greatest orator
among the people by whom eloquence was cultivated, as it has never been
since by any nation upon earth. He brought it to its highest state of
perfection, as did Sophocles the tragic drama, by the harmonious union
of excellences which had before only existed apart. The quality in his
writings, which excited the highest admiration of the most intelligent
judges among his countrymen in the later critical age, was the Protean
versatility with which he adapted his style to every theme, so as to
furnish the most perfect examples of every order and kind of eloquence.

Demosthenes, like Pericles, never willingly appeared before his
audience with any but the ripest fruits of his private studies, though
he was quite capable of speaking on the impulse of the moment in a
manner worthy of his reputation. That he continued to the end of his
career to cultivate the art with unabated diligence, and that, even
in the midst of public business, his habits were those of a severe
student, is well known.

The first manifestation of that just jealousy of Philip, the ambitious
king of Macedon, which became the leading principle of his life, was
made 252 B. C., when the orator delivered the first of those celebrated
speeches called Philippics. This word has been naturalized in Latin
and most European languages, as a concise term to signify indignant

From this time forward, it was the main object of Demosthenes to
inspire and keep alive in the minds of the Athenians a constant
jealousy of Philip's power and intentions, and to unite the other
states of Greece in confederacy against him. The policy and the
disinterestedness of his conduct have both been questioned; the former,
by those who have judged, from the event, that resistance to the power
of Macedonia was rashly to accelerate a certain and inevitable evil;
the latter, by those, both of his contemporaries and among posterity,
who believe that he received bribes from Persia, as the price of
finding employment in Greece for an enemy, whose ambition threatened
the monarch of the East. With respect to the former, however, it
was at least the most generous policy, and like that of the elder
Athenians in their most illustrious days--not to await the ruin of
their independence submissively, until every means had been tried for
averting it; for the latter, such charges are hard either to be proved
or refuted. The character of Demosthenes certainly does not stand above
the suspicion of pecuniary corruption, but it has not been shown, nor
is it necessary or probable to suppose, that his jealousy of Philip
of Macedon was not, in the first instance, far-sighted and patriotic.
During fourteen years, from 352 to 338, he exhausted every resource of
eloquence and diplomatic skill to check the progress of that aspiring
monarch; and whatever may be thought of his moral worth, none can
undervalue the genius and energy which have made his name illustrious,
and raised a memorial of him far more enduring than sepulchral brass.

In 339 B. C., Philip's appointment to be general of the Amphictyonic
League gave him a more direct influence than he had yet possessed;
and in the same year, the decisive victory of Cheronea, won over the
combined forces of Thebes, Athens, &c., had made him master of Greece.
Demosthenes served in this engagement, but joined, early in the flight,
with circumstances, according to report, of marked cowardice and
disgrace. He retired for a time from Athens, but the cloud upon his
character was but transient for, shortly after, he was entrusted with
the charge of putting the city in a state of defence, and was appointed
to pronounce the funeral oration over those who had been slain. After
the battle of Cheronea, Philip, contrary to expectation, did not
prosecute hostilities against Athens; on the contrary, he used his
best endeavors to conciliate the affections of the people, but without
success. The party hostile to Macedon soon regained the superiority,
and Demosthenes was proceeding with his usual vigor in the prosecution
of his political schemes, when news arrived of the murder of Philip, in
July, 336.

The daughter of Demosthenes had then lately died; nevertheless, in
violation of national usage, he put off his mourning, and appeared
in public, crowned with flowers and with other tokens of festive
rejoicing. This act, a strong expression of triumph over the fall of
a most dangerous enemy, has been censured with needless asperity;
the accusation of having been privy to the plot for Philip's murder,
beforehand, founded on his own declaration of the event some time
before intelligence of it came from any other quarter, and the manifest
falsehood as to the source of the information, which he professed to
derive from a divine revelation, involves--if it be judged to be well
founded--a far blacker imputation.

Whether or not it was of his own procuring, the death of Philip was
hailed by Demosthenes as an event most fortunate for Athens, and
favorable to the liberty of Greece. Thinking lightly of the young
successor to the Macedonian crown, he busied himself the more in
stirring up opposition to Alexander, and succeeded in urging Thebes
into that revolt, which ended in the entire destruction of the city,
B. C., 335. This example struck terror into Athens. Alexander demanded
that Demosthenes, with nine others, should be given up into his hands,
as the authors of the battle of Cheronea and of the succeeding troubles
of Greece; but finally contented himself with requiring the banishment
of Charidemus alone.

Opposition to Macedon was now effectually put down, and, until the
death of Alexander, we hear little more of Demosthenes as a public
man. During this period, however, one of the most memorable incidents
of his life occurred, in that contest of oratory with Æschines, which
has been more celebrated than any strife of words since the world
began. The origin of it was as follows. About the time of the battle
of Cheronea, one Ctesiphon brought before the people a decree for
presenting Demosthenes with a crown for his distinguished services;
a complimentary motion, in its nature and effects very much like a
vote in the English parliament, declaratory of confidence in the
administration. Æschines, the leading orator of the opposite party,
arraigned this motion, as being both untrue in substance and irregular
in form; he indicted Ctesiphon on these grounds, and laid the penalty
at fifty talents, equivalent to about $50,000. Why the prosecution
was so long delayed, does not clearly appear; but it was not brought
to an issue until the year 330, when Æschines pronounced his great
oration "against Ctesiphon." Demosthenes defended him in the still
more celebrated speech "on the crown." These, besides being admirable
specimens of rhetorical art, have the additional value, that the rival
orators, being much more anxious to uphold the merits of their own
past policy and conduct, than to convict and defend the nominal object
of prosecution, have gone largely into matters of self-defence and
mutual recrimination, from which much of our knowledge of this obscure
portion of history is derived. Æschines lost the cause, and not having
the votes of so much as a fifth part of the judges, became liable,
according to the laws of Athens, to fine and banishment. He withdrew
to Rhodes, where he established a school of oratory. On one occasion,
for the gratification of his hearers, he recited first his own, then
his adversary's speech. Great admiration having been expressed of the
latter, "What then," he said, "if you had heard the brute himself?"
bearing testimony in these words to the remarkable energy and fire of
delivery which was one of Demosthenes' chief excellences as an orator.

A fate similar to that of his rival, overtook Demosthenes himself, a
few years later, B. C. 324. Harpalus, an officer high in rank and favor
under Alexander, having been guilty of malversation to such an extent
that he dared not await discovery, fled to Greece, bringing with him
considerable treasures and a body of mercenary soldiers. He sought the
support of the Athenians; and, as it was said, bribed Demosthenes not
to oppose his wishes. Rumors to that effect got abroad, and though his
proposals were rejected by the assembly, Demosthenes was called to
account, and fined fifty talents, nearly $50,000, as having been bribed
to give false counsel to the people. Being unable to pay the amount
of the fine, it acted as a sentence of banishment, and he retired into
Ægina. Like Cicero, when placed in a similar situation, he displayed
effeminacy of temper, and an unmanly violence of regret, under a
reverse of fortune.

In the following year, however, the death of Alexander restored him
to political importance; for when that event opened once more to the
Athenians the prospect of shaking off the supremacy of Macedonia,
Demosthenes was recalled, with the most flattering marks of public
esteem. He guided the state during the short war waged with Antipater,
the Macedonian viceroy, until the inequality of the contest became
evident, and the Macedonian party regained its ascendency. Demosthenes
then retired to the sanctuary of Calauria, an island sacred to Neptune,
on the coast of Argolis. Sentence of death was passed on him in his
absence. He was pursued to his place of refuge by the emissaries of
Antipater, and being satisfied that the sanctity of the place would not
protect him, he took poison, which, as a last resort, he carried about
his person, concealed in a quill.

Most of the speeches of Demosthenes are short, at least compared with
modern oratory. He rarely spoke extempore, and bestowed an unusual
degree of pains on his composition. That style which is described by
Hume as "rapid harmony, exactly adapted to the sense; vehement reason,
without any appearance of art; disdain, anger, boldness, freedom,
involved in a continued stream of argument"--instead of being, as it
would seem, the effervescence of a powerful, overflowing mind, was the
labored produce of much thought, and careful, long-continued polish.

If we compare the two greatest orators of antiquity--Cicero and
Demosthenes--it may seem difficult to decide between them. By devoting
his powers almost exclusively to oratory, the latter excelled in
energy, strength, and accuracy; and as a mere artist, was probably the
superior. Cicero, by cultivating a more extended field, was doubtless
far the abler lawyer, statesman and philosopher. Of the value of their
works to mankind, there is no comparison; for those of Cicero are
not only more numerous and diversified, but of more depth, wisdom,
and general application. We must also remark, that while the soul of
Demosthenes appears to have been selfish and mean, that of Cicero ranks
him among the noblest specimens of humanity, whether of ancient or
modern times.

If we compare the speeches of these great men with the efforts of
modern orators, we shall see that the latter greatly surpass them in
range of thought, power of diction and splendor of illustration. The
question then arises, why did the orations of Cicero and Demosthenes
produce such electrical effects upon their auditors? The reason
doubtless was, that they paid the greatest attention to action,
manner and tones of voice--thus operating upon their hearers by
nearly the same powers as the modern opera. There was stage effect in
their manner, and music in their tones, combined with most perfect
elocution--and the application of these arts, carried to the utmost
perfection, was made to the quick Italians or mercurial Athenians.
These suggestions may enable us to understand the fact, that speeches,
which, uttered in the less artful manner of our day, and before our
colder audiences, would fall flat and dead upon the ear, excited the
utmost enthusiasm, in more southern climes, two thousand years ago.



Apelles was a celebrated painter of Cos, a little island in the Egean
Sea. The date of his birth is not known, but he painted many portraits
of Philip, and was still nourishing in the time of Alexander, who
honored him so much that he forbade any other artist to draw his
picture. His chief master was Pamphilius, a famous painter of Macedon.
He was so attentive to his profession, that he never spent a day
without employing his pencil,--whence the proverb of _Nulla die sine
linea_. His most perfect picture was the Venus Anadyomene, which,
however, was not wholly finished when the painter died.

He executed a painting of Alexander, holding thunder in his hand, so
much like life, that Pliny, who saw it, says that the hand of the king
with the thunder seemed to come out of the picture. This was placed in
Diana's temple at Ephesus. He made another picture of Alexander; but
the king, on coming to see it after it was painted, appeared not to
be satisfied with it. It happened, however, at that moment a horse,
passing by, neighed at the horse in the picture, supposing it to be
alive; upon which the painter said, "One would imagine that the horse
is a better judge of painting, than your majesty." When Alexander
ordered him to draw the picture of Campaspe, one of his favorites,
Apelles became enamored of her, and the king permitted him to marry
her. He wrote three volumes on painting, which were still extant in the
age of Pliny,--but they are now lost. It is said that he was accused,
while in Egypt, of conspiring against the life of Ptolemy, and that he
would have been put to death, had not the real conspirator discovered
himself, and thus saved the artist. Apelles put his name to but three
pictures; a sleeping Venus, Venus Anadyomene, and an Alexander.

Apelles appears to have been not only an excellent artist, but a man
of admirable traits of character. Being once at Rhodes, he met with
the productions of Protogenes,[10] which so greatly delighted him
that he offered to purchase the whole. Before this, Protogenes was
entirely unappreciated by his countrymen, but the approbation of one so
distinguished as Apelles, brought him into notice, and his fame soon
became established.

Another story of Apelles is told as having given rise to the well-known
maxim, _Ne sutor ultra crepidam_: Let the shoemaker stick to his last.
Apelles placed a picture, which he had finished, in a public place, and
concealed himself behind it, in order to hear the criticisms of the
passers-by. A shoemaker observed a defect in the shoe, and the painter
forthwith corrected it. The cobbler came the next day, and being
somewhat encouraged by the success of his first remark, began to extend
his censure to the leg of the figure, when the angry painter thrust out
his head from behind the figure, and told him to keep to his trade.

Apelles excelled in grace and beauty. The painter, who labored
incessantly, as we have seen, to improve his skill in drawing, probably
trusted as much to that branch of his art, as to his coloring. We are
told that he only used four colors. He used a varnish which brought
out the colors, and at the same time preserved them. His favorite
subject was the representation of Venus, the goddess of love,--the
female blooming in eternal beauty; and the religious system of the age
favored the taste of the artist.

Apelles painted many portraits of Alexander the Great, who, we are
told, often visited his painting room. It is not easy to reconcile
his rambling life with this account, unless we suppose that Apelles
followed him into Asia; a conjecture not altogether improbable, if we
read the account of the revelries at Susa, after Alexander's return
from India, and of the number of all kinds of professional artists then
assembled to add to the splendor of the festival.


[Footnote 10: Protogenes, a painter of Rhodes, who flourished about
328 years B. C. He was originally so poor that he painted ships to
maintain himself. His countrymen were ignorant of his merits, before
Apelles came to Rhodes and offered to buy all his pieces, as we have
related. This opened the eyes of the Rhodians; they became sensible of
the talents of their countryman, and liberally rewarded him. Protogenes
was employed seven years in finishing a picture of Jalysus a celebrated
huntsman, supposed to have been the son of Apollo and the founder of
Rhodes. During all this time the painter lived only upon lupines and
water, thinking that such aliment would leave him greater flights of
fancy; but all this did not seem to make him more successful in the
perfection of his picture. He was to represent in this piece a dog
panting, and with froth at his mouth; but this he could never do with
satisfaction to himself; and when all his labors seemed to be without
success, he threw his sponge upon the piece in a fit of anger. Chance
alone brought to perfection what the utmost labors of art could not
do; the fall of the sponge upon the picture represented the froth
of the mouth of the dog in the most perfect and natural manner, and
the piece was universally admired. Protogenes was very exact in his
representations, and copied nature with the greatest nicety; but this
was blamed as a fault by his friend Apelles. When Demetrius besieged
Rhodes, he refused to set fire to a part of the city, which might have
made him master of the whole, because he knew that Protogenes was then
working in that quarter. When the town was taken, the painter was
found closely employed, in a garden, finishing a picture; and when
the conqueror asked him why he showed not more concern at the general
calamity, he replied, that Demetrius made war against the Rhodians; and
not against the fine arts.]


This eccentric individual was a native of Sinope, a city of Pontus,
and born 419 B. C. Having been banished from his native place, with
his father, upon the accusation of coining false money, he went to
Athens, and requested Antisthenes, the Cynic,[11] to admit him among
his disciples. That philosopher in vain attempted to drive away the
unfortunate supplicant. He even threatened to strike him; but Diogenes
told him he could not find a stoic hard enough to repel him, so long
as he uttered things worthy of being remembered. Antisthenes was
propitiated by this, and received him among his pupils.

Diogenes devoted himself, with the greatest diligence, to the lessons
of his master, whose doctrines he afterwards extended and enforced. He
not only, like Antisthenes, despised all philosophical speculations,
and opposed the corrupt morals of his time, but also carried the
application of his principles, in his own person, to the extreme. The
stern austerity of Antisthenes was repulsive; but Diogenes exposed the
follies of his cotemporaries with wit and humor, and was, therefore,
better adapted to be the censor and instructor of the people, though he
really accomplished little in the way of reforming them. At the same
time, he applied, in its fullest extent, his principle of divesting
himself of all superfluities. He taught that a wise man, in order to
be happy, must endeavor to preserve himself independent of fortune, of
men, and of himself; and, in order to do this, he must despise riches,
power, honor, arts and sciences, and all the enjoyments of life.

He endeavored to exhibit, in his own person, a model of Cynic virtue.
For this purpose, he subjected himself to the severest trials, and
disregarded all the forms of polite society. He often struggled
to overcome his appetite, or satisfied it with the coarsest food;
practised the most rigid temperance, even at feasts, in the midst of
the greatest abundance, and did not consider it beneath his dignity to
ask alms.

By day, he walked through the streets of Athens barefoot, with a long
beard, a stick in his hand, and a bag over his shoulders. He was clad
in a coarse double robe, which served as a coat by day and a coverlet
by night; and he carried a wallet to receive alms. His abode was a
cask in the temple of Cybele. It is said that he sometimes carried a
tub about on his head which occasionally served as his dwelling. In
summer he rolled himself in the burning sand, and in winter clung to
the marble images covered with snow, that he might inure himself to the
extremes of the climate. He bore the scoffs and insults of the people
with the greatest equanimity. Seeing a boy draw water with his hand,
he threw away his wooden goblet, as an unnecessary utensil. He never
spared the follies of men, but openly and loudly inveighed against vice
and corruption, attacking them with keen satire, and biting irony.
The people, and even the higher classes, heard him with pleasure, and
tried their wit upon him. When he made them feel his superiority, they
often had recourse to abuse, by which, however, he was little moved.
He rebuked them for expressions and actions which violated decency and
modesty, and therefore it is not credible that he was guilty of the
excesses with which his enemies reproached him. His rudeness offended
the laws of good breeding, rather than the principles of morality.

On a voyage to the island of Ægina, he fell into the hands of pirates,
who sold him as a slave to Xeniades, a Corinthian. He, however,
emancipated him, and entrusted to him the education of his children. He
attended to the duties of his new employment with the greatest care,
commonly living in summer at Corinth, and in the winter at Athens. It
was at the former place that Alexander found him at the road-side,
basking in the sun; and, astonished at the indifference with which
the ragged beggar regarded him, entered into conversation with him,
and finally gave him permission to ask him a boon. "I ask nothing,"
answered the philosopher, "but that thou wouldst get out of my
sunshine." Surprised at this proof of content, the king is said to have
exclaimed, "Were I not Alexander, I would be Diogenes." The following
dialogue, though not given as historical, is designed to represent this

  _Diogenes._ Who calleth?

  _Alexander._ Alexander. How happeneth it that you would not come out
  of your tub to my palace?

  _D._ Because it was as far from my tub to your palace, as from your
  palace to my tub.

  _A._ What! dost thou owe no reverence to kings?

  _D._ No.

  _A._ Why so?

  _D._ Because they are not gods.

  _A._ They are gods of the earth.

  _D._ Yes, gods of the earth!

  _A._ Plato is not of thy mind.

  _D._ I am glad of it.

  _A._ Why?

  _D._ Because I would have none of Diogenes' mind but Diogenes.

  _A._ If Alexander have anything that can pleasure Diogenes, let me
  know, and take it.

  _D._ Then take not from me that you cannot give me--the light of the sun!

  _A._ What dost thou want?

  _D._ Nothing that you have.

  _A._ I have the world at command.

  _D._ And I in contempt.

  _A._ Thou shalt live no longer than I will.

  _D._ But I shall die, whether you will or no.

  _A._ How should one learn to be content?

  _D._ Unlearn to covet.

  _A._ (_to Hephæstion._) Hephæstion, were I not Alexander, I would wish
  to be Diogenes.

  _H._ He is dogged, but shrewd; he has a sharpness, mixed with a kind
  of sweetness; he is full of wit, yet too wayward.

  _A._ Diogenes, when I come this way again, I will both see thee and
  confer with thee.

  _D._ Do.

We are told that the philosopher was seen one day carrying a lantern
through the streets of Athens: on being asked what he was looking
after, he answered, "I am seeking an honest man." Thinking he had found
among the Spartans the greatest capacity for becoming such men as he
wished, he said, "Men, I have found nowhere, but children, at least,
I have seen in Lacedæmon." Being asked, "What is the most dangerous
animal?" his answer was, "Among wild animals, the slanderer; among
tame, the flatterer." He expired 323 B. C., at a great age, and, it
is said, on the same day that Alexander died. When he felt death
approaching, he seated himself on the road leading to Olympia, where he
died with philosophical calmness, in the presence of a great number of
people who were collected around him.

None of the works of Diogenes are extant; in these he maintained the
doctrines of the Cynics. He believed that exercise was of the greatest
importance, and capable of effecting everything. He held that there
were two kinds of exercise,--one of the body, and one of the mind,--and
that one was of little use without the other. By cultivation of the
mind, he did not mean the accumulation of knowledge or science, but a
training which might give it vigor, as exercise endows the body with
health and strength.

[Footnote 11: The Cynics were a sect of philosophers, founded by
Antisthenes, at Athens; they took their name from their disposition to
criticise the lives and actions of others. They were famous for their
contempt of riches, their neglect of dress, and the length of their
beards. They usually slept on the ground.]



It has been remarked by Coleridge, that all men are born disciples
either of Plato or Aristotle: by which he means that these two great
men are the leaders in the two kinds of philosophy which govern the
thinking world,--the one looking into the soul, as the great well of
truth; the other, studying the outward world, and building up its
system upon facts collected by observation. The truth is doubtless to
be found by compounding the two systems.

Plato was born at Athens, in May, 429 B. C. He was the son of Ariston
and Perectonia. His original name was Aristocles, and it has been
conjectured that he received that of Plato, from the largeness of
his shoulders: this, however, is improbable, as Plato was then a
common name at Athens. Being one of the descendants of Codrus, and
the offspring of a noble, illustrious, and opulent family, he was
educated with the utmost care; his body was formed and invigorated with
gymnastic exercises, and his mind was cultivated and trained by the
study of poetry and of geometry; from which two sources he doubtless
derived that acuteness of judgment and warmth of imagination, which
stamped him as at once the most subtle and flowery writer of antiquity.

He first began his literary career by writing poems and tragedies; but
he was disgusted with his own productions, when, at the age of twenty,
he was introduced into the society of Socrates, and was qualified to
examine, with critical accuracy, the merit of his compositions, and
compare them with those of his poetical predecessors. He, therefore,
committed them to the flames. During eight years he continued to be one
of the pupils of Socrates; and though he was prevented by indisposition
from attending the philosopher's last moments, he collected, from the
conversation of those that were present, and from his own accurate
observations, very minute and circumstantial accounts, which exhibit
the concern and sensibility of the pupil, and the firmness, virtue, and
elevated moral sentiments of the dying philosopher.

After the death of Socrates Plato retired from Athens, and, with a view
to emerge his stores of knowledge, he began to travel over different
countries. He visited Megara, Thebes, and Elis, where he met with the
kindest reception from his fellow-disciples, whom the violent death
of their master had likewise removed from Attica. He afterwards
visited Magna Græcia, attracted by the fame of the Pythagorean
philosophy, and by the learning, abilities, and reputation of its
professors, Philolaus, Archytas, and Eurytus. He then passed into
Sicily, and examined the eruptions of Etna. He visited Egypt, where the
mathematician Theodorus, then flourished, and where he knew that the
tenets of the Pythagorean philosophy had been fostered.

When he had finished his travels, Plato retired to the groves of
Academus, in the neighborhood of Athens, and established a school
there; his lectures were soon attended by a crowd of learned, noble,
and illustrious pupils; and the philosopher, by refusing to have a
share in the administration of political affairs, rendered his name
more famous and his school more frequented. During forty years he
presided at the head of the academy, and there he devoted his time to
the instruction of his pupils, and composed those dialogues which have
been the admiration of every succeeding age. His studies, however,
were interrupted for a while, as he felt it proper to comply with the
pressing invitations of Dionysius, of Syracuse, to visit him. The
philosopher earnestly but vainly endeavored to persuade the tyrant to
become the father of his people, and the friend of liberty.

In his dress, Plato was not ostentatious; his manners were elegant, but
modest, simple, and without affectation. The great honors which were
bestowed upon him, were not paid to his appearance, but to his wisdom
and virtue. In attending the Olympian games, he once took lodgings
with a family who were totally strangers to him. He ate and drank
with them, and partook of their innocent pleasures and amusements;
but though he told them his name was Plato, he did not speak of the
employment he pursued at Athens, and never introduced the name of that
great philosopher, whose doctrines he followed, and whose death and
virtues were favorite topics of conversation in every part of Greece.
When he returned to Athens, he was attended by the family which had
so kindly entertained him; and, being familiar with the city, he was
desired to show them the celebrated philosopher whose name he bore.
Their surprise may be imagined, when he told them that he was the Plato
whom they wished to behold.

In his diet he was moderate; and, indeed, to sobriety and temperance in
the use of food, and abstinence from those indulgences which enfeeble
the body and enervate the mind, some have attributed his preservation
during a terrible pestilence which raged in Athens at the beginning
of the Peloponnesian war. Plato was never subject to any long or
lingering indisposition; and, though change of climate had enfeebled a
constitution naturally strong and healthy, the philosopher lived to an
advanced age, and was often heard to say, when his physicians advised
him to leave his residence at Athens, where the air was impregnated by
the pestilence, that he would not advance one single step to gain the
top of Mount Athos, were he assured of attaining the longevity which
the inhabitants of that mountain were said to enjoy. Plato died on his
birth-day, in the eighty-first year of his age, about the year 348 B.
C. His last moments were easy, and without pain; and, according to
some authors, he expired in the midst of an entertainment; but Cicero
tells us that he died while in the act of writing.

The works of Plato are numerous; with the exception of twelve letters,
they are all written in the form of dialogue, in which Socrates is the
principal interlocutor. Thus he always speaks by the mouth of others,
and the philosopher has nowhere made mention of himself, except once
in his dialogue entitled Phædon, and another time in his Apology
for Socrates. His writings were so celebrated, and his opinions so
respected, that he was called divine; and for the elegance, melody, and
sweetness of his expressions, he was distinguished by the appellation
of the Athenian bee. His style, however, though commended and admired
by the most refined critics among the ancients, has not escaped the
censure of some of the moderns. It is obvious that the philosopher
cannot escape ridicule, who supposes that fire is a pyramid tied to
the earth by numbers; that the world is a figure consisting of twelve
pentagons; and who, to prove the metempsychosis and the immortality
of the soul, asserts that the dead are born from the living, and the
living from the dead. The speculative mind of Plato was employed in
examining things divine and human; and he attempted to ascertain and
fix not only the practical doctrines of morals and politics but the
more subtle and abstruse theory of mystical theogony--the origin of
the gods, or divine power. His philosophy was universally received and
adopted in ancient times, and it has not only governed the opinions of
the speculative part of mankind, but it continues still to influence
the reasoning, and to divide the sentiments of the moderns.

In his system of philosophy, he followed the physics of Heraclitus,
the metaphysical opinions of Pythagoras, and the morals of Socrates.
He maintained the existence of two beings--one self-existent, and the
other formed by the hand of a pre-existent, creative god and man. The
world, he maintained, was created by that self-existent cause, from the
rude, undigested mass of matter which had existed from all eternity,
and which had ever been animated by an irregular principle of motion.
The origin of evil could not be traced under the government of a deity,
without admitting a stubborn intractability and wildness congenial
to matter; and from these, consequently, could be demonstrated the
deviations from the laws of nature, and from thence, the extravagant
passions and appetites of men.

From materials like these were formed the four elements, and the
beautiful structure of the heavens and the earth; and into the active
but irrational principle of matter, the divinity infused a rational
soul. The souls of men were formed from the remainder of the rational
soul of the world, which had previously given existence to the
invisible gods and demons. The philosopher, therefore, supported the
doctrine of ideal forms, and the pre-existence of the human mind,
which he considered as emanations of the Deity, and which can never
remain satisfied with objects or things unworthy of their divine
original. Men could perceive, with their corporeal senses, the types of
immutable things, and the fluctuating objects of the material world;
but the sudden changes to which these are continually liable, create
innumerable disorders, and hence arise deception, and, in short, all
the errors of human life. Yet, in whatever situation man may be, he is
still an object of divine concern, and, to recommend himself to the
favor of the pre-existent cause, he must comply with the purposes of
his creation, and, by proper care and diligence, he can recover those
immaculate powers with which he was naturally endowed.

All science the philosopher made to consist in reminiscence--in
recalling the nature, forms, and proportions, of those perfect and
immutable essences, with which the human mind had been conversant. From
observations like these, the summit of felicity might be attained by
removing from the material, and approaching nearer to the intellectual
world; by curbing and governing the passions, which were ever agitated
and inflamed by real or imaginary objects.

The passions were divided into two classes: the first consisted of the
irascible passions, which originated in pride or resentment, and were
seated in the breast; the other, founded on the love of pleasure, was
the concupiscible part of the soul, seated in the inferior parts of the
body. These different orders induced the philosopher to compare the
soul to a small republic, of which the reasoning and judging powers
were stationed in the head, as in a firm citadel, and of which the
senses were the guards and servants. By the irascible part of the soul,
men asserted their dignity, repelled injuries, and scorned danger and
the concupiscible part provided the support and the necessities of
the body, and, when governed with propriety, gave rise to temperance.
Justice was produced by the regular dominion of reason, and by the
submission of the passions; and prudence arose from the strength,
acuteness, and perfection of the soul, without which other virtues
could not exist.

But amidst all this, wisdom was not easily attained; at their creation
all minds were not endowed with the same excellence; the bodies which
they animated on earth, were not always in harmony with the divine
emanation; some might be too weak, others too strong. On the first
years of a man's life depended his future character; an effeminate and
licentious education seemed calculated to destroy the purposes of the
divinity, while the contrary produced different effects, and tended to
cultivate and improve the reasoning and judging faculty, and to produce
wisdom and virtue.

Plato was the first who supported the immortality of the soul upon
arguments solid and permanent, deduced from truth and experience. He
did not imagine that the diseases and death of the body could injure
the principle of life, and destroy the soul, which, of itself, was of
divine origin, and of an incorrupted and immutable essence, which,
though inherent for a while in matter, could not lose that power which
was the emanation of God. From doctrines like these, the great founder
of Platonism concluded that there might exist in the world a community
of men, whose passions could be governed with moderation, and who, from
knowing the evils and miseries which arise from ill conduct, might
aspire to excellence, and attain that perfection which can be derived
from a proper exercise of the rational and moral powers. To illustrate
this more fully, the philosopher wrote a book, well known by the name
of the "Republic of Plato," in which he explains, with acuteness,
judgment, and elegance, the rise and revolution of civil society; and
so respected was his opinion as a legislator, that his scholars were
employed in regulating the republics of Arcadia.

It was a characteristic of Plato's mind, that he united a subtle
intellect to a glowing fancy. As an illustration of his style, we
may mention the passage in which he shows the operation of the three
principles in the human being--mind, soul, and body--or the three
powers of intellect, spirit, and matter. It occurs in the dialogue of
Phædrus, where he endeavors to illustrate the doctrine that the mind or
reason should be the governing faculty.

The soul is here compared to a chariot, drawn by a pair of winged
steeds, one of which is well-bred and well-trained, and the other quite
the contrary. The quiet horse, the Will, is obedient to the rein, and
strives to draw its wilder yoke-fellow, the Appetite, along with it,
and to induce it to listen to the voice of the charioteer, Reason. But
they have a great deal of trouble with the restive horse, and the whole
object of the journey seems to be lost, if this is permitted to have
its way. In this allegory, it is shown that the object of Reason, in
exacting obedience, is not merely that discipline and subordination
which constitute the virtues of man, but to keep the mind in a state
to rise to the contemplation and enjoyment of great and eternal truths.
In other words, a man must be in a moral state, before he can place
himself in a religious state, so as to enjoy the _summum bonum_, or
greatest good. What, then, is this greatest good? or, in the language
of Plato, its _idea_?--for, with him, _idea_ and _essence_ are
synonymous. This is God--not his image, but his nature, which is the
sovereign good. Thus the greatest happiness of man was placed by Plato
in a mysterious union of the soul with this source of goodness. How
near an approach to Christian communion with God, is this?

However fantastic many of the details of Plato's system may seem, and
however illusory its whole machinery must appear, when viewed in the
light of modern criticism, one thing is to be observed,--that the
great results of his philosophy are true. He struggled through the
thick mists of his age, and discovered the eternal existence of Deity;
he perceived and established, on grounds not to be controverted, the
immortality of the soul. He placed true happiness where philosophy and
religion place it--in the ascendency of the spirit over the body--the
subjugation of the passions to the dominion of reason and virtue. It
appears that the germs of these great truths had already manifested
themselves in the minds of Pythagoras, Socrates, and others; and Plato
borrowed from them many of his noble ideas. But he systematized what
they had left in a crude state; he gave a more clear and distinct
utterance to what his great master, Socrates, had dimly conceived, and
ineffectually struggled to announce. He reached the highest point, in
the search after divine knowledge which has ever been attained, without
the direct aid of inspiration. In the gradual development of God's will
to man, he was one of the great instruments. Yet, in reviewing his
works, we see how imperfect was still his knowledge of things divine,
and what fearful shadows would rest upon the world, if Plato were our
only guide. How dark, uncertain, mysterious, would be the ways of
God--the destinies of man--if left where the philosopher left them!




Socrates was born at Athens 468 B. C. His father, Sophroniscus, was
a sculptor of humble reputation and in moderate circumstances. He
educated his son to his own profession, in which it appears that the
latter made considerable proficiency. He did not, however, devote
himself wholly to this pursuit, but spent a large share of his time
in reading the works of philosophers. Crito, an intimate friend,
supplied him with money to pay the masters who taught him various
accomplishments, and he became an auditor of most of the great
philosophers who visited Athens, during his youth. By these means, he
received the best education which an Athenian youth could command in
those days.

In the early part of his life, he wrought at his trade, so far as
to earn a decent subsistence. Receiving a small property at his
father's death, when he was about thirty years of age, he devoted
himself entirely to philosophical pursuits. His habits were simple and
economical; his dress was coarse, and he seldom wore shoes. By his
frugality, he was thus able to live without labor, and yet without
being dependent upon others.

With regard to his public life, it appears that he served his country
faithfully as a soldier, according to the duty of every Athenian
citizen. He took part in three campaigns, displaying the greatest
hardihood and valor. He endured, without repining, hunger and thirst,
heat and cold. In a skirmish with the enemy, his pupil, Alcibiades,
fell wounded in the midst of the enemy. Socrates rescued him and
carried him off, for which the civic crown was awarded as the prize of
valor. This reward, however, he transferred to Alcibiades. In another
campaign he saved the life of his pupil, Xenophon, whom he carried from
the field on his shoulders, fighting his way as he went.

At the age of sixty-five, he became a member of the council of Five
Hundred, at Athens. He rose also to the dignity of president of that
body; by virtue of which office, he for one day managed the popular
assemblies and kept the key of the citadel and treasury. Ten naval
officers had been accused of misconduct, because, after the battle
of Arginusæ, they had omitted the sacred duty of burying the slain,
in consequence of a violent storm. Their enemies, finding the people
disposed to acquit them procured by intrigue, the prorogation of
several assemblies. A new assembly was held on the day when Socrates
was president; and the citizens, instigated by bad men, violently
demanded that sentence of death should be pronounced on all the accused
at once, contrary to law. But the menaces of violence were unable to
bend the inflexible justice of Socrates, and he was able afterwards to
declare, on his own trial, that ten innocent men had been saved by his

When Socrates formed the resolution of devoting himself to the pursuit
of divine and human knowledge, the sophists, a set of arrogant
philosophers, were perverting the heads and corrupting the hearts of
the Grecian youth. He therefore put himself in opposition to these
false guides, and went about endeavoring to instruct everybody in a
wiser and better philosophy than that which prevailed. He was, in fact,
an instructor of the people; and, believing himself an ambassador of
God, he was occupied from the dawn of day in seeking persons whom he
might teach either what is important to mankind in general, or the
private circumstances of individuals. He went to the public assemblies
and the most crowded streets, or entered the workshops of mechanics
and artists, and conversed with the people on religious duties, on
their social and political relations; on all subjects, indeed, relating
to morals, and even on agriculture, war, and the arts. He endeavored
to remove prevailing prejudices and errors, and to substitute right
principles; to awaken their better genius in the minds of his hearers;
to encourage and console them; to enlighten and improve mankind, and
make them really happy.

It is manifest that such a course must have been attended with great
difficulties. But the serenity of Socrates was undisturbed; he was
always perfectly cheerful in appearance and conversation. In the
market-place and at home, among people and in the society of those
whom love of truth and virtue connected more closely with him, he
was always the same. It cannot be doubted that a happy physical and
mental temperament contributed to produce this equanimity. But it was,
likewise, a fruit of self-discipline and the philosophy he taught. He
treated his body as a servant, and inured it to every privation, so
that moderation was to him an easy virtue; and he retained in old age
his youthful vigor, physical and mental. He was kind as a husband and
a father. Though his wife, Xantippe, was a noted shrew, he viewed her
as an excellent instrument of discipline, and treated her with patience
and forbearance.

Although the Greeks at this time were zealously devoted to their
heathen mythology, Socrates was a sincere worshipper of the Supreme
Being; yet, from his care not to offend his weaker brethren, he
observed, with punctilious exactness, the religious uses which
antiquity and custom had consecrated. He was constantly attended by a
circle of disciples, who caught from him the spirit of free inquiry,
and were inspired with his zeal for the highest good, for religion,
truth and virtue. The succeeding schools of philosophy in Greece
are therefore justly traced back to him; and he is to be regarded
as the master who gave philosophical investigation among the Greeks
its highest direction. Among his most distinguished disciples were
Alcibiades, Crito, Xenophon, Antisthenes, Aristippus, Phædon, Æschines,
Cebes, Euclid, and Plato. From the detached accounts given us by
Xenophon and Plato, it appears that he instructed them in politics,
rhetoric, logic, ethics, arithmetic, and geometry, though not in a
systematic manner. He read with them the principal poets, and pointed
out their beauties; he labored to enlighten and correct their opinions
on all practical subjects, and to excite them to the study of whatever
is most important to men.

To make his instructions attractive, they were delivered, not in long
lectures, but in free conversations, rendered interesting by question
and answer. He did not reason _before_, but _with_ his disciples, and
thus exercised an irresistible power over their minds. He obliged
them to think for themselves, and if there was any capacity in a man,
it could not fail to be excited by his conversation. This method of
question and answer is called the _Socratic method_. The fragments of
his conversations, preserved by Xenophon, often leave us unsatisfied;
Plato alone has transmitted to us the genuine spirit of this method;
and he was therefore viewed by the ancients as the only fountain of the
Socratic philosophy,--a fact which has been too much disregarded by
modern writers.

Socrates fell a victim to the spirit of bigotry, which has sacrificed
so many persons, who were in advance of the age. The document
containing the accusation against him was lodged in the Temple of
Cybele, as late as the second century of the Christian era. The
following is a translation:--"Melitus, son of Melitus, accuses
Socrates, son of Sophroniscus, of being guilty of denying the existence
of the gods of the republic, making innovations in the religion of the
Greeks, and of corrupting the Athenian youth. Penalty,--death."

Melitus, who was a tragic writer of a low order, was engaged as an
accuser in this affair, by the wealthy and more powerful enemies of
Socrates. Amongst them were Anytus and Lycon, the former a rich artisan
and zealous democrat, who had rendered very important services to
the republic, by aiding Thrasybulus in the expulsion of the thirty
tyrants, and in establishing the liberty of his country. The latter was
an orator, and therefore a political magistrate, to which office the
Athenian orators were entitled, by virtue of the laws of Solon.

Socrates was seventy years of age when summoned to appear at the
Areopagus. The news of this event did not excite much surprise, as the
people had long expected it. Aristophanes, the celebrated comic poet of
Athens, had previously undertaken, at the instigation of Melitus, to
ridicule the venerable character of the philosopher; and when once he
was calumniated and defamed, the fickle populace ceased to revere the
man whom they had before looked upon as a being of a superior order.

The enemies of Socrates were of two classes,--the one consisted of
citizens who could not help admiring his genius and virtue, but who
regarded him as a dangerous innovator and subverter of public order.
They were ready, with him, to acknowledge that some reformation might
be made in the tenets of Paganism; that the gods and goddesses were
not patterns of virtue; and that the conduct of the sovereign of the
skies, himself, was far from exemplary; but, said they, the thunders
of Jupiter exercise a salutary influence over the minds of some, and
the pains of Tartarus still operate as a bridle upon the passions of
others. To bring in question the ancient faith, was at once to attack
the institutions of the republic at their base, and excite revolution.
The philosophy of Socrates, even though true, must be suppressed; for
the life of one man is not to be put in the balance with the repose
of a whole people,--with the safety of the country. It is better that
Socrates should die, than Athens perish. Such was the reasoning of one

The other class was composed of the superstitious and bigoted,--of
the vicious and imbecile,--who were daily exposed to the censures
and sarcasms of the philosopher; in fine, of that set of narrow,
jealous-minded men, who looked upon the welfare and fame of their
neighbors with envy and with malice. The race that had exiled
Aristides, because he was great, was ready to condemn Socrates, because
he was wise. The friends and disciples of the great philosopher saw
the danger that menaced him, and with anxiety and fear they crowded
around their master, supplicating him to fly, or to adopt some means of
defence; but he would do neither. Lysias, one of the most celebrated
orators of the day, composed a pathetic oration, which he wished his
friend to pronounce, as his defence, in the presence of his judges.
Socrates read it, praised its animated and eloquent style, but rejected
it, as being neither manly nor expressive of fortitude. The anxiety
and trouble of avoiding condemnation appeared to him of little moment,
when compared to the performance of his duty in upholding to the last
moment, the truth of his principles and the dignity of his character.

Socrates, though both eloquent and persuasive in conversation, was not
capable of addressing a large assembly; therefore, on the day of his
trial, he asked permission of his judges to use the means of defence to
which he had been accustomed; namely, to speak familiarly with, and ask
questions of, his adversaries.

"Athenians," he said, in commencing, "I hope I shall succeed in my
defence, if, by succeeding, good may result from it; but I look upon my
success as very doubtful, and, therefore, do not deceive myself in that
respect. But let the will of the gods be obeyed."

The two chief accusations against Socrates, were firstly, that he
did not believe in the religion of the state; secondly, that he was
guilty of corrupting the minds of young men, and of disseminating the
disbelief of the established religion.

Socrates did not reply, in a direct manner, to either of these charges.
Instead of declaring that he believed in the religion of his country,
he proved that he was not an atheist; instead of refuting the charge of
instructing youth to doubt the sacred tenets of the law, he declared
and demonstrated that it was morality which he taught; and instead of
appealing to the compassion of his judges, he did not disguise the
contempt in which he held the means practised by parties accused, who,
in order to excite sympathy and compassion, brought their children and
relations to supplicate, with tears in their eyes, the mercy of the
judges. "I, also, have friends and relations!" he said, "and, as to
children, I have three,--one a stripling, the other two in childhood;
yet I will not allow them to come here to excite your sympathy.
Why will I not do so? It is not caused by stubbornness, nor by any
disdain I have for you. For my honor, for your honor, for that of the
republic, it is not meet that, with the reputation, whether true or
false that I have acquired, I should make use of such means to procure
your acquittal. Indeed, I should be ashamed if those that distinguish
themselves for wisdom, courage, or any other virtue, should, like many
people that I have seen, although they have passed for great men,
commit actions the most grovelling--as if death were the greatest
misfortune that could befall them, and that,--if their lives were
spared,--they would become immortal!"

When Socrates had ceased speaking, the judges of the Areopagus found
him guilty, by a majority of three. On being demanded, according to
the spirit of the Athenian laws, to pass sentence on himself, and
to mention the death he preferred, Socrates, conscious of his own
innocence, replied,--"Far from deeming myself guilty, I believe that
I have rendered my country important services, and, therefore, think
that I ought to be maintained in the Prytaneum at the public expense,
during the remainder of my life,--an honor, O Athenians, that I merit
more than the victors of the Olympic games. They make you happy in
appearance; I have made you so in reality."

This reply in the highest degree exasperated his judges, who condemned
him to die by poison. When the sentence was passed, Socrates remained,
for a few minutes, calm and undisturbed, and then asked permission to
speak a few words.

"Athenians," he said, "your want of patience will be used as a pretext
by those who desire to defame the republic. They will tell you that
you have put to death the wise Socrates; yes, they will call me wise,
to add, to your shame--though I am not so. If you had but waited a
short time, death would have come of itself, and thus saved you from
disgracing yourselves. You see I am already advanced in years and must
shortly die. All know that in times of war, nothing is more easy than
saving our lives by throwing down our weapons, and demanding quarter of
the enemy. It is the same in all dangers; a thousand pretexts can be
found by those who are not scrupulous about what they say and do. It is
difficult, O Athenians, to avoid death; but it is much more so to avoid
crime, which is swifter than death. It is for this reason that, old and
feeble as I am, I await the latter, whilst my accusers, who are more
vigorous and volatile, embrace the former. I am now about to suffer the
punishment to which you have sentenced me; my accusers, the odium and
infamy to which virtue condemns them."

"What is going to happen to me," he added, "will be rather an advantage
than an evil; for it is apparent, that to die at present, and to be
delivered of the cares of this life, is what will best suit me. I have
no resentment towards my accusers, neither have I any ill-will against
those who condemn me, although their intention was to injure me, to do
all in their power to do me harm. I will make but one request; when
my children are grown up, if they are seen to covet riches, or prefer
wealth to virtue, punish and torment them as I have tormented you; and
if they look upon themselves as beings of importance, make them blush
for their presumption. This is what I have done to you. If you do that,
you will secure the gratitude of a father, and my children will ever
praise you. But it is time that we should separate; I go to die, and
you to live. Which of us has the best portion? No one knows except God."

When he had finished, he was taken to prison and loaded with chains.
His execution was to have taken place in twenty-four hours, but it
was postponed for thirty days, on account of the celebration of the
Delian festivals. Socrates, with his usual cheerfulness and serenity,
passed this time in conversing with his friends upon some of the most
important subjects that could engage the mind of man. Plato relates,
in the dialogue entitled The Phedon, the conversation which took place
on the day preceding his death. That dialogue, without exception, is
the most beautiful that the Greeks have left us. We can give only those
passages which are more immediately connected with his death.

"After the condemnation of Socrates," says Phedon, "we did not allow a
day to escape without seeing him, and on the day previous to his death,
we assembled earlier than usual. When we arrived at the prison door,
the jailor told us to wait a little, as the Eleven were then giving
orders for the death of Socrates."

Speaking of the fear of death, Socrates said, "Assuredly, my dear
friends, if I did not think I was going to find, in the other world,
gods good and wise, and even infinitely better than we are, it would be
wrong in me not to be troubled at death; but you must know that I hope
soon to be introduced to virtuous men,--soon to arrive at the assembly
of the just. Therefore it is that I fear not death, hoping, as I do,
according to the ancient faith of the human race, that something better
is in store for the just, than what there is for the wicked."

The slave who was to give Socrates the poison, warned him to speak as
little as possible, because sometimes it was necessary to administer
the drug three or four times to those who allowed themselves to be
overheated by conversation.

"Let the poison be prepared," said Socrates, "as if it were necessary
to give it two or three times;" then continued to discourse upon the
immortality of the soul, mixing in his arguments the inspiration of
sentiment and of poetry.

"Let that man," said he, "have confidence in his destiny, who, during
lifetime, has renounced the pleasures of the body as productive of
evil. He who has sought the pleasures of science, who has beautified
his soul, not with useless ornaments, but with what is suitable to his
nature, such as temperance, justice, fortitude, liberty, and truth,
ought to wait peaceably the hour of his departure, and to be always
ready for the voyage, whenever fate calls him."

"Alas! my dear friend," said Crito; "have you any orders for me, or for
those present, with regard to your children or your affairs?" "What I
have always recommended to you, Crito,"--replied Socrates, "to take
care of yourselves,--nothing more. By doing so, you will render me a
service, my family, and all who know you."

After Socrates had bathed, his children and his female relations were
brought into his presence. He spoke to them for some time, gave them
his orders, then caused them to retire. After he returned, he sat down
upon his bed, and had scarcely spoken, when the officer of the Eleven
came in and said, "Socrates, I hope I shall not have the same occasion
to reproach you as I have had in respect to others. As soon as I come
to acquaint them that they must drink the poison, they are incensed
against me; but you have, ever since you came here, been patient, calm,
and even-tempered, and I am confident that you are not angry with
me. Now, you know what I have told you. Farewell! Try to bear with
resignation what cannot be avoided." Saying these words, he turned
away, while the tears were streaming from his eyes.

"I will follow your counsel," said Socrates. Then turning to his
disciples, he continued, "Observe the honesty of that poor man.
During my imprisonment, he has visited me daily, and now, see with
what sincerity he weeps for me!" When the slave brought the poison to
Socrates, the latter looked at him, and said, "Very well, my friend,
what must I do? for you know best, and it is your business to direct

"Nothing else but drink the poison; then walk, and when you find
your limbs grow stiff, lie down upon your bed." At the same time, he
handed the cup to Socrates, who took it without emotion or change of
countenance; then looking at the man with a steady eye, he said,--"Tell
me, is it allowable to make a drink-offering of this mixture?"
"Socrates," the man replied, "we never prepare more than what is
sufficient for one dose."

"I understand you," said Socrates; "but nevertheless, it is lawful for
me to pray to God that he may bless my voyage, and render it a happy
one." Having said so, he raised the cup to his lips, and drank the
poison with astonishing tranquillity and meekness. When Socrates looked
around and saw his friends vainly endeavoring to stifle their tears,
he said, "What are you doing, my companions? Was it not to avoid this,
that I sent away the women? and you have fallen into their weakness. Be
quiet, I pray you, and show more fortitude."

In the mean time, he continued to walk, and when he felt his legs grow
stiff, he lay down upon his back, as had been recommended. The person
who gave Socrates the poison, then came forward, and, after examining
his legs and feet, he bound them, and asked if he felt the cord. The
dying philosopher answered, "No;" and feeling himself with his hand,
he told his disciples, that "when the cold reached his heart, he should
leave them."

A few minutes afterwards, he exclaimed, "Crito, we owe a cock to
Esculapius; do not forget to pay the debt." These were the last words
of Socrates. Such was the end of the great philosopher; and it may be
truly said that he was one of the wisest, best, and most upright of all
the Athenians.

In personal appearance Socrates was disagreeable: he had a sunken
nose, and his eyes protruded so as to give him a strange appearance.
It is supposed that he knew the shrewish temper of Xantippe, before he
married her, and sought the alliance that she might give exercise to
his patience. She tried every means to irritate him, and finding it
impossible to rouse his anger, she poured some dirty water upon him
from a window. "After thunder, we generally have rain," was the only
remark the philosopher deigned to make. Many other anecdotes are handed
down, which show the wonderful command Socrates had acquired over




This eminent Athenian general and statesman, was born about 450 B.
C. Descended on both sides from the most illustrious families of his
country,--born to the inheritance of great wealth,--endued with great
personal beauty and the most brilliant mental qualities,--it seemed
evident, from his early youth, that he would exert no slight influence
over the counsels and fortunes of Athens. His father, Cleinias, was
killed at the battle of Cheronæa, and being thus an orphan, he was
placed under the wardship of his uncle, Pericles. The latter was too
much engaged in affairs of state to bestow that care upon Alcibiades,
which the impetuosity of his disposition required. In his childhood
he showed the germ of his future character. One day, when he was
playing at dice with some companions in the street, a wagon came up;
he requested the driver to stop, and, the latter refusing, Alcibiades
threw himself before the wheel, exclaiming, "Drive on, if thou darest!"

He excelled alike in mental and bodily exercises. His beauty and birth,
and the high station of Pericles, procured him a multitude of friends
and admirers, and his reputation was soon injured by the dissipation in
which he became involved. He was fortunate in acquiring the friendship
of Socrates, who endeavored to lead him to virtue, and undoubtedly
obtained a great ascendency over him, so that Alcibiades often quitted
his gay associates for the company of the philosopher.

He bore arms, for the first time, in the expedition against Potidæa and
was wounded. Socrates, who fought at his side, defended him, and led
him out of danger. In the battle of Delium, he was among the cavalry
who were victorious, but, the infantry being beaten, he was obliged to
flee, as well as the rest. He overtook Socrates, who was retreating on
foot. Alcibiades accompanied him, and protected him.

[Illustration: _Socrates saving Alcibiades._]

For a considerable time he took no part in public affairs, but on the
death of Cleon, 422 B. C., Nicias succeeded in making a peace for fifty
years, between the Athenians and Lacedæmonians. Alcibiades, jealous of
the influence of Nicias, and offended because the Lacedæmonians, with
whom he was connected by the ties of hospitality, had not applied to
him, sought to bring about some disagreement between the two nations.
The Lacedæmonians sent ambassadors to Athens. Alcibiades received them
with apparent good-will, and advised them to conceal their credentials,
lest the Athenians should prescribe conditions to them. They suffered
themselves to be duped, and, when called into the assembly, declared
that they were without credentials. Alcibiades rose immediately, stated
that they had credentials, accused them of ill-faith, and induced the
Athenians to form an alliance with the Argives. A breach with the
Lacedæmonians was the immediate consequence. Alcibiades commanded
the Athenian fleet several times during the war, and devastated the

He did not, however, refrain from luxury and dissipation, to which he
abandoned himself after his return from the wars. On one occasion,
after having a nocturnal revel, in the company of some friends, he laid
a wager that he would give Hipponicus a box on the ear; which he did.
This act made a great noise in the city, but Alcibiades went to the
injured party, threw off his garments, and called upon him to revenge
himself by whipping him with rods. This open repentance reconciled
Hipponicus, who not only pardoned him, but gave him afterwards his
daughter, Hipparete, in marriage, with a portion of ten talents--about
ten thousand dollars. Alcibiades, however, still continued his levity
and prodigality. His extravagance was conspicuous at the Olympic
games, where he entered the stadium, not like other rich men, with one
chariot, but with seven at a time--and gained the three first prizes.
He seems also to have been victor in the Pythian and Nemæan games. By
these courses he drew upon himself the hatred of his fellow citizens,
and he would have fallen a sacrifice to the ostracism, if he had
not, in connection with Nicias and Phæax, who feared a similar fate,
artfully contrived to procure the banishment of his most formidable

Soon afterwards, the Athenians, at the instance of Alcibiades, resolved
on an expedition against Sicily, and elected him commander-in-chief,
together with Nicias and Lamachus. But, during the preparations, it
happened one night that all the statues of Mercury were broken. The
enemies of Alcibiades charged him with the act, but postponed a public
accusation till he had set sail, when they stirred up the people
against him to such a degree, that he was recalled in order to be
tried. Alcibiades had been very successful in Sicily, when he received
the order to return. He prepared to obey, and embarked, but on reaching
Thurium, he landed, and, instead of proceeding to Athens, concealed
himself. Some one asking him, "How is this, Alcibiades? Have you no
confidence in your country?"--he replied, "I would not trust my mother
when my life is concerned, for she might, by mistake, take a black
stone instead of a white one." He was condemned to death in Athens.
When the news reached him, he remarked--"I shall show the Athenians
that I am yet alive."

He now went to Argos; thence to Sparta, where he made himself a
favorite by conforming closely to the prevailing strictness of manners.
Here he succeeded in inducing the Lacedæmonians to form an alliance
with the Persian king, and, after the unfortunate issue of the Athenian
expedition against Sicily, he prevailed on the Spartans to assist
the inhabitants of Chios in throwing off the yoke of Athens. He went
himself thither, and on his arrival in Asia Minor, roused the whole of
Ionia to insurrection against the Athenians, and did them considerable
injury. But Agis and the principal leaders of the Spartans became
jealous of him, on account of his success, and ordered their commanders
in Asia to cause him to be assassinated.

Alcibiades suspected their plan, and went to Tissaphernes, a Persian
satrap, who was ordered to act in concert with the Lacedæmonians. Here
he changed his manners once more, adopted the luxurious habits of
Asia, and soon contrived to make himself indispensable to the satrap.
As he could no longer trust the Lacedæmonians, he undertook to serve
his country, and showed Tissaphernes that it was against the interest
of the Persian king to weaken the Athenians; on the contrary, Sparta
and Athens ought to be preserved for their mutual injury. Tissaphernes
followed this advice, and afforded the Athenians some relief. The
latter had, at that time, considerable forces at Samos. Alcibiades sent
word to their commanders, that, if the licentiousness of the people
was suppressed and the government put into the hands of the nobles, he
would procure for them the friendship of Tissaphernes, and prevent the
junction of the Phoenician and Lacedæmonian fleets.

This demand was acceded to, and Pisander was sent to Athens; by whose
means the government of the city was put into the hands of a council,
consisting of four hundred persons. As, however, the council showed no
intention of recalling Alcibiades, the army of Samos chose him their
commander, and exhorted him to go directly to Athens and overthrow the
power of the tyrants. He wished, however, not to return to his country
before he had rendered it some services; and therefore attacked and
totally defeated the Lacedæmonians. When he returned to Tissaphernes,
the latter, in order not to appear a participator in the act, caused
him to be arrested in Sardis. But Alcibiades found means to escape;
placed himself at the head of the Athenian army; conquered the
Lacedæmonians and Persians, at Cyzicus, by sea and land; took Cyzicus,
Chalcedon, and Byzantium; restored the sovereignty of the sea to the
Athenians, and returned to his country, whither he had been recalled,
on the motion of Critias.

He was received with general enthusiasm; for the Athenians considered
his exile as the cause of all their misfortunes. But this triumph was
of short duration. He was sent with one hundred ships to Asia; and, not
being supplied with money to pay his soldiers, he saw himself under
the necessity of seeking help in Caria, and committed the command
to Antiochus, who was drawn into a snare by Lysander, and lost his
life and a part of his ships. The enemies of Alcibiades improved this
opportunity to accuse him, and procure his removal from office.

Alcibiades now went to Pactyæ in Thrace, collected troops, and waged
war against the Thracians. He obtained considerable booty, and secured
the quiet of the neighboring Greek cities. The Athenian fleet was,
at that time, lying at Ægos Potamos. He pointed out to the generals
the danger which threatened them, advised them to go to Sestos, and
offered his assistance to force the Lacedæmonian general, Lysander,
either to fight, or to make peace. But they did not listen to him, and
soon after were totally defeated. Alcibiades, fearing the power of
the Lacedæmonians, betook himself to Bithynia, and was about to go to
Artaxerxes, to procure his assistance for his country. In the meantime,
the thirty tyrants, whom Lysander after the capture of Athens, had set
up there, requested the latter to cause Alcibiades to be assassinated.
But Lysander declined, until he received an order to the same effect
from his own government. He then charged Pharnabazes with the execution
of it. Alcibiades was at the time with Timandra, his mistress, in a
castle in Phrygia. The assistants of Pharnabazes, afraid to encounter
Alcibiades, set fire to his house, and when he had already escaped the
conflagration, they despatched him with their arrows. Timandra buried
the body with due honor.

Thus Alcibiades ended his life, 404 B. C., being about forty-five years
old. He was endowed by nature with distinguished qualities, a rare
talent to captivate and rule mankind, and uncommon eloquence, although
he could not pronounce the letter _r_, and had an impediment in his
speech. He had, however, no fixed principles, and was governed only by
external circumstances. He was without that elevation of soul which
steadily pursues the path of virtue. On the other hand, he possessed
that boldness which arises from consciousness of superiority, and which
shrinks from no difficulty, because confident of success. He was a
singular instance of intellectual eminence and moral depravity. His
faculty for adapting himself to circumstances enabled him to equal
the Spartans in austerity of manners, and to surpass the pomp of the
Persians. Plutarch says, that "no man was of so sullen a nature but he
would make him merry; nor so churlish but he could make him gentle."


Democritus, one of the most remarkable of the philosophers of
antiquity, was born at Abdera, a maritime city of Thrace, 460 B. C. He
travelled over the greatest part of Europe, Asia and Africa, in quest
of knowledge. Though his father was so rich as to entertain Xerxes
and his whole army, while marching against Greece, and left his son a
large fortune, yet the latter returned from his travels in a state of
poverty. It was a law of the country, that a man should be deprived
of the honor of a funeral, who had reduced himself to indigence.
Democritus was of course exposed to this ignominy; but having read
before his countrymen his chief work, it was received with the greatest
applause, and he was presented with five hundred talents,--a sum nearly
equal to half a million of dollars. Statues were also erected to his
honor; and a decree was passed that the expenses of his funeral should
be paid from the public treasury.

These circumstances display alike the great eminence of the
philosopher, and an appreciation of genius and learning on the part
of the people, beyond what could now be found in the most civilized
communities of the world. Where is the popular assembly of the present
day, that would bestow such a reward, on such an occasion?

After his return from his travels, Democritus retired to a garden
near the city, where he dedicated his time to study and solitude;
and, according to some authors, put out his eyes, to apply himself
more closely to philosophical inquiries. This, however, is unworthy
of credit. He was accused of insanity, and Hippocrates, a celebrated
physician, was ordered to inquire into the nature of his disorder.
After a conference with the philosopher, he declared that not the
latter, but his enemies were insane. Democritus was so accustomed to
laugh at the follies and vanities of mankind, who distract themselves
with care, and are at once the prey to hope and anxiety, that he
acquired the title of the "laughing philosopher," in contrast to
Heraclitus,[12] who has been called the "weeping philosopher." He told
Darius, the king, who was inconsolable for the loss of his wife, that
he would raise her from the dead if he could find three persons who had
gone through life without adversity, and whose names he might engrave
on the queen's monument. The king's inquiries after such, proved
unavailing, and the philosopher discovered the means of soothing the
sorrows of the sovereign.

He was a disbeliever in the existence of ghosts; and some youths, to
try his fortitude, dressed themselves in hideous and deformed habits,
and approached his cave in the dead of night, expecting to excite his
terror and astonishment. The philosopher received them unmoved, and,
without hardly deigning to bestow upon them a look, desired them to
cease making themselves such objects of ridicule and folly. He died in
the one hundred and fourth year of his age, B. C. 357.

All the works of Democritus, which were numerous, are lost. He was
the first to teach that the milky way was occasioned by a confused
light from a multitude of stars. He may be considered as the parent of
experimental philosophy; in the prosecution of which he was so ardent,
that he declared he would prefer the discovery of one of the causes of
the works of nature, to the diadem of Persia. He is said to have made
artificial emeralds by chemical means, and to have tinged them with
various colors; he likewise found the art of dissolving stones and
softening ivory.

He was the author of the atomic theory; he viewed all matter, in which
he included mind, as reducible to atoms; he considered the universe to
consist only of matter and empty space. The mind he regarded as round
atoms of fire. He argued that nothing could arise out of nothing; and
also that nothing could utterly perish and become nothing. Hence he
inferred the eternity of the universe, and dispensed with the existence
of a Creator.

He explained the difference in substances by a difference in their
component atoms; and all material phenomena, by different motions,
backward or forward, taking place of necessity. He did not seem to
perceive that under this word, _necessity_, he concealed a deity. He
explained sensation by supposing sensible images to issue from bodies.
In moral philosophy, he only taught that a cheerful state of mind was
the greatest attainable good.

The theories of Democritus appear absurd enough in our time; but
philosophy was then in its infancy. His struggles after light and truth
display the darkness of the age, and the ingenuity of the philosopher.
They may also teach us by what a process of mental toil, for centuries
piled upon centuries, the knowledge we possess has been attained. The
school he established, was supplanted, about a century after, by that
of Epicurus.


[Footnote 12: Heraclitus flourished about 500 years B. C. He was a
native of Ephesus; and being of a melancholy disposition, he spent
his time in mourning and weeping over the frailties of human nature,
and the miseries of human life. He employed himself for a time, in
writing different treatises, in which he maintained that all things
are governed by a fatal necessity. His opinions, in some things, were
adopted by the Stoics. He became at last a man-hater, and retired to
the mountains, so as to be entirely separated from his fellow-men. Here
he fed on grass, which brought on a dropsical complaint: to get cured
of this, he returned to the town. He established his residence on a
dunghill, hoping that the warmth might dissipate his disease; but this
proved ineffectual, and he died in his sixtieth year.]



This celebrated man, born about 498 B. C., was an Athenian of noble
birth, son of Xantippus and Agariste. He was endowed by nature with
great powers, which he improved by attending the lectures of Damon,
Zeno, and Anaxagoras. Under these celebrated masters, he became a
commander, a statesman, and an orator, and gained the affections
of the people by his great address, and well-directed liberality.
When he took a share in the administration of public affairs, he
rendered himself popular by opposing Cimon, who was the favorite of
the nobility; and, to remove every obstacle which stood in the way of
his ambition, he lessened the dignity and the power of the court of
Areopagus, whom the people had been taught for ages to respect and

He continued his attacks upon Cimon, and finally caused him to be
banished by the ostracism. Thucydides also, who had succeeded Cimon
on his banishment, shared the same fate, and Pericles remained, for
fifteen years, the sole minister, and, as it may be said, the absolute
sovereign of a republic which always showed itself so jealous of her
liberties, and which distrusted so much the honesty of her magistrates.
In his ministerial capacity, Pericles did not enrich himself, but the
prosperity of Athens was the object of his administration. He made war
against the Lacedæmonians, and restored the temple of Delphi to the
care of the Phocians, who had been illegally deprived of that honorable

He obtained a victory over the Sicyonians near Nemæa, and waged a
successful war against the inhabitants of Samos. The Peloponnesian war
was fomented by his ambitious views, and when he had warmly represented
the flourishing state, the opulence and actual power of his country,
the Athenians did not hesitate to undertake a war against the most
powerful republics of Greece--a war which continued for twenty-seven
years, and was concluded by the destruction of their empire and the
demolition of their walls. The arms of the Athenians were, for some
time, crowned with success; but an unfortunate expedition raised
clamors against Pericles, and the enraged populace attributed all their
losses to him. To make atonement for their ill-success, they condemned
him to pay fifty talents.

The loss of popular favor did not so much affect Pericles, as the death
of all his children. When the tide of disaffection had passed away, he
condescended to come into the public assembly, and viewed with secret
pride the contrition of his fellow-citizens, who universally begged his
forgiveness for the violence which they had offered to his ministerial
character. He was again restored to all his honors, and, if possible,
invested with more power and more authority than before; but the
dreadful pestilence which had diminished the number of his family, and
swept away many of his best friends, proved fatal to himself, and about
429 years B. C., in his seventieth year, he fell a sacrifice to that
terrible malady which robbed Athens of so many of her citizens.

Pericles was forty years at the head of the administration; twenty-five
years with others, and fifteen alone. The flourishing state of the
country under his government, gave occasion to the Athenians publicly
to lament his loss and venerate his memory. As he was expiring
and apparently senseless, his friends, that stood around his bed,
expatiated with warmth on the most glorious actions of his life, and
the victories which he had won--when he suddenly interrupted their
tears and conversation, by saying, that in mentioning the exploits he
had achieved, and which were common to him with all generals, they had
forgotten to mention a circumstance, which reflected far greater glory
on him as a minister, a general, and above all, as a man: "It is," said
he, "that not a citizen in Athens has been obliged to put on mourning
on my account."

The Athenians were so affected by his eloquence that they compared it
to thunder and lightning, and, as if he were another father of the
gods, they gave him the title of Olympian. The poets said that the
goddess of persuasion, with all her charms and attractions, dwelt
upon his tongue. When he marched at the head of the Athenian armies,
he observed that he had the command of a free nation, who were Greeks
and citizens of Athens. He also declared that not only the hand of
a magistrate, but also his eyes and his tongue, should be pure and
undefiled. There can be no doubt that Pericles was one of the most
eloquent orators and sagacious statesmen of Greece.

Yet, great and venerable as his character may appear, we must not
forget his follies. His vicious partiality for the celebrated
courtesan, Aspasia, justly subjected him to the ridicule and censure
of his fellow-citizens. The greatness of his talents and his services,
enabled him to triumph over satire and reproach for the time, but the
Athenians had occasion to execrate the memory of a man, who, by his
example, corrupted the purity and innocence of their morals, and who,
associating licentiousness with talents and public virtue, rendered it
almost respectable.

Pericles lost all his legitimate children by the pestilence already
mentioned; and to call a natural son by his own name, he was obliged to
repeal a law which he had made against spurious children, and which
he had enforced with great severity. This son, named Pericles, became
one of the ten generals who succeeded Alcibiades in the administration
of affairs, and, like his colleagues, he was condemned to death by the
Athenians, after the unfortunate battle of Arginusæ.




This great Athenian general and statesman, who took so conspicuous
a part in the deliverance of Greece from the Persians, and who has
come down to us with the enviable surname of THE JUST, was the son of
Lysimachus and born about the year 550 B. C. We know little of the
steps by which he rose to eminence. He was one of the ten generals of
the Athenian forces, when they fought with the Persians at Marathon.
According to the custom, each general held command of the army for
one day, in rotation. Aristides, perceiving the disadvantages of
this system, prevailed on his colleagues to give up their command
to Miltiades. To this, in a great measure, must be attributed the
memorable victory of the Greeks upon that occasion.

The year after this, Aristides was archon; and the ambitious
Themistocles, desiring to get rid of him privately circulated a charge
that Aristides was aiming at sovereign power. He succeeded finally in
causing him to be exiled by the ostracism--a vote of banishment, in
which the Athenians used shells for ballots. While the voting, upon
this occasion, was going on, Aristides was among the people; a rustic
citizen, who did not know him, came up and asked him to write the name
of Aristides upon the shell with which he intended to vote. "Has he
ever injured you?" said Aristides. "No," said the voter, "but I am
tired of hearing him called the '_Just!_'"

Aristides left Athens, with prayers for its welfare. He was recalled
at the end of three years, and, forgetting his injury, devoted himself
with ardor and success to the good of his country. In the famous battle
of Platea, he commanded the Athenians, and is entitled to a great share
of the merit of the splendid victory gained by the Greeks. He died at
an advanced age, about 467 B. C. He was so poor that the expenses of
his funeral were defrayed at the public charge, and his two daughters,
on account of their father's virtues, received a dowry from the public
treasury, when they came to marriageable years.

The effect of so rare an example as that of Aristides, was visible even
during his lifetime. The Athenians became more virtuous, in imitating
their great leader. Such was their sense of his good qualities, that,
at the representation of one of the tragedies of Æschylus, when the
actor pronounced a sentence concerning moral goodness, the eyes of the
audience were all at once turned from the players to Aristides. When
he sat as judge, it is said that the plaintiff in his accusation--in
order to prejudice him against the defendant--mentioned the injuries
he had done to Aristides. "Mention the wrong _you_ have received,"
said the equitable Athenian. "I sit here as judge; the lawsuit is
yours, not mine." On one occasion, Themistocles announced to the
people of Athens that he had a scheme of the greatest advantage to the
state; but it could not be mentioned in a public assembly. Aristides
was appointed to confer with him. The design was to set fire to the
combined fleet of the Greeks, then lying in a neighboring port, by
which means the Athenians would acquire the sovereignty of the seas.
Aristides returned to the people, and told them that nothing could be
more advantageous--yet nothing more unjust. The project was of course

The character of Aristides is one of the finest that is handed down by
antiquity. To him belongs the rarest of all praises, that of observing
justice, not only between man and man, but between nation and nation.
He was truly a patriot, for he preferred the good of his country to his
own ambition. A candid enemy, an impartial friend, a just administrator
of other men's money--an observer of national faith--he is well
entitled to the imperishable monument which is erected in that simple
title, THE JUST!



This celebrated inventor of fables was a native of Phrygia, in Asia
Minor, and flourished in the time of Solon, about 560 B. C. A life of
him was written by a Greek monk, named Planudes, about the middle of
the fourteenth century, which passed into circulation as a genuine
work, but which is proved to have been a mere fiction. In that work,
Æsop is represented as being hunch-backed, and an object of disgust
from his deformity. There appears to be no foundation whatever for this
story. This invention of the monk, no doubt, had for its object, to
give eclat to the beauties of Æsop's mind, by the contrast of bodily

Throwing aside the work of Planudes, we are left to grope in obscurity
for the real history of the great fabulist. After the most diligent
researches, we can do little more than trace the leading incidents of
his life. The place of his birth, like that of Homer, is matter of
question; Samos, Sardis, Cotiæum in Phrygia, and Mesembria in Thrace,
laying claim alike to that honor. The early part of his life was spent
in slavery, and the names of three of his masters have been preserved:
Dinarchus, an Athenian, in whose service he is said to have acquired
a correct and pure knowledge of Greek; Xanthus, a Samian, who figures
in Planudes as a philosopher, in order that the capacity of the slave
may be set off by the incapacity of the master; and Iadmon or Idmon,
another Samian, by whom he was enfranchised.

He acquired a high reputation in Greece for that species of
composition, which, after him, was called Æsopian, and, in consequence,
was solicited by Croesus to take up his abode at the Lydian court. Here
he is said to have met Solon, and to have rebuked the sage for his
uncourtly way of inculcating moral lessons. He is said to have visited
Athens during the usurpation of Pisistratus, and to have then composed
the fable of Jupiter and the Frogs[13] for the instruction of the

Being charged by Croesus with an embassy to Delphi, in the course of
which he was to distribute a sum of money to every Delphian, a quarrel
arose between him and the citizens, in consequence of which he returned
the money to his patron, alleging that those for whom it was meant
were unworthy of it. The disappointed party, in return, got up the
charge of sacrilege, upon which they put him to death. A pestilence
which ensued was attributed to this crime, and in consequence they made
proclamation, at all the public assemblies of the Grecian nation, of
their willingness to make compensation for Æsop's death to any one who
should appear to claim it. A grandson of his master, Iadmon, at length
claimed and received it, no person more closely connected with the
sufferer having appeared.

It is a question of some doubt, whether Æsop was the inventor of that
species of fable which endows the inferior animals, and even inanimate
objects, with speech and reason, and thus, under the cover of humorous
conceit, conveys lessons of wisdom; and which, from their pleasant
guise, are often well received where the plain truth would be rejected.
The probability is, that, if not the originator of such fables,
Æsop was the first who composed them of such point as to bring them
into use as a powerful vehicle for the inculcation of truth. At all
events, there is abundant proof that fables, passing under his name,
were current and popular in Athens, during the most brilliant period
of its literary history, and not much more than a century after the
death of the supposed author. The drolleries of Æsop are mentioned by
Aristophanes in terms which lead us to suppose that they were commonly
repeated at convivial parties. Socrates, in prison, turned into verse
'those that he knew;' and Plato, who banishes the fictions of Homer
from his ideal republic, speaks with high praise of the tendency of
those of Æsop.

Many of the fables in circulation among us, under the name of Æsop, are
not his;--indeed, it is probable that but a small portion of them can
trace their origin back to the Phrygian. A good fable, as well as a
good story, however it may originate, is apt to be attributed to one
whose character it may suit--and thus it happens that the same smart
sayings are credited, in different countries, to different individuals;
and thus, also, we see that many of the fables which we assign to Æsop,
are credited, by the Mohammedans, to their fabulist, Lokman.

The value of fables, as instruments of instruction, is attested by
Addison, in the following words. "They were," says he, "the first
pieces of wit that made their appearance in the world; and have been
still highly valued, not only in times of the greatest simplicity, but
among the most polite ages of mankind. Jotham's fable of the Trees is
the oldest that is extant, and as beautiful as any which have been
made since that time. Nathan's fable of the Poor Man and his Lamb is
likewise more ancient than any that is extant, excepting the above
mentioned, and had so good an effect as to convey instruction to the
ear of a king, without offending it, and to bring the 'man after God's
own heart' to a right sense of his guilt and his duty. We find Æsop
in the most distant ages of Greece. And, if we look into the very
beginning of the commonwealth of Rome, we see a mutiny among the common
people appeased by the fable of the Belly and the Members; which was
indeed very proper to gain the attention of an incensed rabble, at
a time when perhaps they would have torn to pieces any man who had
preached the same doctrine to them in an open and direct manner. As
fables took their birth in the very infancy of learning, they never
flourished more than when learning was at its greatest height. To
justify this assertion, I shall put my reader in mind of Horace, the
greatest wit and critic in the Augustan age; and of Boileau, the most
correct poet among the moderns; not to mention La Fontaine, who, by
this way of writing, is come more into vogue than any other author of
our times."

"Reading is to the mind," continues the writer, "what exercise is
to the body: as, by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and
invigorated, by the other, virtue, (which is the health of the mind,)
is kept alive, cherished and confirmed. But, as exercise becomes
tedious and painful when we make use of it only as the means of health,
so reading is too apt to grow uneasy and burdensome, when we apply
ourselves to it only for our improvement in virtue. For this reason,
the virtue which we gather from a fable or an allegory, is like the
health we get by hunting, as we are engaged in an agreeable pursuit
that draws us on with pleasure, and makes us insensible of the fatigues
that accompany it."

In modern times, La Fontaine has given us an admirable collection of
fables, and the artist Grandville has added a new charm to them, by a
very happy conceit. With infinite wit, he has dressed up the wolves,
foxes, and other animals which figure in the fables, in human attire,
yet so skilfully as to seem natural--thus aiding the imagination, in
conceiving of the actors and speakers in the fables, as performing
their several parts. By the aid of his magical pencil, even trees,
kettles and kegs assume an appearance of life, and seem to justify the
wit and wisdom which they are imagined to utter. The humor of these
designs is inimitable; and thus not only is greater effect given to
the particular fables illustrated, but greater scope, to the fable
generally. We are indebted, in this country, for a most excellent
translation of La Fontaine, with many of Grandville's designs, to
Professor Wright.


[Footnote 13: "The frogs, living an easy, free life everywhere among
the lakes and ponds, assembled together one day, in a very tumultuous
manner, and petitioned Jupiter to let them have a king, who might
inspect their morals, and make them live a little honester. Jupiter,
being at that time in pretty good humor, was pleased to laugh heartily
at their ridiculous request; and, throwing a little log down into
the pool, cried, 'There is a king for you,' The sudden splash which
this made, by its fall into the water, at first terrified them so
exceedingly, that they were afraid to come near it. But, in a little
time, seeing it remain without moving, they ventured, by degrees, to
approach it; and, at last, finding there was no danger, they leaped
upon it, and, in short, treated it as familiarly as they pleased.

"But not contented with so insipid a king as this was, they sent their
deputies to petition again for another sort of one; for this they
neither did nor could like. Upon that Jupiter sent them a stork, who,
without any ceremony, fell to devouring and eating them up, one after
another, as fast as he could. Then they applied themselves privately to
Mercury, and got him to speak to Jupiter in their behalf, that he would
be so good as to bless them again with another king, or to restore them
to their former state. 'No,' says Jove, 'since it was their own choice,
let the obstinate wretches suffer the punishment due to their folly.'"]



Solon, one of the seven wise men of Greece, was born at Salamis, 637
B. C. and educated at Athens. His father was one of the descendants of
king Codrus, and, by his mother's side, he reckoned among his relations
the celebrated Pisistratus. After he had devoted part of his time to
philosophical and political studies, Solon travelled over the greatest
part of Greece; but at his return home he was distressed at beholding
the dissensions among his countrymen.

All now fixed their eyes upon him as a deliverer, and he was
unanimously elected archon. He might have become absolute, but he
refused the dangerous office of king of Athens, and, in the capacity
of lawgiver, he began to make a reform in every department of the
government. The complaints of the poorer citizens found redress; all
debts were remitted, and no one was permitted to seize the person of
his debtor, if he was unable to make payment. After he had established
the most salutary regulations in the state, and bound the Athenians
by a solemn oath that they would faithfully observe his laws for the
space of one hundred years, Solon resigned the office of legislator,
and removed himself from Athens. He visited Egypt, and the court of
Croesus,[14] king of Lydia--celebrated for his wealth, and the vanity
of desiring to be esteemed the happiest of mankind. He here declared
to the monarch that an Athenian, who had always seen his country
flourish--who had virtuous children, and who fell in defence of his
native land, had a happier career than the proudest emperor on the

After ten years' absence, Solon returned to Athens; but he had the
mortification to find the greatest part of his regulations disregarded,
through the factious spirit of his countrymen and the usurpation of
Pisistratus. Not to be longer a spectator of the divisions that reigned
in his country, he retired to Cyprus, where he died at the court of
king Philocyprus, in the eightieth year of his age. The laws of Solon
became established in Athens, and their salutary consequences can be
discovered in the length of time they were in force in the republic.
For above four hundred years they flourished in full vigor, and Cicero,
who was himself a witness of their benign influence, passes the highest
encomiums upon the legislator, whose superior wisdom framed such a code
of regulations.

It was the intention of Solon to protect the poorer citizens; and by
dividing the whole body of the Athenians into four classes, three of
which were permitted to discharge the most important offices and
magistracies of the state, and the last to give their opinion in the
assemblies, but not have a share in the distinctions and honors of
their superiors; the legislator gave the populace a privilege, which,
though at first small and inconsiderable, soon rendered them masters
of the republic, and of all the affairs of government. He made a
reformation in the Areopagus, increased the authority of the members,
and permitted them yearly to inquire how every citizen maintained
himself, and to punish such as lived in idleness, and were not employed
in some honorable and lucrative profession. He also regulated the
Prytaneum, and fixed the number of its judges to four hundred.

The sanguinary laws of Draco were all cancelled except that against
murder; and the punishment denounced against every offender was
proportioned to his crime; but Solon made no law against parricide
or sacrilege. The former of these crimes, he said, was too horrible
to human nature for a man to be guilty of it, and the latter could
never be committed, because the history of Athens had never furnished
a single instance. Such as had died in the service of their country,
were buried with great pomp, and their families were maintained at
the public expense; but such as had squandered away their estates,
such as refused to bear arms in defence of their country, or paid no
attention to the infirmity and distress of their parents, were branded
with infamy. The laws of marriage were newly regulated; it became an
union of affection and tenderness, and no longer a mercenary contract.
To speak with ill language against the dead, as well as against
the living, was made a crime; for the legislator wished that the
character of his fellow-citizens should be freed from the aspersions of
malevolence and envy. A person that had no children was permitted to
dispose of his estates as he pleased; females were not allowed to be
extravagant in their dress or expenses; licentiousness was punished;
and those accustomed to abandoned society, were deprived of the
privilege of addressing the public assemblies. These celebrated laws
were engraved on several tables; and that they might be better known
and more familiar to the Athenians, they were written in verse.

If we consider the time in which Solon lived, we shall see occasion to
regard him as a man of extraordinary wisdom and virtue. Nearly all the
systems of government around him were despotic. That government should
be instituted and conducted for the benefit of the governed; and that
the people are the proper depositories of power--principles recognised
in his institutions--were truths so deeply hidden from mankind, as to
demand an intellect of the highest order for their discovery.

Nor are his virtues and humanity less conspicuous than his sagacity.
While repealing the bloody code of Draco, he substituted mild and
equitable laws; he shunned the harsh and savage system of Lycurgus,
which sacrificed all the best feelings of the heart, and the most
refined pleasures of life, in order to sustain the martial character
of the state; and while he sought to soften the manners, he strove
to exalt the standard of public and private virtue, not only by his
laws, but by his conversation and example. He was thus, not only
the benefactor of Athens and of Greece, but--as one of the great
instruments of civilization throughout the world, and especially as
one of the leaders in the establishment of free government--mankind at
large owe him a lasting debt of gratitude.


[Footnote 14: Croesus was the fifth and last of the Mermadæ, who
reigned in Lydia, and during his time he passed for the richest of
mankind. He was the first who made the Greeks of Asia tributary to
the Lydians. His court was the asylum of learning; and Æsop, the
famous fable-writer, among others, lived under his patronage. In a
conversation with Solon, Croesus wished to be thought the happiest of
mankind; but the philosopher apprized him of his mistake, and gave the
preference to poverty and domestic virtue. Croesus undertook a war
against Cyrus, the king of Persia, and marched to meet him with an army
of 420,000 men, and 60,000 horse. After a reign of fourteen years he
was defeated, B. C. 548; his capital was besieged, and he fell into
the conqueror's hands, who ordered him to be burnt alive. The pile
was already on fire, when Cyrus heard the conquered monarch exclaim,
"Solon! Solon! Solon!" with lamentable energy. He asked him the reason
of his exclamation, and Croesus repeated the conversation he once had
with Solon, on human happiness. Cyrus was moved at the recital; and,
at the recollection of the inconstancy of human affairs, he ordered
Croesus to be taken from the burning pile, and he was afterwards one
of his most intimate friends. The kingdom of Lydia became extinct in
his person, and the power was transferred to Persia. Croesus survived
Cyrus. The manner of his death is unknown. He is celebrated for the
immensely rich presents which he made to the temple of Delphi, from
which he received an obscure and ambiguous oracle, which he interpreted
in his favor, but which was fulfilled in the destruction of his



This Spartan lawgiver is supposed to have been born about 900 B. C. He
was the youngest son of king Eunomus, and was entitled to the throne
upon the death of his brother, Polydectes; but he relinquished it in
behalf of his unborn son, and administered the government in his name.
By the wisdom of his measures, he won general esteem; and his noble
disinterestedness raised his glory to a height which awoke envy against
him in the minds of some of the most distinguished Spartans, who now
conspired against him. Partly to escape the danger which threatened
him, and partly to gratify the desire of seeing foreign nations, and
learning their manners, he left Sparta, and travelled in various

After visiting Crete, and admiring the wise laws of Minos, he went to
Iona. The effeminate and luxurious life of the inhabitants, and the
feebleness of their laws, which formed a striking contrast with the
simplicity and vigor of those of Crete, made a deep impression upon
him. Here, however, he is said to have become acquainted with the poems
of Homer, which he collected and carried to Greece. From hence he is
said to have travelled into Egypt, India, and Spain; but this seems

In the meanwhile, the two kings who succeeded him at Sparta, Archelaus
and Charilaus, were esteemed neither by the people nor by the
nobility; and, as there were no laws sufficient to maintain the public
tranquillity, the confusion passed all bounds. In this dangerous
situation, Lycurgus was the only man from whom help and deliverance
could be expected. The people hoped from him protection against
the nobles, and the kings believed that he would put an end to the
disobedience of the people. More than once, ambassadors were sent to
entreat him to come to the assistance of the state.

He long resisted, but at last yielded to the urgent wishes of his
fellow-citizens. At his arrival in Sparta, he found that not only
particular abuses were to be suppressed, but that it would be necessary
to form an entirely new constitution. The confidence which his
personal character, his judgment, and the dangerous situation of the
state, gave him among his fellow-citizens, encouraged him to encounter
all obstacles. The first step which he took, was to add to the kings a
senate of twenty-eight persons, venerable for their age, without whose
consent the former were to undertake nothing. He thus established a
useful balance between the power of the kings and the licentiousness
of the people. The latter at the same time obtained the privilege of
giving their voice in public affairs. They had not, however, properly
speaking, deliberative privileges, but only the limited right of
accepting or rejecting what was proposed by the kings or the senate.

The Spartans conformed in general to the institutions of Lycurgus; but
the equal division of property which he effected, excited among the
rich such violent commotions, that the lawgiver fled to the temple, to
save his life. On the way, he received a blow, which struck out one of
his eyes. He merely turned round, and showed to his pursuers his face
streaming with blood. This sight filled all with shame and repentance;
they implored his pardon, and led him respectfully home. The person who
had done the deed, a young man of rank, and of a fiery character, was
given up to him. Lycurgus pardoned him, and dismissed him, covered with

After having thus formed a constitution for Sparta, Lycurgus endeavored
to provide for its continuance. He made all the citizens take a
solemn oath that they would change nothing in the laws which he had
introduced, before his return. He then went to Delphi, and asked the
gods whether the new laws were sufficient for the happiness of Sparta.
The answer was, "Sparta will remain the most prosperous of all states
as long as it observes these laws." He sent this answer to Lacedæmon,
and left his country forever. He died of voluntary starvation, and
ordered his body to be burned, and the ashes scattered in the sea, lest
they should be carried to Sparta, and his countrymen be released from
their oath.

Though the patriotism of Lycurgus appears to have been of the most
exalted nature, his institutions were exceedingly barbarous, in many
respects. He cherished no such thing as family ties, but required
everything to yield to the good of the state. The children did not
belong to the parents; feeble children were destroyed; meals were all
taken in common; unmarried men were punished. Thus the private liberty
of the people was taken away, and they were made slaves, in their daily
habits, thoughts and feelings, to that power which was called the
state. The design of the lawgiver seemed to be to rear up a nation of
soldiers--not for conquest, but for defence. He would not permit Sparta
to be encircled with walls, preferring that its defence should depend
on the arms of the citizens. The men were wholly trained for martial
life. Sensibility to suffering, and the fear of death, were treated
with contempt. Victory or death, in battle, was their highest glory;
cowardice was attended with the most deadly shame.

The difference between the institutions of Lycurgus and those of Solon,
may be seen in their results. The Spartans became a stern and haughty
nation of soldiers; but they have left nothing behind but their story,
to instruct mankind; while the Athenians, exalted by the genial breath
of liberty, continue to this very hour to be the admiration of the
world, for their literature, their arts, and their institutions.




The Iliad is often spoken of as the greatest production of the human
mind; yet it has been seriously questioned whether such a person
as Homer ever lived! This paradox is to be explained by admitting,
that, although the Iliad is a wonderful performance for the time and
circumstances of its composition, still, it is by no means entitled to
the supremacy which scholastic fondness assigns to it; and that the
doubts thrown upon its authorship are but the mists engendered in the
arena of hypercriticism.

By Homer, we mean the author of the Iliad, whatever may have been his
true name. The period at which he flourished is matter of doubt, but
it is fixed by the Arundelian Marbles,[15] at 907 B. C., which is
probably not far from the true date. A great many tales are handed
down to us, in relation to him, which are mere fictions. The only well
established facts, in his life, are that he was a native of Asiatic
Greece, and a wandering poet, or rhapsodist, who went about the country
reciting his compositions, according to the custom of those times. The
story of his being blind is without authority.

Such are the meagre facts which can be gathered amid the obscurity of
that remote age in which Homer lived. There is something painful in
this barrenness,--and we almost feel that the critics, in exploding the
fond fictions which antiquity has woven around the name of the great
poet, have performed an ungracious office. They have indeed dissipated
fables, but they have left us little but darkness or vacuity in their
place. Such is the yearning of the mind, in respect to those who have
excited its emotions, and created an interest in the bosom, that it
will cherish even the admitted portraitures of fiction and fancy,
rather than content itself with the blank canvass of nothingness. The
heart, as well as nature, abhors a vacuum.

The fictitious history of Homer--which, however, is of some antiquity,
and has passed current for centuries--is briefly as follows. His mother
was named Critheis: she was married to Mæon, king of Smyrna, and gave
birth to a child, on or near the banks of the river Meles, from which
circumstance he was called Meles genes. The mother soon died, and he
was brought up and educated under the care of Mæon. The name of Homer
was afterwards given to him, on account of his becoming blind.

The legends proceed in general to state that Homer himself became a
schoolmaster and poet of great celebrity, at Smyrna, and remained
there till Mentes, a foreign merchant, induced him to travel. That the
author of the Iliad and Odyssey must have travelled pretty extensively
for those times, is unquestionable; for besides the accurate knowledge
of Greece which these works display, it is clear that the poet had a
familiar acquaintance with the islands both in the Ægean and the Ionian
seas, the coasts of Asia Minor, Crete, Cyprus, and Egypt--which still
bear the names he gave them--and possessed also distinct information
with respect to Lybia, Æthiopia, Phoenicia, Caria and Phrygia.

In his travels, as the legends say, Homer visited Ithaca, and there
became subject to a disease in his eyes, which afterwards terminated in
total blindness. From this island he is said to have gone to Italy, and
even to Spain; but there is no sign, in either of the two poems, of his
possessing any definite knowledge westward of the Ionian sea. Wherever
he went, Homer recited his verses, which were universally admired,
except at Smyrna, where he was a prophet in his own country. At Phocæa,
a schoolmaster, of the name of Thestorides, obtained from Homer a copy
of his poetry, and then sailed to Chios, and there recited these verses
as his own. Homer went soon after to the same place, and was rescued
by Glaucus, a goatherd, from the attack of his dogs, and brought by
him to Bolissus, a town in Chios, where he resided a long time, in the
possession of wealth and a splendid reputation.

According to Herodotus, Homer died at Io, on his way to Athens, and
was buried near the sea-shore. Proclus says he died in consequence of
falling over a stone. Plutarch tells a different story. He preserves
two responses of an oracle to the poet, in both of which he was
cautioned to beware of the young men's riddle; and relates that the
poet, being on a voyage to Thebes, to attend a musical or poetical
contest at the feast of Saturn, in that city, landed in the island
of Io, and, whilst sitting on a rock by the sea-shore, observed some
young fishermen in a boat. Homer asked them if they had anything, and
the young wags, who, having had no sport, had been diligently catching
and killing as many as they could, of certain personal companions of a
race not even yet extinct, answered,--"As many as we caught, we left;
as many as we could not catch, we carry with us." The catastrophe of
this absurd story is, that Homer, being utterly unable to guess the
riddle, broke his heart, out of pure vexation; and the inhabitants of
the island buried him with great magnificence, and placed the following
inscription on his tomb:--

    Here Homer, the divine in earthly bed,
    Poet of Heroes, rests his sacred head.

The general theory in regard to the poems of Homer, is that they were
composed and recited by him, to the people living upon the islands and
the main land along the coasts of Asia Minor. At that time books were
unknown, and it is a question whether even the art of writing was then
practised. Homer, therefore, published his poems in the only way he
could do it--by oral delivery. Whether his verses were sung, or only
recited, we cannot determine; but there is no doubt that he obtained
both fame and maintenance by his performances.

So deep was the impression made by the poet, that his verses were
learned by heart, and preserved in the memories of succeeding
rhapsodists and minstrels. His reputation was diffused over all Greece;
and Lycurgus, who had heard of his compositions, is supposed to have
taken pains, during his travels, to have them written down, and to have
brought them in a collected form to Greece. They were, however, still
in fragments, and the task of arranging and uniting them was performed
by Pisistratus, with the help of the poets of his time. In this way,
they received nearly the form they now possess; the division of each of
the two epics into twenty-four books, corresponding with the letters
of the Greek alphabet, being the work of the Alexandrian critics,
some centuries after. It must be remembered, however, that although
the poems of Homer were thus committed to writing in the time of
Pisistratus, they continued to be recited by the rhapsodists, who were
much favored in Greece, and in this way alone, for several centuries,
were popularly known. It is probable that in these recitations, there
was a good deal of dramatic action, and that they possessed something
of the interest which belongs to theatrical representation.

The vicissitudes to which Homer's reputation and influence have been
subject, deserve notice. From the arrangement of the Iliad and Odyssey,
in the time of the Pisistratidæ, to the promulgation of Christianity,
the love and reverence with which the name of Homer was regarded, went
on constantly increasing, till at last public games were instituted in
his honor, statues dedicated, temples erected, and sacrifices offered
to him, as a divinity. There were such temples at Smyrna, Chios, and
Alexandria; and, according to Ælian, the Argives sacrificed to, and
invoked the names and presence of, Apollo and Homer together.

But about the beginning of the second century of the Christian era,
when the struggle between the old and the new religions was warm
and active, the tide turned. Heathenism, says Pope, was then to be
destroyed, and Homer appeared to be the father of those fictions which
were at once the belief of the Pagan religion, and the objections of
Christianity against it. He became, therefore, deeply involved in the
question, not with that honor which had hitherto attended him, but as
a criminal, who had drawn the world into folly. These times, however,
are past, and Homer stands on the summit of the ancient Parnassus, the
boast and glory of Greece, and the wonder and admiration of mankind.

The Iliad, with the exception of the Pentateuch and some others of the
books of the Old Testament, is the most ancient composition known. It
is interesting not only as a splendid poem, but also on account of the
light it throws upon the history and manners of the remote ages in
which it was written. We are struck with the similarity of the customs
of the Asiatic Greeks to those of the Hebrews, as set forth in the
Bible; and also with the fact that the Jupiter of Homer rises to that
unchecked omnipotence assigned to Jehovah.

The design of the Iliad seems to be to set forth the revenge which
Achilles took on Agamemnon, for depriving him of his mistress, Briseis,
while engaged in the siege of Troy--with the long train of evils which
followed. The admirers of Homer have pretended to discover in the work
the most profound art in the construction of the poem, and have hence
deduced rules for the formation of the epic poem; but nothing is more
clear than that, in the simple lines of Homer, the poet had no other
guide than a profound knowledge of human nature and human sympathies;
and that he only sought to operate on these by telling a plain story,
in the most simple, yet effective manner. The absence of all art is
one of the chief characteristics of the Iliad;--its naturalness is the
great secret of its power.

That this poem is the greatest of human productions--a point often
assumed--is by no means to be received as true. It strikes us with
wonder, when we consider the age in which it was composed, and we
feel that Homer was indeed one of the great lights of the world. The
following passage, one of the finest in the Iliad, is full of truth,
nature and pathos--and it shows that the heroes of Troy, nearly three
thousand years ago, had the same feelings and sympathies as those which
beat in the bosoms of our time; yet we can point to a great number of
passages in modern poems, far, very far superior to this. The scene
represents Priam--who has come to the Greek camp for the purpose of
redeeming the body of his son Hector--as addressing the chieftain,

    "Think, O Achilles, semblance of the gods!
    On thy own father, full of days like me,
    And trembling on the gloomy verge of life:
    Some neighbor chief, it may be, even now,
    Oppresses him, and there is none at hand,
    No friend to succor him in his distress;
    Yet doubtless, hearing that Achilles lives,
    He still rejoices, hoping day by day,
    That one day he shall see the face again
    Of his own son from distant Troy returned.
    But me no comfort cheers, whose bravest sons,
    So late the flower of Ilium, all are slain.
    When Greece came hither, I had fifty sons;
    Nineteen were children of one bed; the rest
    Born of my concubines. A numerous house!
    But fiery Mars hath thinned it. One I had,
    One, more than all my sons, the strength of Troy,
    Whom standing for his country thou hast slain,--
    Hector. His body to redeem I come;
    Into Achia's fleet bringing myself
    Ransom inestimable to thy tent.
    Rev'rence the gods, Achilles! recollect
    Thy father; for his sake compassion show
    To me, more pitiable still, who draw
    Home to my lips (humiliation yet
    Unseen on earth) his hand who slew my son!

    "So saying, he awakened in his soul regret
    Of his own sire; softly he placed his hand
    On Priam's hand, and pushed him gently away.
    Remembrance melted both. Rolling before
    Achilles feet, Priam his son deplored,
    Wide slaughtering Hector, and Achilles wept
    By turns his father, and by turns his friend
    Patroclus: sounds of sorrow filled the tent."

Beside the Iliad, another epic, divided into twenty-four books, and
entitled the Odyssey, with a number of smaller pieces, are attributed
to Homer, and doubtless upon good and substantial grounds. The Odyssey
is a tale of adventures, like Robinson Crusoe, and Sinbad the Sailor,
heightened by an object, and dignified by a moral far above these
works. It tells us what befel Ulysses, in returning from the siege of
Troy to his home in Greece; and is wrought up with wonderful powers
of invention and fancy. It is esteemed inferior, on the whole, to the
Iliad, and an eminent critic has said, that, in the former, Homer
appears like the rising, and in the latter, like the setting sun.


[Footnote 15: These Marbles consist of a large collection of busts,
statues, altars, inscriptions, mutilated figures, &c., formed by Thomas
Howard, Earl of Arundel, in the early part of the seventeenth century,
and presented to the University of Oxford, by Henry Howard, the earl's
grandson. They were obtained in various parts of Greece; many are of
great antiquity and of great value, as well for the light they shed
upon history as upon the arts, customs, and manners of past ages.]



This greatest of Chinese philosophers was born in the petty kingdom
of Lú, now the province of Shántung, in the year 549 B. C.--the same
year that Cyrus became king of the Medes and Persians. The Chinese,
in their embellishments of his history, tell us that his birth was
attended with heavenly music, filling the air; that two dragons were
seen winding over the roof; that five old men appeared at the door,
and after consulting together, suddenly vanished; and that a unicorn
brought to his mother a tablet in his mouth. It is also related that
when he was born, five characters were seen on his breast, declaring
him to be "the maker of a rule for settling the world." These and other
marvels are a part of the established biography of the philosopher, as
received by the Chinese.

The father of Confucius, who was a magistrate of the district where he
lived, died when the son was but three years old. The latter was poor
and unknown during his youth--though his gravity and attention to study
attracted the attention of his townsmen. When he approached manhood, he
was esteemed remarkable for his wisdom, and equal to the learned men of
the country in his knowledge of antiquity.

At the age of seventeen he received an appointment as clerk in the
grain department of the government; and so attentive was he in his
trust, as, two years after, to be advanced to the general supervision
of the fields and parks, and the breeding of cattle. About this time
he was married, and two years after, his only son was born. Upon this
occasion, Lord Cháu the governor of Lú, sent him two carp as a present,
and accordingly Confucius named his son Lí or Carp. His humor went even
farther, and he gave the boy the additional title of Piyü, or Uncle

At the age of twenty-four, Confucius lost his mother, whom he buried in
the same grave with his father, who had been dead some time. He then
resigned his office, that he might mourn three years for his mother,
according to the ancient custom of the country. This practice had
fallen into neglect, and, consequently, the example of Confucius, in
following the holy custom of the fathers of the country, gained him
great renown for his piety. His reputation was thus extended, and his
example began to be followed.

The three years of his mourning were not lost--for he then devoted
himself to study. He diligently examined the books of the old authors,
seeking to discover the means by which the ancient kings and sages
sought to attain the perfection of morals. The result was, a conviction
that the social virtues were best cultivated by an observance of the
ancient usages of the country; and accordingly he resolved to devote
his life to them, and to their permanent establishment in China. This
great work he accomplished; and if we consider the effect he has
produced on the most populous nation of the globe, and during a space
of nearly two thousand years, we shall perceive the mighty consequence
of his labors. The actual amount of influence he has exercised, perhaps
exceeds that of any other human being, save Aristotle alone.

Appearing to have a clear view of his great work, Confucius entered
upon it with systematic diligence. He resolved to establish schools
where his philosophy should be taught to pupils who would go forth and
spread his doctrines through the empire. He also proposed to write a
series of books, setting forth his views. All these things he lived to

The greater part of the life of Confucius was passed in travelling,
visiting the courts of the petty princes, whose states then constituted
the empire under the sovereign of the Chán dynasty. This course was,
as might be expected, fruitless in reforming these states, but it
diffused a general knowledge of himself and his doctrines, and procured
him scholars. The prince of Tsí was the first who invited him to his
court, and received him with distinction. This potentate heard him with
pleasure, and applauded his maxims; but, to the chagrin of Confucius,
he continued to live in luxury, and to allow his ministers to oppress
his subjects and abuse their power. He, however, offered him for his
maintenance the revenue of a considerable city, which the philosopher
thought proper to decline, alleging that he had done nothing to merit
such a recompense. After sojourning a year in Tsí, and seeing that his
discourse produced no effect to reform the abuses and evils of the
country, he left it, and visited some of the principal cities of China.

On the road between Tsí and Chin, he fell into a difficulty. The prince
of Wú having attacked Chin, the lord of Tsú came to his relief, and
sent an invitation to Confucius to join him; but the other party,
fearing that he would do them a disservice, sent people to intercept
him. They surrounded him in the wilderness, and would have starved him
to death, had not a friend come to his relief, after a detention of
seven days. After this narrow escape, he returned home and the prince
of Lú gave him a carriage, two horses and a servant, with which he set
off for King-yang, the capital of the empire. Here he passed his time
in observing the forms of government, the condition of the people and
their manners, and how the rites and ceremonies of the ancient kings
were regarded. He held several interviews with the ministers of the
court, was permitted to visit the emperor's ancestral hall, and other
sacred places, and had access to the archives of the kingdom, from
which he was allowed to take extracts.

One object in the visit of Confucius to the capital, was to see
Láutsz', the founder of the Táu sect, or Rationalists, who lived in
a retired place, some distance from court. This old philosopher,
accustomed to visits from men of all ranks, received Confucius and his
disciples with indifference. He was reclining on an elevated platform,
and hearing that his visitor had come to hear from his own mouth an
exposition of his tenets, and to ask him about _propriety_, he roused
himself to receive him. "I have heard speak of you," says he, "and I
know your reputation. I am told that you talk only of the ancients,
and discourse only upon what they taught. Now, of what use is it to
endeavor to revive the memory of men of whom no trace remains on the
earth? The sage ought to interest himself with the times in which he
lives, and regard present circumstances; if they are favorable, he
will improve them; but if, on the contrary, they are unfavorable, he
will retire and wait tranquilly, without grieving at what others do.
He who possesses a treasure, will try to have everybody know it; he
will preserve it against the day of need; this you will do if you are a
sage. It seems, judging by your conduct, that you have some ostentation
in your plans of instruction and that you are proud. Correct these
faults, and purify your heart from all love of pleasure; you will, in
this way, be much more useful than seeking to know what the ancients

Láutsz' also observed, "A discreet merchant keeps his affairs to
himself as if he knew nothing; an excellent man, although highly
intelligent, demeans himself like an ignorant man." Confucius remarked
to his disciples, "I have seen Láutsz'; have I not seen something
like a dragon?" On leaving him, Láutsz' said, "I have heard that
the rich dismiss their friends with a present, and the benevolent
send away people with a word of advice; whoever is talented, and
prying into everything, will run himself into danger, because he
loves to satirize and slander men; and he who wishes to thoroughly
understand recondite things will jeopard his safety, because he loves
to publish the failings of men." Confucius replied, "I respectfully
receive your instructions," and thus left him. Láutsz' advice seemed
directed against a too inquisitive philosophy, and meddling too much
in the affairs of the world; he was rather of the Budhistic school of
quietists, while Confucius wished men to endeavor to make each other

Confucius, like Aristotle and other masters, used to teach his
disciples while walking with them, deriving instruction from what they
saw. Once, while walking with them by the bank of a stream, he stopped
from time to time to look very intently at the water, until their
attention was excited, and they were induced to ask him the reason of
his conduct. He replied, "The running of water in its bed is a very
simple thing, the reason of which everybody knows. I was, however,
rather making a comparison in my own mind between the running of water
and doctrine. The water, I reflected, runs unceasingly, by day and by
night, until it is lost in the bosom of the mighty deep. Since the days
of Yáu and Shun, the pure doctrine has uninterruptedly descended to us:
let us in our turn transmit it to those who come after us, that they,
from our example, may give it to their descendants to the end of time.
Do not imitate those isolated men, (referring to Láutsz',) who are
wise only for themselves. To communicate the knowledge and virtue we
possess, to others, will never impoverish ourselves. This is one of the
reflections I would make upon the running of water."

This peripatetic habit, and the aptitude for drawing instruction from
whatever would furnish instruction, was usual with the philosopher,
and he seldom omitted to improve an occasion. Once, when walking in
the fields, he perceived a fowler, who, having drawn in his nets,
distributed the birds he had taken into different cages. On coming up
to him to ascertain what he had caught, Confucius attentively remarked
the vain efforts of the captive birds to regain their liberty, until
his disciples gathered round him, when he addressed the fowler,--"I do
not see any old birds here; where have you put them?" "The old birds,"
said he, "are too wary to be caught; they are on the look-out, and if
they see a net or a cage, far from falling into the snare, they escape,
and never return. Those young ones which are in company with them,
likewise escape, but such only as separate into a flock by themselves,
and rashly approach, are the birds I catch. If perchance I catch an old
bird, it is because he follows the young ones."

"You have heard him," said Confucius, turning to his disciples; "the
words of this fowler afford us matter for instruction. The young
birds escape the snare only when they keep with the old ones; the old
ones are taken when they follow the young. It is thus with mankind.
Presumption, hardihood, want of forethought, and inattention are the
principal reasons why young people are led astray. Inflated with their
small attainments, they have scarcely made a commencement in learning,
before they think they know everything; they have scarcely performed
a few virtuous acts, and straight they fancy themselves at the height
of wisdom. Under this false impression they doubt nothing; they rashly
undertake acts without consulting the aged and experienced, and thus,
securely following their own notions, they are misled, and fall into
the first snare laid for them. If you see an old man of sober years so
badly advised as to be taken with the giddiness of a youth, attached
to him, and thinking and acting with him, he is led astray by him, and
soon taken in the same snare. Do not forget the answer of the fowler,
but reflect on it occasionally."

Having completed his observations at the capital, Confucius returned,
by the way of Tsí, to his native state of Lú, where he remained ten
years. His house now became a sort of lyceum, open to every one who
wished to receive instruction. His manner of teaching was to allow
his disciples or others to come and go when they pleased, asking
his opinion on such points, either in morals, politics, history, or
literature, as they wished to have explained. He gave them the liberty
of choosing their subject, and then he discoursed upon it. From these
conversations and detached expressions of the philosopher, treasured
up by his disciples, they afterwards composed Lun Yü, now one of the
Four Books. Confucius, it is said, numbered upwards of three thousand
disciples, or perhaps we ought to call them advocates or hearers
of his doctrine. They consisted of men of all ranks and ages, who
attended upon him when their duties or inclinations permitted, and
who materially assisted in diffusing a knowledge of his tenets over
the whole country. There were, however, a select few, who attached
themselves to his person, lived with him, and followed him wherever he
went; and to whom he entrusted the promulgation of his doctrines.

After several years of retirement, Confucius was called into public
life. The prince of Lú died, and his son, entertaining a great respect
for the philosopher, and esteem for his instructions, invited him to
court, in order to learn his doctrines more fully. After becoming well
acquainted with him, and reposing confidence in his integrity, the
young ruler committed the entire management of the state to him; and
the activity, courage, and disinterested conduct which he exhibited
in the exercise of his power, soon had the happiest effect upon the
country. By his wise rules and the authority of his example and his
maxims he soon reformed many vicious practices, and introduced
sobriety and order, in the place of waste and injustice. He occupied
himself with agriculture, and regulated the revenue and the manner of
receiving it; so that, in consequence of his measures, the productions
of the state were increased, the happiness of the people was extended,
and the revenue considerably augmented.

He carried his reforms into every department of justice, in which, soon
after he entered upon his duties as minister, he had an opportunity of
exhibiting his inflexibility. One of the most powerful nobles of the
state had screened himself from the just punishment due to his many
crimes, under the dread of his power and riches, and the number of his
retainers. Confucius caused him to be arrested, and gave order for his
trial; and when the overwhelming proofs brought forward had convinced
all of his guilt, he condemned him to lose his head, and presided
himself at the execution. This wholesome severity struck a dread into
other men of rank, and likewise obtained the plaudits of all men of
sense, as well as of the people, who saw in the minister a courageous
protector, ready to defend them against the tyranny of men in power.

These salutary reforms had not been long in operation, before the
neighboring states took alarm at the rising prosperity of Lú; and the
prince of Tsí, who had recently usurped the throne by assassinating
its occupant, resolved to ruin the plans of Confucius. To this end he
appointed an envoy to the young prince, with whose character he was
well acquainted, desiring to renew the ancient league of friendship
between the two countries. This envoy was charged with thirty-five
horses, beautifully caparisoned, a large number of curious rarities,
and twenty-four of the most accomplished courtesans he could procure in
his dominions. The scheme succeeded; before these seductive damsels,
the austere etiquette of the court of Lú soon gave way, and fetes,
comedies, dances, and concerts, took the place of propriety and
decorum. The presence of the sage soon became irksome to his master,
and he at last forbid him to come into his sight, having become quite
charmed with the fair enchantresses, and no longer able to endure the
remonstrances of his minister.

Confucius, thus disgraced in his own country, and now at the age of
fifty, left it, and retired to the kingdom of Wei, where he remained
more than ten years, without seeking to exercise any public office,
but principally occupied with completing his works, and instructing
his disciples in his doctrines. During his residence in Wei, he
frequently made excursions into other states, taking with him such of
his disciples as chose to accompany him. He was at times applauded
and esteemed, but quite as often was the object of persecution and
contempt. More than once his life was endangered. He compared himself
to a dog driven from his home: "I have the fidelity of that animal,
and I am treated like it. But what matters the ingratitude of men?
They cannot hinder me from doing all the good that is appointed me. If
my precepts are disregarded, I have the consolation in my own breast
of knowing that I have faithfully performed my duty." He sometimes
spoke in a manner that showed his own impression to be that Heaven had
conferred on him a special commission to instruct the world. When an
attempt was made on his life, he said, "As Heaven has produced such a
degree of virtue in me, what can Hwántúi do to me?" On another occasion
of danger, he said, "If Heaven means not to obliterate this doctrine
from the earth, the men of Kwáng can do nothing to me."

At the age of sixty-eight, after an absence of eighteen years,
Confucius returned to his native country, where he lived a life of
retirement, employed in putting the finishing hand to his works. In his
sixty-sixth year, his wife died, and his son, Piyü, mourned for her a
whole year; but one day overhearing his father say, "Ah! it is carried
too far;" he dried up his tears. Three years after this, this son also
died, leaving a son, Tsz'sz', who afterwards emulated his grandfather's
fame as a teacher, and became the author of the Chung Yung, or True
Medium. The next year, Yen Hwui, the favorite disciple of the sage,
died, whose loss he bitterly mourned, saying, "Heaven has destroyed me!
heaven has destroyed me!" He had great hopes of this pupil, and had
depended upon him to perpetuate his doctrines.

An anecdote is related of him about this time of life, which the
Chinese regard as highly creditable to their sage. Tsz'kung, one of his
disciples, was much surprised one morning to meet his master at the
door, dressed with much elegance and nicety. On asking him where he was
going, Confucius, with a sigh, replied, "I am going to court, and that
too, without being invited. I have not been able to resist a feeling
which possesses me to make a last effort to bring a just punishment
upon Chin Chen, the usurper of the throne of Tsí. I am prepared by
purification and fasting, for this audience, so that if I fail, I shall
not have to accuse myself." On presenting himself, he was received with
respect, and immediately admitted to an audience; and the prince of Lú
asked him what important affair had called him from his retirement.
Confucius, replied: "Sire, that which I have to communicate, alike
concerns all kings. The perfidious Chin Chen has imbued his hands in
the blood of his legitimate sovereign, Kien. You are a prince; your
state borders upon Tsí; Kien was your ally, and originally of the same
race as yourself. Any one of these reasons is sufficient to authorize
you to declare war against Chin Chen, and all of them combined make
it your duty to take up arms. Assemble your forces and march to
exterminate a monster whom the earth upholds with regret. This crime
is such that it cannot be pardoned, and, in punishing it, you will at
once avenge an outrage against heaven, from which every king derives
his power; against royalty, which has been profaned by this perfidy;
against a parent, to whom you are allied by ties of blood, alliance and

The prince, convinced of the criminality of Chin Chen, applauded the
just indignation which inspired the heart of Confucius, but suggested
that before he entered upon such an enterprise, it would be best to
confer with his ministers. "Sire," said the philosopher, "I have
acquitted myself of a duty in laying this case before you; but it
will be useless to insist upon it before your ministers, whom I know
are disinclined to enter into my views. Reflect, I pray you, as a
sovereign, upon what I now propose, and consult only with yourself as
to its execution. Your servants are not sovereigns, and have no other
than their own ends to gain, to which they sometimes sacrifice the good
of their master and the glory of the state. I have no other end in view
than to support the cause of justice; and I conjure you, by the sacred
names of justice and good order, to go and exterminate this miscreant
from the earth, and, by restoring the throne of Tsí to its rightful
owner, to exhibit to the world your justice, and strike a salutary
terror into the hearts of all who may wish to imitate this successful
villany." On leaving, the prince said to Confucius, "I will think
seriously on what you have said, and, if it be possible, will carry it
into execution."

Towards the end of his days, when he had completed his revision of the
Five Classes, he, with great solemnity, dedicated them to Heaven. He
assembled all his disciples and led them out of the town to one of the
hills where sacrifices had been usually offered for many years. He here
erected a table, or altar, upon which he placed the books; and then,
turning his face to the north, adored Heaven, and returned thanks upon
his knees, in a humble manner, for having had life and strength granted
him to enable him to accomplish this laborious undertaking; he implored
heaven to grant that the benefit to his countrymen from so arduous a
labor might not be small. He had prepared himself for this ceremony by
privacy, fasting and prayer. Chinese pictures of this scene represent
the sage in the attitude of supplication, and a pencil of light, or
a rainbow, descending from the sky upon the books, while his scholars
stand around in admiring wonder.

In his seventy-third year, a few days before his death, leaning upon
his staff, Confucius tottered about the house, singing out,--

    "The great mountain is broken!
     The strong beam is thrown down!
     The wise man is decayed!"

He then related a dream he had had the night before, to his pupil,
Tsz'kung, which he regarded as a presage of his own death; and, after
keeping his bed seven days, he died on the 18th day of the second
month, and was buried in the same grave with his wife. Tsz'kung mourned
for him six years in a shed erected by the side of his grave, and then
returned home. His death occurred 479 B. C., the year of the battle of
Platæa, in Greece, and about seven years before the birth of Socrates.
Many events of great importance happened during his life, in western
countries, of which the return of the Jews, and building of the second
temple, Xerxes' invasion of Greece, the expulsion of the kings from
Rome, the conquest of Egypt, and establishment of the Persian monarchy
in its fullest extent, were the most important.

Posthumous honors in great variety have been conferred upon Confucius.
Soon after his death, the prince of Lú entitled him _Ní fú_, or father
Ní; which under the reign of Lintí, of the Hán dynasty, 197 B. C., was
changed to _Ní kung_, or duke _Ní_, and his portrait was ordered to be
hung up in the public school. By the emperors of the Tang dynasty it
was made _sien shing_, the ancient sage. He was next styled the royal
preacher, and his effigy clad in king's robes, and a crown put on
its head. The Ming dynasty called him the most holy ancient teacher,
Kungtsz', which title is now continued to him. His descendants have
continued to dwell in Shántung province, and the heads of the family
have enjoyed the rank of nobility, being almost the only hereditary
noblemen in the empire out of the imperial kingdom. They are called
Yenshing kung. In the reign of Kánghí, one hundred and twenty years
ago, the descendants of the sage numbered eleven thousand males; the
present is said to be the seventy-fourth generation. The chief of the
family is commonly called the "holy duke," and enjoys all the honors
of a prince. Whenever he visits the court, the emperor receives him
with almost the same respect and ceremony as he does ambassadors from
foreign countries. P. Amiot relates that he was honored with a call
from him, upon one of his visits to court. "He was a pleasant and
modest man, whom knowledge had not filled with conceit. He received,
when he came to our house, some religious books, which we offered
him in exchange for some Chinese books he gave us. His name was Kung
Chauhán, and he was of the seventy-first generation in direct descent
from the sage,--in all probability the oldest family in the world, of
which the regular descent can be traced." In the Life of Confucius,
written by Amiot, which forms one of the volumes of the _Mémoires sur
les Chinoises_, there is a brief account of each of these heads of
this family, with notices of other distinguished persons belonging to
the house.

In every district in the empire there is a temple dedicated to
Confucius, and his name is usually suspended in every school-room in
the land, and incense is burned before it morning and evening by the
scholars. Adoration is paid to him by all ranks. In 1457, Jentsung,
of the Ning dynasty, set up a copper statue of the sage in one of the
halls of the palace, and ordered his officers, whenever they came to
the palace, to go to this room, and respectfully salute Confucius
before speaking of the affairs of state, even if the monarch were
present. But this custom was represented to another emperor as tending
to the worship of images, like the Budhists; and on that account the
memorialist represented that simple tablets, inscribed with the name of
him who was worshipped, were much better. This advice was followed; the
statues of Confucius and his disciples were suppressed, by order of the
emperor Chítsung, in 1530, and simple tablets have since been set up in
the temples erected to his name.

The writings of Confucius, as might be expected are held in great
veneration, and regarded as the best books in the language. He revised
all the ancient books, containing the precepts of the kings and
emperors of former times, and left them pretty much as they are at the
present day. He explained the Yi King, or Book of Changes, commented
upon the Lí Kí, or Book of Rites, and compiled the Shí King, or Book
of Odes. He composed the Shú King, or Book of Records, and the Chun
Tsaú, or Spring and Autumn Annals,--so called, it is said, because the
commendations contained therein are life-giving, like spring, and the
reproofs are life-withering, like autumn. The books are collectively
called the Wú King, or Five Classics. The Hiáu King, or Memoir on
Filial Duty; the Chung yung, or True Medium; the Tái Hióh, or Superior
Lessons, and the Lun Yü, or Conversations of Confucius, are all
considered, by the Chinese, as containing the doctrines of the sage;
the first one is sometimes ascribed to his own pen. The last three,
with the work of Mencius, constitute the Sz Shü, or Four Books, and
were arranged in their present form by Ching fútsz, about eight hundred
years ago.

The leading features of the morality of Confucius are, subordination
to superiors, and kind, upright dealing with our fellow-men. From the
duty, honor, and obedience owed by a child to his parents, he proceeds
to inculcate the obligations of wives to their husbands, of subjects
to their prince, and of ministers to their king, while he makes him
amenable to Heaven. These principles are perpetually inculcated in
the Confucian writings, and are imbodied in solemn ceremonials, and
apparently trivial forms of mere etiquette. And, probably, it is this
feature of his ethics which has made him such a favorite with all the
governments of China for many centuries past, and at this day. These
principles, and these forms, are early instilled into young minds,
and form their conscience; the elucidation and enforcement of these
principles and forms is the business of students who aspire to be
magistrates or statesmen; and it is no doubt owing in great part, to
the force of these principles on the national mind and habits, that
China holds steadfastly together--the largest associated population
in the world. Every one is interested in upholding doctrines which
give him power over those under him; and as the instruction of his
own youthful days has given him the habit of obedience and respect
to all his superiors, so now, when he is a superior, he exacts the
same obedience from his juniors, and public opinion accords it to
him. The observance of such principles has tended to consolidate the
national mind of China in that peculiar uniformity which has been
remarked by those who have known this people. It has also tended to
restrain all independence of thought, and keep even the most powerful
intellects under an incubus which, while they were prevented by outward
circumstances from getting at the knowledge of other lands was too
great for their unassisted energies to throw off. It cannot be doubted
that there have been many intellects of commanding power among the
Chinese, but ignorance of the literature and condition of other nations
has led them to infer that there was nothing worthy of notice out of
their own borders, and to rest contented with explaining and enforcing
the maxims of their sage.

Confucius must be regarded as a great man, if superiority to the times
in which one lives is a criterion of greatness. The immense influence
he has exercised over the minds of his countrymen cannot, perhaps,
be regarded as conclusive evidence of his superiority; but no mind
of weak or ordinary powers could have stamped its own impress upon
other minds as he has done. He never rose to those sublime heights of
contemplation which Plato attained, nor does his mind seem to have been
of a very discursive nature. He was content with telling his disciples
how to act, and encouraging them to make themselves and others better,
by following the rules he gave; not leading them into those endless
disquisitions and speculations, upon which the Greek moralists so
acutely reasoned, but which exercised no power over the conscience and
life. The leading features of his doctrines have been acknowledged by
mankind the world over, and are imbodied in their most common rules
of life. "Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God," is a
direction of inspired Writ; and, so far as he knew these duties, he
inculcated them. He said little or nothing about spirits or gods, nor
did he give any directions about worshipping them; but the veneration
for parents, which he enforced, was, in fact, idolatrous, and has since
degenerated into the grossest idolatry.


Transcriber's Note:

Italics are indicated by _underscores_.
Small capitals have been rendered in full capitals.
Footnote is placed to the end of chapter.
Ligatures [oe] have been converted into oe.
A number of minor spelling errors have been corrected without note.

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we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.